Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Grilling: Marinated Chicken

I thought for the fourth installment of my Summer Grilling series, I would grill chicken. The trick to delicious grilled chicken is knowing when it's done. The mistake most often made with chicken is grilling it for too long, making it dry and unappetizing. Although I sometimes grill boneless, skinless chicken breasts, keeping the skin on the chicken does help prevent dryness. I take the skin off before eating, so a little charring doesn't matter. Marinating the chicken  in a good marinade also helps with the taste and juiciness.


Marinated Grilled Chicken


1 chicken, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


Rinse chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken in a baking dish.

 
In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, soy sauce Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and lemon juice. Whisk in dry mustard, salt, and pepper.


Pour marinade over chicken. Place chicken in refrigerator to marinate overnight or, at least, for two hours, turning chicken halfway through marinating. The longer the chicken marinates, the more flavor it will have.
Thirty minutes before grilling, remove chicken from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the grill to a medium temperature, about 300 degrees F.


Remove chicken from marinade and place halves on grill, meat side down. Brush on marinade. Cover grill and cook for 30 minutes. Turn chicken, brush on marinade, cover grill, and cook for another 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Discard remaining marinade. (See note.) When done the leg will easily pull away, and juices will run clear when chicken is pierced. Makes 2-4 servings.

Of course, when I was grilling for this post, I had a flair up problem. I started out with the fire too hot, instead of getting it regulated before I put the chicken on. Then I went inside and got distracted with the computer. I should have stayed outside and kept my eye on the grill. 

Note: Food safety is important when cooking chicken. Thoroughly wash your hands after handling raw chicken. Disinfect the counter if the chicken was thawing on it. It's okay to use the marinade to baste the chicken while it's cooking, but cook it thoroughly after brushing on the marinade. Never serve the marinade. Always discard what is left.




Here are what I've been grilling this summer:
Corn-on-the-Cob
Pizza
Banana Splits


Next week: Grilled zucchini and yellow squash!
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ten Things I Learned at Haven 2012

Haven 2012 was my first blog conference, and I enjoyed every minute of it!  I learned quite a bit about blogging, conferences, and people, but more importantly I learned some new things about myself.

Here, in no particular order, are ten things I learned at my first blog conference. Please excuse the photography. I used my iPhone instead of my camera because I didn't want to lug it around.


1. Bloggers are wonderful!
I found out that my fellow bloggers are friendly and extremely nice. Most everyone I met was super sweet. Even the "big time" bloggers took time to talk, and I got some great advice from a few. There were only a couple bloggers that were too "busy" to talk. Since there were over 250 other bloggers there, I didn't worry about it.

2. It's fun making new friends.
A blog conference is a wonderful place to make friends! I met some amazing ladies (including some from Texas) . We talked, laughed, networked, and gossiped (see #1). I'm glad I had new business cards printed. I traded cards with just about everyone I met. 

Two of my new friends: Lori from The Stonybrook House and Janis from All Things Beautiful



3. I am slightly technologically challenged. 
I want an iPad!! Okay, I was just a little envious of the bloggers who had one. My iPhone almost died with all the picture-taking, facebooking, and tweeting. I finally learned how to use Instagram and tweet my photos! It was so much fun posing for pictures with some of the blogging celebrities.


Can you tell I was just a little excited to meet Ana White?  She was such a darling!

4. There is not enough time to do everything.
I should have planned an extra day to sightsee. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see much of Atlanta. Between sessions, I was busy having fun visiting with the other bloggers.

Enjoying a night out. Sara Maj Hoff Takes A Wife, Kerry  House TalkN, and Janis All Things Beautiful are on the right, and  that's me on the left with  Eliesa Pinterest Addict, and Lori The Stonybrook House.

5. It really didn't matter what I wore.
There were so many different types of people wearing everything from jeans to capris to dresses. I don't think anyone paid attention to what everyone was wearing except for maybe the cute shoes and jewelry.

I took off my sweater and didn't realize my bra strap was showing! This fashionable gal is Gayle from Miss Kopy Kat.

6. I can travel without Hubby.
I can travel alone and not get lost. Well, I wasn't really alone, because I met Sara on the plane, who was also heading to Haven 2012.(It was a happy coincidence that we sat next to each other!)  We were booked on the same return flight, so after the conference, we even braved the train back to the airport. Everything went smoothly, and we sailed through security despite our swag (see #8 and #9).

My traveling companion, Sara from Maj Hoff Takes a Wife.

7. I  love learning something new.  
I still have a lot to learn about blogging! The Haven speakers were interesting and informative. I learned a ton, and took copious notes! Meeting other DIY bloggers really gave me a boost. I came away with some great ideas and inspiration (and some Annie Sloan chalk paint, see #8).

8. Sponsors give out a ton of free stuff.
I received at least 15 pounds of swag! (I know because United weighed my suitcase.) I was amazed and pleased with all the items included in the swag bag. The sponsors were so generous and handed out some great products.



