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Showing posts with label Chicken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicken. Show all posts

Friday, March 27, 2015

Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs with Onion and Peas

Braising meats is a great way to get maximum flavor into a dish, and this method of cooking works especially well with chicken.  By starting the dish on the stove top, then finishing the cooking process in the oven, the flavors are allowed to develop while keeping the chicken moist and tender.

For this dish we used balsamic vinegar for acidity and balanced it with a broth of chicken stock and sour cream.  Tender white onions, sweet baby peas and a few herbs create a delicious sauce that tastes wonderful over rice or noodles.

This is an easy one-pot meal that can be ready to serve in about an hour and the leftovers make a great lunch the next day.  Enjoy!!

3 TB  Butter
3 TB  Olive Oil
8  Skin-on Bone-in Chicken Thighs
Ground Black Pepper
1 large  White Onion, thinly sliced
1 cup  Chicken Broth
1/4 cup  Balsamic Vinegar
1 10-oz pkg  Frozen Peas, thawed
1-1/2 tsp  Dried Tarragon
1-1/2 tsp  Dried Parsley
1/2 cup  Sour Cream
Cooked Rice or Noodles

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large deep pot, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and place in the pot, skin side up.  Cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 7 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook 5 minutes longer.

Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a platter; cover to keep warm.  Add the sliced onion to the pot and cook for 2 minutes, then add the broth and vinegar to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  (Skim off some of the chicken fat at this point, if desired.)  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the peas and sour cream, stirring to combine, then return the chicken to the pot, skin side up.

Place the pot in the oven and cook for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.  Taste test and adjust the salt and pepper, if needed.  Serve over prepared rice or noodles.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lemon and Tarragon Chicken Noodle Soup

For day 28 of Soup Month 2014 we made a hearty and soul warming Lemon and Tarragon Chicken Noodle Soup.  With the addition of a bit of lemon juice and fresh tarragon to brighten the broth, this soup is just what you need on a cold Fall evening.

Nothing makes you feel better than a bowl of chicken noodle soup and this dinner can be ready to serve in about 25 minutes, so it makes a great weeknight meal.  This recipe is also open to a lot of options.  You could add peas or carrots to the mix, adding them in with the leeks, or add a bit of white wine to the broth or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.  Just use what you have on hand to expand on this simple, but delicious recipe.  Enjoy!!

2 cups  Chicken Stock
2 cups  Milk
2-1/2 cups  Water
10 oz  Sea Shell Pasta (or any shape you have on hand will work)
2 TB  Butter
1  Leek, white part only, thinly sliced
3 cups  Cooked Chicken
1 TB  Chopped Tarragon
3 TB  Lemon Juice
3 TB  Flour
Salt and Ground Black Pepper to Taste

In a large soup pot combine the chicken stock, milk and water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add the pasta, plus 1 teaspoon of salt, to the pot and simmer until the pasta is just almost al dente, but not fully cooked.  You should have about 2 cups of liquid left in the pan, but if you have less you can add a little more milk or chicken stock, if needed.

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the leeks until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken, tarragon and lemon juice to the skillet and stir to combine, and cook the mixture over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the chicken mixture with flour and stir until the flour is fully combined.

Add the chicken mixture to the pasta, stirring gently to combine, until the broth has thickened.  If needed, you can add extra liquid at this point if you prefer more broth in the soup.  Either milk or chicken stock can be added, or even a bit of water, but adding extra mix will give the soup a nice creamy texture.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.  Makes about 6 servings.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yucatan Lime Soup

Ahhh...it's finally Friday!  After a long work week, we have the perfect quick and easy soup for you to make this weekend.  For day 17 of Soup Month 2014 we made our own version of Yucatan Lime Soup also known as Sopa de Lima.

There are many versions of this soup, some of which call for allspice berries or 20 cloves of garlic or banana chilies, but we wanted to keep this soup simple.  We wanted this to be a standby recipe that can be made on any weeknight, without needing a lot of special ingredients, and I think we came up with the perfect recipe.

I'm always a fan of making a big roast chicken (about 5 or 5-1/2 pounds) for Sunday dinner, knowing I will have enough chicken left over for an easy weeknight meal.  Sometimes we use the leftover chicken to make Baked Chicken Chimichangas or Chicken Fajitas, and this recipe will surely be added to the list of options for those leftovers.

After a quick saute for the vegetables, the chicken and broth are added to the soup along with crushed tomatoes, a bit of spicy salsa and lots of lime juice.  This is a soup that you really want to be able to taste the lime juice, but you can adjust this up or down according to your own preferences.  We used 5 tablespoons of lime juice and everyone agreed the flavor was great.  I might have liked just 1 more tablespoon to increase the citrus, but I love lime!

The crunchy corn tortilla strips that are sprinkled on top of the soup only take a few minutes to prepare, but they are worth the extra bit of work.  They add a nice crunch to the soup and, if you sprinkle them with just a dusting of salt, this will add to the flavor of the soup, too.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Canola Oil
1 small  White Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
2 or 3  Serrano Chilies, finely minced
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 TB  Lime Juice
3 cups  Cooked Chicken, chopped (leftover chicken works great)
5 cups  Chicken Broth
1 cup  Crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup  Hot Chunky Salsa (we used Pace)
4 to 6 TB  Lime Juice (to taste)
Limes, cut into wedges for Garnish
6  Corn Tortillas, cut into thin strips, fried and drained on paper towels **

In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, chilies, pepper, salt and 1 tablespoon of lime juice.  Stir to combine and saute until the onion is translucent.

Add the chicken, broth, tomatoes and salsa to the pot and stir.  Simmer over medium heat for 20  minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 4 tablespoons of lime juice to the pot and taste test, adding another 1 or 2 tablespoons of juice depending on your own taste.  Serve with lime wedges and crunchy tortilla strips on top.

