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!

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables

By Corinne

This is a fast, easy weeknight meal that is easily adapted to what you have in your fridge. You an switch up the vegetables to any that you like- for example, snap peas and cauliflower instead of green beans and broccoli. I personally would probably opt out of adding the tbsp of brown sugar- but a slightly sweeter sauce gets better reviews from my favourite taste testers. I know this seems like a lot of balsamic, but between the sweetness added and all of the vegetables, it mellows out and and is not too vinegary.

Serves: 4

Time: about 25 minutes start to finish – though it depends on how you cut your chicken

You will need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into slices or chunks for faster cooking
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots (mine weren’t exactly matchstick, I quartered baby carrots)
  • 2 cups green or yellow beans cut into approximately 1″ pieces
  • 1 red pepper, halved and sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Place chicken in a large skillet over medium high heat with a tbsp oil. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. While chicken is cooking, slice the red onion into half moons. Flip chicken over and add onion to pan.

While chicken and onion are cooking, slice up the rest of the vegetables. By the time you are done, the chicken should be mostly cooked through, though if it’s still pink that’s fine. Whisk together balsamic, honey, brown sugar, garlic, chili pepper and cornstarch and set aside.

If some of your vegetables are in larger pieces (my carrots for example) add them to the pan with the chicken and cover for 3 minutes before adding the more tender vegetables.

Add the rest of the vegetables and cook covered for 3 minutes.

Add the sauce, and cover for 3 minutes. If at the end of 3 minutes, you want the sauce to reduce more, uncover for an additional 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Ta da! You’re finished! If desired, sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley. This is lovely served with rice if you’re into a carb to soak up the extra sauce.

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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Roast Chicken and Stuffing For Two… And A Half.

By: Julie

Time:  2 hrs – 30 min prep and the rest is wait time.

On Sunday night I made the best roast chicken that I’ve ever had.  It was juicy and flavorful and amazing.

I love to cook big meals and I love to entertain.  However, sometimes I like to spoil Tyler without all the fuss so we can enjoy it together, just the two of us.  Just the two of us and busy toddler that thinks the knobs on the gas stove is a game that no one will let her play.

I wanted to make a meal that didn’t take a lot of time, but still tasted like a Sunday Dinner should.  once you prep this meal you have a whole block of time in the middle to either make fun sides, or build a Lego castle while singing the alphabet song for the eighteenth time.   Also, a whole, fresh chicken was only $6 dollars.  It’s difficult to find two boneless-skinless chicken breasts for that.  We each had a breast for supper and saved the legs and the thighs for lunch for tomorrow (plus extra for the tiny human).

The stuffing is a faster version of my holiday stuffing. It doesn’t have any sausage and I’ve left out a few other things to make it a little easier and less time intensive.  My holiday stuffing I usually prep the night before but this one can be whipped up in minutes.

You Will Need:

For The Chicken

  • 1 stalk of celery – broken into 3 pieces
  • half an onion, peeled
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper
  • olive oil
  • 3-4lb chicken

My dad once told me that to have the perfect juicy turkey, stuff the cavity with onion and celery instead of using stuffing or leaving it empty.  I am happy to tell you that this is correct.  I do this every time and it works just as well with chicken.  I never cook my stuffing in my bird, the bread absorbs moisture and flavour out of the chicken.  I want that juice to stay in the bird.

Preheat the oven to 400F and mix the spices together in a bowl.

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That being said, stuff the celery, onion, and sprig of rosemary into the cavity of the chicken.  If you can, just tuck the legs through the fat at the bottom of the chicken.  Mine was ripped so I used a skewer and a raw potato to keep the legs of the bird together.  Drizzle the olive oil over the breast, rub it into the skin and legs.  Then add the spice rub and make sure to get it everywhere.

It will look something like this:

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Place the chicken in the oven in the center rack and roast for 20 min.  Then reduce to 325F and continue roasting for another 60-80 min, until the thickest part of the bird reaches 175F.  I check temp about every 20 min.  When the chicken reaches 150 I remove the foil so it browns nicely.  Once you take it out it needs to be covered to rest for at least 10 min to absorb the juice back into the meat.  Temp will rise another 5 degrees and the chicken actually continues to cook outside of the oven.

For The Stuffing

  • 3 slices of stale bread – I used bran, whole grain bread adds extra flavor to your stuffing.  Cubed into half inch pieces
  • 1 stalk of celery – diced
  • 1/2 medium onion – diced
  • 1 small apple – diced
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp of sage
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – plus more for bread cubes

Mix the herbs together and set aside.

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Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and throw it in the oven with your chicken for 10 min to toast them.  They should be lightly browned, but not hard.  Prep the rest of your ingredients while they are toasting.

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In an oven-friendly pan, melt the butter and the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and the celery and saute until softened.  Add the apple, cranberries, and spices and stir to combine.  Add the white wine, the bread, and half of the broth.  Only add half the broth to start.  You want the bread to be wet, but not soggy.  Add the other half if necessary.  Set aside and cover with foil.  You want to put the whole pan in the oven when your chicken has about 20 min left.  It’s very forgiving so don’t worry too much.  You just want to make sure the apples have time to cook through.

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Remove the chicken from the oven when it reaches 170-175F.  Cover with foil and let rest for a min of 10 minutes.  I leave the digital thermometer in mine, stabbing it through the foil.   When the temp stops rising and starts to fall, I know it’s done cooking and has rested enough.

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Carve and enjoy.  I cut along the breast bone and then horizontally just above the wing to remove the whole breast, a trick my mom taught me.

I served this with some Cran-apple Marmalade I made and a nice green salad.  It was amazingly juicy, just how I pictured.

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