Mediterranean Meat Pockets

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meat knishes

Hubby has had a craving for red meat. I very seldom share meat recipes because I don’t make meat dishes that often. Not because I am a vegetarian. Non-meat dishes are just more convenient for me to make but I am always willing to bend over backwards for people I love and care about. I honored Hubby’s request for a beef dish by making homemade meat pockets for him which he immensely enjoyed. Since I am about to go meatless for the next 9 days, I thought it would be appropriate to share my meat pockets pie recipe for this one last time (at least for a while).

It is a Jewish custom not to eat meat or drink wine among other things in the 9 days leading up to Tisha B’av – anniversary of the destruction of both temples as well as numerous tragedies that followed.  I may not be a vegetarian but I never complained about forgoing meat for a couple a days. In fact, I found it somewhat to be relieving. While I don’t eat meat as often as I used to, I do make special exceptions. Having overused ground beef for Shepherd’s Pie, Sloppy Joe’s, and burgers, I was in need of a different option and I settled on meat pocket pies.

Learning to cook meat pockets was not much different than making meat knishes or calzones. The concept and techniques are similar. They consist of a meat filling and a bread exterior. Only this time, I infused some  Mediterranean flavors in these homemade meat pocket pies.  As far as filling options are concerned, the sky is the limit. You can pull your own twist. I know many of you are not heavy meat eaters so a vegan option  is always available to you. Just simply swap the meat for the vegan version and you will still get a satisfying and flavorful meat pocket pie – a meatless dinner idea I would consider for the next 9 days.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Pizza dough recipe 
  2. 1 lbs of lean ground beef
  3. 1 onion chopped
  4. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 1 eggplant thinly sliced and cubed
  6. 1 zucchini thinly sliced and cubed
  7. 2 bell peppers diced
  8. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  11. 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
  12. 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
  13. 25 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  14. Salt and pepper for taste


Follow instructions for pizza dough recipe. Divide dough into 6-8 pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and saute till translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and cook till tender. Stir in the ground beef and cook till browned and crumbly. Drain excess fat from the pan and stir in spices, salt, pepper, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out dough pieces into discs. Fill each disc evenly with beef mixture in the center. Seal dough with opposite ends.  Arrange on baking sheets. Allow them to rise for 20 minutes or until double the size. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake until golden brown and hot on the inside, about 25 minutes.

Yields 6-8 large meat pocket pies





Oven Baked Chicken Fire Poppers

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fire poppers

As the weather gets hotter, so does my appetite for spicy food. The craving for spicy chicken nuggets or any chicken with a spicy ingredient has been tormenting me for weeks until I finally capitualted when I decided that fighting my hankerings is a losing battle. Only this one time have I decided not to cry over this big defeat. Who can resist these bite sized yumminess? The tingling flavors from the hot sauce always have me in a headlock. I grew up on chicken nuggets. They were a favorite as well as one of the most popularly ordered appetizer on the menu. The piquant flavors from the hot sauce and honey is what makes these chicken nuggets popping – that is how they were dubbed chicken fire poppers.  Each bite is explosive but not overwhelming. You couldn’t expect a more perfect balance of flavors. I made sure to make and pack extras for our journey through Europe to America.

This chicken nugget recipe is inspired by a similar recipe using chicken wings. Since chicken breasts are a healthier option, I went with them instead. I also oven baked these nuggets rather than deep frying them. You can achieve the crispy exterior without using copious amounts of oil. A greasy mess is the last thing I need. The only danger factor that lies within these chicken fire poppers is that they are extremely addictive – once you start, it’s hard to finish. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe these chicken fire poppers. Forget the main course. A basketfull of these spicy chicken nuggets is a meal unto itself but not complete without a salad.  I normally have my limits but I bear no shame for my addiction to chicken fire poppers. I suppose it’s a good thing that I show enough restraint not to make them very often. These chicken fire poppers are a new favorite appetizer in my household and that is why I save this chicken nugget recipe for special occasions.  I nearly forgot to mentionthat these tender chicken nuggets are easy to make.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 – 2 lbs of chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  2. 1/2 cup of hot sauce
  3. 1/4 cup of honey
  4. 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  5. 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour or corn starch
  6. 1 cup of panko bread crumbs or cornflakes
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  9. 1/3 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  10. 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, whisk hot sauce, honey, and soy sauce. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs/cornflakes with garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken pieces in cornstarch/flour. Then dunk them in hot sauce mixture. Coat them with breadcrumbs/cornflakes. Line nuggets evenly on a greased baking sheet. To get a crunchy topping, spray nuggets with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Yields 4-6 servings




The Case of Lazy Summer

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lazy dog

I normally would feature a recipe but I’ve decided to turn the tables around here and let people share their summer recipes ideas on my blog. Not because I don’t have ideas of my own. With an upcoming wedding, family reunion, social gatherings, flying across several continents, time pressing projects,  and social gatherings that I have attended, I wasn’t able to squeeze any time to fit blogging in my schedule. No, I have not forgot about you or my blog. I was also feeling tired as heat does have an impact my laziness and lack of motivation.   As my mother says, “Temperature is inversely proportional to my desire to move”. My tolerance for heat is very low. Nonetheless, I accomplish nothing from shirking from my responsibilities. I suppose my commitment, conviction, and determination is what’s keeping me fueled.

