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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Homemade Pepperjack Mac

What’s better than a heaping bowl of your favorite comfort food after a longgggg day of classes?  That’s right, NOTHING is better than indulging in some delicious mac and cheese to make you feel at home.  This recipe definitely gives your traditional mac and cheese a fun and easy twist.  I am a huge fan of spicy foods, so I threw a bit of pepperjack cheese into this dish to kick it up a notch.  This is sure to be a recipe that you and all of your housemates will enjoy.  Let’s get started…

Ingredients: (remember, all amounts depend on how many mouths you are feeding)

  •  1 box of Pasta (I prefer Cavatappi because it holds onto the cheese so much better)
  • Pepperjack cheese
  • Velveeta cheese
  • Rotisserie Chicken (or cooked chicken breast)
  • Bread crumbs
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Milk
  • Salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grab a decent size pot and get some water boiling with a pinch of salt.  While your pasta is cooking in the boiling water, begin slicing your pepperjack and velveeta cheese into small cubes (enough to cover the pasta evenly).  I prefer putting a tad more pepperjack than velveeta personally, but it’s all up to you.  Also, you can begin to shred up your chicken.  When your pasta is cooked and strained, begin to melt your cheese in the same pot, slowly adding milk as needed.  Add your pasta to the pot.  Stir until evenly coated (will be very thick) and add more cheese and milk to your liking.  Mix in your shredded chicken.  Spread into a baking dish and coat the top with bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese.  Pop into the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble on the sides.  Pull the dish out of the oven and let cool until the mac lowers to a temp that won’t burn your mouth!  Scoop into some bowls and enjoy!

I LOVE adding just a touch of Frank’s hot sauce to give my pepperjack mac a tad more of a kick. 🙂  This is a fun, cheap, and easy recipe that will be sure to wow your friends.  Mac and cheese ALWAYS has a way of making my stomach smile and I hope this recipe will do the same for you!  Don’t be afraid to spice things up a bit.

P.S. if you ever have any leftovers (which you most likely won’t because it’s so delicious, you won’t be able to stop eating), just add a touch of milk and pop it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.  It’ll come out just as yummy as it was when you first made it.