Peppermint Trifle

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Last Christmas, I made this dessert for a Christmas dinner.  It is so easy, light and delicious!

The Christmas season is always jam-packed full of sweet treats, savoury appetizers and other tantalizing treats.  This trifle is a perfect dessert for after Christmas dinner- not too heavy, but still sweet enough to satisfy!  Oh, and the best part is that it needs to be made at least 24 hours ahead of time to allow the flavours to mingle!  The marshmallows sweeten and stabilize the whipped cream.

Go buy your candy canes NOW!  Last year, I waited until Christmas Eve, and had to go to about 5 stores before I found some!  Also, I let my husband crush the candy canes last year.  Take my advice.  Double bag them in Ziploc bags before taking a rolling pin to them!  We had little bits of peppermint everywhere for a long time!

Some ideas for garnishing the top- candy canes put into a heart shape, crushed Nilla Wafers, crushed candy canes… let your imagination run!

Of course, I didn’t write down any notes while I was making the trifle, but I think I made 1-1/2 times the recipe to fill my trifle bowl.  It made quite a few servings too!  If you don’t have a trifle bowl, the recipe makes a 9×13 pan

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Peppermint Trifle
recipe adapted from Secret Life of a Chef’s Wife
makes a 9×13 pan

1 cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes (put them in a ziploc bag and hit with a rolling pin!)
2 cups whipping cream- whipped, but not sweetened.  No Cool Whip!
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 box Nilla Wafer cookies, most crushed, but save some whole for a middle layer, if you’d like!
Additional candy canes or Nilla Wafers for garnish, if desired

Directions:

Fold the crushed candy canes into the whipped cream. Add marshmallows and fold together well.
Pour half of the crushed Nilla Wafers in the bottom of your pan/bowl.  Pour half of the whipped cream mixture on top.  Layer more crushed Nilla wafers, and line the whole ones up along the edge of the dish if you’d like.  Finish with the rest of the whipped cream mixture!  Smooth the top, and garnish as desired!  Refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.

Merry Christmas!

The Hungry Teacher

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Orzo Stuffed Peppers

I love the idea of these stuffed peppers.  Orzo, spinach, tomatoes, cheese… Yummy!  And, they lived up to my expectations!  Delicious, flavorful and a huge hit with my husband and baby!

Now that I’ve made this dish and shared the recipe with a few friends, my head is spinning with possibilities for the future- using quinoa in the filling, theme-inspired stuffed peppers (think Mexican)… sounds like I have a great summer of experimenting ahead of me!

We ate the peppers with a side green salad, but, I think they could be served with meat as a side dish.

These peppers were SO delicious!  I had TONS of filling left over though… I’d say that you could cut it back by a third, or just have a couple of extra peppers on hand to stuff and bake.  I forgot to pick up fresh basil at the store, and my herb garden isn’t up and running yet, so I used a little dried basil, but the fresh basil would make this dish OUTSTANDING!

Orzo Stuffed Peppers
Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1- 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1-1/2 cups orzo
1/2 cup grated mozzarella, plus more for on top
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for on top
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
6 fresh red, orange or yellow peppers

1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook for two minutes.  Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted.  Remove from the heat.
3.  Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and add the spinach mixture.
4.  Meanwhile, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the orzo, and cook for 5 minutes (you don’t want the orzo cooked all the way, because it will finish cooking in the oven).  Drain the orzo, saving the vegetable broth.
5.  Stir the orzo into the tomato mixture.  Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the basil.
6.  Pour the vegetable broth into a 3-qt. baking dish.  Slice the tops off the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds.  If necessary, cut a very thin slice off the bottom of the pepper so it stands upright.
7.  Put the peppers in the dish, and spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.
8.  Remove from the oven, and let the peppers sit for 5 minutes.  Serve warm.

Enjoy!
The Hungry Teacher

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Leftover Eggs? Try Caesar Deviled Eggs

My family has always dyed Easter eggs.  It’s a great tradition and it’s always fun!  We always have an overabundance of dyed hard boiled eggs around to eat for the few days after Easter, though, and we tend to get sick of them!  I mean, how many times can you really eat a plain hard boiled egg with salt and pepper in two days?!?