** Note:  To make the tortilla strips, heat a 1/2-inch of canola oil in a medium skillet, over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot and shimmering, carefully drop the tortilla strips into the oil and stir gently until the strips are golden. Remove the strips and drain on paper towels, dusting lightly with salt, if desired.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Chicken and Poblano Chili

For day 3 of Soup Month 2014 we gave ordinary chili a major upgrade with this Chicken and Poblano Chili.  Not only is this a delicious bowl of chili for those cool fall evenings, this chili is even pretty healthy.

This "family-friendly chili" (as in not super spicy) has wonderful layers of flavor starting with the homemade chicken stock (or you could use packaged), and it's well worth the extra time to make your own stock.  The poblanos add a rich medium spice to the chili and the smoked paprika adds a hint of smokey flavor and a beautiful orange-red color.  Since the chili is not overly spicy,  it's perfect for kids, but you can always add the extra chili powder and cumin, as noted below, if you prefer a more spicy chili.

We used great northern beans in this chili because of their delicate flavor and the way they absorb the flavor of the broth.  (If your kids are a little hesitant to eat beans in their chili, try mashing some of the beans into the broth.  Just add a bit of water if the chili becomes too thick.)  Great northern beans can be added to almost any chili or soup and they are a good source of fiber, iron, potassium and protein.

5  Chicken Quarters (leg and thigh), skin removed
4 quarts  Water
2 TB  Olive Oil
1  White Onion, finely diced
1  Poblano Pepper, seeds removed and chopped
2 TB  Minced Garlic
2 TB  Chili Powder  (add 1/2 TB more for more heat)
2 tsp  Cumin (add 1 tsp more for more heat)
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp  Smoked Paprika
2 15 oz cans  Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
2 TB  Yellow Cornmeal

In a large soup pot, boil the chicken quarters in 4 quarts of water over high heat until fully cooked, and the meat pulls easily from the bone, about 45 - 60 minutes.  Remove chicken from the pot, reserving the chicken stock, and cool until the chicken is cool enough is handle.  Remove the meat from the bones, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and paprika, and stir to combine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the cooked chicken, beans and 4 cups of the reserved broth to the pot.  (If you do not have enough broth just add a bit of water to equal the 4 cups.)  Simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in the cornmeal and simmer until the chili is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with a sprinkle of diced jalapeno peppers for a little extra spice and a few tortilla chips on the side.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NuWave Oven Italian Pepperoni Chicken Thighs

I'm always looking for new ways to use my NuWave, and cooking chicken is my favorite.  The  NuWave is a great way to roast chicken because so much of the fat is drained off during the cooking process.  The chicken remains moist and tender, but the fat melts off and into the drip pan for easy disposal.  And, by lining the drip pan with heavy duty foil, clean up is fast and easy.

So tonight we tried something new, and this is a super easy recipe for those of you looking for a new way to use your NuWave Oven. We used bone-in chicken thighs and placed two large pepperoni slices under the skin.  Next, a spoonful of garlic olive oil sauce on top added an extra layer of flavor to these perfectly cooked thighs.  Quick and simple, but full of flavor.

8  Chicken Thighs
16  Large Pepperoni Slices

Olive Oil Sauce

1/3 cup  Olive Oil
2 TB  Fresh Minced Garlic
1-1/2 tsp  Dried Oregano, crushed
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Onion Powder
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper

In a small glass bowl combine all sauce ingredients, stirring until blended.  Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before applying to the chicken.

Rinse the chicken thighs under cool water and pat dry with paper towels.  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, then slide two overlapping pepperoni slices under the skin of each thigh, replacing the skin when finished.  Place the thighs skin side down on the 4" rack leaving a bit of space between the pieces, if possible.

Place the heat setting to HI and cook for 12 minutes.  When the timer beeps, turn the thighs over, to skin side up, and brush the tops with the garlic olive oil mixture.  Reset the timer for 12 minutes on HI and press start.  When the timer beeps again check the chicken to make sure the juices are clear and the chicken is cooked through.  If more cooking time is needed, rearrange the chicken pieces to ensure even browning, and add a few extra minutes to the timer.  (The thighs we used were all a medium to large size so I added 3 extra minutes to the cooking time and they turned out beautiful.)

Place the chicken pieces on a platter, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Crispy Chicken Sandwich

During those endless back-to-school shopping trips to the mall, lots of Moms give in to the many, many requests for lunch.  After hearing "I'm hungry" a few too many times, how can we not succumb to all of those requests, especially when you see the Chick-Fil-A sign? Yum.

This is one of the few fast food sandwiches that I enjoy and yes, I know it's fried and not exactly a healthy sandwich, but they just taste so good!  And now you can make them at home.

This is a crispy and perfectly spicy sandwich that is so close, almost exactly, and maybe just a bit better than the mall variety.  With two layers of seasonings you get a combination of hot sauce, lots of pepper and just a bit of cayenne, to create a spicy sandwich with flavor that pops!

This sandwich starts with boneless skinless chicken breasts that are sliced in half horizontally, which allows the chicken fillets to cook quickly.  Next we marinate the chicken in a mixture of buttermilk, Frank's hot sauce and a few seasonings, which adds the first layer of flavor, followed by a quick dredge in seasoned flour.  The addition of a drizzle of buttermilk to the flour mixture adds delicious little crispy pieces to the finished sandwich.  All you need to complete this creation is a whole grain bun, (to keep it a little healthy!), a bit of mayo and a few sliced dill pickles.  Enjoy!!

1-3/4 lbs  Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, sliced in half horizontally

1 cup  Buttermilk
2 TB  Frank's Hot Sauce
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Dredging Flour Mixture
1-1/3 cups Flour
1 tsp  Seasoned Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp  Paprika
1-1/2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1-1/2 tsp  Onion Powder
1/2 to 1 tsp  Cayenne Pepper, adjust according to preference
2 TB  Buttermilk

Canola Oil for Frying

Whole Grain Sandwich Buns
Sliced Dill Pickles for Garnish

In a medium glass bowl combine the buttermilk, Frank's sauce and the salt and pepper.  Add the chicken fillets to the buttermilk, turning to evenly coat each piece.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours, if needed, turning the chicken occasionally.

