Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

I wanted a chicken dish to go with the yummy yakisoba I was making the other night. I almost made my marinated chicken, but I kept looking around and decided on this recipe instead. I liked it because the peppers and red onion would be colorful on the plate and also provide some vegetables.

I changed the amounts of ingredients on the skewers, but the marinade and glaze are the same as the original recipe, and they were delicious. And definitely use the garnish. It looked really good scattered on top.

The recipe uses mirin, which the author, Jeanette Marie, describes: “Mirin is a form of rice wine that’s commonly used in cooking. … It’s much lower in alcohol content than traditional rice wine and higher in sugar. So, mirin adds a sweet note to the flavor profile of any dish it’s used in. But, it also adds the unique flavor of rice wine.”

Serves 4

SKEWERS
8 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for an hour (the easiest way to do this is to lay them in a rimmed baking sheet filled with water)
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red pepper, cut into large squares
1/2 green pepper, cut into large squares
1/2 red onion, cut into cubes and separated into 2 or 3 layers each

MARINADE
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. mirin
1/2 tsp. sea salt

GLAZE
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 1/2 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. sugar

GARNISH
1 green (salad) onion, thinly sliced on the bias
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (toasted, if you have time)

In medium bowl, mix marinade ingredients. Add chicken cubes and toss to coat. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400F/200C degrees. Thread the chicken, peppers, and onions onto the skewers, alternating chicken and peppers, then chicken and onion, and leaving a small bit of space between each one.

Line a baking sheet with foil, making sure to cover the sides to catch the liquid during cooking. Lay the skewers on top and bake 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

While the skewers are cooking, put the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow to cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the skewers are finished cooking, remove from the oven, place on a serving dish, and brush generously with the glaze. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

A super-delicious crowd-pleaser using just a handful of ingredients and a slow cooker, so it requires very little work.

I have resisted using our slow cooker because it feels a little like cheating. Yes, I know it makes cooking easy and produces wonderful results, and I know I’m being silly. But when I saw this recipe the other day on Family Fresh Meals, it seemed so appetizing and fun that I gave it a go. And it was a total success. We’ll definitely be making this again.

It calls for Italian dressing, which I didn’t have, so I made my own with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, and a generous amount of garlic powder, dried parsley, and dried oregano.

Serves 4-5

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper. Place in the slow cooker.

In a bowl, mix the barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.

Set the slow cooker for 3.5 hours on high. When finished cooking, pull the meat apart with two forks. Serve on lightly toasted brioche buns with cole slaw.

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry

 

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This is a deconstructed chicken pot pie, one that cooks on the stove and doesn’t need to be baked. You just let it simmer until the sauce thickens, and then it’s ready. The puff pastry is the only part that needs to go in the oven, and it’s a nice way to finish the dish, especially with the sprinkling of parsley on top.

The recipe is my version of one printed in Southern Living magazine a few years ago.

Serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs.)
3 cups chicken stock
1 puff pastry sheet, thawed if frozen (1/2 of a 17.3-oz. package)
1 egg, lightly beaten
About 1 tsp. dried parsley
12 oz. frozen peas
3 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 large celery stalk, diagonally sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 4 cooked bacon slices, slightly crumbled

Preheat oven to 400F/200C degrees. Place chicken in a large pot with chicken stock and enough extra water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Turn off the heat, then remove the chicken and let cool. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Unroll the puff pastry sheet and place on parchment, then cut into four squares. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with parsley. Bake on bottom rack for 12-14 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Cook peas according to package directions. Shred the cooled chicken and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until carrots and celery are tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the cream and 2 1/2 cups of reserved stock and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

Stir in peas, cheese, and chicken and cook until mixture is thickened, about 10-20 minutes (watch carefully). Season with salt and pepper. Add bacon toward the end of cooking, if using.

Divide mixture among four shallow bowls (you may have some left over), then top each bowl with a square of puff pastry.

Chicken Korma

kormaThis made-from-scratch curry will fill your kitchen with wonderful smells of fresh ginger, garlic, and onion. And it’s easy — it involves just some chopping, including with a food processor, and simmering in a pot. Make some basmati rice on the side and you have an amazing meal.

The recipe comes from the Food Network, which had it in their “Weeknight Cooking” section. That ought to tell you how simple it is to make. If you love a good curry, then try this and, as you enjoy bite after bite, be impressed by your cooking skills.

One note on the use of chicken thighs. Try to use them, and not chicken breast pieces, if you can. Thigh meat is much more tender when cooked and fits well with the creaminess of the sauce.

