Posts tagged chicken

Cookbook Review: The Parchment Paper Cookbook

Nearly back-to-back parent teacher conferences. Somehow the day I planned to make the stuffed chicken breast recipe from The Parchment Paper Cookbook fell on the same day I had about 20 minutes at home between conferences.

Originally, I had intended to take my time figuring out how to neatly fold the parchment paper like the examples in the cookbook, it didn’t quite work out that way: Instead my pepper shaker was poised between the pages showing how to fold the paper while I madly cut each chicken breast in half and then squished the stuffing inside.

My twisting technique ended up looking more like a king-sized tootsie roll than the neat folds described in the cookbook. I was sure that the sauce was going to leak out and I was going to have a messy plan to clean up despite the books plug that these are ‘no pots, no pans, no mess’ recipes. It didn’t. No leaks! The chicken breasts turned out moist with stuffing cooked inside and coated in a light, mustard sauce, despite my lack of folding skills. I’m looking forward to trying more recipes, especially the s’mores crepes. I’m including my tweaked recipe of Stuffed Chicken Breast from The Parchment Cookbook by Brette Sember. You can find more of her recipes at NoPotCooking.com. And for easy dishes for Thanksgiving, there’s even a 99-cent ebook of no-mess recipes available through November 19th.

Recipe: Stuffed Chicken Breast

Prep time: 20 minutes (or less:)

Servings: 4-6


Ingredients

3 chicken breasts

3 tablespoons walnuts

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 teaspoons olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped ham

3 tablespoons bread crumbs or panko

6 teaspoons chicken broth, plus 4 tablespoons reserved

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

2 tablespoons white grape juice (or chicken broth)

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon white Balsamic vinegar (optional; any light vinegar will do)

lemon (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut three 20-inch pieces of parchment paper.
  3. Line your baking sheet with foil (just in case ).
  4. Put the chicken breast on the parchment and carefully make a slit into the side, careful not to cut all the way through.
  5. In a small food processor, chop up the nuts with the ham, rosemary, garlic then toss in the olive oil, 3 teaspoons chicken broth, bread crumbs, paprika and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Divide this mixture equally among the slits in the three cut chicken breasts.
  7. In a small bowl combine 4 tablespoons chicken broth, white grape juice, vinegar, cornstarch, and mustard. Divide and pour equally on the three chicken breasts.
  8. Fold the parchment according to the instructions.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Open the packet and serve. I also squeezed a little fresh lemon over each chicken breast.

Recipe note: This recipe was originally to serve one, but I tripled it for three chicken breasts. My chicken breasts happened to be pretty big so I cut them in half for serving (it took about 10 more minutes to cook too). Also, I poked a digital meat thermometer right through the parchment and into the meat so I knew when it was done. I fixed wild rice and green beans to go along with the chicken.

One more note: I wanted to thank Brette Sember for passing along a review copy of her latest cookbook–she has two more in the works!

Don’t forget to check back in tomorrow when I’ll be announcing the winner of the Hardwood Oak Cutting Board Giveaway.

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Paper bag chicken strips

The secret to really good chicken strips? It’s in the bag (sorry, I’m a sucker for lame puns). That’s right, instead of tossing chicken pieces into buttermilk and then the dry coating in a plastic bag or even by hand in a bowl, use a paper bag. With the paper, the flour coating doesn’t stick to the bag–it sticks to your chicken making for crispy tenders that are still crunchy as leftovers.

I had to pass this recipe along today since next week I’m sticking to veggies. That’s right to kick-off Vegetarian Awareness Month (ironically the same month that celebrates all-things candy coated), I’m going to go through some of my favorite vegetarian dishes.

Just a note or two about this recipe: I’ve tried substituting milk soured with lemon juice but it’s just not the same. And you’ll need to soak the chicken pieces in the buttermilk for at least an hour. What I do to streamline the process is when I’m making dinner one night, say a stir-fry, I chop enough chicken for that recipe and then make extra strips to put in the buttermilk for the next night.

