vegetable chicken wrap

20130819-125213.jpg

It becomes difficult to make healthy decisions when you don’t have adequate time to cook. The cheez its in the pantry and the left over mashed potatoes in the fridge are often the only food quick enough to keep you from passing out.

The past few weeks have been a little crazy while preparing for my first job since having our son which was promptly followed by a long weekend trip to Tahoe. I have needed to be quite efficient with my time while juggling an infant and a never ending to-do list, always doing my best to keep my body fueled with real, honest food. So, now that O is napping in his crib, I have been using some of that time to prepare some fast, healthy meals for times when I need to just grab something and I don’t have more than 5-10 minutes to spend in the kitchen.

20130819-125221.jpg

If you have some time in the evening (or during nap time), prepping the veggies ahead of time would make this wrap a two minute meal. Just warm the tortilla, slice an avocado, sprinkle on some feta, salt and pepper and you’re set. I tossed the julienned vegetables in a bit of spicy pesto, and added some roasted chicken for a square meal.  A variation of this wrap has become a staple for lunch time around here. Usually, it’s filled with whatever protein we have left over from the night before as well as the remaining bits of veggies that didn’t make it into our dinner salad.

20130819-125111.jpg (more…)

Advertisements

September 10, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . chicken, quick and easy, salads, summer, Whole Wheat. Leave a comment.

roasted chicken

Everyone needs a recipe they can execute with one eye closed, one hand tied behind their back and half of a working brain. Roasted chicken is that recipe for me. I never have to look at a book or web page and it seldom tastes the same as the one before. Some days it’s sprinkled with fresh herbs and stuffed with sour lemons and other days it’s spiced with a smoky chili powder, speckling the skin with a deep reddish hue.

This past week has been a tough one, requiring me to rely on food that comes easily. My body is feeling the effect of what I can only now suspect are late nights and early mornings. Of course, at this time in my life, I had hoped it was actually the result of a small person forming somewhere in there, but alas, not this month. It’s amazing to me how much power a little stick that you pee on holds in your heart when you’re desperately trying to get pregnant. For a few dollars, it sure does hold a significant percentage of my emotional attention. When it doesn’t present as many lines as I want it to, it certainly seems less friendly. I guess if someone was peeing on me, I might not be cooperative either.

So, for a few more days, I’ll need to get by without too much thinking while I climb out of this funk. This chicken will feed us for a few more meals without much attention, adding it to salads and scrambles to fill them out. The farmers market is back tomorrow after a break last week, so we’ll stock up on fruits and vegetables that seem to be best when little is done to them.  (more…)

June 8, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . chicken, quick and easy. 4 comments.

barbeque chicken pizza

Have you discovered the value of your freezer? That box in my kitchen has become my best friend. Over the past month it seems, the husband and I have been consistently busy with no real end in sight. The problem then emerges, when do I cook? [Now enters: previously prepared food that I have frozen into appropriately sized portions which completely saves the day.] click here for the full post!

June 20, 2010. Tags: , , . chicken, pizza, quick and easy. 2 comments.

pan roasted chicken (to die for)

pan roasted chicken

Times are tough. The unemployment rate is still above 10% and while the world is waiting for all of this to blow over, I’m saving pennies. Times like these force us to look beyond the frivolous desires of today and understand that the future is not far off. Only now do I realize that Grandma had it exactly right when she was stashing those hundred dollar bills under the mattress because right now she is sipping a margarita, and happy she did.

If you’re wondering, ode to goodness has not become an economics blog, however, these difficult times push us toward thrifty measures. Food can be expensive, especially when it’s good quality. So, how do you save money without compromising quality? Do the work yourself. If you were to go to Whole Foods (my grocer of choice) and buy two chicken thighs, two wings and two breasts it would cost you over $10.00. If you were to buy a whole chicken that weighed about 3.25 pounds it would cost you under $7.00. With this method you end up with the same chicken parts and then some. What you’re left with is perfect for white chicken stock and having this ingredient around will also help save you some coins.

