S’mores Ice Box Pie

If you have been around the Neistat family for at least one summer, you have likely experienced the famous ice box éclair cake that our dad makes. If you haven’t been lucky enough to eat it, we know you’ve heard about it. The gist of the ice box eclair cake is layers of graham crackers and thick vanilla pudding topped with a rich layer of chocolate ganache. He claims his recipe is a secret (we are pretty sure it can be found on the back of a pudding box somewhere) and that he won’t share it with us, or you. In lieu of sharing his recipe, we have done our best to reimagine this dessert into something of our own. Introducing our S’mores Ice Box Pie: everything we love about Rick’s ice box eclair cake, in pie form, with a gooey torched marshmallow twist for summer.

S'mores Ice Box Pie

  • Servings: 8 - 10
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The perfect chilled summer dessert that is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. While you can make this pie with about 60 minutes of refrigeration time, it can also be prepared the night before if you want to get some of your cooking done in advance.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of graham cracker (about 10 crackers)
  • 1/2 stick of melted unsalted butter
  • 1 packet of French vanilla pudding
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 8 oz. cool whip
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • marshmallows

Directions

  1. Prepare the crust. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a Cuisinart, pulse the graham crackers until they are all broken down into crumbs. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Place the graham cracker mix in a pie dish going up 1/2 inch on the side of the pie. Gently press the crackers into the pan to form a crust. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.
  2. While the pie is cooking, prepare the pudding. Combine the vanilla pudding packet and 2 cups of milk and whisk until a thick pudding forms. Lightly fold in the cool whip. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until chilled.
  3. After the pudding has chilled for at least 30 minutes, prepare the chocolate sauce. In a microwave safe cup, combine the chocolate chips and remaining 1/4 cup milk. Microwave for 1 minute, and then 30 seconds at a time, until the chocolate is fully melted. Stir to combine with the milk to form a sauce.
  4. Assemble the pie. Layer the pudding/cool whip mix over the graham cracker crust. Pour the chocolate sauce over the pie and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours, until the chocolate sauce has hardened. If you are refrigerating overnight, insert a few toothpicks to the outside of the pie and gently tent with saran wrap.
  5. Before serving, add a layer of marshmallows to the top of the pie. We love to torch the marshmallows to make them extra gooey. There are two options for this, a kitchen torch or broiling quickly in the oven. If using a torch, lightly toast the marshmallows to your desired level and serve immediately. If broiling, set the oven to high and put the pie in the oven for no more than one minute. Serve immediately.


Cabra Inspired Solterito Summer Salad

We posted on Instagram last week about going to Stephanie Izard’s restaurant Cabra for dinner in downtown Chicago. We had such great food and couldn’t wait to go back to our kitchens and use those flavors as inspiration for our next recipe. One of the dishes that we had was called Solterito, which is a Peruvian chopped salad. The version at Cabra was filled with a mix of savory and sweet ingredients, crunchy quinoa and an herby vinaigrette. With that dish as our inspiration, we set out to our local grocery store to find seasonal ingredients that we could incorporate in a similar manner. This salad was a big hit when we had some friends and family over for dinner this past weekend. We chose to serve this salad as a side dish with grilled chicken but could easily serve this as a main course for a weekday lunch.

Cabra Inspired Solterito - Summer Salad

  • Servings: 8 side dish portions
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Ingredients for the Salad

  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 mango
  • 1/2 pint strawberries
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 tbs canola oli
  • 16 oz halloumi cheese, cut into bite sized pieces

Ingredients for the Dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh savory
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the salad ingredients. Chop the green beans, cherry tomatoes, mango and strawberries into bite sized pieces. Remove the corn from the husk and combine into a large bowl the other salad ingredients.
  4. Make the dressing. Combine all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  5. When the quinoa has finished cooking, place is on a sheet pan in an even, single layer. Bake the quinoa in the oven for 10-15 minutes checking every 5 minutes. You want the quinoa to get crunchy and crispy but not burn. Once cooked, removed from the oven and set aside to cool.
  6. In a medium skillet, add the canola oil and wait a minute or two so that it is very hot. Add the halloumi cheese and cook until all sides are browned (about 10 minutes).
  7. Combine the salad ingredients, halloumi, quinoa and salad dressing into a large bowl. Toss the salad so that that dressing evenly coats the salad. Serve at room temperature.


Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri

The weather is getting warmer by the day, which means that it is almost grill season in the Lavarnway and Cardillo houses. We love cooking on the grill as an easy way to get outside and add a little smoky char to whatever we are cooking. If you’ve been around for a while, you know that one of our signature dishes is our steak with chimichurri. In that recipe, we blended the ingredients of a traditional chimichurri into a smooth and delightfully zingy sauce. For today’s recipe, we have stuck to a more traditional variation. 

Chimichurri is a loose, herb based sauce that is held together by olive oil and red wine vinegar. It has a ton of flavor thanks to the additional of garlic, a pinch of chili flakes, and some shallot. For this recipe, we like to marinate the chicken thighs in the chimichurri for a few hours to help break down the meat – making it incredibly tender after cooking. To make sure that the chicken has the ultimate punch of flavor, we reserve 1/3 of the chimichurri before we marinate and drizzle it over top after cooking. 

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri

  • Servings: 4
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Char grilled chicken thighs with a zesty chimichurri. We can’t imagine a more perfect and quick summer entrée.

Ingredients

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 tbs fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 small red chili, stem and seeds removed
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Put the dry chimichurri ingredients (parsley through red chili) in a food processor. Pulse the food processor to break down the ingredients. The ingredients should be finely chopped but not pulverized. Remove the ingredients and place into a large bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar to the dry ingredients and whisk well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour 2/3 of the chimichurri into a large ziplock bag and leave 1/3 of the chimichurri (about 1/2 cup) in the bowl. Cover the 1/3 with saran wrap and set aside.
  3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Submerge the chicken into the chimichurri in the ziplock bag. Make sure that all of the chicken is coated in the sauce and that the air is removed from the bag before sealing it. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to overnight, before grilling.
  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 15-20 minutes before you want to cook it. Preheat the grill to 500 degrees. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes per side, or until the juices of the chicken run clear and the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining 1/3 chimichurri and serve immediately.


Ratatouille Tart

As you may have seen yesterday on our Instagram, we harvested our garden veggies before the snow came in Colorado and wanted a dish that we could really use up a good bulk of our produce. This Ratatouille Tart is gorgeous, garden veggie heaven. It comes together by slicing zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant and layering them in a pie shell. If you want this dish to be a visual stunner, spend the time to alternate all of the vegetables as you layer them into the pie crust. Don’t make this for dinner on a weeknight when everyone is already starving. We have saved some time by purchasing a pre-made pie crust and marinara sauce, but if you really want to over-achieve, go ahead either from scratch, as well! 

Ratatouille Tart 
Makes: 1 pie; 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes        Total Time: 3 hours 

Ingredients for the Tart: 

  • 1- whole wheat pie shell, thawed if frozen (we love the Whole Foods frozen version!) 
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup marinara sauce 
  • 2 zucchini 
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 1/2 of 1 large eggplant 
  • salt 

Ingredients for the Herb Oil: 

  • 2/3 cup olive oil 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp dried basil 
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes 
  • 1 large clove garlic, mined 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 

