Birthday Dinner

Last weekend we celebrated Megan’s birthday with dinner and some friends out on our porch. We were lucky to have a fairly cool evening and the bugs stayed away at least for the first part of the meal…

I should have been better about taking more pictures of the people and food, but I was busy grilling.  Megan also made a chocolate almond cake topped with cheesecake topped with dark chocolate frosting with raspberries on the side that was every bit as delicious as it sounds!  Here are some of the recipes so that I can repeat them some other day.

Spiced Chicken and Grape Skewers

These were fun because most people haven’t had grilled grapes before. They go really well with the chicken, and their juiciness makes up for the fact that I tend to overcook everything when I grill!  This is pretty much identical to the recipe from the Food Network.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups green grapes
8-10 skewers

  1. Whisk together the oil, lemon, garlic, and spices in a small bowl.
  2. Pour over the chicken and let marinate for 30 minutes (I kept it in a plastic bag for easy mixing).
  3. Alternate grapes and chicken pieces on the skewers
  4. Grill for about 3 minutes per side

Veggie Kebabs

A simple vegetable marinade with some middle eastern spice that goes well with the grape chicken above.  This recipe is also similar to one from the Food Network.

2 bell peppers
1 onion (I forgot to do this)
1 zucchini or summer squash
a few handfuls of grape tomatoes
1/2 container of mushrooms (not sure how big the container was…)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

  1. Chop up all vegetables into skewerable shapes, cut mushrooms in half
  2. Place vegetables on skewers
  3. Whisk together all marinade ingredients
  4. Brush marinade over vegetables and sit for 10-15 minutes
  5. Grill for about 3 minutes per side

Deluxe Israeli Couscous

This is basically the recipe you get on the back of the box from Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous, but it is even better if you use their Harvest Grains mix since it has couscous and a few other colorful grains as well:

1/2 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 tbsp butter
1 stick cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1/2 package TJ’s Harvest Grains(or just Israeli Couscous)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
optional: lemon rind, parsley, etc
(Note: this is from memory, and may be wrong… if in doubt, follow the package)

  1. Fry up 1 tbsp butter and the pine nuts until golden (2-3 min), then set aside.
  2. Add remaining 2 tbsp of butter and fry up onions until tender
  3. Add cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and couscous. Fry 5ish minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Add chicken broth and salt and bring to boil, then reduce to low heat
  5. Wait until liquid is all absorbed (10ish minutes)
  6. Turn off heat, add pine nuts, raisins, cranberries, and any other goodies you can think of