Category Archives: Chicken

Oh how I have missed you…

My dearest food lovers,

I have missed you more than I can express.

The last few weeks have been demanding and I have had to focus all of my attention on school.  I kept thinking: “if I have time to be doing [insert fun thing], I have time to be studying.”  It was ridiculous and I may or may not have taken it to an extreme.

The light at the end of the tunnel was the midterm and our professor had dangled an impossible carrot in front of our faces (the carrot was irresistible).  He told us that if we managed to score a 90% or above on the exam, we would be able to skip the final.  I took the bait.

The midterm was on Monday and this morning, we had our exams returned to us.  In the 12 years he has been teaching this course, there have only been 3 students who scored above a 90%.  My friends, I am lucky number four!  I received a 94% on the midterm.  It is a huge load off of my shoulders and now, I can return to being normal (i.e. not being a shut-in and only cooking soups so that it lasts for days).  Most importantly, I can return to my hobby!  Cooking and blogging!  Can you tell I am excited??

I wanted to celebrate by making a real meal.  Not that my soups and stews over the last three weeks weren’t real meals, because they were, but I haven’t had time or the will to make something nice.  I decided on a chicken recipe from one of my newer cookbooks, The Newlywed Kitchen.  I served the chicken piccata with a zucchini barley recipe and the combination was flavorful yet light.

Without a doubt, the chicken was the star of the meal.  I have never made chicken this way, so I was surprised (and delighted) to find that cooking it this way produced savory results.  You start out by butterflying a chicken breast and then pounding it down to about ¼ of an inch.  Next, you dredge the chicken in flour, Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of paprika.  Cook the chicken breasts in a skillet with a bit of olive oil for 3 minutes on each side, and then remove and keep warm.  Add just a little bit more of olive oil, and then toss in the rest of the ingredients: mushrooms, a leek (white part only), garlic, lemon juice, chicken stock, 1/3 c. of dry white wine, some capers, and about 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley.  It was incredibly simple and perfect.

This chicken piccata wowed both the pelirojo and me, so it is undoubtedly a keeper.  It turned out to be a scrumptious way to celebrate and a heartening way to start the month of March!  I hope you are all well, and I look forward to catching up on everybody’s culinary adventures!

All my love,

Apicius’ Apprentice

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Chicken Penne Pasta

Well, here we are.  It is finally Friday of what has been a long and very busy week.  But the weekend is finally upon us, and I have plenty of fun plans to celebrate the last three days of the Triangle Restaurant Week!

Since the last few days have been so packed, I planned ahead with the week’s menu and made a sauce that would last me for a few lunch and dinner meals.

Before you gasp at the quantities listed in the ingredients to the left, know that I doubled the recipe so that I could have enough to last us over a few days.  And, if you’re normal (unlike me) you can make enough pasta in advance so that all you have to worry about is reheating it in the microwave.

However, if you aren’t normal (like me) and you have a thing against reheated pasta, then you’ll have to take an extra couple of minutes into account in prepping the leftovers.  Don’t roll your eyes!  I’m not imagining it (I don’t think..)!  The consistency of pasta changes once it has been microwaved.  It gets gummy, or hard and it just bugs me.  All this means is that you have to warm up water in a tiny pot just for pasta.  It will take an extra 15 minutes, but it’s worth it to me to have freshly cooked past.  (Ok… I suppose it’s silly enough that you can roll your eyes…)

The recipe is adapted from Spitler & Yoakam’s 1,001 Best Low-Fat Recipes, and is very simple and versatile.  If you are of the vegetarian persuasion, you can simply omit the chicken and have a very flavorful dish.  Even if you aren’t vegetarian, I don’t think you would miss the chicken if you left it out.  There are enough harmonious notes in the dish to keep your palette intrigued.  The only thing I will try changing next time is the olives.  The black olives were nice, but I’d like to taste what kalamata olives would do to the flavor.

