But Sugar is Sweeter

Poultry

The Perfect Turkey

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I know you might be thinking that this post is about 9 days too late, but I figured I’d post my Thanksgiving turkey, because you still have plenty of time to plan a turkey for Christmas!    I mean really….turkey only one day per year is clearly not enough.  Especially when the turkey is this good.

This Thanksgiving we had a fairly small family gathering, especially compared to the 24 people my Aunt Mary managed to get around one amazing table last year!  It’s been a hard year for  us and today is especially difficult.  I can’t believe it was just a year ago that my family showed up at my apartment  to break the news that my father had passed away.  That’s a day I will never forget. I just remember seeing Max fly through the door, leash trailing behind him with no owner attached, and before my mom even got to the door, I knew he was gone.  As hard as this year has been, it’s also been a lesson in how resilient the human spirit is.  At first I had no idea how I would even make it to the next day, let alone the rest of medical school.  But here I am a whole year later, with an adorable puppy, an awesome husband, and only 6 months of medical school left!   If you have had the misfortune of losing someone you loved recently, let me just promise you that it will get easier.  And seriously,  I really think some turkey for comfort food could really help.  I’m sure my dad would’ve preferred these snowball cookies, but don’t worry, I already made a batch in his honor.

This turkey is a little bit involved, but it is by far the most moist, tender and delicious turkey you will ever eat.  I used to be disappointed by the fact that turkey would take up space on my plate in lieu of more sides- but this turkey is really the star of the meal.  First you throw all the ingredients in a pot and bring it to a boil.  Then you have to let it cool, which unfortunately always takes longer than I think it will.

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Houston wouldn’t let this turkey out of his sight.  I’ve never seen him like this before…he obviously knew this turkey was special.  I think this is his “Is that for me?  Awww please mom….”  face.

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Then you have to pour the cooled brine, along with ice cubes and cold water over the turkey.  The trickest part about this is finding a container that will allow the turkey to be totally covered.  In fact, I ended up taking it out of the container pictured here and putting it in a GIANT stock pot.  Last year I used a gray “sterelite” container I found at Walmart that was perfect – but it was at my apartment.  I’ve also heard of people using new and throughly cleaned 5 gallon paint buckets from Lowe’s/Home depot. Just remember you need to keep this container cold, so if it’s 60 degrees on Thanksgiving like it was in Ohio this year, putting it in the garage will not cut it.

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After the turkey has soaked in a cold place for 12-24 hours, take it out, rinse it it in cool water and set it in a pan.   In case you didn’t know, that’s me with the awkward smile on my face.   There’s some sage butter in the white bowl in front of me, which you spread under the skin in as many places as you can.  Then you take a delicious mixture of chicken broth, butter and garlic, and inject it all over the turkey meat.  This part is pretty fun. Between injecting the meat, and suturing the cavity closed with  2-0 vicryl, I was feeling like a real surgeon by the end of the day :-).

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Then stuff the turkey according to your liking.  This year we used my Grandma’s traditional (and amazing) stuffing, but last year I just put some onion, apple and celery in the cavity – both worked great.  Then put the turkey in a “Turkey Bag” and cook according to the directions on the box – ours took about 3 hours.   (I know that turkey bags might not seem very gourmet, but I promise they make the most moist turkeys!).

Then of course let the turkey sit for 20-30 minutes before cutting to let the juices redistribute.  True comfort food.  Why don’t we make turkey like 10 times per year!  I’ve included all the specifics below.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and just remember all through this season (and always) to tell the people how much they mean to you.  You will never regret saying I love you just one last time.

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The Perfect Turkey

Equipment 

  • large container that will hold turkey plus 2 gallons of liquid
  • oven safe thermometer
  • Flavor injector/syringe
  • Turkey roasting bag
  • heavy duty roasting pan

Ingredients

  • 1 turkey, 12 – 16 pounds
  • 1 gallon (16 cups) chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup white or brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 5-6 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme*
  • 1 large sprig fresh sage*
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary*
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 8 cups ice

*the poultry blend of fresh herbs should contain these 3

  • 3/4 c. salted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 2-3 cloves garlic

Stuffing

  • Traditional Bread stuffing OR
  • 1 apple (chopped in half), 1-2 small onions (chopped in half), 4 celery stalks (cut into thirds)

About a week before you begin brining your turkey, place it in the refrigerator to defrost. Alternatively, purchase a fresh turkey.  (I have done both and I don’t actually think it makes a significant difference in the final product).

