Saturday, July 31, 2010

entertaining ideas: grilled buffalo shrimp and blue cheese dip

Another post by popular request: today's feature is grilled buffalo shrimp with blue cheese dip. I've made this recipe twice and the first time was my best effort. So ladies if you enjoyed this when I made it the second time for a tennis party read on and take note of what was better about version 1. For my first attempt I used frozen shrimp that were a nice large size, thawed overnight, drained and patted dry. I bought fresh shrimp for version 2 and they were smaller and I did not pat them dry so they steamed a bit on the grill which was not good for the flavor or the texture. So, buy nice-sized fresh or frozen and make sure they are nice and dry before you toss them with the olive oil. This is a great appetizer and worth firing up the grill even in the snow like I did back in February. Tonight it will be hot and steamy, but it's a Saturday so round up some friends, chill a nice beverage and grill some shrimp. Happy entertaining!

Grilled Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip

1/2 C sour cream (light works great, never buy fat free)
1/2 C crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola (my favorite)
1/4 C chopped scallions
2 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp milk

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (last shell segment and tail fan attached is nice)
2 T olive oil
1/4 C unsalted butter, melted
1/4 C Frank's RedHot hot sauce
1/2 bunch celery, cleaned and cut in 4-inch sticks

Stir together all dip ingredients and season with 1/8 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper to taste. Dip can be made ahead and chilled.

Prepare grill for medium heat cooking. Toss shrimp (remember nice and dry) with olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Oil grill rack or use a nice grilling basket (I have a three options, love those things) and grill shrimp, turning/tossing once, and keeping covered if using a gas grill until pink and opaque (5-8 minutes, depending on size). Do not overcook the shrimp. Grab your beverage and just stay by the grill. Take a friend with you if you have to so you don't leave the shrimp to ruin (possibly you spent some money on the shrimp too for extra motivation). In a large bowl stir together melted butter and hot sauce. Add shrimp and toss until coated. Serve with dip and celery sticks.

Friday, July 30, 2010

omg yogurt-marinated herbed chicken skewers

Sara sends me links to recipes she'd like me to try and this week the yogurt-marinated herbed chicken skewers we made were simply brilliant. I've read plenty or recipes for marinating chicken in yogurt and you would think with our almost daily consumption of both yogurt and chicken I might have tried one or two. Nope. Perhaps I was just unknowingly waiting for the ultimate in deliciousness when this recipe caught my eye. You need to allow 3 to 6 hours for the marinating, but no more or the chicken will start to break down. Mine were marinated a little over 3 hours and truly the chicken was simply succulent, moist and full of flavor. The herb flavors here are definitely Greek. There is an optional lemon-garlic-basil dressing which is almost redundant, but also truly delicious. I also made Fine Cooking's pita bread on the grill in a cast-iron skillet, some tzatziki with the remainder of the Greek yogurt and some grilled romaine with just olive oil, salt and pepper for a "dressing". I am going to employ this method and adjust the herbs for a more of a Provence or Tuscany bent and I'll let you know how that turns out. Go forth and marinade!

Yogurt-Marinated Herbed Chicken Skewers

1/2 C plain Greek yogurt (I used
Fage 2%)
1/4 C olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme (yes, I have tons of fresh thyme but dried is better for this recipe)
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or breast tenderloins cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red onion, chopped in 1-inch pieces
2 red/yellow/orange peppers, chopped in 1-inch pieces

Lemon-Garlic Oil Dressing
1/4 C olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 T fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh basil

