Posts tagged chicken

Bringing back the basics

Since my past few posts have been about dishes I don’t make on a regular basis, I’m reverting to a meal we make a lot in my apartment: balsamic chicken breast over salad.  It’s nothing too fancy, and it calls for ingredients you can use in a lot of things.  Experienced chefs can skip right over this post, but for those college students looking for an easy solution for a healthy meal to rely on, check out the recipe below.  You can vary the type of chicken you make (try different marinades every now and then, or different salad dressings).  And if you have a grill, I definitely recommend using it instead of cooking the chicken in the pan like we do.  But if not, you still get a great taste, and it cooks pretty fast.

You’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (one per person)
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  I like Ken’s Steak House Creamy Balsamic, it’s thick and very flavorful.
  • Bag of lettuce of choice.  We use a spring mix.
  • One tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • Mozzarella, cut into small blocks (use as much or as little as you’d like- we LOVE mozzarella so we use about 1/3 of the block we bought)
  • Croutons.  I recommend Chatham Village in caesar 
  • Olive oil for the pan
  • Black pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Garlic powder

Directions:

To prepare the chicken:

  1. Make sure you defrost the chicken before cooking it if it’s been in the freezer.  This will help it cook faster and prevent burning.  After it’s defrosted, wash the chicken and cut off and fatty edges.
  2. Place one breast at a time in a small bowl, sprinkle all the spices listed above and rub them into the chicken.  Then lather the chicken in the balsamic dressing (make sure you have dressing and spices on both sides).  Repeat to each chicken breast.
  3. Drizzle olive oil in a large saucepan and turn the heat on medium-high.  Once the pan has heated up, place all pieces of chicken in the pan and let them cook thoroughly (about 10 minutes), flipping them regularly and adding a little more of the dressing/spice mixture from the small bowl occasionally until it’s gone.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, start chopping the (rinsed) vegetables and cheese
  5. I have a salad spinner that I love using for cleaning lettuce.  But if you don’t have one (most college students probably don’t).  Rinse the lettuce using a strainer and then dry use a paper towel if you have to dry it.
  6. Don’t forget to be checking the chicken periodically!
  7. Add the vegetables and cheese to the lettuce and sprinkle dried oregano over the salad, then mix everything together using tongs.  Sprinkle croutons on top of the salad.
  8. When the chicken is done, take it off the heat and transfer to a cutting board before cutting it into thin slices (see picture).
  9. Either add the chicken into the whole salad bowl, or let people take slices off the cutting board and put it on their individual salads.
  10. If you want you can drizzle your favorite dressing (or homemade dressing if you have the time/ingredients) over the salad and mix it in.  Or simply place out whatever dressings you have stored in you fridge and let people choose what they’d like.  Some of my favorite dressing recipes can be found at the Food Network’s index.  Some suggested store-bought dressings besides Ken’s Creamy Balsamic are Kraft Fat-free Zesty Italian, and Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette.  

Here’s a picture guide:

Cook the chicken thoroughly after rinsing, flipping it frequently while adding spices and dressing:

Rinse the lettuce using a salad spinner or a strainer:

Chop the vegetables and cheese and add them to the salad:

Take the chicken off the heat and slice it on a cutting board:

Add the chicken to the salad, or leave the slices on the cutting board letting people add chicken over their own salad:

And that’s all!  It’s pretty flexible, and you can add whatever ingredients you want or cook the chicken however you want.  Have fun with it!  It’s a very nutritious meal, and it’s something that college students can make on a regular basis without breaking the bank.

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Who said leftovers had to be the worst part?

I hate leftovers.  Hate, hate hate.  But when you’re living on a low budget and don’t have time to create a show-stopper every night, you occasionally do have to turn to them, and in this case, it’s actually a pretty great alternative.  Since i make the bruschetta recipe that I shared with you in my last post so often, I figured I’d follow up with a way to use the leftover bruschetta for lunch or dinner the next day.  It’s an easy open-faced chicken and bruschetta sandwich, and it’s almost as good as eating it fresh!

