Lime Roasted Chicken

Because my Tomato and Hearts of Palm Salad needed something sturdy to accompany it, I decided to make a roasted chicken. If you haven’t roasted a chicken in a while (or ever, for that matter) I am going to suggest you roll up your sleeves and give it a go. If you are feeling frenzied at work, are in need of feeling grounded, if you have even the tiniest bit of homemaker blood that needs to be indulged, (or if there is a hurricane in the forecast) I prescribe roasting a chicken.

Even with the recent movement toward awareness of the source of our food, I think many of us are still hesitant to see an animal in whole form. I know I am.  Now in the interest of full disclosure, I do get the willy nillies rinsing out the chicken and holding it under its arms (eek!) but I persevere. I envision Julia Child and all of the other wonderful cooks who “own” the ingredient and don’t shy away. I remind myself of how glorious it is to serve a roasted chicken on a platter and of the warm scents that will engulf the kitchen in no time. (Plus, I am being so economical! It is tremendously less expensive to buy a whole chicken as opposed to the individual parts.)

Call me wacko, but once I get past the willy nillies,  preparing the chicken makes me feel eerily connected to my ancestors. I think about the thousands (millions?) of women before me who prepared chickens for their families. Does anyone else feel this way when they cook? Maybe I am getting a bit deep here (I think having a baby might do that to a gal!) but the moral of the story is this: 

Roast a chicken. Then set the table and light the candles. Your family will love you and you will love you. It’s the food equivalent of giving yourself and everyone around you a big ole hug. 

This recipe yielded a tremendously juicy and flavorful bird. The lime flavor was subtle yet present. I served ours with coriander-dusted sweet potato wedges and of course Tomato and Hearts of Palm Salad over a bed of greens.

Lime Roasted Chicken:

  • 1 six pound chicken (or any size you’d like)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 limes cut in half and poked with a fork several times
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

The night prior to cooking, remove chicken from packaging. Remove giblets from cavity and dispose of them. Rinse chicken inside and out with cold  running water and then pat dry. Using clean hands rub paprika, salt, and peppers all over the chicken skin. Really rub them in. Place the lime halves inside the cavity of the bird. Place the bird in a large (freezer size) Ziploc bag and place in the fridge.

When you are ready to cook the chicken preheat the oven to 400 F. Place chicken breast side down in a roasting pan (on the rack). Drizzle with olive oil. Lower oven temperature to 350 F and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and flip the bird over. Return to the oven and continue to cook until internal temp reaches 180 F and juices run clear. (Note: cook at 350 F for approximately 20 minutes/pound.)

Remove from oven and let rest before carving. Pour juices from pan over sliced meat.

Inspired by The Food and Cooking of the Caribbean, Central and South America and 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know.

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Farfalle with My Favorite Color Sauce and Roasted Vegetables

If you can’t tell what color the sauce is from this picture, here are a few clues: 

As far back as I can remember my favorite color has been green.  There isn’t really an explanation except that looking at green makes me happy. One of my best memories from my wedding day is walking down the stairs in my parents’ home to a sea of green dresses worn by my bridesmaids! I don’t just like green, I love it.  Both consciously and subconsciously I choose to surround myself with green. As I was snapping photos of this meal, all of my green things sort of jumped out at me. I knew I had an affinity for the color, but, yikes! Even my three soap dispensers, napkins, place mats, measuring cups, and oven mitts are green!

As my mother-in-law put it, and I agree, this dish is very pretty. The smooth green sauce over a bed of farfalle (bow tie) pasta studded with (red) roasted tomatoes and (more green) asparagus makes for a lovely presentation. The flavor is great too. I created this recipe to be healthy and flavorful. It seems too often that pasta is smothered with thick cream and butter. That is not the case here. The sauce is a puree of peas, olive oil, fresh basil and some pungent parmesan, which makes for a delicate, smooth, and tasty sauce that is not rich with dairy. In fact, there is only one cup of cheese over the two pounds of pasta. 