Stir to together yogurt, olive oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper until smooth. Pour mixture into 13x9x2 glass or ceramic baking dish (the ones with the plastic lids are
perfect). Place chicken in dish and toss to coat and arrange in a single layer. Cover tightly and refrigerate 3 but not more than 6 hours.
While the chicken marinates whisk together the lemon-garlic oil dressing.
Thread onions, peppers and chicken in an alternating pattern onto metal skewers (or wooden skewers soaked in water). Discard the marinade.
Grill skewers over medium-high heat for 3 minutes per side until chicken is cooked through (10-12 minutes total).
You can brush on the lemon-garlic oil or just serve it on the side.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

if you know it by heart, it must be good

Okay, it's still the same sultry Thursday that I've made pink lemonade and spent an hour or so finding new good music and generally getting very little accomplished. But, I am also baking bread on request. This is the bread I bake every week during the school year for the peanut butter and honey sandwiches Sara has for lunch. The same lunch she has packed every day since at least fourth grade (going on 9 years now). The pb& h ritual did not always include homemade bread, but it has for at least four years. Homemade bread sliced by hand yields some visually interesting sandwiches, but that's part of the joy of it all.

This is an adapted King Arthur Flour recipe. I make my bread in a Cuisinart convection bread maker. You can usually pick up the same one at Costco for around $100. I use the dough setting preferring bread baked in the oven over bread baked in the bread machine. The texture and crumb are very different in the bread machine (and not in a good way for my taste). The dough cycle takes one hour and forty minutes to complete. Spray your loaf pan with cooking spray, pour the dough in, cover it with a tea towel (or plastic wrap if you spray the top of the loaf first so it doesn't stick), start the oven to 350 and by the time the oven is hot your bread has probably risen enough to bake. Simple. The whole process (mixing to finished baking) takes about three hours. It does make your house smell wonderful and your family very happy, so that's worth the work.

Honey Oatmeal Bread

1 3/4 C hot tap water
3 T honey
2 1/4 tsp bread machine yeast
1 C oatmeal (old-fashioned or I use Trader Joe's Oven Toasted)
1/4 C vegetable oil (I use Smart Balance)
2 tsp salt
3 C unbleached bread flour
1 C white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat is also fine)
1/4-1/3 C dry nonfat milk (I use Baker's Special Dry Milk from King Arthur Flour)
1/4-1/3 C golden flax seeds, optional

Add all ingredients to bread machine as listed. I seem to have the best results if I let the yeast feed on the honey in the hot water for a few minutes then I add the oatmeal and let it sit a couple of minutes more to moisten the oats before adding everything else. The dry milk makes the bread rise higher and gives it a better crumb. I give a range for the dry milk because 1/3 C can be fun to use, but the bread can rise ridiculously high so you might go with a little less. We've added the flax seeds for additional Omega 3's because there is no way I'll ever like salmon enough to get my Omega 3's from food sources. This recipe makes a nice full loaf. I generally get out my oversize muffin pan, grease 4 muffin cups in the pan and pinch off about 1/3 C of the dough rolling it into a ball to put in the muffin cups to make 4 rolls. Then my loaf is a more normal sandwich size.

Run the bread machine on the dough cycle. Let it mix for a few minutes and then check to see if it's too sticky and add a little more flour before it's done mixing. The dough will be a little sticky, but should not be shiny and wet to the touch. When the cycle is complete (mix, knead and rise for one hour and forty minutes in my machine) pour the dough into the loaf pan (and muffin tin if desired). Cover the pan/pans with a tea towel in a non-drafty area (absolutely not a problem in July). Heat your oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is hot or after 20 minutes or so the dough should have risen above the rim of the pan/pans and be ready for baking. Rolls bake in 18-20 minutes in the muffin tin. Bread bakes in 40 minutes, but check it at 20 minutes and loosely tent with foil if the top is browning too quickly. Loosen bread from sides of pan with knife if necessary. Invert onto cooling rack and let cool at least a bit before slicing. It will fall and get all smooshed if you cut more than the ends off while it's hot. Worth the wait. Also makes good toast. In the summer you need to refrigerate it after a day or two since there are no preservatives and the kitchen humidity encourages bread mold. Yummy.

when Costco gives you too many lemons.....

