Category Archives: CHICKEN RECIPES

CHICKEN LAYERED WITH SAGE, PROSCIUTTO, AND PROVOLONE CHEESE

There are just certain ingredients that really should appear in a culinary hall of fame. Each unto itself is magnificent, but when a combination of these marvelous ingredients are used in a dish, the result is almost mystical. This recipe contains four of what I consider to be wonder ingredients – chicken, sage, prosciutto, and provolone cheese. As an amalgam, their flavor is almost unbeatable, thus allowing a dish like this simple layered chicken to become a culinary work of art.

I say simple, because this recipe is very easy to prepare. Even lazy retirees like me can make this dish in quite a short amount of time. And working parents who might not think of fixing a dinner featuring such an exotic list of ingredients, might make it part of their regular rotation if they once gave it a go.

All it takes is a little planning. First of all, you must have the ingredients on hand. Duh! You also must decide what you are going to serve with the chicken. I recommend a nice rice dish like the one I so graciously supplied for you at the bottom of this post. Then something green. If you have the strength, a lovely green salad is always perfect. If you don’t have the strength, frozen petite peas warmed in the microwave with a dab of butter and a sprinkle of seasoned salt, works just fine.

So once you have the rice happily bubbling away and your green offering ready except for a bit of last minute attention, you are ready to focus on the star of the show.

As you can see, if you’ve taken the time to read the list of ingredients and directions below, this dish does not take a long time from stove/oven to table. But I would caution, assemble all your ingredients ahead of time and have them close at hand. (Pretend you are the prep cook in a fine dining establishment.) Because prep work is the key to successfully preparing this dish. Actually it’s a good plan of action for almost every recipe. Good prep work can save you time and frustration. Before almost every dinner, I do my prep work before I ever set a pan on the stove. Of course, I usually have a drink in my hand while I complete these preliminary functions. This of course helps the onerous tasks like chopping onions much easier to swallow. So to speak!

So regardless of your time in life – retired, eager to retire, or parent trying to provide your family with wholesome and delicious food, get thee to the kitchen and prepare this amazing dish at your earliest convenience. As you will also have noticed, this recipe makes just enough for 2 hungry, or 4 not so hungry adults. But luckily for you, this recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. And remember – it really is OK to play with your food, regardless of what your mother told you when you were a child. Fix this dish for her, and she might even give you permission to play with your food more often! Cheers

  • ¼ c. flour
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in halves lengthwise
  • ¼ c. dry white wine
  • scant 1 T. minced fresh sage
  • ½ c. chicken broth, divided
  • ½ tsp. cornstarch
  • 4 slices prosciutto, cut in thirds
  • ½ c. grated provolone cheese
  • paprika, opt.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a wide shallow dish. (I use an 8-inch cake pan.) Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Fry just until done. Transfer the chicken to a 9×9-inch or 7×11-inch Pyrex dish. (Try not to overlap the pieces.)

Deglaze the frying pan with wine. Add the sage, ¼ cup of the chicken broth, and additional pepper. (Not too much pepper.) Slowly simmer for about a minute. Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining ¼ cup chicken broth and add to pan. Let simmer for about a couple of minutes, then remove from heat. Adjust seasoning and set aside.

Lay prosciutto over the cooked chicken breasts, sprinkle with grated cheese, and dribble the sauce over the whole mess. (Use a spatula to get every last bit of the sauce onto the chicken.) Sprinkle very lightly with paprika.

Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. Place under broiler for about 30 seconds to brown. (That is, if you aren’t afraid of your broiler, like I am.  Long story. Someday when I’m feeling strong I’ll tell you all about my ridiculous broiler phobia.) Remove from oven and let rest for about 3 minutes before serving.

WILD RICE SIDE DISH

  • 1 c. wild rice blend (I use Lundberg Wild Blend rice)
  • 1¾ c. chicken broth
  • freshly ground black pepper (not much)

Put the above ingredients in rice cooker. Turn the rice cooker on go. Walk away for about 45 minutes or until the rice cooker tells you the rice is done.

BTW – if you do not own a rice cooker, what are you waiting for? Christmas is coming. Put it on your list. Or do as I do. Order a rice cooker for yourself and inform your spouse that he/she has just purchased one of your Christmas gifts and you are positive you are going to like it. Saves your spouse time and inconvenience, and you get what you truly want or need!

