I’m going to play one of Aislinn’s games and not name this hike.
As we pulled into the parking turn-out, a little nervous about the weather, we noticed something quite unusual….we were the only cars there. Jackpot! We are familiar with this all too rare phenomenon and praise it among all others as we have experienced how fleeting it can be at some of our favorite hikes, like our much beloved Schoodic Mountain. Even as recent as a few years ago, seeing more than one or two cars in the parking lot was unusual. Now, it is common to see a dozen or so. I’ll admit though, that even at peak summer season, I have rarely felt crowded on any Maine trail but, I do like that feeling of being “alone in the wilderness” and there ways to achieve this; hiking in the rain or hiking in November can drastically reduce the number of cars at the trail head. If you choose a gentle slope, hiking in the rain is safe and I prefer to look at the monotones of November as stark beauty. However, hiking in the rain and in November may be a bit of a deterrent for me. Although, I wouldn’t eliminate it because so much of a good time is in how much you want to have fun, right?
As we move into the fall hiking and picnicking season, it’s time to throw the headlamp into the pack and think about a thermos along with the cooler. A sixty degree day means your water stays cool and a nice light red wine is at the perfect temperature for enjoying these delicious mini-kebabs made from herb chicken, marinated mozzarella, applewood smoked bacon and fresh basil. I love food on a stick for hiking because it is easy to eat, even if you’re wearing gloves!
Herbed Baked Chicken, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Marinated Mozzarella, and Fresh Basil Mini Kebabs.
- Makes about 12 kebabs
- Serves 4 for appetizers or 2 – 3 for lunch
FYI: Great choice for watching football in the living room or a tailgate party…any party, really!
Maybe Aislinn can find this hike and do a one-minute video but for now, I am keeping this gentle, scenic beauty in my backyard a secret.
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts* cut into 3/4″ chunks – about 12-16 pieces
- 1 Tbs. Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 4 slices extra thick (butcher’s cut) applewood smoked bacon
- Mini mozzarella balls marinated with basil and sundried tomatoes (about 5 ounces)
- Fresh basil leaves (about 12 – 16 leaves)
- Baking spray
- 3 Tbs. Balsamic glaze (purchased or make your own – 1 cup balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbs. brown sugar – directions below)
- 4 inch wood kebab skewers or sandwich toothpicks
In a medium sized bowl, combine the chicken (*I use “all natural” chicken with a low added water content – read your label – water added to chicken can create an undesirable spongy texture), herb-garlic Mrs. Dash and salt. Toss to coat.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large non-stick baking sheet and place the seasoned chicken and bacon on the sheet. Cook for about 10 – 12 minutes until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken to a small bowl and set aside. Put the bacon back in the oven and increase the heat to 400 degrees and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the cut) until it is a medium level of browned.
Once bacon is cooked, remove from pan to a paper towel lined plate and immediately cut each piece into about 1-inch sections. Fold each small piece in half and skewer with the kebab stick. You have to do this while the bacon is hot or it will crumble before you get it skewered.
Cut the mini mozzarella balls into 1/4″ slices. Gently wash and throughly dry the basil leaves. Start assembling the kebabs!
The bacon is on your kebab stick. Next add a piece of chicken, a mozzarella slice (take some of the sundried tomato in the marinade and skewer that too!) and fold a basil leaf in quarters and add to the stick. Repeat until you run out of ingredients.
Drizzle with Balsamic Glaze: You can find this in most larger grocery stores – look either in the “Italian” section or by the barbecue and other sauces. Very easy to make - so give it a try!
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbs. brown sugar
Combine in small stainless or other non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil, simmer and reduce, stirring to about half. It will be thick and syrupy like molasses.
Use a plastic container a little longer than the kebab sticks. Line with plastic wrap and layer, going in both directions. Note: Basil, when wet, will darken and change texture – no worries, that is natural and taste and aroma are actually enhanced.
Packing Tips! and More Packing Tips
Put the container in your little insulated lunch bag with a cool pack. You will have mini mozzarella balls left, put those in a leak proof container and bring them along. A nice light pinot noir is good if you can get over having red with chicken! I skipped dessert because I ate a couple of pieces of the bacon as I assembled these. Bacon is just the best. If you want something sweet, a chocolate brownie would finish this nicely or, one of my favorites, cream cheese bars! Have fun – and remember, only one glass of wine when you are hiking – and choose your picnic spot wisely!!