Category Archives: Other

First Grilling of 2013

Sausages on the Grill

Sausages on the Grill

It happened later than I would have liked, but weather and time always play a factor when grilling with charcoal or wood. It’s harder to maintain the heat when it’s cold! And the first grilling of 2013 took place Easter weekend, so it was a while ago.

Today’s post is not a recipe. Rather, it is a testimony. I am not overly fond of sausage. However, since the day looked good for grilling and I didn’t want burgers, I chose some yummy looking sausages at the butcher counter. There were fresh made brats and chicken sausages to choose from. I chose chicken with feta and spinach and chicken with feta and sundried tomatoes. Oh my gosh, they were so good! Nothing beats fresh.

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

PS:  This greeted me when I opened up the grill: 

Yuck!

Yuck!

I don’t even remember what it was that I cooked on the grill!  So, don’t forget to clean up your grill!  Happy Grilling, now that the season is finally here!!

Power Smoothie

I’m dying to spend time outside on my deck. Weather is looking pretty good for the next couple of days to do just that, but my schedule this weekend is going to prevent me from doing so.  I just hope Mother Nature isn’t putting us on and really means to allow us to have Spring from here on out.

Power Smoothie (13)
In the meantime, this smoothie is what I drink every morning. It’s filling, nutritious and tastes great. One thing I love about smoothies: you can add just about anything to it. Any kind of fruit and some veggies will go well in this recipe.  I make a gallon at a time.  You can cut ingredient portions to make less.  Occasionally, I end up with more than a gallon, depending on the amount of OJ I add. 

Gather together:  Power Smoothie

2 32 ounce containers of Greek yogurt.  I use the Greek yogurt because it has less whey (the liquid on top of the yogurt) and more protein than regular yogurt.  One container is plain, the other vanilla.

About 5 cups total fruit, cut into chunks if needed.  I have been using frozen because I’m lazy.  If you use frozen, you will want it partially or completely thawed.  If processed frozen with the OJ, you will end up with the blades of your blender all gummed up.  Any kind of fruit you like is fine.  I always use mango.  I have also used blackberries (only once-I hate the seeds!), dark cherries, blueberries and strawberries.

1 12 ounce bag of granola.  I always use Bear Naked Fit.  It is lower in calories and sugar.  Use whatever you like.

1/2 cup of wheat germ.  This adds a good dose of several vitamins and minerals.

Orange juice.  You will need a minimum of 3 cups.  I add as I am blending, so you can expect to add a bit more than 3 cups.

I also add a fiber supplement.  The clear, tasteless, flavorless, smooth textured kind.  The brand I use has 5 grams of soluble fiber per heaping teaspoon. 

In a food processor (blender if you don’t have a food processor), process the granola and wheat germ until fine.

Granola and wheat germ

Granola and wheat germ

Processed granola and wheat germ

Processed granola and wheat germ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set the granola mixture to the side.  In a blender, pour in half of the fruit and about a cup and a half of orange juice.  Blend until smooth, adding more OJ if needed.  Add 1/2 container of yogurt and blend again until smooth.  Add some of the granola mixture and blend again. 

 

Power Smoothie (5)

Pour the mixture into a pitcher (or whatever you plan to store the smoothie mixture in).  Repeat until all of the ingredients have been blended.  Once all are blended, stir all together in the pitcher.

Smoothie before stirring

Smoothie before stirring

If the smoothie is too thick, just add more OJ.  I add OJ to my cup to thin out individual servings until I have enough room in the pitcher to add OJ directly to the pitcher.  I generally end up with a thicker smoothie that is more like an ice-cream shake than a smoothie.

Enjoy!  Up next, something from the grill!!!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (6)Grilled chicken is great on a salad.  Grilled chicken is great period.  I believe it is the best way to cook chicken.  As long as it is done correctly, you end up with moist, flavorful and tender chicken that lends itself well to just about anything you want to put it in or eat it with.  Although I put this chicken recipe on a salad, it will be just as good with rice or on a sandwich with a honey mustard mayo. 

I had mixed greens with iceberg lettuce for the salad.  I don’t normally buy iceberg lettuce since it has very little nutritional value.  Generally, it is the dark, leafy greens (including spinach) that I eat.  There is a bigger nutritional bang in the darker greens

As far as making up the salad, I always have a variety of options.  No one in our household like the same things on his or her salad, so a salad bar is set up and each can pick whatever to put on their own salad.  Tomatoes, nuts or sunflower seeds, Craisins, different cheeses (I like feta and goat cheese) are some of the items on our salad bar.  I grilled up this chicken when tomatoes were ripening, so we had homegrown tomatoes.  The yellow grape tomatoes went very well  with the raspberry balsamic chicken.  Fresh raspberries would be a nice salad addition as well.  Honey mustard, raspberry vinaigrette and balsamic vinaigrette dressings are excellent choices to finish off the salad.

