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Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

Blackened Chicken Pizza

blackened-chicken-pizza

Difficulty: Easy

We love pizza! This is a hearty meal in itself, a wonderful crust of your choice, loaded with flavorful chicken, a fresh tomato salsa and cheese. We get our pizza dough from our local grocery store and it rolls out to be almost an extra-large, you can find fresh dough at your local pizzaria, if your grocery store carries them or sometimes in the frozen aisle. Or use a favorite recipe. Adapted from Rachael Ray.

Ingredients
1 fresh dough ball
All-purpose flour, a couple of tablespoons to work dough
1 tablespoon grill seasoning
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch dried cayenne pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded out to even thickness, about 1/2-inch thick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups shredded Cheddar with jalapeno or chipotle pepper or mozzarella cheese (use the latter if you want to tone down the heat factor)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 small-medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt
1/2 lime, zested and juiced

Directions: Preheat a large heavy skillet over very high heat. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine grill seasoning, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper and place on a plate, press chicken breasts into seasonings on one side. Add oil to screaming hot pan and cook chicken 2 minutes on each side, chicken will not be cooked through but will finish in the oven.

Spread out a little flour or and stretch out pizza dough onto a pizza pan to desired size and thickness.

Remove chicken from pan and slice into thin strips. Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Make garlic paste by mashing it with the flat of your knife and a generous pinch of coarse salt. Add paste to salsa. Add zest and juice of 1/2 lime and mix salsa thoroughly. Scatter chicken, salsa and cheese over pizza dough working to the edges of pizza. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until crisp and bubbly-brown on top. Remove from oven, let cool 5-10 minutes, cut into slices and devour.

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Oven “Fried” Chicken

oven-fried-chicken

Difficulty: Easy

I love fried chicken, who doesn’t right? But in efforts to be healthy we tried this alternative. Granted it is no KFC or your grandma’s true fried chicken but it is still moist, flavorful and has a nice crispy crust. As you can tell, we served this meal with mashed potatoes and veggies but Phil & I both agreed we needed something wet, coleslaw will be our next accompaniment. This recipe serves 4 but our chicken breasts were mammoth and you could easily feed 8 if you cut them in half and stay true to real portion sizes, or just use regular sized chicken breasts or cutlets would be nice too.

Ingredients
1 box plain Melba toast, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBS Dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp onion powder
A few dashes of Tabasco sauce, to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Directions: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Pulse the Melba toast in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread the crumbs in a shallow dish and toss with the vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp table salt (or 1 tsp kosher salt) and 1/4 tsp pepper.

In a separate shallow dish, whisk eggs, mustard, thyme leaves, garlic, onion powder and hot sauce together. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, season generously with salt and pepper (I am always using kosher salt). Dip one chicken piece at a time into egg mixture and then coat with the Melba crumbs. Press on the crumbs to make sure they adhere and lay the chicken on the wire rack and spray the top with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Bake until the coating is golden brown, the chicken is no longer pink and the thickest part registers 150 degrees in a instant-read thermometer, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Freezer Chicken Pot Pies

potpie

Difficulty: Moderate

I can’t tell you how long it has been since I had a chicken pot pie! The ones I remember from my childhood were the frozen supermarket brand. This dish requires planning and a bit of effort, but the results will beat the pants off the stodgy supermarket pot pie from days past. Don’t be put off by the moderate rating, it is primarily due to time and prep work but anyone can do it!

*This recipe must be frozen prior to baking, otherwise the sauce will still be too soupy. Hence the need to plan ahead!
You will need 6 disposable aluminum mini-loaf pans (should hold approximately 2 cups).

