Showing posts with label grilled chicken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grilled chicken. Show all posts

Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Club Week: Grilled Chicken

by Sheila Connolly

Warning: this is not a chocolate recipe (gasp!). But I thought you might like an easy, tasty recipe to make ahead and pop on the grill (or into the oven) when you get home from your book club meeting. More time to talk about books!

It’s been almost a year since our last Book Club Week, and that means that Meg Corey is harvesting apples again in the Orchard Mystery series (Picked to Die, coming October 7th). She’s had a busy year, what with a drought that could have proved devastating to her apple orchard, and a forest fire that could have been disastrous personally—oh, and a crime to solve.

As I’ve no doubt said before, people have to eat—even fictional ones. And people pay attention to the food in books. For example, in one of my books there’s a glitch: a character starts eating a sandwich before it’s served (my editor, my copy editor and I all failed to notice this, despite multiple readings). I have received more reader emails about this mysterious multiplying sandwich than anything else I can think of. Even my husband noticed.

I know that in a story, meals can interrupt the flow, especially if you’re on the trail of a killer, or when under threat from one. But (fictional) meals can provide a welcome break. If your character is alone, she has some time to reflect on her most recent discoveries while she eats; if she’s sharing a meal with others, they can toss ideas around and pool their information. Besides, I don’t trust people who don’t eat, either in the real world or on the page.

In Picked to Die, Meg and her picking crew are short-handed, so she’s pitching in alongside everyone else. It’s hard work, but at the same time she comes to realize that she doesn’t know a lot about her employees personally, so she decides to hold a backyard barbecue to get to know them.

But before I give you an easy grilled chicken recipe from the book, here are some questions for your group:

·      == Meg is drawn into investigating a crime this time because it involves one of the pickers who has worked for her. How important do you think secondary characters like this are to a story? Do they deserve a larger role? How many can a writer fit in before the reader loses track of who is who? Once you’ve introduced a character into a typical small-town setting, does he or she have to come back in later books?

·    == If you enjoy seeing them return, how much backstory do you think is necessary for those readers who don’t remember them or have never read the earlier book(s)?

== The pickers who work for Meg are Jamaican (which is true of those in the real area where this series is set). That fact raises issues that would not come up if her pickers were, say, local college students. Do social issues have a place in cozy mysteries?

·      == A Boy Scout appears in the story. Does the boy’s association with the Boy Scouts bring with it some assumptions about him? Good? Bad? Is it appropriate to use this as kind of a short-cut for defining a character?

·      == I’ve referred to some construction techniques in the story that are probably unfamiliar to most people (in fact, I first learned about them when the “real” town was considering using them). I try to describe them accurately, as well as explain why they make sense in the setting, but is it too much of a distraction from the story?

·       == Meg and Seth shared a significant event in the last Orchard Mystery (I won't give it away, for those of you who haven't read it), Golden Malicious, one that brought them closer. But in the new book the forward progress of their relationship seems to have stalled. They’ve known each other for going on two years now. How fast should any relationship move forward? Or doesn’t it have to?

Now back to the important stuff: the food! I’ve given you plenty of apple recipes in the past (and I’m always looking for new ones), but this is a dish that Meg’s orchard manager Bree puts together for the cookout with the picking crew.

The chicken, served with couscous

Grilled Chicken, Indian Style

This recipe makes enough for one whole chicken (you can cut it up yourself), or three to four pounds of parts if you purchase your chicken that way. Of course you can multiply the amounts to serve as many as you want.

1 whole chicken, or equivalent number of parts
     (about 4 pounds)
1/2 cup unflavored Greek yoghurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tblsp ground cumin
1 Tblsp ground coriander
Pinch cayenne
1 tsp coarse salt
2 Tblsp minced garlic
1 Tblsp minced ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix.  Add the chicken pieces and coat them with the marinade.  Let the chicken sit in the marinade until you are ready to grill (if you’re doing this well in advance, refrigerate the container, covered, until you’re ready to cook the chicken).

