Banh Mi Spring Rolls

Banh Mi Spring Rolls5

The weather here’s been just beautiful this week and I think it’s finally safe to say that we’ve left winter behind us–though you never really can tell in Michigan. You just take things as they come day by day and pray that the weather report for tomorrow is actually going to be semi-accurate. This week’s forecast was for sunny skies and mid-to upper 70’s.

And guess what? That’s EXACTLY what we’ve been getting. Which, makes me happy. I’m already excited for Memorial Day when my older sister (who’s good at barbecuing/grilling) can fire up our charcoal grill with the meat and I (who am NOT good at grilling whatsoever) can make everything else. Heh.

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Today’s recipe really complements the summer weather, as it’s one where you’re not going to need to crank up the oven and make your house/apartment anymore stuffy than it may be already if you’re trying to wait as long as possible to turn on the A/C (like us lol) Additionally, if you’ve got a grocery store in your area that makes good rotisserie chickens, then over half the work’s already done for you.

I was a Banh Mi late bloomer. Up until a couple years ago, I wasn’t even 100% sure of how to pronounce it correctly. (It’s okay if you still don’t either and go from here to Google to find out; that’s how I learned too.)Typically, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich consisting of a crusty baguette style bread that’s split in half and layered with marinated grilled pork or chicken, fresh herbs, and pickled carrots and radishes. I’ve seen versions that also involve pate spreads and spicy chili sauces, but at its core, the above is a good place to start for a Banh Mi virgin.

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Banh Mi sandwiches, if you’ve got a place that can REALLY do them well, are bound to become a quick favorite. Seriously, they’re just really hard NOT to like. There’s a Vietnamese/Creole (yeah, I know. Peculiar combination)  restaurant just down the road from where I live that makes them and also made the meal that served as my official induction into the club of Banh Mi sandwich appreciation. There’s also another dish that they make that I simply MUST get each and every time I go there: the spring rolls.

Up until this place opened, I had also never had a Spring Roll that wasn’t made of the standard egg wrappers and fried in oil. I’d certainly see and heard of the translucent rice paper wrappers, but never tried them before and of course–never prepared a dish with them.

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Like the Banh Mi sandwich, from that first taste I got of a rice paper spring roll,  I was just hooked. First of all, the restaurant’s seasoning of the pork inside was sublime, and the even though they crammed it full of both meat, veggies and herbs I still walked away from the meal without feeling ‘too full’. There was just a wonderfully refreshing ‘lightness’ to those rice paper spring rolls that’s really made me never want to go back to the old fried way I used to eat them.

Although, don’t get  it twisted: I still have MAD love for a deep fried egg roll. That, I’m never changing my mind and/or taste buds about.

What’s so great about today’s recipe is that it combines both of the dishes from the Vietnamese restaurant near me and makes it into a dish that gives me the best of both worlds; the core elements of the Banh Mi sandwich are rolled altogether in the spring roll rice paper to make a super delicious appetizer, snack, side dish or even meal if you’re game for eating several of these bad boys. I know I am.

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This was my first time quick-pickling veggies and using rice paper wrappers and I was pleased to find out it wasn’t that big a deal. Once you’ve rolled your share of egg rolls (and I have) then using the wet rice paper isn’t that big of a challenge. Just as few minor tips:

Make sure your cucumbers are sliced VERY thin, or they may tear or poke holes through the wet rice paper. Be sure to roll you ingredients up nice and tight. Place the finished rolls seam side down once you’re finished to help them “seal” better while you make the rest. AND most important: keep the leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap to keep the rice paper rolls moist. They have a tendency to get a little chewy and tough when left exposed to the air for too long, even if you keep them in plastic containers.

These are super yummy, guys. The pickled carrot and radish provides a tangy acidity that isn’t overpowering when tempered with the savory chicken that’s been juuuuuuust slightly sweetened from being mixed with the Chinese five-spice powder. Depending on the herb(s) you decide to use you’re going to have a different flavor profile but because I prefer it’s mild sweetness I went with the fresh mint leaves that paired very well with the cucumber. This is PERFECT summer food, plain and simple.

