Falafel-Crusted Chicken with Hummus Slaw

I’m a control freak when it comes to cooking. This should really come to no surprise to anyone who knows me. I like everything to be done a certain way and in a specific order. I also rarely ask for help. This sometimes annoys Eric because he likes it when we cook together and sometimes I’ll insist on doing everything myself. What annoys him even more is when he says he is going to cook for me, and then I butt in and help out when he doesn’t even ask for it.

The other night, Eric cooked dinner for me and I stayed in the living room, drinking wine and watching “Nashville” on our DVR. And you know what? It was magical.  I helped him out only when he asked, but I mostly stayed out of it. And he made a delicious, delicious meal.

photoI could definitely get used to this.

Falafel-Crusted Chicken with Hummus Slaw (From The Food Network)

3 chicken breasts (Eric used chicken cutlets)
1 tablespoon  olive oil
1/2 cup falafel mix
2 pitas, halved
6 tablespoons hummus
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
4 cups shredded coleslaw mix
6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
2) Set a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Toss the chicken with the olive oil in a large bowl, then add the falafel mix and toss to coat. Arrange the chicken on the rack and bake until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. While the chicken is baking, stack the pita halves and wrap them in foil; warm in the oven, about 5 minutes.
3) Mix the hummus, lemon juice, hot sauce and 3 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of the hummus sauce and reserve. Add the coleslaw mix and radishes to the remaining hummus sauce and toss. Season with salt.
4) Divide the chicken among plates and drizzle with the reserved hummus sauce. Stuff the slaw in the pitas and serve with the chicken.

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Whole Foods Haul

My love affair with Whole Foods began last year when I visited my best friend. She lives in Austin, Texas, the headquarters of Whole Foods, and the flagship store is just incredible. My office in DC was a short walk from another Whole Foods, where I would frequent the hot bar for lunch. I just love everything about Whole Foods (well, minus some of the prices of course).

I hit up my local Whole Foods last week and picked up some pretty fun things (or so I think), so I wanted to share with you what I got.

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As I mentioned in last week’s Friday Five, my go to breakfast has been Greek yogurt with pumpkin spice granola. I was all out of my Chobani so I decided to pick up this Atlanta Fresh Yogurt. I love Atlanta Fresh. Their coffee flavor is probably my all time favorite yogurt. I got a big thing of the plain to mix with granola. I sweeten it up with some honey and liquid stevia. Mmm. I also picked up this fresh pressed juice. It is called the Detoxifier, but I bought it because at the time I was dealing with a tiny cold and it sounded like it would help fend of those germs. I felt much better the day after I drank it (which I’m sure was mostly a mental thing, but whatever. It was tasty.)

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Working from home has turned me in to a chronic snacker. When I was at the office, I had a finite number of snacks. Now I can just head down to the pantry and grab something. I try to make sure I have some healthier options so I don’t end up grabbing some of the cookies Eric always has laying around. These cranberry and cashew quinoa bites sounded like a good sweet treat so I decided to give them a try. The anglophile in my always has at least one cup of tea during the afternoon and I like to make it a proper afternoon tea by including some sort of biscuit. These mixed berry oat cookies looked like a winner to me. The other two are salty snacks: some dry roasted edamame and pumpkin seed and cheddar crispbreads. Yes, my pumpkin obsession has yet to subside.

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I love Annie Chun’s soups, so I decided to pick up this Spring Vegetable Ramen. I always love to have many soup options available for cooler days or for if I am feeling under the weather. The last thing I got was this honey almond quinoa cereal. I have been wanting to try warm quinoa cereal for awhile and am too lazy to just go ahead and make it myself. I am very excited to give this a try.

What are some of your favorite Whole Foods finds?

Friday Five

This week seemed to fly by, which is totally fine with me. I am looking forward to a weekend filled with pumpkin carving, a trip to a corn maze, a costume party and some homemade fettuccine alfredo.

1) After my pumpkin spice oatmeal kick of last week, I needed a break. Enter pumpkin spice granola!

