Tag Archives: summer

Lobster Rolls

Nothing screams summer like a lobster roll. I can’t claim that lobster rolls are in abundance where I’m from. I live in a landlocked town in Northern New Jersey with the closest beaches on the Jersey Shore. But I love lobster and most fortunately for me my brother went to college in a Connecticut town on the water and one of my mom’s best friends lives in Cape Cod.

You definitely have to be in the mood for lobster to have one of these but nothing satisfies a lobster craving like they do. There are variations on them; some come with a lobster salad, others with only chunks of lobster drizzled with melted butter. I usually go for the plain lobster and ask for them to go light on the butter. Sometimes the lobster can really be drenched in butter, which is a popular way to eat it, but if you’re like me and have a sensitive stomach you may not thank yourself later, no matter how delicious it was.

The places to get the best lobster rolls tend to work a bit like a fast food restaurant. You go up to the counter to order, give your name, and when your food is ready you are called and free to enjoy your meal in an outdoor seating area. Most of the places I’ve been also have a selection of clam dishes as well as some of the usual sides like fries, coleslaw, and onion rings. A lot also have an ice cream counter for dessert. It’s one of my favorite ways to eat, just you and your food on a dock overlooking the water, watching the sun sink behind the clouds.


Fire Pits and Fireflies

The greatest thing that ever happened to my backyard was a fire pit. While the swing set that used to stand in its place was great and all, its lack of monkey bars was less than spectacular as was its inability to produce food. So eventually down came the swing set and in came the fire pit and with it some highly improved summers.

S’mores became that thing that was done at my house. We’d always had a working indoor fireplace that was perfect for roasting marshmallows but somehow that wasn’t the same as getting a fire going outside in the dark, the twinkling lights of fireflies bobbing all around.  My yard was the place my friends would come to play manhunt; my deck was always the most crowded. It was at my house that we spent lazy summer afternoons, threw together potluck dinners, said our last goodbyes before college. I think you’ll find there’s really nothing like a graham cracker, a slab of Hershey’s, and a marshmallow roasted on an outdoor flame to bond people and get everyone coming back for more and more.

Turkey Burgers

The end is in sight. Classes are nearly done. Finals await. After the mad dash that is late night studying and frantic packing we’ll be in a car or bus or plane or train, heading for summer vacation. Of course. mid-May isn’t actually summer, but it seems blasphemous to suggest that the end of school merely signals mid-spring. For me, the end of school is so deeply associated with swimming pools, ice cream, barbeques, and fireflies that it still surprises me that the fourth of July isn’t two weeks later. So to honor the end of this school year and the perhaps not so impending summer, this week I’ve decided to make turkey burgers.

As I don’t have an actual grill at my disposal, I cooked mine in a skillet. I used raw ground meat, but if there’s a frozen pre-cooked brand you like, go for it! We’re college kids. No judgment here. I toasted some buns in the oven, picked a cheese (I think muenster goes well with turkey burgers), and then made a quick coleslaw. The great thing about coleslaw is that stores sell the cabbage pre-shredded so you just need to mix in what you want. I’ve had some pretty varied coleslaws and I’m no expert but I think mine turned out pretty well this time. I just followed a pretty simple mayo based recipe but added some English mustard (which is SUPER spicy in a horseradish kind of way) to give it some kick. I put my coleslaw directly on my burger and then I was done. I ate it with a side salad of tomatoes and cucumbers in a lemon vinaigrette (lemon, olive oil, white wine vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper).

If there’s something I’ve learned in my 20 years it’s that people tend to get very territorial over their favorite burger and insist there’s no other way to do it right. And I would be one of those people. So the burger I’ve made isn’t the best burger, and it breaks some very fundamental burger laws, but if you want to go for a dorm burger and you want it fast, then I think this is one of the best darn dorm burgers I’ve ever had.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

It may not feel like spring outside, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bake like its almost summer! Last time, we made delicious ice cream cup cakes, and now, I’ve decided to keep with the spring theme and make lemon poppyseed mini muffins.  While you are more than welcome to add decorations, icing, or even lavender, I’ve decided to stick to the basics. When you’re done, pair this dessert with delicious mint lemonade and have a picnic in the park. Enjoy!



