Category Archives: Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken

Crisp, juicy roast chicken

Crisp, juicy roast chicken

Are you ready for a recipe that takes less than 60 seconds to prepare, but looks like you spent hours cooking and makes your home smell incredible? Done.

Here’s how it all goes down: Place as many chicken pieces as you can comfortably fit into a baking dish. (I used four thighs and four legs, but you can use any kind that you like including chicken breast.) Drizzle chicken liberally with olive oil. Sprinkle (there was no measuring; as a devout measurer I promise you don’t need to) each piece with salt and ground black pepper. Sprinkle each piece lightly with some paprika and garlic powder. Place in a 425 degree oven and cook for 30-35 minutes. That’s it!

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I served the chicken with a mango, avocado, and strawberry salsa* on top of arugula for a light and fresh meal, but the options are truly endless when you start with juicy, flavorful roast chicken. Enjoy!

*Salsa recipe similar to this one, plus two mangoes, a handful of sliced strawberries, and chopped cilantro.

Perfect Roast Chicken

Ingredients

Bone-in skin-on chicken parts (I used 4 thighs and 4 legs)

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Paprika

Garlic powder

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425. Add chicken to baking dish. Drizzle liberally with olive il. Sprinkle each piece with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Bake 30-35 minutes until juices are clear. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve.

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Margarita Lime Chicken

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Every so often a meal comes around that completely takes me by surprise. I made this on Friday and I’m still giddy with excitement about how it came out. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make, yet it’s packed with so much flavor and uses all whole food ingredients (as long as you count tequila as a whole food, which I sure do.)

The inspiration for this meal started with a craving for chips and salsa. I knew I needed something to accompany the craving (besides a margarita) so I decided to turn my favorite cocktail into a marinade. It was purely experimental and I had no idea how well it would turn out. Plus, I figured that if it was a complete fail Robert and I’d both be okay calling chips and salsa dinner if we absolutely had to. Happily, that was not the case.

The marinade couldn’t be more simple: Some tequila, juice of four limes, juice of one orange, chopped jalapenos, fresh garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper. That’s it! I covered about a pound of boneless skinless chicken breast tenders in the marinade and stuck it in the fridge for about three hours. I went with the tenders because it was Friday, I was tired, and I knew they’d cook quickly. But I already can’t wait to use the marinade for chicken breasts and flank steak on the grill!

Easiest & tastiest marinade ever

Easiest & tastiest marinade ever

I cooked the chicken in a cast iron skillet on the stove and served it with some sauteed red onion and bell peppers for a kind of deconstructed fajita. You could totally use this recipe for actual chicken fajitas, a homemade burrito bowl (I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned my deep love for Chipotle here), or a simple salad topped with the delicious, spicy, tangy chicken.

Truly, the options are endless and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be seeing this margarita lime recipe again here and hopefully in your home, too.

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Margarita Lime Chicken 

Serves 3 (or 2 with leftovers)

Ingredients

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast tenders

1/3 c gold tequila (such as Jose Cuervo)

Juice of 4 limes

Juice of 1 orange

2 jalapenos, chopped (keep seeds if you like it spicy, remove ribs and seeds if you don’t)

4 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped

1 Tbsp chili powder

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Preparation

Combine chicken, tequila, lime juice, orange juice, jalapenos, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover and marinate in the fridge 1-3 hours.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and pour just enough marinade to cover the bottom of the skillet. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove chicken to plate and repeat with remaining chicken, again covering the bottom of the skillet with some marinade.

For the Peppers and Onions: In a separate skillet, sauté 1 sliced red onion and 3 sliced bell peppers with olive oil and salt and pepper  for about 8 minutes. Remove to a bowl and top with about 1 tsp lime zest.

Lettuce Chicken Wraps

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Robert does this thing where if he really, really, realllllllly likes something he’ll declare it “top 5” or “top 10” of all time. Like these flaky biscuits he had in Sonoma this fall? Top 5 of all time. I think that entire breakfast ranked in the top 5 or top 10. I can’t remember. It was pretty spectacular.

