Posts tagged chicken
Posts tagged chicken
Sunday supper: chicken with balsamic bell peppers
Recently, I decided that I was going to face my fear of pan-frying chicken and finishing cooking it in the oven. You might even call it a New Year’s resolution. You see, we don’t like to bbq in the winter: it is just too cold and too annoying to strap on your boots and put on your big coat and stand outside and freeze to death. This presents a problem as eating baked chicken breast gets really boring pretty quickly. Enter the pan-fry technique, which allows you to get a nice crisp, brown crust on your chicken (which, although not totally like bbq’d chicken, is along the same lines) while keeping it moist inside by finishing the cooking in the oven.
I felt better about facing this task after finding this recipe (click on my photo above to link to the recipe) on myrecipes.com. A little trick that I figured out for myself is to use chicken breast cutlets: the ones that I found at my local grocery store (Farm Boy) are about the same size as a regular chicken breast, but about half the thickness. This makes cooking the meat easy and safe since you don’t have to worry as much about cooking through a thick chicken breast.
The other great thing about this recipe is that the pan-seared chicken is then topped with bell peppers and onions that have been simmered with balsamic vinegar for for a delicious kick. I served the chicken with a side of whole wheat couscous spiked with herbes de provence, lemon juice and olive oil. This was one delicious healthy Sunday supper, and now I’m excited about trying this cooking technique again soon.
Weeknight supper: chicken corn chowder
As I’ve mentioned a few times recently, I am loving the website myrecipes.com for my weeknight dinner inspiration. The recipes are easy to follow and, so far, everything that I have made has turned out delightfully!
This soup uses the most simple ingredients: you might wonder how it could be so tasty. Well, I assure you that it is! The secret to this soup’s deliciousness is in the blending of the milk and corn - it creates a wonderful smooth, creamy texture that serves as the soup’s base/broth.
Click on my photo above to link to the recipe. I made it exactly as indicated except that I added one chopped red bell pepper (I added it during the onion cooking phase) for an extra infusion of vegetable! I will definitely make this again, especially with this frigid weather we are currently experiencing in Ottawa.
The husband and I spent Christmas together at our place this year after the ice storm threw a wrench in our plans to visit my family for the holidays. Knowing that his family was going to be visiting after Christmas, we didn’t want to make a huge dinner with lots of leftovers for just the two of us, so we opted for a freshly prepared chicken Kiev and chicken cordon bleu from the Butchery, a fantastic butcher shop in Ottawa’s west end. To accompany the chicken, we steamed some fresh green beans and I made some lemon, garlic and herb couscous using this. Not too bad for a special Christmas dinner for two!
Of course, having wine with dinner is very important, so we opened a bottle of Megalomaniac Local Squeeze Red, which I had picked up while visiting the Megalomaniac winery earlier this fall (see here). Delightful!
What did you eat for your holiday meal this year?
Weeknight supper: chicken enchiladas
I’m still on the hunt for a good, simple enchilada recipe. I liked this one that I tried in 2011 (see here) from the Food Network’s Janet and Greta Podleski of Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, but I’m always tweaking.
This newest version comes care of myrecipes.com, a website that I have been loving lately! The criteria that I’m looking for in an enchilada recipe is that it is simple, (fairly) quick, and uses ingredients that I’m likely to have in my pantry/fridge and doesn’t specifically call for “enchilada sauce” as it is near impossible to find this in Ottawa! This one delivers! Click on my photo above to link to the recipe. I would make this again - it turned out great!
Weeknight supper: chipotle chicken chili
As I try to expand my knowledge and experience in the kitchen, I’m constantly faced with ingredients with which I have never worked. A great example of one of these ingredients is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that my first ever cooking experience with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce was just one short year ago! The first challenge was simply finding the ingredient in a grocery store, which was a bit of a challenge and took a few tries at a few different stores. The internet helped me to get a sense of what I was looking for: most chipotle peppers in adobo sauce come in a small can, sometimes with a pull-tab top.
