I live in a 116-year-old house. I love this house, and thank the Lord I do because keeping it maintained is an endless battle.
In the 10 years I have lived in the house, it has undergone two pretty significant renovations. The first was to replace the dining room floor after a leak under the house damaged the wood floors – the original 116-year-old heart pine floor.
The second renovation was to add a master bathroom and walk-in closet and to build a stand-alone garage at the rear of the property. The master bathroom and closet was for me; the garage was for my husband. At the time, with the dust and the disarray inside the home with two dogs and a toddler, the renovation project was a complete nightmare. However, the results were more than we expected.
Even with the fantastic results of the last renovation, the idea of doing more construction created nothing but anxiety for me. I actually told my husband that if any other construction was required on the house, we were just going to move.
But, did I tell you how much I love this house?
Then my kitchen tile began to crack. We could just replace it, and I could do a little freshening to my cabinets and countertops. No big deal.
After removing the tile, the contractors discovered the subfloor was completely rotted. So were the floor joists. I came home to a dirt hole where my kitchen once was.
This straight-forward job has become a little bigger than expected. Lord help us.
So while we are in construction chaos, we have no kitchen. The coffee pot is in the master bathroom. The refrigerator is in the family room. The dishwasher and washer and dryer are on the patio.
Cooking a meal has become an ordeal, I tell you. Even making a sandwich is a juggling act. There is no stove, but since our pots and pans are now under the dining room table, we couldn’t use it anyway. Besides, we have nowhere to prepare a meal other than the flat surface of the stove.
We have three choices – the grill, the microwave, or the Instapot. So far, the grill has been our go-to because of the time of year, but in another month, if we are still in construction chaos, I plan to live on tomato sandwiches served on paper towels. I think my husband and son will have to exist on cereal and Hot Pockets. I’ll pick up a box of Pop Tarts if we need a little variety.
When we got married, my husband, Keith, introduced me to foil packets in the oven, and since then, foil packets have become a regular menu item.
It is super easy. Take a chicken breast, season it with salt and any other seasoning you enjoy (we love lemon pepper.) Cube a white potato and drained green beans from a can and add to the packet. Then drop a couple tablespoon-sized pats of butter before rolling up the ends. Bake it for 30-40 minutes for 350 degrees in the oven. Be careful of the steam when you open the packet.
Dinner is served.
This past weekend, we ate dinner with my family at Joe’s Crab Shack in Memphis, and Keith and I shared a steam pot of crab legs, shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes. It was steamed with Old Bay seasoning, and it was phenomenal (and extremely messy).
In the spirit of the Joe’s steampot, this is a steam packet cooked entirely on the grill, which I found on Pinterest, and although we can always eat on the patio, it doesn’t look like it requires a bib like at Joe’s.
Shrimp Boil Packets
1 pound small red potatoes
2 ears corn, shucked and sliced into one-inch pieces
2 (4 ounces) Cajun-style andouille sausage links, thinly sliced
1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 tablespoon butter, sliced into tablespoons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Old Bay seafood seasoning, or more to taste
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to about 425 degrees. Cut 8 sheets of 12 by14-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil (two sheets per packet).
Microwave potatoes for 1/2 minutes, rotate and microwave 1 1/2 minutes more. Allow to cool, and then cut into cubes.
Divide potatoes among each of the four double lined foil sheets, followed by corn, sausage and shrimp.
Melt butter in a microwave safe dish in microwave. Stir in lemon juice, thyme and garlic. Drizzle two tablespoons over each packet.
Sprinkle each with about 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoning. Wrap up sides of first sheet of foil, then place second sheet going opposite length and wrap while crimping edges to seal.
Grill sealed side up about 12 - 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and shrimp have cooked through.
You know I love Mexican flavor, and you can’t go wrong with corn, black beans, cheese, and sour cream in any dish. Here is a Southwestern-style packet.
This recipe is from the cookbook,
Southwestern Chicken Packets
1 cup frozen corn
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
2 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Cilantro, to garnish
Avocado, mashed (optional)
Pull off 4 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil and layer to create 2 packets. Stir together the corn, black beans, and taco seasoning. Divide between the 2 foil packets. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place 1 chicken breast in each packet. Top the chicken with salsa and shredded cheese.
Bring the two longer edges of the foil together above the food. Fold the edges down twice, creating the top seal. Press the side edges together and fold, creating a secure packet.
Cook on hot coals, a gas grill, or in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Top with sour cream and avocado before serving.
I also love a shish kabob. My Momma was always very glamourous in the kitchen, and I remember her making shish kabobs when everyone else’s mother was making congealed salads and tuna casseroles.
There is just something so delightful about food served on a stick. It seems very festive, almost like an hors d'oeuvre.
Beef Shish Kabobs
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces button mushrooms
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 green bell peppers cut into 1-inch pieces
Dale’s Marinade (or your favorite beef marinade)
Soak wooden skewers in cold water for half hour.
Alternate beef, mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers on skewers. Place skewers inside a casserole dish and pour marinade over the skewers.
Place in the refrigerator for 1-6 hours to marinate, rotating occasionally. This is also a good time to place wooden skewers in water to soak.
Preheat grill to high heat while preparing the kabobs.
Place kabobs on the grill directly over the heat and reduce heat to medium-high. Grill for 8-10 minutes, flipping every 2-3 minutes, until the meat is cooked medium-rare to medium and the vegetables start to char just around the edges.
Remove from the grill and rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a baked potato.