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7 no-cook appetizers for steamy summer nights

Karen Covey

When the temperature starts to creep towards unbearable numbers in the last days of summer, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven! That’s why we’ve gathered seven delicious appetizers that you can whip together in a breeze, no heating elements required. These summer appetizers are best enjoyed al fresco, on a cocktail cruise, or at a sunset picnic. 

blueberry relish

This simple appetizer is ready in minutes and offers a variety of options for serving. We love it paired with goat cheese over crackers (or with toasted bread if you feel like turning on the oven or grill). Serve any leftovers over grilled chicken for an easy summertime meal.

1 pint fresh blueberries, picked over and gently washed (about 2 cups) 
1/4 cup finely diced Vidalia (or red) onion
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Juice from 1 lime
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, for serving
Goat cheese, for serving
Crackers, for serving

  1. Place blueberries in a bowl and gently mash slightly with a fork (you want most of them mashed, especially any big ones, so finished relish doesn’t fall of crackers when served). Add onion and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, honey, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Add to onions and blueberries and gently toss to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust as necessary.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

Green Goddess Dipping Sauce
Serve this with either cooked shrimp or vegetables for dipping. Serving it in individual dishes makes it more sophisticated and elegant.

Peppadew Cheese Spread
An update on the Southern staple, pimento cheese, this salty, savory spread is dangerously addicting. Delicious on your favorite crackers, it’s the perfect prelude to a midsummer’s dinner. 

Bay Scallop Ceviche  
This light, citrusy ceviche preparation is perfect for sweltering hot nights. Bay scallops are best here due to their small size, silky texture, and sweet taste. This dish works as an appetizer, served with tortilla or plantain chips, or even a light dinner. 

Grape Pico de Gallo 
A fun and unexpected take on the Mexican classic, this salsa is delicious with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to white fish. Prep the ingredients and toss them in a bowl and you’ll be out of the kitchen in minutes.

Melon Caprese Skewers
Light, colorful, and super fresh is everything you’ll find in this easy to assemble skewers, which are also perfect for little hands to help too.

Oysters with Pink Peppercorn Mignonette
An easy, pretty pink mignonette served alongside fresh oysters makes a very festive and beautiful platter. And, oysters are a no-brainer when you’re hosting a dinner in the dog days of summer.

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Karen Covey

The outdoor summer markets are brimming with fresh corn now and our favorite pasta dish with basil and grilled shrimp is sure to please. Be sure to wow your guests and serve it with our corn cocktail (yes cocktail!)…it’s pretty darn delicious too!

corn cocktail

This cocktail doesn’t actually taste much like corn, but rather uses the “milk” of the corn to offer up a pale yellow color and a creamy consistency. Hints of citrus and a good tequila are the only other things you’ll need for this summertime treat.

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Zest of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (or more if not too sweet and juicy)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce agave syrup
2 ounces tequila, or to taste

  1. Place salt, sugar, and lime zest on a plate and mix together. Rub rim of glass with cut lime and dip rim into salt/sugar/zest mixture, coating rim completely. Set aside.
  2. Muddle corn in bottom of a cocktail shaker until kernels are mashed and a milky liquid forms.
  3. Add lime and lemon juice, agave syrup, and tequila. Fill shaker with ice and shake until combined and chilled. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a martini glass and serve.

Makes 1 cocktail.

pasta with corn, shrimp + feta

A hearty bowl of pasta never disappoints and this one is packed with tons of flavor. Pesto is a great thing to make as a large batch and keep on hand for easy meals. To keep it, store it in a mason jar and top it with a thin layer of olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The olive oil helps to keep the pesto from turning brown but if it does a bit anyway, simply skim (and discard) that part off and use the bright green pesto underneath.

Metal (or wooden) skewers

Basil pesto
4 cups packed fresh basil, washed and dried
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound extra large shrimp (approximately 16), peeled and deveined (with tails on)
2 tablespoons canola oil  
1 pound spaghetti
2 large ears of fresh corn, husks and silks removed
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or to taste

