Category Archives: MomMe’s Recipes by Rachel

It’s All Greek To Me: Chicken Shwarma with Tzatziki Sauce (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce)

When people think of Mediterranean food, they often think of healthy, fresh fare.  Greek food is delicious, tasty and surprisingly easy to make at home.  For some reason however, I don’t think Greek food has made its way into most kitchens in the United States as other have Mediterranean cuisines like Italian food.

Perhaps the reason Greek food is not more popular with home cooks is because the spices are a little foreign and may not be very understood.

The recipe for Chicken Shwarma (roughly chicken or poultry with garlic and spices on pita bread) contains two key spices, tumeric and curry powder.  Tumeric providees the yellowish color to chicken shwarma, and is sort of a wonder spice in that it contains anti-inflammatory properties.  If you check the label of anti-inflammation supplements or enzymes, chances are you will find tumeric as an ingrediant.

Curry powder differs by manufacturer, but often has a combination of coriander, fenugreek, cumin, red pepper and tumeric (there’s that tumeric again!).  As long as you purchase it from a good brand, the exact variation should not matter too much.

The combination of curry powder and tumeric makes an incredible marinade for Chicken Shwarma, one that will break your typical stuck-in-a-rut chicken weekdy routine.

Ingredients for Chicken Shwarma:

  • 2 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Tumeric
  • 6 – 7 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or half a large lemon)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

5 – 6 chicken breasts or 2.5 pounds chicken tenders

Tzatziki – Cucumber Yogurt Greek Sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt
  • ½ cup feta cheese (get good feta!)
  • ¼ cucumber
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dill, rough chopped
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine the juice of one lemon (or half a very large lemon), tumeric, curry powder, 6 – 7 cloves of garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add extra olive oil as needed to bring marinade together.  (if you do not have a food processor, just mince garlic extra fine and hand whisk ingredients together in a mixing bowl).

Clean and pound chicken breasts.  A great time-saving tip, place saran wrap or parchment paper on top of cutting board and place chicken on top.  Place another layer on top of chicken and then pound.  Trust me, this will make this recipe much simpler!  Then cut chicken into long strips about ½ inch across.

If you can find chicken tenders at the store, they will save you time.  Chicken often goes on sale at the grocery store every few months for half off, and this is a great time to stock up!

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour marinade on top.  Place in the refrigerator overnight or in the morning before work.

Remove chicken from the fridge half an hour before you want to cook.

To prepare Tzatziki Sauce – mince garlic and cucumber, and chop dill.  Fold into Greek yogurt.  Crumble feta juice, add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Place in fridge to chill and come together.

Slice onion and bell peppers into strips about ½ inch long.  Saute on medium heat in olive oil until tender but still retaining some crunch, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Grill chicken on a grill pan indoors or on a bbq outdoors.  Cook on medium for about 4-5 minutes per side.

Heat pita bread in the oven for a few minutes at 350.  Enjoy!

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The Most Delicious Guacamole Ever

I will never forget asking a woman to put avocado on a sandwich she was making for me when I was interning at the White House in college in our capital city.  She responded with a smart chide, teasing me, “girl, do you think you are in California?” Apparently, avocados are not as plentiful across the United States as they are in the golden state. However, one thing I know is, almost everyone loves a good guacamole. Here is my recipe to make the perfect guac every time:

  Pick several soft, blackening avocados for same-day guacamole, but if you plan to wait a few   days, err on the firmer, greener side. Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the inside. When you have the flesh of the avocado in a bowl, mash the fruit (which is technically a large berry) with a fork until all of the chunks are gone. This is my secret to perfect guac: I like to develop a soft mashed, almost creamy consistency to the avocados before adding any other ingredients into the mixture.

Mince two to three cloves of garlic, between one-quarter and half an onion, one tomato and between two and three sprigs of scallions very finely and add them to the bowl. I like to mince all of the ingredients very finely so that they will incorporate really well into the avocado mixture and be present in each bite. Add salt and pepper.

At this point, you have some options. If you like a really spicy guac, add between half and a whole minced jalapeno pepper. If you want to cut corners and still add a kick to your guac, add some chili pepper flakes (yes, the kind you would top your pizza with…they are a delicious and easy addition!). If you like lime, add the juice of half a lime. And finally, if you like cilantro, chop up some fresh cilantro and add to the bowl. An easy to add some zip to the guac if you don’t like cilantro is to add some fresh parsley. Guacamole is of course always great with high quality chips, layered on a sandy, and topped off on a burger.

