Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

22 Feb

Life can’t always be a piece of cake. You know this, I know this, and the fam definitely knows this. Without their nagging, I wouldn’t occasionally clean up the kitchen and make dinner. Most days, if I had the cash and the metabolism, dinner would be purchased in those convenient big boxes called restaurants.  Since I have neither, every day I have to stop doing other things and fill the screeching beaks that hang out here and call themselves my relations.

We all have the same conundrum. Feed ourselves and the hangers on, don’t spend more than we should/can, make it healthy, and make something with the least likelihood of complaints. You would think that now the kiddos are grownups (in the eyes of the law, anyway) this issue would be simpler for me. Not so. I still have to consider the dietary restrictions of the other half. No tomatoes, onions, peppers, or anything his royalness considers “weird.” That could mean anything from guacamole to peanut butter cookies to filet mignon or sushi. (Okay, I agree with the sushi thing. Org invented fire for a reason.)I live with a guy who, I swear, his restaurant related goal in life is to eat a hamburger and fries in every food establishment he enters. Did I mention he has a tiny cholesterol problem? Yeeaaah.

Over the years, like you, I have amassed a small collection of stand by recipes that go beyond: open the box, read the box, do what the box says. I have found I have the best luck by scanning a recipe for ingredients I know everyone likes, has none of the dislikes, or that looks like I could leave the offending ingredients out of the recipe. Yes, it’s taken awhile to get a good mix of standbys.

I figured if your nest inhabitants are like mine, you might like to know some of the ways I get around all that. Plus, it’s February. Most of us have long broken the lose weight/get healthy resolution but would still like to keep it lest the guilt overwhelm us or swimsuit season arrives. With that in mind, I bring you:

Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs

Original recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Rosemary-Ranch-Chicken-Kabobs/Detail.aspx

Visit the link for the official directions, as what follows is my own personal way to get it on the table.

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup ranch dressing

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste (optional)

5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes

I would add skewers and an indoor or outdoor grill to this list. They may not be ingredients, but you’re gonna need them. I like to know this kind of stuff ahead of time otherwise I get aggravated/lost/disappointed when I find out I can’t make what I planned for dinner. The others don’t like it either because that means leftovers for dinner. Also, note that the chicken should be cubed.

If you’ve never worked with skewers before, there are a couple of things you need to know. Nah, it’s easy stuff, just a couple of little specialty tidbits to know.

Wooden skewers burn and metal skewers get hella hot and will scratch non-stick grids if you’re not careful.

Yes, this is obvious. Will you remember it? Probably not the first few times, so it’s worth reminding ourselves. I use wooden skewers since they are cheap and I already have them around for cake work. I do remember that they burn, yet I don’t always remember it in time. That’s why I’m going to list the first step as:

Soak the wood skewers in water. 

Soaking them won’t prevent burning (no matter what “the experts” say), but it will slow it down enough to enable you to use them.

The other tidbit you’ll want to know is if you are going to use an outdoor grill, once you have the magic wooden sticks loaded with food, cover the ends of the skewers with foil to keep them from incinerating.

With that very long intro, let’s get dinner going before the masses arrive.

In a small bowl, combine:

Olive Oil

Ranch dressing

Worcestershire Sauce (Bonus Chef Points if you can pronounce this correctly without thinking about it.)

Rosemary, but wait! The peeps at this castle think rosemary is a very strong herb, so I generally use about half of the amount that any recipe calls for. Your call, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Salt

Lemon Juice

Vinegar and Pepper (No pic, but I’m sure you can imagine it at this point.)

 Sugar

(Whew! It’s a lot quicker to do it than to write it!)

Once all that’s in the bowl, whisk it together.

Toss in the chicken, and stir it around until the chicken is coated in the goop.

(I removed that chunk of fat later, lest it stick directly to myrump roast.)

This is supposed to marinate for 30 minutes. That’s the ideal way to do it. However, if you have just schlumped in the door after a long day in the mines, you may not have the time or energy for that. I have marinated it for about 10-15 minutes and it still tastes good. Thirty minutes is best, but if you can’t do that, don’t worry about it. Serve it with a dollop of ranch for dipping and tell the little hungry birdies it was meant to be served that way. If they know better, they should be taking turns in the kitchen, right?

While it’s marinating, you can empty and reload the dishwasher, fold that load of laundry, or round up the chickadees for homework time. You could also rip open that noodle box and crank open the veggie can and get that going if you’re making side dishes. If it’s just you and the man of your dreams, you can make a salad and turn this into a restaurant style chicken salad. Once the time is up, or you can’t wait any longer, come on back here and we’ll finish this almost lickety split.

Before we get messy, heat your grill of choice. Yes, I spray mine with non-stick spray even though the directions say you don’t have to. It’s my thing.

Okay, now let’s get sticky! Thread/skewer the chicken. I put 5-6 pieces of chicken on each skewer. If your pieces are thin, fold them in half to get them on the skewer.

They are top heavy and drippy at this point. Carefully lift and load onto the grill and char to your liking.

DINNNERRRR!!!!

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