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Sara

Sara and me

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Erik Larson’s tome, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. This book covers the “reign” of Winston Churchill during the height of WWII. You’ll learn so much more about him. About the war. About the inner workings of the British government, including political. I’m a great admirer of the late Mr. Churchill. One of my more recent trips to England I visited Chartwell, the family home and where Winston died. If you’ve never been there, do add it to your itinerary next time. Beautiful grounds, including the small studio he used to paint.

Ken Follett is one of my fav authors, and I pre-ordered his newest, The Evening and the Morning (Kingsbridge), which is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge), my all-time favorite book I’ve ever read. Time period: 975 to about 1007 or so. Give or take. It follows a poor, but eager and intelligent builder as he earns his trade. It’s about his loves. His failures. The families all around, and much about the ever-present church (and its leaders, some honest, many not). Could hardly put the book down. Love Follett’s style of writing.

Every so often I read a romance of some kind. Historical ones mostly. And most I don’t include them here. But one I liked a lot is The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant. It happens to be very inexpensive right now on amazon, on Kindle, in case you’re interested. It jumps from 1538 and to 2019. Having to do with a precious book, a Book of Hours, and what secrets it contains. The growing of saffron plays large here and both romance in Tudor times and a tenuous marriage in current time, but nearly all of it takes place at a Tudor castle. Loved the book.

The book Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary shares the story of a number of animals brought to an animal sanctuary in the Catskills. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll enjoy the stories, each animal bringing more to the human-animal relationship than you might even guess. Profound stories of love of animals. Not a long book; I think I got it as a bargain book from bookbub.

The title caught my attention on this one: Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha Rehman. She’s written her own autobiography, beginning when she was a young child in Pakistan, to her eventual settling in New York. It’s about the Muslim experience. Their beliefs, their customs and traditions, told in a very pleasing and informational way. She marries in American Pakistani Muslim (an arranged marriage) and it’s the story of everything. Nothing much is left out of the journey she made, and still makes. She became a kind of activist for her religion, trying to bring Muslim customs to integrate into American culture (not always an easy task). Her husband is a doctor; she a hospital administrator. Likely you’ll learn more than you thought about Muslims. Very well written. Enjoyed it very much.

Finished Chinn’s story, The English Wife. What a great read. Could hardly put it down. I’m reading 3-4 books a week these days, and am so happy when I have a book I can’t wait to get back to. Really the story is about two sisters. Partly in Norwich, England, then in Newfoundland. One there, one here. And some of it takes place during WWII in Norwich, and much of it Newfoundland, then, and more recent. I loved the part of the book that took place on 9/11 when flights were diverted to Newfoundland. Family secrets, family lies, much anger between the sisters. There’s romance. There’s war. There is love of family. Particularly I savored the descriptions of Newfoundland, mostly rock, if you’ve never been there. It’s a twisted tale, by that I mean the family secrets which become the undoing. It’s a bargain on amazon right now, as I write this.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

Jamie Ford has written another good one, Love and Other Consolation Prizes. Remember, he wrote The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Loved that book. This one takes on a rather ugly part of America’s past, when Chinese people were treated like trinkets. Ernest Young is such a boy, who ends up being a “prize” at an event, and with great angst, ends up as a kind of servant at a high-class bordello in Seattle. Yet, the women and girls there become HIS family. He is intelligent and learns many lessons. Eventually, when society women battle to close down such houses of ill repute, he leaves that life, with his wife. They have children. The bulk of the book is about the early years around the turn of the 20th century, then you pick up the threads nearing the end of his life, and his wife’s. There are any number of small mysteries, which unravel with a word here or there – you know that word foreshadowing? Really interesting read.

In between more literary novels, I bought a comedic memoir . . . Juliette Sobanet’s Meet Me in Paris. There’s the falling apart of a marriage (and divorce), but in the inbetween, she decides to take a trip (sans husband) around Europe to get her head straight. The kind of tour that would drive me crazy, but it was one night, maybe two at each major city. She knew no one, but soon enough bonds with  three other women. Then she has a chance-meeting of a young Frenchman who had been an exchange student in her home town. They’d lost touch, yet there were definitely sparks there, never realized. Some of the touristy stuff was trite, I must say, although the women do try to take in all the major sites, if only for a few minutes. There is plenty of humor. Some steamy stuff too as she meets up with the young man in another city. Apparently it’s a happy-ever-after story. Great literature it is not, but it was a fun romp, so to speak.

Recently finished Thomas Nelson’s The Hideaway. It seems like there are SO many novels out there about families finding, inheriting or otherwise going to an old house with memories. Especially ones on the water. With stories to tell. It’s a great way to introduce some light mystery to the telling of some other family story. In this case it’s Sara’s grandmother who was enigmatic in every way. And Sara inherits the run-down, ramshackle B&B on Mobile Bay. Cute story with lots of twists and turns.

Also just finished James Conroyd Martin’s Fortune’s Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora (Book 1 of 2). Theodora grew up the daughter of a circus performer, but then moved onto “the boards,” as acting was called back in Byzantine times (Constantinople, 6th century). She always had high expectations – she just “knew” she was going to accomplish great things. She was an occasional prostitute, a mistress, and then, behold, the son of Emperor Justin is mesmerized by her beauty, takes her on, and makes her his wife, amid much royal machinations. A young eunuch also plays large in the story too, a man hopelessly in love with Thea, but knows his love can never be returned or fulfilled. He becomes an historian to the Empress. Quite a story – much of it chronicles her early life and not a lot of it in Constantinople. But riveting story.