Avocados, 2 – 4
Garlic, 2 – 3 cloves
Onion, ½ – whole
Scallions, 2 – 3 sprigs
Jalapeno, ½ – whole OR Chili pepper flakes to taste

Cilantro, about 1 tablespoon chopped or Parsley, about 1 tablespoon chopped
Lime, half

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The Best Mexican Dip Ever…and some Superbowl Thoughts.

The Superbowl is almost here.  For some people, this greatest event in sports is the culmination of their viewing season.  The big game they have been waiting for months (or maybe a year) to watch.

As a huge fan of the game of football (and fantasy football), for me the Superbowl is always a bit sad.  The arrival of this game means that the season is over.  A season that started over the summer with mini-camps and training camps filled with high hopes and even bigger dreams.

Every team and every player watching the Superbowl game on their couch or from the sidelines did not see those dreams become reality.  The many hours of blood, sweat and tears dedicated reaching this milestone will essentially be all for naught.

(Although let’s be honest, it filled up a lot of my time, energy and attention watching games, making my survivor and confidence picks, and building the best fantasy teams that ever were.  So in reality, there was a lot accomplished by any player who donned a uniform and was good enough to be drafted onto a fantasy roster.)

The best part of the Superbowl is the unifying nature of the game.  People all over the world tune in to watch, though they may normally watch basketball or baseball, soccer or cricket.  The unifying power of the game is so great, companies and brands go bananas jockeying to advertise everything from Doritos, Groupon (though that was an #epicfail) and this year’s most anticipated follow-up commercial, the Star Wars Volkswagon commercial.  Released three weeks before the big game, the ad preview went viral in less than a day!

(For any fans in Indy for the big game, be sure to check out the NFL Experience where our one of our partners, Emcee Live is hosting fun events everyday leading up to the big game.)

No Superbowl party would be complete without food, or should I say dips, apps and other finger foods.  Easy to eat and facilitating social interactions, dips are the perfect Superbowl food.

Here is a recipe that will make you the star of your Superbowl party even if you don’t know the difference between a first down and touchdown, where the Giants are from or who Tom Brady is married to.

The Best Mexican Dip You Will Ever Taste

1 can refried beans, black beans or 1.5 cups beans made from recipe you like

1 cup grated cheddar, pepperjack, or Mexican cheese

2 cups lettuce in small strips (I hate to admit this, but iceburg or bibb lettuce with its  little nutritional value will work best)

2 large tomatoes

1 pack salsa or 1.5 cups home-made salsa

2 avocados (make guacamole following this recipe)

1 pack taco mix or Penzey’s chicken taco seasoning to taste (you do not have to use full pack, remember what I said in an earlier post about seasoning food)

I container of light sour cream

I small can black olives

Place beans in an oval baking dish (I love Le Creuset) and heat on 350 until warm, about 10 minutes.  Take dish from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

While the beans cook, grate cheese, make your guacamole and salsa (if making from scratch), dice online in small slices, tear or cut lettuce into small strips, dice tomatoes.  Put sour cream in a mixing bowl and add taco seasoning.

Sprinkle cheese over the beans (or you can bake the beans with the cheese if you want).  Layer dip with salsa, sour cream mixture, guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce and then add olives around the rim of the dish and shape them into the laces on a football.

Your dip will be delicious and look like a football for your party!

Optional: you can cook turkey or ground beef with taco seasoning and add it to the mix after the salsa and before the sour cream layers.

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January 31, 2012 · 12:05 am

Couscous/grains with Veggies (Chicken & Tofu Optional)

I was asked by a MomMe in mommy and me class this week to share my recipe for the grain and veggie salad I brought to class.

The first thing that you should know about me is that I do not follow recipes.  My mom taught me how to cook from a young age.  She would come home from work and I would sit with her in the kitchen, watching and learning what she was doing, and chatting about our days.

She taught me that you cannot be afraid to play with spices, and that the worst thing that can happen is that you have to throw something out.  I am including this as a disclaimer that I do not pay perfect attention to measurements for spices, as each time I make something you have to season the dish a little differently.

Don’t worry if you are a beginner cook or the thought of having to guesstimate spices scares you.  My advice is to err on the side of under-seasoning, as you can always add more.  Also, season as you go.  I season every time I add a new layer, new ingredient to the dish, to get the most flavor and robust taste.

This is a great dish because it takes very little time to prep and cook, can be prepared ahead of time and served cold, and is also healthy.

First find a grain blend you like.  I am using a Mediterranean Couscous blend by Epicurean Specialty, currently at Costco in LA (with the large Israeli-style couscous, orzo, quinoa and chickpeas).  Trader Joe’s also sells another blend I like.  Follow the directions on the package to make the grain/pasta.