The day before you roast your turkey, combine the chicken broth and the remaining brine ingredients (through the parsley) in a very large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, which will take over an hour.

Remove the packaging from the turkey. Remove the neck and giblets (be sure to check both the body and neck cavities) and reserve for gravy, if desired.  Rinse the turkey in cool water and then place it in the appropriate container.  Add the cold water and the ice cubes, then add the brine mixture. Stir to combine. Cover with the lid and then place in a cold place for up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to roast your turkey, preheat the oven according to the directions on the roasting bag packaging. Soften 1 stick of butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon fresh sage and set aside. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it in cool water, and place in the roasting pan. Use your hands to loosen the skin between over the breast. Spread handfuls of the sage butter between the breast and the skin, rubbing any excess over the outside of the skin.

In a blender, combine 1/2 c. chicken broth, 2-3 cloves garlic, and 1/4 c. melted butter until completely smooth. Let  sit for at least 20 minutes, then strain out garlic to make it easier to draw up.  Use the flavor injector to inject the mixture all over the turkey.

Slip any remaining rosemary and thyme sprigs under the skin.

Stuff the turkey cavity with bread stuffing or a mixture of  apple, onion, and celery. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast and then place the turkey into the roasting bag and roast until the thermometer registers 165 according to the roasting bag directions. When you’ve reached 165, remove the turkey from the oven and cut the bag away from the turkey. Allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute and keep the turkey juice.

Slightly adapted from Our Best Bites, who adapted it from Alton Brown


Chicken Tikka Masala

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Looking on a the positive side of things, I will have to say that one of the best things in the past month has been able to see a lot of my mom and brother – 2 of the most special people in this world.  I know my mom thinks she’s imposing, but I seriously love it when they are here.  It basically makes it feel like a vacation, because usually when we are all together – it is a vacation.  Of course having “house guests” also makes me like a grown up, which is really just like  “playing house”- with a slightly more sophisticated (and dangerous) fisher price set.     Because I really wanted to impress them with my domestic skills, I carefully planned a few things to make when they came.  One of them was an old favorite, stuffed green pepper soup, and the other was this Chicken Tikka Masala.  I’m pretty sure they will be coming back again soon :-).

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My mom, who claims to not really like curry, couldn’t stop raving about how deep the flavors are in this dish, and my brother stated that it was the best chicken tikka masala he had ever had (even better than some posh Asheville Indian restaurant he loves).  I purposely waited a while to post this, because I wanted to see how the leftovers would be after freezing them for a while – and I can now safely say that they are still delicious.  I froze the chicken, then thawed it and reheated it, adding just a little bit more milk and John and I still loved it! I would recommend making the whole batch, even if you don’t think you’ll be able to finish it all, because the frozen leftovers really are convenient.

Please don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long ingredient list, it is actually a really simple dinner and there is very little prep work.   I chose to brown the meat first because it tends to add a depth of flavor, but if you don’t want to dirty another pan feel free to  simply put all the ingredients in the crockpot without pre-browning.  I was also really excited to finally use the Garam Masala I had bought way back when from Penzey’s.  If you don’t have a Penzey’s nearby, I noticed when I was home at Christmas that even local grocery stores carry this spice. Having never used it before, I was a little worried about using a full 3 tablespoons of it.  But never fear – it’s not nearly as strong as you might think and the dish was seasoned perfectly.     My last pre-recipe suggestion would be to adjust the cream in this recipe for your liking.  The original called for 1 1/2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream.  That seemed like an awful lot, so I dialed it down and added some more greek yogurt at the end.  Feel free to play with it a bit to get it the creaminess you would like.

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Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala 

For the Chicken: 

  • 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, Stem Removed, Pepper Pierced Several Times With a fork

For the Sauce: 

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Diced
  • 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 1 piece Fresh Ginger, About 2-3 Inches, Peeled And Grated
  • 4 cups canned Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2  cup Heavy Cream (depending on preference)
  • 1 cup greek yogurt

For Serving: 

  • White Rice
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro

1) Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken.  Stir in yogurt to evenly coat the chicken.  Cover and let sit 10 minutes or refrigerate for several hours.

2) Melt 1 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and brown about 1/2 of the chicken.  . Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished.  Then repeat with 1 more tablespoon of butter and remaining chicken.  Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.