Set up your grill (charcoal or gas) and place your chicken on the grate, skin side down. Turn once during cooking, and baste with any of the leftover marinade.

I know, you've all seen coals before--but aren't these gorgeous?

Note: if your grill permits, cover the chicken during the first half of the cooking, to ensure that the meat is cooked through. You can leave the cover open after you turn the pieces.  If you don’t have a covered grill, spread out your coals so that the heat is not too intense, so that the chicken cooks completely.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Freezer to grill: easy summer marinated chicken

Victoria Abbott here. Don’t you love having an emergency recipe that’s ready to go for unexpected guests, busy schedules, small celebrations? Or maybe you suddenly feel festive and want something delish.

Here's our solution. We love this recipe. It’s our new go-to.  Boneless skinless chicken thighs are juicy and easy and a good price.  Plus they have lots of taste and someone else has done the work.  We are often working on marinades that make easy even easier.  This one uses stuff you have in your fridge and cupboard.  Mix it up.  Marinate the chicken for four hours. Or  freeze chicken in the marinade in a freezer bag and PRESTO! You have a super dish for a busy night. Just remove from freezer and allow enough time to thaw.  

All you need is:

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tsp paprika (sweet)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup canola oil
8 – 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

We use charcoal, but if you are using a gas grill, you might want to add 1 tsp  hickory smoke flavoring

All you need to do is:

Mix all the ingredients  except chicken in a bowl. 

Place the thighs in a re-sealable freezer bag,  Add the marinade and make sure thighs are well-covered.  Marinate in fridge for 4 – to- 12 hours or freeze.  If frozen, thaw before cooking. That gives the marinade another kick at that chicken. 

Cook on pre-heated grill (medium heat).  Cook about 10-12 minutes per side.  Internal temperature should be 165 degrees.  

It’s a snap and it’s a hit too.  Everyone seems to love this recipe. 


 It even  passed the son-in-law test.  We plan to add it to the list of family favorites. Here we just served it with a crisp salad and chopped pears. Yum.

Have fun, friends! And you know with marinades, you can always give it your own twist. Is there anything missing you’d love to see in this recipe? Let’s hear it! 

Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between the mother and daughter team of Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini.    The Wolfe Widow, the third book in their popular book collector mystery series will be out in September. 

 You can pre-order The Wolfe Widow here HERE.

For Victoria's website click HERE 
For Mary Jane's click HERE 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lemon Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast with Peach Salsa

Our garden is finally beginning to produce. If all those little blossoms become cucumbers, we'll have enough to share with the neighbors. I cut some rosemary today to dry for winter, and an arm full of basil that will go into pesto.

The local farmers are complaining about tomato blight, Apparently, this non-stop rain isn't good for everything. Tomatoes need some time in the sun to thrive.

I wanted to grill chicken breasts with peaches today. I've mentioned before that when I turn on the grill, something comes over me, and I want to cook everything in the fridge! So out came the eggplant, squash, corn, and even beets! If that whim should overcome you, just remember to oil the grill and the food so they don't stick. I cooked enough today to last us for a few days!

How cool is this? The purple eggplant turned gold! Those little red things are baby beets. Next time I'll just wash them and won't peel them until after they roast. They take a little longer to cook than most veggies, but they were delicious. No seasoning needed!

The chicken worked out great and it's super easy. Definitely a quick and easy dinner. The most difficult part is guestimating when it's ready. I've found it's best to take meat off the grill while it's still a teensy bit undercooked because it keeps cooking inside for a few minutes even once it's taken off the grill.

I marinated the chicken, which gave it such a lovely flavor that we didn't need to season it at all. But the best part was the peach salsa. It couldn't have been more simple. Be sure to wrap the foil tightly so it won't leak. You don't want to lose those delicious juices! When I opened it, I found it easiest to unfold one end and pour the whole thing into a bowl. It's every bit as good cold, so don't worry if you have leftovers. But I suspect you won't have much leftover!

