Making It Work (when you didn’t buy the right stuff)

I am usually meticulous in checking the recipe I mean to make vs. what I have in my cupboards vs. what goes on my shopping list. But, every once in a while, my brain fills in the gaps in a less than perfect way. This week’s recipe is tasty though a pain to make, to be honest, and won’t go into the keep pile any time soon. However, it was a success in that I had to make the recipe work when I didn’t actually have all the right ingredients or the right amount of ingredients.

I’m a stickler for recipes. I have no instincts in the kitchen, I freely admit that. If the recipe doesn’t tell me to do something or measure something, it isn’t getting done. One of my favorite lines from a book is about this. In discussing learning to cook the character is using a beginner’s cookbook and she notes, “It was just the thing; the writer assumes you know nothing about cookery and writes useful hints – “When adding eggs, break the shells first.” I have progressed beyond that level but I’ve never gotten to a point where I can just whip something up without a recipe telling me useful things.

So, I panic when I’m in the middle of making something and realize I don’t have the thing I’m supposed to have. That happened multiple times with this recipe. One, I bought chicken breasts and not ground chicken. This mostly worked out and I would argue I probably like the recipe better because of it. I’m not the biggest ground chicken fan. Two, I thought I had more soy sauce and honey in my cupboards so I did fancy math to re-portion all the ingredients to make the sauce. Three, in my quest to never chop anything, I bought the wrong kind of peas because I wanted the peas already portioned out and didn’t get fresh ginger so I needed to do the fun math to figure out the dried to fresh ratio when it comes to herbs (is there an app for this yet? Because I do it all the time and it’s not something I think I do right at all).

All of this worked out in the end and the dish is tasty but it stressed me out while cooking. I would also argue this recipe, in its efforts to be a healthier alternative, is overly complicated. I am sure you could buy ready made sauce that would be fine to use and I’m not convinced baking the mixture after cooking it added much to the dish itself and made me turn my oven on in August in Florida. So, lesson learned. Double check the recipe, its ingredients versus what I have and what’s on the shopping list to avoid stress in the kitchen for this cook who likes to actually weigh ingredients for accuracy.

Chicken Teriyaki Bake (Original recipe: SkinnyMs)

Ingredients:

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Bake:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 pound ground chicken (or as I do, 1 pound diced chicken breasts)
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced large
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
1 cup broccoli, chopped small
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup snow peas, cut in half
3 cups cooked brown rice

Directions:

For the Sauce:

  1. In a small sauce pot, combine the soy sauce, honey, 1/2 cup of the water, ginger, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil.
  2. While the sauce is boiling, combine the last 1/4 cup of water and cornstarch in a small bowl (Krystal’s note: Try and do this in a liquid measuring cup. The bowl I used got more of this on the stove than in the sauce…). Whisk well and gradually pour into the boiling sauce, stirring the sauce constantly.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, and continue to stir the sauce until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9X13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil on medium heat. Once hot add the ground chicken, breaking up into smaller pieces as it cooks.
  3. When no pink remains in the chicken, add onion, garlic, ginger, broccoli, carrot, and snow peas. Cook until onions soften.
  4. Add the rice and mix well to combine.
  5. Stir in the sauce, until all ingredients are coated well.
  6. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

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Not hitting the spot (but it’s me, not the recipe)

There is nothing wrong with this recipe really. Other than it really should have told me to “half-moon” cut all the vegetables, and not just the zucchini, it’s very cool looking and easy to make. Lots of chopping but let’s face it, all recipes have lots of chopping. But, it’s just not hitting the spot for me this week. Also, and I find this very rarely, it’s a recipe that is not holding up as leftovers. I may make this again when I have company and it will all get eaten at one sitting as it was really best right out of the oven. I will also serve it with a side of spaghetti and sauce. It is a dish that needs some sauce to really make it sing.

Primavera Stuffed Chicken (original recipe on Delish.com)
4 servings

Primavera Stuffed Chicken

There is chicken there among the giant pieces of veggies (fixed the recipe to deal with that next time around!)

