Saturday, July 30, 2011

Use What You've Got...

Tonight I made dinner using only what I had on hand and it turned out great.  I love it when that happens.  I originally planned to make Chicken Tacos, but it was an 80+ degree day here, so I didn't want to have something bubbling on the stove for hours.  I decided to see what I could devise with only what we had on hand.  We were having friends over for dinner, so I knew it had to be something a little special.  Here's the menu I came up with:
  • Citrus-Basil Chicken
  • Cracked Wheat Salad with Grilled Veggies
  • Green Salad
  • Lemon Blueberry Trifle (for dessert)
The best part was that I concocted the whole thing myself, with nary a recipe in sight.  It was not too long ago that I didn't know how to cook anything, so I am always pleased when my little culinary experiments turn out great.  Here's the rough recipes for each dish.  I didn't think to take pictures, so you'll just have to use your imagination, or try it out yourself!

Citrus-Basil Chicken
1/2 c. olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
4 chicken breasts
1 T. Citrus-Basil rub (I used the fab rub from The Pampered Chef.  Any rub with citrus and basil (or other herb) would work well, too.)

Into a plastic bag, pour the olive oil and lime juice.  Put the chicken breasts in and sprinkle the rub on top.  Close the bag and massage the chicken to be sure the rub, oil, and lime juice combine and cover all the meat.  Let sit in fridge for 1-2 hours.
After the meat has marinaded, let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes, so that it has time to come to room temperature.  This will ensure more even cooking.  Grill until internal temp reaches about 165-170 degrees, then let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 4 servings

Cracked Wheat Salad with Grilled Veggies
One of my really good friends gave me zucchini fresh from her garden, so that's what I used here.  Any mix of grilled veggies would work, though.
1 c. water
1 c. cracked wheat
1/4 c. olive oil, plus about 2 tablespoons for grilling the veggies
1 lemon
1 onion
2 zucchini
kosher salt
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese

Put the cracked wheat in a heat-resistant bowl.  Boil the water and then pour it over the wheat.  Add 1/4 c. olive oil and stir.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.
Juice the lemon into the bowl of wheat and stir.  Set aside.
Cut the onion and zucchini into 1/4 in. slices.  Brush each veggie slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Put on the grill for approx. 3-4 minutes on each side.  Veggies should be tender, but not mushy when done.  Dice the grilled veggies and add them to the cracked wheat.  Add the feta cheese and stir.  Chill for an hour or so before serving. Makes approx. 6 servings.

Lemon Blueberry Trifle
Yesterday, I made Blueberry Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting from here.  I had plenty of frosting left over, so I saved it and decided to use it here. 
24 Nilla wafers
2 c. Blueberries
Approx. 1 c. Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
2 T. milk
Whipped Cream (I used a can of Redi-whip, because that's what I had in the fridge!)

Mix the milk into the frosting to thin in out a bit. Then, in a glass or parfait dish, crumble one Nilla wafer.  Layer with 1/4 c. of blueberries, then add about 2 T. of the thinned frosting.  Add a layer of whipped cream.  Then crumble 2 nilla wafers on top, add another layer of blueberries, then frosting.  Crumble another Nilla wafer into the glass, then top with with whipped cream.  Garnish with a Nilla wafer and a few more blueberries.  Chill until you are ready to serve.  Makes 4 servings.

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