Tag Archives: grill

Chicken Kabobs with Oranges and Rosemary

12 Aug

We whooped it up for National Night Out while we were in Tucson, spending the evening with my family and their neighbors.  We prepped and planned a bunch of tasty food and drinks around our party theme – “We’re Going to Have Fun Whether it is Real or Fake.”  It proved to be an effective theme, and we totally succeeded in having both Real and Fake Fun.

One of the key components to planning both Real and Fake Fun are hats.  For this party, we utilized chicken hats, courtesy of Gold’n Plump Chicken.  Chicken Hats = Immediate Festivity.

Since we were planning for a crowd, we used two Gold’n Plump family-sized packages of chicken breasts.  This recipe makes quite a big batch (see printable version of this recipe for quick reference chart to reduce the size of this recipe for less people), and the exact number of skewers and orange wedges needed varies based on how big or small you cut up the chicken.  So, if you’re the kind of person that needs EXACT numbers for cooking, this recipe will likely give you a headache.  If you’re a flexible person who “ballparks” instead of “measures”, this recipe will work fine for you since you’re probably loosely following it anyway (for you: pork is awesome instead of chicken, and you could skip the oranges if you felt like it, and you could just use whole pieces of meat if you don’t feel like all that cutting, and if you decide at the last minute to order pizza instead of cooking I would totally approve).

One of the things I like about this recipe is that it requires little prep, some time while the chicken soaks up the marinade, a little assembly time, and they grill quickly.  In no time at all, you have a beautiful tray of kabobs ready for dinner.  The orange and rosemary flavors are delicious with the chicken, and grilled oranges are surprisingly tasty.

This is also a very flexible meal, and can take on a wide variety of sides.  We were super lucky and had a delicious caprese salad topped with vinegar pearls (SCIENCE! IN THE KITCHEN!), and salad topped with basil green goddess dressing (totally divine, recipe available here, this batch courtesy of Valla).

Chicken Kabobs with Oranges and Rosemary
Serves: 16

2 c. orange juice
2/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh rosemary
6 cloves garlic, minced
4.75 lbs. chicken breasts (2 family-sized packages), cut into 2” cubes
12 clementines or cuties, quartered (can also cut oranges into halved wedges)

Combine orange juice through garlic in a pitcher and stir to combine.  Place all of the pieces of cubed chicken in a large ziplock bag then pour marinade into bag.  Close tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour.

While chicken is marinating, soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

Starting with an orange wedge, thread it on a skewer, three pieces of chicken, an orange, three pieces of chicken, and finish with an orange.  Repeat until all of the chicken has been skewered.  Grill over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes a side.  Test to be sure that the chicken is done before serving.

Estimated Calories:  346 cal/serving

Print it: Chicken Kabobs with Oranges and Rosemary

Pizza Burgers

7 Aug

I feel sorry for people who have food allergies because there are some foods that they can’t enjoy or fully appreciate.  No doritos.  Or cheetos.  Or brie cheese.  NO BRIE CHEESE.  I can’t recreate those in a non-dairy formula no matter how I try.  However, I have found ways to make some foods at home that are pretty good substitutes for the originals – creme brulee, Bette le Mae, ranch dressing, and now – PIZZA BURGERS.  Clearly life without pizza burgers is limited at the very least.

My goals in creating a non-dairy pizza burger were as follows:
– All the greasy goodness of a regular ol’ pizza burger
– Lighter in fat (why not, we’re making it from scratch anyway)
– Melty cheese center
– Flavor sort of like good Italian sausage

To make the pizza burgers a bit lighter, I decided to use a mixture of ground chicken and ground venison instead of beef.  Both of these meats are lower in fat and have really nice texture, so I figured they’d make a really good base for the pizza burger.  The advantage that ground beef has over chicken and venison is that the higher fat content in beef helps the patties stick together better and is a bit juicier.  Taking an old America’s Test Kitchen trick used in meatloaf and meatballs, I decided to add some dissolved gelatin to the meat to help plump it up a  bit.  There’s probably some science behind this, but as it goes with many America’s Test Kitchen tricks, I just take their word for it that it works and then put it to good use.  I also found that with these patties, it was important to form them on a square of waxed paper to make it easier to hold the shape together when I transferred it to the grill.  The patties were easy to make and can be done ahead of time.  In fact, you should plan to let them firm up in the fridge for at least an hour, and can be done further ahead if you’d like.  They take about 5-7 minutes per side to grill.  [Note: I forgot to add pepper to the spice mixture when I made this batch so I threw some pepper in when I formed the patties.  That’s why this picture looks so peppery.]

