Tag Archives: chicken

News flash: It’s not March yet

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So last night as I was updating my calendar with all the upcoming events and appointments I need to attend, I noticed something unusual. Today is not the first day of March like I had originally thought. Nope, today is actually the last day of February. What the heck! When did February start having 29 days? What makes the year 2012 so special that it gets to have 366 days instead of the just 365? I was so confused and I immediately barked at mi mama to ask her what the deal was. She looked just as confused as I was and came to the conclusion that my Enrique Iglesias calendar must just have been misprinted. She did point out that the calendar would be correct in Spain, though, where Enrique is from because they’re 8 hours ahead. Hmmm…. yeah, so as much as I wanted to believe her explanation, I just wasn’t totally convinced. So instead I looked it up on the internet, because everyone knows Wikipedia is the source of all information. And lo and behold I found the answer I was looking for. Apparently this year, 2012, is known as a leap year which means that it gets an extra day added at the end of the month of February. This is done every 4 years in order to keep the calendar year in sync with the atronomical year. Pretty cool, huh. And here I thought it was just another day. P.S. To all my lovely single senoritas, according to the all-wise Wikipedia, it is considered acceptable for a woman to propose marriage to her favorite Chihuahua bachelor during a Leap Year… just putting it out there.

Therefore, in honor of this oh so special day, I have a delicioso recipe to share that will make you want to leap for joy and then leap into the kitchen to whip up this dish for yourself and all your loved ones. Because nothing says Happy Extra Day in February more than four lovely breasts… of chicken, that is (hey, keep it clean amigos. Mardi Gras was last week).

 Honey-Sesame Chicken Breasts and Potatoes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 yellow potatoes, cut in half then in quarters

1 large red bell pepper, cut in strips

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sesame oil

chopped green onions, for garnish

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13×9″ baking dish with cooking spray.

2) Place potatoes and bell pepper in bottom of dish. Top with chicken breasts.

3) Combine all other ingredients, except green onions, in a small bowl. Pour over chicken and vegetables.

4) Cover dish with foil and bake 40-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.

5) Serve with a side of rice and sprinkle with green onions.

6) Enjoy!

The perfect way to end those extra 24 hours in February.

You know what is a not-so-perfect way to end the day? Having to go for my evening walk to the dog park in the cold and rain. Good thing I have a cute little coat to protect my delicate fur from the harsh elements.

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From can to gourmet

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As crazy as it may sound, there are times when I just plain run out of ideas for what to cook for dinner. Yeah, I know, it’s hard for me to believe myself since I’m normally such a creative genius. I try to not cook the same things more than once, or at least not exactly the same as I have previously. I like to keep things fresh and new and keep pushing the envelope with my recipes and creations. Unfortunately, because of this attitude, I sometimes head into the 6:00 hour racking my brain for a new concept of what exactly I should cook. Last night was one of those nights. And as ashamed as I kind of am to admit, I turned to the label on the side of a Campbell’s soup can for recipe inspiration. And even more ashamed to admit that I was actually muy impressed with what I came across. Campbell’s really knows what they’re talking about when it comes to simple, easy meals. Now don’t get me wrong. I definitely did not follow their recipe completely. I still had to spice it up a bit and make it more Teeny-ified. And the results? Well, pretty darn fantastico!

Creamy Chicken and Green Bean Casserole

6 oz box Stove Top Low-Sodium Chicken Stuffing Mix

2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, trimmed

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1″ cubes

1 can low-sodium Cream of Mushroom soup

1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Cook stuffing according to package directions. Set aside.

2) Steam green beans until crisp-tender, blanch and set aside.

3) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

4) Mix condensed soup, cottage cheese, yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a 2 qt. casserole dish. Add chicken and green beans and mix well. Top with the prepared stuffing.

5) Cover and bake 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove cover and bake another 10 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

6) Remove from oven and allow to sit 5 minutes before digging in.

Couldn’t be more simple than that and yet tastes absolutely delicious. I only wish all things in life could be that easy. Like trying to figure out how to change this darn cold, snowy weather into something sunny and warm.

Maybe if I just close my eyes, I can imagine someplace just like that. Oh please, oh please, oh please….

En-chihuahua-ladas!