In a medium bowl combine the flour and the rest of the dry seasonings and stir to combine.  Drizzle the 2 tablespoons of buttermilk into the seasoned flour, stirring lightly with a fork to create small clumps in the batter.

Use tongs to remove the fillets from the marinade, letting the excess liquid drip off.  Dredge each fillet in the flour mixture, pressing down and turning to coat each side, then place the chicken on a platter.  Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2-inch of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Carefully add two or three pieces of chicken to the pan, without crowding them, and fry for 4 - 5 minutes or until crispy.  Turn the chicken over and cook the other side for about 4 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, being careful not to overcook the chicken. Remove chicken from the pan and place on paper towels to drain.  Serve on sandwich buns with mayonnaise and dill pickle slices.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chicken Yakitori Skewers

During these hot summer months my favorite dinners are anything prepared on the grill.  Quick, easy and light dinners and you don't have to heat up the house?  Those are things that make every Mom happy and this meal is something the kids will like, too.

This is a twist on the Japanese classic Chicken Yakatori, which when translated literally means "grilled" (yaki) and "fowl" (tori), which refers to marinated pieces of chicken that are skewered and grilled.  By brushing the skewers several times with a glaze of soy, mirin, sake and just a bit of sugar, you get a light but flavorful coating on the chicken and veggies, and the glaze helps keep the chicken moist and juicy.

We included mushrooms, green onions, and green peppers on our skewers but you could easily change this to use whatever ingredients you already have on hand.  Chunks of regular yellow onion, red or yellow peppers or even slices of summer squash would taste great with the soy and mirin glaze.

The skewers tasted delicious served with steamed brown rice and a package of steamed edamame, which cook quickly in microwave packs and are the perfect finger foods for kids. Enjoy!!

1-1/2 lbs  Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
2  Green Peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
8  Green Onions
16 oz  Mushrooms, any variety such as Portabello or White Button
4 TB  Mirin
4 TB  Soy Sauce
4 TB  Sake
1-1/2 tsp  Sugar
Bamboo Skewers - about 12

Thread the cubes of chicken onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers, alternating with pieces of green onion, green pepper and mushrooms.

In a small bowl combine the mirin, soy sauce, sake and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Heat a grill to medium-high heat and brush the skewers with the glaze.  Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 1 minute then turn and apply a second layer of the glaze.  Repeat this process until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, about 6 - 8 minutes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Rosemary

Since I've always loved lemon and rosemary together, this dish was an immediate favorite for me and it came together as a bit of an experiment.  I love to cook with chicken thighs because they have so much more flavor than chicken breasts, and they are also much less expensive.  For a quick weeknight meal, tossing a few ingredients together became a very delicious meal.

With a package of chicken thighs, a bit of leftover white wine, some fresh rosemary from the garden and one lemon, this dish was ready to serve in about 45 minutes.

The trick to this dish is to get a really nice seared exterior on the chicken before you turn it over.  (Of course, I had one chicken thighs that lost its skin, so he was the lonely skinless thigh in the middle of the pan..lol)  Once that skin is seared, all of the juices are locked in, the skin gets nice and crispy, and you're ready to build the flavors around the chicken.

8 - 10  Bone-In and Skin-On Chicken Thighs
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Olive Oil
1/2 cup  White Wine, divided
Several Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
1  Large Lemon, cut in half, one half sliced the other half for juicing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Lightly season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, then place the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and cook for 5 minutes, without turning.

Reduce heat to medium.  Using a spatula, carefully loosen the chicken without turning and continue to cook until the skin is golden, about 10 minutes.  Pour 1/4 cup white wine over the chicken along with the juice from 1/2 of the lemon, and tuck 2 or 3 springs of rosemary under the chicken.  Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and turn the chicken over, pour the remaining 1/4 cup of wine over chicken and cook about 5 minutes longer until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.  (If you are using larger chicken thighs you might need an extra 5 - 10 minutes of cooking time.)

Remove the chicken from the oven and remove the rosemary sprigs and discard.  Scatter the lemon slices on top of the chicken, cover and let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve with steamed brown rice and roasted asparagus.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chicken & Linguine with Spinach-Parmesan Sauce

Getting a healthy dinner on the table in a hurry is always a challenge, and some nights it's nearly impossible.  But this meal is sure to please everyone in your family and you can have it cooked and ready to serve in less than 30 minutes.

For this recipe we started with boneless and skinless chicken breasts that are thinly sliced, which will allow them to cook very quickly.  Next we made a creamy sauce of spinach and Parmesan cheese that reminds me of a rich, old-fashioned creamed spinach.  And for some extra color and nutrients, we added strips of sweet red bell pepper.  A dash of lemon juice adds just a touch of citrus to bring all of those flavors together.

For this dish we used whole wheat linguine and my kids said they actually like it better than the regular pasta.  With lots of fiber and protein, this is delicious pasta.

3/4 cup  Flour
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Dried Basil
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
3  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 1-3/4 lbs)
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
3 TB  Olive Oil, divided
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1  Medium Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
8 oz  Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and drained (or use fresh, cleaned spinach)
3 TB  Flour
1/2 cup  Chicken Broth
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream  or  Half and Half
1  cup  Milk  (we used 1%)
1/2  cup  Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1  13.25 oz Box  Linguine (or pasta of your choice)
Extra Grated Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

Slice each of the 3 chicken breasts horizontally, so you have 6 thin fillets.  By cutting the chicken this way the meat will cook very quickly and allow the meat to be nice and juicy inside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  In a shallow dish combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and garlic powder.  Stir mixture to combine. 

Heat a large pot of water and cook the linguine according to package directions until al dente, about 8-9 minutes.  While the water is heating you can get the chicken started.

In a large skillet, heat 2 TB of olive oil until hot, over medium-high heat.  Coat each of the chicken fillets in the flour mixture, place the chicken in the pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  When chicken is nearly finished cooking, drizzle with the juice of 1/2 of a lemon, and let sizzle for 1 minute.  Remove the cooked chicken to a baking dish, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven until the pasta and sauce are ready.

