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Category Archives: Mediterranean

Greek Chicken with Tzatziki

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I took the above photo on a cold day in February, when there was only about five minutes of daylight left.  I’m sorry if it looks  a little unappealing, it seems somehow off to me but since I started with this:

I can’t be sure. It was just so bad to begin with that I’m really happy I got it to come this far! lol

If the photo doesn’t entice you to try this, maybe it will help to know how delicious it is.  I love the tangy yogurt sauce with the tender, flavorful chicken–it’s just perfect.  And it goes great with the Greek Salad I posted yesterday!  If you don’t want to heat up your kitchen, just slide the pieces of meat onto skewers and grill them. (If using wooden skewers, please soak them in water for half an hour so they don’t catch on fire during grilling.)  Bet they’d taste even better off the grill!

Greek Chicken with Tzatziki

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Chicken:
1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon coriander
Salt and pepper

Tzatziki:
1 medium cucumber
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix the oil, juice, vinegar, and seasonings together and marinate the chicken for 30 minutes but no longer or the texture of the chicken will change and won’t be as good.

While the chicken marinates, prepare the Tzatziki. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and pulp and discard. Shred the cucumber (you should get about 1 cup of cucumber), then wrap in several layers of paper towel and squeeze it dry. Mix with the remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then place a cooling rack on top of it. Spray the rack with oil, then remove the chicken from marinade and place on the rack. Dab the remaining marinade over the top of the chicken pieces. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve with tzatziki and Greek Salad.

Recipe source: Eat Little, Eat Big

Greek Salad

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Since this is my first blog of the week, I hope you’ll forgive me for skipping Thankful Thursday in favor of a recipe for Greek salad.  I made it months ago and kept forgetting to share it, but now that the weather is heating up and cool, crunchy salads are especially appealing, I knew it was now or never.

I’ve eaten a lot of Greek salads at restaurants and they are always lettuce salads with kalamata olives, red onions, tomatoes, and feta cheese.  This salad has the same elements but the lettuce is replaced with chopped peppers and cucumber.  The result is a crunchy, more fulfilling salad–it really feels like you’re eating something other than air with some toppings.  And it’s so delicious!  My husband’s favorite salad is a Greek salad and he really went wild for this, somehow managing to eat all but the little bit I managed to grab for myself before he basically confiscated the whole bowl and started murmuring, “My preeeecious.”

It makes a wonderful side dish for a Mediterranean meal and I’ll be sharing the recipe for the chicken I served it with tomorrow.

Greek Salad

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Dressing:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic (from a jar is fine)
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

Salad:
1 large cucumber, quartered lengthwise, seeds removed then chopped
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
12 large kalamata olives, quartered
1 cup diced green pepper
¾ cup thinly sliced red onion
3.5 oz good quality feta cheese, diced

Mix the dressing together and store at room temperature until ready to serve, preferably overnight to allow the flavors to develop. Combine salad ingredients, shake the dressing and add half of it, then gently stir everything together. Add more dressing to taste.

Recipe source: Eat Little, Eat Big

***

P.S. As you can see from the video ad below, I’ve been approved for participation in WordPress’s WordAds program.  I’ve been blogging with WordPress for more than two years without having any affiliates or any other monetary support.  I never thought I would want ads on my blog, but I applied for this program on a whim since applying doesn’t mean you’ll get accepted or that you even have to do it if you get accepted.  I was approved and I decided to try it out on a trial basis.  The two commercials I have watched were tasteful and well done, one was actually really informative, comparing our country’s standard of living to other countries with statistics, and I do like that it is optional to my readers to watch them, so I hope you enjoy the ads you do choose to watch.

My reason for not having ads until now has been a fear of turning my blog into work instead of something I do for fun, turning my concentration from creativity to money.  So far there’s no difference in my thinking, so maybe I can make a few cents while I’m having fun without it spoiling my fun. :)

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Baba Ghanoush Two Ways: Classic & Tahini-Free

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After last week’s sugar & booze fest, I thought it was time to break out a beautifully healthy AND delicious recipe.  I’m feeling the need to cleanse my system after indulging in a few too many “tastes” of my creations and this is a perfect way to do it: with baba ghanoush!

Never heard of it?  Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip that is similar to hummus, but eggplant stands in for chickpeas.  All other ingredients are pretty much the same!

I’ve always loved hummus but was never impressed with the baba ghanoush I ordered at restaurants.  It was either too smoky or too bland, but I’m stubborn and I had it in my head that if it was prepared properly, I would love it.  So when Jenna posted a recipe for it, and her beautiful pictures mesmerized and dazzled me, convincing me that indeed, I would love it if I made it myself, I ventured forth.

Behold, the baba ghanoush.

There was much jubilation in my kitchen upon the first bite, proof that baba ghanoush is delicious!!

I made the first batch and ate it within a week, then made a tahini-free batch the following week (I ran out of tahini, plus, leaving it out made the recipe 17 Day Diet-friendly).  I actually liked the tahini-free version better, but that is more likely due to me roasting the eggplant longer (the first batch was a little undercooked) than the lack of tahini.  I definitely recommend roasting your eggplants thoroughly (like Jenna says, when you think they’re done roasting, roast them a little more), because it makes a great difference in taste.