For the recipe that I was making at the time, I was to puree the whole can of peppers in their sauce to make a paste. One of the first things I learned about chipotle peppers in adobo sauce after getting them home and opening them up is that they are very, very spicy! A little bit goes a long way (if you’re using a puree like I did) in a recipe. The second thing that I learned is that you will have lots left over. So, what to do with the rest of it? And that’s what brings me to today’s post.
I put the rest of mine in a glass Tupperware into the freezer, and have been slowly chipping away at it since, adding it to various recipes throughout the year (one surprise: it worked very well in chicken burgers!) until I finally used up the last bit of it in this chipotle chicken chili.
Today’s recipe comes from one of my all-time favourite blogs, Bev Cooks (click on my photo above to link to the original recipe on her site). I made the recipe exactly as indicated except that I did not add the can of pinto beans (I didn’t have any); I added about a tablespoon of pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (instead of three minced chipotle peppers in their adobo sauce); and I added one chopped red bell pepper. Her recipe also calls for beer, so I used a bottle of Bud Light Lime! This is a great recipe: it was very easy to make and it has everything that I keep as pantry staples which I love. The husband loved it too!
Best of all, I can finally wash the Tupperware that was sitting in my freezer holding the chipotle pepper puree for the last 12 months! Now that is something to be happy about! Hahaha.
Weeknight dinner: chicken chipotle chowder
My cravings for soup, stew and chili are endless lately! We had our first (wet) snowfall in Ottawa this past weekend, and I was not the happiest of campers to see my old foe Mr. Snowflake. I know it is futile to complain about the weather so, with that, I’ll end my weather-related rant.
Now on to the good stuff: the soup! I used to be intimidated by the thought of making a chowder-type soup. My impression was such that these kinds of soups were complicated to make and heavy, but I’ve learned that this is not the case at all! Best of all, I think I’ve found a new favourite recipe, which is this chicken chipotle chowder. This recipe comes from the fantastic Our Best Bites blog, and you can link to the original recipe by clicking here.
What’s not to like about this soup? Lean chopped, cooked chicken breast, diced red potatoes, black beans, corn and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for that smoky kick: it is a meal of a soup! I added a diced orange bell pepper for an extra veggie infusion but otherwise stuck to the recipe as directed and was thrilled with the results. I really like that low-fat milk (I used 1%) is used in this recipe instead of cream: I guarantee that you will be satisfied by the creaminess of this soup!
Weeknight supper: slow cooker sweet and sour chicken
Once again, it had been quite a while since I last used my slow cooker, and, what with the cold weather finally settling in around here, we were in the mood for something warm and hearty.
I made this exactly as described in the recipe (except I used a yellow bell pepper instead of a green bell pepper), but, due to our schedule, I had to cook it for longer than indicated. So, although totally delicious, I would recommend to cook it for a maximum of six hours on low heat.
We served ours over a bed of basmati rice, and sprinkled on some freshly chopped green onion and sesame seeds for garnish. I would definitely make this again - the chicken was incredibly tender, and the pineapple added a nice sweet flavour.
Be sure to check out the whole slow cooker recipe collection on Cooking Light`s website; I know I have a few more lined up in my recipe queue!
Bao for lunch: Round 2
I couldn’t let the last bit of not too cold weather slip away without squeezing in one last trip to Gongfu Bao. I was still dreaming of my first taste of bao (see here) and was eager to get my hands on some more!
I was in for a treat that day, as the proprietor of the cart, Tarek Hassan, was preparing a special bao. The dough for the bao was spiked with tumeric to give it that vibrant yellow hue (I promise, it was very vibrant, although the fluorscent lighting under which I took this photo in my office may have skewed the colour a bit) and just a hint of flavour. It was also shaped differently; more like a thick, open-ended pita pocket than an enclosed stuffed pocket. The filling was the stuff of taste buds’ dreams: chicken and chickpea curry with cilantro and crispy skin. It had incredible depth of flavour with a slight kick to it. The crispy skin bits were my favourite as they were incredibly flavourful.
I can’t wait to visit the cart next year and see what Tarek has in store for us Ottawans with curious taste buds!
