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Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

Crispy bits of applewood smoked bacon and chunks of chicken breast nestled in a lush bed of mixed greens.

Two mushrooms.

A small fistful of fresh basil.

Three radishes.

A jar of leftover balsamic vinaigrette.

Can you taste it?

Teaser Salad with Bacon and Chicken

You know what comes next.

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We’d all had a big lunch, so I wanted a simple dinner. The kids were happy with sandwiches and fruit, but I craved vegetables. I decided to make a slightly elegant salad — less is more — drenched in a good balsamic vinaigrette.

Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Red Bell Pepper, Basil, and Chicken

The red bell pepper and basil are ready -- time to chop.

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
3-4 cups mache and mixed greens.
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced.
1/2 fistful of basil, chopped.
Freshly ground pepper, to taste.
2 small chicken tenderloins (fresh or frozen).
1T butter for cooking the chicken.
Garlic powder for the chicken, to taste.
Pinch of salt for the chicken, to taste.

Balsamic vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need, refrigerate extra for several days.)
1 T balsamic vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1 small clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I doubled all of the ingredients listed above and made two salads. First I mixed up the vinaigrette, giving the garlic time to mellow and infuse the salad dressing with flavor.

Then I cooked the chicken. I keep a bag of the Trader Joe’s frozen chicken breast tenderloins in the freezer, and I use the following method when I don’t have time to bother with defrosting the chicken. I melted the butter in a stainless steel frying pan over medium heat, and added the frozen chicken just as the butter began bubbling. I sprinkled salt and garlic powder over the chicken tenderloins, and let them cook while I chopped the bell pepper.

When the chicken was nice and brown on the bottom, I flipped the tenderloins over and lightly seasoned the other side. I chopped up the basil and cleaned up my salad prep area, and then I checked on the chicken. Once it had browned on the other side, I used a pair of kitchen shears to snip it into bite-sized pieces. My chicken was still raw in the center, so I stirred it around a bit, turned the heat to low, and covered it. If you use fresh chicken instead of frozen, you can probably skip that last step. After a few minutes on low, I took off the lid and turned off the heat. I added the vinaigrette, a dusting of freshly cracked black pepper, and the hot, juicy chicken to the salads, and served them right away.

Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Red Bell Pepper, Basil, and Chicken

Time to eat!


The Verdict:
Yum!

There is nothing like homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It was my gateway salad dressing — the one I absolutely had to learn how to make, and the one I spent years playing with and refining. It’s friendly, and works well with all kinds of fruits, vegetables and flavor palettes, but sometimes, I have to make a salad where the balsamic vinaigrette is the star. This was one of those salads. It all worked very well together. The juicy chicken soaked up just enough dressing to really sparkle. The tender mache paired nicely with the crispy red bell peppers, and the basil brought all the flavors together.

If the ingredients in my fridge ever align just right, I will happily make this salad again.

Make it a Meal:
Done. For a vegetarian version, replace the chicken with either kidney beans, goat cheese, or feta cheese.

Pack it to Go:
This would be very easy to pack to go. The chicken will be cold, but it will still taste delicious. Just keep the vinaigrette and the salad in separate containers until ready to serve (I recommend making the dressing in a small glass jar, and preparing the salad in a large glass or stainless steel container with a tupperware-style lid.) Use only as much vinaigrette as you need, fork toss or pop the salad container lid back on and give it a few good shakes, then eat and enjoy.

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I’ve been sick.

No energy for mucking about in the kitchen, or traipsing through the long, long aisles and the produce maze at the Berkeley Bowl. Trader Joe’s to the rescue. Today at lunch the kids wanted frozen teriyaki chicken. Easy for me, especially since we had some leftover rice in the fridge. I heated it all up for them, and handed them each a couple of mandarins to eat with it. Then I decided that I needed to get some fresh vegetables in to my body, appetite be damned.

