Tag Archives: chicken

Spring Ahead

I’m so over winter that I don’t even care that I lost an hour of sleep to “spring ahead” yesterday.  I lost count somewhere along the way but I think this will be the second (or first?!) full Monday of school that M and O have had since the winter break ended.  Our front walkway is a never-ending battle of ice vs. salt, and ice is the reigning champion. I’m looking forward to seeing daylight when I leave instead of shuffling across a minefield of slush and ice in the dark. I will gladly give up one hour of sleep to have some more daylight (and if you know me personally you know how much of a sacrifice that is right now).

Winter means we’re home and indoors more often.  That means we have more time to cook up home improvement schemes, and for me to pore through my cookbooks to cook up some new recipes.  I have made chicken Parmigiana many different ways. Up until now, my favorite way was the one I previously shared here, which involves breading the chicken and pan-frying it in olive oil.  Then Lane gave me The Skinnytaste Cookbook for Christmas and the chicken Parmigiana recipe there is a game-changer.  The chicken is baked instead of fried but you’d honestly never know it.  I served this with homemade spaghetti and it was a complete crowd-pleaser.

skinny chicken parm

Skinny Chicken Parmigiana

Ingredients:

for the chicken:

  • non-stick cooking spray or oil mister
  • 3 (8 oz. each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 C. seasoned whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. melted unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 9 Tbsp. part-skim mozzarella cheese

for the sauce OR use your favorite sauce:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C. roughly chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly spray a large baking sheet with oil or non-stick cooking spray.

Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally to make 6 cutlets.

Sprinkle each side of each chicken cutlet with salt and pepper.

In a shallow bowl combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Combine the olive oil and butter in a small bowl.

Brush the butter mixture onto both sides of the chicken cutlet, then dredge the cutlet in the bread crumb mixture and place it onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all cutlets are on the baking sheet.

Lightly spray the top of the chicken cutlets with oil or non-stick cooking spray.

Bake the chicken for about 20 minutes, until it is golden on the bottom.

Turn the chicken over and bake for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the bottom is golden.

While the chicken is baking, make the marinara sauce.

To make the marinara sauce, heat a medium-large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the oil and garlic and tilt the pan to one side so the garlic is covered in oil, then return the pan so it is flat on the burner.

Add 1/4 C. of water, the tomatoes, the salt, and black pepper to taste to the skillet.

Cover the pot, bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.

Simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce is heated through.

Remove from the heat, stir in the basil, and adjust seasonings to taste if needed.

To finish the chicken, spread 2-3 Tbsp. of sauce onto each cutlet and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly onto each cutlet.

Place the cutlets under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese melts, bubbles, and starts to brown.

Remove from the oven and serve with additional sauce and, if desired, over pasta.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka.

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Reboot

Today’s installment of 12 Days of Oscar is another of this year’s Oscar nominees.  Based on a comic book, Big Hero 6 is about Hiro Hamada who spends his time participating in back-alley robot fights until his older brother Tadashi brings him to the robotics lab at his college.  There, he meets Tadashi’s friends including Baymax, a personal healthcare robot created by Tadashi. This is the first animated Disney movie to feature Marvel characters.  Big Hero 6 is nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and since The Lego Movie didn’t make it into the category, this is the one I hope will win.  Lane and I were lucky to see this onboard the Disney Fantasy on our honeymoon.

Hiro’s Aunt Cass makes  him special “melt your face off” wings to celebrate his first day at college.  These won’t quite melt your face off, but they have a nice spiciness to them.  These chicken wings are baked instead of fried but baking them on a wire rack makes them just as crispy as their fried counterpart.  I used Frank’s Red Hot for these but you can use any wing sauce you like.

baked buffalo wings

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 Tsp. cayenne pepper (you can omit this if you want less spicy wings)
  • 1 /4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 C. hot pepper sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 2 1/2 lbs. (about 30) chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

Mix the melted butter, cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp. of ground black pepper and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt in a medium bowl.

Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes and then whisk in the hot sauce.  Keep the mixture warm.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil and place a wire rack onto the lined baking sheet.

Put the wings in a large bowl and add the vegetable oil, remaining kosher salt and remaining black pepper and toss to coat.

Divide the wings between the prepared baking sheets and spread them out in a single layer.

Bake the wings for 45-50 minutes until they are cooked through and the skin is crispy.

Put the baked wings into a large bowl and add the prepared sauce.  Toss to coat evenly.

