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Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Shrimp

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This is such an easy and delicious dinner. I started off with a 2-lb bag of Jumbo, frozen, raw shrimp that I defrosted under cool water and removed the shells. They were split and deveined already so it went really quickly. Next, I put some Old Bay seasoning on the shrimp and then wrapped each jumbo shrimp in a half slice of raw bacon and fastened with a toothpick. I put them into a container and poured BBQ sauce on them and let them sit in the fridge for a couple hours. When I got ready to cook them I preheated my oven on broil and put in a foil-lined pan with the shrimps for approximately 6 minutes. The oven rack was at the middle of the oven so it would go faster if it were higher to the heating element. The shrimp and the bacon cooked at the same time so they were both perfect. Kids loved them and I just tossed away the foil when I was finished. Ta Da!

Grilled Rosemary Ranch Butterflied Chicken

IMG_8270I love picking up whole chickens when they are on sale. I count myself especially lucky if it is a roaster size. You know, the big 6-8 pounders. I am a huge griller and will grill anything from chicken to romaine lettuce to avocados to cookies. Yes, they all are amazing, surprisingly. First butterfly your chicken by cutting out the backbone with some sharp kitchen shears. If you are unsure how to do this you can find lots of videos on YouTube that will walk you through the step. I press my chicken down to flatten it, but still leave the breast bones in so it doesn’t lay completely flat. This is preference, but you can remove it to make it flatter. Leaving the skin on, but separating the skin from the meat with my fingers on the breasts and thighs, I rubbed a marinade on consisting of Ranch dressing, olive oil, Rosemary, minced garlic, salt, pepper and some fresh lemon. I’ve seen other recipes out there that also use vinegar and various other spices so just put on what you like and make it your own. I don’t really measure, but I usually do close to equal parts dressing and oil. The spices are based on your tastes. I made sure the marinade was everywhere. And, I do mean everywhere… in between skin and meat, on top of skin, you get the picture. I left in fridge overnight to absorb all that yummy goodness. Next, heat your grill up to about 450 and then place your chicken skin-side UP. Immediately, turn off burners under chicken for indirect heat. If you are using charcoal just put it on the side without charcoal. I tweak the burners that are left on so as to maintain a temp of about 300-350 degrees. For a chicken this size I cooked for approximately 1 hr. 50 min – 2 hrs. I’ve done smaller 3-4 lb chickens for 45 minutes. I’ve also used every kind of rub, sauce, etc. Whether you dry-rub or marinate in a liquid I really like leaving it overnight in the fridge. I don’t turn my chicken at all. The skin gets nice and brown just fine on it’s own. I used to start out skin side down for 10 minutes then switch, but it’s not necessary. A lot of other grillers recommend putting skin side down and pressing with a spatula to get all the skin to brown… NO!!!! NEVER squeeze the liquid out of any meat you are grilling. Ever. It is so much juicier leaving all that yummy tasting juice inside the meat and not in the bottom of your grill.

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches

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It’s summer, and with that comes a huge amount of freshly-grown vegetables from the local farm here in Salem. Each Friday I pick up an obscene amount of gorgeous red, green, and yellow produce. I decided to make sandwiches today for my 16-yr-old daughter and her friend. First, the night before, I made the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 TBL. lemon juice

You don’t have to make it the night before, but I felt it allowed all the flavors to meld together better. This sauce really makes the sandwich. Next, I pre-cut my veggies…

  • Red and yellow peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Purple onion
  • 1 or 2 TBL olive oil
  • Any seasoning you want to add
  • Cheese if desired (I used Swiss)

I put them in a container in the fridge so I could just grab them the next day. Again unnecessary, but I like to cut down on prep-time. Heat grill to medium-high and drizzle olive oil on veggies and mix before placing on grill. I used a lime no-salt seasoning, but pick whatever flavor you like. I think Rosemary would be awesome or maybe even basil… Mmm. Brush your rolls with olive oil and lightly toast on the grill. Remove the buns, and spread your sauce you mixed earlier, then add your veggies, and top with cheese if desired. I used Boar’s Head Baby Swiss. I probably would have put it on the veggies, but thought the picture would come out better if you could still SEE the veggies after the cheese melted. Put back on grill for a minute or just until the cheese melts. You can also use your broiler if you don’t want to grill  🙂

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Baby Spinach and Peppers with Alfredo Sauce

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This idea struck me out of the blue. I LOVE big, juicy portobello mushrooms. A lot. First, I marinated them for a few hours, sans stems, in olive oil, oregano, garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Save the stems, cut, and sauté; they’re awesome and shouldn’t be wasted. Next, I grilled the mushroom concave side up, and then flipping them, I dumped the liquid on the ones I already flipped over. I used the indirect-grilling method so as not to have flare-ups from the olive oil. Then, I spooned in a small amount of Alfredo sauce. You can use homemade or store-bought, your choice. Finally, I topped with a mixture of baby spinach and diced bell peppers. You can just load everything, and grill if you want, or bake, or broil, whatever. I just prefer grilling the mushrooms first; but that’s just one of my little quirks. They taste awesome and make such a pretty and colorful presentation. Marinating the mushrooms really makes this dish though 🙂

Chicken Cordon Bleu

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There I was pounding the chicken breasts in the kitchen when my 20-yr-old son asks what I was doing because he couldn’t hear the TV. Gasp. Heaven forbid. I don’t really care because I haven’t watched TV in over two-years, seriously. However, when I said I was beating the meat there was instant silence, not a word, nada. I have finally found a way to shut an older child up… LOL.