  1. In a food processor, combine basil, garlic, salt, pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Slowly stream in 1/4 cup olive oil and process until smooth. Add in a bit more olive oil (if necessary) until you reach desired consistency. Transfer to a jar (or bowl) and set aside.
  2. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 30 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Wash and pat dry shrimp. Set aside.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Skewer shrimp. Brush shrimp with oil and season one side of each with salt and pepper. Place skewers on grill and cook until shrimp start to turn pink and light grill marks form on bottom, about 1-2 minutes. Turn and continue to cook on other side for 1-2 minutes. Transfer skewers to a serving platter and allow shrimp to come to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta and cook until pasta is al delta, 7-10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle past aight 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat evenly.
  6. Cut off kernels from each ear of corn. To do so, lay corn on its side and using a sharp knife, carefully cut off corn kernels from cobs. Transfer cut corn to bowl with pasta. 
  7. Remove shrimp from skewers and roughly chop into large pieces. Add to bowl of pasta along with a few dollops of pesto. Gently toss everything to combine. Stir in more pesto if desired. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Transfer to a larger serving bowl and top with feta. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

For more great corn recipes, download a copy of our summer ’16 issue here.

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roasted oysters

Karen Covey

Since tomorrow is National Oyster Day, we thought we start celebrating a little early and share a new recipe with you for your next backyard gathering. Buttery, crispy breadcrumbs with a bit of heat (which can adjusted to your own liking) make for a perfect little one-bite appetizer. Mike’s Hot Honey is one of our favorite condiments because you get a great combination of both sweet and heat all in one, and we love that.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Mike’s hot honey, or to taste, plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
12 oysters, shucked
Fresh minced flat leaf Italian parsley, for garnish

  1. Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and cook until melted. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in hot honey and season with salt and pepper. Add breadcrumbs and mix until completely combined. 
  2. Preheat oven to broil. Nestle in oysters on a bed of salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Top each oyster with a small dollop of butter. Broil until lightly golden brown and butter has melted, 1-2 minutes (be sure not to walk away as they will broil fast).
  3. Place another bed of salt on a serving platter. Carefully transfer oysters to platter and top with a drizzle of hot honey (if desired), followed by some parsley. Serve warm.

Makes 12.

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burgers with aged cheddar + homemade tomato jam

Karen Covey

In addition to starting with the best quality meat, the key to making a good burger is to put it on the grill and leave it alone. Resist any and all temptation to move it around or press it down against the grates. Put it on the grill and wait for the bottom to get a nice crust on it. When it does, the burger will be ready to flip. Topped with melted cheese and a dollop of this mustardy-based tomato jam, it’s pure burger bliss.

Tomato Jam
4 medium Roma tomatoes, finely diced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (up to 1/4 teaspoon)

2 pounds ground beef
6 ounces aged sharp cheddar, sliced
6 small sourdough hamburger rolls, split

  1. Make tomato jam. In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, add ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring fairly often to prevent jam from sticking to bottom of pan. When mixture has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.
  2. Preheat grill to medium heat. 
  3. Loosely form ground beef into 6 burgers, taking care not to overwork meat. Using your thumb, create a small indention in middle of each burger (this allows them to cook evenly and helps them keep their shape while they cook) and season indented side of each burger with salt and pepper.
  4. Place burgers on grill, indented sides down, and allow them to cook, without touching or flattening them, for 4-5 minutes on one side. When burgers release easily from grill, flip and continue cooking until almost done, another 2-3 minutes. 
  5. Top each burger with equal amounts of cheese, close grill, and cook until cheese melts, another 1-2 minutes. Remove burgers and loosely tent with aluminum foil.
  6. Place rolls cut side down on grill and cook until grill marks form, 1-2 minutes. Remove rolls and place on individual plates or a large serving platter. Place burgers on bottom of each roll, top with some tomato jam, and serve.

cook’s note: Roma tomatoes are the best choice for this recipe because they aren’t overly juicy and they keep their shape in the jam. Other varieties of tomatoes will work but produce a lot more juice. If you are not using Romas, get the jam nice and thick and strain it. The finer you dice the tomatoes for the jam, the smoother it will be. Leftover jam makes a great condiment for sandwiches—especially grilled cheese—or serve it over a piece of fresh fish. It will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. 

Makes 6 burgers.

cook’s note: Double the batch of tomato jam and add to a grilled cheese sandwich!