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (3)

The chicken will marinate for a few hours or overnight to fully absorb the flavors.  I had a 2 pound chicken breast that I left whole.  For the marinade you will need:  1/2 cup of oil, 1/4 white (or dark) balsamic raspberry vinegar (or you can make your own.  1 pint raspberries will yield about 1/2 cup of juice.  To juice the berries, press through a sieve and discard the pulp and seeds.  Add the juice to 1/2  cup of balsamic vinegar.  If that is not a strong enough berry flavor for you, add more juice.  This uses fresh berries, so I recommend making this right before you are going to use it), 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor to emulsify.  Emulsification blends the oil with the other ingredients in order to keep the oil from separating.  This is definitely a time when you want the oil and vinegar to stay blended.  You will know the ingredients are emulsified when the mixture is thick and you can no longer see the individual ingredients.  In a plastic bag, add the marinade to the chicken and seal.  Store in the refrigerator at least a couple of hours before grilling.

To grill, prepare a fire for indirect grilling.  While the coals heat up, take the chicken out of the fridge to warm-up in anticipation of the hot fire.  I’ve mentioned this before, but it doesn’t hurt saying again-the meat is just like us when it gets cold.  It tenses up and needs to relax prior to being placed over direct hot heat.  When the coals are ready, place the chicken directly over the coals, searing each side for about 3 minutes.   Move the chicken to the opposite side and place the lid on the grill.  In about 20 minutes, the chicken will be ready.

Searing

Searing

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (11) Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (9)

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

In these photos, you can see how moist the chicken remained.  No dry, rubber chicken here!

 

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

I chose a honey Dijon mustard dressing to top my salad.  It was very good! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy your grilled chicken!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Cranberry (sauce) Conserve

I have been enjoying what is left of the Cranberry “sauce” that I made for Thanksgiving. It turns out it is more of a conserve or whole-fruit jam vs. a sauce. 

Over a hunk of a crusty french loaf.

Over a hunk of a crusty french loaf.

A conserve or whole-fruit jam is basically stewed fruit.  The cooking time is shorter than the time for a regular jam, so not as much natural pectin is released from the fruit to “jell” the fruit.  It does thicken up quite nicely, though.  It is thick, but not as thick as a fruit butter (which is actually pressed through a sieve for a smooth fruit spread).  Plenty thick enough to spread over a warm slice or hunk of fresh bread. 

One 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, 3 large, seedless oranges and honey to taste are all I put in this concoction.  Rinse and sort through the cranberries, discarding any that don’t look right and removing any stems that remain.  Pour them into a large saucepan.  Juice the oranges, scraping out some of the pulp right into the saucepan.  One trick I learned (I think from Rachael Ray) about juicing citrus fruits:  set the fruit out to warm up a bit to room temperature or pop in the microwave for about 30 seconds-after poking a hole or two through the peel to prevent an exploding orange or lemon-then roll the fruit on the counter with the heel of your hand to break up the pulp, easing the juicing process.  When I juice an orange (or lemon or lime), I use a flat wooden spatula.  Cut the orange in half, insert the spatula into  the center of one half and squeeze the orange while pressing the sides of the orange.  Then press/scrape some of the pulp out with the spatula.  I scraped some pulp out of 2 of the oranges and most out of the 3rd.  Finally, the honey.  Honey is an excellent sweetener for this.  The smooth sweetness derived from honey counteracts the tartness of the cranberries.  A honey with floral notes adds another dimension altogether.  Clover honey is the most common variety found in  grocery stores, but you may also find orange blossom honey or plum or lavender.  Mmmm.  Anyway, I started with about a 1/4 cup of honey and added more through the cooking process as needed.  It all depends on how tart you like your cranberries.  Once all was in the saucepan, I stirred together on medium-high heat until the cranberries started to burst.  The mixture also started to simmer/boil at this point.  I turned the heat down to low-medium and cooked about 20-25 more minutes, stirring frequently.  The mixture will slowly drip from a spoon held vertically.  As it is hot, it will thicken up even more as it cools.  Start checking the thickness around 15 minutes-if it cooks too long, it will become juicy and therefore runny.  You don’t want a runny conserve.  You want it nice and thick for those slices of bread, ham, turkey, pork or whatever. 