 

 

CHICKEN, PROSCIUTTO, AND PARMESAN CHEESE SALAD

While we were on our last RV camping trip to Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington (remind me to tell you someday about watching a rattlesnake being killed on the site across from ours) I decided that upon our return I would start working on summer salads perfect for taking on picnics. (And no, none of them include baked rattlesnake even though I’ve heard it tastes a lot like chicken.)

So last evening I prepared this salad. (Unfortunately we couldn’t get away for an actual picnic because of time restrictions and uncooperative weather, but none the less we persevered.)

Anyway, this salad was just plain delicious. Mr. C. really loved it. (I think it’s probably the crispy prosciutto that really won him over.) Regardless, he said he could eat it any old time I wanted to fix it. (Always a good indication that he really likes something.) And truly, what’s not to like? The salad in and of itself is wonderful. But when topped with moist and tender chicken, crisp prosciutto, shaved Parmesan, and croutons, well it’s just a flavor burst with every bite. And, a meal unto itself. (I’m getting fonder and fonder of one dish meals. Part of getting older I’m sure!)

So while it’s still summer, whip up one of these salads and dine al fresco. Doesn’t need to be up in the mountains or next to water. Can be on your deck, patio, or lanai. Anywhere that reminds you that summer is the bomb. (Of course, if you live in a South Western state and the air temperature is 118F, you might want to stay inside cuddled up to your air conditioner.) But for those of us that live for long days, no rain, and temperatures in the 70s, it’s outside dining as much as possible.

So enjoy the rest of your summer. Stay cool. Go on picnics. Eat salads. (That’s my bonus recipe for a wonderful way to stay both healthy and happy.)

  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. minced shallots
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • cooking spray
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 4 c. baby arugula
  • 1 romaine heart, chopped
  • ½ c. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed or shredded (I use my recipe for Baked Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (see recipe below) or when I’m feeling lazy, one of the chicken breasts from a Costco rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/3 c. shaved Parmesan, Asiago, or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 c. croutons (see recipe below if you want to make your own croutons)

Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and shallots. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until emulsified and thickened. Adjust seasoning. Set aside.

Spray a small amount of cooking spray on a medium sized fry pan or griddle. Add prosciutto; sauté over medium heat for about 4 minutes or until the prosciutto is crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. When cool break into bite sized pieces.

When ready to serve, toss together the arugula, romaine, tomatoes, and chicken in a medium sized salad bowl. Add enough dressing to moisten the ingredients, but not drown them. (You may have extra dressing. All the better to use on another salad later in the week.) Scoop onto 2 dinner plates. Sprinkle on the cooked chicken, crispy prosciutto, shaved cheese, and croutons. Serve immediately.

This dish is loosely based on a recipe in the Cooking Light magazine.

BAKED BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS

  • 1 qt. warm water
  • ¼ c. kosher salt
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. paprika

Combine the warm water, kosher salt, peppercorns, brown sugar, and garlic cloves in a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Whisk the mixture until it looks like most of the salt is dissolved.  Add the 8 pieces of chicken breast and let them sit in the mixture for 30 minutes. Remove from the brine, rinse with cold water, and pat as dry as possible with paper towels. 

Using the same pan, washed and dried of course, place the chicken breasts in a single layer. Pour on the olive oil. Using your hands, best tool in the kitchen BTW, massage the oil all over the chicken. Wash your hands and mix together the seasoned salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and paprika. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken.

Bake in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.  If you use an instant read thermometer to measure the temperature at the thickest part of the breast, it should read about 170 degrees. Remove from oven, loosely tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

GARLIC CROUTONS

Chop up some small bite sized pieces of a chewy, artisan baguette. Place in a frying pan with butter or olive oil (or a combination) and sauté until each crouton is crunchy. (This takes about 45 minutes because you need to go low (heat) and slow.) Add more butter or oil as needed. When desired crunchiness is attained, sprinkle with granulated garlic. Allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.

 

 

BAKED BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS

Yah, yah, yah! I know at this time of year I should be posting a recipe for grilled chicken breasts, but hey – I’m lazy. It’s just so much easier to pop chicken breasts in the oven than heat the grill, go back and forth to the grill, and then clean the grill. Like I said, I’m lazy. And truthfully, heating up our grill for 4 chicken breasts just seems kind of wasteful. Well not so much of propane, because both grilling and firing up our oven require propane, but of Mr. Cs time and energy to clean the grill.  