I’m doing SO much reading of late. Read this book in one day. The Glass Hotel: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Loosely based on the story of Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme), it tells a novelized version of a man with incredible power and charisma who gathers a group of willing partners. It’s about the people he cuckolded, and the people who took him down. At the beginning drugs come into play and I almost didn’t continue, but that was a very short section. Well worth reading. Lots to discuss if you’re looking for a book club read.

Once in awhile I read a poignant animal story, as you know if you’ve followed this sidebar for any length of time. Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other by Craig Gross, tells the story of his military duty in Afghanistan, in a war zone. And how his unit befriended a dog, a stray, and how that dog really did become his lifeline.

Cara Wall’s new book, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel. It tells the story of two couples. The two husbands become co-pastors of a New York City church. The wives? Oh my, are they ever different. They don’t abide. The husbands try to get a grip on their jobs, pastoring, preaching, and keeping the wives happy.

Loved-loved Gregory Buford’s humorous memoir, Kept: An American Househusband in India. He aims to be a U.S. diplomat, takes the tests and fails. On a whim, his wife takes the test and is hired. Their first assignment: Chennai, India. They spent two years there, with his much-loved wife going off to do diplomatic duties (albeit at a low level – everyone must pay their dues at the beginning) and Greg is left at home to deal with the servants, the house, the beggars, the nanny, the construction next door, shopping, and also partly caring for their infant.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Shirley Ann Grau’s book, The Keepers of the House. Hmmm. Much to think about. [from an amazon review]: There is a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1965. Seven generations of Howlands have lived on this rural Alabama plantation in good times and bad. It tells the story of this family from the time its patriarch settled the land in the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.

Marie Martin wrote Harbored Secrets. From amazon: In May of 1935, Blinny Platt’s homestead shack burns to the ground forever leaving her family asunder, scattering them like the embers flew on the Montana wind. She was only 8, sent away and in charge of her little sister. She could handle that because Platts take care of Platts. However, it is the hidden secrets of her parents smoldering beneath the charred remains that haunts Blinny until 1982.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee. Everyone should read this one.

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones. DIdn’t like it much, but others do.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Chicken, on October 19th, 2020.

food_cart_chix_curry

My riff on a chicken curry recipe similar to what’s served from food carts in India.

You all know who Ruth Reichl is, right? From the venerable halls of food writers and editors, and cookbook authors. Memoir writers too. She used to work at the Los Angeles Times, so I’d been familiar with her for decades. I’m not sure which one of her books this recipe came from (I own a couple of her books, but not all of them). She’s such a good writer, witty and informative, providing plenty of humility when it comes to cooking. Anyway, this came through on one of my feeds from a blog – not sure which one. So the story goes, Ruth has spent more than one trip food-crawling in India, or maybe it was a similar food-crawl in New York City, but no matter how, this is one of her favorite pastimes, partaking of the chicken served from street food carts. She wrote:

The entire city smells like curry. Passing the fourth halal chicken cart, I can’t resist.

Spicy, tangy, irresistible. The taste of now.” Ruth Reichl

Lately I’ve been craving curry again, and since this was a recent recipe I added to my chicken recipes, it was what was on my mind. As I’m writing this it’s early October and this won’t post until later in the month, but what’s important is that I finally began going to grocery stores. It had been 7 months since I’d set foot in one. For my first foray, I visited a nice, new one, a bit smaller than the mega-grocery chains, and found it not crowded, which made me feel better about being there. I was able to buy a red onion for this dish, then I defrosted a pouch of chicken thighs. I used most of them in a soup that I’ll post in a few days, but I saved out some and made this chicken curry and served it on a bed of cauliflower rice.

Several hours ahead I marinated the chicken in a mixture of spices, with some EVOO and lemon juice added. That rested in the frig. Meanwhile I pulsed some fresh cauliflower (I’ve made a big decision – I much prefer prepping a big whole cauliflower into “cauliflower rice” than I like eating the stuff already prepared and sold as “cauliflower rice.” I’m guessing that by the time it gets to stores, it’s several days old. I may never buy the cut up bag  (but still raw) stuff again. I cooked the cauliflower rice in butter over low heat until it was just barely tender.

zucchini_with_food_cart_chix

The CHICKEN: When you’re ready to cook, have everything ready, as the dinner comes together quickly. Into a nonstick pan the chicken goes – it doesn’t need any fat as there is enough in the marinade. Cook it low and slow – it takes about 10 minutes. Test a little piece of chicken to see if it’s done. As I said, meanwhile I did the cauliflower with nothing more than butter in it. I plated the dish.

The ZUCCHINI: I also chopped up one big zucchini and sautéed it in the same pan once I removed the curry. The pan still had a bit of fat in it, AND some of the wonderful spices too. So I got two portions of veggies – the cauliflower rice under the curry AND the zucchini on the side.

I scaled down this recipe since I’m just one person, but two chicken thighs made enough for me to have at least 2 meals. I might even stretch it to 3. Especially if I serve a moderate portion of the zucchini as well. The only change I made to this recipe was to add some Greek yogurt at the end. And I used a bit more of the oregano than the original called for. As for the yogurt – I like a creamy curry. Street carts don’t do that, apparently, so I did veer off a little bit. Food carts serve a cold sauce on the side that’s a mixture of yogurt, mayo, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar. So, your choice. I let the yogurt simmer too long so it began to separate – so do as I say, not as I did – simmer the yogurt for just long enough to heat it through, then serve.

What’s GOOD: This dish is divine! What else can I say – SO delicious. So comfort-food for me. I nearly licked the plate. Everything about it was fantastic. I’ll be making this again and again. Thank you, Ruth Reichl!

