Chicken Spaghetti

Sometimes, the name of a dish alone is enough to pique your interest to want to try it.

This, however, is not one of those times.

Just kidding.

I actually had a version of Chicken Spaghetti about 4 months ago, and was absolutely mortified when I found out what goes into making it.

Seriously.

Talk about unhealthy … processed cheese, canned soup, canned broth…….. no how and no way.

So I did a leeeetle bit of experimenting, combining several different recipes, and voila:

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Yes I know – worst picture ever.

But don’t pay attention to that. Pay attention instead to the fact that this was made with homemade béchamel sauce, real cheese, pasta, and assorted vegetables.

Deeeee-licious.

One thing I’ve learned with baked pasta dishes, though, is that you should always always ALWAYS make more sauce than you think you need. And thin that sauce out with additional milk. Otherwise, it gets too dry and gummy and then no one wants to eat it.

Including me. 

However, as proof that this was really good, here is the same dish after dinner:

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Granted, Alexander and his 15 year old boy metabolism did 80% of the damage.

Chicken Spaghetti – adapted from several sources on the internet

  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 lb thin pasta, cooked for about 4 minutes (or half the recommended cooking time)
  • 3 cups béchamel sauce, thinned with 1/2 to 1 cup additional milk (see below)
  • 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese (or any cheese, really)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients (reserving one cup of cheese for the top) and pour into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese, and bake at 375 degrees until bubbling around the edges and lightly browned on top – about 30 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce 

5 tbs. butter
4 tbs. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 tsp black pepper
Directions

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the milk slowly to the butter/flour mixture, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring to a full boil, then remove from heat. Season with pepper, and set aside until ready to use. Thin with additional milk if the sauce gets too thick.

 

 

Indoor Jerk Chicken

Sabrina and I have been on our own this past week, since Alexander is in Florida and J is working in NY (lucky devil), so she and I have had free rein to kick up our heels, paint the town red, and stay out till dawn.

Yeah right.

Truthfully, we took the time to visit the Texas State History Museum, had lunch downtown at a food truck she saw on TV, have completed lots of art projects, and caught up on our movie-watching.

And gone to bed early every night.

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Clearly we are out of control….

So with all of our dinner options, we have been tossing around multiple ideas (strangely, going out to eat wasn’t one of them), and made these pork chops one night last week…

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Although I was concerned that the sauce would be too spicy, it was perfect – and truthfully, I really liked how fast everything came together. We will definitely be making this again.

Indoor Jerk Chicken – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbs. packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. ground allspice (I used half this amount, since I don’t care too much for allspice)
  • 2 tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbs. lime juice
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil, plus more for grill
  • 2 bone-in pork chops (or chicken)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
In a food processor, puree chile, scallions, garlic, thyme, brown sugar, allspice, soy sauce, lime juice, and oil. In a large zip-top bag, combine chops with paste. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day).
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-low. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Grill chops, covered, turning often to prevent charring, until cooked through, 20-25 minutes

Chicken Tinga Tacos

I had a super-colossal problem with this sauce.

The problem being, I couldn’t stop eating it.

For real. 

I kept dipping my tortilla chips into it, and pretty soon, I was too full to eat an actual taco. So…..being the practical mother that I am, I did the sensible thing.

I told Alexander to eat it.

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Chicken Tinga Tacos -adapted from Serious Eats

1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 cup medium diced white onion
2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 large tomatillo, husk removed, rinsed, and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin
One (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes
2 tbs. roughly chopped chipotles plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from one (7-ounce) can
1/2 light beer
1 bay leaf
Warm corn tortillas, tomatillo salsa, onion, cilantro, grated cotija cheese, and llime wedges for serving
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs skin-side down and cook until well browned, about 6 minutes. Flip thighs and continue to cook until other side is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving fat in pan, and set aside. Add onions and garlic to Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add tomatillo and cook until browned around the edges, about 4 minutes. Add oregano and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, chipotle, and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
Using a stick blender, puree sauce until smooth. Stir in beer and bay leaf, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Nestle chicken thighs in sauce, reduce to a simmer, and cook until meat registers 165°F in thickest part of thigh on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer chicken to a plate and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove sauce from heat and discard bay leaf.
Pull chicken meat into strips, discarding skin, any large pieces of fat, and bones. Stir chicken into sauce and cook over medium heat until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Spoon chicken into warm tortillas and top with tomatillo salsa, onion, cilantro, and cotija cheese. Serve with lime wedges.