Serves 4

1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk (do not shake before using)
1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and quartered
1 Tbsp. curry powder (Madras curry if possible)
Salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup basmati rice
8 oz. thin green beans, trimmed and halved
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)

korma 2

Carefully open the can of coconut milk. The cream will be at the top. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the cream and place in a bowl with the chopped chicken, 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, and a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large, wide pot, lightly toast the almonds over medium-high heat. Occasionally move them around with a spoon as they toast. You’ll know they’re done when you can smell them and see them start to brown. Remove them to a small bowl and reserve the pot.

In a food processor, puree the onion, ginger, garlic, and half the almonds.

korma 3

Heat 2 more tablespoons of coconut cream in the reserved pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion puree and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is mostly dry, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken and remaining coconut cream and milk from the can. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, make the rice. Put 1 1/2 cups of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Add the rice, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and set a timer for 15 minutes. Check the rice once or twice during cooking and give it a stir.

In a bowl, place the green beans with a little water and microwave until bright green, about 2 minutes.

When the chicken and sauce is ready, add the green beans and half the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve over rice, sprinkled with the remaining cilantro and almonds.

Chicken Gumbo

A delicious stew for an autumn day, and very easy to make.

It’s yet ANOTHER recipe I’ve had in my binder for ages. It’s from Parade magazine, the Sunday insert in many newspapers, and it was from the late Sheila Lukins, the magazine’s former food editor and famed author of “The Silver Palate Cookbook.”

That book, and her New York restaurant that inspired it, ushered in a new style of cooking in the late ’70s and early ’80s — one that emphasized flavors and seasonings and was still easy to make. Although this gumbo recipe was printed in the magazine much later, probably around 1995, it is still a great example of that kind of cooking.

I simplified the recipe even further, using rotisserie chicken instead of the chicken she laid out in the recipe. But I’ve included her original instructions for that below, in case you don’t have a rotisserie chicken or you want to make it all from scratch.

The only tough part was taking a nice picture of such a basic dish — gumbo may be delicious, but it’s not elegant — so I have no photo to share. But I hope you’ll try it and see for yourself how wonderful Lukins’ cooking was.

Serves 4

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 green bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups sliced okra, fresh or frozen
1 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded*
14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, juice reserved
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Place oil in a large, heavy pot. Add celery, onion, peppers, and garlic; cook over low heat, stirring, for 10 minutes. Raise heat to medium, add okra and cook, stirring an additional 5 minutes.

Add chicken, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover with reserved tomato juice, making sure that all chicken pieces are covered in liquid (if necessary, add a touch of water to ensure it’s covered).

Simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, until chicken is thoroughly tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in half the parsley. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes longer. If gumbo begins to boil, reduce heat. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Garnish with remaining parsley. If desired, serve over hot rice.

*If not using a rotisserie chicken:
1 chicken, 2 1/2-3 lbs., cut into 8 pieces, wing tips removed
1 tsp. dried mustard
1 tsp. sweet paprika
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground pepper
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Preheat oven to 400F/200C degrees. Combine seasonings in a small bowl and rub over chicken pieces. Place chicken in shallow baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.

Thai Chicken Peanut Satay

This recipe came about because I found some Thai peanut satay sauce on sale at the store. I knew I wanted to serve it with chicken skewers, but I needed some ideas. Improvising with chicken is not something I’m good at.

There are many versions online. Lots of them were for grilled skewers, but I wanted to use the oven. Some used the peanut sauce for basting, but I wanted to use it for dipping. After a lot of searching, I found two chicken skewer recipes from the Food Network (their recipes always work for me!) that I combined to make a perfect easy dinner. One recipe gave me the idea to marinate and the other had the cooking instructions.

Here’s the result. I served this with sesame broccolini (trim stems on the diagonal, parboil, drain, drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, serve hot.)

Serves 4

1 7-oz. jar Thai peanut satay sauce
2 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Large handful of cilantro (fresh coriander)
12-14 long bamboo skewers

For the marinade:
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce (I know it’s not Thai, but it worked)
1/2 cup lime juice
4 Tbsp. agave
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced

Whisk the marinade ingredients together and set aside.

Trim the chicken, then cut into strips. Length doesn’t matter too much, as long as they’re not more than 5 inches or so. You can always put two small strips together on a skewer. Don’t make them too wide — maybe between 1 and 1 1/2 inches.

Whisk the marinade again briefly, then pour into a large bowl. Add the chicken and let marinate 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 1 hour so they don’t burn in the oven. A good idea is to lay them in a rimmed baking pan (which you’ll use for the skewers later) and pour enough water on top to cover them.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C degrees. Remove the bamboo skewers from the pan, empty the water, and line the pan with a sheet of foil.

Thread the chicken strips onto the skewers, leaving space on one end for handling, as with a popsicle stick. Place them on the foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

While they’re cooking, pinch off four cilantro sprigs, chop the rest, and set aside. Pour the satay sauce into small individual serving bowls and stick a cilantro sprig in each. Make the broccolini, if using.

