Pickle-Brined Chicken Tenders

If you’re a fan of Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches, you’re going to flip over these pickle-brined chicken tenders.  Because that is exactly what they tasted like to me.  Now, if you ask for your chicken sandwich without pickles, I’m rolling my eyes.

Big Guy and I go through quite our fair share of dill pickles.  And at any given moment there are at least 5 jars of something pickled in our fridge.  (Current count:  6)  And I always hate pouring the leftover pickle juice down the drain once the last pickle is eaten.  But now you don’t have to throw away your pickle juice.  Instead, use it as a brine for your chicken.

The chicken is brined for 8 hours and then completely dried off.  Dip it into the egg mixture and then in the breadcrumb-panko mixture (I used gluten-free of both).  Spray with cooking spray or EVOO and bake at 425 degrees (10 minutes on the first side, turn and then 6 more minutes).

The end result is everything.  Crispy chicken tenders that have the faintest pickle flavor.  They are out of this world.

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I served the chicken tenders with some sautéed okra from our garden as well as some gorgeous watermelon radishes that I roasted.

I felt like a kid eating chicken tenders (cannot remember the last time I ate tenders) and it made me crave a Chick-fil-A sandwich like WHOA.

Pickles – fan or not?

Collard Green-Quinoa Wraps

After the weekend we had (hello, wine), I could not wait for a nutritious and veggie-filled dinner on Monday.  Collards are known for being tough and fibrous, but when soaked in warm water, they become the perfect swap for a flour tortilla or wrap.

The collards are filled with a Mediterranean-inspired mixture of quinoa, garlic hummus, dill, feta cheese, red onion, olives, plus a little salt and pepper.  The wrap is then finished off with a sprinkling of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers.

collardwraps

You could totally play with the flavor profiles by switching out the flavor of hummus (roasted red pepper would be awesome!), changing up the cheese (mmm, goat cheese) or adding some different herbs (cilantro for a Mexican-inspired wrap).

Collards:  Yay or Nay?

Simple Flaky Crab Cakes

The past several days have been the most perfect way to kick-off the summer season.  Nothing makes my heart happier than time with my family as well as some salt air and sunshine.  I wasn’t quite ready to pack up the truck this morning and head back.  We took long walks, we sipped mimosas, we laughed and we completely relaxed.  The beach is truly my happy place.

On our way out of town, we stopped by our favorite little seafood shack (Island Seafood Company) to pick up some lump crab meat.  I’ve had crab cakes on my mind for several weeks and they turned out better than expected.

The best part about these crabs cakes is the ratio of crab to breadcrumbs.  One pound of crab to four tablespoons of bread crumbs.  These crab cakes were packed with delicious crab cakes.  Along with the breadcrumbs, the cakes had egg, fresh herbs from the garden, a little mayo, lemon zest and pepper.  The crab cakes were cooked on the stovetop with a little butter and oil for a crispy exterior and tender crab cake.

We served the crab cakes on top of a spring salad with a buttermilk-herb dressing that was light and bright with a little zing from the buttermilk.

crabcakes

The perfect end to a long weekend!  I hope you all had a lovely Memorial Day weekend.  I can’t believe it’s almost June.

 

Chicken Thighs with Ginger-Sesame Glaze + Asparagus with Sesame & Citrus Vinaigrette

The next couple of weeks are cray-zeeeee.  Fun but crazy.  There’s going to be a lot of go-go-go-ing.  And I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one.  For those of you with kids in school, well, summer is right around the corner.  And for those of you with little ones, well, life always seems crazy.  And for those of you without children, the start of the summer more often than not brings about a jam-packed social calendar.

So regardless of which category you fall in – this easy, 20-minute dinner is the ticket to ease your weeknight, dinner worries.  You can mix together the glaze in the morning and then all you have to do come dinner time is warm up the grill pan and pull together the asparagus.  

The glaze is a mixture of green onions, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and sambal oelek.  Basically the glaze = flavor.  The chicken thighs are marinated in half of the mixture while the other half is saved for glazing the chicken before serving.

The asparagus are simply roasted and then tossed with orange segments, a little fresh orange juice, sesame oil, salt, pepper and then sprinkled with sesame seeds.

I loved the the brightness that the orange juice and pieces brought to a salty, savory and slightly spicy dinner.

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So good!  So flavorful!

Let the craziness begin….

Flattened 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.

flattenedchicken

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.

garlicchicken

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.

Pasta with Spinach-Avocado Sauce

I am still thinking about this bowl of pasta.

It was that good.

Not only that but it seriously took less than 20 minutes to prepare.  Letting the water come to a boil took the most time.  So if you can boil water, you can make pasta with spinach-avocado sauce.  Oh, and it’s a gorgeous dinner that simply perfect for the start of Spring.

greenpasta

I seriously just had a moment of silence while looking at the picture of deliciousness.

I used {gluten-free} rigatoni instead of spaghetti because it’s what I had in the pantry.  But I really loved how the nooks and crannies in the pasta held on to the pasta sauce.  But I honestly think any noodle would work.

For the sauce, simple throw all the ingredients in a food processor and let it whirl.  See, I told you it was easy.  The sauce includes spinach, white beans, EVOO, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, garlic, an avocado plus a little pasta water.

Once the pasta is finished cooking, toss it with the sauce and then top with chopped tomato, nuts (I used pistachios) and a few more baby basil leaves.

Almost too pretty to eat.

Almost.

Because we had no problem digging in.  And we were more than impressed with each and every bite.