Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spiced Chicken Shish Kabob with Roasted Garlic Avocado Yogurt Sauce

You know what makes me happy? Like really happy? It's the moment you realize spring has come. Walking through my neighborhood flowers are popping up, the trees are budding, and the birds are singing. It's really quite idyllic. When the days get warmer and longer, you can't help but feel optimistic and excited. I'm excited for camping, hiking high up in the Rockies, summer nights on the porch, and grilling. Next week we will be getting a jump on the camping by heading to Canyonlands for some desert exploration. My love for the deserts of Utah has no limits. This year we will be armed with some pretty awesome campfire food. We have already been exploring with all kinds of s'mores toppings in the kitchen. Nutella, bananas, honey, and peanut butter have all been stacked with delicious graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. In addition to s'mores, our campsite will be chalked full of M&M cookies, morning glory muffins, homemade granola bars, and all the fixings for pizza on the grill and hot dogs over the fire. I truly can't wait.

Until then, I settled for the small spring victory of uncovering the grill and putting it to work this week. I adapted this recipe from Half Baked Harvest, who makes some of the most creative and delicious food. These kabobs are marinated with yogurt, lemon, garlic, and loads of spices to make for a flavor packed yet pretty healthy meal. Note that the chicken needs to marinate for 4 hours or overnight. The roasted garlic avocado sauce is the real treat of this meal though. Put roasted garlic or avocado on anything and I'm in, but the combo of both is quite the treat. I put the kabobs over couscous with a side of seared spinach. Half Baked Harvest put her's in a pita with some goat cheese, which also sounds delicious. The beauty of food is you can adapt to whatever sounds tastiest to you.

Spiced Chicken Shish Kabob with Roasted Garlic Avocado Sauce 
*Note chicken needs to marinate at least 4 hours or overnight and garlic needs to roast 40 minutes before making the sauce
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest, serves 4

Spiced Chicken Shish Kabob
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup greek yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, grated
2 tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 tsps salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 large onion, cut in half and then each half cut into quarters
3 cups of prepared couscous (Near East couscous can be found in almost all grocery stores and is easy to prepare)

In a large tupperware or bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, greek yogurt, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, salt, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add chicken and mix together. If you prepared the marinade in a tupperware, cover with the lid and allow to marinate. Otherwise, put chicken and marinade in a ziplock. Allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours or as long as overnight.

After the chicken has marinated, preheat your grill to medium high heat and oil the grates. Thread the chicken and onions onto skewers, alternating. If using wood skewers, soak in water first so they don't burn. Grill chicken on each side for approximately 5 minutes, until cooked all the way through.

*Note you can also cook this chicken in a grill pan or skip the skewers all together and cook in an oiled saute pan over medium high heat.

Roasted Garlic Avocado Yogurt Sauce
1 head of garlic
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
4 tbs greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and peper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the top of the garlic so you can see the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Roast for 40 minutes.

Squeeze roasted garlic cloves into a food processor or blender along with avocado, greek yogurt, cumin, chili powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

To assemble
Place chicken skewers over prepared couscous and serve with a side of the roasted garlic avocado yogurt sauce and your favorite vegetable. Yum!

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