Chicken, Pepper, Tomato & Zucchini

chicken,zucchini,-peppers-aWe love dishes with good flavor and lots of colorful veggies – and this one fit the bill perfectly.  It’s based on a recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. (Mel is a wonderful cook and she makes it with Orzo, but I felt like Couscous.)  I also changed out the veggies a bit.  I can’t wait to make it again!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup dry couscous
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter

1 tablespoon olive oil
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 cup chopped red, orange and yellow bell pepper (can use green pepper, too)
2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes,
2 small zucchini, halved and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 tsp oregano  (I was out so I used 1 tsp Greek Seasoning.  You could also use 1/2 tsp oregano, a big pinch of basil and a little pinch of dill)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Bring water to a boil and stir in 1/2 tsp salt, butter and couscous.   Remove from heat, cover and let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large 12-inch nonstick or stainless skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and cook 6-7 minutes until golden on the outside,flipping halfway through.

Push the chicken to the outer edge of the pan and add everything else except the feta cheese.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring often until the mixture begins to dry up.

Push chicken back into the middle and nestle among the vegetables.  Continue cooking for another few minutes.  Check salt and pepper and add more Greek seasoning if needed.

Add 1/2 the crumbled feta and stir through.  Remove from heat and sprinkle on the rest of the feta.

To serve: Put a couple of spoonfuls of the Couscous in a wide flat bowl and top with the meat and veggies.

To make a gluten-free version – serve over rice or buttery mashed potatoes.

 

Southern Chicken & Veggie Spaghetti

This is one of those very simple, yet surprising delicious old-fashioned casseroles and I think the recipe is from Southern Living.   You could add mushrooms or cooked spinach or zucchini and it would be just as good.  The sauce soaks into the pasta and creates a nice, satisfyingly creamy main dish.

6 cups chicken stock or water
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups chopped bell pepper, any color
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, chopped
8 oz spaghetti
1/2 cup half n half or milk
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp kosher salt
pinch of black pepper
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or Mexican Cheese blend)

Bring chicken stock or water to boil in a dutch oven.  Add chicken and cook 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  (If you start with frozen thighs, which I did, just allow a little extra cooking time.  If you don’t have stock, you can always just use water – the thighs have enough fat and flavor to create a good stock.

Remove chicken  to a plate and add spaghetti to the stock. Cook spaghetti about 9 minutes until done, then remove spaghetti, keeping stock. Turn the heat up to medium and let stock cook down until there are about 2 1/2 cups left. Once chicken is slightly cooled, cut it into 1/2″ thick slices.

Meanwhile, in a large oven proof frying pan, melt butter and saute onions and bell peppers for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, whisk together half n half, flour, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Pour into the stock, stirring constantly and continue cooking 3-4 minutes, until the stock is thickened a little.  Remove from heat.  Check seasonings.

Add spaghetti, chicken and tomatoes to the sauteed veggies and gently stir to combine.  Pour the stock over and make sure the stock is coating everything.  Drop the shredded cheese on top and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

You can also serve this in a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with vegetable oil.  It makes a delicious main dish that is bursting with veggies and fresh flavors!

Sweet Potato Stuffed BBQ Chicken

sweet-potato-bbq-chickenI am always a little leery about fusion recipes (mixing flavors of one style of cooking with another.) I’ve had a few of those that just didn’t mesh well. This recipe isn’t one of them!

Yes, you’re mixing some very Southern flavors with Mexican flavors, but in this case they are amazing. After one bite, I couldn’t stop smiling. This recipe is based on one from MelsKitchenCafe.com. Mel is an amazing cook and her food is always delicious.

The Lime Cilantro dressing in this recipe seems (even to me) to have a million ingredients, but it is totally worth it!

(The photo shows mostly the corn and  black bean salad, with the Lime Cilantro dressing, but you’ll have to trust me, underneath it all are sweet potatoes, chicken and BBQ sauce!)

INGREDIENTS

4-6 sweet potatoes, washed and halved
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I used meat from a Costco roast chicken)
1 to 2 cups BBQ sauce (I used Ray’s original)

CORN AND BLACK BEAN SALAD

1 can (15-ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn kernels, frozen
1/2 cup rough chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

TOPPINGS:

Shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
Tortilla chips (optional – I didn’t use)
Chopped tomatoes (optional – I didn’t use)
Cilantro Lime Dressing – recipe follows

Poke sweet potatoes with a fork several times. Then put cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake for 35-40 minutes at 425 degrees, or until super soft when poked with a fork. The sugars in the sweet potato will start to caramelize. Check and bake a little longer if they aren’t completely soft.