Slow Cooker Philly Style Chicken Sandwiches

You know I’m on this “make as many things as I can with my slow cookers” kick these days, right? Betwixt and between running the posse around (side note: Sabrina actually took her drivers’s ed classes – hooray!), and going back and forth to the ranch, my time is…….well, in short supply.

So when Sabrina mentioned that she was going to have a group of her friends over last week to study for their Chemistry final, I figured that was another prime opportunity to try out a new slow cooker recipe that I’d recently saved from my blog feed.

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And this did not disappoint us at all. Although really, how can you go wrong with juicy seasoned chicken, smothered in cheese and perched on top of a toasted roll?

Short answer: you can’t.

Slow Cooker Philly Style Chicken Sandwiches – adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  • 1 tsp paprika (regular or smoked)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion or garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and sliced into half moons (I forgot to add these, I wish I hadn’t..)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup beer (lighter is better in this recipe)
  • Sliced provolone
  • Whole wheat hoagie buns

Lightly grease a 5-quart (or similar sized) slow cooker insert with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the paprika, pepper, onion or garlic powder, coriander, red pepper flakes and thyme.

Place the onions in the bottom of the slow cooker, and lay the chicken on top of the onions. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the chicken, and pour the beer carefully around the edges.

Cook on low for 2 hours until the chicken is tender (over cooking the chicken may make it a bit dry so only cook it until the chicken is cooked through). Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred into pieces. Set aside.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions to a plate. Pour out all the liquid into a bowl or liquid measure.

Place the chicken and onions back in the slow cooker and toss. Pour in enough liquid to keep the chicken moist (but not soggy) – about 1/4 cup to start and add as needed. Keep the slow cooker on warm or low until ready to serve.

Toast the buns under the oven broiler. Place chicken and peppers on each half of a bun and top with Provolone cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and slightly bubbly. Serve warm.

Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping

You know, I’m reasonably certain that I’ve made (and posted) chicken pot pie before.

I suppose I should have cross-checked that information before I opened my mouth.

Or put it in writing.

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Alas, a quick search of my site has confirmed that I have not, in fact, made or posted a chicken pot pie before now.

strange

Anyway, with this crazy winter-like weather we’ve had over the past few days, I seized the moment (and the fact that we had company) and made this the other night. What goes better on a cold, wretchedly thunderstormy evening than a big bowl of warm, comforting pot pie?

This was more than just good. It seriously was one of the best pot pies I’ve ever had. In fact, I’m waiting for J to come home so we can demolish the leftovers.

I made encouraged the posse eat the leftover chili, just so there is more for us.

I probably shouldn’t have admitted that.

Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping – adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Filling
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
10 oz cremini mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons minced parsley, divided
3/4 cup frozen baby peas

Crumble Topping
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used buttermilk)

To cook the chicken: Add chicken and broth to a Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Cover and bring to a simmer, then continue cooking for about 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer will register 160-165 F). Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a large heatproof measuring cup and set aside for later. Set the Dutch oven back on the stove top (no need to wash).

Preheat oven to 450 F, with a rack in the upper third. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add the butter, and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal – the largest pieces of butter should be no bigger than peas. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, then add the heavy cream and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened. Crumble the mixture into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the topping just begins to brown. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and set aside. (Maintain the oven temperature.)

To make the filling: Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the Dutch oven you used earlier. Set over medium-high heat, and when the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrot, and pepper. Cooking, stirring a few times, until the vegetables are just barely tender, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and return to a large bowl. When the vegetables are ready, transfer them to the bowl with the chicken.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the same Dutch oven and place over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms. Cover the pot and cook, stirring a few times, for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their liquid. Take the cover off the pan and mix in the tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking (uncovered) for another 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have browned and their liquid has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the chicken and veggies.

Add the butter to the same Dutch oven you’ve been using. Allow to melt, then add the flour. Cook, stirring almost constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually add the chicken broth you reserved earlier as well as the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a simmer – while you do, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Continue simmering for about 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, then remove the pot from the heat, and mix in the lemon juice and two tablespoons of the parsley.

