Category Archives: chicken

Paleo Chicken Fingers (Gluten-free)


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Ok, to preface this  – I am not “going gluten-free.” However, I’m half Sicilian, and I love pasta way too much. And I also have a wedding dress I need to fit into in seven months, so something’s got to be done. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free recipes during the week, and “cheating” during the weekends. It keeps me in check with what I’m consuming, especially down here in Texas, and the portion control piece of all of this is also working out better than I expected. After three months of indulging in our new city, it’s time to reign it back in. And it’s a testament to these recipes that Brendan had NO CLUE I’d decided to start eating, and cooking, gluten-free. These were seriously delicious.

PALEO CHICKEN TENDERS (serves 4)

  • 1 lb. chicken breast or chicken tenders
  • 1.5 C almond meal (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great combo of the meal/flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Prep your setup: in one bowl, have the eggs. In another, larger bowl, combine the almond meal with the spices. IMG_0559
  3. Using a fork (this will keep your hands from getting all breaded, themselves) dip the pieces of chicken first in the eggs, then on both sides in the almond meal, lightly pressing to make sure the almond meal forms a good coating on the chicken.
  4. Spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray or rub some olive oil on it.
  5. Place the “breaded” chicken on the baking sheet, then bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping once, until golden and chicken is cooked through.
  6. Serve with a side of honey mustard – I made this by just combining dijon mustard with a little honey and a little mayo – and some green beans.  So good.

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Movin’


Guys, sorry I’ve been the worst at writing lately. We’re moving on Monday, so everything is packed away in the kitchen. In the meantime, here’s what we made as our last full home-cooked meal in the old place: Roasted Chicken and a Kale, Apple & Roasted Butternut Squash salad.

I’ve loved this apartment but I’m really excited to move into the new place with Bren and really make it “ours.”  Also, two words: Gourmet. Kitchen.

Be back soon!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta Bake (with Chicken)

There are certain things that just go together. Bacon and Cheddar. Sour cream and Onion. And of course, Spinach and Artichokes. What is it about that combo that’s so delicious?? I remember being a kid, and having it for the first time at probably the Ground Round or someplace like that, and feeling like my 8 year old culinary world had been blown wide open. There are so many different recipes that I make now, but spinach and artichoke dip is still one of my go-to favorites for a crowd.

This recipe lets you feel like you’re indulging in a classic appetizer for dinner, but actually lightens up everything by replacing the cream cheese with Greek yogurt and halving the sour cream, using about 1/2 of the cheese and adding protein-y chicken. Plus – pasta!!!  This makes a ton, keeps really well, is able to be thrown together in 30 minutes, and will have your dinner companions full and happy in an hour and a half total, tops.

SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP PASTA BAKE (WITH CHICKEN) makes about 10 servings
– 1 lb. chicken tenders, chopped
– 1 box orecchiette pasta, or similar (you want something kind of small that will stand up with this bake – bowties, mini penne or mini rigatoni would also be good)
– 2 9-oz. boxes creamed spinach (creamed is key)
– 2 15-oz.cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
– 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
– 1/3 c. parmesan cheese
– 1 5.3 oz container plain greek yogurt
– 1/3 c. sour cream
– 1 cup pasta water (reserved)
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– Kosher salt & pepper
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1/3 c. panko bread crumbs

1. Set your oven to 375.

2. In a large pot, boil water, then salt it kind of heavily. Add pasta and cook until 2 minutes before its “al dente” stage. BEFORE YOU DRAIN IT, grab a cup of the pasta water out and set aside to let it cool. Drain the pasta.

3. In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp. EVOO over medium heat. Add chopped chicken, which has been seasoned with kosher salt and pepper.


4. Cook until the chicken is almost all the way cooked through, stirring occasionally but letting it get a little browned.

5. While the chicken is cooking, heat up the creamed spinach in a microwave.

6. In a large bowl (use one bigger than you even expect will be big enough), combine the creamed spinach, 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella, and the chopped artichoke hearts. Add a little of the parmesan cheese and combine everything.