Martha Stewart has a great video that demonstrates how to butcher a whole chicken. It’s quite easy and kind of fun. I encourage you to give it a try. If nothing else, it makes you feel like you’ve worked for your food.

Pan Roasted Chicken
Martha Stewart, Cooking School
serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 16 large black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted and halved
  • 3 tablespoons capers (nonpareil), drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 skin-on boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), rinsed and patted dry
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. Prepare sauce: Heat oven to 475 degrees. Toss tomatoes, olives, capers, and 2 tablespoons oil together in a bowl.
  2. Sear chicken: Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add remaining tablespoon oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Place chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes. Use tongs to flip chicken, then add tomato mixture to skillet.
  3. Roast: Transfer skillet to oven and roast chicken until cooked through and tomatoes have softened, 15 to 18 minutes.
  4. Serve: Transfer everything to a platter, or divide chicken among plates and spoon some tomato mixture over the top.

November 9, 2009. chicken, quick and easy. 3 comments.

basic chicken stock

I would like to become a better cook. It’s one thing to be able to follow a recipe and get it right, and another to be creative, innovative and able to have an overwhelmingly delicious result. I admit, it’s a bit scary for me to move out of the comfort of someone else’s published work and begin a process of being on my own. However, it’s a lesson we all learn at one time or another. Just like when we graduated high school, we had to break away from our parents, our normal way of life and learn to thrive away from the security of a warm, consistent home. Then came marriage and the strange feeling of starting a new family apart from what we’ve known. I remember vividly, as Jon and I drove away from a crowd of cheering friends and family, feeling a sense of loss, to the point of tears. It was a scene that fit the emotion and the phenomenon perfectly. The two of us, holding hands, driving away from what was comfortable into a future where the other person becomes the most important thing in life, second only to our relationship with God. This movement toward independence is uncertain and is often highlighted by error, but continuing to be stagnant guarantees a future longing and the constant thought of what could have been. In a strange way, I’ve begun to feel this way about food and the incredible amount of creativity that is found in it. At some point, I will need to stand on my own because that is the only road to freedom.

white stock

So, now enters chicken stock. I figure, if I want to become a better cook, I might as well start at the beginning. I should learn fundamental skills that will be the building block for creativity. In Julia Childs Kitchen Wisdom, she gives a Master Recipe and then allows for adaptation from there. It’s a wonderful way to do things. All I need to do is memorize a few recipes and start experimenting from there. [Anyone want to run flash cards with me?]

Chicken stock is one of those things that every cook should know how to do. It is the base for many things, predominantly soups and sauces. It’s fairly easy to make, unless you and your cooking cohort decide it would be a good idea to make three stocks, all doubled, soup and a dinner dish on top of it. Not to mention a lesson on how to butcher a whole chicken. I know you’re not as crazy as I am, so your experience will be far less exhausting and will not stretch out over several days. So, what are you waiting for? It’s quite rewarding and delicious. The best part is, it makes the house smell amazing.

roasted chicken Roasted Chicken and Vegetables for Brown Stock

brown stock Brown Stock simmering away.

chicken soup Bon Appetit!

Basic Chicken Stock
Martha Stewart Cooking School
makes about 2 1/2 quarts

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds chicken backs, necks, and wings
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Preparation:

  1. Place chicken parts in an 8-quart stockpot. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch (about 3 quarts). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, using a ladle to skim any impurities and fat that rise to the surface.
  2. Add carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, and peppercorns and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook, skimming surface frequently, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Line a sieve with cheesecloth set over a large bowl; strain stock through lined sieve. Discard solids.
  4. If using stock immediately, skim fat from surface and use as desired, or set bowl of stock in an ice-water bath and let cool completely. Transfer cooled stock to an airtight container; cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours to allow fat to accumulate at the top. Lift off fat and discard before using or storing. Stock can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 months; thaw completely in refrigerator before using.