Ingredients
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
S & P
2 TBS vegetable oil
5 1/2 cups chicken broth (or 5 1/2 cups water + 5 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon, this is what I had on hand)
2 TBS butter
1 onion, chopped fine
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs with greens, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 (15-ounce) boxes ready made pie crust
1 egg, beaten, plus 1 add’l egg when ready to bake
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, do not thaw

Directions:
Assembly: Season chicken breast liberally with kosher salt & pepper. Heat 1 TBS oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until well browned, about 2 1/2 minutes each side. Add broth and bring to a boil, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Place chicken on a plate and strain broth into a bowl.

 potpie-chicken1 potpie-veggies1

Melt butter with remaining 1 TBS oil in now empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook carrots, celery, onion until lightly browned and softened, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium, add flour and stir to combine, cook 1 minute. Add broth, milk and thyme. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes.

potpie-filling1

Meanwhile, shred chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Toss with lemon juice and add to broth. (Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly, since I used the bouillon I did not need additional salt, just a bit more pepper for my liking. Use your tongue to guide you.) Transfer filling to bowl and let cool while you prepare the crusts.

Unwrap and unroll the pie crusts. Place one crust on the counter and brush with some of the beaten egg with a pastry brush. Place the second pie crust on top and press gently. Using a aluminum pan turned upside down, cut out 3 pastry toppings from the double-thick pie dough. Repeat with 2 more pie crusts. Set aside.

potpie-crust potpie-pans

Return back to the filling, which will still be hot, and add the frozen peas.To speed the cooling process, use a ladle to evenly distribute the filling among the 6 aluminum pans. Place 1 piece of pastry over the filling in each pan and use a fork to seal the edges. Using a paring knife, cut 3 stem vents in each crust. Tightly wrap each loaf pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of foil. Freeze for up to 2 months.

potpie-assembly potpies-foil

When ready to serve: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 400 degrees. Unwrap frozen pot pies and place on rimmed baking sheet. Brush crusts with 1 beaten egg, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until crusts are golden brown, about 35 minutes more. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Dig in and moan and groan as you are eating because it is that good!

potpie-21

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pineapple-chicken-stir-fry

Difficulty: Moderate

Serves 4

Fresh pineapple really makes a difference in this recipe. Half of one large pineapple will yield about 2 cups of chunks. But if the pineapple that is available isn’t ripe, or you are in a rush, then look for already cut-up fresh pineapple in the produce section of your market. Turn to canned pineapple only as a last resort, and make sure that it is packed in juice, not syrup. Because we like pineapple I used the whole darn thing. And it was delicious!

Ingredients
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons orange juice
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large red onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (14 ounces)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 scallions, sliced thin
S & P

Directions: Whisk the vinegar, orange juice, sugar, ketchup, and cornstarch together in a small bowl and set aside.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and slice it into 1/2-inch wide strips, season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the pineapple and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Whisk the vinegar mixture to recombine, then add with the chicken to the skillet. Toss until all the ingredients are well coated with sauce. Sprinkle with the scallions before serving.

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Chicken w/ Spinach Pesto Sauce

chicken-pesto2

Difficulty: Easy

An easy, fresh and healthy weekday meal is just a short time away! Whip up the pesto in your food processor, saute the chicken, throw together a salad and a veggie and voila! Dinner served. A nice way to get your veggies in, this pesto packs a punch with loads of nutrient-rich spinach, bright flavors from lemon, garlic and Parmesan. Great with pasta too. If you don’t have pine nuts, walnuts are easily substituted. Serves 4.

Ingredients
4 boneless chicken breasts, about 6-oz. each
3 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions: Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Lightly oil the pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side.

Combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse. Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread the about two tablespoons pesto over each piece of chicken and serve. Refrigerate remaining pesto for use later in the week, toss with pasta for dinner to accompany chicken or freeze in an ice cube tray and transfer to an airtight container for long term storage (about 1 month).

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Difficulty: Hard but worth it.

From Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 4

This is a classic Indian dish with a myriad of complex flavors. In biryani, long-grain basmati rice takes center stage, enriched with butter, saffron, and a variety of fresh herbs and pungent spices. Pieces of tender chicken and browned onions are layered with the rice and baked until the flavors have mingled. This is India in a pot, a far cry from everyday chicken and rice. We love it and I make every few months. Chicken thighs ensure the meat stays moist during the cooking time and to cool it off a creamy yogurt sauce with fresh mint and cilantro. To save money and time find the spices at your local whole foods store where they sell in bulk, just buy what you need.

