Tag Archives: chicken

Sautéed Chicken Breast in Orange Dijon Sauce

The Book and The Cook Fair at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in 1999 was a memorable moment. My mom and I walked into the exhibit hall to an overwhelming lineup of tables with representatives from restaurants, catering companies, new products, and culinary arts colleges. Located on the sides of the hall, small stages were set up for cooking demonstrations; however, the highlight of the event was an appearance from Emeril Lagasse on the main stage.

That year, I started contemplating my future and where I’d be attending college; after The Book and the Cook Fair, I was sold. My mom and I left that day with a bag full of information from culinary arts colleges, and I finally knew what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” One thing led to another, though, and my talents for drawing and painting became a more logical focus, as I had opportunities to receive scholarships from local schools.

Though I never became an artist OR a chef, I still make both activities a hobby, but always wonder what would have happened had I taken the culinary arts route seriously. Last fall, I attended a 6 week series of community classes at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in University City. Though the classes are non-credit and won’t make you an Iron Chef overnight, I learned valuable cooking basics – information that every chef knows like the back of their hand. Taught by Restaurant School instructors, each session followed a method of cooking, which we reviewed in a book from the school that now sits proudly among my other cookbooks. Not only were we allowed to keep this useful cooking manual, the classes ended with each student taking home a meal they had made that evening. It would have been nice to have something to show off my talents when I came home; however, the delicious meal never made it that far – I always devoured it on the car ride home. Read More…

Grilled Jerk Chicken with Pineapple and Red Pepper

I have a confession to make.

When I look for recipes through cookbooks, various internet sites and other blogs, “healthy” is never a term I apply to my search criteria. That’s not to say the meals I make are junk food, or even bad for you – I try my best to stick to the lower tiers of the food pyramid. However, I can never ignore a craving and love nothing more than a hearty, satisfying meal. “Healthy” to me has always meant plain, simple, flavorless recipes. Boring.

In the past year, I have picked up running as a hobby to compensate for my “eat, drink and be merry” philosophy on food, and have grown to value my time on the road (or on the treadmill) for more than the physical benefits. It had become so enjoyable that I dedicated the past two months to training for the 10-mile Broad Street Run, which took place this past Sunday in Philadelphia. My boyfriend and I, our families and friends all decided to run as a team and celebrate our finish with a tailgate in the South Philly stadiums’ parking lot.

The week of the run, I hastily decided to eat light, refrain from alcohol and drink plenty of water. Not only did I want to eat everything I could not, it became difficult when I wanted to spend time in the kitchen. Like I said, I don’t search for “healthy” recipes. Runners World’s website was a reliable source for training tips when I wanted to improve my running skills; however, I never realized the magazine’s website had quite the catalog of recipes. Their Recipe Finder feature allows you to search by course, ingredient and cooking skill, and even health concerns. Surprisingly, I saw no recipes that were flavorless and boring, and I even had a hard time deciding which one I wanted to try. I settled on a grilled Jerk Chicken recipe with Pineapple and Red Peppers.

Grilled Jerk Chicken with Pineapple and Red Pepper

Adapted from Runner’s World

1 red bell pepper, quartered

4 thick, fresh pineapple slices

canola oil

1 1/2 tbsp jerk seasoning

1 1/2 tbsp oil

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Directions

Oil the grate and heat the grill to medium-high. Toss a quartered red bell pepper and 4 thick pineapple slices in a medium bowl with canola oil to coat. Remove and sprinkle bell pepper with salt. In the same bowl, combine 1 1/2 tablespoons jerk seasoning and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Add 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds) and toss to coat. Grill chicken, pepper, and pineapple about 10 minutes, turning once.

