summer recipes Archives - 2 Dads with Baggage
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How to Barbecue the Perfect Steak

How to Barbecue the Perfect Steak

*This post was created in partnership with Omaha Steaks, and all the views and opinions expressed here are my own.

My pop taught me his barbecue skills when I was a teenager, passing on the age-old tradition like it was some manly ritual dating back to the cave men. Among his many lessons were solid recommendations on how to cook a chicken breast without drying it out, or how to put the perfect char on a hot dog. However, the one thing he did not teach me was how to barbecue the perfect steak.

Honestly, I think he did not know how to barbecue the perfect steak, and used mostly a keen sense of hunger to determine how long the damn steaks stayed on the grill. He passed on absolutely no skills in this area. He also clearly knew nothing about ordering quality meats from Omaha Steaks. I had to learn all this the hard way.

grilling Omaha Steaks bacon wrapped filets

Demonstrating how to barbecue a steak, I’m grilling up some delicious Omaha Steaks bacon-wrapped filets.


How to Barbecue the Perfect Steak

Start With Good Meat


No joke, the quality of your meat makes a huge difference. If you bought your steaks from the bargain counter at a gas station, you should expect them to be tough and taste lousy. However, when you are willing to spend the proper amount to buy premium cuts of meat from a high-quality source like Omaha Steaks, you can expect the best in flavor and consistency. That’s why we don’t fool around. When we eat steaks, we prefer to order them from Omaha Steaks because we know they will taste amazing. The more marbled the meat, the better. Enough said.

raw Omaha Steaks bacon wrapped filets

Look at the marble on these premium Omaha Steaks bacon wrapped filets!


We received our steaks as part of a cool collection from Omaha Steaks called the Guaranteed to Thrill Collection. Look at all this cool stuff:

Guaranteed to Thrill Collection  
4 (5 oz.) Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignons
4 (4 oz.) Omaha Steaks Burger
4 (4 oz.) Boneless Pork Chops
4   (3 oz.) Gourmet Jumbo Franks
boxes of Omaha Steaks

Whenever we see these distinctive red boxes with the historic photos, we know they contain quality Omaha Steaks products.


Avoid Mishaps By Prepping the Grill

One of the biggest pitfalls leading to a burnt crispy steak in not prepping the grill properly. Here’s an easy checklist and a couple of helpful tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • Make sure the barbecue is VERY hot.
  • Clean the grill with a steel bristle brush, careful to get off all the little leftover bits.
  • Turn the heat down to medium-high (if using a gas grill) or wait for the charcoal to burn down a bit.
  • Cut an onion in half, and dip it cut-side down into a bowl filled with a little olive oil. With the tongs or long fork, grab the onion and glide it across the grill to coat and season it.
  • Put the onion off to the side or in the corner – it will add some nice flavor/smell as it cooks.
  • Now you are ready to place your steaks on the grill.


priming the barbecue grill with onion

I always prime the barbecue grill with a fresh-cut onion dipped in olive oil.

Prepping Your Steaks

Hopefully you ordered quality cuts from Omaha Steaks, but even if you didn’t these steps are good  to follow. Getting the steaks ready for grilling will help ensure they cook well and retain their juiciness.

  • Make sure the steaks are at room temperature. Starting with the cold from the frig will cause them to cook unevenly – too much on the outside and not enough in the middle.
  • With your hands, coat each steak lightly with a little olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper both sides.


Timing to Barbecue the Perfect Steak

As with any cuts of meat, there are variations depending on the size and thickness of your steaks. If there is a bone in the steak, it will take a little longer to cook.

Our family likes our steaks medium rare, which is also what the majority of Americans prefer as well. My good friend Tim who is an excellent cook taught me this rule, and it is nearly foolproof for medium-rare steaks. Say it with me: Four Minutes, Four Minutes, Four Minutes.

  • Place the steaks in the middle of the oiled grill area, and close the lid for Four Minutes. Do not touch them – just leave them be.
  • After those Four Minutes, turn the steak over and cook the other side for Four Minutes.
  • Whatever you do, DON’T cut into the steak with a knife to see if the inside is cooked enough. All the juices will pour out, leaving you with a dry nasty old piece of meat. If you must, prod the steak with the top of your tongs. When it jiggles a lot, it is more rare. If it moves like a solid piece with no give, it is more well done.


butter topped Omaha Steaks filets

Sometimes for a little added decadence, I’ll top these delicious Omaha Steaks with a little butter.