This recipe requires a 3 ½- to 4-quart saucepan about 8 inches in diameter. Do not use a large, wide Dutch oven, as it will adversely affect both the layering of the dish and the final cooking times. Begin simmering the spices in the water prior to preparing the remaining ingredients; the more time the spices have to infuse the water (up to half an hour), the more flavor they will give to the rice. Biryani is traditionally served with a cooling yogurt sauce; ideally, you should make it before starting the biryani to allow the flavors in the sauce to meld.

Ingredients
10 cardamom pods, smashed with knife
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), cut into 1/2-inch thick coins and smashed
1/2 tsp cumin
3 quarts water
Salt
4 chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat
Pepper
3 TBS butter
2 onions, sliced thin
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped, leave some seeds if you want some heat
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups basmati rice
1/2 tsp saffron threads, lightly crumbled
1/4 cup raisins
2 TBS fresh mint, chopped
2 TBS fresh cilantro, chopped
Yogurt sauce

Directions: Wrap cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, ginger, and cumin seed in small piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine. In 3½- to 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan about 8 inches in diameter, bring water, spice bundle, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt to boil over medium-high heat; reduce to medium and simmer, partially covered, until spices have infused water, at least 15 minutes (but no longer than 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foaming subsides; add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and dark brown about edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Add jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to bowl, season lightly with salt, and set aside. Wipe out skillet with paper towels, return heat to medium-high, and place chicken thighs skin-side down in skillet; cook, without moving chicken, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and brown second side, 4 to 5 minutes longer; transfer chicken to plate and remove and discard skin. Tent with foil to keep warm.

If necessary, return spice-infused water to boil over high heat; stir in rice and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain rice through fine-mesh strainer, reserving ¾ cup cooking liquid; discard spice bundle. Transfer rice to medium bowl; stir in saffron and currants (rice will turn splotchy yellow). Spread half of rice evenly in bottom of now-empty saucepan using rubber spatula. Scatter half of onion mixture over rice, then place chicken thighs, skinned-side up, on top of onions; add any accumulated chicken juices. Evenly sprinkle with cilantro and mint, scatter remaining onions over herbs, then cover with remaining rice; pour reserved cooking liquid evenly over rice.

Cover saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes (if large amount of steam is escaping from pot, reduce heat to low). Run heatproof rubber spatula around inside rim of saucepan to loosen any affixed rice; using large serving spoon, spoon biryani into individual bowls, scooping from bottom of pot and serving 1 chicken thigh per person.

YOGURT SAUCE
Makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 cup whole milk or low-fat plain yogurt
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
Salt and ground black pepper

Combine first four ingredients in small bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand at least 30 minutes to blend flavors.

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Chicken Fajitas

Difficulty: Moderate

Serves 4

I love fajitas! The combination of flavors and textures is wonderful. And you can pull them off pretty healthy too, once you take away your cheese, sour cream, cut back on the tortilla…never mind that! Just eat and enjoy!

Ingredients
4 flour tortillas
4 chicken breasts, pounded even
2 onions
2 red bell peppers
S & P
1 TBS cumin
1 tsp onion powder
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 TBS
3 garlic cloves, minced

Cheese, grated
Sour cream
Lettuce
Tomatoes

Directions: Place chicken breasts in Ziploc bag or Tupperware container. In small bowl combine 1/2 cup olive oil, lime juice, cumin, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over chicken and place in fridge to marinate (about 20 minutes) while you prep the other ingredients.

Core & seed bell pepper and cut into thin strips. Cut onion in half, remove peel and slice with the grain into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside. Chop your lettuce, tomatoes, grate your cheese, etc. Heat 2 TBS oil in large skillet over medium heat. Remove chicken breasts from marinade and cook until done, 5-8 minutes per side. Let rest on a plate and tent with foil. Increase heat to medium-high (I was on “8” on my stove), add remaining 1 TBS oil. Add onions and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper. Do not stir for the first 3 minutes. Then, using a wooden spoon stir around and scrape up the yummy chicken bits from the pan. Continue cooking until bell pepper is crisp tender and have good caramelization.

Slice chicken into 1/4-inch strips and throw back into pan to warm through with accumulated juices. Warm tortillas and serve with all the fixings!

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