Posts Tagged 'chicken'

Tempeh (or chicken) Tacos with Habanero Salsa Fresca

Sometimes I like making dinner so much I get to do it twice in one night. Or, more realistically, Mike is a whole lot more excited about chicken than he is about tempeh, so I end up figuring out how to make a recipe two ways. (Although he did end up admitting that the tempeh was really good!)

If you’re looking over the recipe thinking that soy sauce seems out of place in a marinade for tacos, I can relate. I had the same thought, but forged ahead anyway and the results were delicious. Of course you don’t have to make this salsa to go with these, but I think fresh homemade salsa is so much better than store bought that I always make it from scratch.

1 8 ounce package tempeh, cut in 1/2″ thick slices OR 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp soy sauce
juice of 1/2 lemon

nonstick spray
corn tortillas
sour cream
shredded cheese or crumbled queso fresco
habanero salsa (below)

To make the marinade, mix all ingredients except tempeh or chicken.
If using tempeh: Put the slices in boiling water and boil for 10 minutes, then drain and toss with the marinade. Put in a ziploc bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Heat a skillet and spary with nonstick spray. Cook the tempeh for a few minutes on each side, or until slightly browned.

If using chicken, just put the chicken in a bag, pour in the marinade, and chill at least 2 hours.
Bake the chicken in a foil packet in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until done.
Let cool slightly, then shred with a fork.

Heat the corn tortillas in a 300 degree oven (I just put them directly on the rack) for a few minutes, or until warm and pliable. Assemble tacos with desired accoutrements.

3 large, ripe Roma tomatoes
1 habanero pepper
juice of half a lime
a few pinches salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 white onion, chopped

Soak the chopped onion in a bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes, then drain in a mesh strainer.
Stir all ingredients together and adjust salt and lime juice to taste. I don’t bother peeling or seeding the tomatoes, I just cut the little area around the stem out and go to town!
I like to let the flavors mellow in the fridge for about an hour before I eat this, but that part is optional.

NOTE: Habaneros are pretty spicy. If you’re not up for that, this salsa can be made milder with half a diced jalapeno, seeds removed.

Asian Spa Salad


There is a mediocre (at best) restaurant in the town where I went to college, and I’m now ashamed when I think about how often I ate there. I always ordered the Asian Spa Salad which, in retrospect, was really pretty terrible: a bunch of iceberg lettuce in a fat free, chemical-laden, overly sweet dressing with chunks of rubbery chicken.

I realized that the idea of the salad was great – light and healthy with lots of lean protein, vegetables and a nice orange-soy flavored dressing – but the execution left a lot to be desired. To say that this is a big improvement on that horrendous salad is a gross understatement!

Weekends are my cooking project time. Last weekend it was vegan arroz con leche with brown rice (still working the kinks out of that one), and this weekend it was the Asian Spa Salad (new and improved). I started with Napa cabbage, but realized it looks a little anemic on its own.

I added some spinach because it’s just so healthy and beautiful and green.

There are also some thin slices of green onion in there.

For the dressing, I boiled some orange juice, soy sauce, and mirin until it was nice and syrupy (and finally broke my streak of adding sugar to salad dressing!) I marinated some chicken in soy sauce and chopped garlic and let it sit for about 8 hours. If you think marinades need to be fancy, complicated affairs with multiple spices, vinegars, oils, and fruit juices, think again! This 2-ingredient marinade was absolutely perfect.

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts*
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 cups shredded spinach (cut the leaves into strips)
3 tbsp thinly sliced green onion
1 medium carrot, shaved into strips with a vegetable peeler
2 tsbp sesame seeds

1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil

*I prefer bone-in, skin-on because I think the meat cooks up nicely and I love having bones around to use in stock. But if you prefer, boneless skinless will be fine – they will just cook faster.

Put the soy sauce, garlic, and chicken in a shallow bowl and turn the chicken pieces to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
Cook the chicken in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes (check after about 20 if you’re using boneless-skinless) or until the internal temperature is 165 F.
Remove and set aside to cool.

While the chicken is in the oven, boil the orange juice, soy sauce, and mirin together until thick, syrupy, and reduced by half. Remove from the heat to cool, then stir in the sesame oil.

