Caprese Chicken with Balsamic and Red Quinoa

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By Corinne

Summer is the season for tomatoes and basil and caprese everything! While we are heading into fall here, my basil plants growing out on my deck are still doing well, though I think this meal will probably be the last harvest I get from them.

Chicken breasts these days seem obscenely large. If you’re using gigantic ones, half is certainly enough for a serving.

Time: 30 min or less

You will need:

  • 1C red quinoa
  • 2C chicken or vegetable broth or bouillon
  • 2 large chicken breasts, halved, or 4 small chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3C cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1/2- 3/4C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 4 generous slices of mozzarella

Thoroughly rinse quinoa and add to a medium pot with 2 cups of the broth of your choice. While quinoa is regularly touted as a super food, it’s also super bland, so don’t just cook it in water! Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. It will take about 20 min to cook. Stir occasionally. It’s finished when all liquid is absorbed.

If your chicken breasts are quite large, hold flat on a cutting board with your non-knife hand. Using a sharp knife, slice horizontally into two even pieces.

Place chicken breasts in a large frying or sauce pan that you have a lid for. If you don’t have one with a lid, you can probably cheat and place a dinner plate over top. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat 6-7 minutes on each side until cooked through, then remove from pan.

While chicken is cooking, halve cherry tomatoes. After chicken has been removed from pan, add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes until tomatoes have just begun to soften. Add the 1/4 C chopped fresh basil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and 3/4C balsamic. Stir for an addition 1-2 minutes.

Add the chicken breasts back to pan, and place mozzarella on top. Cover pan with lid or plate for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Divide quinoa between 4 plates. Top each with a generous amount of tomatoes and sauce and then with one of the cheesy chicken breasts. Top with additional basil for garnish if desired.

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Baked Harissa and Honey Chicken Wings

 

20170923_193853By Corinne

I love chicken wings. They are one of those things that I can somehow manage to keep eating far past the point where I should have stopped. These wings are spicy and a bit sweet. Both the spiciness and the sticky sweetness can be easily altered to taste.

Time: 1 hour

Makes: 2lbs chicken wings

You will need:

  • 2lbs chicken wings
  • 1 tbsp harissa spice*
  • 2 tbsp honey

Lay wings in a single layer on a stoneware baking pan, or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle harissa spice over top, then flip wings and sprinkle remainder of harissa spice on the other side.

Bake in a 400F oven for 45-55 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and drizzle 1 tbsp honey over wings, flip and drizzle with remaining honey. If you like them sweeter and stickier, use more honey. Return to oven for 5 more minutes.

*I’ve been using the PC brand Harissa Spice Blend. I would say it’s fairy spicy, but 1 tbsp over 2lbs of wings results in no more than sort of a ‘medium’ spice level. You can of course increase this to taste!

Hominy with Kale and Chicken

By Corinne

Living here in the great white north I’ve only recently been introduced to hominy.  After a bit of looking around on the internet, it seems like canned hominy is easy to find and can usually be found near beans in the grocery store. Most sources recommended using canned rather than dried, and if you can find them, it will certainly save them a step. If you’re living in Thunder Bay, I haven’t found canned hominy anywhere (though word on the street is that Bulk Zone has brought in some canned hominy now!) and the only place I’ve found whole dried hominy is Renco’s Foods on Court St.

Once you’ve figured out the hominy part, this is an easy supper.

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Time: about 35-45 minutes (depends on the thickness of the chicken you are cooking)

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cups of hominy* (rehydrated and cooked) or probably one can drained will do
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 6 cups of washed and finely chopped kale leaves – no stems
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes (I used mini san marzano because they are my fav)
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes, or one crumbled red chili
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth. I used white wine.
  • Salt and pepper

*If you can find canned hominy, by all means, use that. If using dried hominy, start this recipe the day before by cooking the hominy. I skipped the soaking overnight step and cooked it in the slow cooker on low overnight. It still took until early afternoon before kernels were tender and had popped. I cooked the whole bag of dried hominy and froze what I didn’t use in two cup portions so that I won’t have to do this step again for a while.

In a large pan heat 1 tbsp canola over medium heat. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add to pan. If your chicken breasts are quite thick, you may wish to cut them in half to reduce cooking time. Cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken) until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken from pan.