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I’ve always loved cooking and baking the cuisine of mi homeland, but ever since we got back from our recent trip down south, I’ve been on a total Mexican food kick. I’m talking everything from homemade salsas and guacamole (recipe to come) to my Tempeh Fajitas and Mexican stuffed Carnival Squashes (inspired by this recipe). My most recent concoction, however, was something I’ve always been somewhat intimidated by and never before had the nerve to tackle– Enchiladas. I don’t know what it was about enchiladas that always made me fear making them for mi familia. It could have something to do with their being an item that required rolling up and I lack the proper grip and dexterity such as thumbs. Or it could be due to my failed attempt at making cannoli’s three years ago for mi papa’s annual Bocce ball celebration in honor of his Italian heritage. I’ll spare you all the details but just picture a big batch of blackened fried pastry dough, a kitchen full of fire extinguisher powder and mi mama’s number of eyebrows being reduced from two to one. Not a pretty site… and the kitchen looked pretty bad too.

Whatever the reason may be, it wasn’t until two nights ago that I decided to overcome my fear and hesitation and just jump in with all four feet. And much to my amazement, they turned out to be not only incredibly delicioso, but amazingly easy as well. I made mine with chicken but they could easily be made vegetarian by either simply deleting the meat all together, or substituting a batch of chopped homemade vegan sausage or a package of tempeh or pressed tofu. The possibilities are endless. And now that I know how easy they are to make, I’ll definitely be making them again. Check one off my list of New Year’s Resolutions!

Verde Chicken Enchiladas

2 tsp canola oil

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp diced jalapeno pepper

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup fresh or frozen corn

1 cup + 1/4 cup verde picante sauce or salsa, divided

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

6 soft taco-sized flour tortillas

shredded cheddar cheese, enough to top enchiladas

Directions:

1) Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium. Add chicken, onions, bell pepper and garlic. Saute until onions are softened and chicken is no longer pink.

2) Add jalapeno pepper, tomatoes, beans, corn, 1/4 cup verde sauce and spices. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10-15 minutes.

3) Heat tortillas in microwave 15 seconds to soften. Spread remaining verde sauce on bottom of 13×9″ casserole dish.

4) Spread 1 cup of chicken mixture down the middle of each tortilla. Roll up like a cigar (or cannoli) and place in dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

5) Top enchiladas with any remaining chicken mixture.

6) Bake in pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Top with shredded cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

7) Serve with sour cream, chopped green onions, guacamole etc. and enjoy!

After overcoming this little phobia of mine, I feel like I can finally take on anything else that may cross my path. Like playing a piano concerto in front of a huge audience at Madison Square Garden this coming Sunday. Better go brush up on my ivory tickling.

The One Pot Wonder

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I’m all about the one pot meal.  Meals that only require dirtying one pot and then one plate or bowl are the essence of my being. Well, actually being adorable and modest are the true essences of my being, but one pot meals also kind of play a part. Anytime I can throw a bunch of stuff into a pot or pan and call it a meal is awesome in my book (which, by the way, will be coming out just as soon as I can find a publishing company willing to pay the right amount of money). The fewer dishes to do at the end of the night, the better. Not that I’m the one who ever has to do the cleaning up. My diminutive little paws are much to delicate to have to deal with the harsh chemicals contained in dishwashing soap. No no. We leave that job to mi mama. Deep down, I think she secretly enjoys cleaning (OCD, perhaps). Especially when it comes to loading the dishwasher. If mi papa puts an item in the dishwasher, she will smile at him sweetly, thank him for being so helpful, and then immediately rearrange the dish to her liking once he turns his back. I watch this routine play out just about every evening and it always makes me chuckle. I should videotape it one of these days– well, just as soon as I figure out how to use a video camera, that is.

But anyway, back to what I was originally talking about. Yo quiero the one pot meal. Especially on those evenings when I’m trying to make two different dinners at the same time. One of the vegetarian variety for mi mama and one of the not-so-vegetarian variety for mi papa. Even though mi papa is all about eating non-meaty dinners for the most part, every once in a while the man craves a little animal carcass. And when he does, I like to oblige. On those nights, their meals each require one pot, so I guess technically they should be called the Two Potters, but when broken down each meal still comes from only one pot. One pot per each type of meal. Got it? Hmm, that was probably more rambling and too much detail than you needed to be told. I should really cut down on the caffeine in the afternoons. It’s a slight addiction and sometimes just kind of fun to steal a couple licks of mi mama’s Chai tea when she’s not looking–especially right after I’ve licked the floor or some of my boy-dog parts… hee hee 🙂

Last night happened to be one of those nights when mi papa was really craving a meat dish and since he’s my provider and pretty much my sole reason for living (other than chef-ing and scratching myself), I was happy to acquiesce. And being the genius that I am, I managed to come up with two separate meals whose only differences were the protein sources contained within each. Other than that, all the ingredients in it were the exact same. Unfortunately, I still had to use two separate pots but sometimes there’s just no way around that. And like I said, I’m not the one who cleans up the dishes. I just give em a good licking before they go in the wash.