9. Take a large suitcase. 
I'm glad I took a huge suitcase and checked it. Some items given out as swag and door prizes are not allowed in a carry-on, so checking the bag worked great.

 
10. I can't wait until my next conference!
I know I want to go to another conference in the future! Perhaps Haven 2013.

 I want to give a big thank you to all the Haven team, especially Rhoda of Southern Hospitality! Rhoda is the epitome of a true southern lady. If you haven't found her blog, you need to check it out.


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Monday, June 25, 2012

Michelob Ultra Light Cider Review


Michelob Ultra Light Cider is the ideal summertime beverage! If you're unfamiliar with cider, it's brewed from apples instead of barley and hops like beer. Cider is especially popular in England, Ireland, and other European countries and has been for many years. It's been seeing a rise in popularity in the United States lately. Now Anheuser Busch has added a new member to the Michelob family with Michelob Ultra Light Cider.


Like so many others, I like to relax on weekends or in the evening and have either a beer or a glass of wine. Most often I drink Michelob Ultra, so when I was asked to write a review of Michelob Ultra Light Cider I was excited. This was my first taste of cider, so I was a little unsure what to expect. I noticed the appealing light green color immediately, and the upon reading the label, I realized one bottle had only 120 calories and it's gluten-free. Yea!


Turns out, Michelob Ultra Light Cider is crisp and refreshing. The slightly apple taste is just right, not too sweet. Unlike beer, Michelob Ultra Light Cider did not give me the full feeling I often get after drinking just one beer.


After Hubby and I gave Michelob Ultra Light Cider our seal of approval last weekend, we brought it to a family gathering. I wanted the opinion of some young adults. As you can see, it was well received.


Summer can be miserable with the high temperatures and equally high humidity. Whether you're relaxing by the pool or on the back porch, try Michelob Ultra Light Cider straight out of the bottle or over ice.

Check it out at Michelob ULTRA Light Cider page on BlogHer.com and the sponsor's site for more information.


Which favorite summer meal or activity do you think would go best with Michelob ULTRA Light Cider?
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Grilling: Banana Splits

Okay, I didn't actually grill banana splits, but I did grill the bananas! I then made banana splits with the warm bananas, and they were scrumptious.


   Here's what I did. Pay attention, this is really complicated easy.


Cut each ripe banana in half lengthwise. Leave the stem attached, it can be used as a handle. Brush the bananas with a small amount of vegetable oil.


Place the bananas face down on a low grill. Grill for about 5 minutes.


Very gently, turn the bananas using a spatula. Grill for a couple more minutes.


Carefully remove the peeling and place 2 banana halves in a bowl. Add your choice of ice cream, syrup, whipped cream and other toppings. In order to make ours low-cal, I used low-fat frozen yogurt, fat-free chocolate syrup, and fat-free Reddi-wip.

Check out my other summer grilling recipes:
Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob
Grilled Pizza

Next week: Marinated chicken





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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flowers are Bloomin' and Haven

I'm headed to Atlanta today for Haven! It's my first blog conference, and I'm so excited. I'm looking forward to the entire experience: making new friends, going to the workshops, networking, and learning.


 Hubby is staying home, and I'm flying on my own. It's been years since I've flown by myself.


I hope Hubby remembers to water the garden and all the potted plants. It rained 1 1/2 inches yesterday, so I think he'll just need to water the plants on the porch and breezeway.


I've been so busy the last few days, that I didn't cook anything for Hubby to eat while I'm gone. Now, he'll have an excuse to eat fast food every night, or he can go over to his Mom's. She's always ready to feed him.  


I bought a couple new tops for the trip. Since I've lost weight, so many of my clothes are getting baggy. It was fun buying a smaller size.


I decided to check a bag, because I didn't want to smash all my clothes and shoes in a carry-on. The packed suitcase weighs 33 pounds, so I have 17 pounds to spare before I hit the limit of 50 pounds. Lots of room to bring home my swag bag!


 I'm planning on taking lots of photos to share with you when I return!
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Grilling: Pizza

If you're looking for something a little different for your next cookout, try grilling pizza. It's so much fun for everyone to add their own toppings while it's on the grill, and the sky's the limit when it comes to pizza toppings. Make a traditional cheese or pepperoni pizza, or make one with everything but the kitchen sink. That's what makes it fun!


Grilled Pizza

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast                           1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup warm water                                                                     1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pinch sugar                                                                              1/4 cup tomato sauce (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt                                                         1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil                                                            1/4 cup sliced black olives
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour                                                1/4 cup roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                          2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil                                      4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, mix in sugar. Let proof for 10 minutes, or until frothy. Mix in the salt, olive oil, and flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Set aside until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down, and knead in garlic and basil. Set aside to rise for 1 more hour, or until double again.


Preheat the grill to high. Heat olive oil with garlic for 30 seconds in the microwave. Set aside. Punch down dough, and divide in half. Form each half into an oblong shape 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick.


