Grilling is always fun. We usually have a family barbecue every Sunday. It’s lots of fun and a great way to catch up with each other after a busy week. One of the problems I run in to is finding new recipes to grill. (With recent lock downs and quarantines we’ve had to barbecue for those of us in the household, other family members barbecue at their homes to maintain social distancing. But hopefully soon we can all get together again for this family tradition!)
Sure hot dogs, burgers, and steaks are easy, but every now and then we need a change. That’s why I’m always in search of a new barbecue recipe. I like to try them out during this weekly family dinner, and if everyone likes it we make it part of our menu.
Last month I tried this new marinade, mostly because I had all the ingredients in the pantry. (Again with the pandemic quarantine we try to keep shopping trips to a minimum). But also because I love balsamic vinegar, which is the main ingredient to this recipe. I call it Beef Kabobs in Vinaigrette Marinade.
The best part about marinades is that it flavors your meat with very little work. It’s simple, just toss the ingredients together, soak the meat, and let the marinade do the rest of the work! I marinate my meat in the refrigerator overnight. The longer is marinates the more flavorful it will be, but you don’t want to marinate it more than a day or so, because when marinated too long the meat starts getting this tough jerky like texture and it may eventually spoil. If for some reason we don’t use the marinated meat the next day I freeze it, marinade and all. That way I just thaw it out when we’re ready to grill.
Just before grilling I skewer the beef cubes on bamboo skewers, but you can use metal skewers if you have them. We do have a bunch of pretty metal skewers we brought home from Turkey one year, but cleaning them after the barbecues is an extra chore I can do without. When you do use bamboo skewers remember to soak them in water for about 10 – 15 minutes before putting the meat on, it keeps them from burning when you pop them on the grill.
Another helpful tip when grilling is to not over cook the meat. Grill meat until it is just about done to the way you want it (rare, medium, well). In short remove it from the grill before it is the desired “doneness”. Place grilled meat in a covered pot or roasting pan and let rest covered for 5 minutes before serving. This allows the meat to finish cooking and to release its juices. Try it out! You’ll end up with tender juicy meat! It works for steaks too!
Having said that here’s my recipe for Vinaigrette Marinade! By the way you can use the same marinade on chicken, lamb, or shrimp. Just don’t mix the meats, make a separate batch of marinade for each type of meat or seafood.
3 Lbs. Beef Tenderloin cut in 1″ cubes (you can use your favorite beef cut)
1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Finely Minced Garlic
1 Tbs. Fresh or Dried Rosemary
1 Tbs. Fresh or Dried Oregano
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Large Onions cut into large chunks
1 Large Green Pepper cut into large pieces
1 Basket Mushrooms, washed and patted dry
Combine Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, and seasonings in a large ziplock bag. Seal bag and shake to combine all the ingredients together.
Add meat cubes to the marinade. Seal bag and shake to cover all the meat.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours, for best flavor marinate in the fridge overnight.
About and hour or less before grilling place meat, onions, peppers, and
mushrooms on skewers. Alternate meat with veggies.
Grill over medium heat until meat is just about done the way you want it.
Place skewers in a large pot or roasting pan with a lid. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to allow meat to finish cooking and release its juices.
Serve hot with rice, potatoes, and other sides.
Beef Kabobs in Vinaigrette Marinade
Tender, juicy, and flavorful grilled meat that's perfect for any cook out.
Fried Chicken is a favorite dish in most familys. Its tender and juicy on the inside and has that perfect satisfying crunch on the outside. What’s not to love?
Most folks picture KFC like chicken or Southern Fried Chicken (that’s delicious by the way) when they think of fried chicken. Of course Southern Fried Chicken served with homemade mashed potatoes, thick gravy, and melt in your mouth biscuits are delicious, but there are other equally delicious versions of fried chicken.
One of my favorites is Mochiko Chicken or Japanese Fried Chicken. It’s battered with Sweet Rice Flour giving it a bit of sweetness along with a nice crunch on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Served with steamed white rice and Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy it makes a nice healthy meal.
This dish is marinated in the refrigerator overnight, that’s what makes it so tasty and gives it a nice crunch.