  • When both sides are cooked, take the steaks off the grill and place on a serving dish. Cover with foil and seal for Four Minutes. It’s important to let a steak “rest” after grilling so that the juices will stay intact.
  • Sometimes if I am feeling decadent, I’ll put a thin slice of butter on each steak before letting it rest under the foil. So good!
  • Serve immediately.


Four Minutes, Four Minutes, Four Minutes – it totally works!  We just enjoyed this method of how to barbecue the perfect steak, using bacon-wrapped filets mignons from Omaha Steaks. They turned out perfectly cooked, and we scarfed them down with a corn-avocado-tomato salad and some crispy baked red potatoes. Deeee-lish.

My pop would be so proud.


Omaha Steaks bacon-wrapped filet dinner

Served up with some corn/avocado/tomato salad and some crispy potatoes.




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Tandoori Potato Salad Recipe

Tandoori Potato Salad Recipe

Years ago a friend made something like this Tandoori Potato Salad recipe, and I was an immediate fan. This exotic combination of flavors works beautifully together, with just the right sweetness from the red potatoes and spice from the Tandoori paste. Now I’ve made it my own, having figured out my own Tandoori Potato Salad recipe that I’m happy to share.

Tandoori Potato Salad ingredients

The ingredients needed to make my Tandoori Potato Salad recipe are pretty simple.

Tandoori Potato Salad Recipe

Personally, I have always loved potato salad all kinds of ways. I like the traditional kind my mom made, with mayo, mustard, celery and black olives. I also make a tangy dill and sour cream potato salad concoction that always turns out well. This Tandoori Potato Salad Recipe is my favorite, however. The tandoori gives it a little kick that is a perfect accompaniment to a summer BBQ.

boiled red potatoes

Baby red potatoes work best for this Tandoori Potato Salad recipe.

Tandoori Potato Salad Recipe


  • 2 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 3-4 large green onions, sliced in rounds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped coursely
  • 1/4 cup Tandoori paste (you can buy this at most specialty food stores)
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
freshly harvested green onions

Freshly harvested from our backyard vegetable garden, these green onions add great flavor to my Tandoori Potato Salad recipe.

To prepare:

Boil potatoes for about 15 minutes (careful not to overcook because they get too mushy). You will know they are ready when you can just pierce them with a fork. Drain and chill in cold water to stop them from cooking further. When cold, cut into halves or quarters and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, yogurt, tandoori paste, garam masala, mayonnaise, salt and  pepper. Pour over the sliced green onions, chopped cilantro and cut potatoes. Gently fold the tandoori mixture into the potatoes, stirring carefully to avoid smushing the potatoes.

Mixing Tandoori potato salad ingredients

Mix together the tandoori and yogurt sauce with the potato, onion and cilantro.

Spoon salad into a serving bowl and chill for at least two hours. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and serve.

Hope you enjoy this exotic Tandoori Potato Salad recipe as much as our family!

Tandoori Potato Salad recipe

A favorite at BBQs, we love this Tandoor Potato Salad recipe with a glass of crisp rosé.


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Summer Cocktail Recipes to Cool and Refresh

Summer Cocktail Recipes to Cool and Refresh

We love to entertain on our back deck, overlooking the yard, koi pond and canyon beyond. Now the summer buzz is in the air, and so are these amazing summer cocktail recipes. Try these drinks to spruce up your summer, indoors or outdoors.

Summer Cocktail Recipes to Cool and Refresh

1. Lemon Drop Martini

This easy three-ingredient lemon martini will have you sipping by the pool in no time!

Lemon Drop Martini

Delicious, easy to make and lemony-licious.

2. Grapefruit Cocktail

The refreshing taste of grapefruit and vodka makes this sweet citrus cocktail a favorite for the warm summer months.

Summer Grapefruit cocktail

Tastes just like summer – great for boozy brunches.

