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Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

15 Aug

Will you look at this. Just look at it. In fact, click on it to embiggen, then drool. I’ll wait.

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Spaghetti squash is where it’s at, my friends. Stuffed as pictured, or as a pasta replacement with bolognese, or just by itself with butter and garlic. It’s AMAZING. Once you get past the slightly-scary process of cutting it in half stem-to-butt, it’s really easy to prepare. And I have a tip for that cutting thing.

One thing to note about this recipe, I usually only use one half of the squash to make two generous servings for me and my husband, with a portion left over for lunch the next day (OH MY GOD SUCH GOOD LEFTOVERS). After cooking wrap the other half (shredded and removed to a bowl, or intact) and place it in the fridge for another use. It heats up extremely well.

Ingredients:
– One medium spaghetti squash
– 1 TBSP olive oil
– Two cups cooked chicken, shredded (I like using a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
– 1/2 cup green chile enchilada sauce (we love 505 Hatch Valley Green Chile Sauce)
– 1/4 cup diced green chiles (we love 505 Hatch Valley Flame Roasted Green Chile)
– 2 green onions, sliced thinly
– 1/2 cup frozen corn (we love Trader Joe’s Mexican Style Roasted Corn with Cotija)
– 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
– 2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1 TBSP dried)
– 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Whatever arsenal of hot sauces you enjoy for garnish

(I’m not kidding about the arsenal thing.)
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Prepare spaghetti squash

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray (I cover mine in foil first for easy cleanup)
2. Trim stem ends so the squash can sit upright on a cutting board
3. Using a paring knife, poke a dashed line down each side of the squash where you’ll be cutting
4. Place squash in the microwave and cook on high for two minutes
5. Remove from microwave and cut down along the scored lines, cutting the squash in half
6. Remove seeds and fibers from the squash halves
7. Brush each side with olive oil, and sprinkle with your selection of spices, salt and pepper (I use Tastefully Simple’s Garlic Garlic Seasoning, salt and pepper, and a few dashes of Tabasco)
8. Place each half cut side down on the cookie sheet. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 40 minutes for smallish squash, or 45 minutes for largeish squash
9. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then use a fork or tongs to shred one half of the squash. Place shredded squash in a large bowl. Save the other half for a future use.

Prepare Chicken Enchilada stuffing

1. While the squash is roasting, heat olive oil in a medium skillet.
2. Combine chicken, enchilada sauce, green chiles, green onions, corn, black beans, and cilantro in the skillet and heat until bubbly
3. Toss mixture in the bowl with the shredded spaghetti sauce strands until combined, then spoon all of it back into the squash shell
4. Top with shredded cheese, and return to oven. Broil under medium setting for about five minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
5. Remove from oven, cut squash shell in half, and serve each half on individual plates with salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

Lemon Thyme Chicken with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Artichoke Hearts

11 May

Bill and I were getting bored with the same recipes, and he has a favorite Lemon Thyme Chicken dish he gets all the time at a local restaurant. This was my attempt at – not recreating it, exactly – re-imagining it and (as he said) improving upon it. Take the time to roast the Brussels sprouts beforehand and add them into the dish at the end, it really improves the flavor. And, seriously, use cast iron skillets for the sprouts and the chicken. Things brown and caramelize so very nicely!

Makes two hefty servings with leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

For the Brussels sprouts-
– One pound medium sprouts – ends trimmed, cut in half
– 2 TBSP olive oil
– 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– salt and pepper to taste

For the Lemon Thyme Chicken-
– Two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts – each cut in half lengthwise
– 1 TBSP dried Italian seasoning
– 1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped
– 1.5 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp black pepper
– Juice of one large lemon (2-3 TBSP)
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1.5 cups chicken broth or stock, separated
– 2 TBSP sun dried tomatoes (the kind jarred in olive oil), chopped
– One 6.7 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (I like Mezzetta Grilled)
– Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the Brussels sprouts:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the sprouts and toss to coat. Pour the sprouts into a large cast-iron skillet lightly coated with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, stirring and turning the sprouts once halfway through the cooking time. Remove from oven and allow to rest in the skillet while the rest of the meal is prepared.

To prepare the chicken:

In a small bowl, combine the Italian seasoning, thyme, garlic powder, and pepper. Divide the mixture and reserve one half of it for later. Using your hands, rub the other half of the seasoning into the four strips of chicken. Heat a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Cook chicken over medium heat about 5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Still over medium heat, use 1/2 cup of the chicken broth to deglaze the bottom of the skillet. Add the remaining broth, lemon juice, and remaining seasoning mixture. Slowly whisk in the cream and continue to whisk until mixture begins to simmer and thicken. Still stirring, add in the sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Return the chicken to the skillet (Bill prefers that I use a spatula to cut the chicken into large-ish chunks at this point), and add in the roasted Brussels sprouts. Toss everything in the sauce to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat and cover with a large lid. Allow to rest for about five minutes to thicken and allow the flavors to mingle. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice pilaf or on top of noodles.