Using the same skillet the chicken was cooked in, heat 1 TB olive oil over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and red pepper to the pan and saute for about 4 minutes until veggies are softened, then add the spinach to the pan and saute for 2 minutes longer.  Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir to evenly coat.  Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken broth, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes, then add the cream (or half and half), milk and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to the pan and stir.  Reduce heat to medium-low until ready to serve.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and place a portion of pasta on each plate, top with a spoon of sauce, then top with a sliced chicken fillet and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tuscan Peperoncini Chicken with Mushrooms

Peperoncini peppers are a great addition to sandwiches, salads or even pizza, and they are a must for any antipasto platter.  The peppers are not overly hot or spicy, but have a mild flavor and a slight crunch. With those things in mind, I've always wanted to incorporate them into a main entree, and the results were excellent.

We wanted to keep the meal light so we started with boneless and skinless chicken breasts.  By slicing the chicken in half horizontally you get 6 equal portions that will cook quickly, in just a few teaspoons of olive oil.

Next we added lots of veggies.  Onions, green peppers, mushrooms and garlic were cooked until tender, then seasoned with a generous amount of Italian spices, which gives the sauce its rustic flavor.  Next, the peperoncini peppers are added with a little white wine for acidity.   The sauce is completed with a mixture of cornstarch and chicken broth which thickens the sauce just a touch, without making the sauce too thick.  The combination of thyme, oregano and the peppers add a remarkable amount of flavor to this dish while keeping the whole meal light.

We used 8 whole peperoncini peppers for this recipe but add more or less to suit your own taste.  You could also use red or yellow peppers if you have those on hand.  The chicken and veggies were served with a spoonful of sauce over vermicelli noodles, but any type of pasta would work.  Requiring just 30 minutes to prepare, this makes a quick weeknight meal that your family will love.   As a bonus, if you have any leftovers they make a great cold lunch.  Just cut leftover chicken into bite sized pieces, add a serving of pasta and a few spoonfuls of sauce and lunch is ready.   Enjoy!!

3 large  Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 1-1/2 lbs)
2 tsp  Olive Oil
1 large  Yellow Onion, sliced
1 large  Green Pepper, sliced
8 oz  Portobello Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 TB  Minced Garlic
8 (or more)  Peperoncini Peppers, coarsely chopped
2 tsp  Dried Oregano, crushed
1 tsp  Dried Thyme, crushed
1 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
3/4 cup  White Wine
2 TB  Cornstarch
2 cups  Chicken Broth
Cooked Pasta of Your Choice

Lay the chicken on a cutting board and slice each piece horizontally so you have 6 equal portion of chicken.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add the chicken to the skillet and brown for 3 or 4 minutes on each side until the meat is just cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet saute the onions, green pepper, mushrooms and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the peperoncini peppers, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan and stir.  Add the white wine to the pan and bring the mixture to a low boil.

In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and chicken broth stirring until smooth.  Add the mixture to the skillet and cook until the sauce thickens slightly and comes to a low boil.  Add the chicken and any accumulated juices back to the skillet and heat 5 minutes or until warm.

Serve over vermicelli or angel hair pasta with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if you like a bit of extra heat.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Baked Chicken Strips and Sweet Potato Waffles

Have you ever heard of Chicken and Waffles?  Served together, as in on the same plate? No?  Well, I had never heard of such a meal either until moving to the South.  I saw this meal on a handful of menus around town and it was mentioned a few times in conversations, but I never really thought about it.

The most common description for this meal is a piece of fried chicken served on top of a buttermilk waffle, then everything is drizzled with maple syrup.  It sounded a little odd, but intriguing at the same time.  So I had to make this meal just for fun and I thought my kids would get a kick out of the idea of chicken and waffles for dinner.  The funny thing was, we all loved it!

We decided to make our own interpretation of this meal and try to make it a bit healthier.  Instead of using fried chicken, we went with lightly breaded and baked white meat chicken strips.  Not "authentic" according to most sources, but healthier.  The recipe below for chicken strips can be used for lots of other meals, too, and you can even spice them up a bit to suit your own taste.  (See the note below for alternate spices.)

The waffles were another project altogether.  I've read many recipes for pumpkin waffles, which are quite tasty, but since I had some leftover mashed sweet potatoes, and I had always wanted to try a waffle made out of sweet potatoes, the recipe kind of came together on its own. Sweet potatoes + chicken + maple syrup? It was sounding better and better!

This was the first time I've used a waffle iron but I'm already in love with it.  The waffles had a light airy texture inside and the exterior was nice and crispy.  Perfect!  In addition to maple syrup we also tried a drizzle of honey on the waffles and it was also delicious, but we all voted in favor of the maple syrup.

Although this recipe seems a little strange I do hope you get to try it.  The flavors are an amazing combination and the sweet potato waffles are really a unique treat which would even work well for breakfast..lol.  So here is my question for you... Have you ever tried Chicken and Waffles? Is it really a Southern meal? Leave me a note below, I'd love to hear what everyone thinks of this somewhat classic dish.

3 -4  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 3/4-inch strips
2 TB  Canola Oil
1 cup  Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup  Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the chicken and canola oil (**see note)  and stir to evenly coat the chicken.

In a second bowl combine the bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken strips in the bread crumb mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake 10 minutes, turn, and bake 5 - 8 minutes longer or until the chicken is cooked through.

**Note:  If you plan on serving the chicken as part of a different meal than the Chicken and Waffles, and you would like the chicken a bit more spicy, add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon Frank's Hot Sauce  to the oil and chicken, then proceed with the recipe as above.  This is a fast and easy way to make chicken strips for kids without all the processing you get in the store bought chicken nuggets.