Add 1 tbsp canola to the pan and turn up the heat a bit to medium high. Add the hominy and stir and cook for about 10 minutes until some of it is getting a bit browned on the edges. Add the onion and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Slice the chicken breasts and add back to pan with the other ingredients. Add the chili flakes, thyme, garlic and kale. Add the white wine and the lemon juice. Stir until chicken is reheated,  kale has wilted and the liquid has been mostly absorbed, about 5-7 minutes. Some of the tomatoes may have just started to break down, that’s ok, but if they’re all still whole that’s ok too. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper.

Harissa Chicken Wraps with Hummus

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By Corinne

I am generally not one for buying spice blends, though I do enjoy when my friends visit exotic places and bring them back for me! Harissa is a Tunisian (though variants are found throughout north Africa and the Mediterranean) blend of of chilies, garlic and other spices such as mint. It’s often found as a paste rather than as the dry spice blend and either will work in this recipe. I picked up this Harissa blend on a bit of a whim, though I did receive a cookbook for Christmas that calls for harissa in a few recipes. I made my own wraps for this, but you can certainly use store bought tortillas or pita breads.

Makes: about 6-8 wraps

Time: about 30 minutes, more if you make your own flatbreads

You will need:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • about 1 tbsp of harissa spice blend
  • about 3/4 cup of hummus (mine was very garlicky!)
  • veggies you like- I used sprouts, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and red onion- other options might include red peppers, lettuce, baby spinach, mushrooms or any other veg you like in a wrap
  • wraps or pitas (I found this was enough chicken to make about 7-8 wraps, but I used a lot of veg in my wraps) I used Homemade Flour Tortillas, but certainly store bought is fine

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with harissa spice. I cut my chicken breasts in half lengthwise as they were fairly thick and I wanted to reduce the cooking time. Set chicken aside and allow to marinate for a bit while you prep any of your veggies you will be using with your wraps.

Add a little oil to pan if necessary. Add chicken to pan and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.  When chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan and slice into pieces about 1/2 inch thick. Since these wraps are delightful with the chicken warm or cold, you could certainly prep the chicken the day before, and they are awesome for lunch the next day.

To assemble, spread about 2 tbsp of hummus on centre of wrap (or more or less as you like it!) and place chicken and veggies of your choice down the middle. Fold up from the bottom, then wrap both sides around. You can pin it all together with a toothpick.

 

 

 

 

Lemon Pepper Chicken and Blackberry Salad for Two

By Corinne

I adore salads. I know that ‘adore’ seems like a word reserved for kittens and perhaps rich cheesy goodness but I really l do love salads.  I love them making them with fresh greens from my little garden all summer long, but even in the winter between bowls of soup, I still crave crunchy greens. In the summer, salad is our side for almost every meal, but in the winter I tend towards a supper salad, as greens for just a side are not only pricey, but can be hard to get in good condition

The only thing that makes me sad about a supper salad is I generally make them in whatever portion I need them for that supper, so I often don’t have leftover supper salad for lunches.

Time: about 20 minutes

Serves: 2- though easily doubled.

You will need:

  • 1 large head of romaine, washed and chopped
  • 2 mini cucumbers, or half of a regular English cucumber
  • 6 oz (180g) of fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup of finely shredded red cabbage
  • 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts or 3-4 boneless skinless thighs (what I used in the photo)
  • lemon pepper seasoning

For the dressing:

  • juice from one lemon
  • 3-4 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp liquid honey
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard
  • few grinds of fresh pepper

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside. This probably makes a bit more dressing than you need for two salads, but better a bit extra than not enough!

Wash and chop lettuce, spin to dry and set aside. Finely chop red cabbage, and mini cucumbers and set aside.

Season both sides of chicken breasts or thighs with lemon pepper seasoning. I like Mom’s Pantry lemon pepper seasoning because it’s quite lemony and has no salt added, but whatever lemon pepper seasoning you like will do.

Heat about a tbsp of canola in a heavy bottomed pan (I used cast iron, but whatever pan you have will work) over medium heat and add chicken to pan. If your chicken is super thick on one end, you can give it a few pounds with a meat tenderizer to even it out a bit for easier cooking. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until cooked through.

Assemble salads. Divide romaine and place on plates, scatter red cabbage and cucumbers on top. Slice chicken and and top salad with sliced chicken and a generous handful of blackberries. Whisk dressing and drizzle over salad. Eat. Enjoy.