3. Pineapple Coconut Malibu Rum Summer Cocktail Recipe

For a tropical coconut flavored beverage, try this easy, delicious drink:

Pineapple Coconut Rum Summer Cocktail

Malibu coconut rum, pineapple juice, ginger ale, and grenadine syrup give this drink its kick

4. Captain’s Lime Shandy

I never thought beer, lime, and dark rum could combine for such a delicious summer flavor, but this cocktail makes it happen!

Captain’s Lime Shandy

Add a sprig of rosemary for a nice flourish.

5. Orange Julius Cocktail

Take your favorite childhood mall drink and imagine it with liquor in a gluten-free, vegan masterpiece. It’s a grown up Orange Julius.

Orange Julius Cocktail

My mom used to make an Orange Julius but it was nothing like this!

6. Nectarine and Basil Mojitos

This rum-based drink puts together unique flavors together for a fruity marvelous mojito.

Nectarine and Basil Mojitos

Grab some fresh nectarine at your local farmer’s market.

7. Jack Daniels Iced Tea

Lemon slices and Tennessee whiskey will make you want to sing a country song and relax in the sun.

Jack Daniels Iced Tea

Now this kind of iced tea makes me happy on a summer day.

8. Wine Slushies

Perfect for a night in with your spouse or a dinner party with friends, wine slushies bring the sophistication of your favorite vino to summertime.

Wine Slushies cocktail recipe

Wine Slushies are the new big thing, and now you can make one at home.

9 Cry Baby Punch

This sour tequila cocktail is a Tulsa, Oklahoma original.

Cry Baby Punch sour tequila cocktail

This sour tequila cocktail makes you pucker up in a good way.

10. Crown Royal Cocktail

Inspired by The Avengers movie, this drink features cranberry juice, amaretto, Crown Royal, and Captain Morgan for an out of this world chilled beverage.

Crown Royal Cocktail recipe

Festive and colorful, this cocktail is a big hit at summer parties.

11. Pineapple Orange Colada

Do you like pina coladas? Enjoy this fruity drink with added optional strawberries.

Pineapple Orange Colada cocktail recipe

This summer cocktail sneaks up on you.

12. Sorrento Sunrise Cocktail

Lemonade and bourbon make this beachy beauty perfect for sipping.

Sorrento Sunrise Cocktail recipe

Fresh lemon and lime give this cocktail an Italian flavor profile.

13. Classic Gin Rickey Cocktail

Decorate this drink with edible flowers for an artistic delight.

Classic Gin Rickey Cocktail recipe

Some of these old time cocktail recipes are coming back strong.

14. Skinny Margarita

Whip up a batch of sugar-free margaritas in under five minutes.

Skinny Margarita recipe

If you are watching your calories, this cocktail almost begs to be included.

15. Call Me a Cab Lemonade Wine Cocktail

Ice + lemonade + vodka + wine makes this simple sweet drink that will have you buzzing for more.

Lemonade Wine Cocktail recipe

Beautiful, sweet and deceivingly strong.

16. Peach Mango Daiquiri

When you need to beat the summer heat, try this peachy frozen treat:

Peach Mango Daiquiri recipe

With the abundance of fresh summer fruit, peaches will be easy to find.

17. Winey Moscow Mule Cocktail

If you’re a moscow mule fan, bring out your copper mug, add some wine, and enjoy!


18. Summer White Sangria

Slices of fruit make this white wine inspired drink a summer favorite.

Summer White Sangria recipe

White Sangria is synonymous with summer, and this one does not disappoint.

19. Morning Mimosas

Set up this delicious mimosa bar to have for brunch or anytime.

Mimosa recipe

A little pick-me-up at the Sunday brunch.

20. Lemon Lime Basil Margarita

Another drink that utilizes basil gives you a reason to plant an herb garden. Yum!

Lemon Lime Basil Margarita recipe

Mmmmmm delish.

These summer cocktail recipes are perfect for a night in, a cocktail party, or lounging outdoors with friends. Enjoy these flavorful drinks all summer long.

If you’re looking for more recipes, check out my concoctions for Sparkling Ice fruity drink recipes, and my recipe for Blueberry Ginger Mojitos is a summer favorite as well.



