Homemade Chicken Shawarma

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J recently found the most amazing chicken shawarma recipe originally from David Bonom, Cooking Light July 2008. It’s perfect with our homemade pitas.

Ingredients:
about 1 pound chicken breast (we used boneless, skinless) cut into 16 (3-inch) strips
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons olive oil for the skillet
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced (or more)
2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

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

Directions:
We made the sauce first so we could use the left over Greek yogurt in the chicken marinade. Combine yogurt and next 4 ingredients (through 1 garlic clove), stirring with a whisk.  To prepare chicken, combine first 6 ingredients in a a zip top bag. Add chicken. Toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature or at least 20 minutes. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Dump the chicken strips into the skillet. Cook about 10 minutes until cooked through. Serve immediately on a homemade pita with lettuce, tomato slices, red onion and sauce.

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My opinion:
Two of these sandwiches is more than enough for an adult. It’s filling and tasty and I always wish there were even more leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Indian at home: Chicken Vindaloo

Indian at home.
Indian at home.

Sadly, our town is lacking in good Indian cuisine. Which means, this fall J and I have decided to figure out how to make it at home. We’ll tackle naan soon, especially since we discovered how easy the main dishes can be. We tried Chicken Vindaloo from our new favorite site rasamalaysia.com. The directions were easy to follow, easier than finding all the ingredients! With a few modifications, we had a meal that rivaled any local Indian restaurant.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut up into 8 pieces and skin removed (We used about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that’s what we had on hand)
1 onion, chopped (we used a large yellow onion)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 tsp each Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons oil (we used olive)

Spice Blend:
1/2 cup vinegar (white)
4-5 dried red Chile peppers (we used dried, whole red chilis)
4 cloves (we used ground)
8 garlic cloves, skin removed (we used minced about 2 tablespoons)
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:
Add vinegar and soak all the ingredients needed for the spice blend for 15-20 minutes. Then blend these into a fine paste using a blender. (we used the food processor and with the added vinegar, this turned very runny. Next time, we’ll remove the spices from the vinegar and then re-add it at the end). Add the spice mixture paste to the chicken and toss well to evenly coat all the chicken pieces. Let the chicken marinate for 4 to 6 hours. In a large wok heat the oil on medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Stirring often. Add the chopped onions, tomato paste, salt and pepper to the chicken. Give everything a good stir. Finally add 1/2 cup of water (we omitted this step since it was already pretty runny), cover the lid of the skillet and lower the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes or till well done and the oil start to ooze from the curry. If you prefer little thinner gravy add water as need and let it simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes before serving. Like the original author, we prefer the gravy to be thick and sticking to the meat pieces. Serve immediately over basmati rice.

My Opinion:
The sauce was a little runny for our tastes and it wasn’t quite as spicy as we like our vindaloo. Next time, we’ll use the spice blend as a run without the vinegar and add it at the end.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


In college, J and I practically lived on jambalaya and coffee. Of course, it was the boxed version and after eating it for two years, we got pretty burned out. Which was sad because jambalaya is so tasty and easy and perfect for a chilly evening. Luckily, J found this jambalaya recipe and with a few tweaks cured the burnout.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 (14 ounce) package andouille sausage, sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 large celery ribs, chopped (we left them in half moons)
3 tbs garlic, minced (we eyeballed this as we like garlic)
1 bunch scallion, chopped
1 (32 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
about 15 ounces chicken stock
1 1/4 cups long grain rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Tony Chacere’s creole seasoning (as the original recipe states, there is absolutely no substitute for Tony’s)
cracked black pepper (to taste)

Directions:
Cook sliced sausage over medium high heat in a 6 quart stock pot until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic and scallions and cook until softened but not translucent, about 4 minutes. Add cubed chicken breast and Worcestershire sauce and cook just until you can no longer see pink. Add the bay leaves, basil, oregano, sage, paprika, Tony Chacere’s, salt, black pepper, tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add rice, bring back up to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes. The jambalaya should still be wet, but not soupy. Remove the bay leaves. Enjoy!

My opinion:
We’ll be adding this back to our regular dinner rotation. It was super easy to make and make more than enough to freeze half for a later meal.