I’ll be bringing my spring rolls to this week’s Fiesta Friday #120, co-hosted this week by Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Linda @ Fabulous Fare Sisters. Thanks ladies.

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Banh Mi Spring Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Chow.com

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Ingredients

For Pickled Veggies:

  • 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (3-ounce) carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 (3-ounce) daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks

For Spring Rolls

  • 8 to 10 rice paper wrappers
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 English cucumber, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (small leaves)

Directions

To Make Pickled Veggies:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the carrot and daikon and let cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to stuff into rolls.

To Assemble Spring Rolls:

Fill a round cake pan with warm water. Place 1 rice paper round into the water, turning it gently with your fingertips until softened. Carefully remove the sheet from the water and lay it flat on a plate.

Toss the chicken with the five-spice powder. Arrange some of the seasoned chicken in a horizontal line on the wrapper, positioning it about 1 inch or so from the edge nearest you and about 1⁄2 inch from each side.

Top with some of the drained pickled veggies, cucumber, and a sprinkle of mint leaves.

Lift the edge of the rice paper nearest you and place it over the filling, then roll once to form a tight cylinder. Fold in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll to form a tight cylinder (be careful not to rip the rice paper).

Repeat with the remaining rice paper and filling. Cut each roll in half crosswise at a diagonal and serve with the dipping sauce, if you like. To store, wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Orange Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts

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Back when my sister was still planning her wedding, the venue at which the reception was at had a fully functioning kitchen/staff that would cater a sit down dinner as apart of the fee for renting out the space, if desired. Rather than bring in an outside caterer, she decided to go with this option. Just about three months before the wedding, the venue’s chef and staff would hold what were called collective “tastings” where they would cook samples of just about everything that was on their menu for the couples who had booked rooms in advance to come and taste so that they could pick which one(s) they wanted to serve at their reception.

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Fortunately, my sister was allowed to bring guests with her to the tasting; so she ended up bringing me, my mom, my aunt and my niece with her.

Hey, it was free food. You guys KNEW I was gonna tag along for that. I thought that it was just going to be one or two pieces of meat that they plunked down on a few saucers that we had to share and nibble on.

Yeah, no. What is actually was, was a full on buffet of not only every main dish, but every side dish that the venue had on their menu. We could eat as much of it as we wanted (you know, for quality control purposes) and the chef was even on site for any questions that the brides/grooms had about the preparation of the food in general. And they had just about everything: several chicken, beef, fish AND pasta dishes. Several vegetables sides. They even put out some of the appetizers. Every person that attended got a small little card with a list of the food names, and a scale of 1-10 that the couples and their guests could rate them on for our favorite to least favorite that I assume the bride/groom could use later to pick which dishes they wanted to serve at their reception.

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I’d never been to a real wedding reception tasting before, and I was VERY impressed with not only the service of the staff, but the overall experience in general. We were STUFFED by the time we left and I’m pleased to say it was due to mostly excellent food.

For her two entree choies, my sister ended up picking a delicious flank steak dish, and a stuffed chicken one that reminded me of something you’d serve on Thanksgiving. However, the stuffed chicken wasn’t her favorite preparation of it that we sampled that day and it wasn’t mine either. We were blown away by this Dijon mustard chicken dish that even to this day, I STILL find myself thinking about and kinda salivating over. The balance of tanginess from the mustard and the sweetness of the honey was so just well executed and the chicken (a breast at that) was still so moist and flavorful.

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My mom (rightly so) advised my sister that since not everyone likes the flavor of mustard it might be better to pick a more ‘generic’ chicken dish that was still delicious, which is the reason why she went with the stuffed chicken.

Even so, ever since that wedding reception tasting back in July I have been trying my darndest to try and make a chicken dish that is even as remotely delicious as the Dijon mustard one we tried that day. I’ll be perfectly honest: this one isn’t quite it.

But! It IS still delicious, quick and ridiculously simple to pull off.

