Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken and Warm Potato-Veggie Salad

Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken 

Warm Potato-Veggie Salad

I want to be able to eat this again right now!!!

I want to be able to eat this again right now!!!

What to say about these recipes.  They were good.  They were both really, really good.  The chicken was salty and sweet almost like a chicken wing.  The potato salad was so good, I kept going back for more.  The vinegar in it was just right and because it was dressed while warm all of the flavor from the mayonnaise and vinegar just seeped right in and made them irresistible.

The recipes were also both pretty easy and straight forward, but when the recipe says to line your pan with aluminum foil, be sure to line it really, really well.  I may have had to throw my sheet pan out after this recipe.  The chicken was so good though I wasn’t hugely upset about losing the pan.  I will definitely line it better in the future though.

You should give these recipes a try.  They would be really great for a fun family dinner and movie night.

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Pin it to win it

Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

I ❤ Pinterest.  I ❤ it so much that I’m willing to use stupid emoti-hearts to express myself.  I don’t even know why I love it sometimes.  Sometimes I think it’s just relaxing to look through pretty pictures and drink wine.  That’s probably it.  It’s also interesting to see what people get into.  It teaches me things about my fellow humans that I never knew.  Ladies love nail art.  A lot.  Everyone thinks they have a recipe that tastes just like a Frosty (it doesn’t.  stop lying).  Chex mix is more popular than I thought.  Muddy buddies (puppy chow, white trash, etc. etc.) is apparently just the most versatile thing in the world.  Red Velvet puppy chow.  Nutella puppy chow.  Nutella, there’s another Pinterest thing.  There are two things that are arguably the biggest of all.  You’re probably already thinking it, Pinterest fan: crock pot recipes and pumpkin.  Seeing lots of nodding.  I made these two recipes and thought, “Man.  This is straight out of Pinterest.”  So paint your nails to look like candy canes, grab some Chex Mix, and find out why…

Tex mex chicken and beans is your classic Pinterest slow cooker dump recipe.  There’s very little prep.  I didn’t have bell pepper and I’ve had bell peppers get weird in a slow cooker, so I put in the other 1/2 of a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, cut up with scissors.  Those were from the huevos rancheros recipe in October.  Plus, my chipotles in adobo came from the freezer.  You never use a whole can, so I freeze the peppers with adobe in ice cube trays, one pepper per whole, lined with plastic wrap.  Once they are frozen, you can just slide them out wrap and all and put them in a freezer bag.  It takes maybe 2 minutes on defrost to bring them back to life.  I also added some more dried pinto beans because I was scared that the stuff wasn’t reaching halfway up the side of the crock, and the instructions on the crockpot are pretty explicit about that.  Other than that, it was just a matter of letting it heat up.  Super easy.  Very very good.

slow cookin', swayin' to the music, slow cookin', just me and Everyday Food

slow cookin’, swayin’ to the music, slow cookin’, just me and Everyday Food

The penne with pumpkin sauce recipe hits the other Pinterest high note: pumpkin.  But it does it in a more sophisticated way.  It’s not cloying and sweet.  The white wine vinegar cuts a lot of the sweetness.  I will say that you should believe the recipe when it says to salt it generously, the canned pumpkin needs salt.  Also, frying rosemary is a total mess, and it is stressful trying to pick little pieces out of hot oil with a slotted spoon.  Luckily, it adds some flavor and crunch along with the stress.  I made a separate serving for J without the rosemary and red pepper flakes.  He liked it well enough.

Not pictured: nails that look like jack o' lanterns

Not pictured: nails that look like jack o’ lanterns

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!!!!—>

Apparently My Skillets are Big Enough

I’ve never seen G’s skillet in person, so I don’t know if the recipe was the issue or the skillet size was misleading.  Hard to say.  What I can say is that I took on most of the remaining skillet recipes and had no problem getting them to fit.  I used an 11 3/4 inch Le Creuset skillet which by the laws of measurement should technically be smaller than G’s 12 inch skillet, so I am assuming the recipe must have been a little off (or G uses big measuring cups).

