Monday, September 23, 2013

Spicy Chicken Shawarma

For me, weeknight cooking is all about having a plan. My brain hurts when I get home, so having a plan allows me to mindlessly chop and drink wine. Choppy choppy winey winey. Carey so happy. But back to planning, when you know what you're working with, its easier to think about marinating too. This makes all the difference in for a flavor-packed dinner.

This is really just a chicken pita, but man oh man, with a spiced marinade this is way cooler than pita. This is shit is shawarma. Fancy spiced pitas guys. So good.

Either the night before or the morning of, whip together this quick flavor-packed marinade. In this case, it's the brightness of fresh parsley with a generous helping of middle eastern spices.

Spices combined with yogurt will result in fork-tender chicken. Just combine and refrigerate for a few hours.

The spicy yogurt marinade not only flavors and tenderizes, but provides a nice crust when grilled. 

Slice thinly and stuff into grilled pitas, along with some veggies and a bit of yogurt sauce. You'll entirely forget you have four days left this week. Pat yourself on the back for thinking ahead and pour another glass.

Spicy Chicken Shawarma
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
4 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breast
4 whole wheat pitas
1 cucumber, sliced
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion, chopped

Combine parsley, salt, red pepper, ginger, cumin, fennel seed, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini and garlic in a large bowl. Scoop out about a 1/4 cup and reserve in a separate container. Toss chicken in remaining marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours. 

Preheat grill and remove chicken from refrigerator, giving it time to take the chill away. Cook chicken over high-direct heat, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from grill and allow to rest before slicing. Grill pitas for a minute or two on each side.  

Halve pitas and stuff with sliced chicken, cucumber, tomatoes and red onion. Top with a dollop of the reserved yogurt sauce. Garnish with a bit of parsley and enjoy!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weekend Reading

First attempts at overnight oats. Needs some work before I share a recipe.

I kind of want to drug my husband and hope for a reaction like this. Adorbs.
~via Gawker

Ahh... are your tea leaves and bags filled with chemicals and pesticides? Gross! Tea fanatics take note.
~via TheKitchn

Love as a verb, rather than an emotion.
~via The Huffington Post

Kale and White Bean Tacos

I didn't go back to school, but somehow the time after Labor Day always feels like you're getting back into the swing of a regular routine. I still feel like I should be reading the Scarlet Letter and studying for calculus. But in my actual life, the pace of work has quickened and the sore reality that summer fun is behind me has set in. With the return of routine, comes more regular weeknight meals. 

I whipped up these kale and white bean tacos the other night as a quick and HEALTHY dinner. And for 15 minutes, they delivered some serious BANG! Great as lunch leftovers too. 

The ingredients are pretty straightforward -- kale, cannellini beans, onion, garlic, tomatoes and jalapenos. All to be stuffed in a corn tortilla and topped with feta and cilantro. All kinds of good stuff.

Quick tip -- When warming tortillas in a microwave, cover with  damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Kale is sauteed with onions, garlic and beans to create a delicious filling.

Damn... this makes Wednesdays look good. Now back to that homework. Enjoy!

Kale and White Bean Tacos
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups kale, washed and torn
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 corn tortillas
3 jalapenos, sliced
1/2 cup feta crumbles
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, sliced

Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat. Add onion slices and saute until softened and slightly browned, about 8-9 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds before adding kale and beans. Saute for about 3-4 minutes before adding salt, pepper and water. Cover immediately and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes, until kale is wilted.

Warm tortillas under a damp paper towel in the microwave. Stuff each tortilla with a healthy pile of kale and beans. Top with sliced jalapenos, tomatoes, feta and cilantro. Finish with a squeeze of lime juice and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cocktail Hour: Gin Buckets

Every party needs a cocktail. Even better when it is potent, easy and refreshing for a hot night. Enter the Gin Bucket. I made this for a recent party and it went down easy (maybe too easy for some) on a 95 degree night. Citrus and sparkling water keep things bright.