This recipe is from The Coastal Table cookbook by Union Park Press

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hot dogs with chili sauce

Karen Covey

recipe + photo by Karen J. Covey

This recipe was developed by my father who longed to create a sauce for his hot dogs that reminded him of the one he had growing up along the shores of New Jersey. Serve it over your favorite hot dog, with chopped onions, grated cheddar cheese, and a dash of celery salt. Your favorite salty chips and cold beer are also a must for this classic summertime meal.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup low-sodium beef stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 ounces tomato sauce

  1. In a medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for another 1 minute.
  2. Add beef and cook until browned. Spoon off and discard any excess oil from pan (if necessary). 
  3. Add remaining ingredients to pan and simmer over moderate heat until almost all liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Once cooled, transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until meat is finely ground, about 5 pulses (if necessary). Serve immediately or keep warm on low heat until ready to serve.

Makes approximately 2 cups (enough for 8 to 10 hot dogs). 

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how to choose the best fish

Karen Covey

words by Emily Weber | photo by Jennifer Johnson

It’s hard to know how to make the most sustainable choice at the fish market, and sometimes the local option isn’t always best.

Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch app makes the choice a lot easier. The free app, available for Android and iPhone, tells you what seafood items are the most sustainable and provides recommendations for “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives”, and items you should avoid. For example, if you’re in the store picking out cod for dinner you can read the “Cod Overview” which recommends the following: “Buy Pacific cod caught in Alaska. Then look for a ‘Good Alternative’ from the U.S. West Coast and British Columbia, Canada, but know that these sources have environmental issues. Say ‘No, thanks’ to Atlantic cod, except when it’s caught by the Marine Stewardship Council. Also, steer clear of Pacific cod from Japan and Russia.”

If you’re flexible about the type of seafood you are purchasing, you can use the app to find more information about the options at your local market, U.S. North Atlantic Mackerel for example, and make an educated purchase from there. Or, if you’re out for sushi, the app allows you to search anything by its English or Japanese name (i.e. Eel or Unagi).

The app also takes into account the health benefits of different fish and recommends them in tandem with their sustainability. The app’s “Super Green List” recommends five A+ sustainable fish options with low-levels of mercury and high levels of omega 3s: Atlantic Mackerel (purse seine, from Canada and the U.S.), Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.), Pacific Sardines (wild-caught), Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska), and Salmon, Canned (wild-caught, from Alaska).

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program also works with business partners to help them supply the most sustainable fish to their customers. When you enter in your zip code it will point you to the nearest Seafood Watch Partner, including restaurants, fish markets, and major retailers. The listed partners have committed to sell only “environmentally responsible seafood and help transform the marketplace in favor of more responsible fisheries and aquaculture operations.” One of their biggest ocean-friendly partners that probably has a location near you? Whole Foods.

To learn more about Seafood Watch visit: or download the app in your app store. 

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blueberry cheesecake ice cream

Karen Covey

It’s blueberry season and this is one of our favorite ways to enjoy them on a hot summer day. Be sure to freeze enough extra blueberries from your stash so that you can whip up a batch long after the season has ended.

Blueberry Sauce
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar
Fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Ice Cream Base
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Make blueberry sauce. In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar, and a generous dash of lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until blueberries begin to pop. Reduce heat and whisk in cornstarch until smooth and continue to stir until mixture has thickened. Allow sauce to cool slightly, then transfer to a blender and process until smooth. Transfer sauce to refrigerator to finish cooling. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place graham cracker crumbs on a baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Set aside.
  3. Make ice cream base. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add cornstarch, followed by heavy cream, salt, and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until well chilled.
  5. Once base and sauce are cold, remove base from refrigerator and churn in an ice cream maker for 15-20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 21°F.
  6. Pour semi-frozen ice cream into a freezer-safe container. Spoon blueberry sauce over ice cream and sprinkle top with toasted graham crackers. Gently swirl ice cream with a spoon to incorporate layers. (Do not over-mix or ice cream will turn completely blue.)
  7. Cover ice cream and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

Serves 6.

cook’s note: It’s important that the sauce is completely blended so that everything is nice and creamy, or you run the risk of having some icy pieces in the finished ice cream.


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buttermilk bran muffins

Karen Covey


Summer entertaining is also about serving a great breakfast to your house guests, one they’ll love that also doesn’t take a ton of time to pull together. Here are a few of our favorite breakfast ideas to wow your guests with little effort.

This is our go-to breakfast muffin for early morning entertaining. We love it because there’s no mixer required to make, allowing you to easily (and quietly) make them while your house guests are still asleep. They’ll love waking up to these muffins, guaranteed not to stay around for very long.