Butter: 1/2 cup

Sugar 2/3 cup

Eggs: 2

Flour: 1 1/3 cup

Baking Powder: 1 tsp

Baking Soda: 1/2 tsp

Poppy seeds: 2 tbsp

Lemons: 2 for zesting

Salt: 1/4 tsp

Buttermilk or Plain Yogurt: 1/2 cup

Lemon Juice: 2 tbs

Vanilla: 1 tsp

1. Preheat that oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix together butter, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl

3. In another bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, poppy seeds, and lemon zest

4. Here is where the alternating comes in.  Pour a third of the dry ingredients into the sugar and butter mixture.  Then pour a third of the buttermilk into the same mixture alternating between the two and stirring with each addition.

5. In a third bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

6. Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon poppy seed batter

8. Spoon the batter into a prepared muffin pan and cook for 20-25 minutes.



Not Another Strawberry

Blueberry Buttermilk Biscuits

It might be strawberry season, but I’ve already had more than my fair share of these red berries during the past couple of months, and in efforts to avoid my yearly summer habit of over-consuming a certain type of food and then not being able to ever eat it again, I’m pushing this fruit to the side until the next time they come into season. Last summer my mom went though an apricot-obsession phase, so we were eating some sort of apricot-based dessert every night. While she did get creative, too much is too much. Countless apricot tarts and cobblers later, I’m through with that fruit under its every form. I can still enjoy strawberries, but it won’t be long until I lose them to anther unfortunate case of fruit-aversion. I won’t take the risk.

In my effort to find different summer food options, I encountered Bon Appétit magazine’s buttermilk biscuit recipe (you can find it here) as well as Trader Joe’s big box of organic blueberries. Since then, a happy combination of two great things has been found: blueberry buttermilk biscuits. The combo isn’t anything new, but these little cakes are a satisfying breakfast, snack, or dessert and a versatile base for many other dishes—they can be toasted and topped with butter and jam for breakfast, served with cream, mixed berries, and chopped mint as a light dessert, or eaten by themselves. Seeing as how simple these little treats are to make, there’s no reason not to try some other variations (maybe with chocolate chips? nuts?).

Of course, the addition of strawberries would probably make for a wonderful version of this baked treat, but I’ll be waiting ’till next summer for that one. Until then, blueberries it is.

Dinner and a Movie: The Way Way Back

I had some trouble deciding what movie to base this week’s post on.  None of the movies I’ve seen recently have been particularly food-filled.  There was “Blackfish,” a sort of exposé on the treatment of Shamu and other SeaWorld orcas, but whipping up a fish dish in its honor seemed a bit too morbid.  When I told a friend I was going to see “Fruitvale Station” she thought I was on my way to get frozen yogurt, unfortunately the movie had nothing to do with frozen desserts (though it was a great, powerful film).  But I do love a good ice cream concoction, and nothing says “summer” quite like a sundae.


Except maybe lounging by the beach and playing at a water park. “The Way Way Back” centers on Duncan (Liam James), a painfully awkward teenage boy dragged to his mother’s boyfriend’s beach house for the summer.  The film opens with the boyfriend, played by a refreshingly serious Steve Carell, informing Duncan that he is a three out of ten; as the summer progresses he gets a job at a charmingly outdated water park and comes into his own.  Fun fact: the movie is named for the back seat in a station wagon, the one that faces the road instead of the other passengers and can feel either independent or isolating.


Watching Duncan and his new friends run around the water park put me in the mood for everything summer, especially its signature food.  Ice cream s’mores are, to me, a pretty perfect summer combo.  Unfortunately the Trader Joe’s I went to did not have any marshmallow products, so my s’mores were missing a little something, but the taste was not lacking.


Ice Cream S’mores


This recipe is not so much a recipe as a list of suggestions.  The sweet treat is ripe for customization!