Sweet Potato Waffles

4 TB  Butter, softened
1 TB  Sugar
1  Egg, separated
1 cup  Milk
1/4 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Nutmeg
3/4 cup  Flour
1 cup  Mashed Sweet Potatoes (leftovers work great)
2 tsp  Baking Powder

Use a hand mixer to cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg yolk and blend, then gradually add the milk, slowly incorporating it into the mixture.  Add the salt and nutmeg and blend until smooth.

Beat in the flour, sweet potato and baking powder until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg white until you have stiff peaks.  Using a spatula, gently fold the egg white into the waffle batter, combining the ingredients without over stirring.

Heat a waffle iron up to temperature according to your user guide.  Add about 1/3 cup of batter for each waffle and cook for 4 -5 minutes or until the waffles are set.  (Check your users guide for the appropriate amount of batter to use and suggested cooking times.)

To serve, place two waffles on a plate, top with one chicken strip and drizzle with maple syrup.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Soup

For day 12 of Soup Month 2013, we have a mild, but flavorful Chicken Enchilada Soup.  If you're familiar with Mexican foods, you'll know an enchilada is a popular Mexican dish, made by filling a corn tortilla with a variety of meat, cheese and vegetables, then rolling up the tortilla, and covering the rolls with a chili pepper sauce.  Although a very simple concept, there are a million ways to make and serve enchiladas, and for this dish we turned this Mexican favorite into a soup. 

This soup is easy to make and is a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken.  One ingredient you may not be familiar with is masa harina, which is a type of corn flour that's used to make tortillas.  (You can also use this flour to make Crispy Shrimp Cakes with Lime Salsa.)  The flour is used to give the soup its corn flavor, and it also thickens the soup to a nice creamy consistency.  Masa harina flour is available at most markets in the baking section, and is very inexpensive.

Chicken Enchilada Soup is more on the mild side, so if your kids like tacos and burritos, they will love this soup.  If you like your soup a bit more spicy, just increase the dry spices a bit or, instead of 2 cans of green chilies, substitute one of the cans with a can of diced jalapeno peppers.

We served the Enchilada Soup with cheese quesadillas and some cold Corona beers.

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 small  Onion, finely chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
4 cups  Chicken Broth
2  8-oz cans  Rotel Original Sauce
2  4-oz can  Diced Green Chilies
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp  Spanish Paprika
1/2 to 1 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (for extra heat use 1 teaspoon)
2-1/2 cups  Water
1 cup  Masa Harina Flour
2 to 3 cups  Cooked Chicken, shredded
Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese or Monterey Jack Cheese for Garnish

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Add the chicken broth, Rotel sauce, green chilies, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and paprika to the pot and stir, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

In a medium bowl combine the water and masa harina, using a whisk to gets all of the lumps out.  Pour this mixture into the soup and stir.  Cook for about 30 minutes or until the soup has reached the desired thickness.  (If the soup is a little too thick, add 1/4 cup water and stir.)

Add the chicken to the soup and cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.  Ladle into soup bowl and garnish with shredded jalapeno pepper jack cheese.  Serve cheese quesadillas on the side and Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chicken, Vegetable and Noodle Soup

For our third day of Soup Month 2013, we made some adjustments to the traditional chicken noodle soup by adding more vegetables and chicken and decreasing the noodles.  Starting with homemade stock, this soup is hearty, healthy and oh so good on a chilly fall evening.

The addition of Brussels sprouts was delicious and brought an earthy taste to the soup.  With a light clear broth, its ideal for cold and flu season, which is right around the corner.  If you prefer a thicker soup, you can blend in a cornstarch and water mixture near the end of the cooking time, or you could always add a can of cream of celery soup to provide an even thicker broth.

This soup does include a homemade stock, which takes about an hour to prepare, but the rich flavored broth is well worth the extra work.  If you don't have time to make the stock, you can use 8 cups of packaged stock and about 3 cups of cooked chicken. 

Stock Ingredients
3  Chicken Quarters, skin removed
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 stalk Celery, coarsely chopped
1 small  Onion, coarsely chopped

Soup Ingredients
2 tsp  Olive Oil
1 TB  Butter
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 small  Onion, chopped
1 stalk  Celery, chopped
2 medium  Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pkg  Frozen Brussels Sprouts, defrosted and cut in half
1 tsp  Dried Thyme
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
12 oz  Pasta of Your Choice - Wide Egg Noodles, Linguini, etc

To prepare the chicken and stock:  Using a large soup pot, add the chicken pieces, onion, and celery  to the pot and fill the pot with water.  Add salt and pepper and bring the water to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and pulls easily from the bones. 

When the chicken is cooked, transfer the chicken to a platter to cool, then pull the chicken from the bones, set aside and discard the bones.  Strain the chicken stock, discard the cooked vegetables then measure 8 cups of stock and add it back to the pot.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots and Brussels sprouts to the pan, season lightly with salt and pepper and stir to sauté.  Arrange the sprouts cut-side down so they can sear.  Add the thyme to the mixture, stir and sauté until the vegetables are just tender.

Add the cooked chicken, salt and pepper to the vegetables and stir to combine, and continue cooking until the chicken is warmed.

Bring the pot of stock to a boil over high heat and add the pasta.  Cook the pasta until just al dente, then add the chicken and vegetable mixture to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.  (If you would like a thicker soup you can add a mixture of cornstarch and water to the soup at this point, cook for 5 minutes and the soup will thicken.  One can of cream of celery or cream of chicken soup will also thicken the soup and create a creamy consistency.)  Enjoy!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chorizo Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Chorizo and chicken always work well together, with the spicy chorizo adding a generous layer of flavor to the mild white-meat chicken.  To make this combination even better, we added creamy Monterey Jack cheese and finely minced poblano peppers.

