It was one of those weekends.
Yep, the kind I love because I had the opportunity to do something good. I was in Mexico for another Hands of Mercy project to build a small house for a very deserving family. A mom and dad along with their daughter will have a safe place to live, thanks to a group of men, women, and children who put their time and money toward loving their neighbor. It’s always fun, sometimes challenging, and very rewarding. Something changes in your heart as you work side-by-side with someone to serve others, it makes the world a little bit better place to live. Check out Hands of Mercy here or read my other posts For Goodness Sake and Hope Under Construction to learn more about this great organization.
One thing that always takes place. . .
on these weekends is good food, and this weekend was no exception. The kitchen at Rancho Casitas, our home away from home in Mexico, comes alive as the teams return from working in the surrounding community. Chopping, good conversation, and laughter happen around the kitchen island as stories of the day are shared. Before the evening is over, we gathered for a meal of something delicious. But not just stomachs were filled with goodness, hearts and souls also overflowed with satisfaction that comes from a day well spent.
We need worship for our spirit, fellowship for our soul and committed subservience for our body. ~ Larry Norman
Joy, our wonderful hostess, had us prepare a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocados which rounded out our meal of hot Italian sub sandwiches. Oh man, was it ever good. I hope you find it yummy, too.
Cucumber, Tomato, and Avocado Salad
- 1 pound grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 cucumber, sliced and halved
- ½ medium red onion, sliced or diced
- 2 avocados, diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Place tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, avocado, and cilantro in large bowl.
- Combine olive oil and lemon juice, and pour over vegetables. Toss gently to combine. Add salt and pepper. Toss.
Note: There are other possibilities for this basic salad. I am omitting the avocado and cilantro tonight and tossing in some feta cheese to go with our Greek inspired dinner.
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.
Now that summer is in full swing, most of us have an opportunity to enjoy picnics, BBQs, and al fresco dinners. These days it can be as simple or as fancy as you like, but the real focus of any event are the people we will share with. For that reason, ease is important to me. Less time in the kitchen means more time with friends and family. One of our family favorites for the grill is Hawaiian BBQ Chicken. This dish has an easy prep with a very delicious outcome. Pair it with grilled veggies, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, and fresh fruit, and you will have a beautiful table.
Hawaiian BBQ Chicken
- 2 pounds chicken boneless skinless thighs or breasts, cut into serving size
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- Mix pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a resealable plastic bag or glass dish with lid.
- Add chicken pieces and marinade for up to 24 hours.
- Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack.
- Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.
- Alternative method of cooking: bake in a 375-degree oven until done. Time will depend on the thickness of your chicken pieces.
- One or a combination of vegetables, washed and sliced into uniform pieces. I especially carrots as do most of the grandkids. I also use zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus. You can use most any summertime produce. Peppers, onions mushrooms and tomatoes are also good choices.
- Herbs, fresh or dry. Use something to compliment your main dish. Don’t forget garlic.
- Olive oil. Any cooking oil you have will work.
- Salt and pepper.
- Notice I don’t really give amounts. I just fill up my grill pan or basket with veggies (Vegetables shrink as they are cooked. You’ll want to make more than you think you need.), drizzle with enough oil to lightly coat, sprinkle on the seasonings and give it a stir. (I apologize in advance to those who want amounts and times.)
- Place pan/basket on grill and cook until desired doneness. This can also be done in an oven set to 375 degrees. I actually like the oven method best and it can be done ahead of time if you like.
- Tip: Some veggies cook faster than others. Asparagus is very quick. Maybe just five to ten minutes. Squash, perhaps twenty minutes and carrots-thirty. Try to choose ones that have a compatible cooking time.
- And just one more thing—Leftover roasted vegetables are great additions to pasta salads, sandwiches, pizzas, or even omelets.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Before I give you the recipe, I must give you a disclaimer. I have never been to Hawaii. Nope. But I have eaten at a few Hawaiian BBQ places. Most serve a scoop of steamed white rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. I have made up my own version which I have tweaked even further to lighten it up a bit. Even with the tweaking, it is going to be heavy on the calories. There are just some things that you have to splurge on a bit. The rest of the meal is light so we can afford to.
- ½ pound elbow macaroni, cooked to al dente
- 1 small carrot, shredded
- 5 scallions, chopped
- ½ cup light mayonnaise
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup pineapple juice (Substitute 2% milk, if preferred plus a tablespoon of honey, brown sugar or other sweetener.)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pepper, to taste
- Optional mix-ins—imitation crab, frozen peas, pineapple tidbits, or ham. Some people add cilantro. It really depends on your preference. We have always used the imitation crab and peas, but I’m up for trying something new in the future. Maybe, even a little Spam. It is Hawaiian after all.
- In large bowl, mix together cooked macaroni, shredded carrot and chopper scallion plus any mix-ins you desire.
- In separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients to create the dressing.
- Pour dressing over macaroni mixture and chill.
These recipes are featured in July 2016 issue of Broken But Priceless: The Magazine, where I am currently writing for the food section called The Corner Bistro.