BBQ Chicken Breast: The Simple Secret To Success!

August 8th, 2019

Such a simple concept: light the charcoals, throw on some chicken breasts, thighs, and drumettes. It is actually quite simple but there is A SECRET!

Yes, I said it. I have a secret method to grilling chicken that I am about to impart on to the world. You know how white meat can grill and become dry? Not to mention the few seconds you look away and the breasts are afire and burned. Those days are gone after you read this!  You will thank me…I love cash.

I only use a Weber grill and mesquite charcoal. There’s something alluring about pouring lighter fluid over wood and lighting it. But that’s the pyro in me coming out.  The real reason for mesquite wood is because it is burns hot (and I mean HOT!), which sears the juices into the chicken.

Are you ready for the secret? Here it is: indirect cooking. Never cook your chicken breast directly over coals. Use the BBQ as an oven, not a broiler. You can cook drumettes and thighs over the coals directly because they are fattier than white meat.  Make sure you turn your chicken frequently.

BUT THE REAL SECRET is to slather your favorite barbecue sauce at the end (during the last 30 seconds) so it does not burn. So many people put BBQ sauce on way too early. If you did not know this, I just made your BBQ chicken taste fabulous!

I told you it was simple…

Photo credit: SkinnyMs.

BBQ Planet: Flank Steak with Garlic and Cracked Pepper

July 24th, 2019

I am fully into BBQ grilling season with grilled veggies swirling in my head and zesty marinades on the mind. I admit: I like easy and tasty. Here’s a flank steak recipe which is both easy and tasty!


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 large flank steak (around 2 lbs)

Directions

  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a shallow baking dish.
  2. Add steak and turn to coat with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 6 hours.
  3. Prepare barbecue (high heat) using mesquite coals. Mesquite burns at a very high temperature, which is perfect for this recipe.
  4. Grill steak to desired doneness, brushing occasionally with marinade for about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.
  5. Thinly slice steak across grain and serve.

This recipe goes absolutely perfect along with a Pinot Noir. Flank steak also works well for soft tacos, fajitas or a fresh steak salad.

Photo courtesy of delish.com by Ethan Calabrese. Recipe by Bon Appetite

Corny Corn Grilling

July 12th, 2019

Approach the grill with confidence! You are about to make some of the best corn you have ever tasted. Mid-summer is the perfect time for farm fresh corn at your local farmers market. Here’s a quick and easy grilled corn technique using butter, garlic, salt and indirect heating.

Spread the butter evenly along the entire length of the corn, season with garlic and salt, then wrap with tin foil, butter side up.

Buy the largest corn cobs you can find. Tip: shuck the corn at the market to avoid a mess at home (whew I’m glad I looked up the spelling of shuck). Once at home, cut off both ends and lay the shucked corn on a 12″ long piece of tin foil. Then, spread about 1/4 thick layer of unsalted butter along the entire length of the cob, along with freshly crushed garlic and then lightly salt. You can mix the butter, garlic and salt together and spread the mixture onto the corn if you really want to simplify things but I am a purist.

I use my hands for spreading the butter as this makes the process easier, and I like to lick my fingers afterwards (just kidding folks). If you are lazy like me, you will use garlic salt which when used on corn has a surprisingly close flavor to fresh garlic. Wrap the corn with the tin foil butter side up.

Lay the foil wrapped corn cobs butter side up along the outer edge of the grill, not directly over the coals. Cover the grill. This is called the indirect heating method, using the BBQ more as an oven than grille. You can cook your corn alongside anything you are grilling directly in the center so don’t worry about cooking corn separately from your main protein.

Turn the corn 1/4 turn every 5-6 minutes. After four turns, use a fork and poke a cob. If the corn seems under cooked (the fork doesn’t penetrate easily), just keep turning until the kernels are tender and the fork penetrates with ease.

I used this recipe and technique over the July 4th holiday and everyone was raving how good the corn was (with garlic butter all over their faces I might add – ha!). Some say corn is cliche’. I say nay, nay!

Mesquite Grilled Tri-Tip With Garlic Marinade

June 26th, 2019

One of my favorite red meats for grilling is the tri-tip. It has enough fat to be really tasty but it’s not too fatty and reasonably healthy. The best way to grill a tri-tip is first, to use mesquite coals (coals, not chips). Mesquite is usually available at your local store who carries BBQ briquettes. There’s something artificial tasting about those briquette coals, don’t you think? Mesquite is 100% natural wood and is not such a strong, overwhelming flavor as other woods for grilling (like maple or alder). Mesquite imparts subtle smoke overtones but does not hit you over the head screaming “I’M SMOKED”. All meats and seafood do well with hot burning mesquite, as the high burning temperature seals in juices and flavors.

I have an easy way to marinade a tri-tip prior to grilling that is easy and will knock your socks off (I tend to walk barefoot). For those of you who read this blog, you know easy and tasty are my cooking metrics.