I made two recipes, the first of which was Chicken with Artichoke Hearts.

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As usual, I cheated and used the bone-in skin-on chicken thighs I had instead of boneless skinless chunks of chicken thigh.  I had to let the skin crisp up before I flipped the thighs.  Then I had to be careful to nestle in all the other ingredients around the crispy chicken.

The oregano in this dish was awesome!  So tasty and Mediterranean.  I also love feta so adding that at the end made me extremely happy.  I decided to serve it over couscous because the liquid never thickened as the recipe described (maybe because I used skin-on whole thighs?).  The couscous soaked it up quite nicely.

I really enjoyed this and felt pretty good about eating it.  It tasted fresh and healthful even using the fattier chicken thighs instead of breasts.  I will certainly put it on the list of keepers.

The second skillet recipe I cooked was Chicken with Ginger.

See how spacious?

See how spacious?

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I love ginger.  I nearly always have some fresh ginger in the house.  I cook with it often, but even more often I make ginger tea.  There are two ways you can do this.  One is literally pouring boiling water over chopped ginger and letting it steep.  This is great if you have an upset stomach.  I usually make a strong black tea like an Irish Breakfast and add fresh ginger to the pot while it is steeping.  The result is a really warming beverage (not just in the temperature sense) that is really great on cold mornings or rainy afternoons.

Anyway, I was excited to make this recipe.  I decided to serve it over ramen noodles and when they mixed in with the sauce it turned into kind of a lo mein dish.  The ginger was zesty and delicious and it mixed wonderfully with the soy sauce.

I’m pretty sure the Bear I live with liked it too because there weren’t any left overs despite making four packets of ramen to go along with the considerable amount of meat.

Another win for EF!

Electric stoves need not apply

Chicken with poblano cream sauce

Hello, gorgeous.

Hello, gorgeous.

This recipe presents a nice opportunity to try out a cooking technique that is quite easy, but will make you feel like a pro, roasting peppers over a stove flame.  Any time you get actual fire involved, you must be good, right?  This recipe has you roast a poblano pepper.  Take a pair of metal cooking tongs and hold them using a pot holder.  Even a pair of tongs that normally stays pretty cool in your hand is going to feel hot when you hold it by fire for this long.  Grip the stem end of the pepper and roast it over a medium-high flame.  I’d say hold the pepper just a little closer to the flame than you do to roast a marshmallow on campfire.  Of course, if you’re one of those overgrown children who just jams the marshmallow into the fire and hopes for the best, now is a good time to practice patience.  What you’re looking for is for the skin of the pepper to blister and char slightly.  You can keep the flame in one place for a while.  There’s no need to keep the pepper moving constantly.  Once the whole pepper is roasted, this recipe has you taking off the skin with a paper towel.  That works.  I’ve seen other recipes that have you putting the pepper in a bowl, covering it with plastic wrap, letting it sit for 10 minutes, then taking off the skin.  Still other recipes will have you keep the pepper in a paper bag for a while.  Maybe the plastic wrap treatment is necessary for a bell pepper because the skin is tougher than the skin on a poblano pepper.  It was easy to take the skin off of this with just a paper towel right away.  You’re left with a roasty, toasty skinless poblano pepper.

Ug roast!  Ug make pepper good!

Ug roast! Ug make pepper good!

What do those poor people without gas stoves do when they want to roast a pepper?  The magazine says something about broiling it.  That’s no fun.  Yet another reason why gas ranges are the best: you can use them to roast a pepper like the cavewoman you really are.

That’s the only trick to this recipe.  Otherwise, it’s just a sauce you make in the blender with some cream.  It is so good.  The pepper has just enough heat to cut the creaminess and the cream has just enough creaminess to cut the heat.

