Thursday, June 23, 2011

I've Just Gotta Chicken Piccata

Sometimes I even surprise myself in the kitchen. Earlier this week I had a craving for chicken piccata. So naturally, I wanted to know how to cook it. And man oh MAN was it good!

I've had a recipe for Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata torn out of Cooking Light and set aside for months. Lemon and chicken are one of my favorite combinations by far. Well, anything citrus-y, really.

But of course the recipe from Cooking Light wasn't exactly what I was looking for, so I worked my way through a couple of recipes online and came up with a combination that worked really, really well!

Two notes: 1) never having worked with capers before, I didn't know they were jarred. Took me a bit to find them in the grocery store and 2) we had ginormous chicken breasts from Sam's--I suggest working with regular-sized chicken breasts if you can. Much more realistic portions.

One funny note -- our meat mallet is still packed away, so I improvised with a rolling pin...and broke one of my mother in law's dishes with the handle in the midst of my vigorous pounding. Whoops! AND while I was cooking, a big storm hit, knocked out our power, and then messed up the sensor for our well, so I was without running water for a bit there. What a night! Amazingly enough, the chicken still turned out to be fantastic despite all of the obstacles :).

Bon appetit!

Chicken Piccata with Capers

Serves 4.

2 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied, then cut in half
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap or parchment paper; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish and dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter with3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook the other side for 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. Brown both sides of the other 2 pieces of chicken in the same manner. Add chicken to plate and remove pan from heat.

Into the pan, add lemon juice, stock, capers and garlic. Return to stove and bring to a boil, scraping up bits of chicken from the pan for extra flavor. Return all chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken; garnish with parsley.

This is right after I demolished the plate. Bang, bang, bang, CRASH...oops!

The damages. :(

And here it is! Soooo yummy! Plated it up with some whole grain pasta with oilve oil, minced garlic, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and parmesan. A garlic lover's dream!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Ultimate Pantry

Hey there!

So a quick snapshot of our life over the past few months: The move from Chicago to Michigan was a complete success. Working from home is more than I dreamed it would be, and it affords me SO much more time for family, friends and...COOKING!!! I love being able to log out at five and walk into the kitchen.

Only thing is, we're temporarily living with my in-laws, which is fine! -- but my kitchen is packed away. However--that doesn't stop me from cooking!

Today, I don't have an original recipe to share, but I do want to share a few things I've learned over the past month about having a well-stocked pantry. We have five adults living in the house, and we go through a LOT of food. And with the best grocery store a half hour away, you really have to plan ahead when you go shopping.

Following are a few must haves that I find myself picking up on every trip. With these items on hand and some yummy lean proteins, you can whip up pretty much anything!! (And note: I most likely will update this list as I go along...)

  • Fresh Fruits & Veggies
    • Bananas (I swear, my husband's a monkey -- we go through two huge bunches a week)
    • Bell Peppers
    • Berries (any kind--great for crumbles with ice cream--or smoothies!)
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Cucumbers
    • Garlic (LOVE)
    • Jalapenos
    • Lemons (essential for making your own dressings AND for yummy hummus)
    • Limes (a staple in Mexican cooking)
    • New Potatoes
    • Oranges
    • Pineapple
    • Romaine Lettuce
    • Spinach
    • Strawberries
    • Tomatoes (beefsteak, roma, grape/cherry)--I love roasting grape tomatoes for pasta salads...
    • Yellow & Red Onions
  • Fresh Herbs
    • Basil (can you say "b-r-u-s-c-h-e-t-t-a?")
    • Chives 
    • Cilantro
    • Dill 
    • Old Bay (crab cakes in mind...)
    • Oregano (easy chicken marinade: oregano, evoo & lemon juice)
    • Parsley
    • Rosemary
  • Dairy
    • Agave Nectar (skinny girl margaritas anyone?)
    • Aged Sharp Cheddar (just for snacking! my weakness)
    • Cottage Cheese (goes well with pineapple)
    • Eggs
    • Fresh Mozzarella in Water (caprese salads...mmmmm)
    • Grated Parmesan
    • Half & Half
    • Light Sour Cream
    • Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
    • Pepper Jack (great for sandwiches and burgers)
    • Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
    • Reduced fat shredded anything for salads
    • Smart Balance
    • Unsalted Butter
  • Sauces/Spreads
    • Balsamic Dressing (Paul Newman is a great one)
    • Bolthouse Farms Creamy Yogurt Ranch Dressing (healthiest AND tastiest ranch I've found--look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store)
    • Bull's-Eye BBQ Sauce (no high fructose corn syrup here!)
    • Dijon Mustard
    • Hoisin Sauce
    • Horseradish
    • Ketchup
    • Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
    • Natural Peanut Butter
    • Reduced Fat Mayo with Olive Oil
    • Sriracha Sauce (or as I call it, Sir Ha-Cha-Cha!)
    • Tabasco
    • Thai Chili Sauce 
    • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Canned Goods
    • Black Beans
    • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (for a smoky, spicy flavor)
    • Diced Tomatoes
    • Dill Pickles
    • Garbanzo Beans (HUMMUS!!)
    • Hot Banana Peppers
    • Kidney Beans
    • Low-Sodium Broths
    • Manwich (what can I say...I love sloppy joes...with some extra jalapeno kick)
    • Stewed Tomatoes
    • Tomato Sauce
  • Dry Goods
    • Almond Accents (amazing, nutritious addition to a salad)
    • Brown Sugar
    • Flour
    • Sugar
    • Whole Grain Spaghetti, Penne, Rotini
    • Whole Grain Orzo
    • Whole Grain Panko
  • Dry Spices
    • Basil
    • Bay Leaves
    • Cayenne Pepper
    • Chili Powder (LOTS)
    • Cinnamon
    • Cumin
    • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
    • Garlic Bread Sprinkle (McCormick, if you can find it -- easy spread on toast with butter -- want some now!)
    • Garlic Powder
    • Ginger
    • Montreal Chicken
    • Montreal Steak 
    • Oregano
    • Paprika
    • Red Pepper Flakes (easy way to up the heat)
    • Sea Salt
    • Thyme
  • Vinegars/Oils
    • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Canola Oil
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (evoo)
    • High Heat Cooking Spray (such as sunflower oil, grape seed oil, etc.)
    • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
    • Vegetable Oil
    • White & Red Wine Vinegar

By keeping your pantry well stocked, you should easily be able to cook up some delicious stuff! One of my faves is a sweet onion dip -- great with some kettle potato chips. Courtesy of Martha Stewart. Served it up at Steph's (aka place a month or so ago, and then it was a hit again with the fam. It's a keeper!! Eat up and enjoy!

Sweet Onion Dip
Makes 2 cups.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 Vidalia onions (1 pound total), finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
Potato chips, for serving

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, combine onions, sour cream, cream cheese, vinegar, and chives; season with salt and pepper. Chill dip until slightly thickened, about 1 hour; or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Serve with chips.