Sunday, August 27, 2017


Yup, Labor Day, the last 'offical' picnic/cookout day up here in the Northeast. this has been the oddest summer that I recall. Most of us are still waiting for the warm weather to arrive. On one hand, I am quite content with the fact that I have only had to run my AC for less than a week total this summer. On the other hand, we are a family of kayakers and everything outdoorsy, so swimming has been few and far between.

But this crazy weather has not prevented us from firing up the grill and even taking our meals out on the deck to eat. These side dishes have been part of our menu for quite some time and I think they will be part of yours as well. Not your usual slaw and salad, these warm weather dishes should grace your table, be it picnic or dining room, all year long.


Fresh Butternut Salad with Cranberry Citrus Vinaigrette

This is one of those "salads" that tastes and satisfies as a hearty side dish. Wonderful flavor, filling without feeling guilty and perfectly suited for all times of year. Just a hint of protein is all this recipe needs to accomplish all this and more.

1 small butternut squash(about a pound)
2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crushed walnuts, pecans or your favorite nut
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese(about a half cup)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cranberry Citrus Vinaigrette, recipe below


Cut the neck of the squash from the bulb, saving the bulb for another use. Peel the neck portion and cut in half lengthwise. Using a vegetable peeler, or mandolin if you have one, create long, thin ribbons of squash. Place ribbons in a large bowl. Cut sliced proscuitto into 2-inch segments and add to squash along with remainder of ingredients. Toss well, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving drizzled with Cranberry Citrus Vinaigrette.

For the vinaigrette, place 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup cranberry juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 teaspoon grated orange zest and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar in a blender or food processor and process until completely emulsified.

Enough for 3 servings.


Japanese Sweet Slaw

A gorgeous blend of colorful cabbage, carrots and squash and mixed into the tastiest blend of flavors you can add to coleslaw. A must serve at that final get together of the summer.

1(16-ounce)package shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 small butternut squash(about a pound)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon each lime juice and apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic in oil or garlic powder

Cut the neck of the squash from the bulb, saving the bulb for another use. Peel the neck portion and cut in half lengthwise, using only one half of the neck and keeping other half for another time.

Slice squash into thin "half moons" and then cut them into matchsticks. Add squash to coleslaw mix in a large bowl and set aside.

Put remainder of ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or into a blender and puree on high until well blended. Pour into coleslaw and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Bacon Cole Slaw, Southern Style

Now who doesn't like bacon? I know it seems cliche now, but when a little smoky saltiness is added with genuine Southern sweetness of peaches, you are bound to make this for the Holiday table that will be replacing the picnic table before you know it.

1(16-ounce)package shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt to taste
1 firm white peach, peeled, pitted and diced(see NOTE)
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

It is as easy as putting the coleslaw mix in a large bowl; set aside. Add the next 6 ingredients in another bowl and whisk very well, adding salt to taste. Add to coleslaw mix along with peach and bacon and tossing and mixing well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE: I use a white peach because it is far less 'peachy' in flavor, but is a touch sweeter. By all means, buy a regular peach if desired.

Enough for 6-8 sides.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Name Says It All

As all of you are aware, I adore trying new products and will tell it like it is. If I dislike it, I won't say a thing. If I like it, then I will do everything imaginable to tout and spread the word about it. I have never, nor WILL ever, charge for my opinion, put it on the back burner or disregard one single query when it comes to helping out my New England community.

This post is a little different. I have been speaking with a Texas-based company with regards to a summer staple...barbecue, and all its glory. Specifically, dry rubs.

I have never been a fan of dry rubs, no matter how good they sound or taste. Instead, focusing on sauces. Again, this time was a little different.

I received one of each dry rub from this company and was instantly blown away by the sizes of their containers. In the back of my mind, I was hoping and praying that something would set these people apart because, being a cheap Yankee, the $10 price tag was not a draw.

This is one of those instances where you absolutely cannot judge a book by its cover......or price tag.

Rubbin' Right seemed honest, friendly and neighborly enough over the phone and email that I thought that is where it would end. I would be sent a product or two that simply didn't, or couldn't, stand out amongst the others.

I have been proven wrong more times than I can say, and I am only have way done using their rubs!

