Category Archives: CHICKEN RECIPES

CHICKEN MARSALA

I love this chicken recipe. (Actually I love most chicken dishes.) But this one is particularly near and dear to my heart. (I think it has something to do with the Marsala wine, mushrooms, and fresh thyme.) Whatever it is (probably the combination of ingredients), I am completely hung up on this dish. I even dreamt about it the other night. Now that’s scary!

So when I opened my Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light magazine, and there on page 28 was a close cousin recipe of my very own recipe for Chicken Marsala, I immediately checked my blog to see exactly what the differences were. What!?!? No recipe on my blog for this amazing Sicilian classic? How could I possibly have been so remiss? Well, starting today, you now have my recipe for one of the tastiest and easiest Italian dishes to prepare.

Now many people pound the chicken before frying it. Not me. Too much work. Plus I find that meat that has been pounded sometimes feels mushy. I love minced meat (ground beef, sausage, ground turkey and chicken), but I don’t like mushy. But if you like to hammer on meat, by all means use your mallet or the side of a wide butcher knife instead of cutting the meat with a knife. Really makes no matter. The chicken will still be delicious.

So enough blather Patti. It’s already way past time this recipe appeared on the blog!

(If you would like to know a bit more about this fabulous dish, read the note at the end of this post.)

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise, then each piece cut in two (you should now have 8 pieces)
  • kosher salt   
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 c. thinly sliced fresh button or cremini mushrooms
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. dry Marsala wine
  • 2/3 c. chicken broth
  • 1-2 T. chopped fresh thyme (start with 1 tablespoon, then add more as garnish, if desired)  
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley, opt.  

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large fry pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Fry the chicken pieces until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. (If you need additional olive oil – add a wee dram.) Remove the cooked chicken to a plate or other container; loosely tent with aluminum foil. Do not clean the frying pan.

Place the pan back on medium-low heat and sauté the shallot and mushrooms until all the liquid is evaporated, and the mushrooms start to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the butter and flour and cook for 1 minute. Off heat gently whisk in the Marsala, chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon of the thyme. Return to heat and cook for 2 minutes over low heat. Add the cooked chicken, cook for an additional minute. Adjust the seasoning.

Serve the chicken and sauce over or beside freshly cooked al dente pasta, brown rice, or polenta. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a bit more chopped thyme, if desired.

Note:

Marsala is a dark, sweet, fortified dessert wine that resembles sherry. Chicken Marsala is an Italian dish made from chicken cutlets, mushrooms, and Marsala wine. It is a variation of a traditional Italian scaloppini dish. Chicken Marsala probably dates to the 19th century, when it most likely originated with English families who lived in Sicily, where Marsala wine is produced.

 

 

FRIED TOFU AND SHRIMP OR CHICKEN CHOW MEIN

Yes I know, I already have an Asian inspired recipe on this site that is very similar to this one. However, it (Seafood and Fried Tofu Low Mein) has a few different ingredients and takes a bit longer to prepare. (It’s really good too!)

So one evening a few days ago I was in a hurry. I wanted chow mein but I didn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen. (You know, there are just some days like that!) So I went to one of my favorite sites for inspiration. And Nagi didn’t let me down. Of course I changed things up from her original recipe, but I still felt it only fair to acknowledge her contribution. You too might want to check out RecipeTin Eats. But back to this recipe.

I loved how easy this one-dish meal came together. And man was the chow mein good! But then I am absolutely crazy about fried tofu. I could eat it almost every day. And in combination with either a bit of shrimp or chicken, this dish is like the best chow mein you could ever hope to find in a restaurant. And not greasy. Not in the least!

So if you need to create a quick one-dish meal some evening, give this chow mein a try. It really is easy and fairly quick to prepare. Plus you can add as many veggies to this basic recipe as you desire. Don’t like tofu, leave it out. Want the chow mein to be meat free, leave out the chicken or shrimp. (The dish as written won’t ever be strictly vegetarian because oyster sauce actually does contain oyster extract or essence.) Want to make the dish GF, use rice noodles and make sure your soy sauce is GF. (GF Tamari is really good for that purpose.)

Anyway you prepare this dish, you are going to be pleased with the results. And this dish warms up beautifully. Which BTW, is almost essential here at Chez Carr. We simply don’t eat as much as we used to and planned-overs are now a regular part of our life.

Note: If you are still cooking for a large family, you just might want to double the recipe. And even then you still might not have any leftovers to warm up for lunch the next day. Believe me, I understand all too well. I still remember feeding my kids when they were teenagers. Leftovers! Huh! It was only a distant dream in those days. Now I’m living the dream, in many more ways than leftovers! Happy cooking my friends.

