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Chicken & Green Chile Tamales

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This project destroyed my kitchen. Like, for real. I knew I wanted to make tamales, and Brent had requested something with roasted green chiles in it, so this is what I came up with. The first step was to prepare the corn husks, which involved trimming and cleaning them and then boiling some water and soaking the husks in it for an hour. Once those were ready, I spread them out and got my dough ready.

Next up, I made the the masa dough using the dough recipe from this recipe.I’ve never made or eaten tamales before, so I was really sure what kind of texture I was going for here, but I just followed the recipe exactly. For the tamale filling, I made this Green Chile Sauce and then added some poached chicken breast.

At this point, nearly everything utensil, pot and pan in my kitchen was dirty, but I forged ahead with the tamale assembly. First, I slathered the husks with about 1/4 cup of the dough.

Then I added a scoop of 1-2 tablespoons of the chicken-chile mixture.

Then I had to roll them up and tie them at the narrow end. Um, this step definitely added to the kitchen mess. I clearly added too much to the corn husks, but I got it done eventually.

Then the next step was to fold the wide top part and steam them for 45 minutes to an hour. But in my reality, the next step was to sit up the couch eating lunch and watching Teen Mom because tying corn husks was kind of an exhausting hassle. But here’s the tamales steaming a little while later.

Then most recipes I read said to let them cool and then reheat when ready to serve. By this time Brent was almost home, so I just steamed them all and got ready for dinner.

Ready to eat! Served with guacamole, of course. Guacamole is always my condiment of choice.

These were pretty darn tasty, and I’m pretty bummed I didn’t make like 30 of them at once for the freezer. That obviously would have made it way more worth the effort. 🙂 Brent really enjoyed these, and there were at least enough leftover for his lunch the next day.

On an unrelated note… shopping is really hard! I went tonight to  look for interview apparel and something to wear to a hospital job fair and it was exhausting and super frustrating. I’m definitely a yoga pants and t-shirt kind of chick, so this is definitely not my arena. Ugh.

Sunday Roast Chicken Dinner

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I was pretty excited when I checked the sales at my neighborhood market and saw organic whole chicken on sale. We don’t purchase much meat, so I usually feel OK spending more for higher quality, organic options. I also prefer to get more bang for my buck by purchasing a whole chicken, which is usually cheaper and provides Brent and I with several meals.

I stuffed this chicken with a halved lemon, a bunch of thyme, and some crushed garlic cloves. I coated the outside with about a tablespoon of oil and seasoned it liberally with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, and then put it in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour. After one hour, I took the pan out of the oven, added chopped sweet potato and acorn squash and then roasted for another 30 minutes until done.

We let the chicken rest for 10 or 15 minutes while Brent made gravy – dude loves him some gravy – and I sliced some Artisan Bread and broiled it with butter and rubbed it with garlic. I love me some garlic bread. This meal was super filling and delish, and we have a ton leftover for lunches this week.

I know I was complaining yesterday about how lonely I get occasionally, which is true, so I decided to turn all my spare time into something fun. I’m going to be trying new food projects. Would you believe I’ve never made a quiche? I’m planning on making one tonight. Oh, and I think I might try bouillabaisse some time this week too! I need to come up with a fun list of things to try while I’ve got the time. I’m thinking about trying to make my own pasta too. I’ve never done that either. Do you guys have any ideas?

Cobb Salad

Understandably, I’ve been so excited and busy with planning everything that is happening – the move, graduating, job hunting, and everything else – that I haven’t spent so much time in my kitchen. Plus Brent’s been in and out of town for various interviews, so cooking seemed much less worth it.

But eating junk for the next month isn’t going to make anything any easier, so I figured I may as well get my butt back in the kitchen and make some simple meals for us. Last night I made a meal Brent really enjoys – Cobb Salad. He’s ordered a few times when we go out to eat and I know he loves it.

I’m not super familiar with what goes into a classic Cobb salad, but mine included (for 2-3 servings):

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped small
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 of an avocado, diced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4-5oz grilled chicken breast, diced
  • 2 pieces center-cut bacon, crumbled
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled (I don’t love this stuff. Brent put more on his portion)

Brent told me he’d prefer it served with a homemade ranch dressing, but I didn’t have ingredients for that and I didn’t feel like leaving the house, so vinaigrette it was. I made a balsamic vinaigrette by combining:

  • 2T water
  • 2T balsamic vinegar
  • 1t red wine vinegar
  • 1/2t Dijon mustard
  • 1/2t agave (or use sugar)
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • 1/4t kosher salt
  • a couple grinds of black pepper

The salad was definitely a hit with Brent, and he requested I make it more often. I enjoyed it too. I LOVE when salad greens are chopped real small and I don’t have to wrestle huge leaves onto my fork. I guess I’m a weirdo like that.

Plans for tonight: drink some celebratory champagne and narrow down moving details. I’m just so excited about this move!

