Ritz Chicken

IMG_20130417_222530

1 lb chicken tenders
1 c sour cream
1 stack Ritz crackers
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
dash of Cayenne

Take the crackers and spices and blend them in the food processor. You can also just crush and mix, if you don’t want to dirty your mixer. Set up a dipping station with sour cream on one plate and the cracker mix on another. Dredge each tender in sour cream, then coat completely with the crackers. Place in a greased Pyrex dish, trying not to overlap too much. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

I love this recipe way more than I thought I would. It’s crunchy on the outside but so juicy inside. The sour cream really keeps in the moisture. I was inspired by a recipe my grandmother and mother make, using mayonnaise and Italian breadcrumbs, but I didn’t have mayonnaise, so I used sour cream, and it grossed me out less. I mean, the original recipe is delicious, but I don’t like handling mayo by itself.

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

IMG_20130409_142157

1 spaghetti squash
oil

1 sweet onion
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/2 c stock
1 sprig basil
salt and pepper

1 lb ground beef
1 clove garlic
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/2 c stock
1 tsp salt

Slice the spaghetti squash in half. Drizzle with oil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour at 375. While that’s baking, dice the onion and saute in a large pot until translucent. Add the tomatoes and stock. Chop the basil, and add that, along with the salt and pepper. You could totally add some oregano or parsley, too, if you’re into that. Let it simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Mix all the meatball ingredients until well combined. Put tablespoon-sized dollops in the sauce to poach. Don’t worry too much about how they look; they’ll break apart when you mix everything anyway. Put the lid on the pot and cook on medium-low for another 30 minutes or so, until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.

Once the squash is cooked, let it cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, scrape the inside with a fork. The strands will come off looking like noodles. Separate any chunks of squash and mix it with the hot sauce. Again, the meatballs will kind of fall apart, but I don’t mind. If you do, then mix a little sauce in with the squash and serve the rest on top of the squash. It might be fun to serve this in the shells of the squash, if they don’t fall apart, but mine totally fell apart, so I didn’t.

Lemon Chicken

IMG_20130405_115845

1-2 lbs thin-sliced chicken breast
1 c flour
oil
lemons

Put the flour in a dish. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour. Heat an inch or two of oil over medium heat in a pan. Cook the chicken until golden brown, flipping occasionally and squeezing a lemon wedge over each piece. Make sure not to lose too many of those tasty browned bits. Cut up a lemon into thin slices for garnish. It’s just that easy!

Chicken Meatballs with Pesto

IMG_20130405_115804

PESTO
1 lb ground chicken
1 egg
3/4 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c stock
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper

MEATBALLS
2 c fresh spinach
1/2 c fresh basil
1/2 c pine nuts
2-3 garlic cloves
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c stock (maybe more, to thin out the sauce so you have enough to cover the meatballs)

Mix all the meatball ingredients together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate while you prep the pesto. Put all the pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Roll the meat mixture into 2-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, making sure none of the balls are touching. (Trust me, this makes clean-up muuuuch easier. That pesto sticks!) Spoon the pesto over each meatball so that it’s completely covered. (You might want to save some or make another batch if you’re having these meatballs with pasta.) Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until fully cooked. I’m sure there’s an internal temperature to go by, but if you cut one open, you’ll know if it’s still raw. Serve with pasta, rice, or on their own.

I thought these would just be a good way to sneak some spinach into my diet, but these are actually really amazing! They’re very soft, but the bottoms are so crispy, and the spinach pesto (as opposed to basil-based) is very mild but flavorful.

QUICKIE: Honey-lime chicken

IMG_20121121_153936

4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
dash Cayenne
1 lb thin-sliced chicken

Mix it all up, then stir-fry. You could increase the volume and use this for a grilling glaze, too.

Spicy BBQ Meatballs

IMG_20130401_213622

1 small onion or 1-2 shallots
1 lb ground meat (I used turkey this time, but you could certainly use beef, pork, chicken, or a meatloaf blend)
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/2 cup stock
1 egg

1/2 c spicy BBQ sauce (or just use regular and add Cayenne or Sriracha)
1/4 c ketchup
1 TBSP soy sauce

Dice the onions finely. You could even process them in the food processor if you want, or use my personal favorite, the julienne plate on your mandoline; the smaller the pieces, the better. Cook over medium heat until translucent. For extra tastiness, you could caramelize them as well, if you’ve got the time. Let them cool while you mix the meat, breadcrumbs, stock, and egg with your hands. (Otherwise, the hot onions will cook the meat and scramble the egg.) Roll them into 2-inch balls and line them up on a baking tray so that none of them are touching.

Mix up the BBQ sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce. Spoon or brush the sauce over the meatballs, covering them all evenly. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

These are great over mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles, or you could serve them with toothpicks for fancy cocktails.

