Grilling

Dinner Party Series: August

dinner-party-series-august

I’m failing on the blog front lately, but I can’t help it. My twins are BUSY and I’m hanging on by a thread. Not just from keeping up with them all day long, but making sure they’re learning and growing each day – that’s a challenge. Or maybe that’s just pressure moms put on themselves unnecessarily; babies used to literally grow up in caves and they were still helping their moms hunt for dinner by the age of 5.

Anyway, this dinner party post is too late. You really only have 8 days left to use it. Just kidding! Because I’m selecting grilled pizza for this month, and pizza is good ALWAYS. And I’m using grilled pizza for this month because we just went to a dinner party at my friend Annie’s house and grilled pizzas were the theme, and it was perfect. It was so much fun, really interactive, and at the end we got to eat PIZZA. I also feel like we all really bonded over the stressful yet satisfying act of rolling out pizza crust into something reasonable looking.

I’m offering two approaches here – buy the pizza stuff and make the salad, or make the pizza stuff and buy the salad.

Menu

Appetizer: Simple platter of roasted nuts and summer fruit

Pizza:        Homemade grilled pizza here and here or buy all the stuff    somewhere like Jimmy’s Food Store in Dallas

Salad:        Italian Chopped Salad or buy a prepared/bagged salad at the store

Dessert:    Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

To execute:

  1. Bake cheesecake the day before.
  2. If making pizza, prepare the dough the night before or morning of. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Prepare nut/fruit plate before guests arrive.
  4. Prepare salad before guests arrive.
  5. When ready to grill pizzas, roll out the dough, brush with oil, and grill on high heat first without the toppings. When dough crisps up, add toppings and return to grill until cheese melts.

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.

grilled-peach-sriracha-chicken

I don’t know how your week is going, but mine is awesome. My mom is here, and I’m doing a lot of workout classes, self-indulging, and sitting on my couch reading the news (daily mail); and not a lot of diaper changing, feeding, or baby-playing. It feels glorious. I am so lucky to have a mom that not only really rolls up her sleeves  when she’s here and helps with the babies, but one that can so seamlessly take over my role. She is so good at playing with and teaching them that I would think she was an 11-month old boy at one point. She’s a real pro. So I’m going to write this post, then go back to wasting time.

This recipe came to me in the night. I woke up and thought I wanted grilled chicken with a slightly sweet but savory spicy peach glaze. So that’s what this is. If you want more spice, feel free to get heavy handed with the sriracha.  The glaze is out of this world. Next time, however, I will make this with boneless skinless chicken breasts rather than the bone-in skin-on version that you see in the photo. I don’t really like eating chicken skin, and so I was really torn when the really super sweet delicious glaze was all over the skin. I would use skinless – either boneless or bone-in. GREAT summer recipe y’all.

Recipe

  • ~4-5 lb chicken pieces, skin removed (or 2-3 lb boneless chicken breasts)
  • Kosher salt + pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup peach preserves
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1/2 tablespoon Sriracha (more to taste)

Heat the grill to medium-high.  Brush the chicken with olive oil and season with S&P.  Grill the chicken until nearly done- about 7 minutes each side for the bone-in variation.  Mix the glaze ingredients together, then brush on one side of the chicken, close the grill for about 3 minutes, then flip and glaze the other side. Close grill another 3-5 minutes to finish cooking and let the glaze set.

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I need some new TV show recommendations. Anyone? All of ours (and there are A LOT), are either off season or we flew through them on amazon/netflix/HBO. Some of my recommendations: Bloodline, Stranger Things, Nashville, Homeland (duh), Big Little Lies (double duh), and the MISSING – creepiest most addicting show I’ve seen in a long time. Typing all those shows out, you’re probably thinking that I’m a couch potato and maybe I should pick up a book. And quite frankly, it turns out I do have some couch potato in me and I love TV. Plus we’ve been subbing pasta for zoodles so I can lay around all I want.

I’m going to spare you the zoodle talk, because everyone who’s had them knows how amazing they are. Amazing and sneaky. There aren’t many substitutions in this world that are truly maybe for the better. But this one is. They really soak up the sauce so much more than regular pasta, and you can pair them with a semi-indulgent cream sauce like this one because you’re saving yourself 400 calories. Sorry, guess I’m not sparing you the zoodle talk. I can’t help myself! Love these things.


Recipe (for 4-5)

  • ~1.5 lb zoodles (I used two of the 10.7oz noodle co. containers)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 container sliced mushrooms (the normal size..think it’s 8 oz?)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour or corn starch
  • 1 clove garlic (I used 1/2 teaspoon of the jarred minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1.5 cups half & half
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • 3-4 cooked/grilled steaks, chicken breasts, or salmon fillets

I started by getting the veggies ready first; I simply cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, then steamed them in a bit of water in the microwave for 4 minutes. I put them in an ice bath immediately after to conserve the bright green color. I dry-sauteed the mushrooms in a sauce pan for about 8 minutes to cook through and remove excess moisture.


Next, I made the sauce. Create a roux by melting the butter over low heat; add the garlic to cook. Stir in the flour with a fork, then add in the white wine. Cook for a minute or two over low heat, careful not to burn.  Slowly add in the half & half and milk, and whisk to combine (it can be lumpy at first – keep whisking). Add salt. Stir and cook over low heat to thicken; add in the parmesan cheese. Stir in the zoodles and veggies (about 2-3 cups) and cook for 2-3 minutes until the zoodles are cooked but crisp.


We grilled steaks seasoned with plenty of salt (About a teaspoon per steak) and pepper.  Grills vary but our New York Strips cook in about 8 minutes,  flipping halfway through. Would be great with chicken or salmon on top!

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