Tips:

  • Using a different pasta shape than you would ordinarily use adds interest to a dish. Choosing new  pasta shapes is an easy way to spice up an old favorite. Check out these recipes: Papparadelle, Orecchiette, GemelliOrzo, Buccatini–they are all fun shapes to try! If the selection at your local grocer is sparse, stop in a specialty shop, like an Italian market. You are likely to find an array of new shapes and sizes.
  • Eliminate chicken and replace chicken broth with vegetable broth to convert this to a vegetarian recipe.

Farfalle with My Favorite Color Sauce:

  • 2 pounds farfalle (bow ties)
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 2 bunches green asparagus
  • 3 glugs of olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1-16 oz. bag frozen peas
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 chicken breasts (seasoned generously with salt and pepper, grilled, and cut into 1-inch pieces)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Fill a large pot with salted water and place on stove to boil.  When water is boiling add farfalle and cook according to package directions.

Slice grape tomatoes in half and place on baking sheet cut side down. Drizzle with a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until just soft. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave oven on.

Cut off the tough ends of asparagus and throw away. Cut asparagus into 2-inch segments and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 13-15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn oven off.

In a large skillet or saucepan warm a glug of olive oil over low/medium heat.  Add minced shallots. Cook until shallots are soft. Add peas to pan and combine with shallots. Cook peas for just a minute–just until they are warm and slightly soft. Remove from heat.

In a blender or food processor combine pea/shallot mixture, 3/4 cup olive oil, 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup chicken broth, basil leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Puree mixture until smooth.

In a large serving bowl, combine cooked pasta, roasted tomatoes, roasted asparagus, and chicken cubes. Pour sauce on top and gently toss to coat.

Peas with shallots

Roasted tomatoes, roasted asparagus, and grilled chicken waiting to be tossed with the green sauce

 

Delicious and pretty

A Kitchenbelle.com original.

Chicken Picadillo

I’ve been slacking a bit in the dinner department lately and I haven’t liked it one bit!  A combination of plans filling the last couple of Sundays, very hot weather that makes me a bit lethargic and less than eager to hang out behind the stove, and a myriad of other excuses have prevented me from doing my usual weekly shopping and meal planning.  Therefore, weeknight dinners have been pulled together by combining a little of this and a little of that.  

This weekend I decided enough was enough and we did our shopping on Saturday.  I filled the cart with all sorts of fresh fruits and veggies and outlined some meal ideas so that we could eat well for both lunch and dinner all week.  Man do I find that gratifying!

The thing about meal planning that I find tricky is I don’t love setting a strict schedule. Tuesday:  chicken Marsala, Wednesday: rice and bean burritos, Thursday: baked fish etc. makes me feel restricted and who likes that? I don’t like being pigeon-holed that way. Every time I have tried to do something along those lines I end up coming home from work not feeling like whatever it was that I had planned. I much prefer to set up some loose ideas at the start of the week and then just kind of “go with it” during the week. So that’s what I did!

I found this Chicken Picadillo recipe in Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook. While the methods and actual recipe instructions in this book aren’t exactly perfect, her ideas for fresh clean meals composed of wonderful flavors and ingredients are very inspirational.  And even more exciting is the fact that the photos in the book are stellar.

While I am sure this recipe is not a traditional picadillo (I wasn’t even sure what a picadillo was until I Googled it), it is a wonderful, hearty, delicious, and flavorful dinner. I made a few adaptations and I have included them in the recipe below. 

The garlic, peppers, cumin, and cilantro pack lots of fresh flavor punch. And the combination of fresh and canned tomatoes really boosted the texture freshness factor.

I served this over brown rice the first time we ate it and over baked potatoes the second time. (With the baked potato I added a small scoop of sour cream and a few extra tablepoons of fresh cilantro–wow was that a delicious dinner!)

Tip: I think grilled tofu would be a great vegetarian substitution for the chicken in this recipe!

Chicken Picadillo:

  • a few glugs of olive oil
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (If you have time marinate the chicken in some olive oil, a splash of vinegar and some salt and pepper before cooking. If not, rinse the breasts, pat dry and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of ground cumin before cooking.)
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 large yellow pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 large orange pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1.5 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, each one sliced in half
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of chopped tomatoes with jalepenos (I like Delmonte brand)
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Cook chicken using your preferred method. Poaching or grilling both work well in this recipe. Once it is done cooking, cut into cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add onion and peppers. Cook until soft.

