Archive for the 'chicken' Category


Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas

The other day I came to a realization.  After one year of juggling full-time employment and mommyhood, trying to keep a garden, cook great meals, keep this blog, write fantastic stories at work — I was nearly burned out. Cooking and gardening — both sources of relaxation — had become drudgery. This blog had become an after thought. And work was getting frustrating.

So, over the past few weeks, I’ve spent some time doing nothing. As a result, some nights we have frozen pizza for dinner. And some weekends, the house gets pretty darn gross. But you know what? That’s OK.

For the next month or two you’ll see fewer blog posts. Not that I’ve been blogging much this summer.  If I find a recipe or revisit and old one that I can’t resist sharing, you will find it here. Otherwise, know that I’m hitting the reset button.

I couldn’t help but share these tostadas that are a perennial favorite around here. I found this recipe in 2007 when Jeff was living in Houston. We picked up recipe cards anytime we were at Central Market or Whole Foods, and a few of them were good enough to make year after year. I made these again last weekend when my parents were in town.

The combination of flavors and textures are really quite incredible. The black bean and avocado mixture could be eaten alone or as a dip. Feta cheese isn’t exactly Mexican, but with the rest of these ingredients it’s absolutely amazing.

Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas
Whole Foods Market

1 large ripe avocado
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
hot sauce, such as Tobasco
2 cooked chicken breast halves, shredded
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
additional lime juice
4 tostada shells or fresh corn tortillas
2 cups shredded lettuce, such as iceburg
2/3 cup crumbled feta
Salsa, preferably chipolte

In a small bowl, combine shredded chicken, tomato, cilantro and cumin. Season to taste with a squeeze of lime juice.

In a separate, medium bowl, mash the avocado with the 4 teaspoons of lime juice until almost smooth. Mix in beans and green onions. Season to taste with hot sauce.

Arrange tostada shells on plates. Top with lettuce, guacamole, and chicken mixture. Sprinkle with feta, spoon salsa over, and serve.

Serves 4.


Chicken Stock

If you’ve never tasted good, homemade chicken stock, you’ll think I’m crazy for drinking it like this. Store-bought chicken stock is gross. It doesn’t look like it should. And it certainly doesn’t taste anything like it’s supposed to. The stock you see here smells and tastes like chicken, with hints of pepper and clove. It’s worth your time. It’s wonderful.

This morning was like any morning I would have had about a year ago, when I was on maternity leave. Gabi is in the middle of her morning nap. On the stove is some delicious Spanish chickpea and chorizo soup for our neighbors, Torie and Steve, who had a baby girl last week. The laundry is running. And I’m taking a few minutes to pamper myself before having to think about going into work later this evening.

I made this chicken stock last month, with bones from two chickens that we’d roasted. Whenever roast a chicken, the bones, neck and back go into a bag and stored in the freezer for stock. For this batch, I used bones from two chickens. This stock is incredibly simple. Some recipes call for browning the bones and veggies. This will make your stock darker and more flavorful, but it’s really not necessary. This stock has plenty of flavor. The key here is to bring the stock JUST to a boil, and then gently simmer it for a few hours. I’ve found that boiling soup destroys it. The same goes for stock.

This is my favorite stock recipe so far, partly for its simplicity and  flavor. I took six cups this morning from the freezer for the soup and reserved a cup for me to enjoy.

Like I said earlier, it TASTES like chicken. It’s better than any cup of coffee, chai or hot tea. At least it was this morning. I closed my eyes and savored each sip. Yum.

Chicken Stock
slightly adapted from Earth to Table

4 pounds chicken bones (necks, backs, breast bones, wings, etc.) or bones from two chickens
8 cups cold water
2 medium yellow onions, halved lengthwise
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
10 whole black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
2 whole cloves
2 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large stockpot, combine bones and water. Bring the water JUST to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Skim surface to remove any scum. Stir in onions, carrots, celery, wine, peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves and thyme. Gently simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours.

Remove bones from stock and discard. Strain stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large bowl, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Let stock cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until fat congeals on the surface, about 8 hours. Remove the fat and throw it out.

Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

Makes 6 cups.


Quick Coq Au Vin

Two days ago, I visualized us holed up in a hotel room with pipes bursting at home and limbs all over the yard. The predictions about this wintry mix/blizzard have been SCARY. Just about everyone in St. Louis stayed home today bracing for the worst blizzard in decades. Jeff and I worked from home, Gabi ran around the house, and the blizzard never really came. There were no white out conditions. No power outages or strong winds. We didn’t end up hovering over a fondue pot and sterno, cooking chicken in cooking oil. We didn’t have to pack our bags and search for an inn. There was sleet, a bit of snow, a few wind gusts and that’s it.

Instead, Jeff and I are splitting a bottle of vino after finishing off this Coq au Vin. It was perfect for tonight. All the flavors here are hints. Mushrooms and shallots are infused with bacon and stewed in red wine. The sauce is spooned over crispy chicken, and garnished with chopped parsley. I love finding a recipe for something French and comforting like this that takes 45 minutes or less. A blizzard is still in the forecast. We could have 10 inches of snow tomorrow, according to all of the hyperventilation. I’m warm, toasty and doubtful.

Quick Coq Au Vin
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2010

4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
1 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
8 ounces large crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, halved
8 large shallots, peeled, halved through root end
3garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as Shiraz or Syrah)
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
4 teaspoons all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sauté bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Add to drippings in skillet. Sauté until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side; transfer to a baking dish. Place in oven to keep warm.

