Spicy mustard chicken with zuchinni and orzo

This chicken marinade was, like many dishes I come up with, borne out of necessity due to lack of standard ingredients.  I regularly make my chicken marinade with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasoning; but I realized too late that I was out of my beloved vinegar.  I don’t especially like the taste of chicken with lemon, so I was forced to find another acid to balance out my lovely olive oil.  I was introduced to Inglehoffer mustard by a friend who used it as a dip for appetizers, and became hooked immediately.  It is spicy and a bit creamy: very different from your regular deli mustard.  If you don’t have this particular mustard any spicy version will do, but I highly recommend picking up a bottle.

1 lb chicken breast, skinned and deboned
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp mustard (my favourite is Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Pepper Mustard, found in the deli section of your grocery store)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Mix your marinade ingredients thoroughly.  It will be more of a paste and less of a liquid: don’t worry, it will still flavour your chicken beautifully.

IMG_7932

Spread the marinade over your chicken and set aside in the fridge until ready to barbeque.

IMG_7869

2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Onion powder, to taste
Pastry brush

Brush over your zucchini and barbeque.

1 cup orzo pasta
3 cups chicken stock (I used homemade but you could also use Campbells if you’d prefer)
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried basil
Pepper, to taste
Pasta pot

If you are using a homemade stock from a roasted chicken carcass, a pinch of salt is all that is required.  Heat your stock until it boils then add your pasta and cook to 1 minute less than al-dente.  Drain your pasta and set aside.

IMG_7142

Barbeque your chicken at medium high heat until browned on both sides and thoroughly cooked.  When pierced, only clear juices should run out.  The marinade will caramelize and leave your chicken a blackened colour, don’t worry it’s not burnt.  Remove the chicken from the heat and allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving.

IMG_7936

Finally, pour your pasta back into the pot and mix with the grated Parmesan and seasoning, mix until thoroughly combined then serve immediately with your chicken.

 

Enjoy!

IMG_7871

 

Advertisements

Roasted chicken with Parmesan orzo and carrots

This meal is the result of a combination of laziness and ingenuity.  My husband and I had returned the previous day from vacation and had almost nothing in our fridge and freezer.  I had taken out a chicken and some homemade chicken stock to thaw with the intention of making roasted chicken with farfel (a variation on my first blog post recipe, Roasted chicken with Israeli couscous and mushrooms).  Several hours later after much procrastination, we realized how exhausted we were from jet lag and decided we were too lazy to go to the grocery store after all.  My dilemma was twofold: I had to cook my now defrosted chicken, and I had nothing to serve it with.  I scoured the pantry and fridge and found orzo pasta and a few carrots.  The orzo was simple, I would cook it with the chicken stock to make a tasty farfel alternative.  The carrots I decided to treat like Thanksgiving sweet potatoes, adding a few items from my baking pantry.  Despite it’s last minute inspiration, this dinner was quite tasty.  I hope you agree!

Whole chicken
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chilli
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
Olive oil
Roasting pan

Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Drizzle the olive oil and spices over both sides of your chicken and stuff the cavity with whole garlic cloves.

IMG_7133

Bake 1-1 1/2 hours until crisp and golden brown.  Reserve the roast drippings and set aside.  Allow your chicken to rest before carving, this allows the juices to soak into the meat for a tender, delicious bird.

IMG_7143

3 medium carrots
Tbsp sliced almonds
Tbsp dried cranberries
Tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chilli
2 garlic cloves, chopped in half
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 inch chunk butter, diced
Olive oil
Dish for roasting

Chop your carrots into one inch chunks and place in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix with spices, cranberries, butter and almonds.  Bake for 1 hr, until tender.

IMG_7138

1 cup orzo pasta
3 cups chicken stock (I used homemade but you could also use Campbells if you’d prefer)
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
Chicken drippings
Pasta pot

If you are using a homemade stock from a roasted chicken carcass, a pinch of salt is all that is required.  Heat your stock until it boils then add your pasta and cook to 1 minute less than al-dente.  Drain your pasta and set aside.

IMG_7142

Pour your pasta back into the pot and mix with the grated Parmesan and reserved chicken drippings.  You should not need additional seasoning, however feel free to add salt or pepper to taste as desired.

IMG_7145

Serve immediately and enjoy.