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Lemme just first talk about this sauce: after making the first batch to pour over the chicken while it’s baking, I tasted it and immediately got to work making a second one just to have for extra dipping later. It’s that good. The combination of citrus from the orange juice and zest and the dijon mustard is a truly perfect combination; not too sweet, while also not too sharp or tangy either. It also makes one kick-ass sandwich spread, AND a pretty good salad dressing.

I covered my chicken with foil while baking this and it came out SOOOOO moist. Even I can’t usually make my chicken breast bake up that moist and tender, but by Golly, this time I nailed it. I was one happy camper that night for dinner let me tell you. So I think it goes without saying that I’m placing my heavy rubber stamp of approval on this recipe for you guys to try for an easy weeknight dinner. Have at it, will ya?

Happy Fiesta Friday #113 and thank you to our co-hosts for this week,  Sonal @ simplyvegetarian777 and Laurie @ ten.times.tea.

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Orange Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts

Recipe Courtesy of Chowhound

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 6 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion or shallot
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), cut into 4 pieces and at room temperature

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the salt and all of the pepper; set aside.

Place the orange zest, juice, onion or shallot, honey, and remaining teaspoon of salt in a large oven-safe frying pan, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by almost half, about 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the Dijon and whole-grain mustards.

Add the reserved chicken, spoon some of the sauce over each breast, and bake until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Whisk the butter into the sauce 1 piece at a time, letting each piece melt before adding the next. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Roasted Maple Curry Brussel Sprouts

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My twin sister is getting married soon. Really soon. Like, September soon.

She’s been engaged for over a year now, but I still don’t think it’s really sunk in for me yet. Jas has lived with me every single day of our lives since we were conceived. Literally That’s 25 years, plus change since our birthday also happens to be in September.

There are 9,131 days in twenty five years. Of those 9,131 days, I don’t think more than 10 (and I mean, 10 maximum) have went by that Jas and I have not seen each other.

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But come September, Jas will be moving out and living elsewhere from me. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s not like she’s moving to another state.  Her house is about twenty minutes away from where we live now. She’s already informed me that she plans to visit here often and that I’m more than welcome to come over to her place, and I believe her.

Still. The closer we get to the actual Big Day, I have to confess the idea of her moving out does feel a little…weird.

It’s definitely gonna be different not having her here all the time. It’ll definitely be an adjustment. But I’m sure it won’t take too long for me to get the hang of it.

I hope.

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On the brighter/less sappy side, I’m REALLY happy for my sister and her fiance. They’ve known each other for over ten years, and I could tell even way back when we were in high school when they were in that “just friends” stage that they were really into each other. They’ve always had a really awesome dynamic that at times, I have even felt myself being a little envious of. I think that the best couples are the couples that first of all, have a lot of fun together, and second, complement each other very well. That’s definitely the case with Jas and her guy.

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They’ve been friends just as long as they’ve been together romantically. They have lots of inside jokes. They like’doing things’ together, but they’re also just as cool with being together and ‘doing nothing’. They’re not similar people personality-wise, but the different elements of their personality work together really well.

They just have a great relationship, and as a sister, I’m really proud of the choice that Jas has made for her life partner.

The main ingredients for this dish kinda remind me of the relationship that Jas has with her fiance, as well as the relationship that I’ve seen with other happy couples.

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Maple syrup and curry powder. I know it’s maybe not exactly an union that may seem to be successful at first. On their own, the ingredients are already pretty strong and assertive: maple syrup with it’s prominent sweetness, and curry powder with it’s pungent spiciness. Kinda polar opposites, right?

Still, I gotta insist that you guys trust me on this: once you combine them together, they really really REALLY work well. The assertiveness of both spices, combined with the slight bitterness from the brussel sprouts creates this harmonious marriage of flavors (pun intended) that I was really very impressed with. It made for a delicious side dish that I’m definitely sticking in my bag of tricks to use repeatedly in the future.

I’ll be taking myself and my sprouts over to the Fiesta Friday #76 party by the way. See you guys there 🙂

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Roasted Maple Curry Brussel Sprouts

Recipe Courtesy of Jess@Cooking is My Sport

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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. fresh Brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. yellow curry powder

Directions

400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and coat evenly with cooking spray.

