Substitution: Walnut Pesto

Posted on May 26, 2011. Filed under: chicken, easy, pasta, recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , |

 I don’t have a “signature” dish, per se. I like to play, I like to make new discoveries. But I do have a few standby dishes that I know and love. Penne pesto with chicken breast is one of them. Trouble in River City: I wanted to make the dish, but someone I was cooking for has a pine nut allergy. Pine nuts are an integral component of my pesto. Oh boy. It was time to experiment.

Sometimes you have to change a dish a little bit. Perhaps someone you’re cooking for is a bit finicky, or, as in this case, they have a food allergy. This can freak out people with limited experience in the kitchen. People with a lot of experience might scoff at the idea of messing with what they know is the “right” way. This is stupid. A good cook shouldn’t be snotty about his or her recipes. Look at it as a chance to experiment. Change the flavor profile a little bit. That’s why I did with this. Goodbye pine nuts, hello walnuts.

For the pesto, blend:
1 4oz. package Basil
1/4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1/2 Cup Toasted Walnut Pieces
3 Cloves Garlic
1/8 Cup Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cups Milk
Mix into cooked pasta and Super Simple Chicken.
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(Not Your Momma’s) Fried Chicken

Posted on March 17, 2011. Filed under: chicken, poultry, recipe, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

I was craving fried chicken yesterday. What I ended up eating was something that wasn’t quite what I was craving but was nearly as satisfying. Perhaps even more satisfying, if you add creativity bonus points. Alright, perhaps not. There isn’t any kind of “fried” chicken that satisfies like a piece of skin-on chicken that has taken a delicious bath in bubbling oil. Still, this was pretty damn good.

What did I do? In a sense I deconstructed fried chicken. Deconstructing things is fun, but fun isn’t why this happened. Now I didn’t set out to be a clever beaver or anything. So why did I do it? I’ll give you two choices, and you can decide which one is true.

One: I set out to construct a lower calorie “fried” chicken that is just as enjoyable as its deep fried cousin. We all hate calories, right? And deep frying is ever so evil and wicked and full of death. “Fried” chicken should be baked chicken, because that’s what’s good for our souls and our waistlines. And oven baked chicken tastes better, right? Oh yes. So much better, all dried out and sad. So I deconstructed in hope that it might taste better. Perhaps the chicken wouldn’t be so dry.

Two: I was craving fried chicken but had cleaned my deep fryer the other day and hadn’t procured new oil.

You decide. Either way, I got creative. Here’s what I did:

I prepared Chicken Variation #3. Simple as can be.

While that was cooking, I made a breading.

3 Tablespoons Ground Raw Macadamia Nuts*
3 Tablespoons Panko
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts**
2 Teaspoons Melted Butter

Toss mix in a medium-hot pan for 2 minutes, and then add:
3 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese

Stir until mix is golden brown. This should take about another 2 minutes. Keep a close watch- it can go from beautiful to burned quickly.
Remove breading from pan, and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Cut cooked chicken into cubes.
Put in a bowl or plastic bag, add breading, shake or toss to cover.

* Make sure the macadamia nuts are raw. Pulse whole nuts in food processor or spice grinder until roughly the same size at the panko.

** You don’t have to limit yourself to pine nuts. Try any combination you like. I just happened to have extra pine nuts on hand. Raw walnuts or almonds would be nice, too. Make sure to process them to the same size as the panko.

*** If preparing this dish within 20 miles of a southerner, rename dish. Don’t even try to pretend it’s fried chicken. They will be angry. Call it Nutty Yankee Chicken Bake, or something like that.

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Quinoa Stir Fry

Posted on October 10, 2010. Filed under: chicken, healthy, poultry, recipe, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

One of my supersmart classmates told me about a post on the NY Times website featuring quinoa. Well, quinoa happens to be one of my favorite new foods, and it should be one of yours, too.

Quinoa is often referred to as a grain, but it’s actually the seed of a South American plant related to the beet. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains a full set of essential amino acids. It’s also a solid source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and B vitamins. Most importantly, the flavor is fantastic. Win on all levels.