Chicken and Sausage Baked Skillet

14 Nov

An excellent, all-in-one skillet meal that’s delicious and comforting on a chilly evening. Make sure you marinade the chicken for at least 4 hours, up to 24. Choose your preferred heat of Italian sausage, we tend to go with mild. Serves 2-4, depending on how starving you are. Leftovers are fabulous.

Skillet Ingredients:
– 2 medium chicken breasts
– 2 links of Italian sausage, cut in half lengthwise
– 4-6 red potatoes, quartered

Marinade Ingredients:
– 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
– 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
– 1/3 cup olive oil (if you have a hot flavor of olive oil, it works well with this recipe)
– 2 tsp Dijon mustard
– 1 tbsp Worcestershire
– 1 tsp prepared horseradish
– 2 tbsp salsa
– 4 slices jarred jalapeno, plus 1 tbsp of the jar liquid
– 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
– A generous helping of freshly ground pepper
– A dash of salt
– 1 lemon

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Add all ingredients except for lemon into a large ziploc bag. Cut the lemon into quarters, squeeze the juice into the bag, then put the rinds in with the rest of the marinade ingredients. Seal the bag, squish it all around to mix the ingredients, open it up and put the chicken breasts inside, seal it and squish it around again, then put it in the fridge to marinade.

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator (but leave it in the bag of marinade) while you prep the rest of the meal. Wash and quarter the potatoes, and cut the sausages in half lengthwise. Dump the chicken, marinade and all, into a large cast iron skillet, then pick out the lemon rinds. Place the potatoes and sausages among and around the chicken, and stir a bit to coat with the marinade.

Place in the center rack of the oven and cook for 45 minutes, turning the chicken and sausages over halfway through. Remove from the oven when the time is up, and stir around a bit to allow the potatoes to help thicken the sauce. You could also use a spatula to cut the chicken and sausages into bite-sized chunks and mix the whole shebang all together.

Serve with your veg of choice, we usually go with asparagus or green beans.

Creamy Chicken and Potato Stew

19 Dec

Fantastically easy to put together, and exceptionally warm and comforting on a cold winter evening.

– 1/4 cup butter (salted or unsalted, depending on how much you want to add in the end)
– 3 carrots, peeled and diced
– 2 celery stalks, diced
– 1/2 sweet onion, diced
– 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
– 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
– 1/4 cup flour
– 3 cups chicken stock (here’s a recipe for great stock)
– 2 cups milk (whole or 2%, but not skim!)
– 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
– 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced (great for leftovers from a roasted chicken, or pick up a rotisserie chicken, or use a few chicken breasts)
– 1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
– 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley leaves
– Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy pot or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the carrots, celery and onion until tender, about five minutes. Add the thyme and sage, and stir. Gradually sprinkle in the flour and whisk until smoothly combined with the butter/veggie mixture, then continue to whisk for about 1 minute until lightly browned. Slowly add in the chicken stock, whisking to incorporate the flour smoothly into the stock. Gradually whisk in the milk.

Add the potatoes and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer (uncovered) until potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the diced cooked chicken, and allow to heat for about one minute. Lower the heat, and gradually add in the shredded cheese, stirring to melt into the stew. Add in the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste (we’re liberal with the pepper).

Serve with a salad and crusty bread or soft potato rolls. It’s excellent if you add a dash of Tabasco to your bowl. And this stew is even better the second day.

Serves about 6.

Spicy Chipolte Chili Soup with White Beans and Chicken

21 Dec

Drastically adapted from Organic Gardening.

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 to 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder (the more powder, the spicier the chili!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Push the onions to one side of the pan, add the chicken, and sprinkle with the chipotle chile powder, cumin, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until most of the chicken is opaque on the outside, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of the beans and 2 cups of the stock. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the remaining beans and remaining 1 cup stock. Process to a smooth puree. Stir the bean puree into the soup. Gradually add the half-and-half, stirring as you add it, so it doesn’t curdle. Dip one cup of the soup out and into a bowl, add the sour cream and stir until blended. Gradually add sour cream mixture into the soup (again, this is so it doesn’t curdle). Stir in the cheddar cheese, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.

It is important not to let the soup boil again after the dairy products have been added, so it doesn’t curdle.

Serve with additional shredded cheese and sour cream, which cuts down the heat if you find it’s too spicy. If you want a thicker consistency, dissolve 3 TBSP of corn starch with 1/2 cup of half-and-half, and stir into the soup before adding the sour cream.

Serve with potato rolls! They’re awesome.

I suppose you could lower the considerable fat content by using fat-free half-and-half, sour cream, and cheese, but where’s the fun in that?

Outstanding Chicken Noodle Soup

21 Dec

Adapted from Tyler Florence.

My husband, who is NOTORIOUSLY picky, absolutely raved about this Chicken Noodle Soup. He said it was the best he’d ever tasted, and actually VOLUNTARILY ate it three nights in a row. That’s a record for our household!

The recipe really shines when made with homemade chicken stock, for which I have a great recipe.