Cooking spray, for greasing
1 cup unprocessed coarse wheat bran
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Fresh butter, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Coat mini muffin tins (or regular-sized tins) with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine bran, flour, baking soda, and salt. 
  4. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, honey, applesauce, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk until light and frothy, 1-2 minutes. Dry wet mixture to dry and gently stir to combine. Do not overmix.
  5. Divide batter among prepared muffin tins, filling 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when pressed gently in center, 18-22 minutes (depending on size of muffin tins you’re using). Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cook completely. 

Makes approximately 18 mini muffins.

chunky homemade granola 

Making homemade granola is surprisingly easy, and you can customize it any way you like. This version uses oil, which tends to make a crispier (and chunkier) granola, especially if you don’t toss it around it as it cooks. Make a big batch and keep it on hand for easy weekday snacking.

Cooking spray
6 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsalted whole almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup finely ground flaxseed or wheat germ, optional
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, coat top of paper with cooking spray, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, coconut, flaxseed or wheat germ (if using), and salt. 
  4. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, honey, oil, and vanilla and stir until combined. Pour over oat mixture and mix until evenly coated. Pour granola onto baking sheet and, using a spatula, press granola firmly. Bake, without stirring, until outside edges are just golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. (Start checking after 25 minutes to avoid overcooking.) 
  5. Remove from oven and allow granola to cool completely before breaking it apart into chunks. Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes approximately 8 cups.

This recipe is from The Coastal Table cookbook by Union Park Press.

vanilla bean yogurt

A simple, yet delicious way to amp up plain yogurt.

1 35-ounce container plain Greek yogurt
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
Homemade granola (recipe above), for serving
Fresh fruit, for serving

In a large bowl, combine ingredients (except granola and fruit). Taste and adjust if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Serve 4-6.

blueberry smoothie

Double or triple the batch and make it the day before. Keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

1 cup ice
1/2-1 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a blender, chop ice. Add 1/2 cup milk, blueberries, yogurt, honey, and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add more milk if smoothie is too thick. Taste and adjust as desired.

Serves 1.

cook’s note: To freeze freshly-picked blueberries, pick through and discard any damaged ones. Lay the blueberries in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once the blueberries are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag.

For more of our favorite smoothie recipes, click here.

For more great recipes, be sure to grab your copy of
The Coastal Table magazine.



Quantities are limited. Valid Friday, July 14 - Sunday, July 16, 2017
until 5pm EST.

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strawberry tomato rosé mussels

Karen Covey

recipe + photo by Ashton Keefe

This recipe comes from chef and cookbook author Ashton Keefe. We love everything about this combination, which is a perfect flavor tribute to summer.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
1 cup dry rosé wine
14 ounces crushed tomatoes
Kosher salt, to taste
2 lb. mussels, cleaned, scrubbed, and beards removed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bread, for serving

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until onion is translucent. Add strawberries, and continue to cook, stirring every so often until strawberries have broken down but still retain their shape. Add rosé and simmer, reducing and burning off alcohol until about half of original amount and slightly thickened. Add tomato and season with salt. Give everything another stir. 
  2. Add mussels on top, dot with butter and cover for 7-10 minutes until most of mussels have opened. Stir mussels into sauce. Remove and discard any unopened mussels. Transfer mussels to a large bowl and serve with bread for dipping, and of course a glass of rosé. 

Serves 4.


To get more great summer recipes, download a copy of our new summer issue here.

Or stock up on our other summer issues here. All back issues are 1/2 price!

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bbq chicken

Karen Covey

As summer gets into full swing, we love entertaining outside as much as possible. We start with the classics: grilled chicken, some great sides, and a refreshing dessert are just about all you need for a perfect holiday weekend with friends.

4 bone-in breast of chickens, with skin on
2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup homemade (or prepared) bbq sauce, plus extra for serving

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. 
  2. Brush chicken breasts with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place chicken on grill, skin-side down, and grill until a nice char forms, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken breasts and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off one side of grill and move chicken to off side of grill. Baste chicken and cook for 20-25 minutes, turning and basting chicken, about every 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through (internal temperature should be 160°F).
  3. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil and allow chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, remove breasts from bone and cut into thick pieces. 

Serves 4.

smashed potato salad

This is a delicious take on a classic potato salad. Be sure to leave some of the potatoes chunky for great texture. We also love this with grilled, chopped scallions and red onions, and crumbled blue cheese.