My husband comes from a non-egg dying family, and thinks it’s just weird that we would eat the dyed eggs!  My argument is that you eat cupcakes with dyed frosting, so why not a dyed Easter egg?

We’ve been striving to live a more natural life (and taking baby steps in this process!), so I’ve been reading a lot about naturally dyed eggs this year, and decided to give it a try.  My husband promised that he’d eat the eggs after=win win!  It takes some work and time to make the dyes, and then you have to let the eggs sit for a while, but look at the beautiful results!!  I used this blog post I found, and ended up dying my eggs with red wine, blueberries and turmeric.

 

I turned the eggs into these delicious Caesar Deviled Eggs! They are similar to traditional Deviled Eggs, but with Caesar salad dressing ingredients in them.  AWESOME!

The recipe calls for a bit of anchovy paste- when it’s mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, it does not taste fishy, I promise!  It just adds a salty kick.  Also, use fresh Parmigiano- Reggiano or another kind of fresh Parmesan cheese.  The flavor is immensely better, it’s worth it!

Caesar Deviled Eggs
Makes 12 half eggs
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book

6 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1/2 clove garlic
1 tsp anchovy paste
2 Tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 Tbsp mayonnaise, just enough to bind
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp lemon
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise.  Scoop the yolks into a bowl, and mash them a bit with a fork.  Grate the garlic into the bowl, then add the remaining ingredients.  Mash until smooth, then check the seasonings.  Fill the egg whites, over-stuffing them a bit.  Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Now, get using up your leftover Easter eggs!

The Hungry Teacher

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A Lotta Enchilada

I loooooooooooove Mexican food!!!  The beans, rice, tortillas, salsa, chips… it’s so good!  Or, maybe I should say that I love American-style Mexican food… whatever it is, it’s delicious!

Usually when I make enchiladas, they taste amazing, but don’t have very many health benefits… they consist of tortillas, enchilada sauce, chicken and cheese.  On the weekend, I met a fellow foodie, who told me about her recipe for enchiladas!  I googled it, and couldn’t find the EXACT recipe, but I stumbled upon this recipe on www.foodnetwork.ca.

This recipe is from the TV show Eat, Shrink and Be Merry (and these ladies have fabulous cookbooks as well!).  The enchiladas are stuffed full of veggies, but my carnivorous (and very reluctant vegetable-eating) husband loved them too!

This was my first attempt at making homemade enchilada sauce, and it was so good!  I’m not going to be buying the canned stuff again!  I’m sure it’s not authentic, but it was delicious, and pretty fresh tasting.  The recipe has a ton of ingredients, but it didn’t take TOO long to make (I had a baby who would NOT nap, so I was constantly rocking him while trying to make these enchiladas!)

I used a rotisserie chicken from the deli- it’s already cooked, has the perfect amount of meat on it, and I throw the chicken carcass in the freezer to make stock out of.  Also, the recipe calls for whole wheat flour tortillas, but they would be great with corn tortillas as well!  Oh, and I belong to the group of people that strongly dislike cilantro, so I used parsley instead!

The recipe makes 2- 9×13 dishes!  I was having company for dinner, so I baked both… and ended up freezing one after.  Next time, I’ll freeze one before I bake it, and defrost it in the fridge before baking it (and probably add some extra time to the baking as well).

A Lotta Enchilada
Recipe adapted from www.foodnetwork.ca (they have nutritional info on the website!)
Serves 10

Enchilada Sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups diced onions
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1-796 mL (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

Filling:
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup grated carrots
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

10 small whole wheat flour tortillas
3 cups packed, grated, sharp cheddar cheese
Sour cream and minced parsley for garnish

To make sauce, heat olive oil over medium heat in  a large saucepan.  Add onions and garlic.  Cook slowly and stir until onions begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in chili powder, cumin and oregano.  Mix well.  Add in remaining sauce ingredients, except parsley.  Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in parsley.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare filling.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray two 9×13 dishes with cooking spray.  Add 1/2 cup sauce to filling and mix well.  Set aside 1-1/2 cups cheese for sprinkling over enchiladas.

