Whew! That title is a mouthful! Pretty much quite literally because this turned out so good that I was basically shoveling it into my mouth and belly. Yeah, I was pretty hungry when I ate this but it cooked up so quickly that I didn’t have to wait long.
Now that Spring is well under way, it seems like we have more and more obligations besides just work and school which is not a bad thing by any means. It just means that sometimes dinner needs to happen a little more quickly.
Like most things in life, it seems like there is an ebb and flow between my hermit tendencies and my innate need to be social. We do have a few standing biweekly social obligations all year, such as game night with a couple of friends and a bar night with another friend. This year we also have a monthly themed dinner party with I am LOVING! Plus, it seems like more people are trying to do more.
Maybe it’s a sign that the economy is starting an upswing or maybe other people are tired of being hermits, too. Regardless, I’m loving seeing more friends more often.
In the time that it took to make the rice that is under this yummy brown and green goodness, I was able to completely prep and cook the chicken and peas. I love meals like that. I also love when quick meals are good for you, too. It’s a win-win for din-din! (Sorry… I had to. 🙂 )
Okay, okay. You’re right. That was just bad, so to make up for it, here’s the recipe for this quick and easy dinner.
If you are not familiar with the Greek sandwich called a gyro (pronounced YEER-oh), it is meat, usually lamb and/or beef, that is cooked on a vertical spit then the meat is shaved off and served on warm pita bread with onion, tomatoes, and a yummy yogurt sauce called tzatziki. There are, of course, many versions of gyros but the one I described above seems to be pretty common here in the U.S.
The first one I remember ever having was from a food truck at the Park Point rummage sales as a kid. Hmm… just like the egg salad from last week, Park Point holds another food memory for me…. I remember that first intoxicating bite like it was yesterday. I’d never in my life had anything that tasted like that. The sweet, garlicky, creamy sauce mixed with the warm pita bread and cold tomatoes and freshly carved meat with a unique yet familiar flavor (which I learned later in life was cinnamon being used in a savory form) made my mouth feel like it was dancing.
Since then, I’ve had gyros pretty much anywhere I’ve been able to get them. Even the ones that were mediocre still made me happy. I even tried some horrid boxed version when I was in my 20’s that you could make at home. They were okay at best but still satisfied that occasional craving I get for gyros.
Now that I am older and wiser about food, I realized that I could make these at home fairly easily. Minus cooking the meat on a vertical spit. But… even better… I realized I could combine yet one more thing with my love for pizza. A gyro pizza is certainly something I’ve never heard of before. Gyro nachos, yes. In fact, Cassie’s post about her gyro nachos is what got me started on thinking about this gyro pizza. I also made her Ten Minute Tzatziki as is. All I did was double it to get enough for 2 pizzas.
I normally prefer a thin crust on my pizza so when I make my pizza crust, I typically split a single batch in half for 2 pizzas. This pizza did better with a thicker, more substantial crust since it’s supposed to mimic the pita bread of a gyro.
I actually made 2 pizzas even though I’m going to give you the directions below for just 1. This has worked out really well for lunches this week at work. Because the crust is fully baked before being topped with the tzatziki sauce and because it is nice and thick, it held up really well in the refrigerator. And yes, I ate it cold. 🙂
Make the tzatziki sauce and refrigerate until ready for use.
Mix the yeast, sugar, and water for the dough.
While the yeast is blooming, make the Greek seasoning and set aside. Spray a large 15"x10" baking sheet with nonstick spray and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
Add the flour, salt and olive to the yeast mixture to form your dough and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Just before you start to form your crust, heat a large nonstick pan over med-high heat.
Press the dough evenly in the prepared baking sheet and poke holes all over it with a fork to prevent air pockets while the crust cooks. Place it in the oven and bake 15-22 minutes or until golden brown.
After placing the crust in the oven, add your ground beef to the skillet and cook, stirring, until no pink remains and the meat is crumbled. Drain off any grease. Add 1 Tbsp of the Greek seasoning and water. Mix well and let simmer until the liquid has evaporated. If it has finished cooking before the crust is done, just remove it from the heat and set aside.
Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool slightly. I use this time to shred my lettuce and chop the tomato.
To build the pizza, spread the tzatziki sauce evenly over the warm crust. Top with the cooked meat, crumbled feta, lettuce and tomato.
Between the horseradish and dill, this is definitely not a mild side dish that sits on the side of your plate, waiting for your attention. It’s a strong side dish that will compete with a lot of other flavors so you’ll want to serve with something neutral, like simply seasoned chicken or perhaps as a base for a beef stew or a creamy chicken soup.
I found this recipe in another cookbook, called “Cuisine Tonight: Quick and Easy Menus“. I tried to find the original online but could only find where other people have made it. I changed mine up, of course. One thing I did not like about the original was the way it added cold ingredients to hot pasta.
If you want to see a copy of the original recipe to compare to mine, you can click here. This is a word-for-word version of the recipe I adjusted even though they did not give credit to the book it came from. That’s kind of a pet peeve of mine: not giving credit where credit is due. That’s why I always list where I saw something, even after I adjusted and changed it. Recipes themselves are not protected by copyright laws, but I think it’s just a nice thing to let people know you got the recipe from somewhere else instead of making it seem like it’s your own.
Of course, I have an art background so maybe I’m just a little more sensitive to that subject. 🙂 Anyway, off my soapbox and on to the recipe!
