Thursday, April 14, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Yummy Kebabs

Well, it is not my intention for this to become a recipe blog.  But those seven days in a week really fly by, so it's already that time again!  I hope to post later in the week about our trip to the Twins' Home Opener and all the other things that have been going on, but for now let's see what's cooking!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that it really is OK to cook the same things again and again when you have company, especially if your company is usually different.  I branched out and tried something sort of new last Sunday, since it was one of the the first weekends the weather has been nice enough to grill outside.  This is a momentous occasion for us, believe me! 

I've made kebabs before, and there are many things to love about them, not the least of which is the endless variety of options for pleasing your crowd.  You can use chicken, steak, pork tenderloin, sausage, shrimp, or even a sturdy fish, and a million combinations of vegetables and fruits to go with the meat.  You can even leave out the meat altogether.  This time I made chicken kebabs with onions, green and red bell peppers, and zucchini.  I tried new recipes for the "flavoring pastes," from my cookbook called Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson.  I'll post the two I used below, but the book is worth having.  It has many terrific recipes for all kinds of gatherings.  To me, the cookbook's name implies that it contains recipes for a crowd, though it turns out that Ms. Anderson's definition of a crowd is 6 to 8 people, which is more like my everyday life.  Still, the recipes are easy enough to double or triple if your crowd is larger than hers!  I doubled the flavoring paste recipes for our relatively small crowd of 9 last Sunday.

To help get most of the food preparation done ahead of time, I cut up the chicken the night before, then made the flavoring pastes and cut up the veggies before church.  Putting the kebabs together is messy business with the raw meat, so I prefer to get that done before the company arrives.  Some might think it is a fun group activity, though!

Orange Rosemary Paste, from Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson, p. 59

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Jamaican Jerk-Style Paste, from Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson, p. 59

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons hot red pepper sauce
1/2 cup frozen limeade concentrate

The directions for both pastes are basically the same:
Heat oil and spices in a small pan over medium-high heat until they start to sizzle.  Add remaining ingredients, and simmer until mixture reduces to a thick paste.  (If you are impatient like I am, you will not wait until it resembles a paste; I found it was still yummy even though it wasn't exactly as thick as paste.)  Mix the paste with the kebab ingredients (Cut the meat into larger chunks than the veggies for even cooking.), then thread onto skewers and grill.

I cut up more veggies than I needed for the kebabs by mistake, so I threw the leftover veggies into a little aluminum foil packet and cooked them on the grill, too.  It turned out really well!  Just be careful to cook the veggies long enough to feel good about the raw meat juices they had been mixed with earlier!

I served the kebabs with yellow rice with green peas, a green salad, and some ancient grain bread.  Simple and nutritious, and it looked beautiful on the plates!  We had a store bought angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert, along with some ice cream since Cub had a buy one ice cream get TWO free special.  The flavoring pastes made a huge difference in the taste of the kebabs!  I am sure we will be re-using these recipes this spring and summer!

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