Monday, March 18, 2013

Chicken Makeover: Weekly Menu 3/18/13

I wanted to call this weekly menu "Poultry in Motion," but that was too nerdy, even for me. Back in October, I did a post on shaking up your chicken routine with some new dishes, and it was feeling like time to do that again. Chicken is on the menu at least once a week in our house, and sometimes more, so I'm always up for trying some new flavors or techniques.

Need a little more inspiration? Here are some other tasty options:


Raspberry Balsamic Glazed Chicken

5 ingredient dinner: Raspberry Balsamic Chicken
 Be sure to cut your chicken breasts to roughly deck-of-cards size. The bigger breasts that are usually sold will take forever to cook and will dry out.

Sides: Wilted spinach and pearl couscous (see couscous recipe with the chicken dish in this previous Weekly Menu)

Make Ahead Notes
  • Combine seasonings in a small bowl and set aside for later
  • Chop onion and refrigerate for later
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes.
  • Combine thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sprinkle over chicken. Add chicken to skillet; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, preserves, vinegar, and pepper, stirring constantly until the preserves melt. Spoon raspberry sauce over chicken.
Recipe from Cooking Light

Crockpot Sesame Honey Chicken

Crockpot Sesame Honey Chicken with rice and scallions
This was an ideal meal to eat before shuttling kids to practices on a weeknight.
Sides: White or brown rice and steamed broccoli or sauteed sugar snap peas

Make Ahead Notes
  • Chop onion and refrigerate for later
  • Combine onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, canola oil and pepper (if using) and set aside for later
  • Buy pre-chopped onion from the produce section
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C honey (I used only 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 C ketchup
  • 1/2 C soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 C water
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place in crock pot.
  • In a bowl, combine onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oil and red pepper flakes (if using).Pour mixture over chicken.
  • Cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 2 hour.
  • Remove chicken and shred.
  • In a small bowl combine cornstarch and water.
  • Pour sauce from crock pot into a sauce pan and add in the cornstarch mixture. Stir to combine over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring often.
  • Pour sauce over chicken.
  • Serve over rice and top with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
This recipe is all over the Internet, but I grabbed it from


Herbed Chicken Parmesan

Herbed Chicken Parmesan with pasta and green beans
Try not to skip the fresh parsley in this one. If you have leftover fresh parsley and no use for it, chop it up and throw it in a green salad.

Sides: Spaghetti or another pasta shape and steamed green beans seasoned with S&P and a squeeze of lemon

  • Use pre-grated or shredded Parmesan
Make ahead notes:
  • Combine breading mix for chicken and refrigerate for later
  • Combine tomato sauce, vinegar and seasonings for use later
  • Fill pasta pot with water for later
Ingredients for shopping list:
  • 1/3  cup (1 ½ ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¼  cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • ½  teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼  teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½  cups bottled fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3  cup (1 ½  ounces) shredded provolone cheese
  • Preheat broiler.
  • Combine 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Place egg white in a shallow dish. Dip each chicken tender in egg white; dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Set aside.
  • Combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta sauce, vinegar, and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave sauce mixture at HIGH 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Pour the sauce over chicken in pan. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan and provolone cheese. Wrap handle of pan with foil, and broil 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.

 Recipe from MyRecipes

Oven Fried Chicken

Oven Fried CHicken with farro and roasted carrots
Most oven fried chicken recipes don't deliver on crispy skin, but this one does in a big way, plus the chicken inside is juicy and somehow cooks perfectly every time.

Sides: Steamed or roasted carrots and biscuits or if you're feeling adventurous and want to try a different grain, buy the 10 Minute Farro from Trader Joe's, cook it in chicken broth, drain and stir in grated Parmesan cheese, S&P to taste and a squeeze of lemon.

Make Ahead Notes
  • Combine milk and vinegar or lemon juice in a large bowl and add chicken breasts (patted dry from package) to marinate 
  • Combine flour mixture and set aside for later
  • Line baking pan with foil for easier clean-up 
  • 3-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • 1.5 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 TBSP white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • My secret is to add up to 1 TBSP of Old Bay Seasoning to the flour. If you do that, reduce the paprika to 1/2 tsp. East Coast friends need no explanation, but West Coast friends - trust me on this. You can find it in just about any grocery store near other spices. 
  • Preheat oven to 425. 
  • Combine milk and vinegar or lemon juice in a medium bowl and set aside for a few minutes until it curdles. This is a substitute for buttermilk and it will help make the chicken juicy.
  • Combine flour and dry seasonings in a large shallow bowl or pie plate.
  • Melt butter in rectangular pan in oven and tilt the pan around to make sure the butter coats as much of the bottom as possible. Remove from oven - you'll now prep the chicken quickly to go in the pan.
  • Dredge chicken in milk mixture, shaking off excess, and then in flour mixture until completely coated.
  • Place chicken in pan skin-side down and bake for 35 minutes. Turn chicken carefully and bake another 10 minutes.