So, if you will forgive me this crime against summer grilling, I will share with you one of the best ways to ensure a flavorful and moist piece of meat. The chicken is wonderful all by itself, but also perfect used in your favorite recipes that call for cooked chicken.

So give this recipe a try. And yes I know this recipe is not as easy as just slapping the chicken breasts on a sheet pan, sprinkling them with a little salt and pepper, and throwing the whole mess in the oven. This recipe takes a little time and planning. But please believe me, the time your chicken breasts spend in a warm soothing bath is well worth the effort. When prepared this way, the meat will practically melt in your mouth. And isn’t that so much better than trying to swallow a piece of meat that really should be classified as “chicken jerky”. (Believe me, I have made more than my share of chicken “jerky” in my time. I’m just sad it took me this long to figure out what I was doing wrong!)

Anyway, I hope you profit from my quest for a better cooked chicken breast. And don’t hesitate to share your new found knowledge with everyone you know. After all, brining isn’t just for turkeys anymore. It’s also absolutely wonderful with pork.

And should you wonder if it would work to grill the chicken rather than baking it, please give it a try. If it turns out just great, just let me know so I can feel even guiltier about being such a lazy daisy.

  • 1 qt. warm water
  • ¼ c. kosher salt
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. paprika

Combine the warm water, kosher salt, peppercorns, brown sugar, and garlic cloves in a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Whisk the mixture until it looks like most of the salt is dissolved.  Add the 8 pieces of chicken breast and let them sit in the mixture for 30 minutes. Remove from the brine, rinse with cold water, and pat as dry as possible with paper towels. 

Using the same pan, washed and dried of course, place the chicken breasts in a single layer. Pour on the olive oil. Using your hands, best tool in the kitchen BTW, massage the oil all over the chicken. Wash your hands and mix together the seasoned salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and paprika. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken.

Bake in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.  If you use an instant read thermometer to measure the temperature at the thickest part of the breast, it should read about 170 degrees. Remove from oven, loosely tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

Please note: This recipe can be halved, doubled, tripled etc. with no ill effect. In fact, the picture shown is of only 2 chicken breasts.

 

GREEK GROUND CHICKEN MEATBALLS WITH TZAZIKI SAUCE

Sometimes dishes get served before I have a chance to take a picture. That’s exactly what happened at a recent pre-concert JazzVox meal. Before I could take a picture of these meatballs based on a recipe from the Juicy Bites website and the tzatziki sauce (my recipe from about 25 years ago), they were history.

So the next time I serve this delicious combination, I will take a picture. But for now you will just have to content yourself with a mental image of light colored baked meatballs, smothered with a white sauce with green things in it, aka – tzatziki.

Now most of you know that I love chicken and serve it a lot. But chicken can be a bit boring. Well I’m here to tell you, there is nothing boring about these meatballs. The mint and the dill give the dish a unique flavor, and when slathered with tzatziki, well frankly, there is just nothing finer. (Actually, I think dog kibbles would taste good if they were slathered in tzatziki. But I’m not going to stand behind those words; just offer them up as a lazy summer afternoon rumination.)

So next time you want to serve ground chicken or turkey (I use ground turkey as much as I use ground chicken), give this recipe a try. Serve the meatballs and tzatziki with a savory pilaf, a crunchy Greek Salad, and a beautifully chilled bottle of white wine, and you will have captured the wonderful flavors and essence of Greek dining. Huh? Maybe Greece should be our next overseas adventure. Time to buy a couple travel books and see if Greece meets our criteria as a perfect travel destination. We love to visit countries with an ancient culture, beautiful art and architecture, interesting museums, pleasing climate, fun and friendly people, and of course – fantastic food. Wait! I don’t need a travel guide to tell me that Greece would be perfect for us. I already know all of our travel desires would be met in Greece. So, time to make a plan and present it to Mr. C. I know, I’ll serve up my idea along with a meal as described above, and I’ll bet you he’ll be searching our calendar for dates within an hour. Wish me luck! And enjoy the meatballs.

At the bottom of the post you will find 2 pictures of our orange cat Miles. The first picture shows Miles sound asleep on our catwalk. No problem, right? Wrong! The second picture shows why his sleeping at the end of the catwalk is of concern. It’s 9 feet down if our little darling were to fall. And since that part of the catwalk is above the bottom of the stairway, there is no way for either of us to fetch him. And no, when I designed our home Max and Miles were not even a glimmer in their papa’s eyes. We had another pair of orange brothers who were very coordinated and we never worried about them falling.