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup plus 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

  1. Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, gently smash into large chunks using a fork.
  3. In a small bowl, combine mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil to emulsify. Add in another 1-2 tablespoons oil if dressing is too thick. Add some of dressing to warm potatoes and toss. Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature.
  4. Once cooled, add parsley and toss with enough remaining dressing to coat. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-6.

classic coleslaw

For added crunch and sweetness add in 1 large peeled, cored, and diced Granny Smith apple. Finely diced red onion also adds a nice crunch too.

1 head green cabbage
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

  1. Remove any tough outer pieces of cabbage and cut away the core. Shred cabbage (or thinly slice) and place in a bowl along with carrot.
  2. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust if desired, adding in more sugar if needed. Add to cabbage mixture and stir to combine. Add in more mayonnaise until you reach desired consistency. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve. Toss in parsley just before serving.

Serves 4.

watermelon slices with mint syrup

You can make the simple syrup ahead of time and just leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Leftover simple syrup is also great in cocktails.

4 1-inch thick slices fresh watermelon

Simple Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 large sprigs fresh mint

Roughly chopped fresh mint, for garnish

  1. Make simple syrup. In a small saucepan, add sugar, water, and mint and bring to a gentle boil. Stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. Remove and discard mint. 
  2. Place watermelon slices on a serving platter and drizzle with some mint syrup. Garnish with fresh mint and serve.

Serves 4.

While there are plenty of great BBQ sauces on the market (we love Lillie’s), you can also make a version of it yourself. For a few ideas, check out these recipes:

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spicy shrimp lettuce wraps

Karen Covey

As the summer heat settles in, we love to serve quick-cooking meals that require as little time at the stove as possible. As an alternative, you can also keep the shrimp whole (don’t chop them) and cook them on the grill if you prefer to do the cooking outside. This meal is both light and flavorful, and a nice balance of flavors and texture from the spicy shrimp to creamy avocado to a zesty quick slaw. For extra spice, add in more heat as desired. Double the batch for even larger entertaining. It’s great for sharing as everyone can help themselves, making for a more interactive experience. 

1 pound large shrimp, washed, peeled, and deveined
1 large clove garlic, smashed into a paste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup canola oil, divided

Juice from 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups shredded green cabbage

2 avocados
Leaves from 2 heads Boston bibb lettuce
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Limes, for serving

  1. Pat dry shrimp and finely chop. In a bowl, combine garlic, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and 2 tablespoons canola oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp and toss well to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
  2. Make slaw. In a bowl, combine lime juice and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Add cilantro and cabbage, tossing well to evenly coat. Set aside.
  3. In a nonstick pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, and stir constantly until shrimp turn opaque and are cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Remove shrimp and place in a serving bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Cut avocados in half, remove pits (and discard). Using a tablespoon, scoop out avocados and place upside down on a cutting board and thinly slice.
  5. Place a couple of avocado slices in center of 2 lettuce leaves. Add some slaw and some shrimp. Garnish with cilantro and lime juice and repeat with remaining lettuce leaves.

Serves 4-6.

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chive blossom vinegar

Karen Covey

Chive blossoms are really delicious when tossed into a garden salad but we also love this recipe for using the remaining blossoms from our fresh chives for an easy homemade vinegar.  

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup packed chive blossoms

Remove flower heads off of stems and place them in a bowl of cold water to get rid of any grit (or small critters). Once washed, pat them completely dry. Place blossoms in a jar about halfway full, and fill jar with vinegar. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature to steep for about 1 week. When ready to use it, strain the vinegar and transfer it to a clean jar.

Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

chive blossom vinaigrette

In a mason jar, add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons chive blossom vinegar, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover jar and shake until completely combined. Taste for flavor and adjust as desired. Toss with your favorite garden greens and enjoy.

chilled zucchini soup

photo by Jennifer Johnson

Any leftover garnish from this soup can be used to make the vinegar. For this and all the other great zucchini recipes featured in our new summer issue, click here to grab a copy.

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summer favorites

Karen Covey

styling by Abby Capalbo | photo by Erin McGinn

Here’s our curated list for summer!

for our favorite seasonal recipes, be sure to stock up on all of our back issues and get cooking! everything is 1/2 price! 


or get a copy of our new summer issue, on sale now!

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cottage makeover: before + after

Karen Covey

Our new summer issue features the cottage makeover of our very own publisher, Karen J. Covey. Once cloaked in shag carpet and covered from top to bottom with wallpaper, this quaint coastal cottage received a fresh makeover and is now a cook’s dream.