Adapted from a recipe found on

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Forward: Weekly Menu 3/11/13

Hello friends! It's the time of year for corned beef and soda bread, but those are the kinds of things that I think taste best prepared by someone else... at a restaurant. What I do like, however, is interpreting the St. Patrick's Day theme of green in different ways, such as the Shrimp in Green Sauce (garlicky! amazing sauce when mopped up with bread!) and the definitely not sauerkraut-like Turkey Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Leeks. Also, lamb is traditional on a lot of spring menus, specifically for Easter, but these lamb loin chops come together in about 5 minutes before grilling and fall into the "5 Ingredients or Less" category. Lamb is not in regular rotation on our menus, so even though this dish is dead simple, it feels a little special.

Enjoy. I'm off to try and get my lost hour of sleep back.

Herbs de Provence Lamb Chops

Herbs de Provence Lamb Chops with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots

 Never tried lamb on the grill before? This is the one to try. Loin chops can be a little pricey, but since lamb is often served at Easter, start looking for good deals now.

Sides: Roasted carrots and roasted or mashed potatoes 

Make Ahead Notes
  • Combine the first five ingredients (all but the lamb chops) and refrigerate until ready to use
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 (4-ounce) lamb loin chops, trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • Prepare grill.
  • Combine first 5 ingredients; rub evenly over both sides of lamb.
  • Place lamb on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Recipe from Cooking Light

Shrimp in Green Sauce

Shrimp in Green Sauce

 Warning: This great, simple meal is quite garlicky, so it's a little strong for some people. Feel free to reduce the amount of garlic.

Sides: Crusty French bread to soak up the sauce
  • Use already-peeled garlic cloves (such as Trader Joe's)
  • Buy your shrimp already shelled and deveined if you can
Make Ahead Notes
  • Combine and process the first four ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use
  • If shrimp are not already peeled and deveined, do that and refrigerate the shrimp until ready to use
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green onions
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 6 ounces sourdough or French bread, torn into 6 (1-ounce) pieces
  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Place olive oil and garlic in a food processor; process until garlic is finely chopped, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add green onions and parsley in food processor; pulse until minced. Spoon garlic mixture into a large bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, red pepper, and shrimp to garlic mixture, and toss well to coat.
  • Spoon the shrimp mixture into a shallow roasting pan, and add the wine. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until the shrimp are done, stirring once. Serve with bread.

Recipe adapted from

Turkey Sausage with Braised Cabbage & Leeks 

Turkey Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Leeks

 I crave this meal when it's chilly outside and I want comforting food, but don't want to eat a pile of carbs. Think your kids won't go for this? Yeah, mine don't either. But they do like the sausage on its own, plus when I serve this, I have a pack of hot dogs handy as a backup for them.

Sides: Rye bread (dill rye if you can get it) and applesauce

Make Ahead Notes
  • Slice your cabbage and refrigerate for later
  • Olive oil
  • 8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 2 pounds), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced leek (about 3 small)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound smoked turkey sausage, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard or spicy, grainy mustard
  • Coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add 4 cups cabbage and leek. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining cabbage and black pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes; stir in broth.
  • Add sausage to pan, nestling pieces into vegetable mixture. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until sausage is heated. Serve with mustard.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Pumpkin Banana Smoothie 

Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

That large stash of canned pumpkin that I had from the fall is dwindling, but this sounded like a good option to use up some of it. It was a nice change from our usual strawberry and banana smoothies. Be sure to peel and freeze the bananas ahead - the texture really helps.

  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin, chilled
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • Milk as needed to thin the smoothie if too thick when blending 
  • Dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Combine yogurt and next 8 ingredients (through banana) in a blender, and process until smooth.
  • Garnish with dash of ground cinnamon, if desired. Serve immediately.