What’s NOT: only that you need to start this the night before or at least 4 hours ahead to marinate the chicken. The seasoning permeates the chicken well during that time – don’t eliminate that step.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Food Cart Chicken Curry

Recipe By: Adapted from Ruth Reichl
Serving Size: 4

1 pound chicken thigh, meat only — boneless, skinless
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 red onion — halved, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt, full-fat
Cilantro as garnish
Serve with rice or cauliflower rice and zucchini on the side

NOTE: I served this with a side of zucchini, trimmed, chopped, and cooked quickly over high heat in the seasoning and oil that was left in the skillet after making the curry.
1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks, and slice the onion into thin slices.
2. Make a paste by combining the olive oil with 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, the coriander, garlic, curry powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.
3. Place onions and chicken into a plastic bag, with the marinade, and squish it all round so the onions and chicken are thoroughly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Add onions and chicken to large skillet (nonstick) and saute for about 5 minutes, tossing every minute or so. It will splutter a bit.Taste the chicken to see if it’s tender and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice. At many food carts they serve this with a white sauce – combine equal parts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, then add a dollop of sugar, salt and pepper, and a splash of vinegar. Some prefer to sprinkle on red hot sauce.
Per Serving: 354 Calories; 22g Fat (57.3% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 138mg Cholesterol; 157mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 43mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 372mg Potassium; 227mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Salads, on September 25th, 2020.

chicken_salad_grapes_dill

Maybe I’m bored with my own cooking of late. Decided to do something outside the box.

As I’ve mentioned many times here, most days I have soup (laden with lots of veggies) for lunch. But you probably heard earlier this month here in SoCal, the temps were in the 100s. One day it was 108 here at my house. Even though I have AC in my house (thank you, Lord!) I could still feel hot around the edges. I didn’t want hot soup, and the soup I had in the frig wasn’t one that could be eaten cold. So I decided to fix myself an open faced sandwich. I didn’t even have leftover chicken – so I used canned chicken. I do that sometimes when I’m not wanting to cook a chicken breast. Costco’s canned chicken is very good, if you’ve never tried it.

These days, with the pandemic still keeping me at home (oh, I’m so very tired of it), I don’t always have food items I need to make something new. So I used what I had and created a chicken salad and served it atop a nice wheat type thin slice of toast, some sliced avocado (hidden under the greenery) and with arugula. So, I thought about what I could do to make this salad different. Well, I had dill. Good, that would work. I had almonds in the freezer, so that was easy, although I didn’t toast them (it was just too hot even to turn on the toaster oven). I combined the chicken, Best Foods mayo, some minutely diced celery, lemon juice, a minced up green onion, some red grapes that I diced up (optional) and then I threw in a heaping tablespoon of mango chutney. That chutney was just the ticket. It added that slight bit of sweetness and flavor variation that I was seeking. I had enough to make this sandwich three times, although only the first time did I use the toast and avocados.

It took me very few minutes to make the salad, toast the bread, slice the avocado, chop up the arugula, mince the dill, and it was done. Don’t add salt until after you’ve tasted it – the mayo has some already – so I didn’t add any, though I did grind in some pepper.

What’s GOOD: very easy and quick to make. The mango chutney was the surprise flavor here, and I really liked it. The dill was another flavor profile I enjoyed. I don’t suppose this recipe will win any county fair prizes, but it was just the answer to my wish for something easy and different.

What’s NOT: well, during a pandemic, you might not have all the ingredients. I always keep Major Gray’s mango chutney in my refrigerator – it virtually keeps forever, and the other ingredients were all staples, except for the dill. I wish I could grow dill at my house, but it’s always too hot. This sandwich isn’t low calorie – I was kind of surprised when I looked at the nutrition count. Must be the mayonnaise!

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Chicken Salad – for open faced sandwich

Recipe By: My own combo, 2020
Serving Size: 3

CHICKEN MIXTURE:
1 1/4 cups cooked chicken — chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
1 tablespoon lemon juice — or more to taste
2 tablespoons red grapes — chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mango chutney
1/4 cup celery — minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill — chopped
1 whole green onion — diced
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
SANDWICH:
3 slices whole grain bread — toasted
1 avocado — thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups arugula — chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill — for garnish
2 tablespoons sliced almonds — for garnish

1. In a bowl combine all the chicken salad ingredients, reserving some of the almonds. Taste for seasoning. It may not need salt, but pepper for sure.
2. Place toast on individual plates, add avocado slices, mound arugula next, then spoon the chicken salad on top. Garnish with additional almond slices, and a sprig of dill.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 24g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 89mg Cholesterol; 406mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 120mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 817mg Potassium; 378mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, on June 16th, 2020.

roast_chix_schmaltzy_brussels_onions_plated

Absolute divine chicken and vegetables.

A few weeks ago I was reading Smitten Kitchen (blog) and Deb had written up a recipe for smaltzy chicken with a bed of cabbage underneath it. I know enough Yiddish to know that schmaltz is chicken fat. I laughed at Deb’s naming of the recipe – schmaltzy – to connote the fat that drips down from the chicken into and onto the bed of cabbage underneath. When I made the dish, it was absolutely fabulous. I mean drop-dead fabulous. And I took pictures of it. But when I tried to work with the photos, it was just so “brown.” You know me and dull, brownish pictures. Hate them. I used all of that chicken, and ate all of the delicious cabbage that had been permeated with the chicken juices, and fat, of course. So, with another chicken in my frig, but no cabbage, I decided to try it with different veggies.

