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Healthy Grilled Eggplant with Italian Salsa Recipe

Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, which includes peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Eggplant is high in antioxidants and fiber. Select fruits (yep, eggplants are fruits!) that have some weight for their size.

Look for the skin to be firm, shiny and blemish-free. You can find eggplants in the traditional dark purple-black color, as well as lavender and light green.

Try the other color varieties for a fun change. I like to purchase eggplant and prepare it the same day for maximum freshness. Look for fruits that are firm and spring back to shape after a slight squeeze. Eggplants are versatile. They can be grilled. They can be served raw. Or try it on the very best slow cooker!

This recipe can be served as a side dish to grilled steak or you can prepare as I do: the grilled eggplant is the main event for a delicious and different vegetarian meal!

I try to find younger, smaller eggplant for this recipe to avoid any bitterness.

Grilled Eggplant Recipe

  • 2 eggplants
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Finely ground sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Prepare your outdoor grill by cleaning and use medium high heat. Wash eggplant thoroughly. Cut off blossom and vine ends. Cut in half lengthwise. Brush on organic extra virgin olive on both sides of the eggplant and season with salt and pepper to your taste. I am generous with the pepper for a spicier dish. Place on the pre-heated grill, cut side down.

Grill on cut side for 4 minutes and then flip to the skin side for 4 more minutes. You want to see grill marks and the cut side take on a lovely, light golden brown appearance.

You may use a panini press for convenient indoor grilling any time of the year. When you use a panini press, you do not have to flip the eggplant, simply remove when the eggplant take on the light golden brown appearance.

But the kicker is the Italian Salsa. Prepare the salsa before grilling the eggplant — then you’ll be ready to dig in!

Italian Salsa Recipe

  • 4 Roma or other Italian-type tomatoes
  • ¼ cup fresh mozzarella, cut into half-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut chiffonade*, or Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from half of a lime
  • Finely ground sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Let all ingredients sit for 10 minutes so the flavors can marry and gain some complexity. You may make the salsa without the salt if you are watching your sodium intake. Serve as an accompaniment to the grilled eggplant, or use as a spread on any Italian bread.

*To chiffonade basil, simply lay the leaves flat on top of each other to create a stack. Roll leaves into one roll, short end to short end, just like a tiny cigar. Then cut the roll as you would a jelly roll. This will result in long, thin strips of basil that look – and taste – beautiful in the salsa.

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Tips for Grilling Shrimp on Your Traeger Grill

Now that spring has arrived are you looking to use your grill but sick of the traditional steak and burgers?

Well, shrimp is a great alternative but it can be very tricky as well. But when done right, it’s a go-to recipe for your Traeger grill of choice or the very best charcoal grilling machine.

Here are tips from an experienced grillmaster.

The first thing you must consider before you even start planning your meal of grilled shrimp on your grill is the type of shrimp you will grill. The numbers you see at the store known as the “count” represent the amount of shrimp that make up a full pound on average. When grilling if you choose the very small shrimp your margin of error between the shrimp being done on the grill and overdone is a fraction of a minute.

Even for the best grillmasters this can be tricky, so it is recommended you stay away from any shrimp count higher than 25 per pound. Even the 25 per pound is pushing it, closer to 15 gives you a better chance at grilling shrimp successfully.

When marinading shrimp keep in mind that just like fish, shrimp take very little time to absorb the flavor of a marinade. I would highly recommend sticking to somewhere between two and three hours at the most.

Many people like to use barbecue sauce as a marinade with shrimp. Shrimp is the one type of meat where you can actually have the sauce on the shrimp immediately when putting them on the grill. The reason for this is because unlike with other meats that take longer to cook, the shorter cooking time of shrimp limits the amount of time the sugar in the sauce has to burn on the shrimp.

When cooking shrimp on the grill, I highly recommend purchasing a grilling tray or wok to use instead of using your grates. This is because with some grills the space between the grates can be a trap for the shrimp to fall through.

Also you can oil these woks or grilling trays extensively before placing them on the grill. With a fast cooking shellfish such as shrimp, you must make sure the cooking surface is well oiled.

