Monday, June 7, 2010

Bibby's Backyard BBQ!

I am so thrilled to share my best friend Bibby's most recent backyard bbq.  Her Summer menu is nutritious and delicious filled with heart-healthy Mediterranean flavors that will have you coming back for more.

Chicken and Veggie Skewers with Moroccan Couscous served with Homemade Peanut and Tzaziki Sauce

Bibby (who now goes by Elizabeth) is one of my oldest and dearest friends from Toledo, Ohio.  We not only grew up as neighbors but were often mistaken as twins and I'm forever grateful that she and her Mom introduced me to the wonderful world of gardening, flowers, and baking.  In fact, whenever I smell freshly baked bread, I am instantly transported to my childhood sleepovers at Bibby's where we would wake up every Saturday morning to the incredible smell of homemade bread and blackberry jam (from her garden).  I can honestly say that every child should experience this at least once in their life... and I can't wait to have my own garden to give my future kids and their friends the same experience!

Thanks for the memories Bib (Elizabeth)!

Chicken skewers:
Cut the chicken breasts into 1" pieces and marinate (for at least a few hours) in olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and oregano. Then thread the chicken onto skewers and grill until done. (5-10 minutes)
(To serve four people: 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp oregano + salt/pepper)

Bibby made two sauces: Tzaziki and Peanut sauce. For the tzaziki, she combined 1 1/2 cups greek yogurt, a small cucumber (peeled, seeded, and chopped), about 1 heaping tsp of minced garlic, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 green onion, 1 tsp oregano, salt, pepper, and feta.  (Refrigerate for 2-8 hours before serving). For the peanut sauce, she combined 1/2 cup reduced fat, chunky peanut butter, 1/2 cup water, about 1/2 tsp garlic, a tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 tsp ginger, and about 3 tablespoons soy sauce. She then microwaved the ingredients for about 25 seconds to melt the peanut butter and then whisked everything together. (Keep at room temperature and serve with kabobs)

Veggie skewers:
She used 1" pieces of zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, mushroom, and green pepper (tomatoes and other peppers would be good too.)  Bib's note: at most supermarkets they sell kabobs with mixed meat and veggies, but she prefers to keep them separate because the grilling times vary.

Moroccan Couscous salad: (recipe compliments of the Toledo Art Fare cook book.)
Ingredients: 2 cups quick-cooking couscous, 1/2 cup dried currants (she used white raisins), 1 1/2 cups boiling chicken stock, 2 medium zucchini, 6 medium green onions, 2 large shallots, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup safflower oil (I used vegetable oil), 1/3 cup pine nuts, 1 tsp salt, 2 small red bell peppers, chopped, 4-5 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp cumin

Directions: Combine the couscous and currants in a heatproof bowl and mix well. Add the boiling stock and stir until mixed. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut the zucchini lengthwise into halves; remove the seeds. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Process the green onions and shallots in a food processor until minced, add the zucchini. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Heat the oils in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove the pine nuts with a slotted spoon to a bowl, reserving the pan oil. Stir the zucchini mixture and salt into the oil. Increase the heat to high. Cook for 2 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften, stirring frequently. Process the bell peppers in a food processor until finely chopped. Stir into the zucchini mixture. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the couscous mixture, lemon juice, and cumin and mix well. Cook for 1 minute or until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in the pine nuts. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. May prepared up to 3 days in advance. To store, place in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Serve the kabobs with the couscous and two sauces and you're ready to go! Bibby recommends pairing the meal with a cold, white wine.

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