Posts tagged ‘grill’
Everyone has a slightly different meaning of appropriate cook-out foods depending on your cultural and regional backgrounds. Growing up in NJ, a summer BBQ always meant hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, and chips. To my husband, who was born in Brazil, no cook-out is complete without linguica (Brazilian sausage) and short ribs. I have also heard that BBQ and cook-out can signal two totally different affairs if you are from the southern US.
No matter what, it is hard to disagree that anything off the grill just screams summer. My husband got a new Weber charcoal grill for his birthday yesterday, so we are excited to have many grilled treats this summer. Here are some of my favorite summer recipes for the grill. These are all perfect for any special graduation celebrations or Memorial Day BBQs coming up!
A perk of spending a week at home, besides the aforementioned grill (and spending time with my family and friends, of course!), is full access to my dad’s well-stocked bar. I am not a big drinker, and usually go for a glass of wine or beer before a mixed drink. However, I like playing around with mixed drinks every once in a while! After adapting a sangria recipe and trying out Jenna’s Strawberry Rhubarb Margaritas, I was feeling inspired to dabble a little bit with cooking with liquor. I wanted to grill some fruit for dessert, and decided to spice things up a little bit. The pineapple was inspired by the margaritas, and the peaches combined a collection of flavors that I absolutely love.
The recipes are simple: mix together the alcohol and sugar, pour over the fruit, let it sit for an hour or two (while you are making and cooking dinner), and then throw it on the grill. Make sure the racks are clean, and then place the fruit directly on the grill. Let it cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Turn over the fruit and drizzle the rest of the marinade over the fruit. Be careful of flame ups, or skip this step entirely. Cook for a few more minutes, and then serve warm. The aroma of this fruit is irresistible – just ask my mom and my sister.
The pineapple flavor is simply enhanced, both by the tequila and by the heat of the grill. The peaches are transformed entirely – the texture softens until the fruit almost melts in your mouth, and the cinnamon, vanilla, and bourbon shine through. We ate these plain, but they would be amazing served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as well! They make for a great sweet note for the end of a light, outdoor, grilled summer meal.
Question: What is your favorite summer dessert?
Tequila Lime Pineapple
1/4 cup tequila
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 pineapple, sliced into rings or spears
Mix together the ingredients, then pour over fresh pineapple slices or spears. Allow to sit for one to two hours. Grill over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side.
Bourbon Vanilla Cinnamon Peaches
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp cinnamon
Mix together the ingredients, then pour over peach halves. (Should be enough for up to 5 peaches). Allow to sit for one to two hours. Grill over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side.
The one thing I miss most about home, besides my family and friends, of course, is the grill. I do not own a grill in Boston, and love grilled foods during the summer months. There is something about the open flame and cooking outside that makes everything taste better, from mushroom burgers to vegetables to pizza! I made sure to request all of my favorite grilled foods while I was relaxing at home for the week, and my mom and I had a blast grilling together!
My mom has been making grilled pizza for years and it has always been one of my favorite meals. You take homemade pizza dough, cook it directly on the grill for a few minutes on each side, and then top it with your favorite pizza add-ons. (I love making non-traditional pizzas loaded with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and as many veggies as I can think of.) Cooking the dough directly on the grill gives it a great crispiness that mimics brick oven pizzas, but in a unique and homemade way. It can be a challenge to get the crust right, and takes constant attention as to not let it burn. (See the bottom of the post for step-by-step pictures). If this is not your thing, you can always use a pre-cooked crust from the grocery store and then warm it up on the grill after topping it. Give this pizza a try this summer, it is worth the extra step!
1 batch pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp Balsamic vinaigrette
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch asparagus spears
1 medium Vidalia onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
6 oz goat cheese
2 oz Parmesan cheese
If making dough from scratch, prepare dough. While it is rising, toss the cherry tomatoes with the garlic and 2 tbsp of Balsamic dressing. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus spears. Roast the vegetables in a grill basket for 5-7 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes are wrinkled and ready to burst. Remove from the heat and separate. Cut the asparagus spears into bite sized pieces. In a medium saucepan over the stove, heat olive oil. Add the sliced onion and cook until soft. Add 1 tbsp Balsamic dressing and allow the onions to continue to cook until they are dark brown and slightly caramelized. When ready to create the pizza, form dough into a roughly round pizza shape. Rub both sides with olive oil. Preheat the grill and clean the rack. Place the dough directly on the grill rack. Turn down the flame, close the lid, and allow the dough to cook for 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip the dough, and cook for 3 more minutes. Keep a close eye on the dough at this point – you want it to rise and cook, but not burn. When the dough is cooked, transfer to a large sheet of aluminum foil. Spread with the roasted cherry tomatoes, squishing them slightly to release the juices to form a crust. Layer on the caramelized onions and asparagus pieces. Dot with goat cheese crumbles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Close grill and allow to heat through for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cut into slices and serve.