To make this recipe work, I think you DO need to use firm brassica vegetables (Brussels, cabbage, turnips and/or cauliflower). I had Brussels, but nothing else, so I added onions on top. Onions aren’t of the brassica family, but they do take a long time to cook through. So, I thought, why not? Oh my goodness. A marriage made in heaven.

chix_brussels_in_panThis dish is a cinch to put together. I mean it. The Brussels sprouts are halved if they’re big, otherwise left whole, and they’re placed cut side down into an oiled iron skillet. One that’s big enough to hold all the vegetables and the whole chicken sitting on top of them. Then the halved and sliced onions are put on top of that. I seasoned them with salt, pepper and dried thyme (my favorite go-to herb). The whole chicken is dried off, then oiled with EVOO, salted, peppered and more dried thyme, then set atop the veggies. Into a VERY hot oven (450°) it goes for about 50 minutes. My oven runs a tad hot, so I used 445°F. At the halfway point I turned the pan around 180°F in the oven.

roast_chix_iron_skilletWhen I made chicken before, I removed it when the thigh had reached 165°F, the usual temp cooks say it needs to reach. But I wasn’t totally happy with the chicken – to me it wasn’t quite done. It was done, but it wasn’t done enough. The leg wasn’t loose – the sure sign that a chicken is cooked through. So this time when I opened the oven at 50 minutes, the chicken was very golden brown. So I turned the oven down to 420°F and let it roast for another 10 minutes, at which point the thigh had reached 180°F. If you have a smaller chicken or a larger one, you might need to adapt the total baking time. I removed the pan with all the wonderful chicken and onion flavors floating around my nose, tented it with foil for about 10 minutes, and was ready to serve. chix_brussel_onions_in_pan

The vegetables stayed plenty warm in the hot-hot frying pan while I carved  up the chicken. My portion control went right out the window. I hate a leg (thigh and drumstick) and a big scoop of vegetables. And as I peeled off all the chicken from the carcass later, I nibbled on more juicy, dripping chicken. Oh my.

What’s GOOD: there is nothing that wasn’t sensational about this chicken. If I don’t have brassicas to add to the pan, well, I’ll just use more onions. But the combo of Brussels and onions was doubly wonderful. If you’re not a Brussels sprouts fan, use cabbage and onions.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of – you do need some kind of veg that needs long, hot cooking. Hence I didn’t think broccoli would work here. Cauliflower would, however, so I’ll try that next time, providing I have some.

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Roasted Chicken with Schmaltzy Brussels and Onions

Recipe By: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen blog, 2020
Serving Size: 5

2 teaspoons EVOO
1 pound Brussels sprouts — stems trimmed, halved if large, whole if small
2 large yellow onions — halved and sliced
salt and pepper to taste, sprinkled on top
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme — sprinkled on the vegetables
3 1/2 pounds whole chicken — patted dry with paper towels
1 tablespoon EVOO
salt and pepper, sprinkled on the chicken
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme — sprinkled on the chicken
2 teaspoons fresh parsley — chopped, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 445-450°F. My oven runs hot, so I reduce the temp by 5°F.
2. Smear the EVOO in the bottom of a cast iron skillet large enough to hold the vegetables and the chicken to sit on top.
3. As you cut the Brussels sprouts, lay them cut side down in the skillet and add the additional ones on top. Sprinkle with some of the salt and pepper.
4. Arrange the halved and sliced onions on top, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, then sprinkle dried thyme over all.
5. Pat dry the chicken, then rub it all over with EVOO, salt, pepper, then set it on top of the vegetables. Sprinkled dried thyme on top of the chicken.
6. Roast in oven for about 50 minutes. If you’re brave, remove the pan from oven halfway through and if you find drippings in the bottom, use a deep spoon to drizzle it over the top of the chicken. If not brave, rotate the chicken 90°F. Check the internal temp of the bird. Usually chefs say cook until the thigh is 165°F, but I prefer a whole chicken roasted further, as often the leg is not loose and not ready to eat. Turn down heat to 425°F if the top of the bird is overly browned. Continue baking for about 10 more minutes, until the internal temp of the thigh is at 180°F and the leg joint moves easily.
7. Remove pan from oven, tent loosely with foil for 10 minutes.
8. Remove chicken from the pan to a carving board and carve thick slices of breast and remove legs, cutting them in half. Serve with generous servings of the Brussels sprouts and onions on the side. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
Per Serving (assumes you’ll be eating all the skin, hence numbers are high): 774 Calories; 52g Fat (61.0% calories from fat); 62g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 286mg Cholesterol; 247mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 88mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 1023mg Potassium; 550mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on July 31st, 2019.

balsamic_grilled_chix_italian_street_corn

Corn is in season – get yourself some – and make this delicious topping for grilled chicken.

Remember, I went to a cooking class a week or so ago and came home with 3 chicken recipes. One more to go after this one. Phillis Carey did a riff on Mexican Street Corn, a recipe I have here on my blog. In this version she Italianized it with different herbs – she also cut it off the cobs and used it as a side/topping/relish.

The chicken breasts, cut and pounded to an even 1/2” thickness, are marinated in an Italian-style mixture with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme and a little bit of brown sugar. Some of the marinade is removed and set aside to use on the chicken as it’s grilling. The chicken can be marinated for a max of 3 hours, but 30 minutes is fine too.

The corn – it’s grilled while it’s still on the cob – then cut off the cobs and mixed while it’s still slightly warm with olive oil, mayo, rosemary, thyme and some grated Parm. Meanwhile, the chicken gets grilled until just cooked through – don’t overcook it or no one will be happy – and serve with the corn mixture on top.

Easy. Delicious.

