Archive | July, 2020

Tasty Tidbits

18 Jul

Life is changing in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few months ago and can be somewhat confusing at times. News can saturate us with negativism, leadership is questionable at times, and we cannot move about out lives like we once could. Where is the joy in these times of “quarantine projects” and staying home? For me, even if it is just for my small quarantine crew, it is cooking

Not in the labor of it per se-although I don’t mind it most days. It is the coming together over food that lifts my spirit and feeds my soul. It is sitting at the table eating, chatting, laughing, sharing, listening, and ultimately, connecting.

These days, I tend toward more simple but savory dishes when I set my mind to cooking. Let’s look at two tantalizing tasty treats that are not time consuming. One is simply assembling, the other involves a bit of mixing and cooking.

First, lets go super easy.

For a quick refreshing summer appetizer with minimal ingredients and a few minutes of time, you will have a savory summer delicacy sure to please. This appetizer is in the category of “assemble and serve”. Get these simple ingredients together:

  • Cherry or grape tomateos
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite size pieces
  • Your favorite vinaigrette or balsamic reduction
  • toothpicks (the frilly fancy kind if you have ’em)

Take a toothpick, and thread a tomato, basil leaf, and piece of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette, balsamic reduction, or whatever strikes your fancy. Lay them on a fun pretty little plate or dish. Next, pour a refreshing chilled cocktail and enjoy this fun delectable tidbit.

My favorite “assemble and serve” summer appetizer.

Want something a little more creamy? Got a little more time? Then we can go the dip route. A hot rich dip. Using basic pantry and fridge staples so no fuss. Don’t want to heat up the kitchen? Me either. That is why I grill my savory summer dip in my cast iron skillet. Let’s get some basics together and get started.

You will need:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 can of 8-10 count artichoke hearts
  • I can of diced green chilis
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 t. chopped garlic (substitute with garlic powder if necessary)
  • Salt and red pepper flakes

Just a couple of staples and an easy and savory dip is at your fingertips.

Take the cream cheese out of the fridge about 20 minutes before mixing this up. It needs to soften. Then a can opener, a knife, a large mixing bowl, a rubber spatula and a cutting board is all we need to get this going.

Squeeze the excess liquid from the artichokes and give them a rough chop.

Before mixing this up, go out and get your grill hot. Then give it a good cleaning with your wire brush. Back in the kitchen get your cast iron skillet out. Mix everything together in a bowl but only use half of the cheese. No need to drain the green chilis-just toss the whole can in and keep mixing. When it is all nice and smooth put your dip into your cast iron skillet. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.

Put your dip into an 8 or 10 inch cast iron skillet.

Cover this with foil and take it out to the grill. Turn the heat to medium and place this on the grill. Close the lid and let it get to work.

Cover your dip with foil and put it on the grill.

After about 10 minutes covered remove the foil. This dip is well on its way to bubbly deliciousness! Let this hang out on the grill for another 15 minutes.

And just like that your dip is done. A nice brown crust along the edge and hot all the way through. Perfecto!

Get your chips out. This is ready! Put a trivet out, line up the chips, and get ready to dip into this…well… dip! It’ll be hot and it needs a few minutes to cool down a bit. On the plus side, your hot oven isn’t competing with your air-conditioning in summer mode. Enjoy this with some refreshing summer iced tea or perhaps an ice cold beer.

Grilled Summer Artichoke Dip

8 ounces cream cheese
1 can of 8-10 count artichoke hearts
I can of diced green chilis
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 t. chopped garlic (substitute with garlic powder if necessary)
Salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper (to taste)

About 20 minutes before mixing your dip, take your cream cheese out of the fridge, unwrap it, and place it in a mixing bowl. It needs to soften a bit before assembling the dip. Drain artichoke can and squeeze out additional liquid from the hearts. Roughly chop and put into mixing bowl. Add the sour cream, dices green chilis (undrained) and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese. Mix to incorporate. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Now get the grill going. If using a gas grill, put on medium heat to preheat. Back inside, take out your cast iron skillet and put the dip into it. Spread to even the dip throughout. Add the rest of the parmesan cheese on top. Cover loosely with foil.