Lazy hazy Thursday today. Played in a challenging tennis clinic for 90 minutes this morning. I literally dropped my slippery racquet on an overhead (did successfully execute the shot before letting my racquet fly). My team is competing in the playoffs next week and I better figure out two things quickly: what to use on my grip so the flying racquet incident is not repeated and how to keep my forehand rocking to keep my opponent nicely behind the baseline. Surely I'll get a grip (ha!) on my game.

In the meantime, I'm a little worthless today so I've done my weekly search for new music and recipes to avoid housework. Always can find a distraction. Found some great additions to the iTunes library (best song of the day "Where Would We Go?" by Rusty Anderson). Found a recipe for pink lemonade. Really, who makes pink lemonade? Apparently I do. Had a bag of Costco lemons and of course a few were going bad on me, so the lemon zester and the lemon press worked their magic in my hands just like Fine Cooking instructed. The pinkness is coming from making the base syrup with 2 C water, 1 1/2 C sugar and 1 C coarsely chopped strawberries. They are cooling in the pan with the zest of two lemons. All will be strained and poured into a pitcher with 2 C lemon juice (that's a lot of lemons, by the way) and 2 1/2 C cold water. Thinking I'll serve it over ice and follow the reviewers' advice to add vodka or limoncello. Thinking of a nice fresh raspberry and sprig of mint garnish. Another night of porch sitting is on the way. Lovely. Really, it's a long cold winter and it's time to start banking some of the balmy breezes and sunshine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

bistro dining

Another evening of dining with just my husband at home. Kind of nice. With just one year left of full-time on-site parenting, I need to get used to it. Greg has always traveled, but he's home this week and when he's home he really appreciates any home cooked meal. Today I grilled for lunch and did a quick "bistro dinner" with leftover barbecue tri-tip (perfectly cooked on Saturday, so served cold tonight), caramelized onions, green salad and goat cheese crostini. Greg prefers to call the crostini "cheese toasties", but whatever you call them we love them. I believe we've discussed the joys of a baguette sliced into thin rounds/ovals, brushed with olive oil, topped with a bit of goat cheese and grilled or baked until the cheese is melted. They are so good we just discussed them again.

A few weeks ago I picked up burrata cheese at Whole Foods after reading about
it in Gourmet, Bon Apetit and my favorite, Fine Cooking. Burrata is mozzarella cheese filled with cream. It comes wrapped in a white liner and a pretty green paper tied with raffia in a plastic container. It has a short shelf like and surely is not a food mentioned in Cooking Light. Ah, but life is short and food should be savored so buy some burrata! If you are in Whole Foods I highly recommend their freshly prepared bruschetta topping to go with the burrata cheese. Their bruschetta topping is made with garlic olive oil, basil olive oil, regular olive oil and of course tomatoes and basil among other things. But the trio of oils makes it rich and wonderful. Everything in moderation. Or if not in moderation, tomorrow is another day when you can make healthier food choices.

Now that you have the cheese and the bruschetta topping, buy a nice baguette and slice it into nice rounds/ovals. Rub a peeled whole garlic clove over the bread on both sides. Brush lightly with olive oil on both sides. Grill, broil or bake until just turning golden brown.

Still with me? Okay now you need to make a decision: do you have some yummy leftover steak? Do you have some lovely leftover rotisserie chicken? Do you need meat as part of your meal? I answered that yes, indeed I needed meat and since Greg had been gone I had not had red meat in a week and I needed steak (not wanted, really I needed steak). So I rubbed a nice flank steak with olive oil and ground sea salt and telicherry peppercorns all over it before searing it nicely on the grill. I let it rest while I made a salad and thinly sliced it to serve.

Salad for me can be as simple as a nice serving of crisp romaine, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar (okay, so I prefer pinot grigio vinegar and there really isn't anything simple about that is there?). A new favorite prepared salad dressing is Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette. Delightfully fresh from a bottle and a little sweet. Perfect with my bistro dinner.

