Chicken Shawarma Fattoush Salad

Schwarma Fattoush Salad1

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.

Southron Spinach and Plum Salad

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Game of Thrones Series Week 3

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! I hope you all get to spend some time with the mothers or mother figures in your lives and make them feel appreciated. They deserve it.

It’s time for another GoT recipe you guys! I hope you’ve been keeping up with the series, if not I’ll post the recipes that I’ve done so far at the end of this post so you can play catch up. Before we get to the food, I’ll say a few words about my favorite parts of last Sunday’s episode:

  • I know that they’re a crazy family, but I just love the scenes between the Lannisters, especially when Tywin is involved. He’s undoubtedly a bad person, but he’s got a strong dose of pragmatism and resolve to survive at all costs that definitely makes him one of the show’s strongest and charismatic characters. So the Lannister’s are out of dough, huh? Never thought that day would come. As I watched the scene between Tywin and Cersei, I thought it was a great conversation between a rich father facing bankruptcy and his privileged, spoiled daughter who’s always been given everything she wants. I loved Tywin explaining the “facts of life” to Cersei and making her aware that she has to ‘take one for the team’ so to speak in order for them to survive as a family.
  • I’m really curious whether or not Daenerys is really going to get the epic battle for the Iron Throne that she’s dreaming of when it seems like every episode just puts up another roadblock/reason for why it’s not her time to invade Westeros and “take what is hers by blood and fire” (God, she used to get on my nerves when was forever saying that in season 2). I know that because she has the dragons, we’re going to get some kind of fancy special effects-laden scene, but I’m not altogether convinced that GoT is going to end with her as the supreme ruler of everything and everyone.

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  • Then of course, there’s Sansa- poor, poor Sansa. Now, not only is she dealing with Little Finger ( who is not only responsible for Joffrey’s death, but pretty much…everything that has to do with the major fallout ofKing Jon Arryn’s Hand- which is also the entire reason that the plotline of GoT got started in the first place) she’s also stuck with her crazy aunt who still harbors  jealousy for her mother and all the things Catelyn had that she never could. And, she has to get married AGAIN to her younger cousin. Sheesh. Sansa just can’t catch a break to save her life. I have a feeling that Sansa is going to end up doing something very drastic and heroic to save herself when this is all said and done- she’s been through too much without having the opportunity to defend or protect herself from all these people who keep wanting to harm her. I hope to God that one of those drastic things is shooting an arrow through Littlefinger’s head.
  • I really liked the short, but powerful scene between Cersei and Oberon. I don’t feel pity for her generally, but I felt for her situation as woman trapped in a ‘man’s world’ while still struggling to maintain her dignity and self esteem- even if it means causing pain and abuse to those weaker than she. I’m still thinking about that line: “Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls.” It gives me chills because of just how true it really is
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  • Finally an episode with Bran scenes that I can get into! Their escape from Craster’s Keep was pure suspense and satisfaction-especially Bran using his powers through Hodor to get them out of there. Now I finally see the merit behind all those creepy times that his eyes roll back in his head and he sees those weird visions. (Random fact: rolling eyeballs give me pure goosebumps. I just don’t like looking at it.)
  • Too bad Bran and Jon didn’t get to see each other again. I feel like a Stark family reunion (what’s left of them anyway) would be full of so much feels and emotion after all they’ve been though. At least Jon got to see the direwolf again. And at least that horrible Karl jerk got his- from both Jon and one of the women he’d been victimizing. It was a solid call to burn that hell hole to ground. Burn it and bury it forever.

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Guys! I’ve made a discovery- turns out, there’s a Game of Thrones Cookbook. A real one. Actually more than one- there’s an official one: A Feast of Ice and Fire, then there’s an unofficial one : The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. I was at an outlet store in my hometown a few weeks ago, and I came across the unofficial cookbook on a shelf priced for only $3.99 (that was marked down from an original price of $19.95). Now, you really can’t beat that, can you? So of course, I bought the cookbook (…along with a few others that were also too discounted to not buy. I collect cookbooks like some people collect stamps; there’s never too many. Don’t judge me.)

