Cooking with Lauren: A couple of easy summer recipes

Pulled chicken BBQ, raspberry lemon bars are a treat

By Lauren Hallow Published:

Friends, as you read this, I hope you’re outside or dipping your toes into a pool somewhere, because today is the first day of summer.

Not only is it the first day of summer, today’s also the longest day of the year. The sun rose around 6:15 this morning and won’t set until after 9 tonight.

In honor of summer and the solstice, I wanted to find a recipe that could work well at a summer barbecue but also be easy enough to prevent you from spending the whole party in the kitchen.

The one I decided to use, Hawaiian Barbecue Pulled Chicken, came from a cooking blog called “Cooking Classy.” While perusing the online food blogs, I also came across a refreshingly delicious-sounding dessert on cooking blog “Two Peas & Their Pod,” so I’ve included that recipe as well.

You’ll notice this column is much shorter than my previous ones, but can you blame me for wanting to spend less time at a computer and more time outside?

The original chicken recipe actually didn’t ask for bourbon, but I had a little sample bottle of Jim Beam in my freezer. It’s summer; I’m celebrating.

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

½ cup ketchup

1/3 cup of pineapple juice (apple juice can be substituted)

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup honey

2 ½ t molasses (maple syrup can be substituted)

¼ t liquid smoke

2 T bourbon

½ t ground ginger

½ t onion powder

½ t garlic powder

Pepper to taste

1 T cold water

1 T corn starch

2 T tomato paste

Hamburger buns

Pineapple (optional)

In a mixing bowl, whisk ketchup, pineapple juice, soy sauce, honey, molasses, liquid smoke, bourbon, ginger, onion powder and garlic powder. Sprinkle pepper on chicken, and place chicken in crockpot. Pour mixture over chicken, cover with a lid, and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours. At about two-and-a-half hours in, your home will begin to smell heavenly.

Once the chicken has cooked, switch your crockpot setting to “warm” and remove chicken, shred it and set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together cold water and cornstarch, pour in sauce from slow cooker and add tomato paste. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 seconds, stirring until thickened.

Put the chicken back in the crockpot and pour the sauce over the chicken, tossing evenly to coat.

Serve warm on hamburger buns. I had mine with some grilled pineapple chunks. This was so delicious that I ended up eating the portion I set aside to give to my neighbor. Oops.

After you’re finished licking your fingers, you can move on to dessert…

Raspberry

Lemonade Bars

1 ½ cup crushed graham crackers

6 T butter, melted

¼ cup sugar

Zest of one lemon

2 large egg yolks

1 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup lemon juice

2 T pink lemonade mix

1 t lemon zest

6 oz fresh (NOT frozen) raspberries

Start by making the crust. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking dish (mine was 8x8) with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the graham crackers, butter, sugar and lemon zest together in a mixing bowl until the grahams are moist.

For the record, I’ve never “zested” anything in my life until this recipe, but the blog insisted that the lemon zest was the best part and skipping it would be a cardinal sin. So I went to the store to buy my first zester, couldn’t find one, and left instead with a cheese grater. Interestingly enough, a cheese grater substitutes quite nicely as a zester.

And for those who are like me and don’t consider themselves sophisticated chefs, the zest is bits of skin. When you zest something, you scrape off pieces of skin on fruit (such as a lemon or an orange) to add flavor to a meal.

Scoop into a baking dish and press the crumbs evenly to the sides. Bake for 10 minutes and allow it to cool to room temperature. To speed up the cooling process, I stuck my crust in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Once the crust has cooled, whisk egg yolks, condensed milk, lemon juice, pink lemonade mix and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Carefully fold in raspberries – the recipe says to do this but I was impatient and just dumped them all in and a few came apart, so try to be more careful than me so you don’t break your raspberries.

Pour mixture evenly over crust and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then pop in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.

I don’t know if this was just me, but mine were a bit gooey. They tasted amazing so I wasn’t complaining, but the pictures on the blog made them look more solid. I don’t know if that’s my freezer though or if I did something wrong in the recipe.

Just to give you a heads up: only bring this dessert to a place that has a freezer or fridge. I wouldn’t rely on just a cooler; otherwise you may have a pink mess.

Unlike the chicken, I had enough self-restraint this time to limit myself to a few servings, and I was able to give the rest away to my neighbor and some friends. Once you taste these though, I can’t guarantee you’ll be as gracious.

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  • I agree, bjos. I try and include some healthier recipes from time to time. Here's one I did in January for Vegetable Enchiladas: http://www.state-journal.com/spectrum/2012/01/18/tasty-way-to-get-your-veggies Also, this is a relatively low-fat recipe for chicken kabobs: http://www.state-journal.com/spectrum/2012/03/21/warm-weather-means-grilling-season-s-come-early

  • With so many people overweight here in Frankfort and elsewhere, it would be nice to see healthy low-calorie, low-fat, low-carbohydrate recipes.