Located along Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts, Karen fell in love with the house from the very first moment. She could see the structure of the house was solid and had tons of potential. Looking past the dated kitchen, outdated fixtures, and small rooms, Karen saw a house waiting for a new, fresh look.

Renovating a house isn’t easy, and the smaller the house, the more difficult it can be. To maximize every inch of space possible, Karen hired a local architect, Will Saltonstall, to help with the design, a step that was well worth the investment. Hiring an architect can seem like unnecessary money in a renovation project but in fact, it’s some of the best money you can spend, especially if your renovating an entire house. Working with a trained professional allows you to look past your own wish list of wants and desires and opens you up to what can really be done. And a good architect helps you create the home of your dreams.

Saltonstall and his team knew that they could relocate the heating unit to the attic and the water system to the basement, allowing that current floor space off the kitchen to now become part of a bigger kitchen with a floor-to-ceiling pantry. Those decisions alone opened up the entire floor plan and allowed Karen and her husband, David, a big open kitchen for entertaining.


To make the space of the small two-bedroom cottage feel larger, they took down the wall at the entrance (seen here) and the wall leading into the kitchen. 


Old-fashioned, build-in A/C units were outdated and not very functional. With all the dampness that comes from living by the beach, the couple opted for central air throughout.


Linoleum floors and vintage wallpaper were quickly replaced with bright white cabinets and dark wood floors. Having the same flooring throughout the cottage helps make the space feel connected.

styling by Abby Capalbo | photos by Erin McGinn

styling by Abby Capalbo | photos by Erin McGinn

Simple white walls and counters, and open shelving in the kitchen keeps this newly renovated cottage light and bright.


To see more photos of the renovation, grab a copy of our new summer issue.

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cold sesame noodles

Karen Covey

We love any kind of entertaining menu that we can make ahead and this recipe is no exception. It’s perfect for hot summer nights, or as a portable potluck or picnic meal. For entertaining, serve these with one of our favorite cocktails, a chilled saketini (recipe below).

1 lb. linguine noodles
Kosher salt, to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely minced
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon red chile paste
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup hot water
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
Sesame seeds, for garnish

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt. Add linguine and cook for 7-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with sesame oil and 1 tablespoon canola oil and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat remaining canola oil over medium-low heat. Add ginger, garlic, and red chile paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened and just fragrant. Add brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, and water. Stir and cook until sauce is combined. taste and adjust as desired. Add a bit more water if necessary (should be consistency of a thick dressing).
  3. Pour 3/4 of sauce over linguine and toss well, coating all of linguine. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with remaining sauce. Chill until ready to serve.
  4. Before serving, top linguine with scallions and sesame seeds.

Serves 4.

cook’s note: For a bit more substance, top with cooked chicken, diced cucumbers, and cilantro.

chilled saketini

photo by Cassandra Birocco


Japanese cucumbers, which are less seedy than regular cucumbers, make a beautiful garnish for this sophisticated cocktail and give it a subtle hint of crispness as well. 

Japanese cucumber, for garnish
Chopped ice, for serving
6 ounces vodka
6 ounces dry sake

  1. Place martini glasses in freezer.
  2. Cut cucumber into thin rounds and set aside.
  3. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add 1 1/2 ounces vodka and 1 1/2 ounces sake and shake well.
  4. Remove martini glasses from freezer and strain mixture into chilled martini glasses. Repeat 3 more times. 
  5. Add a slice of cucumber to each glass and serve cold.

Serves 4. 

This recipe is from The Coastal Table cookbook, and reprinted with permission by Union Park Press




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meet the maker: Seersucker Southern Style Gin

Karen Covey

words by Mackenzie Wise

Just in time for National Gin Day, the folks at Azar Family Brands, have created a new kind of southern style gin that’s perfect for celebrating.

Seersucker Southern Style Gin was born of a desire to create a gin with a lighter and sweeter profile than that of a typical London Dry. Creators Trey and Kimberly Azar spent over a year perfecting Seersucker’s flavor profile, which was inspired by ingredients common to southern kitchens. Hints of juniper make way for layers of citrus, honeysuckle, and mint, designed to leave a long and refreshing finish. 

Seersucker embodies southern warmth and approachability, right down to its design. Azar says that a chance encounter with a Derby Day partygoer, decked out in traditional seersucker shorts, inspired not only the name but also the drink’s classic blue-and-white striped label. 

