chicken and shrimp kabobs

Kabob dinner

My husband wanted an easy dinner.  That meant he didn’t want a lot of clean up.  We both went through our mental Rolodex (do they make those anymore?) of what we had eaten the last few times together as a family, and since we had recently covered the meat and pasta thing pretty well, I suggested kabobs and brown rice.  I had also been wanting to sneak shrimp back into meals, after my family had boycotted them for some reason, and felt this was a good opportunity to do so.  I got out all my metal grilling sticks, and all the ingredients on the counter and was ready to “throw this together”.  The problem with kabobs and “throwing this together”, is when a Type A personality has to make them.  Give a controlling, detailed oriented, anal retentive person a stick, and tell them to figure out a pattern using a variety of vegetables, shellfish and chicken – you are not setting yourself up for an “easy dinner”.  You are setting yourself up for wondering why it is 8:15, the grill hasn’t been lit yet, and you’re trying to make sure you don’t have an oddball kabob with an uneven amount of zucchini on it.  Oh and there are to be NO helpers in making the kabobs, because everyone else does it wrong.  This last go-round, my darling husband noticed that my kabobs looked color coded and mentioned something about being hungry, which was totally lost on me in the heat of spacing my chicken on the stick at 1/8″ spacing increments, so that they didn’t touch (so the heat circulated…a Bobby Flay tip gone to my head).  I saw my husband trying to put a green bell pepper with a red grape tomato, and it took all I had not to stab his hand.  He could sense the rework of the kabob that was about to take place, and so he chose to find another sporting event on television he otherwise would not watch, until my tetris-like kabobs were completed.
I don’t know what it is.  I like kabobs, and on the surface, they should be easy.  I guess it’s just me.  So I make sure I leave plenty of time to assemble, in case I am having one of those days where six grape tomatoes is just right on a stick and seven is too many.  Over the years, I have had plenty of experiences with the chicken being too dry, the mushrooms burnt to little nuggets and the squash raw, so at least now I know to put like items on a stick.  Armed with this information has made both kabob assembly and grilling a bit smoother, and my man looking at me a bit less like a crazy woman.  (Ok that will never change, but he married me!)

more veggiesveggie kabobs

chicken and shrimp kabobs:

1  lb. shrimp, shelled (I like the 26-30 ct size)
4  chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
8  oz package cremini mushrooms, halved if large
1  medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4″ thick pieces
1  medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4″ thick pieces
1  package grape tomatoes
1  large Vidalia onion, cut into 1″ chunks
1  green bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1  large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1  head radicchio, halved and cut into wedges
3  lemons
1  16 oz. bottle Ken’s Lite Caesar dressing
metal or wooden skewers
Louisiana Hot Sauce

chicken and shrimp

get started on the kabobs:

Place the chicken and shrimp in a medium bowl or in a resealable bag.  Add half the bottle of caesar dressing.  Toss to coat.  Place all the vegetables except for the radicchio in a large bowl and add the remaining dressing.  Toss to coat.  Let everything marinate for 15 – 30 minutes.  If using wooden skewers, you need to pre-soak them so they don’t burn on the grill.  Light your grill and oil the grates.  Start skewering like items.  Skewer all the chicken together – leaving a small bit of space in between so it cooks evenly.   Then the skewer the shrimp – I skewer through the tail and then again through the body of the shrimp so they stay more secure.  Then skewer the squash together, and so on.  Add the radicchio and the onions onto skewers. You can even throw the lemons on a stick or directly on the grill.  Use them afterward to juice onto all the grilled meat and veggies.

skewersmushrooms and onions
Place the chicken skewers and squash skewers on the grill first.  After a few minutes, add the remaining vegetable skewers.  After turning the chicken and veggies, add the shrimp skewers.  Do not use leftover marinade from shrimp and chicken to baste anything on the grill – but you can use anything left over from the veggie bowl.  Take food off the grill as it reaches its level of doneness.  Use a cooking thermometer to check the chicken – 155 degrees it can come off the grill and under some foil to finish cooking.
Cook up some brown rice or couscous and squeeze the lemons and shake on some hot sauce, and you have fed 4 hungry people easy.

