Meat Marinades and Balsamic Vinaigrette








Simple Beginnings

Simple. Let’s start there (and stay there!) This is the end of the school year here in Michigan, and my kids have an activity or celebration just about every day around here, along with final exam studying for the high-schooler. (I’ll be sure to put a good recipe out there for a yummy study break snack soon, too.) For now, I’m thinking we just need the basics…a good piece of grilled meat with a tossed salad and the good whole-grain baguette that our local market carries. My kids like to dip the latter into some good, lighter flavor olive oil that we discovered at an Italian restaurant years ago when they were little. It tastes like melted butter and is so much better for all of us!

So now, the meat. Chicken, Pork or Beef? I have a good marinade recipe for each, and I love that I can just throw it together in the morning, transfer it to a Ziploc bag with the meat, and refrigerate it until we decide to grill it later. (Hopefully, my husband will be in the mood to do the grilling…all the easier for me!) Whichever meat you choose, here are a few great marinades that we’ve collected from our neighbors over the years…neighbors, by the way, being the ones whom you can smell their delicious dinner grilling through your open windows in the summer – which is why we’ve asked for the recipes!

Chicken or Pork Marinade

¼ cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons honey
¼ cup soy sauce (or lite soy sauce)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 ¼ cups apple juice

A note about meat: Try to buy the highest quality you can afford , and eat smaller portions of it. “Free-range” and “no antibiotics or hormones added” are the buzz-words I look for on packaging. Just calling it “all natural” is not enough.

Combine all ingredients. Place meat in marinade for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove from marinade and place on grill. (Rub grates with oil first to keep meat from sticking.)

Always discard the marinade after the meat has been in it. You risk contaminating the cooked meat with the raw meat juices. If you haven’t been able to marinate for as long as the recipe specifies, you can brush the marinade on the meat just when you first put it on the grill. Then, discard it.

Steak Marinade

1 cup soy sauce (or lite soy sauce)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup vinegar
½ cup pineapple juice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons garlic powder (or 1 large clove garlic, minced)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Marinade beef for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove from marinade and place on grill. (Rub grates with oil first to keep meat from sticking.)

I’m thinking the salad can be nice and simple. Mixed greens (just use your family’s favorite lettuces) with some cucumber, grape tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion and maybe some crumbled gorgonzola cheese with this great balsamic vinaigrette.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup canola oil

Combine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Then, whisk in oil gradually until it is all incorporated into the dressing. Best served at room temperature over chilled greens. Refrigerate leftovers. Always shake well before using.

One last thought today, that I like to read to remind myself that “I can do this” at times when I feel like I can’t, whatever the day’s challenges. I’m also thinking it fits with what I need to remind my first-year-of-high-school son, during his first time of final exams!

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