Recipe

Coating the chicken in the bag

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)

2 cups flour

½ cup cornstarch

Salt

oil

1 grocery store paper bag

Directions

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into thin strips.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, pour in the buttermilk and then stir in the spices. Then place the strips into the buttermilk, stir and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator (alternatively, let them soak at least one hour in the buttermilk).
  3. Heat about 2 inches of oil in either a heavy-bottomed pan or a wok (preferred). Allow the oil to come to a high heat (if you put a pinch of flour in it, it should sizzle on contact).
  4. Meanwhile, place the flour and cornstarch in the paper bag.
  5. Drain the buttermilk from the chicken strips.
  6. Working in batches place 1/3 of the strips into the bag, close and shake vigorously. Then put the coated strips into the hot oil.
  7. Fry for about 3 minutes per batch or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack and sprinkle with salt.
  8. Repeat with remaining batches. (Note: there will be extra flour in the bag when you’re done.)
  9. Serve hot with barbecue sauce or ketchup for dipping.

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3 secrets to better shish kabobs

Food + stick = bliss. Yeah, I’m talking shish kabobs one of my favorite reasons to fire up the grill. But kabobs are deceptively tricky–the meat/veggie combo means you have to balance getting your meat cooked just right while not burning the veggies past recognition.

Here’s a few ideas for better kabobs:

Keep ‘em separate. I don’t grill the meat and the veggies together anymore. Nope. I make skewers with all one item to make sure I can grill it just right (confession: hubby mans the bbq). Chicken. Sausage. Peppers. Onions. They all get their own skewer.

Skewer savvy. Hey, but what about that lovely photo that has them combined?, you ask. I put them together post-grill. Yes, this takes more work but everything is cooked perfectly that way. Since I’m doing just one ingredient per skewer, I use larger skewers for the grill, then when I re-skewer I put the pieces on smaller ones. You can use the hole that’s already there or make a new one. If it’s just my family, I don’t even bother to re-skewer, I just put the cooked pieces in the middle of the table on a large platter. When I make these to take to a picnic, I’ll re-skewer then leave them in a just-warm oven until it’s time to go.

Photo credit: Goya

Mojo. Why go through all the trouble of creating your own marinade when you can use Mojo sauce? Goya has several varieties. I like criollo (basic) or chipotle. If your meat is frozen, let it sit overnight in the fridge to thaw in the marinade.

Your turn–kabob fan? Any tricks you want to share?

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On-the-go burritos

Raise of hands, who has no time to cook because their kids are in choir/basketball/theatre/piano lessons/girl scouts or all of the above? Me too. What is it about this time of year that piles up one activity after another (despite my best efforts not to over-schedule)?

Now you know I love to cook, but lately I’ve been running from one kid’s activity to the next after school so that by the time I get home I don’t have much time to whip up dinner. Take my Monday: I came home after watching one child’s basketball game at 5:30pm, checked my email and found out my other’s daughter’s coach had moved up her practice by ½ hour. And could I have her there by 6pm? Yikes.

Luckily I knew I’d have a tight schedule that night (although I wasn’t thinking it would be quite THAT tight). I had put chicken breasts in the crockpot in the morning and all I needed to do was shred them, add some beans, salsa, a little cheese, roll ‘em up in a flour tortilla and I had a tasty chicken burrito. To go. I heated it then wrapped it in tinfoil and my daughter ate hers on the way to practice. (I know, I know, you’re not supposed to let your kids eat that close to exercising…) I was able to sit back and eat mine while I watched her play. Yeah, eating around the table is definitely preferred, but sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. And eating out is only exciting for a couple nights before my kids start asking for something homemade.

So if you’re looking for a quick dinner that packs well–it’s crockpot time! And don’t forget you can shred the chicken and keep it for a few days–or even freeze it. (Then again, it’s so nice to have the whole house smelling good when you get home after a long day.)

Zesty chicken burrito

Prep time: 5 minutes (or less!)

