Milani Chicken

cropdoneMuch like many newlyweds of my generation, when I first got married, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen trying to find my bearings and pretend I knew what the hell I was doing.   My mom and cousin were on speed dial for traditional Lebanese food assistance and just basic technique direction. There were so many opinions in my family about how and what to cook I found myself struggling to develop an approach for my tastes and style.  One time in particular I remember having a craving for the chicken kabobs my cousins served in their restaurant.  I didn’t have their recipe but I really wanted something a little more crunchy and garlicky.  Milani Chicken was born.   Even though I didn’t stray very far from home and tradition, my first original concoction has stood the test of time.  It’s a favorite of my family and friends and in permanent rotation in our household.  It also fueled my confidence as a young cook and opened the door for more experimenting in the kitchen.

My son Oliver loves the brown, crunchy bits of garlic the best  He comes behind me and scapes every last morsel from the pan.  If you don’t let the garlic get really toasted and brown then this recipe will just be another chicken dish.  Let it brown and then let it brown a little more.  Just like the pictures.  xoxox

4 boneless breast of chicken
One head of garlic mashed with a mortar and pastle
Juice of one lemon
1/2 C olive oil
2 heaping tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mash the garlic with a mortar and pestle


2. Cut the chicken in cubes. Add all ingredients and mix.



3. Spill into a hot non-stick pan and sautéed to coat each piece.


4.Reduce the heat and allow the chicken and garlic pieces to brown.

5.Stirring occasionally.

Not ready yet. Almost!!
Not ready yet. Almost!!

This dish is done when the garlic is brown and crunchy and each piece of chicken is a caramel color at least on one side.

Now it's done!!
Now it’s done!!

Great on the paleo diet wrapped in lettuce.

For the non-paleo diet See below

Wrap in some pita and topped with cucumber dressing, lettuce, onion and tomatoes and life is good!!  Need a video?  click here

Cucumber Dressing

2 C shredded cucumbers
2 C Sour Cream
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 salt

Shred cucumbers and lightly squeeze out excess water. Add all ingredients mix and enjoy!  Sahtain!!



Roasted Tomato Sauce

German Johnson

A while back my daughter and I were in the city looking at schools.  After spending the day torturing our feet from school to school we had to rush to catch dinner before a show that evening.  Totally against my character, I had not made dinner reservations so we ducked into a little Italian restaurant near the theater.  I wish I remembered the name, but I vividly remember our little table for two against the wall, the warm hue the red checkered tablecloths cast in the room, and the glorious smell of roasting tomatoes, garlic, and fresh-baked bread.

We ordered our standard favorite, fried calamari, and when I first tasted their Marinara sauce, I almost did a ‘Tom Cruise on the chair.’  I kept interjecting my daughters comments about the schools we’d visited with things like ‘is this not the best sauce you’ve ever tasted?  I mean really can you taste the depth, the rounded flavors?  It’s perfect don’t you think?”

I look up to see two enormous beautiful black eyes staring at me across the table.  My daughter knew the signs well.   Before she could say “mom please don’t” I had motioned for the waiter.  Excuse me I said.  Can you tell me a little about this sauce?  Were the tomatoes roasted? Is that basil I taste? Is there wine in here?  It was obvious he was confounded by my questions by his opened mouthed expression.  And judging by the fact he was slightly out of breath in an earnest attempt to accommodate his packed section, he did not have time to answer crazy questions. Coming to his rescue my daughter tells him,  “It’s ok we are late for a show anyway” and before I could get any answers, we had left.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been scurried out of an eating establishment for the same reason.  At least I’ve never gone back to the kitchen like my father used to do.  I know. We are a disparaging lot.

So I was left on my own to figure out a reasonable facsimile, and since then this sauce has been a staple in my house.  As a matter of fact every year at the end of August I make several cases of the summer’s best and last tomato harvest to freeze for the winter.   I wanted to post this recipe now for that reason. This sauce is only as good as the tomatoes you use.


4lb tomatoes peeled and coarsely chopped (I use German Johnson)

1/4 cup finely chopped Garlic

1/4 cup Olive oil

1 jalapeño

salt to taste

Basil or oregano which ever you prefer 

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for just a few minutes so that they will release their skins.

peel tomatoes

Peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop and place all ingredients in a medium to large size casserole depending on how much you are making.


bake at 400 degrees for about 1hr. or until the tomatoes start to brown and thicken.

Remove from oven, blend with a hand blender or blender.



Here is when we usually take some out for immediate use and bag up the rest and freeze it.   We use this sauce for everything and anything that calls for red sauce and sometimes even if it’s not called for.


If you need a visual demonstration click here for a quick video.