A little background. Miles and his brother Max are two of the least coordinated and skittish cats we have ever had the pleasure of owning. They can fall off the back of a couch and land on their backs at the slightest movement that might be threatening, like Mr. C. turning a page in his book, or me walking by with a glass in my hand. So the thought of either one of the brothers being startled awake while on the catwalk and reacting quickly to a perceived threat always scares the pickles out of me. And since I’m sure you want to know, Miles survived his nap and my heartrate is back to normal.

  • ½ c. panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ¼ c. finely chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ c. finely chopped mint leaves
  • 3 T. finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano (Mexican preferably)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (not too much)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken or turkey

Pour the milk over the panko bread crumbs in a large bowl and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, mint, dill, oregano, salt, pepper, eggs, olive oil, and lemon zest and juice. Mix together with a fork until well blended. (I use the large serving fork that came with my silverware set. Works great!) Add the ground chicken and stir with the same fork until just blended. (Do not overwork the meat.)

Using a small ice cream scoop, shape the balls and place on a baking sheet lined with foil and coated with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until just done. (Do not overbake or the meatballs will be dry.) Serve with tzatziki sauce. Recipe below.

TZATZIKI  

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 c. plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3 small or 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1½ tsp. chopped fresh dill or ½ tsp. dill weed
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 English cucumber, partially peeled, seeded, and grated

Combine all ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garlic trick:

If you are using fresh garlic in a recipe, but would like to reduce a bit of the “garlic bite”, place the peeled garlic cloves in a small bowl and cover with milk. Warm the cloves in your microwave, but do not cook them. Then remove the cloves from the milk and slice or mince according to your recipe. You will find that the flavor is still there, but the bite has mysteriously disappeared.

 

CHICKEN IN A SAVORY TOMATO SAUCE

I must be getting old. I seem to be tending towards my version of “fast food” more and more. I’m not talking about using a microwave to hot up a processed product or one I fetched from the deli case at my local grocery store. That may come when I am older, but for now I still have the strength to cook something from scratch. Thank goodness! But the recipes I seem to be drawn to these days are centered around how quickly I can get the dishes on the table. (Sounds like I have regressed to my days of being a working mother and planning quick and easy meals for my poor starving children. Yikes!)

Scary thoughts of parenting aside, and as I said above, I seem to be leaning more and more towards quick and easy recipes that don’t take hours of prep work. And this chicken dish fits the bill nicely. Plus it is absolutely delicious.

Now I know this recipe does have quite a few ingredients. But there is not too much prep work, which if you really analyze what takes most of your time in preparing a dish, it’s the time you spend washing, peeling, chopping, dicing, etc. The simple gathering of items out of the refrigerator, pantry, or spice cabinet is the easy part. So never be intimidated by the amount of ingredients in a recipe. However, pay close attention to the list of ingredients before starting a dish. The worst thing in the culinary world is to be happily cooking away and find that the next ingredient called for is a cup of homemade béchamel, velouté, or espagnole that you don’t just happen to have tucked away in your refrigerator or freezer.  At that point, the 5 ingredient wonder dish that you were so excited about becomes a nightmare! (I just used béchamel, velouté, and espagnole as examples. The missing ingredient could be as simple as ketchup or Dijon mustard. Regardless, if you haven’t got the ingredient on hand, you have a problem that might take a bit of time to solve.) 

So taking this dish as an example, after you have cut up the chicken, chopped a bit of onion, and minced a garlic clove, you are pretty much home free, prep time that is! The rest is just frying up the chicken, plus a bit of hunting/gathering, and a modicum of time to deal with whatever you are going to serve this on or with while the sauce merrily cooks away on the stove. This recipe may look, at first glance, like a lot of work. But believe me, it comes together fairly quickly. And the results are fabulous and pretty darn nutritious too.

So some day when you have chicken breasts thawing on your counter, and aren’t quite sure what to prepare with them, give this dish a try. It is nothing if not totally evocative of all foods Italian. And what could be better than that?!?!

  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, with liquid (Italian tomatoes, if possible)
  • ½ c. chicken broth
  • ¼ c. white wine
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 T. white wine vinegar
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • 1-2 dashes hot pepper sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)

In a zip-lock bag, combine flour, seasoned salt, and pepper. Add the chicken breast pieces and gently shake the bag until the meat is evenly coated with the flour mixture. Heat the olive oil in a large covered skillet over medium heat, and brown chicken on all sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.  