OK then. Take a bottle of Girards champagne dressing (yes a bottled dressing) and pour over the tri-tip placed inside a pyrex baker. Then, take a head of garlic and crush the living daylights out of the cloves onto the meat. I crush as many as 10-12 cloves but I am a garlic freak. Spread the crushed garlic all over the surface of the tri-tip. Then flip over and do the same thing. Take a turkey baster and baste the meat on both sides with the dressing and garlic. Let sit for at least one hour. You don’t have to let it sit (you can grill right away) but the longer you let it marinade, the better the garlic flavor.

That’s it. I told you it was easy. For those of you who say bottled dressing is not the way, I say ney, ney! Just like my pitch for Lawry’s seasoned pepper and garlic salt in my perpetual dressing article, try the Girards champagne dressing with freshly crushed garlic. The hint of smoke from the mesquite melds with the garlic marinade and you won’t believe the wonderful flavor!

The Perpetual Salad Dressing aka the Dressing that Never Ends

June 19th, 2019

As you might already be able to tell from our blog, I love giving out my best tips on making the tastiest salads. Here is another one of my favorite closely-guarded recipes I call my “Perpetual Salad Dressing”—it’s perpetual because you never run out!

As you use the salad dressing, you continually add and replenish ingredients like rice wine, balsamic vinegar, first-press olive oil, fresh garlic, cracked black pepper and salt. There are no rules so you can add more or less of any of the ingredients, or add your own ingredients like red pepper flakes.

I have a confession to make: I use Lawry’s seasoned pepper and garlic salt. While I love the simple taste that freshly ground pepper and sea salt bring to a recipe, I am also very much into easy, simple and tasty ingredients. Lawry’s blended spices are easy and add a little more ‘zip’ than just plain salt and pepper.

Perpetual Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 32 oz bottle of Marukan seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 oz balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1-2 oz olive oil (or to taste)
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Lawry’s garlic salt

Directions

You can make this concoction right in the Marukan bottle or use an empty bottle that reseals. Add all the ingredients into the bottle and SHAKE! Yes, this is a complicated and difficult recipe (joking).

Note: if you do use the Marukan bottle as your container you will have to pour off enough of the rice wine vinegar to accommodate the other ingredients. Use the poured off vinegar later when you need to pour more into the bottle.

This is a delicious a vinaigrette that is slightly sweet and refreshing. It can be used on other foods like fresh veggies or grilled seafood (yes, it is that versatile).

There you go – another easy secret recipe that will make you look like a star!

National Fruit & Vegetables Month: The Fruit Smoothie

June 12th, 2019

Dubbed National Fruit & Vegetables Month, June is a month dedicated to the healthy side of eating.

There are so many people following healthy diets that it’s almost cliché to have a month dedicated to fruits and veggies, let alone write about them. However, I have stumbled upon something which has helped me feel fuller and lose weight: fruit smoothies!

Fruit smoothies are easy to prepare, low caloric, low in sugar and make my stomach satisfied, taming my voracious appetite. It feels much easier to go through the morning after drinking a smoothie versus eating an omelet (at least for me).

An assortment of delicious fruit in a large Acaciaware™ serving bowl.

Fruit smoothies are easy prep, and they only require easy refrigerator stocking for several mornings: fruit, Greek yogurt, ice and non-fat milk (or coconut milk if you prefer). I use both fresh and frozen fruit, but fresh is always preferable.

A great nutritious addition I love is flax seeds. They do not interfere with the taste and are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, lignans and fiber, all of which have been shown to have many potential health benefits. They can be used to improve digestive health, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer and may also benefit people with diabetes.

So far, I have not graduated and made myself a veggie smoothie yet. While I love salads, I don’t think veggie smoothies are for me… then again, I haven’t tried one yet. I think I’ll ease into it by steaming some broccoli and throwing them in a blender with some chicken broth. That will make a broccoli soup, which is kind of a warm smoothie, right? Add garlic salt, pepper, tobasco sauce, a little Worchester and I think we’ve got something!

I fully admit that I am an inexperienced person with regards to smoothies, flax seeds or the discipline to lose weight. But if I can take the first step towards healthy eating, anyone can too. An easy trick like drinking smoothies is worth sharing. Happy fruits and vegetables month!

World’s Stinkiest Cheeses

June 4th, 2019

There’s something beautiful about stinky cheese that draws me in. Maybe the aroma?

Stinky cheese should be eaten, not thrown away!
Acaciaware™ appetizer trays add to the beauty of serving cheese and charcuterie!

What is it about stinky cheese that some people can’t get enough of? I used to think my love for stinky cheese was because my taste buds were shot from the spicy foods I’ve eaten over the years, but its global popularity shows that it is more than that.

I hear that stinky cheese releases endorphins, which sounds pretty amazing because unfortunately, that’s just fake news.

But how can something that smells so awful attract so many people and constitute an entire cultural history in France? It’s all too much for me—I just like it to taste as trashy as possible (i.e. “should be eaten, not thrown away”).