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Italian Chicken Soup with Quinoa and Spinach

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By Corinne

Doesn’t this sound like some sort of hipster healthy living type soup? Well. Sure it does. But just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean it can’t also be filling and delicious! If you don’t love quinoa, then feel free to use a small pasta instead.

This recipe calls for a parmesan rind. If you haven’t started using fresh parm (or asiago) I highly recommend it. While it’s more expensive than the stuff that comes in a can, it also has a great deal more flavour, since you know, it’s not mixed with sawdust. One of the best things about using fresh cheese is saving the rind for soups. When you get down to the rind, just throw it in a bag and put it in the freezer until you need it. It adds an incredible amount of flavour to soups and stews. It generally doesn’t dissolve fully in the soup, but does get softer. If your soup is at a full roiling boil it may somewhat dissolve, and I’ve accidentally forgotten to take it out before pureeing soups. Oops.

Serves: 3-4

Time: about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how long you let the soup simmer

You will need:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 pound (250 grams) boneless, skinless chicken thighs – about 3
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano, thyme, basil
  • several generous grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 cup white navy beans -I used dried, which I rehydrate and freeze. 1 cup is more than half of a standard can – you can probably just use a whole can if you’re using canned beans, unless of course you have a use for your leftover beans!
  • 1 can (28oz, 794g) tomatoes -I used whole and smushed them up, but diced would work great as well
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie stock – I used my favourite Homemade Veggie Bouillon
  • 1/2 cup dry wine – red or white, if you happen to have some open, it’s awesome to deglaze the pot with after cooking the onion/celery/chicken, but it’s ok to omit
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • grated parm or asiago for garnish if desired
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup dry) – to be added to individual bowls
  • handful of chopped fresh spinach- to be added to each bowl

Dice onion and celery, add to a heavy bottomed pot with a few tbsp of butter or oil. Chop chicken into small pieces and add to pot with onion and celery. Allow to cook until the vegetables have some colour and the chicken is cooked. Add the minced garlic and stir around until fragrant, but don’t let the garlic burn.

If you are using wine to deglaze – pour a little in the pot and scrape up all the delicious browned bits.

Add the tomatoes, stock, carrots, beans, thyme, basil, oregano, pepper and parmesan rind. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, but longer if you have time.

While soup is simmering, rinse quinoa well in a small mesh sieve to remove bitter saponins. Cook quinoa in a 1:2 ratio of water – if you are using half a cup of quinoa, use 1 cup of water. If you are using 1 cup of quinoa, use 2 cups of water etc. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to low for about 20 minutes. When liquid is absorbed and quinoa has ‘popped’ it is ready.

Chop a handful of fresh spinach for each bowl, ladle in hot soup, and then add a few tbsp of cooked quinoa to each bowl. Garnish with grated parmesan or asiago cheese if desired.

Easiest Honey Garlic Chicken

 

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By Corinne

I know that pre packaged sauces can be super convenient. That being said, honey garlic sauce is so easy to make and has such a short and simple list of common pantry ingredients that it makes going out to buy a jar of sauce more work than mixing it up 🙂

Time: prep 5 min, bake 1 hour

Makes: 4 chicken thighs + extra sauce

Oven: 350F

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup liquid honey
  • 1/4 cup sodium reduced soy sauce*
  • 3 cloves of garlic – pressed or minced
  • 2 tsp of sesame seeds (if desired)**
  • 1 chili pepper minced (if desired) I usually use a thai red chili pepper, though a regular chili pepper or 1/2 tsp of chili flakes also works
  • 4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs

*This recipe is gluten free as long as you ensure you use a gluten free soy sauce

**If you wish to give this a more ‘sesame’ flavour, add 1/2 tsp of toasted sesame oil to the sauce.

Preheat oven to 350F. In a measuring cup, whisk together all sauce ingredients. Place chicken in an oven safe dish with lid. Pour sauce over chicken.

Place covered, in a 350F oven for 1 hour. Remove lid and broil for 3-5 minutes to crisp up skin. Serve with rice and snap peas.

While this is certainly enough sauce to do more chicken, I like to pour the sauce over my rice and veg. The sauce is easy to make more of since the honey and soy are in an equal ratio, so if for example you want to do 6 or 8 thighs, you could add and additional 2 tbsp each of honey and soy, and an additional clove of garlic if desired.