In the same skillet, add the onion, and cook over low heat for about 7-8 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken broth, wine, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, chili powder, mustard powder, celery seed, and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning. Add the reserved chicken and cook only until heated through.  

Serve the chicken and sauce over rice, pasta, or whatever takes your fancy. (I use brown rice that has been steamed with chicken broth instead of water.)

 

CURRIED CHICKEN CASSEROLE WITH BROWN RICE AND BROCCOLI

In my opinion, people who think casseroles are uninteresting, too fattening, and a thing of the past, simply don’t have enough empirical study on the subject. And I mean to help with that problem by offering up one of my favorite casserole recipes to assist with said research.

Now I know broccoli, chicken, and curry casserole (Chicken Divan) has been around for decades. But my version is healthier, less caloric, and if I may be so bold, tastier than most. (If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be posting this recipe in the first place! Duh!)

So what makes my spin on this classic different?

  • no cream of mushroom or chicken soup
  • no sharp cheddar cheese
  • no bread crumbs
  • no butter
  • no sherry or white wine
  • the addition of a small amount of cooked brown rice
  • broccoli and chicken cut into really small pieces so that each bite contains a small bit of each ingredient
  • the addition of a small amount of onion
  • the addition of Dijon mustard to give the sauce a bit of a kick

So as you can see, this recipe has just a few ingredients either lacking or added to make this casserole just a tad bit unique. It’s still really Chicken Divan. But I think my execution of this dish better reflects the current taste for more sophisticated yet wholesome preparations. But as they say – vive la différence! If you have a favorite recipe for Chicken Divan, I say, stick with what you know and like. But if you are a novice to casserole preparation, and feel up to the task of researching casseroles to enhance your culinary expertise, I would recommend this recipe. You have to start somewhere after all, so you might as well start with a casserole that is easy and relatively inexpensive to prepare, and just plain delicious. In Mr. Cs words, “this is really wonderful”. (I love it when those words pop unsolicited from his mouth. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Of course the pre-dinner martini helps with that feeling too. But it’s healthier mentally to believe that Mr. Cs comments are the real reason for my elation!)

  • ½ c. uncooked brown rice*
  • 1 c. water
  • ½ tsp. seasoned salt
  • 3 c. very small pieces of broccoli flowerets and peeled stems  
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite sized pieces
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. finely minced onion
  • 2 tsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 c. low-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise    
  • 1 T. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. minced fresh parsley, opt. garnish*or 1 cup leftover cooked rice

    Combine rice, water, and seasoned salt. Cook while you are assembling other ingredients. (I use my rice cooker.)  While the rice cooks, steam or blanch the broccoli until crisp tender. (You don’t want the broccoli tender at this point. It will continue to cook while it cools and during its tenure in the oven.) Set aside.

    Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan. Add the diced chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fry the chicken cubes just until done. (They should have some brown on them.) Remove from pan and set aside.

    Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Do not let the onion get brown. When the onion is done, whisk in the flour and curry powder. (The flour will be quite dry.) Cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock, mustard, sour cream, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning. Bring to just under a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in the cooked rice, broccoli, and chicken.

    Scoop into a buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the casserole is hot. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

 

 

MULLIGATAWNY (INDIAN CHICKEN CURRY SOUP)

This recipe came to me via an Epicurious request from a reader. When I saw the recipe I nearly hit my head on the ceiling jumping for joy. Because this was (and still is) my favorite chicken curry soup. And the reason I was so excited? Because, now at long last, I could make my favorite Indian restaurant’s soup anytime my little old heart desired. And that restaurant is Shamiana Restaurant in Houghton (Kirkland) Washington. If you live in the Seattle area and have not had the pleasure of dining at this wonderful restaurant, I suggest you give it a try in the near future. But back to the soup.

This soup is not only easy to make, but once you acquire the spices, fairly economical to prepare. And as I have preached in the preface to many of my recipes, even the spices are economical if you buy them in bulk. And yes, I know – those darling little glass spice jars look so becoming in your kitchen cabinet. But dear readers, once you start using herbs and spices with shear abandon, which incidentally is what I hope you do, you will find that those little jars don’t really hold very much. And unless you are a descendant of the late John D. Rockefeller, and therefore have money to burn, that’s exactly what you are doing when you remove one of those tiny spice jars from the grocery store shelf and place it in your cart. You might as well take a $20 bill out of your wallet and set fire to it right there in the grocery store! But again, back to the soup.

