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Tag Archives: grilling

Grilled Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza

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Anyone following all of this crazy zombie apocalypse ‘news’ popping up?? There’s some seriously wacky stuff going on out there.  I’ve seen enough zombie movies to know that this is always how it begins…a few random incidents which are brushed off as isolated events with some logical cause. The public is urged not to panic and then all h.e.double hockey sticks breaks loose. (Being told not to panic is a sure sign that it’s time to panic.) And honestly, though I’m inclined to believe that all of this has more to do with dangerous mind-altering drugs than a zombie armageddon, I’m not sure that brings me any peace of mind.

Did ya know that the CDC’s website has a section on zombie preparedness?? I kid you not. I’m pretty sure it’s a tongue-in-cheek, fun way to educate about general disaster readiness. Or is it???

Personally, I learned everything I need to know from the educational zombie comedy, Zombieland.

Zombie Survival Rule #1: Cardio

Good thing I’ve been running again. And it feels so good. I’d been struggling to get back to a regular running routine ever since having my baby 15 months ago and it’s been an uphill battle, both literally and figuratively. My progress had been dreadfully slow. But, the baby weaned from nursing almost two months ago and my running progress has accelerated ever since. Guess I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on my body. It feels good to get out there for my runs and I’ll be ready when the zombies…errr, I mean bath salt crazies…start chasing me down. (I’m joking…mostly.)

The other benefit of running is that it affords me a little more wiggle room in my dietary choices, so I can afford to enjoy a few indulgences. Ok, my running/indulgence balance is admittedly still a bit off, but it’s getting closer. This grilled chicken tikka masala is one of those indulgences that I think about when I’m running. This mouth-watering pizza combines one of my all-time favorite dishes, chicken tikka masala, with homemade garlicky grilled naan flatbread and a bit of melty mozzarella cheese. Seriously yummy and worth every second of heart-pounding cardio.

I’d like to tell you that this dish is a cinch to pull together, but that would be a lie. There is nothing inherently difficult about it, but between preparing the marinade, making the sauce, preparing the dough, grilling the chicken, grilling the naan, and then assembling and grilling the pizzas, this is a time consuming meal. But it is a labor of love. Definitely worth the time! Just save it for a sunny weekend day and get the whole family involved in the process!

To make things more manageable, you may want to plan to cook the meal in parts. The chicken can be marinated the night before. The sauce, the chicken, and the naan can all be made ahead of time and will hold well in the fridge for a day or two. You could even enjoy the meal as traditional chicken tikka masala with rice and naan one night and make the pizzas for leftovers the next day! However you decide to break it up, I think you’re going to enjoy this delicious meal!

Grilled Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza

Ingredients

For the Naan*

  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (about 110-115 degrees)
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 4 cups flour (approximately)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Chicken

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 inch segment of fresh ginger, grated

For the Sauce

  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 1-2″ segment fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 small serrano peppers, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 (29 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne (plus more, if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus more, if desired)
For the Pizzas
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Directions

To prepare the chicken marinade: Combine all marinade ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Place the chicken thighs in the marinade and toss to evenly coat. Refrigerate and allow the chicken to marinade for at least six hours or overnight.

To grill the chicken: Wipe the grill with a bit of vegetable oil to help prevent sticking. Preheat grill to medium heat. Shake the excess marinade off of the chicken and place it on the preheated grill. Cook the chicken for about 7-10 minutes on each side. (Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken. The chicken is fully cooked when it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.) Allow the chicken to cool, then cut into small pieces. Refrigerate until using.

To make the naan: Stir together the yeast and warm water. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar, salt, milk, garlic and egg. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring and kneading for several minutes until a soft dough forms. (Add the flour slowly towards the end, since the quantity of flour will vary. The dough should be slightly sticky, but manageable. If the dough is too dry, add little bits of water or milk. If the dough is too wet, add small quantities of additional flour.) Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a slightly damp towel and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until it has doubled in size. Then, divide the risen dough into 12 equal balls of dough. Place the balls on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover with the towel and allow to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Prepare a work station near your grill with a rolling pin, cutting board, and flour. Lightly scatter the flour over the cutting board. One at a time, roll each ball of dough into a flat round, then gently stretch the dough into a soft teardrop shape. Place the dough directly onto the grill and cook for about a minute on each side. It will begin to puff slightly when it is done. Remove from the grill and brush with melted butter.

