It’s been a while, because again: We’re rocked by the events in the world. As a white woman, I seldom think about my obvious white privilege. I’m listening, universe. I resolve to listen harder. Listen deeper. Listen with my heart. Do better. I wonder what Betsy would have said about this tumultuous time. Betsy began her adulthood as a staunch Republican, but over the years, she listened, she learned, and was a righteous and outspoken Democrat towards the end of her life. I think she’d be horrified. Her husband, (my dad) Ted, was raised by an African American woman named “Belle.” When Ted was a child, his parents traveled the world for months at a time, so Ted (and his six siblings) were left in Belle’s exceptional care. Ted adored Belle, and the feeling was mutual. I grew up hearing numerous stories about Belle, and respect was the theme of every story. If the five boys (and two girls) didn’t behave, there was hell to pay! Belle ran a tight ship! I am told her “side-eye” was cringe worthy! I remember when Belle passed away; my dad cried like a baby. (Not the case when either of his parents passed.)
Perhaps as a distraction from current events, or perhaps as an effort to reach out, I’ve been cooking for a special relative. Why? She’s older, and lives alone. We all know it’s no fun to cook for yourself, and she’s been eating TV dinners for her evening meals. I remember when Betsy did the same. Not only are these dinners loaded with sodium, but the food is so overly processed that it’s a wonder if there’s any nutrition in there at all. It’s so easy to increase my recipe for an extra portion when I’m cooking. (I wonder why I never did this before?)
This is the tray that I left on her kitchen counter yesterday. Presentation is important because we eat with all our senses, not just one. Food should look beautiful, smell delicious, provide different textures, sizzle loudly in the pan, and above all, taste amazing! Ditch the paper plates, friends. Set the table. Light candles. Eat on china. Use cloth napkins. If you don’t treat yourself special, who will?
The dinner was prepared in three stages:
- Create the marinade
- Create the sauce
- Grill the chicken / roast the carrots
Making the Blueberry Sauce:
A half-cup of blueberries, balsamic vinegar, and Mike’s Hot Honey are brought to a boil, then simmered until the sauce reduces slightly. The berries get smashed with a fork. (If you can’t locate Mike’s honey, use regular clear honey and add 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.)
The other half-cup of berries goes into the food processor, along with red onion, and diced jalapeño pepper. Combine both blueberry mixtures in a non-reactive bowl, and set aside.
Make the marinade:
The marinade is thick and fragrant, packed with fresh herbs: basil, French (or flat leaf) parsley, and cilantro, blended with olive oil, grated lemon rind, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and coarsely grated black pepper. A food processor brings it together in seconds. Marinate chicken for at least 30 minutes, then thread onto skewers, and grill on high heat (500º) for 2 minutes per side.
Cook the chicken:
This photo was taken when I was grilling my relative’s portion, mid-afternoon. If you don’t have one of these Lodge griddle pans, they are a MUST BUY item! One side has ridges, and the other side is flat; perfect for “smash burgers,” blistered veggies, or grilled pizza. Easy to clean, easy to cook on. I heated the griddle for about 30 minutes on high heat, then cooked the chicken kabobs for only 2 minutes each side, with the lid down. High heat creates chicken that’s crispy on the outside, but tender on the inside. Griddles insure that nothing falls between the grates of your grill. I think ours set us back only $30. Try your local hardware store, if Amazon isn’t your jam. Look in the grilling aisle.
The carrots were simple: slice them lengthwise, roast for 15 minutes, apply a simple balsamic glaze, and roast for another 15 minutes. Since I’m not a cooked carrot fan, I sautéed some zucchini with onion and dill for my side dish. Again, simple and easy. But that chicken? WOW. My husband said it was “restaurant-quality.” (Thanks, hon!)
The blueberry sauce can be drizzled on top of the chicken, or plated on the side. We did both. Mmmm! Our leftover sauce was spread on wholegrain toast this morning, as a low-carb “jam,” and spread an on a couple of low-sodium Triscuits with an ounce of cheese, for lunch. We can’t get enough! It’s sooooo good!
Lemon Herb Chicken with Blueberry Sauce
For the chicken marinade
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ C French parsley leaves and stems
- ¼ C basil leaves
- ¼ C cilantro leaves and stems
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- grated rind of one lemon
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tsp black pepper
For the Blueberry Sauce
- 1 C fresh blueberries, divided
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp Mike’s Hot Honey
- 2 Tbsp red onion
- 1 tsp jalapeño pepper, finely diced
- Place whole garlic, basil, parsley, cilantro, olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice and pepper into food processor and pulse until blended, similar to the consistency of pesto. Pour over chicken tenderloins, coat well, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Create Blueberry Sauce
- Combine ½C blueberries, vinegar and honey in a non-reactive saucepan, over medium heat. When boiling, turn heat to low, and simmer until sauce reduces slightly.
- Combine other ½C blueberries in food processor with red onion and jalapeño pepper, and pulse until smooth; about 6-7 times.
- Combine two blueberry mixtures in a small bowl and let cool.
- Place a grill griddle on the grill grates, if available. Preheat grill to at least 500º.
- Place chicken skewers on griddle, and close lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes, raise lid and flip to opposite side. Close lid, and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from grill, plate, and drizzle blueberry sauce on top.
Balsamic and Maple Carrots
- 1 lb carrots
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp natural maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Whisk together maple syrup and vinegar.
- Half or quarter carrots, so they are all approximately the same thickness.
- Place carrots on a sheet pan, and roast for 15 minutes, at 400º.
- Remove pan from oven, baste with syrup/vinegar mixture, and place back in oven for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and serve.