I tell you I can’t get enough of this stuff.  I have half a jar in my fridge right now and I had to get up and take a spoonful as I was writing this blog.  And that’s my favorite way to eat it, by the way.  Straight from the jar (or the food processor) with a spoon.  I use it more like a side dish than a dip, but it’s really good with pita chips too!

Baba Ghanoush

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3 medium eggplants
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup parsley, minced
Chips or bread, to serve

Prick each eggplant with a fork until the surface is covered with holes. Place the eggplants under a broiler (or on a grill) and cook for about 40 minutes, until blackened and slightly shrunken, turning occasionally. When they’re very tender, let them cool.

When cool enough to handle, scoop the eggplant flesh into a the bowl of a food processor with a spoon, discarding the skins. Add the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and cumin. Process until desired texture, then add the parsley and pulse to combine. Serve with chips, pita bread, a baguette, crackers, etc.

Tahini-Free Baba Ghanoush

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3 medium eggplants
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup parsley, minced
Pita chips, crackers, or vegetables, to serve

Prick each eggplant with a fork until the surface is covered with holes. Place the eggplants under a broiler (or on a grill) and cook for about 40 minutes, until blackened and slightly shrunken, turning occasionally. When they’re very tender, let them cool.

When cool enough to handle, scoop the eggplant flesh into a the bowl of a food processor with a spoon, discarding the skins. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and cumin. Process until desired texture, then add the parsley and pulse to combine. Serve with chips, pita bread, a baguette, crackers, etc.

Recipes source: adapted from Jenna’s Everything Blog

OPI Be a Dahlia Won't You

A closer look at my manicure at the time I took the photos of the classic baba ghanoush: decked out in OPI’s Be a Dahlia Won’t You (I love this color! I’m a pink-aholic). I just added a few nail decals instead of trying to do nail art by hand-much easier (and prettier)!

Chicken Shawarma Pita Sandwiches

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I don’t know what to tell you except that these are great and if you like Mediterranean foods, you need to make them! :)  I’ve discovered that no two chicken shawarma recipes are the same, and this one seems very different from all the others I’ve seen.  So I don’t know how typical or traditional this particular recipe is, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The chicken has a unique and potent marinade that includes plenty of acids to tenderize the meat.  I love the combination of the flavorful meat with fresh vegetables and the tahini sauce wrapped in pita bread.  I’ve been making these sandwiches for several months now and only had to tweak the recipe a little to suit my preference.  I hope you enjoy!

Chicken Shawarma Pita Sandwiches

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Chicken
2 teaspoons fenugreek
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tbsp White Vinegar
2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar

Sandwiches
Pita bread
Shredded lettuce
Tomato slices
Cucumber slices
Red onion slices

The night before, combine spices for chicken in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and shake to combine. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic, and massage the bag to combine. Add chicken, seal, and massage the marinade around (will be thick like a paste) until all the chicken pieces are coated. Refrigerate overnight. You can also prepare the tahini sauce the night before by whisking all the ingredients together and storing in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve the sandwiches.

Grill the chicken breasts until no longer pink in the center. To serve sandwiches, fill pita bread with lettuce, chicken, tomato, cucumber, and onion, and top with tahini sauce.

Recipe source: adapted from Food o’ del Mundo

Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich with Pesto Hummus

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Another mouth-watering Mediterranean sandwich, bursting with fresh flavor! This recipe comes from the lovely Debbi, who was inspired by a Panera sandwich. I haven’t tried the original, but I know I like this one!

I messed up my bread (only about half my loaves ever come out right–I’m still learning) and it baked up pretty flat and wide instead of round, but if done properly with enough flour (I’m always scared to add too much), you will have a nice sandwich bread.

I know this recipe seems like a lot of work for a sandwich, but if you break down the process into steps, it’s not so bad. Make your bread one day, and make your hummus while you’re roasting the eggplant the next. Plus, it makes lots of sandwiches!

Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich with Pesto Hummus

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Tomato Basil Bread
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 – 115 degrees)
1/4 cup minced fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups bread flour (I used AP)

Pesto Hummus
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (water reserved)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and cooled

Garlic-Roasted Eggplant (optional)
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 lb. eggplant (about 2 globe or 4 Italian)
Kosher salt
8 fresh thyme sprigs

Make the bread: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in basil, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, sugar, oil, salt, pepper flakes and 2 cups of flour. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 – 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. Punch down dough, knead for 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled about 1 hour. With a sharp knife, cut a large X in top of loaf. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Make the hummus: In a food processor, combine all the ingredients. Add in reserved bean water slowly until desired consistency is reached.

