Monthly Archives: January 2013

Chicken Shawarma

I had another post planned for today, but this recipe just booted it. Make room for Chicken Shawarma.

Shawarma

I never had Chicken Shawarma until a couple years ago, which kind of blows my mind. I mean, it falls under the umbrella of Middle Eastern food, all of which I am obsessed with. Except that one dish that involves fish and tahini sauce. Sorry, Mom. Never liked it – never will.

I’m not trying to harp on my mom here, but I’m also wondering why we never ate Chicken Shawarma in our house. What gives?!

Good thing I got myself a great recipe so I can stop griping about all the Chicken Shawarma eatin’ I didn’t do and get started making it for myself. Every night.

Marinade

Every step of this recipe is short and sweet – just like the girl writing about it. Kidding. Kind of.

Seriously though, Chicken Shawarma  comes together in under a half hour. There are worse ways one could spend their time. For example – in thirty minutes, you could watch one full episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Or…you could make yourself some shawarma.

The biggest thing is just getting the timing down, so you’ll want to start by making a marinade for the chicken. All you’ll need is a little lemon juice, some curry powder, olive oil, a tiny sprinkle of salt, cumin for some smokiness, and garlic. Uh huh to all of that.

Marinade2All right – step one is done. Just let the chicken sit still in this delicious concoction for twenty minutes. It’s hard to believe, but so much flavor seeps into the chicken in this twenty minute time span – trust me! The depth and complexity of flavor is crazy. Plus, the chicken gets great color from the spices we incorporated.

Now that our chicken is all set, we can focus our attention on the rest of the ingredients.

Sauce1Sauce2Sauce3
Above, we’ve got our delicious shawarma sauce that makes this meal! Start out with some plain Greek yogurt and then just stir in lemon juice, garlic, tahini and salt. Could it be any easier? I think not. This bowl can hang out in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble your sandwiches, which will be soon!

Toppings

I know I just told you in the previous paragraph that the sauce is the shining star of Chicken Shawarma, but the co-stars (aka the toppings) may just take the cake. I love my pita pocket packed with the works – thinly sliced tomato, romaine lettuce, cooked red onion and sweet pickles. I know – it’s kind of a mish-mash of randomness, but each of these toppings adds a little somethin’ somethin’ to the sandwich. They are all completely necessary – nothing here is overkill.

Shove them in your sandwich so we can all be on the same page.

Pita

Here are those pita pockets – just waiting to be stuffed to the gills with some Shawarma. Mmm!

Chicken

All we need is our chicken, which I popped in the oven to broil for just a few minutes on each side. See what I mean about the color from the marinade? It takes just a second to see that this is not your every day, run of the mill chicken breast. In fact, it’s anything but.

Chicken Shawarma

adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
Chicken:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken tenders

Sauce:
6 oz. plain 2% reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Remaining Ingredients:
Cooking spray
4 (6-inch) pitas
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
8 (1/4-inch-thick) tomato slices
sweet pickle slices
1 red onion, thinly sliced (raw or cooked)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450.

To prepare chicken, combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to use cooked red onion, place thin slices you’ve tossed with a little olive oil on a cookie sheet and bake until you get a little char on the edges – usually, I just let them hang out in the oven until my chicken’s ready to go in.

While your onion slices in the oven, prepare sauce by combining yogurt and next 4 ingredients (through 1 garlic clove). Keep sauce in fridge until you’re ready to assemble sandwiches.

Then, arrange toppings – tomato slices, romaine lettuce, sweet pickle slices, and your cooked onions (once they’re done) – on a plate and set aside while the chicken cooks up.

Switch oven from bake to broil so you can cook your chicken. Line a pan with aluminum foil and coat surface well with cooking spray. Place chicken tenders on pan and put pan on the top rack in the oven; broil 4 minutes on each side or until done.

To assemble sandwiches, slice pitas in half to create a pocket; smear some sauce in each pocket, then stuff with a couple pieces of lettuce, tomato slices, onion and pickles. Make room in there for two or three chicken strips and enjoy!

BiteThank you to my handsome, hungry hand model for letting me take this quick pic before he destroyed the rest of that sandwich.

That thing didn’t stand a chance.

Italian Wedding Soup

I am leaps and bounds better at Wedding Soup making than I am at my own wedding planning.

ItalianWeddingSoup

You guys don’t mind if I vent for a second, do you? I just need to preface this with the fact that – at the end of the day – I can’t complain. I am marrying a man who really is my best friend. To say Eric is awesome or amazing would be an understatement…an insult, actually.

To switch gears though, to say that planning a wedding is expensive would also be an understatement…the understatement of the mother effing century. I am suffering from severe sticker shock, people…and I don’t quite know how to snap out of it.

Oh – and we got an email from our caterer yesterday saying she has to back out. No big deal.

I’m obviously obsessed with food and about two seconds away from catering this thing myself.

All right…end of rant.

Acini1Acini2Acini3

I can identify with this little pot of boiling liquid. I’m little, but as you can tell from the paragraphs above, I’m pretty much a fiery ball full of rage. Not really, but I do feel these pictures make for a smooth transition.

When I make this soup, I cook up some acini de pepe – aka the cutest pasta shape known to man. As they absorb liquid, they do puff up a bit, but they’re still tiny when all is said than done. If you don’t have acini de pepe, use orzo, alphabets or another small pasta – it doesn’t matter! The important part is that you repeat after me and cook it on its own. Otherwise, it’ll suck up too much of the broth from the soup itself and we wouldn’t want that.

