Posts tagged ‘summer’

Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad

I like to make pasta salads in the summer, but it’s hard finding the right balance of ingredients.  This time though, I think I really hit the nail on the head.  So I figured I’d pass along the “recipe” in case anyone else needed a little dinner inspiration!

I started by thawing some boneless chicken thighs and marinating them in some cheap Italian salad dressing, with garlic powder, onion powder, lemon pepper, some salt (because I knew the dressing I was using was on the sweet side) and pepper.  While that was marinating, I cooked up some tricolor bowtie pasta.

For veggies, I chopped one medium zucchini, some broccoli, and some cauliflower.  To keep them from being too crunchy, I steamed them for a few minutes.  Then I de-seeded and chopped two tomatoes, and for a little extra protein I chopped a few string cheese sticks into rounds.

When the pasta was done, I threw several ice cubes on top and ran it under cold water to cool it down.  I tossed it with more Italian dressing, added some garlic rice wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and parsley flakes.  Then I threw in the veggies, tomatoes and cheese to soak up some of the dressing.

I then heated up the grill, grilled the chicken thighs on medium for a few minutes on either side to get some nice grill marks on them, and finished them with indirect heat on low for a few more minutes.  I put the chicken in the fridge for to cool, then cut it into bite-sized pieces.

Everything got tossed together — pasta, veggies, tomato, cheese, and chicken.  The veggies were tender-crisp, the cheese softened a little from the residual heat in the pasta, and the char on the chicken complemented the zing of the dressing.  Yum!

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Dragonflies

Whatcha doin', Ma?

Our German shepherd, Diezel, is a bit of a nut job.  Due to overruse of a laser pointer when he was young, he is completely obsessed with the movement of shadows and “flashies.”  There are several things that he immediately comes running for, because he associates them with flashies that he can chase: opening a CD case, pulling out the tin foil, doing dishes in front of the kitchen window, opening the back door (since light from the window runs across the wall as you open and close it), and picking up a camera will all result in a big dog standing at attention on your feet, ears up, tail wagging, with a big doggie grin on his face.  And shadows are fair game too — you can spend hours waving your arms around like a flight controller and wiggling your fingers to keep him entertained.  And even when the flashy or the shadow is gone, he will still spend an hour or more at attention, waiting for it to come back.

Cara isn’t the least bit obsessive about that kind of thing, but she will get in on the act for a real laser pointer, or a flashy, if it is bright enough and persistent enough.  The thing that drives her crazy is flies.  We’ve had several in the house recently, and she will stand or sit on alert, totally still, ears cocked, waiting until the fly gets close enough for her to hear it again before she lunges towards the sound in an attack.  She can barely get her back legs off the ground when she jumps, but there are lots of jaws snapping shut on empty air during the assault.  And the funniest part of this is, for some unknown reason she is very concerned about the flies landing on her butt.  She keeps her tail clamped down, and sits down hard, tucking her butt up against the furniture or one of us, to make sure that it is protected, and she constantly looks back at her butt to make sure everything is okay.  Diezel also trys to snap up flies, but he’s not as determined or energetic as Cara is, and he doesn’t worry at all about butt defense.

One of the reasons for all the flies is the fact that I have been grilling a lot lately, and so there’s a lot of trips from the kitchen out the back door, which sometimes gets left open when my hands are full of cutting boards, tongs and plates.  And a fair amount of time has also been spent recently just hanging around next to the grill.  And I have noticed that, for some reason, we have a ton of dragonflies in our yard.  They zoom all around the yard to Diezel’s delight, but he doesn’t actually chase the dragonflies — instead, he chases their shadows flying over the grass.  We only have three saplings in our yard, and one of them was dead when we moved in, so there is plenty of sun to cast dragonfly shadows.

As I was waiting on my steaks to grill a few nights ago, and watching Diezel run hither and thither, I realized that our dead tree had become the perfect dragonfly perch.  It was like a little candelabra of dragonflies!  So I snapped a whole bunch of pictures.

And when a dragonfly zooms past Cara?  Well, she comes and sits down hard, right next to me, making very sure to protect her butt.

Corn on the Cob on the Grill!

I have been cooking everything I possibly can on the grill recently, including veggies.  So I decided to check around online for a way to cook corn on the grill.  I found a recipe at Whats Cooking America, tried it out, and it’s a new favorite!

Boiling corn on the cob always seems to take forever, and microwaving it always overcooks it.  I had almost given up on it before I tried this recipe out.

I had heard of grilling corn in the husk, but that you had to soak the corn in water for 15-20 minutes in advance.  Too much prep time for my average dinner.  But with this version, no soaking is necessary.

Shuck the corn, and lay each ear on a square of tinfoil.  I brush the corn with oil, then sprinkle it with powdered garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper (or you could go with whatever seasonings you like).  Roll up the corn in the foil, twisting the ends shut.  Preheat the grill on high.  Put the corn on while the grill is still on high, turning 1/4 turn every minute or so, until you have grilled all sides.  Then turn the grill down to low, and move the corn to cook with indirect heat for another 15 minutes.  When it’s done, unwrap the corn, slather it with butter or margarine, and serve.  Not only does it make perfectly-cooked corn, but it comes pre-seasoned!  And it won’t heat up your kitchen.  *smile*