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!
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.
First, let me say this – I have loved Trouble With Toast and all the wonderful people and experiences it has brought into my life. I know my slice of the interwebs is very small indeed, but it has been a cozy little home for quite some time now.
The thing is, I feel like the blog always comes last on the priority list. First come things like family and work and exercising and critters, and then there’s traveling and spending time with friends, and oh, right, I’m supposed to SLEEP at some point, too. I’ve been torn many days between just throwing up a quick post to ease my guilt and waiting to publish something of quality that people might actually want to read. Again, I know that I don’t have zillions of avid fans hanging on my every word, but I do take pride in my writing and don’t generally like to slack in any aspect of my life.
So, where does that leave me? Well, I have a bunch of recipes that I am going to post – quickly, and probably with minimal commentary and “extras” – and then I am going to ponder whether TWT has run its course or if it still has a place in my life.
Of course, it will always have a place in my heart.
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! :-)
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!
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!
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
Wow, I cannot believe it’s been over a month since I posted anything. Don’t worry – I haven’t been eating bad take-out. In fact, the kitchen at TWT headquarters has been busy, and I have TONS of delicious new dishes to share with you.
My husband and I have been on a diet since late March. Basically, even though we are good little exercisers, we weren’t feeling as healthy as we thought we could be. We started using My Fitness Pal, a website/app that helps track calories (both consumed and burned), and we began paying a LOT more attention to the types and amounts of food we were putting into our bodies. We also pledged to be more conscious of the calories we were drinking – so beer and wine consumption was significantly reduced.
The good news? Not only am I down 10 pounds (and husband is down 12), but I have loads of healthy new recipes to talk about. Not all of them were out-and-out successes, but I have found it amazing how satisfied I can be and still lose weight. It’s all about planning, discipline, and understanding that while it’s okay to “cheat,” there are consequences to how you treat your temple, and if you can make good choices most of the time, you’ll really reap the benefits.
Let’s get to the food, shall we?
This recipe has now become one of my go-to dishes. Empanadas are time consuming (especially when you make the dough from scratch), but you can make them ahead and freeze them for quick weeknight dinners or impressive party snacks. This version shuns meat for (I think) equally filling beans and sweet potatoes, and baking rather than deep frying yields a golden brown result with all the extra fat and oil.
Note: Part of our lifestyle change involves watching portion sizes. After all, who cares if something is only 100 calories if it’s only a bite! In that vein, I am going to include key nutritional information in all future posts, to the extent that it is available.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine canola oil, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and egg in a medium bowl. Gradually add oil mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Knead lightly until smooth. Shape dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.
Place poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 8 minutes or until blackened, turning after 6 minutes. Place in a paper bag; close tightly. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chile; cut in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membranes. Finely chop.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Cook the cumin seeds in a large saucepan over medium heat 1 minute or until toasted, stirring constantly. Place cumin in a clean spice or coffee grinder; process until ground. Combine cumin, poblano, sweet potatoes, and next 5 ingredients (through 1/2 teaspoon salt) in a large bowl; mash with a fork until almost smooth.
Divide dough into 10 equal portions, shaping each into a ball. Roll each dough portion into a (5-inch) circle on a lightly floured surface. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), spoon 3 level tablespoons poblano mixture into center of each circle. Moisten edges of dough with egg white; fold dough over filling. Press edges together to seal. Place empanadas on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut 3 diagonal slits across top of each empanada. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until lightly browned.
Serving: 1 empanada
Per serving: 209 calories, 8.4 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbs, and 5.1 grams of protein
Unfortunately, our last Week in a Day dinner was our least favorite of the bunch – so much for going out with a bang! This recipe had all of the makings of a successful pasta dinner, but it just seemed to fall flat. The tomatoes and garlic smelled amazing while they were roasting, but once they were blended into the sauce, they lost their depth. I thought that serving this dish last would allow all of the flavors to stew and mesh and intensify, but I think the opposite happened – so, maybe if you eat the sauce right away it will live up to its promise! If someone tries that, please let me know how it turns out.
As far as the experiment as a whole, I was really pleased with the results. I was able to spend more time with my hubby and critters while still putting satisfying, home-cooked meals on the table. We didn’t eat out for the whole week. We even wound up with leftovers (bolognese and lentil soup) in the freezer for a proverbial rainy day. I will definitely continue to watch the show, and I hope she throws more menus out there that will work for our tastes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange a cooling rack over a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet for easy clean up. Cut the ends off the entire head garlic to expose all of the cloves. Season the garlic with a little salt, some black pepper, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then wrap in foil. Cut the tomatoes in 1/2 and place in a bowl. Lightly dress the tomatoes by drizzling with extra-virgin olive oil. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and marjoram, and arrange on the baking sheet cut-side down. Bake the tomatoes 20 to 25 minutes, then flip the tomatoes, and roast 20 minutes more. Roast the garlic 45 to 50 minutes alongside the tomatoes. Place about 2/3 of the tomatoes in a food processor. Coarsely chop the remainder of the tomatoes, and reserve. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin, and add to the food processor pulsing until smooth. Add the mixture to a Dutch oven and add the olives, anchovies, capers, and chile. Cook for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Transfer to a small container for a make-ahead meal and refrigerate, or transfer to a serving bowl. Store the chopped tomatoes separately, or add to the serving bowl. To serve, bring water to a boil, salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reheat the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce for 1 minute, to coat. Serve in shallow bowls with lots of parsley, and drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil.
