Perfect Roast Chicken

Winter is one of those times of year when I love to have something cooking for a while that fills the house with an amazing cozy aroma. Chili, stew, soups-they all fit the bill. So does a fabulous roasting chicken.  I’ll let you in on a little secret. I have a serious mental aversion to touching cooked chicken on the bone-except for buffalo wings for some reason-so if I roast a chicken husband has to be home to help me out.  I don’t think he minds 😉 he gets to pick off as many bits as he likes. But I digress. I do not have an aversion to touching raw chicken. So……

Anyway, here’s the recipe for what really is the Perfect Roast Chicken. Crisp skin. Juicy meat. Look at that beauty!

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Perfect Roast Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 roasting chicken (5-6lbs)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 large lemon, cut in half
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 2-3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thick
  • 4 carrots cut into 2 inch chunks
  • Olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425f.
  2. Remove the giblets, neck etc.. and put aside.  Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Check out your chicken for any feathers, large pieces of fat etc.. and remove.
  3. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Really load it up. Then put the thyme, lemon and garlic inside.
  4. Brush the butter all over the chicken. Liberally salt and pepper the outside then tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wings under the body.
  5. Toss the veggies with olive oil and spread around the bottom of the pan.  Rest your chicken right on top of them.
  6. Roast for 40 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and cook until an instant read thermometer stuck into the thickest part reads 165. It will be about 90 minutes.
  7. Place the chicken and veggies on a tray and let them rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes. Carve and serve.

You’ll want to keep the giblets, neck and carcass for stock. Just throw them all in a ziplock and put them in the freezer. Here is the recipe for the stock!! It’s delicious!

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Recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

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Baby Back Ribs

Years and years ago I asked Husband’s Aunt for her recipe for ribs. She made them for us once and they were so so delicious! Just a bit spicy, a bit sweet, full of flavor and they couldn’t be easier to make. I made them to eat while we watched the Super Bowl. The game and the advertisements were totally underwhelming. The ribs were not!

You could probably use spare ribs with this but I prefer baby backs.

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Baby Back Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 1 rack baby back ribs
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 heaping tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for sesaoning
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Favorite bbq sauce

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300f.
  2. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil
  3. Remove the membrane from the bony underside of the rack. I find it easy to start with a paring knife then just separate it with my hands.
  4. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  5. Starting with the chili powder and ending with the oregano mix the ingredients together and set aside.
  6. Brush or rub the oil onto both sides of the ribs. Rub the spices and herb mix onto both sides of the ribs.
  7. Cook on the prepared baking sheet, meaty side up, until very tender for about 2 hours and 30 minutes then brush all over with your favorite bbq sauce.  Cook for another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and cut between the ribs and serve with extra bbq sauce.

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Baked Rigatoni with Sausage

It’s time again for the recipe swaps!! This time around it’s ‘Blogger’s Choice’ meaning you’re assigned a blog and choose a recipe that sounds great to you.

I was given Kate’s blog and found quite a few that I’d like to make but ultimately picked this one. It sounded great for fall, easy to make and nice for a weekend dinner in.  It was a huge hit with everyone who tasted it.  I lightened up the recipe a bit by using chicken sausage and part skim mozzarella.

I don’t know who thought to put the garlic bread on top of the pasta under the cheese but I’d like to meet them and give them a hug. What  a SUPER idea!!

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Baked Rigatoni with Sausage

 Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 lbs. sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • 8 oz rigatoni, dry, then cooked al dente
  • 4 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tsp separated
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped small
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 26oz can marinara sauce (I used Trader Giotto’s) or use homemade
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped, plus 8 whole fresh leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 3 tbsp
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 10 oz frozen garlic bread loaf, defrosted
  • 3 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into 8 even slices.

Instructions:

  1. Cook the sausage and slice into thin coins. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the 1 tsp olive oil. When hot add the onion and cook for a few minutes to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Reduce heat to low and add the marinara sauce.  Let it heat, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes to incorporate the flavors.
  3. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the cooked sausage, cooked pasta, sauce, 1 tbsp basil, pepper and the 1/2 cup Parmesan. Stir it gently to evenly coat everything.
  6. Gently pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
  7. Make 6 even slices through the garlic bread (resulting in 12 halves top/bottom slices). Using the non-ends line 4 pieces over one half of the pasta and the other 4 pieces over the other half to have 2 rows.  Sprinkle the remaining 3 tbsp of Parmesan over the bread. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the bread and exposed areas of pasta.
  8. Place the 4 tbsp of olive oil in a shallow dish. Gently dip each tomato slice in and coat it with the oil. Shake off the excess and place one tomato slice on top of each piece of bread.
  9. Bake, uncovered, for about 15-25 minutes until cheese is melty and bubbly.  It only took about 15 minutes for me.
  10. Remove the pan and gently tip up one of the tomato slices and slide one of the remaining full basil leaves underneath it. Repeat with each tomato.
  11. Allow the dish to set for about 10 minutes.
  12. Slice and serve.