I’m going to play with this recipe some more.  See what else I can pair with the cranberries.  I’m imagining a cranberry/mango chutney glaze over ham or a pork tenderloin…

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Leftover Turkey: What did you do with it?

Smoking a small turkey breast, I didn’t have a lot of turkey leftover. We ate a few sandwiches, then it was time to do something else with it. I turned mine into a casserole with the leftover gravy, peas and corn and added cheese, some herbs and rotini and bit more gravy. I wish you could have smelled it. I had some asiago cheese leftover from shrimp fajitas and put that in. The sharpness of the asiago combined with the smoked flavor from the turkey gave the kitchen a nice aroma. Tasted good too.

So, tell me what you did with your leftovers? Use the comment section below to share.

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

I know, I know…this blog is called “A Girl and Her Grill.” But this girl has an oven and likes to bake, too. Especially these muffins. These are a perennial favorite around here and are often shared with friends. Pumpkin is yummy, no matter how it is used-pureed and baked in sweet treats, sliced and sautéed or roasted, turned into a savory soup….Pumpkin has a lot of Vitamin A, a good dose of fiber, is low-fat and low cholesterol. I have been known to have a slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast.  Why not?

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare muffin tins (greased or paper muffin cups). 

In a large mixing bowl, beat 4 eggs, 2 cups of sugar, 1 16 ounce can of pureed pumpkin and 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil until smooth.  In another bowl, combine 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 tsps baking powder, 2 tsps baking soda, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp salt.  Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, a little bit at a time, mixing well.  Fold in 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake 16-20 minutes or until the muffins are done.  Cool about 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.  If they last, store in an airtight container. 

When using a standard size muffin tin, you should get about 24 muffins. 

For mini-muffins: use mini chocolate chips.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until done.  I usually get close to 72 mini muffins. 

These tempting treats disappear quickly in our house.

Enjoy!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

 

Original recipe found in Country Woman Magazine, May/June 1995

 

Black Bean and Rice Salad

This is a recipe I have to share. I love black beans in salads and black beans and rice in particular. I make this salad just about every time we have Tex-Mex or Mexican. This recipe makes enough for leftovers. I wrap it up in a tortilla with a bit of shredded cheese. Yummy! And even though I don’t know all of the nutrition facts, a quick scan of the ingredients tells me it isn’t bad for you. All of the food groups are represented! Leave out the bacon and you take out the one thing that is less than healthy. But why would you take out the bacon?!  : )

Salad Ingredients:
2 cups water or chicken broth or stock
1 cup raw, long grain rice or brown rice
1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced (greens too! Save some greens for garnish)
1/3 cup pimento-stuffed sliced olives
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4 slices crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled

Bring liquid to a boil over high heat in a 2 quart pot. Add the rice and cover. Reduce the heat to low; cook about 20 minutes or until tender and dry. I use a pot with a glass lid to keep a better eye on the rice.  I overcooked a pot of rice once; not a pleasant aroma or easy clean up!  When the rice is cooked, spread it in a shallow pan to cool to room temperature.  While the rice is cooling, prepare the dressing.                                                                  

Mustard Dressing:  

2/3 cups oil (half olive, half safflower)

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves 

2 tsps Dijon Mustard  

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Using a blender or food processor (fitted with steel blade), blend the dressing ingredients.  The goal is to not just combine the ingredients, but to emulsify the oil and vinegar.  Otherwise, you end up with oil that solidifies in the fridge (yuck!) and not a delicious looking salad!  Now, take all ingredients, salad and dressing, and mix well.  I use a clear glass bowl to show off the variety of colors present in this salad.  Makes for a nice presentation on your table!

A few recommendations:  I don’t like green olives, so I use sliced black olives.  Whatever rice you have will work just fine.  The last time I was in Charleston, S.C., I picked up a bag of Charleston Gold Aromatic Rice from Lavington Farms.  Uncooked, it smells like popcorn.  It was very good in this salad!  I don’t suggest using just olive oil.  It is a bit strong for this salad.  It really needs to be balanced with a lighter oil.  I have never tried a different vinegar-I like red wine vinegar and I like red wine!  And finally, I never add salt to anything except baked goods and occasionally meat rubs. 

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

This recipe is out of “The Everyday Fiesta Cookbook”, written by Susan Slack and published in 1993.

Grilled Pizza

The weather and time have not been conducive to outdoor cooking.  It’s cool and rainy.  Not that the cool or cold will keep me from grilling.  Rain does put a damper on things, though.  And I hate this time of year-it gets dark way too early.  I’m ready to move closer to the equator so I can have more hours of daylight (and warmer weather sounds enticing-I’d rather be soaked in sweat than freezing my toes off!).  You will see in the pictures that the daylight faded quickly on this one!