Preparation is simple: Rinse thoroughly. Use a 1 to 2.5 ratio of quinoa to liquid. I like vegetable stock, but water will work, too. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Done.

Here’s a recipe I adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s Vegetable and Tofu stir fry in the Time’s quinoa section:

Slice Two Chicken Breasts into strips.
Marinate in:
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Mirin
1 Tbs Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tbs. chopped Ginger
2 Tsp. Corn Starch
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
Set aside for at least one hour.

While you’re making the marinade, might as well make the sauce. You’re using most of the same ingredients.
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Mirin
1 Tbs Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tbs. chopped Ginger
2 Tsp. Corn Starch
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
Pinch 5 Spice Powder

When ready to cook, add to a medium-hot pan:
1 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Broccoli Florets
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into strips
1 Carrot, sliced
1/2 Onion, sliced

Saute for 5 minutes, and remove from pan.
Cook chicken in same pan for about 3 minutes, or until done.
Return vegetables to pan, and add the sauce you prepared earlier.
Cook 3-4 more minutes.
Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

Serve over cooked quinoa.
I’d say a half cup of cooked quinoa per person is a good serving size.

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Peachy Keen Chicken

Posted on September 9, 2010. Filed under: chicken, grill, poultry, recipe | Tags: , , , , , |

Sweet sweet love affair with the Big Green Egg continues. I smoked a brisket the other day. Happiness. There is a strong possibility of ribs or perhaps a pork shoulder this weekend. Jealous? You might be. Come to Pittsburgh, I’ll share the love. In the meantime, here’s a chicken dish I invented that you can do on your grills, too.

1/2 Cup Grapeseed Oil (feel free to substitute if you don’t have grapeseed)
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1.5 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Brown Sugar
1 Tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 Tsp. Chili Powder
1/4 Tsp. Celery Seed
1 Shallot
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Peach, pit and skin removed

Slather generously over Chicken Breasts or Thighs, and grill.

Peaches? Indeed. Trust me.

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Yogurt Grilled Chicken

Posted on June 10, 2010. Filed under: chicken, easy, grill, poultry, recipe | Tags: , , , , , |

A simple yogurt slather will do wonders for your grilled chicken. Yogurt’s combination of mild acidity and calcium work to tenderize the meat. You’ll be able to mix a lot of flavor in, too. Serve the chicken as is, or add it to a salad or flavorful curry.

The mix below is what I used. It was lovely. But feel free to choose your own adventure. Let me know what you come up with!

1/3 Cup Plain Yogurt
1.5 Tablespoons Honey
2 Teaspoons Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Powdered Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Chili Powder
Pinch of Cumin

Rub mix on to:
Two Chicken Breasts

Let the chicken sit at room temperature 1-2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Remove most, but not all, of the marinade.
Grill 6 minutes per side, over high heat.

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Chicken and Potato Curry

Posted on May 6, 2010. Filed under: chicken, poultry, recipe | Tags: , , , , |

This recipe seems a lot more complicated than it is. Take it step by step, and you’ll be enjoying home cooked curry in no time!

For the Chicken:

Grill 2 Chicken Breasts for 6 minutes per side. An optional step is to coat the chicken with a yogurt mix, let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, and then grill. After chicken cools, cut it into medium sized chunks.

Suggested Yogurt Mix:

Half Cup Plain Yogurt
1 Tbs. Honey

2 Tsp. Curry Powder
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Ground Ginger
1 Tsp. Ground Corriander

*You could also bake/broil the chicken, or simply cut it into chunks and let it cook in the curry sauce for 15 minutes. It’s up to you.

