Weekend meals: World’s Best Chicken & Shrimp Skewers with Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

We’ve had a fair share of weekend company this summer and since our patio is bigger than our dining room, I always want to grill. This dinner is so easy–just takes some advance cutting and marinating. The cooking time is short and with veggies, chicken and shrimp–there is something for everyone to enjoy!

Serve it up with fresh corn-on-the-cob and maybe my Triple mini tomato bruschetta . If there are any leftovers–make salads or sandwiches the next day.
Chicken and Shrimp Skewers
1 lb boneless chicken breast cut into 1 inch chunks
1 lb peeled/deveined raw shrimp (medium to large in size)
4 cloves garlic–shaved across a micro-plane to make a paste
4 lemons-juice and zest
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons of fresh herbs, chopped (I typically use basil and parsley–but use what you have)
Mix garlic, lemon, oil, herbs and s/p in a large bowl.
Put the chicken and shrimp into separate large ziploc bags (or tupperware containers). Pour half of the marinade into each ziploc bag. Place in refrigerator and marinade for 30 minutes-1 hour. Don’t marinade too long–the citrus cooks the chicken and shrimp.
Thread chicken and shrimp onto skewers. Don’t mix–the shrimp takes about 5 minutes to grill and the chicken slightly longer. Grill over medium-high heat outside (or inside on a grill pan). Place chicken on first–after about 3 minutes, add the shrimp. Grill both until cooked about 10 minutes for chicken and 5 minutes for the shrimp.

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables
You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand–this was what was in my veggie drawer.
2 eggplant–sliced 1/4″ (see note about salting and rinsing eggplant)
1 zucchini–sliced long way, 1/4″ thick
1 yellow summer squash-slice long way, 1/4″ thick
1 red onion-sliced 1/4″ rings
2 red peppers-quartered
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup feta cheese
Place vegetables in a large plastic bag or dish. Pour vinegar and oil over vegetables and toss to coat. Add s/p to taste. You can let the vegetables marinate or grill immediately.
Grill over medium heat on stove top (in grill pan) or outdoor grill. Grill in batches, cooking about 2 minutes per side. Vegetables are done when slightly softened and caramelized on both sides. Removed cooked vegetables to a platter. When all vegetables are cooked, top with feta cheese and serve immediately.

Fresh Tomato Tart

I think garden fresh tomatoes are quite possibly manna from heaven. I love all the varieties–especially the heirloom tomatoes Mike grew this year. I can’t stop myself from popping the tiny teardrop tomatoes in my mouth (every five seconds, like they are candy) and from slicing up the larger beefsteak varieties, topped with salt and pepper. I am always on the search for new delicious ways to use up our crop.

I missed the boat on Quiche-tastic Monday this week, so I had some extra pie crusts. I’ve always wanted to make a Tomato Tart–it sounds so French. This tart is so easy–it takes minutes to put together and about 20 minutes to bake. Serve it along side a green salad and it is a perfect meal!
The goods:
Refrigerated pie crust (or make your own)
2 tablespoons hot or dijon mustard (I used Nance’s Hot mustard; but a good dijon would be great)
2 medium-sized tomatoes
handful (about 6) teardrop, grape or other small tomato
1 garlic clove, sliced extra thin
Dozen fresh basil leaves, sliced
4 oz goat cheese
Olive Oil
Make it:
1. Preheat oven to 450F
2. Roll out pie crust into a tart pan. Pitch the sides to make a nice edge.
3. Evenly spread mustard onto bottom of tart crust. Let sit while you slice tomatoes–medium tomatoes should be sliced into 1/8 inch slices; small tomatoes, slice into thirds.
4. Evenly distribute larger tomato slices on bottom of pie crust. Fill in any gaps with the small tomatoes.
5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, basil and garlic slices
6. Slice goat cheese (it won’t slice neatly like other hard cheeses) and distribute on top of the tomatoes and herbs.
7. Drizzle a little olive oil on top. Bake for about 20 minutes.
8. Let sit for 5 minutes and slice. This is great room temperature or even cold.