When the shrimp are cooking my recommendation is 2 minutes per side. You can give them a total cooking time of five minutes, but should not go above that. The best gauge for shrimp is when they start to acquire that “pinkish” hue to them they are done on that side. Another good test is to touch them and see if they are starting to feel firm.

Keep in mind if you have used barbecue sauce as a marinade this will mask the color of the shrimp and you won’t be able to judge by the hue of the shrimp on the grill as they cook.

Shrimp, like most shellfish should be served immediately after removing from the grill. All meat tends to continue cooking inside after being removed from the heat source. Consider the slim margin of error between “done” and “overdone” with shrimp, you really can not let this shellfish sit around after removing it from the grill. As always though, make sure the shrimp is done before removing it from the grill.

Undercooking shellfish can subject you to risks over very serious food contaminants. If you are not sure, err on the side of caution and go a little over the cooking time that you think they are done at just to be safe. It’s better to have slightly tough shrimp than a foodbourne illness.

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Father’s Day Recipes: Juicy Cheeseburger Hot Off the Grill

We all know dads like to grill out, but this Father’s Day, show him what you’re made of and send him to the hammock with a cold drink of his choice. Getting him out of the way will give you enough elbow room to create the Man-ster Burger in celebration of Father’s Day. To go all out, try catering your Father’s Day celebration!

manster burger

(Photo by Fábio Alves on Unsplash)

Super Recipe for Man-ster Burger

So what is the Man-ster Burger? It’s meat, but because you love dad and want to give him an unforgettable Father’s Day, you will use extra lean ground beef, preferably 93 percent lean and seven percent fat. Really, it’s not necessary to dish up a meal saturated in fat, and besides, the onions and steak sauce will more than make up for not soaking the hamburger bun in a pool of grease.

Get these ingredients for the Father’s Day Man-ster Burger:

  • 1.5 lbs. of extra lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. steak sauce
  • 4 cheese slices
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • dill pickle spears
  • various condiments

*Feel free to double recipe (you’ll see why later).

Now, call Dad to come light the grill. After this task is completed, give him another cold drink and send him back to the hammock. If he doesn’t leave immediately, tell him the next door neighbor lady’s arthritis is acting up and she needs help changing the kitty litter for Precious, her cat out of hell. This will have him feigning sleep in the hammock in no time.

Mix meat, onion and steak sauce and shape into patties. Grill. If you’re a still a child, an adult must be present. If you’re still a child disguised in an adult body, an adult must be present. That way you can exchange “crazy dad” stories like the time he picked you up from school wearing a batman costume.

Save a Cheeseburger for Dad on Father’s Day

Don’t get carried away, though. Before the meat turns into shriveled, burnt lumps, remove from grill and place on bun with lettuce, tomato and cheese. Put a pickle spear or two on the side. Eat your fill (see * above) and then go tell Dad the burgers are ready.

Black Beans and Corn-on-the-Cob for the Hungry Father

Easy enough, huh? Well, you’re not off the hook yet. Man cannot live by Man-ster Burger alone. Grill corn-on-the cob by wrapping them into pieces of aluminum foil with butter and parmesan cheese. Also, open up a can of pork-n-beans, or even better, open a can of black beans–protein is a good thing, right? Be sure to have plenty of sour cream and tortilla chips on hand to scoop the beans with–no spoons allowed.

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Grilling Pork Chops

Purchase chops that are about an inch thick, as anything thinner will dry out quickly on the barbecue. Purchase your chop cuts with the bone left in, as the bone adds flavour while you grilling.

(Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

Oil the grill grid with some olive oil or cook and spray to prevent the chops from sticking.

When grilling pork chops you need to remember to sear the outside with a high heat then slow cook the inside. By searing it you lock in the natural juices, which prevents the chops from charring.

Marinating Pork Chops

Allow your pork chops to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, rather than defrosting it in the microwave. Coat the chops with your favourite marinate and spices before you place it in the fridge to thaw out. Leaving it in the marinate overnight allows the flavours to sink through.

Use ingredients like vinegar and olive oil to tenderize the meat. Adding a dry rub will also enhance the flavour.

Using a wet and dry marinate together work really well.

Grill Pork Chops

Set your grill to the highest temperature setting and sear the outside of the chop for one minute on each side. Then turn down the heat to a low to medium heat and slow cook the meat till it cooks through.