To make the sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and serrano peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the garam masala, stir, and cook for another minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Continue cooking until heated through, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and add the cream. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and cayenne pepper, as desired.

To assemble the pizzas: Spread a layer of sauce onto each piece of naan. Scatter some of the chicken over each naan. Sprinkle each pizza with a bit of the mozzarella cheese. Garnish with fresh parsley. Heat the pizzas on the grill or in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melty and all components are heated through (about 8-10 minutes).

*Recipe for naan adapted from the recipe found HERE.

Makes 10-12 small individual pizzas

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Watermelon Tomato Summer Salad

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I’m beginning to feel like I’m being set up to play the role of the little old lady who swallowed a fly. I live in a quiet suburban neighborhood outside of Syracuse, NY. It’s a peaceful neighborhood, filled with big, old trees; trees with stature and history. But it’s not a wooded area, by far. It’s neither city, nor country. Just a nice, old suburban neighborhood.

And as in many suburban neighborhoods, we have the occasional sightings of small woodland creatures; squirrels, chipmunks, an infrequent rabbit…nothing too unusual. Every so often, we have the pleasure of spotting a befuddled deer standing in the middle of the road, before it gallops off to find its family. But lately, these sightings are becoming more common and increasingly bizarre. Deer seem to be everywhere these days. (One of them even charged my husband’s car the other night.) And I’ve yet to figure out the large crane-like bird I spotted standing beside the small creek which runs behind my local Target.

Since our yard is fully fenced, animal sightings (aside from our own labrasaurus rex) on our property were once rare. Lately however, it’s a practical wild kingdom out there. Our perimeters have been breached. We are now the proud step-parents of a sweet brown bunny with a fluffy white tail, an orange mouse-catching tabby cat, at least one chipmunk, and a woodchuck…all of whom visit on a regular rotating basis whenever the kids or dog are not occupying the yard. Just this morning, I watched as the tabby cat (sans mouse) took his patrolling position atop the fence, much to the dismay of the woodchuck who was leisurely roaming the yard. It’s like my very own menagerie out there. Anyone know what woodchucks eat?

She swallowed the deer to catch the woodchuck. She swallowed the woodchuck to catch the crane. She swallowed the crane to catch the cat. She swallowed the cat to catch the mouse. She swallowed the mouse to catch the fly… I don’t know why she swallowed the fly. Perhaps she’ll die.

I don’t think I like where this is all headed.

But it’s no wonder my neighborhood is being taken over by the wild. It’s been absolutely gorgeous out there. Gone are the winter coats and gone are the days of heavy macaroni and cheeses, filling casseroles, and slow-cooked roasts. This is the time for simple grilled foods and light, refreshing side dishes, like this watermelon and tomato salad. This salad just screams summer to me. Sweet watermelon and fresh orange segments are tossed with summer-ripe tomatoes in a light orange-dijon vinaigrette. It’s beautifully vibrant in both color and flavor!

I served this summery salad as part of our Father’s Day dinner, aside slices of grilled flank steak, which I drizzled in balsamic reduction and topped with gorgonzola and homemade crispy onion straws. It’s a perfect meal to bring in the summer!

Watermelon-Tomato Summer Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups seedless watermelon, scooped into small balls
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 oranges, segmented*
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly shaved
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade**
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (from one of the oranges)
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper
*Click HERE to see my photo guide on how to segment an orange.
**Click HERE to see my photo guide on how to chiffonade.

Directions

Combine the watermelon, cherry tomatoes, orange segments, red onion, and basil in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, and orange zest until well blended. Season with salt and crushed red pepper as desired. Pour the vinaigrette over the fruits and toss to combine. Serve chilled.