As I mentioned last week, I was lucky enough to celebrate with two of my best friends as they got married this past weekend! They have been dating since we were 15, and it was so great to see two people so in love commit to support each other and spend the rest of their lives together. I was honored to host a rehearsal dinner for them, and pulled together an early Labor Day BBQ reminiscent of so many other backyard hangouts. We enjoyed a simple but delicious menu, enjoyed hanging out with old friends, played lots of ladder ball, made ornaments for their first Christmas tree (leave it to Momma K to always be creative!), and enjoyed a bonfire and ‘smores. It was relaxed and a great way to laugh and get out nervous energy the night before the big day!
The menu was simple, and focused on what I knew to be some of Amanda’s favorite foods. We set out tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole to tide everyone’s hunger when they first arrived from the rehearsal. I mentioned this to the guests once already, but I would be nothing without my mother! We slaved away together cooking and setting up the backyard all morning, and she kept working while I snuck away to the rehearsal. By the time I got back, the backyard was transformed and the dishes were set up and waiting to be filled with chips and guac!
For dinner, we enjoyed classic BBQ food: cheeseburgers (a special Portobello burger for me!), BBQ chicken, grilled veggies, pasta salad, and potato salad.
The grilled veggies are so simple: we mixed red, yellow and orange bell pepper strips with Vidalia onion rings, baby bella mushroom slices, zucchini and yellow squash. Marinated in a bit of canola oil and season salt, we cooked these ahead of time and heated the tin in the oven when the guests arrived!
The potato salad is also a repeat recipe, an original mayo-less salad I made at the start of the summer for a Memorial Day BBQ. I sliced the potatoes into rounds before cooking them this time to avoid scalded fingers, and it worked out perfectly!
The pasta salad is also a modification from another of my recipes. Instead of processing the sun dried tomatoes to make a sauce, I just sliced them thinly. I mixed them with some of the packing oil and fresh olive oil, some basil and combined it all with tortellini and steamed broccoli. Just as good as the original recipe, but more BBQ friendly since it can be made ahead of time and served cold.
For dessert, we enjoyed fruit salad and homemade whipped cream. To make things a little more special, I carved the watermelon into a fruit basket (click here for a how to!), and used a melon baller to scoop out the watermelon and canteloupe so all of the fruit would be round. I even served the whipped cream in the melon halves for fun! Definitely a hit, but not as big of a hit as the bonfire and ‘smores!
I show my love for people by cooking, hosting, and ensuring that everyone has a good time. I know I had a good time, both at the rehearsal and at the wedding! I love these two so much, and can’t wait to share more with you tomorrow!
There is a reason I love to cook: my mom. I grew up watching her and my grandma in the kitchen, creating healthy, wonderful dinners and loving every minute of it. My mom made a fabulous Father’s Day dinner since I was in charge of breakfast, so I’ll let her tell you all about it!
I love to cook outside. Since I grew up camping, a tradition I continued with my own family, we always say everything tastes better when you eat outside. I believe that goes for cooking as well! As soon as I can clear the snow from my grill, I start grilling everything. That’s where Jen got her love for grilling everything, including pizza.
A few years ago at a camping show, I ran across this simple little stand to roast chicken on the grill with a can of beer inside the cavity of the chicken. What a fabulous idea! I hadn’t used it for a summer or two so I decided Father’s Day would be a perfect time to try it out again. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were going to be hanging around our pool. Since it takes a bit of time–about 2 hours– you do need to choose a day when you can keep an eye on the grill. And so easy too! I just rubbed an oven stuffer chicken with some Montreal Chicken seasoning, drank the top quarter of the beer ;), placed the can into position in the stand, and plopped the chicken on top! After a couple of hours, we had the juiciest, most flavorful chicken ever. Even my veggie-loving daughter couldn’t help but go back for seconds on this chicken! Jen had a great idea to use the remaining beer to make a delicious mustard ale sauce to accompany our chicken. Of course we rounded out the meal with a big basket of colorful grilled vegetables and fingerling potatoes. Yum!
Question: What is your favorite outdoor meal?
