Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eating Well Every Night

When it's steaming hot outside, the best part of the day is when the sun goes down; and at our house, that's when things get interesting. I'm usually pouring wine, listening to great music and concocting something in the kitchen. On weekdays, I like to have a some 'go-to' pre-made items on hand for quick (but healthy, delicious) dinners.

My summer 'must have' list for a great dinner at home

Fresh, ripe tomatoes- as many as I can get my hands on

Anything from the squash family, straight from the garden

The best herbs from my own planters

Incredible music with a relaxed vibe (Cafe Europa is a fab bistro-inspired mix to pick up, but right now, I'm completely addicted to Eli Young Band's latest CD -playing it over and over)

Double Blind Pinot Grigio from Cultivate (picked up from The Wine Chap). It is the BEST summer sipping beverage

An open bottle of red wine to cook with (we like Miracle One Pinot Noir)

A recipe I can count on... without having to read or follow anything too closely

 A staple I make on weekends is a tomato sauce that makes everything better. There's always a container in both our fridge and freezer. It's a pasta topper, a perfect compliment for flash-fried shrimp, and even an ideal dip for veggies. The most important part.. low-key preparation-- which includes having fun and lots of vino!

This sauce is my staple for so many dishes!


1 really large yellow onion, diced
1 TBSP unsalted butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ripe heirloom or Cherokee tomatoes, loosely chopped
I bunch basil, torn
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oregano, finely chopped
12-15 white mushrooms, stems removed, sliced (to save a step, buy pre-sliced)
1/2 cup red wine

In a Dutch Oven, drop in the butter and oil and heat to medium high. Once melted, add the onion, reduce heat to medium. Let  cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Add mushrooms, garlic and 1/4 cup red wine.  Continue cooking to reduce mixture until very little liquid is visible. Then, toss in tomatoes and allow to sauté for another 5 minutes. Add 1 28 oz. can of tomato sauce, water, basil, salt, pepper, remaining wine and oregano. Stir, and let simmer for about an hour (or for as long as you want-- it only enhances the flavor). Freezes perfectly and goes with everything!

 This is my 'version' of Succotash that I prepare in my Mimi's cast iron skillet. I use it as a side dish, on salads and as a blend to mix with torn rotisserie chicken. I also eat it cold on my way out the door on weekday mornings.


2 TBSP unsalted butter
Fresh, washed butter beans from the Farmer's Market (about 2 cups)
2 Chopped Zucchini from the garden
Corn from 2-3 ears, sliced from the cob
2 diced bell pepper (red and/or orange)
1 TBSP dried thyme
1 medium red onion, diced
Salt and pepper (be generous)

In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter on medium heat, add the onion and peppers and cook for 7-8 minutes. Add in other vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper and stir. Cook on low for another 10 minutes. I like to serve it warm with fresh parsley on top. If you have a big family, double the recipe to make a large batch so you will have leftovers; keeps well for a week.

What are your favorite recipes for easy summer meals? I would love more ideas. Don't forget to start following the Southern Sophisticate! 


  1. Per your suggestion, I tried the Double Blind Pinot and LOVE it! ....and I'm usually not a white wine drinker!

  2. Lindsay, in my opinion it is the best value on the market. So yummy. Check out the Cultivate Wines Page on FB-- they also have an incredible Chardonnay (Wanderlust) that I love!