It’s Time to Get Grillin’

Beautiful, sunny weather calls for nothing other than a delicious dinner off the grill.  Grilling is one of my all time favorite ways to cook food and with the temperatures beginning to rise back up, I am taking full advantage of every opportunity to fire up that BBQ.  Besides a giant, thick, juicy steak of course… chicken is one of my favorite things to grill up.  Grilled chicken is an easy and affordable dinner that leaves a ton of room for creativity and is sure to make your taste buds happy.  In this particular recipe, I did a simple marinade on the chicken and paired it up with some delicious sides.  Let’s jump right in!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Chiavetta’s marinade
  • Potatoes (medium-large size)
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Olive oil/Basting oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Toppings for Baked Potatoes (Butter, Sour Cream, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon Bits, Chives, etc.)

Directions:

You’re going to want to start by marinading your chicken the night before you are planning on grilling it, to ensure you get LOADS of flavor.  What I do, is put the chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and pour in the Chiavetta’s until all of the meat is covered.  Let this rest in the fridge, flipping over every once in a while.  Now, when you’re ready to start cooking dinner, you’re going to want to get your potatoes cooking before anything else because these are going to take the longest to cook.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Rinse off your potatoes, pat dry, and wrap them tightly in tin foil.  Pop these guys on a cookie sheet and throw them in the oven.  Set your timer for 20-25 minutes to check on them; however, you’re most likely going to cook them for another 10 or so.  While these are cooking, you can begin chopping up your zucchini and squash to whatever size you desire.  Place these in a casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop them in the oven after the potatoes have been cooking for about 10 minutes.  Stir the veggies often.  They should take about 20 minutes to cook through.

While everything else is in the oven cooking, its time to fire up the grill.  I like to keep my grill on about medium heat when cooking chicken so that it doesn’t cook the outside too fast without evenly cooking the inside as well.  This tends to lead to a burnt chicken with a raw middle… NO GOOD!  So cook these babies low and slow.  The time definitely depends on the thickness of your meat.  My chicken breasts were approximately 3/4 inch in thickness, which took about 20 minutes to cook through.  Once you throw them on, don’t forget to keep checking them.  Another tip would be to try and not flip them over until the one side is fully cooked.  This helps contain the juices of the meat and help prevent the meat from drying out.  Don’t forget to check up on your potatoes and veggies.  To see if your baked potatoes are done, simply take a kitchen fork and stick it.  If the fork feels as though it is sliding in easily and the potato is no longer tough, then those guys are good to go and ready to eat.  But be warned, they will most likely be extremely hot.  Everything is timed out pretty well for your potatoes to have some cooling time, while your chicken finishes up on the grill.  If you think your chicken might be done, I recommend slicing into the thickest piece just to ensure that you no longer see pink, raw chicken in the middle.  Eating raw chicken can make you extremely sick, so definitely be careful.

When everything is all set and ready to go, it is time to dive right in.  Throw some chicken, veggies, and a baked potato on a plate and get ready to be happily surprised at how delicious this easy and quick meal turns out to be.  I personally enjoy eating my baked potatoes slathered in butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and hot sauce.  This clearly isn’t the healthiest thing in the word.. but DAMN is it delicious.

Another thing I wanted to mention, is that the baked potatoes and veggies can be cooked on the grill as well.  I have a very small grill so my space was much too limited, which is why I chose to use the oven.  If you decide to grill everything together, just wrap your potatoes in foil the same as before and put them directly on the grill.  The veggies you can put in a pan (one you don’t mind burning a little on the bottom), and throw those right on the grill as well.  If you decide to do this, try and keep the cover closed as much as possible to contain as much heat as possible.  Just remember, that this method does take slightly more time!

Also, as I said before, grilling is a method that opens you up to a WORLD of possibilities.  Don’t be afraid to try different marinades, or even a simple spice, or salt and pepper.  You can also try and experiment with different vegetables, like carrots, peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.  All of these can be roasted using the same technique as I stated before.  Feel free to get creative without me. 🙂  One of the best parts about grilling, is that everything turns out delicious… unless you burn it of course… hahaha!  I hope you enjoy this beautiful weather and feel inspired to create some amazing meals along with it!

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Although I’m a born and raised Buffalo Chicken Wing dip girl, Spinach and Artichoke dip definitely comes out as a close second.  I don’t know what it is about artichokes, but DAMN.. I can eat those things all day everyday, especially in this delicious dip.  If you’re a fan of Applebee’s Spinach and Artichoke appetizer dip, you’ll love this recipe!  Not only does it taste the same, but it’s healthier and very easy to make, while also being cheap and affordable.  This dip is sure to be a favorite at the next tailgate, dinner party, or even just a night in with friends.  Let’s get started shall we?!

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or about 1/2 tablespoon of jarred chopped garlic)
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) Parmesan, freshly grated, divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (Frank’s of course)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Tortilla or pita chips for dipping

Directions:

Get that oven heated up to 375 degrees and grab a medium sized casserole dish to bake the dip in, set aside.  Next, grab a pot and boil some water.  While the water is boiling, you can begin draining and chopping the artichoke hearts, zesting the lemon, and chopping up the garlic.  By the time you’re done, your pot of water should be boiling.  Slowly begin to drop all of your spinach into the pot.  Stir around the boiling water until all of the spinach is wilted (this will only take about 30 seconds).  Now, you’ll wanna drain your spinach into a colander and squeeze out as much moisture as you can by pressing it down with a paper towel.  In a medium size bowl, mix together the spinach, garlic and lemon zest.  To this mixture, add the artichoke hearts, 1 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, sour cream, mayonnaise, and hot sauce.  Combine together.  Scoop into your baking dish and pop in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the dip is all bubbling together.  For the last 5 minutes, pull the dip out and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella over the top.  Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  When all done, pull out of the oven and serve hot with pita/tortilla chips.

I LOVE Tostitos scoops.  They are so perfect for eating every dip, especially this one.  If you’re feeling healthy, try out the multi-grain.  Another great thing about this dip is how great it re-heats.  Either heat up the oven and pop it back in for about 10 minutes or throw it in a bowl in the microwave for about a minute, it will still come out just as scrumptious.  I know you’re going to love this recipe so much you won’t even want to share.  But seriously, if you do decide to give your friends a taste… what’s better than a cheap, easy, and delicious recipe to leave them all impressed with your skills in the kitchen.

Stay tuned for more fun, easy, and delicious recipes coming your way. 🙂