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This winter I have actually been trying some new recipes….and then not photographing them because I just want to eat them immediately.  It almost happened with this chicken vindaloo dish, but I managed to quickly grab the camera and tell Brad to snap a few pictures before we sat down to eat it.

I was in the mood to make something Indian, or Indian inspired, after some friends and I were driving around Cambridge, and ended up driving past Christina’s Spices in Inman Square.  I had never been to the actual spice shop, just the ice cream shop next door, and kind of wanted an excuse to go there.  I’d been trying to get to Penzey’s in Arlington practically forever, but a) actually knew where Christina’s is, and b) it’s kind of easier to go to Cambridge than Arlington from where I live.  And after reading reviews online I knew that they would most likely have the slightly obscure spices that I needed (black mustard seed?  who knew such a thing existed!).  And I was right.  Well, except for the black mustard seed, which they didn’t have, but I used brown and I have no idea what the difference would have been.

This delicious and hearty dish was a bit labor intensive, as Brad had to grind many a spice using a mortar and pestle (from Ikea, so the quality is so-so).  Had I owned a spice grinder that portion of the evening would have taken much less time.  But maybe would have been less authentic.  The sauce is hearty, spicy (but not TOO spicy) and just plain delicious.  So delicious in fact, that I am making this dish again this weekend in celebration of Brad and my father’s birthdays.  Brad turns 30 next week (and we’re going to New York to celebrate, I can’t wait to get out of Boston for a bit!), and my father’s birthday was last weekend.  My mother will make this cake, and now that I am in an ice cream phase, I am trying to figure out what ice cream to make with it.  I’m thinking either vanilla or perhaps a vanilla earl grey lavender ice cream.  We’ll see what happens.

It’s a great dish for entertaining though, as you can make it ahead and just keep it bubbling away on the stove.  Serve over some basmati rice with some naan, and you’ve got a great meal.

 

Chicken Vindaloo

Source: India Snacks

2 teaspoon cumin seeds, whole
1 teaspoon peppercorns, black
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 cinnamon (3 in stick)
1 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds, whole
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, whole
5 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar, light
10 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into; half-rings
6 tablespoon water
1 ginger, fresh (1-inch cube), peeled; and coarsely chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely; chopped (or less)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
2 lb chicken breast (boneless), cut into; bite-sized pieces
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 lb new potatoes, peeled and quartered

Grind cumin seeds, black pepper, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds together in a spice grinder. In a small bowl, combine ground spices, vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. Set aside.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Fry onions, stirring frequently, until they are a rich, dark brown. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and put them in a blender. Turn off the heat, but do not discard the oil. Add about 3 T water (or more if necessary) to the onions and blend until you have a smooth paste. Add this onion paste to the spices in the bowl. This mixture is the vindaloo paste.

Put the ginger and garlic in a blender. Add about 3 T water and blend until you have a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger, garlic paste. Stir until the paste browns slightly. Add the coriander and turmeric. Stir a few seconds. Add the chicken, a little at a time, and brown lightly.

Add the vindaloo paste, tomato sauce and potatoes to the chicken in the saucepan. Stir and bring to a slight boil. Cover the saucepan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender. Serve over rice.

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I’m back!  And I have exciting news!  After a really long, sometimes heartbreaking, job search, I have finally found a new job.  I have been employed the entire time, which I am very thankful for, but after 5 years at my current job it is time to move on.  I’m really excited about the new opportunity, and I start at the beginning of June.  I’m taking a bit of time between jobs where I hope to paint some of my condo, and maybe start quilting again.  We’ll see.

Anyway, on to food.  Even though I have been pretty busy lately, it doesn’t mean that I have not been making fabulous new things.  In fact, I have quite a few recipes to share in the coming weeks.  This one is an instant favorite, and some friends of mine gave me the recipe.  It comes from Hannaford (as in the supermarket), and they have magazines with tons of delicious recipes in it.  He knew Brad and I like to grill (and we share our grill), and it had tons of burgers and grilled pizza (my new favorite way to make pizza).  We decided to try this one, and invite our friends over to see how it came out!

We all agreed it was really delicious, and it actually looked the same as the picture in the magazine.  It also happened to be during our boil water order, so grilling seemed an easy way to be able to cook without having to wash too many dishes with water that has been boiled.  In case you didn’t hear, the greater Boston area had to boil water for a few days because a pipe broke and we were being supplied with reserve water.  Not so fun, especially on the hottest weekend of the year thus far.

These burgers are super easy, and super delicious.  They are also enough for a meal on their own, you don’t really need any sides.  The magazine also had a recipe for blue cheese dressing, but I was lazy and used bottled stuff.  And it definitely didn’t disappoint.  I will be definitely making these all summer long.

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Source: Hannaford

1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken (I used 2, and made 5 burgers)
5 Tb. Hot sauce (Frank’s!)
1/4 tsp. old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
4 whole wheat bulkie rolls, split
4 leaves lettuce
Chunky blue cheese dressing

Preheat grill to medium high.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, 1/4 cup of the hot sauce, old bay, paprika, and cayenne pepper.  Mix until evenly blended.  Form into 4 or 5 patties.

Place burgers on grill and cook undisturbed for 6-7 minutes until well-marked.  Flip burgers and cook for another 5-6 minutes until cooked through.  Brush the tops of the burgers with the remaining hot sauce.

To assemble, place a lettuce leaf on the bottom of each roll, top with a burger, and put blue cheese dressing on top, and top with the other half of the roll.  Serve immediately, with additional hot sauce on the side.

Recently I have been all about my crockpot.  Or slow cooker, or whatever you want to call it.  I have two of them, one large and one small, and would rarely use them.  As of late I have been challenging myself to use one at least once a week.  Not only have I been keeping up with said challenge, but I have also been trying lots of new recipes in them.