Opening each one of them up, I swear I was taking one long leap to Texas! The aroma of each one of these rubs was distinct in its own aroma and I was able to tell which was which simply through the scent of each. That was the first crucial step...just another instance of proving me wrong.

I wanted to grab these 8 ounce containers and start sprinkling them over every protein and vegetable I had laying around the house. But I wanted to treat these rubs with a little dignity and Yankee ingenuity. Anyone and everyone can dust a rib and cook it. I chose to see if they would stand up to a Yankee touch, and again, I was pleasantly surprised and proven wrong again.

I only regret that I am only halfway done with my rubs, but I also need to share my delightful experience with this companies rubs as soon as possible.

I want to add that this is by no means the last you will hear about Rubbin' Right from me. When I am completely finished with all these seasonings, I will add another post, one that is more in depth, but in the meantime I would LOVE to give a big shout out to my new neighbors, my Texas friends Chuck Wagon Sally, Big Jim and of course Sharon. They have sent me some unique, tasty and uniquely-spiced rubs that have converted me completely. And for that, I thank you. These 8 ounce containers will last me, as it will you, throughout the summer months NOT because of the number of containers I have, but because these spice blends are potent enough that a little goes a long ways. See my recipes below and take a looooooong look at their website and do as I did, order them post haste.(The leaves are starting to fall off the trees here in Maine as we speak!)


Yankee Wet Country Ribs

How much simpler can you get? Rubbin' Right hit it out of the ball park with this seasoning. Taking this amped up barbecue rub and combining it with the taste of apple is a marriage not often tasted in ribs.


4 tablespoons Rubbin' Right All-Purpose Barbecue Rub
1 tablespoon frozen, unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 pound bone-in(optional)country-style pork ribs

Combine rub with apple juice and mix thoroughly in a large bowl. Place ribs into marinade, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 12.

When ready to cook, line a portion of your grill grate with tin foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Heat grill to low and place ribs on foil after shaking off excess marinade*. Close lid and cook for 1 1/2 hours, turning ribs often and basting with leftover rub mixture. Remove ribs when very tender and serve hot.


* These ribs are best cooked over indirect heat, so when lining grate with foil, try to place foil over a part of the grill where there will be no, or very little, direct flame.

Smoky Tennessee Ribs

Using oak wood chips is a great wood if you want the smokiness found in good ol' Tenessee bourbon, where they age their bourbon in oak barells. This Honey Bourbon Rub is such a great tribute to our great South, I had to use it to its' full potential, and I think you will agree these will be the hit of the picnic.


1 pound bone-in country-style pork ribs
About 2 tablespoons Rubbin' Right Honey Bourbon Rub
2 cups oak wood chips
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup bourbon *


Sprinkle rub evenly over all sides of the ribs and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Thirty minutes before cooking, soak wood chips with bourbon and water, making sure to add water to fully cover chips.
When ready to cook/smoke, drain wood chips and place in a large piece of heavy duty(not the thin stuff)aluminum foil and seal very well, with the sealed ends facing up. Place foil pouch over the drip pan that is located between the flame of the grill and the rack. If you don't have one, simply double wrap the wood chips with another layer of foil and place directly over heat source.
Turn only a part of your grill on high, leaving some portion of your grill without a flame, and close lid. After about 5 minutes, the foil pack with smoke. This is the time to place your ribs over the part of the grill with no heat. Close lid and cook 1 1/2 hours, or until meat is well done.
Remove meat and serve hot.(DO I really need to tell you how to get rid of the foil pack?)

* If you don't want to use your bourbon for smoking, simply use all water.

Serves 2

Salisbury Spiced Burgers

Why Salisbury? Because my parents had a true Salisbury Steak at their restaurants as I was growing up, and it was simply ground beef mixed with peppers and onions. It has been my favorite "steak" ever since.


1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup minced bell pepper
1/4 cup minced onion
3 tablespoons Rubbin' Right Combination Rub
4 hamburger rolls

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, pepper and onion, mixing well. Make 4 patties and sprinkle rub on both sides of each patty evenly(Don't skimp). Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before cooking on your grill or inside in a skillet.

I am going to tell you outright, I have added a link to this great company throughout this post, so I highly urge you to take a peak at what these people have in store for your summer outing this year.