We all need a break from time to time. So do I. Rather than searching and publishing summer recipes today, some of my friends lent me great summer recipe ideas that are easy and most importantly, don’t require much usage of heat. The kitchen is the last place I want to be during the summer but cold soups, ice cream and smoothies isn’t necessarily going to cut it for me nor will it for my family. Cooking never takes a summer vacation. There are still bellies to fill and palates to satisfy.

I was in need of low carb lunch recipes and an acquaintance recommended this Coca-Cola chicken wings recipe.  As delicious as it is easy, preparation only requires 20 minutes of your time.  I have eaten coca-cola chicken before but I am intrigued by this recipe. I am a sucker for chicken wings or finger food for that matter. They are just convenient and easy to eat.   I may try them out for my July 4th barbecue.  Another person lend me his Zucchini Pizza Boat recipe which would be ideal for a Meatless Monday dinner. I love the idea, simplicity, and creativity behind using zucchini instead of pizza dough.  This recipe not only makes for a healthy dinner idea but it’s perfect for incorporating more vegetables in your kids diets.

Sometimes my schedule takes over my life and I don’t always have the time nor the energy to whip up gourmet nutritious meals. Take-out meals are not an option for me as tempting as they may seem. That is why this bake curried cauliflower quinoa recipe is ideal. As the contributor to this recipe puts it, it’s gluten-free, vegan, and full of detoxifying turmeric and white vegetables, which are great for keeping your immune system healthy. Stuffed vegetables seem to be the latest rave and I am itching to give this unbelievably easy stuffed vegetables recipe  a try. No meal is complete without a dessert. These easy no-fail gluten-free chewy chocolate almond hazelnut cookies   are a great way to conclude a heavy meal.


Oven Grilled Shish Kebabs

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shish kabobs

Having been exposed to the Middle Eastern culinary culture, I am ashamed to admit that I nearly forgot about shish kebabs. It nearly would have never occurred to me to make shish kebabs until hubby recently mentioned that he had a hankering for them. Otherwise, the notion would have never surfaced. Reflecting back on that thought makes me wonder why the thought of learning how to make shish kabobs has never entered my mind even once after all these years of eating schwarmah, hummus, harif, pita, and falafel. I knew I was leaving something out but I couldn’t remember what it was. I suppose shish kebabs have unintentionally sat in the back seat for a while as it has been years since I’ve last eaten one. I only remember eating one at a Middle Eastern themed restaurant a while back when I was around 10. I nearly forgot how good they were.  I am thankful that he requested for them as it was indeed a good idea in hindsight.

So what is a shish kebab? A shish kebab is a skewer with meat and vegetable that is normally grilled. It’s practically a meal on a stick. It consists of beef, chicken fish, as well as vegetables such as onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and eggplant.  Shish kebab comes from a Turkish term that translates as skewer and roasted meat – a signature Turkish dish.  Kebabs back then were a solution for nomadic tribes. A shish kebab marinade was not only used to tenderize the meat but to also neutralize the gamey flavor in some of them. Nowadays, the shish kebab has entered into most cultures in some form or another. For instance, Asian cultures have satay, roasted skewered meats served with a peanut dipping sauce. Yakitori, a Japanese version, is essentially skewered grilled fowl. Shish kebabs are also known as brochettes in France which literally means skewers. 

For a medium-rare cook on your meat, it is recommended that you use wooden skewers instead of metal skewers metal has the tendency to absorb heat more. Understandingly, getting splinters in your mouth from eating the kebabs right off the skewer doesn’t sound pleasant. Fortunately for me, I never had that problem even though I can sometimes be clumsy when eating using my hands. If you don’t like the idea behind using a skewer, you can just pan-fry the ingredients and stuff them in a pita or laffa once they’ve been cooked.

