Just call me Bobby (Bobina?) Flay because I am now a GRILL MASTER! Well, not really, but I did the majority of Monday’s dinner on the grill pretty much on my own (my dad had to make sure I didn’t blow myself up…)! I decided on a BBQ theme, but I picked recipes that were a little outside the norm for typical barbecue food: Carolina BBQ chicken (mustard based sauce), Smokey Baked Beans and grilled squash. This menu ended up being a little more time consuming than I originally thought (one day I will learn to read and comprehend recipes before I start cooking), but I thought the meal turned out nice. It was definitely aesthetically pleasing, which is something I strive for when making a meal, but it turned out to be a pretty involved meal that took longer to create than I had anticipated. I guess we can’t all be Rachael Ray (which my mom pointed out twice to me while I was making dinner)…..

Separately, the chicken and beans were a snap to make. My dad suggested baking the chicken before grilling it so it wouldn’t burn on the grill, which I thought was a nice idea. I marinated it in the BBQ sauce, then baked it at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, then plopped it on the grill, just to get those awesome grill marks (basting occasionally). The direct heat from the grill really helped caramelize the sauce, as opposed to the oven which can kind of end up steaming the chicken and never giving the sauce a chance to stick. The beans were kind of a dump and mix deal and they ended up tasting slightly sweet from the tomato sauce, but ultimately they tasted lighter than typical baked beans.

On Tuesday, I continued my winning streak with some delicious salmon burgers. One of my mom’s specialties is actually salmon patties, but I think my burgers were different enough to say that I didn’t steal her thunder. The recipe called for pureeing 1/4 of the salmon, which made the inside of the burgers creamy and light. I decided to add diced celery for a bit of crunch and freshness, which Lara and Mom didn’t like (picky picky). I also made tartar sauce (I’m in love with it now, seriously. That olive oil mayo is amazing!) for some tang and sweet potato fries (frozen bag – I was too lazy to make real ones).
And finally, on Wednesday, I decided to make meatball subs; I even made the marinara sauce myself, although you could certainly use store bought. I used The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for mini meatball sliders, but obviously it’s easy to make them regular sized. The only change I would make is adding more seasoning to the meat; while the marinara sauce was flavorful, the inside of the meatballs was straight ground chuck. Next time I’ll use half Panko and half Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and maybe some Italian Seasoning. Other than that, the subs were excellent! I was really surprised by how easy the marinara sauce was – I suppose canned tomatoes really help the process, but if Giada approves, then who am I to say otherwise?

It was nice to finally cook elaborate meals after a summer of lazy pesto quesadillas, leftovers and PB&J English muffins. Even though I’ll be cooking for one this year, hopefully I’ll be able to figure out a way to continue cooking like this frequently throughout the school year. Ugh, school. 8 more days of freedom.

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