Directions: 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Thinly slice the zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant. You want the eggplant to be roughly the same size as the squashes, so depending on the size, you may want to cut it into quarters lengthwise before slicing. Lay all of the sliced vegetables onto kitchen towels. Season well on both sides with salt and let the vegetables sit for 30 minutes to purge most of their liquid. You will be rinsing the vegetables later, so really season them well to make sure enough liquid gets removed during this stage. 
  3. While the vegetables are purging, par-bake the crust. Use a fork to poke the bottom layer of the pie crust. Layer with the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Par-baking the crust and using a layer of Parmesan helps keep the pie bottom from becoming soggy later on. After 10 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside until it is back to room temperature. 
  4. While the pie crust is in the oven, reduce the marinara sauce. Heat a small sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the marinara sauce to the pot and let it simmer and reduce. You want to reduce it by about 25%, so that it is thicker and more of a tomato paste than a tomato sauce. When it has reduced accordingly, remove from the heat. 
  5. The final step before assembling the tart is to make the herb oil. Combine the herb oil ingredients (olive oil – salt) in a small mixing bowl. Set aside until you are ready to use. 
  6. We are finally ready to assemble the tart! Put all of the vegetables into a colander and rinse well with water to get rid of the excess salt. Pat the vegetables dry with a kitchen towel. 
  7. Add the marinara sauce to the bottom of the pie shell in an even layer. 
  8. Starting with the outside edge, layer the eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash in alternating patterns around the outside of the pie crust. To give the tart a nice visual texture, try to layer the vegetables as vertically as possible. Continue to layer the vegetables in the tart shell until it is completely full to the center. 
  9. Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the vegetables with the herb oil. Be generous with this, but you might have some oil leftover. 
  10. Use thin strips of foil to cover the outside edges of the pie crust. You want to make sure you take the time to do this well before the tart goes in the oven so that the crust does not burn. Put the tart in the oven and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour. The tart is done with the vegetables are cooked through and fork-tender. 
  11. Remove the tart from the oven and finish by topping with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Let it sit and rest for about 10 minutes (you can lightly cover with foil) before slicing. 

15 Recipes For Your Labor Day Cookout

The unofficial “end of summer” is approaching and we are using Labor Day as an excuse to cook on the barbecue and celebrate. In honor of Labor Day, we have compiled some of our favorite recipes to create the ultimate summer sendoff. We have a little bit of everything, most of which can be prepped ahead of time, so that you can spend your holiday in the backyard enjoying the weather. 

  1. Strawberry Lemon Rose Sangria 
  2. Cucumber Lemonade Gin Fizz
  3. Classic Guacamole 
  4. Kale & Artichoke Dip 
  5. Spicy Turkey Burgers 
  6. Juicy Lucy Burgers 
  7. Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork 
  8. Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri 
  9. Summer Pesto Pasta Salad
  10. Spicy Watermelon Salad
  11. Hatch Chili Mac 
  12. Elote (Grilled Street Corn)  
  13. Farmers’ Market Brown Butter Orzo 
  14. Everything Bagel Coleslaw
  15. Summer Berry Trifle 

Eggplant Caprese Salad

It has been a labor of love, but we are finally getting eggplant to grow in our garden! We love to cook this seasonal veggie by lightly seasoning it and grilling it. This version of eggplant is served in a caprese salad and pairs perfectly with the tomato and mozzarella cheese. This is an easy and delicious way to mix up a classic and makes for a hearty salad recipe. You can serve for the salad for lunch, as an appetizer, or a side dish for an Italian-inspired dinner. 

Eggplant Caprese Salad
Makes: 8 servings 
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Total Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients For The Salad:

  • 1 eggplant slices in 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • 3 beefsteak tomatoes cut in 1/4 inch rounds 
  • 1 log of fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • basil
  • salt 

Ingredients For The Dressing:

  • 1/2 balsamic vinaigrette 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper 

Directions 

  1. After slicing the eggplant, sprinkle salt on both sides of the pieces and set on paper towel for 15 minutes. This will help remove some of the excess moisture from the eggplant before you grill. 
  2. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, about 450 degrees. 
  3. Drizzle olive oil over both sides of the eggplant and grill the slices on high for 2-3 minutes on each side so that the pieces are lightly charred and cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Prepare the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together in a bowl. 
  5. Assemble the caprese by layering the eggplant, tomato and mozzarella across a long serving dish. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with fresh basil. Serve immediately. 

