Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

Have I mentioned before my aversion to tomatoes?  I’ve gotten better over the years and actually eat things like marinara sauce when we make spaghetti because its a cheap and fast dinner option and chunky Italian sausage bits make it much more appealing to me.  But when it comes down to it I would much prefer just about any other sauce on my pasta or pizza.

I’m not sure about LA, but back in Wisconsin there are several places with some unique pizza options that feature non-traditional sauces.  Some of my favorites are Ian’s Mac n’ Cheese on alfredo sauce, Polito’s BBQ Steak & Fries with Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce, and Glass Nickel’s Thai Pie with its spicy peanut sauce.  Unsurprisingly when a craving for homemade pizza hit I wanted to make something beyond pepperoni and cheese on a classic red sauce (oh, did I mention pepperoni is also probably my least favorite pizza topping?).

I figured since I’ve made this citrus pesto before I could easily whip up a classic pesto for the pizza sauce by omitting the fruit juices and zests.  I’ve made enough batches that I just kind of wing it, I measure out the pine nuts and use a whole package of fresh basil from Trader Joe’s then add olive oil and cheese until I reach a desired consistency.  As far as toppings go I shredded chicken, spinach (slightly wilted) and sliced mushrooms go great with the green sauce.  This week Chris took charge of cooking the chicken while I was getting the dough for the crust ready.  He seasoned it generously with garlic, thyme, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper and I thought it tasted amazing and had a hard time not “testing” it all before the pizza was assembled.

As far as the crust went, I use this recipe that was printed on the packet of yeast and whole wheat flour.  I roll or shape it into a thick rectangle to bake on a cookie sheet because the short list of cooking/baking things we don’t own includes a pizza stone.  After the crust of the first couple pizzas we made turned out a bit underdone in the middle I precooked the crust a few minutes before adding sauce and toppings and baking for the last 10 minutes or so.  Then we cut it into big pieces and enjoyed!


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Hello again!  Do we have any readers left?!

The typical excuse for not blogging currently applies…I’ve been insanely busy at work.  And on the weekends when I’m not on call, I’ve been busy enjoying visitors or taking little trips.  Our parents and little sister were in town for our family Christmas and the Rose Bowl over New Year’s, and we all went to Vegas for a weekend too.  More recently, I spent a day in San Diego with a cousin.  We had brunch at a cute place in the Gaslamp District, where I had some pretty amazing breakfast burritos made with chorizo and refried beans.  Mmmmm.  And MOST recently, I visited one of my favorite food cities: St. Louis! 🙂  One of my very best friends, Holly, is in grad school at St. Louis University so I flew in on a Friday morning & four of our other pals from high school and college drove down from Wisconsin.  Our weekend pretty much consisted of drinking (including a tour of Schlafly Bottleworks & the New Glarus brews the girls were kind enough to tote down for us!), playing board games, visiting the Arch (again, for me), and…EATING!!

Holly and I got to share Pappy’s with the girls, all of whom have heard us rave about it for almost two years now.  I branched out and got a 1/2 rack of ribs with my brisket.  To be sure, they were meaty and tasty.  But that brisket is so damn good, I don’t think I want anything else no matter how good that is.  Nobody really fell for the deep fried corn on the cob, which threw us for a loop.  The only reason I could come up with was that the previous two times I’d had Pappy’s, it was summer, so the corn was probably really fresh sweet corn.  You can’t blame the folks over there for not finding fresh corn in January 🙂  We also had lunch at Iron Barley, which was quite delicious too.  This time around I had the chili cheese dog…which they make with these awesome, slightly spicy red hots.  God, it was so good.  I mean, I enjoy a chili cheese dog from Sonic I’m that unpicky about them.  But hell, this was the best one I’ve ever had.  Now I really need to get to Pink‘s.  Just to see if there is something similar within driving distance of my current home 🙂  Every time we go to Target, we drive past and comment that we need to go.  One of these days, we’re gonna make it happen!