I served this soup, along with three others, at the before concert meal for a recent JazzVox concert. But while I was considering this soup to be one of the available options, I frankly was concerned that Mulligatawny might be just a little bit too exotic for some people’s taste. Well after all these years, I should have known better! By and large, the people who attend our in-home concerts have as great an appetite for unfamiliar and different food as they do for fabulous vocal jazz. So needless to say, despite my uneasiness regarding serving this soup, it was very popular.

So next time you experience a burning desire for chicken soup, but want to challenge the arbitrary boundaries you have set on what constitutes said dish, make a pot of this delicious soup. You will soon learn that there is more to chicken soup than you ever imagined!  

Oh, and BTW – if you do decide to burn your money in a grocery store, please do not tell the authorities that is was because of my suggestion. I greatly appreciate your lack of candor in this regard. Thank you very much.

  • ¼ c. vegetable oil
  • 3-4 chicken breasts, finely diced and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a small amount of turmeric
  • 3 c. chopped onion
  • 1 lg. or 2 small carrots, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 T. garam masala
  • 1 T. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. kosher
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ c. dried red lentils, washed
  • 8 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2-3 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 c. cooked basmati rice, opt.*
  • lemon wedges

Heat oil in a heavy large covered soup pot over medium heat. Add the chicken and sauté until just done. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions, carrot, and celery; cook until onion is a light golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. (You want the onions slightly caramelized.) Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add garam masala, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, bay leaves, salt, and pepper; stir for 1 minute. Add lentils; stir until coated. Add chicken broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and add coconut milk, fresh lemon juice, and reserved chicken. Cook for about a minute or until all the ingredients are hot. Adjust seasoning.

If you like rice in your soup, place a small amount in the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle soup over and squeeze some fresh lemon over top.

*I wrote cooked rice as an optional ingredient, because in our house only one of us likes rice in his Mulligatawny. I prefer my soup without rice. Vive la différence!

Thanks Shamiana for this delightful recipe. And please pardon the changes.  

 

 

OVEN ROASTED WHOLE CHICKEN WITH DRESSING AND PAN GRAVY

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I call baked chicken my “Sunday night special” because there is just nothing better than a lovely roast chicken to close out a weekend. And since this chicken is best when it has had some time in the refrigerator to become acquainted with the lovely herbs and spices that have been sprinkled in its cavity and on its skin, preparation takes place in the morning. That leaves me free to spend the rest of my Sunday, or any other day for that matter, working around the house, shopping, reading, or just sitting around contemplating the inside of my eyelids – aka, taking a nap. And just to make life even easier, I also prepare the dressing in the morning, so the only significant task left for me to do in the evening is clean a green veggie or make a simple salad to accompany the chicken.

And what better way for me to start my week than with leftover chicken in the refrigerator. I can use the chicken to make a simple soup, or a nice curry, or chicken salad, or…..well, you get the point. My Monday night meal is already half done, even if I don’t just warm up the leftovers and serve the meal just the way I did the night before. Of course, if truth be known, I don’t particularly enjoy left-overs. (I know – crazy!) I would rather take a simple ingredient liked baked chicken and repurpose it into a totally different dish. Now I realize something like chicken noodle soup is going to remain chicken noodle soup, and that’s fine. But baked chicken? Well that’s a different story. So tonight, my leftover chicken from Sunday evening is going to be featured in a lovely chicken curry.

So don’t hesitate to bake a chicken in the near future. And no you don’t have to make the dressing or even the gravy. But should you choose to do so, the recipes below are easy to prepare, full of flavor, and help turn a simple chicken dinner into a feast.

So welcome to autumn my friends. The season of homemade soup, pot roast, beef stew, chili, and all manner of dishes that evoke home, happiness, and comfort. 

  • 3½ to 4½ lb. whole chicken, washed, excess fat removed, then dried very well with paper towels
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 c. chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cooking spray

Combine the salt, pepper, lemon zest, rosemary, sage, thyme, granulated garlic, and onion powder together. Sprinkle half of the mixture in the cavity of the bird. Add the butter. Truss the bird by tying the legs together. Place the bird, breast side up on a roasting rack, tucking the wings in as you go. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture evenly over the skin. (And no it won’t really stick to the skin. That’s OK.) Place the chicken uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours before roasting.

