Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Eat Local: The Mad Greek

Authentic Greek and Italian dishes can be devoured/savored/enjoyed at The Mad Greek in Lawrence, KS. The food is fresh, flavors are bold and the chef is...mad?

Mad Greek Buffet Plate
When it's a buffet, there's not shame in loading up your plate! Gyro meat, Tzatziki sauce, spanakopita, pasta, salad & more! 

Dave and I have developed this tradition of enjoying Greek food for a special occasion. It started with our first date at the Greek Food Festival in Kansas City. From there we've enjoyed Greek food A LOT; especially for birthdays, oh and our engagement. Yes, the day Dave proposed, we were enjoying a picnic in the park, chowing down on Gyro sandwiches from The Mad Greek.

I know I've told you about Lawrence. Man, do I love this place. The people here love food. And I have so much love for the locally owned restaurants. Mass Street is a hot spot and dotted with these treasures. The Mad Greek is one of our favorite spots to eat.

If I don't enjoy some Greek food often enough, I get the hankering for it. Much like I do Chinese or Italian. Oh heck, I crave food in general. But, my Mad Greek cravings are serious. This is probably because their food is hard to beat.

The Greek salad here is another one of our faves. I know, the list of favorite things is long. 

By far, my favorite dish at Mad Greek is their Gyro sandwich, however, upon a recent visit we took advantage of their $10.99 Sunday buffet. First, this is one heck of a deal! You can eat all the Greek and Italian dishes your heart desires for the same price, or less, than an entree. Second, I got to try a few things for the first time.

There's more to love at Mad Greek than the food. Shocking, I know. But really, in our experiences, the service has always been great. The atmosphere is....quirky, and I would expect nothing less of something that is on Mass Street in Lawrence. The place is decorated with grape vines, fake columns and other Greecian/Italian touches. I like to pretend I'm sitting somewhere in a Greecian village while dining. It always makes me smile. Don't put this on your list of "fancy" places to eat. You come here for the food.

Mad Greek Gyro meat
Warm pita slices + tender Gyro meat + heavenly Tzatziki sauce

If you are visiting Lawrence, live near Lawrence or live an hour from Lawrence, you MUST try The Mad Greek. It is one of Lawrence's many gems. Eat local my friends. Opa!

What's your favorite hometown restaurant? Share in the comments below! If we're ever in the area, we would love to give it a try.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Soft M&M Pretzel Cookies

These soft, buttery, chewy cookies loaded with mounds of M&Ms and crunchy pretzel pieces are sure to satisfy any sweet and salty craving. My Soft M&M Pretzel Cookies use my favorite cookie base and stay soft for a whole week! 

Food cravings. I have them. Often. Mostly for sweets. One day it's donuts, the next ice cream. On this particular day I had a hankering for an M&M cookie. I walked into my kitchen, dug through my HUGE box of baking supplies/chips, searching for a bag of M&Ms.

I found them, but while digging I also found some broken pretzel pieces leftover from a previous baking expedition. "Why not use both in a cookie?," I thought to myself. I like to think I'm a genius. I'm sure no human being or food blogger out there has ever thought to put these two marvelous ingredients into a cookie. Ever. (*insert intense sarcasm here*)

None the less, I'm sharing with you this wonderful cookie recipe.Remember those White Chocolate Cranberry Walnut cookies I raved about? We are using the same perfect cookie dough base today, but swapping the "extras" that are added to the dough.

For this recipe I used mini M&Ms, pretzel pieces and mini chocolate chips (for extra chocolatey-ness, duh).

Monday, March 2, 2015

Easy Italian Chicken Bake

A packet of Italian dressing mix and melted butter make this EASY chicken and veggie dish explode with flavor. Bold spices, savory, garlicky butter, and lots and lots of onion make the chicken, green beans and potatoes melt in your mouth. Plate licking is not frowned upon. 

Easy Italian Chicken Bake

How long has it been since our last post. I'm ashamed that I have let so much time go by. It's been busy. And hectic. Stressful? Maybe. Unfortunately this food blog just didn't make the cut on our list of priorities. Heck, cooking dinner hasn't even been a priority. We have been winging it and living off little groceries. 

One dish that is frequently made in our house is this Italian Chicken Bake. It's SO easy. Chop, pour, bake. Did I mention how delicious it is? The chicken is tender and melts in your mouth. The potatoes soak up all the garlicky, buttery goodness, and the Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix adds so much flavor that your taste buds sing hallelujah. I like to pretend this dish is healthy. I mean it's chicken and green beans, right? Pretend the butter isn't fattening, and that you didn't use as much as I am going to tell you to use. 