Toss Brussel sprouts with olive oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange in a single layer on sheet pan and roast in oven, 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway through until sprouts are tender in the center and crisp on the outside.

Meanwhile, combine maple syrup and curry powder in a glass measuring cup. When sprouts are done roasting, drizzle curry maple syrup over them*. Serve.

*You may not want to use all of the syrup, depending on your personal preference of sweetness and spice. 

Curried Chicken Sandwiches

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I’m always a little wary going through a drive through or a sit down restaurant and ordering a sandwich. Why? Because I know that unless I’m able to be standing right there and watching them make my food, there’s a pretty good chance that someone working there is going to get my order wrong. And fewer things tick me off more than someone making a sandwich for me that is made ‘wrong’.

I’ve always been pretty picky when it comes to my sandwiches guys- I’m not like most people.

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In the first  place, I absolutely can’t stand mayo or miracle whip. Never have, never will. To this day, I don’t know how people eat that stuff. The smell alone triggers my gag reflex, which is why I make a special point of requesting it left off any sandwich I get anywhere. In the past I’ve received sandwiches where they put the mayo or miracle whip on anyway. Regardless of the fact that I could have scraped it off, regardless of how much I paid for the food- if they put mayo or miracle whip on it, I WILL throw it out completely. No amount of scraping off can get rid of the smell or the slight, tangy after taste. Just thinking about it is grossing me out, so I’m moving on.

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Another pet peeve of mine is when businesses lay on the condiments that I do like too thick, like oil and vinegar. I understand you want me to taste it, but gol-ly: the bread should not be soaking wet by the time I get back so that it literally ‘squishes’ when I take a bite. That’s gross. My favorite deli place never fails to do this to me so I’ve learned to just leave off any wet condiments at all when ordering and just waiting until I get home to sprinkle my own vinegar on it just the way that I like it.

I usually have to repeat myself in asking for ‘no cheese’ on a sandwich too- it catches a lot of people off guard. Apparently cheese on sandwiches is a pretty popular thing.

I hate those huge tomatoes. Don’t try to put one on my sandwich. I will throw you major shade.

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Come to think of it, usually the only things that I order on most sandwiches is just the meat, lettuce, and MAYBE a few veggies. It’s weird I know, but that’s just how I roll. Having said all that, this recipe may seem to be missing quite a few key components that most people would put on a sandwich. That’s only because it’s made the way that I would like it- don’t take it personally. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what the right kind of cheese would work well with a chicken curry sandwich so I didn’t try. I didn’t include a recipe for a yogurt raita or a mayonnaise based condiment; I’m not a fan of either. I’m giving you guys a sandwich with the bread meat, lettuce, onion and roasted red pepper because that’s exactly how I ate this thing. And to me, that was pretty darn perfect all on it’s own.

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However, feel free to add cheese, tomato, raita, mayonnaise to your heart’s content if that’s your thing. I’ll just be over here with my plain sandwich.

Broiled chicken is really underrated. It can take the plain, ordinary chicken breast and elevate it to the level that it really deserves giving that flavorful, dark char on the outside that looks and tastes really good. So instead of grilling the meat like Bon Appetit did, I broiled it in my oven.  It made the cook time super quick and easy, with wonderful results. The chicken was moist and flavorful from the overnight buttermilk brine that really packed a punch.

(Me and the grill still don’t get along in case you were wondering. )

I’ll be taking these sandwiches to the Fiesta Friday #61 party hosted by Angie and co-hosted this week by  Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole. See you guys there!

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Curried Chicken Sandwiches


Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit.com

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Ingredients

Curry Brine

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Sandwiches

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), halved horizontally
  • 1/4 recipe Curry Brine
  • 4 large or 8 small slices country-style bread
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce

 Directions

1. For Curry Brine: combine the buttermilk, kosher salt, black pepper, curry powder, cumin, turmeric.

2. Add chicken and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.

3. Preheat broiler and spray broiler pan with non stick cooking spray.

4. Broil chicken until golden brown and slightly charred and juices run clear. (Inner temp of chicken should reach 160°-165°)

5. Layer bread with chicken, onion, red pepper and lettuce. Serve. 

Lime-Glazed Chicken

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Hey guys!I’m back from my little blogging break I took after completing the 12 Days of Christmas series.It was a blast nd I feel super proud and accomplished that I actually pulled it off, but I did need a few days to recoup and recover from 12 straight days of posting.

