Another Summer BBQ....

This past weekend Brian moved out of his apartment with a fabulous rooftop herb garden, lots of grills and a beautiful view of the Belmont Harbor. And bonus.... my parents were in town moving my little sister into her apartment here in Chicago!!! Yayy for family! So what does this mean?? Yes my friends, another summer BBQ! But really, why not?? With so much fabulous produce, cheeses and breads from the market, it would really be a shame not to enjoy them outside! That is precisely what we did. Here's the menu:


                • Fancy Buffalo Chicken Dip (with homemade ranch)
                • Simply Grilled Zucchini
                • Red and Green Cabbage Slaw
                • Grilled Corn and Cherry Tomato Quinoa
                • Grilled Dry Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
                • Fresh Semolina Sesame Loaf
                • Melon and Blueberry with Honey and Lemon
Sounds pretty fab, huh? For such a giant menu, it was pretty simple to pull together with all the troops.  And I do believe my mom and dad loved the meal. Success!!



Fancy Buffalo Chicken Dip

When Buffalo Chicken dip was introduced to me in college I absolutely fell in love. Cheesy, spicy, salty, chunky. Yum. But let's be honest, the versions many of us see don't include the best of ingredients. This version focuses on using as many home made, fresh ingredients as possible. This might be the best dip ever created. WARNING: THIS IS NOT HEALTHY!

3/4 cup buttermilk ranch + 1 tbsp (recipe below)
1 block extra sharp cheddar cheese (cut up into cubes)
1 block Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 tbsp homemade hot sauce (or store bought)
2 chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
2 stalks celery (rough chop)
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the chicken breasts in olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a foil covered baking sheet. Roast in oven for 40 minutes. Remove the chicken and let sit for 10 minutes before touching, to make sure the juices don't escape. Once it has cooled a bit, remove the skin and shred the chicken with a fork. Crank up oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium sauce pan, add the Neufchatel over medium heat, stirring often. Once it has melted almost entirely, add the cheddar cheese cubes, stirring constantly until melted (make the little sister do it if you have one on hand). When melted, remove from the heat and stir in the shredded chicken, ranch, hot sauce, celery and blue cheese crumbles. Transfer mixture to a baking dish. Dredge the panko bread crumbs in a remaining ranch dressing. Cover the cheese and chicken mixture in the ranch dredged bread crumbs. This gives the dip a delicious crispy topping. 

For the Homemade Buttermilk Ranch:

1/2 cup sour cream  
1/2 cup mayonnaise  
3/4 cups buttermilk  
5 cloves garlic (salt the garlic and smashed with the flat side of a knife to make a paste)  
2 tablespoons chives (chopped)  
1 tablespoon garlic chives (chopped)  
1/2 teaspoon dry dill weed  
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar  
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice  
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
      Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Refrigerate for 2 days before serving to get the best flavor.

      Grilled Corn and Cherry Tomato Quinoa

      1/2 cup olive oil 
      1/4 cup apple cider vinegar  
      1/2 lemon (juice and zest) 
      1 tablespoon Dijon mustard  
      2 cloves garlic (minced)  
      1 spring onion (minced) 
      1/2 tablespoon sea salt 
      1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  
      1 cup organic quinoa 
      2 cups water
      25 fresh whole cherry tomatoes
      3 ears sweet corn
      2 tablespoons olive oil
      sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
      6-7 basil leaves (roughly torn into small pieces)

      Heat grill to medium-high heat. Soak the corn ears in water for up to an hour before cooking.

      Make the vinaigrette first. Whisk together in a bowl the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Set aside to let the flavors meld while the rest of the dishes are cooking.
      Coat the cherry tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper. Skewer the tomatoes, putting about 7 on each skewer.
      In a medium pot, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Once boiling, cover and lower heat to a simmer. Keep covered on heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and put in a large serving bowl. Cover with foil until the corn and tomatoes are done grilling. 

      Remove corn from water and toss on the grill, with husk on. Cook for 10 minutes, rotating the corn to cook all sides. Take the corn off, and remove the husks. Throw back on the grill without the husks, and cook for 5 minutes. Don't let the corn dry out! Cooking times will vary. The kernels should still be juicy and soft. Cut the corn off the cob into the quinoa.
      When the corn goes back on the grill without the husks, put the tomato skewers on the grill. They will cook up fast, so you will only need 5-7 minutes.


      To the quinoa and corn, add the tomatoes and vinaigrette and a little salt and pepper. Give the dish a good mix. Add the fresh basil last for a wonderful, fragrant finish.

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