Question: what IS the actual difference between Official and Unofficial in this context anyway? I read the caption on the cover of the book that reads: “This book is unofficial and unauthorized/ It is not authorized, approved, licensed or endorsed by George R.R. Martin, his publishers, or HBO.”

So…does that mean that the other is authorized, approved, licensed or endorsed by George R.R. Martin, his publishers, or HBO? How does that even work? I don’t understand.

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Anyway, official or unofficial, this cookbook is pretty awesome, guys. The recipes are the perfect blend between medieval and still modern enough for the average cook to be able to easily recreate them. I’ve already made a few that I’m super pumped to review and share with you, the first of which being this delightful salad. I’ve never had a salad with plums in it before, but now that I have, I’m pretty much sold on making it a regular occurrence for when I eat salad from here on out. It adds such a special sweetness that is evenly balanced with the acidity of the lemon and orange flavors in the tangy dressing. Throw in some diced chicken or other type of protein, and you’ve got one winner of a meal here.

One of the things I love best about the cookbook is the little introductions that they author gives at the beginning of every recipe that serve to link them to their relevance to the book series. I thought that I could include it in my posting of the recipe here as well.

Thanks for tuning into this week’s  GoT post- stay tuned for next week’s recipe. I’ll give you a hint into two words: Baratheon. Pork.   😉

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

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Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Recipe Courtesy of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook by Alan Kistler

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

“After a fine day or tourney, Sansa joins the royal court at the riverside for a feast. It’s a magical evening where simply joys and the beauty of the night seem all the more enhanced. This salad of spinach and plums is both healthy yet provides a sweetness to complement the flavor of the night for the young Sansa, who has no idea how far away such lovely times will seem in the months to come.” (A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29 -Sansa)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, torn
  • 4 plums, pitted and sliced into wedges
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped basil

Directions

1. Arrange the spinach and plum wedges on 4 plates.

2. Whisk vinegar, oil, juices, zests, salt, pepper, and basil in a bowl.

3. Drizzle approximately 1/3 of dressing over spinach and plums on plates. Remaining dressing may be refrigerated.

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Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Asian Sweet Potatoes1Tagged

I’ve mentioned to you guys before that when I find a new habit or trend, or something  in general that I like, I will wear it out TO DEATH until I’m either sick of it, or until I find a new something to wear out to death.

Me and my twin sister Jas are really alike in that (among other things: our DNA  also happens to be exactly the same.) Take movies for instance; when we were growing up, we went through a phase where when we found a movie we liked, we watched it every chance we got. I find a new favorite song and it gets put on constant repeat on my iPod . I find a new interesting tv show and will faithfully watch it ever week, or if its old, I will have entire marathons of it on Netflix until I get through it all.

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So far as good goes, I’m on a root vegetable kick right now.  For a long time, I’ve just always wanted to eat a side of root vegetables with my dinner. Mostly it’s been a mix between rutabagas and sweet potatoes. I can decide which I like more honestly. Although it may not seem like it, rutabagas too have a unmistakable sweetness to them that’s so clearly highlighted when they’re roasted. If you guys don’t believe me, then you should try this recipe for Herb Roasted Rutabaga that I posted a few weeks ago- if you’re not typically a fan of them, I promise you: I’m going to make you a ‘believer’ with 2 rutabagas, and a handful of dried herbs. Because I’m a miracle worker….okay not really, but I am a pretty good cook 😉

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 I’m experimenting with different recipes to mix things up so that I don’t get too bored. After all, variety’s the spice of life. Right now, this is my new sweet potato recipe that I’m really fond of.  Trust me, it tastes every bit as good as it looks.