Lunch at Freshii
I noticed Freshii a while back when I drove past it in a blur trying to focus on the lanes of traffic and cars around me while driving into the downtown core. I didn’t think much of it until my sister mentioned the name, saying that it was a great spot for a quick, healthy lunch.
During my sister’s recent visit, we took advantage of my day off and went to Freshii for lunch so that I could see what it was all about. There are two locations in Ottawa, one on the University of Ottawa campus and one on Sparks Street. We had parked on the university campus so my sister could attend a meeting so we ate at that location.
The interior is bright, and Freshii’s colour theme is quite apparent: white, bright emerald green and black. There are menu boards displaying the myraid of options for their wraps, salads, burritos, soups and bowls. I decided to stick with their menu boards for my first time, but they have another option: design your own _____ (wrap, salad, burrito, bowl or soup). They provide little clipboards with pre-made forms that list all of the available ingredient options and prices for each choice. Wow! You could literally go in and order something completely different every day of the week. You might think that this is no different than say, Subway, but Freshii has even more toppings such as chopped beets, artichoke hearts, corn, edamame, green apple, chickpeas, celery, cabbage…and the list goes on! Definitely not your average toppings.
So as I was saying, I decided to go with one of their menu board items, and I chose the Fiesta burrito, which is basically a heated wrap that comes stuffed with brown rice, cajun chicken, avocado, corn, black beans, diced tomato, cilantro, salsa and low-fat ranch dressing. It was fantastic! A huge burrito that left me full for the rest of the day. I did feel the price was a tad steep at $7.99 plus tax, but it was a really big portion and the ingredients were all of excellent quality.
I can’t wait to go back to try more of their menu board items (or even create my own). I’m going to try to take the husband as I know he’ll love it, even though I know he’ll be totally overwhelmed by the choices! Have you been to a Freshii? Any tips? What is your favourite menu item?
Weeknight supper experiment: Chicken enchilada stuffed peppers
This was an experiment for me: I`ve never made stuffed peppers! It seems kind of crazy when I think about it, but its true. So when I came across this recipe for chicken enchilada stuffed peppers on the lovely How Sweet It Is blog, I knew my time had finally come!
Unfortunately, as per usual, I went a little bit crazy changing up the recipe and…well, I kind of failed. My above photo does look tasty, yes, but in reality the flavour of the sauce that I made ended up being not quite right. A do-over is in store for this little experiment, which is why I won’t be sharing my tweaked version of the original recipe. I encourage you to go on over to the How Sweet It Is blog and try the original recipe though! Click on my photo above to link to the recipe. I promise I will be making stuffed peppers again so stay tuned!
Weeknight dinner: chicken and vegetable noodle soup
I started coming down with a cold on Sunday. You know that feeling; a little tingle in your throat. Next comes the sore throat, and then it moves into your nose and sinuses and into a head cold. Thankfully, this hasn’t been one of the worst head colds I`ve ever experienced, but I’ve been feeling tired and like crap.
I decided to make myself a batch of that all time favourite magical cure: chicken noodle soup. I wasn’t following a recipe, so this you could say is my own recipe! It has definitely helped me to feel better and it was delicious too (when I could taste it, that is!). Even the husband enjoyed it. Lucky for me, I now have a go-to chicken noodle soup recipe for the next time I’m feeling under the weather.
Chicken and vegetable noodle soup - serves about 4 or 2 with lots of leftovers
Ingredients for the roasted chicken
- 2 large skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 cup cauliflower florets
- 2 big sprigs of fresh thyme
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp dried herbes de provence
- a little bit of water for the roasting dish
Directions for the roasted chicken
Preheat oven to 375°. Lay the sliced onion in the bottom of your roasting dish and then lay the fresh sprigs of thyme on top of the onions. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the onion and thyme and arrange the cauliflower florets around the chicken. Season with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbes de provence. Pour a little bit of water into the baking dish to just cover the onion layer in the bottom of the dish. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until chicken is cooked.
Ingredients for the soup
- 8 cups chicken stock (homemade or store bought)
- 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced (I used two)
- 1 cup cooked mini noodles (I used tubetti)
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- mini carrots, chopped into coins (use as much or as little as you like)
Directions for the soup
Preheat a large pot to medium-low heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil.