Pull the skin off the chicken and cut the meat off the bone. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Toss together the cabbage, spinach, carrot, green onions, and add the dressing.
Toss in the chicken, then sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

Brown Rice Salad with Spinach and Balsamic Chicken


I read a LOT of food blogs on a regular basis, and I’m starting to see a trend: I gravitate towards blogs with a) fantastic, beautiful pictures and b) original recipes. This is because my blog usually has c) none of the above (but I’m working on it! I really am) and I’m hoping that I’ll learn a thing or two from the blogs that inspire me so much.

A few months ago my husband challenged me to come up with one (or more) new, original recipe each week. Because we were traveling the last 5 months, I couldn’t stick with it, but now that I’m back to cooking daily, I’m taking up the challenge once again.


Today’s recipe was inspired by the bag of brown rice I recently purchased, and the beautiful bunches of spinach at the market. Since I pack my lunch every day, I knew I wanted to make something filling and nutritions, that could be eaten straight from the container without needing a spin in the microwave. I marinated some chicken in a little balsamic vinegar, cooked it up with some browned onions, and tossed that with citrus-scented brown rice, some raw spinach, and toasted walnuts. I know that sounds like a jumbled mess of flavors, but they come together really well.

1 cup brown rice
1 1/4 cups orange juice
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups washed spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Combine the brown rice, water, and orange juice and cook (on the stove top or in a rice cooker).
Toss the chicken with the balsamic vinegar and set aside.
While the rice is cooking, toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat (shake the pan to keep the nuts from burning) and remove when fragrant.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet and add the onion. Over low heat, cook the onion, stirring minimally, until translucent. Add the sugar, give the onions one good stir, and continue cooking until onions are browned (about 15 minutes).
Add the chicken to the onions and turn the heat up. Cook, stirring, until the chicken pieces are cooked through.
Put the chicken and walnuts in a serving bowl and top with the spinach.
Put the cooked rice on top of the spinach and let sit for a few minutes so the spinach wilts slightly.
Toss, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Broccoli-Almond Chicken

Home ec class, Hollywood Senior High School, Nedlands, Western Australia.
That’s where, in the fall of 1997, I fell in love with cooking. I had cooked periodically before that, but that was the first time I got to do everything myself, start to finish. I was in heaven.
One of the first things we made in that class was stir fry. And for months, I stuck with the recipe I learned. It was good, but basic, and it got pretty old. That’s one of my gripes about stir-fry. Too often, it’s just the same mix of vegetables with the same flavor of sauce.
But with my extraordinarlily limited batterie de cuisine, stir fry is one of the things I can actually make, so I have made it my personal mission to come up with more interesting stir fry. Like this one.
I love the broccoli and almond combination, and I dressed it up with a lemon-based sauce. It’s a great, simple stir fry, and it’s just crying out to be served over brown rice.
A little note about lemon zest… I do not have a zester. I don’t even have a grater. But I improvised a little and came up with passable zest using just my knife. Check it out!
Cut thin pieces of peel, avoiding the white part as much as possible
Cut those pieces into thin strips
Chop the strips into little pieces. It doesn’t look as pretty as lemon zest, but if you chop the pieces fine enough, you get the flavor and don’t notice that you’re eating lemon peel.

Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbps broth or water
1 tsp cornstarch

Whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

Stir Fry:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb boneless-skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 a small yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
1/3 cup almonds, cut in half lengthwise

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken, onion, and ginger, and cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through.
Add the broccoli florets and a few tablespoons of water. Cook until broccoli is crisp-tender.
Add the sauce and almonds, and stir until sauce has thickened and coats the chicken and broccoli.
Serve over brown rice.

Thai Noodle Salad

Thai Noodle Salad 1

I am and have always been a morning person. So when I found out my working hours in Korea would be 3-10 PM, I wasn’t quite sure how I would cope with having to be a functional human after about 7:00 at night. Fortunately, the schedule seems to be working out, and it’s probably the best thing that ever happened to the food photography on this blog!

I now cook at about 11 AM, then pack up what I made to take to work for dinner. As a result, all my cooking is done during daylight hours, giving me much better light for pictures.

I know using lemon juice is not authentically Thai, but I couldn’t find limes at my grocery store. Either type will work, but if you crave authenticity, reach for the limes. If you have an aversion to fish sauce, or are vegetarian, soy sauce would probably work as a substitution, but I haven’t tried it yet. If you do, let me know how it tastes!