I never would have thought initially to apply Asian style flavors to sweet potatoes. But let me tell you guys, it REALLY works. The saltiness of the soy sauce is perfect with the sweetness of the honey as well as the natural sweetness of the potatoes. The sesame seeds give it a subtle earthy and almost nutty aftertaste. I served them with a chicken stir-fry that I made my family for dinner ( the recipe and pics are very soon to follow).

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Random/Embarrassing Fact: About a year ago, I was on another carrot/sweet potato kick and I ate so many of them that I LITERALLY started turning orange. Seriously. I’m not joking. I went into my doctor for a general check up and she literally gasped and asked what happened to me. I didn’t notice until I stood under a fluorescent light in her office and held out my hands: my palms were the color of a carrot. My skin is naturally kind of yellow, so…suffice to say it just wasn’t a good look. I had no idea that consuming too much Vitamin A (which is dominant  in carrots and sweet potatoes) can do that. Now I do. So as delicious as these sweet potatoes are, I do try to be a little more careful to not make them take up the most space on my plate.

I try. I may not always succeed. Try this recipe and you’ll definitely understand why.

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Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Recipe Courtesy of Cookstr.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  5 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (yams), peeled
  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  •  Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 tbsp sesame seeds
  •  1 tbsp honey
  •  1 tbsp soy sauce

 Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

2. Cut the potatoes into large chunks and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until almost tender.

4. Mix together the sesame seeds, honey, and soy sauce. Pour  over the sweet potatoes, and toss.

5. Roast 20 minutes more, or until well glazed and tender.

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Low Carb Lo Mein

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I’m gonna start this off by saying I am very, very, VERY proud of this recipe. I’m blowing/blasting my own horn here, and I don’t mind admitting it. This dish is one of the reasons why I love to experiment so much in the kitchen, why I love buying kitchen gadgets (or borrowing them from my mom) and why I firmly believe that cooking IS a sport that the more you practice at, the better you’ll get. When I first started learning how to cook, making something like this wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. I probably would’ve been afraid of using the ingredients (more on that later), or at the very least, messing the whole thing up. But that’s the beauty of practice and progress, because here we are, and now I get to share this awesome recipe with you guys (and it IS awesome).

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I know of very few people who don’t like Asian takeout style lo mein. For those who have never tried it, or don’t know what it even is (?!!!), lo mein is basically just noodles and vegetables that have been stir fried in a zesty, Asian style sauce. If that sounds delicious to you, it’s really just because well, it is.  What’s not to like about it? It’s typically served as a side dish at most major chain Asian restaurants, but I actually like eating it as a main course with egg rolls on the side. I even use it as a kind of litmus test of whether or not I’m going to like the rest of the menu at the place- if they make a good plate of lo mein, then I’ve found 9 times out of 10 that the rest of their food is pretty good too.

Pic 4So what’s the catch? It’s probably pretty obvious to anyone who’s ever had it before. Lo Mein, (along with the majority of the other dishes at Asian restaurants) tends to leave that heavy, bloated, ‘food-baby’ feeling in your stomach that none of us like too much. It’s pasta based, so it’s carb-heavy, but there’s also the likely chance that it’s marinated in high sodium soy sauce then pan fried in peanut oil. And then (because I just have to say it), there are probably some other ‘questionable’ ingredients in the noodles that may have familiar names of normal animal proteins but don’t taste very….normal. You know what I mean.

So what’s the solution to the negatives of lo mein? No, you don’t just have to ‘suffer’ from the food-baby stomach when you eat it. (Although if you do end up getting Chinese take-out, taking 2 activated charcoal pills will ease the discomfort it brings. Don’t ask how I know that.) Don’t worry, you’re not going to give it up completely either.  That would be all kinds of stupid and just wouldn’t make any sense.