Once the chicken is cooked, carefully remove the chicken breasts to a separate plate - be sure to keep the liquids from the roasting dish. Take all of the meat off of the bones (discarding the skin) and chop. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Remove the onions and cauliflower and either add to the soup as is or chop into smaller pieces. Add to the pot. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the juices from the roasting dish and the 8 cups of chicken stock. Add the carrots, corn, noodles and chopped cooked chicken and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until carrots are just tender and corn is warmed through.
Lunch at the Flying Banzini
As you can perhaps guess, I get excited when a new restaurant opens in Ottawa. Especially one that is close to my workplace, which affords me the delight of being able to wander out on my lunch hour to experience new and delicious eats.
When I first saw and read about the Flying Banzini, it was a little bittersweet because it was opening in the former space that belonged to Collected Works, a fantastic independent book store that had to close its doors. Alas, I had high hopes: even the name had me intrigued!
I had been following the owner’s blog during the first couple of weeks of the business being open, and it was interesting. Of course there are ups and downs when opening a new restaurant, and the owner, Dave Scharf, blogged about every one of those ups and downs. I really liked his honesty in those blog posts - I thought he was pretty brave for being so open about the ups and downs of his new restaurant.
I am a big sucker for a good sandwich, so I was excited to sink my teeth into one of the Flying Banzini’s fine offerings. I decided on one of their paninis, which was cutely named “Late in the Evening” and cost $8.95 Served on focaccia, this panini comes with pulled roast chicken, double-smoked bacon, sliced granny smith apple, spinach, tomato, Quebec brie and lemon chive mayo. What a fantastic sandwich! The portion size was huge, and the flavours complemented each other incredible. I loved the mish mash of textures from the creaminess of the brie to the crunchy apple. I also added a side salad to my sandwich for an extra $1.95; it was fresh, ample and the in-house made lemon, honey and thyme dressing was fantastic.
But if the amazing sandwich and salad weren’t enough, feast your eyes on probably the most delightful aspect of their menu: the mini cheesecakes! When ordering my lunch, I also wanted to get a couple of cheesecakes to take back to the office with me. The cashier, while handing me two of the adorable coins you see in my photo above, advised me that, when I was done my lunch, I could return to the counter and hand in my coins for my two cheesecakes. Cute! I opted for the chocolate espresso (the one with the coffee bean on top) while a curious coworker for whom I promised a cheesecake had chosen the sea salt caramel chocolate cheesecake. My chocolate espresso cheesecake was incredibly rich and dense, and full of coffee flavour. I loved every last bite! My coworker also loved hers but thought that the chocolate base overwhelmed the salted caramel a little bit.
Overall, I can’t wait to go back to the Flying Banzini. What a fabulous restaurant!
Weeknight supper: proscuitto-wrapped chicken mini meatloaves
I had been craving proscuitto lately: that salty, rich, earthy flavour was haunting me and it had been forever since I’d had it. Lucky for me, I came across this recipe on the fantastic Barbara Cooks blog (click on my photo above to link to her recipe) and into the kitchen I went!
I’ve also really come to love meatloaf over the past couple of years. It is so incredibly hearty, wholesome and filling. It can also be healthy depending on how you make it, in my opinion.
I made a few changes to Barbara’s recipe so I am going to post my version below. I will definitely make this again (whether or not I’m craving proscuitto!)
Proscuitto-wrapped chicken mini meatloaves
Adapted from Barbara Cooks
Ingredients for the meatloaves:
- 1lb ground chicken
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (I used Farm Boy’s version - it is sodium free)
- freshly cracked sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 8 slices proscuitto (not too thinly sliced)
Ingredients for the sauce: (Note: You could use pre-made tomato sauce here if it helped keep things quick and easy for you. Simply heat by your preferred method and have it ready to serve on top of your mini meatloaves).
