Lemon & Orange Chicken Skewers

The clock reads close to 8 p.m. and I am ready for bed.

Today was an early day for me. Things have been slow since the holidays but now that we’re about halfway through January, I think it has been picking up steadily.

Mark has been busy at work and with school. As I write this, he’s directly across from me, with the computer propped on his lap, pen laced between his thumb and index finger, brows furrowed and intently reading what I presume is chapters of his history textbook. With two swift snaps, he cracks his neck and is back to full concentration.

He can look so serious sometimes.

 I didn’t sleep much last night. Partly because I had chosen to sleep in until noon (yes, noon) with Mark after he got back but also because of the little excitement I knew I was going to have today while I drop my resume of at a couple of places in the area. Hopefully I will find something to do in the next couple of months.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten up early to do my hair and make up. I used to dread the early morning ritual of slapping on foundation and coats of mascara just to head into the office but now, I miss it. I’d give anything to trade in my sweatpants for a pair of slacks.

 The rain poured and soaked the entire region for a good part of the day. My backyard now holds what looks like a mini swamp, just enough for birds to bathe in, frogs to leap in and possibly even for us to have a little bit of fun with. Puddle wrestling would be my best guess.

I can’t believe I will be turning 24 this year. I am extremely nervous about everything. Being married, trying to still have a career (whatever that might mean now), starting a family… Gone are the days where the most planning I’d have to do is if I should schedule all my classes in the mornings or afternoons. Now I stress over the next five years and what will I be doing with my life. Where will we live? What would I do for work? Where will my career, if I even have one, be? This is my almost quarter-life crisis everybody.

In between missing home and seriously craving (akin to what a pregnancy craving might feel like I think) every and all Malaysian delicacies, I have spent a majority of my days surfing the web and coming across a plethora of amazing food blogs from wonderful people all over the country! Needless to say, I am amazed at some of the recipes and cannot wait to try them.

Oh if only I had access to a huge supermarket that held within its walls everything from Spaghetti O’s to giant octopuses, I would be so happy! It’d be having the best of both worlds. A combination of everything I love, which ultimately I think, kind of describes who I am. A vast assortment of two very different worlds.

I’ve been wanting to make chicken kabobs for the longest time. I’m a huge fan of Greek food. Falafels, grilled meats, cool cucumber and mint relishes… I am still full from dinner but am already salivating with just the thought of it. But since I live in such a small town in the south, half of the ingredients to make a decent kabob is unavailable. I have even debated doing my grocery shopping online but I know Mark will think I’m crazy.

Back home, we have a similar dish called satay, which is basically chicken or beef, marinated for hours in a spicy, nutty mix and then grilled over a charcoal fire. Put it simply, it is divine. The meat is made to order and comes to you piping hot, succulent and juicy, charred and burnt on the edges and served with a chunky peanut dipping sauce. Most come with slices of cucumber and onion, and sometimes if you’re lucky, you get ketupat with it too! A dense rice cake just made for dipping into the sauce. I think I just heard my tummy growl again…

Dinner tonight was an extremely healthy take on the kabob and satay. No spicy peanut sauce, no cool feta salads, just a bright, citrusy marinade for my chicken. Ultimately, it’s still chicken on a stick. There’s something so fun about having props in your meals. Like it’s an event or a party. Forget silverware, I get to use my hands and drag pieces of juicy meat off a stick into my mouth, slathering sauce all over my cheeks.

I think that’s why babies have so much fun making a mess during meal times.

Lemon & Orange Chicken Skewers

Ingredients:
18 wooden skewers
3 boneless, skinless, chicken breast
1 zucchini
1 yellow, green, orange bell peppers
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 green onion
1 cup button mushrooms
1 tbsp light mayonnaise

Marinade:
1 lemon
5 clementines
1 tsp. dried rosemary
3 bay leaves, crushed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

In a bowl, zest lemon but only juice half of it. Juice the rest of the clementines and add it to the lemon juice. Add garlic, basil, bay leaves and rosemary and mix well. Slowly pour olive oil into mix, whisking the entire time so the oil incorporates with the juice and forms a smooth emulsion. Add salt and pepper.

