Friday, September 20, 2013

How to pick the perfect pumpkin to pick at the pumpkin patch

What you need to know before you go to the pumpkin patch.
Because you need to know what to pick before you go picking.
And why you need to be picky about what pumpkin you pick.

Halloween text that says Pick your Pumpkin with Purpose

I keep hearing Promo's for the new Fox show SLEEPY HOLLOW and I keep getting freaked out. I remember being so scared as a kid when the teacher would read Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".   (You can read it online for free at

I remember shaking in my sneakers...

Then I realized it wasn't my teacher or the short story that frightened me--it was an episode of Scooby-Doo!  
photo of the cartoon Scooby-Doo with a man with a jack'o lantern head riding a white horse/marvelousmusings

"Zoinks!!!  That was scary, man"

Although the short story by Washington Irving was spooky, the headless horseman from Scooby-Doo really terrified me! THAT DARN PUMPKIN HEAD HAUNTED ME FOR A GOOD PORTION OF MY CHILDHOOD!

While I was trying to shake myself from the repressed tramatic cartoon memories, I welcomed the distraction when I read that the local pumpkin patch opened and is ready for picking.

While Pumpkin Heads are disturbing, the pumpkin patch is always so much fun and this year I want to be prepared when I get there.  I never know what kind of pumpkin is good for what use and I never know which pumpkin to pick.  

So began my research for everything pumpkin.  Pumpkins just say Autumn to me.  Which, when you think about it, really kicks off the holiday season.

Gone are the Dog Days of Summer and sipping Margarita Beer Cocktails while watching the sunset, when we were looking to get out of the kitchen.  In Autumn, we want to snuggle-in and drink Broth.  This is the time we begin to dream about sugar plums dancing in our heads.  

From now until January we have a reason to celebrate at least once a month.  Let's face it:  We are on the platform of the Fast Train to Christmas.

So going to the pumpkin patch is basically calling out CHOO-CHOO here we go!    ALL ABOARD!


Pumpkins will last for the next few months if you care for them properly.  

When you go to the patch you have to have a purpose for your pumpkin in mind.
  • will you bake it?
  • cook with it?
  • carve it?
  • paint it?
  • use it as a soup vessel?
  • leave it alone and let it shine in all it's natural wonderful glory?

The versatility of pumpkins:

  • nutritious; considered a "super food"
  • beauty applications
  • in decor
  • entertainment
  • food
  • animal feed
  • keeps goblins away

What to look for in any pumpkin:

(Especially if you want your pumpkin to last for a few months)

A pumpkin should 
  • have a nice sized stem 
  • feel heavy
  • look beautiful
Any mar, blemish or indent in the skin may lead to an early rot.

Light colored pumpkins are usually softer; making it easier to carve.

Remember to never carry a pumpkin by the stem.

Pick with a purpose at the pumpkin patch:

You need to pick your pumpkin with your purpose in mind.

For Decor:

If you're looking for a "traditional-looking" pumpkin then choose a
Magic Lantern.
How to pick the perfect pumpkin to pick at the pumpkin patch:  Photo of a Magic Lantern pumpkin  a traditional-looking pumpkin/Marvelousmusings
Magic Lantern

For Painting:

If you want to paint a pumpkin, choose an "Orange Smoothie" which has a smooth surface--great to use as a canvas.
photo of an orange smoothie pumpkin on the vine/marvelousmusings

For Baking:

Choose a Sugar Pie pumpkin as they are generally sweeter with a much more fine consistency.  A beautiful pumpkin that was suitable for Cinderella's night at the ball it is also delicious in pies.
How to pick the perfect pumpkin to pick at the pumpkin patch.  Photo of a Cinderella pumpkin which is beautiful and tasty/Marvelousmusings
Cinderella Pumpkin

One pound of raw pumpkin equals about 1 Cup of Puree.

A 5 pound pumpkin usually makes about two 9 inch pies.

What part of the pumpkin can I eat?

All pumpkins are pretty much edible but some are more suited for eating because the flesh is less fibrous.  While some have a thicker rind that makes for better Jack o'lanterns which are bred to be carved.