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I picked a few boxes up from Trader Joe’s and have been mixing equal parts of granola and Greek yogurt for breakfast every morning. This granola is also super tasty if you mixed it with almond milk (or regular milk) and heat it up in the microwave. Yum.

2) The last thing we need in our house is more mugs, yet I find myself on the hunt for fun mugs to add to our collection. I like to have separate mugs for tea and coffee (because I am OCD like that), so in my mind, the more mugs, the merrier.

photo (1)These two are my current favorites. The one of the left is a recent purchase from Target and the one of the right I picked up in San Francisco’s Chinatown a few years back. My favorite places to look for mugs are HomeGoods, Anthropologie and thrift stores.

3) Fall has finally fully arrived in Atlanta and I’ve been eating soup for lunch almost every day this week. I’ve mostly been gravitating to the miso soup I bought awhile back at Buford Highway Farmers Market. It is so easy to make and tastes exactly like the kind you get at sushi restaurants. I will be heading back to the store next week to pick up some more.

4) Speaking of soup, I’m thinking I’m going to try my hand at homemade soup next week. I’ve made a few before that have turned out well. After getting some tomato and zucchini soup at Whole Foods the other day, I think that’s the direction I will be going. This recipe sounds like a winner to me.

5) There seems to be a theme with this week’s Friday Five: Things that warm Katy up. So I will close out with that fact that I am loving having hot cocoa every night. My personal favorite is Mexican hot chocolate. I love the combination of rich chocolate with a little bit of spice. This Abuelita brand (you can get it at Target) is what I usually buy.

Grilled Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Making pizza at home can sometimes be intimidating. The dough. The oven. How much toppings do I add? How long do I cook it for? There are plenty of shortcuts out there for those who are looking for them — pre-made dough or crusts, pizza sauce for those who want it. But I think I have found a way to take the guess work out of homemade pizza.

Eric and I like to make homemade pizza on a regular basis. We’ve used pre-made dough from Trader Joe’s and Pillsbury before to semi-decent success, but never have we made a pizza that got anywhere near that of a restaurant.

Enter this recipe. I have bread flour and yeast left over from when I made challah, so I figured why not go ahead and make my own dough? And I think that is the key. The crust tasted fresh and added a layer of flavor missing from our previous attempts. Cooking it on the grill is also important, if you have one. The flames mimic those of a pizza oven, cooking the dough quickly and perfectly (well, minus a little burning on the edges in our case. But we still totally ate it).

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Roasted tomatoes and goat cheese is our go to topping combination, but feel free to use whatever you feel like.

Grilled Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

For the dough (taken from here)
1 1/2 cup warm water (I put mine in the microwave for about 45 seconds)
1 package of dry active yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour (you can also use all purpose flour if that’s what you have on hand)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Mix the water and the yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer (or bowl). Let sit for five minutes. Once the yeast has dissolved, add the rest of the ingredients together. If using a mixer, put on the bread hook attachment and knead on low for about 10 minutes. If you are using your hands, mix the dough together and knead for about five minutes until the dough is smooth and everything is incorporated. Put dough in a bowl coated in olive oil and let rise for an hour or more. This recipe makes enough for two medium size pizzas. I cut the dough in half and froze the part we didn’t use for later use.

Roasted Tomatoes
4 to 6 roma tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper

Preheat over to 375 degrees. On a baking sheet, lay out the halved tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, add the spices and toss until they are coated. Place in oven and roast for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops of the tomatoes look a little caramelized, but not burned. Allow the tomatoes to cool before chopping them up.

For the pizza
1/2 cup pizza sauce (either store bought or homemade)
1 cup of shredded mozarella cheese (We actually used a six cheese mix from Sargento)
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Roasted tomatoes
Garlic powder

1) Turn on the grill and heat it to about 450 degrees (medium high). While the grill is heating up, take a ball of dough on a floured cookie sheet or pizza peel and form it out in to a circle (or square). Let the dough sit for a few minutes and push it out again before putting it on the grill.