This may have been the favorite of the Week in a Day recipes. I actually thought that my husband wouldn’t like it, since he’s usually not a huge fan of bell peppers, but he raved about the flavor and texture. The peppers themselves were soft without being mushy, and firm enough to hold their shape and handle all of the filling. They were also incredibly sweet, which I think comes from the fact that I splurged and bought really good organic ones from Whole Foods (they were the only ones that had the right shape for stuffing). The filling was really hearty and satisfying, and the lamb was a welcome protein change in our house (it’s not my favorite, so we only eat it sparingly). The whole dish together, including the sauce and goat cheese, was really well-balanced and delicious.
Since I knew I wasn’t going to serve this dish until day four, I got the peppers all the way to the stuffing point and then I put them in a baking dish, covered them with foil, and put them in the fridge. I made the sauce ahead of time and also stored it in the fridge. Then, when I was ready to serve, I pulled the peppers out of the fridge and brought them to closer to room temp, and then I roasted them in the oven for the prescribed time. I just reheated the sauce in a pot on the stove over low heat.
I really look forward to making these again – if you can get peppers that stand up nice and straight, the presentation is really nice (my photo skills, however, are not – ha).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the tops from the peppers and scoop out the seeds and ribs. Carefully trim the bottoms if necessary to make peppers stand straight when upright. Place a steamer rack over a few inches of boiling water, or set a colander over a couple of inches boiling water in a large stock pot. Place the peppers in the steamer and cover. Steam 10 minutes, and remove to a baking dish or casserole. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the orzo and brown lightly, and then add 1/2 the garlic and stir. After 30 seconds stir in the water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes. Spread the orzo onto a baking sheet and cool. Place the ground lamb in a bowl and add the cooled orzo. Season with 1/2 the marjoram, the rosemary, 2 tablespoons parsley, and season with salt, and pepper. Overstuff the peppers with the filling. Drizzle about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil over the peppers, pouring about 1 tablespoon over top of each. Arrange the peppers in a casserole or small baking dish and roast 50 minutes to 1 hour, until crispy at the edges and cooked through.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, cubanelle peppers, remaining garlic, remaining marjoram, and saute until soft. Add the tomato sauce, and season with salt, and pepper. Cool the peppers and sauce for a make-ahead meal or serve immediately. For reheating: Add 1/2 cup water to the baking dish, and place in a heated 375 degree F oven, covered until warmed throughout, about 30 minutes. Uncover and let the water evaporate, and crisp the top, 20 minutes more. Reheat the sauce over medium-low heat to heat through. Serve the peppers hot with sauce over top, or in a puddle underneath the peppers. Top with crumbled feta.
I was so happy to see this recipe in the Week in a Day episode I chose, since my CSA has been providing me with lots of beautiful kale. I was also happy to see a hearty soup on the list, as the winter-into-spring weather has been providing some crazy temperature fluctuations (in other words, soup season ain’t quite over yet).
Much like the bolognese, the most crucial things you need for this soup are a big stock pot and some simmering time. The only tricky thing is the lentils – since I was planning on pre-cooking and then reheating the soup, I didn’t want to cook the lentils 100% during the first simmer. I probably undershot it a tad, though, since they ended up being a bit too al dente when we ate the meal the first time around. I had enough soup left over to freeze a few servings, so I imagine that the lentils will be softer with each reheating.
Flavor-wise, the soup is spot on – if you follow the recipe and use hot sausage, it provides a wonderful spicy kick. If hot isn’t your thing, I’m sure it would be delicious with a sweeter or milder sausage. Enjoy!
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…
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.
Just when I was starting to get really bored with all of the options on the Food Network, my husband and I moved and got Directv and were happily introduced to the Cooking Channel. There are a lot of great programs, but one of my favorites has to be Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day. Basically, she promises that if you spend one day in the kitchen, you can have five nights worth of tasty, home cooked meals.
I never got on the “I hate Rachael Ray” bandwagon, but I was never her biggest fan, either. I felt that her recipes were just okay, though I was certainly in favor of getting busy folks into the kitchen rather than spending time at the drive-through. I was somewhat skeptical of the week in a day concept, but I decided to give it a go and spend a dreary Sunday afternoon getting all of the dishes ready for the week. Suggestion for the Cooking Channel – for this show, since folks are cooking everything at once and thus shopping for everything at once, could you possibly provide a comprehensive shopping list (organized by food genre) along with the recipes?
This bolognese was the first dish up. As most sauces and soups are, it’s pretty easy to put together – you just need a BIG stock pot and some time, especially since this recipe as-written represents a double batch. Don’t balk at the chicken livers – they really do add a deep, earthy flavor to the sauce. And of course, if at all possible, use homemade stock; I had homemade beef stock saved up from the last prime rib I roasted, and that really made a difference. The end result is a meaty, hearty sauce with TONS of flavor. It’s richer and less acidic than my usual marinara sauce, but if you’re in the mood for something really soul-satisfying, it definitely fits the bill. Make sure you toast a baguette (or other crusty bread) to sop up every last drop.
Warm 2 cups milk in small pot over lowest heat. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly brown. Then add the chicken livers, and cook almost through. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, rosemary, and bay leaves, and cook until tender, 10 minutes. Add the ground meat and cook through breaking into pieces, but do not brown. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, clove, and stir in the wine and allow it to cook into the meat, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the warm milk to the meat and allow it to absorb into the meat for 1 minute. Stir in the beef stock, vegetable stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Divide the sauce in 1/2, cool, and freeze one batch. Cool and store the remainder for a make-ahead meal within the week. Alternately, cook pasta to al dente, thin the sauce a bit with a bit of starchy pasta water and toss with pasta dressed with butter to combine. Top with grated cheese and chopped celery leaves. Serve with green salad.