As you may have gathered from some of my other cocktail recipes, I'm a big fan of gin. For the longest time I thought I didn't like it because I don't particularly enjoy Gin and Tonics. Turns out, I actually just don't like tonic. Yay for liquor! With a herbacious bite, gin pairs beautifully with a number of mixers (lime juice, grapefruit juice, Snoop, etc.).

But back to the buckets...

For a martini or classic cocktail, you really need to class it up with your gin brand (I like Hendrick's or Bombay Sapphire), but since this was to be mixed with lots of citrus goodies and enjoyed by masses, no-name gin is just fine. As a particularly classy lady, I purchased gin in plastic. For serious.

You'll use citrus and mint to "marinate" the gin overnight, giving it incredible fresh flavor. Honestly, any subtle undertones in a top-shelf gin would be lost in this process, so bottom-shelf is just fine. 

Once chock full of flavor, just add a bit of simple syrup for sweetness and sparkling water to cut the bite. With this baby over ice, you won't even feel the last fleeting bouts of humidity. Enjoy the heat while it lasts.

Gin Buckets
1 handle no-name gin
3 lemons
3 limes
1 bunch mint, rinsed
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 liters sparkling water

Juice two limes and two lemons into a large pitcher; throw in remaining halves and slice remaining whole lime and lemon for the container too. Add the bunch of mint and pour in the gin. Cover and allow to sit overnight.

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir periodically until sugar dissolves, but do not boil. This is simple syrup. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Remove mint and lemon and lime halves, leaving the slices in the container. Stir-in simple syrup.

Serve over ice, pour about a shot of gin into each glass. Top with a healthy pour of sparkling water (these are strong) and garnish with a lime slice. Enjoy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

When Guests Come Before Blog

Confession: I had a party with delicious foods and I didn't blog it. In fact, I don't have a single photo. I probably could have found the time and the food was in fact beautiful (humble brag), but I didn't take photos. No regrets.

I love throwing parties because I love bringing the people I love together. Sometimes -- not always, I feel like I'm a self-serving hostess if I stop everything (and everyone) to take meticulous photos.

Put yourself in the guest's position, it's so awkward to arrive and everything is completely done and perfect -- and YOU have to be the first one to muss things. Even worse if you're the guest who has to take the first bite out of styled and photographed opus of food bloggerdome.

And okay, it's not completely about my guests. For me, the beginning of a party has an exciting momentum. Who will be the first to arrive? Starting up the playlist. First sips and bites. Good times are so close. Picture-taking sometimes just kills my vibes. Worst.Blogger.Ever.

So if I didn't take photos or give you a menu, why the heck are you reading this? See above note on worst blogger ever. What I lack in food photos, I can make up for in my favorite entertaining tip.

Only Finish 95%
My hosting goal is to about 95% finished when guests arrive, leaving an easy task or two to casually complete while socializing with the first guests. Even better if you have a simple job for your first guest or two to complete. I find that it sets a breezy tone for the whole party and lessens the awkwardness of being the first guest. Forget perfection.

I promise I won't keep having parties and not inviting you guys, I just needed to get this off my chest. I probably just need to suck it up and embrace that the people I love are THE MOST supportive of this whole blogging endeavor. Group hug.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend Reading

Saarinen in all his local glory.

Bravo Whole Foods for announcing plans to build a store in one of Chicago's worst food deserts. Please consider the city of St. Louis for your next one.
~via Chicago Sun-Times

Someone else who's not ready for Pumpkin everything. Celebrate summer corn for just a bit longer with this ice cream.
~via 10th Kitchen

Ever wondered how House Hunters works? A fellow STL blogger is scheduled to appear in the quest for a unique living space. Spoiler: They pick they firehouse.
~via A Firepole In the Dining Room

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two Years

Spending every day with your best friend is a pretty incredible gift. And when you move away from most of your friends and turn your life upside down, you appreciate your partner even more. It's been a year of big changes for us, but we've had each other all along the way and there's no way I could (or would) have done it alone.

Today, on our 2nd anniversary, I couldn't be more thankful for my ever-patient, always-supportive, infinitely-hungry, tiny dog-walking, inside joke-loving and devastatingly-handsome husband. He's my favorite. Love you.