Saturday, July 30, 2011

Peanut Chicken Kabobs, Cucumber Salad, Quinoa Pilaf, and Chocolate Pudding

It's still summer, so hopefully your grill is still out and feeling the love.  You can make just about everything here ahead of time, and reheat the quinoa at the last minute. We love your comments, whether they are in person, by email, or on Facebook.  Please leave us comments on the blog as well, as we want to know if things worked really well, or you tweaked the recipe, or it was a total flop.  It keeps us motivated!

Peanut Chicken Kabobs
These are so yummy on the grill. I used dark soy sauce to make them, so the marinade came out darker than usual.  I like to reserve some of the excess marinade, heat it over the stove, and use it as extra sauce. We usually serve it with rice, or in this case, Quinoa Pilaf, below.  It's also great with Ginger Noodles.  This was a huge hit with Claire's family. 

Before tossing them on the grill...
2-4 chicken breasts, cut into kabob-sized chunks
1 c peanuts
2 T coriander seeds
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp red pepper
1 c green onions
3 T lemon juice
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c butter, melted
1/2 c chicken broth

Place all ingredients (except the chicken) into a blender or food processor until the peanuts are ground to your liking. Do it in batches if necessary. In a mixing bowl, let the chicken sit in the marinade for a few minutes while you slice other ingredients for the kabobs, such as zucchini, onions, or peppers. Load the chicken onto pre-soaked wooden skewers (to prevent burning), alternating with whatever other ingredients you have. Grill until the chicken is tender.

Cucumber Salad
This gets better if it's allowed to sit for a few hours ahead of time to let the ingredients blend.  My daughter had 3 helpings.  My son loves the ginger.  It's a great, refreshing summer side dish.  The sesame oil and ginger give it an Asian flair, but it's not overwhelming, so you can pair it with non-Asian main courses as well. 

3-4 medium to large cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and then sliced into chunks.
2-3 radishes, julienned
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 scallions, chopped

1/3 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c canola oil (not olive oil)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste, about 1/2 to 1 tsp

In a small mixing bowl, add rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and salt. Whisk in oil until emulsified. Toss with the other ingredients.

Quinoa Pilaf
Quinoa is high in protein, and has more flavor than couscous.  It's always good, but especially if you are tired of rice. Quinoa (keen-wah) is also a super fun word for kids to say. Nothing better than a silly meal.

Quinoa has a denser, chewier texture than couscous. 
1 1/2 c quinoa
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 c diced onion
1/2 c diced zucchini
1/2 c chopped spinach
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 c total liquid, either water or chicken stock

I steam it all in a rice cooker.  You can also cook it on the stovetop.  Bring all ingredients to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer, and cover with a lid.  Cook for 15 minutes, remove from heat, and allow to sit another 5 minutes before removing lid and fluffing with a fork.

Easy Chocolate Pudding
I love chocolate pudding, but I really hate the stuff that comes out of a box.  It's got a weird aftertaste.  This pudding takes about 10 minutes- really.  Claire made it while I was still wrangling kabobs, and the next thing I knew it was done.  It takes almost as long to make the kind out of a box, and this is so much healthier. Okay, so maybe that's going a bit too far. But it tastes better, and it's from scratch.

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c cocoa
1/8 t salt
1/3 c warm water
1 oz semisweet chocolate chips
       (this is about half of a 1/3 c measure)
2 c (total) milk or half-and-half
3 T cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt together in heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in water, making a smooth runny paste.  Bring to a boil while stirring constantly over med heat, then remove from heat.  Whisk in semisweet chocolate chips, and stir in  1 3/4 c half-and-half or milk.  In a separate bowl, whisk cornstarch and 1/2 c milk or half-and-half.  Whisk this paste into the chocolate mixture.  Stir contantly over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken.  Reduce heat and simmer for one minute. As mixture is cooling, add in vanilla. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

My Trusty Little Friend
Meet my trusty little friend, my Cuisinart Mini-Prep. I have had this for about 10 years.  I pull it out every time I need to blend or food process something because, quite frankly, my larger Cuisinart is too heavy and cumbersome, and I have burnt out more than one blender so I am always nervous about using the blender. I keep this in a drawer, and it serves me well. Claire thought I should take a picture of it and include it on the blog, because I pretty much use it every time we cook.

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