You’ll need:

  • The leftover bruschetta
  • If you have leftover french baguette (a decent sized chunk), then you’re all set; otherwise you might want to go buy some (it’s cheap!) or use another type of bread you have in your kitchen.
  • Shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese (you probably have this leftover as well): about a tablespoon or two
  • Grilled chicken breast.  I usually have a lot of leftover chicken, which is why this recipe works out perfectly, but if you don’t you’ll need one boneless breast
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. If you don’t have leftover chicken that’s been prepared already, you’ll need to either grill or saute it in a pan, and using Italian or Balsamic dressing would be your best bet.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Slice the chunk of baguette in half and lightly coat each side with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle garlic salt and black pepper over each piece.
  5. Layer on the shredded cheese, covering the entire surface of each piece, but don’t over-do it, otherwise the bread will take longer to crisp
  6. Place the two slices of bread on a baking sheet separately (see picture below) in the oven for about 15-17 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges are a crispy golden brown.
  7. When the bread is done, take it out and give it a minute to cool before adding the toppings.
  8. First layer on the bruschetta (you can add it to one side or both sides of the bread, depending on how hungry you are).
  9. Then add your sliced grilled chicken: thin slices work the best, since it’s already a pretty hefty sandwich. 
  10. If you’d like top it off with some black pepper or parsley, but not too much, since the bruschetta already has a lot of spices in it.


And that’s all!  If you already have all the leftovers, it’s a zero-cost meal.  Enjoying the sandwich with a salad makes for a healthy option: you’ve got your greens and protein covered.  Not too mention it’s delicious and will keep you full for the rest of the day.  Enjoy!

Here’s a picture step by step:

The short and sweet ingredients list:

Slice the baguette evenly:

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle black pepper and garlic salt, then add the shredded cheese:

Throw the bread in the oven at 375 for about 15-17 minutes:

When it’s out, give it a few minutes then add the bruschetta topping and grilled chicken (sorry this picture is blurry!)

Now you’re ready to serve, here’s the finished product:

Looking for some other recipes to incorporate leftovers into?  Check out these great resources:

TheLeftoverChef.com: just like it sounds, tons of great leftover recipes

A leftover recipes index from TerisKitchen.com

One of my favorite websites that shares recipes using leftovers to save time (perfect!)

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You Guys Can Cook?

When a friend of mine suggested that we all had dinner together this weekend, I pictured my roommates and I slaving over the stove for a few hours and serving a delicious meal to the four boys that were planning on coming over on Friday night.  You can imagine my shock when it was the boys who said THEY would be doing the cooking for the evening.  My first thought was, you guys can cook??  Since when??  My roommates and I were a bit apprehensive (was it safe to eat whatever they planned on making??), but our curiosity of how their meal would turn out got the best of us, and we welcomed them into our kitchen, a little unsure of what to expect.  The boy chose to make chicken parmigiana over pasta with a side of garlic bread: a bit challenging, and one of my all-time favorite meals.

We were told that the only thing we were responsible for was the wine (check out this article for some great affordable wine choices), and sure enough, the four of them showed up with bags of groceries ready to get their chef on at 7:45 Friday night.  The only thing we did all evening was sit back and get started on the wine, occasionally checking on what was happening in the pots and pans on our stovetop and making ooos and ahhs over the delicious aromas.

About 40 minutes later we were feasting, and believe it or not, the meal turned out GREAT!  The boys did fabulously, and unfortunately for them, we’ve discovered their hidden talents and I have a feeling they won’t get out of making this a regular occasion.  The only downside to letting people, in particular a bunch of boys, cook for you?  You got it… clean up duty.  But that part aside, cooking with friends can be a really fun activity.  To spare them their reputation, no pictures were taken of the boys in action.  But I did manage to get a picture of the finished product, and below is the recipe the boys used to make the meal.  I’ve also included a few links to other good chicken parm recipes, as well as my favorite recipes for garlic bread.

Bon appetit! And more importantly, HAVE FUN!

Great chicken parmigiana recipes:

Easy chicken parm from About.com

Food Network’s Tyler Florence’s chicken parmesan

A simple chicken parm recipe from ReluctantGourmet.com

More of a visual learner?  I’m a big Guy Fieri fan, and here’s a great video about how to make a quick, yet delicious chicken parm:

It’s pretty hard to screw up garlic bread; and when in doubt, you can always buy it at the grocery store.  But where’s the fun in that?  The nice thing about garlic bread is that there are actually a ton of variations you can try.  Here are some scrumptious recipes:

A great recipe from a fellow cooking blogger

Food Network’s Paula Deen shares her recipe (Who  drool over everything she makes on her show?)

Try this variation: garlic knots from allrecipes.com

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