One at a time, spread a heaping 1/3 cup filling in the center of tortilla.  Top with a heaping tablespoon of cheese.  Roll up tightly and place seam-side down in a baking dish (5 enchiladas in each dish).  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Spoon sauce evenly over enchiladas, making sure each enchilada is covered with sauce.  Top with reserved cheese.  Cover the pans loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for about 5-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.  Serve enchiladas with sour cream and parsley to garnish.

These are delicious with sides of Mexican rice and refried beans.

XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Slow Cooker Lean, Mean and Green Tortilla Soup

This is the perfect recipe for a busy night!  It’s cooked in the slow cooker and it requires NO chopping!  The most difficult part about this soup was finding the “green sauce” (salsa verde).

This soup is SO tasty!  It’s rare to find a soup that satisfies my hungry husband for dinner, but this one did it!  It has a great spicy kick, and the not-so-optional (in my opinion) sour cream and avocado garnish is the perfect counterpart.  (As a side note, Caleb also had avocado for dinner- it’s nice to have a meal we can all eat!).

I used about 3/4 of a 16 oz bag of frozen corn, because that is what I had in the freezer!  Also, the only salsa verde I could find didn’t have a “heat” on the label, but the original recipe recommends mild.  I’d say ours was more like medium, and it was fantastic for us!  I also used 6 chicken thighs- they were all in a package, and it worked well for us!

It’s hard taking a picture of soup… all of ours did not look very appetizing, so I decided to leave out a picture on this blog post!

Lean, Mean and Green Tortilla Soup
Recipe from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow
Serves 6

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 cups chicken broth
1-16 oz bag frozen corn
1-14 oz jar prepared salsa verde
1 Tbsp ground cumin
sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and avocado slices for garnish (optional, but highly recommended)

In a 16-oz slow cooker, place the chicken thighs.  Stir in the chicken broth, corn, salsa verde and cumin.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.  Take out the chicken and shred it using two forks, then stir it back into the soup before serving.  Garnish each serving with sour cream, crushed tortilla chips and avocado slices.

YUM!  Enjoy this simple, delicious soup!
The Hungry Teacher

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Pasta Alla Puttanesca

Easy, quick, delicious, decently healthy… these were the words running through my head as I searched for a recipe to cook for dinner on Monday night.  As I racked my brain and browsed a few websites, I just couldn’t find what I wanted!!  I hate eating the same thing too often (even our favourite dishes we’ll rarely have more than once every two months).

I grabbed Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes (One of my Christmas gifts!) and looked at the pasta.  He had a recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca, but frankly, his recipe was more work then I was looking for.  I then saw David Rocco’s Dolce Vita on the shelf.  PERFECT!  A simple, delicious, home-cooked meal.

This recipe is fantastic because it uses mostly pantry ingredients– things you can keep on hand to have a simple meal in a flash.  I used anchovy paste because I don’t really have a need for a whole can of anchovies in my fridge.  The anchovy paste comes in a tube– you can squeeze it out as you need it, and it dissolves in the sauce.  I don’t think it tastes fishy AT ALL…  The recipes I sourced for puttanesca used spaghetti, but I prefer a thicker noodle, so I used linguine.  I forgot to buy fresh parsley, so I just omitted it, but it would add a great bit of colour and fresh flavour to finish the dish!  Jamie Oliver uses a can of tuna in oil in his puttanesca sauce- I think I’ll try that next time for a little extra protein and to satisfy my carnivorous husband!

Pasta Alla Puttanesca
Recipe adapted from David Rocco’s Dolce Vita
Serves 4

3/4 lb linguine
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red chili pepper flakes, to taste
1 Tbsp anchovy paste
2 Tbsp capers, drained
16 black olives, pitted, chopped a bit
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1-14 oz can diced tomatoes,
Salt, to taste
Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Cook the pasta in boiling water.  The pasta takes longer than the sauce!

Put a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Put in the garlic, crushed red chilies, anchovy paste, capers, olives and walnuts.  Cook gently until the garlic is lightly browned.