What you ARE going to do, though, is make this recipe. Why? Because it’s easy, quick, delicious, and best of all….NO belly bloat. That’s right. You won’t look like you’re 9 months pregnant  or feel like you just ate a stone after eating this. This right here is low-carb lo mein, meaning there’s no actual pasta in it. Now I can just hear some of your thoughts right about now:

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“Sorry Jess. I call bs on that one. I can see noodles in that dish. They’re right there, so how CAN there be no pasta in it?” 

Relax, guys. It’s not a joke. There really is NO pasta in this dish. It really IS low carb. The ‘pasta’ in this lo mein dish comes from two ingredients: zucchini squash, and Shiritaki noodles. How did I do it? I’m glad you asked.

The zucchini, I shredded into what are called ‘ribbons’ with the help of a standard hand-held vegetable peeler that you can probably get at any major department store or multi-purpose grocery store where they sell kitchen gadgets. It’s pretty inexpensive and gets the job done just fine.

Now for the Shiritaki noodles. I’m gonna be honest with you guys upfront about these, but I don’t want you to panic or get freaked out. Deal? Okay. Shiritaki noodles are actually mainly made of… tofu. You ca buy them at major grocery stores or health food stores like Whole Foods in the gluten-free sections. They come in a variety of different shapes and varieties; the type that I usually use is Spaghetti, but they also make Angel Hair, Fettuccini, or even Macaroni. I’ve included a picture below so you can see what they look like:

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Now guys, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: please, PLEASE do not let the tofu scare you away from this recipe. I know that when most of us hear the word ‘tofu’ we instantly think of ultra-bland, ultra-nasty food that only health-nuts and fitness fanatics eat. (Or maybe you think of that Doug episode on Nickelodeon, I don’t know). But coming from a girl who has a genuine appreciation for her carbohydrates (that includes bread, pasta, etc), I promise you: these do taste JUST like the real thing when cooked properly. I’m serious. Don’t worry, the recipe will have all the details you need to prepare them the right way. It’s not complicated at all, and the result is just SO worth it. Think about it; you’re not really eating anything but vegetables, tofu, and meat (which I’ve even gone without sometimes). You make this for your family without telling them the ingredients, and they’re not going to know the difference between this lo mein, and the original. That’s how good this is.

The only real difference they may notice, is that they don’t have a bloated food-baby after eating it…and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

FEED(ME) BACK: Name one ingredient that you’re slightly (or even very) nervous to cook with for the first time.

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Low Carb Lo Mein

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE RECIPE

YIELD: 1 Serving

Ingredients

  • 1 package Shiritaki Tofu noodles
  • 1 medium size zucchini squash (either green or yellow work fine)
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped into small chunks
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup protein of your choice (ground beef, chicken, turkey, pork, shrimp)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Szechuan sauce (like San-J)

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the Hoisin, soy sauce, lemon juice and Szechuan sauce and set aside.

2. Prepare the Shiritaki noodles. Place a colander in the sink. Open the package and drain noodles in colander. (Don’t get freaked out by the smell of the noodles. It’s the liquid they’re soaked in to stay fresh- we’re gonna get rid of it). Run cold water over the noodles, drain again, then place them in a microwaveable safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 75 seconds. The smell should be gone from the noodles now. If it’s not, microwave for another 60 seconds. Drain one more time. Use a knife to roughly chop noodles, just a little bit. Set aside.

3. Cut the stem off the zucchini squash and discard. Use your vegetable peeler to shred the entire zucchini into long ribbony strands. (Yes, the whole thing).

4. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the zucchini ribbons to the skillet, and sprinkle with the ground ginger. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes. They should be somewhat limp, but still maintain their shape.

5. Add the Shiritaki noodles, meat, tomato and carrots to the skillet. Pour the sauce evenly over all of the ingredients and toss thoroughly.

6. Raise the heat to high, letting the sauce begin to bubble and continuing to stir until the sauce is completely absorbed, and the bottom of the pan is no longer slippery. Remove from heat and into a bowl. Sprinkle green onions on top of noodles and vegetables, and serve.