After flattening the breasts I put in one slice of Boar’s Head Black Forest ham, some Monterey Jack cheese because I was out of Swiss, and then rolled them up and tied with kitchen twine. You can use toothpicks, but I prefer to tie them up. Besides, the kitchen twine only gets used at Thanksgiving. Coat in flour to which I added a package of Good Seasonings Italian dry dressing mix. After browning in butter on both sides on medium-high heat I added 3/4 cup white wine. I used a Sauvignon Blanc because that is what white wine I happened to have on hand. I also added about a tsp of chicken base paste. I suppose you could use granules. Cover and cook on low for about 20-minutes. Remove chicken and add 1 cup of heavy cream to which 1 TBL of cornstarch was previously added and stirred together. Bring it to a boil and remove from heat. I also tossed in some minced garlic and parsley before spooning over the little golden chicken pockets. Mmm, mmm, good 🙂

My Kids are Food Snobs

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I can’t remember the last time I bought a fast-food meal for my kids. I pride myself on making almost everything homemade. I even make homemade cream of mushroom/celery/chicken in concentrate instead of using the canned stuff. My kids, ages 16, 20, and 21 have eaten almost every type of meat available, every herb and almost every spice. They’ve tasted pretty much most cuisines and don’t shy away from new things. I don’t make them eat something they don’t like, but I do insist that they at least try it. Tonight, it has all come back to bite me in the ass. Someone posted a recipe on Facebook that used the refrigerated crescent rolls (I usually make my own potato crescent rolls) and a mixture of shredded chicken, shredded cheese, cream cheese, green onions and bacon. I rarely, and I mean like twice a year, use bacon. I drove to the market and schlepped into the store, loaded up the few ingredients to make a simple dinner tonight so that I could go home and take a super-hot, epsom-salt bath, and read the end of my steamy novel. It’s okay taking the “easy way” and using shortcuts, right? I bought a rotisserie chicken, which I must say was really good by itself. As I’m mixing up everything in a bowl one son walked in and asked what kind of cheese I was using. SCREECHING STOP… what? “Well, I think swiss and cheddar would be good, but please don’t use American. I’m not fond of it, and I don’t think it will be good in it.” Well okay, sounds like good advice, but I already had some American cheese shredded, and surely he wouldn’t notice it, right? <biting nails>.  A second son strolls into the kitchen and asks why I’m putting cream cheese in it. Reasonable question, but I don’t know, the recipe says so and that’s the story I’m sticking with. The kitchen is starting to smell really good at this point, really good. Damn good, actually.

The results: My kids are FOOD SNOBS.

They didn’t like it. It was too cheesy, too creamy. “Why does it all taste the same.” “What herbs are in here?” one son asks. Um, none, I reply. I hear a snort as feet shuffle out of the kitchen. This is a meal that they all would have loved a couple years ago. Every single one of them. But NOOOOOO, these are kids that are used to stuffed portobello mushrooms, prime rib, rack of lamb, stir-fried local veggies, roasted asparagus and cauliflower, and fiddleheads picked from a friend’s property. Next time they can make a peanut butter sandwich when I feel the need for a quick and easy dinner. All in all, I’m glad my kids have good taste in food and know the difference in quality of things. So, if I have to skip some of the great looking quick recipes I find on Pinterest, well, so be it. Here is the original recipe that I used. I’m sure it’s fine, but not for my budding Julia Child and Emeril Legasses. http://recipetipster.com/roasted-garlic-chicken-puffs/

Baked Tortilla Bowls (no oil)

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So, I found a set of tortilla bowl molds, and knew that I had to pick them up. I think it was $10 for the set. What is awesome about these is that you put tortillas in them, bake at 375 for about 15 minutes and you get a hard taco-shell bowl to fill to your hearts content. No oil. None. You can use any kind of tortilla that you want… white or whole wheat flour both work fine. I would recommend bringing them to room temp first or they will crack. You can do this quickly by wrapping in a damp towel and microwaving for a few seconds, but not too long or they’ll dry out. Yes, you can use corn tortillas too. I know, it’s EXCITING!!!! You can also use any size tortilla you want. I went with a 6″ flour and you can see the size it made. You can also use an 8″ or 10″ tortillas for much bigger bowl all from the same mold. This is wonderful. I happened to have lentils that were in my fridge and I spiced them up Mexican-style with taco seasoning and the kids were none the wiser, but to be fair, my kids like pretty much everything so… I bought my set locally, but you can get them on Amazon. Here is the link 🙂  http://www.amazon.com/As-Seen-On-T-V-PT011124/dp/B008UA4POE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1370895589&sr=8-2&keywords=tortilla+bowl