Tag Archives: chicken

Coconut-Crusted Chicken Salad with Pan Fire-Roasted Vegetables and Peanut-Honey-Lime Dressing

2 Apr

After a year and a half hiatus, I’m back at it (well, sort of!). This blog is purely a hobby for me, and when I transitioned jobs a year and a half ago, I found that I really didn’t have time to photograph, document and post anymore, especially in the day light (my main challenge to this blog has been being able to photograph all my food in natural light, since I don’t have any other equipment to make night shooting possible). Anyway, I had the urge to share this recipe and thought that there’s no harm in getting back into blogging, although I do want to give a disclaimer that I have no idea how often I’ll be posting. I don’t want my hobby to become a chore – I just want to be able to share good recipes when I can!

Coconut-Crusted Chicken Salad

There were a few inspirations for this recipe – trying to eat healthier since it’s getting warm out and my winter hibernation is finally ending :-) and trying to eat more vegetables (inspired by this article I was reading today about how much it can cut your risk of death!). I figure it can’t do much harm to eat more fruits and vegetables, so I might as well try! This recipe counts for at least a few servings I think!

I tend to like heartier salads when I’m eating healthy – otherwise I’ll be hungry an hour or two later! That’s why I combined coconut-crusted chicken with a fire-roasted vegetable mix, which was inspired by the one on Panera’s Thai Chicken salad (my favorite!). It’s a nice, charred mixture of diced carrot, bell pepper and edamame, which adds great flavor, texture and body to the salad. The cucumbers add a nice fresh crunch and the almonds are sweet and crunchy as well. You could easily substitute chopped peanuts to make this even more “Thai”.

A few recipe notes – the coconut I used is unsweetened flaked coconut. I found mine from Whole Foods and it worked well as it was very small flakes that adhered easily to the chicken. I suggest checking the health food/organic aisle of your grocery store to find unsweetened coconut. Also, the quantities of cucumber, sliced almonds and lettuce are merely suggestions, as it is truly personal preference.

This dressing is worth making extra of – it’s super flavorful and versatile. Much better than anything you can get in a bottle!  For more tips on making homemade vinaigrettes and dressings can be found here.

Coconut Chicken Salad 2

 

  • Servings: 2 dinner salads
  • Time: 35-40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Coconut-Crusted Chicken Salad with Pan Fire-Roasted Vegetables and Peanut-Honey-Lime Dressing

Chicken:

  • 2 medium chicken breasts or breast tenderloins (~1 lb)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil

Cut chicken breasts lengthwise into strips (4-5 per breast). Whisk egg in a small bowl with a splash of water. Combine panko, coconut and salt (~1/2 t.) in a separate bowl. Coat chicken in egg, removing excess, then coat thoroughly in breadcrumb mixture. Meanwhile, heat several tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken several minutes per side, until golden brown and chicken is cooked through (165°F).

Dressing:

  • 1 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 3 T. lime olive oil (or regular – see notes below)
  • 2 t. honey
  • 1 t. fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a Tupperware or Mason jar and shake vigorously to combine. Alternatively, whisk together in a small bowl. If you do not have lime olive oil, you can substitute regular extra-virgin olive oil and use more lime juice in place of the rice vinegar (lime zest could be added for extra lime flavor).

Pan fire-roasted vegetable mix

  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ to ¾ cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 2 T. vegetable oil

Salad:

  • Mediterranean or romaine salad mix (about 4 cups)
  • Honey roasted sliced almonds (or chopped peanuts)
  • 4-5” English cucumber, sliced

Place diced carrot and frozen edamame in a microwave-safe bowl and add a few tablespoons water. Microwave on high ~2 minutes to thaw edamame and slightly cook carrot. Drain. Heat oil in a small skillet over high heat; add edamame, carrot and pepper and stir fry until lightly cooked and slightly blackened.

Assemble salad with cucumber, charred vegetable mix, chicken, slivered almonds and drizzle with dressing.

