Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Curried Chicken with Ginger and Yogurt

July 7, 2011
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My love for Crock-Pot recipes is well-documented, and this one was no disappointment.  Because the main protein is chicken (rather than, say, beef short ribs or pork shoulder or something like that), the dish seemed a lot lighter and was perfectly enjoyable even on a warm evening.  Note: not only can it be difficult to find boneless/skinless thighs, they are also usually much more expensive than their bone-in/skin-on counterparts.  I buy regular chicken thighs in bulk, on the cheap, and then just skin and bone them as necessary.

  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablesppon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 10)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, whisk together the tomato paste, garlic, curry powder, ginger, cumin, and ¾ cup water. Add the onion and stir to combine. Place the chicken on top and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours (this will shorten total cooking time).

Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.

Just before serving, add the yogurt and ½ teaspoon salt to the chicken and stir to combine. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the scallions.

Serves: 6

Per serving: 463 calories, 14 grams fat, 48 grams carbs, and 34 grams protein


Recipe: Couscous Stuffed Chicken

July 7, 2011
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This dish was absolutely delicious, though it was a little more labor-intensive than I originally thought (mixing both the pounding and stuffing techniques highlighted in Cooking Light).  I omitted the olives and substituted goat cheese for feta, but either way would work, depending on your preferences.  Rather than wooden picks to secure the rolled-up breasts, I would recommend kitchen twine – I think it would result in far less cursing and frustration.  :-)

  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chopped plum tomato
  • 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray

Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in couscous. Cover and let stand 4 minutes. Place couscous in a small bowl; fluff with a fork. Cool for 10 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and next 8 ingredients (through garlic); toss.

Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Divide couscous mixture evenly among breast halves; roll up jelly-roll fashion. Secure with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook for 6 minutes or until browned; turn chicken over. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until chicken is done.


Recipe: Sweet and Sour Chicken

July 7, 2011
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Here’s another Cooking Light chicken dish that features pounding – a great meal to prepare after a stressful day at the office.  Hey, better to take your frustration out on a boneless, skinless breast than your boss!  This was great with brown rice and steamed veggies.  Tastier and healthier than take-out!

  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Thai chile paste
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Add chicken broth, apricot preserves, and soy sauce to pan; bring to a boil. Stir. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in fresh lime juice and Thai chile paste. Spoon over chicken; garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.


Recipe: Chicken with Cherry Tomato Sauce

July 7, 2011
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This is another recipe from the “all chicken, all the time” edition of Cooking Light, in which they highlighted a number of techniques for preparing poultry (stuffing, marinating, pounding, that sort of thing).  This dish was in the “pounding” section, and it was quite tasty, considering how simple it is.  I cannot stress how much easier your life will be if you just go ahead and buy a good kitchen mallet.  My days of pounding with the bottom of a saucepan are OVER!

  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • Garnish: 1/4 cup small basil leaves

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Add chicken; sauté for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a serving platter. Add coarsely chopped garlic cloves to pan; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in cherry tomatoes and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon over chicken. Garnish with small basil leaves.


Recipe: Buffalo Chicken

June 6, 2011
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Whew, what a weekend!  We were in Charleston for a wedding, and we definitely had some tasty treats (perhaps I will discuss in a future post).  Back on the healthy eating bandwagon, at least until our next travel adventure – a trip to California wine country in July!

A few months back, Cooking Light did a feature about various chicken preparations – there were sections on pounding, marinating, stuffing, that sort of thing.  In the marinating section, I found this recipe for a lightened-up version of buffalo chicken, which I figured would be very popular in my house since my husband loves his wings.  Overall, the dish was flavorful and simple, though I will warn you about the one negative – this recipe generates some serious smoke!  Definitely run a ceiling fan or open a window while you’re cooking, or you might need a gas mask.  Otherwise, enjoy!  :-)

  • 3/4 cup hot sauce (such as Crystal)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Light ranch dressing (optional)

Combine hot sauce, melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, and onion powder in a bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup hot sauce mixture; pour remaining hot sauce mixture in a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken breast halves to bag; seal. Marinate at room temperature 20 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade in bag. Sprinkle chicken with salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Brush reserved marinade over chicken. Serve with light ranch dressing, if desired.

Serving: 1 chicken breast half (6 ounces)

Per serving: 221 cal, 8.1 g fat, 0 g carbs, 655 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein*

* I have no idea how a chicken recipe has no protein, but hey, I’m just the messenger!


Recipe: Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Sandwich

May 17, 2011
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One of the hardest parts about “dieting” is planning for lunch, especially when your office is walking distance from many tasty treats.  Lean Cuisines and turkey sandwiches can only get you so far, ya know?

