Friday, February 24, 2006

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss

Makes 4 servings
1 pound penne pasta, cooked to package directions
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1.25 lbs chicken tenders (or cutlets, or breasts pounded thin), cutinto 1 inch pieces
Salt andPepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium shallots, chopped (you can use dried*, minced onion,reconstituted, use about 4 teaspoons, dry, soak in water toreconstitute)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine (if you don't have/want to use wine, increasechicken broth by 1/2 cup and use that 1/2 cup in place of wine in theinstructions)
Juice of 1 lemon, or about 2-3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice
1 cup chicken broth or stock
3 tablespoons capers, drained (I didn't use these)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (or 1-2 tablespoons dried)

Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium-high head. Add 1 tablespoonof olive oil and the chicken to the pan. Season with salt and pepper,and brown until lightly golden all over, about 5-6 minutes. Removechicken from pan and set aside. Return the skillet to the heat,reduce heat to medium. To the skillet, add another tablespoon ofolice oil, 1 tablespoon butter, garlic, and shallots, and sautee 3minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and reduceliquid, 1 minute or until it starts to thicken. (I added about 2 moretablespoons flour at this point so that it was VERY thick, almost like paste consistiency.) Whisk lemon juice and broth into sauce. Stir incapers and parsley. When sauce comes to a bubble, add the remainingtablespoon butter. Put chicken back in the pan and het through for aminute or 2. Toss hot pasta with chicken and sauce. Adjust salt andpepper to taste.

Low fat
Takes 30-45 minutes to make.

* I always have these shallots on-hand. They have great flavor, and reconstitute really well. I buy just about all my spices from Penzey's.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Decoded Chicken -- For Monica

Rice takes 30 minutes... 5 to boil the water, 20 for the rice to cook, and 5 to rest. It can sit longer too, and as long as you have the lid on the pot it'll stay warm.

Confession: I microwave most veggies, because we eat a lot of frozen (organic) veggies. If not, I steam them. That takes 10 minutes, fresh or frozen.

If you're grilling chicken (pan or real grill, boneless breasts) start everything except the veggies cooking at the same time. Keep a timer on for the rice, set it for 20 minutes once it boils. When it boils, start grilling the chicken. When you've got 8-10 minutes left on the 20 minute timer, start the veggies steaming. Everything should be done just about at the same time.

The same timing goes for pretty much any boneless chicken breasts, no matter how you cook it. When I'm baking, just to be sure I tend to overcook it, leaving it in for about 30-35 minutes. I've had too many pink ones come out of the oven. Vomitous.

Chicken is extra excellent with corn.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Shrimp in Stout Sauce

It sounds like a strange combo, but it's really tasty. Serve with crusty bread, or over rice.

2 lbs. prawns or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Grill seasoning such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning -- about 1-2 tablespoon. (can substitute salt, coarsely ground pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, and/or anything else you'd use on steak, just use a lot of pepper)
2 tablespoon. olive oil
1-3 tablespoon. Sriracha hot sauce, or whatever hot sauce you prefer. Season to taste.
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bottle of dark stout beer, like Guinness
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon
2 to 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional -- if opting out, use and additional 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter)
Salt and pepper

1. Coat the prawns with the grill seasoning. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, place about half the prawns in a single layer, and quickly sear them, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and reserve. Repeat with the remaining prawns.

2. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, and the garlic. Cook for one minute. Add the beer, hot sauce, and bay leaf. Boil over high heat to reduce the liquid by half.

3. Return the prawns to the skillet with the sauce and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and remove the bay leaf. Stir in the butter and cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4. Sort of.

Based on a Rachel Ray recipe from the February/March 2006 Everyday Food.

Chicken in Endive with Parsley Sauce

1 lb. chicken thin sliced chicken cutlets
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons drained capers
3-4 heads Belgian endive (or more depending on the size of the endive available)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken until cooked through. Cool completely. Chop and toss with 1 teaspoon lime juice.

To make the parsley sauce: Blend the parsley, sour cream, yogurt, and remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice in a food processor until the parsley is finely chopped. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Toss the chicken with the chives, tarragon, capers, and remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a large bowl to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Separate the endive leaves and arrange on a platter. Spoon about 1 generous tablespoon of the chicken atop each leaf. Drizzle the parsley sauce over the salad and serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentis

Oven Chimichangas

1 lb. ground or cubed (1/4" cubes) meat of your choice (beef, turkey, chicken, whatever)
olive oil
Chili or taco or southwest seasoning to taste (about 2-3 tbsp)
1 tbsp. dried onion flakes, or 1/4 onion, chopped fine
1 15 oz. can fat free refried beans (I prefer Trader Joe's brand, with jalapenos)
2 cups shredded cheese -- cheddar, jack, or a combo of those or anything you like
6-8 soft flour tortillas
1 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown your meat of choice with olive oil, adding seasoning when its just about cooked.

Add in onion and refried beans, stirring occasionally to "melt" the beans.

Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel, and microwave for 20 seconds so that they're soft and pliable.

Spray the bottom of a baking pan with non-stick spray.

Put about 1/4 cup or so of the meat and bean mixture in the center of a tortilla, then add a layer of cheese. Roll and place in pan. Repeat until mixture is gone.

Brush the tops of the chimis with a bit of butter. Bake until they're brown and cripsy, about 20-30 minutes.

Note: These freeze really well, both before and after cooking. I sometimes freeze them individually before cooking and just heat in the microwave for about 1.5 to 2 minutes.

Pork Tenderloin with White Wine Sauce

Cook pork tenderloin to 145 degrees in an oven-proof skillet or sautee pan. (I'm bad with big pieces of meat. I have no idea how long that takes.) When the tenderloin is done, remove from pan, and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

While pork is resting, make the sauce.

1 cup white wine
1/3 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, or 1-2 tablespoons dried parsley
coarse-grained salt (Kosher or sea salt) and cracked black pepper

Over high heat, add the wine to the pork drippings, scraping the bottom of the pan. Reduce wine to 1/3 cup. Add parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. It doesn't make a lot of sauce like a gravy, but just enough to drizzle over the sliced tenderloin.