Serve immediately.

Makes 30 wings.

Source: slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

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Pep Talk

Today is day three of 12 Days of Oscar and today’s film is the 1992 movie A Few Good Men.  A Few Good Men tells the story of Lance Corporal Dawson (Wolfgang Bodison) and Private Downey (James Marshall) who are accused of killing Private Santiago (Michael DeLorenzo) while stationed at Guantanamo Bay.  Lieutenant Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is assigned to defend Dawson and Downey and plans to arrange a plea bargain until Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) interferes, believing that Dawson and Downey were following an order issued by Colonel Jessup (Jack Nicholson).  A Few Good Men was nominated for four Oscars: Best Picture (lost to Unforgiven), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Nicholson, who lost to Gene Hackman for Unforgiven), Best Sound (lost to Last of the Mohicans), and Best Film Editing (lost to Unforgiven).

There is a scene where Lieutenant Kaffee and Lieutenant Weinberg (Kevin Pollack) discuss whether or not Kaffee still needs Weinberg on the case now that Lieutenant Commander Galloway is involved.  Kaffee and Weinberg are heatedly discussing whether or not Downey and Dawson could have or should have refused the orders they were given.  Galloway enters and says “I have medical reports and Chinese food.  I say we eat first.”  Weinberg ponders for a moment and then asks “You got any Kung Pao chicken?”  indicating he’s going to stick around.

Kung Pao chicken is incredibly easy to make at home.  To get that Chinese takeout similarity the chicken needs to sit in a mixture of corn starch, vinegar, and sherry while you prep the other ingredients.  This process softens the chicken so it has the same texture.  Kung Pao chicken is kind of known for being on the spicy side and making it at home means you control how spicy it is.  Omitting the red pepper flakes still results in a tasty dish.  If you like it hot, feel free to add more.  The amount in the original recipe is just enough for our family but if it was just the grown-ups we could have added more spice.  All it takes is a few minutes in the wok (or a large skillet) and dinner’s ready.  We had this over brown rice and there were zero leftovers.

kung pao chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts thinly sliced into about 1/2 inch pieces
  • 5 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. white-wine or rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/3 C. water
  • 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1/2 C. peanuts (I suggest using unsalted)
  • 4 scallions, white bulbs and green tops cut separately into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes (use more or less to taste)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk to combine 1 Tbsp. of the soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. of the sherry and 1 Tbsp. of the cornstarch.

Add the chicken to the mixture and stir to coat the chicken.  Set aside while you complete the next steps.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, water, remaining 4 Tbsp. of soy sauce, remaining 1 Tbsp. of sherry, and the 2 tsp. of cornstarch.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of the cooking oil over moderately high heat.

Add the peanuts and stir-fry for 30 seconds until light brown and remove from the pan.

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil to the pan and heat over moderately high heat.

Add the white parts of the scallions and the red pepper flakes to the oil and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until the chicken is almost cooked.

Add the soy sauce mixture and the scallion tops to the wok and stir to combine.

Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce slightly thickens, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the peanuts.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: adapted slightly from Food & Wine

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Dirty Work

We’re one day away from the Oscars and that means this is the second to last entry for the 12 Days of Oscar over here.  Today’s entry is the third in the series that is nominated for an Oscar this year.  American Hustle is nominated for ten Oscars:  Best Picture, Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Directing, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Production Design.  American Hustle is only the second movie to be nominated in all four acting categories since 1981- the first being last year’s Silver Linings Playbook.  

When I saw this in theaters, I knew two things were going to happen: this movie was going to be in the round-up, and I was going to make chicken piccata.  When a dish of the thinnest chicken, announced by Mayor Carmine Polito’s (Jeremy Renner) wife Dolly (Elisabeth Rohm) as “the piccata of the gods,” passes across the screen it’s hard to disagree with the assessment.  The trick to having amazing piccata, it seems, is to get the chicken as thin as possible.  This is easy to accomplish by slicing the chicken breast in half horizontally (butterfly it), and then pound it with a meat mallet until it’s as thin as it can get.

chicken piccata

Chicken Piccata

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
  • 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/4 C. dry white wine
  • 1/2 C. chicken stock
  • 2 small lemons, juiced
  • 1/4 C. chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally, then pound them with a mallet or heavy skillet until they’re as thin as you can make them without them tearing.

Combine the flour and Parmesan in a shallow dish or pie plate.

Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and shake off the excess.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and 1 Tbsp. of the butter.

