Scrumptious Chicken Shawarma

I love Middle Eastern food. A lot. While the best chicken shawarma I have ever eaten was in Dearborn, I sampled this dish at many restaurants, where it ranges from excellent to especially dry. I am delighted that I have perfected this dish for home preparation and consumption.

Ingredients

MARINADE
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 t cumin
2 t paprika
1 t allspice
1 t turmeric
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t cayenne
1/8 t salt
1/8 t pepper

SAUCE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Put first 1/4 cup olive oil in gallon-size ziploc bag. Add all marinade spices to bag. Squish it around with your hands until it’s all combined.

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Cut each breast into 3 big chunks. It’s probably okay to leave each thigh whole. Add chicken chunks to the bag of marinade. Make sure all pieces are immersed in marinade and then put in fridge for 6-24 hours.

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When you’re ready to cook the chicken, prep your grill. (You could also roast the chunks in the oven at 400 for 8-10 per side.) I grilled the chicken at medium heat. The marinade is oily, so you’ll get some flames. Watch the chicken carefully. Remove each chunk to a cutting board when it’s done. (Discard the marinade and bag.)

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In a large bowl, combine the sauce ingredients.

Slice each grilled chicken chunk into 1/4-1/2-inch slices. Then, add them to the bowl containing the sauce.

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Once all the chicken is in the bowl, stir the chicken chunks into the sauce. Your mouth will be watering.

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You could eat this in a variety of ways, but here’s what I recommend.

  • Get Middle-Eastern-style pita breads. They’re thin, light in color.
  • Get a jar of dill pickle slices.
  • Get some Middle Eastern garlic dip/spread. I find it at the deli counter at Busch’s. This component is essential, so if you can’t find it, make some. Here‘s a recipe. (It looks involved, but you’ll see there are only 4 ingredients.)
  • Get or make some tabbouli or other Middle Eastern salad.
  • Get some hummus.
  • Slice up some tomato and cucumber.
  • Get or make some pita chips. (They’re easy to make. Just use a pizza cutter to cut stale pita bread into chunks. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper on bread chunks. Then toast the chunks on a jelly roll pan in a 400-degree oven until they brown and crispy. Maybe 10 minutes, depending on thickness of bread.)

Make sandwiches with the pita bread, garlic spread, pickle slices, and chicken. Put hummus, salad, pita chips, and veggies on the side. Pig out! (Best consumed outside on a beautiful summer evening, but this meal is tasty all year long.)

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This dish has been met with rave reviews from eaters of all ages, even my picky 8-year-old.

I hope you love it as much as I do.

Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomato Quiche Spectacular

I made this AMAZING quiche several months ago and just realized that I never posted my draft. I had some goat cheese that needed to be used. I had some Campari tomatoes that were past their prime. It was quiche time!

10 Campari tomatoes
2 T olive oil
1 refrigerated pie crust (I buy the kind that comes with 2 rolled crusts in a box)
6 eggs
6 oz (3/4 cup) heavy cream
4 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper

Step 1: Roast the tomatoes

Take 10 or so Campari tomatoes and slice them in half. Put them on a jelly roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 40-50 minutes at 400.

Step 2: Pre-bake the crust

Take the store-bought pie crust that has been thawing on your counter, unroll it, put it in the pie dish, and make the sides look pretty and mostly even. Stab the dough with a fork so it doesn’t get all puffy. Bake the pie crust for 10 minutes or so – maybe while the tomatoes are roasting. You are welcome to use pie weights if you want.

Step 3: Make the custard

Crack 6 eggs into a deep medium bowl. Beat them. Add 3/4 cup heavy cream. Whisk that up. Add 4 oz of goat cheese. If your goat cheese is not at room temperature, zap it in your microwave. Whisk that some more. Add salt and pepper.

Step 4: Build your quiche

Sprinkle the roasted tomatoes into the pie crust. Add custard.

Step 5: Bake

Let’s go with 375. Baking times vary due to the size of your pie dish. You want the quiche golden on top and no longer liquid-y when you jiggle it. (The pie, not yourself.) Maybe 40-45 minutes.

Golden quiche

Yum! It was spectacular.

 

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I love to bake. Well, mostly I love to eat baked goods. And nearly every good baked good contains eggs. When my daughter Meredith was diagnosed with an egg allergy, my baking days were over. No longer did I bake cookies whenever they sounded good. I stopped making muffins. I certainly never made pancakes or waffles anymore. When my mom shared this eggless chocolate chip cookie bar recipe with me, I gained a go-to baked good – no cookie lover can tell that they are eggless. My sister even says they are better than regular chocolate chip cookies. That is quite a statement. This 7 x 11 dish of bars will last about 24 hours for the 3 cookie eaters in our house. They are just irresistible.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
10 T. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
3 T. heavy cream or half-and-half or milk)
1 T. pure vanilla extract
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)

1.  Preheat oven to 375.

2.  Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

3.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the cream/milk and beat thoroughly.  Beat in vanilla.  On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Scrape down sides once with a rubber spatula.  Stir in the chips. I usually add more chocolate chips than the recipe calls for.  Mix well with spatula.