 grilled veggiesfoiled up

dig in

note: feeds four with leftovers.


braised mahi-mahi with shellfish

braised mahi-mahi with shellfish

One of my favorite dishes of all time is zuppa di pesce.  If I see it on a menu, 9 times out of 10, I am ordering it – and ordering it extra spicy.  Nothing compares to soaking up all that garlicky-seafood-infused broth with crusty bread.  The funny thing is, I have never tried to make a braised seafood recipe myself.  I guess I envisioned the fish breaking into a million unsatisfying pieces, and the shellfish coming out rubbery.  But it’s the season to braise, and after seeing several recipes about stews and braised seafood dishes recently, I wanted to give it a shot.  However, the night I chose to make it, I got shot down.  My husband wanted something quicker and less involved than the cioppino recipe I had selected…something about the 45 ingredients or some nonsense.  But even though I am always up for a cooking challenge, ultimately he was right.  We had two soccer games to take the kids to that day, as well as a birthday party, so it instantly became turkey burger night.  The following weekend, he suggested that we invite my seafood-loving girlfriend over, and make ‘whatever that recipe was’.  We exchanged smiles, and two texts and 30 seconds later, my girlfriend had already started plotting what she could bring.  The night was set.  So I set out to make my shopping list.
After looking at all my various recipes, I took to the internet to find one that would be a little easier to prepare, so more time could be spent socializing (aka wine-time).  I came across this recipe from A Healthy Life for Me.  It looked amazing.  I chose to add some garlic, cherry tomatoes, white wine and lemon to it and increased the quantities because of my party of six.   After seeing the pile of shells and empty bowls at the end of the night, I decided that we had made a successful dish.

braised mahi-mahi and shellfish with leeks and mushrooms:

3  TB extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2  sticks butter (3/4 cup)
4  large garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2  oz. pkg fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
3  large leeks, halved and thinly sliced  – white and light green parts only
kosher salt and black pepper
1  cup dry white wine
6  cups lower-salt chicken broth
6  mahi-mahi filets, skinned
1  lb. bag of little neck clams, scrubbed
1  lb. bag of mussels, scrubbed
1  pint grape tomatoes, halved
crushed red pepper
1  lemon, zested, then sliced into rounds
1/2  cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
crushed red pepper

leeksshiitake mushroom caps

get started on the braised goodness:

Prepare the clams by gently emptying them into a large colander.  Under running water, use a stiff bristled brush to scrub them in order to remove grit on the shells.  This process takes about 3-4 minutes but it’s worth it so that you don’t bite into sand later.  Scoop – don’t pour – clams into a clean bowl and cover with cold water and a 1/4 cup of kosher salt.  I have never had a problem with this method, however you can find other methods online that say to just place the clams in a bowl and cover with damp paper towels, and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to clean and use.

Prepare the mussels by placing them on ice in a bowl in your refrigerator until you are ready to clean and use.

cleaned leekssliced shiitake mushrooms

In a large enameled cast iron pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the butter and melt until bubbly, but not brown.  Add garlic, mushrooms and leeks.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the wine cook for 1 minute.  Add broth and increase the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

vegetable saute

Season the mahi-mahi on both sides with salt and pepper.  Nestle the mahi-mahi into the broth.  When adding the clams, remove them from the bowl with a slotted spoon and into the broth.  Do not pour clams into a colander – you risk covering the clams with the grit that was dispensed from inside the clam shells which will be at the bottom of the bowl.  Finally add the mussels, and bring the broth back up to a boil.  Add grape tomatoes and stir gently.  Cover tightly with a lid and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 8 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through and opaque.  If there are clams and mussels that have not opened, remove the fish and continue cooking the shellfish another 2-3 minutes.   Discard any shellfish that have not opened.  With a slotted spoon, remove all the fish, shellfish from the pot and into a serving bowl or dish.  Pour vegetables and broth over the fish and add the lemon zest.  Garnish with crushed red pepper, lemon slices and fresh parsley.

zested lemonlemon zest

note: you can plate this individually or serve family style with pasta – serves 6-8 hungry people.

family style