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)

1 onion,  chopped coarsely

1 clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)

½ tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. ground cumin (optional)

1 poblano pepper (optional)

1 can pinto beans

About 1 cup cheese (mozzarella or Monterrey Jack work well)

About 1 cup salsa

4-6 large flour tortillas

Directions

  1. Place the chicken in the crockpot along with the onion, garlic (you don’t even need to remove the skin, just chop it in half), chili powder and 1 ½ cups water or chicken broth.
  2. Cook the chicken on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4.
  3. Once the chicken is tender, remove from the crockpot and shred using two forks.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste (and more chili powder, if desired).
  5. Drain the pinto beans.
  6. In the center of the tortilla place about ¼ cup chicken along with a couple tablespoons of beans, a handful of cheese and a tablespoon or two of salsa.
  7. Bring two opposite sides of the tortilla together.
  8. Beginning on the non-folded side, roll the tortilla.
  9. Heat for 35-45 seconds in the microwave. Wrap in aluminum foil.

Your turn–have any favorite on-the-go meals?

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Velveted Chinese Chicken Stir-fry

I’ve always wondered what makes the meat at Chinese restaurants taste so much better than when I do stir-fries at home. Do you know what I mean? The chicken is always soft all the way through without being overly chewy. And the sauce just seems to stick to it without becoming too heavy.

I’m about to let you in on the secret: velveting.

Haven’t heard of it? I hadn’t either until I was thumbing through a book a few years back at the library while I was waiting for one of my kids to finish up at story time. The book, Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks, talked about how you marinate and prep the meat before you stir-fry it by putting it into an egg white wash.

Huh? I wasn’t quite sure what to make of an egg white marinade but I was willing to give it a try. My stir-fries have been better ever since. Now, this definitely ups the time to make a stir-fry, which usually is a go-to dish when you’re in a hurry and you want something healthy for your crew. I won’t sugarcoat—it does take more planning (and a couple extra bowls to clean), but your stir-fry will taste so much better. The egg white marinade also includes a dose of cornstarch. So your chicken is already coated with cornstarch before you add the sauce to the dish. Meaning: the sauce sticks to the chicken. Yeah!

I don’t always have time to velvet the chicken/pork (haven’t tried beef yet but it’s on my list) in my stir-fries but when I do there’s a big difference in the flavor. And my kids notice too—I don’t think it’s just my imagination that they eat more (and reheat it on day #2) when I take the time for velveting.

This is just one idea about how to mix-up some of your regular dishes at home. I’ve been thinking about this as I thumbed through tips on Sunday Dinners Done Right. Of all the nights of the week, Sunday dinner is the one where we’re not rushed, we have time to enjoy the meal and talk to each other (and not just about scheduling for the next day). I especially like the idea of making conversation the main course. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team.

Recipe

Ingredients

Marinade:

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon white wine (or chicken broth)

1 egg white

1 pound chicken cut into small pieces

Sauce:

½ teaspoon cornstarch

¼ cup chicken broth

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 ½ Tablespoons white wine (or more broth)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

Other ingredients

2 Tablespoons oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bell pepper (red or green)

1 bunch green onions

(I also use bok choy)

1 teaspoon grated ginger(or 1/2 teaspoon ground)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup peanuts


Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, add all of the marinade ingredients (except the chicken) and whisk until smooth. Add the chicken pieces and marinate for at least 10 minutes or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. (But you should bring the meat up to room temperature before cooking.)
  2. Prepare the sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk.
  3. Prepare the chicken by filling a cooking pot with water and bringing it just to a simmer (not to a boil).
  4. Place the chicken into the simmering water. The egg whites will leave strands (that’s fine).
  5. As soon as the chicken turns white, around one minute, remove with a slotted spoon. I usually place my chicken in the water in two batches. (Note: the chicken is not yet cooked through.)
  6. For the stir-fry, place the oil into a wok or large skillet. Once it’s at a medium-high heat add the red pepper flakes, then the garlic.
  7. Cook for about 30 seconds then add the vegetables. Cook the veggies for about 2-3 minutes or until just barely soft.
  8. Add in the chicken. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes or until the chicken is heated through and no longer pink in the center.
  9. Pour the sauce into the center of the wok and cook for about a minute or until thickened. Turn off heat and toss in the peanuts.
  10. Serve over rice or Chinese noodles.

Now it’s your turn, do you have something that makes your Sunday night dinners just a little more special?