I found most of a heart of romaine in the fridge, and a decent avocado, and I poked around until I scrounged up enough other stuff to call it a salad. I also tossed in what was left of the rice and chicken after dishing it up for the kids. This was a utilitarian salad. This was not fancy. This was food. Random food.

Ingredients:
3/4 romaine heart, chopped.
3 large mushrooms, quartered.
1 scallion, sliced.
2 inches of an english cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
1/2 avocado, spooned out of it’s skin and directly over the lettuce.
1/2 small apple, quartered, cored, and sliced.
3 T of rice
1/4 cup of teriyaki chicken

Dressing:
There is no recipe for this. This is the laziest dressing I know. This is the dressing I use when I know I won’t really taste what I’m eating, but in case I do, I want it to at least have some flavor.
1 sprinkle of salt over the avocado.
1 splash of seasoned rice wine vinegar, try to get a wide arc without missing the bowl. I missed the bowl, but it’s okay. We have washcloths.
3 glugs of extra virgin olive oil, distributed as evenly as you can.

It all went into the bowl. First the lettuce, then the veggies, then the salt on the avocado, then the rice and chicken, and finally, the vinegar and olive oil. Then I moved it all around a bit with my fork, and mixed it up. Then I ate it.

Teriyaki Chicken with Apple and Avocado

Teriyaki Chicken with Apple and Avocado, ready to eat!

The Verdict:
Actually, my taste buds worked better than I expected. I enjoyed this. I think orange or mandarin might have been tastier with the chicken, but I really appreciated the crunch of the apple, so it was more of a passing thought than a burning regret.

I felt a lot better after eating (funny how that still surprises me). I experienced one of those moments where my post-salad self is extremely, maybe disproportionately, grateful to my pre-salad self. Fresh vegetables, even with pre-fab teriyaki chicken and without a fancy vinaigrette, always make me feel better. I like feeling better.

Make it a meal:
It was. A random, yet very satisfying meal.

Pack it to go:
If I’d been packing this to go, I would’ve mixed up a real vinaigrette, and tossed the apples in so that they wouldn’t brown. The chicken might be better off in a small tupperware or ziploc bag and added at the last minute — the sauce has a tendency to wilt lettuce.

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That little jar of unused dressing from before was sitting in the fridge, calling to me. With a fresh supply of romaine, and a hungry friend that adores Thai food, I decided to try again. I’d already eaten lunch, so I was making this just for my friend.

I pulled out the romaine and the mushrooms, and a lot of mandarins. I remembered how very delicious the mandarins were with the first batch (the one redeeming combination, actually) and I wanted to make sure at least one part of it worked. I also added an extra scallion to punch up the flavor. I would’ve put more basil in, and thai basil instead of regular basil, but sometimes I’ve just got to make do with the dregs of the fridge. The chicken tenderloins were leftover from a previous dinner, and were necessary to make it a meal for my hungry friend. I think it would work quite well as a side salad without the meat.

Thai Black Pepper Sauce Salad, Take Two, Prep

The ingredients, ready to face the knife and dive into the bowl.

Ingredients:
(Serves one for lunch.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
2 mushrooms, sliced.
3 mandarins, peeled, sliced in half, and cut into eighths.
2 scallions, sliced.
2 chicken tenderloins, sliced.
4-6 basil leaves, sliced.
1 fistful of mint, sliced.

Black Pepper Sauce Vinaigrette:
(Use what you need, refrigerated leftovers are good for several days.)
1 T rice wine vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
2 tsp thai black pepper sauce.
1 tsp maple syrup.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I chopped the lettuce, and layered it with herbs, mandarins, and veggies. Then I snipped the chicken into bite sized pieces with a pair of kitchen shears, and drizzled the dressing over it all before gently fork tossing it. I wasn’t sure there would be enough vinaigrette, but the powerful flavors really shone, and it was actually just right.

Thai Black Pepper Sauce Salad, Take Two

Deliciousness. Success!

