Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Beach bound? Stick it.

By JANINE GILBERTSON July 17. 2018 9:07PM
Lettuce wraps lighten the load on the days when you are carting around lunch or dinner for you and your family. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

I was sitting at Rye Beach last week enjoying the summer weather when I noticed a mother packing up her beach gear and trying to wrangle her young kids to help her pick up the towels, sand pails, sunscreen and other assorted beach gear.

She looked pretty frazzled hauling a heavy cooler across the sand while the kids stomped their feet in protest. Apparently they didn’t want to carry their gear across the hot sand to the car.

I felt that mother’s pain; it prompted flashbacks to the days when my boys were young and I would pack up the cooler, towels, toys and of course food and drinks for a day at the beach.

We used to bring stuff to make sandwiches, which meant bringing along mustard for one kid, mayonnaise for the other; bread, meat and of course paper plates and a knife. So much stuff to drag to the beach.

Looking back, I should’ve made things easier on myself and put together foods that didn’t require assorted condiments or utensils.

With that in mind, I came up with a few dishes that fit the bill.

Food on skewers is a great option because you can eat it right off the skewer. Stack some fresh cherry or grape tomatoes with mozzarella and basil and you have caprese skewers.

You could also stack folded pieces of deli meat along with some vegetables and you would have a healthy lunch option, no condiments required.

If you want to avoid having to pack a loaf of bread for sandwiches, try lettuce wraps. Boston lettuce works especially well for this and you can make different fillings or use deli meats and different cheeses for variety.

I tried this with a ground turkey and rice filling with a little Asian flair and it was a hit.

If you want something sweet, make chocolate mousse and scoop it in to little Phyllo cups. As long as you store them in a container and put them in your cooler, they will remain chilled and make a delicious treat on a hot summer beach day.

Lettuce Wraps

1 head Boston lettuce

1 T. garlic olive oil

1 T. fish sauce

1 T. soy sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. grated ginger

3 T. cilantro, chopped

2 T. lime juice

1 lb. ground turkey or chicken

2 c. brown and wild rice, cooked

Chopped roasted peanuts, if desired, for serving

Add the olive oil to a skillet and set over medium high heat. Once oil is warmed, add the ground turkey and ginger. Cook until the turkey is no longer pink, breaking it up and stirring as you cook. Once the turkey is cooked, lower heat to medium and add soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and rice. Stir well. Cook for an additional 2 minutes then remove from heat and sprinkle with cilantro. Add a scoop of the mixture to the center of a lettuce leaf and garnish with peanuts. Fold the lettuce around the filling and serve.

Chocolate Mousse Cups (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Caprese Skewers

10.5 oz. container cherry or grape tomatoes

7 oz .container mini mozzarella balls

1 bunch fresh basil leaves

2 T. balsamic glaze, for garnish

Pierce tomato with a bamboo skewer, then add a basil leaf (fold if necessary) and a mozzarella ball. Repeat adding a tomato, basil leaf and mozzarella ball to the skewer until skewer is full. Set aside and repeat with remaining ingredients. Before serving, drizzle with balsamic glaze, if desired.

Skewers, above, and lettuce wraps, below, lighten the load on the days when you are carting around lunch or dinner for you and your family. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Chocolate Mousse Cups

4 egg yolks

1/4 c. sugar

2 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, divided

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Add egg yolks to a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until thickened, then slowly beat in sugar. Add 1 cup of whipping cream to a saucepan and set over medium heat until hot. Slowly stir the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream to a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Fold the chilled chocolate mixture into the second batch of whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into mini Phyllo cups and garnish with grated chocolate, if desired. Store in a lidded plastic container and chill until served.


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