All parts of the pumpkin are edible.  The "flesh" can be used in pies, baked goods, smoothies, soups... the options are endless.

The seeds are roasted and perfect with just a bit of salt. 

Even the blossoms can be prepared like a zucchini flower. [I can't believe I never heard this or ate this before.]

Although they are all edible there are pumpkins more suited for carving then eating.

All pumpkins are edible but do not eat gourds.

 How long will a pumpkin last?

With proper precautions a pumpkin you pick now (mid-September) could last you from the patch to the new year. 

Tips to make your pumpkin last longer:

  • Keep it in a cool dry place
  • Try not to handle too much
  • Keep pumpkins away from ripening fruit. The fruit releases a gas that will accelerate the decaying process of the pumpkin.
  • Never let the pumpkins touch each other, there should be good air circulation around each pumpkin.

After a while the rind will harden and "cure" making it a bit more resistant to decay and rot.

If stored correctly pumpkins have the durability to last months at least throughout the holiday season.

I have picked pumpkins in September and have had them last throughout the new year when I have thrown them into the snow and given the birds and squirrels a surprise winter treat.

You can even paint one side of the pumpkin to get you through Halloween and then turn it around (the blank side) for your Thanksgiving decor!

How do you pick your pumpkin?

Do you have any tricks to picking the perfect pumpkin?

What plans do you have for your pumpkins?

Chug a chug a choo choo.... 


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices or Back to School Sick Soup


There is comfort chicken soup--which is good on a cold winters day, and then there's sick soup for when you'e looking for a remedy.  Comfort Chicken Soup cures a winter chill but "Sick Soup" soothes you when you are ill.

This soup has medicinal herbs and spices that can expedite or at least subdue a cold and general sickness.

Nourishing Back to School Sick Soup

It seems like just yesterday we were enjoying summer and sipping on Margarita Beer Cocktails.   Now, it's back-to-school time which brings new activities, new adventures and new people into our lives exposing us to new germs.

The cough came on suddenly.  Started with one horrible dry cough that came out of nowhere and proceeded to get worse.  Coughing, sneezing and general yuckiness.  [not to be confused with caramelized yumminess.]

When I heard, "Mommy, will you make your 'Dee-ish-us' soup for me?"  I never felt more like a Mother.

Although my poor child felt lousy, I was warmed by the awareness that although the nursing days are long gone, I can still nurture and foster my child and provide some kind of relief in the form of nourishment.

Last minute, use what's in the refrigerator "Sick Soup"    

                  Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices

for when someone is suddenly sick.

Relieved when I remembered I had a chicken in the refrigerator; I tore through the kitchen hoping to find the rest of the ingredients.  

Garden tomatoes, parsley, onion, celery, garlic, carrots for Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices

Garden tomatoes, parsley, onion, celery, garlic, carrots for Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices

The whole time I was wracking my brain trying to remember every home remedy about healing herbs and spices that I had ever read.

Chicken broth with medicinal spices Thyme, Chives, Turmeric, Minced onion, Cayenne, whole black peppercorns, Himalayan Pink Salt marvelousmusings
Thyme, Chives, Turmeric, Minced onion, Cayenne, whole black peppercorns, Himalayan Pink Salt

This isn't so much a recipe but a technique.  Most of the time when I cook I hardly use any measuring tools--I save those for when I'm baking--which is an exact science.  When cooking it's best to eyeball it.  Free yourself from the inhibition of recipe cards and measurements and just cook!

How to make Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices:

you will need:
One whole chicken, cut up

Cold water filtered through a Brita


all good size pinches:
  • Thyme
  • Chives
  • Turmeric
  • Minced onion flakes
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Whole Black peppercorns--a small cupped handful
  • Himalayan Pink Salt

I simply washed the vegetables and put them in the pan with enough water to cover.  I did not cut the vegetables in any way because I was looking to boil all the goodness out of them so the nutrients would be sipped in the broth.