Shish kebabs are a perfect choice for a family/social gathering or a barbecue. The versatility of shish kebabs allows you to use any combination of ingredients of your choice to please the palate. While meat is an integral part of shish kebabs, you can create your own vegetarian version for this shish kebab recipe by exclusively using vegetables or vegan chicken/beef.  Shish kebabs can be prepared in advance, making it a crowd pleaser for your guests while simultaneously keeping you out of the kitchen. I used chili sauce among other condiments and spices for my shish kebab marinade but feel free to let your imagination run wild with your own marinade.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 – 2 lbs of sirloin or flank steak cut into bite-sized cubes
  2. Onion cut into bite-sized pieces
  3. 2 peppers chopped
  4. 8 oz of button mushrooms
  5. 1 eggplant cut into bite-sized squares
  6. Cherry tomatoes
  7. 1 cup of sweet and spicy chili sauce
  8. 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  9. 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  10. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  11. 1 teaspoon of paprika
  12. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  13. 1/2 teaspoon of coriander
  14. 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
  15. Salt and pepper for taste
  16. Skewers


Combine the last  9 ingredients with the meat in a bowl. Cover and marinate for several hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Thread meat, alternating with the vegetables, onto skewers.  Place an oven-proof cooling rack on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place shish kebabs on a rack and bake for 15 minutes for medium doneness. 

Yields 6 servings






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Sweet & Spicy Chicken

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Sweet and Spicy Chicken

While those of us who are celebrating Passover are limited of what we can eat doesn’t mean our menu only consists of potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and chicken soup with matzo balls. True, there weren’t as many Passover friendly items when I was growing up as there is now. Aside for chicken soup and chocolate matzah, I didn’t care for anything else. While many of the Passover friendly items are not accessible where I live, I’ve learned to make my own dishes.  Cooking for Passover was not so challenging for me. Despite the fact that people tend to eat more on holidays and therefore demand recipes that are thematic to the holiday they are celebrating, my menu tends to be more basic and standard. Likewise there are an abundance chicken recipe ideas that are Passover friendly, including the one I borrowed from a spicy honey chicken recipe.

Some people see Passover as a challenge for our culinary abilities and pushes us to our creativity limits. It does put things into perspective by learning to appreciate what we have. Thankfully, I am spending most of the holiday away and therefore there isn’t much for me to prepare. I can’t complain as the household is populated by two adults and we are generally organized. Hopefully sometime soon when kids enter the picture, it won’t be the same. During the week, I have soup and salad like any other week. This sweet and spicy chicken recipe is easy to prepare and the ingredients are accessible all year around.

While the original recipe called for chicken breasts, I used a whole chicken.  Since side dish ideas are limited, you can serve this chicken with boiled potatoes, steamed green vegetables, roasted vegetables, or quinoa. Cooking for Passover doesn’t have to be painful. When it comes to cooking for holidays, I try to keep my menu traditional but simple. If you don’t celebrate Passover, you can enjoy this recipe anytime of the year.  Wishing my Jewish friends a happy Passover! As for everyone else, I hope you enjoy the lovely Spring weather. Thank you for your readership and support. You inspire me to post and share recipes with you.  What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? What do you like least about cooking for holidays? If you don’t celebrate holidays, what are your to-go Spring recipes? All ideas are welcome so don’t be too shy to share 🙂

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 fresh whole chicken quartered and skinned
  2. 1/2 cup of honey
  3. 1/3 cup of your favorite hot sauce
  4. 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  5. 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce  (or a Passover-friendly equivalent)
  6. 1 onion diced
  7. Ground pepper for taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken and onions in a greased baking dish. Season chicken with garlic powder and ground pepper. Mix honey, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce together and pour over chicken. Bake covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yields 4 servings


Slow Cook Korean Beef Stew

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2014-02-28 12.37.48

My father in-law came to visit a couple weeks ago and I wanted to make something special for him. I have been having a tormenting hankering for Asian food. I have been perusing through some Korean themed recipes for ideas and inspiration. I found a Korean ground beef recipe ground beef didn’t seem to be appealing to me at that time. I needed something more elegant. Even though it doesn’t take a lot of effort to impress my family, I wanted to try something new. This slow cook Korean beef stew, or Galbi Jim, was novel enough.  I happen to have a strong affinity towards Asian cuisine minus the heavy dosage of MSG and sodium content that are seen in a lot of these dishes.

This recipe is the slow-cooker adaptation of a Korean ground beef recipe I saw online, hence the same great authentic flavor. When I use my slow cooker, I like to minimize the prep work as much as possible.  Slow cookers are meant for that afterall. So, there’s no need for  grating, mincing, par-boiling or browning in this recipe. You can do the prep work the night before.  Or you can start the slow cooker in the morning before heading out, and come home to a delicious hearty meal waiting for you.