  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • generous 1/3 c. oyster sauce
  • ¼ c. dry sherry
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1½ tsp. sugar
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha, or more to taste
  • 1 pkg. firm tofu, sliced and cut into cubes
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 4-5 c. thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 1 sm. carrot, chopped fairly small
  • 5-6 lg. uncooked shrimp, shelled and cut in thirds or ½ chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 oz. chow mein noodles, cooked al dente
  • 4 green onions, sliced diagonally
  • 2 c. bean sprouts

Whisk the soy sauce, oyster sauce, dry sherry, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil, black pepper, and Sriracha together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Gently combine the tofu cubes with 3 tablespoons of the chow mein sauce while you chop the veggies and shell the shrimp or cube the chicken.

When all of the ingredients are prepped, heat the oil in a wok or large non-stick fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and fry until brown on at least 3 sides. (Reserve the sauce mixture remaining in the bowl after you remove the tofu.) Remove the browned tofu from the pan and set aside. Start noodles cooking.

Add the cabbage and carrot to the pan and stir fry until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add the shrimp or chicken and cook just until done. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the cooked noodles, (I lift them directly from the pasta water into the fry pan with a pair of tongs), fried tofu, green onions, bean sprouts, and sauce. (Don’t forget the sauce in which you marinated the tofu). Gently stir fry until the noodles are warmed through and sauce is thickened, about 1 minute. Don’t over-cook. Serve immediately.

 

TURKEY NOODLE SOUP

So, you’ve got leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in your freezer, but no homemade stock and your taste buds are crying out for soup. This happens routinely at Chez Carr. So when I desperately want turkey soup, I cheat! Yep, that’s just what I do!

I start with chicken or turkey broth, then add a bunch of common ingredients, and next thing you know, I’m sitting down to a lovely steaming bowl of goodness. Healthy too!

According to Donna Clarke writing for Health Guide Info, and I quote, “There’s nothing like a soothing bowl of hot chicken soup to cure what ails you. Grandma was right, it’s the best thing for that nasty cold! But what about turkey soup? Why does chicken soup make us feel so much better? Can turkey soup offer the same powerful punch?

We’ve all been there – wrapped in a blanket with chills, fever, cough, runny nose, aches…the works. The only thing that seems to sooth and comfort is a hot delicious bowl of chicken soup, with chunks of chicken, carrots, fresh dill, and onion, the aroma fills the entire room. Homemade or canned, it just seems to make everything better. But, did you ever wonder why? What is the secret our grandmothers all seemed to know? What is the mystery contained within this wondrous food? Why does chicken soup seem to be the perfect food to help cure what ails us? And what about turkey soup? Can turkey soup offer the same benefit?

The idea of consuming a hot bowl of chicken soup for the medicinal qualities it possesses dates back to the 12th century when Rabbi Moses Maimonides prescribed it to his patients. Since then, it has been offered to individuals ailing from a wide variety of maladies from congestion to the flu. Amazingly, this simple yet flavorful soup has been the subject of controversy with respect to its healing ability. But is it myth or medicine, fact or fiction?

Can chicken soup really offer relief for the common cold? Dr. Stephen Rennard at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, sought to solve this mystery. He conducted a series of tests adding chicken soup to neutrophils – the white blood cells. His findings were published in 1999 in the American College of Chest Physicians. He concluded that chicken soup did in fact help to inhibit the movement of these neutrophils, determining that chicken soup has a definite anti-inflammatory effect, causing a reduction of chest congestion!

The exact cause of this benefit is still a mystery, but one thing is certain, the nutritional values found in chicken soup are undeniable. Loaded with protein, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin K, potassium, and phosphorus, the ingredients contained in this fabulous soup offer a definite benefit when struggling with the common cold. If you are making homemade, be sure to include these ingredients as a base:

chicken: hot chicken broth vapors can help thin out mucus due to the presence of cysteine, an amino acid

onions: onions contain quercetin, also helpful in thinning out mucus, as well as act as an anti-inflammatory

carrots: these yummy vegetables provide an excellent source of vitamin A

parsnip: in addition to adding a delicious flavor, parsnip provides a good source of potassium

Other ingredients such as dill, celery, mushrooms, and even brown rice or whole grain pasta can be added for even more benefit!

But How About Turkey Soup?

The benefit of turkey soup is the same as chicken soup. Plus, with turkey soup, you have the added benefit of tryptophan (an amino acid) to help calm and sooth, providing the perfect relief for that day when you need the warmth and comfort only hot soup can provide.”

So I say – what are you waiting for? Dig that package of almost forgotten turkey out of the back of your freezer, and help gird yourself against a nasty winter cold or even more undesirable, the horrible flu that is going around. Think of this soup as preventive medicine. And as medicines go, you could do a lot worse!