DryIngredients

MeatballsKeeping with the theme, we’re going to make mini meatballs! Seems like it could be a lot of work, but it’s really not. Just add some breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, onion powder, basil and oregano to a bowl. Then, mix in 1/2 pound lean turkey and one egg. If your meat mixture feels a little too sticky, simply add a little more parm or breadcrumbs to dry it out a bit. Looking back, my meatballs probably could have used a little extra of both, but whatever! They worked.

You’ll only need to bake these babies for about fifteen minutes before adding them to the soup, so while they’re doing their thing in the oven, keep yourself busy with the rest of the Italian Wedding ingredients.

Veggies

Boil a bunch of chicken broth in a medium-sized stock pot and then add in your cooked pasta, some thinly sliced carrots and a big bag of spinach. No need to splurge on baby spinach here – regular, hearty spinach leaves will work out fine since they’ll wilt away in the soup. Save the baby stuff for more delicate dishes like salads and sandwiches.

By the time all of this comes together, your meatballs will be ready for a bubble in the hot tub. Carefully add them on in so as not to splash yourself with boiling broth. Ouch.

Last, but not least – add a heaping 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and lower the heat to a simmer until you’re ready to serve.

Italian Wedding Soup

adapted from All Recipes
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup 93% lean ground turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon + 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
6 cups chicken broth, divided
12 oz. bag of spinach
1 cup uncooked acini de pepe pasta
1/3 cup finely chopped carrots

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.

Add the acini de pepe pasta to a little soup pot and add 1/4 cup chicken broth. Top it off with a little water – just enough to cover the pasta. Bring it up to a boil and then simmer on medium/medium-high just until liquid is absorbed.

In medium bowl, combine meat, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, basil, oregano and onion powder; shape into 3/4 inch balls. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. The meatballs are tiny, so they don’t need much time!

Meanwhile, in large stock pot or dutch oven, heat broth to boiling; stir in spinach, cooked pasta and chopped carrot. Return to boil, then reduce heat to medium. When meatballs are done baking, carefully add them to the pot and then stir in 1/4 cup parmesan.

Simmer on the stove top until you’re ready to serve!

Meatball

Maybe I’m not lousy at this whole wedding planning thing after all. Maybe it’s just that this soup is so simple to make that everything else just kind of seems so much more complicated by comparison? Yeah, that’s it 🙂

Applesauce Oatmeal Pancakes

I’ve got a recipe that will get ya to stop skipping breakfast. AOP

These thick and fluffy homemade pancakes will make you wonder why you don’t treat yourself to a hearty breakfast more often. Seriously, you and I both know it’s the most important meal of the day. Why not make it the most delicious too!?

Sometimes, the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning on the weekend is a hot cup of coffee and the thought of these gorgeous griddle cakes. You want in on this action or what?

Dry

Dry2Ingredients of the dry variety all get added into a large bowl. You’re looking at some uncooked quick oats, white whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and a very modest amount of dark brown sugar. Combine everything with a whisk so that all your ingredients get to know each other. Then, set this bowl aside and grab a slightly smaller one for your wet ingredients.

Wet1Crack a single, solitary egg and add in some milk, but not just any ordinary milk…buttermilk. I get it…it’s an extra bottle you’ll have to grab at the grocery store and you’ve got enough stuff on your list and not enough money to spend, but…

A bottle of buttermilk will only run ya about a buck and a half and it’ll keep well in the fridge while you think of other ways to use it up. Buttermilk Roast Chicken wouldn’t be a bad idea!

I’m a big fan of buttermilk. It has never let me down…and it is the key ingredient in this batter. I’ve eaten more of these pancakes than I’m proud to admit, so I should know.

Wet2

Okay, I know this picture isn’t all that exciting, but I had to include it because there’s our applesauce. I use unsweetened, but you could certainly throw in regular or cinnamon.

By the way – that big brown spot is not a buttermilk birthmark. It’s vanilla extract, which I never measure. I just pour it in and hope for the best. In all the things I’ve made, I’ve never once thought to myself, “Whoa…I better back off with the vanilla before someone gets hurt.”

Whisk

Before you’re ready for the griddle, you’ve got to pour your wet ingredients into the same bowl as the dry and whisk just until everything is moist.

Then, take a deep breath and walk away from your pancake batter.

I know you’re hungry and you’re really impatient…I am too. Distract yourself by doing dishes for five minutes…googling yourself…or watching a music video. You’ll survive.

Another good thing to do during this feels-like-forever five minute stretch is find your griddle and the little plug thing. Once you get your paws on both pieces, preheat that puppy.

Griddle1

I’d recommend using a 1/4 cup measure to get uniform little pancake circles. As you’re not-so-patiently waiting to flip while the first side cooks, just keep this in mind: while you may see little bubbles start to pop around the outermost edge, you’ll never see bubbles burst through the middle. The batter is just too thick, but two minutes (give or take a few seconds) should do ya!

Griddle2

See what I mean? The second side of your pancake will only need another minute or so and thank goodness for that! I don’t think I could hold out any longer.

Applesauce Oatmeal Pancakes

adapted from All Recipes
Yield: 16 pancakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quick oats (don’t use instant)
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
cooking spray
maple syrup

Optional additions: blueberries, chocolate chips or M&M’s, cinnamon, chopped nuts, etc.

Directions:
Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in the applesauce. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until moistened. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with maple syrup and a big pat of butter.

Note: these pancakes keep well when frozen – just wrap them up real tight in plastic wrap with wax paper in between each and freeze in a storage bag. Then, just thaw and toast up in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy!

Stacked

Question: what’s better than golden brown, hot-off-the-griddle pancakes that are just begging to be bathed in butter and maple syrup?

Fork

Answer: taking a big ol’ bite of these bad boys.

Make these pancakes this weekend for someone you love…starting with yourself 🙂

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