Tag Archives: grill

Chicken Kebabs with Blueberry Salsa

I hope you had a great Fourth of July, full of food, family, fireworks, and fun.

When you hear “barbecue” what do you think of? Smoked meat? Burgers? Grilled meats? I find all of the above come to my mine in different ways.

These kebabs were some of the best “barbecue” I’ve made in a while. I was so busy making and then eating them, I forgot to take a picture. Sorry. I threw some veggies on other kebabs and had dinner ready with very few dishes. Win!

Chicken Kebabs with Blueberry Salsa (Serves 4)

1 clove garlic
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
grated rind of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1 pint blueberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons finey chopped red onion
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper (or to taste)

1. Combine garlic, parsley, cilatnro, oil, lemon rind, lmeon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor until well chopped. Combine mixture with chicken in a resealable bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Combine ½ of the blueberries, vinegar, and honey in a small pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, occasionally pressing on blueberries with a spoon to break them up. Place in a medium bowl.

3. Place remaining blueberries in a food processor; pulse 5 times. Add to cooked berries along with onion and jalapeno.

4. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Thread chicken pieces onto skewers, not packing them in tightly. Grill for 10 minutes, turning occasioally. Serve with blueberry salsa.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 268
Protein: 31 g
Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 102 mg
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 202 mg

Adapted from Cooking Light

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Grilling Nutrition

It’s beginning to feel like summer at my house.  Summer means outdoors, both for eating and cooking.  Up until recently, we had a small little camping grill we used.  It worked well, although did have severe capacity limitations.  My husband recently purchased a Traeger pellet grill to upgrade our outdoor cooking, and boy is it an upgrade.  It can smoke, grill, bake, and the list seems to go on.  We are loving it.

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However, the risk of cancer from eating “grilled” meats has been in the news in recent years. I wondered if the same risks were true for smoked meats, as well as if it depended on the heat source of your grill (charcoal vs. gas vs. wood). So I did some research for all of us.

The carcinogenic compounds formed when grilling meats are heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HCAs are formed when you cook meat at very high temperatures, like you can get on a gas or charcoal grill or even a very hot grill pan or broiler. PAHs are formed in the flames that flare up when fat from you meat drips into your flame and then chars the food. Some studies suggest PAHs are also formed when you smoke meats.

I couldn’t find any definitive evidence that any particular heat source causes more or less of these substances to be formed. I think it would come down to temperature and control of the flame. I do know that in our Traeger, there is a drip pan that prevents fat from getting to the flame and stops flare ups. It also cannot go above a temperature of about 500. That would make me guess that a grill like that MIGHT form less PAHs and HCAs, but I can’t be sure. And food can still become “charred” on the grill, just like in your oven when things burn. (As is seen in my kebabs below, recipe to follow next week).

Grilled Kebabs

After all my research, I actually came to the same conclusions I had before. Grilling or smoking is a great way to cook meat without adding fat while still retaining/adding flavor. However, you want to prevent lots of “char” or burn marks on your meat. And, as always, eat these foods in moderation, like everything else.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the risk of cancer from eating grilled or smoked meats in the comments. Happy summer!

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Better Green Bean Salad

Every summer, my dad’s work would have a company picnic. For years, it was a mostly potluck affair at a big park. And my dad ALWAYS made three bean salad to take. It was the only time my family ever made that salad. And I ALWAYS refused to eat any of it. Even since then, I usually see recipes for bean salad and run away.

However, I needed a veggie salad for a cookout recently and stumbled on this recipe. If you are still on the hunt for something different to round out your Fourth of July celebration, this is it. Easy to prepare whether you are hosting or just bringing a side. Simple, delicious flavors that surprise you. Enjoy!

Better Green Bean Salad (Makes 6-8 servings)

Better Green Bean Salad

½ lb green beans, trimmed and chopped into bite size pieces
1-2 yellow crookneck squash, sliced lengthwise
½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
½ tablespoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dried herbs – savory blend or italian seasoning
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Place green beans on a piece of foil. Lightly coat green beans and squash with ½ tablespoon olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place foil with green beans and squash on the grill. Cook, covered, until green beans are beginning to soften and squash has lightly charred on both sides (flip the squash after about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool. Chop squash into bite size pieces.