Brush grill grate with garlic olive oil. Carefully place one pizza crust on the hot grill. When the bottom is lightly brown and the top is puffy, turn the pizza over.


Working quickly, brush oil over the crust.  Then, brush with 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, if desired. Arrange 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/8 cup sliced black olives, and 1/8 cup roasted red peppers over the crust. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon basil and 1 cup cheese.


Close the lid, and cook until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Remove from grill, garnish with 1 tablespoon fresh basil, and cool slightly while grilling the second pizza.  Makes 2 medium pizzas.


Note: Be careful when adding the pizza toppings. You need to throw the items on quickly or your hand will get quite hot. (I'm speaking from experience. Several of my toppings missed the pizza entirely in my haste.) You could easily divide the dough in fourths and make 4 small pizzas. Also, the thickness you roll the dough is personal preference. It does puff up quite a bit when cooking. The topping amounts are only approximate. Add whatever toppings you wish in whatever quantities you want.


 Printable version

Next week: Grilled Banana Splits
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Red Hot Flowers

Summer temperatures are here to stay (until at least September)! The heat index last weekend was 110! It's no longer cool on my early morning walk and the afternoons are unbearable. I really shouldn't complain because I've lived in Texas for most of my life, and I should be used to the heat and humidity.

I thought I would get some shots of the flowers in the garden before everything wilted and shriveled in the heat (including me). For fun, I'm including the scientific names for the flowers. Here's an interesting note: In college, I learned the scientific and common names for all the plants growing in Texas. Then I ended up working in Wyoming, and I  had to relearn the plant names.

Here are a few red hot flowers growing in our hot Texas garden.

 Zonal Geranium: Pelargonium hortorum


 Impatiens: Impatiens wallerana


 Impatiens: Impatiens wallerana


 Knockout Rose: Rosa knockout (No kidding, I didn't make it up.)


 Firecracker plant: Cuphea ignea


 Salvia: Salvia splendens


I hope all my red flowers are still blooming for our annual Fourth of July party. It's time to start planning. Here's the wonderful berry trifle I made last year.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Grilling!: Corn-on-the-Cob

It's summer and time to get the grills fired-up! So, turn off the oven and get out of the kitchen. Now is your chance to enjoy the backyard, deck, porch, or garden that you've been working on all spring. Grab a glass of wine or sweet tea, and relax outside for a while.


Every Friday through August, I'll feature a new recipe for the grill. Join me here at Texas Cottage for some amazing and delicious recipes. I even have a few surprises planned!

Let's start off with grilled corn-on-the-cob. If you've never tried grilling corn, you really need to give it a try. It's simple to make and turns out perfect every time. The summer months are the time to find corn at great prices at your local supermarket or farmer's market .


Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 ears fresh corn


In a small bowl, mix together the butter, salt, and pepper (sorry, no photo). Set aside. Remove the husks and all the silk from the corn. 


 Place each ear on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Brush the corn with the melted butter mixture. 


Wrap the corn in the foil, making sure to seal the ends. 


 Place on the grill (not directly over the coals) over medium-heat (400 degrees F) for 30 minutes. 


Carefully unwrap, brush with remaining butter (if desired) and enjoy! Makes 6 servings. 



Instead of using aluminum foil, some people prefer to grill corn in the husks. To do this, peel back the husks (do not remove), remove silk, and brush with melted butter. Pull the husks back over the corn and grill.

Next Friday: Grilled Pizza!

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Garden

I love gardening, and I love homegrown fruits and vegetables. I'm just not sure if gardening likes me. Hubby built four small raised beds last year. He even added a sprinkler system in the backyard. It sure makes watering a lot easier. This summer we have had some gardening successes and a few failures.


 The tomatoes are doing great! We have lots of cherry tomatoes.


And some larger bush tomatoes. The birds (or some other critters) have eaten a few. My mother-in-law told me to tie strips of cloth to the tomato cages to scare the birds away. I didn't, and this morning, I found two half-eaten tomatoes on the ground. I'll be cutting up some fabric scraps today!
 

 Some of the green bell peppers are ready to pick. I think I'll make stuffed peppers for dinner.
 

We have lots of cute, baby cucumbers.


And a few oddly-shaped large ones. I don't like cucumbers, but I make a cucumber salad that Hubby loves.


I had a few baby summer squash last week, but right know the plants are looking kind of sad. I'm not sure why, but I think they are dying just like they did last summer!


I planted one cantaloupe and one watermelon plant in one bed.  The plants went crazy and took over the entire bed. So far, I have 5 baby cantaloupes. Okay, I don't eat cantaloupe either. I can't even stand to smell it, but Hubby likes it.


Most exciting of all are the two baby watermelons I found yesterday! They are so cute!


We also have onions, basil (a must), Italian parsley, and mint.

I'm thinking about starting a compost pile, so I can add some organic material to the beds before replanting later in the year. Anyone have suggestions or ideas on composting? I'd love to hear from you!



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