That's it. I served a little flank steak, a nice portion of salad, a good serving of bruschetta topping, slices (or pieces, more like it) of burrata with the crostini on each of our plates. It all just kind of went together in a bit of this, a spoonful of that kind of way. A good glass of wine helped too.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

a bounty of fruit

Another crazy busy week kept me from posting on a regular basis yet again. It is raining this evening so maybe I can post of few things and get back on track.

Here's a brief run down on the week that was:
Wednesday evening I hosted my 3.5 flight champion tennis team after our last regular season summer match. I contributed the clean house, a big pitcher of mojitos, a two-quart bowl of guacamole, a nice big platter of Caprese salad and grilled buffalo shrimp. More appetizers, desserts and drinks were generously contributed by my team. Tracy's guacamole with feta, Susan's made from scratch cupcakes and Jenny's home-made lemon bars topped my list of favorites.
pitcher of Mojitos, on the napkins "You're not from Margaritaville, You're from Cleveland" :)
Thursday afternoon my best friend, Susan drove in from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan bearing the best gift of all (herself) and a pretty raspberry cake from Classic Cakes in Carmel. Friday night we grilled romaine and my famous tri-tip with red wine barbecue sauce and caramelized onions previously posted. After a trip to the Carmel Farmer's Market Saturday morning, Susan headed home.

Greg golfed thirty six holes Friday and another 18 Saturday before we cleaned up for his 30th high school reunion last night. So fascinating to attend every reunion for a class and a school not your own. By now after all the high school friends I met while we were dating at Purdue, after all of the reunions and including the two times we have lived in Carmel (now a total of almost 20 years) I am pretty comfortable with the group. Great company, so-so food.

All right, that's the de-briefing for the past week. This post's topic is all that delicious summer fruit and what to do with it. You need my piecrust and my bluebe
rry pie recipe. Then let's talk crostada or rustic pies. Let's follow that with an amazing cake recipe with mascarpone filling and a berry topping.

Dave's Mom's Piecrust (David Letterman's mom, Dorothy)

3/4 C shortening
2 C all purpose flour
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk (save the white for a wash)
1/4 C cold milk
1 T fresh lemon juice

In a medium bowl, cut the shortening in to the flour, sugar and salt until the mixture resembles
small peas. In a measuring cup, pour the cold milk and whisk in the the egg yolk and the lemon juice until the yolk is well beaten. Mix the milk mixture into the flour mixture either with a wooden spoon, a silicone spatula or just your hands until it comes together into a ball. Roll out using a well-floured rolling pin on a well-floured surface. You can roll and patch as needed. This is not a fussy crust.

Dorothy, Kelly (5) and Sara (3) in the strawberry fields
The photo is vintage from 1995 when Kelly, Sara and I shared a row of strawberries with Dorothy at Spencer's U-pick in Noblesville. So cute. So sad that I can't figure out how to position it better on this page. My IT department is unavailable, i.e. Kelly and Sara are at work.

Summer Blueberry Pie

Pie Crust recipe prepared as above

5 C cleaned blueberries
1 C sugar
6 T all-purpose flour or King Arthur Pie Filling Enhancer (order online)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (buy whole nutmeg and use a rasp or microplane to grate)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T grated lemon zest
1 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg white (told you to save it from the crust, remember?)
2 T milk or cream
demera sugar or coarse sparkling white sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out half the pastry and line pie plate. Prick bottom and bake for about 10 minutes to set crust, but not shrink it.

In a large bowl, toss together the berries, sugar, flour/enhancer, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest. Pour into prepared crust, mounding it slightly in the center. Dot with the small pieces of butter.