4. Put in greased 7 x 11 glass baking dish. 8 x 8 will work, but they will be tall and may take longer to bake. 9 x 13 will also work, but they will be flatter and may take less time to bake.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes. This time is not exact. I keep my eye on them: I start checking on them when I begin to smell them. When they are golden on top, I pull them out.

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Mo’s Classic Coleslaw

My sister makes the BEST coleslaw. It’s a modification of the absolutely perfect coleslaw that was served at the now-defunct Zanzibar. I have been asking her to make her coleslaw for so long that I decided it was time I master the recipe myself. It’s not complicated, but it is delicious.

Mo’s Classic Coleslaw

2/3 cup Hellman’s mayo (full fat, of course)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 T sugar
salt and pepper
shredded cabbage (I added shredded carrot and red onion)

Step 1: Make dressing

I love using this clear, flexible measuring cup. It allows me to put the apple cider vinegar in first. Then, when I blop in the mayo, the liquid level is raised up to the 1 cup mark. Mayo can be hard to measure.

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Here’s all the dressing ingredients.

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Whisk them together before adding cabbage.

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Step 2: Mix in the veggies.

I always buy the bag of all-green angel hair shredded cabbage. Then, when I feel like I have the time, I shred some carrot. Today I used my mandoline to shave some red onion; it added both color and zip.

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Pretty. Mix it together. It’s best if it sits for awhile before you eat it.

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I hope you love it as much as I do.

Tonight, my sister came over and we chowed on some of my slow-cooked shredded pork, baked beans, this slaw, and my eggless chocolate-chip cookie bars. It was great!

Pasta with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

This pasta recipe is on regular rotation at our house. It’s the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and savory. I’ve been making it for several years from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis.

Pasta with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4-6

 

Step One

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound sweet Italian sausage (regular or turkey)

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

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Step two

1-2 red or yellow bell peppers, sliced

1-2 yellow or sweet onions, sliced

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

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Step three

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I didn’t have any today, so I added a big blop of pesto we made and froze in August)

4 garlic cloves, peeled

Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes. 

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Step four

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup Marsala wine (red wine works too)

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the Marsala wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, pull sausages out and slice them. Return them to simmering sauce.

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Step five

While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta. When you drain the pasta, I suggest saving some of the pasta water in case you need to add a little moisture back to your sauce when packing up leftovers later.

Spoon into individual bowl and sprinkle each serving with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Classic Meatloaf

I made some good meatloaf last night.

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I have always liked a very simple, straightforward meatloaf. My mom made one that used beef only (no pork or veal) and had oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs. There were no vegetables in it besides a little minced onion, and there was no ketchup harmed in the making of it. The meatloaf was always good and tasted even better the next day, sliced, cold, with some Hellman’s, on my mom’s homemade wheat bread.

I wanted to duplicate that, but make it slightly less dry and more interesting, without scaring my family away.

Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything to the rescue!

Meatloaf

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended

Free-form meat loaf has several advantages over those cooked in loaf pans: It develops a lovely crust on three sides instead of just one, and the fat can run off, rather than become trapped between pan and meat. Plus it’s easy to shape by hand and always turns out in the shape you wanted. 

Step one:

Heat the oven to 350°F. Get out a baking pan or casserole dish. I used a glass baking dish.

Step two:

1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh (I used my food processor)

1/2 cup milk

Soak the bread crumbs in the milk until the milk is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Step three:

2 pounds mixed ground meats: I used beef and pork 

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (I used my food processor)

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 small onion, minced (I used my food processor)

1 small carrot, minced (I used my food processor)

1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves or 1 pinch dried sage leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 slices bacon (optional)

Mix together all the ingredients except the bacon. Shape the meat into a loaf in a baking pan; top with the bacon if you like. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, basting occasionally with the rendered pan juices. When done, the meatloaf will be browned lightly and firm. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read 160°F.

Fluffy Pumpkin Dip

This addictive stuff is like pumpkin pie without the often-soggy crust. It has a fluffy texture that pairs well with crispy cookies.

The recipe:

2 packages cream cheese (8 oz), at room temperature
1 can pure pumpkin
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
half carton Cool Whip

Using electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Then, mix in next 3 items together. When well blended, fold in the Cool Whip.

I served it with 

  • cinnamon teddy grahams
  • vanilla wafers
  • ginger snaps
  • mini honey graham crackers

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I served apple slices on a separate platter with some brie, and friends dipped the apples in the dip as well.

I considered just eating the dip with a spoon.