3) To make the sauce return pan to medium and 3 T. of butter over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, salt and stir.  Cook until onions begin to brown, stirring frequently.

4) Add the 3 T. of garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (30 seconds), then raise heat to high and add crushed tomatoes and sugar.  Scrap the bottom of the pan as you stir and bring to a boil. Then pour over chicken in slow cooker.

5) Cook chicken on low for 5 hours.

6) Mix heavy cream and greek yogurt into mixture, adding cream until you get your desired color.  Heat for 1o minutes more.

7) Serve over rice and top with a generous amount of cilantro (it really adds a lot)

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen Blog c/o Eat. Live. Run.


French Apricot Crock Pot Chicken

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Welp, it’s happened.  The first recipe on the blog made almost entirely by John. I don’t mean to  belittle his cooking talents, but I think the fact that I trusted him with making this dinner should tell you something about it’s complexity.  I had set the ingredients (all 3 of them ) out on the counter the night before,  and planned on throwing them in the crock pot before I left for school, but as I mentioned last time, normally I barely get 2 of the same shoes while I’m running out the door, let alone make dinner 8 hours early.   Despite my best intentions, if I wake up a few minutes early, then I simply diddle-daddle around  longer until I am once again rushed to leave.  So John was nice enough to make this for me  in the morning.

While this is certainly not a complicated or gourmet cooking dish, it is definitely something worth keeping in your recipe arsenal.  Also, I should mention that there is really nothing “French” at all about this, other than the fact that it uses American’s version of “French Dressing”.  Nevertheless, this dinner is  delicious and I  had trouble saving my second piece of chicken for lunch the next day.   I found myself eating every last piece rice that the scrumptious sauce had touched.    Plus, its so easy you really have no excuse not to make it – it’s 3 ingredients that you put into a pot.   You can adjust the cooking time to fit your schedule so it’s ready when you get home.   For example, Nikki mentioned that you could use 6 frozen chicken breasts and cook it on high for 4 hours and low for 2 hours, or use 4 fresh chicken breasts and cook it on high for 3 hours.  Since I think one of the best things about crock pots is coming home to them being ready, I prefer to cook things for a longer period of time on low, which I have indicated below.  I think next time I am going to at least 1.5 the recipe because this really made great lunch leftovers (especially when compared to the hospital cafeteria).

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“French” Apricot Crock Pot Chicken

- Serves 4 (or 2 with great leftovers the next day)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup french dressing (I used Newman’s Own)
  • 1 cup apricot jelly or preserves
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for a minimum of  7 hours, but longer is fine.  Serve over rice.

Source: Pennies on a Platter


Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

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Sometimes I miss college.  Well, let me rephrase.  Sometimes I miss certain parts about college.  Like the part where you can walk up and down the halls of the dorm and always find someone with their door open to hang out with.   And the part where the most important thing on a weekend was figuring out what costume would be perfect for the theme of the next party (okay, so sometimes I still do this).  But the thing I was missing this week was Torero’s – the signature Mexican restaurant in our college town.   Because our meal plan was ridiculous, you could get Torero’s delivered to your dorm room anytime you wanted, on meal plan points.  I had tried a variety of things from the menu, but one time someone ordered Taquitos, I tried one, and I fell in love. I’m pretty sure every time after that, I ordered chicken taquitos myself.  Somehow I happened to never actually read the menu to realize they were deep fried, and although they clearly looked deep fried, I chose to ignore this little fact.

I don’t think I’ve had a taquito since college, but when I saw these baked chicken taquitos on Pink Parsley, I knew I would have to try them.  Not only are they a baked version of my favorite college Mexican treat, but they also use my favorite salsa – Salsa Verde.  (The same salsa I use in  Chicken Enchiladas Verdes).  Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, because these really don’t take that long to put together – in fact I think these are easier to make than the enchiladas.  If I was a little more organized, I would’ve planned grilled chicken for dinner one night, and made sure to cook enough to have leftovers for these the next.  Perhaps one of the greatest things about these taquitos is that you can freeze them (unbaked) and then bake them whenever needed.  Actually, the ones in the picture were baked from a frozen state.      I originally planned to post this the first time I made them – but we ate up all the taquitos so quickly that I didn’t get to snap a picture.  I’ll have to say, they taste just as good from the freezer as they did the first time.  This would also be a great meal for a big group dinner, because once you have the filling made it’s really simple to put together, and have you ever met a person who doesn’t like food they can eat with their fingers?
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Baked Chicken Taquitos