I added a mixture of tomatoes, herbs, and a touch of spaghetti sauce to the top of my pizza burger – it was delicious.  For an authentic pizza burger experience, serve with ketchup and a side of fries.

Be sure to let the pizza burgers sit for a few minutes after you remove them from the grill.  Otherwise, the cheese is too hot and oozes all over the place.  I like to cut the burger in half before eating so the cheese can start to ooze just a bit.  Otherwise you run the risk of taking a bite and having the cheese slap you in the chin.  No one likes to get cheese slapped.

Pizza Burgers
Serves: 6
Serving Size:  One 1/3 lb. burger

1 lb. ground chicken
1 lb. ground venison
1 t. gelatin
2 T. cold water
1 T. red wine vinegar
2 t. crushed garlic
2 t. kosher salt
2 t. fennel seeds
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
½ t. smoked paprika
3 oz. non-dairy mozzarella, thinly sliced, cut into squares
¼ c. fresh herbs (mixture of basil, oregano, chives, thyme)
½ c. spaghetti sauce
1 T. olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
6 hamburger buns

In a large bowl, mix together ground chicken and ground venison.  Combine by hand until everything is well blended.

In a bowl, combine gelatin and water until the gelatin dissolves.  Pour gelatin mixture into a food processor; add vinegar, garlic, salt, fennel, black pepper, and paprika.  Pulse until everything is mixed and the garlic and fennel are in small bits.  Add spice mixture to the ground meat, mix by hand until everything is evenly coated. 

Cut six squares of waxed paper, about 6” in size – these will be used to flatten each patty and makes getting them to the grill much easier.   Divide the meat into six even portions.  Take one portion and form it into a ball.  Divide it in half, place it on a square of waxed paper, and flatten it until it is about the diameter of a softball.  Place four squares of cheese in the center.  Flatten the other half of the ball into a patty and place it on top of the cheese.  Press the sides together to form a seal.  Repeat with the remaining patties, then refrigerate for at least one hour.

In a bowl, combine the herbs, spaghetti sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

Over medium-high heat, grill the patties (waxed paper removed) for about 5-7 minutes a side, moving to a cooler part of the grill if the cheese starts to escape.  Remove from grill, cover, and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serve each pizza burger on a bun with a scoop of the herbed sauce topping. 

Estimated Calories:  473 cal/serving

– You can use low-moisture part skim dairy mozzarella in place on the non-dairy kind.  I tried it, and it was awesome.
– If you don’t have a freezer filled with ground venison like I do, you could use the lowest fat ratio ground beef in its place.
– If you do have a freezer filled with ground venison like I do, better use it up, hunting season is right around the corner.
– I made the buns for this recipe, and while they were tasty, they were super tall.  I recommend using the flattest bun you can find to make eating a bit easier.
– As with all poultry, it is very important to bring chicken to 165 degrees F in order to ensure that it is at the temperature required to eliminiate the risk of bacteria.  The only way to be SURE it is at the right temperature is to use a meat thermometer.  With a pizza burger, once you poke a hole in it the cheese has a place to escape.  After you remove the burger from the grill and let it rest a bit, test it with the thermometer.  If it is not at the safe temperature, microwave it a bit until it reaches the desired temp. 

Print it: Pizza Burgers

Brined Chicken Thighs

26 Jul

Last winter I tried my first ever brined turkey.  It was just as juicy and delicious as everyone said it would be.  It was easy to brine the turkey in the winter because during that time of year, my garage turns into a big walk-in cooler.  In July, the garage is more like the steam room at a spa (except slightly less glamorous and with fewer people wrapped in towels), so it’s not a good place to store anything while it brines.  Instead, I decided to give brining bone-in chicken thighs a try.  Much smaller in scale, they can be stored in the refrigerator in a brine solution.  Plus, I had a giant family sized pack of bone-in skin-on Gold’n Plump chicken thighs in the freezer.  This is important to note because I am super impatient when it comes to thawing.  It is a rare day when I think ahead far enough to remove food from the freezer in time to thaw properly in the refrigerator.  This time, I removed the chicken in the morning and put it in the fridge.  After a few hours, I could break apart the frozen thighs enough so that I could put them into the brine solution.  The thighs thawed completely while brining – accomplishing both tasks at the same time.  I like food that can multitask, especially when it helps to overcome my short-sighted thawing  skills.