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt
ground black pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 zucchini, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
3 medium tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
1 yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced and halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1 c. shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Place chicken on a cutting board and make 5 slits in each breast, being careful not to cut through completely. Place on sheet pan.
  2. Drizzle oil over chicken and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
  3. Stuff each chicken breast with zucchini, tomato, bell pepper, and red onion.
  4. Sprinkle each chicken breast with mozzarella.
  5. Bake until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, 25 minutes.
  6. Serve with a side of pasta and sauce.

Curry Away

I have been reading. And cooking. And not sharing so I’m sorry. I am lining up a bunch of posts this evening to get me into June and hopefully, I can keep up on top of things better this summer (hope springs eternal).

I was ready to try another curry. This one is a bit more traditional than my first curry attempt but I liked it better. What I feel I might have done wrong though is this was a bit soupy (and didn’t match the picture on the blog where the recipe) but I found I liked the added bonus of the “soup” with the rice I served it with. This is still quite mild (because I am a wimp) so it was a nice step up from my first curry. It also made a ton! So 6 servings easily.

Coconut Curried Chicken over Brown Rice

A nice big portion is always a bonus in my book!

One-Pot Curried Coconut Chicken (original recipe on SkinnyMs.)
6 servings (1/6 of the recipe and served with 1 cup brown rice)

Ingredients
1.5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tablespoons curry powder (I used yellow curry powder, a red would make it spicier)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 white onion, cut into strips
1 can lite coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1.5 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. In a large pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onion and bell pepper in olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring every so often until onions are softened and translucent, for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the spices, garlic and chicken pieces, and cook for about 3 minutes, until spices are fragrant and the chicken is a bit golden on the outside.
  3. Add the coconut milk and sweetener, stir, increase heat to high and bring almost to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Serve over brown rice.

One-Pot Asian Feast

I love one pot dinners. Fewer dishes. I adore cooking but I am a messy cook with so many dishes. The clean-up from me cooking is longer than cooking half the time. I have been slacking on the cooking front so it’s time to get back at it. Despite some scheduling setbacks this week, I finally got myself back into the kitchen to try a Sesame Chicken recipe. Some of my Asian recipes are hit or miss. Some are too watery; the sauce doesn’t thicken and ends up just kind of blah. This recipe is one of the better ones I’ve tried and I would recommend if you have a hankering for Chinese take-out with a healthier twist.

 

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The sauce thickened perfectly! I love a heartier sauce.

 

One-Pot Sesame Chicken [original recipe]
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch strips
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin 1 inch ribbons
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup green onion, sliced

Directions

  1. Heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Once hot add the chicken and carrot. Cook until the chicken is firm and cooked through. Drain off any excess liquid.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except sesame seeds and green onion. Whisk until smooth and pour over the cooked chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, or until thick and chicken is coated.
  3. Stir in the sesame seeds. Remove from heat and top with green onion.
  4. Serve with brown rice.

 

A Hearty Winter Sheet Pan Dinner

I always like the idea of the sheet pan dinner than I actually like making them. Mostly because I usually look at the amount of food I’ve prepared and then look at my sheet pan and think “where are they getting their apparently GIANT cooking sheets from?!” I usually end up needed to use both of my cookie sheets and inevitably one cooks better than the other. So, I was excited about this recipe for it to call for a 13×9 pan. Brilliant! It called for me to stir every 10 minutes while cooking to avoid burning but I could do that if it meant only one pan for me to clean at the end of everything!

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This is a hearty meal and actually made me 5 decent sized portions for the week so I am a fan. I did use dried rosemary as I loathe buying the fresh at Publix since the only way to buy the expensive fresh rosemary is buy a lot more than I need (it comes in a pre-packaged item) and end up tossing the rest since I don’t have anything to use it in before it goes bad. So, I used dried and actually think I did the conversion right for once! I also liked the addition of red peppers and onions to the dish – adds some great crunch in the dish to balance out the chicken and potatoes. I think this is a great winter dish so will fit nicely on people’s menus right now!

