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Posts tagged as “menu ideas”

Menu Idea: Easy & casual dinner on the grill

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Prior to COVID-19, Dave and I tried to have a date night outside of the house at least once a week. It was a nice way to break up our schedule and take some time to decompress by going to a favorite restaurant, hitting up a movie, shopping, or playing a few rounds of billiards.

When restaurant dine-in service was shut down, and even now with limited capacity, we adapted by doing at least one night of take-out a week from some of our favorite places that were still open as well as having "car picnics" or "tailgate picnics" in parking lots or at parks. We even ate Indian food (rice and all) once or twice in the truck, which was kind of fun. :D

Otherwise, we've made it a point to sit outside on our patio more for dinner during the week and for lunch on the weekends, making good use of the grill - in the summer to keep the house cooler on some of the hotter days that we've had but also in the fall and winter months, too, just for a change of pace.

Dave and I both love to grill. Rain or shine, cold or hot, any time of the year.

We call our patio the patino since it was large enough just for the grill or our outdoor garbage cans when we first moved in. One of our first "real" home projects we did together, two years ago this April, was to expand it to about 8'x8'.

It's still on the smaller side, but large enough to now accommodate a bistro table and chairs along with the grill. Four chairs can fit, but it's roomier if we move the grill off to the grass if we have company. One day, we hope to add a walkway of bricks as well as a larger front patio to connect the two together

But it's very enjoyable to sit outside with a cup of coffee to start the day or a glass of wine to end the day.

Menu Inspiration: Easy Weeknight Italian

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Growing up in New Jersey, Italian food was a big part of my life. It seems like no matter where you go in the state, you can throw a stone and hit a pizzeria. In fact, a quick search on Yelp for "pizza" in Newark, NJ, the largest city in the state with a population of 285,154 in 2017 (Wikipedia) brought up over 620 search results for me. By contrast, a search of Flemington, NJ (Wikipedia says it had a population of 4,621 in 2017), the town where I went to high school and location of the famous Lindbergh "Trial of the Century", still brought up 28 results. I even worked at a few of those pizza places... three, actually, while I was in high school.

Global Inspiration: A German Menu

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A year or two ago I got on a big kick with German food. I'm not quite sure what started it, but it could've been as simple as drinking a lot of Weihenstephaner at the time and wondering, Hmm, I haven't made a lot of German food. I wonder what kind of delicacies I'm missing out on...

At any rate, the proverbial Pandora's box opened and I ended up creating a German-inspired feast for Christmas that year. Many of the recipes have since become staples for me—especially right before or after big holiday gatherings when people are tired of turkey, ham, and other traditional holiday meats.

Try a combination of the these recipes to create a delicious, globally-inspired menu for your next gathering.

A Feast Inspired by the 50 States

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Summer is admittedly not my favorite season, but I'm sure everyone who knows me has realized that by now. I've complained enough about the heat and humidity, sunburn (thanks a lot, fair skin and a desk job, for making the sun an enemy), allergies, and bees enough in my time to prove that point to anyone.

As with everything, though, there are trade-offs. The end of summer will mean that local, fresh produce will start to trickle away and outdoors farmers markets will close for the season. It's still possible to eat seasonally in the fall and winter, but to buy outside of a conventional grocery store, options are limited to hearty greens and root vegetables.

And as much as I love kale and rainbow Swiss chard, it's hard to beat a good Caprese salad. The taste of slightly acidic, fresh heirloom tomatoes nestled together with buratta or mozzarella cheese, drizzled with good olive oil and balsamic, some salt and fresh pepper, and fresh basil... that is pure bliss.

My undying love for Caprese aside, it's true: I can't wait for the end of summer so my favorite season, fall, can begin. Before that happens, though, many of us will likely be spending our Labor Day weekend hosting or attending one last party of the season. If you're looking for ideas for what to serve and are getting tired of hamburgers and hot dogs by now, try a themed menu of favorite foods from across America.