Check out this article by Kick Ass Facts which has a kickass list of the stinkiest cheeses that will make both your mouth and your nose water!

National Gardening Week: The Succulent Acacia Bowl

June 3rd, 2019

There’s something about puttering around in the garden that feels rejuvenating. Being in the outdoors, getting your hands dirty, the fresh smells, gofers, all of it (well, maybe not all).

You may have used our beautiful acacia wood bowls as acai bowls and teriyaki bowls, but here’s a unique way to put our large bowls to use: introducing the Acaciaware succulent bowl!

It’s amazingly easy to pull together a gorgeous indoor planter or hostess gift using an Acaciaware acacia wood bowl. We have certain bowls that are perfect for this in various sizes. The 6-inch diameter bowls have a 4-inch height; the larger 12-inch diameter bowl also is 4 inches tall.

Succulents planted in an assortment of Acaciaware bowls of various shapes and sizes.

Go to your local garden store and pick up soil and your favorite miniature succulents. The bowl will keep moisture in the soil longer than a normal pot will. There is no hole in the bottom so you need to make sure not to over-water the plants.

Ready to work those green thumbs? Check out our assortment of wooden bowls! The rich grain of our Acaciaware bowls will complement your succulents so beautifully and add a unique stylish touch to your display.

Artichoke 101: Boiling, Grilling, & Eating Method

May 29th, 2019

From Bruce:

One of the things that excites me about this time of year is that this is the first crop of artichokes.

I will preface that I am an artichoke freak and will eat artichoke diced, sliced, marinated, grilled, in any place, at any time, any shape, or form. Boiling an artichoke is not particularly considered gourmet cooking but sometimes the simplest can result in something delicious! I also like EASY prep and especially love the basic boiled artichoke with a simple garlic butter dipping sauce.

$2 apiece. I love the start of artichoke season!

I went to the store yesterday and bought 4 artichokes at $2 apiece (normally $5) and each of them measures about 4 inches in diameter. I plan on:

  • Trimming the tops off at about 3 inches down
  • Cutting off the stem at the base of the artichoke
  • Plopping them into boiling water
  • Generously seasoning the water with Italian seasoning, fresh garlic, garlic salt, pepper, and patience!

It usually takes about 15 minutes in boiling water but you just need to check. The best way to tell if an artichoke is properly cooked is to use the tip of a knife and poke the bottom of the stem. If it goes in easily, you are done!

Take out the artichoke and dribble some olive oil with fresh garlic and balsamic vinegar. Melted butter with fresh garlic and pepper works perfectly as well. I will also have some melted garlic butter to dip the leaves and that elusive prize: the heart!


How to Eat An Artichoke

An artichoke field I came across on the Monterey Peninsula.

It takes some skill and knowledge to properly eat an artichoke, but don’t let that deter you! From my experience, here’s the tastiest and most efficient way to eat an artichoke:

  • Eat the ends of each outside leaf until you get to the tender leaves—then you can eat those entirely.
  • Scoop out the hair-like center to get to the heart of the matter. The heart is the ultimate culinary prize if you are careful.

Artichoke hearts taste fabulous when grilled! Take the hearts, glaze them with olive oil and fresh garlic, and grill them over mesquite until golden brown.

You can also buy the mini artichoke that can be grilled whole, leaves and all. I have often dared myself into making 36 large artichokes and then grilling all of the hearts at once. That makes for a great dinner party when I invite my friends over to have artichoke hearts and a nice Sauvignon Blanc. I’m definitely inspired after writing this to grill artichokes over the 4th of July holiday!

Artichokes will never be as huge and inexpensive as they are this time of year so don’t miss out! I’d also love to see photos of your artichoke creations! Send to [email protected] and we will share your recipe on social media.

Easy Guacamole Dip Recipe for Memorial Day

May 20th, 2019

From Bruce:

March 23rd is National Chip and Dip Day in celebration of America’s favorite party appetizer. If you’re hosting a Memorial Day party, it is almost certain that chips and dips are on the snack list. Here’s my quick and easy guacamole recipe that will take you just five minutes and make you look like a star!


Easy, Easy, Easy Guacamole Dip Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 6 oz La Victoria Salsa Victoria Hot
  • Sliced jalapenos (fresh or jar is fine)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Red onion

Directions

  1. Mash avocados with La Victoria Salsa Victoria Hot and crushed garlic.
  2. Mix in diced tomatoes, diced red onion and jalapenos (to taste).
  3. Add Tabasco sauce to taste to add some heat to your spice. This recipe can be made without the spice and heat – just omit the Salsa Victoria, jalapenos and Tabasco. It’s fast, tasty, and your guests will be in awe of your “secret” recipe!
  4. Now let’s talk about chips – most people will use tortilla chips. I like to offer both tortilla and corn chips because, well, I LOVE corn chips. For those of you who want something more healthy, cut some carrots, celery, radishes, and other veggies for dipping.

Have fun on Memorial Day!


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