laFlattened Chicken with Almond & Paprika Vinaigrette + Manchego Grits

Good morning!  I’m hoping that all the rain today means that we’ll have a nice and sunny Saturday.

We enjoyed this chicken dinner last Friday night and it’s definitely worth sharing.  There are so many flavors and textures going on – the perfect way to jazz up “basic” chicken breasts.

The chicken breasts that I used were quite large so instead of pounding them thin, I cut them in half to make cutlets.  The chicken is then seasons with salt and pepper and seared in a  little olive oil until cooked through – about 3-4 minutes on each side.

In that same pan, a warm vinaigrette is made chicken stock, garlic, chopped almonds, lemon zest, lemon juice, smoked paprika and Dijon mustard.

While the chicken cooked, prepare the grits.  I used the stovetop method and 5-minute grits.  Either follow the recipe or saute a little chopped onion in the olive oil.  Once softened, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Slowly add the grits and whisk until thickened.  Before serving, stir in grated Manchego cheese, salt and pepper. The chicken is served over the grits  with the vinaigrette spooned on top and then finished with chopped green olives and fresh parsley.

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I loved the crunch of the almonds, the herbaceous parsley and the burst of brininess from the olives.  And well, grits are always a good idea.

Enjoy this Spanish-inspired dinner any night of the week.  And in case you were wondering, a Sonoma Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with this dinner.

Slow Cooker Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Some days are busier than others.  And those days are when I’m glad I decided to let my slow cooker do all most of the work.  The hardest part about a slow cooker dinner – smelling it all.day.long.

While there are some slow cooker recipes that require you to sear or saute before adding it to the slow cooker, this is not one of them.

That’s right – you simply mix, add all the ingredients to the base of the slow cooker and let it roll.

The end result is melt-in-your-mouth chicken with tender potatoes and the most mellow, delectable garlic ever. The platter is finished with a squeeze of lemon for brightness and some parsley for a pop of freshness.

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The only changes I made to the recipe was not using white wine (instead I used 1/4 cup more of chicken stock), I used brown rice flower instead of all-purpose, and I used baby potatoes instead of red potatoes.

Don’t let the 40 cloves of garlic scare you.  Unless you try to peel 40 cloves.  Use the pre-peeled garlic and trust me when I say they mellow.  After 8 hours in the slow-cooker, the pungent flavor is replaced with the most delicate, butter flavor.

But seriously, don’t peel 40 cloves.  You’ll smell like garlic for 40 days.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Baby Potatoes

Why is it that the simplest of dinners turn out to be some of the most delicious?  Cooking Light has started featuring recipes in the magazine that are just two servings and I find they’re perfect when I don’t need a ton of leftovers.  Not only are there just two of us but when Big Guy is not around for dinner, I definitely don’t need a recipe that serves six.  This chicken dish has a small ingredient list and the “technique” is fool proof.

Start by pre-heating your oven to 500 degrees.  Yes, you want it screaming hot!  While the oven is doing it’s thing, make your mustard mixture (this is where ALL your flavor is).  In the mixture:  olive oil, mustard (Lusty Monk!), fresh herbs (I used thyme and dill), a drizzle of honey and a splash of white wine vinegar (the recipe called for white wine but I am not about to open a bottle on a Tuesday for one tablespoon).

Roast the potatoes for about 10 minutes.  While the potatoes are getting their roast on, sear the chicken for 5 minutes on one side after sprinkling with salt and pepper.  Transfer the chicken to the pan, top with 2 tablespoons of the mustard mixture and bake for 10 more minutes.

Once everything is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, top with the remaining mustard mixture.

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So good!  The chicken is insanely tender and moist, the potatoes have a soft inside but a “snap” on the outside.  And that mustard mixture!  I seriously need to get my hands on another jar of Lusty Monk.

But now I wish there were leftovers…wink wink.

Chicken with Artichoke Pan Sauce

Sometimes I pick a wine to match a recipe and sometimes I pick a recipe to match a bottle of wine I want to open.  Chicken with Artichoke Pan Sauce was chosen because I had a random itch to open a bottle of white wine.  Lately I’ve been leaning towards red wine (or sparkling wine – duh) but I don’t want to lose my love of white wine.

I picked a bottle of Iron Horse Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley and then decided on what I wanted to eat with the wine.  The wine is bright and crisp and I thought it would pair beautifully with the chicken and artichokes with hints of lemon.

The chicken is absolutely divine and we served it over SoCo Farm to Door smashed potatoes so that the sauce could be soaked up and enjoyed.  The potatoes were incredible.  Soft and fluffy, rich and buttery.

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Such a delicious dinner that I would recommend for any night of the week.

Rarely does a chicken dish blow me away like this one.

Add it to your weekly menu – you won’t regret it.