(adapted from Orangette)

Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 limes)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot red chili, finely chopped (omit if you don’t like spicy food)

Combine all ingredients, and taste. (This is really important! If it’s too fishy, add a little sugar and vinegar…if too sweet, add a little vinegar and/or fish sauce). Add a little water if the dressing seems to sugary and thick (again, this will depend on how you alter it to suit your tastes).

12 ounces tofu (or you could use a chicken breast or two)
1 1/2 cups julienned napa cabbage
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 carrot, julienned
10 ounces rice noodles
1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts

Cut the tofu (or chicken) into bite-sized pieces and cook in a frying pan. (Tofu should be brown on all sides; chicken should be fully cooked). Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the vegetables and tofu.
Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Add to the bowl of vegetables.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.
Sprinkle with peanuts to serve.

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Bacon

As I try to become a better cook, I look for recipes with techniques I haven’t tried.  This one called for braising, which I had never done, and included bacon, mushrooms, red wine, and pearl onions.  I love all of those things!  The dish has amazing flavor, and is a perfect hearty dinner for chilly fall nights.  You’ll dirty a few dishes, but it’s definitely worth it!

Since you can make this in a braising pan as well, I’m submitting it to the November Tasty Tools at Joelen’s Culinary Adventures.
(adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider)
8 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed and chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 tbsp dry white wine
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
black pepper

20 pearl onions, peeled
2 thick slices bacon, diced
3 tbsp flour
1 3-lb chicken, skinned and cut into 8 pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup port
1 1/2 cups dry red wine

To make the mushrooms:
Heat the oil in a skillet until hot.  Add the mushrooms, shallot, garlic, and thyme, and saute for about 3 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the wine, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 or 15 minutes.  

To make the chicken:
Cook the bacon in a small skillet over low heat, for about 8 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon grease.
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper
Spread the flour on a plate and dip each piece of chicken in it, shaking off any excess.
Heat the bacon grease over medium-high in a dutch oven or other large, heavy pan.  Saute the chicken in batches until golden, about 3 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a platter.
Add the port and wine and cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced slightly.  
Turn the heat to medium-low.
Stir in the bacon and pearl onions and add a few pinches of salt.
Add the chicken pieces and cook, partially covered, for 20-30 minutes.
Remove the chicken pieces to a serving dish and keep warm.  Simmer the sauce until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.  Add the mushrooms during the last 3 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Chicken Peanut Stew and Injera

I have wanted to make this recipe for awhile, and it definitely did not disappoint!  While the cookbook says to serve it over rice, I really wanted to make injera.  For those not familiar with Ethiopian food, Injera is a large, spongy flatbread used to scoop up stew.  

This injera recipe is quick and good, but the product is not identical to what you find in Ethiopian restaurants.  It uses buckwheat flour instead of teff, and isn’t as sour.  However, it still works really well and is a nice stand-in for the real thing

Chicken Peanut Stew
(adapted from Discovery of a Continent by Marcus Samuelsson)
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 jalapenos
1 2″ piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1 by leaf
a few pinches white pepper
2 cups water
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup unsalted peanuts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz spinach, washed well and stems removed
Combine the onion, carrot, jalapenos, ginger, bay leaf, white pepper, and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken thighs, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  
Add the chicken and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
While the chicken is simmering, toast the peanuts in a small frying pan over medium heat until golden brown.  Let cool, then grind 1/2 cup of them in a blender to make a smooth paste.  Set aside.
Using tongs, remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and set aside.  
Transfer the vegetables into a food processor (remove the bay leaf) and puree until smooth.  Set the broth aside.
Heat the oil in a medium frying pan.  Add the potatoes and saute until they are golden brown (about 15 minutes).  Add the chicken pieces and brown them on all sides.  
Stir the vegetable puree into the broth and bring it to a boil.  Add the peanut paste and the remaining whole peanuts and stir to combine well.  Add the tomatoes, chicken, potatoes, and salt,  and simmer about 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings, then stir in the spinach until it is wilted.
Serve over rice or with Injera 
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2-2 cups club soda
Combine flours and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Add club soda, and stir to form a thin batter.
Heat a large well-seasoned skillet until hot, then brush lightly with oil.
Using a ladle, pour a circle around the edge of the pan and tilt to cover the middle.
Cook for about 2 minutes, until the surface is covered with bubbles and no longer looks wet.  Do not flip – just slide off onto a plate and repeat with remaining batter.
And…just because this is an African dish… here are two of my favorite pictures from when I was in Uganda in 2007:


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