Made with all natural ingredients, and slow-distilled through a hand-hammered copper pot for a cleaner, better-tasting flavor, Seersucker Southern Style Gin is light enough to enjoy on it’s own, or mixed any way you please. And for any non-gin lovers out there, this is one to try. 

Trey’s favorite way to enjoy it is simply with club soda and an orange twist. We also love it in our frozen cucumber gin + tonic. But no matter you choose to enjoy it, you’ll find it a perfect, versatile addition to this summer’s cocktail menu.

frozen cucumber gin + tonic

Light and refreshing, and perfect for sipping. But be careful, they don’t taste like they have gin in them and can be quite dangerous!

2 cups ice
1/2 english cucumber, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
Juice from 1 lime, or to taste
3 ounces Seersucker Southern Style Gin, or to taste
3 ounces tonic water

In a blender, combine ice, cucumber, lime juice, gin, and tonic water. Blend until completely combined. Taste and adjust as desired. Carefully pour (or scoop) into serving glasses and enjoy!

Makes 2.

cook’s note: Blended mixture will separate after awhile so you may need to stir it again as you drink it to combine.

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chicken paillard with grilled potatoes

Karen Covey


Paillard is a term that refers to the quick cooking of thinly-pounded meat. It’s great for entertaining because it cooks quickly and a little goes a long way since you’re pounding out the chicken. If you have the extra time, marinating the chicken for a bit helps lock in the flavor. 

4 boneless chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic, smashed into a paste (see cook’s note)
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh oregano
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 2 lemons, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 bag baby Yukon gold potatoes
Fresh garden greens, for serving
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Place one chicken breast between 2 sheets of wax or parchment paper. Using a mallet or rolling pin, gently pound chicken until about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer chicken to large glass or ceramic baking dish and repeat with remaining chicken.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine garlic, oregano, and zest and juice from 1 lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil and pour over chicken, coating each completely with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or up to 4 hours. 
  3. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Place over medium heat and cook until just tender, 15-20 minutes (depending on size of potatoes). Drain and set aside.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  5. Place potatoes in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to completely coat potatoes. 
  6. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Place chicken and potatoes on grill. Cook chicken for about 5 minutes until grill marks form. Flip chicken, and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Continuing cooking potatoes until tender and can be easily pierced with a knife. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with aluminum foil. Set potatoes aside.
  7. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add juice from remaining lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Add greens and gently toss to coat. 
  8. Place chicken in center of a serving platter (or individual plates). Top with greens and some shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve with potatoes and extra lemon for drizzling.

Serves 4.

cook’s note: To smash garlic, roughly chop cloves on a cutting board. Add a good pinch of kosher salt and using the back of a knife, smash garlic into a paste.

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brown rice sushi bowls

Karen Covey

Sushi is one of our favorite go-to meals in the summer because it’s light and takes advantage of the freshest seafood of the season. But sometimes we’re just in the mood for our favorite vegetable roll, so we’ve adapted the flavors we love from them to make them at home. We love to serve them over brown rice, our absolute favorite pantry staple ingredient instead of sushi rice for an even healthier twist. 

You can add just about anything you like to these bowls which makes them great for entertaining. You can serve these all assembled, or serve it more family-style and allow your guests to create their own. Shrimp, salmon, tuna, or tofu are just a few other things you can add to the bowls, but the possibilities are really pretty endless. For a bit of heat in the dipping sauce, add some crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

2 cups short-grain brown rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil, or to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly gourd black pepper, to taste
1/2 nori sheet, crumbled
2 avocados
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced or diced
4 scallions, light and green parts, thinly sliced
Freshly cilantro, for garnish
Black and regular sesame seeds, for garnish

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water and brown rice to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is cooked and water is absorbed, 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove lid and place a clean kitchen towel over top of pot. Place lid over towel and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, fluff with a fork.
  2. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Season with a bit of salt and some pepper. Taste and adjust as desired. Set aside.
  3. In a dry skillet, toast nori sheet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, chop into smaller pieces with a sharp knife. Set aside.
  4. Cut avocados in half, remove pits (and discard). Using a tablespoon, scoop out avocados and thinly slice (or dice).
  5. Divide rice among serving bowls, followed by cucumber, scallions, avocado, and cilantro. Garnish each with nori and sesame seeds. Drizzle with sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

cook’s note: Toasting the nori again helps to make it a bit crispy, allowing you to chop it up easier.

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