Beer Can Chicken
1 roasting chicken
1 can beer
2 tbsp Montreal Chicken Seasoning
Special equipment: beer can stand
Rub an oven stuffer roaster chicken with the Montreal Chicken seasoning, or rub of your choice. Open a can of your favorite beer and drink the top quarter. :) Place the beer can in the center of the beer can stand. Pull the chicken over the beer can on the stand. I put my beer can stand on a grill basket used for grilling vegetables for extra support. Place on grill over very low heat and grill for about 2 hours or until the chicken is done and the temperature popper pops. If your grill has a top rack you may need to remove it so that you can close the grill cover completely over the inverted chicken. Now just sit back and relax with another beer while your chicken roasts on the grill. You may need to keep on eye out for flare-ups to avoid charring the chicken. When the chicken is fully cooked, allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before removing skin (and char) and carving.
Mustard Ale Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup beer (leftover from steaming chicken)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil so the mustard begins to thicken again. Once it comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat. Serve luke warm or cold depending on preference.
Not quite Skittles, but just as colorful and even tastier (in my opinion). Now, I am a self-proclaimed veggie lover all times of the year. I love roasted winter vegetables, crisp springtime salads, big pots of vegetable soup in the fall… but my favorite way to eat them is hot off the grill! My mom bought a grill basket a few years ago, and we use it at least 3 times a week for something. There are so many reasons I love veggies done this way: they have a great crispness like roasted vegetables but don’t require you to heat up the whole house in the middle of summer, they maintain all of their fresh flavor and pick up some grilled smokiness, and they are so colorful and fun! Even my dad clears his plate of veggies when done this way. A colorful basket of vegetables not only looks great (remember that you eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth!), but they are also really healthy. The more colorful variety you have, the more nutrient variety that you have. Even better – they take 10 minutes tops, and can be a mixture of whatever you like! I love a mix of whatever is on hand: bell pepper strips, mushroom quarters, zucchini moons, Vidalia onion quarters, snap peas, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and carrot slices (if you are serving them as a side, they can be bigger pieces than if you are using them for sandwiches and wraps). Simply toss them with grapeseed or olive oil and Season salt, and then grill for 7-10 minutes. Serve them as a side dish, mix them in with rice and chicken, tofu or beans, or use them to make a sandwich or wrap! Below is a recipe for a grilled veggie panini that I made for a light weekend dinner, but don’t be limited to warm sandwiches! I use leftovers all of the time cold on wraps with hummus and lettuce, perfect for a to-go picnic lunch. Grab yourself a grill basket and give the veggies or this sandwich a try next time you’re out at the grill.
Grilled Vegetable Panini
2/3-1 cup mixed vegetables, cut in strips or bite sized pieces (about 2 handfuls, will shrink down when cooked)
1/2 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp season salt, or 1/4 tsp each paprika and salt
4-6 inch piece of whole wheat Italian loaf
1 tbsp hummus
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Cut your desired mix of veggies into strips and bite sized pieces. Toss with oil and seasonings, and then cook in grill basket over medium high heat. Turn every few minutes for about 7-10 minutes, until veggies are cooked through. Meanwhile, slice open bread and lightly toast on the grill. Coat top half of the bread with mustard and bottom half with hummus. Top hummus side of bread with warm vegetables (hummus helps the veggies to stick). Serve warm with desired sides: grilled sweet potato fries, potato salad, mixed green salad, etc.
To the best Dad I could ask for, Happy Birthday and Happy Father’s Day. Even though we may have our occasional clash and misunderstandings, your huge heart and love for others are inspirational. You are truly a Daddy Bear: a terrifying force when provoked, but nurturing and caring when you are safe enough to let your guard down. Thank you for always being there for me, for loving and supporting me, and for being a great Dad.
To celebrate my Dad, my sister and I surprised him with dinner last night. She decorated the backyard with streamers and black balloons while I manned the grill. We made cinnamon chipotle steak (rub recipe below!), grilled corn, and grilled sweet potato fries (it’s a two-for-one recipe post). The steak was super spicy, and I probably could have gone a little lighter on the rub. I liked it, though, because it hid the meat flavor for my veggie-preferring taste buds. I can imagine this being great on chicken or Portobello mushrooms too! The corn was perfect and sweet, and the sweet potatoes were amazing off the grill. We splurged and bought his favorite soda – Stewart’s root beer, black cherry, and oranges n’ cream… in glass bottles no less! For dessert, we got an angel food cake (his favorite) and topped it with light whipped cream and berries. Who knew that my Dad would actually request such a healthy birthday dessert?! Maybe he does listen to me sometimes ;)
Cinnamon Chipotle Grill Rub
makes enough for 3 lbs of meat or veggies
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Mix together spices and rub onto meat or mushrooms. Allow to stand for 10-20 minutes before grilling to allow the rub to fully adhere to the meat. Grill until meat is done to your desire.