Here are the vegetables I had on hand:

  • tomatoes:  (whole) handful of GIANT grape from the garden
  • parsley: a small bunch left whole
  • onion: half  with skin intact
  • celery: a small bunch
  • garlic: 6 cloves whole (with skins)
  • carrots:  about a cups worth of baby carrots
Put the chicken in pan with vegetables you have on hand and cover with water.  I like to make soup with the stuff that kind of gets forgotten about in the fridge.  Not moldy stuff or stuff that has gone bad, but the stuff that is limp and a bit too soggy to serve fresh when you need it to be crispy but what difference does it make when its boiled in a soup?

I start with cold ingredients in a cold pan with cold water.   I usually sprinkle and pinch the spices on top of the pan filled with ingredients.

Slowly start to heat it.  I fill my water pretty high in the pan and always run the risk of it overflowing out if the water boils too hard--which it shouldn't.  What I like to do is get it to a nice boil so I pay attention and stand over it.  

When the boiling becomes stronger than just a few bubbles here and there,  I put the lid on the pan and let it roll.  You have to find the sweet spot of temperature.  High enough so that it cooks and softly boils but not enough that it comes to a roaring boil and boils over.
photo of Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices starting to boil marvelous musings
Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices starting to boil

To skim the scum or not?

I don't.  I used to.  I would stand over the soup and remove the foamy "impurities" as it arose.  Then one day my husband was making the soup and didn't skim the scum.  Worried that I was going to have scummy soup when I opened the lid; I was surprised to see that if you just leave it alone it boils itself back in. 

Some experts say that it makes for a cloudy soup but I prefer to have a tastier more nutrient dense soup than a clear soup.  This is "Sick Soup" not a fancy Consommé.   I'm searching for clarity in life, but not in my Sick Soup.

Part of the reason for me not to skim or de-fat this Sick Soup is because I find that the oil can provide lubrication and coat the throat to ease and calm coughing jags. 

Once it is gently and softly simmering, put a lid on it and leave it for a couple of hours except to periodically check to make sure all the liquid is not boiling away.  As the liquid evaporates the boil may become harder in which case you would have to turn it down. The point is to keep it at even and consistent simmer.

After a few hours when it looks and smells done take out the chicken.  If you want you can bone the chicken and put the meat back into your broth at this point.  We served the meat on the side because we we're looking for more of a liquid food--a beverage broth instead of a hearty soup.  Although any kind of grain, rice or pasta may be added.

The patient requested star pastina and had it in the first bowl but all other subsequent cups were served plain in a special "tea" cup.

How can culinary spices be medicinal?

Herbs and spices have been treasured and cherished for their taste and medical properties since ancient times.   Spices are potent and a little bit goes a long way both in flavoring and their medical uses and side effects.

Unless you're allergic, more likely than not these herbs and spices are completely safe to consume.  They are culinary ingredients used in the preparation of food since the beginning of time as we know it.

In saying that let me make it absolutely clear that I am not a physician or herbalist or anything but a mother making soup.  When you or your loved one's are sick it is always best to consult your physician or medical practitioner before starting anything new.  Many foods, including spices, have a profound effect on certain medications and caution must be taken.


University of Maryland Medical Center says about Thyme:
  • "Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) -- Thyme has traditionally been used to treat respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and to treat cough. Two preliminary studies suggest that thyme may help treat acute bronchitis and relieve cough. Thyme is approved by the German Commission E to treat those conditions. Thyme oil is considered toxic and should not be taken by mouth. Thyme may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you also take blood-thinners such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), or warfarin (Coumadin). "  Source: Cough | University of Maryland Medical Center University of Maryland Medical Center.

  • The essential oil of thyme contains the active ingredient thymol which is an active ingredient in Listerine antiseptic mouthwash.  


  • Known as the "golden spice," has been treasured for it's versatality of function and medicinal properties for thousands of years.
  • Turmeric is a staple spice in the cuisine of India, traditionally served in a dish known as curry.   It can be used as a dye (careful when using it it stains everything yellow!) and it's used in cosmetics.  It is also very commonly used as medicine.
  • A traditional common cough "home remedy" is made by mixing this powerfully anti-inflammatory spice into an elixir called "turmeric tea."
  • Potent and powerful, turmeric can even aid those suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis.

