Grilled Sweet-and-Sour Boneless Chicken Breasts

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grilled chicken, cous-cous, and sugar snap peas

Chicken for Dinner Again?

As is often the case, I had chicken breasts but no idea what I wanted to do with them. I opened up my new favorite cookbook, How to Grill Everything, Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food by Mark Bittman, and found this light and delicious recipe.

The grilling bible includes recipes for (you guessed it) pretty much everything you could think of, from quick-pickled charred vegetables to tzatziki lamb burgers, and, in typical Bittman fashion, the book also offers variations on every recipe, so readers can customize as they see fit.  Alison Spiegel, Food & Wine

Happy cooking, hon.

Grilled Sweet-and-Sour Boneless Chicken Breasts

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 red onion, cut into small wedges

approximately 1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. If you’re using bamboo or wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, start the coals or heat the gas grill for medium direct cooking. Make sure the grates are clean.
  2. Make the sweet-and-sour sauce. Combine pineapple juice, rice vinegar, honey, and soy sauce. Put them in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and let bubble for 2 to 3 minutes. For a shot of heat, add sriracha or other hot sauce to taste before pouring over the grilled chicken and onion. Before grilling the onion, brush it with oil, not the sauce; the sugar in it will burn.
  3. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then pound the breast to an even thickness if necessary. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and petter on both sides. Skewer the onion wedges and brush with olive oil.
  4. Put the chicken and skewers on the grill directly over the fire. Close the lid and cook the chicken, turning once, until the breasts are no longer pink in the center, 3 to 8 minutes per side depending on their size. (Nick with a small knife and peek inside.) Cook the onions, turning the skewers several times, until they have softened and taken on some color, even some char, 8 to 10 minutes per side. As they finish, transfer the chicken and onions to a deep platter or shallow bowl. Let them rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Slice the chicken 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and return it to the platter. Slide the onions from the skewer and scatter then over the chicken. Pour the sweet-and-sour sauce over all and serve. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours and serve cold or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings

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Mark Bittman’s How to Grill Everything, Crisp-Skin Salmon with Maple-Ginger Glaze

Mark Bittman talking about his new cookbook, How to Grill Everything.

Hon, you know how much I love to try new recipes? Do you know that I’m constantly tearing out recipes from The New York Times Food section? And that the  writer of many recipes and food-related articles is Mark Bittman? When I heard that this prolific writer and chef was scheduled to speak at Words Bookstore in Maplewood, I wrote the date in pen on my calendar!

I can’t wait to try new combinations and flavors while working my way through the cookbook. In honor of summer, here’s one of Bittman’s recipes.

Crisp-Skin Salmon with Maple-Ginger Glaze

Ingredients:

1 2-pound skin-on salmon fillet

1 Tablespoon good-quality vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Start the coals or heat a gas grill for medium-high direct heat cooking. Make sure the grates are clean.
  2. Pull any remaining pin bones from the salmon. With a sharp knife, score the skin in a crosshatch pattern.
  3. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and put it on a large baking sheet. Brush the skin side with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides, and turn it skin side down. Put the maple syrup, mustard, and ginger in a small bowl and stir to combine. Brush the glaze over the top.
  4. Put the salmon skin side down on the grill directly over the fire, at an angle or perpendicular to the grate. Close the lid and cook, without turning, until the thickest part is as opaque as you like, 5 to 10 minutes; nick with a sharp  knife and peek inside to check a couple of times. Transfer the salmon to a cutting board, cut into 4 to 6 pieces, and serve.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Want another Bittman bite? Check out his appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan where he demonstrates how to make Veggie Burgers.

Three Berry Lovely Hostess Gifts

Chocolate-covered raspberries from Sweet Nothings.

One of the best things about summer is getting together with friends. With less carpools and craziness, it’s nice to hang out and catch up. I love that the day seems longer. Last night, we left a concert in our town’s park about 9pm and it was still light.

Summer invitations mean hostess gifts. Here are three berry-lovely ideas.

I found this adorable strawberry basket filled with chocolate-covered raspberries at Sweet Nothings, a chocolate shop in Summit, NJ. How easy is this to make yourself? All you need is a basket, filler “grass,” and candy or berries. How about making a berry mix? Wrap the mix in plastic wrap and nestle it inside the basket. Tie a bow and off you go!

Hand-thrown berry bowls filled with local berries.

Berry bowls aren’t just pretty, they’re practical since they are small colanders. I made the two ceramic bowls above, but I’ve seen them in several stores. How sweet would it be to give the hostess a berry bowl already filled? Want to make it even sweeter? Bring along whipped cream and (dare-I-say?) chocolate sauce.

Photo of Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries from bettycrocker.com.

I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture the last time I made Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. Click here for a recipe. Know what’s fun about making these? Finishing up the leftover melted chocolate at home.

Berry-yummy!

Sources: Sweet Nothings  and bettycrocker.com

 

Off the Grid in Italy

Morgan and me in Tuscany.
Mom and daughter trip to Tuscany.