Make the eggplant:
Mix the minced garlic and oil together in a small bowl and set aside. Slice the eggplant into rings and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Place in a colander and allow to drain for 30 min. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Over the sink, gently squeeze the eggplant to extract the salty juice and wipe them dry with a paper towel. Brush each half thoroughly with the garlic olive oil. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes-1 hour. The eggplant will collapse and the bottoms will be a deep brown caramel color. Let cool considerably before handling, at least 20 min. Gently turn the cut side up. If serving as a side dish, serve with a lemon wedge for squeezing or drizzle with vinaigrette. If using in other recipes, scoop the flesh from the skin with a spoon.

For the sandwich: Spread two slices of tomato-basil bread with Pesto Hummus, then top with  lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and Garlic-Roasted Eggplant (if using).

Recipe source: adapted from Debbi Does Dinner and Fine Cooking

Mediterranean Tacos

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My best good friend, Jaci, calls these her “Hook the Guy Pitas” because she gives them partial credit for hooking her own man when she came up with them on the fly using ingredients she had on hand when they were first dating.

Well, that may have worked for her (they’re still going strong more than ten years and four children later!), but mine could care less about anything that isn’t steak or spaghetti.  He’ll eat them, but I’m the one who got hooked on the pitas!  Without ever having tasted hers, I started making them in January after she shared her recipe with me, but she made sure to make them for us while we were visiting them in Texas, bless her heart.   Have you ever noticed how food prepared by someone else, especially someone you love, always tastes better, even if they made the same exact recipe that you did?

This is a pretty quick meal to throw together, and if you enjoy foods with a Middle-Eastern flare, I think you’ll like them too!

Mediterranean Tacos

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1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Mediterranean seasoning to taste*
2-3 cups baby spinach
1 diced tomato
1 cup hummus
1/2 cup feta cheese (optional)
Creamy Dill Sauce (recipe follows)
1 package pita pockets or flat bread

Brown the hamburger with the onion over medium heat. When it is mostly cooked, add in the mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, and seasoning, and continue cooking until the veggies have softened but not completely died a cooking death. Stir in the spinach and turn off the heat. It will wilt a little while you prepare the pitas. Spread hummus on the inside of the pitas, then fill with meat mixture and top with tomato, feta and serve with creamy dill sauce.

Creamy dill sauce: 1/2 cup light miracle whip, 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk, 1 tsp dried dill, 2 tsp dried chives, 1 tsp minced onion, 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Mix until blended–best if made in advance and refrigerated so the flavors can develop. If you use mayonnaise instead of Miracle Whip, add in some sugar to cut the sourness.

Makes 8 tacos

Per taco (using half a whole wheat pita pocket): 292 calories; 12 g fat; 30 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 20 g protein; 8 Points Plus

*I use 2 tablespoons of McCormicks Mediterranean Herb seasoning; Jaci uses 1/2 tablespoon Cavender’s.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Jaci H.

Danielle (my sister), Jaci, and I at a marsh in TX.



Muhammara (Hot Pepper Dip)

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This spicy vegan dip originates in Syria and I didn’t discover it until my friend, Pia, introduced me to it.  It’s her favorite dip and she recommended it to me when she found out I enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine.  I knew it was right up our alley simply because it’s spicy, and since I’d seen some of the pomegranate syrup the recipe calls for at a market attached to our favorite Lebanese restaurant, I snapped a bottle up next time we were there and set out to make this dip.

It is great simply as a dip, but I’m also going to include a “recipe” for a veggie wrap that I’ve incorporated it into for quick lunches.  The first time I served this to my husband, he raved, and it wasn’t until afterward that I realized he had eaten an entirely vegan meal with no complaints. Score!

Muhammara (Hot Pepper Dip)

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1 (12 oz) jar of roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs — 1/2 cup (I turned pita bread into crumbs in the food processor)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses/syrup/concentrate
1 tablespoon sriracha hot chile sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Chop the peppers roughly and place them, along with all the remaining ingredients, except the olive oil, into a food processor or blender. Pulse to roughly chop the ingredients, then slowly pulse in the olive oil. Try not to purée the ingredients too much. You want the dip to have a little texture.  Adjust seasoning to taste and serve as a dip or spread with pita wedges, vegetables or kebabs.

*Veronica’s notes: the original recipe calls for four fresh red peppers which you roast before processing.  Click the recipe source link below for instructions on this if you would like to do it this way.  The original recipe also calls for red pepper flakes instead of sriracha, so that can be used in place of sriracha if you desire.  As for the pomegranate syrup, my bottle is actually a pomegranate juice concentrate and I know that Pom is now selling this so you might be able to find it where Pom brand pomegranate juice is sold if you don’t have a market that sells ethnic foods in your area.

Recipe source: Inato lang Filipino Cuisine and More


Muhammara Veggie Wrap

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You will need:

  • Muhammara
  • Black beans
  • Parsley
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Shredded carrots
  • Tortilla, flat bread, or pita bread*

Spread muhammara down the center of your tortilla or bread, then sprinkle on some beans, a little parsley, a handful of spinach and shredded carrots.  Wrap tightly and cut in half to serve.

*I used a pita “tortilla” for my wrap bread:

Recipe source: inspired by My Kitchen Adventures

***For those who wish to participate in BSI this week, don’t forget to submit your cream cheese recipes to me by Sunday night!  Details here.***

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