Clean and slice chicken breast into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl. Pour half the marinade to the chicken, mix well and let marinade in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight. Chop zucchinis into wheels and bell peppers into about 1-inch sized pieces. Clean mushrooms and roughly chop green onions. Place vegetables in a plastic baggie and pour the other half of the marinade. Let rest, refrigerated for at least an hour.

When about to cook, soak wooden skewers in cold water for about 30 minutes to an hour to avoid burning in the oven. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheet with foil.

Thread a cherry tomato onto a skewer, then chicken meat, then a green onion. Repeat until skewer is full. Use remaining skewers for vegetables. Place the chicken on a cookie sheet and vegetables on another.

Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked and vegetables are soften.

Tip: I added more cooking time to the meat and veggies by putting them under the broiler to try and get a charred look, similar to what you’d see if you’d grilled them!

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Vegetable Medley Stir Fry

Weekends in this little town can be quite dull.

Mark and I decided to go to the movies after plans to go bowling fell through last night. I was happy with that but I didn’t think it was going to cost just as much (if not more) than bowling! It was probably close to $40 for two tickets and some popcorn. I thought that was quite a splurge but maybe it’s just because I’m used to watching an unlimited amount of movies on Netflix and over the Internet.

We picked American Hustle over all the other good movies in theaters currently and I really enjoyed the film. I thought Amy Adams’ character and acting was brilliant. It ran a little over two hours but I was hooked the entire time. I’d recommend it as a good drama to watch.

I was lucky to have Mark make dinner tonight. I think he likes cooking every now and then and he’s not bad at it at all! He’s the best at making breakfasts, especially eggs! I can always count on him to make a darn good omelette on the weekends. Mmm…

Tonight he came up with a vegetable turkey stir-fry. We had just bought a bunch of veggies so I guess it made sense to put it all together. He also picked up a cajun-rubbed turkey breast at the store. It came pre-cooked but I figured you could always substitute it with chicken or a meat of your choice. I think shrimp would work well too.

I thought it turned out well for how quickly put together it was. He said it was an original recipe and I suppose he’s right. The only oversight on our part was not seeding the jalapenos before adding them to the dish. Boy… it was spicy! Being away from home for so long and away from spicy food in general have substantially lowered my tolerance to heat. I can maybe only do some Tabasco now so the heat from the peppers kicked my butt.

He was constantly making sure that I took enough pictures of our dinner for the blog and stopped to ask if I had snapped a shot every other step of the way. I suppose it’s pretty fun having him in the kitchen with me. He’s not a picky eater and will eat just about anything (except seafood! sigh…) but it’s interesting to see what he comes up with.

He chose to add some sun-dried tomato dressing, which I thought was a little odd but in the turned out wonderfully because it brought out the sweetness of the tomatoes and toned down the heat from the jalapenos a lot. With that being said, I still highly recommend that the jalapenos be seeded, unless you’re the kind who particularly enjoys the burn.

Vegetable medley stir-fry 

Ingredients:
1 red, green or yellow bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 yellow or green zucchini, chopped
1 tomato, diced
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 jalapeno, seeded (optional)
8 to 12 oz. of protein of choice (optional)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato salad dressing
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

On medium-high, coat the pan with oil and wait until heated through. Place onions, peppers and jalapenos into pan. Cook until onions are tender and translucent then add zucchinis. If using uncooked meat, add meat first and stir until meat is fully cooked. 

Close pan with lid and wait 1 to 2 minutes for the steam to cook and soften the vegetables. Stir in tomatoes, sun-dried tomato dressing and seasonings. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated with the sauce. Let simmer for a couple of minutes before removing pan from heat.

Serve warm with rice or quinoa. Or serve chilled with penne pasta as a pasta salad.