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Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Italian Herb Street Corn

Recipe By: Cooking class with Phillis Carey, July, 2019
Serving Size: 4

CHICKEN:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar — use Swerve brown sugar if possible
3 cloves garlic — minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary — minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme — minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
CORN:
3 corn on cob, whole
2 tablespoons olive oil — divided use
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary — minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme — minced
3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
fresh salt and pepper to taste

1. CHICKEN: cut chicken breasts in half, crosswise, then cut thicker end in half horizontally and pound to even thickness, about 1/2″. Combine balsamic, oil, sugar, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Season marinade with salt and pepper. Remove 1/4 cup marinade and set aside.
2. Add marinade, turning to coat well. Let stand at room temp for 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 3 hours.
3. Preheat grill. Brush corn with 1 T olive oil and grill until charred over most of the surface. Remove and cut kernels off the cobs. Place corn in a bowl and once cooled some, add mayonnaise, herbs, Parm and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Remove chicken from marinade and grill, prettier side down, for 4 minutes. Turn over and grill for 4-6 minutes or until cooked through. Brush with reserved marinade during last 2 minutes of cooking. Serve with corn on top or each piece, or on the side.
Per Serving: 402 Calories; 25g Fat (54.7% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 71mg Cholesterol; 129mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on July 23rd, 2019.

salsa_verde_chix_onion_relish

Bet you thought you wouldn’t hear from me again. Gotcha! Carolyn here. After attending a cooking class last night. Had to share a few recipes with you. There will be two more chicken recipes plus a dessert coming up in a bit.

That photo may not be the best representation – brown food never looks that photogenic – it’s a red onion (grilled) with Cotija cheese crumbled in it set atop a grilled (marinated) chicken breast. Oh gosh, was it good! Phillis Carey said we’d all likely want to have the whole bowl of onion relish. Yes. My hand would have poked in the air begging for an extra serving. There weren’t any leftovers at the class, alas. Hence I’m going to have to make this dish sometime soon.

What makes this is the onion relish, for sure, but the marinade gives the chicken lovely flavor and I know for sure the fresh lime juice squeezed over the top just before serving added a whole lot of extra piquancy. But I could have eaten several servings of the red onion relish.

So first you marinate the chicken in jarred (Trader Joe’s) salsa verde along with oil, lime juice, garlic, chili powder and cumin. The chicken breasts were given the royal Phillis Carey treatment (she being the queen of the myriad uses of chicken breasts and the pounding of them). She has a new technique, however. Since so many chicken breasts are SO big, she first cuts each breast in half crosswise in about half. Note, crosswise, not lengthwise. The thinner end is probably already thin enough, you don’t need to pound it at all – if any, just the thicker end a tiny bit. The other piece she cuts horizontally in half which gives you two equally sized pieces and those two get pounded just slightly (put the pretty side down, cover with plastic wrap and gently pound to equal thickness). So each big chicken breast = 3 nice sized entrée serving pieces. And all will cook evenly.

The onions are oiled and grilled until soft and caramelized, then removed. They’re chopped up coarsely (see photo) and some of the reserved salsa is added plus some Cotija (a dry, Mexican style salty cheese, similar to Feta) that’s crumbled up into it. The chicken is grilled as well and taken off before they overcook. Some salsa is put on the flipped over side, then you serve it with the onion piled on top. Done. You’ll hear raves, I just know it. Oh, don’t forget the grilled lime half that you grill also and squeeze that over each person’s serving. Grilled limes look so pretty – let each person squeeze their own.

What’s GOOD: the onion relish, tender, juicy chicken, everything.

What’s NOT: nothing.

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Salsa Verde Chicken with Grilled Onion and Cotija Cheese Relish

Recipe By: Cooking class with Phillis Carey, July, 2019
Serving Size: 4

12 ounces salsa verde — Trader Joe’s, jarred, divided use
3 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic — minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves Salt and pepper to taste
2 whole red onions — cut in thick slices
2 whole limes — halved (for grilling)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano — chopped
1/2 cup Cotija cheese — crumbled (or use Romano, or Parmesan)

1. Remove 1 cup of salsa from the jar and set aside. Combine remaining salsa, 2 T. oil, lime juice, garlic chili powder and cumin.
2. Trim chicken and pound to an even thickness or about 1/2″. You’ll probably want to cut the chicken breast into 2 or even 3 pieces. Place chicken in non-reactive dish, season with salt and pepper to taste then pour the salsa mixture on top of the chicken, turning to coat the pieces well. Let stand at room temp for no more than 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours (no longer or the chicken will begin to “cook” in the acidic salsa).
3. Preheat grill. Brush sliced onions with oil and grill until soft and brown. Remove to a cutting board and stir in the 1/2 cup reserved salsa and the fresh oregano; set aside to cool and then toss in the Cotija cheese. Grill lime halves until browned to a medium color on the cut sides.
4. Remove chicken from marinade and grill about 4 minutes on the prettier side. Do NOT overcook. Turn over and spoon about 2 T. salsa on each chicken breast. Close lid and grill about 4 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken topped with onion cheese relish and with a grilled lime half to be squeezed over the chicken.
Per Serving: 298 Calories; 12g Fat (36.9% calories from fat); 29g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 69mg Cholesterol; 367mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, easy, Healthy, on June 2nd, 2019.

One of my go-to quick, easy and healthy weekday meals. 

This post is from Sara:  I found the original recipe on Delish.com which is a favorite healthy recipe website for me.  I mostly plan my week’s meals out on Sunday and shop accordingly so that I don’t have to make several trips to the grocery store after work.  However, there are those days that I am not in the mood for my plan or life happens and dinner plans change.  This is one of the fast, easy and healthy recipes I love to make.  It’s a one-pan dish and I usually have everything on hand as it’s fairly common ingredients, at least in my household.  If I don’t have fresh basil, I almost always have pesto sauce that can be substituted.

I serve it with a salad and some balsamic vinaigrette that I add a tsp of pesto sauce to bring up the flavor.  You could also add pasta if you don’t have an aversion to carbs.  Or, like me, you have teenagers that need more calories.  I love this dish because of the fresh ingredients.  I always have grape tomatoes in my fridge as I eat them as a snack daily.  I used fresh mozzarella because I prefer it but regular mozzarella or provolone would work.