Pour in the can of tomatoes.  Let the sauce cook until it is thickened a bit– you don’t want it to be too runny.  Add some salt to taste.  When the pasta is finished, drain it  and save a bit of the cooking water in case you need to loosen up the sauce.  Add the pasta to the sauce with some of the cooking water if necessary.  Let the whole thing cook for a minute or two, until the sauce is thickened!

Enjoy!
The Hungry Teacher

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Slow Cooker Enchiladas

Fall is all around us.  It’s such a beautiful time of year- oranges, yellows and reds everywhere, crisp, cool days, trips to the pumpkin patch, and more rainy days.  I must confess, I secretly like the rain.  It gives you an excuse to curl up indoors, make some comfort food, have a cup of tea and read a book… or play with a baby!

I love my slow cooker!  It’s great to throw a plethora of ingredients in, turn it on and come home to a house that smells amazing and dinner made! This recipe involves cooking the sauce on the stove for a while, and then assembling the dish, so it’s a little more work than a stew or soup.  Don’t let that stop you!  This recipe is worth the extra couple of steps!

When I was working, I liked to prep my slow cooker meals the night before and store the crock in the fridge.  Then in the morning I just had to pull the crock out, plop it in the cooker, plug it in and go!  As a result, anything I tried with tortillas in it turned out soggy.  If you do want to make this the night before, make the sauce, grate the cheese and throw it all in the fridge.  You’ll have assemble the layers in the morning, but it’s not that difficult!

Use small, 6″ tortillas for this recipe.  They fit perfectly in the middle of my slow cooker, making the result look really good!  The tortillas did not end up soggy at all in the slow cooker, or reheated for lunch the next day!  I had so much extra sauce that I froze it- it’s basically a tex-mex flavoured chili.

Slow Cooker Enchiladas
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
Serves 5-6

1 pound ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 can (16 oz) pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes and red chilies (or whatever you can find!)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6-7 flour tortillas (6″)

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, onion and green pepper until the beef is brown and the vegetables are tender.  Add the next 8 ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat, cover the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a 5-6 qt slow cooker, layer about 3/4 cup beef mixture, one tortilla and about 1/3 cup of cheese.  Repeat layers until all ingredients are used up.  Cover and cook on low about 5-7 hours, or until heated through.  (Mine took 6 hours!)

Enjoy!
The Hungry Teacher

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Bakin’ Bacon

 

Having a baby at home is a TON of fun!!  I am loving my life as a stay-at-home-mom (at least for this school year)!  But, as all parents know, the simple things in life aren’t always so simple anymore.  Take frying bacon, for instance.  When you don’t have a baby, it’s pretty simple to fry bacon.  Put it in the pan, turn it on, flip it occasionally and watch out for splatters!  But, if you have to hold a baby, or have one in the kitchen with you, it can be nearly IMPOSSIBLE to flip that bacon, or even get near it, for fear of having bacon grease splatter the baby!

I’ve heard of people baking bacon before.  I know this is not a new thing.  I’ve seen methods using a wire rack on a baking sheet, or the broiler pan… but those methods seem like they would involve A LOT of scrubbing after.  Maybe I’m lazy, but I don’t want to spend my time scrubbing a wire rack that has bacon fat and little crispy bacon pieces stuck to it!

So, I did some research, and I found the EASIEST, most convenient, and-believe it or not- the most tasty way to have perfectly cooked crispy bacon!

Here’s my method!  I found it on about.com and adapted it very slightly to suit me!

1.  Get a baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil (this makes clean up simple!)

2.  Lay out your bacon slices on the sheet.  It’s best if they’re not touching, as they’d cook together, but it’s ok to get as many on the sheet as you can WITHOUT them touching!

 

3.  Put your baking sheet in the cold oven, THEN turn it on to 400°.  Set your timer to 17 minutes.  Walk away.

4.  When the timer goes, check your bacon!  If it’s golden brown and cooked the way you like bacon, it’s done- if not, let it cook for a few minutes longer (I usually use thicker bacon slices and they take about 22 min).  Take it off of the baking sheet and place it on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the extra grease!

5.  Eat your bacon!

Perfectly cooked bacon! YUM! I know it looks greasy, but once it's been on the paper towels, it's not too greasy (about the same as frying it!)

