Last week I asked in the open advice threads for some summer salad suggestions and I got a ton of ideas that I am looking forward to trying. I think that all of you are in love with watermelon- I had no idea it had become so sophisticated. I’m used to it being a backyard, don’t drip down the front of your shirt, spit the seeds away from the house, kind of situation. Now ya’ll are telling me that it gets to mingle with mint and ricotta? Wow.

grilled cheese with parmesan crust

One of you disobeyed my request for salad ideas and instead planted a very naughty notion in my head. (I am looking at you, Jen.) You can’t just be all, “I put Parmesan cheese on the outside of my grilled cheese” and not expect me to dream about it for days and days. Until finally, FINALLY, I get my act in gear and gather up the ingredients (& by ingredients I mean actual Parmesan as opposed to the powder stuff we usually have).

So I made it. Grilled cheese sandwich with Parmesan cheese on the outside. Except I like to tinker a bit and do things my way. So here is how I assembled things: bread, mayonnaise (yes. get over it.), cheddar cheese, giant slab of tomato, Lawry’s garlic pepper (the only seasoning I use daily), bread. On the outside of the bread I put a thin smear of smart balance and then sprinkled on the Parmesan cheese. Then I worried that it would all fall off so I sort of smooshed it in there a bit.

Mother wanted Parmesan on both sides of her bread and I just wanted it on one side. Both of us were happy with the results and would try it again. The only thing I would change is that I would grill the sandwich a bit first and THEN sprinkle the parmesan on it for a bonus round in the skillet. I like my grilled cheese to be crispy and by not having the bread actually meet the skillet it never got that way. It was still yummy.

The next new recipe I tried was something that made me stare in awe from Crepes of Wrath. I really want to eat more beans this summer and more salads and to stumble across a bean salad was fantastic. Here is where I confess that the ONLY bean salads I have had are a country club green bean salad (not good) and something zingy and weird with garbanzo’s. Usually when I think of beans I think of winter and hearty soups and stews. But this had some summer ingredients that had me interested (vibrant looking corn and vivid edamame). Plus the vinaigrette didn’t have cilantro- wooo!!
makeahead summer bean salad As I was tossing all of the beans around in the bowl I was honestly doubtful that I would like the dish. I couldn’t deny that it was beautiful, but would it taste good? Hell, would it even taste good-ish? I made it in the morning and we sat down to eat it for dinner. I served Mother and I a tiny, tiny, tiny portion. Like one bean each. We filled up our spoon with the portion, counted to three, and took the bite. Total surprise- IT IS GOOOOOOOOOOOOD! Like this is something I am going to have to make every week, good. Like if I am ever invited to a summer party this is what I am bringing, good.

And the best part? (in addition to the YUM) it is so fucking cheap. Cans of beans, people. Healthy, easy to make, easy to make ahead, cheap, and seriously tastes better the next day.

pantry pizzaI will now confess that after eating such a simple and amazing dish inspired me to want to come up with my own contribution to the world of food. But I’m having a comfort food sort of day. Big time. Last week I picked up a couple ready to bake deli pizzas from the grocery store and froze them. They were a total bargain and sometimes a pizza is what a girl needs.

But I wanted it to be special. I stood in the middle of the kitchen and looked around, mentally assembling items in my mind. I won’t bore you with the list of ingredients I passed on, but instead I will wow you with my brilliant and sideways pizza toppings. Sideways? Huh? Basically what I really wanted was pineapple and almonds. What we had was mandarin oranges and peanuts. And oh my sweet goodness- it was GOOD!

Now tell me what you are tinkering with in your kitchen. Tell me what you are looking forward to making, what your go to summer recipes are….what you would make if we got together for a summer party.

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