Poached chicken madness

Poached chicken breasts

a poach, poach, poach

a poach, poach, poach

This issue recommends poaching boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  They are preaching to the choir.  I’ve already said before that poaching chicken breasts is the only way to go.  It is so easy, so quick, and so fool-proof.  My sister-in-law told me at Christmas that she throws chicken breasts into a crockpot on low and lets them go for a while to poach.  This sounds genius and I will follow up on all of the details for you, dear readers.  The poached chicken recipe in the magazine is especially fun because it has to flavoring the poaching liquid.  That’s not something I normally bother with, but I think I’m convinced to change my ways. The recipe uses an onion, carrot, celery, garlic, lemon, some peppercorns, and some sprigs of thyme and parsley, but it says right at the top that you should just use whatever aromatics you have on hand.  I love a recipe that tells me to just do whatever.  I also love getting random celery out of the house some other way besides throwing it away.  Same thing with the end of a bunch of parsley.  Long story short, I made this recipe at least three times this past month.  I’ve lost count.  And I made it three different ways.  It’s going on the notecard!  Bookmark the recipe and never deal with weird sauteed chicken breasts ever again!

And what did I do with my chicken?

I made two of the four sandwiches.  We didn’t make the zucchini and pesto sandwich.  B and I have talked about this.  Telling people to make something with zucchini in the dead of winter is pretty ridiculous.

Hummus & Carrots

hummus, shredded carrots, sliced poached chicken breast, and baby spinach on wheat

hummus, shredded carrots, sliced poached chicken breast, and baby spinach on wheat

Yum!  Healthy!  Filling!  (Needs mayo)

Avocado & Parm

mashed avocado with lemon juice, shaved parmesan cheese, sliced poached chicken breast, on wheat

mashed avocado with lemon juice, shaved parmesan cheese, sliced poached chicken breast, on wheat

Yum!  Rich avocado with salty parmesan cheese!  (Needs mayo)  B tells me this would have been better on white bread.  She’s right.

B made the classic.  Your thoughts, B?

The Classic… plus pickled onions, because pickled onions are yummy.

The Classic… plus pickled onions, because pickled onions are yummy.

B says, its a chicken sandwich.  It had mayo so thats a plus.  But it wasn’t anything that special.  The pickled onions helped it a bit, but that was all on me.  Back to you , G.

G again.  I also made the chicken salad with scallions and yogurt.

shredded chicken, yogurt, scallions, and chopped basil served on spinach

shredded chicken, yogurt, scallions, and chopped basil served on spinach

This is me channeling my inner 1950’s housewife and serving the chicken salad in a proper little mound.  This is a very tasty chicken salad.  The basil adds a lot, which makes up for the fact that getting basil in January is roughly as difficult and unreasonable as getting zucchini.

Ok, one more thing and then we’ll let you go.  Here’s a picture of the egg salad from the magazine.

Not so very lightened-up if you wind up eating the egg yolks on their own later in the week.

Not so very lightened-up if you wind up eating the egg yolks on their own later in the week.

The recipe is hidden in the back under the big title “Everyday Food on TV.”  Do you guys remember that show?  D and I loved it.  We watched it on PBS in our old, old apartment, then DVR’ed in our old apartment.  This one is John Barricelli’s recipe.  I always liked him.  Maybe because he was the only guy, and I thought that must mean he was cool if he was willing to be on a show with a bunch of ladies AND be the baking guy.  Normally, you’d think the only guy on the show would be there to talk about grilling or meat or something else bro, but no, John normally made tarts.  You have to love that.  Also, he had a super pronounced (somewhere out East…) accent that he made no attempt to hide.  I got the feeling that John was a man who was very comfortable just being himself.

And his egg salad?  Um, it’s fine.  It uses avocado instead of egg yolks and very little of the creamy stuff, so it’s very, very good for a post holiday meal.  Here is my best attempt to write it up as a proper recipe.  The magazine has it like a quote from John.

