Saturday, July 26, 2014

Feel Good Balsamic Chicken Skewers

     "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."  - Salvador Dali     

   It's been 11 years since I became a mother. That's over a decade of obsessing over my children's clothes, manners, school work, feelings, schedules, parties and the list goes on. Honestly, I can't even recall how many books, e-books, guides, and even blogs I've read just to make sure that I'm on top of our family's activities.  It even came to a point wherein I gave each child his/her designated pen color on the calendar so that I will not miss anything.  OCD alert!

    Then, once in a while, no matter how organized and effective our systems can be, there will be occasions when we just "slip up".  Whether your child has food allergies or not, those rare incidents often leave a tremendous mark in our conscience.  An instant self nomination to the "Worst Mother of the Year Award." 

     My latest nomination happened just before the school ended, I mistakenly thought that Child #3 doesn't need to bring lunch for school anymore.  Since it was the start of the week long early dismissal days, I only sent a package of his favorite seaweed snack and a handful of grapes.  

   "What can possibly go wrong? It was only a Field day and  he will be out at 1 pm."   

    With less than an hour before dismissal, I received a call from the school.  The secretary told me that I need to pick up my son because he has crying inconsolably and it was after the PTO provided the whole school with pizza for lunch.  Panic suddenly crept in.  I immediately asked her if the nurse knew about it and if they administered an Epi-pen shot.  What a huge relief when she told me, my son didn't eat the pizza and in fact, he was not given any at all.   

    When I arrived in school, the principal and his teacher told me about the lunch room incident and my son's refusal to talk to anybody.  At that time, he was already calm inside the classroom and has even asked his teacher if he could wait until dismissal to go home.  A request she gladly approved. 

     On our way to the car, I asked his side of the story.  Tears flowed right away and he told me he was really hungry and there was no food to eat.  He knows he can't have the free pizza and he's only allowed food from his lunch box. It was not about the pizza, it was the fact that he has no food for lunch because he ate all of it during snack time.  He said that he doesn't want to tell them (the teachers and staff) that there's nothing left in his lunch box.   When I asked him why he didn't call me, (our house is less than 1/2 a mile from school and I'm home that day), he said he was really sad to talk.  Heart breaking enough?

    I don't know what else to do to comfort him than promise him that when we get home, he'll have his favorite chicken BBQ with Herbed Sweet Corn. Thank God, I have these marinating for days in the fridge! Within a few minutes, he happily ate his late lunch with a big smile.  Yes! I was forgiven too.  

     This simple and easy to prepare dish is not only comforting but a real crowd pleaser. The trick is it to let it marinade for a long time. It can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or longer in the freezer.  It can be cooked on the grill, in the oven and even on the stove top.  

     The combination of sweet, sour, salty and spice is very child friendly. Since the meat is flavored without a sticky and messy sauce, these skewers are perfect for potlucks and even kids' lunch boxes.  For a more grown up version, add a pinch or more of powdered cayenne pepper.  You can also serve it with your favorite dipping sauce.  Child #1 likes it with bottled BBQ sauce on the side while Child #2 likes it with ketchup.  
     Is there a dish you often serve to your child when he/she had a bad day?  Love to hear what it is.  

- Roz


1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breast)
1 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder

1. Cut the chicken thighs in half.  About 2 inch squares.
2. In a glass container with lid, whisk the vinegar, black pepper, chili powder, sea salt and garlic powder until well combined.
3. Add the chicken pieces and make sure it is well covered with the seasonings.
4. Cover and marinate at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.
5. Thread chicken onto skewers.
6. Lightly oil the grill plate and cook for about 7-9 minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked through.
    If using the oven, broil for about 8-10 minutes on each side.
    Stove top, lightly grease a cast iron skillet or grill pan.  Place the chicken skewers when the pan is starts to smoke.  Cook for 6-9 minutes on each side or until the juices run clear.

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