If you think you have never eaten Turmeric;  I bet you did--it's what makes mustard yellow!

Cayenne Pepper:

Cayenne pepper contains the powerful substance capsaicin which may help:
  • reduce pain.
  • fight inflammation
  • clear congestion in the nose or lungs by stimulating secretions

Whole Black Peppercorns:

"The king of all spice" was once so valuable that is was used as currency!
  • helps the body absorb vitamins and nutrients from food
  • stimulates the taste buds
  • aids in digestion


  • a rich source of vitamin c


  • YUM

The Goldfish are colored with turmeric dye.

Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices plated in bowl with goldfish colors crackers on the side marvelous musings
Chicken Broth with Medicinal Spices

And goldfishes make everything better.

Served as a beverage, this simple healing broth was something to sip on.

Have you ever tried to tailor make a soup?

Do you have any secret or medicinal ingredients?

Do you have any kitchen concoctions?

****I am not affiliated with any of the products used in this post.  All the products in this post were in my kitchen.  This is not a sponsored post.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Simple pasta recipe: Summer squash, shells and clams. Superfoods from the farm stand and shelf to the plate in under a half hour.

Superfoods from the farm stand and shelf to plate:  a healthy, simple pasta recipe with summer squash, shells and clams

Superfood Supper in UNDER a HALF HOUR!

Harvest Time

The bounty of harvest is ours to enjoy.

My husband came home with a farm stand find.

Like the T.V. show Chopped where you get a "mystery basket of ingredients" to cook; my husband came home with his farm stand finds and I was to prepare it.

This is what my husband came home with.

And this is what I did with it.

Farm stand Finds:

Zucchini and Yellow Squash or Summer Squash

photo of farm stand finds can of clam, lemon, zucchini, yellow squash, tomato/marvelousmusings
FARM STAND FINDS AND OFF THE SHELF TO PLATE:  shells with summer squash and clams

How to make a simple pasta dish:



redcushed pepper (to taste)
olive oil
6 cloves garlic peeled
3 zucchini
3 yellow squash
one plum tomato
1 can of chopped clams in clam juice
1 pound of medium shaped shells pasta


Whenever I prepare a pasta dish, I always get the water boiling first and foremost.  Sometimes that can take up most of the time of preparing a meal--just waiting for the water to boil.  I rather have the water boiling and waiting for me then to have all of your vegetables chopped--and you have to sit and wait for water to boil.

Take a large frying pan and drizzle a bit of Extra Virgin Olive oil into the pan.  Pour just enough to barely coat the pan.

Peel the garlic and cut off the tips but leave the cloves intact.  Put peeled garlic cloves in the cold pan and oil.  Start on medium-low heat heating up pan, oil and garlic.  As that is slowly heating up together; start chopping your summer squash.

I cut my zucchini and yellow squash in quarter rounds you can see a tutorial here.

Heating Garlic:

heating garlic for shells with clams, tomato, zucchini and yellow squash/marvelousmusings
Garlic and olive oil...this garlic turned to candy!

When the color of the garlic has changed add the chopped vegetables.  Keep temperature on medium-low heat.

Once the zucchini, squash and tomato are in the pan give it a good shake but do not stir or touch the veggies.  They should be laying pretty evenly in the pan and just let them cook the way they are.

The best part is having them be raw on one side and caramelized on the other.   Soft and crunchy;  yet crispy and mushy all at the same time.

After a few minutes when you can "hear" it cooking and start to sizzle, add  a few pats of grass-fed butter.  (Cooking appeases all the senses!)  I use Kerrygold because I think the taste is fantastic and a little goes a LONG way in flavoring the dish.  [****I am NOT affiliated with them in any way.]

Truth be told:  I walked away from the stove while cooking and upon my return I thought it had burned.  But I still didn't stir or touch or poke the vegetables.  I just let it cook only on one side.  

If you must do something to "feel" like you are cooking simply shift or turn the pan but try not to disrupt the veggies.  The top of the vegetables should still look raw.