7. In a separate bowl, combine the greek yogurt, sour cream and a little more of the parmesan cheese.


8. Take the almost-fully cooked chicken off the stove and put the chicken on a plate.

9. Add chicken and pasta to the spinach/artichoke mixture. Combine well.

10. Mix the greek yogurt/sour cream blend with the cooled pasta water, a little at a time, until the sauce is pretty thin but still has enough consistency to coat a spoon.


11.Spray a casserole dish with a little olive oil. Add about half the chicken/pasta/spinach/artichoke mix. Top with 1/4 c. of the shredded mozzarella, then half of the greek yogurt/sour cream blend.


12. Add the rest of the chicken/pasta/spinach/artichoke mixture. Top with the rest of the greek yogurt/sour cream blend, then another 1/4- 1/2 c. of the shredded mozzarella and the rest of the shredded parm.


13. In a small pan, melt 1 tbsp. butter, then toast the panko breadcrumbs. Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs.


14. Cover with aluminum foil, then bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover, put on the lowest rack, and cook for another 20 minutes – just make sure the chicken is cooked through.

15. Serve and feel like you got away with getting to eat a big bowl of healthy-ish spinach and artichoke dip for dinner!

Chicken stuffed with Zucchini and Mozzarella

Bren and I got some amazing organic chicken breasts from Hillside, so I used them to make one of my favorite chicken recipes of all time. This is a classic Skinny Taste recipe from way back – I’ve made this a ton, and every time I’m reminded of how much I love it. Instead of a traditional egg wash to adhere the breadcrumbs, a mix of lemon juice and EVOO is used, and honestly, it makes such an amazing difference in flavor. Working with raw chicken always skeeves me out, but I just steel myself, because the end result of this recipe is totally worth it. 

CHICKEN STUFFED WITH ZUCCHINI AND MOZZARELLA (serves 4, recipe adapted from Skinny Taste)
– 1.5 lbs chicken breasts, thinly sliced 
– 2 zucchini, grated (leave skin on, but wash these well before you do!) 
– 1/3 C. shredded mozzarella
– 1/3 C. shredded fresh parmesan
– 3/4 C. seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
– 1 tbsp Herbed Butter
– 4 cloves chopped garlic
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1 tbsp EVOO
– Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
– Olive oil non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Rinse chicken, then arrange everything so you don’t find yourself with chicken-y hands and needing to grab something out of a cupboard.


3. Heat butter over medium. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, approx. 90 seconds.


4. Add shredded zucchini, 1/4 C. shredded fresh parm, and stir to combine. Add a little salt & pepper to taste, then cook for approx 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, add the mozzarella and mix to combine.


5. Add a thin layer of the zucchini/parm/mozz mixture to coat one side of each chicken cutlet (season chicken cutlets first), then roll each cutlet.

6. Dip each rolled chicken cutlet in the lemon/EVOO mix, then in the breadcrumbs/parm mix. Place seam-side down in a baking dish lightly coated with EVOO. When all of these are rolled, lightly spray them each with the olive oil cooking spray (this will make them a little more golden).

7. Bake 25-30 minutes, then enjoy. We had this with my new favorite salad, zucchini ribbons with lemon, basil and toasted almonds.


Orzo with Chicken, Spinach, Tomatoes, Onions & Feta

This is one of the quickest and most delicious go-to recipes I have. I loooove orzo, if only because it makes me feel like I’m getting away with eating pasta, because it’s not in traditional noodle form. Add some spinach and chicken? A balanced meal in no time flat. This is great hot or cold.

ORZO WITH CHICKEN, SPINACH, TOMATOES AND FETA (serves 4 as a side)
– Half a box of orzo
– Shredded cooked chicken, approx. 2 cups
– 4 cups spinach
– Halved cherry tomatoes, approx. 1 cup
– Half a vidalia onion, diced
– 1 Tbsp butter
– 1 Tbsp EVOO
– kosher salt and pepper
– 1 cup crumbled feta (or Parmesan, if you don’t like feta)
1. Cook the orzo according to package directions. You can do the rest of this while it’s boiling.
2. In a large sautee pan, melt butter and EVOO together over medium heat.