It’s time to start getting ready to close up shop and let the Friday fun begin!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Raleigh Weekday Chicken Fingers

I make a pretty decent breaded chicken, but when I saw this recipe in my new In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite cookbook, I was intrigued.  The combination of spices made me wonder 1) if it would make the fingers too sweet and 2) if it would compare to the much requested (by the pelirojo) recipe I currently make.

The original recipe calls for fresh basil (or cilantro, or parsely) and fresh garlic, but I didn’t have fresh basil on hand (I used it all in the basil cream sauce pasta).  I was also feeling too lazy to mince garlic, so dried basil and garlic was added instead.  Thankfully, this was not one of those cases where you wonder, “would it have been much better with the fresh alternative?”

The results were impressive!!  I will never make my sorry excuse for chicken fingers again.  This was infinitely more delicious, more moist, better seasoned, and just as easy as my other recipe.  I had wondered if I needed to make some sort of dipping sauce, but I’m really glad that I didn’t because these fingers were flavorful enough to stand on their own.

When I think of chicken fingers, I always think it’s appropriate to make mac-n-cheese (Annie’s brand is the stuff I really love) and a veggie side.  I served the fingers on a bed of spinach and a side of mac-n-cheese, but the flavor combination wasn’t right.  I think this would be phenomenal with basmati rice and some roasted vegetables.

Can I just say how excited I am that I’ve been on a roll?  This is another “KEEPER” recipe!

Hurray for successful adventures in the kitchen!!

Balsamic Chicken

Dear Vegetarian Viewers: Be warned… there are some graphic chicken photos within this post!

When it comes to chicken, a boneless chicken breast is my cut of choice.  It’s easy to cook and requires minimal prep work.  You know what doesn’t require minimal prep work?  Chicken drums.  That’s why I’ve never made them!!  Also… call me lazy if you will… but I don’t like eating them either.  You know why?  Because it takes too much work.  I don’t eat chicken drums with my hands, and it’s too much work for too little of a reward.

It now occurs to me that I have never shared this sentiment with my husband.  I suppose I thought that since I had never made them, it would be obvious that I didn’t enjoy them.  What is it that they say about “assuming?”  Oh yeah… they say that not explicitly telling your husband about your preference leads to him picking up a HUGE pack of drums because they’re on sale.

*sigh

Now came the issue of what to do with these things…  Enter trusty Food Network with a potential recipe!  I didn’t have rosemary sprigs or fresh flat leaf parsley on hand, so I figured I would substitute with dry spices.  (Right… like I know what I’m doing substituting stuff… *rolls eyes.)

Now comes the gross part:  Prepping the drums.

I only knew to do this because I had some vague recollection of watching my mom go through this process.  I also seem to remember her making this look easy.  She’d swiftly grab, pull, rip, and trim.  My process was not so swift.  This was the longest part of the prep (sans the marinating time)!  Blah.  It was enough to make me want to stop and not cook.  Just in case you don’t know, here is what it looks like before, and what it’s supposed to look like after:

After you’re done reminding yourself that you are handling a carcass (appetizing, no?), throw the drums in a ziplock bag.  Add the marinade to the plastic bag.

TIP:  This is one of those things you learn ONCE.  Only once…  When marinating something like this in a plastic bag, please do yourself a favor and place it in a pyrex before you stick it in the fridge.  Coming back to a leaked plastic bag in your fridge S.U.C.K.S.!

The recipe says to let the drums marinate for two hours.  I prepped the chicken in the morning and left it all day.  Come super time, I preheated the oven and arranged the drums on a baking sheet.  During the 35 minutes they were cooking in the oven, I heated the marinade, made some Near East rice pilaf, and reheated some squash and chickpeas.

Dinner was served.

Before I tell you what I thought, please remember I’m biased against chicken drums.  It might be good to know that Ian really enjoyed the chicken.

As for me?  I wasn’t super impressed.  The chicken was moist and well marinated, but I couldn’t help but think that it could be better.  If I try this recipe again, I’m going to change two things to see if it improves the dish:

1)  I’m going to use chicken breasts!

2)  I’m going to try it with fresh herbs.

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