Beef Skewers in an Asian-style Cherry Barbecue Sauce

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It’s grilling season and I’m giddy with excitement!! I’m a charcoal grill girl at heart. I love the back-to-basics feel of it all, grilling over hot charcoals, lit with a simple piece of newspaper, a match and a chimney starter. No aftertaste of lighter fluid; just delicious, smokey grilled flavor.

The problem is that most days, I cook before my husband is home from work, which means that I’m on my own to tend to the exposed grill flames, while simultaneously entertaining our three very active little men. The process of preparing a charcoal grill takes a good chunk of time, all of which I spend wound up like a bundle of nerves, as the kids run chaotically around the yard and I repeatedly yell for them to stay away from the grill, which of course, seems to draw them even closer to the grill like mosquitos to a bug zapping light. It’s a fiasco, which induces a lot more stress than grilling joy. The end result is that we rarely use the charcoal grill.

I’ve been eyeing gas grills for a couple of years now. I hemmed and hawed over buying one last year. I came very close at one point. This year, I actually did buy one. And we’ve used it more in the past two weeks than we used the charcoal grill all of last year. There is definitely something to be said about the ease and convenience of a gas grill. In the past two weeks alone, we’ve grilled burgers and cedar-plank salmon and sausages and marinated chicken breasts and ribeye steaks and hot dogs for the kiddies. And these kebabs.

I made these kebabs last weekend. My sister and brother-in-law were in town and we were entertaining a small group of friends. Kebabs seemed like the perfect main course. I made shrimp kebabs skewered with sweet red peppers and pineapple, which I marinated in a bit of coconut milk, olive oil, lime juice, chile powder, shallots, and cayenne pepper. And these sweet and spicy beef skewers, coated in a fresh Asian-inspired barbecue sauce, sweetened with ripe cherries and a touch of honey. I’m head over heels in love with this versatile barbecue sauce and have big plans for slathering it on chicken, pork, shrimp, and salmon this year. It’s going to be a great grilling season, for sure!

Beef Skewers in an Asian-style Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 15 fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons chile paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

For the kebabs:

  • 2 pounds beef sirloin, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow, and/or green), cut into large chunks

Directions

To prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender. Add the cherries. Continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat. Add the tomato paste, vinegar, honey, chile paste, and ground mustard. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then puree the mixture until smooth using a blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Add the water to slightly thin out the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and cayenne pepper, as desired.

To prepare the kebabs: Toss the chunks of beef with about 3/4 of the sauce. (Save the rest for brushing the kebabs during cooking.) Allow the beef to marinade in the sauce for a few hours or overnight. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30-45 minutes (which will prevent them from burning on the grill). Place the meat, peppers, and onions on the skewers in an alternating pattern. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Grill the kebabs for a few minutes on each side, until the meat is cooked to your desired doneness. Towards the end of the cooking time, brush the kebabs with the reserved sauce.

Spicy Chipotle Corn

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Hard to believe that it’s August already. This summer is going way too fast and we’ve been shamefully remiss in using our grill. Shame on us! But, this is part of my dilemma with our choice of grills.

In most regards, I prefer a simple charcoal grill, with coals lit in a chimney starter. The result is delicious, smoky grilled flavor without any lingering hint of gas or lighter-fluid. To me, it just feels like the way grilling should be done.

The big downside of the charcoal grill is the length of time it takes to prepare; waiting for the coals to light and to reach their ideal temperature. It makes grilling a couple of hot dogs feel like a bit of a production. And with a newborn in my arms and two active little boys running laps around me, I don’t have time for any more productions. The ease of simply turning a knob on a gas grill sounds so appealing.

I was very close to purchasing a gas grill this summer and partly regret that I never did. Seems too late at this point, since it will be snowing before we know it. Maybe next year…

On one of the few occasions that we did fire up the grill this summer, we threw on a few locally-made Hoffman’s hot dogs. I don’t eat hot dogs frequently, but sometimes it just feels like the perfect summer food. On the side, we enjoyed salt potatoes and this spicy chipotle corn. Is there anything more summery than sweet corn??

