Tag Archives: Potato

Fire up the grill for a delicious ‘summer picnic’


It’s been a while since I’ve used my grill, but a recent trip to Northern California inspired me to come back home and clean off my backyard bad boy for another summer of good eats.

The lunch I made for my buddies up north was inspired by Nadia’s favorite grilled dish of mine, “The Summer Picnic.” We call it that because I made it for her one summer night and the name stuck.

Basically it’s grilled shrimp, grilled asparagus and some bread.

I pierce the shrimp twice, through the head and near the base of the tail, to make the skewers easier to flip. As far as shrimp go, most would say sustainable is best, but it’s also pricey. You get the best bang for the buck at Costco, where the shrimp in the meat/seafood section are huge. I think I paid about $18 for 24 large shrimp. But they’re also farmed … so is the majority of the rest of the shrimp you and I are likely eating though, so I dunno.

Finally, I’ve read that it’s better to buy frozen than fresh in most cases. Unless you’re buying at Pearson’s Port (or sometimes Santa Monica Seafood), most of the shrimp you purchase is frozen on the ship at sea. The market then defrosts it to display it, so what’s the point? Lately, I’ve switched to frozen Northern Chef wild caught baja shrimp, 40-60 count in a 1 lb. bag for about $10 at Sprouts.

Omit the bread to save on the carbs, but if you plan on using it, you can serve it fresh or grilled. French is best, but you can also use italian. Slice the baguette or loaf into slices, and if grilling, brush lightly with olive oil (or garlic/herb-infused olive oil) and cook on the grill very briefly. Watch it close, because it burns quick!

What’s great about these ingredients is that you can tweak them different ways to keep it interesting.┬áHere are some variations:


-Wrap the asparagus pre-grill in bacon or post-grill in prosciutto.

-Throw some sausage on the grill too! My favorite is the pork sausage at Puerto Madero in Santa Ana/El Gaucho in Anaheim. Just like the bacon/prosciutto idea above, it’s not the healthiest idea, so save it for a sporadic treat. Finish with a drizzle of chimichurri, also available at the market (I like to leave off most of the oil and just use the herbs instead).

-Par-boil some halved yukon gold potatoes for about 12 minutes, until nearly fork tender. Finish face down on the grill, turning 45-degrees once in the cooking process. The chimichurri also works great here, or toss with a tablespoon of melted butter (plus sauteed shallots, a lot of garlic and parsley, if you’d like). Salt and pepper to taste.

-Other vegetables would also work here–spring onions, ramps, broccolini, brocolli rabe. We just alway use asparagus because it’s so yummy.

-Finish the veggies and the shrimp with a solid spritz of fresh lemon juice and fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Cook This Now! The 340-calorie cheeseburger and crunchy baked French fries


Cheeseburgers are my downfall.

Well, bad habits, inconsistency and the failure to prepare for weight loss are my downfalls.

But, also cheeseburgers.

They’re gooey, greasy, meaty … all the reasons you’d love a cheeseburger. But wouldn’t you know it, cheeseburgers don’t really love you back. Unless you make them at home, that is.

As I’ve slimmed down, I’ve noticed how my cheeseburgers have slimmed down too: I used to eat doubles with bacon at fast food restaurants regularly. Over time I left the drive through behind, dropped a patty, and most of the time the bacon too. Mayo never makes an appearance anymore.

I found the blueprint for a skinnier burger in Men’s Health “Cook This, Not That.” In short, the basics of a skinny burger revolve around the type of bun you use and the ratio of meat to veggies.

Men’s Health suggests potato buns, which skew close to the 200 calorie mark depending on brand. I went with a freshly baked small-sized white bun from my local Fuddrucker’s. Four fresh buns for less than $1.50. That’s a deal.


You want the amount of veggies to be larger than the amount of meat. For the recipe at top, Cook This, Not That’s 340-calorie A-1 Steak Burger, they use 1/4 lb. of ground beef per burger plus a whole lot of sauteed onions and mushrooms.

The burger, a small meatball that you smash on the grill to sear hot and fast,  has a crunchy crust in just a few short minutes with this method. This is the trick to making really great burgers at home without a grill.

Doctor it up with blue cheese, hatch chilies, a slice of bacon … anything you’d want to put on a burger out really. (Read more: Fat Dude’s Grass-Fed Breakfast Burger.)

I stick to about 1 oz. of cheese on each burger (a 100-110 calorie serving size) and ask the guy at the deli to cut the cheese into 1/2 oz. slices. That way, it’s like I’m getting two pieces of cheese, but in a serving size that’s less calories than even one piece of cheese at a regular restaurant.

And because you can’t have a solid burger without fries, you know I had to make those too.


Fries are simple: If you know know that 150 grams of potatoes is 110 calories, you’ll automatically know the perfect serving size for an order of homemade French fries.

The trick to getting them crispy is to first cut the potatoes (into planks, then into fries) and then soak them in cold water, changing the water once, for about 24 hours. The starch will leave the potatoes, ensuring a crisp result.

To cook, spray with cooking spray, salt and bake the fries at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then at 425 degrees for a final 10 minutes.

You’ll never crave another deep fried spud or calorie-laden restaurant burger again.

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