Originally, when I saw this recipe in Women’s Health magazine, I thought I’d make it for dinner one night.  But as I was buying ingredients, I pondered to myself, “Why can’t I make extra and then pack one of these sandwiches for the next day’s lunch?”  I just marinated and grilled some additional chicken breasts and pineapple slices, and I waited until I was ready to eat before I toasted the bun and melted the cheese (as I was reheating the chicken) – that way, the bread didn’t get soggy and the cheese didn’t get oily or rubbery.

What a delicious delight, regardless of the time of day!  I love the combo of sweet pineapple, salty chicken/cheese, and spicy jalapeno.  And if you don’t like raw onion, you could easily slice those thick and throw them on the grill with everything else (or caramelize them, if you prefer a little added sweetness).  You definitely won’t be tempted by neighborhood restaurants when you have this number in your lunch pail!

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 to 6 oz each)
    4 pineapple slices (1/2-inch thick)
    1/4 cup pickled jalapeno slices, or 1 fresh jalapeno, thinly sliced
    Teriyaki sauce
    4 slices Swiss cheese
    4 whole-wheat kaiser rolls
    1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

Combine chicken and enough teriyaki sauce to cover it in a resealable plastic bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

Heat a grill until hot (you shouldn’t be able to hold your hand above the grates for more than 5 seconds). Remove chicken from marinade and place on the grill; discard any remaining marinade. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, flip, and immediately add cheese to each breast. Continue cooking until cheese is melted and chicken is lightly charred and firm to the touch. Remove from grill; set aside.
While chicken rests, add pineapple and rolls to the grill. Cook rolls until they’re lightly toasted, and pineapple slices until they’re soft and caramelized, about 2 minutes per side. Top each roll with chicken, pineapple, red onion, and jalapeno slices. If you like, drizzle chicken with a bit more teriyaki sauce.

Per serving: 387 cal, 13 g fat, 29 g carbs, 703 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 36 g protein


Recipe: Beer-Braised Chicken Thighs

March 29, 2011
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Meal number two of the Week in a Day experiment was beer-braised chicken thighs.  This dish was sure to be a hit, since it included the words “beer” and “chicken thighs.”  I was also optimistic since the bolognese from the same episode had turned out so well.  The only thing that concerned me was reheating everything, since you never know if that will zap all of the good flavor and texture out of a meal.

Basically, I prepped the recipe as if I was going to eat it right then and there, but then I took the whole Dutch oven off the heat and refrigerated it “as-is” (in other words, I didn’t put it in different or individual storage containers).  Then, the night I served the dish, I took the Dutch oven out of the fridge, got it to room temperature (or pretty close), and then heated it through over low-medium heat.  I served it over couscous because I had it on hand and it was quick and easy, but it could work easily well over rice or smaller pasta or even mashed potatoes.

The dish was full of flavor, though maybe not as spicy as I anticipated (easily adjustable for next time).  And since all of the slicing and dicing is done on the official cook day, it’s an easy dish to throw together.  I really couldn’t believe it, but Rachael Ray was batting a thousand…

  • 8 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 link andouille sausage, casing removed and chopped, or 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle lager beer
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chiles or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • Scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Warm baguette, for mopping

Pat the chicken thighs dry, and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the chicken and brown on both sides in 2 batches.  Remove the chicken to a plate and spoon out 1/2 the drippings, and add the andouille sausage. Brown for 2 minutes and then add the onion, celery, pepper, garlic, and thyme, and cook to soften, for about 10 minutes over medium heat.  Add the flour, stir 1 to 2 minutes, and then pour in the beer and let the foam subside. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, and hot sauce. Let the sauce thicken a bit, and then slide the chicken into the pot and simmer to cook through. Serve with warm crusty bread, or cool and store for make-ahead meal.


Recipe: Pan-Roasted Duck Breasts

February 28, 2011
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Oh so very long ago, I posted about my first experience with the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook.  I actually cooked TWO meals from the cookbook that weekend, but those meatballs were just the warmup for my inaugural journey into cooking duck.  That’s right, kids – as much as I love to eat ol’ Daffy and Donald, I had never before attempted to prepare duck in my very own kitchen.

Strangely enough, my biggest problem with this recipe was actually FINDING the duck.  I really need to locate an honest-to-goodness butcher in my neighborhood.  I ended up getting the meat at Whole Foods, and I have no doubt that it was fresh and of reasonable quality, but it was more of the pre-packaged variety, so I didn’t have any choice in terms of the size of the breasts (and they were smaller than the recipe called for).  The good news is, there is a large directory of suppliers in the back of the cookbook, so even if I can’t find a local meatmonger, I can always investigate my mail-order options.

The dish was VERY tasty, and I was proud of my first duck-cooking attempt.  There is certainly room for improvement, though, so I’m sure I’ll try this one again.  Note: I served the duck, as suggested, with butter-braised vegetables (also in the cookbook).  I’ll definitely post that recipe shortly – it was fabulous.