Now that the grill is preheated, turn of half of the grill. Place the dip on the heated side. Close lid for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until hot and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. Bon appetite!

Easy Grilled Beer Can Chicken

4 Jul

You sure have gotten a lot of postcards from me lately about grilling! Now that we have established that anyone can grill let’s keep the good times rolling!

We’ve done fish, vegetables, and salmon on the grill. You may need to take a peek at some past posts and my Youtube videos for a refresher. Find them here.

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill/

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/10/29/girls-can-grill-part-ii/

Now it’s time to try our hand at chicken. We love simple and it doesn’t get any easier than Beer Can Chicken. The chicken can be seasoned ahead of time or on the spot. You decide. Pop it onto the grill for an hour and voila! You’ve got a whole chicken done to perfection! And the leftovers (if you have any!!)?  BLISS!

Here is how I made my beer can chicken recently. The chicken got seasoned in the morning and put into the fridge till evening. The morning prep made dinner quick to get ready after a busy day. To season this whole chicken, olive oil and some herbs is all this needed. Oh, a bit of salt and pepper is important as well.

*Do NOT wash chicken ahead of using. That actually increases the risk of food borne illness. Please refer to the food safety tip at the end of the blog.

Seasoning this chicken was a snap.

To add flavor to the chicken, I put season salt, pepper, and some salt free seasoning into a small bowl and mixed them together. The chicken got a drizzle of olive oil (inside and out) and rubbed with diced garlic. A simple sprinkle of the seasoning mixture and this chicken is grill ready. You can make your seasoning with anything you prefer, and slather the chicken with as much or as little as you like. Let your flavor personality shine!

This chicken is perfectly seasoned.

At this point, I wasn’t ready to grill the chicken, so I put it into a gallon size ziplock bag and into the fridge for a few hours.

Zip this chicken up and put it into the fridge for a few hours. 

As afternoon waned into evening, I cranked up the gas grill and put all burners on high. As always, when it was hot I cleaned it with a wire grill brush. When the grill was good and hot, the burners on one side were turned off, and the other side went to a medium heat setting.

Now the fun part. No expensive kitchen doodads needed here. Just get a can of beer and pour 1/2 of it out (you can put it into a cup to drink while grilling). Spray the can with non stick cooking spray. Get two little squares of foil ready. Grab everything and head out to the grill with your chicken.

Open the lid of the grill. Take the chicken out of the bag. Stand it up and slide the can of beer up into the bottom (my mom, always the lady, called that part of the chicken the “toot”) of the chicken. Crimp the foil square onto the bottom of each chicken leg. This will allow the chicken to stand up, tripod style, on the grill and the tip of the legs won’t burn.

Put the chicken on the side of the grill that is opposite the direct heat. Since the chicken is not on the direct heat it will cook slowly, assuring a juicy bird when it’s done. Close the lid for an hour.

When you open the grill, you will get the most lovely golden surprise. Just look at this chicken! The skin is crispy, the inside is moist (thanks to the beer) and the herbs are bright and vibrant.

After an hour you will be rewarded with this gorgeous chicken!

But wait!! There’s more!! Time for the side dish. Choose one that is as easy as this chicken. Let me help.

Take zucchini, cut in half, and put just a spritz of olive oil both the skin and the open fleshy side. Salt and pepper the halves. Since your chicken is on the other side of the grill, go ahead and put your zucchini on the direct heat, skin side up. After about 3 minutes, turn them over so the skin is on the grill. Put some decadent fresh parmesan cheese on the top of the zucchini halves, remove the chicken from the grill, and close the lid.

Easy peasy side dish.

Pull the can out of the chicken toot, loosely tent it in foil,  and let it rest. When the cheese is a little melty and the bottom of the zucchini is grilled (about 2 minutes) take them off the heat. Now ring the dinner bell. Now wasn’t that easy? Tell me what you used as seasoning and how your chicken turned out.

*Food safety tip. Do not wash the chicken after removing packaging. Contrary to belief, this actually INCREASES the risk of cross contamination. Washing the chicken can cause splatter of raw chicken around the sink and onto the counter tops. If this was to touch something ready to eat, such as a salad, the possibility of food poisoning becomes possible. For more information on food safety, go here. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-foo