Roll out the other half of the pastry. Using a sharp knife or a pastry wheel (mine is fluted and from Crate and Barrel) cut the pastry into 1/2 inch wide strips and begin laying strips vertically and alternating with horizontally laid strips to weave a lattice. Trim ends and push against the bottom crust to seal. In a small bowl beat the the egg white with the milk using a fork. Brush the crust and the lattice with the egg wash. Sprinkle the washed crust and lattice with the coarse sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes. If you have a pie shield, it might be a good time to put it over the outer crust to prevent over-browning. You can do the same thing with foil, it's just more labor intensive. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 30 additional minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. It's so good that if there is any leftover you should have it cold for breakfast or coffee the next day!

We are now well into my longest post, so let's skip the crustada or rustic pies and move right onto the fabulous cake. I'll come back to the pies, don't worry. This cake was well-reviewed on Epicurious and I've tweaked it a bit and loved every crumb. I haven't baked it yet this year, so I am missing the photograph which really makes my blog look legit as the girls say. I have mascarpone just waiting to become something fantastic, so maybe I'll whip this up again soon.

Mascarpone-Filled Cake with Berries

2 C sifted cake flour (I use King Arthur and do sift before measuring)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 C lowfat buttermilk, well-shaken

1/2 C berry liqueur (raspberry or blackberry)
1/2 C sugar
4 C mixed berries, cleaned and cut into smaller pieces, if large

8 oz. mascarpone
1 C chilled heavy cream
1/4 C sugar

confectioners sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter one 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, then butter the parchment. Fussy, I know but superior to your cake sticking to your pan since you are hopefully going to neatly split it into two layers.

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla followed by eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer at low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture gradually until just combined.
Spread batter in prepared pan, smooth top. Tap pan on counter a few times to eliminate air bubbles.
Bake 35-40 minutes until golden and a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Run knife around edges and invert cake onto a plate. Remove paper and discard and reinvert cake onto cooling rack to completely cool.

Bring berry liqueur and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Put prepared berries in a ceramic or glass bowl (I measure mine into a nice Pampered Chef batter bowl) and pour liqueur/sugar syrup over them, tossing to coat. Let stand 15 minutes or up to two hours at room temperature.

Beat mascarpone and whipping cream with sugar in a large clean mixing bowl with clean beaters until mixture just holds stiff peaks.

Halve cake horizontally with a long serrated knife (one of only four knives I consider a must-have in my kitchen, get a good one). Carefully remove top half of cake and set aside. Put bottom half on serving plate. Spread cream evenly over all of the cake and replace top half. Top with berries and sprinkle with confectioners sugar to serve.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I do make great pie

My parents are in town so I'm too busy to post recipes, but I'll share a picture of my blueberry pie I baked yesterday. I got out a cookbook written by David Letterman's mom, Dorothy, with the pages falling out of its binding to look up my favorite pie crust recipe. I promise to share it tomorrow. Truly not hard to make your own crust. Just messy. I will give you the secret to a good crust: fat! Have to use it, sorry it's dessert. Just relax and enjoy it. You also need to brush that yummy crust with an egg white wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. So pretty and so delicious. I do make great pie. Not bragging, it's just the truth.
I started my Sunday by making crepes on my crepe maker the girls gave me for my birthday. Crepe fillings today: blueberries, peaches, strawberries and chicken/apple/gouda sausages. I had two crepes with juicy peaches, blueberries and lemon sugar. It's a pretty good weekend when you have pie and crepes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

sushi rice salad or California rolls in a bowl

Last night Greg, Kelly and I made a sushi run to Sakura on Keystone and, as usual, it was fabulous. Greg worked for a Japanese corporation for 15 years and the four of us lived in downtown Tokyo in 1994. Greg is an excellent sushi/sashimi tour guide if you ever need another couple (you can't just take Greg, sorry) to join you on a dining adventure!

I did not grow up eating fish so last night's sushi rolls for me were softshell crab, shrimp tempura and the dragon roll. That last one is a long roll covered by barbecued eel. Kelly's favorite and a stretch for me (I did like it). It was cute too with octopus suckers for eyes and cucumber dragon horns.

