The Best Things in Life are Three–Easy Drinks and Appetizers

In honor of PJ’s release of Western Desert, here are three new recipes–super easy and super yummy. Enjoy while you’re reading!

IMGP0088Suze’s Orange-Strawberry Cooler

  • 1 handful fresh mint, rinsed and drained
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, drained, hulled, and halved (frozen is fine if berries are not in season)
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 1 can (or up to 2 cups) of plain seltzer water (orange, other citrus, or vanilla flavor is even better!)

Place mint and berries in the bottom of a large glass pitcher. Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, give the mixture a few gentle presses to release the flavor. Add orange juice (depending on the size of your pitcher, you may not need the entire half gallon) and refrigerate until nice and cold.

Pour over ice into pretty glasses and pour some seltzer into each. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a fresh strawberry. **Adults can add a shot of citrus or vanilla-flavored vodka!

Suze’s Pita Chips and Greek-Style Yogurt Dip (Tzaziki)

For the chips:

  • 3 whole wheat pitas (I bought mine in the deli section of the supermarket)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed or minced very fine
  • Sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a shallow baking sheet with foil. Cut each pita into 6 triangles. Unfold each triangle and cut in half (Each pita will make 12 chips). Place on the baking sheet in a single layer, with the inside of the pita up and the outside of the pita touching the foil.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, mix the pressed/minced garlic with the olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt (don’t overdo the salt!). Microwave on high for 30 seconds, or until garlic is fragrant. Brush the oil mixture onto each pita chip, using up all of the oil.

Bake until the chips are crispy and lightly browned, approximately 7-10 minutes. Because oven temperatures vary, watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the dip:

  • 1 cup Greek-style plain, low-fat yogurt (don’t get a flavored kind!)
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill

Cut peeled cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds by scraping with a teaspoon. Discard seeds. Grate cucumber using a box grater. Place cucumber into a fine sieve/colander and press gently with a paper towel over the sink or a bowl to eliminate excess water.

Fold cucumber and dill into yogurt. Taste and add a bit of sea salt if necessary. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour. Serve with pita chips.

Suze’s Marinated Chicken and Grape Tomato Skewers

  • 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken (thighs, breasts, or tenders, whichever you prefer)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint ripe but firm grape tomatoes, rinsed

Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks (3/4 inch–keep them fairly small so they cook evenly with the tomatoes). Place chicken, lemon, oil and pepper into glass bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, add a few curls of lemon peel (yellow part only, not the bitter pith). Toss all ingredients gently, cover, and refrigerate at least an hour or up to several hours. Soak bamboo skewers in water.

Preheat outdoor grill, indoor grill, tabletop grill (such as a George Foreman), or broiler. On each skewer, place a piece of chicken, a grape tomato, and another piece of chicken. Grill or broil until chicken is cooked through. Add more fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Bonus Recipe!

If you have any extra chicken/tomatoes and dip, you can have a yummy pita sandwich the next day for your lunch. Just remove the chicken and tomatoes from the skewers and place in a half pita pocket with lettuce and some leftover dip. Add some crumbled feta cheese if you have it, but it’s delicious as is.

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