2) Oil the grates of the grill, either with cooking spray (be careful when you do this over an open flame) or an oiled paper towel. This is a key part of the process to keep the dough from sticking. Slowly slide the dough on to the grill and close the top. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it — some grills cook quicker than others.

3) After a few minutes, check the bottom of the pizza. It should be browning nicely (not too dark, but slightly golden). Flip the dough over and cook for about 1 minute on the other side. Take the dough off the grill and lower the head to about medium.

4) Add the toppings. Sauce first, then mozzarella, roasted tomatoes and goat cheese. For a final step, sprinkle the top with garlic powder, crust as well. This gives the finished pizza a bit more depth of flavor.

5) Carefully place the pizza back on the grill. Close the top. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and the toppings are heated through. Remove from grill and let sit for a few minutes (I find this gives the toppings time to meld together). Cut and enjoy.

Note: Depending on the size of your grilled, it might be easier to break the dough ball in to two smaller pieces. We had a bit of a mishap and ended up with a triangle shaped pizza. But it was still delicious.

Chicken and dumplings

I was worried that maybe I built up my Dutch oven too much. That no matter what happened over the weekend, it would not be as amazing as I thought it was going to be. Well ladies and gents, it was pretty freaking amazing.

The finished product. Food styling by my mom.
The finished product. Food styling by my mom.

It was definitely the best chicken and dumplings I have ever made. Granted I don’t know if that had to do with the Dutch oven or the recipe, but I’m going to say it was a little bit of both.

My mom came over for dinner and helped me out a little with the cooking. It was good to have her around because her chicken and dumplings is one of my favorite meals (it was the first dish I requested her to make after we moved back to Atlanta). She also got to experience the awesomeness that is my new Dutch oven.

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I used Martha Stewart’s chicken and dumpling recipe as a starting off point, but as we were cooking, we realized we were going to have to make some tweaks. Pretty significant ones in my opinion, mostly in terms of the amount of stock that was used. I prefer my chicken and dumplings to have a decent amount of liquid. Even with the changes, it was a delicious and hearty meal. And I’m already craving the leftovers we’ll be having for dinner tonight.

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You could easily adapt this to work in a crock pot, but from start to finish it only took about an hour. That might be a bit too long on weeknights, but was very manageable on a Sunday night. I also used my mom’s recipe for dumplings instead of Martha’s, but am including Martha’s for reference.

Chicken and Dumplings

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups of chopped carrots (I just used baby carrots I had on hand, cut in half)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 pounds of chicken (I used equal parts chicken thighs and chicken breasts), cut in to two inch pieces
5 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package frozen peas

(This is Martha’s recipe for dumplings. I would probably double it given the increase in liquid. Or just follow your favorite dumpling recipe.)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of milk
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon dried dill

1) In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat butter over medium. Add onion, carrots, and thyme. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
2) Add flour and cook for  30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. With the increase in liquid this will take a bit, but stirring is a important part in thickening the base. Add chicken to post and reduce heat the medium-low. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) While the chicken is cooking, mix together the ingredients for the dumplings. The consistency should be like a biscuit dough. Add milk or flour depending if necessary. Be careful not the over stir the batter.
4) Stir in peas prior to adding dumplings. Spoon dumpling batter on top of the chicken mixture. There should be about 10 dumplings. Make sure to spread them out as they will expand while cooking. Cook for ten minutes with the lid off and then another 10 minutes with the lid on. Once the dumplings are firm, it is ready to serve.

Friday Five

Looking at my list below, I realize this is sort of a weird amalgamation of things. But in all honesty, this is what I’ve been loving this week.

1) It should come as no surprise that I am beyond obsessed with my new Dutch oven. It just makes me so happy when I walk in to the kitchen and seeing it sitting there on the stove. It’s the little things in life, you know? I am looking forward to using it for the first time this weekend when my mom comes over for dinner. I am going to make this recipe for chicken and dumplings from — who else — my girl Martha Stewart. A report will follow.

