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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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to stay cool with no pool--Beat the heat with these homemade sprinklers and DIY splash pads: 4 cool ways to cool oftf in a heatwave

Baby it's hot- hot- HOT outside!  Most of America is now in an official heat wave.  How do you stay cool without a pool?

How about running through your very own DIY, homemade sprinkler!  Or even better--a DIY splash pad in your backyard! 

Could you believe your very own splash pad?  I had never even conjured up such a thing until I happened upon this site:  Event Horizon.

Event Horizon 

  What a great dad.  He created a SPRINKLER PARK for his daughter!  He has a degree in Physics and his tutorial makes it seem like a do-able project.  Even if you don't go to the extent he did.  I love the terminal of the sprinkler called  dueling noodle station.

Dueling Noodle Station:

He says everyone gets wet when the kiddos get near that one!  It sure looks like fun and very cool way to stay cool!

How about what Michele and her "men" did:

Now that is another fantastic project.  I love how she got the whole family involved in this undertaking.  Then the neighbors enjoyed it with them.  Memories for under $14.00.

For just about $25.00 the gang over at took the concept of a PVC-sprinkler to a completely different direction by adding accessories and making a:

                           DIY Kiddie Car Wash!

I'm thinking this would be just as much fun when the water wasn't even on!  I bet kids would still be thrilled to ride through while the sponges were still wet.

What if I don't what to spend that much time and effort--it's too hot!  

Well, here is a tutorial that is practically free in a "recycle" sense: 


Nicole knocked it out of the park with cheap, easy and quick:  it looks like it basically takes 3 components--including duct tape.  Who doesn't love a project that uses duct tape as a main part?

Four inspiring tutorials.  Somehow just looking at these pictures helped me chill out a bit.  

How do you keep your cool?

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