Oh, there’s another trick to this recipe, if you’re going to make it my way.  I poached the chicken breasts.  I hate to cook chicken.  I’m never confident about whether it’s cooked unless I poach it.  Also, poaching chicken keeps it moister than other methods.  Here is a link to my favorite instructions for poaching chicken.  I don’t bother with the herbs or broth or anything, though.  I just cook it in plain water for the specified amount of time.  Once I learned to poach chicken, that was pretty much the end of me cooking chicken any other way besides my true favorite, getting D to grill it for me.

The side dish is roasted root vegetables.  I put some tortillas out there too for the sake of giving us options on how to eat it.

Fiestaware really suits this one, doesn't it?

Fiestaware really suits this one, doesn’t it?

Finding balance

Apricot and Cheddar Chicken Melt with Apple, Grape, and Celery Salad

apricot and cheddar melt with side of apple, celery, and grape salad

yin and yang and cheese

This, my friends, is why I lov(ed) Everyday Food.  A chicken apricot cheddar melt.  That’s not a recipe you see everyday (pardon the indirect pun).  Everyday Food was a great magazine for interesting and creative recipes that didn’t require liquid nitrogen.  This recipe takes a chicken sandwich and makes it a wonderfully balanced, sweet-and-salty treat.  You take a baguette, spread it with apricot preserves, add a marinated and broiled piece of chicken and some deli ham and some white cheddar, then broil again to melt the cheese.  That’s the basics, but I really need to break this recipe down to showcase its genius.

(If you’re really especially interested in this recipe, you may also want to check out the video that Sarah Carey did.)

First, the baguette.  The recipe calls for you to cut up one long baguette, but I came up with a fun substitute.  I bought a couple of rolls from the Vietnamese bakery in my neighborhood (sometime, when I’m thinking of abandoning ship and moving to the suburbs, I need to reread that sentence…”I bought a couple of rolls from the Vietnamese bakery in my neighborhood”).  This place sells banh mi and the rolls of french bread they go on.  The rolls are $1 for a roughly 8-10 inch roll.  Such a deal.  It’s about the size of the roll your sandwich comes on at Jimmy John’s, if that helps.  A base of tasty french bread helps ground the sandwich.  It’s just crunchy enough to hold on to chicken and gooey cheese, but with just enough softness to keep the aforementioned goo from rocketing off of the bread the second you bit into it.

Second, the apricot preserves.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that just about any sweet and sour jam, preserves, or jelly would be good here.  I’m thinking peach, pineapple (aka sundae topping masquerading as jam), and maybe cherry or blackberry, depending on how sweet they are.  Traditional strawberry or grape would be far too sweet.  I could definitely see hot pepper jelly on this one for a hot and sweet variation.  Either way, the sweet and sour jam balances the salt in the cheese and the savory chicken.  It also adheres the chicken to that lovely baguette.  Sarah Carey makes her own apricot jam in the video.  Good for her…

Third, the marinated chicken and the deli ham.  In a lesser recipe, this would have been just any old cooked piece of chicken.  The marinade elevates this piece of meat.  It is made from white-wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic cloves, and salt and pepper.  The marinade adds some tang from the mustard and keeps the chicken from being bland. I can’t remember how long I marinated the meat.  The recipe says you can marinate up to 24 hours in the fridge.  The recipe calls you to split four chicken breasts in half horizontally to make two big, flat pieces of chicken.  It’s somewhat frightening to drag a knife a mere inch underneath the flesh of your palm.  Sarah shows this in the video.  She either has a way sharper knife than me or no fear.  The ham adds a certain hamness that only ham can provide.  If you love ham, you’ll understand that last sentence.  If not, think of it as adding salt.

Finally, the cheese.  B lives in the land of white cheddar.  I do not.  Also, as long as I’m on the subject of things I can’t find at the store that Everyday Food calls for, can some other cooks from outside of New England please back me up when I say that those chocolate wafer cookies do not exist?  How many recipes call for those things?  So so so many.  Have I ever seen them at the store?  No.  I’m starting to think they are an East Coast thing or a prank.  Back to the sandwich.  You take those well-balanced ingredients and broil them all to hot, tasty, crunchy, yet gooey perfection.  What a sandwich!