  • Six 10-12 ounce Pekin duck breasts, preferably with tenderloins still attached
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Ground nutmeg
  • 1 orange
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 6 bay leaves
  • Canola oil
  • Grey salt or other course sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/4 inch crosshatch pattern in the skin of each breast, being careful not to pierce the meat.  (Do this while the duck is cold, since it’s difficult to make such precise cuts at room temperature.)  Turn the duck breasts skin side down on the baking sheet.  If the tenderloins, the smaller piece of meat that runs along the bottom of the breast, are still attached, leave them on the breasts.  Use a paring knife to remove the small white tendon that runs through each tenderloin.  You will see a vein that runs the length of each breast.  Run your finger down the length of each vein, and if any blood comes out, wipe it away with a paper towel.

Season the flesh side of each breast with salt and pepper and a grating of nutmeg.  Grate a little orange zest over each breast.  Sprinkle a few drops of vinegar over the meat.  Lay a sprig of thyme running lengthwise down the center of each breast and cover with a bay leaf.  Turn over and season each breast with a generous pinch of salt and a grating of nutmeg.  Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least one hour, or up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet.  Set a metal bowl or other container near the stove.  With a paper towel, blot any moisture from the duck breasts.  Season each side with a pinch of salt.

Pour some canola oil into a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-low heat.  Add the duck skin-side down (in batches, if necessary).  Move the duck breasts every few minutes to help them brown evenly.  As the fat is rendered, carefully remove the excess (leaving about 1/8 inch) from the frying pan; tilt the pan away from the heat, remove the fat with a large kitchen spoon, and transfer it to the metal bowl.  Cook the duck for a total of 20-25 minutes, until the skin is an even rich brown and very crisp; the internal temperature of the breasts should be about 115 degrees.  Flip each breast and just “kiss” the meat side for about 30 seconds.

Put the duck skin side down in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes.  The internal temperature should be about 125 degrees for a rosy medium rare.

Put the duck skin side down on the cooling rack and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  Sprinkle the sliced meat with gray salt and pepper.


Recipe: Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

February 4, 2011
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I try to keep a can of pumpkin puree in the pantry at all times.  For pumpkin pie?  Nope.  For my dog.  Yes, my health-conscious pit bull LOVES him some pumpkin.  He also loves sweet potatoes and squash (all varieties, but I suspect his favorite is butternut), for what it’s worth.  At least SOMEONE in our house gets excited about winter produce.

When I saw this recipe in one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks, I knew that the pupster was going to (temporarily) give up his pumpkiny treats – that can of puree was going to be sacrificed for delicious enchiladas.  They couldn’t be easier, and they were absolutely bursting with flavor.  For the roast chicken, you can use any recipe you like, or you can use a store-bought rotisserie bird.  I opted to keep the seeds in the jalapeno, and I used a “Mexican” shredded cheese blend that I happened to have on hand.  The result was a spicy, rich, satisfying meal that took practically no time to put together (I had roasted the chicken the day before).  I hope you enjoy!

  • 1/2 leftover roast chicken, skin removed, meat shredded
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile, quartered (remove ribs and seeds for less heat, if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine chicken and scallions.  Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.

In a blender, puree pumpkin, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be quite full).  Pour 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish.  Lay tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly.  Roll up tortillas; place, seam side down, in baking dish.  Pour remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. 

Place dish on a baking sheet; bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


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Recipe: Latin Baked Chicken

January 26, 2011
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In the month in between travel to San Francisco (an awesome, delicious trip that we took over MLK weekend) and NYC (an awesome, delicious trip that we’ll be taking over Presidents’ Day weekend), the idea is to dial back the unhealthy eating and drinking and get back into a solid exercise routine.  The latter is always harder, not only due to time constraints but also due to the fact that I like cooking a heck of a lot more than I like working out.  Go figure.

This was one of the first new slimmed-down recipes I tried after the New Year, and it turned out to be really tasty.  The marinade doesn’t sound like much, but reducing it and then brushing it on the chicken a few times during cooking really intensified the flavors and allowed the sugars to caramelize a bit.  You really won’t miss the skin on the chicken – the meat is tender and flavorful – and as I’ve said a thousand times before, skinless thighs are no worse for you than skinless breasts (and since they are smaller in size, I find that they make portion control a little easier).  We enjoyed this chicken with saffron rice and steamed vegetables for an easy weeknight dinner.  I hope you enjoy it as well!

  • 1/4  cup  fresh lime juice
  • 3  tablespoons  less-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  tablespoons  honey
  • 2  tablespoons  minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 8  (4-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine lime juice, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, and chipotle in a large bowl. Add chicken, and toss well to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. Arrange the chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray, reserving marinade. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Place reserved marinade in a blender, and process until smooth. Place pureed marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook 3 minutes. Brush chicken with half of cooked sauce; return to oven and bake an additional for 10 minutes. Brush chicken with remaining sauce; bake an additional 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°.


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