Many people think making chicken bundles like these is difficult, but once you learn the method, these are super easy to prepare.  Here are a few hints:  By slicing the chicken breasts horizontally, but not all of the way through, you can open the chicken up like a book, lay it flat, then pound the chicken until it is as thin as you'd like. Second, instead of using toothpicks to secure the bundles, I use metal turkey lacers.  You can buy 6 or 8 of these at the grocery for about $2 and they work great for meals like this one.  (Toothpicks always scare me.  I really don't want a piece of wood in someone's dinner! lol)  Last tip, Be sure to place the bundles seam side down and try to tuck the end pieces in under the bundle.  This will keep the cheese and other ingredients inside of the bundle as much as possible.

For the sauce we prepared a homemade enchilada sauce, but if you're in a hurry, you could also use a can of premade sauce.  The sauce was served on the side so the chicken can be dipped, or it can be spooned over the chicken before serving.  Serve with Green Chili Cornbread and Enjoy!!

4 large  Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 large  Poblano Chili, finely minced
1/4 lb  Bulk Chorizo Sausage, cooked and crumbled
4 oz  Monterey Jack Cheese, cut into 4 thick slices
1/2 cup  Bread Crumbs
1 tsp  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp  Cumin
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
6 tb  Butter, melted
Chopped Green Onions for Garnish

Enchilada Sauce
8 oz  Tomato Sauce
1/2 tsp  Cumin
1/4 tsp  Chili Powder
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Combine the bread crumbs, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, cumin and pepper in a shallow dish and set aside.

Using a sharp knife, slice each chicken breast horizontally about 3/4 through.  Open the chicken breast so you have a large fillet.  Place a piece of waxed paper over the chicken and pound the meat until it is about 1/4-inch thick.  Do this carefully so the meat does not pull apart.  Set aside and prepare the other pieces of chicken.

Spread each piece of chicken with equal amounts of chopped poblano and chorizo, then top with a slice of Monterey Jack cheese.  Roll up each bundle and secure with a toothpick or metal skewer.

Dip each bundle into the melted butter, then roll it in the bread crumb mixture, pressing firmly so the crumbs will adhere.  Place the bundles seam-side down on the baking sheet and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden and the chicken juices run clear.

Prepare the sauce while the chicken is cooking.

Combine the tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small skillet and heat to a low boil, then reduce heat to warm until ready to serve.

Remove chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Slice each piece of chicken, place on a plate and spoon the sauce over the chicken or serve it on the side.  Sprinkle with green onions for a garnish.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Braised Chicken with Potatoes and Red Wine

I can't believe we have come to the end of another summer.  The kids are ready to go back to school and that means it's time for me to get back into the kitchen to work on some new recipes.  And this meal is a great way to ease back into those family dinners.

If you have a meat and potatoes fan in your family, they will love this dish.  This rustic, peasant-food style dish gets its incredible flavor from a combination of dark meat chicken, red wine, and slow roasted vegetables. It's almost a chicken version of a classic pot roast.  It's that good!

The dish starts off with a dozen or so pieces of dark meat chicken, that have been lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.  A quick sear in olive oil seals the flavor and juices inside the chicken.  Next we added some chopped veggies, a sprinkle of smoky Spanish paprika, and a healthy dose of dry red wine.  All of these flavors are simmered for 30 minutes, to create a delicious gravy.  (Be sure to have some French bread on hand to serve with this meal.)

The last ingredient that brings this dish together is the addition of crispy sautéed potatoes.  By cooking the potatoes separately in a skillet, the potatoes have a nice seared edge before they are added to the cooking liquid. (No mushy potatoes here.) A quick 10 minutes later, you have this beautiful meal of what some people might call peasant food, but we call, exceptional.  This is one dish you really have to try.  Enjoy!!

10 - 12 pieces  Dark Meat Chicken
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 TB  Olive Oil
2 TB  Dried Parsley
1-1/2 tsp  Smoked Spanish Paprika
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1 medium  Sweet Onion, finely chopped
4 - 5  Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium  Red Bell Pepper, seeds removed, then finely chopped
1-1/2 cups  Dry Red Wine
3 TB  Olive Oil
6 medium  Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Rinse the chicken pieces under cool water, pat dry with paper towels, then season the chicken generously with salt and pepper.

In a large roasting pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Place the chicken pieces skin-side down in the pan, and sauté until browned.  Turn the chicken over, sprinkle with the parsley and paprika, then continue to brown for about 8 minutes, or until the outside of the chicken is golden brown, but not fully cooked through.

Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and pepper to the pot, arranging the vegetables around the chicken pieces, and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat until the vegetables have softened.  Pour the red wine over the chicken, cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat the potatoes with the oil.  Continue to sauté the potatoes for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden but not quite fully cooked.

Add the potatoes to the chicken and wine, and simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.  Serve with crusty French bread to soak up the red wine gravy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chicken, Poblano and 3 Cheese Lasagna

Tonight we found a tasty way to use a few more poblano peppers from our garden.  Although this is far from any traditional lasagna, the combination of provolone cheese, Monterey jack cheese and just a bit of Parmesan gave the lasagna a rich flavor, and it was a surprisingly easy meal to put together.

We used the Dreamfield's low carb lasagna noodles and they tasted great.  The poblano peppers can be roasted ahead of time, if needed, and the instructions for roasting the peppers can be found here.  The process is very easy and the flavor released from the peppers adds a nice pop to the meal.

Since I found them on sale, we used chicken drumsticks, but you could also substitute cubed chicken breasts.  The main benefit of the drumsticks is the dark meat will have much more flavor versus white meat.

Thanks to a generous amount of mushrooms, this dish had almost a stuffed-mushroom quality that I loved.  A nice poblano and chicken taste, with the earthy mushrooms and cheesy backdrop.  So yummy.  This was an instant hit with the family, and I'm sure it will be added to the most-requested list.  Enjoy!!

3 lbs  Chicken Drumsticks, boiled off and meat pulled off the bone
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 medium  Yellow Onion, finely chopped
8 oz  Portabella Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1/4 to 1/2 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (use 1/2 tsp for more spice)

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the onions and sauté 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet and sauté about 5 minutes over medium heat, until the mushrooms are tender but not mushy.  Add the cooked chicken to the pan, stir and sauté 2 minutes, then cover the pan and remove from the heat.  Set aside while you make the sauce and noodles.