Once again, thanks to all of you who followed along, liked or commented on all those posts. If you missed some or all of it, well, the posts are still there. Feel free to look back over the past few days and get caught up. I’m sure not all of us are in sugar comas yet, right? No reason why you can’t get some before the new year starts.

Speaking of which- it IS almost New Years Eve isn’t it? How is it 2015 ALREADY? If you figure it out, let me know because I swear we just started 2014.

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Anyone have any great plans for tomorrow night that I should know about? Me, you ask? Heh.

Guys, I’m the last person you want to ask about how to spend a New Years Eve. I’ve told you before, I’m a complete and total introvert. That’s the polite way of saying that I’m kinda boring. The not-so-polite way of saying it is to just straight up admit that not only am I kinda boring, I’m also kinda lame- when it comes to ‘partying’ stuff anyway.

Let the track of my New Years Eve nights speak for itself:

One year, I went to bed at ten, and slept straight through the whole thing, not getting up until eight the next morning.

Another, me and my mom spent NYEwatching one of those half hour long infomercials selling a 1970’s soul collection on CD. The New Year rung in with us singing along to Donna Summer and The Emotions. (But to our credit, we still didn’t buy the CD set)

I spent one year watching an ER marathon and binge eating saltine crackers  (don’t ask, I just got a craving for them).

And last year, all of us here spent New Years Eve in the living room having a Disney karaoke marathon. Enough said about that.

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This year? Well, it’ll probably involve me and a sofa, I’ll tell you that much.

Please tell me you guys will be doing something more interesting than all of that.

On second thought, no don’t tell me that. Just say you won’t be doing anything interesting for NYE either- I’ll feel better about my boring, uneventful self that way.

I’ve had this recipe swimming around in the blog folder of my computer for a while now- I just kept forgetting to put it up (to be honest, I’m not too crazy about how these pictures turned out in retrospect, but oh well). It’s another simple, quick and pretty healthy chicken dish that I use for my family when I buy bulk chicken breast packages from the grocery store to last us through the week.

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This chicken reminds me of a dish I’d order in a Latin American-themed restaurant alongside some paella or arborrio rice. You could even slice or dice it up and throw it in a tortilla or on top of a salad for a full meal. I’ve done both with this chicken and it turned out great both times. The ingredients are simple, but the flavors still really pop. Give it a shot when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands and still want a great meal.

Seeya ‘next year’ guys 😉

Lime Glazed Chicken


Recipe Courtesy of Great American Recipes

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Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 oz. each)
  • 1/4 cup honey mustard
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish. Combine the mustard, lime zest, lime juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

3. Brush half of the glaze over the chicken. Bake, brushing with the remaining glaze occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced with a knife, 25-30 minutes. Serve.

Chicken Shawarma Fattoush Salad

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There a few foods for me that- if they were actual living and breathing men- I would almost definitely be having a torrid love affair with. That’s how much I love them.

First, there’s pancakes. Pancakes are the bad boy- the guy I KNOW is so bad for me. So, so SO very bad. (Like all the sugar and carbs in the pancakes that are so terrible for my thighs and derriere.) But he’s also the one that can make my entire day just by making an appearance. He’s the one I can’t turn down or resist. He’s so bad, that he starts to actually feel good. For me, if pancakes were a man, he’d be like Johnny Depp, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Tom Hardy all rolled into one. Seriously,  how am I supposed to resist that?

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Then there’s the iced sugar cookie. This is the ‘older guy’;very handsome and sweet, classic, traditional and dependable. Like a fine wine, no matter how old he is, I never get tired of him- he gets better with age. He’s great in just about every way, but still probably not the one I should be with just because he’s so much older than me ( just like I probably shouldn’t indulge in sugar cookies all the time). But I’m still drawn to him because, hey he’s awesome. The iced sugar cookie for me in “guy-form” would be somewhere in between George Clooney, Idris Elba and Jimmy Smitts- thus, explaining my ongoing obsession with it.

