Sweet Balsamic Marinated Grilled Chicken

Summers, we grill.  Spring we grill and fall we grill.  My goal - figure out a way to endure the winter and continue to grill.  I grill more now that I live slightly out into the country where the local natural gas companies line stops short of my house by 50 feet. UGH.  So, I grill. 

We had been up at the hospital with my daughter for the past two weeks and I wasnt in the mood to prepare anything extensive, so i pulled  out the iPad and searched through my saved Pinterest recipes.  Scoured the fridge and we came up with the following:

Grilled Chicken marinated in Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette with Zucchini and Mushroom Cheesy Rice and a side of grilled cabbage

All of these recipes were inspired by Pinterest finds, but they also reminded me of favorites from home and friends.  Of course,  We adapted them and made them our own, as usual.  I think that's what we all sort of do, especially in a pinch.  I will link you the original inspiration for the dish as well - to pay homage to the cook/blogger who in most cases, lifted their idea from someone else too.  Lets be real,  we all really do that and that is the fun and enjoyment of what we do.  Even the best do it, watch an episode of Top Chef!

Here we go - Remember to have fun with them. 

Sweet Balsamic Marinated Grilled Chicken

1 jar Panera Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 c lime juice
2-4 T chopped Cilantro
4-6 chicken breasts or 8-10 chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Combine first 3 ingredients in a Ziploc bag.  Mix around til combined.   Add the chicken to the bag and seal tightly.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, preferably 4-6 hours.  If you don't like the lime/cilantro combination, loose it and just use the vinaigrette.  Add a little more salt to the mix, though, to replace what is lost by the lime juice.

Heat your grill, place on the grill and grill skin side up for about 15 minutes, turn to grill skin side down for the rest of the time.  Watch Carefully.  Pull and enjoy!

Grilled Cabbage

1 head of cabbage, cored and cut into 4-6 wedges
12-16 pieces of thin sliced, hickory or apple wood smoked bacon
1 t olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 kosher salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper

Cut and core cabbage.  Slice into 4-6 wedges.  Place on a piece of nonstick tin foil.  Mix olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Pour marinade in equal portions over the cabbage.  Wrap wedge in bacon.  Fold tinfoil around wedge, with the opening top side up.  Place on grill around chicken.  Cook for about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the wedge. 

Zucchini and Mushroom Cheesy Rice

4 c good chicken stock
3 T butter
2 c rice (I had about 1-1/2 c of Basmati Rice and about a 1/2 c of regular short-grain rice and I combined them.  Use a short-grain, sticky
rice for this recipe.  It works really well. 
1 large zucchini, grated on a grater, large holes
1 small pkg of mushrooms - use any kind you would like.  I had button, but baby portabellas would be nice as well. 
1 small sweet onion, sauteed in about 1 T butter, til translucent
1/2 c pecan pieces
1 c cheese (any kind, we used a three cheese blend and some Parmesan). 

In a rice cooker, add the chicken stock, 2 T of butter and rice.  Cook until done. (If on the stove, boil the stock first, then add rice, turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat).  When rice is cooked, open lid and stir in zucchini, onion and mushrooms.  Close lid for  approximately 5 minutes.  Then add cheese and pecans.  Mix and close lid again for about 2-3 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Have fun!



Strawberry Freezer Jam

I have to say that the best success I have had with Strawberry Freezer Jam was this year!

I got my hands on a boatload of berries this year and brought them home, with the absolute intention of making enough
freezer jam to last us for a few years.  I ran out to get the pectin and containers and the store only had 1 box of the dry pectin but had 5 boxes of the liquid.  I had never used the liquid before, but thought, oh, what the heck.  Lets try it.
I am in love.  It was easier and the freezer jam had a softer and more jam-like consistency as it gelled. 

I took some out of the freezer today and opened it up for the first time and it was just like my mother's!  All the years before,  I could never get it to be the consistency that hers was.   I just love it.  Now, please note - its the full sugar recipe.   I have tried this year, all variations and this is for me, the better of the bunch!  So I am sharing... Enjoy!!!

This recipe is for 1 puch of liquid fruit pectin:

2 C of fully ripe strawberries
4 c sugar
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin
2 T lemon juice

Make sure that your containers are clean and dry.
I use a Ziploc Freezer container.   You don't need anything fancy, just something that will keep the air out and sealed nice and tight.  Stem and crush your berries.  The riper, the better.  If they are good and ripe, they will mash perfectly.

Measure 2 c of smashed berries into a large bow.  Stir in sugar.  Let sit for 10 min.  Stir a few times. Mix the pectin and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Add the mix to the berries.  Stir for about 2-3 minutes or until the sugar is dissloved.  (No grains).

Fill your containers about 3/4 full, leaving about 1/2 inch on the top.   Clean the edges of the containers, so no jam remains. Cap tightly.  Let stand for 24 hours at room temperature.  This is a MUST! 

Place into the freezer.  Will store for up to 1 year frozen.  Keeps 3 weeks in the fridge!