3. In a large bowl, mix together vinegar, remaining olive oil, honey, mustard, and dried herbs. Add green beans, squash, tomatoes, and fresh basil to the bowl. Gently toss. Can serve immediately or chilled.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 67
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 8 g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 117 mg

Recipe Notes: I only used one squash and it was on the smaller side. It could have used more, so I’d go for 1 big squash or 2 small ones. If you aren’t already grilling, you could either sauté the green beans and squash in a skillet or blanche them until just cooked in some boiling water. The goal is tender but not mushy vegetables. I like the “grilled” taste, though. This can be made a few hours in advance. However, the tomatoes especially get mushy the longer it sits. You could mix everything together except the tomatoes and basil well ahead of time, then add in the tomatoes and basil just before serving.

Source: adapted from Cuisine at Home

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Grilled Corn

Holidays often have food traditions.  These can be widely acknowledged – such turkey at Thanksgiving – or be more individual – like my family ate scrambled eggs every Christmas Eve dinner.  Fourth of July is somewhere in between.  I think most of us associate outdoor eating with the Fourth, but whether this is a picnic or grilling is fairly individual.

Either way, this grilled corn is a great addition to your Fourth menu. If you are eating at a cookout, it is a fast easy, side dish that is sure to please all ages. (I love watching small children chow down on a whole ear of corn.) If you are taking a picnic somewhere, you could prepare these ahead of time very easily to pack with you. Enjoy!

Grilled Corn (Serves 4)

Grilled Corn

4 ears of corn
4 teaspoons nonfat sour cream (optional)
1 tablespoon lime juice (optional)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Option 1:

1. Peel back husks, leaving them attached at the bottom. Remove as much of the corn silk as possible. Fold husks back up.

2. Place corn in a sink or large bowl or large bag. Cover with cold water. Let soak for 30-45 minutes.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Remove corn from water, shaking slightly to remove excess water. Place on grill. Cook, turning every 5 or so minutes. Corn should be done in about 20 minutes. Keep grilling until corn looks bright and tender.

Option 2:

1. Remove husks and silk from corn.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place corn on grill. Cook, turning every 5 or so minutes, as each side chars slightly. Corn should be bright and tender with a slight char all around.

For either option:

1. You can serve as is and enjoy.

2. Lightly coat each ear with 1 teaspoon of sour cream. Drizzle lime juice over all the ears. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top. Enjoy.

Nutritional Information (Amount per ear):

Calories: 102
Protein: 4
Fat: 2 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 2.5 mg
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 67 mg

Recipe Notes: I think I prefer the first method for cooking the corn. As I’ve tried it, the corn doesn’t char that well. But I also don’t have a very large grill, so it may just not get hot enough for that. If transporting, you can wrap the ears in foil to keep them warm.

Source: original method for option 1, adapted from online for option 2 and topping

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Grilled Asparagus

One of my nephews will never pick favorites.  He doesn’t have a favorite sport, a favorite subject at school, a favorite activity on a vacation, etc.  If you ask him, he always says, “I didn’t have a favorite.”  Since I’m only asking to kill time and make conversation, it can be rather infuriating.  But as I thought about it, I’m not the best at picking favorites either.  People always ask what is your favorite dessert, restaurant, food, etc.  I need subcategories to really give a good answer.

However, I do think asparagus will always be in my top 5 favorite vegetables.  The only problem is it is only super affordable and available for about 1-2 weeks in the spring.  We have long since passed that time.  Off season asparagus isn’t always as tender, but you can still usually find some.  Especially through the late spring/early summer.  To me, asparagus makes any meal fancier.  I recently tried grilling my asparagus and loved it.  Enjoy!

Grilled Asparagus (Serves 4)

Grilled Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus (usually about ¾ -1 lb)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Skewers, wood or metal

1. If using wood skewers, soak in water for at least 30 minutes.

2. Trim about 1-2 inches off the bottom of asparagus to remove tough ends. Thread asparagus spears on to skewers. Thread towards the bottom, where the spears are thicker. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat grill to medium/medium-high heat. Place skewers of asparagus on to the grill, spears running perpendicular to the grates. Grill 3-5 minutes on each side, flipping when lightly charred. Remove from skewers to serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 51
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: .5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 4 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 148 mg

Recipe notes: When looking for asparagus, look for bunches with thinner stalks, as these will be more tender. You can grill the asparagus without putting it on skewers, but I thought the skewers made them easier to handle.