Warm up the chicken and BBQ sauce in a sauce pan until warmed through.

Mix the corn and bean salad ingredients in a bowl, and let sit for several minutes, to let the corn thaw.

Make Cilantro Lime Dressing. (recipe below)

Eat several spoonsful of the Cilantro Lime dressing until you remind yourself that you need some for supper.

To serve, scoop out sweet potato flesh, and place in a bowl. Top with BBQ chicken, corn and black bean salad. Drizzle generously with the Cilantro Lime Dressing and top with a little cheese and the other optional ingredients. (I didn’t use the chips or tomatoes and didn’t miss them at all.)

Delicious!! For a vegetarian version, skip the chicken and just use a little BBQ sauce on the sweet potato.

Cilantro Lime Dressing Ingredients

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup salsa verde (I used a mild green chili sauce that was great, too.)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp onion powder
Pinch of dried dill weed (about 1/8 teaspoon)
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 green onion, white and green parts coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a medium pitcher (One that will hold 4-5 cups) and buzz well with an immersion blender. Or you can use a blender. Will keep for several days and is soooo good!

Brodo with Chicken and Spinach

brodo-3Another great recipe from Johanne Killeen in the Slow Food Fast recipes in the WSJ – with some changes.  Brodo is a simple soup that comes together fast and is incredibly satisfying.  It’s also quite flexible and can use different pastas and different greens

It’s been ridiculously cold and windy here!  We needed something to warm us up – and this sure fit the bill.  This makes enough for two people, roughly.

Ingredients:

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups rich chicken stock
2 eggs
1 cup chopped cooked chicken, optional
2 cups chopped fresh spinach or thinly sliced kale
1/3 lb capellini, spaghetti or linguine
fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain water. Keep warm.

At the same time, add the chicken stock to another pot and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and gently drop eggs in to poach. After 3 minutes or so, scoop eggs out onto a plate.

Add spinach to chicken stock and cook for a few moments. (You may need to cook a little longer with Kale.) Add chicken meat if using and stir. Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.

Place some pasta on one side of each bowl. (It’s going to slip around a bit, but that’s okay.) Ladle the chicken and spinach with broth on the open side of the bowl, and top with the poached egg.

Grate cheese over, sprinkle once more with black pepper and serve. The egg yolks will help thicken the broth and add incredible richness.

So fast and so delish!

Roasted Chicken and Fennel with Garlic, Lemon, Capers, Rosemary and Thyme

I first made this recipe in 2014, and wrote “Yum-Oh!!!” on the side. (Yes, I was in a Rachael Ray phase for a while.) The original recipe is from Eden Grinshpan from Everyday Food. I made a version of it for supper a couple of nights ago, doubling the marinade and adding veggies that were at the use ’em or lose ’em stage. The marinade is super flavorful and very easy. It made a great supper with Corn Pudding, but roasting potatoes with the chicken and veggies would be good, too.

Ingredients

4 Tbsp of crushed garlic*
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp of dried Thyme
1 tsp of dried Rosemary leaves
1 whole lemon with peel, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of lemon juice

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3-4 cut into thinner cutlets
2 fennel bulbs, each cut into 8 wedges  (easier to eat that way), plus any greens growing out of the top.
4 stalks of asparagus, cut into bite-sized segments
4 carrots, scrubbed, but not peeled, cut into bite sized pieces

Mix all marinade ingredients. Pour a little into a 10×13 baking dish, and lay chicken down. Add fennel and asparagus, and drizzle all well with the marinade.  Toss lightly in the marinade.  It would probably be smart to let it sit for a bit, but I just popped everything  into a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. It’s delicious and the whole lemon slices are ridiculously tasty!

I think you could use just about any sturdy vegetable you have on hand. The original recipe also called for 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, which I didn’t have, but which would probably be pretty good.

*I buy a bag of peeled garlic from Costco and puree them in the food processor with just a little olive oil. Scoop the puree into gallon ziplock bags, and smooth it into thin flat layers before putting them in the freezer. Then just break off chunks whenever you need garlic.  Be careful not to make the layers too thick or they won’t break easily!

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant, Peppers and chicken

Made this for Kumy’s birthday last week while we were away from home. We had kind of limited supplies, but I’d brought a couple of Tbsp of Thai Green Curry Paste, which made it crazy easy. We were all starved and this was the perfect dish!

