Tag Archives: herbs

Summertime Shish Kebabs {on my plate}


While the calendar still says it’s spring, the mercury’s rising around here to summertime temps. And school’s ending this week. And we just celebrated Memorial Day. So that summertime feel is definitely in the air. We welcomed it with a yummy dinner this week–shish kebabs. With the whole meal done on the grill, it was nice not to have to heat up the kitchen for a change. And they were delicious! Unfortunately, the kids’ taste buds weren’t as excited as ours were, but they did eat a little off the kebabs. I think had I done chicken or shrimp instead, with a few different veggies, they would’ve gobbled them right up. I’m keeping that in mind for later meals. To round off our summertime meal, we had grilled corn-on-the-cobb and watermelon. (Yes, the kids ate both of those items right up! Especially my son, who’s a big fruit eater.)

I used the great recipe here for my marinade, but had to make a few modifications because I was missing some ingredients. I think the recipe as written sounds great, too, so if you have everything on hand, go for it! I’m recreating the recipe below, except with my changes, for your convenience.

Summertime eats: shish kebabs, grilled corn and watermelon

Summertime eats: shish kebabs, grilled corn and watermelon

Beef Shish Kebabs

(serves 4)

About a pound (maybe a little less) of beef stew meat, cubed

onion, cherry tomatoes and zucchini, cut to the same diameter as the cubes of beef (your vegetables may vary)

metal or wooden skewers (soak the wooden skewers overnight in water* we didn’t do this and totally should have)

coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


1/3 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. of honey (I just realized I accidentally omitted this; am leaving it so no one else makes the same mistake)

1 medium onion,  diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of water

Worcestershire sauce (not sure how much I used, I eyeballed it)

1 Tbsp. sweet paprika

4  Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano or thyme leaves

1/2  tsp. of black pepper

salt to taste

Rinse and pat dry your beef. In a large container or sealable bag, add all of the marinade ingredients. Reserve some of the marinade for basting. Add beef to the marinade and seal. Ensure all the beef is covered and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Remove from the fridge an hour before grilling so as to allow the beef to return to room temperature. Prepare your vegetables for the kebabs. To make the kebabs, skewer a cube of beef, then alternate with a different vegetable between each cube of beef. Repeat until all your ingredients have been used and discard the marinade. Season kebabs with coarse sea salt and ground pepper. Cook for 5 minutes/side on a hot grill or until all sides are seared. Brush on reserved marinade and serve.


Spanish Paella {on my plate}


So, we’re doing a small, mini-unit about Spain and Spanish vocabulary in our homeschool this month (more on that in a post coming soon), and when I discovered one of the vocabulary words was “paella,” I decided we would make that for supper one night. I’ve always wanted to make paella anyway, so this seemed like the perfect time. And then I discovered that saffron, a main spice in Spanish paella, was $17 a bottle at my local grocery store. I about fell over in the aisle when I saw that price, let me tell you! But I already had my heart and mind set on making this dish, so I told my grocery budget to shove it for the week and went ahead and bought the saffron.

In searching for a recipe, I discovered there are all kinds of variations on paella; people use different meats, seafood, vegetables and even grains (different types of rice, even quinoa). I made mine by following the gist of this recipe at the Global Table Adventure blog. I liked the tutorial she had (and she even warned readers about the cost of saffron, but I guess I just assumed high would be around $10. Live and learn.). My variations on content of paella include chicken rather than sausage, and lots more shrimp. I also didn’t have a lemon on hand, but would love to see how that flavor works out if we make this again. Oh, and in place of a paella pan, I just used the largest skillet we had. I think it’s a 10-inch.

Be warned, this recipe made a ton of paella. We had a lot left over after our family of four chowed down. Even though it was really good, this will basically go on my “company-only” list to make sure we don’t waste any of it. We did have leftovers one night a couple nights after our first meal, but I still had to toss out a good bit of rice/peas because I didn’t want to risk reheating again, and all the meat was eaten. By the way, for parents of young children: the first night, my two seemed less than thrilled with this meal, although my daughter ended up eating most of her portion. But on the leftovers night, we heated up tortillas and put some of the paella in it, and they both ate up two “burritos” of it that way. So, just a tip if you need help with getting your kids to eat this. Never mind that I’ve probably just insulted generations of Spaniards by just suggesting the idea. 😉

A big bowl full of shrimp-and-chicken Spanish paella

A big bowl full of shrimp-and-chicken Spanish paella

I’ll reprise the Global Table Adventure blog’s recipe here, modified with my adjustments. I think if we decide to make it again, I’ll probably try out the sausage in it instead of the chicken. I think the extra spice would do it good; my husband ended up adding some cayene pepper to his servings, as he likes food spicy.

Spanish Paella


4 cups chicken stock

1 large pinch saffron

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

4-5 cloves garlic, crushed

3-4 boneless chicken tenderloins

1 tsp paprika

salt & pepper

1 heaping cup frozen peas

2 cups long grain rice

1 bag frozen medium shrimp


Parsley (from our tiered herb garden)


Add the stock, saffron, salt, and pepper to a pot and heat until very hot. Keep hot. Meanwhile, slice chicken tenderloins into about one-inch pieces and saute.

Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil, then add the paprika, cooked chicken and frozen peas. Stir in the rice and season with salt and pepper.

Add the hot broth and bring to a boil. Give it one last stir, then don’t touch it again! Reduce the heat and let simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Lightly saute shrimp, then add to the paella during the last 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover with a towel for a few minutes. This will help any straggler grains of rice cook through. Serve with a garnish of parsley.

Macaroni Grill’s Rosemary Bread {on my plate}


I’m a bit in denial that this is the last week of February. Two months of 2013 down already? I can feel a tug of spring fever pulling at me, especially after the beautiful day we had yesterday. It was the perfect day to be outside with the kids, especially after a couple of rainy, cool days prior. Looks like we’re back to cloudy, cool and rainy tomorrow. I’m okay with it, though, because it means we can still have soup and warm, toasty bread. Especially if it’s this Rosemary Bread–just like the kind served at Macaroni Grill. My husband and I went there for a belated Valentine’s dinner a week or so ago, and were reminded of that delicious bread. He searched out a recipe online and has made it a couple of times since then. Our bread machine’s been on the fritz, so it’s all by hand (which is why he is the one doing it right now :-)). But it’s totally worth it. This recipe makes two round loaves, perfect for a get together with friends or family, or just to have an extra one to freeze and use later. I believe the recipe came from this site, but I can’t be sure since it was my husband who found it and we copied it into our own recipe book.

Rosemary Bread

1 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 c. water
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp butter

Place yeast, sugar and water in bowl and allow it to get bubbly. Mix in 1 Tbsp butter, salt and 2 c. flour. Add 1 Tbsp rosemary. Knead in mixer for 10 minutes. Add more flour if needed.

Oil bowl, add dough, cover with towel and let rise for one hour. Punch down and divide in half. Let dough rest five minutes and spray baking sheet with spray. Shape dough into two rounded loaves. Sprinkle with remaining rosemary and press lightly into dough. Let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Brush with butter and salt if desired. Dip warm bread into olive oil when served.

Fresh from the oven and ready to eat!

Fresh from the oven and ready to eat!

Baking this bread at home is not as easy as going out to eat at Macaroni Grill, but it’s definitely a lot cheaper and tastes just as yummy (if not more so!). Plus you have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what’s in your bread. I think we’ll have some with our potato soup this week, but I think it would also be yummy with our version of Panera Bread’s Broccoli Cheddar soup.

Tiered Herb Garden, part 2 {create}


As promised yesterday, here’s our tiered herb garden! It’s a really easy and pretty quick project, and definitely do-able in a weekend. We bought the materials and painted the pots on Saturday, and then on Sunday afternoon, we did all the planting.

Stacking the painted pots in prep for the herbs

Our chosen materials:

  • 3 different sizes of terra cotta pots (Wal-mart)
  • white primer spray paint
  • red spray paint
  • old plastic planter & large rock (to bolster the stacked pots)
  • herbs (we fit about 7 plants in our planters)
  • potting soil

We started out early on Saturday morning, visiting a few different places to scope out planters and herbs. I was surprised to discover that it was Wal-mart that had the types and sizes of terra cotta pots we needed, over a home improvement store and a nursery. We also bought local, organic herbs from a nearby nursery; they were only 25 cents more than the ones we saw elsewhere, and I was glad to support a local business and have organic herbs to boot.

Positioning the herbs so we can figure out what goes where before officially planting.

Once we had all the materials, we set to work priming the pots, letting them dry, and painting them red. The spray paint cans said it took 24 hours to completely dry, so we left things as they were overnight. Thankfully, Sunday was another beautiful day for outdoor work. To make the stacked look, we put an old plastic planter in the bottom container to hold the middle terra cotta pot, surrounding it with potting soil, and a large rock (also surrounded with soil) in the middle pot to hold the small terra cotta pot. The kids helped us plant the herbs, put in extra potting soil and water the finished planter (that was their favorite part).

The kids watering the new herb garden

The finished product, filled with chives, dill, Greek basil, oregano, parsley, sage, and sweet basil

Tiered Herb Garden {motivate}


With our desire to eat more healthy meals at home, my husband and I decided to resurrect our herb garden so we’d have some fresh herbs to spice things up a bit. We had a small windowsill planter in our kitchen that held three plants, but we wanted something that would hold more than just our basil, oregano and chives. So, naturally, I turned to my new best friend, Pinterest, to see what creative displays others had done for their gardens.

Polka dots and bright spring colors


Love this tilted look


Chalkboard Terra Cotta pots

This feeds my growing desire to use chalkboard paint on everything


Vertical Walled Herb Garden

Loved the different look to this walled herb garden, but sadly don’t have the room for it


Armed with inspiration, we set out to create our own garden over a gorgeous spring weekend. I’ll be back tomorrow with the big reveal, but here’s a sneak peek:

herb garden

Red pot….and what else?

“The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs, with fields of lavender, and with the brightest roses blushing in tufts all over the meadows. . . .” –William Cullen Bryant