Sweet Potato Grill Fries
3 large sweet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Cover the potatoes in a large pot with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the sweet potatoes are slightly tender. Drain and run the potatoes under cold water. When potatoes are cool enough to touch, peel the skin from the potatoes. Slice into thick matchsticks. Toss in olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper, and paprika. Spread on a grill pan over medium heat. Cook for 7 minutes, then flip and cook for another 7 minutes. Fries should be crisp but not burnt when done.
Happy Sunday! Hope that you all have had a relaxing weekend and are ready to face a Monday that is fast approaching. My Sunday was fantastic – I woke up early for a smoothie with my sister, and then showed my mom some simple weight lifting exercises. After a quick shower, my mom and I met my sister and dad at church. What a blessing it is to have such an excellent new pastor at my parent’s church, and we found out today that we have a new youth pastor as well! It is exciting to see new life breathed into the church where I was raised, especially after such struggles for the past few years. Some food for thought from my Sunday sermon – the church is supposed to be safe for people, but dangerous to culture. Too often, we are reversed – condemning certain individuals and following popular culture, both Christian and secular. Jesus was, instead, was a trouble maker! He hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes, and preached such “craziness” as the Sermon on the Mount. If only we could live in a way that reflected this truth.
2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5: 2 – 12 (ESV)
After church, I got a chance to catch up with a few friends that I haven’t seen in a while. The nice part about being home for a little longer is that I am getting to catch up with people I haven’t gotten to see on my short weekend trips home! I met my friend Michelle from high school at Jakeabob’s, a cute little seaside restaurant. The first time my mom told me about her new favorite local spot, I thought she had lost all sense. This restaurant proves that you should never judge a book by its
cover name! The food is fantastic, with great flavor combinations and reasonable prices for seafood. I enjoyed a big salad topped with pecans, mandarin oranges and shrimp with a raspberry vinaigrette. Michelle had an enormous ahi tuna burger, which she generously let me try! Both dishes were incredible, and the ocean front views made the experience even better. So great to catch up with old friends!
After having a pretty filling lunch, I knew that a lighter dinner would be on the menu. This is pretty common in my family. We tend to have a bigger lunch immediately after church, around 1:30 or 2, and then have the smaller meal of the day for dinner. Tonight, I made a yummy frittata, which would also be great for a brunch or a weekend lunch. It was inspired by this hearty looking recipe at Rufus’ Guide, and this interesting grilled version at KERF. I cooked everything on the grill, until it ran out of gas… oops! The potatoes made a nice sort-of crust, and the grilled asparagus had a great texture and flavor in the frittata. Plus, keeping everything outside on the grill kept the house from getting too hot. Even if the grill hadn’t run out of gas, I still think it might be a good idea to finish this off in the broiler oven. It gives the top a nice crisp that you might miss with bottom-only heat from the grill. Before making a frittata, either in the oven or on the grill, make sure your pan oven-safe first! And keep a good oven mitt on hand, since the handle will be super hot! I chose to leave the cheese out of this frittata because my sister is lactose-intolerant. She can handle the little bit of milk in the eggs because it is diluted so much, but the cheese would not have such friendly outcomes. Try this without the cheese, or add a little bit of Parmesan on top!
Question: Does your family have any Sunday traditions?
Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I was finally able to relax. I laid in the hammock, I sat in the sun, I went in the pool, I spent time with my family, and I even read a book for fun! I had started Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story a month or two back, but would only get a page or two before passing out each night as the end of the semester ramped up. I finished the 3/4 of the remaining story yesterday, and it was so inspirational! Ben Carson is the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, and has the remarkable and rare “true American story.” He was born to an uneducated, single mother and raised in Detroit, overcame learning problems and hard life circumstances to become a world-class neurosurgeon. Not only is his story compelling, but he also has some incredibly interesting patient stories as well. Definitely a great summer read if you are looking for a book!
What better way to end a relaxing day than a lobster feast? My dad was the lobster chef while my mom was the grill master. I took care of the indoor work, carefully avoiding the lobster pot to the best of my ability. I know that the squealing is simply air being released from the shell, but I still lose my lobster appetite if I hear that right before my meal. Alongside of the lobster, we grilled up some fresh corn and asparagus. I kept the seasoning on everything simple, preferring instead to let the flavor of the lobster shine. I squeezed a fresh lemon over the asparagus spears and generously ground some black pepper, sea salt, and garlic powder for good measure. To make grilled corn, we simply pulled out the fine corn hair from inside of the husk, but left the husk on. We then soaked the corn in water for 5 minutes to make sure the husk wouldn’t burn, and then put the corn on the grill for about 12 minutes (6 minutes each side.) The corn picks up so much great smoky flavor from the grill and the husk that most of us didn’t even need butter! To go along with the lobster, I made a lemon-butter dipping sauce. I find that straight butter is too heavy and overwhelms the lobster, so I added 2 juiced lemons to 2 1//2 sticks of melted butter to add a little fresh flavor. Everyone except my dad was a huge fan (but we have outlawed him as a crazy ;) )!