Garden Girl: Thai-inspired Sunday dinner

It has been a produce inspired weekend! I love this time of year–meal options are endless with so much in season. I picked up these gorgeous Fairy Tale Eggplants. I could not resist their purple and white stripes and I was enticed by the name. Then, Lily and I harvested Mike’s crop of edamame from our backyard garden. So, what to make?

I had no idea what to do with the Fairy Tale Eggplant, so I googled and found a fabulous blog (called Figs with Bri, totally worth a follow!) and
a super yummy recipe for a Vegetarian Thai inspired dinner with Fairy Tale Eggplant, Red Curried Tofu, Basmati Rice and Green Beans.
The meal was amazing. I swapped out the green beans and steamed fresh edamame instead (in the pod, sprinkled with kosher salt). The Fairy Tale Eggplant was super tender and delicious with honey, soy sauce, ginger and serrano pepper. (I am addicted!). The curried tofu was easy to make (I used extra firm, versus firm and dusted the outside of the tofu with pan-searing flour before cooking) and satisfying. The sides of

rice and edamame rounded out the meal perfectly.
It was definitely a 4-pot meal–but it cooked up quickly. I used Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice-Basmati, instead of making my own. It tastes great and takes about 2 minutes to warm up.
And there were enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
Check out the recipe here.

Summer in a seashell: Beer Clams

I grew up going to the Jersey shore every summer and with stories of my Father’s childhood at the beach. We would always dig for clams as the tide went out at sunset. I was not a fan of eating seafood then–but I loved the thrill of finding a clam under the sand. It was magical.

Now I adore seafood. Clams remind me of summers at the beach–like last year’s family vacation with our close friends. We went to Ocean City and had an amazing time. My favorite meal: the night we got steamed clams and other yummy seafood takeout and ate it on the deck of our rental home. Fresh steamed clams taste of the beach; steam them in beer and they are summer in seashell.
Clams are so super easy to make and the final product is awesome. My husband is firm believer that everything is better with beer. I ignored my normal inclination to use white wine and tossed in a can of Yuengling lager instead.
You can pick up fresh clams at your grocery store or local seafood market. Try to avoid buying a pre-bagged batch–instead ask for a fresh bag (that way they can sort through the batch for you, making sure all the clams you get are good). Make sure the clams can breathe-ensure the plastic bag is open at the top. Pop the clams in your refrigerator until you are ready to steam.
I made 3 dozen clams for two of us and it was plenty. However the broth makes enough to steam about 6 dozen clams. Pick little neck or cherrystone clams–the smaller clams are more tender.
The goods:
6 dozen cherrystone or little neck clams (or less, depending on your crew)
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 of a small sweet onion, chopped
Handful (like 5 or 6) cherry tomatoes, chopped
Handful of fresh parsley (like 5 springs, coarsely chopped)
1 bottle of Yuengling lager
1 baguette
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted

The work:
1. Place the clams in a bowl of cold water. Under running water, use a brush or a bar mop to scrub the grit of each clam. Place cleaned clams in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Swirl some olive oil in a heavy duty pot. I used my cast iron dutch oven. You can use anything with a lid-a skillet, a pasta pot, whatever you have-it will work. Heat the olive oil on medium heat.
3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the heated oil. Stir constantly until fragrant and to avoid burning–about 2 minutes. Add the onion and tomatoes. Stir and cook for another 1 minute.
4. Add the parsley and stir. Then de-glaze the pan with the bottle of beer. Turn the heat up and put the lid on the pot.
5. Once the broth is boiling, turn down the heat to medium.
6. Add your clams, one at a time, making a single layer of clams. Put the lid on. Let them steam, maybe about 5 minutes. As the clams open up completely, transfer from the pot with a slotted spoon to a serving platter and cover with foil. If you leave the cooked clams in too long, they become tough and overcooked.
7. Add more raw clams as you remove the cooked ones. Serve with melted butter and excess broth on the side (for dipping your fresh baguette!)