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mmmmm {Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Sauce}

10 Jul

At some point I stumbled upon Simply Scratch, a great blog about trying to cook more with fresh, natural ingredients instead of boxed or frozen.  I have tried a handful of her recipes so far, and each one has been great!  I love her simple take on honey mustard chicken mostly because it’s delicious, but also because I usually already have everything I need to make it in the pantry.  A quick stop for chicken is all that’s needed!  I’ve also tried her flank steak tacos, and they turned out great as well!

Each time I checked the blog for ideas, one recipe in particular always caught my eye: Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Sauce.  I really wanted to try it out, but one instruction in the recipe stopped me every time: Seal and place in a bowl to refrigerate for the next 3 days!!  I hardly ever plan dinner three hours in advance, much less three days!  Curiosity finally got the better of me, and I decided Thursday was the day!  I told Adam that I was putting the chicken in the fridge to marinate on Monday evening, and at that point we were locked in for dinner at home on Thursday.

Well, if you recall, Monday ended up being a pretty busy day of baking, and I didn’t quite get the chicken in the marinade.  So, the first major change I made to the recipe was to only marinate it for two days instead of three.  I also couldn’t find star anise at the local Giant, so I substituted with 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds.  Finally, I omitted the mayonnaise from the garlic sauce, and just used light sour cream.

Here’s the delicious-looking finished product that might entice you to read on:

Grilled chicken ... can't wait to dig in!

{Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Sauce}

Serves 6


  • 3-4 pound Chicken Thighs
  • 10 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Vinegar
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons ground Cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground White Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Clove
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 2 3-inch sticks of Cinnamon, crushed
  • 1 Star Anise {1/2 teaspoon anise seeds}

Press or mince the 10 garlic cloves and combine with salt. Smash them until they make a paste.  In a small bowl combine the spices, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil.  Place the chicken thighs in a gallon size plastic bag and add the crushed cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and star anise {anise seeds}.  Pour in the marinade, zip, and press on the bag to evenly distribute the marinade.  Place bag in a bowl and marinate in the fridge for up to 3 days.

After marinating, grill on low {200-250 degrees} for about 10 to 12 minutes, {if bone in} per side or until a meat thermometer reads at 165-170 degrees. 

Ready for the marinade!

Chilling out for two days! So hard to leave it in there!

Garlic Sauce:

  • 8 small cloves of Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced and strained
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Mayonnaise, to taste {I skipped this one}
  • Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt, to taste

Mince or press 8 garlic cloves and make into a paste with the kosher salt.  Add in the lemon juice and while whisking add the olive oil. Add mayo, sour cream or Greek yogurt to taste adding it gradually until desired taste and texture {or just sour cream}.

Let me just say, this chicken was sooo worth the wait!  The skin crisped up so nicely and all of the spices worked amazingly well.  Even the garlic sauce, albeit pretty simple, was finger-licking good.  We ate it with some naan and roasted cauliflower, and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while.  I reminded myself of Bill Murray in the dinner scene from What About Bob? {that reference is for you, Dad!}.

Anyway, I highly recommend trying this recipe.  You will NOT be disappointed!


Fourth of July Baking {Beer Baked White Beans}

5 Jul
There’s nothing quite like a good three-day weekend.  That feeling of relief when you suddenly remember on Sunday afternoon that the weekend isn’t over yet is the best! 

This holiday Monday was even better because July 4th in our nation’s capital is really a treat.  Seeing the fireworks over the Capitol and the Washington Monument is something everyone should experience at some point.  I have the good fortune of having a brother-in-law with an apartment just across the river from DC with an amazing view of the fireworks.  Enjoying the sights and sounds of July 4th in DC with friends and family over good food and drinks without having to battle the crowds is an added bonus!

In preparation for the festivities, I decided to spend my day off in the kitchen with a couple of familiar recipes (see my next post on cupcakes!) and one new one.  The afternoon of baking was relaxing, and I was pleased with the results as well!  Here is the new recipe I tackled, and the fabulous blog where I found it.

First up, a recipe from Everyday Food, which I came across on The Bitten Word: Beer-Baked White Beans.  I was excited to try this one because I love white beans and summer ale, and most anything with bacon can’t be that bad!  The only slight variation I made was to use 4 cans of Great Northern beans rather than starting with a pound of dried beans.  I also chose to use Samuel Adams Summer Ale for my beer and Grey Poupon Harvest Coarse Ground for my dijon because both were already in my fridge, but next time I’d like to try it with Blue Moon to see how much the beer changes the flavor.

Ghost looks on as I do some prep work

After a little over two very long hours of baking, I am happy to report that this recipe was a success!  It definitely doesn’t have the sweetness that usually comes with baked beans, but I am willing to bet you won’t miss that once you get a taste of the rosemary in this recipe …  and oh yes, the bacon!  Here’s a shot of the dish just before it’s ready to hit the oven.  Trust me, the bake time is worth it, as the flavors really benefit from all that time getting to know each other covered in the dutch oven!

Just about ready to bake for 2 hours!


{Beer Baked White Beans}

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes plus soaking
Serves 6


  • 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini, picked over, soaked overnight, and drained {or 4 cans white beans}
  • 2 bottles Belgian-style white ale (12 ounces each), such as Blue Moon or Hoegaarden
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, cook bacon over medium until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp and browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Increase heat to medium-high; add onion and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 4 minutes. Add mustard and honey; cook 1 minute. Add rosemary, beans, beer, and broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil; cover and transfer to oven.

Bake until beans are tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 2 hours. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, and pepper. To serve, stir in reserved cooked bacon.

Here is the original recipe from Martha Stewart as well as the post on The Bitten Word.  I hope your 4th of July was filled with as many good friends and tasty treats as mine was!  Stay tuned for the other recipes I tried out!

Sparklers with the Capitol & Washington Monument in the background!