14 August 2010

Summer Challenge

Well, it finally got hot here.  It's as if as soon as August hit, so did the heat.  Summer has been bearable up to this point, but I feel I have sweated more in the last two weeks than I have in the last 2 months!

We live in a house that is a little older and doesn't have the most energy efficient A/C unit, windows, doors or insulation.  To keep from adding unnecessary heat to the already warm kitchen/great room area of the house I issued myself a personal challenge this week:

Cook a week's worth of dinners using only my outdoor grill; no microwave, stove top or oven. 

Oh, and just to be clear I don't have a 'tricked out' outdoor kitchen with a mega-grill, fridge and sink.  I have a basic gas grill with one side burner. 

I knew this would take some forethought and that I couldn't just wing it every night if I was going to be successful. 

Here are a few pictures and highlights from the week:

*Grilled Shrimp with Mango Sauce - too much vinegar in recipe, even using just ¼ cup; also ended up  tripling sugar. Forgot the red pepper flakes. It lacked the intense balance it needed. An okay first try, but not sure there will be a second...


*Cilantro Citrus Chicken and Mango Black Bean Salsa

*Mixed Berry and Red Wine Sorbet
Divine. Paired beautifully with the peach gelato we still had.  I didn't have raspberries, so I just used some frozen mixed berries.  Once again, David Lebovitz came through. 

Wednesday: (Dinner Divas)
G hosted and made us the most fabulous lo-cal bellinis that I cannot wait to share with everyone.

Thursday: (my favorite grilled meal of the week, even though I have NO PICTURES!  I guess that's what happens when you wait until 8 pm to prepare dinner outside on one burner)

Grilled steelhead trout – not dried out at all; S&P, lemon juice from ½ lemon, a teaspoon olive oil; grilled over med-low heat, flipping twice.

Quinoa Pilaf – used garlic and walnuts, no parsley, raisins or cilantro. LOVED it!!! First quinoa experience and I'm hooked!

Grilled Artichokes with lemon garlic sauce – LOTS of work both in the prep and in eating them. Liked the dipping sauce a lot, very similar to zucchini salad dressing from cooking class. Used immersion blender and it made all of the difference.  Ended up breaking down leftover grilled artichokes and using the hearts on a Mediterranean style pizza. 


Cowboy Burgers (from HEB) - I had a coupon and we always love 'em!  Chock full of bacon, cheese and herbs.  1/2 pound each!!!

Garlic Dill Pickles (homemade) - I will add extra mustard seed next time and maybe even make my own pickling spice so I can omit the cloves.

After the week was over I decided I had had so much fun and loved not heating my entire house that I just kept on going...

My Italian take on Shrimp and Grits...
Marinate the shrimp in cayenne, smoked paprika and salt for about 5 minutes then skewer them.
Slice a tube of prepared polenta (any flavor) in to 12 discs, brush both sided with some olive oil then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. 
Toss the broccoli florets with garlic slices, olive oil and S&P.

Grill all 3 at the same time over low to medium heat. 

I love this one because it's ready in 20 minutes and tastes delicious.
 Next time... a favorite and fun grilled meal of ours: Grilled Pizza.

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