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20 Non-Alcoholic Summer Drink Recipes

20 Non-Alcoholic Summer Drink Recipes

It’s summertime, and there’s nothing better than a refreshing cool drink on a hot day. Whether you’re by the pool, lounging on your porch or patio, or staying inside enjoying the AC, these 20 non-alcoholic summer drink recipes are sure to quench your thirst all summer long!

20 Non-Alcoholic Summer Drink Recipes

1. Watermelon Agua Fresca Float

Nothing says summer like watermelon, and this recipe brings the flavor in dessert drink form.

Watermelon Agua Fresca Float recipe

2. Instant Pot Iced Tea

Your Instant Pot isn’t just for meaty meals and boiled eggs. Try iced tea three ways in your favorite appliance!

Instant Pot Iced Tea recipe

3. Blueberry Soda

Homemade blueberry syrup in a delicious summer fizzy drink. That’s a win in our family!

Homemade Blueberry Soda recipe

4. Sugar-free Lemonade

Delicious summer drinks can be loaded with sugar, so this Stevia lemonade is a perfect, calorie-free alternative.

Sugar-free Lemonade with Stevia recipe

5. Blue Hawaii Mocktail

Feel like your on the islands with this pineapple flavored juice drink. Our kids love this one too.

Blue Hawaii Mocktail recipe

6. Pineapple Kale Smoothie

We were hesitant about the popular green leaf smoothie addition, but this one is delicious AND nutritious (well, sort of).

Pineapple Kale Smoothie recipe

7. Virgin Banana Daiquiri

Three-ingredients make these blended drinks the perfect fruity summer refreshment.

Virgin Banana Daiquiri recipe

8. Raspberry Peach Italian Cream Soda

Club soda and delicious syrup flavors garnished with fresh fruit will be a favorite for kids and adults alike.

Raspberry Peach Italian Cream Soda recipe

9. Orange Star Fruit Juice

Straight from The Juicing Bible, this four-ingredient juice features oranges and star fruit for a sweet treat.

Orange Star Fruit Juice recipe

10. Homemade Energy Drinks

With only five minutes of prep time and Vitamin B100 Complex, this drink will start your day off right or give you a much needed pick-me-up into the night.

Homemade Energy Drink recipe

11. Coconut Mocha Frappuccino

This coconut-flavored coffee drink even has a dairy-free option. Watch out Starbucks!

Coconut Mocha Frappuccino recipe

12. Sparkling Sorbet Floats

This recipe calls for blueberries, but you can use any fruit to make this sparkling sorbet drink.

Sparkling Sorbet Float recipe

13. Tropical Slushie

Top this drink with a cherry, and you’ll be ready to channel paradise through this frozen, blended drink.

Tropical Slushie recipe

14. Strawberry Lemonade

Five minutes to fresh ingredient strawberry lemonade sounds like summer in a cup.

Strawberry Lemonade recipe

15. Mocktail Hawaiian Sangria

Do you love the taste of sangria but don’t want the alcohol? This fruity favorite is a party pleaser.

Mocktail Hawaiian Sangria recipe

16. Iced Latte

Coffee in the morning is a great pick-me-up, especially when it’s a dairy-free iced latte.

dairy-free iced latte recipe

17. Strawberry Iced Tea

Here’s another iced tea recipe that we just love! Put it in a cold glass mason jar and you are good to go.

Strawberry Iced Tea recipe

18. Lavender Lemonade

Cooking and making drinks with lavender is the latest trend, and we approve. We even grow the lavender in our backyard.

Lavender Lemonade recipe

19. Tiki Punch

Having a tropical themed party? This mocktail will complement everything on your menu.

Tiki Punch recipe

20. Hazelnut Affogato

An affogato is an Italian coffee dessert drink, and this one hits the mark. My Sicilian family would approve.

Hazelnut Affogato recipe


Choose from these non-alcoholic summer drink recipes for fruity, coffee, or sugary thirst quenchers that your family and friends can enjoy all summer long. Let us know your favorites, or share a new recipe with us and we’ll add it to the list!

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Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

My mom was a resourceful cook, creating delicious meals with limited resources. She grew up in a poor family of Sicilian immigrants, and learned to cook from my nana by adapting recipes from the Old Country to more modern American ingredients. Mom taught me many of her secrets, and I’m happy to share with you one of our family favorites – Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe.

preparing globe zucchini for stuffing

Any type of zucchini can be used, and we like globe zucchinis because they look so cool.