4 Lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken thighs cut into thirds
2/3 Cup Cornstarch
1/3 Cup Mochiko Flour
1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Tbs. Oyster Sauce
1 Tsp. Sesame Oil
1 Tbs. Garlic Minced
1/4 Cup Chopped Green Onions
Oil for frying
Sesame Seeds and chopped Green Onion for garnish
Combine all ingredients expect garnish and oil for frying into a large ziplock bag. Batter will be thick, it will thin overnight.
Shake bag to coat all chicken pieces.
When you are ready to fry you will find that the marinade has thinned and possibly separated. Shake to recombine marinade and coat chicken.
Heat oil and fry each piece until chicken is cooked and batter is golden brown and crisp.
Drain on paper towel.
Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion.
Serve with hot rice and vegetables of your choice.
Since many of us are still in the pandemic lockdown, self-imposed or mandated, deciding what to cook has become a chore. Many of us are probably planning out weekly menus to cut down on grocery runs, which many of you know can be a daunting experience with masks, lines, and empty shelves; and I won’t even get into disinfecting all the groceries we bring home! Such is our new “normal” at least until this scourge passes.
Another main concern for many of us is a disrupted food chain caused by virus outbreaks at many of the meat packing plants nationwide. Not only is this virus causing meat shortages, but it puts plant employees considered essential workers, and their families at risk. I know we all want to do our part to stop the spread and also hopefully keep folks from hoarding meat. (Remember the Toilet Paper back in March? I don’t think the factories have caught up yet!) Anyway to show our support for meat packing plant employees and hopefully lessen the demand for meats workers’ advocates are calling for Meatless Mondays. So you might want to plan your weekly menus to include at least one meatless day, it’s good for your health as well as one small step in stopping the spread. So I thought this month I’d share some meatless recipes with you.
One of my favorite seafood dishes is Salt & Pepper Shrimp, we used to order it every time we dined at a Chinese restaurant. Since I found a recipe for it we can enjoy it at home. I modified it to fit our tastes and I think made it a bit simpler to make. Served over steamed white rice it’s yummy!
1 lb. Medium to Large shrimp – peeled and deveined
1 tbls. sea salt
1/2 cup corn starch
2 tbls. ground white pepper
2 tbls. ground black pepper
1 tbls. garlic powder
3 tbls. chopped green onions
2 tbls. minced garlic
1/4 + cup peanut oil
Place shrimp in a small bowl and cover with warm water
Add sea salt and let soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour
In a shallow bowl mix together corn starch, 1 tbls. each of white and black peppers, and garlic powder
Drain shrimp and lightly pat dry with a paper towel
Heat peanut oil in wok or large frying pan on medium heat until hot
Coat each shrimp in cornstarch mixture and place in wok
Cook until shrimp turns pink – turn halfway for even cooking – you may need to add more peanut oil if it gets too dry
Place cooked shrimp on paper towel to drain – Do not turn stove off
If pan is dry add a tbls. more peanut oil – add mince garlic and stir until it starts turning golden
Add fried shrimp back into pan
Add chopped green onions and stir til green onions turn bright green and starts to soften
It’s Cinco De Mayo again and to me that’s the best excuse for a celebration featuring Mexican food and drinks! Not that I need a reason to enjoy Mexican food, I’m just crazy about it! No one ever has to twist my arm into making a pitcher of Margaritas or a tray of tacos and burritos.
But Cinco De Mayo is still a great excuse to throw a party! You don’t have to be Mexican in my opinion to celebrate. But if you really must know the reason Cinco De Mayo is celebrated it’s a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Just in case you were thinking it’s the Mexican Independence day, it’s clearly not. I believe the largest Cinco De Mayo celebration is in Puebla.
History aside Cinco De Mayo has become somewhat a part of American culture simple because it involves great food and drinks I think. What ever the reason it’s a great time to throw a party or at the very least have a “Mexican” night with the family.
It doesn’t have to be an invite the whole neighborhood block party, you can keep it simple and have a pot luck with friends and family or simpler still enjoy some Mexican dishes with just the family. Here’s a few fun ideas you can use to make your celebration fun for all!
Set up a Margarita Bar
Guests can help themselves to margaritas, you can serve the classic margarita or add a flavored one or two like mango and strawberry.
