Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer Menu #2 BBQ

The highlight of this menu is the homemade BBQ Sauce. Growing up my dad barbecued outside every Friday rain or shine and even though I don't eat much meat anymore BBQ still holds a special place in my heart. Right now I live in an apartment and don’t actually have a barbeque, but I have found that broiling things for a couple of minutes on each side works almost as well, though you do miss that nice smokey flavor and it does heat the house up a bit. The following menu features the barbecue sauce that my dad always used for ribs, which he only made in the summer for some reason so that's why I thought of this dish when developing summer menues. Ribs are a pretty fatty cut of meat and since I am developing these menues as part of a nutrition education project I suggested chicken or tempeh or tofu, like I said the star is the sauce, so what you put it on is secondary.

1) Early Summer
BBQ or broiled chicken or tofu or tempeh... or whatever you prefer
steamed broccoli
roasted potatoes
custard w/fruit

What to look for at the farmers market: broccoli, potatoes, strawberries or whatever type of fruit you like 

1) Late summer
BBQ or baked chicken/tofu/tempeh
sauteed zucchini
corn on the cob
custard w/fruit

What to look for at the farmers market: zucchini, sweet corn, peaches or whatever type of fruit you prefer.
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp oil
1 cup catsup
½ cup water
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp ground thyme
1 tsp salt
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 lemon thinly slices
dash tabasco sauce (or to taste)

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add all other ingredients and allow to simmer on low heat for five minute.

Use half of the sauce to marinate whatever you are going to grill. Grilled chicken is always delicious. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are good, but often kind of expensive. I like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken with the bones and skin still on. I don’t eat the skin though, since that is where most of the fat is. That being said, I don’t actually eat a lot of meat so I usually use tofu or tempeh. If you are using tofu or tempeh you don’t have to divide the sauce in half to marinate it since you don’t have to worry about raw meat contamination.

You can marinate the chicken (or whatever you are grilling) for as long as you want, but I would recommend at least an hour. After it has marinated grill or broil it for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until there is no pink. If you are using tofu or tempeh grill or broil it for as long as you like since again, you don’t need to worry about meat contamination.  

Sides Early Summer

At the beginning of the summer broccoli is in season. Broccoli cooks pretty quickly, so you can cut up the broccoli at any point but don’t start cooking it until the chicken or tofu is almost done. I usually cut broccoli into bite size pieces and steam it. Many people don’t eat the stalk, but I think it is delicious. Sometimes the outer layer of the stock can be tough, but you can cut it off and the inner part is still tender. I steam broccoli by putting it in a pan with about an inch of water and cooking it covered on medium high for eight minutes. When you do this many of the nutrients go into the water, I actually drink the water as “broccoli tea”, I have heard it is also good for plants.

I suggest serving roasted potatoes. Start the potatoes first so that they can cook while you are grilling the chicken or tofu. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut three or four potatoes (any type) into small pieces. It can be fun to cut them so that they look like french fries. Put the potatoes onto a large baking sheet and toss them with two tbsp of olive oil, a ¼ tsp of salt, ½ tsp of pepper and any other seasoning that you like. Garlic powder and/or paprika are good choices. Spread the potatoes out so they are in a single layer. Bake the potatoes for 20 minutes and then flip them over and bake for another 20 minutes

Sides Late Summer

In late summer, like August, zucchini is prolific! If you are already grilling the chicken or tofu you can throw the zucchini the grill as well. Cut the zucchini lengthwise into four or five pieces that are thin but several inches long and a couple of inches wide (this will vary by the size of your zucchini) marinate the slices in oil and vinegar or salad dressing for about 10 minutes and then grill them for about 2 minutes on each side. If you are not grilling you can also cook the zucchini on the stove. I like to slice the zucchini into thin circles and cook them for about five minutes with 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat.

Corn is the grain in this meal and there isn’t anything better than fresh sweet corn in August. Begin bringing a large pot of water to boil, the water should be sufficient to cover all of the corn you plan to cook. It can take a while for the water to boil so while you wait remove the outer green leaves and stringy “silk”. Cook the corn in the water for three or four minutes.


I recommend serving custard with this meal. The following recipe is for a basic vanilla custard, which is good on its own, or you can top it with whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand. Strawberries might be a good choice in June and peaches would be tasty in August.  I love making custard because it is super easy, tasty, and a high in calcium as well as protein.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 cups skim milk
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
oil for greasing pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and spread a small amount of oil around 6 muffin cups on a muffin pan. Blend all ingredients and pour into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the custard is set and no longer seems liquidy.


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