Archives for posts with tag: Grilling

Yesterday was bright and sunny when I woke up.  There was a bit of a chill in the air but overall it was sunny and clear.

I went up to the lodge and got the grill ready.  My mother in law, sister-in-law and nephew were coming up for Sunday brunch.

It was a perfect spring day.  I was even thinking we may set up a table on the deck and eat outside.  Was I wrong.   Weather can change fast in the mountains.

I starting grilling and decided to take some pictures from the deck.

It was warm and sunny.  Next thing I know I spot a white mass out over one of the hills.  It almost looked like smoke.

As the mass began to move and drift toward the lodge I realized the it was bringing a chilly wind.  It began to spread out and when it reached the lodge I realized it was snow.

Snow….in May.  Well I do live in the Rocky Mountains.

So here I am standing on the deck in cut offs and sandals grilling in the snow.  It made me laugh because almost every time I pull out the grill it starts raining.  I should grill more often since we are having a dry spring.

Thankfully I was done grilling and could move in a light the fireplace and relax with my family.

Ok, so back to the food….I was planning on featuring a summer salad.  This is a salad that we make nearly everyday during the summer.

But how can I feature a salad when it is snowing?  Shouldn’t I feature a stew or soup?  Well since the rest of the country is not blanketed in snow I will go ahead with my summer salad.  It kept snowing all night.  Most of the snow melted on impact but we got some great precipitation that was needed.

In the warm spring and summer months my  family enjoys salads nearly every dinner.  Sliced ripe red tomatoes, rich and creamy cheese, and bright fresh herbs is our favorite combination.

This salad is made with tomatoes (Compari vine ripe tomatoes from Costco), fresh mozzarella, balsamic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh thyme.

Fresh Tomato, Mozzarella and Balsamic Salad

The key to getting the best flavor from this salad is to thinly slice the mozzarella which can be done if you freeze it for about half an hour or until slightly firm but not hard.  With the thinner mozzarella you can marinate it with balsamic and olive oil and the flavor will permeate the creamy cheese.

8-12 vine ripe compari tomatoes (I used the tomatoes from our local Costco but the salad is best with fresh tomatoes in season)

1 lb fresh mozzarella ( I used Bel Gioioso brand)

1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar (I used my trusty Kirkland Signature Brand from Costco, yes I know I love Costco..)

1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove minced finely

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (you can also use basil, oregano or mint)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Slice your mozzarella thinly and marinate with balsamic, olive oil and garlic.  Let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours in your refrigerator. 

Slice tomatoes and arrange tomatoes, mozzarella with marinade and fresh herbs on a plate.  Drizzle a bit more vinegar and olive oil and top with fresh herbs.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Serve as a first course with crusty fresh-baked bread or as a side dish with a nice piece of grilled meat.

Here are a few variations on this salad:

Fresh tomato, feta cheese, mint and kalamata olives

Fresh tomato, feta cheese, oregano and kalamata olives

Fresh tomato, blue cheese and bacon and arugula

Fresh tomato, brie cheese and pancetta

More great tomato salad recipes:

This one from Jamie Oliver. (I just love how he uses tomatoes of different sizes and shapes.)

Or try this one from Martha.

Here is Elsies’ beautiful version of the tomato mozzarella combo.

I enjoy to just sitting and watching my tomato starts and dream that this season will be long enough for us to actually harvest some tomatoes.  Last year our crops froze before they had a chance to ripen.  We are much more prepared this year.  Wish me luck!

If I am not successful I will have the Boulder Farmers Market at my disposal and in late summer the farmers in the area will have a dizzying array of tomatoes to choose from.

Now I will resume my fresh tomato dreams…..

I love grilled food.  Anything really…pizza, meats, fruit, veggies…you name it  I will grill it.

This weekend I was cooking for a church retreat at Cal-Wood.  Columbine Unity Youth Group.  What an absolutely charming group of teenagers.  No less than 8 of these great kids asked me if I needed any help in the kitchen.  They were so eager to lend a hand.  While these teenagers were visiting Cal-Wood half of the group stayed on site to help our forestry manager Angie with some physically taxing outside volunteer work while the other half went to one of our neighbor camps Colorado Mountain Ranch to help with the ongoing clean up from the devastating 4 Mile Canyon Fire.  This was the most destructive forest fire in Colorado history. Colorado Mountain Ranch lost many cabins and much of their land was burned during the fire.  The clean up will go on for years.

The volunteer work done by the kids of Columbine Unity Youth Group was not easy and when they came back to camp they were tired and hungry!

Since the weather was as warm as a summer day I decided to dust off the grill and make some bbq chicken.

I wanted to make sure the menu was both filling and healthy.  I was making my famous baked mac and cheese and wanted to lighten up the rest of the meal.

I used boneless skinless chicken breasts for the bbq and grilled up a bunch of fresh veggies.

For the chicken I made sure to paillard the chicken breasts and marinate them in balsamic vinegar, garlic, sea salt, cracked pepper and canola oil.  This deeply flavors the bland chicken breast and helps to  caramelize the chicken for more flavor during grilling.  I made my own bbq sauce that simmered most of the afternoon on the stove.