Tomato, Proscuitto, & Ricotta Bruschetta

A few months back we posted a recipe for how to make tomato confit, and we have been making it regularly ever since. The tomatoes can last up to four weeks in the refrigerator – just make sure they are completely cooled before they are sealed into a container. The tomatoes can also be frozen and used in recipes like our Angel Hair with Burrata & Tomatoes. We love to mix and match how we use them, and for this rendition we are using them as a bruschetta condiment. We love the combination of the sweet and herby tomatoes, the salty prosciutto, and the creamy whipped ricotta. You can serve this as an appetizer on baguette – we like to have everything separate on a board and let people assemble themselves- or use larger slices of bread for brunch or a light dinner. 

Tomato, Prosciutto, & Ricotta Bruschetta 
Makes: 16 appetizer pieces 
Prep Time: 1 hour if preparing the tomato confit    Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 recipe for tomato confit (you want to use 1 1/2 lbs of tomatoes)
  • 1 baguette, sliced on a bias into 16 slices 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • 1 container ricotta cheese (approx. 16 oz) 
  • 1/2 lb thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces 
  • 1 container of basil leaves, stems removed and roughly chopped 
  • balsamic glaze, for garnish 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Prepare the tomato confit as instructed in the link above. Set aside and let the tomatoes cool to room temperature. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  3. Slice the baguette and drizzle the olive oil over top of the slices. Toss to coat on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until they are crispy. 
  4. Use a hand mixer to whip the ricotta on medium-high speed for at least two full minutes. You can use a whisk for this and do it by hand if you want a workout, but it will take a few more minutes. The ricotta should be light and fluffy and a visibly different texture than it was in the container. 
  5. Assemble the bruschetta by layering a spoonful of ricotta onto the bottom of the toast. Top with 2-3 tomatoes, a few pieces of prosciutto, and basil. Drizzle with a bit of balsamic glaze and serve immediately. 

Summer Crab Leg Boil

Every June Tate’s mom celebrates her birthday with a crab boil. It is a special treat that we have started looking forward to every summer. Over the years we have started perfecting the art of the crab boil and now just mix and match fun accompaniments to the meal to change it up every year. King crab legs are usually purchased pre-cooked and all you need to do is reheat them to serve. We choose to reheat them by steaming them in our giant turkey fryer pot, and boil any other side dishes underneath in a traditional seafood boil. We buy our crab legs at Costco; we have found they have the most reasonable prices and they can usually be found in the freezer section if they are not having their holiday seafood sale.

Tips For Measuring the Correct Amount of Water For the Seafood Boil: 

  • To determine how much water you’ll need for steaming crab legs, you’ll want to visually measure out enough water to cover your side dish ingredients, including sausage, potatoes, and corn. Shrimp, clams, and mussels can be steamed on top of the other ingredients with the crab legs so they don’t factor into the water measurement. 
  • If you are paranoid about not having enough water you can put the raw potatoes, corn, and sausage into the pot, add the beer, and add enough water to cover the ingredients. Remove the ingredients back out before seasoning the water and cooking. 
  • If your pot isn’t quite tall enough you can use foil over the top to tent the crab legs as a lid to keep the steam in. 

Summer Crab Leg Boil 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients For The Water: 

  • 4 cups (+/-) water
  • 1 summer beer (shandy or pilsner are good choices) 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 2 lemons, cut in half 
  • 3 tbs Old Bay seasoning 
  • 4 smashed garlic cloves 

Ingredients For the Seafood Boil: 

  • 4-6 king crab legs (thawed if purchased frozen)
  • 2 lbs kielbasa
  • 2 lbs other seafood (shrimp, clams, or mussels) 
  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 2 lbs baby potatoes
  • 1 stick salted butter for dipping, melted 

Directions: 