Anyways, our final culinary adventure took me to the lone Man vs. Food St. Louis eatery I had yet to patronize, Crown Candy Kitchen.  This also allowed me to check one more item off my food bucket list!  We had to drive through some very sketchy neighborhoods at dusk to get there, but I’m glad we went.  My chocolate malt was yummy, huge and cheap.  The friends I shared a tiny table with each got a fruit-flavored ice cream and enjoyed them.  However, both of them also worked at our local custard shop back home in high school.  Coming from Wisconsin, I think we have decidedly snobby views on what great ice cream is.  This was good, maybe it was even great…but we all decided it wasn’t mind-blowing.  I think it’s accurate to say the people of Missouri don’t know what they’re missing a couple states north 😉

Fast forward a week, and I’m back in California just chilling.  I’m on call, so there’s not much else to do besides chill haha.  Ali and Chris have been doing a vast majority of the cooking as of late, so I picked up the slack tonight.  Our list of meals has dwindled, and since I didn’t feel like thawing a 5 lb. pork loin, I had one option: Lean N’ Green Chili.

I’ve made this once before.  When Holly and I lived together, we were calorie-counting queens and had quite a collection of “healthy” cookbooks to complement our slightly horrific love of Rachael Ray and Paula Deen recipes.  This one came from a Pampered Chef cookbook.  I was intrigued by how it called for grated corn tortillas as a thickening agent instead of cream.  I was also intrigued by the large protein and fiber quantities per serving (yay chicken and beans!).  I think you’ll be blown away by the flavor of this recipe when you consider there’s only one spice in it: cumin (go figure, haha).  It’s a good spice level for me…not as crazy as full-blown cajun chicken pasta, but not as mild as my mom’s version of chili 😉  However, if you aren’t a spice person, I’d suggest using green bell pepper instead of poblano chile peppers like the recipe calls for.

The recipe also calls for making your own tortilla chips to serve with the chili, I did today, and yes they’re yummy.  I wish I had some lime juice to sprinkle on them.  However, store bought will do just fine.

  • 4 6-inch corn tortillas (I highly prefer flour tortillas in my cooking.  The hospital uses corn tortillas for their fish tacos, which is why they taste kind of gross to me.  However, since these are what thickens the chili, I didn’t want to mess around with it!)
  • 1 cup chopped poblano chile peppers, diced (A quick trip to Wikipedia on my phone in the middle of Ralph’s taught us that north of Mexico, poblanos are usually sold as “pasilla” peppers, btw.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (double it!!)
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed (triple or quadruple it!!)
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans of fat-free chicken broth
  • 2 15 oz. cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/4 cup salsa verde or 1 10 oz. can green enchilada sauce (I use salsa verde.  I had bought a 16 oz. jar and I dumped the entire thing in this batch.  Why not?)
  • fresh cilantro to top, if you wish

First, grate the tortillas.  I have the actual Pampered Chef cheese grater they call for to do this: it has a handle to crank and everything.  If you don’t have something similar, I think a few seconds in a food processor would do the trick, but they have to be grated finely…not just in little chunks, or they won’t work their magic.  Set aside.

Then, in a pot heat 1 TBSP oil to cook the chicken in.  Season with the cumin, and a little pepper if you wish.  Cook 5 minutes, then add the peppers, onion and garlic.  Cook three minutes more.  Stir in the broth, beans, and salsa verde.  Actually, stir in 2 4 oz. cans of diced green chiles here too 😉  I just realized I had bought those for a different recipe but added them to this one by mistake.  A pretty tasty mistake, it turns out…

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Serve with your tortilla chips.  And sour cream if you’re Chris 🙂

Note to those readers with texture issues: this is chunky.  Delightfully chunky.  Just beware.  I’d say one batch easily stuffs four people, and would feed two for a few days.  If your party has five or more and you aren’t serving much else, I’d consider doubling the batch.  The worst that happens is you have leftovers!

This is my promise to try and blog at least once a week from here on out.  Let’s see how good I can do!!

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I feel as though, now that I have gotten on Pinterest, a lot of new recipes I blog about are gonna start out with “I saw this on Pinterest.”  Last week it was Spicy Thai Noodles, this week it’s chicken wraps.

Well, this was initially inspired by a pin I saw that led here with a description that included “for the kids” or some such nonsense. Ageism! As though no one over 18 likes honey mustard or chicken or food that you can eat with one hand [here’s where I was gonna embed one of Donald Driver’s McDonald’s commercials where he endorsed the snack wraps, but I couldn’t find any on youtube so hopefully you remember what I’m talking about].  So anyway, after forgiving the ignorance of these non-snack-wrap-eating adults out there, I set to planning to make these for dinner.