I  cut my zucchini lengthwise down the center, toss in some sweet red bell peppers cut down the center in halves and de-seeded and large red onion slices.  I used the same marinade as the chicken and let the veggies marinate for most of the afternoon.  I tossed them on the grill first and then chilled the grilled veggies before cutting.

I blanched broccoli spears separately on the stove and let them chill for at least 1 hour

For the chicken I grilled it until I had good grill marks on the meat and finished it in the oven.  Often when you cook chicken breasts on the grill they dry out before they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  When I finish the chicken in the oven it helps keep the moisture in and lets the meat cook slowly without drying.

When the teenagers of Columbine Youth Group tucked into this meal there is very little left over.  Nearly everything was devoured from the green salad, veggies, mac and cheese and chicken.

Grilling Tender Chicken Breasts

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast

1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar (I use Costco Balsamic)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 minced garlic clove

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Paillard your chicken breasts to flatten them out and make sure the meat is evenly flattened.  This will ensure that the chicken will cook quickly and not dry out.  If you pound the chicken thin you may not even need to use the oven to finish it.

Marinated the chicken in balsamic, canola, sea salt, pepper and minced garlic for at least 1 hour.

While your chicken is marinating prep your veggies for the grill.

Grilled Balsamic Marinated Veggies

4 zucchini cut lengthwise into 2 pieces

4 sweet red bell peppers cut in half and de-seeded

2 sweet red onions cut into third horizontally with the skin removed.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (again I used Costco Balsamic)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tsp dried thyme (I used my lovely French Thyme from Savory Spice Shop)

Marinate veggies for 15 minutes and cook on the grill until slightly charred.  I usually take the zucchini off a little under done as they finish cooking after removing from the grill.  I like my veggies to have a slight crunch and not be soggy.

Reserve the marinade and pour back over the veggies.  Never do this with meat marinade but you can with clean veggies.

To add another element to the salad I blanched 1 head of broccoli in salty boiling water until al dente.  Chill and add to grilled veggie before adding marinade.

Chill veggie for 1/2 an hour to 45 minutes.  Cut and serve.

Pre-heat the grill and when it is hot place the chicken on the grill.  It will only take about 4-5 minutes for each side of chicken to be cooked.  The balsamic vinegar will help create nice grill marks and caramelization on the chicken adding great flavor.  This step can be omitted if you are using bbq sauce but I feel it makes the chicken much more flavorful.

Coat with BBQ sauce and put back on the grill for 3-4 minutes.

Let chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

This weekend I was craving some perfect baby back ribs that just fall off the bone with and smoky crust

My husband and I were talking about what we were going to do today.  I said to him “I am going to grill some ribs.”  He looked at me like I was crazy.  We currently have about 4 feet of snow in our yard.  He said “can you find the grill?”  “Can you find the charcoal?”  My answer was “not totally sure but I will make a huge effort.”  I adore baby back ribs cooked long and slow on the grill.  Who says it has to be a beautiful summer day to grill?  Can’t it be a beautiful winter day? Since we live in the mountains of Colorado then it makes complete sense to grill with snow on the ground.  Fire danger frequently makes summer time grilling an unwise idea. 

I had to first locate the grill and then shovel a tunnel over to it. Grill in the snow 

The process to make perfect grilled ribs takes all day so I started in the morning.  The baby back ribs needed a bit of brining to ensure tender and flavorful meat.

 After brining the ribs for 2 hours I rinsed and dried the meat put on the rub and set it aside to rest for about 45 minutes. 

Since it was a perfect snow day and we had friends over I decided to start the ribs in the oven so that they could go unattended while we played in the snow.  I left the ribs in a low oven at 300 degrees for 1 hour to go sledding.

 

The Hubby manned the grilled and piled the briquets up on the side to allow for indirect heat.

Our grill has a side compartment for indirect heat.

After the ribs had par cooked in the oven for 1 hour we put them on the grill.

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The Hubs stayed outside to man the grill in an entirely manly way!  It is not as cold as it looks.  I got the kids dry and Maddy started some of her famous hot chocolate.

After the ribs cooked on the grill for about 1 1/2 hours while we munched on fresh berries, cheese and crackers and drank red wine and laughed while watching Portlandia.  The kids were playing Spore in the other room…I will never look at cacao the same again…

Cooking, sledding, red wine, laughing and friends what a great day!

Baby Back Ribs on the Grill

When planning to serve ribs figure on 4 ribs per person.

I use baby back ribs from Costco.  I love the quality and freshness of their ribs.

Rib Brine

1 cup salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon garlic granulated

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Dry Rub

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon garlic granulated

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon italian seasonings

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Brine your ribs for 2 hours. You can either add about 2 lbs of ice to brine or put ribs back in fridge while brining to make sure they stay at a safe temperature.  Rinse and dry.  Apply dry rub and let rest for 45 minutes.  Pre-cook ribs in the oven at 300 degrees or you can put them on the grill.  This will take longer but will have a deeper smoke flavor.

When par cooking the ribs should take around 1 1/2 hours on the grill and if you choose to use the grill without pre-cooking they should take 3-4 hours.

Set up your grill with indirect heat.  Cook the ribs turning every 1/2 hour until internal read thermometer reads 200 degrees and meat between ribs is butter tender.  If you are using a wet sauce only apply the sauce in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Let the ribs rest for 15 minutes covered with foil (loosely) before cutting and serving.

 

 

 

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