 

 

Basil, Feta, and Quinoa Stuffed Chicken with Carrot “Tabbouleh”

This has to be one of the most flavorful weeknight dinners that I’ve had in a while.  In fact, I’m still thinking about how all the ingredients played a crucial part in the flavor profile of both the chicken and the “tabbouleh.”

The chicken is stuffed with a mixture of feta cheese (feta makes it betta’), a little bit of cream cheese, basil, sweet piquanté red peppers and cooked quinoa.  The peppers are an ingredient I just recently starting cooking with and they add the perfect tang and sweetness.  You can find the peppers jarred with pickles or near the cheese with olives.  I was able to find some fresh ones and I simply adore them.  Don’t leave them out – they are not spicy.

The chicken is seared in a little EVOO in a hot skillet and then finished in the oven.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare your no-cook gluten-free “tabbouleh” salad.  And I dare say this is one of my favorite preparations of carrots.  Ever.

Thanks to Big Guy’s green thumb, I was able to use our homegrown carrots in this salad.  Simply peel the carrots, chop and add to the food processor.  Pulse until they are coarsely chopped.  I went ahead and added in the red onion at this point – hey, one less thing to chop!  Walnuts are added into the food processor and then the carrot mixture is added to a bowl.  The rest of the ingredients include parsley and mint (traditional tabbouleh ingredients) along with sweet golden raisins, cumin, and a dressing of EVOO, white wine vinegar and salt.

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Yes, yes, yes.

I am obsessed with the carrot “tabbouleh” and might have even contemplated having it for breakfast.  It’s THAT good.

Weeknight dinners rarely make me this happy – but seriously, this one deserved a glass of wine!

Mushroom and Chicken Marsala Bowl

In the most recent issue of Cooking Light, there is a feature section that “flips” a few recipes:  more plants, less meat.  The reason for this flip is simple:  American’s eat way too much meat.  In fact, most American’s eat twice the recommended amount of animal protein while on 14% of us are eating enough plants.  {source}

Wait, wait, wait…I’m not turning into a vegetarian.  While I do eat lots of vegetarian meals, I love steak, chicken, fish, pork, BACON.  The “flip” is simply a way to reduce the amount meat and increase the amount of veggies.

Traditional chicken marsala has three times more meat than veggies and after the flip there is three times more veggies than meat.  And instead of serving the chicken and mushrooms over white pasta, this mushroom and chicken marsala is served over a bed of quinoa – a powerhouse of nutrients.

The quinoa is cooked in beef stock (it’s what I had on hand – feel free to use chicken broth) to give even more flavor to the dish.  With the chicken and mushrooms is sautéed spinach, lots of sliced garlic, fresh thyme and a sauce that’s made with beef stock, marsala wine, mustard plus salt and pepper.

The end result was ridiculously satisfying.

Meaty, rich and buttery.

This “flipped” dinner was so delicious I have a feeling you’ll see another edition of “flipped” soon.

Teriyaki Chicken and Carrots with Black Sesame and Ginger

Nothing makes me happier in life than cooking dinner for Big Guy during the week.  I love being in the kitchen and cooking a healthy and delicious meal for us both.

Most days I start cooking dinner before he gets home from work.  I at least like to get the prep work started – cutting up the carrots, marinating the chicken – before he walks through the door.

Some evenings it’s an intensive recipe and takes some time in the kitchen.  Other evenings I keep it simple and the meal takes 15 minutes to prepare.

Big Guy usually walks through the door around 6pm.  I always hear the garage door before I hear him.  And  I make sure the local news channel is turned on (as opposed to what I’d usually be watching…DVRed Rachael Ray or House Hunters) so he can catch up with the happenings of the day before dinner.

I try to have the table set.  But sometimes I leave that chore up to him.  He is always responsible for filling the glasses with water.

Through the clanging of the pots and pans, we catch up on the day.

Sometimes I have more to say than he does.

But he always asks “What’s for dinner?” even if he knows.

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This particular night, teriyaki chicken was on the menu.  Big Guy was pretty excited about this dinner.

The chicken had marinated in a homemade teriyaki sauce of balsamic vinegar, honey, ginger, miso, pepper and mirin for an hour or so before grilled to perfection.  The chicken was cooked perfectly but I should have marinated it longer.  I think 5-6 hours would have been optimal.

On the side, carrots.  I typically eat carrots as a snack so they’re rarely a side dish for dinner.

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I tried to cut the carrots as “matchstick” size as possible.  The carrots don’t need long to cook.  You don’t want mushy carrots.  Sesame and ginger provide so much flavor and I love the flecks of black toasted sesame seeds in the sea of orange.

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An insanely delicious plate brightened up with fresh cilantro and green onions.

And despite wanting to catch up on the day even more, a quiet dinner table means the food hit the spot.