marinated-grilled-chicken-sandwich

Today is one of those days I feel like I just can’t go on. It is just too hot. When your face starts sweating literally the second you step outside, it’s too hot. Add in 75 trips to the car loading babies in/out and I might just lose it. Add in – getting your eyebrows threaded and your baby B throwing a fit for keeping him strapped down for more than 3 minutes, grabbing a vase and breaking it, having to leave halfway through (yep, one brow done), and going back OUT into the 100+ degrees, and quite frankly I’m surprised I’m here to even tell you about it. I really never get my eyebrows done anymore because it’s too much of a hassle, but I thought it might be a good idea since we’re having our one year photos done tomorrow. Oh well, at least I got one done.

Instead I’ll talk about what we ate last week (in between two bouts of the stomach flu).  Super flavorful grilled chicken sandwiches. I ate this a couple ways – with honey mustard, with pickles, with tomatoes, with a couple different buns, and I landed on the simplest version. The chicken is so tasty that it tastes great on its own, with a buttery toasted ciabatta bun. Of course add what you want, but this is a great simple dinner.

Recipe

  • 3 thick boneless skinless chicken breast halves (~1.5 lb)
  • 6 ciabatta rolls, halved and lightly buttered
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • black pepper

Prepare the chicken breasts by cutting their thickness in half. You can also pound them thin, but our Central Market chicken breasts are so thick that halving them is best. Mix the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag; season the chicken with black pepper and add to marinade. I marinated for about 8 hours for extra flavor, but if you only have a couple hours that will be fine.  Heat the grill to medium high and grill 3-4 minutes per side.  Butter the ciabatta rolls and toast in the oven.  Top with what you want, but you won’t need it!

Dinner Party Menu: July

dinner-party-menu-july

I’ve got the best tip for all you moms out there. It’s fully researched, tested, and proven to be very effective. It just takes a leeeeettle bit of sacrifice on your part.

Get the flu. Or mildly poison yourself with salmonella.

Yesterday I got the flu (I know, it’s not inFLUenza but the flu as we all know it from our childhood)…or salmonella poisoning, I can’t be sure because I did spend a good part of my day testing the cake batter for my sons’ upcoming birthday…and I’m telling you guys. My husband had to stay home to take care of the kids…and for the first time in 362 days, I didn’t change 16+ diapers, I didn’t make and clean up 6 meals, I didn’t change outfits 4 times, I didn’t pull Bax out of the fireplace 3 times, I didn’t make 4 trips back forth to the car loading and unloading babies in 100 degree weather, I didn’t read 4 books that make little to no sense, and I didn’t give anyone a bath. Oh and my clothes looked and smelled clean at the end of the day.  What I did do, is lay in bed all day and watch Friends. Sure, throw in a little puking here and there but you know what? I feel rejuvenated. Try it.

So now that both babies are walking around like crazy, I have the opposite problem that I thought I’d have. I am not running in 2 different directions to constantly chase them down; THEY are constantly running in one direction to chase ME down. Seriously, I can’t even go to the bathroom without those two pounding on the door for me to come out. It makes kitchen time very tricky- I’ve got two little puppies just following me step for step; into the pantry, into the fridge, into the dishwasher. So today I am doing a dinner party post because I haven’t been cooking.

July – what a great time for a casual, cool dinner party. Something easy, something summery, something casual, and something outdoors is the ideal gathering. Nothing fussy here – just getting together with friends for good food and drinks.

Appetizer:   Veggies and store-bought dip

Main:           Sweet Texas BBQ Ribs

Side 1:          Sweet Potato Skins

Side 2:          Buy the Dole BBQ Ranch Salad Kit at the store (obsessed with this)

Dessert:      Ice cream with hot fudge/caramel topping

To execute:

  1. Arrange veggie platter the morning of; cover and refrigerate
  2. About 3 hours before guests arrive, start the grill and oven. Sear the ribs and then wrap and place them in the oven, basting for about 2 hours.  Let the ribs rest for 30-45 minutes.
  3. During the last hour of ribs, bake the sweet potatoes. In another oven is ideal, otherwise just put them in a little longer. Or, microwave!
  4. While the ribs are resting, finish making the potato skins in the oven or grill.
  5. Put the salad in a bowl.
  6. Um, that’s it!
pineapple-jalapeno-bbq-chicken-kabobs

I would have added more words to the title of this recipe, but they didn’t fit. I would have added ‘spicy,’ ‘soy sauce,’ ‘veggie,’ and maybe even ‘amazing.’  I have to admit I’m not a total kabob person.  I can’t really explain why…except that I maybe feel like they’re pointless. Generally you can eat the exact same thing without having to chop everything up and put it on a stick. BUT, these are different. Because with these, in each bite you get a burst of super flavorful BBQ chicken, sweet juicy pineapple, and spicy jalapeno – a bite that’s hard to achieve anywhere else (except maybe a pizza).  It’s worth it here to chop it into bits and put it on a stick. The flavor combo is perfect and it screams SUMMER’S HERE!! Always a nice reminder.

