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.

Comfort Food

I am on a comfort food streak. It’s coinciding nicely with a cold and stormy spell we’re enjoying at the moment so I’m content to ride it out. It is also a symptom of what Publix has had on sale and what recipes are next on my list to try. So, overall it’s a win-win.

Up on the docket this week was Sage Chicken and Potatoes. This recipe was easy, quick, and involved only one pan to cook it in so less dishes! YAY! The sage and Worchester sauce gives the gravy a nice little kick so it’s not just a standard meat and potatoes dish. I also had it a few nights with sweet corn as a side. I think also in the future I would toss some roughly chopped onions in with the potatoes and carrots to give it a bit more..something. I also just love onions and will put them in pretty much anything.

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Originally from the Betty Crocker Win at Weight Loss Cookbook

Sage Chicken and Potatoes
Makes 4 servings (310 calories/serving)

Ingredients
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
3 medium unpeeled russet potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (3 cups)
1 1/2 cups baby-cut carrots
1 jar (12 oz.) home-style chicken gravy
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried sage leaves
1/2 tsp garlic-pepper seasoning

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange chicken, potatoes and carrots in baking dish.
  2. In small bowl, mix gravy, Worcestershire sauce, sage and garlic-pepper seasoning; pour over chicken and vegetables.
  3. Spray sheet of foil with cooking spray. Cover baking dish with foil, sprayed side down.
  4. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

First Recipe of 2017

I am slowly working my way into 2017. For some reason, my brain is having a hard time leaving vacation mode and returning to adulting mode. I’ll get there; it just slow going.

However, one place I needed to get back on track was cooking. I think because I felt blah most of the end of 2017 between sinus infections and traveling and just plain ennui with the year, I got away from cooking healthy meals. My scale is now reflecting that and that is not good. So, back to meal planning I go! I started with a recipe I saved forever ago from one of my favorite go-to healthy recipe sites, Hungry Girl.

I should also note Tallahassee is having its winter this week so this recipe was the perfect sort of winter treat. The cheese in the apple-onion mixture makes the filling actually stay put in the rolled chicken and cook up nice and juicy. I will admit mine did not roll as nicely as the picture on the website but my food never looks that good. As long as it tastes good, I am happy! I also doubled the recipe to make enough leftovers for dinner the next three nights. I paired it with a side of vegetables and found it a very filling meal and perfect for chillier weather!

Stuffed Apple-Onion Chicken

Ingredients:

1/3 cup finely chopped Fuji apple
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese
Two 5-oz. raw boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder [Note: I thought I had this in my spice rack and found I did not…I like the taste of what I made so leaving this out does not take away from the dish]

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8″ X 8″ baking pan with nonstick spray. [Note: As I doubled the recipe, I used a 7″ x 11″ baking pan]
  2. Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Add apple, onion, and garlic. Cook and stir until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer apple mixture to a medium bowl. Add cheese wedge, breaking it into pieces, and stir until it has melted and coated the apple mixture.
  4. Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  5. Evenly divide onion-apple mixture between the centers of the chicken cutlets. Roll up each chicken cutlet over the mixture. If needed, secure with toothpicks. Place in the baking pan.
  6. Cover pan with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove foil. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. [Note: Mine took about 20-25 minutes to cook through but I am pretty sure I didn’t pound them flat enough and I doubled the recipe so that is probably why…]

Adventures in Cooking: My First Curry

As I continue to work my way through the many recipes I’ve managed to stock away in Evernote, my email and the good old fashioned recipe box, I have found I collect certain types of recipes a lot but never actually make them. This weekend I tackled my first curry.

I apparently liked the idea of making a curry; I had no less than 6 different chicken curry recipes saved. I chose this one because it seemed the most straightforward recipe and made use of the slow cooker. On a Sunday when I wanted to prep and cook a few other things, the crock pot was a must.

This recipe did not disappoint. It went together easily, cooked beautifully and was delicious. I am a wimp when it comes to spice/heat in my food and this curry is quite mild but does have a slight kick to it that makes it different from my usual fare which I wanted. I am getting a little bored of my usual go-to meals. I recommend picking up some naan bread and serving this with brown rice. It is delicious and makes tons for leftovers!

