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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Chicken Piccata

My destination is no longer a place, rather, a new way of seeing.

I burned the chicken tonight.

In between running in and out of the kitchen to try and talk about things with Mark, I’d left the heat on too high and was gone too long so I came back to a charred piece of chicken breast. Aside from that, I’d also forgotten that I’d left a Ziploc baggie on one of the burners and had conveniently turned the burner on so I also walked into a smoky kitchen filled with toxic fumes.

Today was not one of the better days.

Temperatures plunged into the negatives in some parts of the country. I had spent the earlier part of the day catching up with my best friend, who looked lazy and snug under her covers in her New Jersey home. Here in Eastern North Carolina, meteorologists advised to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary and so I did just that.

I tried keeping busy. I took an extra long shower and made the effort to shave since I wasn’t taking the time to wash my hair. Still, there was time on my hands. Some days I feel so trapped and aimless. If you’d asked me ten years ago where I would see myself today, I would answer honestly not here. Not married. Not starting a family. Just, not yet.

But life has a funny way of springing things on you. Like how I got my first job out of college all the way across the country and then finding out it’s not what I thought it would be. I wasn’t Lois Lane but I was willing to work hard for it.

And then I fell in love.

Just when I had vowed not to fall in love. Just when I was ready to give up and shut everybody out, Mark walked into my life in the most unsuspecting way. Looking back, I guess I was alright not having anyone. I’ve had some pretty awful experiences with past relationships so taking a couple more years away from it seemed to make the most sense despite pangs of loneliness.

But our paths crossed and he came in the midst of all the change in my life. I probably wasn’t prepared for any of it but I did what they told me to do you know? Live for the moment. Seize the day. You Only Live Once.

One thing led to another and I find myself here in our quiet townhouse while he works on his computer and me coping with yet another change and the fact that I’d burned dinner.

I made chicken piccata for the first time without really knowing what it was except for the fact that I had all the ingredients I needed for it in my pantry and my refrigerator. Did not have a mallet however to pound the chicken so I used the back of a pan, which worked just fine. And it helped me let go some of that frustration as well. I’d recommend serving this with fettuccine noodles.

Chicken Piccata
Recipe from My Recipes

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
1 lemon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp butter
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Place chicken breast in between two sheets of wax paper or on cutting board with a sheet of plastic wrap to cover. Using a mallet or the back of a non-stick frying pan, pound chicken until about 1/4 of an inch thick.

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Heat skillet with 1 tbsp of butter and some vegetable oil. Cook chicken on one side, about 3 minutes, until brown. Flip and cook the other side until chicken is done. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Add lemon juice and chicken broth to pan. Bring to a boil and scrape whatever bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir occasionally until gravy thickens. Pour gravy over chicken and serve.