Having made this a few times, I found that I prefer to slice the chicken breasts horizontally into two thinner slices.  This keeps my portion size down and gives me leftovers for lunch the next day!  Another bonus of this recipe is to make enough for leftovers so I add the cold chicken cut up to a salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella bits and the pesto balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

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Chicken Caprese

Recipe By: adapted from Delish.com
Serving Size : 4

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves — cut horizontally into 4 pieces
Kosher salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 cloves Garlic — Minced
1 pint grape tomatoes — halved
2 tablespoons fresh basil — freshly torn
4 slices mozzarella cheese — use fresh if possible or substitute pesto sauce
12 basil leaves — for garnish

1. In a large skillet over medium/high heat, heat oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until golden and cooked through, approximately 6 mins per side depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add balsamic vinegar to skillet, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 min. Add tomatoes and season with salt. Let simmer until soft, 5-7 mins. Stir in basil.
3. return chicken to skillet and nestle in tomatoes. Top with mozzarella and cover with lid to melt.
4. Spoon tomatoes over chicken and sprinkle more fresh basil if desired.
Per Serving: 537 Calories; 33g Fat (55.5% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 167mg Cholesterol; 552mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on November 24th, 2018.

artichoke_chicken_590

Oh so easy – chicken breasts, marinated in Italian salad dressing, then with an easy-to-put-together topping of canned artichoke hearts, Parm and mayo. So moist and flavorful.

My Northern California daughter, Dana, eats lots of chicken, and she occasionally finds a recipe that floats her boat. This is the one. When I drove up there a few weeks ago (for her 50th birthday – oh gosh – does that make me feel old!) she fixed this one night. She’d found the recipe on Pinterest, from a website called Plain Chicken. First you marinate the chicken (she used boneless, skinless breasts, but I’m sure you could use thighs) in some kind of Italian salad dressing. If you don’t have some on hand, make some. It probably wouldn’t take all that much dressing to be enough to marinate. Start on this a few hours ahead, or even overnight works.

artichoke_chix_before_baking_590Then, you pan sear the chicken on both sides, (Dana forgot to do that step, as you can see – raw chicken breasts there) put them out onto a foil-lined baking sheet and cover the tops with a mixture of canned and chopped artichoke hearts, grated Parm, mayo and some garlic powder. How easy is that? Into the oven it goes and bakes until perfectly juicy and tender.

When Dana made these, she used really big, thick chicken breasts, and we talked about it, that none of us could finish a whole half-breast, so if I were making it I’d cut the chicken breasts into 2 pieces and pound both pieces to an equal thickness (not super thin) and I’d pan sear the chicken only on one side. Then I’d put the artichoke mixture on the un-seared side and I’d watch the temp really closely once baking them. The recipe says 20-25 minutes. If you did the half of a half-breast, it might only take 12-15 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer, and take them out of the oven a few degrees shy of 165°F and tent the pan for just a few minutes and the temp will rise a little bit. Fix the rest of the dinner in those few minutes, then serve. The topping stays really – REALLY hot, just so you know. I think 2 or 3 of us burned the roof of our mouths on the topping. Thanks to the blog writer from Plain Chicken for this recipe.

What’s GOOD: great flavor – the salt in the topping tastes extra good (from the Parm and mayo) and it’s a perfect protection for the chicken breasts so they don’t get over done. Make a salad and you’ve got dinner.

What’s NOT: really nothing, although ideally you start this the day before and marinate them overnight.

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Artichoke Chicken

Recipe By: From a blog called Plain Chicken, via Pinterest
Serving Size: 4

1 cup Italian salad dressing
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
15 ounces canned artichoke hearts — drained and chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

NOTES: If the chicken breasts are particularly large, cut them in half and pound them some, to an even thickness – but not too thin or they won’t stay moist enough. Half of a large chicken breast is enough for one serving unless you’ve got hungry teenage football players on hand.
1. Marinate chicken breasts in Italian dressing in a sealed plastic bag for a few hours to overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
3. Heat olive oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and brown lightly 2 minutes per side. Place chicken on foil lined baking sheet. If using the half breasts, sear on one side only, turn over and put topping on the un-seared side.
4. In a medium bowl, mix together chopped artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Spread artichoke mixture evenly on top of chicken – go all the way to the edges which helps keep the chicken moist.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until juices run clear. If using pounded-thinner half of a chicken breast, it will likely take 12-15 minutes to bake – test several times with an instant read thermometer to make sure you don’t over bake them – it should register 165° F.
Per Serving (calorie count assumes you consume the salad dressing-not): 839 Calories; 73g Fat (76.5% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 95mg Cholesterol; 1319mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Miscellaneous, on October 11th, 2018.

chakalaka_relish

A lovely relish (or kind of like a salsa) to serve with grilled meat.

Presuming you read my post from yesterday, about the BBQ Chicken, South African Style, then you already know this relish is supposed to be served with that chicken. It came from a cooking show with Sarah Graham, who’s from South Africa. This side/relish is just so different – when I watched the show a couple of years ago I was intrigued with the ingredients . . .

It has some very standard things you’d expect in a relish – onion, a chile pepper, a bell pepper, garlic, even tomatoes. But a bit more unusual is a bunch of grated carrots, some chutney (I used apricot jam), a jot of ketchup. But this one also has a little bit of curry powder (but not really enough to taste it), AND it has a small can of BAKED BEANS in it.