3. Dice the onion, then add to the butter & EVOO. “Sweat” it with a little kosher salt and pepper. Cook approx. 3 minutes, or until softened a bit.


4. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, cook until skins start to blister, stirring frequently.


5. Add the spinach, keep stirring, and turn the heat down to low. You want to start to wilt this down, but the heat from the cooked orzo and the pan should do the trick as is.


6. To the pan, dump in the cooked orzo, stir everything together. Add the shredded chicken and feta (or parm). Mix well. Serve.

…birthday tomorrow!!!


Lightened-up Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Bake

 

Last Saturday was such a tease – almost 60 degrees and sunny – perfect for Scranton’s Parade Day (the second largest parade in the country!). The Irish in this area apparently have some serious pull, because right after Parade Day, the cold came again – snow flurries, winds whipping, etc.  Perfect for some end-of-winter comfort food. This cheesy chicken & broccoli bake was an incredibly rich-tasting meal for how little actually went into it.  I know a lot of these recipes can use a ton of butter, heavy cream, or even a block of Velveeta, but here, butter is used sparingly, and making a little “roux” to start really thickens the sauce on its own. 2% milk and some organic chicken broth combine to make the cheese sauce really deep and flavorful. Also, this takes about fifteen minutes tops to throw together, so you can have a fresh, hot meal on the table in less than an hour. We had this over a little orzo, but pasta would also work, or even quinoa.  

LIGHTENED-UP CHEESY CHICKEN & BROCCOLI BAKE (serves approx. 6)
– 1 lb. chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces
– 12 oz. broccoli florets, steamed until bright green (or frozen, and totally unthawed)

– 2 cups grated cheddar, or cheese of choice
– 4 tbsp. butter
– 3 tsbp. flour
– 1 cup 2% milk
– 1 cup chicken broth
– 2 pinches nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– couple of grinds black pepper
– 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
– EVOO

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. Rub a little olive oil around the base of a casserole dish.

3. Add broccoli & chopped chicken to the casserole dish, mix to combine.
4. Get your “roux” started.  A roux is a thickener for recipes, and also acts as a base for creating a deeper sort of flavor from whatever you’re adding to it. To start, melt 3 tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Then, whisk in 3 tbsp. flour, and continue to whisk while the mixture changes consistency, color, and smell.  It should start to become a golden color, almost a light brown, and smell kind of nutty.

5. At this point, whisk in the milk and chicken broth – Pacific makes a fantastic organic chicken broth in a convenient 4-pack of 1-cup boxes – and raise heat just to a boil, continuing to mix.  
6. Reduce heat to a low bubble, and whisk constantly – approx. 2 minutes.  The mixture will start to feel (and look) thicker.  When it reaches this point, remove from the heat and whisk in nutmeg, salt, & pepper.  

7. Whisk in the cheese.  For this recipe, I used 2 Laughing Cow Babybel  cheddar cheeses, and 3 of their Bonbel mini cheeses.  It’s up to you whatever cheese you’d like to use, though!
8. Pour cheese mixture over the chicken and broccoli mix in the casserole dish, stir well to combine and coat.

9. In a saucepan, melt the remaining tbsp. of butter.  When melted, add the cup of panko breadcrumbs, and stir to cover the breadcrumbs with the butter.
10. Evenly top the broccoli/chicken/cheddar mix with the breadcrumbs.   

11. Bake at 350 for approx. 30 – 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  (Optional) Ten minutes before this is done, top with a little more grated cheese, and let melt on top of the casserole.
12. Let cool a bit, serve over orzo/pasta/quinoa, and enjoy. 



Avocado Chicken Salad – No Mayo!


In the last post I mentioned that I’ve made some of my favorite chicken salads with avocado as a substitute for mayo, so I thought I would post that recipe this time around.  This, again, is a super easy recipe – very light and flavorful, and really healthy too.  It’ll keep for a day or two, but it’ll probably be gone before then!

AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD (makes approx. 2 servings)
– Shredded cooked chicken, approx. 2 cups
– 1 avocado, cubed
– juice of 1 lime (a Rosle Citrus Reamer works great for this)  
– 1 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped
– 2 scallions, chopped

1. Cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, and dice it.  Add to a bowl and mash roughly with a fork to break it up a bit.


2. Once the avocado is mashed, add the cilantro, lime juice, scallions, and kosher salt/pepper (a pinch of each to start – then add more to taste).  You want to kind of make a guacamole base, and then add the chicken to it. 



3. Add the shredded chicken to the mix, then stir to combine.


4. Taste, season, then taste again.  Delicious!

Chicken, Black Bean, Kale, Roasted Butternut Squash, & Avocado Enchiladas


Say you have friends over on Monday, and you make an enormous roasted chicken. Then let’s say you have a ton of leftovers, since apparently an 8 lb. roast chicken is way too much for 4 people. And let’s also say that you would like Mexican food, but not turkey tacos, since although they are delicious, you make them all the time.  

Enchiladas??  Okay.

These were so tasty, and so filling, and I was able to convince myself that the kale, squash, and avocado made them healthy (enough). I thought the roasted butternut squash might add too much sweetness, but it ended up acting as sort of a binder for the filling, and lending just a little bit of flavor. This recipe uses a  tomatillo sauce that I found in the store, so if anyone has a tomatillo recipe they love, I’m all ears. These keep, and reheat, really well. I think they might actually even be good cold.

CHICKEN, BLACK BEAN, KALE, ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH & AVOCADO ENCHILADAS (makes 7 enormous enchiladas)

– 1 lb. shredded chicken
– 2 cups kale, “ribs” removed and roughly chopped
– 1 15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1/2 roasted butternut squash
– 1 small avocado, diced
– Mexican cheese – I was able to find a small wheel of “quesadilla cheese” in the grocery store which was perfect
– 2 cups tomatillo sauce
– Smaller-size flour tortillas
– 1 small onion, diced
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– kosher salt or Herbamare
– Fresh-squeezed lime juice
– Sour cream, for topping

1. Roast your butternut squash. This is really easy but takes a little time. First, heat the oven to 400. The just take the whole squash, with a couple of holes poked into it, into the oven for about 15 minutes.  The squash will soften, and make cutting it a slightly less terrifying experience.
2. After 15 minutes, cut off the bottom of the squash, then cut it down the middle and scoop out all of the seeds.


3. Rub a little olive oil on the cut side of each half of the squash, then place cut-side down on an ungreased baking sheet.

4. Cook at 400 for approx. 30 – 45 minutes (depending on the size of the squash). Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.  The skin of the squash will peel right off, and you can then cut the squash into chunks for this recipe, or salads, or soup, or whatever.

5. While the squash is roasting, dice an onion.  The easiest way to do this is to cut the onion in half, then make vertical cuts along the onion’s natural lines.  When you then cut the onion, it will dice itself naturally.


6. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tsbp EVOO, and when hot, cook the onion until soft. 

7. Add the rinsed and drained black beans, chopped kale, and chicken. Stir to combine.
8. Add about 1/2 C. of the tomatillo sauce to the bean/kale/chicken/onion mixture for some flavor. Taste and adjust seasoning.

9. When the mixture is cooked, add the roasted squash and the avocado. Stir gently to combine.

10 Lower oven heat to 375.  In a microwave, heat the tortillas (4 at a time) in paper towels, for approx. 45 seconds.

11. Spread approx. 1/2 C. of the tomatillo sauce over the bottom of a large baking pan.


12. Assemble your enchiladas – spoon filling into the middle of a warm enchilada, grate some mexican cheese over the filling, and squeeze a little lime juice over it as well.  Roll up the enchilada and place in the baking pan seam-side down.

13. Step and repeat.

14. When all the enchiladas are in the baking pan, pour the remaining cup of tomatillo sauce over the top of them, then top with approx. 1/2 C. of shredded Mexican cheese.

15. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for approx. 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

16. Serve with lime wedges, sour cream, salsa, etc. Ole.

Perfect Chicken

Cooking chicken in a pan was always kind of tough for me – I used to worry about undercoooking it, then overcooking it, then practically burning it until it was either way too tough or dry – until I discovered this technique.  It’s so hands-off it’s ridiculous, gives the chicken a perfect coat of flavor and “kick”, and leaves it juicy and tender, every time. 

PERFECT CHICKEN (adapted from The Kitchn) (serves 2-4)
– 1.5 lbs chicken breasts, cut into strips, or chicken strips
– 1/4 C. Flour
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– Chopped fresh herbs (thyme, tarragon, rosemary, sage, etc.)
– 1 tsp. dijon mustard (optional)
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1/2 tbsp. butter
– Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness, then season with salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg, then combine herbs and mustard, if using, into mixture.

3. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the chicken with the egg/herb/mustard mixture, then lightly dredge in the flour.

4. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat. When hot, add the chicken and cook for approx. 1 minute to sear and brown them on one side.

5. Flip the chicken breast strips over, then turn the heat to low.  Put the lid on the pan, set the timer for 10 minutes, and walk away.

6. After those 10 minute have passed, turn the heat off (don’t take the lid off the pan throughout this process – it’s tempting, but you just have to have faith in the end result…and there’s a life metaphor somewhere in there) and leave the chicken breasts covered in the pan for another 10 minutes.


7. When those 20 total minutes are up, remove the lid and check to make sure the chicken is cooked throughout (it will be). The chicken should be seared and golden, tasty, moist, and flavorful. For all of you who’ve struggled with cooking chicken in a pan like I did, this is a game-changer. Enjoy.

Perfect chicken with Kale, Carrot, and White Bean Blend


French Onion Chicken


I’ve had an aversion to cooking with chicken thighs since a recipe gone wrong a couple of years ago. When I read about this recipe, though – chicken thighs spiked with dijon mustard, mixed with deeply caramelized onions and topped with a bubbling gruyere – I figured it was time to put them back into the mix. This recipe ended up being one of the tastiest, most deliciously reheated dinners (and lunches) we’ve had in a while.

FRENCH ONION CHICKEN (serves approx. 4)

– 2 large vidalia onions, sliced into thin half-rounds
– 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
– 1/2 c. grated Gruyere
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 2 garlic cloves, sliced
– 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
– 1 & 1/2 c. beef broth
– 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
– 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
– Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Caramelize your onions. This, if done properly, will take upwards of 45 minutes. Slate had a cute article about browning your onions a couple of months ago: Why Recipe Writers Lie About How Long It Takes To Caramelize Onions, and you can cut down the time on these if you’re in a hurry, but if you can, try to take the full 45 minutes to caramelize the onions.  You can even do this a day or 2 ahead, and then reheat them.


2. Melt the butter and olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, then add the onions and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir, stirring occasionally, for up to 45 minutes.

3. When onions are a rich golden brown color, add the sliced garlic and chopped rosemary, then stir to combine.


4. Add 1 C. beef broth slowly, stirring the pan to scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom. Turn heat down to a simmer and let stand for 5 minutes, or until slightly reduced.  Take onions off the heat and set aside.

5. While the onions are caramelizing, heat another pan over medium-high heat. Pat chicken thighs dry and season with kosher salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pan and sear to brown the chicken, approx. 3 minutes on each side. When browned, remove from pan and set aside.

6. Add the remaining 1/2 C. beef broth the pan that just held the chicken.  Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom, then whisk in the balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Simmer for approx. 5 minutes or until reduced.
6. Heat oven to 325.

7. Put the browned chicken thighs over the onions in the dutch oven. Pour the beef broth/vinegar/dijon mixture over this, then place a lid on the dutch oven and bake at 325 for 30 minutes.


8. After 30 minutes, remove chicken from the oven, and turn the oven to broil.  Sprinkle gruyere cheese over the dish, then return to the oven and broil for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Chicken topped with gruyere, before melting it.
We thought this was fantastic – it was all I could do not to drink the leftover sauce. Completely delicious and definitely added to the rotation!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.