Chicken Cordon Bleu

Once again rummaging through the fridge, looking for some sort of inspiration for dinner, I found a little ham and cheese that was left over from making sandwiches earlier in the week and I knew I had some chicken in the freezer. So I said to myself, Let’s have stuffed chicken for dinner tonight along with some brown rice and some vegetable. So here is how I made chicken cordon bleu that night.

  •  I took the chicken breasts out of the freezer and defrosted them under some running cold water.

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  • Using some doubled over plastic wrap, I carefully pounded the chicken breast until it was really thin. Then dredged it in some seasoned bread crumbs and set them aside.

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  • As you can see in the picture, the black forest ham is twice the size of the smoked Gouda cheese, but the cheese is twice as thick as the ham because I like it gooey.

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  • Fold the ham over the cheese and place it on one side of the pounded chicken breast, then fold the chicken over the ham so the chicken kinda seals the open part of the ham. This will help keep the cheese inside the chicken breast while it cooks. If you want you can use tooth picks to help keep the chicken together.

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  • Cook over a medium heat until golden brown about three to four minutes then carefully turn over to cook the other side for about the same amount of time.

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If you want, place the chicken on a pan and place it in the oven to keep warm while you make the rest of them, that is, if you have a big family or cooking for a lot of people.

 

~Enjoy

Baked Chicken

I knew that I would be out all day at the street fair Saturday with my wife and her family. They all were coming over for dinner after so I wanted to get some of this stuff done before hand. On Wednesday I went to the store and got six whole chickens, cut the spines out and seasoned them liberally on both sides with a mixture of salt, pepper, dried chili flakes, paprika, granulated garlic and onion powder as you can see here. I wrapped them up and put in the fridge overnight.

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The following day I took the chickens out of the fridge, let them come to room temperature and par baked them in a 350F oven for 50 minutes and until they registered 160F on a meat thermometer. I know that they would carry over to 165F degrees, the safe temperature for cooked chicken. I let them cool on the counter for about an hour. Then I consolidated them in one 2 inch baking dish, wrapped them and put them in the fridge for Saturday where I would finish cooking them on the grill.

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Oh boy they were great!

Arroz con Pollo

In English, chicken & rice, another good cold weather meal that makes the house smell so good and is relatively easy to make. So here we go.

I started with bone in chicken thighs that I generously salted and peppered and cooked skin side down first in a heavy pot until golden brown and then took them out and set them aside on a plate for a few minutes.

salt pepper chicken browned

While the chicken was cooking, I cut up 2 medium onions, 1 of each green and yellow peppers into medium-sized pieces. Once the chicken was out of the pot, leave the fat that has collected in the bottom. Add to it the onions and peppers plus two tablespoons of each tomato paste and chopped garlic and cook for about two minutes. At this time I added 2 cups of brown rice instead of the usual white.

cut up veges

cooking veges

added rice to veges

Now for the secret ingredient, I had some saffron in the cabinet so I threw in a very health pinch of it. You don’t have to but it just gives the dish an indescribable flavor coupled with the brown rice.

Now that everything is coated and stirred around with the oil from the bottom of the pot add your 5 cups of chicken broth and bring the pot to a boil. After it boils reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken back to the pot and put the lid on. Now the hard part, you have to wait about 40 minutes or so until the rice cooks. For the brown rice it takes almost an hour. Taste the rice to make sure it is done. Also you will see the chicken resting on a bed of rice in the pot. By then the chicken is cooked all the way through.

chicken in pot

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Here are few shots of the juicy chicken on top of a bed of rice with all the soft and flavorful vegetables mixed in. Go pour yourself another glass of wine and dig into the goodness.

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arroz con pollo 2

Enjoy~

Enhance Boxed Stuffing

My in-laws were coming over for dinner last weekend and my father in-law mentioned a while ago that he likes stuffing. I saw that I had a box of dried bread chunks buried in the cupboard, for hurricane season, and I figured why not, even though it really doesn’t go with BBQ chicken I was making. So here is how I did it.

As you can see that is a whole stick of butter along with two tablespoons of salt and pepper, a white onion diced, five stalks of celery diced and a few carrots diced up also. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften.

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Add two cups of chicken stock to the pan along with two tablespoons of Bell’s seasoning. Now take the mixture and pour it over the bread chunks, mix gently and you will notice it will be a little wet, this is fine because we are going to cook it tomorrow afternoon.