For as much as this is a balanced sandwich, it’s balanced richness.  In steps the salad.  This salad is fresh and bright.  It cuts through the richness of the sandwich.  It is a Waldorf salad without the mayo. D actually recognized it as a Waldorf salad without being prompted.  It is nicely balanced on its own between the bitter, crunchy celery and the sweet, softer grapes and apples.  Plus pecans. Pecans for the sake of…pecan-ness.  (I’ve used the word “hamness” and “pecan-ness” in this post.  This project is highlighting the gaps in my vocabulary)  Is there a word for that nut texture just shy of crunchy?  Whatever the word is, that’s what it adds.  Then you balance the sweet fruit and bitter veggie with a sour dressing and it all comes together.  I could see bringing this recipe to a picnic in the summer.  It doesn’t have any mayonnaise, so you (read: me) wouldn’t have to stress out about leaving it out.

Rice and Noodles: Dinners this week took an Asian adventure

Shrimp Fried Rice (no recipe online, see below)

Chicken, Edamame, and Noodle Stir Fry

September 2007, pg. 18 & 111

Chicken, Edamame, and Noodle Stir Fry

Chicken, Edamame, and Noodle Stir Fry

The hardest part of this dish was finding the ingredients.  I just spent the last five years living in the land of Wegman’s.  For those of you who know Wegman’s, you will already understand why this is an issue for me.  For those of you who don’t, educate yourself.  Needless to say, I started to take Wegman’s a little for granted and just assumed most things could be found at my local grocery store.  So when I moved here and had to deal with (gasp!) normal grocery stores, I have found myself a little lost.  What do you mean they don’t always carry lamb chops?!  Where is my Republic of Tea?!?!?!?! (This issue has resulted in approximately 3 weeks of checking every supermarket and specialty store which could fathomably carry Republic of Tea Earl Greyer.  I’m fairly traumatized.) What is this pathetic olive bar selection?? And where are my 300+ specialty cheeses?!?!  Anyway, I assumed I would be able to run up to the Shaw’s and just grab a package of udon noodles and some pre-shucked edamame.  Wrong! I had to check 3 different stores before I managed to luck out at basically a local version of whole foods.  I couldn’t even find udon noodles at the local Asian Market which strangely had mostly Indian stuff…

Anyway, after all that, it turned out ok.  I just say ok because while it was decent, it was lacking anything that thrilling.  The Bear I live with says it would have benefitted from some duck sauce (hey, what wouldn’t benefit from some duck sauce?!) but he settled for some sriracha sauce (yeah, pretty different from duck sauce I know).  If I decide to make this again, I might try to add in a little more rice wine vinegar and maybe a little sesame oil.

The real star of my Asian romp was the Shrimp Fried Rice (recipe below)!

Ugh, I wish I had some I could eat right now!

Ugh, I wish I had some I could eat right now!

First of all, I had managed to find some incredible deal on some really incredible shrimp (I guess Shaw’s isn’t all bad…) and was super psyched to use them.  I was a little nervous that the Shrimp Fried Rice wouldn’t do them justice but I took the risk and it was sooo worth it!!!!

This recipe uses a fair amount of lime juice and I am certain that is what made all the difference.  It was so sharp and vibrant and the shrimp was so sweet and plump! My only complaint is that it could maybe use a little more crunch.  Next time I will add some thinly shredded Napa cabbage.  And there will definitely be a next time!