Well, as I bit into one of these chicken lettuce wraps I immediately exclaimed, “top 10 meals I’ve ever made!” I don’t know if I was more in shock that those words came out of my mouth or because it was true. I could eat these once a week every week for the rest of my life and be happy as can be. They’re just the perfect combination of good for you foods (ground chicken breast and veggies!), texture (both soft and crunchy elements — the water chestnuts make all the difference in the world), and flavor (just wait until you see the list of ingredients in the sauce.) But worry not, all of the sauce ingredients are items you already have in your pantry or a good excuse to stock up.

These wraps are outstanding. They really are. The first time I made the recipe (a riff on PF Chang’s version) I followed the instructions exactly as stated in this link. (I think I found it on Pinterest, though it’s a wonderful blog.) I’ve never actually had PF Chang’s lettuce wraps, though I’m certain I’d love them.

After I made the recipe I decided there were just four small tweaks I’d make: Double the recipe so we’d have leftovers for lunch; add diced red bell pepper for more color and nutrition; increase the amount of sriracha for added heat (omit if you’re a spice-phobe, which I used to be); and serve with Boston lettuce instead of iceberg to keep the crunch but add a little more nutrients. Each tweak ended up having the exact effect I hoped it would.

Some extra Sriracha for good measure. I don't even know who I am anymore.

Some extra Sriracha for good measure. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Ultimately, I ended up serving it platter style instead of creating wraps because they get pretty messy when you wrap them up. You kind of have to eat the whole thing without putting it down between bites. But in case you love the lettuce wrap approach, know that Boston lettuce wraps just as well — and in some ways even better — than iceberg.

If you know what’s good for you (and your tastebuds and your loved ones) make these ASAP. You won’t regret it : )

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

Salt & pepper

1 3/4 – 2 lb. ground chicken breast

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2″ knob of ginger, peeled and minced

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1/3 c reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp peanut butter

1 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp + 2 tsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp Sriracha (plus extra for drizzling)

6 green onions, white and dark green parts

8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

1 head Boston lettuce

Preparation

[TIP: Chop all ingredients that require cutting before you start cooking. Like this:] 

Like this!

Clockwise from left: water chestnuts, green onions, peanuts, red pepper, garlic and ginger, yellow onion

In a large skillet, heat olive oil (1 to 2 Tbsp) over medium-high heat. Add onion, season with some salt and pepper, and saute about 3-5 minutes. Add chicken. Use a wooden spoon to break up meat and cook until chicken is nearly done, about 8-10 minutes. Add red pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook until chicken is cooked through.

Combine sauce ingredients (toasted sesame oil through Sriracha) in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 20-30 seconds. Whisk until combined. When chicken is cooked, add sauce to chicken mixture in the skillet. Stir to combine. Add green onions and water chestnuts. Cook until green onions begin to soften and water chestnuts are warm, about 2-5 minutes. Add chopped peanuts, stir to combine.

Serve chicken mixture with lettuce leaves (wrap the chicken in the lettuce if you like) and brown rice.

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

I have a new BFF in the kitchen. Her name is wine. I’ve cooked with more bottles of wine in the past two months than I can possibly count. (Just see here, here, and here.) It’s simply the best flavorizer around and any time I add wine to something I’m cooking I know I’m taking it to the next level. I’ve heard it said (achem…Ina Garten…achem) you should cook with wine you’d like to drink, which I interpret as you should use good, high-quality wine and not, like, the boxed stuff.

But you know what? I happen to enjoy drinking Trader Joe’s two buck chuck thankyouverymuch, so that’s what I tend to use when I cook. I usually pick up a bottle of red (merlot) and white (chardonnay) every week when I do my shopping. Two bottles of wine for $6? (They’re actually $2.99 each). Sign me up!