Fall Foods

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Wow. I am ridiculously behind on sharing things with you guys. It’s been a busy week. First, the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Bake-a-Long has returned. Our first recipe to try out was the Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread. Uh, hello? Pumpkin and oatmeal? Why hadn’t I made this already? I made it over a week ago, and I ate the whole loaf by myself. I mean, it took a few days, but still. By myself.

The bread is soft and chewy. I could eat it plain and be happy. BUT it makes some freaking fantastic cinnamon toast. I probably ate half the loaf as cinnamon toast. So heavenly. Another winner from the ABin5 folks.

Sometime last week, I also made a giant pan of butternut squash lasagna which we ate almost all week. I made this sometime before, maybe last winter and we really enjoyed it then and did so this time as well. It packs a ton of veggies into a slcie of lasagna and I love the smoky marinara.

It fed us well, and I highly recommend the recipe. I think it’s one of my fall/winter favorites.

Friday Night Feasts

Brent and I have recently decided that, in order to spend more quality time together and save money, we will try cooking a new recipe once a week. It’ll be fun for us to try to make restaurant-ish food at home and to try cooking together in our tiny, tiny kitchen. We figured we would take turns finding recipes. Last week was our first project, which Brent found. We made Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Whole Grain Mustard. WE took the easy way out and had the butcher take the backbone out for us. Our main concern was finding a big enough pan for the whole thing. We managed to stuff it in one and we were on our way.

Trying to flip that thing with a pair of tongs was scary. Brent and I were pretty sure it was going to end up with the dogs on the floor, but we managed to do it. While it was in the oven, I toss some potatoes and sweet potatoes with olive and threw them in the oven to roast alongside. Brent suggested laying the chicken on a bed of arugula. (My husband is very fancy.) All together now:

Oh, I should mention Brent made the sauce. Apparently he doesn’t trust me with things like sauce and gravy. Whatevs. Everything was very delicious though, and a sauce with mustard is always good. It worked well on potatoes too!

I’ve already picked this week’s recipe! I’m so excited about it. 🙂

Green Chile-Chicken Enchiladas

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I was so thankful for the prep work I did this weekend! I came home after clinical and basketball practice starving – basketball is hard work, yo! and all I had to do was preheat the oven and put in a dish of cheesy goodness. I made Green Chile-Chicken Enchiladas, which Brent and I really like. I made the green chile sauce and cooked the chicken on Sunday and assembled the enchiladas last night. Because the dish was going from the fridge to the oven, I cooked for 30-35 minutes rather than the 18 called for in the recipe. I love recipes like this for clinical days (or alternatively, when I knew I was going to be working late at my old job). To make it a meal, I threw in a pan of green beans to roast next to the enchiladas.

I halved the recipe to make 4 servings, which means we already have lunch ready for tomorrow. 🙂

As my last gen ed for my nursing degree, I have to take a math class online. I’m not super psyched about it, because it’s a pretty low level class and the math from my first degree doesn’t fit the requirement because it was too advanced – makes no sense to me. I’m trying to keep it positive though, so at least I know it should be relatively easy, and since it’s online, I’m hoping I can work ahead and bang out most of the assignments and quizzes by the end of September. I started earlier today, and I plan on doing a few more sections tonight. Wish me luck!

Chicken “Spiedies”?

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I got tonight’s recipe from a Rachael Ray episode I watched a few weeks ago. The absolute main reason I made this was to use up some of Brent’s homemade giardiniera. I can’t say that word, but I think you all know it’s a spicy pickled vegetable thing.

We have two pint size jars of it in our fridge right now, and although Brent would probably just eat it straight out of the jar with a fork, I thought trying to incorporate it into a dish would be nice. So that brings us to Chicken Spiedies with Sesame Sauce. I’m not sure what a “spiedie” is, but the recipe makes a lemon-herb chicken sandwich with tahini dressing and pickled veggies on top. I made a half whole-wheat version of Artisan Bread for the sandwich base. Grilled the marinated chicken on a cast-iron grill pan, drizzled it with the tahini dressing (which I thinned with lemon juice rather than water for more flava), and then covered it with giardiniera. Notice hollowed out bread to reduce density.

It was pretty tasty, although the bread was pretty dense (my bad). Brent suggested making it into a romaine salad topped with the chicken and pickled veggies and tahini dressing. That sounds pretty good. The flavors all definitely worked together, so I may try that sometime soon for a lighter meal.

I’m watching this new show: Master Chef on Fox with Gordon Ramsey. It’s totally the poor man’s Top Chef, which might be ok since I have no cable, but I think it’s going to suck. I’m giving it one episode, so we’ll see.

A Throw-Together

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Tonight’s dinner was one of those “well at least I didn’t resort to ordering pizza” kind of meals. I spent 8 straight hours reading up on such exciting topics as “Interpreting intracranial waveforms” and “New Advents in Neurological Monitoring” and I just really had no desire to make dinner when the time came.

