By Deborah Eisenhut

Even though we have come to borrow the Italian phrase “al fresco” to mean eating outdoors, when in truth, the expression usually refers to spending time in jail, let us be thankful we can get out of a hot kitchen “jail” and eat outside as the hot summer days cool off. Whether it be backyard picnics, on the beach or BBQ’s, festival fare or church suppers, eating and even cooking outdoors under an open sky, has always been a highlight of summer. Grilling food outdoors goes back half a million years but the pastime of backyard grilling is much more recent in America. After WW2, as the middle class began to move to the suburbs, grilling caught on and by the 1950’s was a summertime rage. This was a time of relaxing in the evenings and families and neighbors gathering to share a simpler fare, often fresh from the home garden. Children played games and rode bikes because television was not the all consuming force it is now. July is an especially busy time for family vacations and travel to exotic locations. As a way to keep cool and enjoy the outdoors more, whether you are at a campsite or staying in a motel, try to incorporate some pleasant nights around a campfire or grill with easy delicious food preparation and the bonus of easy clean up too!

Garlic-Lime Chicken

3/4 cup fresh lime juice                           Combine first 4 ingredients in baking dish, add chicken and turn to

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro             coat. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Prepare grill to medium-

1/3 cup olive oil                                         high heat. Season generously with salt & pepper. Grill until

4 garlic cloves, minced                             cooked through, turning, about 12 minutes each side. Transfer

6 chicken breast halves                           to platter.

Caprese Bites

Grape tomatoes                                       Thread onto small cocktail skewers. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar

bocconcini balls (mozzarella)                 and serve.

fresh basil leaves

Grilled Peaches

Heat grill to medium-low. Half and pit 4 ripe peaches, brush on both sides 2 Tblsp. melted

butter. Place peaches on grill; cover grill and cook until charred and softened, 4-5 minutes per side.

Watermelon Gazpacho

Process 5 cups cubed ripe watermelon, 1 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber; 1/4 cup chopped red onion; and 1/2 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced, in a blender until smooth. Stir in 2 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp. salt. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Serve in small bowls or glasses.

Chicken and Shrimp Kebabs with Summer Vegetables

12 (10 inch) wooden skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained)

2 cups water

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1 Tblsp. white balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil, divided

salt and pepper, divided

2 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 medium size red peppers, 2 medium size yellow peppers, 1 medium size zucchini and 1 medium size red onion, all cut into pieces. 36 peeled and deveined raw large shrimp. Put all in a bowl.

Bring 2 cups water to boil on high. Add basil, stir until leaves wilt. Drain and pat dry. Process basil, vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, and half of each salt & pepper until smooth 2-3 minutes. Preheat grill to medium. Thread chicken and veggies alternating on 6 skewers. Repeat with shrimp and veggies. Drizzle skewers with remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill uncovered 3-5 minutes per side, watching closely as the shrimp kebabs will cook faster than the chicken. Transfer kebabs to a serving platter and brush half the basil oil over the kebabs. Serve remaining basil oil for dipping or drizzling.