Ok here’s the recipe:

Shrimp Fried Rice*

Prep Time: 15 minutes (depending on how fast you are with a knife) Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups rice (I used brown rice and was very satisfied with the results)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil (I used coconut oil and again, very satisfied)

2 eggs beaten

1 lb peeled-deveined shrimp coarsely chopped

2 carrots thinly sliced

2 scallions sliced

1 garlic clove minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (so good!)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup lime juice

So have your rice already cooked and ready to go.  I made mine the day before.  Put half the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add your beaten egg.  Don’t scramble it further.  Let it cook until it’s set like an egg pancake then slide it out and slice it up.  Set that aside.  Then add the rest of your oil to the skillet, still on medium heat, and toss in the shrimp, carrots, scallions, garlic and ginger.  Keep tossing it around as it cooks.  It only takes 3 – 5 minutes.  When the shrimp are pink and have firmed up they are done.  Don’t overcook them!  Tough shrimp are the worst! (Well maybe not the worst, they are still shrimp after all…).

When your shrimp look cooked add in the rice, eggs, soy sauce and lime juice.  Keep mixing it up until it all seems heated through and bam!  You have a really awesome dinner ahead of you!  You can add some scallion greens to make it look pretty. Enjoy!

*adapted from Everyday Food Issue 45 (September 2007) p. 18.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Herbed Couscous

www.marthastewart.com/338178/chicken-breasts-stuffed-with-herbed-cous

September 2007, pg. 105

Ok folks, there are many types of things that I would recommend stuffing inside a chicken breast.  Asparagus with tomato, basil and fontina: Absolutely! Ham and Cheddar: Fabulous! Herbed Couscous: No thanks!

It’s not that it didn’t taste good.  Because honestly it was tasty, but it was such a pain to prepare and cook that it really wasn’t worth it.

image

I served it with the Quick-Marinated Yellow Squash Salad. More to follow on that in a later post.

First of all, couscous is not easy to jam inside a small slit on a chicken breast.  I much prefer a stuffing method that more or less involves butterflying a chicken breast and then wrapping it around the fillings.  Shoving tiny little beads of pasta inside a meat pocket is not so convenient.

I don’t mind going out of my way to use intricate methods in my cooking if it actually improves the final product, but this just resulted in a caked together lump of couscous instead of the soft and fluffy type I love.

I also found the herb options a little dull for my tastes so instead I used diced prunes (That’s right! Don’t knock ’em until you’ve tried ’em!) and toasted almond slices.  That on its own was delicious and I think next to a nice sautéed chicken breast would have been lovely, but no, I had to stuff it inside.

Not only did I not like the outcome, the stuffing made it so much harder to judge when it was finished cooking.  I can usually tell with chicken by poking it (I cook a lot of chicken) but I resorted to the quick-read thermometer with this and it still somehow managed to be undercooked!

Needless to say, this is not a recipe I plan on making again.   Oh well, on to my next experiment: Marinated Bocconcini!

Marsala Chicken with Sage and Cremini Mushrooms Served with Peas and Carrot Ribbons

www.marthastewart.com/338177/marsala-chicken-with-sage-and-cremini-mu

www.marthastewart.com/313330/peas-and-carrot-ribbons

September 2007, pg. 107 & pg. 134

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When I first started dating the bear I live with, his favorite meal was chicken marsala.  So, I have some experience making a much fussier version of this meal.  This recipe was much less time consuming – no need to pound out chicken breasts and just a very light flour dredge – and didn’t lose any of the flavor from the more complex version.

I went a little rogue and used thyme instead of sage a) because I had it and b) because I have very little use for sage on a regular basis, but can find ways to use thyme frequently.  I think thyme and mushrooms are best friends.  They taste so great together and I think it worked wonderfully in this dish.

I also thought the peas with carrot ribbons went really nicely with somewhat sweet marsala sauce.  The peas and carrots were really buttery and the thin slices of carrot made them really silky.  My only complaint was the prep required to make the carrot ribbons.  They were ultimately delicious, but a huge pain to make in the first place.  It seems much to fancy for an everyday sort of meal, but might be really beautiful on a holiday table – think Easter.

My next adventure: Apple-Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake!!