Note: I sprinkled some more grated Parmesan on the 4 end pieces of the bread, wrapped them in foil and heated them in the oven with the pasta.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Adapted from http://www.katerecipebox.com/2011/09/26/baked-ziti-with-sausage/

 

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Chicken Curry Soup

I based this soup on the Curried Udon Soup in the Birthday 2014 issue of BBC Good Food.  I LOVE curry and don’t cook with it as often as I should. This is a wonderfully warming, light soup which is surprisingly filling and satisfying thanks to the chicken, shirataki noodles and tons of veggies.

I find that shirataki noodles are really great for soup because they don’t get mushy or disintegrate like regular pasta noodles and they reheat perfectly. I cook them separate initially to get rid of the moisture and incorporate a bit of sesame and curry flavor into them. I like this brand the most. If you’ve never cooked with them don’t worry-they’re easy. I’ll explain fully below.

Yummy? check

Healthy? check

Easy to make? check

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Chicken Curry Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp yellow curry* separated
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 8oz packages Tofu Shirataki spaghetti noodles, drained, rinsed and drained again
  • 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 16oz package frozen stir-fry veggies (I used Trader Joe’s)

Instructions:

  1. In a dutch oven or large pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook almost completely. Add the onion and cook for a minute. Add the 2 tbsp curry powder and stir. Add the coconut milk, a bit at a time, stirring. Add the chicken broth, honey and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. While the soup is cooking put the sesame oil in a pan over medium/high heat. When hot add the noodles and stir for a few minutes to evaporate some moisture.  Add the remaining curry powder and continue stirring and cooking until almost dry. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the vegetables and cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Place 1/4 of the noodles into the bottom of each bowl. Ladle 1/4 of the soup over the noodles.

Note: for left overs store the noodles separately from the soup. Add the noodles before reheating.

Regarding the preparation of the noodles: they are packaged in liquid. To prepare pour the noodles into a colander and shake off as much moisture as possible.  Rinse them with clean water and drain again.  At this point you can put them aside until they’re ready to use. I find that cooking them in a pan until they’re almost dry really makes a difference.

*I used the British Curry from Teeny Tiny Spice Company of Vermont.

Rice and Beef Mexi-Skillet

This one-pan meal is very delicious and very easy to make.  It’s a big mash-up of yummy–ground beef, rice and beans, spices and cheese.  You probably have most, if not everything, to make this in your pantry already.  I love weeknight dishes that I can set to simmer for a few minutes-it allows me to clean everything up while it finishes cooking.

Feel free to change the spices around to your particular taste. The recipe below gives a bit of a kick but it’s not spicy (in my opinion anyway).

This would also be great on nachos, Husband ate it rolled in a tortilla, I just ate it straight out of the bowl. Both helpings 🙂  Leftovers reheat beautifully.

 

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Rice and Beef Mexi-Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced fine
  • 1 15oz can crushed tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp Goya seasoning
  • 1 8oz box Goya Rice and Beans (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup light mexican blend shredded cheese (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • Fat free sour cream (for topping)
  • Sliced avocado (for topping)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium/high heat. Cook the beef until nearly cooked through, drain, then add the onion and garlic, cook until onion is soft -just a few minutes.  Drain fat again if needed. Then add the tomatoes, seasoning and spices and mix to combine.  Transfer the beef to a deep plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. In the same pan bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the contents of the rice box and boil for 30 seconds.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed-about 25 minutes. If necessary add a few extra tbsp of water to cook rice.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the beef and then stir in the cheese.  Let it rest for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
  4. Garnish and serve.

Greatly adapted from Goya’s Cheeseburger Rice recipe.

 

Delicata Squash Chili–slow cooker

So we’re coming up on the last weekend of summer. What a fantastic summer it has been-full of outdoor fun, friends, family and baseball.

But I’m ready for fall. It’s such a gorgeous time of year-the colors of the trees, the crisp blue or gloomy grey skies, fall festivals and I can finally pull my boots out again. I miss them all summer.