NOTE: It’s nice to have a little extra stock around, and it will freeze for quite sometime, so you may want to consider doubling the recipe. Just make sure you have either two pots going or have a very large pot big enough to hold ten pounds of chicken parts.

Also, if you are going to cool the stock overnight, I found that smaller containers work best for this. If the container is too large, the fat will not solidify which makes it much more difficult to skim it the next day.

November 5, 2009. chicken, soup. 3 comments.

thai coconut chicken soup

thai coconut chicken soup

Isn’t soup season your favorite? It’s mine for sure. There is something about soup that makes me feel like I’m home. Maybe this is because it’s my food of choice when I’m sick, or maybe it reminds me of my childhood and all the times my sisters and I made ‘gourmet top ramen’. It could be, that fall and winter are perfect seasons for soup, and they just happen to be my favorite time of year. In my mind, soup comes along with oversized sweaters, fluffy scarves,wood burning stoves, and falling snow. In my opinion, these are some of the finest things life has to offer.

My hope is that I’ll be able to post many more soup recipes once the weather cools down. Here in the Bay Area, it’s warm and humid, thanks to a storm that flew in at the beginning of the week and flew out quicker than you could say galoshes, to leave us all hot and bothered. When I woke up Tuesday morning to the wind howling and the rain pounding, I was ready to throw the summer clothes in storage and break out the peacoat, but here I am, a couple of days later in a tank top. Ahhh, California. Not to worry though, the cold weather is coming, and I simply can’t wait.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup
www.epicurious.com
serves 4

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces cellophane noodles
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1–2 red Thai (or jalapeño) peppers, seeded and finely chopped (plus slices for garnish)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon (or lime) juice
  • 4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce, divided
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced (3 cups)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each), cut into 2 1/2-inch-long by 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro (plus sprigs for garnish)

 

Preparation:

1. Place noodles in a bowl; add enough warm water to cover and let sit until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain.

2. Combine broth, pepper, garlic, ginger, lemon zest, lime zest, lemon juice and 3 tablespoon fish sauce in a medium saucepan. Season with salt. Bring to a simmer, add noodles and cook 3 minutes more.

3. Using tongs, transfer noodles to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

4. Add mushrooms to broth; season with salt, if desired; simmer 3 minutes more.

5. Add chicken and coconut milk and simmer, stirring, until chicken is just cooked, about 3 minutes.

6. Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt, about 1 minute.

7. Add chopped cilantro and season with remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce.

8. Using tongs, divide noodles among 4 bowls. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of pepper.

October 18, 2009. asian, chicken, quick and easy. 1 comment.

odeto(thebesthusbandintheworld)goodness and chicken under a brick

Okay. Now I know when you use the word best, that it is usually a matter of opinion. However, provided with the facts, I think I could persuade you.

Fact#1: My husband walked through the door the other night with a Williams Sonoma bag in hand. Now, I could just stop here, and that would be good enough but…

Fact#2: There was something in the Williams Sonoma bag.

Fact#3: Inside the aforementioned bag, there was an OXO digital scale, something every aspiring home cook needs, but wouldn’t buy for herself.

Fact#4: It was not a holiday, or my birthday, or an anniversary of any kind. It wasn’t even Friday.

I think I have provided you with adequate information to persuade you to believe that I have the best husband in the world. If not, well, I’m sure there will be many more stories just like this one to help you along. 

Now, for what I actually cooked for said husband. Chicken under a brick or more fancily, Chicken al Mattone.

chicken under a brick

This was a meal of firsts. It was the first whole chicken I’ve ever dealt with (they tend to intimidate me a bit). Also, my first butterflied chicken (you have to remove the backbone for this one), and my first skillet sauce. Everything turned out surprisingly well for never having done any of these things before. To tell you the truth, the skillet sauce was my favorite thing of the entire meal. After watching a swirl of butter thicken the sauce into something beautiful and beyond delicious, I jumped around the kitchen like a girl who was asked to prom by the cutest boy in school. If for no other reason, make this chicken for the succulent browned bits it leaves behind, they make the most unbelievable sauce that would be delightful on everything from chicken, pork, or oooh, mashed potatoes.

