Zesty Chicken Salad

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I think chicken salad is one of those dishes that gets a little bit of a bad reputation. Whether its because your great aunt’s recipe had a real problem with the chicken to mayonnaise ratio (I am in no way referring to any of my great-aunts) or you hate how people chop celery up into their version (I am with you there!), I just don’t see a ton of people raving about their love for a good chicken salad. This is sad because chicken salad is just a great black canvas! You can really stir in whatever you want, and you’ve still got chicken salad. Got some leftover chives? Throw ’em in! Craving some bacon bits? Mmmm… bacon chicken salad! Fridge is full of fruit? Rumor has it that grapes and apples go great in chicken salad!

This chicken salad that I made for my lunches this week took no time to throw together and is packed with flavor. No bland chicken salad for me this week! I’ve been eating it on a pita with a few slices of cucumber. As I’m sitting here enjoying this version of a classic, I’m wondering why I haven’t been eating chicken salad more often.

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Zesty Chicken Salad

Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/2 lb chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1/2 packet (~1.5 tbsp) dry ranch mix
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Cook chicken however you prefer (or use leftovers or store bought rotisserie chicken). We baked ours, seasoned with a little black pepper.
  2. Chop or shred the chicken in a large bowl.
  3. In another smaller bowl, stir together all of the other ingredients. Season with a little extra pepper if you’d like.
  4. Combine the chicken with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to coat the chicken thoroughly.
  5. Refrigerate if not eating immediately.
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Basic Braised Beef Brisket

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Sometimes writing a blog post is hard. Sometimes we just can’t think of a lot to say. This is how the conversation about this recipe went…

“Ally, not everything we make is so enlightened that I have a lot to say about it.”

If we’re posting it, it tasted good – trust us.

 

Basic Braised Beef Brisket

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbsp oil (we used truffle oil for extra deliciousness!)
  • 3oz minced shallots (~3-4 bulbs)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6oz carrots, chopped
  • 2 large sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 lb beef brisket
  • 1/2 bottle (~1 2/3 cup) dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Season the brisket with salt & pepper. Sear brisket until browned on all sides. Remove brisket to the side.
  3. Add garlic and shallots to the dish. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ~5 minutes until softened and fragrant.
  4. Now add in the carrots and tomato paste. Stir together. Cook another ~5 minutes.
  5. Now deglaze the dish with the wine. Make sure to scrape up all of the delicious brown bits stuck to the bottom.
  6. Add the stock and rosemary sprigs. Return the brisket to the dish. Just the top should be exposed.
  7. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then cover. Transfer to the oven.
  8. Braise for ~ 1 1/2 hours, then flip the meat over. Braise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Serves 3-4.

Reese’s Pieces Bars

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It’s that time of the month again… end of the month treats! If it weren’t for end of the month/end of a rotation treats, this blog would pretty much never have any dessert or baked goods on it. [Check out some of our previous end of the month treats, like… Strawberry Streusel Bars, Mint Chocolate Bars, or Sweet & Salty Snack Mix!]

We don’t eat candy a whole lot, but Reese’s Pieces are pretty high up on my list of favorites! I love anything that’s peanut butter and chocolate. Which makes it all the more shocking that I’ve had this recipe saved for awhile and haven’t made it until today. This no-bake dessert is really quite simple to put together. Two tips though, so you can improve from our learning experience. They should be kept refrigerated until before serving – while still delicious, when they’re room temperature, these bars will fall apart in your hands a bit. (Not going to lie, they’re amazing when gooey like this, but kind of hard to serve in public. If you’re sitting on your couch, doing some solo Netflix watching, shoveling treats in your mouth, by all means let them get warm and gooey!) And secondly, don’t refrigerate overnight/for an extended period of time before you cut them. We did this and the chocolate layer is hard to cut – hence our non-uniform pieces you see in the pictures. Should’ve thought of that… but they were delicious despite their appearance! Like we always say… this is real-life blog 🤷

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Reese’s Pieces Bars

(Adapted slightly from this recipe)
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup Reese’s Pieces, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions:
  1. Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, blend the first 6 ingredients – butter through 1 cup of peanut butter. Mix until smooth.
  3. Gentrly, stir in 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces. Press into the baking dish evenly. Refrigerate while making the top layer.
  4. For the top chocolate layer, combine remaining peanut butter with the chocolate chips. Melt the chocolate and peanut butter in a double boiler (or very slowly in the microwave), stirring frequently until well-combined.
  5. Pour chocolate over top the bottom layer. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces to finish!
  6. Refrigerate for ~1 hour or until set. Slice to desired size. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

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I don’t know if you noticed, but we haven’t shared too many posts this month so far (although our Sultan Selim Kofte was amazing & you should check it out!). A two-fold problem – we attempted a few recipes that we thought would be “blog-worthy,” that just didn’t turn out well, so we definitely couldn’t share our failures 🙄😬😣😉. And also, we used a few of our saved up vacation days to visit friends and watch UVA beat Wake Forest in Winston-Salem one weekend and to see our families in Nashville for a cousin’s wedding on another weekend! So we really haven’t cooked quite as much as normal this month!