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Eggplant, not peeled – cut into 1″ cubes
1 green pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, cut into fat slivers
1 carrot, julienned
1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into small bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp Mae Ploy Green Curry Paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (optional – I didn’t have any and it was still good)
juice from 1/2 lime
pinch red pepper flakes (totally optional – the paste is already very spicy)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Thai Basil Leaves, julienned (optional – I didn’t have any and still good)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet until it’s quite hot. Add eggplant and cook, flipping the eggplant to sear it. Cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the onion, peppers and carrot and saute for another 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is transparent and the peppers are softened. Add the chicken and continue cooking 3-4 more minutes.

Shift veggies to the edges, and add a little more oil, and the green curry paste. Cook the green curry paste for a couple of minutes and add 1/2 cup water, the juice of 1/2 a lime and the salt and red pepper flakes. Stir everything together well and add the coconut milk. Cook for just another 30 seconds to warm the coconut milk and serve over rice.

Would probably be great with chopped peanuts, too.

Update:  Last night Maya and the gals made amazing vegan egg rolls, which Samir fried.  Since we had a lot of folks home for supper,  I made this dish without chicken, and realized it really doesn’t need the red pepper flakes!  Taylor made Sherry Trifle, so it was fine dining all around.

Chicken and Herbed Biscuit Potpie

Made another great recipe from Ree Drummond’s blog last night. The original recipe calls for beef, but I had chicken meat and stock from a Costco roasted chicken. To make it with beef, just use shredded or diced cooked beef for the chicken, and beef stock instead of chicken. I also added mushrooms. This makes a big casserole of food. If cooking for a smaller group – you could halve this.

Ingredients for Pot Pie Filling:

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced (about 4 inches if you cut across the whole top of the stalk)
3 large carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced
2-3 cups mushrooms, halved
3 cloves garlic, mashed
6 Tbsp flour
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper)
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 cups frozen peas
4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

Melt butter in a stock pot. Toss in onions, and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add celery, carrots and garlic and saute a couple of more minutes. Finally stir in mushrooms, cover pan and cook on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.

Add the flour, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Stir in chicken stock and cook to thicken for a few minutes. Add the heavy whipping cream and bring just to a boil. Immediately add the parsley, peas and chicken meat and stir to coat everything. Turn off heat. Pour the filling into a 9×13 pan.

While filling is cooking make the Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits:

Ingedients:

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried parsley
8 Tbsp cold butter, cut up (1 stick)
3/4 cup buttermilk

Add all dry ingredients to a food processor and pulse until they are well blended. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the butter and flour mixture is blended and a little crumbly. Add the buttermilk and pulse 10 times or so, until it clumps together on one side. It will be quite sticky.

Scoop out ice cream scoops of the biscuit and carefully arrange them on the filling. You just want to be sure that every serving has a nice biscuit on top of it.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven when the biscuits are starting to brown nicely, and brush the tops with butter.

Delish!!

Chicken Pilau Biryani

Everyone has a dish that is their knock out dish, and Pilau Biryani is mine.  I’ve made it for graduations, parties and most recently for a wedding.  (5 catering trays worth!)  It’s a fairly simple dish, but so ridiculously tasty.  I use a spice mix called Shan Pilau Biryani mix, which is available online or in Indian grocery stores.

This makes a really nice big batch, but leftovers never last at our house.  I do make the recipe a little differently than on the box, but it’s still pretty close.  If you decide to make a half box, try to make sure you get roughly half of the big spices as well. It is also traditional to leave big spices like cardamom, cloves, black peppers , pieces of cinnamon etc. in the dish that you simply pick out while you are eating.

1 box Shan Pilau Biryani Mix
2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp crushed Garlic
1 1/2  Tbsp crushed fresh Ginger
1 – 2 small glasses of water
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred well plus more for serving
3 1/2 cups basmati rice
6 1/2  cups of water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
3-4 large onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil

In  large pot, mix the chicken, spice mix, garlic, ginger and water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer until chicken is cooked and soft.  (Probably about an hour.)  You want to end up with about 2 cups of liquid gravy (in addition to the chicken of course) so if you end up with much more, just cook it a little longer.  If you have less, add more water during cooking.

Remove from heat.  (If you want to pour it into a catering tray and freeze it at this point, you can.)

Stir the yogurt well and pour it over the chicken mixture evenly.