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Meal Planning 101

Save time cooking, more time to play in the leaves

Are you a meal planner? I try to lay out my meals for the week to trim costs and shave cooking time. In the past, I’ve gone in and out of keeping up with my weekly set up.

But yesterday after cleaning out the fridge and discovering a lonely, molding piece of Havarti dill in the bottom of the cheese drawer I thought, I’ve got to get back in the practice! No one likes to throw away food, especially when it’s tasty cheese that I could have added to an alfredo sauce, a salad, grilled cheese, if I’d known it was there.

Here’s how I plan:

  1. Sunday night or Monday morning I look through recipe books for a few minutes for ideas.
  2. Then, I look at our calendar. I mean, what’s the use of planning a fancy meal if my daughter has basketball practice that night? Those are leftover planned over nights.
  3. Scan the grocery ads to see if there’s anything interesting on sale. (I also try to remember to peek in the fridge to see what’s gone uneaten too.)
  4. Now time to plot out the meals and write my list of groceries as I go. I usually plan two meals using leftovers–so if I grill or saute chicken breasts one night I’ll make extra to use in fajitas or sandwiches a couple nights later.

Okay, you’re still doubtful, huh? Let me tell you a few of the benefits (besides avoiding fuzzy cheese)–

  • I use more fresh fruits and veggies in the meal.
  • The kids can help me cook, since I know what I’m making.
  • My grocery bill is usually about 30% less than when I don’t plan (and I can pass by the potato chips without taking them; they aren’t on the list!).
  • Less panic around 5pm. I have all the ingredients on hand.
  • Pizza night. When I’ve followed my meal plan and trimmed our grocery bill, I can use some of the savings for the occasional night out/in.
  • No endless trips to the grocery store.
  • Yummier meals.

Sneak a peek at what I’ve got cooking this week–

Monday–Italian chicken & spinach roll-ups

Tuesday–Chicken nachoes (make extra sauteed chicken)

Wednesday–Weinerschnitzel & roasted veggies (make double on both)

Thursday–Stir-fry & potstickers (use leftover chicken)

Friday–Blue corn tostadas topped with roasted veggies (again, leftovers)

Saturday–Sandwiches (yup, I’m using leftover schnitzel inside)

Sunday–Eat whatever my hubby makes:)

See, I only have a couple nights where the meals will take a lot of time to put together, every other night I’m using pre-made (by me!) ingredients. Granted meal planning doesn’t always go, well, as planned. There are nights when you get home later then you thought, or you couldn’t find an ingredient at the store, or someone ate all of the leftovers that were actually planned overs. For those nights, I try to have a back-up, usually it’s grilled cheese, apples, and Top Ramen.

Do you plan your meals ahead or do you have a method for figuring out what’s lurking in the corners of your fridge? Please, share!

**Keep reading MKES, next week I’ll be announcing a new giveaway.

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Grilled Chicken Rollups

My husband will grill no matter what the temperature or weather. In a downpour a few days ago, he was out there flipping chicken and trying to check the grill without lifting the lid more than an inch or so. Still, we both like when the weather becomes just a little nippy to heat up the grill—not too hot, not too cold outside. The kids can play while we sit and talk together. Welcome to October.

And since we’ve been grilling all summer long—and the temperatures are beginning to dip—the same recipes just won’t do. Forget the shish kabobs and the teriyaki chicken, I want something heartier. Instead of grilled chicken breast, we add a twist by rolling and stuffing the chicken breast—the technique adds some ‘umph’ to the chicken, infuses it with flavor and also just turns out really cool. (You’ll notice I’m using ‘we’ here—I’m the idea, prep person when it comes to grilling, my hubby is the master griller.)

You can stuff your chicken with just about anything. We’ve done ham and swiss cheese for a grilled chicken cordon bleu, peppers and onions, but our favorite combo is simply sausage (like the fully cooked link variety) and some sharp cheddar cheese. Before you stuff the chicken, you’ll need to pound it out thin. Then you can roll up your stuffing ingredients—and here’s the tricky part—secure the roll with either a long toothpick or even a metal skewer. (Just don’t forget to remove these before serving!)