Source: adapted from several sources online

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Foil Packet Tilapia

Cooking things in foil packets makes me think of camping. In particular, I remember one camping trip where we made foil packets with chicken, potatoes, and carrots. It would have been great, if the chicken hadn’t been frozen. Those cooked FOREVER, at least in my recollections of being 14.

Cooking fish in packets is especially helpful. It can help prevent the dreaded scenario of dry fish. And dealing with foil packets on the grill is sometimes easier than flaky fish fillets. Packets are also a great way to mingle a lot of flavors. Throw your veggies in to cook as well and save yourself a pot. I put a little extra sauce on these, so they easily dumped on to some cooked pasta for a complete dinner. Enjoy!

Foil Packet Tilapia (Serves 4)

Foil Packet Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets
2 cups green beans, trimmed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt

1. Spread 4 large squares of foil on a counter. Preheat grill.

2. Place 1 piece of fish on each piece of foil. Add ¼ cup beans, ¼ of the onion, ½ of a tomato, and ¼ of the garlic to each packet.

3. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour evenly over each piece of fish. Seal packets well.

4. Grill 5-10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and has a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Serve over rice or pasta.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories:  279
Protein:  25 g
Fat:  16 g
Saturated Fat:  3 g
Cholesterol:  58 mg
Carbohydrates:  11 g
Fiber:  3 g
Sodium:   364 mg

Recipe Notes: You could also cook these in the oven. I’ve seen oven temps on recipes online everywhere from 350-425, with cooking times from 10-30 minutes. As a general rule, the higher the temp, the less it will need to cook. You can always mix up the veggies to your taste preference or what you have on hand.  Zucchini or summer squash would be especially good, I think.  Tomatoes are good to include if you have them, since they provide a little more liquid for the sauce.

Source: Adapted from many sources online.

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Homemade Hamburger Buns

Two startling realizations popped into my head last night.  First, I don’t remember the last time I purchased a pre-made bread product (sandwich, bagel, bun, etc).  This made me feel almost Amish and weird.  I used to read blogs about women who made all their own bread and think, “Don’t they have anything better to do? Go buy a loaf of bread!”  I find baking bread soothing, what can I say.   Second, April is almost over.  May means Memorial Day which means grilling season which means summer in my mind.  Summer.  It’s almost here!

Those thoughts collide with today’s recipe:  homemade hamburger buns.  If any of you are skeptical, I was right there with you when I saw this recipe online almost a year ago.  Why would I make hamburger buns?  Plain ones are $1 a pack at the store.  Whole wheat can be a bit pricey, but it’s got to be worth the money, right?

These buns were pretty awesome, though.  Light and fluffy, but can stand up to a burger.  And for a raised bread product, these are very fast and easy to make.  While I’d probably go the store bought route if feeding a large crowd, these are perfect for feeding a small group.  And they freeze really well, which is always a bonus.

Enjoy!

Homemade Hamburger Buns (Makes about 10 buns)

IMG_6433label

2 tablespoons yeast
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 ½ tablespoons vital wheat gluten
garlic powder (optional)
sesame seeds (optional)
poppy seeds (optional)
dried minced onion (optional

1. In a mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, oil, and sugar. Stir in the egg and salt. Add 2 cups of flour and the vital wheat gluten. Mix. Gradually add the last cup of flour while mixing until a soft dough forms (you may not need all of it).

2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-6 minutes. Divide the dough into about 10 equal pieces. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, spacing so buns will not touch as they raise. If desired, lightly spray the top of the rolls with cooking spray and sprinkle any or all of the optional toppings on top of the buns. LIGHTLY press onto each bun.

3. Cover and let rise for 15-20 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 425. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutritional Information (Amount per bun):

Calories: 195
Protein: 8 g
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 19 mg
Carbohydrates: 31 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 68 mg

Recipe Notes: I actually do knead this by hand.  You could do it in a mixer, too.  I find I can control the amount of flour I add more when kneading by hand, oddly enough.  I admit I am not the best at making equal size rolls. This don’t double during the raising period like many bread products. I’d say they maybe get 1.5 times as big as they were. I really like the flavor the topping adds. Especially if you use the onion and garlic, this isn’t just for show. It adds a great little flavor punch to your meal.

Source: adapted from Let’s Dish Recipes

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