Grilled Cilantro Thai Chicken

The countdown to summer vacation officially began this morning.  14 days of school left for my older kids and only 3 for my preschooler.  He was in tears about that.  The older ones were in tears that they had so many more days than he did....

With summer weather right around the corner, I began digging up new recipes for the grill.  I had quite the pile to try, but no working grill to try them on.  I had been waiting for my husband to be in town long enough to go buy us a new one and most importantly, put it together!

I realized last week that if I continued to wait, we would never get a new grill because he is never home!  So marched to my Menards, bought the biggest grill they had and almost 4 hours later, finally had it put together.  Apparently, the CharBroil company and I have very differing definitions of "Easy to Assemble".
This recipe was at the top of my new grilling recipes I wanted to try.  The original recipe didn't have the sugar or red pepper flakes, but the whole flavor profile of Thai food includes some sweet and spicy as well.  I'm glad I added both.  
Grilled Cilantro Thai Chicken
8 chicken breasts
1 C cilantro
6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped 
3 Tb fish sauce
1 Tb soy sauce
2 Tb toasted sesame oil
2 Tb sugar 
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1.  In your food processor, blend together the cilantro, garlic, fish sauce, oil, sugar and pepper flakes.  Pour the mixture over the chicken and mix it together so the chicken is completely covered on all sides with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2.  15 minutes before the chicken is finished marinating, turn your grill on high and let it get hot.  After it has heated, grill the chicken, skin side down first.  Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Flip over the chicken and grill another 5-7 minutes on the other side, or until the juices run clear.
**Gluten-free:  Be sure to use gluten free soy sauce
**Low-carb:  Use Truvia instead of sugar.  You could also use Splenda, but I greatly prefer Truvia because there is no after taste.

Cake Batter Puppy Chow / Muddy Buddies

I have been out of commission for the past week and I think today was the breaking point for my kids.  They can only take so much of Mom being sick (while Dad is out of town to boot) before they completely lose it and everything falls to pieces.  At some deeper level, that should make me feel good since I am so essential to our family functioning effectively.  However, it just ticks me off.

My friends kept telling me how lucky I was that I had my older three to fill in for me.  Ummmm....right.  So lucky.
My 8 year old finally got sick of "nothing good to eat" today and made this recipe.  I was proud of her. She helps me all the time in the kitchen, but this was her first true solo endeavor.  It was a huge hit with all her siblings and made me realize that I often underestimate the abilities of my younger three.

It is OK though, because this week has taught me that I overestimate my older three's ability to see a need and fulfill it on their own.  I guess we are at a perfect balance of disfunction!
Cake Batter Puppy Chow
(makes about 1 gallon of mix)
10 C rice Chex cereal
10 squares of white almond bark
1 small bottle sprinkles
1 1/2 C dry yellow cake mix
1/2 C powdered sugar

1.  In a large mixing bowl, measure out the cereal.  In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt the white almond bark according to package directions.
2.  Pour melted bark over the cereal and gently fold with a rubber spatula.  Add the bottle of sprinkles and mix until the cereal is evenly covered.
3.  Using a 1 gallon container with a lid, pour the covered cereal into the container then add the cake mix and powdered sugar.  Place the lid on the container and shake until the cereal is completely covered.
***Gluten Free - use a gluten free yellow cake mix

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Did you run out of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs as quickly as we did?  They were definitely the hot item during the traditional "Trading of the Candy" that follows all holidays.  Here was the general exchange rate this year:

1 Reese's Peanut Butter Egg = 1 Butterfinger Egg + 2 Mini Twix
1 Mini Twix = 1 Nerds
1 Nerds = 3 Smarties
1 Pop Rocks = 2 Smarties + 2 Nerds

Of course, the older children were anxious to trick the younger kids by trading 1 Smartie for 1 Peanut Butter Egg.  I quickly stomped out trying to take advantage of uninformed traders due to age.  Stinkers.
So by the time Monday afternoon rolled around, all the coveted Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs had been inhaled.  My 4 year old was especially distraught, so we made these bars together to heal the broken Easter heart.

Yep, they are easy enough for a 4 year old to make.  Plus, they are outstanding.  I like them better than the eggs :)
No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
(recipe adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff)
2 C graham cracker crumbs (about 1 bag + 4 whole crackers ground)
1 C butter
1 C peanut butter
2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C chocolate chips (semi-sweet for richness, milk for something more mild)
1/4 C peanut butter

1.  In a large glass bowl, melt together the butter and peanut butter in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Add the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Mix until combined.  Spread evenly on an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.  You can also use a 9 x 9 pan and have a thicker cookie.
2.  Place the chocolate chips and peanut butter into a small glass bowl and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  Use a rubber spatula to combine and mix until the chocolate is melted completely.  Spread evenly over the peanut butter mixture.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
***Gluten-Free:  Use gluten free graham cracker crumbs!

Low Sugar - Low Carb Teriyaki Chicken

Vacations are the best:  Sleeping in.  Eating out.  Sleeping in.  Eating out.  Sleeping in.  Eating out.

Having just returned from our week long family vacation to Utah, I am definitely feeling the effects of my above mentioned pattern.  My clothes are much tighter and only a doughnut from Carl's Bakery in Granite Falls, MN would have gotten me out of bed to workout this morning.

Getting back to reality after such indulgence is always so painful.  Why can't we live in our "vacation world" more often?  Granted, I would be 400 lbs and would accomplish very little since I would sleep 10+  hours a night.
This chicken definitely helps in my transition back to reality.  It tastes great, and the best part:  No feelings of guilt when I wake-up tomorrow morning!  At least for me, eating well the day before is completely empowering for the next day.
This is a great freezer meal as well.  I prepare extra sauce and pour it over the raw chicken in a freezer bag.  So easy when you are already making one batch, so just make a bit more and save loads of time later!
Low Sugar - Low Carb Teriyaki Chicken
recipe adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C quality soy sauce
1/2 C water
1/4 C Splenda or 2 Tb Truvia
1 Tb dark brown sugar
2 Tb freshly grated ginger root
2 Tb fresh garlic, finely minced

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Trim visible fat and tendons from the chicken breasts.  Make a row of shallow cuts along the top of the chicken to allow the sauce to penetrate deeper.  Place the chicken, cut side down, in a single layer in a casserole dish
2.  Put all the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer about 15 minutes.  It should reduce by 1/3-1/2.  Pour about 1/3 of the sauce over the chicken and cover the dish with foil.  Bake about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is beginning to firm to the touch.
3.  Remove the foil, turn the chicken so the cut side is facing up and baste the chicken with the extra sauce in the pan using a pastry brush.  Continue to cook another 20-25 minutes, basting with the sauce every 5 minutes. 
***Freezer meal- place chicken and all the sauce into a bag and freeze.  To cook, allow chicken to thaw and remove some of the extra sauce so you can baste the chicken while cooking.  Follow the regular baking directions.
***Gluten Free - be sure to use gluten free soy sauce!