The rolled chicken may need a little more time to cook on the grill then a flatter piece of meat, but if you have an instant read thermometer where you can just pull the chicken off the grill and do a quick reading, that will make checking for doneness a snap. So don’t put the grill away just yet!

Recipe

Servings: 4

Prep time: 25 minutes + grilling time

Ingredients:

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 package sausage links (such as Hillshire Farm)

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

On hand:

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Salt

Pepper

2 Tablespoons melted butter

½ Tablespoon soy sauce

long toothpicks

Directions:

Using two pieces of doubled plastic wrap, place one chicken breast in between and onto a sturdy cutting board. Pound the chicken gently with a hammer until it’s about ¼” thick. Set aside. Repeat with each chicken breast.

Cut up the sausage into several 2-inch long pieces, do the same with the cheddar cheese. Placing 3-4 pieces each of sausage and cheese at the end of one piece of chicken, roll the chicken, starting with the filling end, toward the other end. Make sure you are rolling on the short end of the chicken, not the wider side. Secure the roll by poking a long toothpick into the meat and thread it through once. Repeat with each chicken breast. Generously sprinkle seasonings on each chicken breast. Use garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Prepare a finishing sauce for the meat by whisking the soy sauce into the butter. Place the chicken seam side up onto the hot grill. Cook for 15-25 minutes. Remember to baste the chicken frequently with the finishing sauce and flip once. When you think the meat is done, remove one chicken breast and check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer—it should read 165 degrees. Alternatively, cut into one chicken breast and check that the meat is no longer pink.

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30-Minute Meal: Easy Chicken Parmesan

Ah, the 30-minute meal. Just because you need something quick and easy to make, it doesn’t mean you have to reach for the mac ‘n cheese box. Although having Cheerios for dinner every once in awhile doesn’t hurt anyone, right?

Chicken Parmesan has become a standard around our house, but not just because it’s a cinch to make. Along with having a short ingredient list (made up of mostly things you should have on hand), this dish tastes like it took hours to prepare.

Want to know the secret? Keeping it simple. The dish combines butter, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, garlic and chicken—that’s it. You batter the chicken with the Parmesan to create a crust. Unlike traditional Parmesan chicken, there’s no need to dip the chicken three times—in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan. And no need to fry the chicken either, a little broiling at the end makes for a crispy finish. Instead, you can dip the chicken right into the cheese, then just pour the butter over the top. The chicken is oven-ready in less than ten minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, I prepare pasta noodles and heat up a marinara sauce to serve alongside. Okay, I’m going to have an infomercial moment now, but here goes—wait, there’s more! I can usually turn this one meal into two. With the leftover chicken, I make Italian subs the next day. On a hoagie roll, I add thin sliced Parmesan chicken, then ham or pepperoni (or skip the additional meat altogether), then tomato, shredded lettuce and add a little mayo to the bun. I often sprinkle either dried oregano or basil onto the mayo and even add a few drops of red wine vinegar to give the sandwich a little zing.

So one, 30-minute meal can actually give you two days worth of bring-the-family-around-the-kitchen-table worthy dinners. Maybe, this does deserve the infomercial treatment!

Recipe

Ingredients:
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 8-ounce packaged shredded Parmesan cheese
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with heavy aluminum foil (not a necessary step, but it makes clean up soooo much easier). Lightly coat the pan with cooking spray.

Cut the chicken breasts into long pieces (or tenders). Empty half of the bag of Parmesan into a shallow tray or plate. Mix the pepper and garlic into the Parmesan cheese. Dip each chicken piece into the Parmesan and then place onto the pan, being careful not to crowd the meat. Add more Parmesan cheese to the plate when needed. Drizzle the butter onto the meat.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees as the meat’s internal temperature. Bump the oven heat up to broil. Heat the chicken on the broil temperature until the cheese just begins to become browned (about 2 minutes). Remove the chicken from the oven. I usually serve the chicken along with pasta and spaghetti sauce. With the leftovers, I cut the strips into thin pieces and place on a deli roll, along with shredded lettuce, tomato, and mayo (sprinkled with a little dried oregano or basil) to create an Italian sub sandwich.

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