Grilled Chicken Skewers and a Raw Spice Bar Giveaway

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I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but around here the weather has been amazing. Spring has sprung! I love this time of year for a lot of reasons, fresh produce, longer days, warm yet breezy days, and it’s the time of year we start firing up the grill with more frequency. I mentioned last week that we’re building a patio in our backyard for the ultimate lounge/grilling area, but this work-in-progress isn’t stopping me from grilling our dinners outdoors. I love grilling because it tastes great, it’s usually quick, and EASY. I love easy.

Even though I love dinner to be easy, I also love to experiment and try new things…which can be daunting at times, you know? I’ll read a recipe and sometimes shy away from it simply because it calls for a lot of ingredients and spices that I don’t want to commit to or just because I am hesitant to stuff one, or five, more bottles into my already cramped spice cabinet. Enter the genius people at Raw Spice Bar. They offer a subscription service for a mere $6 a month…chump change when you consider sometimes a bottle of a single spice can cost even more than that and will probably end up just expiring in your pantry (no, just me?). In the subscription you get 3-5 freshly ground spice blends from a single geographical region–enough to make about 3 dishes and serve several people–plus recipe cards, and possibly my favorite thing next to the spices, a little note on the spice blends, origins, and history. It feeds the nerd in me.

I really love the idea behind Raw Spice Bar–it satisfies my desire to try new things without the commitment of purchasing lots of stuff that will further clutter the cluster that is my pantry, PLUS it’s totally affordable. I also see this being a great gift and can already think of a few people in my life who would appreciate it.

I collaborated with Raw Spice Bar to bring you a little giveaway, a 3-month trial subscription of their spice boxes, in addition to this recipe using the Advieh Koresht from their Persian Spice Box from March.  I came to love Middle Eastern flavors when I was living in Michigan and these blends did not disappoint. They are so fragrant and flavorful. The Advieh Koresht contains a number of spices–including ROSE PETALS! plus, cinnamon, cardamom, angelica, persian lime powder, coriander, cumin, and black pepper. I paired it with creamy-tangy yogurt, lemon, and garlic in a marinade for chicken skewers that I then grilled. These were so easy to make and absolutely delicious. April’s box was a Japanese theme and I am so excited to try a few recipes with the spice blends.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below about whatever–springtime, grilling, favorite spices, spice cabinet organizing. Easy, breezy. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (apologies to my international friends!) and will end Thursday, April 30th.

Raw Spice Bar did provide me with a complimentary sampling of their spices, however I was not further compensated for this post. I just really think it’s a cool concept and wanted to share the giveaway with you all. As always, words and opinions are my own. Thanks, always, for visiting. 

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Grilled Chicken Skewers

2-4 servings

2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 cloves minced garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons of Advieh Khoresht spice blend (or other spice blend)

kosher salt

1 lemon

5 bamboo skewers soaked for 1 hour (or use metal skewers)

Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt.

In another bowl, combine the  yogurt, garlic, Advieh Khoresht, a pinch of salt, and the juice of half of the lemon. Reserve the other half. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture in a small dish and set aside. Pour the remaining yogurt over the chicken and mix to coat the chicken pieces. Let the chicken marinate in the yogurt mixture for at 20 minutes.

Cut the remaining half lemon into think half moons. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers, alternating with some slices of lemon. Prepare your grill and cook the chicken skewers directly over high heat, 2-3 minutes on all sides, or until the chicken in cooked through. Remove from the grill and allow to rest under a foil tent for 5 minutes before serving. Serve drizzled with the reserved yogurt mixture. [/recipe]

 

 

Better On Toast: Zingy White Bean Toasts and A Giveaway!

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There are few times when a toasty slice of bread slathered in butter and sea salt does not satisfy. When those rare instances do happen though, there are a billion ways to gussy-up (gussy? who am i?!) a slice of toast that will satisfy any craving–salty, sweet, and in between. My internet friend, Jill, wrote a book all about it! Her new book Better on Toast is out today and it’s like a love letter to all things toast. The book is packed with recipes and ideas for topping toast from snack and appetizer toasts, to meal-worthy toasts, and even some sweet fare as well. There are even toasting techniques, like pan toasted with parmesan.

The book is full of amazing photos and all sorts of delicious toast toppers, even a recipe for a gluten-free-bread for gluten-free toast making–because everyone deserves a good piece of toast! Included in the book is this super-tasty recipe for Zingy White Bean Toasts. It really jumped out at me because I love white beans and loved the idea of them in a garlicky, rosemary infused, tomato sauce on crunchy parmesan toasts. YUM. Plus, I pureed some of the leftover topping for Casper and he LOVED it. Snack for me and snack for my boo. WIN, WIN.

Better on Toast

Speaking of winning, since most of us love toast, Jill and I were thinking maybe you guys would like a chance to win a copy of Better on Toast? If you think you’d like something like that, comment below with what you think Brown: would be better on toast. For a second entry, tweet or tag @theculinistas on twitter or instagram with how you like your toast (be sure to reply to your comment here and let me know). The giveaway will run from March 31st to April 7th and I will message the lucky winner to ship them a copy from the publisher Harper Collins.