- Recipe indicated is for 20-24 taquitos, which will serve 6-8 people

  • 3 -4 chicken breasts (~4-5  cups shredded)
  • 1 block (8 oz) low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup salsa verde (tomatilla salsa)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup  chopped scallion
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 20-24 small  (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • cooking spray

Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat.  Add chicken breasts to the water, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink when cut into.  Remove chicken from water, let cool slightly and then shred. (You could also use leftover chicken, or roast the chicken in the oven)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and lay a wire cooling rack over a large cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the salsa, lime juice, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and a pinch of salt & pepper.  (Everything but the chicken, cheese, and tortillas).   Once mixed, fold in the chicken and shredded cheeses.

Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly. In order to help the tortilla stay closed, you may want to spray some cooking spray on the seam.   Place seam side-down on the wire rack.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Spray the taquitos with cooking spray, then place the wire rack on top of a baking pan (otherwise the cooking spray creates a sticky residue when baked on the cookie sheet.)  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown.  Serve with dipping sauces such as salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.  I think sour cream mixed with salsa would also be delicious.

*To Freeze the taquitos, roll them up as usual but do not bake. Place on a baking sheet in the freezer in order to “flash” freeze them individually. Wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and freeze in a freezer bag.  To bake, remove from oven, and bake un-thawed for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees. 

Slightly adapted from Pink Parsley Catering, via Pennies on a Platter, Originally from  Our Best Bites


Peanut, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad

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This meal has been John’s favorite for a long time.  That’s right,   I said John’s favorite – Despite the fact that it has a weird looking buckwheat noodle, and is just about as far from a hamburger as you can get, John still loves this dinner.  If that isn’t reason enough to make it, I really like it too.  The first time I made it, I remember thinking, I have no idea how this is going to be – little did I know it would turn into a house favorite!  I’m not usually  a huge fan of ultra-healthy “hippie” food (no offense to the hippies out there), and soba noodles for some reason had that ultra-healthy sound to them.   Take quinoa, for example.  I know its uber healthy but every time I make it, I’m slightly disappointed.  I still keep trying, but I usually end of thinking, “This recipe would’ve been better without the quinoa”, and then the leftovers sit in the fridge, untouched.   This meal is not like that, at all.  The soba noodles really add depth and a slight nuttiness to the meal.  I made this once with spaghetti instead (because I didn’t have any soba noodles), and while it’s still good, it lacks the uniqueness and dimension that the soba noodles bring.  So that’s my rant about soba noodles.  You can find them in the Asian section of most grocery stores (I got mine at Kroger).

While this meal isn’t the quickest and easiest meal in my repertoire, it’s also not that involved, especially if you have the chicken left over or cooked in advance.  I usually end up boiling the chicken because it’s the fastest way I know, but when summer comes, I’m going to marinate the chicken in some lime juice, and then grill it because I I think the grill marks on the chicken would be pretty in this salad.  Oh and about that word – salad.  I didn’t really know what to call this.  It’s not really a salad – it doesn’t involve any lettuce and is more like spaghetti texture, but it’s a salad in the fact that you can eat it cold if you’d like.  I actually prefer it refrigerated, but John likes to heat his up – so it’s just personal preference.  I think this would be a great “salad” for a picnic lunch though (can you tell I have summer on the mind :-))!

Peanut, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad

Makes about 6 Servings

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter*
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 T. honey
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more if you like it spicy)

Stir all ingredients together until somewhat smooth.  If sauce is still to thick, add another 1-2 T. of water, but also remember that the cooked soba noodles will likely add some liquid to the sauce.

*I like natural peanut butter here because I think it gives a stronger peanut flavor.

For the Salad

  • 1 package (~10.58 oz) Soba noodles
  • 5 carrots
  • 5 celery stalks
  • 3 green onion
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • Sliced limes and Chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)

1. Begin by cooking the chicken – I usually simmer chicken in a pot of water at medium for 15 minutes.  You can also wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 450° for 15 minutes, or marinate in lime juice for an hour, and grill. (Lime, and citrus in general, helps to keep chicken tender). Shred or chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.

