Our appetizer this time around was Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese. This earned two thumbs up from us (out of a possible four). The thing is... it was my idea because I had been reading about how nutritious beets are, and feeling like maybe it was time to give them a try again. Because I never eat them. Ever.
Now I remember why. Sister liked them, and maybe I would have too if they just weren't so darn...beety. For your enjoyment I've included a link to a local chef's video that offers a more elaborate beet and goat cheese recipe ( as well as a sampling of a local Jersey accent) ;)
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Towers
For our part, we did not bread the goat cheese as in the video above, and while we prepared the beets similarly we didn't roast them quite as long. Maybe that was the problem? Or maybe I just don't care for beets. Hey, it's a free country, right?
By the way, if you are looking for great locally made goat cheese, try Needmore Farm in Wantage, Sussex County (they don't have a website, but you can Google it). The family owned farm produces goat's milk, feta, cheddar, spreadable herb cheeses, as well as goat's milk soap. Their cheeses are also available at Morris Plains farmer's market.
Next up, our cocktail of the month, the Strawberry Speechless. As in, this is so good we are speechless.
Strawberry Speechless (courtesy of The Beekman Boys).
Next up, we decided to do two salads, a Spring pasta salad as well as a Summer salad (either of which would make great sides at any outdoor picnic or gathering).
Our Spring salad was Pasta and Snap Peas with Feta and Mint. We used whole wheat pasta and also added basil to the feta. It also has a lemon pepper garlic dressing. We omitted the red pepper flakes. We had two taste-testers in the kitchen who were a bit suspicious. One pronounced the fresh mint "yucky" while another generally refuses to eat anything whole wheat (ppssttt....that was me!)
* This time of year (June-July) you can get some of the great herbs as well as the beets featured in our recipes at Stokes Farm (Bergen County). The "What's in Season" section details a complete list of the wonderful variety of herbs and produce available.
Another side option for your next barbecue is this Summer salad shown below. Now is the time you can pick your own corn at local farms, however local corn is not quite available in store yet.
Aida's Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad
The main components are corn, grape tomatoes, avocado and mozarella cheese, as well as a cilantro dressing. It looked like a lot of dressing at first but actually accompanied the salad nicely and wasn't greasy at all. One substitution I might consider making is the mozarella cheese. While it did taste fantastic, if you're planning on a lot of leftovers for this salad I would use a firmer cheese such as colby jack.
Our main dish was Chicken Cutlets with Herb Butter. This was, in a word, heaven. No joke. The fresh herbs absolutely made the dish. Mint is optional in the recipe however I thought any amount of mint tasted fantastic and didn't overpower the dish (we used about half parsley, half mint).
About the only down side to this recipe that I can think of is that you may suddenly become obsessed with making your own herb butter for meal. Then you will eat all of the meals, and get fat. Luckily, dairy does not scare us in the least.
Speaking of dairy.. our crowning achievement this month, Strawberries and Cream Pie. We used strawberry preserves in place of the strawberry jelly topping, which I thought tasted a little bit fresher.