Sunday, August 14, 2011

Share the Love: Lawry's Summer Cooking Project

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! CONGRATULATIONS TO LENAE!
Let me tell you -- I didn't know the meaning of delicious until I nearly drowned myself a few weeks ago in a fabulous {and healthy} bowl of watermelon gazpacho infused with peppers, cucumbers and topped with sweet, seasoned shrimp and ripened avocados.

While I'm no stranger to experimenting in the kitchen, I never would have thought those ingredients would combine so well, creating such a cool, flavorful feast. But that's the fun thing about cooking with a group of friends -- ideas grow and flourish and make something seemingly everyday -- like watermelon in the summer -- to something extraordinary like watermelon gazpacho.

Along with Melissa, Michelle and Vanessa, I was commissioned by The Motherhood and the folks at Lawry's Seasonings to execute a Summer Cooking Project.



Our group's challenge included creating a three-course unique, delicious meal themed around Vacation Food while using Lawry's Seasonings in each dish.

My mind first went to all of the fresh produce and ingredients available locally -- grilling corn, marinating steaks and picking ripe tomatoes from the vine to create a classic Midwestern vacation meal. Our group instead decided to cruise on over to the Mediterenean coast for inspiration while using our Lawry's seasonings: the classic seasoning salt, the balsamic marinade and the seasoning salt marinade.

While we were preparing to make our unique foodfare with flares of flavor from our favorite Mediterranean destinations, I discovered that our local produce -- including tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, onions and cucumbers -- actually are similar to that of which is grown in the Mediterranean region.

So though our watermelon and veggies were grown locally here in the country nestled just outside of suburbia, our watermelon gazpacho and shrimp sprinkled with Lawry's Seasoning Salt blew my taste buds all the way from present day in suburbia back to time spent near the mediterrenean coast.

Our final menu nicely incorporated locally grown produce with tastes of the Mediterrenean:

* Tomato and Mozzarella Salad dressed with Lawry’s Balsamic Marinade {prepared separately by Cherise and Paula}

* Watermelon Gazpacho Topped with Avocado and Sweet Jumbo Shrimp Seasoned with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

* Lawry's Balsamic Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Peach Chutney and Grilled Pineapple


Tomato and Mozzarella Salad dressed with Lawry's Balsamic Marinade



Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 7-8 minutes

Number of servings: 3-6 adults

Ingredients:

6 Basil Leaves
One Fresh Mozzarella Ball
About 25 Cherry Tomatoes
Pasta Noodles
Small Red Onion
Lawry’s Original Balsamic Herb

Directions:

1. Cook pasta noodles and let cool (or rinse with cold water to cool off if you are in a hurry.)
2. Chop basil leaves, red onion and mozzarella.
3. Toss everything together and stir in about 1/2 cup of Lawry’s Balsamic Herb

Watermelon Gazpacho Topped with Avocado and Sweet Jump Shrimp Seasons with Lawry's Seasoned Salt:



{adapted from an Eating Well recipe}

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Number of servings: 8

Ingredients

1 Medium Seedless or Seeded Watermelon, Finely Diced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 avocados, coarsely chopped
3/4 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 TBSPS of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Salt and Pepper to your Taste
Instructions



1. Mix watermelon, cucumber, bell pepper, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a large bowl.
2. Measure 3 cups of the mixture into a blender or food processor and puree. Transfer to another large bowl. Puree another 3 cups and add to the bowl.
3. Taste the soup and salt as desired.
4. Top with the remaining diced mixture and the avocado.
5. Season the shrimp with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.
6. Thread onto skewers. Cook on direct heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.
7. Remove the shrimp from the skewers and arrange them prettily around the soup.
8.Serve chilled.

Lawry's Balsamic Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Peach Chutney and Grilled Pineapple


Ingredients

3 Chicken Breasts, Cut into 2 inch cubes
1 cup of Lawry’s Balsamic Marinade
1 Pineapple, peeled and cored, and cut into 2 inch cubes
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Number of servings: 6

Instructions

1. Wash and cut the chicken into 2 inch cubes, removing most fast and the tenderloins.
2. Place chicken in a bowl and cover with the marinade overnight.
3.Preheat your grill with one direct heat zone and one cooler indirect heat zone.
4. Soak bamboo skewers in water for an hour.
5. Peel, core, and cut the pineapple into 2 inch cubes.
6. Thread the chicken onto skewers.
7. On separate skewers, to maintain even cooking, thread the pineapple. Mixed fruit and meat skewers may look prettier but they don’t cook as evenly or safely.
8. Cook the chicken first on indirect heat, 5-6 minutes on each side.
9. Cook the pineapple second, also on indirect heat, 2 minutes max on each side to have it caramelize but not burn.
10. Serve immediately, or place in the fridge to serve cold.
{The peach chutney is intended to be a dipping sauce served on the side.}

Vanessa's Peach Chutney:

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Number of servings: 4

Ingredients

2 fresh Peaches, peeled and diced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 TBSP of white wine vinegar
2 TBSPs of brown sugar
1 TBSP of balsamic
1 TSP of olive oil
Instructions

1. Chop the peaches, shallots, and onion.
2. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the shallots and onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the peaches, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and vinegars. Stir well. Lower heat to medium low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the chutney has come together and is a little brown.
4. Will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days after preparation.

Alas, as the summer wanes and the days slowly morph into fall, I know we won't be heading out on any more exotic vacations, but we'll definitely be creating this Mediterrenean-inspired cuisine one last time -- a bit of vacation in our own backyard from foods grown near our backyard and infused with tastes that will take us back to our travels.

Want one last summer vacation hurrah without leaving your home?
Our friends at Lawry's offered to send one of my friends here a package of all the seasonings we used in our recipe:
*Balsamic Marinade
*Lawry's Classic Seasoning Salt
*Seasoning Salt Marinade.
Simply leave a comment, if you'd like to be entered into the drawing {tell me where you'd LOVE to vacation simply because of the food maybe?}.

EXTENDED: I'll randomly pick a winner Friday, August 19. Happy cooking!

I was commissioned by The Motherhood and Lawry's Seasonings to participate in this Summer Cooking Project. Lawry's gifted our group members with the aforementioned box of seasonings and paid for our ingredients. I was compensated to participate in the challenge and write about my experience.

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