Tuscany is Bellissimo!

I haven’t posted in awhile for a very good reason…I was in Italy! I was practically off the grid with unreliable Wifi and no phone plan. My daughter became our navigator with her grasp of Italian and her own data plan. Look forward to lots of pics and posts about Venice, Bologna, Siena and Rome.

I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Where to next?

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Highlights Article and Easy DIY Summer Treasure Jars

Decorated Mason Jars.
Decorated Mason Jars.

DIY Summer Treasure Jars

Camp visiting days are an opportunity for kids to show and tell. They’re also a great source of craft ideas. This year, I was particularly excited about the Treasure Jars so I included them in my Highlights article, 12 Ways to Reboot Your Summer. My daughter said the camp provided glow-in-the-dark paint. Turn out the lights and let summer memories shine!

Supplies:

–mason or mayonnaise jar

–any combination of stickers, pom-poms, paint, paint markers, permanent markers, colored tape and feathers

–craft glue that adheres to glass

Directions:

–Decorate jars.

–Add summer keepsakes such as seashells, souvenirs, movie stubs, show stubs, cards, letters, etc.

–For a personalized touch, label with name and year.

Party Favors or Take Home Party Activity:

How fun would these DIY Treasure Jars be as a take-home party activity for ages 8 and up? Or, decorate smaller jars, fill with candy, and hand out as party favors. Come to think of it, that’s just what I did a few months ago. Check out Quick and Easy Candy Jars to see how I carried the middle school musical, Little Shop of Horrors, theme through the candy jars. Hon, you know I love a theme!

Colorful tape, stickers, paint markers, paint, pom poms and thread were used to decorate these jars.
Colorful tape, stickers, paint markers, paint, pom poms and feathers were used to decorate these jars.

 

Canyoneering in Utah, Harnesses & Helmets, Hook (Part 1)

Mt. Carmel, right outside Zion National Park, Utah
Mt. Carmel, right outside Zion National Park, Utah.

Guess what I did last week?  One of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.  Hubby, Teen Daughter and I were up for an adventure.  We went canyoneering in Utah, right outside Zion National Park. We hired an experienced guide, James Milligan at Zion Outfitter, for our first time rapelling and scrambling around canyons.  Teamwork was essential, the canyons were gorgeous and the physical challenge was thrilling.

Hon, you know what?  Once you’re in the canyons, you’re really in!  There’s no turning back.

First, we geared up with harnesses, helmets and hooks. We learned how to control the friction of the rope that connected to our hooks.  Holding the rope taut, you stayed in place.  Letting it out, down you’d go.  Finding a foothold on vertical rock was difficult, so you “walked” down cliffs letting rope out a little at a time.  Jumping down into water and quickly finding a place to stand was tricky. Squeezing through narrow canyons was the easiest thing we did. What I want to know is…

When can I go again?

Hubby and Teen Daughter
Hubby and Teen Daughter
Me and Teen Daughter
Me and Teen Daughter

It was hot and dry, so water was a must.  Bees buzzed around the water at the bottom of the canyons, but they wanted to drink and didn’t bother us. Hawks circled, lizards slithered, and white streaks on red rocks were evidence of large birds that call the canyon home.

“Hanging Gardens” are greenery that sprouts from canyons walls and drapes down.

When James, our guide, mentioned quicksand I asked, “Is there really such a thing as quicksand?”  I’m here to tell you it sits on the bottom of canyons under water and its for real!  

Looking down into the canyon.
Looking down into the canyon.
Gorgeous Red Rocks!
Gorgeous Red Rocks

Have you ever gone canyoneering?  Would you go again? Comment by clicking on Word Bubble next to Title of Post. Thanks, hon!

Summer Blooms

I love the way the Swallowtail's wings curve ever so slightly towards the Cone Flower.
I love the way the Swallowtail’s wings curve ever so slightly towards the Cone Flower.

Happy First Day of Summer!

I’ve used up all my “Bmore Energy” throwing a huge party.  Last weekend, we welcomed guests from as far as Colorado, New Mexico and Nashville to help us celebrate a family milestone.  It was beautiful!  It was wonderful!  I’m exhausted!

Planning a weekend of festivities for over 200 guests took all of my time, so my blog simmered on the back burner.  My house is in clean-up mode and my energy needs to be recharged.  Tomorrow’s plans?  A hike to clear my mind.  After that?  DIY decorating blog posts.

In the meantime, here are some photos to welcome summer.  I took them at Ringwood Manor State Park.

When I say I have "Hot Pink Hope," I'm thinking of this Zinnia's color!
When I say I have “Hot Pink Hope,” I’m thinking of this Zinnia’s color!

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Two Swallowtails flitted around the flowers.  I was so excited to capture both feeding at once.
Two Swallowtails feed at the same time. The angle of their wings seem to form one continuous line.  Exquisite!

 

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Teen Daughter and fellow photographer.  We were snap happy in the gorgeous gardens.
Teen Daughter and fellow photographer. We were snap happy in the gorgeous gardens.

Happy Summer, hon!