Welcome summer by cooking up some barbecue

Recipes include: Grilled Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce, Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette and S’mores

As the school year winds down there are many opportunities (and excuses) to get together with family and friends. Fathers’ Day is June 17. There are school concerts, graduations, dance recitals and special athletic programs. And don’t forget the Summer Solstice. The sun sets late so June is a wonderful time to spend long, relaxing evenings outdoors.

Celebrated June 20, the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. A popular holiday in Scandinavia and Great Britain, it is marked with outdoor parties and bonfires. Why not bring this tradition to your backyard and enjoy a fun, child-friendly evening?

For a no-stress evening, make a simple salad or two, marinate some chicken early in the day and delegate the grilling. I know I’ve never met a man who doesn’t like to hang out around the grill.

While most of this meal should be prepared by the adults, when you are ready for dessert, the kids will be happy to help if you put s’mores on the menu.

Grilled Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce
Everyone will enjoy sweet and spicy barbecued chicken. It is a perfect dish to kick off the summer.
Serves 6

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
1 to 2 T. fresh chopped cilantro

Put the chicken and about a cup of barbecue sauce in a large, heavy-duty plastic resealable bag. Seal bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate chicken in the refrigerator, turning every few hours, for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Remove chicken breasts from plastic bag, shake off any excess marinade and arrange them on the grill. Reduce heat to medium and grill chicken for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove chicken from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Cut the chicken in 1/2-inch thick slices, sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve. Optional – reheat some Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce to pass with the chicken.

Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce
Make a double batch, this sauce is good with both chicken and pork. Store extra barbecue sauce in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Makes about 2 cups

Olive oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
4-6 jalapeno slices or 1/2 fresh or to taste
1 tsp. each ginger, allspice, cinnamon and cumin
1/2 tsp. or to taste your favorite dried pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
12 oz. beer at room temperature*

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add onion, garlic, jalapeno and spices, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Sauté until soft and lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Stir in brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes and beer. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until nice and thick.

Cool to room temperature, transfer to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

*Editor’s Note: Most of the alcohol from the beer should burn off during the cooking process, but we leave it up to you to make the decision as to whether you feel comfortable serving this sauce to your child.

Quinoa Salad
Quinoa has a lovely nutty taste and is a favorite with kids. It’s perfect for an early summer salad.
Serves 6-8

1 1/2 c. quinoa
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 T. roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 T. roughly chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
Orange Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tart apple, diced
2 T. currants
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Add orange zest, half the parsley, the tarragon, garlic, scallions and enough Orange Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, toss to combine and cool to room temperature.

While quinoa is cooking and cooling, prepare apple. Drizzle the apple and currants with orange juice and toss to coat.

When the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, add fruit and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and almonds and serve.

The salad can be prepared up to one day in advance and refrigerated without the almonds and final sprinkle of parsley. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Orange Vinaigrette
Juice of 1/2 orange
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Put orange juice, vinegar, honey and mustard in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly add olive oil to taste, whisking until combined and emulsified.

Cover and store leftover vinaigrette in the refrigerator. It will be great on your next green or garden salad.

A favorite summer treat for young and old. They may need some supervision but older children and ‘tweens will be delighted to make s’mores for all!

Graham crackers
Milk or bittersweet chocolate bars
Large marshmallows

Preheat grill to medium hot or light a campfire.

Break a graham cracker into two halves. Place small piece of chocolate on one of the halves.

Place a marshmallow on the end of a clean stick.

Hold the marshmallow several inches above the grill or camp fire. Turn the marshmallow as it cooks so it will be lightly browned on all sides.

Place warm marshmallow on top of the graham cracker and chocolate and remove the stick. Place the other half of the graham cracker on top of the marshmallow to create a sandwich. Wait for about 1 minute to melt the chocolate and enjoy.

Susan Nye writes for several New England magazines and newspapers. She shares stories and recipes on her blog Around the Table at www.susannye.wordpress.com.

Categories: Recipes, Summer Food