Here is the first secret.  Instead of using water, substitute low-sodium chicken broth.  This will add depth of flavor and make the dish come together when blended with the veggies.  Season the broth with some salt (not too much, broth has a good deal of salt), pepper, garlic powder or minced garlic (or both, I love garlic) and a poultry seasoning.  One I love is from Spice Hunter – Poultry Rub Grill Shaker, but Szeged Chiken Rub and Penzey’s both make ones I like.

Another secret, add dried sliced white onions that you can get from Penzey’s or my favorite, the Spice House.  This is a time savor that is also delicious!

You can use those onions as you sauté the veggies or cut onions.  Sometimes I add both because onions are delicious.  Cut up one bell pepper, two medium sized zuchinnis or yellow straight neck squash, and from here you can add any other veggie you like.  For this recipe I added asparagus, but other ones I like are kale, mushrooms, swiss chard, cauliflower, broccoli, the list goes on.

If you happen to be cooking in the springtime, consider adding some green garlic.  Green garlic is absolutely delicious and makes a dish completely come alive.

Warm up a sauté pan and toss in some extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil, my new love.  Throw in the veggies when the pan is warm on medium heat and sauté until cooked.  Season veggies as they are cooking with salt, pepper, garlic powder (yes, I put it in almost everything I make!), parsley (for color if you have some) and chicken seasoning.  Other spice blends you can play with are the Northwoods Seasoning from Penzey’s that is delicious, paprika and dried shallots.

Add the couscous to the sauté pan and eat or refrigerate.  If you want to add a protein, you can add tofu or even better, buy a rotisserie chicken at Costco.  Why do I recommend Costco?  Their chicken is double the size of any supermarket one I have seen, costs less and are usually incredibly juicey.  Tear the meat off the bones when you come home and place it in a Tupperware container.  You can add this to the veggies when they are almost done cooking to re-heat.

One note: if your coucous and veggie blend is dry, you can always add some extra broth.  I sometimes add a little broth to the veggies as they cook for flavor and to keep them moist.  And as always, play with this recipe and add you own spice, veggie and protein variations to create a dish your family will love!

Second note: if your blend contains chickpeas, they can take a little while longer to cook than the rest of the blend.  Don’t worry, the couscous and orzo will taste fine, but you don’t want super crunchy chickpeas in your meal!

Shopping List:

– Couscous/grains blend

– Chicken Broth

– Bell Peppers

– Onions

– Zuchinni or Squash

– Asparagus or other veggies

– Rotisserie Chicken or Tofu (if you want)


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Modern, Sophisticated Baby Book by Ruby Love Designs

So you are in the market for a baby book.  As a new mom, you will spend hours dedicated to capturing all of your little one’s firsts, detailing his family tree, fondly remembering your baby shower(s) and the price of milk the day your baby is born.  Okay, I chose to detail the price of a latte instead, I find that far my relevant today!

Which brings me to the realization you will probably discover as you search for a baby book.  Just like documenting the price of milk for your baby is not quite in, so are the vast majority of baby books out on the market.

They are, for the most part, bland, boring and generic.  Featuring blue, pink or yellow juvenile designs and thoughtless fill-in-the-blanks, these baby books seem to be stuck in a time warp.  We spend so much time and effort on these books, that it only seems fair to want a book worthy of this love and devotion.

Seriously, is it wrong to ask for a baby book that we would actually be proud to share with our little one?  I know what you are thinking, I can always make my own.  That might be great for a crafty or artistic mommy, but for someone who has trouble ironing letters onto a onesie, that option is not available to me.  Thankfully Etsy was created for moms like me!

Enter Ruby Love Designs, a Los Angeles mom who was tired of the cookie cutter baby books and decided to turn her graphic design skills into crafting modern, sophisticated baby memory books.  Thankfully for us mommies, Ruby Love Designs has ushered in a new era in baby book journaling, with thoughtful pages, a calendar to mark milestones, special events and occasions, blank pages so you don’t have to worry about cramming in all of your own favorite firsts onto a page featuring only generic ones, and a pack of photo adhesive sleeves so you don’t have to tape or glue pictures.

And the best part, in my perfectionist opinion, is that the book is a three-ring binder, so you can remove pages and write on them on a flat surface, without having to worry about a photo on the next page messing up your handwriting.  Oh yeah, I am that kind of mommy.

You can also add additional page packs for holidays, outings, year 2, and years 3-5.  My only (small) gripe is that there is no specific baby bris page, though there is a baby dedication page.  Hopefully more mommies will ask for this page and it will be available in the future!

My favorite design is the Dwell Studio Blue and Green Animals Baby Book, which you can personalize with you baby’s name for a small fee.  Finally, a baby book worth spending so much time on!


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