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Then, there’s chicken shawarma and fattoush salad. Good news: this is the ‘good guy’. The ‘nice’ guy. The one I don’t have to feel guilty for being hooked on, because he’s actually great for me in a lot of different ways. Stable, wholesome, considerate and just full of good stuff. I can give it all I have with him and take all I can get because I know it won’t hurt later. Chicken shawarma and fattoush are kinda like that too-I’m hooked on them, but I don’t ever have to feel guilty for craving/eating them because hey, there’s never any harm in eating white meat and veggies, right? Yeah, chicken shawarma and fattoush salad is like Ryan Gosling or Chris Hemsworth. (Sigh).

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And now that I’ve beaten that metaphor to death, I may as well get on with the actual point of this post.

Chobani yogurt is just awesome,isn’t it? Not just because of the taste, but also because of the  versatility of the yogurt as an ingredient- you CAN do more with it than just open the lid and dip into it with a spoon. Right now Chobani is holding a #MadeWithChobani Project that shows all the different ways that yogurt can be used in every day cooking. It unites food bloggers in a collective effort to use Chobani yogurt to create a healthy, but still delicious recipe. I definitely wanted to be apart of this project; I thought about doing something sweet- let’s face it, it’s easier to make a sweet dish with yogurt, especially since Chobani has so many delicious sweet flavors. However, I eventually decided against it, opting instead for a more savory application. This is what I finally came up with, and I have to say, I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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The best chicken shawarma and fattoush salad I’ve ever had comes from an awesome Middle Eastern restaurant in Ann Arbor. It’s just so, so, SO good. Because I don’t live near Ann Arbor, I don’t get to eat there very often, but I have to say that this recipe gives me a pretty good -tide-me-over. What makes this distinctive from the restaurant is that instead of keeping the dishes separate from each other, I combined them together in one healthy, delicious salad.

This dish just wouldn’t be what it turned out to be without the Greek yogurt (and I’m not just saying that). It makes the chicken SO moist and tender.  So don’t skimp and buy some cheap, non-name brand yogurt. It’s not gonna come out the same. You need a good, creamy, high-quality yogurt for the shawarma marinade.

For all of you that are on Twitter, feel free to check out the hashtag #MadewithChobani for some other awesome recipes! Also, if YOU have some ideas for creative, healthy recipes using Chobani, then go ahead and visit Chobani.com to find out how you can join the #MadeWithChobani Project as well 😉

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Chicken Shawarma Fattoush Salad


Recipe Courtesy of Jess@CookingisMySport

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Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 32 oz. Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup shawarma spice mix (like Ziyad)

Fattoush Salad:

  • 1 romaine heart, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 half baby cucumber, sliced into halves
  • 3/4 cup diced shawarma chicken
  • Small handful of pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 pita, toasted & broken into chips

Fattoush Dressing

  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. sumac
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions

1. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice and shawarma mix in a large bowl. Place the chicken in a resealable Ziploc bag(s). Pour yogurt marinade over the chicken and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off the excess. Discard marinade. Spray a large glass baking dish with cooking spray and place in chicken breasts. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until thickest part of breasts reach temp of 165°.

3. Allow chicken to rest for about 10 minutes out of the oven, reserving ALL of the juices it gives off while baking. Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat with a few tbsp. of vegetable oil. Slice the chicken breasts against the grain into small strips or chunks and immediately toss in the reserved pan juices. Saute chicken in hot skillet, about 3-4 minutes in a single layer until the edges just begin to turn brown and crispy. (You may need to work in batches, don’t overcrowd the pan).

4. For Salad Dressing: Combine water and sumac in a small jar or bowl and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Add remaining dressing ingredients, taste and adjust for seasoning if need be.

5. For Salad: Combine all ingredients and toss with desired amount of dressing. Serve.

Zucchini Pizza Lasagna

Zucchini Pizza Lasagna1

My mom is really, really REALLY crafty.