There’s no denying, this recipe is pretty straightforward. It does not include obscure ingredients, several different cooking methods, or involved steps. One of the highlights of this recipe is the ingredients can be gathered in a 5-minute, inexpensive grocery run. Another highlight of the dish was, of course, the flavor. Jerk seasoning includes different combinations of spices (most of which are already in your pantry, if you care to make it on your own) that create a sweet, savory and spicy coating on the outside of the meat. Once the meat hits the hot grill, a delicious, crunchy coating forms that gives you no reason to reach for any condiments to add on the side. The pineapple and red pepper grilled perfectly; however, I kept them near a grill burner that was set to a lower setting as they both cook faster than the chicken. Combining the cooked fruit and veggie with a bite of chicken contradicted my initial impression of any recipes in the “healthy” category. On top of that, grill marks on anything make it enticing.

The few months of hard work paid off, and though I doubt my healthy week of eating had anything to do with a smooth run, I definitely did not suffer for it. To be honest, I think my successful completion of the ten miler had more to do with the festive tailgate waiting for me at the end.

I’m Not Worthy: Mark Bittman

My favorite room in the house is, of course, the kitchen. There is no other hobby I love more than spending hours producing a four-star meal; anything from experimenting with new ingredients to perfecting a favorite recipe. Monday through Friday, though, I don’t usually have spare time to create an elaborate feast. Even when I turn to an old favorite, or maybe try a new, easy recommendation, dinner is not ready until 8:00 PM, which leaves very little time to do anything else let alone digest before bed-time.

It would be nice to create a meal in an hour or less without sacrificing flavor, losing the culinary experience, or calling for take-out.

Mark Bittman’s cookbook, Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, has pretty much come to my rescue. First, the recipes are categorized by season, so any ingredients called for will be at their best. Second, each recipe is a simple paragraph of steps and ingredients needed to complete a recipe. You will not find a detailed list of requirements before the recipe, measurements, or even a numbered, step-by-step list. Each recipe calls for about five ingredients that you are likely to have in your refrigerator or cabinets. Chances are, if you have to make a trip to pick up one or two things, it will not be an expensive spice or something from a specialty store. Kitchen Express is designed to allow the cook a flexible, no-pressure experience in the kitchen and the opportunity to take control of the flavor in their dish. This collection of recipes is simple, yet modeled after very authentic, cultural dishes like Coq au Vin and Jerk Chicken. Therefore, if it’s Indian food or Asian flavors you’re craving, you won’t have to call for take-out or spend hours in the kitchen, working with a long list of expensive, hard to find ingredients. Kitchen Express is your answer.

Mark Bittman’s overall philosophy on food and cooking matches the simplicity of Kitchen Express. His belief in “sane eating” includes a practice of consuming more fresh vegetables and grains and less animal products and processed foods. In a Runner’s World article, Bittman highlights the USDA data that most people take in only 30 percent of their calories from plants, and he shows readers through personal experience the benefit of increasing that number. As the author of the New York Times food blog, Bitten, he certainly balances his healthy outlook with guilty pleasures; however, he stresses moderation. His website includes a list of interesting articles related to his minimalist approach to cooking and “sane eating.”

Chicken Paprikash

From Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

By Mark Bittman

In two tablespoons of butter, sear a pound of boneless, skinless chicken pieces, about a minute on each side. Add a thinly sliced large onion, two crushed garlic cloves, a teaspoon of minced ginger (or half a teaspoon of ground ginger), three tablespoons of Hungarian paprika, a bay leaf, and a couple of teaspoons of salt; cook for about three minutes. Add a cup of chicken broth and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue cooking until the chicken is just done; stir in half a cup of sour cream and serve over buttered egg noodles.

The recipe notes that the dish can be served over cous cous or bulgur, which would produce a “richer earthiness.” I decided to toss some plain cous cous with shallots, olive oil and a tiny bit of lemon zest.

Not only was this recipe super easy to follow, I had most of the ingredients ready to use, and it took about 30 minutes to cook. The paprika-flavored sauce from the dish was a mouth watering combination of warm, smoky and a tiny bit sweet that I ate the meal in less time than it took to actually make it.

And, lucky for my boyfriend, since it’s a one-dish meal, there were not many dishes to clean.