Making a brine is super easy and it makes the chicken juicy and fully flavored.  The chicken can sit in the brine for just a few hours or up to a few days, depending on how good you are at planning and waiting.  I’m not very good at either, but this is a forgiving recipe and it was delicious even when brined for only 8 hours.

Brined Chicken Thighs
Serves: 4
Serving Size:  1 thigh

4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
8 c. water, divided
1/4 c. kosher salt
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. Coopers spice rub
1/2 c. Coopers sauce

In a pot over high heat, combine 2 c. water, kosher salt, brown sugar, and spice rub.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve salt.  Remove from heat, add remaining water and stir.  Set aside to cool.  When brine mixture has cooled, add chicken, cover, and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Before grilling, remove chicken from brine, rinse, and pat dry.  Grill chicken over direct heat for 7-10 minutes a side, then move to indirect heat for 7-10 minutes until chicken is firm and liquids run clear when pierced with a fork.  Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Remove skin, cut from bone, and serve with 2 T. sauce drizzled over the chicken.

Estimated Calories:  450 cal/serving

Print it: Brined Chicken Thighs

Life With Coopers is Better
Coopers BBQ is my favorite place to get good bbq when we’re in the Texas Hill Country.  When I’m not there, I make sure I’m fully stocked with Coopers spice rub and sauce.  The spice blend is a bit on the peppery side and makes everything it touches well seasoned and tasty.  While the rub is good, the sauce is great.  It is light, vinegary, and very liquidy.  Drizzle some over meat just after you pull it off the grill, use it for dunking, or add it to grilled vegetables for a light dressing. 

If you don’t have Coopers spice rub or sauce, you could substitute your favorite bbq spice rub and sauce.  YOU COULD.  But what you should do, is order some.  http://www.coopersbbq.com/  Or jump in your car immediately and drive on over.  Get there early in the day for the best choice of meats on the pits, then grab a bowl of beans (the only baked beans in the world I like), a glass of tea (sweet or unsweet), and enjoy.

Beer Can Chicken with Malt Vinegar Potatoes

13 Jul

I’ve made beer can chicken in the oven, but never on the grill.  So this week, when I received an email from America’s Test Kitchen describing the best grilled beer can chicken ever, I decided to give it a try (watching their video is not a bad idea either, especially because they do such a good job of illustrating the charcoal arrangement method for optimum heat distribution).  Making grilled beer can chicken is super easy and requires minimal prep work.  I was a bit unsure whether I’d be able to keep the grill at the right temperature for the hour that this takes to cook, but I didn’t have any trouble.  You won’t either if you remember one thing – do not remove the cover for any reason. 

For this recipe, I made a rub in two parts – spice rub that went under and on the skin, and a herb rub that is placed under the skin only.  Both of these gave the chicken great flavor, and the steam from the beer made the chicken super tender and juicy.  And as long as I was throwing the chicken on the grill, I decided to add a packet of potatoes as well to save me some effort in making a side dish.  After you remove the chicken from the grill, it’s a good idea to let the chicken rest a bit before carving.  During the naptime, remove the potatoes from the foil packet and toss with some malt vinegar and parsley for a tasty and tangy side.

One thing about making beer can chicken – it looks weird, sitting upright on a beer can standard.  Just remember, pre-grilling weirdness results in juicy, tender chicken just one hour later. 

Beer Can Chicken with Malt Vinegar Potatoes
Serves: 6
Serving Size:  chicken + scoop of potatoes

3.5 lb. whole chicken
2 T. fresh oregano, chopped
2 T. fresh chives, chopped
2 t. chili powder
2 t. paprika
1 t. black pepper
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. ground coriander
1 can beer
Wood chips (apple, mesquite, etc)

1-1/2 lbs. baby red potatoes, halved and cut into ½” slices
1 T. olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 T. malt vinegar
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped

Soak wood chips in water.  Start grill; if using charcoal, use about 60 briquettes.  Place chicken and beer on counter to allow it to warm a bit while preparing the rub.

Combine oregano and chives, set aside.  Combine chili powder through coriander, mix together.  Loosen skin on the chicken, and put half of the spice mixture under the skin, then add herb mixture under the skin.  Pat remaining rub on the outside of the chicken.  Remove about 1/4 c. of beer from the can.  Insert can into the chicken so that it looks like it is sitting upright (I used a beer can chicken stand to position it properly).