Anyway, today I'm sharing my famous recipe for Sushi Rice Salad or as it should be named, California Rolls in a Bowl. Not your typical tailgate food! Sushi rice is easy to find now, there was a bit of a shortage last year. I'm a big fan of Nishiki rice. If you don't already own seasoned rice vinegar, you should. It makes an excellent salad dressing with a little olive oil and maybe salt and pepper among many other fine contributions it can make to your cooking. You will need a tube of wasabi paste so don't forget it when you are in the Japanese section at the grocery. You can find the sheets of nori (seaweed paper/sushi roll wrappers) usually right by the sushi rice. One package will last you forever. Have to say I haven't thought of any other way to use nori. It's rather job specific. When I am feeling particularly flush, I buy real lump crab meat and add it to the salad. Of course the imitation crab is also a good addition, but you don't really need either one. Shrimp would also be tasty, but you would need to make sure it was rinsed and patted dry.

Okay, those are the notes for the day, class. Make this and take it to a potluck to amaze your friends and family.

Sushi Rice Salad or California Rolls in a Bowl

1 1/2 C short-grain sushi rice
1 3/4 C plus 1 1/2 T water
1/4 C seasoned rice vinegar
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 C shredded carrot (splurge, buy the matchstick carrots at the store)
1 tsp (or more) wasabi paste
1/2 large seedless cucumber, diced small
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 T sesame seeds, toasted (white or black if you're feeling exotic)
1 firm, but ripe avocado
1 sheet of nori, cut into very thin strips with scissors
optional: pickled ginger and soy sauce
optional: 1 C lump crab or salad shrimp

Rinse rice in a bowl with a few changes of cold water until water is almost clear and drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Really, you need to do that or your rice will be too mushy.
Bring rice and 1 3/4 C water to a boil in a heavy saucepan, lower heat to a simmer and cover, cook for 2 minutes. Do not lift the lid! Turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes (keep that lid on and keep your family away because they always lift lids to see what's cooking).
While rice is standing, bring vinegar, sugar and salt just to a boil in a little saucepan while stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Cool for a couple of minutes.
Spread cooked rice in a 9 x 13 x 2 glass/ceramic dish. Sprinkle vinegar mixture over rice and toss. Whisk together wasabi, remaining 1 1/2 T water and oil in a bowl (this is where I usually add one Tablespoon of soy sauce too, but it will make the dish a little brown). Add it to the rice along with the carrot, cucumber, scallions and sesame seeds (add your crab and or your pickled ginger if using here too) and toss gently. Halve, pit and slice avocado in skin before hallowing it out. Arrange on top of the rice mixture and sprinkle with the nori. If you are making this ahead put the sliced/diced avocado in a separate little bowl and seal plastic wrap tightly right on the avocado. Put the nori in a bag or bowl and add those two ingredients just before serving.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

can't leave you hanging, grilled pizza recipe

I'm thinking I've mentioned grilling pizza more than once so while dinner is cooking, here's a second post for today. I usually use the pizza dough recipe on King Arthur Flour's Perfect Pizza Blend flour (yes, I am that girl, the one that has flours and ingredients delivered to her doorstep but King Arthur has me hooked). Here's a link to an almost identical recipe using all-purpose flour

Just got up to check tonight's dinner with my cute little yellow instant read Taylor thermometer. Told you I use it all the time.

Back to the pizza. Make your crust. Use your food processor if you have one. Super easy. Let it rise (45 minutes or so) and roll it nice and thin on a floured surface. Put it on a very lightly oiled baking sheet and bake it for about 5 minutes at 425 degrees to set the crust. Now it will be very easy to make your pizza on the grill. I used to do this first step on the grill and it can be done if you roll it out on a lightly cornmeal dusted surface, but honestly it's kind of tricky to get that wobbly dough on a grill and who needs a pizza stone for the grill. Too many gadgets.