Easy Italian Chicken Bake

For this cold, Midwest weather, no meal is more perfect. Let the oven warm your home and the aroma make you drool. We like to enjoy our meal with a slice of bread or a homemade roll. This gives you something to soak up all that buttah! 

Easy Italian Chicken Bake

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 60 minutes
Approx. 4 servings

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 medium red potatoes, washed and dried
12 oz. green beans, washed and trimmed
1 large white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
6 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 or 2 pouches Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix (0.7 oz pouch size)*
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt, optional*

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. You can also line the pan with foil if you wish for easier clean up. I typically do not line my pan. 

Step 2: Butterfly your chicken breasts so that are fairly thin. Thick pieces of chicken will not cook evenly and do no absorb as much flavor while baking. Quarter your red potatoes so they are cut into bite size pieces. Trim the green beans. Cut the onion into quarters, and the cut any large pieces into smaller sizes so that they are approximately bite size. 

Step 3: Sprinkle a layer of minced garlic into the bottom of the baking dish, then lay down a layer of onion pieces. Sprinkle a fine layer of Italian Dressing Mix, then lay down half the chicken on one side of the pan, half the green beans in the middle of the pan, and half the potatoes in the last third of the pan. Pour half the butter over the chicken, green beans and potatoes, the sprinkle another layer of dressing mix. Layer the remaining garlic and onion into the pan, then place the remaining chicken, green beans and potatoes, and cover with the remaining butter, dressing mix and spices. 

Step 4: Cover the pan with foil, and bake for 60 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, use a wooden spoon to carefully stir and rotate all the ingredients in the pan. After 60 minutes, remove the largest piece of chicken from the pan, cut into the center to ensure that chicken is baked through. There should be no pinkness. If cooked completely, let the dish stand for 5 minutes before serving so as not to burn hungry mouths! Dish onto plates, and use a spoon to pour some of the butter over the top. 

*I always use Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix for this recipe and I don't recommend using anything else. It's truly the best. You can use their Zesty Italian Mix too. These can be found at local grocery stores like Hy-Vee and Walmart. 

*Depending on the amount of chicken and potatoes in our dish, we find that sometimes we need a little extra salt. You can taste your dish and decide if the extra garlic salt is necessary. 

© Two Food Lovers 2015  

Easy Italian Chicken Bake

Bear with us; we will work on better photos. For some reason, we just aren't happy with what we have here. However, we hope that you can see and smell all the yummy garlic and onion. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cranberry White Chocolate Walnut Cookies

The most perfect cookie base gets loaded with cranberries, white chocolate chips and walnut pieces in this spectacular cookie. Yes, I have the secret recipe for a perfect cookie! You can stuff just about anything your heart desires into the dough to make it your own. For now, we can swoon over these Cranberry White Chocolate Walnut Cookies. 

Cranberry White Chocolate Walnut Cookies

I like to call these cookies the CWCWC. Cranberry. White chocolate. Walnut. Cookies. They are a mouthful. Literally....I was stuffing my mouth. So delicious. The key to this perfect cookie is its tender, cookie dough base.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sweet Potato Burritos

Smoky sweet potato pieces stuffed into a tortilla filled with black beans, corn, red bell pepper and onion, topped with the most delicious, cool and creamy avocado spread you can imagine. These Sweet Potato Burritos are vegetarian and rank in our top 5 favorite meals. 

Sweet Potato Burritos

We're back to kick off 2015 with a Meatless Monday meal. How many of you would like to try to incorporate more meatless meals into your diet? How many of you have men at home who say: "Me man. Me eat meat and potatoes!"? Ya, that's what I thought.

Is was not incredibly tricky for me to get Dave on the meatless wagon, but that's because I was feeding him incredibly delicious meals, such as these Sweet Potato Burritos.

For those of you who read this and think "ew," I am going to ask you to open your minds. Just trust me. Seriously. These burritos are our absolute favorite. Dave asks for them almost every time I ask what he wants for dinner that week. I have to cut him off and opt for making them about once a month. They NEVER get old.

I am in no way a vegetarian, I just like to eat less meat when I can. Sometimes, I don't crave it for days. I love that these are easy to make healthier: Opt for whole grain wraps instead of flour tortillas, load with veggies & bam! You're eating healthy.These Sweet Potato Burritos are a great way to get in your veggies!