Add the chicken and veggies as well as the peas to the sauce in the Dutch oven, and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 13×9-inch baking dish. Distribute the crumble topping evenly over the filling, then bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until the filling bubbles and the topping browns. Garnish the dish with the remaining tablespoon of parsley then serve.

Some really great dinner recipes…and two desserts

If you remember (and I’m quite sure your memory is much better than mine these days), a few weeks ago I mentioned that I have been cooking and baking every.single.night, but also have been seriously lax in procuring photographs of the finished product.

And I just realized, seriously, that we have not eaten out in three weeks. I even asked the posse for verification.

They verified.

Astounding.

Well, I finally got my act together and made my list.

I even checked it twice :)

Vegetable Strata – gourmet magazine via epicurious

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion (I used shallots)
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • enough Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes to measure 9 cups (about 1 1/2 loaves)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Tabasco to taste

In a large skillet cook the onion, the scallion, and the mushrooms in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the bell peppers pepper to taste, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the peppers are tender. Arrange half the bread cubes in a buttered large shallow (4 1/2-quart) baking dish, spread half the vegetable mixture over them, and sprinkle half the Cheddar and half the Parmesan over the vegetables. Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the cheeses, top them with the remaining vegetables, and sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, the mustard, the Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste, pour the egg mixture evenly over the strata, and chill the strata, covered, overnight. Let the strata stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is puffed and golden and cooked throug

Sesame Noodles with Chile Oil and Scallions – Bon Appetit

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped (I used regular black peppercorns)
  • 12 ounces spaghettini
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12-15 minutes; let chili oil cool in saucepan.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.

Whisk tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2-3 tablespoons chili oil (depending on desired heat) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja – serious eats

  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup sliced, pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive brine

Season meat generously with pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the meat in a single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer meat to slow cooker.Add broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, red pepper, garlic, and cumin to slow cooker. Season with pepper and stir to combine. Cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Shred meat using two forks. Add olives and olive brine and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with pinto beans and rice.

Mario Batali’s Chicken Saltimbocca – Food and Wine

  • Eight 3-ounce chicken cutlets, pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • Ground pepper
  • 16 sage leaves
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vin santo (I used white wine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the cutlets with pepper and place 2 sage leaves on each cutlet. Wrap each cutlet in a slice of prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in flour, dusting off the excess; transfer to a baking sheet.
Set a rack over a baking sheet. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and chicken.
Add the vin santo, stock and lemon juice to the skillet and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, 4 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Pour half of the sauce into a bowl. Add half of the chicken to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until hot, 2 minutes. Season with pepper; stir in half of the parsley. Transfer the chicken to plates and pour the sauce on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce, chicken, and parsley.

Dark Chocolate Brownies – Pioneer Woman
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, whisking occasionally until smooth and melted. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Stir in sugar and vanilla until just combined. One at a time, stir in the eggs. Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir just until combined. Pour batter into a greased 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking pan. (Square pan will result in thicker brownies.) Spread to even out the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it is overly gooey/messy, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes.Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into small squares.

 

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 8 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour Bundt pan; set aside. Whisk baking powder and 3 cups flour in a medium bowl. Combine sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl; using your fingertips, rub together until lemon sugar is well blended.
Add 1 cup butter to lemon sugar. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, until mixture is light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes longer.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake cake until golden brown and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; remove pan and let cool completely.

Chicken Tamale Casserole

I have mixed feelings about this casserole.

Wait…let me explain.

I enjoyed it.

The posse and J? Not so much.

I believe the cornbread base was the issue – because the pan I used was not 9 x 13, therefore it was much thicker than it should have been. So the moral to the story here is to:

A. Use the correct pan size

or

B. Bake the base longer.

Oh, and definitely make the cornbread base from scratch – because I found it to be too sweet using a boxed mix.

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Chicken Tamale Casserole - adapted from Taste and Tell

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 (14 3/4 ounce) can cream style corn
1 (8.5 ounce) box corn muffin mix
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine 1/4 cup cheese and milk, eggs, cumin, chili powder, corn, corn muffin mix and green chiles in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into the prepared dish. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Continue to bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and cilantro, if desired.

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

I realized something interesting this morning.

My backyard is an out of control mess.