Spread hot fudge on one graham cracker, and marshmallow fluff on the other.  Scoop some ice cream onto either cracker (I used coffee, but feel free to experiment).  Close the sandwich with the other graham cracker and enjoy!  If you’re entertaining and would like to make them in advance, tie them up in plastic wrap and freeze until you’re ready to serve.

An alternate version, complete with whipped cream

Of course, much more can be added to make these s’mores absolutely perfect.  Add whole marshmallows, chocolate chips, or peanut butter to add some extra texture and flavor.  Some of my friends topped their concoctions off with a tuft of whipped cream (I made a s’mores ice cream bar instead of making them ahead of time—less work for me and more fun for them!).  For even more chocolate, try using chocolate covered graham crackers as the base.  Have more fun ideas?  Comment to let me know!

The Rolling Pin Café

If your soul mate could be a restaurant, The Rolling Pin Café would definitely be mine. Situated on a busy street in a small town in New Jersey, it’s very easy to miss. And yet every seat in the tiny, cozy café is always filled, with a twenty-minute wait to get a table. It tends to be frequented by chattering old women, mother-daughter pairings, and the occasional husband, clearly dragged there for the first time by his wife who asks about the waitress’s kids.

The Rolling Pin has the perfect menu and weekly specials for any season, but its décor just screams summer. Complete with a creaky screen door and homemade raspberry lemonade, it’s the perfect escape from the heat. The walls are lined with old drawings and prints, antique rolling pins, and a shelf topped with cookbooks and a rather magnificent collection of porcelain teapots. It embodies quaint and charming.

And have I forgotten to mention that the food is delicious? The menu consists of a list of sandwiches, soups, salads, and macaroni and cheese. It’s comfort food with a twist. The classics we have come to know and love are given a distinct character— some caramelized onion spread is added to ham and cheese, mustard greens to a tuna melt. All the salads have a unique character, whether it come from a smoked Gouda, a candied pecan, or a toasted walnut vinaigrette. The soups change each week, going from a selection of hearty or creamy soups in the winter to light, chilled soups in the summer. All the sandwiches come with a side of sweet potato salad or a pickle (go for the salad, it’s ridiculous) and the salads and soups a homemade scone, baked fresh that morning.

My most recent excursion into foodie bliss found me having a love affair with the salad of the week. Mixed greens topped with strawberries, sliced almonds, shredded Havarti, and a light white wine vinaigrette, it was a masterpiece. Every bite exploded with vibrant, summery flavor. The strawberry and dressing gave it a wonderful tangy taste with the cheese a smooth balance. The almonds gave it a nice texture that allowed for the satisfying crunch the other ingredients lacked. I was in heaven.

So should you ever be in Westwood, New Jersey and are up for a delicious lunch and a great atmosphere, try The Rolling Pin. I promise it will be worth the wait!


The Rollin Pin Cafe

341 Broadway

Westwood, NJ 07675

Dinner and a Movie: This is the End

At midnight during the summer I am usually tucked into my bed, nodding off to the next episode of “Game of Thrones” on HBO to Go.  There are those, however, who are still out at the movies at that ungodly hour, which means that I now often find myself at work along with them.  The night that “This is the End” came out was one of those nights.  Much to my mother’s chagrin, I stayed at the movie theater after my shift ended to catch the midnight show.  Still dressed up in my collarless, navy, button-up uniform shirt, I bought myself some caffeine and settled in for the ride.  All I can say is if you have not seen it yet, get up and go.