Here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:

Chakalaka is a South African vegetable relish, usually spicy, that is traditionally served with bread, pap, samp, stews, or curries. Chakalaka may have originated in the townships of Johannesburg or on the gold mines surrounding Johannesburg, when Mozambican mineworkers coming off shift cooked tinned produce (tomatoes, beans) with chili to produce a spicy relish with a Portuguese flair to accompany pap. The many variations on how to make Chakalaka often depend on region and family tradition. Some versions include beans, cabbage and butternut. For example, a tin of baked beans, tin of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and some curry paste can be used to make the dish.

In case you’re interested, pap is a kind of cornmeal porridge, and samp is another kind of dried corn variant where the corn kernel shells are removed and then the inner meat made into a porridge type dish. Reading about the history of this dish, it makes so much sense that mine workers had to use canned foods and they discovered a way to make a spicy relish/side from canned tomatoes and baked beans.

The onion, chile, bell pepper and carrots are cooked a little bit (I cooked them VERY little as I wanted crunch) with the onions getting the most amount of cooking time, then you merely add in all the other ingredients. Since I made it I’ve had it alongside the leftover chicken, also some grilled sausages, and some fish. All good with it. I made part of mine without the beans (cuz I’m not eating beans on this diet I’m on), but I DID taste it, and thought the addition of the beans was really good. I was expecting it to not taste good, but it was. I gave away all of the bean relish and kept the part without beans and enjoyed it for a week or so afterwards.

What’s GOOD: it’s unusual, that’s for sure. Liked all the lively flavors in it – because I was having guests I used the lesser quantity of curry powder – I’d likely add more next time. Make ahead is fine, and it keeps for at least a week.

What’s NOT: nothing really . . . it was a really good addition to my potluck dinner to serve with the chicken.

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Chakalaka Relish

Recipe By: Sarah Graham, Cooking Channel, 2016
Serving Size: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion — finely chopped
1 whole red chile — seeded, finely sliced
1 whole red bell pepper — seeded, finely chopped
1 clove garlic — minced
1 teaspoon curry powder — (1 to 2)
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
2 medium carrots — grated
14 ounces baked beans
14 ounces canned tomatoes — chopped
1 tablespoon chutney — or apricot jam
1 tablespoon ketchup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, at least 5 minutes.
2. Add the red chiles, bell peppers, garlic, curry powder, mixed herbs and carrots, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the beans, tomatoes, chutney, ketchup and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. (I didn’t cook this for 30 minutes as I liked the crunch to the vegetables, but traditionally you would.)
Per Serving: 227 Calories; 8g Fat (27.5% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 602mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on October 10th, 2018.

bbq_chix_south_african_style_chakalaka relish

Just another grilled chicken recipe, but with a South African twist.

The picture at right is Sarah Graham. A cookbook author, writer, and a host of two seasons of a cooking show on the Cooking Channel. She lives in South Africa, and what I loved about her show was the location – she filmed outside and off in the distance behind her outdoor kitchen, were wild animals. You might still be able to find her shows on reruns if you look up Sarah Graham’s Food Safari. When I was watching her show, it was just before and just after I went to Africa and did a couple of weeks of safaris (loved it). I do enjoy listening to South Africans with their very different English accents. So it was with Sarah Graham.

A few recipes from her shows got saved to my to-try file (recipes are still available at the Cooking Channel, I would assume), and this is one of them.

This post is lagging a bit behind – – I made this over Labor Day weekend when I decided I was not going to be sitting home on the holiday Monday doing nothing. So I invited a group of friends over (all widows) and we did a potluck dinner. One friend brought lovely Dutch cheeses and crackers. Another brought a delicious apple crumble pie; yet another a green salad, another a rice, green chile and cheese casserole, and lastly a cold broccoli salad. And I did the main dish (chicken) on the grill. Along with a very unusual relish (that mound of red stuff on the right on the plate at top).

labor_day_dinnerHere’s a photo of our group, from left: Annette, Judy, me, Judy and Mary Lou. Nancy took the photo. It was a gorgeous evening – we had been having lovely weather the last 2 weeks, gearing up, probably for blistering heat we usually have in September and October. I made strawberry gins – I should write up a post about that. My family (well, the ladies of my family) enjoyed them mostly in England, but we also found them in Paris and Florence also. So very refreshing. I found strawberry gin at my local “Total Wine,” but you might have to seek it out. You macerate a strawberry or two in a glass, add the strawberry gin, then top off with tonic. And lots of ice. Then wedge a strawberry on the rim of the glass, add a mint leaf and present!

So, back to the chicken. I’m going to post the relish tomorrow – so DO wait until you get that recipe before you make this. The relish is so unusual and different, but goes perfectly with the chicken. Anyway, the recipe indicates using a spatchcocked chicken (my Trader Joe’s has them fresh) or you can ask a butcher to cut it, or you can cut it yourself. You cut through the backbone (and remove it completely) and flatten out the bird so it can lay flat on the grill. You might have to nip a bit around the breast bone to get it to flatten out. I decided, actually, to cut the bird in half as I thought it would be easier for me to maneuver on the grill. It was a 5 pound bird I bought.

Marinate the chicken overnight – I used a big Ziploc bag – first I added in all the marinade ingredients – oil, balsamic, pourable honey, lemon juice, paprika, dry cilantro, cinnamon, garlic, fresh red chile, and a little jot of ketchup. The next morning I turned the bag over and squished the marinade around (it doesn’t make all that much). About 45 minutes before grilling, take it out of the refrigerator and let it warm a little bit. Meanwhile, fire up the grill.

You might find this hard to believe, but truly I’m a novice or an apprentice (but without a teacher) at the grill. You read this here before, my DH Dave was the grill meister in our house, and I merely told him what I needed him to do – cook to what temp and what the internal temp needed to be. He loved everything about mastering the grill techniques. Me, not so much. Because I’m alone now, when I have to manage or monitor what’s on the grill, I have to leave my guests – although every one of my friends understood why I was up and down checking on the chicken. No way did I want it to overcook!