Coconut Chicken Salad 1

 

Chicken, Squash and Goat Cheese Salad

2 Jul

Hello everyone!  Hopefully everyone is enjoying their summer so far.  Our summer is going quickly – it seems like we are traveling every weekend – but at least it’s for fun reasons!  Meanwhile I am also in transition with my job and will be starting a new job next week!  Very exciting, but it’s also keeping me very busy.  For that reason, I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to this blog, which I apologize for.  Hopefully once things settle down again I’ll have more time… until then, I’m trying to simplify my life and only post things that I think are really post-worthy.

The recipe I want to share this week is for a healthy and hearty salad.  In the summer I crave salad for dinner a lot, but I also don’t want to end up hungry just an hour or two after dinner, so I need to find ways to make them feel more like a complete meal.  This salad definitely fits the bill, and would even be great in the fall or winter.  The roasted squash really adds a more hearty, creamy element, and the tangy goat cheese gives it lots of flavor.  Combined with some moist chicken (ahh so much better homemade than the stuff they put on salads at restaurants) and crunchy almonds, this salad is definitely satisfying.

I hope you enjoy!  And let me know if you have any questions!

Chicken, Squash and Goat Cheese Salad

Time: 40 minutes; Yield: 2 large salads

  • 1/2 whole butternut squash (or roast the whole thing and use the leftovers for another meal!)
  • 1 large or 2 medium chicken breasts
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to coat squash)
  • Balsamic vinegar (few tablespoons)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Roasted sliced almonds (the store-bought kind or toast your own)
  • 5 ounces (or 1 bag) arugula/spring mix
  • 3 ounces plain goat cheese, crumbled
  • Balsamic vinaigrette, see recipe below.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss chicken breasts with some balsamic vinegar (a tablespoon or two, just to quickly marinate) plus salt and pepper.

To prep squash, peel with a vegetable peeler and slice lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds, then cut into a small dice (~1/2″ cubes).  The smaller the dice, the quicker it will cook, so keep it small if you’re in a time crunch.  Toss with enough olive oil to coat, salt, pepper and sage.  Place on a baking sheet.

Place chicken in a baking dish.  Roast chicken and squash for ~35 minutes, or until squash is tender and chicken reaches 165ºF internal temperature.

Let chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  Slice against the grain, as thinly as possible.

To assemble salads, divide arugula or spring mix between two plates.  Top with red onion, almonds, crumbled goat cheese, squash and chicken.  Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing – for more on making your own vinaigrettes, check out my post on them here.

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey (or sugar, optional)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid and shake to combine.  Alternatively, whisk all ingredients except for oil together, then slowly stream in oil while whisking constantly.  Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Goat Cheese, Chicken and Asparagus Fettuccine

26 Mar

 I can’t believe I’m still posting chicken recipes from my one day of cooking, where I made lots of chicken stock (and shredded chicken), then turned it into soup, this pasta and Buffalo-style chicken salad.   I swear this is the end of the chicken recipes… for now!  But in the meantime, this is a pretty delicious and simple recipe to use leftover chicken.  It’s creamy and tangy from the goat cheese.  And, it’s perfect for spring time, since asparagus is now at its prime.

The cream sauce for this pasta is made from a roux, milk and goat cheese.  It’s deliciously creamy, without the cream.  A roux is a mixture of melted butter and flour, combined in equal parts (in this recipe, 1 tablespoon each), which is used to thicken sauces.  Knowing how to make a roux is a great technique to have in your repertoire so you can make cream sauces at any time, for things like this, or homemade macaroni and cheese :).

Goat Cheese, Chicken and Asparagus Fettuccine

Time: 20 min, Yield: 2 servings

  • 6 ounces fettuccine
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-2″ pieces
  • 1 cup shredded, cooked chicken (leftover and reheated or from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1.5 cups low-fat milk
  • 4-6 ounces goat cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon

Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling water.  While pasta is cooking and water is boiling, drop the asparagus into the same pot to blanch, until tender-crisp, 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Add flour and whisk until smooth, 30 seconds.  Whisk in the milk and simmer gently, until it starts to thicken, stirring often.  Whisk in the goat cheese until smooth.  If sauce is too thick, add more milk.  If sauce is too thin, add more cheese.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and asparagus, and toss with chicken and enough cream sauce to coat.  Top with fresh tarragon and serve.

Chicken Salad: Buffalo Style

13 Mar

Last weekend, I did one day of real cooking, and it fed us all week.  On Sunday, I made two big pots of chicken stock, which I turned into chicken noodle soup, plus leftover stock and cooked chicken.  To find out about making the chicken stock and chicken used in these recipes, please read my post on cooking Two in One: Chicken Stock and Chicken Soup.

With the leftover shredded, cooked chicken, I made two recipes: Buffalo-style chicken salad and pasta with chicken, goat cheese and asparagus.  I know, I know, it’s a lot of chicken.  And by all means, if you don’t want to be quite that chicken-intense, only make one pot of stock/soup – and you’ll be able to get at least one other chicken meal out of the extra meat.

I got the idea for this recipe when I saw some prepared “Buffalo” chicken salad at the grocery store.  Since regular chicken salad is just about the most boring thing ever, I thought making it Buffalo style was at least worth a try.  I am partial to anything Buffalo-style, since I am originally from there :).  So, I know my Frank’s hot sauce and blue cheese.  Read: blue cheese, not ranch!!

Anyway, the best part about this chicken salad recipe is that the chicken, carrots, and celery are all ingredients in the stock/soup, so if you opt to make those first and then morph them into the chicken salad,  the only things you need to buy (or may already have) are Frank’s hot sauce and blue cheese (and possibly Dijon mustard if you want to include it and/or don’t have it).  This made for a great sandwich for weekday lunches.  I found that if you sandwich the chicken salad between two pieces of lettuce, so that the bread does not come directly in contact with the chicken salad, you won’t have issues with soggy bread.  So when you make the sandwich, layer a piece of bread, then lettuce, then chicken salad, lettuce, and another slice of bread.  As always with my recipes, feel free to tweak them based on your tastes!  The level of Frank’s I include here is nice and Buffalo-tasting, but not too spicy (in my humble opinion).

Buffalo-Style Chicken Salad

Time: 10 min, Yield: 2 cups

  • ~2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (leftover from making stock, or from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/2 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 large or 2 small stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce (I used the “Wings” variety but any will work)
  • 3 tablespoons Blue cheese dressing
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Adjust Frank’s to your personal taste.  Adjust amounts of blue cheese dressing, mayo and mustard depending on the moisture of the chicken and moisture desired.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve on bread (using lettuce leaves to help protect the bread from the moist chicken salad to prevent sogginess).

Two in One: Chicken Soup and Chicken Stock

8 Mar

Today I am going to share with you a great way to use 1 bird (chicken) in 2 ways (that’s almost the same as the “kill 2 birds with 1 stone” saying right?).  I decided recently that I wanted to make chicken noodle soup, and figured I might as well make some stock while I’m going to the trouble.  Actually, I ended up making 2 additional meals out of the chicken I cooked for the soup and stock, and I’ll be sharing those recipes later on the blog as well (I made chicken salad, Buffalo style, and also a pasta with chicken, asparagus and a goat cheese cream sauce later in the week).

First I want to discuss the making of stock.  As anyone who cooks knows, chicken stock is one of the most commonly called-for ingredients.  Even when it’s not called for, it’s beneficial to use it whenever a recipe calls for water (rice cooked in chicken stock instead of water, for example, is worlds beyond regular rice in flavor).

Making your own chicken stock is pretty much the easiest thing ever (and that was in the words of my husband).  Additionally, it usually costs next-to-nothing to make it, because the ingredients can be the scraps you have around from other recipes (stray celery/carrots/onions/herbs and leftover chicken bones).  Compared to store-bought stock, homemade stock is also abundantly more flavorful, plus you can control what’s in it (no MSG, not too much salt, no preservatives, etc.).   You can either make it and use it right away, or portion it into small containers and freeze it.  Then, you will always have it on hand when you need it (thaw it on the defrost setting in your microwave for a few minutes, then pop out the ice-block-of-stock into a saucepan and melt it back into liquid over low heat – it takes no time at all.)

