It was a fabulous weekend at the beach, with plenty of fun in the sun.  Everyone in my family loves Caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and home-grown basil.  With a little inspiration, we turned the salad into delicious grilled sandwiches.

I didn’t include amounts in the recipe below, but use your intuition and you won’t go wrong.  You do want to be sure to keep the grill on fairly low heat; the bottom of the bread burned in a few places which made for some crispy sandwiches.  Just enjoy them on the deck, and no one will have to clean up the crumbs!

These fancy grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect for either lunch or happy hour.  They were a great way to celebrate the true arrival of summer.

 

capreseonthegrill

 

Caprese Sandwiches on the Grill

Olive oil
Minced garlic
Italian bread, sliced
Tomatoes, sliced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Basil Leaves
Balsamic Vinegar

Mix olive oil and minced garlic.  Brush one side of bread slices, and place facedown on grill.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, until just lightly browned.  Turn bread over, and place tomatoes and mozzarella on bread. Close grill cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Place basil leaves on mozzarella.  Remove sandwiches from grill, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

While I was in Rhode Island this weekend, I went to a local farm to pick up some vegetables to go with dinner.  They had the usual corn, zucchini, and tomatoes which you’d expect at the end of summer.  But I also spotted a wagon full of butternut squash and it hit me like a ton of bricks that fall is truly right around the corner.

 

 

Luckily, this recipe for Garlic-Balsamic Grilled Butternut Squash helped to ease the transition between seasons.  The butternut squash is peeled and sliced, and then marinated in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and thyme.  The slices are thrown on the grill just like any other vegetable, although they do take a bit more time to get tender.

 

 

Although butternut squash is a symbol of fall, the grill marks make this a summer time recipe, or at least one you can enjoy while you sit outside and try to forget that the days are getting shorter.

 

 

I am not going to lie, one of the best parts about being a food blogger is getting free samples of new products.  The generous folks at Kayem sent me two packages of the their new ‘Lean Franks’.  My family planned a BBQ, complete with the hot dogs, homemade baked beans, and salad.  All I had to do was bring the hot dogs, and they did the rest!

The hot dogs are made from skinless chicken and compared to most other hot dogs on the shelf, they are low in both calories (80 per dog) and saturated fat (1.5g).  But they still grilled up quite nicely, and had the distinctive smoked flavor you expect in a hot dog.  We all enjoyed them, and would have them again.  Of course, there are lots of great things you can grill, but if you’re craving a hot dog I would give these a try.

 

Last weekend was gorgeous, and perfect for grilling.  My Dad made two chickens on the grill using the Weber Grill Beer Can Chicken recipe.  Beer is not a stock item at their house and was a special purchase, but otherwise this is a fairly simple recipe.  Each chicken is rubbed with oil and spices, and then placed upright on a tall beer can.

 

Just one small problem – the chickens were a little too tall and the grill didn’t quite close.  Although some heat escaped from the grill, the chickens cooked anyway.  With food safety in mind (at least, in my mind) we used a thermometer to ensure that the chicken reached 165F.

 

Taking the chickens off the grill might have been the most difficult part.  You need to be very careful because the beer that is still inside the can is very hot.

Once the chickens were off the grill and carved, the meat was juicy and flavorful.  This was a great dinner served with potatoes, butternut squash, and green beans.  Plus, there was quite a bit of chicken leftover and I got a dish to take home!

 

While shopping at a Rhode Island farmer’s market this weekend, my family and I met the Browning’s of Browning Homestead in Matunuck.  Farmer’s markets are a great place for local produce, and also a convenient place to buy local meat.  This farm has a mascot that travels to the market.

I don’t feature a lot of meat-based recipes on the blog, and occasional readers sometimes think that I am vegetarian.  I do eat all kinds of meat, but I am against factory farming, and I believe in eating locally.  I try to make conscious choices that support local, sustainable farming.  So I was excited to hear that the animals on this farm are grass-fed.  No steroids, antibiotics, or hormones are used.  The animals are slaughtered in a USDA facility also located in Rhode Island.  Most importantly, the farmers seem to be very committed to producing quality food.  

Last year we tried grass-fed hamburger from a different farm, and learned the hard way that it cooks much more quickly.  This time, we tried the all-beef mild Italian sausage, and paid closer attention when it was on the grill. (Thanks, Dad!) The meat was finely ground and tightly packed, with almost no visible fat.  The flavor was mild as promised, and almost reminded me of keilbasa – with a lot less grease of course.

I don’t eat sausage all that often, and this was a nice change of pace.  Grass fed meat does taste different, but once you learn how to cook it properly, it’s a good kind of different.  This meat is raised in a way that’s kinder to the environment, and contains essential fatty acids that are healthier for your heart.  I am hoping to try another cut of grass-fed meat from a local farm soon!

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