Chicken, Farro, Avocado Bowl

This chicken, farro, avocado bowl makes it easy to eat healthy. It has all the flavor and nutrition that you are looking for. You can easily get creative with this dish by using your favorite ingredients. A vegan version is also simple to accomplish; just replace the chicken with tofu or beans of your choice.

Start with a grain that you like. I chose farro, but you can use rice, quinoa, or couscous. Next, choose a protein such as chicken, beans, tofu, pork, beef, shrimp….anything your heart desires. However, if you want to keep it light and healthy, I suggest you use chicken, beans, or tofu. Add some sautéed or roasted vegetables, and top it off with a fresh garnish, such as avocado and/or homemade salsa.

The concept of the “bowl” reminds me of a deconstructed casserole. All the ingredients are put in one bowl and enjoyed together. It’s not baked like a traditional casserole, but it is just as comforting. My family and I like casseroles and “bowls”. They are not only fun and easy to eat, but they are also healthier than a traditional casserole, and delicious too.

Let’s get started. . .

Ingredients for farro:
2 – cups farro
1 – tsp. salt
1 1/2 – tbls. olive oil
1 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add salt and farro and cook until al dente or according to the package directions. Once the farro is cooked, drain it and place in a bowl. Add the olive oil, herbs de Provence and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside until the rest of the meal is ready.

You don’t have to worry about the farro getting cold, because it is delicious at room temperature.

Now let’s make the chicken . . .

Ingredients for chicken:
3 – lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 – tsp. oregano
2 – tsp. chili powder
1 – tsp. corriander
1/4 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1 -cup chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 – tbls. tomato paste

Directions:
Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet. Once it is hot, add the seasoned chicken and brown on both sides. This should take about 2–3 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is browning, mix the oregano, chili powder,  corriander, cayenne pepper, and chicken stock in a small bowl.

Remove the chicken when it is browned, take a fork and knife and shred the chicken into strips then return it to the skillet. Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and stir well. Turn the flame to medium low and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Next, add the tomato paste and mix through the chicken thoroughly. Continue to cook the chicken about 10 minutes more, then remove from the heat.

Chicken and spices

While the chicken is cooking you can prepare the vegetables.

Ingredients:
3 – zucchini cut into bit sized pieces
3 carrots sliced on the diagonal
2 – bell pepper diced
1 – jalapeño pepper
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
1 – tsp. oregano
2 – cloves garlic
1 – tbls. olive oil

Chopped vegetables

Directions:
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic cloves to a large skillet. As the oil is heating, let the garlic sauté and start to brown and soften, then add the chopped vegetables and seasonings. Stir and cook until tender crisp. Try not to over cook the vegetables. They should have a little crunch to them. When they are done, remove them from the heat and set aside.

Toppings . . .

Ingredients for Salsa:
2 – cups finely diced cucumber
1 – cup diced grape tomatoes
2 – tbls. finely diced onion
1/2 – tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 – tsp. black pepper
2 – tsp. olive oil

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Cucumber, tomato salsa

Slice two avocados to top off the bowl.

Assembly . . .

Start by placing about one cup of the farro into a bowl, add the chicken, sautéed vegetables, then top off with salsa and a few slices of avocado.

Makes about 6 servings.

Enjoy!




Marinated Grilled Chicken

Marinated Grilled Chicken

Grilled chicken is not something that I typically make, but I decided to give it a try. The marinade is a combination of ingredients I just threw together, which made the chicken moist and delicious.
You can leave the skin on the chicken if you prefer, but I always remove it to make it as healthy as possible. Give it a try at your next barbecue.

Ingredients:
2 – lbs. chicken thighs and drumsticks (skinless)
1 – cup beer
1/4 – cup low sodium soy sauce
2 1/2 – tbls. Hoisin sauce
1 – tbls. sriracha
1 – tbls. chili sauce (Heinz)
1 – tsp. cumin
1/2 – tsp. garlic powder
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
First, remove the skin from the chicken pieces, rinse and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and ground black pepper.

Combine the beer, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha, chili sauce, cumin, and garlic powder together, and blend thoroughly in the blender. Place the chicken in a deep dish and pour 3/4 of the sauce over top to marinate. Save the rest of the marinade to use while cooking the chicken. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least one hour (longer is better if you have time). Rotate chicken at the half way point to make sure both sides are well marinated.

Next, place the chicken on a pre-heated grill. Turn the flame down to medium and close the lid. While cooking, turn often and baste with the reserved marinade.

Cook until the internal temperature is 165°. Cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve.

Enjoy!




Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard and Sweet and Sour Sauces

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Chicken tenders are a favorite of both young and old. They are easy to make and delicious. They make great finger food for a party or can also serve as a main course for dinner. I have included two popular sauces, honey mustard and sweet and sour. These are also good served with a marinara sauce.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. chicken cutlet
3/4 – cup seasoned bread crumbs
3/4 – cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 – cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 – cup all purpose flour
1 – egg
1/4 – cup milk
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:
Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Cut into strips and season with salt and black pepper. Set aside until ready to bread. Make an assembly line to bread the chicken. Place the flour on a flat plate; then whisk the egg, milk, a little salt, and black pepper in a bowl or deep dish that will accommodate the size of the meat. On a flat plate mix together the bread crumbs, pecorino cheese, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Take the seasoned chicken and lightly coat with the flour. Shake off any excess flour and dip in the egg mixture making sure to coat the chicken completely. Next, roll the chicken in the bread crumbs to cover the entire surface. Press down the meat firmly in the crumbs so they adhere to the meat. Place the breaded pieces on a plate, cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. The cold helps the crumbs to become more firm and they adhere better to the meat. This will help to prevent the breading from coming off during frying.

Heat a little canola oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken, but do not over crowd the pan. Cook on a medium flame until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Check that the center is cooked through. The time will vary depending on the thickness of the tenders.

Sweet & Sour Sauce

Ingredients:
3/4 – cup water
1/3 – cup brown sugar
1 1/2 – tbls. ketchup
3 – tbls. cider vinegar
1 – tbls. soy sauce (low sodium)
1 1/2 – tsp. corn starch
Pinch of salt

Directions:img_1059
Put the water and brown sugar in a small sauce pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking on a simmer and stir until the ketchup is completely incorporated.

In a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch in about 2 tbls. water. Drizzle the cornstarch mixture into the sauce pan and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Continue cooking until it starts to thicken a little (the sauce should not be too thick, it should still run freely). This should only take about 3 minutes or so. Pour into a small bowl or container and let cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Honey Mustard Sauce

Ingredients:
1/3 – cup mayonnaise
1 – tbls. Dijon mustard
2 – tbls. Honey
1 – tsp. Lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper

img_1057Directions:
Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 




Chicken Tikka Masala

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The first time my husband and I ate Indian food was with our friend, Ronda and her boyfriend.  They brought us to a little Indian restaurant on East Sixth Street, known as Curry Row. The streets were lined with one Indian restaurant after another, and each of them had an eager employee standing on the street to drum up business. The competition was fierce as each of them worked hard to get your attention as you passed by, trying to entice you to come into their restaurant. The restaurants were all decked out with strings of chile pepper lights and decorations. It was a little corny, but at the same time magical.

We finally chose a restaurant and like many of the other restaurants, the meal was very inexpensive. We had a 7 course meal for about $10 per person. Of course, this goes back 24 years, but it is still very inexpensive today, relatively speaking.

The food was like nothing we had ever eaten before.  To be honest there is better Indian food available in New York, as a matter of fact New York has some of the best Indian restaurants around. Even so, the food we ate that night was good enough to leave a lasting impression on us.  Since then it is one of our favorite cuisines.

For years I was intimidated by the idea of cooking Indian food, but finally I decided to try. Once you buy the various spices and have them in your pantry, it is not so hard to do. I often combine the various spices and create my own dishes.

Chicken Tikka Masala is probably one of the most common dishes served in restaurants today. This recipe that I am presenting to you is from Aarti Sequeira. She is one of my favorite chefs. I have made only very minor adjustments to the recipe. If you like Indian food, this is a good recipe with which to start, because it does not require many different spices.

Ingredients for chicken marinade:
1-1/2 – cups plain yogurt
4 – tbls. ginger-garlic paste (recipe to follow)
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
2 – lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can use white meat if you prefer)

Directions for chicken marinade:
Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry. Cut it into one inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and add it to the chicken. Be sure that all pieces are covered in the marinade. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Ingredients for Ginger-Garlic Paste:
3/4 – cup whole garlic cloves
3/4 – cup fresh ginger
1/3 – cup canola oil

Directions for Ginger-Garlic paste:
Peel the ginger and cut it into small pieces, peel the garlic cloves and blend all the ingredients together until it becomes a smooth paste.

