I have a confession to make...
I was afraid of my grill. Well, maybe afraid isn't quite the right word. How about intimidated. I worried that my steak would be cooked too well and my chicken would be dry and my fish would stick and fall apart. (Actually my fish did stick and fall apart but it was okay because I was making fish tacos anyway.) But I pushed through my fears and grilled everything from veggies to hot dogs last week and now I'm just anxious for more.
Yes folks, my eyes have been opened to the wide world of grilling and I am not looking back.
Sometimes, when I am making my menu I get stuck at the end and I know I really need one more thing on the list. This is often when I turn to Mac & Cheese. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time must know this. I think I could have just as easily named the blog "101 Pasta and Cheese Combinations" or maybe something a little more eloquent but you get the gist. Sometimes I like to make it from scratch but more often I prefer the good old stuff from the box. After all, this is usually the afterthought, end of the list meal, remember? This week I went for the Annies Shells and Cheese and decided to play on the Corn Risotto I made a few weeks ago and add some fresh corn and thyme* to it. I also had some grape tomatoes left over from the salad below so I sauteed them in some olive oil with a little salt and pepper until they burst and put them on top. Jer grilled some hot dogs too, because around these parts the two go together like pb and j.
1. Shells and White Cheddar with Fresh Corn, Thyme and Burst Tomatoes
*I used two boxes of pasta and added the kernels from four ears of fresh corn to the pot during the last two minutes of cooking time. I stirred in about 1 t of fresh thyme at the end.
This steak was actually the very first thing I cooked on the new grill and I have to say I think it came out just about perfect. Rare enough for Jeremy and done enough for me with a nicely charred outer surface. We nic-named the dressing the "Super Magic Delicious Sauce" because that is exactly what it is. For the rest of the week we ate it on everything. YUM!
2. Chili-Lime Steak Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing
from Our Best Bites
makes 4 servings
For the Chili-Lime Steak:
1 t chili powder
1 t granulated garlic
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t oregano
1/8 - 1/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1-2 lbs flank steak (tenderloin, NY strip or tri-tip could also be used)
Juice the lime into a small bowl, add the spices and stir to combine. If it seams a little too dry you can add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to thin it out. Place the steak in a shallow dish and use your hands to rub the mixture on all sides. Pre-heat the grill and let the steak sit for 15 minutes. Grill for 5-7 minutes on each side (if using flank steak). When it is finished remove the steak and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing it into 1/4" strips against the grain.
For the salad:
1-2 lbs flank steak, prepared as above
1 head romain lettuce
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 avocados, sliced
1 can black olives, halved or quartered
2 ears of corn steamed and kernels cut from the cob
For Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing:
1 1oz. package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (do not follow the directions on the package)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup salsa verde
hot sauce to taste
Place all of the ingredients above into a blender and blend it up.
I cut this out of an old Real Simple Magazine a couple of years ago, but having not really had a properly functioning grill for all of that time, I always passed it over. I'
m glad I finally got around to making it. I have to say a word here about the photo too. I have not really talked about the photography on this blog because I really don't what I am doing on the camera end of things. I do have a lot of photoshop/post production experience and it is that alone that has salvaged most of my pictures. Well, I am trying to learn more about actually using the camera to it's full potential and while I have a long way to go I am happy to report that this is the first image on this blog that was shot on manual mode! A small accomplishment to some maybe but for me it was a big step. And, I think it was the best exposure I have gotten strait out of the camera that I can remember. I am really excited to keep learning and improving.
3. Grilled Chicken Chop Salad
from Real Simple
makes 4 servings
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 cup + 2T extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs chicken cutlets
4 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2" thick slices
4 plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise in half
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/2" thick rings
1/2 t kosher salt
In a medium bowl whisk together the mustard, apple juice, vinegar, 2 T water, 1/4 t pepper and 1/2 cup oil. Rinse and dry the chicken and place it in a bowl or re-sealable bag. Pour 1/2 cup of the dressing mixture over the chicken and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium. Toss the vegetables with the remaining 2 T of oil, 1/4 t pepper and 1/2 t salt. Grill the chicken and veggies, turning once, for about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop. Divide the spinach 4 ways and top with the chicken, veggies and remaining dressing.
I have been wanting to try the Super Magic Delicious Sauce on fish tacos ever since I first made it so this week I did. All I did was drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper on two fillets of cod and grill it over medium heat for about 10 minutes. In the meantime I sliced some cabbage and poured some of the dressing over it. A note: cut up more cabbage than you think you need because it will shrink while it sits in the sauce. I put the tortillas on the upper level of the grill while the fish cooked and they got nice and warm. I had a little avocado on mine as well and topped the assembled taco with a little more sauce. Easy peesy.
4. Grilled Fish Tacos
I didn't use much of the cabbage for the tacos above so I made this old favorite to use it up. I first had it in high school and have been making it ever since. This was the first time I really paid attention to the amount of the ingredients so that I could post it here and you all wouldn't end up with something inedible.
5. Cabbage Crunch Salad
makes 4-6 servings
For the salad:
1 small head head of cabbage, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced
2 packages Ramen Noodles, Oriental flavor
1/2 cup almonds, sliced or roughly chopped
For the dressing:
seasoning packets from 2 packages Ramen Noodles
1/2 t sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
dash of sesame oil (optional)
Mix all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Stir and let sit a few minutes before serving.