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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Homemade Chicken Shawarma
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Smoky Chipotle Hummus

hummus

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!

Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
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.

My opinion:
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.

Crock pot Applesauce

I love homemade applesauce. But I never make it because I always thought it was too time consuming. Then Pinterest alerted me to this surprisingly easy version in a crock pot! The most time consuming part was peeling and chopping the apples. With a few tweaks, it tasted just like Gramma’s!

Ingredients:
8 to 10 apples of any kind (you might need more or less depending on the size of your crock pot)
2 cinnamon sticks (if you don’t have sticks, just use a few dashes)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (we actually used about 2 teaspoons)
5 tablespoons brown sugar (we ended up just using a quarter cup of light, use your best judgement and taste!)

Directions:
Peel, core and chop the apples. Put them in the crock pot. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon sticks and lemon juice. Cover. Cook on low for 6 hours. We stirred every hour for a total of six time. When the apples are cooked through, use a potato masher to make chunky applesauce. If you prefer your applesauce thinner, put it through the blender or the food processor.

My opinion:
We left out the lemon peel and fresh lemon juice from the original recipe because we didn’t have any lemons on hand. I was a bit saddened by how little 10 apples made! There was really only enough for about 2 and a half servings. I guess I’ll need a bigger crock pot!

Pumpkin Ravioli

I’m learning to like pumpkin. It’s not that I don’t like it, so much as I’m ambivalent, sometimes it’s great. Other times, not so much. We didn’t want to waste the wonderful pumpkins we got from the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival, so after checking out a number of recipes, we settled on this Pumpkin Ravioli recipe from Food.com. Only after we’d settled on this plan, did I learn that pumpkins for eating are different from carving pumpkins. Luckily, Austin American-Statesman food writer, Addie Broyles, helped me plan. So we carved and then roasted the pieces.

  • We went from this:To this:

Ingredients:
8 tbsp Butter (one stick)
1 tbsp Sage, Fresh, chiffonade8 oz Pumpkin1 medium Yellow Onion, diced1/2 cup Pine Nuts (Toasted. We used olive oil and salt and pepper)12 oz Wonton Wraps (one package)2 eggs3 Roma Tomatoes, diced (the last from our garden!)3 tsp Lemon Juice (or half a fresh lemon)

Directions:

1. Add 1 tablespoon butter to each pumpkin half, and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon butter to onion, season with salt and pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. In a preheated 350-degree oven, roast onion and pumpkin, cut-side up, until completely soft and somewhat caramelized, about 45 minutes. (If using roasted, roast pumpkin first at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove skin and dice. Sautee in butter salt and pepper with the diced yellow onion. Then move on to step 2.)

2. Add cooked pumpkin and onion in a food processor (we used a blender), pulsing until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer pumpkin puree into a bowl, add half of the toasted pine nuts and 1 beaten egg and stir to combine.

3 Cover wonton wrappers with a damp cloth. Assemble bowl of pumpkin puree, beaten egg, pastry brush and a sheet tray dusted with flour. Lay out 1 wonton wrapper and place a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin puree in the middle. Brush around the filling with beaten egg and cover with another wonton wrapper. Press edges. Place raviolis on a sheet tray and put in freezer.

4. In a small sauce pot, add remaining butter and cook on medium heat until the butter bubbles and turns brown. Remove from heat and add tomatoes, sage and a squeeze of lemon. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Cook ravioli in boiling water until they float. (Note: This happens quickly!) Transfer ravioli to 4 warm bowls and drizzle with brown sage butter sauce. Top with remaining toasted pine nuts.

My Opinion:
The first taste was off, but by the third I couldn’t stop eating. Some bites were very pumpkin flavored, others more subtle. It’s filling, not terribly difficult and a lovely fall flavored dish. Another few dashes of salt and pepper made a difference. J added Parmesan cheese. We will be making it again.

Favorite Summer Risotto

I cut this recipe from Self Magazine seven years ago and it’s still one of my most favorite summer dishes.

Ingredients:
1 pint cherry tomatoes (I use a little more)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I use about 4 cloves)
1 small onion, diced (or medium, depending on how much you like onions)
2 cups diced zucchini (feel free to use more!)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pound arborio rice (I just make one recipe, which is about 1 cup dry, otherwise it makes WAY too much rice)
1 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay is my favorite)
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan (I omit this)
18 sea scallops

Directions:
The original directions have you roasting the tomatoes in the oven for an hour. I skip this. I cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put them in a medium pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat in the same pan. Cook garlic and half the onion until translucent; add zucchini and cook about 5 minutes. Puree zucchini mixture in a blender with lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil (I only puree about 2/3). Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium pot on medium heat and sauté remaining onion until translucent. Add rice and cook 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, stirring until rice absorbs wine. Add broth 1 cup at a time until absorbed, stirring continually for 20 minutes or until rice is tender (add more broth if necessary). Once rice is cooked, stir in zucchini puree, butter and cheese (if using). Set aside. In the same pan you sauteed the tomatoes, onions and zucchini add another tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper one side of the scallops. Put the seasoned side down in the pan. Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes then flip.

My Opinion:
I’ve made this dish so many times and each time it gets a little better. I’ve learned not to rush the risotto and to not wiggle the scallops to let them get a good sear. This dish reminds me of summer so much that in the middle of winter when I miss summer, I make this dish.