2) Puppy chow. And no, I don’t mean dog food. I mean that delightful treat where Chex is coated in chocolate, peanut butter and powdered sugar. I got some for my road trip to Charlotte last weekend and it sparked my desire to finally try out this Nutella Puppy Chow recipe I pinned ages ago. The only issue is that I will eat the entire batch if I make it…well I guess that isn’t a bad thing now that I think about it.

3) I love guacamole. I mean who doesn’t? I love using my mortar and pestle to make homemade guac, but sometimes, I want just a little quac and don’t have the necessary ingredients. Enter Wholly Guacamole Snack Packs. It is the perfect amount to satisfy my craving and the smaller serving size doesn’t lead to wasted guacamole. I have been eating it with slices of cucumber and it is the perfect afternoon snack.

4) I usually always have a mixed green salad with my lunch regardless of what else I am having. It’s a good way to get some more greens in to my diet and it’s simple enough that I usually have the stuff on hand. My go-to salad of the week is Taylor Farm’s Organic Herb Salad Mix with Ken’s Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing (I found both at Target). It is delicious. I have two servings of this a day usually.

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5) Have you even been to Nando’s? It’s a chain that originated in South Africa that serves peri-peri chicken. It’s like a combination of Portuguese and Mozambican cuisine (this I learned from WikiPedia). They are big in the UK, but DC has a few locations as well. And let me tell you. It is damn delicious. I have been missing it hardcore since we moved, but I am lucky that the grocery store near us carries Nando’s sauce that you can buy (I found it at Publix for those who are interested).

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I like putting it on cooked chicken breast mostly, but it would also be good on shrimp, scallops or other seafood I think. If only I could figure out how to replicate their delicious rice, I would be all set.

Home Goods and TJ Maxx haul

I am not the first person in the world to profess my love for Home Goods and TJ Maxx. But after the trip I just made, I feel as if we have a very special connection.

Home Goods and the home section of TJ Maxx are like a mecca for kitchen gadgets. From wooden cutting boards to pots and pans to utensils and serving platters, you can find just about anything you’d ever want. When there are certain kitchen items I am on the hunt for (read: a Dutch oven), I make weekly trips to see if they have what I want. The past few times I have gone I have left empty handed, but this time I hit the jackpot.

First up was Home Goods. I had picked up a few things and put them back after I thought it through. Do I really need a French press? In theory, yes. In reality, no. My Keurig works just fine.

photo 4First thing I picked up was this mandolin. Awhile back I wrote that I had an unfortunate incident with my first mandolin and had been looking for a higher quality one for awhile. This Sharper Image one presented itself and the price was right so I decided to get it. The thing I like about this is that it has a stand to prop up the slicer AND the addition blades are built in via a knob you can adjust. I am quite pleased and can’t wait to use it.

photo 3These Russian doll measuring cups were too cute to resist. I always find that I wish I had multiples of certain measuring cups while I am cooking and baking and figure it can hurt to have some extras. Plus these look super cute displayed on my stove. The little skillet on the right was a check out line find. It will be great for melting butter or cooking up one egg without having to dirty up a bigger pan.

After Home Goods I moved on the TJ Maxx. While I resisted the clothing and the shoes — which is quite a feat — I did find some great items.

photo 2The bamboo serving tray was on clearance and something that is good to have for entertaining, home decor — or if Eric ever feels like bringing me breakfast in bed. The little white serving bowl I bought with the idea of using it for veggies or other side dishes. We got a lot of serving dishes for wedding gifts, but nothing this size, so for the price I figured it was a good pick up.

But ladies and gentlemen — we have come to the grand finale.

photo 1I am the proud new owner of this gorgeous cast iron Dutch oven from Cuisinart. And in my favorite color to boot. It is the perfect size and the price was ridiculous — $50! The quality is just as nice as some of the Le Cruset ones I had been eyeing so I am totally pumped about this steal. Now I’m ready to make all sorts of soups and stews this fall and winter. Hooray!