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and chopped
3 fresh thyme sprigs, de-stemmed (leaves only)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken stock
8-10 ounces dried wide egg noodles (depending on how noodly you like your soup)
2 – 2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (depending on how chickeny you like your soup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 TBSP Worcestershire
1 tsp Tabasco

Place a heavy soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and herbs. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another five minutes – I find the noodles are cooked perfectly at this point. Stir in the parsley, the Tabasco and the Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper (taste it first!). Turn off heat but leave pot on the burner, covered, for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to gather. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

Now, I made this recipe above and added 1/2 of a 16oz bag of egg noodles, plus another handful. This made the soup VERY noodly. When the soup cooled it looked like the broth really disappeared. However, it’s in there, and we found that we liked the more-noodle-less-broth consistency. Your mileage may vary!

Best Chicken Stock

21 Dec

Adapted from Annie’s Eats.

2 TBSP olive oil
3 carrots, washed and unpeeled, cut into chunks
3 ribs of celery, washed and cut into chunks (include the leafy hearts too, if you’ve got ’em)
2 sweet onions, peeled and cut into chunks
1 chicken carcass plus scraps (I use anything and everything left over from making a roasted chicken – bones, skin, meat and all)
Water to cover
1 TBSP fresh cracked pepper
1 TBSP kosher salt
4 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven (like this one). Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add the chicken carcass to the pot. Add enough water to nearly fill the pot. Stir in the peppercorns, salt and herbs. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer, COVER, and let simmer 4-5 hours. Resist the temptation to add salt, though a couple of blurts of Tabasco or Worcestershire never hurt anyone.

Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl to remove the solids. Cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, remove the layer of fat that formed on the surface. Use immediately or freeze. I pour mine into muffin tins, freeze, then pop them out and store them in baggies. Each “stock muffin” equals about a half-cup of stock.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

4 Jan

This is a hot chicken dip recipe, modified from the one that I got from my sister-in-law Karen. It’s AWESOME with celery sticks, tortilla chips, or triangles of flatbread.

– 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I like to get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
– 1/2 to 1 cup Frank’s buffalo wing sauce or other hot sauce of choice (depending on how spicy you want it)
– 1/2 to 1 cup ranch salad dressing (depending on how “wet” you want it)
– 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
– 1 block cream cheese (8 oz)

– 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes). Mix in remaining ingredients (except shredded cheddar) and spread evenly into a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Top with shredded cheese, and bake 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Sonoran Chicken (Crock Pot)

20 Apr

– 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
– 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1 can sweet corn, drained
– 1.5 – 2 cups salsa of choice
– 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional – can also use nacho style jalapenos in a jar)
– 2 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 tbsp worcestershire
– your favorite spicy seasonings, to taste (red tabasco, green tabasco, Cholula, mexican spiced salt, etc.)
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese -or- 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, cheddar/jack, mexican blend, etc.)
– garnish – tortilla chips, sour cream, etc.

Place chicken breast halves in the crock pot. In a large bowl, mix together beans, corn, salsa, jalapeno, garlic, worcestershire, spices, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for six hours. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, add cubed cream cheese or shredded cheese to the crock pot, continue to cook until melted.

Serve with warm flour tortillas, or accompanied with spanish rice or skillet fried potatoes.

Pan Fried Pork Chops or Chicken Breasts, with gravy

26 Feb

Meat:
– 4 large pork chops (boneless or bone-in) or chicken breasts (boneless)
– 1/2 to 1 cup vegetable oil
– 1 cup flour or bread crumbs, or a combination of both**
– meat tenderizer
– salt and pepper
– chicken or pork shake-on seasoning

Gravy:
– 2 cups chicken or pork broth, or 1 cup water or milk and 1 cup broth (boullion cubes can be used here to make the broth)
– 1/4 cup corn starch
– 1/4 cup milk or water
– Drippings, “crunchies” (the browned bits of coating that my family fights over) and pan juices from cooking the meat

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, rinse the pork chops or chicken breasts and pat dry. Sprinkle tenderizer, salt, pepper, and seasonings on meat. Poke with a fork to incorporate spices into the meat. Place each piece of meat into the flour and press down to adhere, turn and repeat on each side twice to thoroughly coat.

Place chops or breasts two at a time in the heated oil (to check to see if oil is hot enough, wet fingers under faucet and carefully drip one or two drops of water into the oil – if it hisses and spatters, the oil is hot enough). Cook without turning for five minutes on one side. Carefully turn over and cook for five minutes on the other side. The coating will now be firmly adhered so if additional browning and cooking is required, it is now safe to turn the meat over as needed (tongs are easiest, I find). Cook until thoroughly browned and juices (when a slit is cut into the thickest part of the meat) run clear.

Set meat aside and cover to keep warm.

To make the gravy – skim out all but four tablespoons of oil from the skillet. Leave all the browned bits. Carefully pour the broth or broth/water/milk combination into the pan. Whisk to combine juices and browned bits. Heat to boiling. Combine the corn starch and water or milk in a small bowl until smooth. Gradually pour corn starch mixture into broth mixture while whisking continuously. Add enough of the corn starch mixture to thicken the gravy as preferred (it may not require all of it).

Serve the chicken or pork and gravy with rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.

**For a gluten free recipe, use rice flour or crushed Corn Flakes (which work really well).