These Korean braised short ribs are slow simmered over low heat to a tender and sweet finish. It’s hard to have leftovers with Galbi Jim because it’s such a crowd-pleaser, whether it’s served at a fancy gathering or just as a comforting home style meal. If you can’t find short ribs, flanken will work as well. You can also use any cut of beef if you like. To stretch the recipe, you can cut up pieces of brisket or other roasting beef cuts to stew size and cook with the short ribs. But you should always try to make it with bone-in ribs, because like Italian osso bucco or Irish stew, Galbi Jim relies on the stewed bone marrow for its rich flavor.  The ingredients in this recipe generate a lot of liquid, so no additional broth or water is necessary. The result is fall off the bone tender meat in a rich, slightly sweet and savory sauce!

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 3 lbs of short ribs or flanken rinsed in cold water (you can use goulash beef cubes if you can’t find any)
  2. 1 onion thinly sliced
  3. 3 cloves of garlic minced
  4. 2 knobs of fresh ginger minced
  5. 1 small chili pepper minced
  6. 2 scallions finely chopped
  7. 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
  8. 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  9. 1/2 Asian pear peeled and finely chopped (if you can’t find any, leave it out and add something else if you like)
  10. 1/4 cup of honey
  11. 1/2 cup of reduced sodium soy sauce
  12. 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  13. 2 medium potatoes cut up into large chunks
  14. 3 carrots cut into 2-inch lengths
  15. Salt and pepper for taste


In the bottom of your slow cooker, mix together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and honey. Add onion, garlic, ginger, Asian pear, potatoes, carrots, and chili pepper. Season short ribs with sea salt and pepper. Place them in the slow-cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.  Stir in the sesame oil. Taste and season if necessary. Garnish with chopped scallion.

Yields 6 servings




Creamy Winter Hungarian Chicken

Posted on Updated on

2014-02-16 12.24.50

Whatever Hungarian stereotypes you’ve been fed in your lifetime, I can almost reassure you that I heard them all. Being partially of Hungarian decent, some of these stereotypes are plausible. At risk of unintentionally offending some of my relatives’ sensibilities (please forgive me), Hungarians are known for their many qualities; some not so sterling but their goulash and various ethnic cuisines that I immensely enjoy often put my stereotypes that I have of them to rest. They sure know how to constructively use paprika.  My maternal grandparents (who’ve long passed on) strong Hungarian heritage provided cultural traditions and meals that I was once unfamiliar with. One particular dish seemed to have stood out for me. Melt-in-your-mouth chicken and Hungarian rice smothered in a rich, creamy paprika-spiced sauce. Simple, inexpensive, utilitarian meals meant to fill empty growling bellies.

While Hungarian dishes are not particularly glamorous, I always find them comforting and packed with flavor. In efforts to duplicate her mother’s recipe, my mother served this creamy tender chicken dish and it was one of my favorite chicken dinners I’ve eaten. I made this dish and served it to my hubby. I will definitely be bookmarking  this recipe for holidays and other future special occasions. The sour cream tenderizes the chicken as it’s cooking. For a lighter rendition, I suggest using low fat sour cream or cream cheese. I used vegan cream cheese as vegan sour cream is a scarcity where I live.  You can even do without the cream altogether if you are trying to watch your waistline.You can exclusively use chicken breasts, thighs, or drumsticks. I used a whole chicken. This comforting winter Hungarian chicken recipe serves well with whole grain rice or whole wheat noodles.  This chicken dish can also be prepared and cooked in a slow cooker. This chicken recipe  is well worth keeping in your files to make over and over again, and they are make-ahead meals that keep well in the refrigerator for days. Just simply reheat them covered in a low heat oven for 30 minutes.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 3 lbs of whole chicken quartered
  2. 2 ounces Romanian sausage chopped (optional)
  3. 1 onion chopped
  4. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 1 tablespoon of hot/smokey paprika
  6. 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
  8. 1 cup of low fat sour cream of your choice
  9. 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  10. 2 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth
  11. 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  12. 2 tablespoons of water


n a large pot, heat 1 teaspoon canola oil. Add kielbasa and cooked until slightly browned all over, about 5 – 7 minutes. Add onions and pepper to skillet and cook until the onion is soft and lightly browned, about 7 more minutes. Remove from heat and add the paprika, ground pepper, garlic and tomato paste. When fully incorporated add broth. Add chicken to the pot, cover and simmer slowly over medium low heat, basting occasionally with the sauce. After 30 minutes, turn chicken pieces over, cover, and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes more. Remove chicken from the pot. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and tofutti sour cream until smooth. Then add it to the sauce and mix it in. Keep the sauce warm but not boiling.

Yields 6 servings