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Us at Ally’s cousin’s wedding

Our lack of blogging this month is a little bit of a tragedy because January is National Soup Month, and I LOVE SOUP! I don’t know what month is better suited to officially be National Soup Month – what sounds more cozy and warming for chilly nights (and days!) than a big flavorful bowl of soup. It’s actually National Slow Cooker month too (probably for similar reasons…), so we just went ahead and did the two birds, one stone thing with this recipe – ✔️ & ✔️!

I’ve had this recipe saved on Pinterest for literally years I think. It comes from Gimme Some Oven, which actually is the very first blog I think I ever started following. I’ve made many of her recipes over the years, prior to the birth of our little infant blog. Check it out for some great recipes from a veteran blogger and much better pictures than ours! We tweaked her recipe just a tiny bit, adding a little extra vegetables & spices, because the entire world (or the 467 commenters on her post at least…) seems to love the original just as is! One little side note… one day we would like to make our own, traditional enchilada sauce, for this recipe or others. We were just feeling a little too lazy today for finding and roasting our own chilies. But we can only imagine how much better this soup would be when substituting authentic homemade enchilada sauce for the canned stuff!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven blog)
Ingredients:
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 10oz can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ears corn (~2 cups)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 4oz can chopped green chiles
  • 1 10oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, with liquid
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: cheese, sour cream/crema, avocado, cilantro, jalapenos, tortilla chips, etc
Instructions:
  1. Prepare all of the vegetables – chop up everything that needs chopping and slice the corn kernels off the cob. Cut the chicken into bite-sized portions.
  2. Put all of the ingredients, minus the toppings, into the slow cooker.
  3. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Taste and adjust salt/pepper if needed. Serve with optional toppings!
Serves ~8

Sultan Selim Kofte

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Köfte is one of those dishes that calls to mind something slightly different for every person. Apparently, some company in Turkey determined that there are 291 varieties of köfte native to that country alone. (I get my information via Wikipedia’s kofte page, because I can’t read the original article in Turkish – so hopefully it’s not lying to me.) And that’s just within Turkey! Köfte (or kofta, kufta, kyuft’a, qofte, cufte, keftés, kopta…) is common everywhere from Morocco to Pakistan, and Azerbaijan to Croatia, with so many variations in between.

For Selim, his memories of köfte are just as variable. Think of how varying “American” meatballs can be… there’s variation in meat content (pork, beef, chicken, veal, lamb, turkey, tofu), sauces (marinara, BBQ, mustard, gravy), and cooking technique (crockpot, microwave, baked, fried). Köfte is no different, there’s a lot of variability within families, regions, and countries. I think most people will say that traditionally, köfte is charcoal-grilled as it imparts a distinctive smokiness and flavor that’s so unique. Unfortunately, we don’t have a grill, which kind of ruins that plan, so we decided to broil these to approximate that grilled flavor as much as we could. After living and cooking in our Columbia, SC apartment for over 2 years, we finally set off the smoke detector!

For our köfte tonight, we didn’t try to replicate a specific, authentic type of köfte. Instead, we tried to channel our favorite flavors into our own creation. Ally named these köfte after (one or the other of) Selim’s namesakes to differentiate from all of those 291 original Turkish varieties. You can be the judge as to which Sultan Selim Ally is referencing… Sultan Selim I (aka Selim the Grim or Selim the Resolute) who was a fiery tempered ruler who greatly expanded the Ottoman Empire or Sultan Selim II (aka Selim the Blond) who was a well-loved, soft, generous ruler. Our köfte has a spicy taste/temperament but is sure to be well-loved by all, a perfect combination.

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Selim, outside of Sultan Selim’s tomb

Sultan Selim Köfte

Ingredients: 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 lb lamb (80/20 – you want some fat here)
  • 1 egg (whisked)
Instructions:
  1. Make the spice mix by combining the spices in a small prep bowl, set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly mix the garlic, shallot, and lamb.
  3. Work the spice mix into the lamb slowly, ensuring that there aren’t any clumps of spice and continue working the meat with your hands until well mixed.
  4. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for ~30 minutes.
  5. Now stir in the whisked egg until well-combined.
  6. Using your hands, form into sigara-shaped patties and place on a sheet of foil.
  7. Broil/Grill/Pan Fry: watching carefully until the tops begin to brown and crisp, flipping once to ensure even cooking and charring. (Broilers, grills, and pans are so variable that we don’t want to tell you a specific time and screw up your köfte!) *If grilling, we highly recommend using skewers so as to not lose any köftes to the flames.
Serves 2-4

Looking Back on 2017

I’m not going to lie… 2017 wasn’t exactly my favorite year of all time. It was an exhausting year of school/clinical work. The news cycle was like 99.9993457245999% negative. And don’t even get me started on our “president.” We try to keep it positive around here – so we’ll move away from all of that. After all, this blog is our creative outlet and happy diversion!