Lightened up egg-salad sandwich (adapted from Everyday Food Issue #69 January/February 2010)

  • 4 hard-cooked egg whites, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and diced medium
  • 1/4 small red onion, diced small
  • 1 t mayo
  • 1 t sour cream
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

Combine all of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.  Serve on whole wheat bread with arugula.

You might be asking how many people this is supposed to serve.  I really don’t know.  I usually only have two eggs at breakfast, so I took this as being a two person recipe.  If you have a bigger appetite, this probably serves one.


Easy fish and the incredible shrinking recipe

“Aldi fish” veracruzano

Beef Tacos

These two recipes are from the “Some Like it Hot” story(?…column?…feature?) in the October 2003 issue.  They are all supposed to be based on a classic Mexican food.  I generally like the way Everyday Food does Mexican food.  Lots of avocado and healthier stuff than beef enchiladas with extra cheese.  

The fish veracruzano called for red snapper, but Aldi carries two kids of fish: salmon and tilapia.  So this is tilapia.

Side story: I've had those napkins since I sewed them for my first apartment back in college

Side story: I’ve had those napkins since I sewed them for my first apartment back in college

This was a relatively quick recipe without a ton of prep, and you’ll notice that most of the ingredients keep for a long time.  The plum tomatoes are the most perishable thing.  Other than that it’s onions, garlic, pickled jalapeños (gotta love a recipe that calls for jarred food), green olives (again, whoo and hoo), dried oregano, fish, and limes.  I like recipes that can be made at the end of the week when the more perishable things I shopped for have already gone bad or been used.

It’s a tasty recipe with lots of saltiness and tang.  If you like olives (attention, B!), then you’ll like this recipe.

On to the beef tacos.  

It's difficult to take pictures of tacos.  They always look like tostadas.

It’s difficult to take pictures of tacos. They always look like tostadas.

This is three recipes in one: beef taco filling, guacamole, and pico de gallo.  Speaking of letting things go bad…I purchased 7 plum tomatoes for this recipe.  The pico de gallo called for 6 and the guacamole called for 1.  All but one went bad in the fridge by the time I got around to this recipe.  Oops.  But I didn’t want to hold off on making this and it was too late to go to the store.  So I made an incredibly tiny batch of guac and an equally ridiculously small batch of pico de gallo.

It's not often you get to sixth a recipe

It’s not often you get to sixth a recipe

You know what?  This was a totally legit option.  Sometimes you don’t need a giant amount.  This was enough for two adults to garnish their tacos for one meal.  It meant we didn’t have them for leftovers, but that’s not the end of the world.

There’s another substitution involved here.  The recipe calls for 3 total jalapeños in the three recipes.  D and I just took apart the last of our garden.  This yielded one more random pepper (Anaheim?):

I'm from LA! ...Anaheim...

I’m from LA!

and one eensy weensy baby Poblano pepper:



The long skinny pepper has almost zero heat, so it didn’t help much but the Poblano gave it all good flavor.

This is a fine taco meat recipe, by the way.  I like the freeze it taco filling recipe from another issue better, but this one is fine too.

And if you need more heat, may I suggest Valentina.  Ah Valentina…the magical $1.00 hot sauce. How are they making any money selling this stuff?!

mi amor, Valentina

mi amor, Valentina

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner(s)!

So, owing to the fact that I don’t really eat red meat, I make a lot of chicken.  I roast it, I pan fry it, I bake it, I stir fry it.  Since G has already explained her “poach only” stance on chicken, this Roasted Paprika Chicken obviously fell into my realm.

Don't worry, it's supposed to look like that.

Don’t worry, it’s supposed to look like that.

Generally, the goal when roasting a chicken is to have a nice glistening crispy skin.  In this recipe, the thick spice crust is meant to blacken while cooking.  The flavor of the spices really get deep into the meat of the chicken.  It was good.  Although, honestly I prefer chicken to have some bright notes like lemon and garlic.  This chicken was so deeply savory you kind of needed something with a little acid to brighten it up a bit…

…Which is why I liked the french chicken salad so much!  The red-wine vinaigrette, while thin, somehow coats the chicken and adds body.  The celery and onion add crunch and a bit of zip and the acidity of the vinegar and mustard wakes the chicken right up.  So tasty.