Add mushrooms and shallots to skillet; season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic to skillet; toss 10 seconds. Add wine, 1 1/4 cups broth, bacon, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Boil 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour in small cup.

Add 1/4 cup broth, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture to sauce. Cook until sauce thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken on platter; stir juices from pie dish into sauce and spoon over chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.

Serve with a wedge of crusty bread.

Serves 4


Winter Chicken Noodle Stew

I’ve gone back and forth about whether to post this one. For the past couple of months, I’ve shared recipes that I absolutely love: chicken korma, Turkish lentil soup, cashew chicken chili, etc. But food blogging isn’t just about the rock stars, right? Not everything we make or eat is off-the-charts fantastic.

Take this winter chicken noodle stew, for example. It’s hearty, warm, incredibly healthy, and pretty quick to put together. It could have used a squeeze of lemon juice, or something else to add a bit more zing. Red pepper flakes, perhaps. All in all, it was a good solid stew. But it wasn’t a 10. It wasn’t even an 8.

OK, I admit. I wasn’t thrilled with the way it turned out. Jeff claimed to like it a lot. He enthusiastically ate several bowls of it. Both of us agreed that the Parmesan is essential. It adds a bit of saltiness that’s very much needed.

This a is a very thick stew, not at all like the chicken noodle soup most of us are used to. The mix of carrots, parsnips, onions and celery create subtle flavors. If you like subtle, you will like this stew. Will I make this again? Perhaps. But it’s not at the top of my list.

Winter Chicken Noodle Stew
barely adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003

12 ounces boneless chicken thighs (about 4 pieces)
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts halves (about 3 pieces)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 large celery stalks, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4 small onions, roughly chopped
3 1/2 cups water
1 14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 pound wide egg noodles
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a 6-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add half the chicken. Cook, turning occasionally until chicken is browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat steps with the remaining chicken. Set aside.

Place carrots, celery, parsnips and onions to the pot or Dutch oven. Add the water, broth and rosemary. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom. Cover, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly tender, about 10 minutes.

In another pot, cook noodles until al dente according to package instructions. Drain. Stir noodles, parsley, reserved chicken into pot with vegetables. Cook until chicken is heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt better in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir until golden, about 1 minute. Add chard. Cook, turning every now and then until tender, about 5 minutes. Divide the chard among six bowls. Ladle stew on top. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Serves 6.


Cashew Chicken Chili

We’re two days into the New Year and I’m already not doing well on my resolutions. I didn’t go to the gym yesterday or today (well, today I tried but they closed early). I haven’t written in my journal. I haven’t tackled the basement. And while standing in the check-out line at Target, I bought gummy bears .

Resolutions aside, 2011 is settling in quite nicely. I’ve spent the weekend organizing my closet, playing with Gabi, dabbling with the camera lens I got for Christmas and the yogurt maker Jeff gave me. It’s always nice when the stress of the holidays is over. Winter is here for a while. It’s time to revisit some winter recipes — like this cashew chicken chili.

Continue reading ‘Cashew Chicken Chili’


Moroccan-Style Roast Chicken with Spiced Couscous

Thanksgiving is 10 days away. Ten days! I’ve come to realize that we need to clear space in the freezer. This is no small task at our house.You can hardly squeeze a sack of frozen corn in there due to the amount of hording I did over the summer. See, we get meat every other week in our Fair Shares CSA box. Jeff and I aren’t big meat eaters in the summer. We end up pounds and pounds of frozen chickens, lamb, bison, you name it, taking up freezer space.

About a week ago, I thawed one of the chickens and rubbed it with this spiced honey butter. It crisped up nicely in the oven. The house smelled like butter, honey and cinnamon for hours. The meat was deliciously juicy. A drizzle of honey butter sauce  amplified the flavor . And guess what? It was hardly any work.

As you can see, though, the ankles (do chickens have ankles?)  did get a little too brown. I should have put foil over the chicken earlier than I did.  The rest, though, roasted perfectly.

The couscous is about as essential to this meal as the honey butter. Please do make the couscous. The raisins, almonds, cinnamon and saffron are sooo good in it.

Continue reading ‘Moroccan-Style Roast Chicken with Spiced Couscous’


Chicken Korma

My friend Elie is moving to Peru. How cool is that? She was determined to do it months ago, even before she fell in love with a Peruvian photographer. And now she leaves in two weeks. Her house is rented, she’s sold most of her furniture and her ex-boyfriend has assumed custody of her dog.

I had Elie over for dinner last week. She came over on a Tuesday, which presented a small problem. Since she was coming over right after work, I needed to have my cooking done the night before. Fortunately, I have an amazing slow cooker — a friend gave it to me a couple of years ago. I love it so much I pet it sometimes.

Chicken korma is a mild north Indian dish that doesn’t require much prep work. After you chop the onion, mince the garlic and grate the ginger, you simply measure the spices and start sauteing everything. Korma is creamy and tangy. Cashews really draw out the flavor, which is dominated by a mix of ground coriander, cumin, tumeric, cayenne and a cinnamon stick. Some kormas call for yogurt. This one uses buttermilk. It’s as good (if not better) than any chicken curry you’ve had in any Indian restaurant.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make this in a large pot on the stove, with the flame on low. But do consider getting a slow cooker. It’s a wonderful piece of equipment. It took less than 30 minutes for me to prep the ingredients, saute, and then hit the slow cook button on my machine. It cooked overnight, then waited in the fridge to be heated up for dinner.

Continue reading ‘Chicken Korma’


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