Well almost. Technically, there are another two school days left, for teachers that is. But I think I'm pretty much checked out. Part of me still wants to obsess about next year, but I am trying not to, since there is a ridiculous amount of time to do that; like, say, all of next year. Food wise, I think I have just the hook to get me into the fun in the sun. Shrimp kabobs, and a black bean salad. To delve deeply into the spirit of summer, I am skeptical of such flirtations occurring without the grill. Certainly, there are the requisite items for the grill, tender steaks, juicy burgers, and sweet and crunchy corn. But it is lovely to enjoy something a little bit different than the usual suspects, which honestly, do seem to happen all year, each and every time we find that the wind has died down enough to get the grill going. With each new season, it is nice to enjoy a bite or two that truly drive home the point of the new season. It's summer, and time to make the most of it. Sometimes, I find this hard to actually do. Mostly because I try to keep summer going long into the fall, or at least hoping, and keep reliving the dishes that made summer summer. Last year, it was anything that needed to be chopped or diced, and would keep my little kitchen from overheating, when it has already become a sweat-box. So, I think I've finally gotten into the spirit of this particular summer. I should have rubbed a buddha belly, or found some kinda genie's lamp a long time ago, but I think I've finally found a couple of dishes I will likely want to eat over and over again. Grilled shrimp is fabulously summery. Light, but can almost trick you into thinking about the beach. I love cherry tomatoes on the grill too. Since they are so sweet to begin with, they only seem to get better when their sugars get heated through. But what is summer without a salad? There are so many salads to enjoy, but it can also be easy to get stuck in a salad rut. Black beans with an orange pepper, sweet white onion, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil, is not only healthful, but extremely addicting. I wish you luck if you think there will be leftovers. Summer Shrimp Kabobs *Peeled raw shrimp (somewhat "large", with or without the tail on) Cherry tomatoes Button mushrooms, halved Extra virgin olive oil Juice of 1 lime 1 tsp ancho chili powder Kosher salt Skewers 1. Pre-heat the BBQ, to "medium". 2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the lime juice and the ancho chili powder. Allow the shrimp to marinate in the misture, at least 5 minutes, but not longer than 20 minutes (unless you want ceviche). 2. Once the shrimp have marinated, start placing mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and shrimp on skewers. Drizzle the skewers with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkling with salt as you go. Place the skewers on a plate to go to the BBQ. If you prefer, sprinkle a bit more ancho chili powder just in case. 3. BBQ until the shrimp are pink, and the tomatoes are just seared through. 4. Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil, or alternatively serve with a hot sauce, or a chipotle sauce (also very good!). *I am not being specific about amounts, as you can feel free to be creative with the amounts of tomatoes, or shrimp as you see fit. Some of you might want only shrimp and tomatoes, others might not want tomatoes at all. Just go for it, there is no right or wrong here. Summer Black Bean Salad I love black beans, and eat them often. I hope you will enjoy this salad as much as I do! 1 - 19oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced 1 medium white onion, diced 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped 1 avocado, sliced before serving (optional) Dressing - 4 tbsp, extra virgin olive oil Juice of 1 lime 1 tsp Hungarian paprika 1 tsp ancho chili powder Salt, to taste 1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the beans, bell pepper, onion, and cilantro. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime, paprika, and chili powder. 2. Pour the dressing over top of the beans and vegetables. Taste for salt, and adjust as necessary. 3. Once the salad is placed in serving bowls, then place slices of avocado over the top, or dice it. Just don't add it too soon, in order to prevent discolouration. Vacation Italia starts on Wednesday!