Sweet Potato Burritos

So what can you expect from these yummy burritos? Let me break them down:
  • Cubed sweet potatoes that are tossed in a blend of spices, giving them a slightly smoky flavor, then baked until crispy on the outside. I could eat the pan of potatoes with nothing else. 
  • Corn. Dave is a Nebraskan, so yes, we add corn to almost anything we can. A common phrase in our house is "Can of corn. Can of corn and I'll be fine. Canna corn" Watch this and you'll get it. 
  • Black beans, red bell peppers, any veggie you like. Just toss in any veggie you like. If you want them hot, add jalapenos, etc. You get the idea. 
  • And last, the crazy good, cool avocado cream sauce. This stuff is packed with zingy garlic (that adds a kick), cilantro, lime juice, garlic salt and salsa verde.We add a hint of jalapeno for a kick, but not too spicy. You can adjust the spice as you like it. 
Sweet Potato Burritos

Tips for making perfect burritos: 
  • Cube your sweet potatoes up fairly small. We chop ours into about 1/2 inch - 1 inch pieces. The smaller they are, the faster they cook and the crispier they get. Some of our really small ones don't make it into the burritos because they get a little over-done. 
  • Bake the sweet potatoes at high heat and use a spatula to flip them half way through baking. This allows them to get that crispy, flavorful crust on the outside. They will stay soft inside. 
  • Use your food processor to make the avocado sauce extra smooth. I know. I know. Food processors are bulky, require a lot of cleaning, and while they may be one of the greatest gifts to the kitchen, they can be a big pain. It's worth it if you want the sauce smooth and creamy. If you prefer a thicker, chunky sauce, you can mash by hand. 
Sweet Potato Burritos

Sweet Potato Burritos with Avocado Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes 
Cook time:  90 minutes 
Yield: 6-8 burritos

For the sweet potatoes: 
2 very large or 3-4 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika (smoked or regular paprika is fine)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (depending on preference)
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
3/4 teaspoon sea salt

For the burritos: 
6-8 flour tortillas (8 inch size)*
1 can low sodium black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can Green Giant Mexicorn (or 1 1/2 cups of any Mexicorn blend), drained
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin slices
2 cups of shredded cheese, Fiesta blend or Colby Jack preferred
3 green onions, chopped

For the avocado sauce: 
2 ripe avocados, roughly sliced
1 (7 oz) can of Herdez Salsa Verde (or 1 cup of any salsa verde)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced roughly
1/2 a jalapeno, deseeded and roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
1+ tablespoon lime juice
1+ teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2+ teaspoon black pepper

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Scrub the sweet potatoes clean, and chop them into large, bite-sized chunks, about 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, cumin, smoked hot paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt and pepper. Stir well to make sure the potatoes are lightly coated in oil and spices on all sides. Pour the sweet potatoes onto two medium-large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. You want there to be room between the potatoes. Spread them out into one layer. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the sheets and flip the potatoes with a spatula. Return to oven and continue baking for 25-35 minutes. The potatoes should be crispy on the edges.

Step 2: As the potatoes bake, make your avocado sauce. Place your avocados and salsa verde in a food processor. Blend or pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth.* Add the garlic, jalapeno and cilantro and blend until smooth, then add the lime juice, 1/2 the salt and pepper. Pulse to combine, then taste test your sauce. It should have a bit of a kick from the garlic and jalapeno, but not be spicy. Add more lime juice, salt or pepper, if needed. This step is all about tasting and adjusting the spices to your preference. If you want it spicier, add more jalapeno, etc. Just remember, the sauce cools down the spicy potatoes, so you may want to go easy here. 

Step 3: Once the potatoes have finished baking, lower your oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Move all your potatoes to one baking sheet and line the other baking sheet with a new piece of parchment paper. Lay a tortilla down on the newly lined baking sheet and spoon in about 1/3 cup of the potato pieces down the center of the tortilla, then layer on a spoonful of black beans, corn, sprinkle on some red onion, and lay a few slices of red bell pepper down. Top this with about 1/4 cup cheese, sprinkled down the burrito. Fold in each flap of the tortilla and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining tortillas and ingredients until all are used. Note, over-stuffing your tortilla will make it hard to fold. Sometimes I make giant ones for Dave though. Place the folded burritos in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted completely. Keep an eye on your tortillas to make sure they don't brown on the edges too much. If this starts happening you can stop the baking at that point, or, if the cheese isn't melted yet, cover them with foil. 

Remove the burritos from the oven and slather them with a thick layer of the avocado sauce. Yum! Top with chopped green onions and enjoy!  

*You can use whole grain tortillas to make these burritos healthier

*If you prefer a chunkier guacamole, I suggest adding all your ingredients for the avocado sauce to the food processor and pulsing just a few times to maintain the thicker texture. You can also skip the food processor and opt for mashing the avocados by hand. 

© Two Food LoversAll images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use our images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link back to this post for the recipe.

*Original recipe adapted from Cookie & Kate.