Recipe

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sweet BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha

Kabobs

  • 2.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped into large piece
  • 2 jalapenos, cut into rings, seeds and veins removed
  • 1 pineapple, cut into large chunks

Season the chicken with pepper. Prepare the marinade in a ziploc bag, add the chicken and marinate for at least 1 hour (I did about 3). Heat the grill to medium high. Place all the veggies (bell pepper, jalapeno and onion – not pineapple) in a bowl, splash with a couple tablespoons of water and S&P, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, cover and microwave for 3 minutes. This is important, because otherwise the veggies won’t get done by the time the chicken is done on the grill. A fatal flaw of kabobs.

Prepare the kabobs, alternating chicken, pineapple, jalapeno, bell pepper and onion.  Discard marinade. Lightly oil grill grates.  Grill kabobs about 4 minutes per side or until done.

 

pineapple-jalapeno-salsa

Happy Friday! Favorite day of the week. I’m so original! My kids are getting soooo close to turning 1, and every day it seems they have a new skill. Bax is running around, Price is taking a few steps and trying sooooo hard to copy his brother. This might be the cutest thing ever, by the way. Bax will fly past him on his feet and poor Price gets almost panicky and starts launching himself off of stuff. He can take a few steps and I’m sure he’ll be walking any day now, little cutie. He could use a few more steps to add some definition to his knees/thighs (so far I’ve seen no concrete evidence that he actually HAS knees). Other skills? Price loves taking off his diaper and Bax loves poking people in the eye. Like really hard.

On to food. This pineapple salsa goes on anything. Anything. Use it as a dip, but I highly recommend it as a topper for your grilled fish or chicken of choice. We had it on top of blackened salmon and it was perfect. Talk about a perfect summer dinner party recipe!

Recipe

  • 1 1/4 cup pineapple, diced into small 1/4-in. pieces
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons canned green chiles or diced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped white or sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste

I used fresh pre-cut pineapple from the grocery store, then chopped it up even smaller and used 1 tablespoon of the extra pineapple juice from the container. Place the pineapple and juice in a bowl, then add in remaining ingredients. Mix together, then let marinate at least 30 minutes before serving.

sausage-stuffed-peppers

I love these things for SO many reasons, but the #1 might be because they’re sausage! That means they’re not chicken, salmon, or beef, which take up about 99% of our diet around here. Sausage is such a fun change-up, and we keep it light by stuffing it in a pepper. No rice in these because you just don’t need it. These are inspired by my mother-in-law, who makes them on a regular basis. I’ve had them in the back of my mind for a long time, and now that I see how easy and delicious and different these are, we’ll be making them often.

Recipe

  • 4 yellow bell peppers
  • 1 lb mild italian sausage
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes (the regular size – ~10 oz I think)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 1.5 cup homemade bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • Pepperidge Farm crispy breadcrumbs (or any store bought version)

First make the breadcrumbs. Cut about 2-3 slices of bread (any kind) into 3/4 in pieces. Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 300 for about 15 minutes until they are dried out.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the sausage in a large skillet until cooked through. If necessary, drain the fat if there is a lot of excess. You need a little left in there to cook the onions and celery. Add in the garlic, onions and celery and cook for about 8 minutes. Mix in the tomatoes, salt, basil and oregano. Stir to combine. Add in the homemade breadcrumbs and chicken broth to moisten and bring to a low boil until the broth is gone (you don’t want a liquid-y filling). Turn off the heat.

Cut the stems off the peppers, slice the peppers in half, and remove the seeds and veins. Place them in a bowl with a splash of water, cover and microwave for 2 minutes. Place the 8 pepper halves in a shallow baking dish and fill with the stuffing (do not add cheese or crispy crumbs yet).  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover, top peppers with the cheese then the bread crumbs (a pinch or two per pepper for an extra crunch) and bake for another 15 minutes.

punch-bowl-cherry-cosmopolitans

Happy almost 4th of July! What a great holiday. I mean aside from the country’s independence, it’s a day full of drinks, boating, and brats (at least it usually is for us). Those three things might actually be my favorite things of all time. We didn’t get to go to Wisconsin this year (believe it or not flying/traveling/sleeping in pack n’ plays is not enjoyable with twin babies), so while we couldn’t do the boating, we still celebrated throughout the weekend with drinks and brats.

When I’m ordering a drink at a restaurant, I always want to like something exotic on the martini menu.  But time and time again, I am disappointed. The only drink I consistently like (besides wine), is a cosmopolitan. Those never let me down. So when trying to come up with a red white and blue drink, I decided to make a redder version of a cosmopolitan. Cherry juice instead of cranberry. Delicious! For the blue I made blue star shaped ice cubes from a mold, and I couldn’t think of a darn thing for white. So it’s really a red and blue drink. And the blue ice cubes are hard to see – next time I’ll make them lighter.

Recipe

  • 4 cups vodka (I used Tito’s)
  • 2 cups Triple Sec
  • 2 cups cherry juice
  • Juice from 1-2 large limes

No real instructions here. Simply mix everything together in a large punch bowl or pitcher, and serve over ice!

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