For the Potatoes:

2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 2 inch wedges
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
Pinch salt & pepper
Rub potatoes with oil/salt/pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

For the Curry:

Add, to a medium-hot pan:
2 Tbs. Ghee (or 1 Tbs Olive Oil and 1 Tbs Butter)
1 Tbs. Curry Powder
1 Tsp. (or more!) Chili Powder
1 Tsp. Ground Corriander
1 Tsp. Salt

Stir constantly for one minute, and then add:
One Clove Garlic, minced
One Small Onion, diced
1 Tbs Minced Ginger

Stir one more minute, and then add:
2 Cups Pureed Tomato
1 Cup Coconut Milk

Let simmer for 15 minutes, and then add cooked chicken and potatoes.
Finish with:
2 Tbs. Chopped Cilantro

*There are many curry powders out there. If possible, try to find an Indian market. They will have a much wider variety to choose from, and you can ask the staff to pick their favorites. If there are no markets locally, you should have no trouble finding a curry powder at your local grocery. Be sure to taste the powder before you add it- some are quite hot, so adjust your chili powder accordingly.

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Honey Thyme Chicken

Posted on March 16, 2010. Filed under: chicken, easy, poultry, recipe | Tags: , , , , |

I’m getting my garden ready for the summer season, and there is some cleaning up to do. My thyme plant has grown steadily throughout the winter, and I’ve been clipping little bits here and there. But the thyme is starting to flower, and it’s going to have to make way for a tomato plant soon. Most will be hung for drying, but some of it went into this easy weeknight meal.

Cut into chunks, season with salt, and then brown over high heat:
Two Chicken Breasts

Reduce heat to medium.
One Clove Garlic, minced

Cook for one minute, and then add:
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
2 Teaspoons Honey
1.5 Teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice
6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
Pinch Salt & Pepper

Cook for one minute, and then add:

1 Teaspoon Butter
Remove thyme sprigs.

*For a more intense flavor, strip a few sprigs of thyme, and chop the leaves into the garlic.

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Chicken Variation #3: Simplicity

Posted on January 28, 2010. Filed under: easy, freeze, poultry, recipe | Tags: , , , |

Sometimes you’ll see a recipe that called for pre-cooked chicken. This is a simple way to do it. Cook a bunch, and keep them in your freezer. This way you’ll always have a base you can build on. (Or just squeeze a little lemon over it, and eat as it is. Nothing wrong with simple!)

Start with:
Chicken Breasts

Rub with:
Olive Oil

Dust with:
Garlic Powder

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 13 minutes, turning once.
Or grill it. High heat, same timing.

Great for:
Really Easy Soup
Penne Pesto with Chicken

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Lemony Leftover Chicken

Posted on January 11, 2010. Filed under: easy, leftover, poultry, recipe | Tags: , , , |

 What do you do when you grill/bake/fry too many chicken breasts? Sure, you could eat the leftovers as they are–cold chicken is great. Or, you could take five minutes and transform your leftovers into something totally new.

Cut, into chunks:
Leftover Chicken Breast

Add chicken to a hot pan with:
One Clove Garlic, chopped
Two Tablespoons Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
One Tablespoon Honey
Cook for two minutes.

Two teaspoons butter
Cook one more minute.

Finish with:
Handful Chopped Italian Parsley

*If you can’t find Meyer lemons, use the citrus juice of your choice. Oranges are especially nice with this.

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Turkey Stew

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: one pot, poultry, recipe |

It gets “cold” and rainy in Los Angeles just a few times per year. Today is one of those days. So I decided to try something new, and make a turkey stew. Had some fun playing with flavors, especially the apple notes. It turned out pretty terrific.

Cut into good-sized chunks, and then brown:
2 Pounds Turkey, white, dark, or mixed

Remove turkey from pot.
Immediately add:
3 Carrots, quartered
3 Ribs Celery, quartered
1 Onion, quartered
2 Green Apples, quartered (remove core!)
3 Cloves Garlic, smashed
Pinch Salt

Roast veggies for 4-5 minutes, and then remove from pot.

2 Tablespoons Butter or Chicken Fat
2 Tablespoons Flour

Cook fat & flour for 3 minutes. Whisk constantly.

Whisk in:
1.5 Cups Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup White Wine
1/2 Cup Apple Juice
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Dried Sage

Allow the liquid to come to boil.
Return turkey and vegetables to the pot.

Cover, and transfer to a 300 degree oven.
Cook 1.5 hours.

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