Inviting friends over for an impromptu outdoor party always sounds so fun and relaxing, until I realize how much work it can be to prepare, cook and set up a spread of summery foods. Plus, it can get kind of expensive -- especially because I have fresh seafood tastes but am on a hotdog budget. However, boneless, skinless chicken breast makes a tasty, economical and healthy option that can be easily grilled up to succulent perfection while I chit-chat with friends amongst the al fresco ambiance. I love grilling with chicken breast because I can marinate to add bold flavor and then dress up dinner with the freshest ingredients of the season.
Last weekend we celebrated a special birthday and served Tuscan Lemon-Lime Chicken with Grilled Grapes. Invention is the mother of necessity, so they say, and this serendipitously-created recipe was inspired by fresh produce in my fridge that needed to be used up -- grapes, lemons and limes! After marinating the chicken in Litehouse Food’s Tuscan Herb with Lemon Dressing and bit of lime juice (can in get any easier?), I threw the poultry on the grates along with the skewered fruit. You probably think I’ve gone crazy grilling grapes, but they were absolutely delicious. Slightly blistered on the outside, softened in texture and oh-so sweet, these grilled grapes complemented the savory chicken, tart citrus and sprinkling of salty feta cheese.
Another simple yet showy way to make any outdoor event even more amazing is to make a fruit salad – the variety and quality of fruit is excellent this time of year and everyone loves “nature’s candy.” When I plan to incorporate watermelon into the mix, I recycle the outer shell into a serving bowl – it looks gorgeous sitting on the patio table and makes one less chore of clean up! Also remember to keep guests hydrated with plenty of refreshing beverages that can be whipped up ahead of party time. Instantly Fresh Lemonade and Peach and Thyme Iced Tea have always been popular at my gatherings. I like to freeze ice cube trays with portions of the beverage - this keeps ice from diluting drinks as it melts. Enjoy!