Of course, the bonus of cooking with wine is it would practically be a sin not to pour yourself a glass while you cook. And when you’ve just sweat your way through an hour-long heated Yoga Sculpt class a glass of wine is pretty much all you need (after a big glass of coconut water of course!)

Oh my, I sound like a lush.

But really, when it comes to elevating the quality of a meal with wine I can’t think of a better example than this chicken stew. I’m sure we’ve all had chicken stew before and it always tastes delicious. But add some white wine after sauteeing the onions and garlic and you’ve got yourself a fancy shmancy stew that’s totally weeknight doable AND uses the slow cooker. Win! You can even think of this stew as a classier and healthier version of chicken pot pie since there’s no crust or cream. Serve it with warm cornbread muffins and it’s still every bit as crowd-pleasing and filling.

Slow cooker chicken stew via ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

olive oil

2 onions, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup white wine

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

12 oz red potatoes, cut into bite-sized cunks

5 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 bay leaf

1 cup frozen peas

Preparation

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown chicken on both sides. Add additional oil as needed. Transfer chicken to bowl when browned.

While chicken cooks, add potatoes, carrots, and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave on high in 2 minute intervals, stirring in between, for a total of about 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add to slow cooker.

Once all chicken is removed from pan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in pan. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme. Cook about 10-15 minutes until onions soften. Stir in flour, cook 1 minute more. Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan. Whisk in 1 cup chicken broth. Transfer contents of pan to bottom of slow cooker.

Add chicken and any accumulated juices to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.

Once cooked, transfer chicken to cutting board and shred using two forks. Add chicken back into slow cooker. Add 1 cup of peas, cover until peas are heated through, about 5 minutes. When ready to serve, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Healthy & Hearty Winter Ragout

Sausage, kale, mushrooms, kidney beans, cannelini beans, and tomatoes.

You may recall about a month ago, while watching the Bachelorette wedding, my cable completely went out. It turns out the cable box had a heart attack and we didn’t get a new one for about 2.5 weeks. I can’t even begin to describe the positive impact going without TV (we couldn’t even get the basic channels) had on me during that time–and since.

Robert happened to be traveling for work during those weeks (otherwise it probably would’ve been fixed sooner) so I was left to my own devices to entertain myself. What I discovered: Life without TV in the evening frees up an enormous amount of time. It’s awesome. In fact, some nights I got into bed by about 8:30pm because I wasn’t really sure what else to do. Bonus: I finished a few books way more quickly than I usually do.

Now, don’t get me wrong I love TV. A lot. Often, it’s not what’s on TV as much as how relaxed and zoned out I feel while watching it. Plus, I love getting completely engrossed in shows (Homeland and Downton Abbey are some of our recent faves). And I can pretty much guarantee we’ll have a few Dexter marathons this weekend (we just started watching the first season).

However, those 2.5 weeks were enough to break me of a habit: Eating dinner and watching TV every night until it’s time to go to bed. Lately, I’ve been cooking meals that take just a little bit more time to make (still, not more than 30 or 40 minutes on week nights). More importantly, I’ve really been able to enjoy the process more than ever because I’m not rushing through cooking so I can plop down on the couch ASAP to watch whatever’s on the DVR. If I make it there, great; if I don’t, well that’s great too.

Ingredients. Ready to party.

This was one of those meals that I truly loved cooking. I was able to take my time and when I realized I didn’t have any of the usual suspects with which to deglaze the pan after browning the chicken/turkey sausage (such as white wine or chicken broth) I realized beer would be a stand-up stand-in. Oh my, was I right. I also used some of the beer to steam the kale and I actually can’t imagine this recipe without the depth of flavor thanks to the brew (Boulevard, no less, for you Kansas City folks.)

The result, as Robert summed up in seven words: “This tastes like winter in a bowl!”

Score!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thank you for reading!

Winter in a bowl.

Winter in a bowl.