- 1 cup tomato sauce of your choice, I used passata
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1/2 tsp or 1 clove freshly minced garlic
- freshly cracked sea salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 425°. Lightly coat 8 cups of a muffin pan with cooking spray. Line the 8 greased muffin cups with the proscuitto - you might have to tear it into smaller strips in order to make it fit.
Mix all of the ingredients for the meatloaves in a large bowl. Divide among the 8 muffin cups. Cook for about 25-30 minutes until the tops have started to brown or a thermometer inserted into the middle of a meatloaf reads 160°.
Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil and the garlic, and let cook for a minute but be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the tomato sauce and the herbs. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the meatloaves are done.
To finish the meatloaves, pull the pan from the oven. Top each meatloaf with a teaspoon of the tomato sauce and a little bit of shredded cheese (i used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella). Return to the oven just until the cheese melts. Serve topped with some freshly snipped chives and your choice of side dish.
Dinner at ZaZaZa
With the Monday of the Labour Day long weekend upon us, the husband and I decided to venture out to try something new. The husband, being the pizza nut that he is, had had his eye on ZaZaZa for some time, so off we went.
ZaZaZa was created by the same man, Ion Aimers, who created the Works Gourmet Burger restaurants, which has now become a chain with locations all over southern Ontario. The husband and I are big fans of the Works and have enjoyed dining at their various Ottawa locations over the years (see here as just one example), so we had high hopes for ZaZaZa.
We chose to eat at the Bank Street location (the other being in the Beechwood neighbourhood), which is fairly small but luxuriously decorated with damask wallpaper and sparkly chandeliers.
Similar to the Works Burger Bistro, you can choose from three types of crust for your pizza: dusted cornmeal, honey oat or gluten free. I chose the Sweet Glide pizza on a honey oat crust, which comes topped with pesto oil, mozzarella, proscuitto, shrimp, freshly sliced pear, pecans, brie and arugula. The husband ordered the Cajun Cowboy on a dusted cornmeal crust, which comes topped with tomato chipotle sauce, caramelized onion, chicken, spicy havarti, chorizo sausage and corn. The result? Definitely interesting! The crust was not at all what I expected; it was very dense and chewy, not light and airy. But I loved it! My toppings were plentiful and fresh, and I thought the flavours went together perfectly. The husband couldn’t agree more - he loved his pizza. The cornmeal crust was a new experience for him, and he liked it for being so different than any other pizza he has tried.
We decided to save room for dessert so after eating a piece or two of our pizzas, we set aside the rest to order the Crispy Punch, one of ZaZaZa’s dessert pizzas. Much smaller but no less delicious, the Crispy Punch is ZaZaZa’s honey oat crust topped with peanut butter sauce, milk and dark chocolate chips, chunks of Crispy Crunch and whipped cream. Yum! A perfect way to end our dinner.
The husband would like to go back to try more of their pizzas…I’ll keep you posted!
Breakfast/lunch at Art-is-in Bakery
I’ve been to Art-is-in quite a few times now, and the husband and I often pick up their delicious flavoured breads at our local farmer’s market on the weekends. But it had been quite a long time since the husband had dined at their restaurant, so we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast this past long weekend.
We probably should have waited to go on Sunday instead of Saturday, which is the day they break out all of the indulgent and delicious brunch goodies like vanilla bean buttermilk pancakes, pulled pork poutine, foie gras dirty duck french toast, eggs benny and other feats of culinary imagination, but alas we headed out on Saturday to fulfill our craving.
I ordered the basic breakfast sandwich, which I had served on one of their incredible croissants. The breakfast sandwich consists of maple bacon, egg and cheddar cheese, served with their in-house made ketchup. This is a breakfast sandwich at its best!
The husband opted for the buttermilk brined chicken caesar with bacon sandwich, which is tender chicken pieces with bacon, havarti, tomatoes, arugula and their homemade Caesar dressing, all served on their cheddar, jalapeno and chive bread. He loved it of course!
And what would an indulgent brunch be without some sort of pastry? See exhibit A above: a giant doughnut stuffed with berry-infused Chantilly cream and topped with a glazed doughnut round covered in sprinkles. Yup, the husband was in heaven.
Next time, we’ll hit up their Sunday brunch!