There were some pork chops that went on the grill, too.  Marinate them in olive oil and Penzey's Northwest spice. The peach salsa goes with them perfectly!

Lemon Marinated Grilled Chicken 
with Peach Onion Salsa

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the lemon juice, sea salt, and olive oil in a zip top bag. Mush a bit to combine. Add the chicken breasts, close, and turn over several times to cover them. Refrigerate for one hour.

Prepare the salsa.

2-3 peaches (2 if they are huge)
1/3 cup sweet onion
3 basil leaves

Peel the peaches, pit them, and slice. Cut the slices into bite-sized pieces. Coarsely chop the onion. Cut the basil into small bits.

Place the peaches, onion, and basil on a 16-inch sheet of aluminum foil. Bring the ends up  and seal the top tightly. Fold the ends tightly and bend upward to prevent leaking.

Start the grill, add the peach salsa packet to an area where it is not over direct flames, and close the top. The salsa needs to cook at least 20 minutes. Longer is okay, too.

Grill the chicken breasts, pouring any remaining marinade over them. Flip once during cooking. Do not overcook!

Serve the salsa over the chicken breasts.

My Little Miss Sunshine loves to curl up in anything that isn't really big enough for her -- including stock pots! She's the inspiration for the nosy and curious Twinkletoes in MURDER, SHE BARKED.

Sunny is joining us today to tell you that Mystery Lovers' Kitchen is officially on Pinterest! Follow us at

It's a great way to find our recipes. Click on the picture of the recipe. It will become larger. At the top, you'll see a button with the word WEBSITE. Click on it and it will take you straight to the recipe!

Not all the recipes have been added yet, but we're working on it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Caribbean Salad a la Paseo

** Due to a disaster involving Cleo's altercation with an avocado cake, Lucy will step in today for Cleo. Cleo will reveal all on Lucy's usual Thursday!**

LUCY BURDETTE: Even Kenny Chesney said it when he performed at a free concert at the Hogs Breath Saloon a couple of weeks ago: It's hard to choose healthy foods in Key West! (Actually, I don't think it's only Key West--it's eating out everywhere.) 

Anyway, there's a new restaurant in town that used to be the Paradise Cafe, where we bought our Cafe Con Leche in the morning and our Cuban mix sandwiches at lunch. It's now called Paseo.

Hayley is going to review this restaurant in the book I'm currently writing, MURDER WITH GANACHE (2/2014). Of course she has to order a little of everything, including the fat and juicy Caribbean roll and the roast pork dinner. But I always enjoy the Caribbean salad so I decided to try making the dish myself. It's not only colorful and healthy and easy--it's delicious!

Caribbean Salad a la Paseo

2-3 skinned chicken filets
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
4 Tbsp soy sauce

Red cabbage, shredded
Cooked beets, slivered
Cilantro, cleaned and chopped

Mix together the sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce, and marinate the chicken filets in a glass bowl--an hour at least or even overnight. Grill the chicken until just done and set aside.

Wash and dry the lettuce, tear into pieces, and put a nice amount on each plate as the bottom layer. (I included some arugula and red leaf lettuce, but Paseo uses romaine.) Cut about a quarter of the red cabbage into slivers and layer than in next. Cut cooked beets into matchsticks and put them on top. Tomatoes and avocado are not part of the Paseo dish, but I added some around the edges. Cut the chicken into strips and place them on top of the salad.

 Cover all that with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro, to taste. And serve with vinaigrette. 

Vinaigrette: 1 teaspoon French mustard (don't use the yellow stuff!), 3 tablespoons vinegar (red wine or balsamic), 6 tablespoons good quality olive oil, splash of water. Whisk it all together until emulsified, taste to see if it needs salt.

I bet even Kenny Chesney would love this! And we can't wait to hear about the avocado cake...