When the butter foams, add the chicken (in batches if necessary) and cook for a few minutes on each side.

Remove chicken and keep warm.

Add the wine, chicken stock, and lemon juice to the skillet.

Stir, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet, and cook until the sauce reduces and thickens.

Add a pinch of salt, the parsley, and capers.

Stir in the remaining butter until the butter melts.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Source: adapted from Buddy Valastro, as seen on Mia Cucina

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Jai Ho

With today’s last installment of the Winter Olympics feature comes the next installment of the 12 Days of Oscar.  Today’s film is the first in this year’s series that won an Oscar.  The 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire was nominated for ten Oscars and won eight including Best Picture.  Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a contestant on a game show similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and exceeds expectations.   In the film, Jamal Malik answers the questions so well that he is interrogated, revealing through flashbacks both his childhood and his ties to the answers as each one is linked to an event in his life.

Chicken tikka masala is to Indian cuisine what chicken Parmigiana is to Italian cuisine.  It’s simple, comforting, and not really all that authentic.  In keeping with the comparisons between the American game show and its Indian counterpart, I decided to put the tikka masala on the menu.  Chicken tikka masala is a great food to start with if you’re new to Indian food.  Chunks of chicken cooked in a spiced tomato yogurt sauce served over rice are great whether you’re a fan of Indian cuisine or completely new to it.

chicken tikka masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • ground coriander
  • cumin, to taste
  • 1/2 C. plain yogurt
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 approx. 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 3 Tbsp. Garam Masala (I bought this at Penzey’s)
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 to 1 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 2 C. Basamati rice

Directions:

Season the chicken breasts with some kosher salt, then sprinkle on coriander and cumin.

Coat the chicken breasts completely with the plain yogurt.

Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet.

Place the chicken 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side, watching carefully so the chicken isn’t completely charred.  It should have slightly blackened edges.

Remove the chicken from the oven.

In a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp. of butter over medium-high heat.

Add the diced onion and saute until slightly browned.

Add the garlic and ginger to the onion, along with about 1 Tbsp. salt.

Add the Garam Masala and stir to combine.

Add the can of diced tomatoes.

Continue to cook and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it.

Add the sugar and stir, then let the mixture simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.

Cook the Basamati rice according to package directions.

After the sauce has simmered, add in the heavy cream.

Chop the chicken breasts into chunks and stir them into the sauce.

Stir until heated through and serve the chicken mixture over rice.

Source:  The Pioneer Woman

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Then Came Lo Mein

I feel like the summer just started and here we are approaching Labor Day.  I’m looking forward to fall getting here, because then we have some breathing room in the schedule again.  As much as I love simple grilled dinners, salads, or cookouts with friends all summer long,  I’m ready to be back in jeans and boots and comfy sweaters hovering over pots of soup and pulling roasts out of the oven.  Quick and simple dinners have been critical lately.  Just because a dinner is quick and simple doesn’t have to mean that it’s boring.

Lo mein is anything but boring.  On the rare occasions that we order Chinese takeout anymore, lo mein has always been a huge hit.  Using a frozen stir fry vegetable mixture helps to make chicken lo mein a quick weeknight meal.  No, it isn’t the same as cutting up all of those vegetables and sauteing them to perfection, but it does mean that we can have lo mein at home faster than we can order it and drive over to the local takeout place.   Really, this is marinated cooked chicken stir fried with steamed frozen stir fry vegetable mix, tossed with spaghetti and a tasty sauce.  What this lo mein lacks in authenticity, it makes up for with flavor.  The ginger is subtle, and there’s just enough heat to keep it interesting.

chicken lo mein

Quick Chicken Lo Mein

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 C. chicken broth
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8-10 oz. chicken), cut into strips
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bag frozen mixed stir fry vegetables (my mixture included broccoli, red peppers, water chestnuts, baby corn, and mushrooms)

Directions:

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente, then drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth, and red pepper flakes, then set aside.

Sprinkle the chicken strips with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cook the frozen stir fry vegetables according to package directions and set aside.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat.

Add 1 tsp. of the oil, then add the chicken and cook, stirring, until no longer pink in the center.

Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside.

Heat another tsp. of the oil, then add the cooked vegetables, stirring to coat the vegetables with the oil.

Add the chicken back into the wok and stir to combine with the vegetables.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the wok, and stir to combine.

Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and stir to thoroughly combine.

Stir until the mixture is heated through, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

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