Chicken (or not) Butternut Squash Tagine

 2 tsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 2 cups vegan sausage, chopped into 1″ chunks

1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced

1/2 cup raisins, dark or golden

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and chicken/sausage. Saute until chicken is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.

2) Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat to low, cover and allow to simmer 15-20 minutes or until squash is softened.

3) Remove lid and serve atop a bed of cooked millet, couscous, quinoa or rice. Enjoy!

One (or two, as in this case) dirty pot and two satisfied bellies. Doesn’t get better or easier than that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be going. It’s my turn to enjoy a one pot meal.

A new spin on pasta

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Do you ever have one of those moments in the kitchen where you have no idea what the heck you’re going to cook and so you just start throwing a bunch of different things together in a skillet and then before you know it, the resulting meal ends up tasting like heaven in a big ‘ol bowl? No, just me? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me last night. After enjoying my evening carrot underneath the coffee table, I meandered back into the kitchen without any plan for what I would be making for that evening’s meal. I like to have a plan. Usually I figure it out during my morning yoga session (yes, I know I should be meditating during this time, but it’s impossible to turn my teeny chef brain off). But during this particular morning, a new Shih tzu had joined our session and I was too busy staring at her lovely tail than think about food. Although the idea of a rump roast did come to mind…

Anyway, back to dinner. I found myself standing in the kitchen without a plan or a recipe and so I did what any other culinary genius would do– created. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t (we won’t even talk about the Chocolate Chicken Piccata disaster). Luckily, in this particular instance, it worked, and now I will share the recipe with you. Forgive me if the measurements aren’t totally precise. I was too busy making magic happen than remember to write everything down.

Chicken Peanut Pasta

2 tsp canola oil

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped

1 large carrot, julienned

1 red bell pepper, julienned

3 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces

8 oz package rotini pasta

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp agave nectar or honey

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

chopped peanuts, for garnish

Directions:

1) Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse and set aside.

2) Heat the canola oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.

3) Meanwhile, steam the veggies (carrot, bell pepper and broccoli) until they turn bright in color, about 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook. Blanch under cold water and set aside.

4) In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, water, sesame oil, soy sauce, agave nectar, vinegar and ginger. Add to the skillet with the chicken. Stir to combine.

5) Add the pasta and veggies to the skillet. Stir well to combine and cover everything with the sauce. Allow to heat 4-5 minutes.

6) Portion onto 4 individual serving plates or bowls and top with chopped peanuts. Start swooning 🙂

Mi papa was all about this meal. I’m pretty sure he ate at least 3 of the 4 servings in just one sitting. Gotta love the metabolism of a young male athlete. Unlike me, who bloats up to the size stuffed burrito if I accidentally lick the floor one too many times.

I think next time I make this, I’ll try it with tofu instead of chicken. Then mi mama can do the same amount of ooing and ahhing as mi papa. Plus, we all know she adores anything with peanut butter…

Speaking of mi mama, I was looking through our spice cabinet the other day and came across something quite disturbing. Perhaps another intervention may be in order.

If you can breathe, you can slow cook

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I love my slow cooker, I really do. I pretty much possess every kitchen gadget and appliance that is sold at our local Bed, Bath and Beyond (well, except for that sweet Margaritaville machine… I’m still holding out for that one… maybe my birthday), but the slow cooker is probably my favorite and most used of all. I honestly think the slow cooker, along with an electric can opener and a Magic Bullet, should be in every kitchen of every home across the country. In fact, one doesn’t even have to have a kitchen to be able to use a slow cooker. Just an outlet and some food items with which to slow cook– and of course the patience to wait 5-8 hours for the meal to be done. I hear salmonella poisoning from under-cooked chicken is not so fun. Just ask mi mama (another reason why we don’t let her do the cooking around here).

