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.


chicken roll ups

chicken roll ups

I have long given up on stuffing a huge pork loin.  I have tried too many times and  failed, and I get mad just thinking about it.  The thing is that it looks so damn pretty in the magazines and seems like it should be easy.  I have packed those loins (stop laughing) with juicy stuffing and it still came out with some areas of the pork being leathery and other areas being undercooked.  The stuffing usually lived to make it onto the plate, but I’m already too upset to eat it at that point, so into the trash it goes.  I am not a fan of fruit in my savory meals, but maybe those apples are the secret to pork staying moist?  Or maybe my thermometer is taking a reading where the stuffing is rather than the layer of pork I should be testing.  I don’t know.  Either way I’m done.  Every time my grocery store runs the special on the huge loin that you probably should portion and freeze, I just close my eyes and try to forget the delicious spinach and italian sausage stuffing that went to waste, or the sun dried tomato and broccoli rabe round two version that was sacrificed, and of course – the time spent on expertly butterflying the meat.
So I stuff chicken now instead.  Although this one takes a little time to assemble, once it is in the oven, you’re golden.  Make a little rice, or boil up some pasta, and you have a complete meal and one that will satisfy anyone (who likes chicken).  Plus, it isn’t like you have to prepare a stuffing ahead of time.  You just find ingredients you like and roll them up!  I tend to tweak the recipe depending on what is in my fridge.  The basic components are chicken, cheese, and tomatoes.  My kids like the assembly aspect of preparation – chicken, salt and pepper, prosciutto, basil, tomato and mozzarella cheese.  I have done this with other combinations as well, such as ham and Fontina cheese, leftover grilled vegetables with smoked gouda or even asparagus and provolone.  Everything added on top is optional.  I tend to throw in extras to flavor up the juice in order to serve over rice.  Make it your own and I promise it won’t disappoint.

chicken roll ups:

2 packages of chicken scallopini – check to see if there are about 5 breasts each package
kosher salt and pepper
crushed red pepper
10  slices of imported prosciutto
10  large basil leaves plus 1/4 cup for garnish
4  plum tomatoes, sliced
2  large balls fresh mozzarella, halved and sliced (about 20 slices)
olive oil
1  can diced tomatoes
1  cup white wine
1/2  onion, halved and sliced thinly
1/2  cup olives


get started on rolling them up:

Preheat oven to 375.  Arrange your ‘stuffing’ ingredients so that you can easily lay each of them on the chicken.  Halve and slice the fresh mozzarella.  Slice your tomatoes so that you get the amount needed to stuff your chicken (about 10-12).  You want to be able to taste the tomatoes so don’t cut them too thin.  Pick off the best 10 basil leaves.  Get out the salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Lay out as many chicken breasts as your board allows.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Lay a slice of prosciutto to cover the breast.  Add a basil leaf, slice of tomato and then a slice of mozzarella in the lower third of the chicken breast.  Roll up the chicken from the bottom, by placing your fingers over the stack of ingredients to keep them in place.  Place the roll up with the seam side down in an oiled 11×17 glass dish.  I don’t use toothpicks but if you choose to, remember to take them out!  Continue rolling up remaining chicken.  You should have about 10-12 roll ups.  Try not to squeeze them too tightly together in the dish or they will cook unevenly.

assembly linehelping hands

Drizzle more olive oil over the chicken and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Top each roll up with slices of mozzarella.  Add the canned tomatoes, sliced onions, olives and white wine.  Sprinkle with chopped basil.  Place dish in oven and cook for 30 minutes or until temperature of chicken reaches 155.  Take dish out and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

roll uptopped with cheese

roll ups readyroll ups done

note:  this dish serves 4 with obvious leftovers!