Sugar, Spice + Peanut Butter

5 Apr

Today, Steve and I succeeded in running a 10 mile race, the longest distance either of us had ever run, during DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Exactly 100 minutes after we set out to run – not really knowing if we’d be able to make it – we came through that finish line. It was a gorgeous day, about a high of 70 degrees, with clear blue skies. Despite being completely worn out and really sore, I did manage to take this one measly photo as we left the race.

Cherry Blossom Festival 10 Miler

I knew today would be rough, but I still needed to get in my food fix, so I’d stopped by the grocery store yesterday to plan ahead. I ended up letting whatever was on sale dictate my next adventure. I noticed that uncooked shrimp costs about half of what cooked shrimp costs, and less desirable cuts of chicken cost about half of boneless skinless breasts. Now that’s it’s all said and done, I’m asking myself, “Why don’t we cook with these cuts of chicken more often? They have so much more flavor!”

After spending the afternoon recovering from our run, Steve and I headed back to his house in Alexandria to take full advantage of the gorgeous 70 degree, blue-sky weather. Our friend Jon came over to join us for dinner — and miraculously, we ended up treating him to a 4 course meal. 

However, Jon is starting to wonder if I make weird combinations for him on purpose. He was the unknowing lunch guest who was served the Chocolate and Brie Panini.  But the panini and the Southern Grilled Chicken (that I’m about to share with you) both get his stamp of approval.


Course 1: Boursin and Triscuts
I figured we needed an appetizer while the boys fired up the grill, so I grabbed Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuts and Herbed Boursin. I think the boys were hesititant at first, but this cheese is always a crowd pleaser. Our Parisian host mom used to serve it as a final course — but with baguettes. And the Triscuts were surprisingly tasty with the cheese. They complemented each other quite well.

Boursin and Triscuts

Course 2: Sugar and Spice Baked Shrimp
Yesterday, I’d pulled out a recipe that I stole from my sister, Lisa, that was given to her during her “kitchen”-themed bridal shower last year. I have always thought this shrimp recipe sounded amazing, but never really found an occasion to try them.  These shrimp need no occasion. I included the instructions for baking them, but we ended up grilling them instead. Follow the same directions, but skewer the shrimp if you want to put them on the grill.

Sugar and Spice Baked Shrimp

24 jumbo shrimp – peeled and tail on (de-veined)  (we used small shrimp and used half the recipe)
1 c sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 large clove garlic – miced
1 1/2 ” slice fresh ginger – peeled and minced
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 T flour
Juice of 1/2 lime

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Mix all above ingredients, expect shrimp and lime. Grease baking sheet. Dredge shrimp in sugar mix and place on baking sheet. Bake until caramelized for 3-5 minutes. Remove them from the oven. Turn over with spatula and squeeze lime on top.

Sugar and Spice Baked Shrimp

*Steve’s summary: “We made it. We grilled it. It was good.”  These little shrimps are packed with spicy and sweet flavors, and somehow mine ended up tasting a little like peanut butter – but I’ll get to that! All the different spices really keep your palate guessing. They are definitely worth trying for any occasion. They were amazing!!

Course 3: Southern Grilled Chicken (a.k.a. Peanut Butter Chicken)
I had no idea what to do with the chicken breasts with ribs and skin-on that I’d bought at the grocery yesterday, and I initially thought about an episode of Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals where she stuffed deliciousness between the skin and the chicken breast to infuse flavor into the meat, but I couldn’t find a recipe that I thought was grill worthy. Although this one looks pretty good. So, I scanned through “Beyond Parsley” and found a recipe for “Southern Grilled Chicken” which sounded so crazy (plus we had all the ingredients) that we had to try it!

This recipe has the wrong name: I made “Southern Grilled Chicken” for a guy from Alabama and a guy from North Carolina, and neither of these Southern boys have ever heard of this peanut butter glaze.  It was delicious, so different, and mouthwatering-ly juicy from the cut of the meat: the skin on the breast really kept in the moisture. They were amazing, and it worked. This is the cut of chicken to grill with.

Here’s the recipe:

Southern Grilled Chicken

4-6 servings

2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (we had creamy, worked fine)
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice (we used it from a bottle – still great)
4 tbsp grated onion
1/4 c best-quality olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 chickens, split in half or cut into pieces (we used 3 chicken breasts with ribs and skin on)

Heat peanut butter and lemon juice until melted (about 25 seconds in microwave). Add onion. Slowly add olive oil, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

Broil chicken on the grill, 15 minutes per side, basting several times with sauce. Any remaining sauce may be heated and served with the chicken. (Definitely use the extra sauce. We didn’t heat it up, but it was so good that we wanted more with our chicken.)

Southern Grilled Chicken

This chicken is simple, different, highly recommended, and is sure to confuse and delight any guests or anyone who comes across it! 

Course 4: Ice Cream Sammies
I knew I could make the boys happy with a little dessert to top it off. I grabbed Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and pre-made Pepperidge Farm chocolate chip cookies for some quick ice cream sandwiches. Yum!!


Well, hey – we ran 10 miles this morning, so we needed those calories back, but by no means did this seem like too much of a splurge.  Lesson learned: pick up the inexpensive cuts of chicken – they are way better tasting – and try the shrimp recipe – it’s really simple and quick. Our last minute barbecue was a perfect way to replenish after our marathon day.


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