Dinner on the Deck

It’s that time of year!

Watermelon Margaritas

Homemade Tortillas served with Spicy Shredded Chicken

The porch, deck, patio, whatever you call your outside space, is a sacred spot for us Mainers. The downeast coast, where I grew up, is not exactly known for its endless sunny days and most summers a fogburn was more likely than a sunburn. But, that did not stop us; we wrapped up in afghans, put on sweatshirts and, while swatting black flies, still enjoyed ribs, burgers, steamers and lobsters on the patio overlooking the beautiful harbor. Mainers cook outside year round but when the day comes that we don’t have to shovel a path through the snow to the grill, we celebrate. Margaritas and tortillas are not quite as traditional as red hot dogs and cold PBR’s but it is the ritual of putting out the deck chairs and holding our cups and plates without mittens that is the real shared cause for celebration.

Watermelon Margaritas

I love tequila but you can make this delicious drink without it and be refreshed with less chance of dozing off in the hammock. If you prefer rum, then call it a watermelon daiquiri! The secret is watermelon ice cubes. You will never go back to a regular margarita once you have one of these!

Ingredients and Directions

  • 5 hours prior to cocktail hour, cut a seedless watermelon, rind removed, into 1 inch chunks. The riper and sweeter the watermelon, the better the margarita.
  • Line a baking sheet, that will fit into your freezer, with plastic wrap and place the watermelon chunks on it in a single layer. Freeze solid.

  • Once frozen, store in a plastic bag in your freezer.

  • Put about 3 cups of watermelon cubes in a blender, or, depending upon your blender size, about 2/3 full.
  • Add 1/2 cup pink lemonade
  • Add 2 Tbs. key lime juice (look for Nellie’s key lime in the liquor aisle of the grocery store)
  • About 1 cup tequila, or to taste. I use the lime flavored tequila but any will work
  • Blend until smooth, pour into stemmed glasses and serve with a lime slice.
  • Makes a blender full, the serving size is up to you.

Homemade Flour Tortillas and Shredded Spicy Chicken

Tortillas are simple to make, worth the little additional time and you have the ingredients in your pantry right now to make them.

Flour Tortillas

Makes about 12 tortillas, depending upon size

 

What’s this number?

 

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus about 1/4 cup more for rolling
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (crisco)
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Put flour, baking powder, and salt into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and whirl until combined.
  2. Add the vegetable shortening and pulse until it is incorporated and mixture resembles small peas
  3. In a slow stream, while the motor is running, add the water until dough forms a ball.
  4. Enclose dough in plastic wrap
  5. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high heat
  6. Pull off about 1 heaping tablespoon dough from the ball, keeping the remaining dough covered.
  7. Roll out dough to a thin circle, aout 6 inches, flouring the pin and board as necessary
  8. Place tortilla on the hot skillet and cook until it bubbles, about 5 to 10 seconds. Do not overcook or the tortilla will not be pliable.
  9. Flip the tortilla and cook for an additional 5 to 10 seconds. Stack cooked tortillas on a plate. When cooled, cover or wrap in a plastic bag.

Spicy Shredded Chicken 

 Ingredients

  • 2 pound boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 Tbs. Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
  • 1 tsp. adobo seasoning
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup vegetable boullion (1 cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water)
  • Optional toppings:  Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro or oregano, avocado, hot sauce

Directions 

  1. Combine, Southwest Chipotle seasoning, adobo, brown sugar and one tablespoon of the olive oil in a small bowl.
  2. If using boneless chicken breast, cut whole breasts into quarters, thighs can be kept whole
  3. Rub spice mixture into chicken
  4. Heat a high sided skillet over medium high heat and add remaining olive oil.
  5. Place chicken in single layer in skillet and brown on both sides
  6. Add vegetable bouillon, cover skillet, bring to boil and reduce heat to medium and cook about 10 – 12 minutes until done (no pink but still juicy).
  7. Remove cooked chicken from the pan to a cutting board and using two forks, shred and set aside.
  8. Turn heat to medium high in the skillet and reduce pan liquids by half, stirring occasionally, until it it is thickened – it will be almost syrupy – be careful not to burn it.
  9. Add chicken to reduced and thickened sauce. Heat for serving.
  10. Place some shredded chicken in a fresh tortilla and enjoy! Add optional toppings of your choice – I like a little hot sauce and greek yogurt.