Even though there’s still summer left last Saturday started cold and rainy. So naturally chili came to mind immediately. The result of pulling different items from my pantry was delicious! Just enough heat, different tastes and textures and it’s very very very good for you.

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If you’re not familiar with Delicata squash it’s shaped like a giant pickle and is green and white striped. You can eat the skins but I prefer to remove them for this recipe. The taste is similar to acorn squash-perhaps a touch sweeter. They’re much easier to cut and peel than butternut or acorn squashes. Here’s a photo of the cap of the squash and the diced pieces. I forgot to take a photo of the complete squash but you get the idea 🙂
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Delicata Squash Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 4 cups (about 2) delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 16oz can low sodium black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 16oz can low sodium red kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 20 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
  • 8ozs frozen corn or canned corn rinsed and drained
  • 4ozs green chilis
  • 1 & 1/2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • fat free feta cheese for garnish
  • sliced avocado for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a shallow pan over medium high heat melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, to soften.  Add garlic and stir to cook. Add spices and cook for 1 minute to coat and heat.
  2. Place the onion mixture and all ingredients above through and including the chicken broth, into the bowl of the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour then low for 4 hours.
  3. Spoon into bowls and garnish with feta and avocado and serve.

Makes: 12 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Reheats and freezes beautifully.

To make vegetarian swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

 

Lone Star Chicken Spaghetti

Maybe I live in the wrong part of the country or don’t pay attention to enough of what goes on in Texas but I’d never heard of ‘chicken spaghetti’ before I saw this recipe on Maeghan‘s blog.  Which is ironic because she had never heard of it either until she came across it in a cookbook, The Homesick Texan’s Family Table. Well she made it and was nice enough to post the recipe. I’m glad she shared it because it’s DELICIOUS!!!  A sort of spaghetti and cheese with some Tex-Mex flavors and chicken.  Um, yes please.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of it either.  Well-today’s your lucky day because this is one super-tasty, easy to make, cheesy dish. It has a hint of heat-just right for the dish if you ask me and I like spicy, but with the chicken and cheese I didn’t want overpowering hotness.

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Lone Star Chicken Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • 8 ozs spaghetti
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1&1/2 tbsp light butter (for panko #3 below)
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 tbsp light unsalted butter (for cheese sauce #5 below)
  • 2 tbsp AP flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 cups freshly grated light sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups freshly grated light monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, and a bit more for garnish
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-sized pieces.

Instructions:

  1. Turn on broiler and move top oven rack so that it’s about 6 inches from the broiler.  Arrange tomatoes and jalapenos skin side up in one layer on a foil lined baking sheet along with the onions and garlic. Broil for 5-7 minutes until skin blisters. Remove and let cool.  Reduce heat to 350F.
  2. Cook spaghetti until it’s al dente in a pot of lightly salted water. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  3. While the spaghetti is cooking place butter in a small sauce pan and melt. Add the panko and toast until just golden brown. Set aside.
  4. Spray a dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a deep sauce pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until well combined and slightly browned-about 30-45 seconds. Slowly pour in the milk and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens and will coat the back of a spoon, 3-5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in most of the cheese, about 1/4 cup at a time, leaving a small bit of both aside for later.
  6. Put the chicken, spaghetti, roasted vegetables and pepper, herbs and spices and lime juice to the waiting dutch oven and stir to mix evenly. Pour the cheese sauce over and stir to evenly combine. Sprinkle the reserved grated cheese and panko over the top.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling.
  8. Sprinkle with reserved cilantro and serve.

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Yummy bubbling cheese!!

Adapted from The Way to His Heart.

Baked Chicken with Herb & Parmesan Panko

I’ve made this chicken a few times since I found the recipe I’ve liked it so much. Each time it’s been fast and easy to put together and comes out perfectly done.  You probably already have all of the ingredients on hand.

What a great healthy weeknight dish! Enjoy!!

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Baked Chicken with Herb & Parmesan Panko

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp light butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1&1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped small
  • 1/2 tbsp rosemary, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped small
  • 2 lbs (4 half pound pieces) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a small rimmed baking sheet just large enough to hold the 4 pieces of chicken with parchment paper.  Set it aside.
  3. Spread breadcrumbs out into a wide bowl or dish.  Use a bowl large enough to stir the breadcrumbs around in.
  4. In a small skillet melt the butter, then add the garlic and stir gently for 2 minutes.  Set it aside for a few minutes to cool then pour it over the breadcrumbs in the dish and stir to evenly coat them then stir in the cheese and herbs, stirring again to mix evenly. 
  5. Set the 4 chicken pieces next to each other.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Using 1/4th of the dijon for each breast, spread the mustard evenly on the top side of the chicken then press the mustard side into the breadcrumbs. Set the chicken, breadcrumb side up, on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake 18-20 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden and juices run clear or a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165.