For other Better on Toast ideas and chances to win check out these other great blogs:

Feed Me Phoebe: Avocado Toast with Roasted Spring Vegetables and Tahini Sauce

The Yellow Table: 3 Easy Breakfast Toasts

Leanne Brown: Soy Sauce Marinated Tofu

**(Only entries from the US and Canada are eligible).

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Zingy White Bean Toasts

Makes 8-12 appetizer sized toasts.

5 tablespoons olive oil

4 fresh rosemary sprigs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1, 15-ounce, can white beans, rinsed and drained

pinch of salt

1, 15-ounce, can diced tomatoes, drained (or 1 pint halved cherry tomatoes)

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 lemon, halved

4, 1/2 inch thick, slices rustic bread, Parmesan pan toasted (instructions below)

In a skillet over low heat, heat the oil and the rosemary sprigs until the rosemary leaves have fried but not burned, 5-7 minutes. Remove the rosemary and reserve. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the rosemary infused oil in a dish.

Add the white beans and the garlic to the remaining oil in the pan and turn up the heat to medium-high. Sauté for 4-6 minutes or until the garlic has softened. Add a pinch of salt. Add the tomatoes and cook them down, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Squeeze the lemon onto the toasts and top with roughly 2 tablespoons of the bean mixture. Drizzle with the reserved rosemary oil and sprinkle with fried rosemary.

To make the parmesan toasts, spread each slice of bread on both sides with a thin layer of butter. Smash some freshly grated parm onto one side of each toast. Heat a skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot place the bread, parm side down, into the pan, and toast until golden brown. While the first side browns, carefully press some more parm on the top sides of the bread. Flip and repeat. [/recipe]

 

Cilantro-Chicken Meatball Soup

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Albondigas!

That’s what I think/say when I make anything with meatballs. It’s just a reflex and since it means “meatballs” in spanish, it works. Don’t test me on my knowledge of foreign languages, though…okay? Cause, I will surely fail. Food SO is much easier to understand.

Anyway, this soup begins with searing little, spoonable chicken meatballs flavored with lots of fresh cilantro, some sauteed onion and garlic, and a bit of minced jalapeno for heat and excitement. Once the meatballs are brown and crispy-golden we sauté some more onion and garlic, another jalapeno, plus some carrots. There’s some corn (frozen is totally acceptable) and zucchini in there for health and science. Dried New Mexico chiles ground into a powder and cumin flavor and color the broth. More cilantro is added to brighten the party and bring the soup together. This soup is hearty, but not heavy. The clear broth is light but packed with subtly spiced chile flavor and the meatballs are tender and so flavorful with the cilantro and aromatics. This soup is so warming and with a super cheesy quesadilla on the side, it’s perfection on a cold day.

Cilantro-Chicken Meatball Soup

I find whole, dried New Mexico chiles in the international aisle of my regular supermarket. They are always affordable and pack a lot of flavor. The chiles vary in spiciness, but aren’t ever really super-hot-blow-your-top way. The spice is mild to medium, but you could certainly sub in your favorite chile powder. 

Meatballs:

1-2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed if desired), minced

1 lb. ground chicken

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

salt/pepper

In a sauté pan heat olive oil and sauté onions, garlic, and jalapeno. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook over medium until onions are tender and translucent  Scrape into a bowl and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl mix together the cooled onion/jalapeno mixture with the ground chicken, cilantro, egg, and breadcrumbs. Add salt (I used about 3/4 teaspoon) and pepper. Mix gently to combine well. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to shape and sear meatballs.

Soup:

meatballs

2 Tablespoons oil (I used grape seed, light olive or vegetable oil work too)

1/2 large onion, diced fine

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed if desired), sliced

4 dried New Mexico chiles

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 carrot, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced

1 cup frozen corn kernels

6 cups low-sodium chicken stock

cilantro to garnish

salt and pepper to taste

Shape meatballs, I shoot for something that fits nicely in the spoon and can be eaten in one bite–think larger than a marble, but smaller than a cherry tomato. Heat 2 Tablespoons oil over medium high heat in the bottom of a dutch oven or soup pot. Sear the meatballs in batches until deep golden brown all around. Place seared meatballs in a dish and set aside.

Over a gas burner (you could also do this in a hot oven, it may take a few more minutes), lightly char the chiles–the idea is to make them extra dry for easier grinding and to add a touch of smokey flavor. Cool chiles and grind in a spice grinder to a medium-coarse powder. Mix chile powder with cumin and oregano in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the onion to the remaining oil and whatever brown bits are left in the pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and sauté, being sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan, add the carrots. Cook until onions are just translucent and carrots begin to soften, add the garlic and jalapeno, cook an additional minute. Stir in the ground chile and other spices. Add the corn, zucchini, meatballs, and chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, taste for salt and season as needed. Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes, until the zucchini is tender and meatballs are heated through. Serve hot with additional cilantro for garnish.