In a bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Using tinfoil, fold the potatoes into a packet so that it makes a box-like shape.  Use several layers of tinfoil to ensure a good seal.

Dump coals on outside edges of grill, add soaked chips on top of coals, place a disposable tinfoil pan in center, then place grill grid in place.  Position the chicken in the center, potatoes behind it to receive indirect heat.   Cover and grill for 45-60 minutes; keeping grill temperature between 310°F and 350°F.  Remove chicken when thigh temperature reaches 170°F.  Remove from grill, cover with foil and set aside for 15 minutes before carving.

Remove potatoes from foil packet, toss with malt vinegar, parsley, and season with more salt and pepper if needed.  Cover with foil and set aside until ready to serve.

Estimated Calories:  537 cal/serving

Print it: Beer Can Chicken with Malt Vinegar Potatoes

Bonus – Beer Can Chicken Playlist!
I think every special occasion deserves a playlist.  Holidays, special events, garage sales – I’ll make a playlist for just about anything, and Beer Can Chicken Month is no exception!  Start the playlist when you place the chicken on the grill, and when the last song has played the chicken will be done (or almost done)! 

And in case you want one, here’s a printable version of the Official Beer Can Chicken Playlist CD cover.

Grilled Panzanella Salad with Chicken

11 Jul

I could eat bread at every single meal.  It makes a fine side, a scoop for liquidy items, a delivery system for meats or cheeses, a reason to get up in the morning.  Well, not the only reason (unless you count toast). 

I COULD eat bread at every meal, but I DON’T because tied to that carby goodness is the fact that as much as I love bread, it is not good for me to eat as much of it as I’d like.  In order to justify bread consumption, I try to pair it up with equal or greater portions of veggies.  Although that ratio is not nutritionally proven in any way, it makes me feel better, mentally and physically.  And as anyone who is on day one of a no-carbs diet can tell you, bread is definitely tied to a positive outlook on life.

This salad uses the standard components of a Panzanella salad – tomatoes, cucumbers, and cubed bread.  Instead of using dry, old bread, I like to grill the baguette to give it crunch and added flavor.  And as long as you’re going to grill, might as well throw the onion and romaine on there as well to add a smoky, warm, and slightly wilty twist to the traditional salad.  Even though chicken isn’t always used, I like to make it a complete meal by adding protein to the mix.  The dressing for this salad is a little lighter than the norm, but it packs plenty of flavor without adding much extra fat.

Grilled Panzanella Salad with Chicken
Serves: 4
Serving Size: 1 Salad

2 T. lemon juice
1 T. cider vinegar
1 T. olive oil
1 T. water
1 t. lemon zest

2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 c. Kalamata olives, halved
1/2 c. mixed fresh herbs (parsley, chives, basil, oregano)
14 oz. chicken breasts
1 head romaine, halved lengthwise
1 onion, halved
1/2 baguette, cut lengthwise
3 T. olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled
4 oz. mozzarella, cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients, stir to combine.

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, Kalamata olives, herbs and dressing.  Stir to combine.  This can be done up to a few hours ahead.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Place onion on a skewer.  Using 1 T. olive oil, lightly brush sides onion, and both sides of romaine.  Using 2 T. olive oil, brush both sides of the baguette.   Season onion, romaine, and baguette with salt and pepper.

Place onions and chicken on grill over medium high heat. Chicken will take approximately 5-7 minutes per side.  When about halfway through cooking, add baguette and romaine, grilling for about 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove all from grill.  Cut chicken and onion into bite-sized chunks and add to tomato mixture.   Stir to combine, then remove any excess dressing and set aside.

Rub the garlic clove over the inside surface of the grilled baguette, then cut the bread into cubes.  Add to salad. 

Coarsely chop romaine into bite-sized pieces and divide between four plates.  Scoop panzanella mixture onto each plate, top with mozzarella cubes, and drizzle with reserved dressing.  Serve.

Estimated Calories: 486 cal/serving

Print it: Grilled Panzanella Salad with Chicken

1. You could easily make this non-dairy by omitting the mozzarella.
2. For this recipe, I used a package of Just BARE Chicken by Gold’n Plump.  I especially like these chicken breasts for grilling because they are so even in size and thickness, which makes cooking them properly easier for a grill novice like me.
3. Chicken tastes better when wearing chicken hats.