If you must, turn over one tiny piece of the quarter-round zucchini piece to check to see if it's browned on the bottom.  If it is then lower tempeture to lowest setting and still just let it be.

Boil the Pasta:

Add pasta to water and cook according to package directions.  I like my pasta al dente; more firm then soft.  So that usually means a shorter cooking time.  My package said 11 minutes and I set the timer to 8 minutes and started testing at 9 minutes.

Drain pasta and return it to the pan you boiled it in.

Pour the zucchini, squash and garlic mixture over the pasta.

Once you "flip" the veggies onto the pasta you should notice all the caramelized yumminess.

photo of caramelized summer squash with shell pasta/marvelousmusings

Then add the can of clams: 

Caramelized summer squash with clams and shell pasta/marvelousmusings

Use a big spooon or a rubber spatula to gently incorporate all the ingredients.

Serve in a shallow bowl with fresh parmesan cheese, red crushed pepper and a squirt of lemon.

Summer squash with shells and clams, zucchini, tomato, superfood supper in under half hour/marvelousmusings

This dish was an absolute hit!  The zucchini and squash was totally caramelized on one side and "raw" on the other.  It was both crunchy and soft and sweet, and the added bit of lemon gave it just enough tang. 

The shell-shaped pasta was perfect for catching a clam and a bit of vegetable.  Each bite was filled with a different combination of clam-to-veggie ratio.

The garlic cloves were toasted and crunchy on one side and roasted-candy-like on the other.

The clams and zucchini and "candied" garlic are all sweet.  I thought the lemon off-set it magically and made it feel like a beachy, summer meal.

Not only was this delicious and nutritious; but the best part?

It took under a HALF hour to prepare.

A quick simple meal with "superfoods," that is both s
atisfying and delicious.

What is a Superfood?

According to GOOGLE:

plural noun: superfoods
  1. 1.
    a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.

Health Benefits of Clams: 

    Clams are considered to be a lean protein rich in potassium and B-12. Clams also provide a rich source of iron.
  • Low iron can result in lethargy and fatigue.  Iron deficiency is a common nutritional deficiency and can lead to anemia.
  • Potassium aides in counterbalancing the effects of sodium in the body and may help regulate blood pressure and may aid in the prevention of strokes.
  • Vitamin B-12:  Drugs for acid reflux, diabetes and aging interfere with the body's ability to absorb this vital nutrient. Vitamin B-12 is associated with energy production and healthy nerves.  Some signs of a vitamin B-12 deficiency can include: nausea, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, heart palpitations, fatigue, sore tongue and gums, brain fog, depression and memory loss.

Is a zucchini a squash or squash a zucchini?


From what I can see there are not that many differences beside the color of squash and zucchini.  Zucchini usually refers to the green and they can both be referred to as "summer squash."

I always choose any vegetable on the small and young size.  I find the bigger more monstrous ones tend to be seedy and fibrous.  The smaller are usually more tender and delicate.

Zucchini and yellow squash is a superfood because it is packed with nutrients.

Health benefits summer squash:

  • it is filled with vitamin c (good to eat with the clams which are high in iron and the vitamin c promotes absorption of iron.) 
  • a rich source of manganese: a mineral that can help slow down the effects of osteoporosis. 
  • hydrating (good for a hot summer meal.)

Tomato and lemon: more vitamin C to help in the absorption of the iron in the clams.

Filling and satisfying. Tasty,nutritious and delicious.



Serve with a tossed salad for even more veggies.

Summer squash with shells and clams, tomato superfood supper in under half hour/marvleousmusings
From Farm stand and shelf to plate:  Superfood summer squash with shells and clams

A surprise challenge that was well worth it!

They say there is a certain elegance to simplicity. Also deliciousness....

Have you found anything good at a farm stand?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Give it a shot! Must try Margarita-beer cocktail

How do you like your drinks?

The weather has been unseasonably cool making summer living al fresco more bearable.  The "dogs" don't seem to be suffering, thankfully.  The heatwave has broken and we are back at trying to enjoy the season.