A little chipotle goes a long way when it comes to the spice factor in this dish, so if you prefer a milder result, you may want to reduce the chipotle by half!

Spicy Chipotle Corn

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper, very finely diced (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked corn kernels or 1 bag frozen corn, defrosted
  • Salt

Directions

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, chipotle pepper, and scallions. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Add the corn. Stir until the corn is heated through and well coated in the spicy butter sauce. Salt as desired.

Independence Day Menu Ideas

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It’s almost time to celebrate America’s birthday; America’s number one holiday for backyard barbecues and launching brightly colored explosives into the sky.

Many of us will spend the day with friends and family, gathered around a hot grill, enjoying good summer food and cheering to independence. Check out these ideas for making your Independence Day menu extra delicious! (Click on the titles for a link to each recipe.)

And if you’re wondering how to make that tasty American flag cake pictured above, click here for a step-by-step guide.

Grilled Ribeye and Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter – Including lots of tips for grilling a delicious, juicy steak!

The Mona Lisa Burger – A juicy beef patty with gorgonzola, roasted garlic aioli, olives, prosciutto, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes

Grilled Honey-Garlic Baby Lamb Chops– A simple and elegant grilled alternative to burgers!

The Hangover Burger (aka The Heart Attack on a Bun) – Beef patty with bacon, chili, and spicy cheese sauce, topped with a slightly runny fried egg. Heavenly delicious!

Greek-style Lamb Burger with Tzatziki Sauce– My husband’s most favorite dish in the whole world, hands down.

Turkey Burger with Fresh Tomato Salsa– Slightly cheesy and perfectly delicious!

Barbecue Beef Chili – Pulled barbecue beef meets spicy chili in this super-satisfying dish. Totally worth the time it takes to put together. Make a huge batch and freeze the leftovers!

Baked Potato Salad – A flavorful potato salad alternative for those with an aversion to mayonnaise (like myself)!

Mediterranean Cous Cous – Simple and flavorful side dish which can be made ahead and served chilled.

Tomato-Cucumber Salad– Fresh summer tomatoes and crisp cucumber in a tangy vinaigrette.

Barley and Bean Salad – Bursting with nutrition and bright flavors!

Grilled Fingerling Potatoes– Throw them in a foil packet and pop them on the grill. Sprinkle with a bit of gorgonzola, if desired!

Dinosaur Barbecue Macaroni Salad – The only macaroni salad I’ve ever loved!

Orzo with Salmon and Cucumber A fresh and satisfying side dish or main course on a hot summer day!

Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese Classic and delicious!

Fresh Ginger Lemonade– A hint of infused ginger root with freshly squeezed lemons gives this lemonade that extra something special!

Mixed Berry Mousse– Pair it with a layer of vanilla bean panna cotta for an extra special treat!

Grilled Honey Garlic Baby Lamb Chops

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It’s grilling season. Even my four year old seems to sense it. He awoke on Saturday morning with his mind set on grilling hot dogs. It was undoubtedly a perfect weekend for grilling, but I’m not much of a hot dog eater…unless, of course, it’s a Nathan’s hot dog and I’m sitting at a Yankees game with a beer in my other hand. I suggested that we grill steaks instead. But his heart was set on hot dogs. I know, Mommy, he said, always ready with a solution. Hot dogs are for the ‘mans’ and steaks are for the ladies! I like the way this kid thinks! We agreed to grill that evening.

What we would grill quickly changed once I’d arrived at the grocery store. As I stood staring at the wide selection of succulent steaks, I was seduced by a rack of lamb. It whispered to me, just as I was examining the ribeyes. Before I knew it, I was stepping away from the steaks and placing a rack of lamb into my cart. Buh-bye, ribeyes. Hello, lamb.

Lamb chops gave me the perfect opportunity to try out an idea I’d mentally bookmarked. One of our local pizza joints serves the most delicious char-grilled wings. They offer them in a number of tasty varieties, including Buffalo hot, volcanic, mild, barbecue, teriyaki and rosemary parmesan. But, the honey garlic wings are easily my favorite. There’s something about the way that honey caramelizes on the grill which makes my mouth water. It’s char-grilled magic. I’ve been itching to throw something on the grill, slathered with a honey garlic sauce. Grilled baby lamb chops were my perfect opportunity! This preparation would also be delicious on grilled chicken or pork.