  1. Measure out the correct amount of water so that the combination of the water and beer will be enough to submerge any of your chosen side dish ingredients (sausage, potatoes, and corn). Add the beer, bay leaves, Old Bay Seasoning, and garlic to the pot. Squeeze each of the lemon halves and add them as well. You can taste the water if you want at this point- it won’t taste particularly good but it should taste very flavorful. If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon or two of Old Bay seasoning. 
  2. If you are using potatoes or sausage, put them into the water in the pot. Heat the pot over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat just a touch so that the water is at a steady simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes. 
  3. While the pot is heating and doing the first cook, make sure any seafood you are using is clean. Peel and devein the shrimp (the tails can be left on) and soak any clams or mussels in ice water. They will release a bit of sand that you don’t want going into the boiling water. 
  4. After 20 minutes remove the lid and add the corn to the pot. Strain any seafood from the soaking water and add the seafood on top of the corn in an even layer.  Add the crab legs thick side down, bending the crab legs as necessary to get them in the pot. Cover the pot and cook the seafood another 15-20 minutes. You will know the boil is done when the shrimp are cooked through, potatoes are fork tender, the crab legs are hot, and any clams and mussels have opened. 
  5. Carefully remove the ingredients from the water with a strainer, getting rid of as much water as possible before placing onto a platter. Serve the seafood boil immediately with lots of melted butter for dipping! 

Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

We love serving pasta salad as a side dish for a cookout or barbecue. There are hundreds of recipes to choose from, but we tend to go with a veggie filled pesto version as we head into the heart of summer. Pasta salads can often time be filled with mayo which makes it a very bulky side dish. This version is made with quinoa pasta, pesto, and tons of veggies like zucchini and roasted tomatoes. It is filling, yet healthy, and goes with just about everything. We prefer to serve this pasta salad warm or room temperature; if you want to serve it chilled make sure you mix it well and season again with salt and pepper, as chilled foods tend to taste less seasoned than hot foods.

Summer Pasta Salad
Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fusilli pasta (we used a quinoa based)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and diced
  • 2 yellow squash, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1/3 cup grated or crumbled Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 12 minutes to al dente. Reserve 3/4 – 1 cup of pasta water before straining the pasta into a sink.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Sauté for 2 minutes or until the garlic is starting to brown. Add the zucchini to the pan and saute for another 4-5 minutes, or until the zucchini also starts to brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the zucchini from the pan and add the tomatoes. Cook just a few minutes- you don’t want the tomatoes to turn into a sauce- you just want them to brown up.
  3. Put the pesto in a large serving bowl. Add the hot pasta and stir everything well, adding pasta water as necessary so that everything is nicely coated and not sticky. Add the zucchini and tomatoes to the pasta and gently mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Burrata

Summer squash season is quickly approaching and we couldn’t be more excited! We love to use zucchini and yellow squash all summer, particularly prepared raw as a nice change from all of the hearty squash dishes we eat. This recipe calls for the squash to be shaved- which we do by rotating the squash around with a vegetable peeler. We love the resulting ribbony texture which makes it feel like we are eating a hearty pasta salad as opposed to a vegetable dish. To finish, we added fresh burrata, Parmesan cheese, and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. This is a dish we will eat on repeat all summer long- it goes with just about everything!

Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Burrata

Makes: 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 zucchini
  • 3 yellow summer squash
  • 4 cups+ arugula
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package burrata, drained
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbs olive oil
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Whisk the olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper- set aside.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the zucchini and yellow squash into ribbons. As you get toward the seeded center the ribbons will start to fall apart. Stop at this point and save the remaining part of each squash for a soup or stir-fry. Keep only the ribbons.
  3. Lay the arugula onto a large serving platter. Drizzle with 2/3 of the dressing and give it a good toss. Add the ribbons on top of the arugula and drizzle with the remaining dressing.
  4. Make sure the burrata is well drained and add it to the top of the ribbons. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tbs olive oil. Top with the Parmesan cheese and season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.