One of J’s favorite dishes is his father’s chili. It makes more than enough for three meals and a few lunches for us. Like most of our favorite meals, this one gets better the longer it simmers. It looks complicated, but I promise it’s easy and worth it.
J recently found the most amazing chicken shawarma recipe originally from David Bonom, Cooking Light July 2008. It’s perfect with our homemade pitas.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
For Oscar night back in February, J found the perfect dishes to go with Argo. After that first try, we perfected this hummus recipe, which was surprisingly easy. Everyone who tried it liked it and I wish we’d made a bigger batch this last time. A side of Garlic Bagel Chips absolutely makes this dish!
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste, we found ours in the ethnic isle at HyVee)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (we didn’t have fresh lemons on hand and just used the refrigerator version)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies (we used chipotles in adobo sauce, which added an extra smokey flavor and we also available at HyVee)
2 large garlic cloves, minced (in truth we used about a tablespoon total)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 4-ounce jar sliced pimientos in oil, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (if you have it, great, if not no big deal)
Reserve 3 tablespoons garbanzo beans for garnish if you want, we didn’t and just food processed them in. Tip: do not use a blender. I’ve tried and promise you’ll regret it. Burned out motors do not smell appetizing! Using a food processor, pulse the remaining garbanzo beans and next seven ingredients until smooth. Add pimientos and pulse until pimientos are coarsely chopped. Transfer hummus to medium bowl. Stir in cilantro. Season hummus to taste with salt and pepper (we used sea salt and white pepper). Sprinkle with reserved garbanzo beans. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Accompany with bagel chips.
I’ve only recently joined the ranks of those who like hummus and now that I’ve tasted this will never go back to store bought blandness. It was so easy and with the extra garlic and white pepper a future go to dish for carry ins and pot lucks.
Every year for Christmas, J and I invite our families to a Christmas Eve Mexican inspired feast. The tradition sprung out of our time in San Antonio where tamales are often given as gifts. Our favorite salsa is the wonderful green Tomatillo Salsa and we finally found a recipe that rivals the homemade ones we had in Texas. Now if only we could master the tamales in time for the holiday…
2 pound tomatillos husked (most of the ones we found in our local grocer were mostly husked already. Be ware: they are sticky!)
2 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered
8 Garlic cloves
4 teaspoons Ground cumin
2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. Transfer all but 1 cup of your tomatillo salsa to a serving dish or bowl for later, leaving that last 1 cup in the food processor.
If I’m not careful when we make this, I end up eating half of it with tortilla chips before I can add it to any dish. So good!