The flavors of this meal were simple, fresh and delightful. The only utensils necessary were lobster picks and crackers, since even the asparagus spears could be eaten as finger food. Good thing we were eating outside, where we could hose down ourselves and the table! Obviously, this meal was a huge treat!
To make the most of those special lobsters, my uncle instructed everyone to save their shells. He sweated some minced garlic, onions, carrots, and celery in white wine (we were out of sherry) – fancy people call this a mirepoix. This is the basis for any good seafood, poultry or vegetable stock. Then, he added the lobster shells and covered it with water, brought it to a boil, and then cooked it down for about 2 hours. Next, he strained all of the ingredients through a colander, and then through a cheesecloth to remove fine particulates. Now, you can use this lobster stock to make either bisque or lobster sauce for pasta. Since the family has been drooling over my fresh pasta posts, we decided we will use this to make a sauce… stay tuned for the results of our little experiment!
This is a spectacular weekend. The sun is shining: summer is officially here! You know who else is here? My whole family! My grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin hopped in their van on Thursday and made their 2-day drive north for a long overdue visit. It is so much fun when all 9 of us get together! There is always a lot of food, wine, coffee, and dinner conversations that solve the problems of the world (if only it were all that simple). I am still enjoying my role as family cook, so I made a huge, healthy dinner to welcome everyone! Before I started blogging, I only followed recipes on occasion and rarely paid attention to how much spice I added to things. I am slightly more aware of it now so that I can share my recipes with you all, but sometimes old habits die hard! This post will not contain recipes at the end, but instead I will walk you through my thought process and ingredient list for how the meal came together. Hopefully you will find some new flavor combo to try out!
As munchies, I set out the leftover Roasted Chickpeas from my mom’s game night. I rewarmed them in the oven, because they are best crispy and had gone kind of flat with all of the humid weather we have had lately. I also made some Kale Crisps, mostly to use up the rest of the gigantic head of kale my mom bought. The kale crisps were a huge hit! My aunt would like it noted that even my cousin ate kale, a big deal!
As appetizers, we had littleneck clams steamed in beer and whole artichokes. The clams pick up a little of the beer flavor and taste great with a little butter sauce, and my family ate them up! I tried one, but still don’t like the texture enough to have more than a taste. The artichokes were my personal favorite. I followed Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide – excellent and pretty easy! Snipping each leaf tip to prepare the choke is a little tedious, but the flavor is well worth the effort. WARNING: do not eat the whole leaf! Use your teeth to pull the soft part out, and discard the pointy rest of the leaf. (My grandpa missed this warning, but learned quickly after getting a few throat scratches.)
Dinner consisted of grilled salmon, Balsamic Brussels sprouts, and a gigantic salad. The salmon was rubbed with a mix of chili powder, paprika, mustard seed and garlic powder, as well as the juice of 1/2 large orange and a little orange zest. This was inspired by my mom’s favorite seafood rub, which I decided to mimic to cut down on the salt content. It was a very different flavor, but the citrus rang through stronger and I liked it even better! We grilled the salmon on a cedar plank, which gives it a great smoky flavor. (We get cedar planks cheaply at Costco, but I have seen them at Williams & Sonoma as well.) The Brussels sprouts were halved and mixed with Balsamic vinegar, a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then thrown on a grill tray. They taste like roasted Brussels sprouts, but picked up a hint of the smoky cedar flavor. Plus, you don’t have to heat up the whole house this way and still get the awesome roasted texture! The salad was mixed greens, baby spinach, a yellow bell pepper, a tomato, cucumber and some sliced carrots. My mom taught me to put salads together visually: the more colors it has, the better it looks and the more likely people are to eat it! Plus, eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies ensures that you are getting the vitamins and minerals you need.
Still have room for dessert? Barely. Fruit is the perfect ending to our healthy feast! I mixed together some watermelon and canteloupe (I prefer to call it canta-melon… makes so much more sense, right?!) with some fresh mint, agave nectar, and a bit of water. The fruit soaked up the mint and was absolutely perfect! Isn’t that the biggest watermelon you have ever seen?
We finished off the night around a beautiful backyard campfire – looking forward to a whole weekend filled with more talking, eating, and relaxing with my family.
Question: What are your Memorial Day Weekend plans?