Thai Chicken Fried Rice with Basil


If you can’t already tell, I love Asian cuisine. Since we’ve been eating at home more often, J has tried to recreate my favorite dishes at home. He finally got my favorite Thai dish down. I won’t say it’s as good as my favorite Thai restaurant in town, because it might be better!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil (or peanut or sesame, whatever you have on hand)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh Thai red chili pepper chopped (or if you can’t find fresh, rehydrate dry, or just use your favorite rooster sauce)
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces and velveted (again this is the secret!)
2 cups cooked rice cold (cooked and cold, really cold. Like from the refrigerator cold. Also, use Jasmine, You’ll thank me.)
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Fish sauce
1 tablespoon Soy sauce (if you want to be adventurous try golden soy sauce if you can find it)
2 tablespoons shallots chopped
1/3 cup Thai holy basil (regular basil or Thai purple is also delicious)
1 tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, chopped (we’ve occasionally accidentally left this out, opps!)

Directions:
First velvet the chicken by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Stir the chicken to separate and stir again. Simmer for about 2 minutes until the chicken turns white. Drain the chicken. In a wok or large skillet, stir-fry garlic in oil until golden; then add chilies and chicken and stir-fry until chicken is cooked. Add rice, sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce, and stir-fry, mixing gently. When well mixed, add shallots, basil leaves and cilantro; cook another minute or so, and serve. If you desire, serve with lime wedges, chile sauce, fish sauce, or soy sauce at the table.

My opinion:
Could I really say more than I said above? I. love. this. dish. LOVE.

Szechuan Kung Pao Chicken


I love Chinese food. When I was younger and my sister and I got to pick the restaurant for our birthday dinner, I always chose the local Chinese restaurant. As I grew up, I loved trying the flavors of the different provinces, but Szechuan has remained a favorite. J found this recipe from Big Oven (our new favorite go to recipe source). It was divine. I was so disappointed there wasn’t any left overs! The secret is in velveting the chicken. This crucial step is what makes all the difference.

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken thighs (we used two large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts)
10 whole red chili peppers (we left five whole)
1 small red onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic (original recipe calls for crushed, we used minced)
1/2 piece fresh ginger (crushed, we just tossed this in the food processor.)
Handful of roasted peanuts (we used unsalted and about a half cup)
Marinade:
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or Sherry (we used a dry sherry)
1 Egg white
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
Seasoning:
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sherry (again, we used a dry sherry)
1 tablespoon dark vinegar (balsamic will do)
1 tablespoon Dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 scallion (we used a “bunch” of scallions from our garden)

Directions:
Dice chicken into half-inch cubes (We originally went a little too big, but you also don’t want to make these as small as they are in traditional Kung Pao dishes served in your local Chinese establishment.) Mix marinade, lightly beating the egg white and pour over the chicken. Leave to stand for no more than 30 minutes. Velvet the chicken with oil or water (again, this is the secret and makes a HUGE difference! We used the water method, but the oil method would work as well):
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir the chicken to separate and stir again. Simmer for about 2 minutes until the chicken turns white. Drain the chicken. Tear the chilis into pieces, then soak them in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain. Peel the onion and cut into square 1 1/2 inch pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok until very hot (until it starts to smoke). Add the garlic and ginger to the oil, stir for 15 seconds, then add the chilis and stir for a minute or two. Add the onions and continue to stir and flip for another minute. Add the chicken, scallion, peanuts and cook for another minute. After this, if you notice that it seems a little dry for your taste, feel free to mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with a little bit of water and pour in along with your seasoning. Give it a good quick stir (I mean it, be quick, the sugar will burn.) Serve with rice!

My Opinion:
Leaving the chilis in whole meant this dish was spicy. We liked it so much we actually added the left over rice to the wok in order to sop up all of the left over sauce. The chicken was tender, juicy and just amazing. Next time, we’ll add a bit more onion, ginger and garlic. Plus a green pepper for some added vegetables. This dish was so good I could eat it every single day for a long time and never grow bored.

p.s. If anyone one knows where to find Shaoxing wine in Columbia, let me know! I’m sure it would just add a bit more depth to the dish!