Adapted from Rachaelrayshow.com’s recipe.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana

The fist time that I had this delicious pasta was many years ago at my Father’s house.  I immediately loved the flavors of the sauce-the pancetta, the onion, the tomatoes….it just goes together so well.

As it turns out he bought the cookbook which contains the recipe while on vacation in Italy.  Ironically, it’s an American book published in CA named Sunset Italian Cook Book. I ordered the book immediately from Amazon. I had to buy a used copy as it’s no longer in print. There are a TON of delicious recipes in it too.  If you ever come across a copy pick it up.  Seems like it was part of a series of cook books that they published in the late 70s, early 80s.

None of that matters though. What matters is the deliciousness and ease of making this dish. It’s one of our favorites. You could sub bacon for the pancetta but please don’t if you can possibly avoid it.  The pancetta gives a completely different flavor.

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Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Ingredients:

  • 1/4lb. sliced pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch squares
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 14.5oz can crushed or diced fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Organic)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a vernacchia)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2/3 lb bucatini

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat cook the pancetta, stirring frequently, until slightly crispy and brown. Remove it with a slotted spoon, allowing as much of the oil to drip back into and remain in the pan as possible.  When all of the pancetta has been removed measure the oil that remains in a measuring cup. You need 1/4 cup. If you have enough great, if not top it off with olive oil.
  2. Pour the oil back into the pan over medium heat and add the onion and chilis.  Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes (and the juices), wine and parsley. Stir to combine and break up any large chunks of tomatoes.
  3. Adjust heat so that the sauce simmers gently, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes until sauce has thickened a bit.
  4. While the sauce is cooking cook the bucatini in a large pot of gently salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta, saving 1/4 cup of the cooking water, and return it to the pot. Add the cooking water to the pasta and stir.
  5. Add the pancetta to the tomato mixture in the pan, stir to combine, and then add all of the sauce to the pasta.  Stir to distribute.
  6. Serve on a large platter or individually.

Adapted from Sunset Italian Cookbook.

http://www.amazon.com/Sunset-Italian-cook-book-Editors/dp/037602464X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404755954&sr=1-1&keywords=sunset+italian+cookbook

 

 

 

 

Spicy Chicken, Crispy Halloumi and Avocado Wrap

While in London last month we had dinner one night at Nando’s which is a chicken restaurant with locations all over the UK (and world?) but there’s only one or 2 in th US. It’s a South African PERi-PERi chicken restaurant and it was delicious. I had a wrap with chicken and ordered a side of avocado and grilled halloumi with it. I love that they had that cheese-you never see it on menus here.

When I returned home I wanted to make a similar sandwich as the sauce was so delicious!  I found that my Fairway Market sold the sauces-yay! Check your market-they may sell it. If not the closest that I would use is Franks Wing Sauce with a touch of sour cream mixed in.  The avocado is so nice and creamy and soothing, offsetting the spice of the sauce, the grilled cheese gives just a touch of crunch and tangy goodness.

This is not a tremendous over-stufffed wrap, it’s very simple with very easy ingredients which compliment each other wonderfully.

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Spicy Chicken, Crispy Halloumi and Avocado Wrap

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, 6-8 ozs
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  • half of an avocado
  • 4 ozs halloumi cheese
  • Nando’s Medium Sauce
  • 2 whole wheat wraps

Instructions:

  1. Slice the chicken breast in half horizontally to make two pieces of similar thickness. season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill-either outside or with a grill pan, panini press etc.. then chop into small pieces. Drizzle with a little of the Nando’s sauce, stir and set aside, covered, to keep warm.
  3. While the chicken is cooking slice the cheese into 1/4 inch strips and place in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Watch it carefully. It will heat and begin to darken. when it reaches a nice brown, flip it over to cook the other side. Remove and set on a board. Cut into long strips.
  4. Slice the avocado into thin strips.
  5. Warm the wraps in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
  6. Starting with the cheese spoon half of the cheese down the center of each wrap, followed by half of the chicken, followed by a drizzle (or river-it’s up to you) of the sauce finishing with the avocado.

Makes 2 wraps

If you’ve never had halloumi cheese-it’s a tangy, salty cheese that can be heated but won’t melt-it jut gets a little crispy. I’ve also seen it sold as ‘grilling cheese’.

 

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