Turkey Loaf

1 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
thyme
basil
parsley
salt, pepper
2 tbsp ketchup

1.5 lb ground turkey
1/2 c Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg
more ketchup (maybe 2 tbsp again?)

Dice the onion and caramelize it in some oil. Add the garlic and herbs and cook it for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and add the ketchup. Mix the turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, and onion mixture once it’s cool*. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray it with Pam, and shape the mixture into a loaf-y shape. Spread a thin layer of ketchup on top (if you’re into that kind of thing). Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes before you cut into it or it’ll get all dry and gross. Seen here served with cauliflower mash.

*Yo don’t want scrambled eggs in your meatloaf. Or maybe you do, but I don’t recommend it.

Scarborough Fair Chicken and Cauliflower Mash

2 lbs chicken (I did 4 skinless, bone-in breasts, but I bet thighs would be good, too.)
leaves from 4-5 sprigs each of parsley, sage, rosemary, and time (I used those singles packs)
juice from 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic
around 1/4 c olive oil
salt, pepper, and Cayenne

1 head cauliflower
2 cloves garlic
1 c chicken stock
1 c plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Blend up the herbs, lemon juice*, garlic, and oil in a blender until smooth. Dip the mixture in the chicken until coated, and place the pieces in a 9×9 baking dish. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for around 40 minutes or until the chicken reaches 155 degrees. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving so it soaks up all those delicious herby juices. Feel free to reduce the pan drippings into a demi glace or just spoon them over everything as-is.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Chop up the cauliflower, discarding the greens and any thick stems. Chop up the garlic, too. Steam/boil the cauliflower and garlic until tender. Drain off some of the stock and blend the cauliflower, garlic, yogurt, and Parmesan, if you’re using it, until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Carrot and Squash “Pasta” and Meatballs

1 lb ground meat (I used a mix of beef, pork, and turkey)
1 egg
1/2 c breadcrumbs
spices and herbs (I used basil, thyme, oregano, garlic salt, Cayenne, and paprika, but use whatever you like or whatever goes with your sauce.)

1/2 lb carrots (thicker is better)
1/2 lb squash, zucchini, courgettes, etc.
1 cup Marinara sauce (or any kind of pasta sauce you like. Alfredo might be good with chicken meatballs.)

Mix the meat, egg, bread crumbs, and herbs with your hands (or in a food processor if you want to wash something extra and don’t like getting your hands covered in meat). Roll into bite-size or two-bite balls and let rest for 10 minutes or so. They hold together when frying that way. Heat half an inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat, then cook the meatballs in batches. Don’t overcrowd or let the meatballs touch, or they’ll steam instead of fry. Cook for around 5 minutes, moving them around every so often so that all sides get browned. Let them cool on a rack covered with a paper towel.

Peel the veggies, then using a vegetable peeler, slice the veggies into thin strips. For the squash, stop when you get to the seeds, and for the carrots, keep going until it gets too thin to handle. Blanche/steam in a little bit of water until the carrots are soft and bendy like noodles. Add the pasta sauce, mix in the meatballs, and serve. Alternatively, just put the meatballs on top.
This is definitely a concept dish. I want to play around with what veggies I use. Squash kind of falls apart after too long. Carrots are a good choice, though. Onions sliced on a mandoline would probably be good, too. Either way, it’s got more substance and probably fewer carbs than pasta, so it’s a good way to sneak in healthy food.

Chicken Fried Quinoa

1/2 c raw quinoa
1/2 red bell pepper, diced finely
2 green onions, diced finely
1 carrot, diced finely, or a handful of shredded carrots
1 small chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized strips
soy sauce
salt, pepper, Cayenne

Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer to remove grit, leftover gross-tasting stuff*, etc. Add it and a cup of water to a pot, bring to a boil, give it a stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Let it cook for around 15 minutes, then turn the heat off and let it stand until you’re ready to stir-fry. You can also cook it in a rice cooker on the white rice setting.

In the meantime, prep your veggies and chicken. Stir-fry the chicken in a little canola oil over med-hi heat. Once it’s cooked through, add the other veggies and cook until everything’s softened up a bit, about 5 minutes. Add in the quinoa, soy sauce, and spices. Keep stirring until everything’s incorporated and the quinoa has dried out a little bit. Serve immediately and pat yourself on the back for eating a superfood. This would probably be good with any stir-fryin’ veggies or proteins, and maybe some egg. Double or triple the recipe for a super-fast family meal.

*Quinoa has this stuff called saponin on it, which makes it taste bitter. Most of it gets washed off in processing, but just in case. Besides, it’s always a good idea to rinse grains, seeds, and beans, yeah?