Ingredients for the Curry (sauce)
2 – tsp. canola oil
4 – tbls. butter
4 – tbls. ginger-garlic paste
1 – Serrano pepper
3 – tbls. tomato paste
3 – tsp. garam masala
3 – tsp. paprika
10 – roma tomatoes
1-1/2 – tsp. salt
1 – cup water
1/2 tbls. ground fenugreek
1 – cup heavy cream
1 – tsp. minced cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions for the Curry:
Dice the tomatoes and set aside. Add the oil and butter to a large skillet and heat on a medium flame. Dice the Serrano pepper and add it to the skillet along with with ginger-garlic paste. Sauté about 3-4 minutes until just starting to brown. Stir often. Now add the tomato paste, stir and cook about 2-3 minutes. Next add the garam masala and paprika. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring often.

Next, add the tomatoes, salt and one cup water. Mix well and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn down the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. The tomatoes should start to break down and thicken. You can add more water if it starts to dry out. Stir often so that the tomatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

While the sauce is cooking, heat a stove top grill or iron skillet if you do not have a grill and add a little canola oil.  Brown the chicken on both sides.  It does not have to be cooked through because it will finish cooking in the sauce. Discard the leftover marinade.  If the process of cooking the chicken takes longer than the 20 minutes for the sauce, turn off the sauce until all the chicken is browned.

Before you add the chicken to the sauce, use an immersion blender (you can also use a blender or food processor) to purée the sauce.  Be careful with the hot liquid. Once you have browned all the chicken add it to the puréed sauce along with the ground fenugreek, and simmer for about 20 minutes. This will allow the chicken to finish cooking and the meat will become tender. Now add the cream and stir through. Serve with the Persian Rice and Saag Paneer (creamy spinach and cheese). You will find the recipes are on my blog by clicking on the links.

Enjoy!




Southern Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, and Corn Bread

img_0981Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I am no stranger to Southern cooking.  There is nothing I like better than going home to visit my family and sitting down with them to enjoy a good meal.  I had a taste for collard greens so my sister, Vicki, and I decided to cook together.  Vicki took the lead on this meal.  She combines the collard greens with kale; they make a great combination.  Since we were having collard greens it only made sense to have corn bread and chicken to go with them.  This is the perfect comfort meal to share with people you love.

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Me and my family

Southern Fried Chicken

Ingredients:
2 – lbs chicken parts with skin
4 – cups all purpose flour
1 – tsp. garlic powder
1 – tsp. black pepper
1 – tsp. salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:
Rinse the chicken parts in cold water and pat dry with paper towel. In a large plastic bag add the flour, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper and mix well.

In a large deep skillet, add enough canola or vegetable oil to fill the pan half way. Heat the oil to 350° or you can test if the oil is ready by sprinkling a pinch of flour into the oil. If it sizzles on impact the oil is ready.

Put about 4-5 pieces of chicken in the flour mixture at a time and mix in the bag until completely coated. Shake off the excess flour and carefully place the pieces in the hot oil. Do not over crowd the chicken. You can cover it with a lid and let cook about 10 minutes on each side. Cook on a medium flame so as not to burn the outside. Turn the pieces over and cook again about 10 minutes. The internal temperature should be 165°. Please note that dark meat and white meat cook at different rates; the white meat cooks a little faster than the dark.img_0961

Continue cooking a few pieces at a time until all the chicken is done. Serve immediately.

Collard Greens and Kale

Ingredients:
2 – bunches collard greens
2 – bunches kale
1 – small onion
6 – strips of bacon
2 – quarts chicken stock
1 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 – tsp. garlic powder
1 – tsp. baking soda
Red pepper flake to taste

Directions:
Wash the greens and kale thoroughly in water and drain. Remove the the leafy parts of both the collard greens and kale from the thick stalks. Chop only the leafy parts of the greens into narrow bands and then give another rough chop to cut the bands in pieces.

In a large skillet fry the bacon. Once the bacon is almost cooked through, cut it into one inch pieces. Dice the onion and add it to the bacon and continue cooking until the onion becomes translucent, about 5-6 minutes.

Pour the chicken stock into a large pot and add the bacon and onion mixture along with the bacon grease. Add the black pepper, garlic powder, and salt. If the chicken broth is salted you may want to taste it before you add the salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the greens to the chicken stock, cover with a lid and bring back to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until tender. This takes about 1 1/2 hours.

img_0956After about 20-30 minutes of cooking, you will notice that the greens are starting to cook down. At this point add the baking soda and stir to incorporate it. The baking soda helps to make the greens tender. Stir the greens occasionally until tender.

Corn Bread
My sister uses Jiffy Corn Muffin mix. I am sure that there are many good recipes from scratch out there, but we find this mix to be very good, so why change it?