2. Prep the Veggies. Peel the carrots, and slice very thin or shave with the peeler.  (I got a julienne peeler at TJ Maxx, and it works great for this).  Wash the celery, and slice on a diagonal to create large slices.  Slice the green onions.
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3. Cook the Noodles. Boil a pot of water, and cook the soba noodles for 4-minutes.  Do not overcook (they cook a lot faster than pasta).
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4. Assemble.  If you want to serve the meal warm, quickly toss the sauce, soba noodles, chicken, and about 3/4 of the vegetables together in a large bowl and top with remaining vegetables to serve.  If you want to serve the meal cold, rinse the soba noodles under cold water, toss with the sauce,  chicken and 3/4 of the vegetables, and refrigerate for 10-20 minutes.  Then top with the remaining vegetables before serving.  A final sprinkling of lime juice and peanuts gives a lot of extra flavor to this meal.

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Inspired by Cooking Light


Chipotle Almond Chicken Mole

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If you’re looking for a change from your ordinary weeknight menus – look no further!  When I first saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to make it because it would really add a lot of interest to our normal weeknight menu rotation.  While being very unique, it doesn’t call for a bunch of crazy ingredients – you could find everything at Walmart if you wanted.   I was a little worried John wouldn’t like this since it’s not your typical American fare, but to my surprise I think he liked it even more than me!  It has a smokey flavor, and yet is a little bit creamy because of the ground almonds used in the sauce.

When planning meals for the week, I put  Spicy Bean Burritos on the menu, because they also call for chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, and that way I knew the can I bought wouldn’t go to waste.  If you like your dinner on the spicy side, then use the entire chipotle pepper.   Personally, I like just a hint of heat, so I removed the seeds from the 2 peppers I used, which really cuts down on the spice.  I also happened to have some corn tortillas left over from Chicken Enchiladas , so that helped to cut down on ingredients to buy (corn tortillas last forever, or so it seems).

The recipe makes a lot of sauce, so it could really accomodate anywhere from 2 – 4 large chicken breasts.  If you don’t want to make the whole batch, just freeze the sauce and use it over some leftover chicken at a later point in time.  We ate it plain, but I’m planning on serving the leftovers over some cilantro-lime rice, yummmm.

Chipotle Almond Chicken Mole

  • 2/3 cup roasted almonds (salted is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can  fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, roughly chopped
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground cloves
  • 2  (6-inch) corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1  tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 – 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all fat

To prepare the chicken:

Preheat oven to 450°.  Sprinkle chicken with salt &  pepper and wrap, individually, in tin foil to keep the chicken moist while baking.   Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Slice into strips.   *This can be done up to a day ahead of time.  As an alternative, you could poach the chicken breast in water for 15 minutes, or use leftover chicken breast from another meal.
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For the Sauce:

Place the almonds in a food processor and process for 2-3 minutes or until smooth (it takes a little bit of time, but should end up looking like peanut butter). Keep in the food processor.
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In a large skillet heat oil on medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and garlic cloves.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients through broth: tomatoes, chipotle peppers, sugar, cumin, salt, cloves, tortillas, vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the tomato mixture to the food processor with the almonds.  Also add 1 T. vinegar.  Puree mixture until smooth.  Return mixture to pan and add the chicken to heat through. Serve over rice if desired.

Adapted from Cooking Light


Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

To be honest, I’ve been eating the “verde” version of enchiladas for so long, that I kind of forgot there was any other kind. But that’s perfectly fine with me, because I love this dinner.  Its great because so many different cuisines are made using a red tomato base, so this really adds some variety to the dinner table. I made a similar version for the first time back in college (Friday night dinner parties!), and I’ve been adapting it ever since.  At this point I’m even afraid to order enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant, for fear that they won’t live up to this version.

I thought about making the  verde sauce from scratch,  but I couldn’t find tomatillos at the store. (Probably had something to do with being the middle of the winter in Ohio). But it’s probably better that I didn’t because this dish is great just the way it is, and I have enough other things to keep me busy.  For the cheese topping,  this time I happened to use  queso fresco, but I have made it before using Monterey Jack, and I like both.  It just depends on what I find at the store and what happens to be on sale.