If you’ve got kids or for any one wanting something non-alcoholic (like the designated driver) put bottles of Jarrito in a tub of ice, don’t forget the bottle opener!
Or set up a Horchata bar with several flavors of this refreshing Mexican drink.
Put up a Pinata
Pinatas are always fun. They’re colorful and full of candy, what’s not to like? You can use your pinata as just decoration or you can actually have the kids break it.
If you consider breaking the pinata with a stick too violent, I’m a bit iffy on it too, you can cut a flap on the bottom of your pinata and attach ribbons or string to it. The kids just have to tug on it to let the candy and other treats out. This is a safer option specially when there are toddlers involved!
Set a colorful table!
Use colorful dinnerware at the table and as serving plates.
They don’t have to be ceramic, you can mix and match colorful paper or plastic plates.
Decorate with bright colors and props
Dust off the maracas and sombreros and haul out the serapes. Use colorful balloons, fabrics, banners, paper lanterns and flowers to spruce up the party area.
Don’t forget colorful baskets they can hold everything from flatware to favors!
Serve lots and lots of Mexican Food!
Tacos, burritos, nachos, chimichangas, enchaladas, you name it! Serve up lots of your favorites. If you’re just wanting to keep it simple then focus on an entree like fajitas, and serve up sides of rice and beans. But don’t forget the salsa and guacamole!
If you don’t a lot of time to cook then whip up a pot of my Beef Barbacoa, you can use it in tacos, burritos, nachos, salads, or whatever you want. Best of all it’s made in an Instant Pot and can be made in less than 2 hours. Your friends and family will think you slaved over a hot stove all day!
Whenever we are in LA there’s this place we frequent, Zankou Chicken; although their specialty is the delicious rotisserie chicken they also serve beef and chicken kebobs and shawarma wraps. We love the beef shawarma so much that we buy a dozen or so to take home with us.
Since there are no trips planned to LA anytime soon I decided to try my hand at making my own.
Shawarma is usually cooked on a spit and slow roasted as it turn, I don’t have one of those machines so I found a way to make it using just my oven and stove top.
To make the meat extra tender I used thinly sliced boneless beef short ribs with all the fat trimmed off. I adapted a chinese restaurant method used to tenderize their stir fry meat and it made my ribs very tender.
The secret to great shawarma is the spices used to marinate the meat. So get out your spice rack to make this tasty recipe. We make it into wraps using either pita bread or nan. Served with crunchy dill pickles and my sun dried tomato/roasted red pepper hummus and you’ve got a filling meal.
My family thinks my version is just as good as the shawarma we buy at Zankou!
Bok Choy or Pak Choi is a type of Chinese cabbage; in China it has been cultivated for over 5000 years. It is a cruciferous leafy green vegetable so it’s low in calories, carbs, and fat; it is also packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It has a long list of health benefits and some people consider it a “Superfood”.
Bok Choy is rich in flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants. While they don’t prevent illness like Vitamin C prevents rickets, they contribute to optimal health and chronic disease prevention. Antioxidants help your body get rid of free radicals and detoxify tissues. They are also anti-inflammatory and help the body fight inflammation and cell damage. They are associated with preventing chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Bok Choy is a good source of non-dairy calcium and vitamin K, both of which help build strong bones.
It is also rich in Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene which along with the antioxidants it contains promote eye health and lowers the risk of age related macular degeneration.
Bok Choy is also rich in Vitamins C and B6; magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium and other minerals. All these vitamins and minerals help boost the immune system, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, among many other health benefits.
It’s also very easy to use, you can eat it raw or cooked. It can be added to salads and stir fries. It’s mild flavor makes it a great addition to many recipes, and it’s tasty!
So with all the health benefits and it’s tastiness there’s really no reason not to incorporate Bok Choy into your family’s diet.
Here’s one of my favorite Bok Choy recipes, Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy. It’s super easy to make and can be served as a side dish with almost anything.
I use baby bok choy which I buy at Costco or Sam’s Club. I find the stalks more tender than the full size bunches of Bok Choy. But if you can’t find Baby Bok Choy you can use the full size ones as well; just cut it into smaller pieces.