Now flip the dough and put it on your lightly oiled and hot grill. Top it however you wish. Close the lid and "bake" for 5-15 minutes until toppings are nice and hot and how you like them.

I have an abundance of basil, so last week we simply brushed the dough with a nice layer of a yummy olive oil (big fan of Luccina), a little sea salt and pepper, freshly sliced farmer's market tomatoes, basil leaves and fresh mozzarella. Oh my!

The girls love grilled veggies (onions, red/yellow/orange peppers, mushrooms and etc.) with some shredded grilled chicken tenders (as mentioned in my last post), Muir Glen pizza sauce and mozzarella shreds.

Or maybe barbecue sauce (pick a good one, maybe a farmer's market find with a little heat), shredded rotisserie chicken (love the Costco chicken), red onion, cilantro and smoked gouda cheese shreds.

You get the idea.

Five minutes until dinner is ready. Got to run.

too hot to cook, fire up the grill!

Greg left town after the pig roast with the propane tank for the grill empty. We lived for a week without grilling and then it was just too darn hot to not learn how to refill the tank myself. Disconnect the tank, check. Take the tank to be refilled at Ace Hardware, check. Reconnect the tank, hmmmm don't think I have it right. Call Greg, grab Quinn (having the girls' boyfriends around does come in handy) and finally connect with enough force we're pretty sure we will not leak gas and blow up the house. That could ruin a meal.

So, we're all ready to grill and it's no wonder the tank needs to refilled on a pretty regular basis. We grill for lunch. We grill pizza. We grill peppers and onions to go with or on just about anything. We grill artisan bread slices (then we top them with goat cheese and melt it because that's just delicious). We grill fruit for dessert (halve peaches or nectarines and brush with a little oil, yummy). But mostly we grill chicken. Lots of chicken. So today we'll go over two favorite recipes.

The first is a classic base recipe for a lemon and herb marinade for chicken that we use on a weekly basis and generally use chicken tenders (you know, the little tenderloin pieces attached to the breasts, not the fried kind). The second is a bone-in, skin on breast recipe with a fabulous summer fruit and balsamic glaze based on a recipe from Fine Cooking magazine. I've mentioned Fine Cooking before, it's one subscription that always is worth the price.

Lemon and Herb Marinade for Chicken

2T olive oil
1 or 2 T minced fresh herbs (try rosemary and thyme or 3 T of basil or all three)
juice from half a lemon (or more if you love lemon like I do)
3 garlic cloves minced and mashed together with the knife blade with 1 T kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 T water
2 pounds of chicken tenders

Whisk together all ingredients. Pour over chicken tenders and refrigerate to marinade for 15 minutes (I use a glass dish and turn the pieces once or twice before marinating because I'm trying to cut back on plastic bags). If you use whole or half breasts of chicken you can marinade for 30-90 minutes in the refrigerator. Grill as usual. The tenders will be done in 10 minutes over medium heat. That's 30 minutes or less from prep to table.

Make plenty of chicken. Leftovers are great over salad, in a panini, with pasta or on a pizza.

Grilled Chicken with Summer Fruit Glaze

2 T unsalted butter
1/2 C peach or apricot preserves
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
6-8 chicken breast pieces, bone in and skin on

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the preserves, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes and rosemary with a good pinch of kosher salt (1/2 tsp). Stir and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Heat grill. Rub the chicken pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill skin side down over medium heat with the cover closed. Cook until skin is golden (about 10 minutes). Flip the chicken and cook until a digital thermometer (get the cute colors Taylor one at Sur La Table for $10-$12 you will use it all the time) reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken (maybe 10-15 minutes more). When the chicken is done, generously brush with the glaze on all sides. Cook for another minute or so to slightly caramelize the glaze.

Great with grilled corn, grilled flat bread and a salad.

Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored byIle de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryManPans and Rouxbe.”