To serve, stack all the skewers on a large plate and sprinkle the cilantro on top. Put the broccolini in a serving bowl. Place both on the table for everyone to help themselves.

Breaded Chicken

This is one of the simplest recipes I know. I actually don’t even need the recipe, which for me is rare. It’s just simple breaded chicken, sauteed in a pan until browned all over. You can use chicken cutlets or chicken tenders, but the key is to use a thin cut of chicken, not a thick chicken breast. If chicken breasts are what you have to work with, then slice them lengthwise to make thinner pieces.

My mom used to make this and I remember helping her by dipping the chicken in the egg and breadcrumbs. My mom said I was “the best” at dipping the chicken, which isn’t really difficult to do, but I still remember it because it made me feel so proud at the time.

You only need a small number of ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand in your kitchen anyway. I’m approximating the amounts below just to give you a general idea of how much to use, but you’ll be able to figure it out yourself in no time.
Chicken
Serves 4

2 eggs
1 cup of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs with your favorite seasonings — try onion powder, dried parsley, and salt and pepper)
Olive oil
4 chicken cutlets (or enough chicken pieces for four people — maybe 8 tenders, or 2 chicken breasts sliced lengthwise)

In a wide bowl, lightly beat the two eggs. Put the breadcrumbs in a second wide bowl and set the two bowls side by side next to the stove.

In a large skillet, heat about 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. As it heats, dip each chicken piece fully in the egg, then dredge it in the breadcrumbs, making sure they’re covered. When the pan is hot, add the chicken pieces and fry until browned on both sides. Add more olive oil as needed while they cook. When they’re done, put them on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.

Moussaka

IMAG1902This dish is easy but takes a very long time to make, so it’s probably best for a Sunday supper or a special meal. You can make it up to two days ahead, if you like, and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it.

IMAG1898To make things a bit easier, I recommend having all the ingredients mise en place before you begin cooking.

Serves 8-10, depending on how large you like your portions

3 medium eggplants, sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 medium baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup olive oil
1 cup flour
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. lean ground meat (lamb or turkey)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
35 oz. canned peeled tomatoes, drained well and chopped (I puncture the tomatoes with my thumb in the colander, then lightly squeeze them to drain them further)
2/3 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream (you can use regular cream or even half-and-half if you want to lighten things a little)

Place the eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium saucepan boil the potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oven to 350F/175C degrees.

Pat the eggplant dry with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 of the oil over high heat. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour; shake off any excess. Add the eggplant to the skillet in batches and fry over high heat, using more of the oil as necessary, until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove and let drain on paper towels.

Add to the skillet about 3 Tbsp. oil and turn the heat to moderate. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the meat and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no trace of pink remains.

Drain the meat if necessary (for turkey, I didn’t have to), then return it to the pan. Stir in the tomato paste, cinnamon, thyme, and pepper. Cook for another minute, stirring to blend the flavors. Tranfer to a large bowl and add the tomatoes, potatoes, and feta and stir well to combine.

Line the bottom and sides of a 5- to 6-quart shallow baking dish (I used a 12×15-inch pan) with eggplant, overlapping them slightly. Reserve some slices for the top.

Spoon the meat mixture into the baking dish. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and cream, then pour it over the meat. Cover with the reserved eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly if you can. (The moussaka can be prepared ahead until this point.)

Bake until the top is nicely browned, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Sauteed Chicken Cutlets with Lemon Sauce

A gourmet-tasting recipe that’s easy to make, great for a weekday night or as an easy way to impress guests. It’s another old one from my cookbook that I’ve never made — I clipped it from the newspaper more than eight years ago. It originally called for turkey cutlets, but I made mine with chicken and served stuffing alongside it to soak up the sauce.

Serves 4 (or 3 hungry people)

16-20 oz. turkey cutlets, or chicken breast cut into wide strips
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium lemons
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch (cornflour)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley (I used dried parsley to save time)

Pound cutlets between plastic wrap/cling film to 1/4-inch thickness. Rub them with salt and pepper.

In a large nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot, then add the cutlets. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden. Transfer to platter and keep warm.

Thinly slice one lemon and place slices in a bowl. From the other lemon, grate 1/2 tsp. zest and squeeze two tablespoons juice, then add both to the bowl. Whisk the cornstarch in the broth, then add to the bowl along with the garlic.

Pour the bowl into the same pan the chicken was cooked in and boil for about 2 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the parsley.

To serve, lay chicken on a plate and pour the sauce on top, making sure to put some lemon slices on each plate as a garnish.

Freezing Chicken Breasts

I just read about a great way to freeze chicken breasts that makes it easier to defrost only the portion you want, rather than the whole pack. The idea is similar to freezing ice cubes in a tray, where you freeze them separately and then take out only the ones you want later. Thanks to The Arnette Table for the idea!

Here it is.