Rosemary Roasted Chicken & Potatoes [original recipe]

Ingredients:
1 medium pepper, cut into strips
1/2 medium red onion, cut into strips
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
3 chicken breasts, cut into even strips
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees F, and line a baking pan (9 inch by 13 inch) with parchment.
  2. Chop all your veggies and the chicken, and place them in the baking pan.
  3. Cover with the garlic, oil, sea salt, pepper, and rosemary. Toss until well coated. [Note: I actually did this in a bowl before putting everything in the pan – I think this worked better]
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through. Stir every 10-12 minutes to make sure nothing burns.

Getting Back to Cooking

Woohoo! I cooked a meal for the week this past weekend! It’s magical to be getting myself back on a schedule. And now I plan to (hopefully) bring a cat home this weekend and probably go off it again but let’s hope I can stick with it. I even made it to the gym yesterday guys. And did everything on my to-do list. AND managed to watch an episode of Bill Nye, read three chapters in my fun book and write a blog post. All that really means I’ll probably be a slug the rest of the week but hey, Monday was productive!

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A lovely summer meal

This recipe, Chicken Shwarma in the Slow Cooker, is tasty and not really super healthy to be honest. BUT, I estimate at least 5-6 servings from it so I think once it all spreads out, it’s not super terrible. I use whole wheat pitas too which must could for something right? This came together really well. I hadn’t used frozen meat like this before but found it made life alot easier in the long run. I also took the original post’s suggestion and serve this with grapes and it’s revolutionized dinner sides for me. I love the sweet with the salty savoriness of the shwarma and the cool cucumber sauce. I put a few dashes of mint in the cucumber sauce to for a little extra coolness. I am a fan. I think I also just love a good Greek dish in the summer. It matches well!

Ingredients

6 Tbs. lemon juice
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. curry powder
2 dashes cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, strips or straight thighs [Tyson frozen is what I used]
8 oz Greek style yogurt
1 small cucumber, chopped finely
Mint, to taste
whole wheat pita bread
tomatoes, chopped

Directions

  1. Stir lemon juice, olive oil, salt, curry, cayenne pepper and garlic together in a small bowl.
  2. Place chicken in slow cooker. [Side Note: I had used this sort of flash frozen meat before, you need to rinse this meat off before using which I did not know until I read the bag.]
  3. Pour olive oil mixture over the top, stirring to coat the chicken well.
  4. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Stir cucumber and yogurt together, adding a few dashes of mint to the mixture. [Side Note 2: I put this together about an hour before the chicken was done to let the ingredients set a bit with each other. I think it helps. I could also be delusional.]
  6. Serve chicken in pita bread, topped with yogurt sauce and tomatoes. I used grapes for a side and it’s brilliant!

The original post and recipe is at Eat at Home Cooks.

BBQ Chicken without a Grill

I am still grill-less. I even still have the money my parents gave me to buy one. My backyard is apparently the host of a constant mosquito convention so I do not spend any time out on my patio so getting a grill was never really a viable option. Fingers crossed for the next place maybe. In any case, sometimes you just really want some tasty BBQ chicken. So, when I had a recent craving for it, I turned to my go-to site for recipes. Hungry Girl did not let me down. This was tasty and quite filling with lots of tasty BBQ goodness. I also love a good foil packet recipe and a recipe that is a single serving all on its own.

Ingredients
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small-medium yellow onion, chopped
5 ounces raw boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded a bit to thin it out
Dash each salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce with 45 calories or less per 2-tablespoon serving (I used the Publix Original)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay a large piece of heavy-duty foil on a baking sheet, and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Place veggies on the center of the foil. Top with chicken, and sprinkle with seasonings. Drizzle with sauce.
  3. Cover with another large piece of foil. Fold together and seal all four edges of the foil pieces, forming a well-sealed packet.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and veggies have softened.
  5. Cut packet to release steam before opening entirely.