Chicken Shawarma Rice Bowls

I love getting outside my everyday flavor profiles and expanding my concept of dinnertime. But let's face it: we're busy! Sometimes I pretend like I have to have a whole weekend in order to cook a new recipe for dinner but then something small like this video from Wild Dish crosses my path and all things become possible. I drooled over it for an entire day (even while enjoying a bowl of amazing pasta de mare) and finally texted my mom midday, asking if I could take over dinner duty.

I love the bright colors, the flavors, the textures, and the fact that this tastes nothing like a common rice bowl. It isn't Mexican or Asian or even Greek. It's essentially Tel Aviv-ian and I adore it. If you're looking for the ideal summertime meal to feed a group of hungry friends, look no further. I've got your back with chicken shawarma rice bowls.      

Chicken Shawarma Rice Bowls
Serves 8-10

- the chicken -
2 Tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chipolte chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 Tablespoons turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
5 chicken breasts + extra oil for cooking

- the onions -
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Juice of two lemons
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

- the salad -
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 red chili peppers minced
6 cups cooked brown or white rice

- the toppings -
roasted chick peas
raw pumpkin seeds
Greek yogurt

1.) Begin by slicing chicken breasts into "tenderloins." Combine spices and oil and marinate chicken for at least one hour or overnight. Meanwhile, thinly slice onions and "pickle" in the salt and lemon juice and cook rice.
2.) Remove leaves from parsley and set aside. Assemble various toppings. Mince chili peppers
3.) Saute chicken in a generous pan of olive oil until cooked through and set aside. When slightly cooled, cut chicken into thin, long slices.
4.) Assemble all ingredients in a large bowl - tear mint leaves just before mixing to prevent blackening. Adjust chili pepper amounts based off how spicy you like your food. Finish with desired toppings, either in individual bowls or in a family-style serving dish.

Five Ways To Get Ahead In Busy Seasons

/ pinterest /

No matter how on top of life you are, anyone living-breathing human will tell you that ife is going to swamp you like the New Orleans levees during Hurricane Katrina. Though that might not be the most inspiring sentence I've ever written, it's the truth and I love anticipating those seasons of life and having a plan for how to woman up and ride them through in triumph. It might be a hectic work schedule, approaching college finals, family stress, a break-up, or a move. But whatever the case, I've gathered five ways to feel like you're getting ahead in life:

Make Lists – Those of you who aren't planners think you hate lists. I'm not exactly a planner either. I like to go off-list if I take it into my head to. But making a list is one of those essential activities that frees up brain-space, much like dumping your phone to the iCloud. I can stop thinking about all the things I have to do if I put the whole lot down on paper. Feel free to add things you've already accomplished in the day. Actually, make it mandatory. Write down “put away laundry” and “make bed” and smile glibly as you strikethrough.

Mop a Floor – Do you know how few people really mop their floors? We all know those people who mop their floors religiously at least once a week but I have a feeling many of us are not that sort of people. Our kitchen and bathrooms get mopped frequently but the rest of the hardwood flooring goes long stretches of time between washes. Sorry, Mama, I'm not sure I'm supposed to tell people that. Still, living in the country on a piece of property with a dirt driveway, upkeep is difficult. So if you really want to get ahead of the game, the first thing you'll do is mop your floor. It's such an amazing feeling to have that done. Mentally you're basically a queen.

Shave Your Legs – Don't look at me like that! You know you 100% are guilty of occasionally planning outfits around how recently you've shaved. Even if I plan to wear jeans the following day, I adore giving myself a fresh shave. Again with the mental edge! In ten minutes I've changed from the Charmin Bear to the Little Mermaid fresh out of her deal with Ursula. Try it.

Paint Your Toenails – Go with some audacious, ridiculously wonderful color and give yourself the grace of having removed the old coat of polish first. We all know nail-polish cracks at a sneeze but toenail polish could survive a nuclear invasion. Take it off and put a new color on, give yourself a foot massage, and wear sandals a week straight. Dare ya!

Come Straight Home From Work – I seldom realize how little I am at home until I purposely cut out any errands or outings after work. When I get home by 5:30, it's amazing what little jobs, projects, or creativity I have time for! This is one of my favorite life-hacks: coming home early. It's ridiculous what thirteen hours at home versus seven or eight will do for your sanity.

So here's to thriving survival and all the small changes that make the long weeks more than bearable! I hope you've got relaxing time in your summer but if you, like some of my friends, are nose to the grindstone, I wish you all the best!