Aware that I had just been grocery shopping the day prior and spent a fair chunk of change, I just looked around blankly for inspiration and started throwing things in a saute pan. I sautéed some shallots in olive oil, then I added some sweet italian chicken sausage until browned, then a drained and rinsed can of chickpeas, and in the final moments, a big handful of grape tomatoes. Meanwhile, I boiled water and made some Parmesan couscous (from a box). I served everything together and actually had it ready when Brent got home from work.

Well, it only took 15 minutes, but it was actually super delicious. Sauteing the chickpeas really brought out their flavor and I loved them in this. This sausage was really tasty too, and not super salty or greasy, which was nice. I thought the couscous had a processed “flavoring” taste, but that’s sort of to be expected from a box, and it was totally fine when mixed with everything else.

I am now about to enjoy a glass of wine and head to bed within the hour. I am just too damn exciting for my own good.

Happy Birthday Brent!

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Wow! It’s been such a fun, exhausting weekend! We went back to our alma mater for a wedding. It was a long drive both ways and a late night. At midnight last night when it turned August 2nd, we toasted not only the bride and groom, but also my husband Brent who turned 28 today! For Brent’s birthday I told him to pick whatever he wanted for dinner and I would make it for him. His choice: fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy.

HPIM3911Though I’m not well-known for my ability to fry things, I tackled the project with enthusiasm, covering myself in egg and flour in the process. Here’s a lovely photo of my giving myself the dreaded “club hand” from all the double-dipping.

The chicken came out really well, and the birthday boy seemed very grateful and happy.

HPIM3920Dinner was tasty. I love mashed potatoes and I haven’t had them in a long time. Delicious. I made a lot of food because we’re planning on eating leftovers for the next two days until Wednesday (my birthday!!!) when we leave for Denver.

HPIM3925Not exactly “Well-balanced,” but delicious nonetheless. I’ll have a fun wedding post up later. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day. I wasn’t able to see my mom today, but she is a pretty awesome mother. I can definitely say I appreciate her way more now that I’m an adult myself. My family was having a pretty big get together today so I’m sure Mom got showered with enough attention (I did remind my other absent sibling to call her! ;))

However, we did have Brent’s family over for dinner to celebrate with his mom today. Whenever I’m entertaining people, I like to look to the Barefoot Contessa for inspiration. She thinks like I do, and she likes to serve things that can be prepared ahead of time so she’s not spending the whole time in the kitchen instead of with her guests. Today’s meal was pretty much entirely prepped ahead of time.

Our main course was roast chicken. It’s super simple to prepare and I knew Brent’s family would like it. I don’t try to force “adventurous” food on people, especially family. Both Brent’s and my family are fairly simple when it comes to what they like, so this was perfect. I forgot to grab a picture of it before Brent carved it.

HPIM3329It came out very well, and I made gravy for it (Brent loves gravy) from the pan juices. On the side I made French Potato Salad, which is absolutely one of my all-time favorite potato recipes. It’s definitely my favorite potato salad — and it tastes delicious at any temperature. Perfect picnic food.

HPIM3311I also made roasted green beans, which I popped in the oven for fifteen minutes while the chicken was resting and I was making the gravy. All together:

HPIM3330Finally, for dessert, I made Deb’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Hers looks much better, but mine was equally delicious. My “concentric circles” didn’t work out so well.

HPIM3318Brent was especially fond of the crispy caramelized edges of the cake. I’ve never eaten pineapple upside-down cake that I can remember, but I think this version is pretty fantastic and I enjoy it’s summery-ness.

I leave you with an entertaining photo of Brent’s brother Jonathan chasing Larry around the backyard. Larry is much faster than Jon. Jon’s moving to Colorado next month, and I definitely think Larry’s going to miss him.

HPIM3332I hope you had a wonderful day and were able to spend time with your family this weekend!

Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic

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Most of the time, I just cook whatever I want, and Brent goes along with it, because Brent is a pretty go with the flow kind of guy. However, one of the reasons I truly love cooking is that it makes people feel appreciated, or cared about when you make them a meal. Because Brent had a pretty stressful week, I decided yesterday I wanted to do something nice for him, and I made plans to make him his absolute favorite dinner tonight.

Now, it’s pretty obvious we don’t really eat much meat, other than fish in our house, but we used to eat more of it, and I made this Barefoot Contessa recipe for the first time about 2 years ago. It was an immediate hit with Brent —  a dish that made him literally smack his lips and lick his fingers. So, although it’s not something I’d normally choose to eat, it made me happy to make it for him (the last time was like a year and a half ago). He was very appreciative.

hpim3083The amount of garlic obviously sounds obscene, but it’s not. The garlic softens and becomes sweet and buttery. It’s actually perfect for spreading on toast. Tonight’s dinner also including herb roasted fingerling potatoes, which I really filled up on, and was rounded out with some crusty Artisan Bread for sopping up the sauce. Because he loves it so much, and I rarely make it, I made a lot, so he would have leftovers for the rest of the weekend.

Brent took the afternoon off of work, so we’ve been bumming around watching basketball, although I was truly depressed by the Illini’s loss last night. (Brent was not surprised by their loss). I hope everyone has a lovely Friday night!