Ok, so enough about all the reasons you should try to make your own stock.  Oh wait, one more reason, you will feel like a real chef and can impress all your friends, when secretly all you did was throw a bunch of bones and vegetables in a pot and left it to boil for several hours.  :-D

Since I was planning to make chicken noodle soup, I thought I would save myself some time and effort later in the week, and cook a whole bunch of chicken at once.  The basis of this post is that you can make a big pot of chicken stock, using one or more chickens, and then transform the broth into soup, and the chicken into other meals.  Classically, you don’t need actual chicken meat to make stock, but I used it in this case so that I could take that chicken meat and use it for recipes later in the week (plus that helped make the stock extra flavorful).  Half the stock I made went into my freezer to use other times, and half of it got turned into the broth for soup.

So without further ado….

How to Make Chicken Stock

There are no hard rules or recipes to follow for making chicken stock.  With all of the following ingredients, you don’t even need to peel them (even the onions! Just leave the skin on); just cut each ingredient in halves or quarters and then throw them in the pot.  There are several ingredients you definitely want to include if you can, such as:

  • 1-2 Onions (white/yellow)
  • 2-4 Carrots
  • 2-4 Celery stalks,
  • Whole peppercorns (~1 tablespoon) – whole because then you can strain them out
  • Fresh herbs – throw them in as whole sprigs/bunches – for example, parsley, thyme, tarragon, or whatever you have on hand

…If you have more celery and carrots and herbs on hand, go ahead and throw them in – it definitely won’t hurt!  Other than that, some nice additions for some more flavor are:

  • Leeks (very well cleaned)
  • Garlic (just smash the cloves, no need to peel)
  • Salt (to taste)

Plus, obviously, one of the following:

  • Whole, raw chicken (split in two so it cooks quicker)
  • Raw, bone-in chicken parts (thighs, breasts, wings, etc)
  • Leftover chicken bones

To make the stock, throw all the roughly chopped vegetables in the pot (there will be more than shown below):

Add your chicken bones or chicken meat.

Then fill the pot up with water. Use at least 10 cups, and make sure all of the ingredients are covered with water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 3 hours, or as long as possible, loosely covered so you don’t lose too much water to evaporation.   If using whole chicken or chicken pieces, remove them after 45-60 minutes (for a whole chicken, use the upper end of that range), and separate the meat from the fat and bones.  Discard the fat, set the meat aside, and return the bones to the pot for the remaining simmering time.

Using tongs or a skimmer (one of my favorite kitchen tools), remove the chicken bones and vegetables.

Then, strain the hot stock throw a fine mesh strainer.  Please be careful at this step, as the stock is beyond HOT and the steam alone can burn you!

Let the stock sit to allow the fat to separate, then skim it off using a spoon.  As you can see in this picture, the fat floats on the surface and the difference in color will help show what needs to be removed.

Portion the stock into small containers and allow it to cool at room temperature temporarily before refrigerating or freezing (allowing the stock to cool to 140°F before refrigerating is safe because 140 is still hotter than “the food danger zone“. Cooling on the counter first also helps you avoid raising the temperature inside your refrigerator or freezer unsafely, which can happen if you put a large volume of very hot soup or stock right in the fridge).

Chicken Noodle Soup is a no-brainer:

Follow the directions above to make your stock, using whole chicken or bone-in chicken pieces.  Cook the chicken in the stock until cooked through, as indicated above, 45-60 minutes. Remove the chicken and separate the fat from the meat and bones.  Return the bones to the pot, discard the fat, and shred the meat.  Refrigerate the shredded chicken until ready to use.

Continue to simmer your stock for 2-4 hours, or as time allows.

Meanwhile, dice:

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 small yellow onion

When the stock is done simmering, strain as directed above, removing the vegetables and bones.  Be very careful, it is very hot!

Return the strained stock to the pot on the stove, and return to a simmer.  Add the diced vegetables and:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves if that’s all you have)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric (for color)

Simmer for ~10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  While the stock is simmering rapidly, add 16 ounces of pasta noodles and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes more.

Then, add the cooked chicken to heat through and serve!

When I made this, I made 2 huge pots full of stock/soup, using 2 chickens.  That meant that I had plenty of leftover cooked chicken for recipes later in the week, like Buffalo-style chicken salad for sandwiches and pasta with goat cheese, asparagus and chicken (which I will be sharing on the blog next week!)  The amount of effort and time and money it takes to make a second pot or bigger batch or stock/soup is minimal, so it really is worth it.  Having leftover cooked, shredded chicken around is never a bad thing, since the uses of it are limitless (think tacos, pasta, enchiladas, pizza, quesedillas, etc).