Grilled Honey Garlic Baby Lamb Chops

Ingredients

  • 8 baby lamb chops, bones frenched*
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
*One side of a rack of lamb is made up of 8 lamb ribs. Simply cut between the bones to get 8 lamb chops.

Directions

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to low. Add the soy sauce, honey, parsley, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Trim the lamb of any excess fat or silver skin. Sprinkle each lamb chop with a bit of salt. Divide the sauce into two portions. Set one half aside at room temperature. Use the other half of the sauce to brush one side of each chop. Refrigerate the chops for about an hour.

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Rub the grill with olive oil to prevent sticking. Place the lamb chops on the grill, brushed side down. Cook for 2-4 minutes. While cooking, brush the other side with the remaining half of the honey-garlic sauce. Then, flip the lamb chops and cook for another 2-4 minutes, until they’ve reached an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees. They will cook quickly, so don’t wander too far from the grill.

Serves 2

Grilled Ribeye Steaks and Grilled Fingerling Potatoes with Gorgonzola

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I’m not a lawyer or anything, but I’m pretty sure there is a law that mandates grilling on Memorial Day. In accordance with this purported law, we shall be grilling steaks and potatoes tonight.

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Chipotle Butter, Grilled Fingerling Potatoes with Gorgonzola, and Corn on the Cob

I chose a thick, marbled ribeye steak and fingerling potatoes.  Russet potatoes would work well, but will need more cooking time. And, remember that chipotle butter we made last week?  Throw a dollop of that on the steak!  Sprinkle a little gorgonzola on the potatoes and serve with a piece of corn on the cob!

A little guide for grilling steaks:

  • Take the steak out of the fridge about 30-45 minutes prior to grilling to allow it to come up to room temperature. Allowing the steaks to come to room temperature facilitates even cooking.
  • Meanwhile, fire up your grill. Whether using a gas or charcoal grill (my preference), get it good and hot. Charcoal should have a coat of white ash and glow red in the middle. Distribute the coals unevenly, so that one side is stacked with coals and the other side has a lower, single layer of coals.
  • Remove the grill plate and rub it with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Just prior to grilling, season your steak with a little salt and pepper. Avoid doing this until the last minute, as the salt will draw out the juices in the steak.
  • Sear the steak over high heat for a minute or two on each side. (If using a charcoal grill, sear over the stacked coals). Searing the steak over high heat seals in the juices.
  • If using a gas grill, turn the heat down to medium. If using a charcoal grill, move the steak over the lower heat, single layer of coals.
  • Allow the steak to cook for about 3-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the steak and your desired doneness. Rotate the steak 45 degrees halfway through, to give it a nice quadrillage (diamond pattern).
  • You can check the steak’s doneness by feeling the steak or using a meat thermometer.  My preference is to insert a meat thermometer into the side of the steak.  (Rare: 125 degrees,  Medium Rare: 130-135 degrees, Medium: 140-145 degrees, Medium Well: 150-155 degrees, Well: 160-165 degrees)
  • Remove the steak from the grill about 5 degrees below your desired temperature, as the steak will continue cooking off the heat.
  • Cover the steak and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting or serving. Resting allows the juices to redistribute within the steak.

Using a chimney starter eliminates the need for smelly lighter fluid.

To Grill Fingerling Potatoes:

Pour a small amount of olive oil onto a large piece of foil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pierce each potato a few times with a fork. Place potatoes onto the oil.  Thoroughly wrap the potatoes in the foil.  Double wrap if necessary to seal in the oil. Grill for about 30-40 minutes, until fork tender. For larger potatoes, allow for longer grilling time.

Corn on the Cob:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Put the shucked corn into the boiling water.  Boil for about 5-8 minutes.

And for dessert…

Bordeaux Cherry Brownie Ice Cream with Fresh Cherries

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