So let’s focus on all the wonderful things that happened this year! For starters, we’ve successfully completed another year of school! (We graduate in 🎉 🎉 129 days, in case you want to count along with us… We’re not excited at all 😉) Ally’s sister, the last of the kids, graduated from UVA in May. We had great, albeit far too short, visits to Washington DC, Cleveland, Virginia, and a few spots around the state of South Carolina. (Selim also visited Seattle… Ally’s still a little bitter about being left behind.) We watched the total solar eclipse down here in Columbia, which was pretty awesome. We were happily able to attend quite a few weddings of friends and family. Selim grew his hair out, which was a big change for us all. And we had some great times with our friends down here in SC.


You know what else we did this past year…? We made a lot of delicious food! This past summer, on our one year blogiversary, we shared some statistics and favorites from the first year of the blog. We’re going to shift that round-up to the end of the calendar year from now on (long live the blog!), because of the way that WordPress keeps track of statistics – it makes way more sense this way!

Top Three Dishes of the Year: 

♥ Ally – Roasted Grape & Prosciutto FlatbreadRosemary Risotto with Asparagus, & Spinach & Feta Gözleme

♥ Selim – BaklavaSpicy Korean BBQ Tacos with Tangy Slaw, & Pumpkin Roll

Biggest (Good) Surprise: 

♥ Ally – Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha)

♥ Selim – Kimchi Braised Chicken with Noodles & Spicy Feta Dip

Most Difficult Dish: 

♥ Ally – Pumpkin Roll

♥ Selim – Baklava

Dish I Want to Improve: 

♥ Ally – Pumpkin Roll

♥ Selim – Cacio e Pepe

Most Viewed Post: Bay Scallop Risotto

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Number of Culinary Bucket List Items Checked Off: 5, with additions to a few more

Cuisines Sampled: Turkish, Syrian, Mexican, Southern, Jewish, Bangladeshi, Italian, & French

Number of Followers: 30

Number of Unique Blog Visitors: 2,154

Location of Blog Visitors: US, UK, Canada, Australia, Romania, France, Namibia, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Netherlands, India, South Korea, Germany, Philippines, Ghana, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, Vietnam, Hungary, Antigua & Barbuda, Greece, Singapore, Poland, Egypt, Ukraine, Bulgaria, South Africa, Morocco, Ireland, Belgium, Estonia, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Bahrain, Indonesia, and Qatar!!

2018 Blog Goals: 

  • Celebrate random food holidays
  • Make more Turkish recipes
  • Finally share Selim’s perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe 🍪🍪
  • Continue to work on our Culinary Bucket List
  • Improve our photography skills
  • Relatedly ⤴️, move into a place with a larger, more well-lit kitchen & a gas stove
  • Share more about our favorite wines
  • Use our blog Instagram more frequently (follow us @bonappetitbabyblog & #bonappetitbabyblog if you want to see incredibly infrequent Instagram posts)
  • Finish graduate school! 🥂🖤👩‍🎓👨‍🎓🎉🍾

Muhammara

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We’re having an impromptu New Year’s Eve “party” tonight. I put party in quotations because we’re not exactly a wild bunch. We’re having food, alcohol, and friends on NYE, so I feel like it qualifies as a party, but we’re doing a lot more playing of board games than dancing on tables.

I’ve wanted to make muhammara for awhile now and tonight seemed like a good night! It’s really pretty easy to make, especially if you have a decent food processor. I mostly followed the recipe of my old faithful, Yotam Ottolenghi, for this one. If it’s any type of food from the greater Middle East, I feel like he makes it and makes it well! Muhammara originates from Aleppo, Syria, so the use of Aleppo pepper in the dish just feels important and necessary to me. Unfortunately, the civil war in Syria has greatly decreased world-wide supply of Aleppo pepper.* (*Obviously, this is not the most important negative impact of the Syrian civil war.) But with that in mind, if you don’t have any/can’t find any, you can substitute a smaller quantity of crushed red pepper flakes. (Aleppo pepper isn’t quite as spicy and has a deeper depth of flavor + a slight sweetness as compared to crushed red pepper. Some suggest a mixture of sweet paprika & cayenne/crushed red pepper is a okay approximation.) This spread is popular from Syria through Turkey and the Caucasus, with some regional variations. The main ingredients always include red pepper and walnuts (the basis of the dip), Aleppo pepper, and olive oil.

Also, for your party hosting pleasure, this recipe would be very easy to scale up. This yielded ~ 2 cups.

Hope you enjoy!

Happy New Year!! 🎉🎇🥂🖤

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Muhammara

(Adapted slightly from Ottolenghi)
Ingredients: 
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs [I actually used cracker crumbs – crushed matzoh from our Potato Latkes the other night]
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces
  • Salt to taste
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice bell peppers in half, removing the stems & seeds, and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and roast until blackened and blistering, ~30-35 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grind up the walnuts in a food processor. You want them to be fairly finely ground, but still have some texture. Set to the side.
  3. Peel the skin off of the red peppers once they are cool enough to handle.
  4. Place peppers, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, bread crumbs, cumin, Aleppo pepper, and garlic in the food processor. Pulse until well-combined. Again, don’t over-process and destroy all of the texture.
  5. By hand, stir in the walnuts into the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Add salt to taste.
  7. When serving, top with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temperature.