Party People: Thai Chicken Pizza

I rang in 2010 with a house party and a huge group of my most favorite people on the planet. The guest list hovered between 20 and 30 people for a few weeks, so when it came to menu planning I wanted to insure there would be enough food if the maximum number expected to attend was reached. Though there was enough food for everyone (with the help of family and friends who pitched in), my greatest fear was running out, so I picked up a pre-made pizza dough and some fixin’s in my grocery travels while preparing for the party.

The New Year’s Eve party was perfect in every way; there was an amazing 3-part playlist of favorites from the decade (which everyone danced to) created by my boyfriend, lots of awesome conversation and great company, delicious food, and plenty of drinks. Not only did we have enough food for the party, but we had just enough leftovers to pick at in our pajamas on January 1st. I didn’t even have to break out the emergency pizza dough.

Though there were no menu mishaps or food freak-outs on NYE, having the dough in the fridge came in handy last weekend. A handful of people were invited over last-minute, and rather than create an extravagant feast, I decided to cross-reference a short list of recipes with what was in the cabinets, the Thrift Way circular, and a grocery list of needs for the week. Rachael Ray’s Thai Chicken Pizza called for ingredients I already had, save for the chicken, and sounded quick and delicious. Perfect for an impromptu gathering.

Thai Chicken Pizza

Courtesy of Rachael Ray

1 pizza dough, any brand

1/2 cup duck sauce or plum sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 package (2 cups) shredded provolone or Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 rounded tablespoonful peanut butter

2 teaspoons hot sauce

2 teaspoons grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning) eyeball it

4 chicken breast cutlets, 1/2 pound

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar

1/4 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks

4 scallions, chopped

1 cup bean spouts, a couple of handfuls

Palm full cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 cup chopped peanuts, 2 ounces

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Form pizza crust on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Top with duck or plum sauce – spread it around like you would pizza sauce. Sprinkle the pizza with some crushed red pepper flakes then top with cheese and peppers. Bake until golden and bubbly, 15 to 17 minutes.

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Combine vegetable oil, soy sauce and peanut butter with hot sauce and grill seasoning. Use the microwave to loosen up peanut butter if it is too cold to blend into sauce, 10 seconds ought to do it. Add chicken and coat evenly with mixture. Let stand 10 minutes then grill chicken cutlets 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until firm. Slice chicken into very thin strips.

While chicken cooks, mix honey and vinegar and add the cucumber. Turn to coat evenly.

Top the hot, cooked pizza with chicken, scallions, sprouts and cilantro. Drain cucumbers and scatter over the pizza. Garnish pizza with peanuts, cut into 8 wedges and serve.

The dough was rolled to fit a smaller cookie sheet, and I anticipated it would be cut into 9 – 12 small squares as one of several appetizers for a group of eight people. Please know, I am not exaggerating when I tell you this pizza lasted under 15 minutes.

It sounds, and looks, like a lot of ingredients for a pizza, and I was anxious to see how the dough held up to the toppings. The recipe came out with a perfectly sturdy, thin and crispy crust that was a great base for the crunchy veggies and chicken on top. I opted to use plum sauce which, I think, has a bolder flavor than duck sauce. Additionally, I substituted shredded carrots for bean sprouts since I had them in the refrigerator already and felt the consistency would be similar. No cheese was added to my pizza; not only do I hang out with cheese haters, I also felt greasy, melty cheese would dull down the any heat in the recipe.

The peanut butter mixture used to coat the chicken cooks perfectly and gives the recipe a nice amount of nutty flavor, however I did find that I had so much extra leftover and felt I was wasting what was thrown out. Next time (and believe me, there will be a next time) I will cut back a little on the peanut butter/soy/hot sauce mixture.

Rachael Ray’s Thai Chicken Pizza was a hit, and not only will I be adding it to my regular rotation of recipes for party people, it may make an appearance as a quick, weeknight dinner here and there. Considering how quickly it went, I’m sure I could make it for breakfast with no complaints.

Except this time around, I’d probably make two.

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