TOPPED CHEF will be on bookshelves on May 7 with more Key West adventures and food...In the meanwhile, you can preorder the book here.  

And click here to follow Lucy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest .

And I almost forgot--there is a contest going on at my Facebook page this week with books and a gift certificate to a bookstore as prizes--click here for the details and to enter! 


Friday, July 1, 2011


by Sheila Connolly

This is your chicken.

This is your chicken on drugs.

Oops, wrong script.  The latter picture is actually a spatchcocked chicken.  Don't you love that word?  Actually it was hyperactive Gordon Ramsay who introduced me to the term, on his entertaining cable television show The F Word.  All it means is that you remove the backbone and the breastbone from your chicken (or any other bird) so you can flatten it and cook it on the grill or broil it.

How do you remove the backbone (with a minimum of wrestling and cursing)?  Poultry shears.  I inherited these from my mother (who never in her life spatchcocked a chicken, as far as I can recall).  Snip along both sides of the spine and remove it, nick the sternum so it splits easily and then wrench out the cartilage and bone (did I say this was for the faint of heart?), and then lean on the bird to make it lay flat. 

It's summer (someone should tell the New England weather that), and it's grilling season.  I will confess I am a grilling dinosaur:  I've been using the same Weber grill for decades.  No propane, no fancy dials--just fire and a cover, and a couple of vents to control the temperature.  I'll admit that I know that charcoal briquets are evil, and the fire-starter stuff you squirt all over them makes things worse, but I tell myself I don't use them that much.  Really.  And if it's 100 degrees in my non-air-conditioned kitchen, no way am I heating up the broiler.

Now it's time to marinate your flat chicken.  I have a go-to marinade that I cribbed from Julia Child's From Julia Child's Kitchen, but of course I've modified it.  It's simple:  lemon peel, fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, a dash of sesame oil, thyme, salt and pepper.  Oh, you want measurements?

The thinly-peeled rind of 2 lemons

2-3 thin slices fresh ginger

2 Tblsp soy sauce

4 Tblsp olive oil

1 tsp sesame oil

2-4 cloves garlic (I use a garlic press, which St. Julia frowns upon, or you can mince it finely)

Thyme (fresh if possible)

Freshly-ground pepper

If you love to julienne, have at it with the lemon peel and the ginger.  If you're in a hurry, grate the ginger and even the lemon rind.  I promise I won't tell anyone.  Use fresh thyme if you have it, but dried is fine too.

I had to add this picture of the liquid ingredients just because they looked so cool when I combined them.

Mix everything together and massage your bird with it.  If you don't want your hands to smell like garlic and sesame oil for the rest of the day, wear gloves or paint the marinade on with a brush.

Now cook your bird.  You're going to have to use your judgment here, but this is what I do.

--make a nice fire in your grill, Wait until the coals are covered with grey ash, and spread out the coals evenly. 

--put your grate over the coals and lay your flat chicken on it, skin side down.

--Cover the grill and cook for ten minutes.

--Turn over your chicken, cover the grill again, and cook for another ten minutes.

As you can guess, the timing depends on how big and how hot your fire is, not to mention how big your chicken is.  You can poke the chicken with your finger to test it, and if it's too squishy, it's probably not cooked through.  If the legs fall off, it's definitely done.

And there you go!  It smells delicious, it's low calorie, and it's easy.  Happy summer grilling!  And have a wonderful (and safe) holiday weekend.


Almost forgot to mention:  Let's Play Dead comes out next Tuesday!  Shocking things happen at the Philadelphia children's museum, Let's Play, and Nell Pratt is on the scene. Click here or on the book cover to learn more.

But wait!  There's more!  My first e-book, Called Home, debuted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a lot of other places.  It's a prequel to the Orchard Mystery series, and there's a ghost--maybe.  And it includes a peek at the next book in the series, Bitter Harvest, coming in August. Click here or on the book cover to jump to the Amazon product page.