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

- Makes about 8 enchiladas

  • 1 can (10 oz) green enchilada sauce
  • 1 bottle (14 oz) salsa verde (or about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 an medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  large (12 oz) chicken breast (or 2 smaller) – pounded to an even thickness
  • 1/2 block (4 oz) reduced fat  cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 corn tortillas (about 6 inch)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese

Add the canned enchilada sauce, salsa verde, minced onion, and garlic to a saucepan over medium heat.   Add the 1 or 2 chicken breasts to the saucepan, cover pan, and cook for 20 minutes. Cut the chicken in half to ensure it is cooked through, and if not, continue cooking until it is no longer pink.

Turn off heat, and remove chicken from the pan.  After cooling slightly, shred chicken into small pieces.  In a small bowl combine the chicken, cream cheese, 2/3 cup of enchilada sauce and cilantro.

The salsa mixture should still be warm at this point.  Working with one tortilla at a time, dip the corn tortilla into the salsa mixture for about 10 seconds and remove with tongs.  This is just to make the tortilla more pliable, so it doesn’t crack when rolling.  Then place the tortilla on a plate and spread 1/3 cup of chicken mixture down the tortilla.  Roll up and place, seam side down, in a 11 x 7 baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Pour a heaping cup of remaining salsa mixture on top of the tortillas.  (I usually have some left over, but I prefer this to using 1/2 a can of enchilada sauce. If you want to double this recipe, I would just use an extra jar of salsa and skip the canned sauce). Top with crumbled queso fresco or shredded Monterey jack (or both).

Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese melts and enchiladas are heated through.


Cincinnati Chili

Growing up in Ohio, Cincinnati Chili was always a go-to meal for my family, so I have very fond memories of it.   Because of this I might not be the best critic,  but I have to say that I LOVE this dinner.  If you haven’t had Cincinnati Style chili, you really must try it!  It’s often called 5 way chili, because you serve: 1) the uniquely flavored chili, 2) over pasta, 3) with cheese, 4) with beans, 5) with onion, and then I like to add a little bit of sour cream.  It is NOT a spicy chili.  It’s actually more on the savory/sweet side.  In fact,  it even has chocolate in the recipe, which is probably why I love it so much.

I think one of the reasons that we often had this as kids was because there is a fancy little seasoning packet you can buy that makes this dinner super easy.  Being up in Toledo,  I couldn’t find it at our store and I really had a craving for it,  so I decided that I would make this chili from scratch.  I know – “way to complicate things again, Jacqueline,” but sometimes I just feel like you can taste the work that went into the food, and I like the taste of effort.  I have since found a place that sells the seasoning, but I don’t think I will ever go back – I like this recipe too much!  I was a little intimidated when I found it, because the ingredient list looked really long, but once I actually went through it I realized the only things I had to buy at the store were the turkey & sirloin, onions, and a can of tomato puree!  (I do have a large collection of spices). This dinner is quite easy to throw together, and just remember, this isn’t baking – you definitely don’t really need to measure exactly.   I just eyeballed it using a regular old silverware,  and it goes a lot quicker.

Cincinnati Chili

- Prep/Active Time: 20 minutes           Cooking time: 45 minutes.
- Serves 5-6
  • 1  pound  ground turkey
  • 1/2  pound  ground sirloin
  • 2  cups  chopped onion (about 1 very large onion)
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  cup  water
  • 2  Tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 3  Tablespoons  spicy barbecue sauce (ketchup would probably substitute fine)
  • 4  teaspoons  white vinegar
  • 2  Tablespoons  chili powder
  • 3/4  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 3/4  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground allspice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground coriander
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  ounce  unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips this time but it was better when I used the unsweetenend chocolate.  You could also substitue cocoa powder if need be.)
  • 1  (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato puree (I could only find a 28 oz can, so I just used half of it)

For Serving:

  • Hot Cooked spaghetti
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Kidney beans (rinsed, drained & warmed)
  • Chopped Onion
  • Light Sour Cream
  • Oyster crackers (if desired)

1. Coat a large dutch oven with cooking spray and heat over medium-high.

2. Brown the turkey and sirloin in the dutch oven. (About 5 minutes)

3. Add the onions & garlic to the pan and cook until tender (Again about 5 minutes).

4. Add the rest of the ingredients (water, brown sugar, bbq sauce, spices, chocolate, tomato puree) and bring to a boil.

5. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 45 minutes (or longer).

6. To serve: Place a scoop of spaghetti on each plate, top with a ladle of chili.  Add  cheese, kidney beans, onions, sour cream and crackers as desired.

Originally from Cooking Light


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