First, I still had a bag of precooked shredded chicken in the freezer, so I wanted to figure out a way to use that instead of buying nuggets.  I turned to the Food Network site and found this recipe from Paula Dean that I adapted.  Instead of using potato chips, I coated with crushed up Cap’n Crunch inspired by the chicken strips at one of our favorite local spots – Fratello’s.   Also I just went with a simpler honey mustard recipe (equal parts honey and mustard- I used spicy brown- with a dash of salt to taste) since the one attached to Paula’s seemed a bit more work.

So when I got down to assembling the wraps I had:

  • about 2 lbs chicken
  • 8 large wheat tortillas
  • 1 carrot peeled and shredded
  • spinach
  • shredded cheese [don’t know exactly how much spinach or cheese I used, just grabbed a bunch out of the bag for each wrap]
  • prepared honey mustard

You can probably figure out how to assemble a wrap, but for the record for each tortilla I did: a couple scoops of chicken, zig zaggy drizzle of honey mustard, sprinkle of shredded carrot, sprinkle of shredded cheese, handful of spinach and roll it up.

I served them up with waffle fries and extra honey mustard and they were delicious.  I also found them filling, definitely a decent lunch or dinner.  Oh and I have to mention the honey mustard: I prepared it in a big liquid measuring cup which obviously made it easy for measuring out equal parts, but also made it easy to then just pour it into one of the plastic squeeze bottles I’ve got.  I love my plastic squeeze bottles, they make me feel fancy and chefy.  (maybe not a word, but I’m using it anyway)  It also worked great for those who wanted to add a little extra sauce to their wrap and for storing what was left over – just pop the bottle in the fridge.

Finally, I think this would be fun to whip up as an appetizer some time as well.  Just use small tortillas and slice up each wrap into bite sizes.  With the green of the spinach and yellow of the cheese and honey mustard don’t you think it would be perfect for Packer games?

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One of the restaurants we frequent in Oshkosh is Benvenuto’s Italian Grill, which is where I had the dish that inspired this recipe.  Yes, that title says Southwest and yes, the restaurant is Italian, but stay with me here!  Now I’ve never been to Italy, but it seems to me this place is a pretty Americanized version of Italian.  It has a big menu that would probably make Gordon Ramsay want to rant while he takes his shirt off, and its got a lot of items that aren’t really Italian: burgers, French dip, and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, for example.  It does have a large selection of pizzas, calzones and pastas, though; and in the many times I’ve been there over the past couple years I’ve never had a bad meal.  One of the memorable dishes I had was off their features menu and called something like Baja Chicken Pasta.  I really enjoyed it, and was struck by how similar it was to the Cajun chicken pasta recipe we make which made me figure I could replicate the dish at home.

The first time I tried this it didn’t have quite as much flavor and spicy hotness that we love in the Cajun version so each subsequent attempt I’ve adjusted it a bit.  I thought I had finally tweaked it just right, but I found out when I made this last night I was totally wrong.  When I first tried my new recipe idea I stuck close to the Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe and used heavy cream as well as sour cream garnish as I had had it in the restaurant.  It turned out too creamy and I wanted a way to get that sauciness without drowning out the flavors and spices.  Danielle suggested trying cream cheese so when Philadelphia’s new Cooking Creme went on sale (and I had a coupon) I picked up the Santa Fe Blend to test it out.  Turns out this is exactly what the recipe needed.  In a pinch I think using just sour cream as I had been before this would be fine, but if this stuff is on sale again I will snatch it up and stock pile it (it keeps great in the freezer, by the way).

Also, remember my geek-out over already prepped chicken when I made tacos a wile back?  Well I fulfilled my little dream a couple weeks ago when chicken breasts were on sale and cooked, shredded and froze 3 bags of shredded chicken.  I pulled one out to thaw in anticipation of whipping up Southwest Chicken Pasta and it was as easy and fast as I had expected.  Oh and as with Cajun Chicken Pasta, know your spice threshold and seasoning blend, and if you do use cooking creme its got quite a bit of flavor and kick so feel free to use a little less of the blend.

Here’s the recipe, I estimate it makes about 8 big servings…

An earlier version of the dish, before the discovery of cooking creme.