Summer is the perfect time to make this dish, since zucchini is in abundance at farmers markets and backyard vegetable gardens. Although you can make this recipe with any type of zucchini, I found the globe zucchini variety at our local Little Italy Mercato. They are fun to hollow out and use as natural cups to hold all the cheesy goodness.

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start with four good size zucchini. Whether you have globe zucchini or the regular type, hollow them out like you would a pumpkin at Halloween. Set aside the insides – we will use them in the recipe.

stuffed globe zucchini

Hollowing out globe zucchinis, we stuff them with a mixture of sausage, mushrooms, cheese and other goodness.


Mom would plop the hollowed zucchini in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes to soften them. I have skipped this step once or twice when making this dish. It really depends on whether you want to enjoy the finished product with a knife and fork, or more softened like a casserole.

Gather the following ingredients:

  • 4 zucchini (globe or regular)
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (best freshly made from the butcher)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 medium (or 1 large) portobello mushroom, cubed
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (mom made her own but who has time for that?!?)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used a mix of Italian cheeses readymade from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup romano cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • 2 tbs chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste


portobello mushroom ingredients

Any mushrooms can be used in this recipe, and we prefer portobellos for their flavor and flair.


Take the sausage out of its casing, crumble and fry in a pan with oil, onions and garlic. Add mushroom and insides of zucchini, cooking until just tender. Combine the sausage mixture in a bowl with bread crumbs, egg parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Stuff the zucchini until heaping, and place in a greased baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 125-30 minutes or until tender.

caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes

As a nice side dish, we love to serve sliced heirloom tomatoes topped with buffalo mozzarella and chopped fresh basil.

Serve with a dash of parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh basil.


rototilling the vegetable garden 1971

Mom was willing to tackle anything when I was growing up, including this rototiller sesh getting our vegetable patch ready for planting zucchini and more.

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Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe

Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe

This delicious Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans recipe was passed down through generations of our family from my great grandmother, who lived her entire life in Castelvetrano, Sicily. My nana made it for me when I was little, and it was by far my favorite pasta dish for my entire childhood.

I would sit in her love-filled kitchen, perched on a booster seat on top of one of her yellow naugahyde chairs. She would bring me a delicious bowl of soupy Pasta cu Favi (in the Sicilian dialect) and I would tuck in for a feast. When I make it now, I feel her love and it takes me right back to that kitchen in Sacramento long ago.

fava beans at Little Italy Mercato

Three baskets full of fava beans was just the right amount to bring home from the farmers market.

Fava Beans

Fresh fava beans are in season only for a few weeks in early summer, and now’s the time to find them at your local farmer’s market. We’re fortunate to live near San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, where the Little Italy Mercato takes over several blocks every Saturday morning. Strolling through the Mercato is always a treat for the senses, and I typically come home with some delicious ingredients. This time it was fava beans!

fava beans being shelled in the kitchen

Preparing the fava beans for cooking is a bit of a chore, but entirely worth it.

Fava beans take a little bit of preparation before they can be cooked. After removing the beans from their shells, they have to then be peeled. Once the outer casing is removed, the tender green meat inside is sweet, delicious and slightly nutty in flavor. Believe me, it’s worth the work.

shelled fava beans

Once shelled, the fava must still be peeled to reveal the sweet inner bean.

Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe

This recipe is really quite easy – I hope you like this dish as much as I always have.

Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe

Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans was one of my childhood favorites.

  • 1 1/2 cups shelled and peeled fava beans
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb fresh pasta (my nana always used orecchiette or shell pasta)
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lots of grated romano cheese (lots)

Set a pot of water to boil for cooking the pasta noodles.

In a pan over medium heat, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the diced onion and cook until tender. Add garlic, salt, pepper and chicken stock, heating until just beginning to bubble.

Cook pasta al dente. Drain and put back into the pot, adding the other 1/4 cup of olive. Stir and set aside.

Add fava beans to bubbling pan, cooking for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Do not overcook or you will get mush!

Combine fava bean mixture with pasta, stirring well. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle generously with cheese and add a bit of parsley for garnish. Serve and enjoy!