And no, I’m not talking about the movie with Ellen Barkin, Dennis Quaid, John Goodman, and Ned Beatty, either.
I’m talking about how we kicked-off Memorial Day weekend with a no-fuss, easy barbecue.
Although Memorial Day is to commemorate those who have lost their lives in battle (and many also commemorate any other loved ones who have passed on, as well), many of us here in the U.S. also consider it the unofficial kick-off to summer — and, by extension, grilling!
As I’ve said in previous posts, one can make up a marinade rather quickly and easily at home. And baking bread isn’t has difficult as many might think, either — it just takes some planning ahead. Homemade salads — pasta, potato, coleslaw, a host of vegetable and fruit salads — can be made at home.
And all of it generally more affordable, healthier, and yummier than store-bought or restaurant food.
But, as much as I enjoy cooking, there are times when I want to make meals just that much easier, and that’s when I’ll turn to some good-quality convenience products and end up doing a bit of a Sandra Lee “semi-homemade” thing, which enabled us to kick off Memorial Day weekend last night relatively easily.
All I did was:
- Make up a Chipotle Pepper Marinade from a McCormick “Grill Mates” mix: the contents of the mix, 1/4 cup heart-healthy and affordable canola oil, 1/4 cup water, and a healthy splash of lime. To this, I added 2 pounds of chicken strip tenderloins we had in the freezer and let it all marinate.
- I made up a box of Betty Crocker’s Suddenly Salad Chipotle Ranch pasta salad mix. I lightened it up by using 1% milk and reduced-fat mayonnaise. I also boosted the nutrition and the flavor by adding in some thinly sliced cucumber, sliced black olives, sliced green onion, the last bits of fresh cilantro I had, and diced tomato. Into the ‘fridge this went ’til we were ready to eat.
- For the veg, I simply placed some frozen whole green beans on some heavy-duty aluminum foil, drizzled them very lightly with some heart-healthy and utterly yummy olive oil, and sprinkled with some coarse-ground sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper. To complement the smoky chipotle pepper flavor in the chicken and pasta salad, I gave a hearty shake of balsamic vinegar over the green beans. I sealed up the foil packet, and we cooked them on the grill — because the green beans were frozen, they were essentially grilled and steamed.
- I also tore off part of a fresh loaf of sourdough bread I’d purchased earlier that day from Brookshire’s bakery department, and we crisped that up on the grill, as well.
Et voila! We couldn’t have asked for such an easy meal to be any yummier 🙂
BONUS: Tossing the leftover chicken with the leftover pasta salad and some fresh spinach leaves — or other favorite salad greens, such as romaine — will give us an easy, delicious, cool, and yummy lunch over this holiday weekend.