This is not the first time I have grilled pizza.  I tried a different method than usual.  I put the pizza directly on the grill and tried cooking it as one would do in a fire-brick oven:  start out with a lot of heat and continue cooking until the heat is gone, resulting in longer cooking times as one goes a long.  Usually, I heat up my skillet over the fire and put the pizza on the skillet.  Similar, but different enough to affect the crust doneness.  And I think, a better method.  I won’t say that this was an utter failure, but it was not the best.  This blog isn’t just about posting new recipes; it’s about sharing my ideas for outdoor cooking.  Some of those ideas are going to be great, some are learning opportunities-learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them!

The pizzas are relatively straightforward.  I used thawed frozen bread dough, cut into 3 or 4  even hunks.  I rolled them into balls (with a bit of flour), let them rest until doubled, then rolled out with a rolling-pin into round pizza crusts.  Everyone makes their own pizzas at our house.  I opened a jar of tomato sauce, set out some spices and everyone’s favorite toppings and cheese. 

While my family prepped their pizzas, I started the fire.  I used some small pieces of oak and leftover charcoal.  I was going for a wood smoke flavor. 

 The first pizzas went on.  The fire was very hot-450 F to 500 F.  I put on the lid, suppressing the flames and creating an oven for the pizzas.  This is where I admit failure.  The pizza was very smoky, to the point where it was almost inedible.  Since it was dinner, I ate it anyway. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subsequent pizzas were cooked with the lid off.  I did try this, in order to have some heat surrounding the top of the pizza: 

Some of the pizzas were a bit doughy in the middle.  The first pizzas I put on (with the lid covering the grill) were on for about 5 minutes.  They were completely cooked and looked great.  As I stated above, they were just too smoky.  These pictured above were on around 10 minutes.  With the lid off, the heat dissipated quickly.  The pizzas toward the end of my fire’s heat were put directly over the heat and moved alongside the fire as the bottoms browned.  Those turned out to be the best.  They took a lot longer, though.  Closer to 15 minutes.

Next time, I’ll go back to using my skillet.  It was easier to control the heat that was applied to the pizza.  I will let you know how it turns out!

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Grilled Fruit

This was something new for me.  I had never grilled fruit before.  I’m not sure I have ever even eaten grilled fruit.   But, there is a first time for everything.  I had been contemplating trying it out for a while.  I finally tried last week and success or failure, I planned to let you know how it turned out!

This was a spur of the moment decision, so I grilled peaches and bananas, both of  which I happened to have. 

Prepare the grill for a medium to high heat.  The fruit will be grilled over direct heat.  I didn’t need a lot of coals.  Around 20 were plenty.  When the fire is nearly ready, slice the peaches in half, removing the pit.  The bananas do not need any preparation.

The peaches went on first, cut side down.  I decided they needed a little more time than the bananas as they are a firmer, fleshier fruit.  About 2 or 3 minutes after the peaches are on, put the bananas on the grill.  I turned the peaches over after they started to soften, around 6 minutes or so.  You can see the charring on the peaches in the photo.  This is due to the natural sugars present.  Sugars char when put to heat.  It’s not burnt and does add flavor.  I drizzled about a tablespoon or so of lime juice and honey over the peaches, allowing the liquids to pool in the space left by the pit.  The bananas can be turned around 5 minutes after putting them on.  Again, make sure they are softening before turning.  Total cooking time for the peaches will be around 12 or 13 minutes, the bananas 10 minutes.  The peaches will be soft all the way through, the bananas will feel “mushy” or like a thick custard.

After removing the peaches from the grill, you can leave them as they are or dice them up.  As you dice them or cut them as you are eating, remove the peel.  It will slide off quite easily.  Serve them still warm with vanilla ice cream, pound cake or as I did, with the bananas.  They were very tasty.

 

 

 

Slice open the banana peel to reveal a soft (but not falling apart), moist banana.  Cut into chunks and serve with ice cream, cake or with the peaches.  Slice it lengthwise and create a warm, grilled banana split.  I sliced mine lengthwise and added pieces of a dark chocolate bar (while the banana was still very warm.  The chocolate melted and became a yummy, gooey mess!), marshmallows (that my daughter roasted on the grill) and some coconut.  A delicious treat!

Pineapple would be another great fruit to grill.  I’m sure there are plenty more that would withstand grilling.  Try some yourself and let me know the results!

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!