That means more time grilling, eating and drinking outdoors.  What better time to do my research on margarita-beer.


I like ice.  I like putting ice in my beverages.

Apparently this puts me in the same league as the people of Thailand, mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg and celebrity chef/food network star Anne Burrell --who adds ice to her Prosecco (which is a sparkling white wine) and calls it "big girl soda."

Upon my research I came to the conclusion that putting ice in certain liquids seems to cause quite a stir in some people.  

I really do not know why people get angry about how another person enjoys their food or drink.  I saw one comment that said it was "barbaric" to put ice in beer.  Barbaric?  Why would someone care if i put ice in my beverage?  Why the visceral reaction?  I'm drinking or eating it and tasting it…its my preference.  Why would someone care?  

Anyway, sorry about that.  I have decided to be proud about my preference for icy libations.  

I have to admit:  Before I saw that other people were enjoying their drinks the way they choose I had already declared the year 2013 the year I would drink MY drink the way I like it.  If I wanted ice in my wine or beer I was doing it.  (I'm that kind of rebel.)  When I saw that other people were doing the same my feelings were only validated.

What is a Beer Margarita?

Earlier in the summer I was musing on beer margaritas or beer-a-ritas and promised to research the notion.  Once again, something that I thought was so new, so innovative is actually something quite traditional.

Enter the Michelada, which according to wikipedia is basically a prepared Mexican and Latin American cocktail that is made of beer, lime juice, sauces and spices served over ice.  It is often used as a hangover cure.

A margarita is basically tequila and lime juice served over ice in a salted rimmed glass.

So what happens when you combine the two?

margarita beer cocktail marvelousmusings
Margarita-beer cocktail/MarvelousMusings

 Can you say "refreshing"?

How to make a Margarita-Beer cocktail or Beer-a-rita:

Here's what we did:

1 Bottle of Dos Equis beer
1 shot of Patron Silver tequilla
1 salted-rimmed cup filled with ice
fresh lime juice
lime slices

Pour the shot over the ice then add the bottle of beer.  Add fresh lime juice to taste.  There's no need to even stir because the effervescence of the beer does all the work.  Just sit back and delight.

Margarita beer cocktail photo of limes patron tequila dos equis
Margarita-beer cocktail

Sitting al fresco, watching the sunset turned out to be a perfect summer evening.  

photo of sunset for while sipping a margarita beer cocktail marvelous musings

The breeze blowing just enough to keep the gnats and no-see-ums at bay.  Sipping this marvelous cocktail made me feel quite genteel.  How can that be barbaric?

How do you take your drinks?  Do you ice it, too?

P.S.  Yes, on occasion I have put ice in my milk.

And just for the heck of it:

Let me know if you give it a shot!

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Boneless, skinless chicken breast grilled with avocado, tomato and cucumber salad. Easy, healthy "Clean" and gluten-free! For the Dog Days of Summer:

"The dog Days of Summer"

What are the dog days of summer?

I always thought it was a silly expression used to describe how when it's so hot that even the animals only move to seek the shade.  

Come to find out, it's a real term, used since the Ancient Romans.  It refers to "the sultry days of summer."  Imagine the havoc the heat must have caused ancient people. Modern people are so indulged by air conditioning and perfect indoor temps...imagine if our food and water spoiled with the rising temperatures?  

According to Wikipedia ancient people had to sacrifice a brown dog at the start of the season to try to prevent disaster.  I'm glad as American's we kick off our season with fireworks and revelry--summer is fun in present times!

When it's too hot to cook, it's time for the grill...although we grill all year long--even in the snow!  But today the kitchen was too hot and everyone was lethargic from heat exhaustion.  So we threw together this nourishing supper without breaking a sweat.

Easy grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast with avocado, tomato and cucumber:

easy grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast with avocado, tomato and cucumbers/marvelousmusings

This is not so much as a recipe but more of a technique.  There's no measuring.  I like to call it the "shake, splash, drizzle" way of preparing a meal.

(Light and pre-heat grill to full blast.)