3/4  lb. rotini; cooked
2 T. butter
3 chicken breasts; cooked and shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cloves garlic; minced or chopped

1 bunch green onion; chopped
1 red pepper; chopped
1 can sweet corn; drained (or the kernels of about 3 ears fresh sweet corn)
1 can black beans; drained and rinsed
1 ½ – 2 T. Southwest Chipotle seasoning
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red (cayenne) pepper
½ to 1 cup fat free sour cream OR 1 container Philadelphia Cooking Creme Santa Fe Blend
Optional for garnishing:  Shredded Mexican cheese blend, dollop sour cream, green onion tops

Melt butter in skillet and cook chicken over medium-high heat.
Add garlic, onion, peppers and seasonings.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 5 min until peppers are soft.
Add corn and beans, cook til heated through

Stir in sour cream (I usually add in a 1/4 cup at a time until I get the desired coating) OR Philly cooking creme

.  Simmer 2-3 minutes.
Stir in pasta.  (I add it to the pot I cooked the pasta in so the skillet doesn’t overflow ;D)
Top with cheese, sour cream or onion tops or just dig in and enjoy!

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Once again I have been away for awhile.  I have been cooking, I’m just too lazy to blog about it (and anyway most of it was nothing much to blog about).  However, last week I did whip up some Cajun Chicken Pasta, which I think is long overdue to be blogged about.

If I remember correctly Cajun Chicken Pasta was first discovered by Danielle and her college roommates and after she made it at home for the rest of our family it has quickly become a favorite.  When she sent me the recipe and I read it over for the first time I was (as usual) slightly overwhelmed – for a college student who had barely graduated from mac & cheese and Hamburger Helper it seemed so complicated.  It was full of fancy ingredients like heavy cream and green onions and used spices other than salt!*

The thing about Cajun chicken pasta is for all its “fancy” ingredients, it’s quite simple.  It’s practically a one pot meal and I think you’d be hard pressed to screw it up unless you completely burnt the chicken or severely undercooked the pasta or something.  I think it was the perfect stepping stone for me at that point in my cooking education – I learned that recipes aren’t always as intimidating as they look written down and some ingredients aren’t so much “fancy” as they are just not staples you always have on hand.  Within a few years I have grown to the point where I can make this pretty much from memory and I have even adapted it into a recipe of my own: Southwest Chicken Pasta, but that’s a blog for another day.

Here’s the original recipe as Danielle emailed it me complete with her notations:

3/4 lb. rotini, cooked (obviously, any noodle works)
2 T. butter
2 chicken breasts (or however much you want)
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch green onion (we’ve used a reg. white or yellow onion…but the green onions have a bit more kick to them)
2 T. cajun seasoning
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red (cayenne) pepper
8 oz. heavy whipping cream
1 each red and green pepper, chopped (I only ever use red)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan

While cooking noodles, melt butter in skillet and cook chicken over medium-high heat.  Either cook them whole like I do and shred with forks, or cut the raw chicken into chunks before you cook.  I usually also put some water in so the chicken doesn’t burn and then cover the skillet so it cooks faster.  If you use a lot of water, drain it off before continuing.

Anyways, add the garlic, onion, and the other seasonings/peppers.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes on lower heat.  Basically, cook until the peppers are soft enough for your liking.

Stir in cream and simmer 2-3 minutes.
Stir in Parmesan, and then the cooked pasta.

The only note I add is know your taste buds and your spice blend.  For Danielle it is full spice and maybe a little extra, for me and Chris it is about 3/4ths, for our mom (who thinks black pepper can be too spicy) it is about 1/4th.  And the blends change from brand to brand, I’d always used McCormick’s, but when I had to buy Cajun seasoning this past week the only option at Festival Foods was a bag of their house brand which turned out to be a bit sweeter than I’m used to.  When I first made southwest style at my parents I had to go with Emeril’s brand which was about twice as hot as the Mrs. Dash I had been using.  If you’re not sure what your limit is, I’d just add the spices a 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon or tablespoon at a time and taste test, remembering that you can always add more to your bowl if its not spicy enough for you or serve with a big glass of milk to cut the heat!