When I say that, I mean that she’s one of those people who can take the most ordinary, seemingly common objects and turn them into something really cool and awesome.This happened a lot when we were little kids. She would buy one of the cheap stuffed animals from the dollar store, then go to the fabric store to buy the clearance fabrics that she would sew into beautiful, sometimes even elaborate dresses to dress the animals in. A lot of the glass and porcelain knick knacks and show pieces in my grandma’s living room are ones that my mom bought from the dollar store and jazzed up on our her own so that they look like they came from a gift shop and cost a fortune. For a while, she even made and sold floral wreaths and jewelry boxes.

When I was around six or seven, me and my sisters were in our church’s Vacation Bible School in the summertime for kids and there was this costume contest. We didn’t have a lot of money at that time, and certainly not enough for my mom to buy three girls fancy costumes to wear. So, being the crafty, innovative person that she is, she decided to construct costumes for all of using items she already had in our house.

Zucchini Pizza Lasagna2

Oh yeah, and I should probably mention that the items were white garbage bags, silver wrapping paper ribbon, glitter and dress-up wigs (two pink, and one blue). The result? Three little angels.

My mom sprinkled glitter over the white garbage bags, then cut holes out of them to fit our arms and legs. She then used the silver ribbon to cinch them at the waist, then curled the ends so that the bags looked like dresses. After putting on the wigs and a little bit of lipstick and blush, our costumes for the contest were complete.

I know it sounds weird and crazy now, but I can still remember feeling so pretty in that costume at the time. I thought my mom was a genius and was so proud of her for coming up with the idea. The reality is that instead of angels, the three of us looked like The Paper Bag Princess meets The Jetsons.

I can’t decide whether the greater miracle was that no one laughed or made fun of us…or that me and my sisters actually won that costume contest.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have my mom’s crafty abilities in using ordinary objects to create physical art that wins contests and makes money.Art’s not my thing- never has been, and likely never will be. I’m just a home cook. However that does mean that I can take ordinary ingredients that some people (including myself) may underestimate and make them into a dish that really exceeds even my own expectations. That’s what happened with this dish.

Small confession: I don’t like ordinary lasagna. For one, I hate ricotta cheese. Two, there’s something about the texture of the noodles, that puts me off. So for years, I’ve just avoided it all together. But then, I found myself with a whole lot of zucchini that I simply had to find something to do with that didn’t involve zucchini bread. I’ve seen variations of this dish done before, so I decided to create my own rendition, specially tailored for my ricotta/lasagna noodle-hating tastes.

I was REALLY impressed with how this came out.  The zucchini is such a great alternative to the pasta, and I actually think it’s a vast improvement on the original. It tastes like pure comfort food, and I’m planning on adding it to the dinner rotation for my family as a regular dish. I’m also bringing it to the party at this week’s Fiesta Friday #32, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener . Give it a try, folks. I don’t think you’ll regret it 🙂

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Zucchini Pizza Lasagna

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Ingredients

  • 2-3 Large Zucchini
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 15 oz. cans of pizza sauce
  • 1 1/2lb ground beef
  • 1lb roll of pork (or turkey) sausage
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 7 oz. pouch of pepperoni
  • 8 oz. shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Using a mandolin (or a VERY sharp knife), slice zucchini length-wise into very thin slices, about 1/8 thick.

3. Lay slices on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and sprinkle liberally with salt. Bake in oven for about 10-12 minutes.

4. Using a paper towel, press all the remaining moisture from the zucchini and set aside.

5. Brown ground beef and sausage together in a pan, then drain off excess fat. In same skillet, saute onion and bell pepper in same skillet, until softened.

6. Pour pizza sauce into a bowl and stir in the ground beef, sausage, onion and bell pepper.

7. Turn up oven heat to 375°. Spray an 11 x 13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Layer the zucchini slices in the bottom and spread with pizza sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over sauce, then lay pepperoni over cheese. Repeat layers, ending with pizza sauce.

8. Cover lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle top with the parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes.

9. Remove lasagna from oven and heat broiler. Place back in oven and bake until cheese is browned, about 2-3 minutes.

10. Allow lasagna to sit for about 30 minutes before eating to allow to settle. Serve.