Friday, July 15, 2011

Chicken you won't want to Mish...kebab...

Once again I've cooked something and eaten it before taking a picture. There should be leftovers in the fridge, maybe I'll get a picture tomorrow and post it. Chicken shishkebabs. SO. GOOD. Even the resident chef of the house told me that I did an excellent job. Capital, simply capital. So here we go:

This served 3 adults, plus probably a lunch or two left over. (Note: As previously stated, I just kind of eyeball it when it comes to spices, feel free to add/subtract as you see fit)

3 larger boneless chicken breasts
3 red peppers
1 large onion
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried mint leaves
3 larger cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (traditional family marinade formula- 2 parts oil, one part vinegar)

We used 4 skewers and then wrapped the leftovers in a foil packet and set that on the grill.

1. Cut chicken, red peppers, and onions into decent bite-sized pieces. The best way to do the onion is to cut it in half, then cut each half again and peel off the layers. Throw into large bowl, along with washed grape tomatoes.
2. Chop garlic and add to bowl.
3. Add oil, vinegar, salt, pepper mint, and oregano. Toss contents of bowl until all pieces are well-coated.
4. After mixing well, spear pieces onto shishkebabs. I liked to alternate pepper, tomato, onion, chicken, but it's really all about preference.
5. Place remaining vegetables and chicken in foil packet.
6. Start the grill at a very high heat so that the outside of the kebabs gets well-done. Use tongs to rotate the kebabs every once in awhile, watching carefully so that they don't get overcooked.
7. After a few minutes move them to a cooler part of the grill (less directly over the heat) until the chicken appears fully cooked.
It's really THAT EASY.

We ate this coupled with a rice cooked in chicken base. This "yellow rice" is a favorite from when I was a kid. Genius idea! The leftover will be going tomorrow would go well in a pita with some sort of a tzatziki (although it does pose the milk+meat issue for some, note to self: find dairy-free tzatziki recipe.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Running vs Walking: The Great Debate

My parents and I had an interesting discussion this morning. About a year and a half ago they "bought each other" a treadmill as a way to encourage a healthier lifestyle. If you've ever seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos describes her family as "loud, breeding, Greek eaters". That pretty much sums up my family. My dad has experience in the restaurant business, he's a great cook and we all enjoy sampling his food (in large portions). As it turns out, my brother is the only person in the family who appears to be immune to the vast amount of calories we've been consuming. Long story short, we're fat and we're all trying to do something about it.

With friends at the Making Strides Walk  in October 2010
Back to the discussion of this morning, my mom had just finished her workout and I was about to begin mine, when the three of us began to compare our workout routines. When I first started running, I decided that the best way to do things was to warm-up for about 5-7 minutes, run for as long as I could without stopping (about 5 minutes), walk for about 5 more minutes, then run at gradually decreasing intervals (5 mins straight, 2 minutes straight, a minute straight...etc). I don't know where I came up with this strategy, it just sort of happened. I was able to put in a pretty good workout this way, but I wanted a little more structure to figure out exactly how much running I was doing vs how much walking. Now warm-up for 5 minutes, and then alternate running 1.5 minutes, walking 1 minute for about 25-30 minutes. My mom says she walks the entire time, and somehow she seems to be getting in a greater workout than I am, adding that her doctor said that her 30 min walk in the morning should be coupled with a 30 min walk at night. At this point, my dad chimed in that his doctor admitted he would have preferred my dad to walk briskly rather than run.

So...the question, do you prefer walking or running? Which is "better for you" when you're a beginner? There are people who say that you can burn the same amount of calories running the same amount of time as you would walking it, but I'm not quite sure that's true. Any insight? I think it makes more sense that a doctor would recommend for my parents to run because....well, they're kind of getting old and the risk of developing arthritis and other joint damage is certainly increased for them. At my age, I think that the damage of carrying extra weight on my body could be comparable to the stress of running. For now I'm going to stick with my running, because I like the way it feels to run and I want to build up my endurance.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why does Blogger always think I speak Finnish?

My feet in Senegal

Alas, one day I'll learn. At least I can muster my way through when it randomly gives me a Norwegian page or two! Not much to blog about. I'm heading up to Madison again for a few days and then on Sunday I'll be seeing Beauty and the Beast with my mom and some dear friends! It's pretty exciting because I used to drag her to see it in theaters when I was three years old, and as a graduation gift she's taking me to see it on stage.

Since I've been dog-sitting a puppy girl who enjoys waking up at 5:30 AM, I was watching Arthur today in a sleepy stupor. (Don't judge.) Any nostalgic love I have for the show aside, I was really impressed with one of the episodes. (Yes, I watched the full 30 minutes.) The episode was entitled "In My Africa", and it centered around the Brain's cousin Cheikh who is from Dakar. Of course, as soon as the little cartoon version of Dakar came across the screen I was hooked. While Cheikh shares a bit of his Senegalese culture with his new friend D.W., the main point is that many people, like Arthur's sister, mistake Africa for a country. They assume that every part of this "country" is filled with lions and hippos and giraffes (Oh my!). When I was in Senegal, the most interesting animal I saw was a pelican that was about 4'5". The main characters of the episode wrote a song to teach children about some special aspects of all 54 countries in Africa. A noteable highlight was the random shouting of "DJIBOUTI!"

I applaud you, Arthur creators. You have finally addressed something which I feel like a majority of American children need to learn. They also do a great episode on Asperger's syndrome and give a nod to Judaism without a "chanukah special", I'm totally going to make my kids watch Arthur when they exist. And I'm going to continue watching it now. No regrets.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries (I wish I had a picture...but I ate them all..)

I was hankering for these delicious sweet potato hashbrowns I had at a delicious Chicago restaurant...aptly named Hash Browns. Not really eating out anymore, due to various restrictions, I decided to whip up a batch of sweet potato fries for the first time. Since I learned to cook from my dad, I took his approach to making something you've never made before: take an educated guess at how it's made and see what happens.

Turns out it was delicious. I like a little (a lot) of spice to my recipes, so if you aren't a fan of spicy foods, leave out the cayenne pepper. But really, the cayenne pepper is the whole reason I love this recipe.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries
(serves 2-3)
2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges or thicker strips. I left the skin on, which gave it a nice flavor and casing, but I supposed you could peel it as well if you aren't into that texture. In my experience, the wedges will be a variety of sizes. That's perfectly fine, they'll cook just fine.
3. Pour wedges, olive oil, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and sal into a ziplock bag. Shake it up until the wedges are thoroughly coated.
5. Spread wedges into a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes, turning the fries halfway through.

I served them with lemon chicken and a side salad, but they'll go great with just about anything. Be sure to save this recipe for leftover sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving!

Speaking of food, in case anyone was concerned, our garden is going amazingly! I'm going to be getting creative at the end of this summer because I'll have to use up:

Jalepenos and tomatoes!