Cook the rice with the 1 Tbsp salt until just about done, and layer it on top of the chicken and gravy. It is important to make sure the rice isn’t overcooked and too soft, since the moisture in the gravy will add moisture to the rice.

If you get a red powder packet in the biryani mix, sprinkle it on top of the rice for nice bits of yellow color. Sometimes it’s not in the box – which is a bummer, but not a fatal flaw.

Fry the thinly sliced onions in olive oil, stirring frequently until they are dark golden brown and caramelized. This does take quite a while. Keep the onions and the oil they were fried in – you will use it all in the dish.  (I often start the onions before I even start the chicken to save time.  You can also cook the onions and then freeze them, and heat them just before you assemble the dish.)  For the wedding this summer, I fried two big bags of onions from Costco.  I think you could smell onions frying from two blocks away!

Ladle the fried onions and the oil on top of the rice, and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  (If you start with a frozen base, you’ll need to either cook it longer or you’ll want to thaw the base for a couple of hours.)

Remove from the oven and gently mix up the chicken and rice portion with a big spoon or saucer , and serve on a big platter. Serve with plain yogurt or a simple raita (spiced yogurt and vegetables.)

For a vegan version, substitute 3 cans of washed garbanzo beans, one cup of shelled pistachios, and 1 cup of frozen peas for the meat.  Add the peas until the very last minute or they get mushy.  (I sometimes just put the peas on top of the mixture in the tray since it all gets mixed up anyway.  That way they stay nice and green, but still absorb plenty of flavor.)

 

Florentine Chicken & Spinach Casserole

Served this amazing casserole for Christmas Dinner, along with a salad dressed with Ina Garten’s Green Goddess Dressing. It was posted by Bryan0320 on allrecipes, and although in a 1970s throwback with a can of cream of mushroom soup, it deserves every one of the 4.5 stars it got from over 3000 reviews!  I know I’ll make this recipe often.  (Returning after making it a couple of times and simplifying the process a bit.)

Of course I made a few changes as noted below.

Ingredients

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup butter
1 Tbsp garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 can cream of mushroom soup (10.75 oz.)
4 tsp Italian seasoning, or:
1 tsp Basil
1 tsp Marjoram
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Rosemary
1/2 tsp Thyme
pinch Garlic Powder
1/2 cup half & half
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
16 oz. fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, broken into 1/2 inch pieces (Could just use a package of fresh mushrooms chopped, too.)
1/3 cup sherry (optional if you are using fresh mushrooms.)
6 slices of bacon, diced
2-3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, or mozzarella

Bake boneless thighs on a baking sheet at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn oven heat up to 400 degrees.

At the same time, in a little pan bring sherry and 1/2 cup water to the boil. Add the shiitake mushrooms, and turn down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms are softened.

In a large pot, fry the bacon until nicely browned. Remove all but a Tbsp of the bacon drippings. Add the spinach and saute until completely wilted. It may take several batches to wilt a whole pound, but just keep adding and  cooking. You can add a little water to keep the pan from burning.  Push the spinach to the edges, and add the butter, garlic, lemon juice, cream of mushroom soup, Italian seasoning and mushrooms. Bring to a simmer. Stir spinach from edges into sauce.  Remove from heat and add half & half and Parmesan cheese.

In a 9×12 baking dish, lay half the spinach/cheese mixture in an even layer. Lay the chicken thighs on top. Pour remaining sauce over the top with Mexican Cheese (or Mozzarella) and bake 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

 

Camp Chicken Noodle Soup

Just back from Niobrara and while we were there, I made chicken noodle soup that was so easy and so good – just with what I had on hand. Chicken thighs have  enough fat and flavor to make chicken broth unnecessary, and while we were in a cabin, this would be great for camping, too.  See my notes below to prep this recipe for camping.

1 onion, cut up
2 carrots, cut up
2 stalks celery, cut up
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp dried parsley
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (mine were frozen in a lump, from Costco)
7-8 cups water
1 package noodles

Saute onion, carrots and celery in olive oil. Add spices and stir in. Add chicken and water. Cook 20 minutes.

If chicken is frozen, just cook it in a lump and after 10 minutes or so, you should be able to start pulling it apart. Fish out the bigger pieces, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Return to pot. Finish cooking. Add noodles and cook for another 8-10 minutes until noodles are done.

To prep this for camping: cut up veggies and bag them with oil and spices. Bring frozen chicken and noodles in their bag. The frozen chicken helps keep the veggies cool.  A really satisfying supper.