Cheese-Filled Grilled Avocados

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by Cathy Pollak

Cheese-Filled-Grilled-AvocadosHere it is, the perfect appetizer for your Labor Day Weekend ~ Last Hurrah of Summer bash. There are many reasons this dish is awesome, but reason numero uno (besides taste) is its simplicity. You can make as many as you need, it's ready in minutes and you have the grill going anyway.

And, if your grill-centric partner won't let you near the flames, it's even better. You can send this appetizer outside for them to whip-up, while you finish meal prep in the kitchen. It's also vegetarian, vegan, non-dairy, (sub in vegan-non-dairy veggie cheese) gluten-free, kosher...making it easy to serve to a crowd who have all kinds of dietary restrictions.

A fun variation would be a hot sauce bar, where everyone can choose their level of heat. Since we like it spicy at the Noble Pig house, we chose Sriracha...and it was fantastic.

Magical things happen when you grill an avocado. The buttery inside becomes even creamier and the flesh is infused with the smokiness of the grill. Since the avocado already has a high fat content, sprinkling lime on top is all that's necessary before placing it on the grill.

Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

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by Cathy Pollak

Kansas-City-BBQ-SauceWe are big barbecue lovers over here, ribs, pulled pork and brisket make for an amazing meal. But the sauce has to be right. Like perfection. Sometimes I crave my tangy-vinegar based Eastern Carolina Barbecue Sauce. But lately I’ve been wanting something sweet with a little bit of smoke on the side.

Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce is known for its balanced sweet-smoky-spicy flavor. It can be hard to achieve since the sweetness can easily overpower the other flavors. However, I’ve been playing and tweaking and I think I’ve finally gotten it. Practice makes perfect!

The sauce is thick and somewhat dark brown. It’s powerful and ornery with lots of attitude. I love this sauce on pulled pork and all kinds of other barbecue. I have been spending a lot of time learning about all the different regional styles of barbecue, it’s fascinating and it’s not just about the sauce.

Tomato & Polenta Pie

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by Megan Martin

tompolentaAt noon on any summer day, there's a certain silence that sweeps across our pastures. It's a livestock siesta and no better time to enjoy the peacefulness of the sun and swaying pines around us. Dane and I think of a savory snack to bring to the breeziest spot on the farm - under the shade of our oldest oak tree.

This season we've collected cherry tomatoes by the buckets - sauces, sun dried and salsa has been happening a lot in my kitchen, but there's nothing like the smell of roasting a tray of fresh picked tomatoes.

This simple pie has a cheesy polenta base that feeds my love for the taste of southern grits. I top it with bright, tart roasted tomatoes - although a variety of garden vegetables could be roasted or sauteed for a satisfying topping.

Heirloom Tomato Sauce With Roasted Vegetables

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by Jessica Harper

SummerVeg1The trouble with going to the farmers’ market is that everything looks so gorgeous I buy enough to feed everyone in my zip code. Then I go home and realize that I actually have to do something with all this bounty, as in, cook it, at which point I have been known to utter a mild curse.

Last weekend I visited the relatively new market at the Beverly Glen Circle. The produce and friendly purveyors were so seductive, I found myself leaving with armloads of bell peppers, eggplant, red onions and masses of heirloom tomatoes, herbs, stuffed flatbread, artichoke spread and even some truffle-scented sea salt, although I’m clueless as to its practical use. If you’d seen me schlepping all those bags to the car, you’d have mistaken me for someone who actually likes spending most of the day in the kitchen.

Iron Skillet Peach Pie

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by James Farmer III

peachpieskilletEarly August is here and the close of peach season in my neck of the woods is drawing nigh. Thankfully 'maters and peas and other summer produce will take us into an Indian Summer and then, thankfully into fall!

I have two sets of iron skillets - one set for savory cooking and one set for sweets. There's hardly anything better than a good iron skillet, but there's hardly anything worse than a peach or apple or berry pie that tastes like onions and gravy! Trust this Farmer, keep a sweet skillet handy so you don't serve onion/gravy flavored peach pie at a dinner party!

Mimi was the source - of course - of any of my iron skillet prowess. She taught me about cooking with them, in them, seasoning them and even bringing a rusty one back to life. She told me that if the house caught on fire, grab the silver and family photos - the skillets will be just fine!

So here is one of my favorite pies in an iron skillet - peach! Followed closely by apple and bringing up the rear would be my pineapple upside cake. The iron gets so hot that the cake or pies cook quickly and give your crust some crunch and substance. Besides tasting absolutely divine, these desserts are beautifully presented in their skillet caches - one less dish to wash and allows for easy reheating!

Watermelon-Coconut-Lime Popsicles

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by Cathy Pollak

Watermelon-Coconut-Lime-PopsiclesMy kids looovvveee popsicles and at some point during the day someone always has a Big Stick or a red-white-and-blue Rocket Pop in hand. While I can be happy with a cherry-pineapple flavored Big Stick, I prefer more of a tropical taste when it comes to popsicles.

Last week I was working away at my desk and I literally jumped up to make these. The idea of watermelon, coconut and lime came over me like a wave. Before I knew it these were headed to the freezer.

