Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#RecipeForHappiness: Happiness is Food on a Stick

Inspired and thoughtful #RecipesForHappiness ideas just keep arriving! This blog post is from Kristin Price, who writes the KristinPotPie blog brimming with local events, recipes and ideas for entertaining. As a food lover and writer, with many years of experience producing special events, she understands just how much of a role food plays in our enjoyment of life's special moments. In her own words: “Spending time with those we love is delicious. And sharing with others how to do it in style, but simply—and with great food—is even more enjoyable for me.” She calls her ‘go-to’ resource for recipes and uses it frequently when planning a menu for a party, because “I find it so helpful to find a good base recipe that I can tweak just a bit to make it my own— like the many other visitors to the site who leave comments with their adjustments. There are many recipes on the site I have saved to my recipe box that I return to again and again.” Read on to discover her special #RecipeForHappiness.

There’s a photo I’ve seen many times that’s now etched into my memory. It’s in a picture album somewhere—maybe at my grandmother’s house. I must have been nine or ten in the photo—all dressed in my Sunday best. I am also wearing the biggest grin on my face and have the largest lollipop you ever saw slung over my shoulder.

There’s something about food on a stick that just makes people smile.

Maybe it’s the nostalgia—taking us back to our youth where stick-themed food was in abundance; popsicles, lollies, fruit skewers, corndogs. Or maybe it’s just because it reminds us not to take ourselves (or our food!) too seriously.

Recentlyand unintentionallyit has become my sort-of signature food item when hosting parties and gatherings. There is always some food item on each menu that has been skewered. As a bonus, there is definitely a practical side to this because I think it makes party food easier to eat and clean-up less of a chore. (Except for those dang sticks you may find discarded in strange places long after the party is over!)

This summer I entertained quite a bit. Whether it was the watermelon wedges pierced with a popsicle stick at our Fourth of July barbecue, or the fruit skewers with blueberries and pineapple served at an afternoon board game party, I savored the looks of awe and joy on the faces of my guests each and every time.

Fourth of July watermelon skewers (Photo by Kristin Price)

Blueberry and pineapple bites on sticks (Photo by Kristin Price)
My heart filled with pride as the caprese salad on a stick impressed the older sister I recently re-connected with and her family I was meeting for the very first time. Sweet and sour meatballs made a splash on fancy toothpicks at my Retro Mad Men Party. The interactive shish-kabob-building at an intimate family dinner— the simplicity, and yet fun, of it all (everyone gets to customize their own meal!)simultaneously delighted and confounded my out-of-town in-laws.

Caprese salad on skewers (Photo by Kristin Price)

The next time you invite a few folks over, I encourage you to add “stick food” to your repertoire. Allrecipes even has a whole page dedicated to food on skewers!

As a starter, try this shish-kabob recipe for a lively hands-on evening. Do all the prep before your guests arrive, and then step back and marvel at their child-like reactions. Even adults will have a ball digging in, playing with their food, and building their own dinner— on a stick!

Shish-kabobs sizzling on the grill (Photo by Kristin Price)

A simple, but delicious, meal that consists of meat, vegetables and potatoes all cooked together on a stick. Fun for a crowd! Try changing up the vegetables depending on your tastes and what is in season.

Makes 12 skewers

 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I use dried oregano, rosemary, parsley and thyme)
6 cloves garlic, minced
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound steak, cubed
1 pound raw, shelled large prawns
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
6-8 small red potatoes, halved
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small yellow zucchini, cut into 2-inch slices
1 small green zucchini, cut into 2-inch slices
6 ounces fresh mushrooms
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 stick of butter, melted
12 (6–inch) metal skewers

1. To make the marinade, mix the olive oil, chili powder, herb mixture, garlic, , lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Divide marinade into two large bowls. Place the chicken, beef and prawns in one bowl and toss to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight. Reserve the marinade in the second bowl.
2. Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook 10- 12 minutes, or until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork, but are not fully cooked. (They will continue to cook on the grill.) Remove from the heat, drain, and let cool. 3. Place the cooled potatoes, onion, bell peppers and zucchini in the reserved bowl of marinade, tossing to coat vegetables. Refrigerate overnight.
4. When ready to prepare skewers, remove meat and vegetables from the refrigerator. Drain meats and vegetables; discard marinade. Let guests combine meat and vegetables on the skewers as desired. Light the grill and heat to 425 degrees F. Cook skewers over the grill until done, turning several times. Serve with melted butter with fresh lemon juice.

Prepping the ingredients for this meal ahead of time allows you to be much more at ease when entertaining. The interactive style of this dish means you will enjoy your guests even more as they all gather in the kitchen—where they usually are anyway during a party!—to cook together. I do hope you will be inspired to try your hand at food on a stick next time you entertain. Let me know, and tell me what worked on your party sticks!


I know these recipes give me happiness! thanks!