Start with 2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix. Follow the directions on img_0949the box. Grease a 9″ square baking pan with either canola or vegetable oil. In addition, my sister adds 2 tbls. of oil to the mix, but warm it up first. This is a little trick to make the cornbread more moist. Bake according to the box directions.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!




Doro Wat – Ethiopian Chicken Stew

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My son, Andrew, introduced me to this Ethiopian delight.  This stew is full of robust flavor that will warm your tummy.  The stew is made with a berbere spice mix that you can put together yourself.  I must warn you that it is very spicy, but you can control the amount of cayenne that you use if you do not like it too hot.  Typically this stew is served with red lentils (Mesir Wat) and Injera (a spongy, crepe like flat bread).

My version is slightly modified from the original, but I think it is just as delicious.

Ingredients

1 ½ – lbs. chicken pieces without skin (thighs are best)
3/4 – stick of  butter
1 – large or 2 medium onions diced
3 – cloves garlic minced
2 – tbls. berbere spice (see below)
4 ½-  ounces tomato puree
1 – tsp. sugar
1 – tsp. salt

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large heavy pot, then sauté diced onion and garlic until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Add berbere spice, stir through and cook another one minute.  Then add the tomato puree, sugar, and salt.  Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring often.

In the meantime, remove the skin from the chicken, wash, and pat dry. Add the chicken to the onion mixture and coat each piece completely with the sauce.  Add about one cup water to create enough sauce to cover the chicken.

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Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook about one hour until the chicken is cooked thoroughly and is tender.  Stir occasionally to make sure the sauce is not sticking to the pan.

You can remove the lid during the last 10 minutes to help reduce some of the liquid to create a thicker sauce.

Serve the stew with the red lentils (Mesir Wat) and Ethiopian Green Beans and Carrots (Fasolia). 


Berbere Spice Mix

Ingredients:

½- tsp. ground ginger
¼- tsp. cardamon
¼- tsp. fenugreek
¼- tsp. nutmeg
¼- tsp. coriander
¼- tsp. cinnamon
1/8- tsp. ground clove
1/8- tsp. allspice
1- tbls. salt
1– tbls. cayenne pepper (add less if you don’t like it too hot)
1– tbls. paprika sweet 

Directions:

Mix all together and store in a sealed jar or container.




Chicken Scallopini with Tomatoes and Capers

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Scaloppine di pollo con pomodorini e capperi

Scallopini refers to the way the meat is thinly sliced.  Scallopini is made with chicken, veal, or pork and the meat is pounded into thin slices then coated with flour and sautéed with wine and a variety of vegetables.  The dish I am presenting here is made with grape tomatoes, capers, and fresh sage leaves.  Other options, for example, are mushrooms or peppers.

Once you make it you will see how easy it is to do, and you can get creative with the ingredients that you use to make a variety of meals.

Ingredients:

8 – pieces of thinly sliced chicken cutlet (If you have a butcher you like to use, they will cut it for you)
3 – cloves garlic
2 – tbls. capers
8 – fresh sage leaves
15 – grape tomatoes
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 – cup all purpose flour
1 – cup white wine
1 – tbls. butter
2 – tbls. fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Directions:

Rinse the chicken and dry off with paper towel.  If you did not have a butcher slice the chicken for the scallopini, then place plastic wrap over the chicken and use a mallet to pound out the chicken until about 1/4 inch thick.

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken to taste.  Place some flour on a plate and dredge the chicken pieces on both sides coating it lightly.  In a large skillet pour enough extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and heat over a medium-high flame.  Peel the garlic gloves and smash them with the side of a heavy kitchen knife.  Once the oil is hot add the garlic and 4 sage leaves.  Add half of the chicken to the skillet and brown lightly on each side.  Remove the chicken and put aside.

Add the rest of the sage leaves to the skillet and more oil if needed.  Place the remaining 4 pieces of chicken in the skillet and brown lightly on both sides.  Remove the chicken and set aside.

Deglaze the skillet by pouring  in the white wine (use a good table wine), and scrape the bottom of the skillet.  Cook for about 45 seconds to burn off the alcohol.  Add the grape tomatoes (cut in half) and the capers.  Cook about 1 minute, then place the chicken back in the skillet, lower the flame to a simmer and cover.  Cook about 5 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.  Watch that the liquid does not dry out completely.  You can add a little more wine if necessary.

Remove the cover and add 1 tbls. butter to the pan to enrich the sauce. Remove the chicken to a platter and pour the sauce, tomatoes, and capers over the chicken.  Sprinkle fresh chopped parsley over top.  Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!