Healthy & Hearty Winter Ragout

Serves 4

Ingredients 

Olive oil

12 oz chicken/turkey sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup shallot, minced (about 2 shallots)

2 gloves garlic, peeled and minced

8 oz sliced mushrooms

1 bottle beer

2 (14.5 oz) cans of no salt added beans such as kidney and cannellini (FYI: I found them in BPA-free boxes at Whole Foods, which were each 13.4 oz.), drained and rinsed

14.5 oz can diced no-salt added tomatoes

1 bunch kale (about 6 cups), stems removed and chopped

Salt & pepper

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Preparation

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and saute until browned on both sides, about 5-8 minutes. Remove sausage. Add minced shallot, garlic, and mushrooms to pan. Saute about 2 minutes. Pour about 1/4 cup beer into pan and use a wooden spoon to remove brown bits left from the sausage. Cook until mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, and kale. Pour in 1/2 cup of beer. Cover and cook until kale wilts, about 5-10 minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash some of the beans to create a thicker consistency. Add sausage back into the pan and continue cooking until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve immediately.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Chicken with Tomatoes & Mushrooms

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Happy New Year, friends!

I hardly know where to begin. Is it really 2013? For the first time in my life I was really sad to see the year come to an end. It was without question the very best year of my life. The funny thing is when I think about all of the wonderful things that happened in 2012, it seems like they occurred within the span of a single week: I moved into a new apartment with Robert, I passed my yoga audition and officially became a yoga instructor at CorePower Yoga, I learned a book I ghost wrote was accepted by the publisher, and I got engaged! (Read the full recap of that unbelievable week here.)

But the truth is although these mega life events came to fruition within a single week in August, I had been planting the seeds all year long and even before 2012: I took the leap and signed up for yoga Teacher Training early in the year; I scored the writing contract at the end of 2011 and pushed my writing limits throughout most of 2012; and Robert and I had been building the foundation of our relationship since the day we met in 2010 (though I had no idea he would ask for forever in 2012). When I look back at the magical milestones that occurred in 2012, they’re a great reminder of just how far hard work, dedication, and following my heart can take me in my life. They’re also a great reminder for those moments, down the road, whenever I feel stuck that when I keep pushing forward, stay focused, and challenge myself in new ways marvelous things can happen.

Of course there were countless highlights that occurred outside of that week including a few trips to California (L.A., Carmel by the Sea, San Francisco, and Sonoma), New York, Vermont, Kansas City, Michigan, Florida, FRANCE, and a Christmas cruise with Robert’s family.

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Merry Christmas from a Caribbean Cruise

When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve I knew there were so many wonderful things waiting for me on the other side of 2013 and I’m ready to dive in. Of course there’s our wedding in September (!!!) and a honeymoon after that (no idea where we’ll be going yet – happily, Robert’s in charge of that!) We’ll also be celebrating lots of other friends who are getting hitched this year all across the country. Hopefully we can plan another trip for the end of Robert’s busy season (though I’m not sure it’ll be quite as fancy as France). And when it comes to work, well, who knows what the future holds! Every year has been dramatically different from the one before it with new and ever-changing opportunities. So I’ll continue plugging along with my magazine and custom publishing writing and the rest is an open book (PUN!) I also want to continue pushing the limits right here with cooking and blogging. I have big ideas in store for this lil’ blog that could. Thank you so, so much for taking this journey with me : )

For now, I thought I’d kick off the year with a super simple, super delicious, and super healthy home-cooked meal: Chicken with tomatoes and mushrooms. It doesn’t get any simpler than this, folks. Just three ingredients (four if you count the two cloves of garlic (not pictured)…five if you count dried oregano…). Point is: that’s it! With so few basic and inexpensive ingredients it’s a great step toward my eco friendly and budget conscious goals for 2013.

Mushrooms, Chicken, and Tomatoes. (Four ingredients if you count the two cloves of garlic.)

Mushrooms, Chicken, and Tomatoes

It kind of tasted like a stripped down chicken cacciatore. At one point I contemplated adding some onion or even a little red wine, but I wanted to see what would happen if I kept things as simple as possible. I’m so glad I did–it was the kind of soul-warming food you want in early January, took less than 30 minutes to prepare, and created very little mess to clean up (it’s a one-pot meal). I served it over brown rice with a simple salad of arugula, fresh navel orange, toasted blanched almonds, and a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. In a word: success.