Have you made popsicles at home? It’s so easy, especially with the right mold. It takes nothing to whir some flavors up in a blender, the possibilities are endless.

I think the coconut cream I use in this recipe gives this a more “adult” taste. Coconut cream can usually be found in the Hispanic section of your grocery store or as a drink mixer in the liquor aisle. I also use it to make coconut ice cream.

Our Favorite Places to Picnic

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by The Editors

"Not only did I know that August is National Picnic Month, that's exactly how I celebrate every year. By having a month long picnic on a small patch of grass, by the lake, in my favorite neighborhood park. Each August 1, I pack the SUV with 31 day supplies of chicken wings, macaroni salad, bottled water, colorful napkins - and don't return home until just before Labor Day." - Alan Zweibel

ShakespeareCottagePack up your picnic and enjoy an afternoon in the beautiful gardens at Anne Hathaway's Cottage in the heart of England, Stratford upon Avon home to the Bard himself, Shakespeare.

Here you can enjoy free entertainment and activities for all the family, and it is a perfect excuse to venture outside and enjoy the gardens at their very best. There are competitions for the best dressed teddy, fairy dressing up, story-telling and children’s gardening tips from the team of expert gardeners plus races and craft activities.

Foods to enjoy are scones with fresh cream and homemade strawberry jam made from locally grown strawberries…the little ones not the puffed up GMO varieties! Lots of white and brown bread sandwiches filled with delicate fillings of cucumber and egg salad and crème cheese all locally sourced and of course lots of dainty fairy cakes and delicious home baked tartlets…yummy! - Carolan Nathan

As a child, I would go boating with my family in the Stockholm archipelago. We had a small boat which barely slept the four of us and in it we and would skip from island to island for a few weeks. My brother and I would hop ashore first and explore until we found the perfect spot for a picnic. As the sun started to set – which it does late up in these parts – we would sit on the rocks that were still warm from the days sun.

These days, I go with my wife and daughter to the beach in Wainscott where we have a modest house in the middle of a field. Listening to the sea we munch on halibut salad, cheese and crackers from Loaves and Fishes in Sagaponack. - Fredrik Carlström

Picnic at the Hollywood Bowl

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by Bob Wyman

Bowl-PhotoI'm not the outdoorsy type. Picnics with uninvited guests, like ants, are not my idea of a good time. Sitting on the hard ground or wet grass is never much fun. So, my favorite place for a picnic is a box at The Hollywood Bowl on a warm summer night, with a meal that is perfectly prepared by my wife, Peggy.

When we arrive, the first thing we do is set the table. No sheet on the ground for us. A box at the Bowl comes with tables and chairs, so we spread linens that have been cut to table size and then lay the plates and silver. Flowers appear in small vases and the wine glasses sparkle. (Sadly, the Bowl stopped allowing candles, which was the perfect finishing touch.)

Once the table is set, the food starts to appear. Bread and cheese and cured meats or my favorite, Peggy's chilled heirloom tomato gazpacho soup, generally start. From there it might be roast chicken or cold sliced steak or grilled shrimp with mint and feta orzo. Desserts are home made or brought from our favorite bakery, Valerie Confections. And throughout it all there is the wine - crisp bubbly Prosecco, then unoaked Chardonnay, and maybe an Italian red and a sweet sparkling one for dessert. Truly the perfect picnic in the perfect setting.

Summer Picnic Essentials

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by Amy Sherman

It’s National Picnic Month and when you think about it, a picnic is really a mini vacation. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach, hiking in a canyon, boating on a lake, or just heading to your local city park, here are some great products designed to make your next picnic even more fabulous.

portableblanketXL Blanket
Wet grass is a pain in the, well, you get the picture. This XL Blanket is water resistant so you and your picnic stay dry. It also folds into an easy carrying tote with an adjustable shoulder strap. Keep it in the trunk of your car and you’ll be ready at a moment’s notice. $35.99


A stylish bbq is one way to seriously impress your friends and family!

The BioLite CampStove and and grill offer a super portable and compact way to grill your food using wood instead of charcoal or propane. The stove and grill together weigh less than 5 pounds. And the geeks at your picnic will be impressed that the surplus electricity from the stove can be used to charge a phone. Stove and grill combo, $224.85

A Boston Harbor Picnic

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by Kitty Kaufman

Roseanna Marco 1Mountain tops, leafy glades, pastures? Not for us. We're having our picnic in Columbus Park overlooking Boston harbor. Leave your meat and fancy picnic set-ups at home; there are no grills or tables, just trees, grass and benches and other people's yachts, of course.

We like simple egg salad and tuna salad. Hard boil four eggs and refrigerate. Cut two stalks of celery into tiny pieces. Combine eggs with Hellman's mayo. Season with salt and pepper; add dry mustard if you must. Transfer to a disposable plastic container. Next, drain a can of cold tuna. Dice celery and add Hellman's, not too much. Add a dash of pepper, onions if you must. Garnish with parsley if you're a food writer.

Transfer to a separate container with a tight cover. Finally, cut grape tomatoes in thirds, then peel one cold and dry cucumber. Pack together in a third small container. If you freeze a couple of bottled waters, they'll keep everything cold.


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