My First Real Dinner Party

24 Jan

Matt and I hosted our first real dinner party last week, for a group of friends we met through a fellow Notre Dame alumna.  I was a little nervous, since I felt some pressure to make an amazing meal, but it went very smoothly.   I served a simple, homey meal of roast chicken breasts, garlic green beans, honey butter carrots and salt-and-vinegar roasted baby potatoes.  Nothing fancy, just basic foods done well.  I took a few “before” pictures, but unfortunately no “after” pictures since I was so busy serving the guests!  So be forewarned, raw chicken pictures ahead!

Along the way, I feel like I learned some key tips to hosting a dinner party, so I will share those with you:

1)  Prep everything ahead.  The more you can do ahead, the better!  Either the night before or the morning of.  The morning of the dinner party, I prepped and blanched the green beans, peeled and cut the carrots and put them in the pot, par-cooked the potatoes (see below for the recipe), and made the compound butter for the chicken.  This made things so much easier later in the day.

2)  Make simple, well-practiced recipes.  Don’t try new things for a dinner party!  This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you cook something you are comfortable with and proud of, you will have less worries and no insecurities!  At most, experiment with one new recipe (just not the main one!).  Also, consider what your guests will like.  Are they going to appreciate a super spicy Thai curry?  Or are they a more traditional crowd?  For people I don’t know that well, I tend to stick with more comfort, traditional foods.

3)  Choose seasonal and/or on sale ingredients.  Go to the grocery store and see what looks good, what’s in season, and what is on sale before you decide on the menu.  That’s how I ended up cooking green beans and carrots, because they looked the best of the veggies in the store.  Dinner parties can also be expensive when cooking for a crowd, so choose your protein based on what’s on sale!   You don’t have to be cheap, just savvy.

4)  Be flexible.  Plan for the worst.  Have a back up plan.  Make enough food so there is plenty, just in case your guests are extra hungry or you have late additions.  It’s never bad to have leftovers anyway (we turned ours into soup!).

5)  Invite the right number of people for the kind of party you want.  We had 6 people total, which felt like the perfect size – not too many, not too few.  Too few people, and to me there is less motivation to put in a lot of work (is that bad?!).  But at the same time, that may be a good thing!  If you have too many people invited, it can become overwhelming and intimidating to cook so much food (especially if you want to make more labor-intensive recipes).  Plus you want everyone to be able to fit at a table together!

6) Take people up on their offers to bring something.  I think it’s generally true that if someone offers to bring something, that they would really like to.  It can be overwhelming to plan for not only dinner, but also drinks and dessert.  So if someone offers to bring drinks or a dessert, graciously accept!  That way you can focus more on the dinner, with one less thing to worry about!

7)  Put on some music.  Not too loud!  It’s awkward to feel like you are shouting over the music, but a little bit in the background really helps the atmosphere ;-)

8)  Set out snacks to buy you some time.  This is optional and depends on your timeline for the night.  If you plan to serve dinner very shortly after guests arrive, then you probably don’t need to have snacks, but inevitably, it always feels like dinner is delayed (see my next point).  If there are a few simple snacks out (store bought nuts, pretzels, hummus, olives or marinated mozzarella, etc etc) then at least it buys the cook some time to finish dinner and takes the pressure off.

9) Plan to have the food ready 15-30 min before it really should be ready.  It seems inevitable that if you plan to have dinner ready at 7, it’ll really be done at 7:30.  The chicken always takes longer than you think, or you get distracted, etc etc.   So just to avoid being frantic, I think it’s ok to plan to be done cooking a little before you would really like to be.  For example, our guests were scheduled to arrive at 6:30, so I was planning to have the food ready at 7 (no snacks, just dinner).  Originally I was planning on having the food done at 6:45, which I should have stuck with (!!), since the time I actually had the food done was……7:30.  Oops.  Learn from my mistakes people!

10)  Have fun!  Had to add this last one since a list of 9 things would just look weird.