*Relax, I do know that salt is not a spice, just joking about how limited my cooking experience was back then 🙂

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My final post of my barbecue adventure was getting a bit long so I decided to post a final review of the meal separately.  To recap the menu was:

  • Grilled Chicken Legs with Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce
  • Green Beans with Bacon
  • Summer Vegetable Medley, marinated and grilled
  • Sweet Corn Bread
  • Sweet Iced Tea

The general consensus? Delicious!  The BBQ sauce was a big hit, especially with the smokey flavor from the charcoal grill.  Chris (not a SoCo fan at all) liked that it wasn’t overly SoCo flavored and Mike particularly liked the tang that the lemon juice added.

Also a favorite were the green beans with bacon, I’m sure we all would have eaten seconds if there had been more to go around.  Big points for the beans still having a little crunch.

The grilled vegetables were good and liked by all, but I do think the flavor of the marinade I chose clashed a bit with the rest of the meal.  I’d probably go with some different herbs/spices next time I’m barbecuing and use this particular blend for something Italian/Mediterranean.

The sweet corn bread, as I expected, was the perfect finish.  Chris’s first comment was that it tasted like Famous Dave’s, which I informed Danielle of and she seemed pretty excited for the feedback.

I think only Mike tried some of my Sweet Tea, but he gave it a good review: very refreshing and not too sweet.

My Adventure was a huge success and I had a great time spending my day baking, cooking, grilling and eating.  I got to try out a bunch of new recipes and they are all keepers.  I hope I’m lucky enough to be struck with another menu idea for a food adventure soon.

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Alright, I’m back to finish my little series on my Saturday BBQ adventure.   If you’ve read parts one and two you know what I had planned for the menu and what I had left to prepare Saturday afternoon before my BBQ could be served.  First up I made my sauce…

As you might remember some left over Southern Comfort was inspiration for this sauce and I used Google to help me find a recipe.  Here’s what I found:

Browning onions and bacon, with the other sauce ingredients on deck in the background.

Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce [from keyingredient.com]

    • 1 medium onion – finely chopped
    • 3 slices bacon – finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup Southern Comfort
    • 2 cups ketchup
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • juice of 1 lemon

Lightly brown onion with chopped bacon.  Remove from heat, add Southern Comfort and ketchup; stir. Add remaining ingredients and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.  Grill chicken, basting often with sauce.

Notes: the original recipe calls this sauce “spicy” but it was really more sweet and tangy – you could try adding more chili powder or some red pepper if you really want spicy, but I liked it just the way it was.  I don’t know that I used as much SoCo as the recipe calls for as I just poured in the rest of the bottle I had, but our sauce did not overly taste like the whiskey.  I think what it really gains from the SoCo is some sweet caramely  flavors.  The bacon I used was apple wood smoked, which also probably added sweet smokey flavor.

Once my sauce was done and simmering, I started on my green beans.  I stumbled on this recipe a few months ago while browsing foodie blogs and saved it for use when green beans were in season.  The original poster heralds this as an alternative to ‘gross’ green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, I take offense as I absolutely adore green bean casserole, but this is still a great alternative green bean dish.

Green Beans with Bacon [from foodbat]

Sorry the picture is a bit out of focus, I think you still get the general idea of deliciousness, though.

  • 3 pieces thick cut bacon, diced
  • half of a sweet onion, finely diced
  • one clove of garlic, smashed
  • one pound fresh green beans, washed and with the tips snapped off
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • the zest of one lemon
  • half a lemons worth of juice
  1. In a heavy pan over medium-high heat cook bacon for a few minutes until it begins to crisp, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the green beans and toss to coat with the onion and bacon mixture. Add a little olive oil if it looks dry.
  3. Add the red pepper flakes, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the green beans are crisp-tender, about 5-10 minutes depending on what sort of beans you got. Tasting is key!
  5. Add salt and pepper to your liking.

Notes: the original recipe calls for 1 Tbs of butter to fry the bacon in but I left it out, a bit of olive oil to help coat the beans works fine.  One pound of beans cooked down is not a lot of beans!  If you’re making this for more than 3 or 4 people, I’d recommend doubling it.

And with that all that was left was to light the grill and cook the chicken and veggies.  Chris helped out with this part: rotating chicken legs as I basted and keeping track of time so they cooked evenly.  When all was said and done we had quite the delicious feast.  One last post coming with final reactions!

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