Some are great, like the chicken taco chili above.  Some aren’t as good, and could use a little revising.  This recipe in particular was great because all you do is dump everything in a crockpot and then turn it on and leave.  I have a cookbook that has tons of slow cooker recipes, but half of them require you to roast your chicken in advance, or saute this or cook that first.  And that makes me wonder, what’s the point of a slow cooker if you can’t just throw everything in and walk away?

This weekend I will be trying a black bean soup in my crockpot that requires me to saute some vegetables beforehand, which is why it didn’t make it into the weeknight rotation.  I can chop some veggies at 8am, but turning the stove on for anything but tea is pushing it.

This chili recipe is a good one to come home to on a cold evening.  Or even a mild evening, as I plan to cook good comforting food well into the spring.  It also happens to be Weight Watchers friendly, which we don’t really pay attention to around here, so bonus if you do.  It comes from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes (link below) and she has TONS of other WW friendly recipes.  Again, not like we pay attention around here.

Chicken Taco Chili

Source: Gina\’s Weight Watcher Recipes

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
24 0z. (3) boneless skinless chicken breasts
chili peppers, chopped

I used more chicken and less chili powder (mainly because I was out) so mine had a little less flavor as a result of not enough chili powder.  I didn’t put in chilies, but probably would next time around, just for some added flavor.

Add everything to slow cooker, except for chicken.  Place chicken on top of other ingredients.  Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours.  Before serving, remove chicken, shred, and add back into slow cooker.

Serve with rice, Mexican cheese, and if you like (I don’t) sour cream and cilantro.

While I was on my staycation (which yes, I know, was almost a month ago at this point) I cooked lots of new things to share with you guys, which I am slowly doing now (so I don’t quickly run out of recipes to share!).  One of those things was fajitas.  My husband and I make tacos and nachos all the time (yes, using the prepackaged taco seasoning), and one day I was wondering why we never made fajitas.

Fajitas always show up in restaurants, and my mom’s friend used to make them for us all the time when I was growing up.  So I set out to try and find a recipe, only to find that you really don’t need one.

Since I had made the chicken drumsticks the weekend before, I just sort of  repeated that marinade, throwing in some more spices to kick it up a notch.  Basically I went through my spice cabinet and started shaking containers into my marinating bowl.  I chopped up the requisite peppers and onions, made guac (still need to share that recipe), bought salsa (I know, I know), and made rice.

You may be asking, but why in the world would you put rice in them?  And I don’t really know, it’s just how we had them when I was growing up, so I figured why not.  I also grilled my chicken before adding it to the veggies, but you can cook it however you want.  The grilled chicken was nice though, as it was juicy and tender.

I also made a batch (or two) of my favorite margaritas, which  I will share the recipe next.  They are awesome, and incredibly saucy.  I mix my drinks pretty aggressively.  What you get in a bar is totally watered down, and I don’t play that game at home, unless you don’t actually like alcohol in your drinks.  And then I will attempt to make you a less saucy version.

Chicken Fajitas

2-3 boneless chicken breasts (we could have done 2, we had tons of leftovers)
marinade – lime juice, orange juice, worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic, chili powder, ground oregano, ground basil
2 cups prepared rice
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 green pepper, sliced thin
1 onion, sliced thin
mexican cheese
tortillas (I used whole wheat)
guac
salsa
sour cream (optional, and  I don’t use it, but I know people like it)
olive oil
chicken stock (optional)

Combine marinade  ingredients (you can basically use anything you like,t hat is just what I used) and marinate chicken for about an hour.

Once chicken is marinated, grill until cooked, or you can prepare any other way you prefer.

Slice your veggies and set aside.  Once chicken has been cooked and cooled a bit, slice the chicken into strips.

Add some olive oil to a hot pan and saute your veggies to desired level of doneness (I don’t like mine too cooked).  Add in chicken, and I also like to add in a bit of chicken stock, just to give it some liquid.

Assemble your fajitas with rice first, then chicken and veggies, and then various toppings.  They could not  be easier to make, and are always delicious.

Any sort of chicken on the bone is a real treat for me, as my husband really doesn’t like it, for some reason.  I guess I can understand how it can be sort of weird, with the bones and the skin, and the tendons.  But really, the bones are where all the flavor is.  Why do you think we make stock from bones?

Earlier this summer we were at a bbq at a new neighbor’s house, and she grilled chicken legs.  My husband was very good natured and took one, along with a smattering of other meats (this woman knows how to throw a killer bbq, by the way).  He then devoured it and took another.  Her explanation of her marinade was vague, involving mustard and garlic and herbs, but I knew I had to try and recreate it.

So a few weeks ago we tried our own version.  By the way, do you know how stinking cheap chicken legs are?  Rediculously cheap.  We got a TON for under $10.  It was awesome.

Somehow I got stuck grilling them, and some of them came apart, as they totally stuck to the grill.  Not sure what the trick is to avoid that, although I have heard of people putting down foil on the grill grates.  Somehow I feel like that is cheating, and you also won’t get good grill marks on your meat.  Regardless they were delicious, and I totally want to make them again.

Grilled Chicken Legs

Chicken legs (you can adjust amounts based on how many you have)
Lime Juice
Orange Juice
Honey
Worcestershire Sauce
Dijon Mustard
Dried Oregano
Dried Basil

I know I normally give far more instructions and amounts of ingredients, but this is really something to play around with.  Basically you want enough liquid to be able to marinate the chicken legs, and you can play with spices and sweetness.  Lame, I know.

Marinate the chicken legs for at least an hour, and then grill until they are done.  Chicken can be tricky to grill, you don’t want the grill to be too hot to blacken the outside but not touch the inside, but you also don’t want the chicken to become dry.

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