Grilling Out

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted here, but for good reason. I’ve been literally making dinner for Brian! Having Brian and other family as visitors for the past 2 weeks (well, this past week I was just catching back up) was great. Chicago for the most part agreed to a seasonable weather forecast, and we celebrated with a good mix of tourist attractions and neighborhood gelato visits. Brian ate up almost every morsel of delivered food, be it from my kitchen, the delivery guy, or the restaurants at which we dined. And I loved every minute of it.

On the first weekend, when my apartment was bursting at the seams with guests (in a great way), we grilled out by my pool. It was unfortunately one of the coolest, windiest evenings of the week, but the hearty food and beer made up for it. Brian obliged by drinking sparkling water. I’m definitely a novice griller, and certainly not one to give a mountain of advice. However, some simple preparations for the vegetables and chicken really turned out well. The pictures from this night are horrible, but let the grainy shots demonstrate the darkness and reality of the evening. I’ll save the nice photos for when I’m not trying to listen intently to Brian explaining music theory at 9pm. There are more important things.

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Grilled Vegetables

1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2 in. discs

4 portobello mushroom caps

2 zucchini, sliced longitudinally

4 bell peppers, sliced into quarters

4 tbsp. olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste

First, slice the eggplant. Salt lightly and allow to rest in a colander or strainer for 20 minutes. Rinse and dry. Prepare the vegetables by slicing and coating with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill for about 20 minutes over direct heat, or until vegetables are softened and grill marks are dark and delicious.

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Grilled and BBQ Chicken

2 lbs. chicken thighs

3/4-1 cup BBQ sauce

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste

Marinate 1 lb. chicken thighs in BBQ sauce for at least 2 hours. Coat the remaining 1 lb. of chicken thighs in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill over direct heat for about 30 minutes, basting the BBQ chicken with additional BBQ sauce while grilling. Move to indirect heat if edges are darkening faster than the interior has cooked.

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Mojito Fruit Salad

1 small watermelon, cubed

2 pints raspberries

1 quart strawberries, halved

1 lime, juiced

1 tbsp. honey

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Whisk together the lime juice and honey. Add the chopped fruit and toss. Sprinkle mint and toss together. Serve cold.

 

Together, with some beer and potato chips, this made for one good grill out session. Totally fueled us after a day of touring the classic Chicago sights…

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Concert in Millenium Park

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Bean photo-ops with the bro

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Chia Seed French Toast with Blood Orange Strawberry Syrup

So this was not my birthday breakfast (see this post), but this was a delicious breakfast from last weekend. Yes, I made French toast again. I wanted to experiment with healthifying French toast a little bit. Not too much; it still needs to be creamy yet crusted and delicious. But I figured the basics of French toast- egg, bread, milk- didn’t need to necessarily combine into an overly indulgent dish. In fact, it takes to these additional healthy ingredients and toppings very well, and I actually found this preparation more filling and satisfying. The blood orange strawberry syrup draws on this lingering-winter, almost-spring produce I’m noticing now, combining the acidic, thick-skinned winter fruits with the delicately sweet spring flora. They’re a match made in heaven; the perfect sweetly tangy topping to the more heavy toast below. I used chia seeds to amp up the nutritional profile, as chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fats and other minerals. I also wanted to see if they’d add a bit of a crunch to the toast (spoiler: not too much, really). Regardless, this French toast was phenomenal, with way less added sugar than the typical preparation topped with maple syrup, and more nutritious as well. (But if you want something more indulgently custardy and traditional, use this recipe).

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Chia Seed French Toast with Blood Orange Strawberry Syrup

Serves 1

2 thick slices (about 1 inch) of country bread, preferably multi-grain or whole wheat

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. chia seeds

Blood Orange Strawberry Syrup, to serve:

  • 1 cup hulled and halved strawberries
  • 1 tsp. blood orange zest
  • 2 tbsp. blood orange juice, freshly squeezed (feel free to eat the remaining fruit)
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Start by preparing the blood orange strawberry syrup. Mix the syrup ingredients together in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low. Allow the syrup to simmer until the strawberries are broken down and it has reduced to about half the initial volume, about 15 minutes. The syrup will be thick with small strawberry chunks, but still pourable. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together the egg, milk, honey, and vanilla extract. Pour the egg mixture into a shallow pan (I use a pyrex baking dish) and toss the chia seeds throughout the mixture. Soak the bread in the eggs, making sure to evenly distribute the chia seeds through the batter on the toast. Allow to soak for 2 minutes, then flip to soak the other side.

Heat a griddle to 350 and lightly grease with butter. Add the French toast and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip then cook the opposite side for another 4-5 minutes.

Plate the French toast and top with the blood orange strawberry syrup.

 

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Enjoy for a filling yet healthier weekend breakfast.