Chicken with mushrooms & arugula salad

 Arugula salad & chicken with tomatoes and mushrooms 

Chicken with Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients

1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

16 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms (or any kind)

1 (14.5 oz) can diced & fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles (or any kind of tomatoes you like)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

Preparation

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add chicken to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook chicken, turning to cook all sides, until cooked through. Transfer chicken to plate, cover with foil. Add minced garlic to pot and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and oregano. Cook, covered, until tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes. Add chicken and any accumulated juices back to the pot. Toss to coat and cover until chicken is heated through.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Hoisin Glazed Chicken & Sesame Snow Peas

I’m beginning to think that moments of culinary inspiration aren’t so different from artistic inspiration. Except, fortunately, artists don’t eat their work–for the most part anyway. The inspiration occurs when several different factors combine at once inside your head and bam! you’ve got an idea for dinner. At least that’s how it happens for me.

Last week my dad sent a photo of a dinner he cooked with the caption, “Still got it!” He made this fantastic glazed pork loin with broiled pineapple. It looked so great, in fact, that I made the very same recipe Saturday night while “watching” the Michigan football game with Robert:

I loved every single part of this meal–the sweet glaze combined with the slightly salty pork, the juicy grilled pineapple, and especially the Asian inspired dipping sauce served on the side (not pictured.) Oh…the sauce! I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Hoisin, pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. It’s like the best combination of flavors all in one bowl. Robert and I dipped our pork and pineapple directly into the sauce (it’s totally acceptable to do those kinds of things when there are only two of you sharing a meal.) There was also the fact that I bought an entire 32 oz bottle of organic pineapple juice for the original recipe that only required 2 Tbsp. Clearly I have a tendency to overestimate ingredients. So I was also on a mission to use up the juice.

The pork loin happened to be the impetus to help me overcome my fear of the broiler. Yes, I have a complete nonsensical fear of the broiler that probably stems from the fact that the broiler in my old apartment’s electric oven was no better than tossing meat on a radiator. If you were lucky and the food actually cooked all the way through it was rubbery and chewy. Gross! As a result, I’ve always skipped recipes that require me to broil anything. When I asked my dad if he broiled the pork like the recipe suggests he confirmed that he did and responded, “Be brave my daughter.”

I heeded my father’s advice and with only one snafu (the meat was a little too close to the flame at first hence some charring (a.k.a. extra flavor that no one was complaining about)) and learned that a real gas broiler is actually a very easy, efficient, and tasty way to cook.

And then, in a moment, all of these factors combined and the inspiration for broiled chicken thighs using the dipping sauce as a marinade sprung into my head. From there, the rest of the pieces (i.e. the sesame snow peas) fell into place.

Ultimately, I took a slightly more involved recipe (the pork), which makes for a perfect weekend meal when you have a little more time and turned it into an easy peasy weeknight dinner. Just promise me you’ll try both? Deal.

Hoisin Glazed Chicken

Ingredients
1 to 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 Tbsp hoisin sauce
4 Tbsp pineapple juice
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp hot sauce such as Sriracha (optional)

Preparation
Add hoisin sauce, pineapple juice, soy sauce, mustard, ginger, garlic, and hot sauce in a bowl and stir to combine. Place chicken thighs in a bag, pour sauce on top, and marinate at least one hour.

Heat broiler (on high if it’s an option.) Place chicken on a broil-safe baking sheet lined with foil about 4 inches away from flame and broil about 6 minutes on each side.

Sesame Snow Peas

Ingredients
9 oz snow peas
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red chili peppers (optional)

Preparation
Steam snow peas for less than 1 minute until they turn bright green. Drain. Toss snow peas in a bowl with sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and chili peppers.

Source: Slightly adapted from Recipegirl.com