Monday, May 11, 2015

Meal Monday - Our Mother's Day Cookout

In honor of Mother's Day yesterday, I just have to say...

(Can you tell I've been on a "someecards" kick lately?  I love them.)

To be honest, I don't remember what labor felt like anymore, but I do remember that immediately after giving birth, I said to my husband, "I NEVER WANT TO DO THAT AGAIN."  All I could think about was how women in history had to give birth au naturale.  Holy moly.

Yesterday we celebrated Mother's Day with a little ol' cookout.  We LOVE grill season around here, mostly because everything tastes better grilled.  I have a bit of an ulterior motive behind it all as well:

more grilling = less dishes to clean
less dishes to clean = HAPPINESS!
I did plan a menu for this, though I am not a big "menu planner" person.  (I want to be.  I do.  It's just so hard for me to think ahead for a week in terms of our meals.  Every time I've done it in the past, I never follow through with it because either something comes up or I don't feel like eating what I've planned.  So I plan only a few days at a time with the intent to either return to the store to just grab a few things or to just order pizza.  And I'm lucky that my husband does the BIG Sunday morning grocery trip, so if I have to return during the week, I only have to get a couple things.)
There I go on a tangent again...
Okay, back to our cookout.  Here was our menu:
Grilled Chicken with Bruschetta Topping
Grilled Potatoes & Onions

Grilled Asparagus
Caesar Salad
Fresh Fruit Salad
I start by trimming the chicken and pounding it to an even thickness (I just put it between two pieces of wax paper and use a pounder-thingy that looks kind of like a hammer, though the side of a soup can works just as well... or your kid's toy hammer... which I used before I had my pounder-thingy.  Don't judge.)

I've found that our favorite marinade is actually the same salad dressing I use for my "Big Salad" that I talked about back here.  I use balsamic vinegar with it in this instance as well, and I reserve a small amount of the dressing to use for the bruschetta topping.
So I let the chicken marinade in the fridge for at least an hour - if not a few. 
Isn't raw chicken disgusting?  I think so.

After that, I make the bruschetta mixture.  I finely chop tomatoes (any kind will work - here I'm using beefsteak tomatoes because that's what I had on hand) and red onion.  I also add LOTS of salt and pepper and fresh basil.  (Without the fresh basil, it just isn't the same!) 

Here it is with just the tomato, onion, salt and pepper.  I let it hang out on the counter for a while like this to get all flavorful.
You could also add finely minced garlic, but we prefer it without that... or, should I say, my family prefers it without that because they've told me that garlic "stays with me" for at least a week after I eat it.  Ha.  I guess it emanates from my pores.  (That's how you know you're a true Italian -- when you're a walking clove of garlic.)
Then I add the reserved balsamic dressing and let it hang out for a few hours.  Oh, and I also chop a fresh mozzarella cheese ball to add to the mixture, but I don't add it until right before we eat because I keep the bruschetta mixture out on the counter to marinate and I don't want the cheese to get all warm and gross.

Here's what the finished version looks like:

For the grilled potatoes and onions, all I do is cut up potatoes -- any kind you like -- and chop up an onion.  I put it all in a big foil pan and add some vegetable oil, salt and pepper, dried parsley, and paprika.  Then it goes on the grill when we're ready.  If the potatoes are cut fairly thick, I'll usually microwave them first in a bowl covered with Saran Wrap and put a tiny bit of water on the bottom.  They're usually only in the microwave a few minutes - just enough to get them somewhat softened.  Then they brown up nicely on the grill.

Just believe me because I forgot to take a picture of those as we prepared them.

I have really been bad at remembering to take pictures for the blog.  I even wrote myself a big reminder note and left it on the counter.  (Clearly it didn't help.)

Okay, moving on...
I decided to make a Caesar salad to accompany this meal because it's easy and everybody likes it.  I just used romaine lettuce, cucumbers, garlic butter croutons, red onion, parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, and Caesar dressing.  My favorite Caesar dressings are Ken's, Brianna's, or Newman's Own.

I wish I could say I make my cornbread from scratch.  No, scratch that.  (Haha - see what I did there?  I'm so clever.  And modest.)  I actually don't wish I could say that.  I'm okay with the fact that I use box mixes at times... okay, most of the time when I bake.  I'm just not a baker, and I'm okay with that.  I much prefer to cook.

I use THIS mix for my cornbread, and - quite frankly - it's delicious.  More delicious than if I made it from scratch, I'm assuming.  It's awesome with chili especially, though I'll just eat it on its own.

For our fruit salad, I just used cantaloupe and honeydew.

The finished meal:


Please forgive the poor quality of pictures.  I just used my iPhone.  And I just have to say that it was my husband's idea to include the beer in the pictures of the full meal.  Apparently he is a food stylist in his spare time.  News to me.

Anyway, to all of you moms out there, I hope you had a great Mother's Day weekend!  We sure did.

Here's to a great week!  And I hope you stop back here tomorrow.  It'll be fun.  Promise.


  1. I am now so hungry!!! Love seeing all that you served. Have a great day.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Courtney! :-)

  3. That menu looks soooo good! Happy belated Mothers Day!