The Verdict:
Success! The romaine was perfect for this dressing. Crisp and crunchy, the mild flavor of the lettuce really let the vinaigrette shine. The mint added a delicious punch, and the mandarins were juicy and good. The chicken fit right in. My friend was pleased. Very pleased.

Make it a Meal:
Done. I think tofu would also work really well with this salad, since the vinaigrette has so much flavor. Grilled shrimp would also be very tasty.

Pack it to Go:
That’s easy for this one — just peel and section the mandarins instead of slicing them. You lose the bejeweled beauty, but you keep your lettuce crispy. The dressing stays in a small jar, and the salad goes in a large container, preferable glass or stainless steel, with enough space to easily fork-toss.

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More often than not, I’m groggily making lunch salads for the grown-ups in the house at 7:00 AM.

Two Salads in One

Some of the ingredients, ready for chopping.

Two Salads in One - Lemon

Lemon juice extraction time.

Two Salads in One - Mint

Here's the mint, ready for chopping.

That’s what I did this morning.
A quick glance at the randomness in the fridge left me with the desire to create a base salad that would work well with the two different pieces of meat I had available — one last small tenderloin of sesame chicken, and a little leftover steak with sauteed mushrooms. I decided that a citronette would work well with both, and pulled out my hearts of romaine and a little pile of citrus fruit, as well as mint, radishes, mushrooms and more.


Ingredients:
(serves one as a lunch salad, or two as a side salad)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
2 mushrooms, sliced.
3 radishes, sliced.
1 mandarin, peeled and carefully sectioned (membranes
left intact).
1 scallion, chopped.
1 fistful of mint, chopped.
Zest of 1 lemon.

Citronette:
(use what you need, there may be extra)
1 T lemon juice.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 small clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.


I doubled all of the ingredients above, and made two identical salads side by side. My husband’s salad went into a glass pyrex bowl with a lid for easy transport, while mine went into a regular bowl and then right back into the fridge for later. I mixed both batches of citronette in small jars.

I started by chopping the veggies and tossing them into their respective bowls. Then, I carefully peeled and sectioned the mandarins, trying not to rip them open. My goal was for their own skins to preserve them in the bowls, so they wouldn’t be leaking liquid onto the greens and wilting them. It worked. I always think citrus fruits are prettier when they’re sliced open, but they travel in salads much, much better when you leave the membranes intact. Mandarin wedges are perfectly bite sized, and are an ideal fruit for salads that will sit in the fridge for a while before being eaten.

Once I’d constructed the salads, I mixed up the citronette. I snuggled my husband’s dressing jar into the pyrex bowl, while mine joined my salad in the fridge. I used kitchen shears to slice the last piece of sesame chicken over my husband’s salad, and then I slapped the cheery red lid on top. I didn’t bother slicing up the steak for mine — I saved that for right before I tossed it and ate it, about four or five hours later.

Two Salads in One - Chicken

Here's the chicken version, ready for travel.

The Verdict:
I can’t tell you exactly what my husband thought of the sesame chicken salad, but he was definitely very grateful. (And I’m quite sure he liked it a lot more than the sesame chicken/red wine vinaigrette combo I tried the other day.) My lunch was absolutely delicious.

Two Salads in One - Steak

And the steak salad, ready to eat.

I really appreciated how different it was from the pear and arugula salad we had last night, with the very same steak and mushrooms. This time, the steak was cold, and sliced directly into the salad. It was a bright, refreshing meal. I also love knowing that all the vitamin C from the fruit and the citronette helped my body make the most of that iron rich steak. I think my favorite bites included steak, mandarin wedges, and mint coated romaine. Crunchy, juicy, sweet, and savory. Exactly how I love my salads.

Make it a Meal:
Done — two different leftover meat suggestions. Both worked well, so make your own choice: chicken, or steak?

Pack it to Go:
Done. (more…)

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