  • 8 c. chicken or turkey broth (I use Costco Chicken Bone Broth or Better Than Bouillon Turkey Base and 8 cups of water)
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • ½ lg. shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • ¼ c. minced parsley
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. poultry seasoning
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 pkg. turkey gravy mix, opt. (provides color, flavor, and a bit of thickening)
  • planned over turkey cut into bite-size chunks (however much you want or have)
  • 1-2 T. white wine vinegar
  • 1½ c. wide egg noodles, cooked al dente

Place the chicken broth, onion, shallot, garlic, carrots, celery, parsley bay leaf, seasoned salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, dried thyme, and turkey gravy mix in a large, heavy, covered soup pot. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer gently for about 90 minutes.  

When the carrots are all but dissolved, add the turkey, white wine vinegar, and cooked noodles. Adjust seasoning. Good the first day, but even better the next!

 

 

 

 

EASY CUBED CHICKEN TERIYAKI

Sometimes I get a wild hair to cook an Asian dish. And one day last week was no exception. I think I love Asian food because I adore soy sauce. There is just something about the saltiness that sets my taste buds singing. So on the morning of my “wild hair” day, I decided it was time for a chicken dish. And just happening to have a couple packages of organic chicken breasts in my freezer, I thought longingly of teriyaki chicken. So I went about searching for teriyaki recipes.

I found plenty of recipes, but none were just what I wanted. Many started with bottled teriyaki sauce, but that wasn’t what I was after. I wanted an easy recipe using simple everyday ingredients that could be thrown together in a reasonably short time. I also wanted some veggies in with the chicken. So I came up with this recipe.

The sauce is not overpowering, the cashews add a nice creamy crunch, and the pinch of red pepper flakes gives the dish a subtle spiciness. All together a tasty and easy dish that should appeal to even the pickiest of eaters.  

  • 1/3 c. low-sodium Tamari or soy sauce
  • ¼ c. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 carrot, cut into half or quarter rounds
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • ¼ c. sesame seeds
  • 4 sliced green onions
  • ½ c. cashews

In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Heat olive oil and remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until just done, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from pan; set aside. Add carrot and onion to the pan. Cook until carrots are crisp tender. Add the cooked chicken back to the pan.

Pour the sauce over chicken and vegetables; simmer until sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in the sesame seeds, green onions, and cashews.  Wonderful served over brown rice.

Note: fried tofu, sliced fresh mushrooms, or small pieces of cooked broccoli would be wonderful in this dish. I just didn’t happen to have any of these ingredients in the fridge that day, and I was too lazy to go to the store. (The older I get, the less willing I am to go to the store for one or two ingredients. I’m slowly becoming more of a “make due” kind of gal and I’m just fine with that, thank-you!)

 

CHICKEN, PROSCIUTTO, ALMONDS, AND DRIED CRANBERRY SALAD

If I could bake a chicken with as much flavor and for the same price as a Costco rotisserie chicken, I’d be one happy camper. And even though I have a couple of good recipes for baked chicken on this site, for ease of preparation, nothing beats a trip to the Costco meat department. But Mr. C. and I can’t possibly eat a whole chicken at one seating! So, we usually start with the thighs and drumsticks, and save the breasts and other bits for future use. Since Costco chicken has so much inherent flavor, it is perfect in casseroles, soups, and of course salads.  

So the other evening, wanting to serve a chicken salad for dinner, and just happening to have leftover Costco chicken in the fridge, I went on line and found a recipe on the Diethood site. I changed it up a bit to fit our tastes, and the following recipe is the result.

This salad is hearty, flavorful, and perfect for a couple of senior citizens trying to eat healthier. Of course, even if you aren’t a senior citizen, you can prepare this salad and feel good about it. Eating healthy is not just the domain of those of us in our “golden years”. (Some might have said “those of us who are elderly”, but I hate that term. Its definition is just too relevant and therefore to be avoided at all costs!)

Synonyms for the word “elderly” – aged, advanced in years, long in the tooth, past ones prime, in ones dotage, decrepit, over the hill, senescent (whatever that means), and my favorite – doddery. (If elderly isn’t a horrible word to refer to oneself, I don’t know what is!)

So to all of you who are young at heart, regardless of your age – give this recipe a try. It’s easy to prepare, and tastes like one of those specialty salads served at fashionable restaurants. How cool is that?

  • 4-5 slices prosciutto  
  • ½ c. sour cream 
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 romaine hearts, thinly sliced or greens of choice
  • ¼ c. chopped red onion
  • 1 cooked boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into ½ -inch cubes (I use a breast from a Costco rotisserie chicken)
  • ½ c. toasted slivered almonds
  • ½ c. dried cranberries (the low sugar kind if you can find them)

Place slices of prosciutto on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 13 minutes or until fairly crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. Break or cut into pieces; set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk the sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, seasoned salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese together in a small bowl. Set aside. (If too thick, add a little water.)

In a large salad bowl combine the lettuce, red onion, chicken, toasted almonds, cranberries, and crispy prosciutto. When ready to serve, toss with salad dressing.

 

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.)