The chicken was amazingly moist, and was even better the next day over a green salad. It was a little shy on the spice factor, so I think next time I would season it quite a bit more. The butterflying (is that a word?) is great fun, and the brick aspect is great too. The best part is that the white meat is moist and juicy which is wonderful since my main complaint against white meat is that it’s usually dry and generally boring.

Chicken under a brick
serves 4-6
Bon Appétit
September 2009

Ingredients:

  • 1 4 pound whole chicken, backbone cut away and discarded, rinsed and patted dry.
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus additional sprigs for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Special Equipment: Brick covered in foil, or large cast iron skillet

Preparation:

See this video to learn how to butterfly a chicken!

1. Open chicken flat like a book; place butterflied chicken, skin side down, on rimmed baking sheet.

2. Mix 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, and garlic in small bowl. Rub mixture all over both sides of chicken. Cover and chill overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F.

4. Sprinkle chicken with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 7 minutes (do not turn chicken over).

6. Place foil-wrapped brick (or cast-iron skillet) crosswise atop chicken; roast in oven 30 minutes. Remove brick and turn chicken over; return brick to chicken and continue to roast until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced, about 15 minutes longer.

7. Remove brick and transfer chicken to platter. Drizzle chicken with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and sprinkle with crushed red pepper and parsley. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Herb Skillet Sauce
makes about 1/3 cup, enough for 4 servings
Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

1/2 small onion or 1 large shallot, minced

1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs*

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, broken into several pieces and softened

Ground black pepper

Preparation:

1. Once sautéed** meat, poultry, or fish has been removed from pan, reduce heat to medium, then add onion and sauté in remaining fat until softened, about 30 seconds.

2. Increase heat to high, add broth, and scrape skillet bottom to loosen browned bits. Boil until liquid appears darker and slightly thicker (it should reduce to one-third of its original volume), about 4 minutes. Add any accumulated juices from plate with cooked meat, poultry, or fish and reduce sauce again for 1 minute.

3. Off heat, stir in herb, and swirl in butter with wooden spoon until it melts and thickens sauce. Season with pepper to taste. Arrange cooked meat, poultry or fish on plates and spoon over sauce. Garnish with herb. Serve immediately.

*I used rosemary to go along with the rosemary in the chicken, and it’s what I had.

**In our case the meat was roasted, but it produces the same outcome.

September 8, 2009. chicken, sauces. Leave a comment.

cilantro chicken

cilantro chicken

I have this odd competitive nature within me that rarely allows me to cook the same thing twice. I am always looking for a new and fresh recipe that inspires me. This is why most of my free time consists of reading cookbooks, food blogs and recipes on websites like epicurious.com. The husband finds it funny that my book of choice before bed is the new issue of Gourmet or Bon Appetit.

The thing is, I figure that I have a whole lot of cooking to get through. I am sure there are 200,000 ways to make chicken, so I can’t afford to make the same preparation twice. Besides, the next chicken recipe may be life changing, so why miss it?

This recipe can be filed under your ‘weeknight dinners’ or the ‘I don’t want to cook’ category. It could not be any easier, or tastier for that matter.

cilantro chicken
adapted from Gourmet April, 2007
serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, or to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 (1/4-inch-thick) lemon slices

Preparation:

Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat.

Toss chicken with oil, cilantro, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, then transfer to grill. Cook chicken until well done, about 25-30 minutes. About ten minutes before chicken is done, add lemon slices. Continue to cook until chicken is golden and cooked through. Serve chicken with lemon slices.

I served this chicken along side a simple salad and roasted brussel sprouts. Mmm. They taste just like fries.

August 27, 2009. Tags: , . chicken, quick and easy. Leave a comment.