Buttercrunch Salad

Summertime means the possibility of a trip to your local farmer's market to search out the brightest local flavors of the season. I know that waking up early on a Saturday isn't ideal but on the off chance you are up early, I highly recommend using that time to pop out and see what sort of vegetable and fruit treasures you can stock up on! One of my recent trips involved bringing home two heads of "Peter Rabbit" lettuce or what is more commonly known as "Buttercrunch" lettuce. In Romania we had an extremely simple salad over and over again. Just and oil and vinegar dressing drizzled over half a head of buttercrunch lettuce; a strong dose of garlic, maybe a sprinkling of fresh dill. And somehow we never got tired of it. Maybe because when you lightly dress a salad and pay respect to the lettuce itself instead of covering it up with so many other ingredients, you notice the flavor in the lettuce itself. I think every vegetable deserves a moment as a movie-star.

Buttercrunch Salad
(serves 4-6)

3 Tablespoons high-quality olive oil (I like to use lemon-infused olive oil)
3 Tablespoons white, champagne, or rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves fresh garlic, very thinly sliced
2 heads buttercrunch lettuce, well-washed

1.) Begin by combining oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic in a bowl and allow the flavors to mingle for 40 minutes to an hour.
2.) Cut heads of lettuce in half or otherwise arrange lettuce leaves in bowls. Spoon vinaigrette over the salads, evenly distributing slices of garlic and making certain to get the dressing down into the swirl of leaves for optimal flavor experience.

Vlog: How To Build A Care Package

Good Morning, Friends! As promised, I finally have a "How To Build A Care Package" video for your viewing pleasure. I had such fun recording this vlog (complete with wearing a peel-off face mask) and I hope you find it both enjoyable and informative. Thanks for watching!

Smoked Salmon Cherry Bombs

During my month-long #BrightenUp challenge I spent a lot of time and energy trying to find enough protein to satisfy what seemed like a forever-unsatisfied appetite. I did fine without dairy. I (mostly) successfully avoided soy. I didn't miss sugar. But because I wasn't eating much dairy and was avoiding carbs, my energy level was a constant struggle to keep up. I definitely didn't ace this aspect of my challenge every week. Week 3 of the official challenge was the worst. I skipped all but two dinners that week because of schedule issues, ate mainly vegetables and nuts, and skidded into the weekend so worn out, tired, and hangry I felt like crying. Definitely not how a happy-belly makes you feel. Still, there were many small victories and among them were the development of a pretty smoked-salmon appetizer I refer to as "cherry bombs." They can be eaten as a snack, served at a party, or eaten while grilling you real-deal dinner on a Friday night. I swear, guys, smoked salmon was essentially my #survivalfood during the busiest days of my #BrightenUp challenge.


Smoked Salmon "Cherry Bombs"

1 carton cherry tomatoes
3 Tablespoons organic cream cheese or crème fraîche
1 package smoked salmon "trimmings"
1 Tablespoon chia seeds (for garnish)

1.) Halve cherry tomatoes and spread with a smear of cream cheese or dollop of crème fraîche. Top with smoked salmon and chia seeds.

What I Learned During The #BrightenUp Challenge

(Advisory: Don't listen to this vlog with earbuds in, as the wind began to kick up and be a "crunchy" sound during the latter half)

Lemon-Lavender Sugar Scrub: DIY

Do you ever feel like Friday won't come? Usually my weeks fly by pretty quickly but I'm definitely not above those weeks when every day since the weekend was, pretty strictly speaking, "Not Friday" in my mind. When such a Friday happens my favorite thing in the world is to come home and wash it off by doing a full shower, shave, and pampering. Sometimes I'll use a face mask and sometimes I'll use a sugar scrub like this nourishing, sunshine-scented coconut-oil scrub. There is nothing easier to whip up with a few simple ingredients and nothing my skin loves more. Treat yourself to some homemade sugar scrub this weekend!

 Lemon Lavender Sugar Scrub

1 cup coconut oil, softened
1 cup sugar
4-6 drops lemon oil
4-6 drops lavender oil
1 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms (optional)

1.) Whip all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container in a cool place away from light.

Decor Project: The Gallery Wall
It began with a horrible old print of some Victorian music room. The photo was awful. The frame was gaudy, gold, and perfect for some incongruous art. I saved that frame for a couple years until recently when my watercolor of a "socially awkward" flamingo found a home within its four corners. There it was, just as I'd always imagined: a quirky, brightly-colored piece of artwork in this huge, ponderous frame. This piece of artwork spurred me on to my current project: creating, curating, and organizing a gallery wall in our house. Since I don't have a home of my own yet, I'm still working within family opinion as to whether the gallery wall will be in my bedroom or whether I'll take over the stair-well. Either way, I'm incredibly excited for this decor project and am eagerly choosing pieces to include! Today I'm sharing some of my inspiration sources!





Can't wait to share pictures on the blog as this project shapes up! What's your art-style and which items would you be inclined to include on your walls?