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Let it cool on the counter top for about an hour, cover it with foil and put it in the fridge for later. When it comes time to cook it, place it in a 300F oven for about forty minutes to an hour or until it reaches 145F in the center of the pan.

You will have moist fluffy delicious stuffing to accompany your meal.

Enjoy ~

Italian Chicken Breast with Cheese Tortellini and Tomatoes

Once again my wife and I bought too many little cherry tomatoes and I was really tired of eating them on salad so this is how I finished them up in dinner a couple nights ago.

First off cook the tortellini according to the package minus one minute, drain in a colander, and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set them aside, we will heat them up after cooking the chicken.

For the chicken, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle some Italian seasoning over the breasts. Just a quick note these were very large chicken breasts. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil, then put the chicken breasts in and cook for about five minutes then flip over for another four or five, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 165 degrees. Take them out and set aside on a plate to rest for a minute while you make the sauce for the tortellini.

Turn the pan up to medium high and add one shallot sliced thinly to the oil left in the pan, cook it  until it becomes soft then add one tablespoon of chopped garlic, cook for a minute. Add ½ cup of extra dry vermouth to deglaze the pan. Toss in the tomatoes and the tortellini and stir around for a minute then turn heat off and add two tablespoons of butter. Let the butter melt and stir the sauce coat the tortellini. Make sure to check for seasoning. Serve right away next to the chicken breast. A salad and a glass of white wine goes nicely with dinner. Enjoy ~

baked chicken with tortellini

Honey BBQ Chicken Thighs with Mac-n-Cheese

As you might have figured out by now I just can’t cook for the two of us. So we had some chicken thighs left over from earlier in the week. They were just the thing I needed to make a quick dinner. My wife and I both had hard days and I knew this meal would make anyone in her family happy.

So here we go – turn the oven on to 275 degrees and let it preheat. Take a pan out and place some aluminum foil on it, this step will help greatly with clean up. Put the chicken on the pan and let them hang out for a minute. In a small bowl mix the following ingredients: tomato sauce, molasses, brown sugar, mustard, honey, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper. Play with the flavors that work best for you. You could even use premade honey BBQ sauce, if you do, I’d recommend adding extra honey. Carefully pour the mixture on the top of the chicken making sure to keep on the chicken. Put the pan in the middle of the oven and forget about it for about 30-45 minutes.

During the week sometimes you need some comfort food quickly. This time I reached up into the pantry and grabbed a couple of boxes of elbow noodles. I made a rue with butter and flour, then added about 2 cups of milk along with pepper and some chili powder. Stir on low heat for a couple minutes, then add in 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. We make mac-n-cheese often and will experiment with different spices and cheeses.

Carefully take the chicken off the pan, try not to pull up any of the aluminum foil, because it is going to be sticky. Give yourself a couple of big scoops of mac-n-cheese and take a few minutes to savor the flavor of your childhood and let the day’s troubles melt away.  Make a quick salad to round out the meal and for something healthy. Enjoy ~

bbq chix and mac n cheese

Roast Chicken Mash & Peas

It’s funny how dinner comes about some nights. I look over at the drawers where I keep the onions and potatoes and I see 3 big potatoes starting to sprout, so I know I will use them in some way for dinner tonight.  Some more poking around I find a half-open bag of frozen peas and I knew I was making roast chicken for dinner anyway.

Started by peeling the potatoes and cutting them up into chunks because I’m going to make mashed potatoes. I put them in a pot, bring them to a boil, cook until they are fork soft. Then drain them and put them back in the pot and on the stove. On low heat, and add a stick of butter and some half & half to get them to the desired thickness then I add the salt & pepper to taste. This is how they end up.

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mashed potatoes

Today I have chicken thighs that I seasoned with salt & pepper, a little paprika, some granulated garlic and sprayed them with a little oil. Set the oven to 400 degrees and put them on the next to the top rack. Cook until they are a dark golden brown or until a thermometer reads at least 165 degrees nearest the bone.

chicken prep

In a small pan I mixed together some chicken stock and some beef stock and let that reduce on the stove while the chicken cooked. While the stock was boiling, I mixed together 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/3 cup of water and while whisking the stock, slowly poured in the slurry in until the stock thickened into a sauce. Check it for seasoning, it might need some pepper to offset the saltiness from reducing the stock.

gravy

I took the frozen peas put them in a pot with some water to cover, brought them to a boil for a minute or two then drained most of the water. Add a good sized piece of butter and add some salt & pepper to your liking, turn the heat off under the pot, cover the pot and let it sit there until you are ready to serve dinner.