Remove from refrigerator and pour the chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan along with the bay leaf. Just before placing the bird in the oven, spray liberally with cooking spray.

Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 90 minutes or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reads 180 on an instant-read thermometer. Add more chicken stock to the bottom of the pan half way through baking if the pan is dry. When done, remove from oven and set the bird on a platter loosely tented with aluminum foil. Let chicken rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

GRAVY

  • flour
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 chicken gravy mix (just in case)
  • 1 tsp. cognac, opt.

Place the roasting pan on the stove after the chicken has been removed. Turn the heat to very low and begin making your gravy immediately. (Good gravy flavor and consistency require time to develop.)    Do not remove any fat from the pan, do not strain the liquid, do not do any of the things most cook book writers tell you to do to make good gravy. (Oh OK, you can remove the bay leaf!)

Whisk in enough flour to absorb the fat. Let cook for a couple of minutes. (This process takes time, so be patient.) Slowly whisk in chicken stock until you reach the desired thickness you like. Add the Kitchen Bouquet (gives the gravy great color) and some freshly ground black pepper. No salt! Taste the gravy. If you think it needs more depth of flavor, begin by whisking in part of the gravy mix and a small amount of chicken stock. Let the gravy simmer for a couple of minutes and taste again. Repeat if needed.

Turn heat as low as possible and let the gravy simmer away while the chicken rests. Whisk periodically.  (You will probably need to add more stock during this time.) Also, after the chicken is sliced and plated, don’t forget to add the juices to the gravy that have accumulated on the platter while the chicken was resting. Just before serving, taste the gravy again and make any final adjustments to the seasoning. Stir in the cognac and serve piping hot.

Note: if the gravy seems a little salty, you might try adding a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon juice.

DRESSING

  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. chopped celery (stalks and leaves)
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 5 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp. savory, either powdered or dried leaves
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-5 c. dry bread cubes (I use inexpensive sliced sourdough bread cut into cubes and toasted)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. chicken stock, or more as needed

In a large sauté pan, melt butter and add celery, onion, and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, poultry seasoning, sage, rosemary, thyme (sound familiar?), savory, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Place dried bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add the sautéed vegetables; mix thoroughly. Whisk together the egg and stock in a separate medium sized bowl. Pour the liquid over the bread cubes and gently stir. Add more stock if the dressing is dry. (Remember, this is dressing, not stuffing, and therefore is not going into the cavity of the chicken. So any moisture needs to be added while it is being prepared.) Taste the dressing and add additional poultry seasoning and/or salt if needed.

Place dressing in a buttered casserole dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes or until hot. 

 

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP (Good for what ails you!)

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And why a recipe for old fashioned chicken noodle soup you might ask? Because I believe that periodically everyone needs and deserves a taste of love. And if homemade chicken noodle soup doesn’t taste like love, I don’t know what does! As my grandfather used to say, “chicken noodle soup is good for what ails you!” Grandpa never defined what “what ails you” meant, but as I’ve gotten older, I think I know. What ails you – anything from stiff joints, a bad cold, a rotten day at work, teenagers, an invitation to the wedding of the daughter or son of a person you work with, whom incidentally you have never met. (The child that is!) And of course at this point, please feel free to add your own definition of the things you classify as “what ails you”.

Now I know, I love new-fangled variations of chicken soup as much as the next gal. But when what I need is a soothing, not spicy, healthy, like my grandma used to make kind of soup, I follow this recipe. (And yes, I do follow my own recipes. That way I don’t have to think. The older I get, the more I have begun to appreciate not always having to think! Sometimes I just like to let the auto-pilot function in my brain take over. So using my own recipes is my equivalent of putting my mind on auto-pilot or cruise control. But don’t fear. I get a lot of thinking done while I am working on new recipes!)

So next time you feel a cold coming on, or your teenagers are driving you to distraction, distract yourself by making a big old batch of this soup. After all, even if chicken noodle soup doesn’t solve the world’s problems, it does make them easier to take. (At least for a little while.)

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 split fryer, cut into sections (or any other pieces of bone-in chicken)*
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, including leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, thoroughly washed, chopped (all the white and part of the green) or 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 qt. chicken stock
  • 2 c. dry egg noodles (the wider and thicker the better), cooked al dente
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 4-6 green onions, thinly sliced

Pour the olive oil into a large covered soup pot.