IMG_7146

Spaghetti with balsamic chicken, zucchini and mixed greens

The inspiration for this dinner was found in the most unlikely of places.  My husband and I were getting off the subway at our local stop when we were approached by a lovely person offering us free pasta.  Not only was the pasta free (amazing!) but it happened to be a kind I had been meaning to try: Barilla Plus (with protein incorporated into the pasta).  I immediately switched from what I was originally going to make for dinner to ideas of what I would do with my new bounty.  I felt that healthy pasta deserved equally nutritious ingredients so chicken and veggies came to mind.  I had zucchini in the fridge and felt that spinach and arugula would add a nice freshness.  The EVOO was a given, why would you smother all those beautiful fresh vegetables in sauce?  Add a little sharp Parmesan Reggiano and you have a delicious, healthy pasta meal.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Dash of lemon juice
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Salt, to taste
2 chicken breasts
Container to marinate your chicken (I like to use large Ziploc containers)

First, mix your marinade ingredients.  Cut up your chicken into one inch strips (I cheated and bought chicken cutlets).  Toss your chicken in the marinade and set aside in the fridge.

IMG_6185

1 zucchini
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of basil, torn
Handful of arugula and baby spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp chili flakes
Salt, to taste
Parmesan Reggiano
Spaghetti
Large pot
Saute pan

Boil your pasta in heavily salted water while you prepare your chicken and veggies.  Make sure you cook it 1-2 minutes less than the al dente time on the box.  Slice your zucchini lengthwise then chop into 1 cm chunks.  Next, saute your zucchini until browned then add your marinated chicken and minced garlic and cook through.

IMG_6186

When your chicken is fully cooked, remove from heat and set aside until your pasta is done.  Next, drain your pasta and place back in the pot.  Add your chicken, zucchini, basil and mixed veggies and stir with your olive oil.  Toss your pasta with a large handful of mixed greens and remove from heat as soon as wilted.

IMG_6192

Grate some fresh cheese over your pasta and enjoy.

Enjoy!

IMG_6194

Pesto and spinach stuffed chicken with roasted vegetables

As you may have guessed from previous posts, I love a good pesto.  My favourite is a traditional basil and pine nut pesto which I switch up with a bit of baby spinach thrown in.  Because this recipe makes too much for one serving of pasta, I try to come up with different uses for my leftover pesto.  You can always freeze leftovers in small batches in airtight containers if you wish to save it for future use.  However, I prefer to refrigerate my pesto and use it shortly after making it to ensure it retains it’s fresh, green taste.  Pesto is incredibly versatile and you can substitute other leafy greens and nuts for those that I use.  In all pesto sauces, the main ingredients remain: toasted nuts, leafy greens, grated cheese and oil.  The traditional way to make a pesto is with a mortar and pestle but I cheat and use my Kitchen Aid food processor instead (I can make a batch of pesto in less than 15 minutes which is perfect for our busy lives).  My recipe is based on one from Food Network Magazine, and has become a mainstay in my home when I want to make a quick, fresh sauce other than my marinara.

2/3 cup pine nuts
2 cups baby spinach (this is more tender than regular spinach, I prefer it but you can always use regular)
1 cup fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chili flakes
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Small sauce pan
Food processor

First, lightly toast your pine nuts in a dry pan.  Keep a close eye on them and remove them from the heat as soon as they have browned then set aside.

IMG_6047

When your pine nuts have cooled, process them into a fine grind.  Add your spinach, basil, garlic, salt and chilli flakes and pulse to a fine dice.  Add your grated parmesan and pulse to incorporate.

IMG_6048

Finally, slowly add your olive oil and pulse to incorporate.  Set your finished pesto aside while you prepare your chicken.

IMG_6049

2 chicken breasts
2 cups of baby spinach
2 cups of pesto
2 zuchinni
Sweet potato
2 tsps chili powder
2 cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
2 baking pans
Aluminum foil

Pre heat your oven to 400 F.  Set aside 1 cup of pesto and mix the other cup with the baby spinach for your filling.  Because the pesto is so flavourful, your chicken will not need any other seasoning.

IMG_6172

Slice your zuchinni and peeled sweet potato into 1 centimeter chunks.  Place on the pan with the garlic and season with the chilli powder and flakes, salt and pepper.  Bake covered until nice and brown (approximately 45 minutes).  While the veggies are baking, butterfly your chicken.

IMG_6173

Divide your spinach mix evenly between the two breasts and close the butterfly.  It does not need to be neat; overflowing filling looks more appetizing in my opinion.

IMG_6174

Take small pieces of aluminum foil and create ‘ties’ for your chicken.  Use the ‘ties’ to hold your butterflied breasts together (I used this instead of twine because I was concerned the latter might burn).  Spread the remaining pesto on top of your chicken and place in the oven on a rimmed baking pan.

IMG_6179

Bake for 30 minutes (or until your chicken is cooked through).  Baking pesto can be messy!  While it bakes, some of the oil from your pesto will separate and drip into your pan.  If you do not use a rimmed pan, you will have a grease fire in your oven: be very careful!

Serve right out of the oven and enjoy.