8  Whole Wheat or Regular Lasagna Noodles, cooked al dente

3  Fresh Poblano Peppers, roasted, peeled and deseeded, then cut into strips
1 TB  Olive Oil
2 TB  Salted Butter
1/2 medium  Yellow Onion, chopped
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
1/3 cup  Flour
1-1/4 cups  Chicken Broth
1/2 cup  Milk
1/2 cup  Half and Half
Salt and Pepper to Taste
6 slices  Smoked Provolone Cheese
6 slices  Monterey Jack Cheese
Grated Parmesan Cheese

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté 4 minutes until tender.  Add the flour and stir until fully incorporated into a smooth roux.  Slowly add the chicken broth to the pan, a little at a time, stirring to combine.  When the mixture is smooth, add the milk and half and half to the pan and stir.

Add the poblano peppers to the pan and bring the mixture to a low simmer over medium heat.  Add salt and pepper as needed, then remove the pan from the heat once the sauce has thickened slightly.

Pour the sauce into a blender and pulse several times if you prefer a chunky sauce, or puree for a smooth sauce.  (I did not puree the sauce completely and it was very tasty with little bits of poblano.)


In a large non-stick baking pan, pour a 1/2 cup of sauce and about 1/3 of the chicken/mushroom mixture into the pan in an even layer.  Add a layer of cooked lasagna noodles, then a layer of provolone cheese slices.  Next add another 3/4 cup layer of sauce, and the remaining chicken mushroom mixture.  Add the second layer of noodles, the rest of the sauce and top with the sliced Monterey jack cheese, a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn the oven to broil for 3-4 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Enjoy!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Penne Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

This delicious Italian dish was inspired by a recipe on Jacques Pepin's television show.  His recipe called for eggplant and escarole as the main focus of the dish, which was a yummy vegetarian choice, but we switched it up a bit by using chicken breast and baby spinach.  The results we so good, even our picky eater gave this dish a thumbs up. Yay!

The ingredients in this dish are things you probably already have on hand.  You could use just about any regular or whole wheat pasta shape including fettuccine or linguine noodles.  The one secret ingredient in the sauce is a small can of anchovies.  (Don't tell my daughter!)  I know many people don't like anchovies, but I hope you give them a try in this recipe.  Anchovies add lots of flavor and really make this sauce something special.

What makes this meal even better is that it's cooked in one pot, and for me, that is a major time saver.  This made a really light summer meal, focusing more on the chicken and spinach and going a little light on the pasta.  A glass of Chardonnay wine adds the final touch.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Olive Oil
2 lb  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut thinly into 1-inch diameter slices
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1 tsp  Red Pepper Flakes
3 oz can  Anchovies, chopped, oil reserved
2  6-oz bags  Baby Spinach, rinsed and large stems removed
1 lb  Pasta of Your Choice, such as Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

In a medium pot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Keep warm.

In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken for 4 minutes, turning several times, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan, stir and cook 4 minutes longer, or until the chicken is no longer pink, then reduce heat to medium.

Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a platter;  cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the anchovies along with any oil from the container to the pan and stir, then add the spinach and stir again.  Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook over medium heat for about 4 - 5 minutes or until the spinach has reduced.

Return the chicken and any collected juices to the pan and stir, then drain the pasta and add it to the pan, stirring well to combine.  Cook for 2 - 3 minutes longer while the sauce thickens.  Serves about 8.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Braised Chicken and Mushrooms with Mustard Sauce

Whew, what a busy month it's been!  After a visit from relatives and a quick trip to Universal  Studios,  it's time to get back to cooking. 

I've been wanted to try this recipe for quite some time because I love to cook chicken breasts on the bone, and braising adds lots of flavor to the chicken, while keeping the meat moist and juicy.  Cooking the meat with the bones on does add a little extra time to the cooking process, but the extra flavor is well worth the additional time.  Once again, cooking low and slow delivers excellent results.

This recipe seemed so simple, I wasn't sure what to expect, but to my surprise, this dish is not only very simple to make, the flavor is rich and elegant enough to serve as a special occasion dinner.  The final touch to this dish is the brown mushroom sauce that pulls all of the flavors together.

Herbs de Provence is a new seasoning blend that I was not very familiar with, but I was excited to try.  Basically a combination of thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, chervil, bay leaf and savory, this blend includes all of the classic French herbs in one jar.  Even with a cabinet full of herbs and spices, this one is something extra special, and I can't wait to try it in other dishes.  The flavor is just incredible.

This dish starts with braising the chicken in olive oil and butter, adding sliced mushrooms, white wine and the herbs, then slowly cooking the chicken in the braising liquid.  When the chicken is cooked, the sauce only takes 5 minutes to prepare and dinner is ready.  Serve with wild rice and steamed veggies.  Enjoy!!

3 - 4 large  Bone-In Chicken Breasts, skin on
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 TB  Olive Oil
3 TB  Butter
10 oz  Mushrooms, sliced
1 TB  Herbs de Provence
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup  Dry White Wine, divided
2 heaping TB  Dijon Mustard
1/3 cup  Heavy Cream

Rinse the chicken under cool water and pat dry with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper.

In a large deep pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat, then add the chicken to the pan, skin side down.  Brown the chicken on all sides, about 12 minutes total.

Remove chicken from the pan to a platter and add the mushrooms to the pan.  Sauté mushrooms for 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits.  Add the chicken back to the pan, sprinkle the chicken with the herbs, then pour the 1/2 cup of white wine around the chicken.  Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.  (The chicken breasts we used were fairly thick, so they needed the full 40 minutes.  You could also use chicken thighs instead of the chicken breasts.)

Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a platter.  Cover with foil to keep warm.  Add the 1/4 cup white wine to the pan, stirring to blend, and simmer for 3 minutes.  Add the mustard and cream to the pan, increase the heat slightly to medium, and stir until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.  Serves about 6.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

With the school year almost over, each day seems to get more and more busy.  Between field trips, class projects, award ceremonies and graduations, the calendar for this month is fully booked!  As a result, our weeknight dinners have been quick meals that we can work in among all of the activities.  I'm ready for a nice relaxing summer, where most of the meals can be prepared on the grill.  Until then, I'm always looking forward to our weekly Sunday Salad feature, so I actually have a little time to do some cooking.

Sunday Salad continues this week with a healthier version of Buffalo Chicken Wings, and this salad was a huge success!  For this dinner salad, instead of using chicken wings, we used boneless and skinless chicken breast and lightly coated the chicken with a flour and cornmeal breading.  The breading gave the chicken the familiar taste and texture you would find on wings, but without the fat from the chicken skin.  Even better, the chicken breast is baked, then quickly broiled for just a few minutes to give the chicken a nice exterior, while keeping the interior moist and tender.

To complete this salad, we mixed up a homemade Blue Cheese Dressing that requires just a few basic ingredients.  The dressing itself is amazing!  If you are a connoisseur of blue cheese dressing, this is going to be some of the best stuff you have ever tasted.

Although this recipe has several steps, it can be pulled together pretty quickly.  If you prepare the dressing and salad ahead of time, the chicken and sauce will be ready in about 20 minutes, start to finish.

Blue Cheese Dressing
8 oz  Blue Cheese Crumbles
1 tsp  Sea Salt
1/2 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Chopped Chives
1/2 cup  Buttermilk
1/2 cup + 2 TB  Sour Cream (regular or low-fat)
2 TB  Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp  Red Wine Vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and stir with a fork to combine.  For best results, refrigerate for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

For the Salad
1  3-pack  Romaine Lettuce Hearts, washed and chopped
1 small  Carrot, shredded

Combine the lettuce and carrot in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To prepare the Buffalo Wing Sauce
6TB  Salted Butter
1 TB  Red Pepper Flakes
3 TB  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Black Pepper
1/4 tsp  Salt
3/4 cup  Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 TB  White Vinegar

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, then add the red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper, stirring to combine.  Stir the mixture until you have a roux consistency, then add the hot sauce and vinegar.  Bring the mixture to a low simmer and continue for 10 - 15 minutes on low heat.

Keep the mixture warm until ready to prepare the chicken pieces.

To prepare the Buffalo Chicken
2 lbs  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup  Flour
1/2 cup  Cornmeal
1 TB  Garlic Powder
1 TB  Seasoned Salt
1 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil in a Spritz Bottle

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

Add the chicken pieces to the breading and lightly toss to coat each piece.  Place the chicken pieces on the lined baking sheet so they are not touching, and spritz the chicken lightly with olive oil.

Bake the chicken for 6 minutes, remove from oven and turn the chicken over.  Lightly spritz the chicken with olive oil and return to the oven until lightly golden, about 6 minutes.  Turn the oven to a broil setting and broil the chicken for 3 - 4 minutes or until browned.

Remove chicken from the oven and dip the pieces into the wing sauce, one at a time, to evenly coat, and place the chicken in a bowl.

To assemble the salads:  Place a serving of lettuce in a large salad bowl and place several pieces of the Buffalo chicken in the center.  Drizzle the salad with blue cheese dressing and garnish with carrot and celery sticks.  Serves about 6.  Enjoy!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Grilled Chicken and Buttermilk Dressing Salad

We are really enjoying our Sunday Salad dinners and this week we have one of my favorite combinations, a grilled chicken breast over a mixed romaine salad, with homemade buttermilk and herb dressing.  Even better, we were able to garnish the salad with a few little tomatoes, straight from our garden. Yummy.

The chicken is very easy to prepare on an outdoor grill, but, if you find your gas tank empty, like we did today, the chicken cooks quickly in a skillet.  The chicken is sautéed with olive oil, butter and fresh garlic, and only needs a generous sprinkle of pepper for seasoning.

The salad dressing is very easy to prepare and most of the ingredients you probably already have on hand.  This dressing is almost a vinaigrette, but the buttermilk plus a touch of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard add a bit more body to the dressing and allows it to stick to the salad, without being too heavy.  I love making homemade salad dressings because you can control the flavors to your own liking, and keep the sodium content much lower than the bottled dressings.

This is a very quick meal to assemble, which makes it ideal for an easy Sunday night dinner.  If you blend the dressing ahead of time, the chicken and salad only take about 15 minutes to prepare.  Enjoy!!

3  Whole Romaine Hearts, washed and chopped
2 cups  Fresh Baby Spinach, washed
1-1/2 lbs  Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, about 3 or 4
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 TB  Salted Butter
1 TB  Minced Fresh Garlic
1 cup  Buttermilk
1/2 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
4 TB  Red Wine Vinegar
2 TB  Chopped Fresh Basil
1 TB  Chopped Fresh Chives
2 TB  Olive Oil
2 TB  Light Mayonnaise
1 TB  Dijon Mustard
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Prepare the salad dressing at least one hour, or up to several hours, prior to serving to allow the flavors to fully blend.  The longer it has to sit, the better the flavor will be.

In a glass bowl combine the buttermilk, Parmesan, vinegar, basil and chives, olive oil, mayonnaise, mustard and garlic.  Use a whisk to stir the dressing, whisking until the olive oil is fully combined. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Prepare the romaine and spinach, place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for 3 minutes until lightly browned.

Slice the chicken breasts horizontally to create thin fillets.  Add the chicken to the skillet and sauté for 4 minutes, turn the chicken over and cook for 4 minutes longer, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and rest for 5 minutes.

Pour half of the salad dressing over the romaine and spinach, stir to combine, then divide the salad among each of the dinner plates.  (To keep the salad nice and cold, chill the plates in the refrigerator for one hour.)

Slice the chicken breasts for each plate, place the chicken on top of the salad and garnish with fresh cherry tomatoes, a few croutons and a generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.  Serve the remaining dressing on the side.  Serves 6 - 8.