Sometimes on Sunday’s I shop. I confess, this Sunday is a little bigger spree than normal.

Tatjana RhodesTatjana and friend in Thailand, 1994

I am planning (shhhhhhh, don’t tell her – I want it to be a surprise) to book a trip to celebrate Tatjana’s upcoming birthday in August.Β Twenty-five is a major one after all, and we have a tradition of exploring different parts of the world whenever either of us hits a milestone.

Tatjana and Julie Anne RhodesThe Serengeti, Tanzania – 2004

Ahhhh, memories that make it hard to forget where you were, and what you were doing at a certain time in your life. Fond memories that last forever, although her eighteenth in Africa almost didn’t end too well. Those viper bites did give me a lot of dinner small talk and blog mileage though, and the rest of the trip was one of the most exciting adventures of my life.

Mexico, 2007

Tatjana’s twenty-first wasn’t without incident either – first I made it to the finals of Ultimate Recipe Showdown, forcing us to postpone our celebratory trip, and then we watched Hurricane Dean hit the Yucatan on the news in the studio. Let’s hope this birthday trip is a little less life threatening. We did finally go to Mexico the following New Years Eve.

Jewels in Venice, 1982

Will it be rafting down the Amazon? I’ve always wanted to take Taj to see the Taj Mahal and we could do a tiger safari, or maybe we should see the Great Wall of China? Tatjana has never been to Venice and I haven’t been to Italy in eons (I swear the stork dropped me in the wrong country by mistake – I love everything Italian). Decisions, decisions! You will just have to wait to see where I take her, but I will share my flavor memories of Thailand (we spent my thirty-fifth birthday there).

Chicken Satay (beef, pork, shrimp)

Don’t let all the ingredients scare you. It is very easy to make. The great thing about this recipe is that you can taste as you go along, and alter slightly to suit your specific taste. If you don’t care for spicy? Cut back on the Srirracha sauce. Prefer a less sweet flavor? Use less coconut sugar. If you can’t find an ingredient, others are easily substituted, or you can omit some of the spices without losing the complete integrity of the dish – just a little of the complexity.

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

CHICKEN

1 pound chicken tenders
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil or cilantro
2 lemon grass stalks, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 Kafir lime leaves or 2 teaspoons lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Thai chiles, membrane and seeds removed, optional
20 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes

PEANUT SAUCE

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon coconut sugar or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, mince
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce or 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, plus more if a spicier sauce is desired1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

CHICKEN

1). Whisk together all marinade ingredients. Add chicken tenders, toss well to coat, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours to overnight.

2). Prepare a hot grill or preheat broiler. Remove chicken tenders, shake off excess marinade and thread each tender onto individual soaked wooden skewers.

3). Grill or broil chicken skewers for 2-3 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature drizzled with peanut sauce and more for dipping.

PEANUT SAUCE

1). Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until well combined.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

This is usually eaten on its own, straight off of the skewer, but here I served it with theΒ Thai cucumber salad from my Jewels Turkey Jasmine Burgers. The flavors go great together.

VARIATIONS:

Try making this recipe with sliced flank steak, pork, or shrimp instead of (or in addition to) the chicken.

Tatjana and Julie Anne RhodesCroatia, 2009

Where do you think we should go on our latest journey? Is there someplace you have been recently that you would recommend?

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