Ingredients:

3 lbs. boneless chicken (I used more like 2 1/2 pounds and still had tons)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup salsa (I used mild)
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk (I used lite coconut milk to save some calories)
2 cups rice, cooked (I used brown rice)

Directions

  1. Place chicken, onion, salsa and curry powder in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.
  3. 15 minutes before serving remove chicken from slow cooker.
  4. Add coconut milk to slow cooker. Stir into sauce.
  5. Return chicken to pot.
  6. Serve over cooked rice.

Serves 6-8

Recipe originally from Eat at Home Cooks.

Tasty Orange Chicken

I love a good chicken dish with just a little bit of spice and lots of rice. This recipe delivers and it was quick and easy to make. What else do I like? My crock pot. I adore when I can throw some ingredients in a pot and forget about them for awhile. One thing I think I may have slightly screwed up with this recipe is the sauce never got very thick. It tastes awesome and I like it being on the lighter side so maybe it did “thicken” as much as it was supposed to? Either way, I recommend trying this one!

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I roughly chopped my onions; if you finely chop, they would be a lot less visible (which may or may not be important to you) 

Original recipe from Skinny Kitchen

Ingredients:

⅔ cup regular brown rice (I used instant and made a 4-serving size batch)
1¼ pounds chicken breasts, boneless skinless
1 cup onions, chopped
½ cup frozen orange juice concentrate
½ cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1½ tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Add chicken to crock-pot. Place onions on top.
  2. In a small bowl add frozen orange juice concentrate. Heat in microwave for about 20 seconds until mostly thawed. Stir in barbecue sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Pour sauce over chicken. Cover and cook on high heat for about 2-2½ hours. *Note: Cook times vary depending on your crock-pot. Mine took about 2 hours total to cook.
  3. When fully cooked, remove chicken from crock pot to a plate. Shred chicken.
  4. Add orange sauce to a small pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cook uncovered for about 8 minutes to thicken.
  5. Prep and cook rice per instant rice instructions (or if you’re a better person, make according to instructions on the bag of rice – usually about 30 minutes cook time)
  6. 5. To Serve: Add ½ cup rice to a plate or bowl. Place ¾ cup chicken on rice. Spoon about 3-4 tablespoons of sauce over the top.

Makes 5 servings (each serving, ¾ cup chicken, ½ cup rice and about 3-4 tablespoons sauce)

Chicken Gyros

I found a recipe for beef gyros last year that I adore but hadn’t found a good recipe for chicken gyros. I had plenty in my Recipes to Try folder but just hadn’t actually found one that sounded good. With my new kick on trying Hungry Girl recipes, they had one for Chicken Gyros that made my menu for this week.

This is a really easy recipe to put together and I like that I could do it in stages. I made the sauce and then cut up all the vegetables for the toppings and then made the marinade for the chicken. I then was able to clean up the kitchen while the chicken marinaded before starting cooking the chicken. I do like when I don’t feel like a recipe thinks I can be doing four different things at the same time!

The chicken came out so tasty; juicy and well marinated. The lemon juice balances well with the oregano and garlic. For the sauce, I used dried dill instead of fresh and I think I got the amount a bit off – my sauce is a bit more dill-y then I would like but not bad. I would spring for the fresh dill next time I make this. In general, this was a delightful recipe; perfect for late spring, early summer. I paired it with a cup of raspberries for dessert 🙂

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The original recipe at Hungry Girl is here; I followed it mostly. I did double the recipe to make enough to take me through the week and I left off the feta cheese (the one kind of cheese that I am not a fan of).

Ingredients:
Sauce
1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
3 tbsp. peeled and finely chopped cucumber
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. chopped garlic
1/8 tsp. salt

Marinade and Chicken
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/8 tsp. salt
8 oz. raw boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

Gyros
2 high-fiber pitas
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes

Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine all sauce ingredients, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate.

To make the marinade, in a small bowl, mix lemon juice, oregano, garlic, and salt. Place cubed chicken in a large sealable plastic bag, and cover with marinade. Seal and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Bring a grill pan (or skillet) sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Add chicken, and discard marinade.

Cook chicken for 4 minutes. Flip chicken, and cook for about 4 more minutes, until cooked through.

To assemble the gyros, microwave pitas for 20 seconds, or until warm and pliable. In a medium bowl, mix cucumber, tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Plate pitas, and spread the centers with sauce. Top with cooked chicken and cucumber mixture. Fold and eat!

MAKES 2 SERVINGS