For my dinner party, I made lemon-butter-herb roasted chicken breasts, which I have made several times now.  I don’t even have a recipe for it, but I just combine the following to make a compound butter:

  • Butter, softened
  • Fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, whatever you have!), chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh garlic, minced
  • Lemon zest

I don’t measure, I just eyeball it.  I’m pretty sure you can’t really mess it up.  Spread the compound butter and lemon slices under the skin of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (these stay SO much more moist than boneless, skinless), like this (sorry it kind of looks gross):

Drizzle the tops with a little bit of olive oil (to help them brown) and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400-425°F oven for about an hour, or until the meat reaches 165°F (using a meat thermometer really makes it so much easier – that way you can have full confidence when it’s done and avoid over-cooking it).   Again, sorry I  do not have an after picture!!  Guess it was just so delicious that it was immediately devoured :)

On the side of the chicken, I served two simple vegetables:

Garlic Green Beans:  First, blanch the green beans in a pot of boiling water (that means, toss the green beans in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, to start the cooking and bring out the bright green color).  Remove and immediately place in a large bowl of ice water to quickly cool and stop the cooking.  This can be done ahead – just keep the beans in the fridge until ready for the next step.  To sauté, heat some olive oil and some butter in a skillet, and add several cloves of garlic (sliced, not minced).  Allow them to cook until lightly golden brown, then add the green beans and toss to coat with the garlicky oil, a minute or two until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper.

Honey Butter Carrots:  Cut 1 lb carrots into large pieces, and throw them in a pot.  Add a few tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of water, a generous drizzle of honey, some salt, pepper and a dash of ground ginger (if you have it):

Turn heat on medium and bring to a boil.  Stir, cover and reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes.  Uncover, increase the heat and cook, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate.  Lower the heat, cooking until tender.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving and a squeeze of lemon juice, if you have it!

The green beans turned out great – still had some crunch to them, and lots of garlic flavor.  The carrots were the best I’ve ever made.  I don’t even normally like cooked carrots, and I had seconds and thirds of these!  That must speak volumes!

I also served these Salt and Vinegar Roasted Potatoes along side:

I broke a rule of entertaining by trying these out for the first time at a party, and I paid for my mistake!  They turned out good, but not great.  I think I would have added more salt and more vinegar if I could do it over, though I already felt like I added a lot of salt and was scared to add too much vinegar!  The potatoes didn’t get as crunchy and roasty as I thought they would, so that was another thing that fell short.  I would make them again, but I didn’t think they were particularly impressive.

So there you have it – my adventures in dinner parties!  Feel free to share your advice in the comments section!

Did You Know? Secrets to thin and tender chicken for stir fry

14 Dec

This is my first “Did You Know?” post (of hopefully many more), where I’ll write about a cooking tip or technique.

Today it’ll be secrets to making chicken stir fry at home that mimics that from Chinese takeout restaurants.  Not that saucy crispy stuff, but the very thin and tender chicken in vegetable stir fries, that looks like this:

Image from Here

The Tips:

1.  To slice the chicken very thin, slice it when it’s semi-frozen.  This makes it significantly easier to cut it very thin because it isn’t squishing beneath your knife (also – a very sharp knife makes this MUCH easier).

2. Slice the meat against the grain.  With chicken, this is cutting it the short way, not the long way (the width of the meat, not the length) – so you end up with oval shaped pieces, not long strips.

3. Velveting the meat.  This is official name for the Chinese cooking technique, and it’s great for both chicken and shrimp!  It’s very easy and definitely worth the extra step.  Whisk together:

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

plus an optional teaspoon or so of soy sauce, if you so desire.  Toss the sliced chicken (or shrimp) with the mixture and let sit 30 minutes in the fridge.  Drain off any excess liquid before stir frying.  This coating will, as the name implies, give the chicken a nice velvety texture.  But to taste the difference, also make sure you….

4. Don’t overcook it!  Get your wok (or large skillet) very hot, add the oil, place the meat in the pan and cook until just opaque.   Take it out and set it aside while you cook the rest of the ingredients (vegetables and sauce), then add the chicken in at the last minute to coat and warm through.

These simple tips will really help transform your ho-hum stir fry to something extra delicious.  Stir fry is my go-to meal – I make it at least once every two weeks – so expect more stir fry recipes on the way soon!