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Liberally sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and fry the chicken until the skin is golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the carrots, celery, and leek; sauté for about 5 minutes. Do not let any of the veggies start to brown. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, a small amount of salt, pepper, chicken stock, and browned chicken. Bring the soup to just under a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. (Do not overcook the chicken!) Remove the chicken pieces and set aside to cool. Meanwhile continue to let the soup burble away. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Return to the pot and add the cooked noodles and parsley. Bring just to a boil and adjust seasoning. Remove bay leaf and serve in individual bowls topped with green onions.

*If you prefer, add 2 cups of boneless, skinless chicken cut into cubes (raw or previously cooked). If using raw chicken, add when the carrots are tender. Cook the chicken just until it is done. Add cooked noodles and parsley. Bring to a boil and adjust seasoning. Serve topped with green onions.

If you are using already cooked chicken, add it along with the cooked noodles and parsley.

 

 

ITALIAN CHICKEN GRAVY OVER POLENTA

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I hate to make this confession just as some of you might be perusing my site for the first time. But it’s said that “the truth shall set you free”, so here goes. I often get inspiration for new dishes from leftovers. (Wow – it feels really good to get that off my chest!) So now that I have scared half of you who are reading my blog for the first time, I need to tell you that this recipe is no exception.

So, when trying to figure out how best to serve some left-over Creamy Garlic & Rosemary Polenta (recipe on this site) a couple evenings ago, I decided that it would make a great base for some type of Italian inspired sauce or gravy. But I definitely didn’t want to overpower the taste of the savory polenta. What I wanted was a sauce or gravy that enhanced the flavors in the polenta. So I began to formulate just what it would take to make this happen. I thought for sure that using some of the same ingredients, in this case garlic, rosemary, and chicken stock would make a great beginning. I also felt that chicken breast meat would be perfect for the protein component. So I went on line to research recipes that included these ingredients. What I found was a great recipe from Rachael Ray that, with just a few changes here and there, would work perfectly. So the following recipe is the result.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Patti, you look in your refrigerator and see leftover possibilities. I look in my refrigerator and often see little Tupperware containers whose contents closely resemble science projects. Well dear readers, over the years I too have created specimens that would make even the most inventive chemist envious. But as I’ve grown older, I have tried harder to use those last bits of this and that in a creative way. Left over taco meat? How about using the seasoned meat in a nice egg scramble for breakfast? Left over chicken? Cut it up and make a chicken Caesar salad. Left over pizza? Cold for breakfast. Duh!

And again, confession time. If I know darned well that I am never going to use that last bit of whatever, I throw it away immediately! I force myself to ignore my mother’s voice in my head that says “honey, you know there are starving children around the world who would do almost anything to eat those last 2 tablespoons of creamed peas!” Sure they would, mom. Especially after the peas would have to have been flown half way around the world to reach the starving children in the first place! (Where do mothers come up with this stuff?)

So, as a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother – I am formally giving you permission to leave your guilt behind and throw away any leftover food that you know in your heart of hearts will never pass anyone’s lips. (And no, good intentions don’t count towards sainthood or mother of the year status when you really know the food is not going to be eaten and you save it anyway.)

But if you do have a leftover that is reasonably likely to be eaten, do save it. Just give a little thought when you decide how best to serve it to your family. Change it up a bit so that no one guesses that you are serving them leftovers. Your family will be happy, and better yet, your mother will be ecstatic!

  • ½ c. small pieces dried porcini mushrooms, about ½-oz.
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces   
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T. flour, divided   
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil   
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced   
  • 6 sage leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ c. dry white wine
  • 2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley, garnish
  • Place the dried mushroom pieces and stock in a small pan over medium heat. Simmer gently until the mushroom pieces are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.  Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the flour. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. (Add a little more oil if necessary.) Remove cooked chicken to a plate; set aside.  Add the butter to the pan. When the butter foams, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, thyme, and rosemary; cook for about a minute. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour and cook for about a minute before adding the wine. Whisk in the rehydrated mushrooms and stock, being very careful not to include any grit that may have collected at the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, add the cooked chicken, adjust seasoning, and cook until thick, about 3-4 minutes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Best served over polenta sprinkled lightly with fresh parsley.