I know this to be a bona fide fact, because Daisy is tracking pine needles all through the house. I am literally finding them everywhere…. her bed, the sofa, under the dining room table, and in my futon chair (which she isn’t supposed to be on)…

sneaky pup…..

So, utilizing my enormous capacity for rational thought, I have come to the conclusion that I have several options:

1. Don’t let Daisy out

2. Shave all her fur off so nothing will stick to her

3. Clean up the yard.

I think option #3 is my best bet.

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Chicken Tikka Masala – adapted from epicurious

For the chicken:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 to 4 breast halves total)
  • 1/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbs. grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups canned tomato purée
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional sprigs for garnish

For serving:

  • Naan (Indian flatbread)

Marinate the chicken:
Use a fork to prick the chicken breasts all over on both sides. Arrange the chicken breasts on a large sheet of plastic wrap, spacing them apart from one another, then cover with a second large sheet of plastic wrap. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin, beat the chicken until the breasts are an even 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Add the pounded chicken, and rub the marinade over the meat. Set the chicken aside while you make the sauce.

Make the sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together the coriander, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, and grated ginger. In a heavy, wide 4-quart pot or sauté pan over moderately high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until light brown and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate then stir in the spice and ginger mixture. Add the tomato purée, water, and milk,and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to gently simmer the sauce, uncovered, until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. DO AHEAD: The sauce can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to 3 days.

While sauce is simmering, cook chicken:
Heat a heavy 11- to 12-inch griddle or skillet over moderately high heat until very hot and add 1/2 tablespoon of peanut oil. Working in two batches, cook the chicken breasts, turning them a few times and lowering the heat if the chicken chars too quickly, until just cooked through and browned well on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Add the chicken to the simmering sauce and continue to gently simmer it, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the black pepper and chopped cilantro and serve.

Spicy Orange Chicken

So Sabrina and I had an interesting conversation yesterday.

Well, with her, just about every conversation is amusing and interesting. She possesses a uniquely sharp, almost biting wit – combined with a healthy dose of sarcasm that always keeps things engaging and lively.

Adults appreciate it.

Other teenagers….not so much.

Their loss.

Anyway, we were out running a few errands and happened to cross over the Las Vegas Strip – and as we passed the boulevard, with all the tourists milling about and blazing neon lights, I said, out loud, “I certainly won’t miss this when we move away”.

She looked at me for a second, and said, “Well, there might be a few things that I’ll miss. I mean, come on Mom, look around. Vegas has so much to offer.”

I tried to maintain a poker face as I held my breath…..and waited. Where could she possibly be headed with this dialogue?

After she milked the dramatic pause for a few minutes, she said, “Nah, I got nothing for you Mom. Although Caesar’s Palace is fun to walk around, there are great malls everywhere.”

And then she burst out laughing. “I scared you, didn’t I?”

I know where you sleep kid…….

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Spicy Orange Chicken – adapted from barbara bakes.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tbs. orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, optional

  1. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot heat the oil, then add the chicken and stir fry for 5-6 minutes until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together chicken stock, honey, garlic, orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Pour the sauce into the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Add chicken to the skillet and stir to coat with the sauce.
  4. Serve topped with toasted sesame seeds, if desired.

Greek Style Chicken with Tzatziki

It’s always so groovy when things work out the way you want them to…. you know, when everything just fits together and harmonizes. It makes life so insouciant and stress free.

Stress free…… that’s the way I like it.

That’s the way, uh huh uh huh, I like it, uh huh uh huh…….

Yep – it’s going to be a great day.

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Although this dinner wasn’t very photogenic (read: I wanted to eat, not take pictures),  it was so incredibly flavorful and delicious that it really doesn’t matter.

And wait until the kids see what I have planned for tonight.

Greek Style Chicken – adapted from Martha Stewart

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 pounds total)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus juice from 1 whole lemon
2 tsp. fresh chopped oregano
Fresh ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix together the lemon zest, juice, oregano and black pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for several hours if able. Cook chicken in a large saute pan over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes per side until cooked through. Serve with sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce – adapted from Ina Garten

1 pint Fage Greek yogurt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1 tbs. white wine vinegar
2 tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh dill
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place the yogurt in a large bowl. Grate the cucumber and squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, and black pepper. You can serve it immediately, or allow the tzatziki to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature.