(BPT) - When the temperature is hot, hosts can keep their cool by minimizing time spent in the kitchen. Trade cooking time for social time with family and friends by picking recipes that can be prepped in advance and put together shortly before mealtime. The grill can be a host’s best friend — it cooks quickly, adds great flavor and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.
First, set a cool vibe with Grape Sangria Spritzers. California grapes and slices of orange and nectarine sparkle like jewels in a refreshing mixture of rosé wine, brandy or liqueur, and seltzer. Build up the chill by freezing the halved grapes and fruit slices ahead of time. Make this kid-friendly by using flavored sparkling water in place of the wine and brandy.
Center the meal around Grilled Blackened Pork and Grape Kebabs to maximize the power of the grill. Marinating the pork ahead of time infuses the meat with garlic and Cajun flavors, while cutting the meat and vegetables into evenly sized cubes makes for quick, even cooking. Green California grapes provide a pop of color and burst of juicy sweetness that complements the savory flavors of the kebab. This recipe works equally well with beef, chicken, fish or shrimp.
Remember to buy extra grapes to keep chilled and on hand for a quick snack or dessert!
Grape Sangria Spritzers
Prep time: 15 minutes plus chilling
Cook time: 0 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 servings
3/4 cup halved red California grapes
3/4 cup halved green California grapes
1 bottle rosé wine
1/3 cup peach brandy or orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
1 large navel orange, cut in half lengthwise and cut crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices
2 ripe, medium yellow nectarines, halved and cut into slices
Ice and chilled seltzer, for serving
Place the grape halves in a 1 and 1/2- to 2-quart pitcher and pour in the wine and brandy. Add the orange and nectarine slices to the pitcher, stir, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, fill 4 tall glasses 1/3 full of ice. Add a generous amount of fruit. Pour in the wine mixture to cover and then top off with the seltzer.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 300 Calories; Protein 1 g; Carbohydrate 35 g; Fat 0 g (0% Calories from Fat); Saturated Fat 0 g (0% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 20 mg; Fiber 2 g.
Grilled Blackened Pork and Grape Kebabs
Prep time: 15 minutes plus standing
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 servings (four 12-inch skewers)
1 pound boneless pork sirloin or pork loin, cut evenly into 20 cubes (about 3/4 inch)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
16 large green California grapes
1 medium red onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise; each piece halved crosswise
1 small yellow bell pepper, trimmed and cut into eight 3/4-inch squares
Lemon wedges, for serving
In a medium bowl, toss together the pork, oil, garlic, and Cajun seasoning until meat is evenly coated; let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature.
Heat the gas grill to medium high (450 F) and oil the grates.
Meanwhile, assemble the kebabs: Thread the pork, grapes, onion, and peppers onto a skewer, alternating the ingredients to create an attractive pattern. Place on a tray. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 4 kebabs.
Grill the kebabs covered, until lightly charred underneath. Turn, cover, and grill 5 minutes more. Transfer kebabs to a platter and serve with lemon wedges.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 250 Calories; Protein 23 g; Carbohydrate 13 g; Fat 10 g (36% Calories from Fat); Saturated Fat 2 g (7% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 60 mg; Sodium 350 mg; Fiber 1 g.