This issue actually had two chicken salad recipes and four serving options.  I served mine in an avocado:

So creamy!

So creamy!

I lucked out and had a perfectly ripe avocado! The creaminess worked really well with the zing of the chicken salad.  I think this would be a really satisfying and healthy lunch.

I also served the french chicken salad in a roasted tomato:

Roasty toasty ...

Roasty toasty …

You core the tomato and scoop out a nice bowl for the chicken salad.  Then you roast it at 400 degs for just a few minutes.  You can see the skin just began to split.  (For the full instructions, see page 119, October 2003, issue 6).  I enjoyed the salad this way as well, but let’s face it, nothing beats an avocado.

Now G is going to tell you about her adventures with classic chicken salad.

G here!  Well, it’s time for me to eat some crow on my “poach only” stance.  Crow would probably be tastier than chicken salad made with poached chicken thighs or really any chicken thighs.  They are too fatty and rich to be paired with a mayonnaise dressing.  It just tasted off.  There’s a reason why chicken salad recipes call for white meat.  Yum!  Crow!

Anyway, I had the classic chicken salad recipe, and Beth had the French.  I spent a lot of time trying to suss out the difference between the two.  Here it is, dear reader: the classic has double the Dijon mustard, lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar and slightly less of it, hot sauce, and mayo.  I guess the mayo is the real difference, but we’re talking 2 teaspoons per cup of chicken.  Suffice it to say there’s not much of a difference between these two.

Here’s my salad as a sandwich:

Let's play spot the yellow peppers!

Let’s play spot the yellow peppers!

And here it is on a bed of mixed greens:

I found 'em!

I found ’em!

The takeaway here is that poaching chicken is not always the answer.  …—>the moooore yoooou knoooow!!!!—>

Huevos and another cocktail!

Huevos rancheros

Fiestaware = FTWare

Fiestaware = FTWare

This is a dangerous recipe.  Why?  Because it’s super good and it makes a ton of food that you know won’t be good leftover.  I’d be stupid not to eat 5 eggs by myself, right?  oof.  If you split this meal between two people, you will eat too much.  Guaranteed.

Sure, I can eat 5 eggs...

Sure, I can eat 5 eggs…

Let’s take a look at the recipe.  The sauce itself is delicious and easy.  You puree canned tomatoes, a jalapeno, some onion, and some garlic in the blender, then heat it for a while.  Super easy.  Makes me think I should be putting rancheros sauce on everything.  I do have one small bone to pick here.  The recipe calls for a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes.  I have never in my life seen a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes.  Whole tomatoes only come in the big cans.  Maybe if you’re buying the fancy, fire-roasted tomatoes, they come in smaller cans, but not for me.  So I used 1/2 of a big can.  Lucky for me, the tex mex chicken and beans in an upcoming November issue (stay tuned) could use 1/2 a can of tomatoes.  You are blending them, so I have a hard time seeing why a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes wouldn’t do just fine.  Anyhoo, here’s the sauce:

sauce rancheros

sauce rancheros

The whole thing is built on an oven-toasted tortilla.  Mine got a little tough.  Perhaps I overcooked it?  I think maybe a plain unbaked tortilla would be just fine.  For toppings we had avocado, Jack cheese, chopped cilantro, and homemade yogurt instead of sour cream.  That’s a move from my childhood.  We never had sour cream.  My mom always put out non-fat yogurt instead.  It’s all well and good until she puts out the vanilla flavored yogurt.  Vanilla refried beans!  Yum!

They do look a little brown...

They do look a little brown…

The D cocktail recommendation for this meal is the La Paloma.  It’s Squirt and tequila.  Sound like a poor woman’s margarita with bubbles?  It is.  What’s wrong with that?

La Paloma, which is Spanish for....the Paloma

La Paloma, which is Spanish for….the Paloma