So now that the weather has gotten much colder and the rain has decided to settle in for the next 9-10 months, my desire to bust out the slow cooker has definitely intensified. Especially on those days when I am extremely busy and know I won’t be home until after dinnertime. Wednesdays are those days for me, for sure. I have pilates in the morning, a standing lunch date with the Cock-a-poo down the street followed by a walk to the dog park, Zumba in the afternoon and then Mariachi band practice in the evening. Usually those evenings I come home exhausted and definitely not in the mood to get dinner on the table for mi mama and papa. That’s where my handy-dandy slow cooker comes in and saves the day. This past Wednesday, in particular, I got up bright and early, threw a bunch of different items from the fridge and pantry into my slow cooker and set the temperature to low before grabbing my yoga mat and heading out the door. And when I came home 7 hours later, the house smelled absolutely heavenly and my slow cooker had magically transformed some basic ingredients, into a delicious dinnertime meal.

Zesty Salsa Chicken Stew

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup salsa or picante sauce (any kind, any level of heat)

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, no-salt added, undrained

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, chopped into 2″ pieces

1 tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp red pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

2- 14.5 oz cans beans (kidney, black, pinto etc.), rinsed and drained

6 oz can tomato paste

sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped green onions (optional)

Directions:

1) Place chopped onions, bell pepper, salsa, diced tomatoes, chicken pieces and spices in slow cooker. Stir to combine.

2) Set slow cooker to low, cover and leave 6-7 hours. Do not lift lid during this time.

3) Add beans and tomato paste, stir to combine, cover and leave another 30-45 minutes.

4) Remove lid, and serve as is or over a bed of rice, quinoa, millet or couscous. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese and/or green onions and devour.

Another tasty weeknight meal that takes almost no time and effort to make. So go show your slow cooker some love and make this yummy dish right now!

I, on the other hand, must be going  in order to do some other domestic duties. I have a hot date tonight and still need to iron my new outfit. Now if I could just figure out how to turn the darn thing on….

I’m baaaaaaack!!!

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Hola mi muchachos! The TeenyLittleSuperChef is back and boy does it feel good to be in the kitchen again. Mi best amiga, Bella, and I had a wonderful time together, seeing all the sights, going for long walks in the park, licking the insides of each other’s ears… so nice to have another culinary canine genius around again. She promised me that once she finds a decent picture of herself (oh women) she will write a guest post for the blog!

Enough about my absence though, time to get back to business. So last night, after mi amiga had left for the airport, I was feeling rather sad. So sad that I began drowning my sorrows in a large bag of Greenies and baby carrots. What can I say? I’m sometimes an emotional eater. Unfortunately, not only did I fail to feel any happier after eating my 13th carrot, but I also had a big stomach ache and knew I’d probably be paying later for all that fiber I had just consumed. So I put the bags away and decided instead of bingeing, I should create a new recipe that would remind me of my lovely friend and a trip to the Greek Isles we had taken a few years ago. Ahhh Greece. What a marvelous place for two little foodies to visit and explore. From the olives to the cheeses to the Spanakopitas, we were in total Mediterranean cuisine heaven. Not to mention all the nude beaches we came across. Finally we didn’t have to feel weird about being the only ones not wearing pants.

So after looking through the contents of our refrigerator and discovering we had an unopened container of Feta cheese, I came up with a delectable Greek recipe in honor of my petite Poodle friend.

Bella’s Greek Chicken Penne

16 oz Penne pasta

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

14 oz. can artichoke hearts, marinated or just in water

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

3 tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp dried oregano

6 oz can tomato paste

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Cook the pasta in a large pot until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2) Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and chicken and cook until chicken is no longer pink.

3) Reduce heat to medium-low and add all other ingredients (including pasta) except Feta cheese. Allow to simmer 10 minutes.

4) Add cheese and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to individual bowls. Top with additional cheese if you wish. I did 🙂

Holy delicious-ness! Or as mi mama kept saying, “This meal is awesome-sauce!” (her vocabulary is very limited, as you can tell. Don’t worry, she will not be guest posting any time soon).

So the next time you’re feeling blue and the urge for Greek food suddenly hits, give this dish a try. I promise it’ll put a smile on your face. Or at least make you put down that bag of Greenies and baby carrots.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a whole lot of housework needing to be done and the maid is off for the day. If only I could find something to keep the dirt and grime off my lovely fur.

 

Ahhh, much better. Adios my friends.