As you can see, I plated the mashed potatoes, made a well for the sauce, and filled it to the brim, put a couple of scoops of peas on the plate and then the crispy skinned chicken thighs on the plate.  Pour yourself some sort of refreshing adult beverage and dig in!  Enjoy ~

roast chicken and mash

Chicken with Red Onion, Thyme, Lemon and Pasta

Since my wife and I are still a little sick and our throats still hurt, I threw this together one evening knowing that it would taste good, be good for us and it would be soft on our throats going down.

I took 3 large chicken breasts and poached them in the water I was going to cook the pasta in. Took the chicken out and let them cool a little while I cut a red onion into large dice.

I then sautéed the onions in a tablespoon of oil until they became soft, then added a tablespoon of diced garlic and 6 to 8 sprigs of thyme to the pan.  Cooked that together for a few minutes and then added ½ cup of lemon juice and a ½ cup of the pasta water to the pan. Let that simmer for a minute or two.

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Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking and serve it over the pasta. It is quick, easy, delicious, and good for you too.

chicken, red onion on pasta

Enjoy ~

Chicken Pot Pie

There was a “cold front“ that came through Florida last week and as a tribute to my wife’s New England upbringing I thought I would make my version of chicken pot pie. So I started poking around the fridge and here is what I came up with.

1 large onion, 3 medium carrots, 3 celery sticks all chopped into medium pieces and set aside.

cut veges

Cut 4-6 red potatoes into small pieces, boiled them for about ten minutes then tossed them into some ice-cold water to stop the cooking because we are going to cook them again with everything else.

potatoes

Start with four 6 oz chicken breasts and cut them into uniform chunks like in the picture.

whole chicken breast

chopped chicken brast

Dust them in some seasoned flour and sear them off in the pot you will be making the stew in then remove and set aside on a plate.

floured chicken

seared chicken

Now take the vegetables you already cut and sauté them with some garlic, when soft add the potatoes and the chicken cook for a few minutes. Add a quart of chicken stock or broth and a cup of heavy cream.

Reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for about an hour uncovered, stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. It will thicken as it cooks and makes the house smell really good.

Before serving, taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

chicken pot pie in a bowl

As a side note, by using the potatoes instead of puff pastry you are saving some calories so you can have another bowl or two.

Enjoy

Chicken Tikka Masala

Sometimes my wife and I just want something quick, different and in this case spicy! After poking around the spice cabinet I found some seasonings to make tikka masala.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts, 4 – 5 oz cut into 1 inch squares
  • Garam masala, 6 tsp
  • Garlic powder, 2 tsp
  • Cayenne powder, 1 tsp
  • Adobo with black pepper seasoning, 2 tsp
  • Garlic, 5 tsp minced
  • Red onion, 1 medium sliced
  • Ginger, 3 tsp fresh diced
  • Tomatoes, 3 medium chopped
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
  • Pepper, 1/2 tsp
  • Olive oil, 3 Tbsp
  • Heavy cream, 3/4 cup
  • Flour, 1/4 cup

Steps:

  • Place the chicken in a bowl.
  • Mix together the garam masala, garlic powder, cayenne powder, adobo seasoning with black pepper, 3 tsp of the minced garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil.
    • Put the marinade over the chicken cubes and set aside.

chicken prep

  • Mix the red onion sliced, 2 tsp garlic and ginger.
    • Add to a large pan over medium high heat and sauté with a little oil until soft.
    • Remove from the pan and set aside.

onions tikka

  • In the same pan add a little oil.
  • Take the marinated chicken and coat with the flour.
  • Add the chicken to the pan and sauté until almost cooked through.
  • Add the onion, garlic and ginger mixture back into the pan.
  • Add the heavy cream and cook on low to reduce for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the fresh tomatoes.
  • Cook until the tomatoes are warmed through.

tikka tomatosServed over basmati rice and with steamed broccoli completed the meal.

chicken tiki masalaEnjoy!