Okay, so… when you are done reading this post, you need to check your pantry, see what you need then go to the store so you can make this recipe for dinner tonight. It is so easy and so tasty but tastes amazing. It’s spicy. It’s sweet. It’s juicy. It’s good!
So… um… yeah. I really liked this chicken, in case you didn’t pick up on that. 🙂
Of course, I rarely follow any recipe as-is, but I didn’t change much on this one. I doubled the sauce, for starters, and changed the method very slightly. I was right to double the sauce because it was yummy on the rice and the broccoli that I served with it.
Even though I made 2 lbs of chicken for the 3 of us, there ended up being no leftovers. At least I made it on the weekend so wasn’t relying on leftovers for lunch the next day. The next time I make this, and it will be soon, I want to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and mix the broccoli in with the chicken and sauce and serve it Chinese-food-style over the rice.
I think this would also work well with pork and maybe even shrimp. If you try this with a different protein, please let me know!
4 ~ 6-8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt & pepper to taste
16 oz (2 cups) orange juice
¼ c apricot preserves
¼ c sweet chile sauce
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp cornstarch
4 c hot cooked rice
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat until it starts to simmer slightly. Meanwhile, use a can or heavy bottle to pound the chicken slightly to make it even and a little more thin. Sprinkle one side with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken in the skillet, salt and pepper side down, in the oil. Cook for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, apricot preserves, chile sauce, parsley and cornstarch.
Flip the chicken and pour in the sauce, spooning it over the chicken. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 8-9 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (juices run clear) and the sauce has thickened slightly.
Leave the heat on under the pan while placing the chicken and rice on 4 plates to let it reduce a bit more. Spoon sauce over the chicken and rice.
When I was 22 years old, I moved to the Minneapolis area. I had seen an advertisement for some local rib festival which was a new concept for me. When I asked a coworker what it was, she said it was a musical festival in a large field where a lot of different BBQ vendors also made and sold food. That night, I had a dream of people going into a field and eating the cows, kinda zombie-style. That was the night I became a vegetarian for the first time.
My vegetarianism lasted about 3 years because one fateful night, I ended up at a steak house where my food options were sautéed mushrooms and a side salad. After 1 bite of the steak I ended up ordering, my first round of vegetarianism ended. I tried another stint with vegetarianism many years later with one night a week of eating meat but it ended up causing issues with my blood sugar because I was eating more refined breads and pastas in order to feel full.
Honestly, though, meals like the one I made here are good reasons for me to be an omnivore. The tasty, tender bits of beef in the tangy, salty sauce were pure heaven. The next time I make this, I’m doubling the recipe and serving it over mashed potatoes.
This seriously took less than 20 minutes to prepare but tasted like something you’d get at a restaurant. For the BBQ sauce in this recipe, I used my Honey BBQ sauce that I keep on hand almost all the time. It seemed to work really well but I think just about any BBQ sauce would taste good in this recipe.
Okay, I’m starting to drool just a bit looking at this picture so I think I should give you the recipe now before I short out my keyboard. 😉
Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.
Sprinkle the steak pieces with paprika and add to the skillet. Brown the meat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until browned and done as desired.
Remove from the skillet.
Drain the peppers, reserving ½ cup of the brine. If it's short, add water to make it ½ cup. Slice the peppers to about ½" thick and set aside.
Add the pepper liquid and BBQ sauces to the skillet and stir well. Cook, uncovered, about 5-7 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Add the peppers to the sauce followed by the steak bits. Heat for 1-2 minutes until the steak is warmed through again.
Tomorrow is the first day of Spring and, at my house, it’s a tradition to color hard-boiled eggs to mark the new season. And all those hard-boiled eggs mean egg salad!
Egg salad is tied to one of my earliest childhood memories: my mom, my grandma, and I sitting in the shade by the playground at Park Point in Duluth, Minnesota. One of my mom’s favorite picnic sandwiches was egg salad and bacon on soft white bread and I remember sitting at the picnic table, eating those sandwiches, listening to my mom and grandma gossip and waiting to go play but enjoying the tangy, salty sandwich my mom made for me.
Cooking the perfect hard boiled egg is really, really easy. There are many methods online but the one that has given me perfect results every time is this:
Put your eggs in a sauce pan. They should be in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.
Cover with cold water from the tap until there is 1" of water above the eggs.
Cover the pan partially with the lid and place over high heat. Bring to a hard boil with large "angry" bubbles.
Remove from the heat immediately and cover the pan. Let set for 12 minutes.
While the eggs are sitting in the hot water, fill a large bowl halfway with ice cubes and water.
Remove the eggs from the hot water and put immediately into the ice water. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Remove from the ice water and dry the shells.
To peel the eggs, tap both ends of the egg lightly on the counter. I like to run the egg underwater as I'm peeling it to get rid of any shell fragments.
Older eggs actually peel more easily than fresh ones.
The only time I really have egg salad now is around Spring time since it’s a great way to use the eggs I love to decorate. A good egg salad uses real mayonnaise which ups the fat factor so I keep this as a sometimes food. Like the chicken salad from last week, though, I can eat this in all sorts of ways and enjoy but toast points or plain old white bread are my 2 favorites.
Now that Spring is here, I am really looking forward to picnics. I definitely want to go on more picnics this year.