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Spinach, Bacon & Feta Pizza with Sun-dried Tomato Sauce

I love pizza!  If you think about it, it’s pretty much the perfect food!  It has all of the major food groups, it tastes amazing and you eat it with your hands.  Yup, definitely a stellar combination!

I stumbled upon Lauren’s Latest a few weeks ago on Pinterest, when I made her Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Bites (which were SOOOOOOO good, by the way!).  I decided to do something UNHEARD of!  I made two new recipes from the same blog for dinner!  They were both so delicious!

Now, I discovered a trick for cooking bacon- bake it!  In fact, this has so revolutionized my world that I am planning to do a whole blog post on it, the next time I get a few minutes during nap time (which doesn’t happen very often… good thing Caleb is a cutie!)

The recipe calls for homemade sun-dried tomato pesto, which is DELISH!  The combination of pizza sauce and sun-dried tomato pesto is divine and makes regular pizza spectacular!  If you have store-bought, I’m sure it’s fine as well!  Now, the recipe for the pesto makes about 3 cups, but you only need 1/3 cup for this recipe.  I cut it in half, and froze the rest of the pesto for another recipe (think- over pasta with mozzarella cheese and spinach) or the next time you make this pizza!

Spinach, Bacon & Feta Pizza with Sundried Tomato Sauce
Recipe from Lauren’s Latest, who in turn got the recipe from Perry’s Plate

Enough pizza dough to make a large pizza (about 1 lb)
12 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup homemade sun-dried tomato pesto (see recipe below)
1/3 cup pizza sauce
2 or 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach
2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1.  Preheat oven to 450°.
2.  Spread pizza dough out onto your pizza pan (or cookie sheet, I use a stone…).
3.  Combine the pizza sauce and pesto in a small bowl.  Spread over the dough.
4.  Top with fresh spinach and mozzarella.
5.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the crust isn’t quite brown yet, but has gotten firm.
6.  Remove pizza from the oven and top with the bacon and feta.
7.  Return the pizza to the oven for another 5-8 minutes, or until the mozzarella cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden!
8.  Cut and ENJOY!

Homemade Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
Makes 2-1/2 – 3 cups
Also from Lauren’s Latest, via Perry’s Plate

2 cups oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thinly ( or just buy them thinly sliced to save time!)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed

1.  Combine tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts in a food processor.  Pulse until you have a nice, thick, combined texture!  Drizzle in a little olive oil if the mixture is too thick!

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Barbecued Tandoori Chicken Thighs

I love the spicy flavour of Indian food, and I wanted to bring it into my kitchen (actually onto my patio) at home!  All summer, we’ve been doing a lot of grilling… it’s so quick, easy and adds so much flavor to foods!

I found a recipe for Tandoori Chicken on allrecipes.com that I decided to try.  I must say, I know that this isn’t real Indian food.  I know that it doesn’t really even come close to something you’d eat in a restaurant.  BUT, it was still REALLY good!  The spices worked together well!  The chicken is marinated in yogurt, with the spices added in,  which made it so moist and flavorful!

I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for maximum moistness and flavor.  You could easily adapt this recipe for boneless skinless chicken breasts (grill until they are no longer pink, about 5-8 minutes a side), or boneless skinless chicken thighs.  You could also bake the chicken in a 350º oven for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.

Barbecued Tandoori Chicken Thighs
Serves 4
Recipe adapted from www.allrecipes.com
1 cup (8 oz) plain yogurt
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
8 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
olive oil spray

1.  In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the spices, garlic and ginger.
2.  Place the chicken in a large, resealable plastic bag.  Pour the marinade over the chicken.  Turn the bag over a few times to make sure that the chicken is coated with the marinade.  Place the bag in a bowl or on a plate, and marinate in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
3.  Preheat the BBQ to medium.
4.  Remove the chicken from the bag, discard the marinade.  Wipe excess marinade off the chicken with a paper towel.  Spray with olive oil spray.
5.  Place the chicken over direct heat and grill for about 2 minutes on each side and you have nice grill marks on the chicken.  Move the chicken to indirect heat and finish cooking, about 15-20 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

Keep grilling while the weather’s still good!
The Hungry Teacher

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