The apocalyptic comedy stars…well, everyone, but namely Seth Rogen, Jay Burachel, James France, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson.  (Seth, Jay, and Danny actually stopped by my theater on opening day to hand out candy and popcorn to unsuspecting moviegoers; I was an entirely unhelpful employee as I stood off to the side and stared at them walking in.)  The stars, who all play hilariously obnoxious versions of themselves, find themselves stuck in James Franco’s mansion to hide out while the rest of the world burns down around them.  Unfortunately for them, Franco’s pantry contains just “12 bottles of water, 56 beers, Nutella, C.T. Crunch…and a milky way bar.”  Naturally, a fight ensues over who should get some of that Milky Way:


Jonah Hill:  Can I have that Milky Way?
James Franco:  No you can’t have the Milky Way, cause it’s my special food, I like it.
Seth Rogen:  I want some of the Milky Way.
Craig Robinson:  I’ll be pretty bummed if I don’t at least get a bite of the Milky Way.


I get it, Craig.  I would be pretty bummed too.  It is also good to know that Milky Ways are James Franco’s “special food.”  I understand where he’s coming from, too.  But if the world is coming to an end you better believe I will be stuffing my face with every kind of chocolate available.  Frankly I’m surprised that no one was fighting over the Nutella.  Thankfully, though, it is not the end of the world, and there are still plenty of Milky Way bars to go around, a fact which was quite helpful when I made Milky Way cookies.  These surprisingly simple cookies are gooey and delicious.  If Milky Ways aren’t your thing, most other types of chocolate candy should work just as well.


Milky Way Cookies 

Adapted from iheartnaptime.com



2 sticks softened butter

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ¾ cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

35 mini Milky Ways, coarsely chopped (I cut them in quarters)



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda.  Slowly add this mixture to the other bowl.
  4. Pour in the chopped candy bars, and mix well so you don’t get all the candy in a few of the cookies.
  5. Roll dough into small balls and place on the baking sheet.  They expand, so leave a bit of room in between each ball.  I would also recommend coating your hands in flour so that you can get nice, even balls without them sticking to you (it’s a pretty sticky dough).
  6. Bake for approximately 8 minutes.  Let cool about 2 minutes on baking sheet.

Summer Strawberry Soup

When I was twelve I attended a weeklong summer cooking camp at Chef Central. Each day revolved around a different meal: Sunday brunch, 4th of July barbeque, and such. My favorite was the “light summer lunch” day. It was the first time I got to experiment with cold soups. The only cold soup I’d ever had was gazpacho, and as I’ve always detested peppers in any form, it was never a big hit with me. But at cooking camp we focused on cold fruit soups.

The great thing about cold fruit soups is that they’re really versatile. They’re pretty much great for any meal. I like to use them as desserts, because they go great with some biscotti or a simple cookie and are light enough to complement the season but heavy and sweet enough to satisfy a dessert craving.

The other day I was feeling in a very summery mood and decided to whip out one of those old soup recipes. I decided on strawberry because that just screams summer to me. It only takes about fifteen minutes to make, although you do have to let it sit in the fridge for a while after preparing it. After two excruciating hours I packed the soup up and brought it to my friend’s house for one of our “Sherlock and food” parties.

The soup was a hit. My friends loved it. I had some with a black and white cookie, some people just drank it like a smoothie, and one of my friends even used it as a sauce for her brownie (extremely advisable if you were wondering). Every way it proved delicious.

Recipe for Strawberry Soup

Makes 12 servings
• 3 pt. fresh strawberries
• 12 oz. sour cream
• 1 pt. cream
• ½ cup sugar
• juice of ½ lemon

Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut into quarters. Reserve on large strawberry for each serving for garnish. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, adding the lemon, sugar and sour cream. Add the heavy cream and whip until slightly thick. Chill the soup in the refrigerator for 2-72 hours. Serve as a dessert or starter course in chilled bowls, garnished with a large strawberry cut almost in half, secured to the rim of the bowl. Garnish with mint if desired.

Ushering in the Fall

We’re only four weeks into the school year and already the cold weather is upon us! It’s still September and I’m starting to need a scarf and heavier jacket, and before I know it I’ll be breaking out the boots (I did just get a new pair though, so I’m actually more excited for fall then I might be letting on). In any case, before summer is totally behind us weather-wise, I wanted to make one last salad: quinoa with pear, raisins, scallions, and goat cheese, a totally fancy way to transition into the fall season even though we officially passed that day last week.

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