Chili-Lime Chicken Skewers

I love cooking with skewers, especially for chicken. Instead of grilling a big piece of chicken breast, cutting them up into smaller chunks gives it more flavor (if you’re using a marinade). It also grills faster and gives you more char per square inch, which mean even more delicious food.

For the chicken skewers, I wanted to give it a flavor profile that was refreshing with a kick since we had a heavier main course. I looked online and found inspiration from a Chili-Lime recipe. It was a good start, but then decided to make some modifications to my liking.

The flavor profile of the marinade is delicious. The marinade features two contrasting flavors that balance each other. The primary flavor is the spice from the chili pepper and minced garlic. The secondary flavor is the citrus sweetness from the lime and pineapple juice. The acidity from the citrus and the punch of the cilantro tempers the heat from the spice.

The recipe is simple too. You start out with the marinade, put in the chicken, wait an hour, skewer it, grill it, and then eat it. They cook quickly and come out perfectly. So juicy and flavorful that we had none left! Try it out –

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced with pulp
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ cup pineapple juice (or any citrus juice)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 ½ inch pieces.
  • soaked skewers

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, pineapple juice, and lime juice. Season with chili powder, chipotle powder, paprika, minced garlic, salt, and black pepper. Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish with the sauce, and stir to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear. Turn every few minutes to give an even char.

Cedar Planked Salmon w/ Soy-Ginger Marinade

A few years ago, this farm-to-table restaurant called Founding Farmers opened next to the IMF (not badass Ethan Hunt, but maid-chaser Dominique Strauss-Kahn). I went there countless times because the menu was so delicious and the drinks were to die for. In fact, I probably brought every out-of-towner to Founding Farmers.

One of my favorite items was the Cedar Planked Salmon. Growing up, I was fairly apathetic  to salmon. My take on salmon was either that it was either an oozing-white over-dried buffet item or a soy-marinated baked fish that my mom made now and then.

Founding Farmer’s version was different. Everything they used there was organic or locally grown, and somehow it made everything taste so much better. So they started with some wild-caught atlantic salmon, marinate it in a maple syrup-apricot glaze, then smoke/grill it on a cedar plank. The cedar flavor infuses the salmon during the cooking process to balance out the sweetness of the glaze. It is so freakishly good.

Because of that inspiration, Jess and I decided to try make it for some guests. They key would be cedar planks and the grilling process that releases its flavors. We got our planks from Amazon (where we get everything). Make sure you get untreated cedar wood, otherwise you’ll be eating chemicals.

So after very-excited receiving our planks in the mail, we ran to the market to pick a few basic ingredients, per the recipe that we found. The recipe we followed is really simple – just soak the planks, create a simple marinade with basic ingredients, marinade, and then grill. You could probably do this in the oven, but the cedar flavors would not be as strong. 

Anyways, here’s the Cedar Planked Salmon recipe that we followed. It a smashing success, and our guests loved it.

Ingredients

  • 3 (12 inch) untreated cedar planks
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 (2 pound) salmon fillets, skin removed

Directions

Soak the cedar planks for at least 1 hour in warm water. Soak longer if you have time.

In a shallow dish, stir together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Place the salmon fillets in the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to one hour.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Place the planks on the grate. The boards are ready when they start to smoke and crackle just a little.

Place the salmon fillets onto the planks and discard the marinade. Cover, and grill for about 20 minutes. Fish is done when you can flake it with a fork. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill.

More Photos –

salmon in marinade

salmon grilling

Skewered Spicy Shrimp

The deliciousness of our previous Grilled Truffle Shrimp Skewers inspired us to look for similar recipes. Rob loves spicy food and Jess loves Mark Bittman’s recipes – they are simple yet oh-so-tasty.

Tip: Our wood skewers from last week started molding! Be sure they are dry before you store them. Try to get bamboo ones too.

We found one from him called Skewered Spicy Shrimp and modified it to make it a tad more suited to the dishes we were cooking today. Our party guests loved it. It’s a totally different taste and texture from our Grilled Truffled Shrimp – very savory with a spicy kick. I’d recommend eating it with a cold beer.

Skewered Spicy Shrimp Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined (approx. 42 shrimps)
  • 1/3 bulb of minced garlic
  • ½ tbsp coarse sea salt
  • ¾ tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp sauce from adobo chipotle (optional for added kick)
  • ½ tsp ground paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges

Rinse shrimp – it gets rid of some of the undesirable “sea” flavors. Mix garlic, sea salt, chipotle pepper, adobo chipotle sauce, paprika, olive oil, and lemon juice together in a large bowl to make a liquidy paste. Mix this sauce with cleaned shrimp. Skewer shrimp – about 6 per stick. 

Fire up the grill to at least medium-high heat. Grill each side for about 3-4 minutes. Turn when tails turn orange/red. Serve with lemon wedges.

Gazpacho

Jess loves this blog called The Pioneer Woman. It’s the blog of a lady that came from a small town, then went to a big city in Cali, then fell in love with the a cowboy and now resides in the middle of nowhere. She keeps a blog of her life. In fact, her life is so interesting that a gazillion people go to it every day. The Pioneer lady has some pretty good stuff, one of them being this Gazpacho recipe.

I’ve always avoided Gazpacho because I always confused it with Gestapo. Everyone makes this mistake right? Honest mistake.

It looked like there were no Nazis in the recipe, so we decided bust out the food processor and try it out. 

We picked up from fresh ingredients and got to work. This recipe asks you to dice everything, so I started to mindlessly do that. But half way through and 15 minutes later, I realized that you have to throw most of it in a food processor. I’d recommend dicing a quarter of the ingredients and just rough chopping the other parts to save lots of time.

Tip: Make sure you know the liquid level limits of your food processor. Ours spilled over because we took too many liberties. 

After you cut everything up and throw it in the processor, make sure you chill the concoction. I would even throw it in the freezer for a few minutes before serving to get extra chill.

There some extra garnishes too (cilantro and sour cream) that are a nice to have, but go a long way for presentation.

Here’s the Pioneer Lady’s gazpacho recipe, modified for cutting tips.  

Ingredients           

  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ½ whole Red Onion, dice/chop
  • 1 whole Large Cucumber, dice/chop
  • 5 whole Roma Tomatoes, dice/chop
  • 1 whole Zucchini, dice/chop
  • 2 stalks Celery, dice/chop
  • 1 dash Salt To Taste
  • ¼ gallons Tomato Juice
  • ¼ cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ⅛ cups Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons White Sugar
  • 6 dashes Tabasco or some chipotle adobo sauce if you’re making this.
  • 1 dash Black Pepper To Taste     
  • Optional: cilantro and sour cream for garnish

Instructions   
In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the minced garlic with half the red onion, half the cucumber, half the tomato, half the zucchini, half the celery, half the tomato juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, Tabasco, and a dash of salt.

Pulse until all ingredients are blended well; mixture will have a nice speckled, colorful texture.

Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the tomato juice, and half of the remaining onion, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, and celery. (Reserve the rest of the diced vegetables for garnish.)

Stir mixture together and check seasonings, adding salt if needed. Chill soup for at least a couple of hours; soup needs to be very cold!

Remove the soup from the fridge and stir. Check seasonings one last time. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with remaining diced vegetables, a sliver of fresh avocado, sour cream, and cilantro. Finally, place a grilled shrimp on the top and serve with grilled slices of bread.

This is a to-die-for summer dinner.