Add chili powder, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until veggies reach desired texture (we like them a bit soft but still with a little crunch).

Stir in chicken cubes and stir until mixture is heated through. Stir in fresh cilantro.

Peppers, tomatoes and spices simmering

I love using my grill pan to cook chicken breast

Adapted from Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook.

Easy and Light Weeknight Corn and Chicken Chowder

I don’t usually make rich meals on weeknights, however, for some reason this recipe caught my eye.  And, as it turns out, it isn’t actually all that rich! It wasn’t super heavy the way chowders typically are. I used 1 % milk and not an ounce of cream and this was still so wonderfully flavorful and filling.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this meal!  

The original recipe does not call for potatoes but I decided to add them for some texture and color.  (I am really digging red bliss these days!) And rather than use thyme (a spice I am a little iffy about) I garnished the dish with some fresh chives, which are a little more subtle and add a freshness that I have really been seeking these days.  I also bumped up the amount of corn. 

Because of all of my additions, the actual amount of chowder was less than some might like, which was fine with me because I love all things chunky as opposed to liquidy.  If you would like more actual liquid (soup) I suggest bumping up the amount of milk to 4 cups.

 I meant to make some corn muffins to accompany this, but I forgot.  Plus, baking AND cooking on a school night? I think that would shift this from an easy and light weeknight meal to a plan ahead savory Sunday supper. 😉

P.S. I am in the market for a new camera. I would welcome any and all suggestions!  (I cannot sort out how to get the white balance where I need it to be with this little point and shoot!)

Easy and Light Weeknight Corn and Chicken Chowder:

  • 1 pound small red potatoes (red bliss)
  • about 1 pound chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 cups frozen sweet yellow corn kernels
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • a few shakes of red pepper flakes
  • lots of salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender. When done strain away water and let potatoes cool in a colander.

Meanwhile, cook chicken breast on grill pan or in saute pan.  Once cooked, remove from heat, use two forks to shred and set aside.

In a large Dutch over melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and jalepeno and cook for at least three minutes, or until tender.   Stir frequently. Note: Let these ingredients cook for as much time as you have. This will be the base of the flavor of the chowder so the longer you let these cook the more flavorful the final product will be.  (I try to “melt” the onions and celery as long as possible to hide them from my husband!)

Add flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in milk, chicken, corn, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.  Cook until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in potatoes and cook until potatoes are heated through. Serve in bowls and garnish with freshly chopped chives.

Adapted from Quick Chicken-Corn Chowder on MyRecipes.com.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

After an indulgent holiday weekend, I was flipping through America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010 in search of something fresh and light to get us back on track.  These Asian Chicken lettuce wraps caught my eye.  A little over a year ago now, I made lettuce wraps using a recipe from the Biggest Loser. They were absolutely delicious and so much fun to eat!  I figured it couldn’t hurt to try a new recipe with a bit of a different spin.  One word for these lettuce wraps: FRESH!  I am in love with the combination of lime juice, fresh basil, scallions, and cilantro! Each bite was bursting with the flavors of nature!   I added some minced carrot for additional color, bulk and nutrition.  I must say this was a very satisfying and filling meal.  And to quote my husband, “I feel full but I don’t feel gross.” Perfectly articulated if you ask me!

*Notes:

  • These can be made gluten free by eliminating the soy sauce or subbing gluten-free soy sauce.
  • I doubled the recipe below and there was enough to feed three for dinner and two for lunch.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • fresh squeezed juice of one lime
  • fresh grated zest of one lime
  • 1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey (or a combination of both)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 jalepeno chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 carrot peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 12 Boston lettuce leaves (about one head) washed and spun dry

Prepare rice according to package instructions and set aside.

Whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest, and cornstarch together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat warm oil.  Add carrots and cook a few minutes,  or until soft. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mash ground meat with the back of a spoon until smooth.   Add the ground meat and jalepeno to the skillet containing carrots. Break up meat with a wooden spoon. Cook until meat is no longer pink.

Add the soy sauce mixture to the skillet and cook stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in basil, scallions, and cilantro.

Transfer meat to a serving bowl and serve with rice and lettuce. To serve, scoop some rice on top of each leaf and top with scoops of meat.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010.

Rosemary Chicken with White Beans

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This meal is the definition of an easy and quick weeknight meal.  The tomatoes make this almost like a chunky soup/stew.  In fact, I wish we had some fresh bread on hand because this is a perfect dish for dunking!  I served this with a simple arugula salad.  We really enjoyed this dinner and I look forward to enjoying it again for lunch! 

Notes:

  • For the chicken, I used Perdue thinly sliced chicken breast.  I love how they are nice and lean and cook so quickly!
  • For the stewed tomatoes, I like to use Contadina Diced Tomatoes.  They are perfect for quick weeknight meals!  For this recipe I used the “roasted garlic” variety.
  • You can always use fresh herbs in place of dried herbs.  In fact, I suggest you use fresh herbs as often as possible.  However, sometimes you find yourself in a pinch and it’s necessary to rely on your stash of dried herbs.  (Like when you have a hungry husband and you can’t get to the farmer’s market or the grocery store!)  Whenever you substitute dry for fresh always use one teaspoon of dry for every one tablespoon of fresh that the recipe calls for. 

Rosemary Chicken with White Beans:

  • 2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary (if you have fresh, use fresh!)
  • ~1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • ~1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2 pounds of boneless chicken breast, sliced thin 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 2  (15 ounce) cans navy beans (or any other white bean like cannellini), drained
  • 1/4  cup  chopped pitted kalamata olives

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine rosemary, salt, and pepper and sprinkle over both sides of chicken. Place chicken in pan and cook until brown, turning once.  (Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to cook chicken in batches.  Make sure there is enough space in the pan so that each peace of chicken touches the bottom of the pan.) Once all chicken pieces are brown set aside on a plate.  Deglaze pan by adding tomatoes (with juices) to pan.  Use a spatula to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and add chicken. Add the beans; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in olives.

Adapted from MyRecipes.com.

Game Day Loaded Quesadillas

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The New England Patriots are a big deal in our household.  Autumn Sundays revolve around the game and I love that it gives me a reason to cook hearty and delicious food.  My husband made a request for some quesadillas yesterday (I love when he makes specific requests!) and I was excited to deliver.

Quesadillas are simple and versatile.  They are an easy go-to and they are an especially great way to use up leftovers.  Do you have some grilled veggies you want to reincarnate? Toss them in a quesadilla.  Leftover roasted chicken?  Do the same.  You can create a last minute masterpiece of a dinner by simply digging through your fridge.  My philosophy about quesadillas is similar to that of tarts.  The options are endless! 

Game Day Loaded Quesadillas:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4-6 thinly sliced chicken breasts*
  • 4 wheat wraps or tortillas
  • 1-2 cups shredded Mexican cheese (about 1/2 cup per quesadilla)
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons canned or fresh chopped chiles
  • 1 cup salsa (make your own or doctor up jarred salsa by adding fresh cilantro, black beans, and/or corn kernels)
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
  • dollops of sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt

Combine first three ingredients.

Rinse and pat dry chicken.  Rub both sides of each piece of chicken with cumin/salt/pepper mixture. Grill each piece of chicken until done.  Remove from heat and cut into thin strips. Set aside.

In a non-stick pan place one tortilla.  Top with some cheese then chicken strips, avocado chunks, chiles, a few tablespoons of salsa (not too much or your quesadilla will be soggy), fresh scallions and then more cheese.  Place another tortilla on top.  Press down along edges of tortilla to seal it.  Serve with dollops of non-fat Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and salsa.  Garnish with scallions.

*I purchase fresh chicken that is labeled “thinly sliced breasts.”  I find they cook very quickly and save me the time of pounding or slicing full sized breasts myself.  

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