Keep coating the chops with your favourite barbecue sauce to keep it moist. Grilling time is 5 – 8 minutes depending on the heat of the grill. Once the chops are done, you need to let the juices settle for ten minutes before you eat.

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A Guide to Cooking Fish on the Grill

Despite what the ground hog says, Spring is almost here! And with that comes grilling season for most areas around the United States. If you are new to grilling and attempting to cook fish on the grill here are some important tips.

(Photo by Christiann Koepke on Unsplash)

The first tip I can provide when choosing to cook fish on the grill is to consider your selection of fish carefully. I highly recommend limiting your choices to more dense fish such as tuna and swordfish. Of course salmon is also popular cooked on the grill but this is usually cooked on top of a cedar plank and smoked more than it is grilled on the grill.

Marinading fish does not take very long. Typically a couple hours is plenty of time for your fish to absorb the flavor of the marinade. Another good option is a spice rub on the outside, which requires no marinading time.

Before placing your fish on the grill make sure that the grill cooking surface is well oiled. Keep in mind though that you must be careful how you oil your grill grates. Never use a spray over hot coals, you will get a fireball. Take a paper napkin and dip it into oil. Using tongs rub your grabes with that balled up paper towel to oil the grates. There is still a risk of flare ups, but it is much lower than with the other method.

When cooking your fish on the grill, be attentive but not overly attentive. Do not play with the fish as it is cooking in the first 3-5 minutes as the meat of the fish will actually release it’s attraction to the grill grates when it is close to done on that side. If you try before it is done you will end up leaving the surface of the fish attached to the grill grate. Be careful though not to wait too long or your fish will be overdone. After flipping the fish over the second side will typically take between half and two thirds the time the first side took before it is done.

After removing your fish from the grill you should serve it rather quickly. Keep in mind the fish will continue to cook after being removed and waiting too long could result in a drier fish off the grill than you thought you had prepared.

Hopefully these tips will help those of you looking to prepare fish this grilling season on your grill at a barbecue for your friends or family members.

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Grilled Chicken Breast Recipe that Will Have Your Mouth Watering

I know it’s winter and normally grilling is reserved for the summer, but with this fantastic grilled chicken breast recipe you’re going to have to pull out the old grill and fire her up. Of course, you might need to clean it and fill the propane tank and then you can fire her up and get these chicken breasts grilled.

(Source: Wikipedia Commons)

So you finally have that grill cleaned and out, now for you to take care of the chicken. This part is the easier part. We will stick with a basic marinade. Mix together ½ c of beer, ¼ c vinegar, ¼ c brown sugar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, half an onion, garlic powder to taste and some bbq sauce to make the mixture a little thinner. You want it similar to a thick stew.

Put this mix into a Ziploc bag with your chicken. If you want to cut up the chicken in cubes and add some veggies to the marinade, then you can put them on a skewer and have a kabob instead, but this marinade works well with just the chicken breast whole as well. I would normally let this marinade overnight but if you didn’t get to it the night before then at least 4 hours to give it enough flavor.

Then pull your meat out and grill until chicken is at 165 degrees at it’s thickest part. This grilled chicken breast recipe goes great with corn on the cob and potato salad.

If you like something a little easier or you want to have more control of the flavor of your chicken then I have another grilled chicken breast recipe for you. Just put some vinegar, oil and the seasonings of your choice in a bag with the chicken. The ratio should be 4:1 with more vinegar. Then let it marinade overnight and grill. I like using onion and garlic powder best for this but you can use whatever you like.

If you want a grilled chicken breast recipe that is also extremely healthy then I can help there, too. Just grill some chicken breast on low to medium heat. Normally I sprinkle a little salt, pepper and garlic powder on the chicken for added flavor. Then while that is grilling, get some lettuce washed and torn. Also cut whatever toppings you like for a salad, like cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, olives, avocados, onions, celery, carrots, mushroom, cheese, etc.

When the chicken is done either cut it or shred it. Then put everything in a bowl together add some salad dressing, we use ranch here at my house. Toss it together and then eat it as a salad, sandwich or a fantastic wrap.