What’s GOOD: really liked the flavor, and it was super-moist and tender. I first grilled it over high heat, then turned it down to medium and kept checking the internal temp. The skin charred well (see photo at top) but the chicken just below it was juicy.  The relish that went with it was a hit – it’s very unusual. The marinade did give the chicken some flavor, and cooking it with the lid down on the grill gave it some smoky flavor too. Likely you could bake this in the oven easily enough too. Yes, I’d make it again.

What’s NOT: nothing other than needing to start this the day before, to marinate the chicken.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

BBQ Chicken (South African)

Recipe By: Sarah Graham, Cooking Channel, 2016
Serving Size: 4

2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey — needs to be thin in order to dissolve in the marinade
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 green chile — seeded and chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 pounds whole chicken — spatchcocked or cut into 8 skin-on pieces

1. In a sealing plastic bag, mix together the ketchup, olive oil, balsamic, honey, lemon juice, paprika, dried cilantro, cinnamon, garlic, chiles and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Add the chicken, squish it around, seal the bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight. Turn bag over at least once so the other side of the chicken is marinated as well.
3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature.
4. Grill the chicken, lid down, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through, turning halfway and basting with extra sauce every 10 minutes. Thigh meat should register 160-165°F.
5. Serve immediately with a side salad and the chakalaka relish on the side. If you have fresh cilantro, sprinkle a little bit on top of the chicken. Cut serving sized pieces and plate it.
Per Serving: 680 Calories; 48g Fat (63.8% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 247mg Cholesterol; 283mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on October 2nd, 2018.

triple_layer_chix_quesadilla_wedges

Mouth watering going on here at my end – this was before I started on a carb-free diet, and I ate this with relish back a few months ago.

This diet I’m on (virtually carb-free) does have me wishing for some Mexican food now and then. I miss chile rellenos and tostadas. Even refried beans. Didn’t think I’d miss them! It’s the crunch of the tortillas I miss, too. But, oh well, I’m working off the pounds slowly without tortillas, potatoes, rice, grains, bread, beans, squashes, etc.

But, since you, my readers, aren’t following my diet – you can make this recipe with abandon and you’ll love it. At the cooking class with Phillis Carey, she made her own pico de gallo, and her own buttermilk garlic dressing for the salad. You can short cut by purchasing those things. But I’ll include them all in the recipe below. The tortillas are stacked with Jack cheese, cheddar, goat cheese, olives and chicken meat that’s been tossed with some barbecue sauce. You make 2 layers, using 3 tortillas total for each serving (so this recipe makes 3 of the layered pieces which are then cut into wedges to serve). The quesadillas are baked first (10-15 minutes) until the tops are browned and crispy, then you cut each into wedges, add the lettuce with dressing and some pico de gallo and lastly sprinkle on some fresh cilantro. Altogether easy – ideal if you have some leftover chicken, perhaps? This could be an appetizer or a dinner – it’s rich with all the cheeses in it, so maybe an adult could eat one full round.

What’s GOOD: this is easy to make if you have the cheeses on hand, and you have some chicken already made. Use ranch dressing as a stand-in, and some jarred salsa too. Really delicious – and different because of the way you make them – layered/stacked and with the BBQ sauce on the chicken.

What’s NOT: nothing, really.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Triple Layer BBQ Chicken Quesadilla Wedges

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor, 5/2018
Serving Size: 6

PICO DE GALLO:
6 medium plum tomatoes — seeded, diced
1/2 serrano chile — seeded, minced
3 cloves garlic — minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
salt and pepper to taste
SALAD & DRESSING:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup red onion — minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
2 teaspoons chipotle chile canned in adobo — finely chopped
6 cups Romaine lettuce — shredded
QUESADILLAS:
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup barbecue sauce — smoky type, DIVIDED USE
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
9 6-inch flour tortillas
2 cups jack cheese — shredded
2 cups cheddar cheese — shredded
1/2 cup goat cheese — crumbled
1 red onion — thinly sliced
6 ounces sliced black olives — drained
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup fresh cilantro — chopped

1. PICO DE GALLO: Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temp for up to 3 hours (or refrigerate for a few hours more – best eaten the day it’s made).
2. DRESSING: Puree ingredients in blender (except lettuce), then season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
3. QUESADILLAS: Trim chicken and pound to an even thickness of 1/4″. Pour 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce over chicken, turning to coat. Let marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or 30 minutes at room temp. Wipe barbecue sauce off chicken (it burns) and brush chicken with oil. Grill (stovetop grill or outdoor) 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat.. Let cool and cut chicken into thin strips, toss with remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce.
4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Add red onions to a small bowl with water and a small splash of white or apple cider vinegar. Let those sit for about 15-20 minutes, drain, blot on paper towel.
5. Arrange 3 tortillas on 1 or 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Combine the 3 grated/crumbled cheeses. Using half the cheese blend, half the onion, half the olives and half the chicken placing some chicken around the outside edges to help prop up those edge so they don’t collapse when baked. Top with another tortilla and repeat process. Top with remaining tortillas. Brush tops of all 3 stacks with oil, using a silicone brush, then sprinkle the tops with chili powder. At this point these may be refrigerated (covered well with plastic wrap) for several hours. If refrigerated, the baking process may take a few extra minutes.
6. Bake the quesadillas for 10-15 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and crispy.
7. Cut each quesadilla in 6 quarters. Meanwhile, toss lettuce with some of the dressing and add to the serving plate. Serve 3 wedges per person and add pico de gallo on top, a drizzle more dressing and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Per Serving: 777 Calories; 52g Fat (59.6% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 86mg Cholesterol; 1267mg Sodium.

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