IMG_6184

Breaded buttermilk chicken with roasted vegetables

In planning for our recent wedding, my husband and I decided to try and eat healthier.  We agreed that we wouldn’t go on a diet that was unsustainable but instead would increase our vegetable intake.  The result is that (almost) every meal we eat is 1/3 carb/protein and 2/3 cooked/raw veggies.  I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice tasty dinners in order to eat more veggies, so I started sneaking in roasted or sauteed veggies instead of carbs.  In this meal, a single sweet potato is stretched farther by adding some eggplant to the mix.  You can add in any veggie you’d like, just make sure it bakes well and will stand the heat as well as a sweet potato so neither burns.

1 medium eggplant
1 sweet potato (you can substitute a regular potato if you wish, but we prefer sweet-they’re healthier too!)
2 tsps chili powder
2 cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chili flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Baking pan

Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Cut the sweet potatoes and eggplant into 1.5-2 inch chunks and arrange on lined pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning over veggies and garlic.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour until the eggplant is browned and the sweet potato edges have caramelized.IMG_5397

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of buttermilk (you can make your own by mixing 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice and leaving it to sit for 10 minutes)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
Large Ziploc bag
Baking pan

Place your chicken cutlets into a large, resealable plastic bag.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk and minced garlic.  Pour the mixture into the bag with the chicken.  Seal the bag, and leave your chicken to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour (as with any marinade, the longer you leave it the better the result).  In a shallow bowl or baking dish, mix together the flour, bread crumbs, baking powder and seasoning. Remove the chicken from refrigerator, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture.  Then, re-dip your chicken in the marinade and dredge again in the breadcrumb mixture.  Drizzle some olive oil on the chicken and bake on a lined pan uncovered for 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the cutlets, turning once.

IMG_5401

Voila!

IMG_5405

Roasted chicken with Israeli couscous and mushrooms

It seemed appropriate to start this blog with a recipe I grew up with.  This was a typical dish in my home as a child: chicken roasted with lots of garlic over a bed of slow cooked couscous and mushrooms.  This is one of those dishes that I’ve made so many times I no longer look at a recipe.  As with a lot of my cooking, I season to taste so feel free change things up!  In the words of Food Network Chef Michael Smith: “A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason feel free to stir your own ideas into this dish. When you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don’t like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour, you have to add your own!”

1 bag of Israeli couscous (I use Osem brand)
Chicken stock (I make my own from the bones of the chickens I’ve roasted)
Garlic cloves, chopped for the couscous and whole for the chicken (always use fresh!)
Extra virgin olive oil
Whole chicken
1 package of Cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced (you can use any type but I like Cremini’s nutty flavour)
1 onion, minced (I like Vidalia but regular white onions work too)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Onion powder
Dried oregano
Chili flakes
Roasting pan with rack

First, heat the olive oil on medium heat in a heavy bottom frying pan.  Sautee the minced onion and sliced mushrooms until the onion becomes translucent and the mushrooms sweat.  Add minced garlic and couscous (keep the heat at medium, you don’t want burned garlic).  Once the couscous is a nice golden brown, add chicken stock until couscous is submerged.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the couscous simmer for about 20 minutes, until most of the chicken stock is absorbed.  You want your couscous slightly wet when you put it in the oven.  If your couscous is too dry you can always drizzle a bit of olive oil on it before putting it in the oven.

Couscous

While your couscous is simmering you can prepare your chicken and pre heat your oven to 375 F.  If your roasting pan isn’t non stick, line it to avoid lengthy clean up process; I like using parchment paper because nothing sticks so no food is wasted.  Place your chicken in the rack, make sure there’s no giblets.  Drizzle generously with olive oil and grind sea salt and black pepper all over the chicken.  If you’re lucky enough to have a partner in the kitchen, ask him/her to flip the bird so you can season both sides.  If not, I like using a pair of tongs to flip while keeping my hands clean.  Generously season with onion powder, chili flakes and dried oregano then stuff the cavity with some garlic cloves.Chicken

Spoon the finished couscous into the bottom of your pan and taste before placing the chicken and rack above.  Feel free to add a bit of seasoning but don’t worry if it’s not perfect just yet, the roast drippings will add the final bit of deliciousness.  Tent the roast with foil (or place the lid on your pan) and bake for 60-90 minutes on the middle rack (depending on the size of the bird).  After an hour or so, peek at your chicken and test for doneness by poking it with a fork.  When the juices run clear, uncover and continue to bake until golden brown.  *Note: if you are cooking an organic chicken (as I do), the juices may continue to be a bit red even if fully cooked.  To confirm doneness, wiggle the leg, if fully cooked, the leg will move freely.

The finished plate 🙂

Dinner