First things first:  wash the boneless, skinless chicken breast.  If you're anything like us you approach this as if you were a surgeon going into surgery.  Salmonella is no joke and I would much rather be safe than sorry.  Wash the chicken, wash your hands and everything that remotely may have come into contact with what we like to call, "sally."

[By washing I mean running cold water from your faucet over the chicken.  DO NOT USE SOAP.  USE soap AFTER the clean chicken is in a clean bowl.  Then wash your hands, utensils and prep area with soap and water.  NO SOAP ON OR NEAR THE CHICKEN.]

Now that the nice & clean chicken is in the bowl here's where you get creative with the shakes, drizzles, dashes, and splashes.

[Having to take it out for the picture makes the ingredient list look more complicated that what it truly is.]

easy grilled chicken ingredients

Here's the list:
  1. sesame oil
  2. apple cider vinegar
  3. hot sesame oil
  4. red wine vinegar
  5. salt
  6. sweet paprika
  7. onion flakes
  8. black pepper
  9. sesame seeds
  10. ginger
  11. cayenne

Are you ready to shake, splash, drizzle?

  • sesame oil--drizzle
  • apple cider vinegar--splash
  • hot sesame oil--just a drop or too depending on your level of spiciness 
  • red wine vinegar--splash
  • salt--small shake
  • sweet paprika--small shake
  • onion flakes--couple of small shakes
  • black pepper--small shake
  • ginger--a dash
  • cayenne--small dash--again it depends on how spicy you like it
  • olive oil--tiny drizzle
  • sesame seeds
That's it.  If you want it to be "sesame chicken," than add more sesame seeds.  

marinating chicken with oils and spices

         While the chicken is marinating prepare your salad.  


                           The salad is a "2er":

  •  2 tomatoes
  •  2 avocados
  •  2 small pickling cucumbers

Chop the ingredients into uniform, bite-size pieces.  Splash with a small amount of vinegar of your choice or lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper and give it a stir.  Put the salad in the refrigerator while you grill your chicken.

                                       Grill the chicken breast 

Preheat grill to full blast for 10-15 minutes.

Clean the grill then turn it down to medium-high heat.

Place chicken on grill.

Wait at least  5 minutes, (time varies from grill to grill and size of breast) before you touch it.  After approximately 5 minutes of grilling give your first gentle nudge to check to see if the meat is still sticking to the grill.  If it's sticking give it another minute and them nudge again.  If its "free" and not sticking flip the breast.  

Repeat the process but start to nudge at 4 minutes for the second side.  

Once the second side is free flip back to the first side.  

You can keep flipping now, but never squeezing down on the breast.  That would only squeeze the juice out of the breast and would make the chicken dry.

Now the chicken should look done but it has to feel done.  It should be firm--not at all floppy like when you put the raw chicken on the grill.  

The chicken breast should be firm.

Take off the grill and LET IT REST!!  For AT LEAST 5 minutes if not more.  I think that that is the most important part.  The chicken will continue to cook and juices will redistribute.  Once cut there should be no pink.

Easy grilled chicken with oils, spices and avocado, cucumber, tomato salad
Easy Grilled chicken for a hot day

Plate the chicken and top it with the salad.  The cucumber was refreshing and cooling.  The richness of the avocado was satisfying  and perfectly balanced with the lean chicken.  

It really stands alone, but if you wanted a carb with it I think sliced and toasted (on the grill while the chicken was resting) peasant bread would be a great accompaniment.

You can google fancier methods for grilling chicken breast like on these sites:, or  Where you can learn to marinate overnight, fillet the breast or brine it.  Those are otherwise fantastic ideas but more useful for when you grill in the snow....remember it's hot here and we needed something quick and easy and requiring a minimal amount of effort.

There is no pounding, no cutting.  Just WASHING the chicken and using a simple marinade while you assemble the rest of your meal.  The hardest part is actually having to stand over the grill and having the diligence to NOT overcook or touch it.

Not only is this a perfect meal for a summer night but did you know those salad ingredients may prevent or soothe your sunburned skin?

If you try this yourself, will you let me know if our "technique" worked for you?

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