Shake and Bake Chicken Nuggets

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What do you do when you are carving McDonald’s chicken nuggets but are trying to eat healthy? Apparently, get some shake and bake?!

I’ve never used Shake and Bake– my only experience comes from watching Charlie’s Angels, so I was skeptical at first, but this chicken nuggets tasted like a chicken nuggets! They may not be the “chicken” from McDonalds but it tastes pretty good and is healthier.

Quincy definitely approved.

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Get the recipe here!

Chicken, Shrimp, and Andouille Gumbo

 

When cooking there are a few dishes that I am convinced can’t be made as good in my kitchen as in restaurants. Or I’ve tried to make a dish and failed every time.

Gumbo was always one of those dishes. I was just convinced that it would be 1) too much work with making a roux and 2) just not taste as good despite my efforts. Well, one day something convinced me to try a Gumbo recipe. It was from Cook’s Illustrated, which is my one recipe source that can gives me hope that it will turn out. But then it was a lightened up/healthier gumbo, so I was skeptical all over again. Anyone who knows gumbo is that “light” is not typically a word you read to describe it.

Well, don’t be skeptical about this recipe. This is not a traditional roux in any sense, but it is so much easier and the taste is spot on. I have adapted a few things based on what ingredients I have had around

 

Pastina Soup

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For a long time, I was a staunch believer that a soup is not a meal.

But as a lot of my food obsessions go, out of no where I was craving soup one day. So I had some. And then I had some more. The bf didn’t complain when we had lots of soup for dinner, even during sweltering summer, since he had been a soup-lover in a food desert since our relationship started.

So I have made broccoli and cheese, french onion, gumbo, and more. This pastina soup is a soup my bf has talked about in great awe as a food from his family. I was lucky enough to get to travel up and try the soup, and I was hooked in its simplicity. It is an Italian style chicken noodle soup. Made from scratch, it is a perfect dinner as a chill starts to come in the air.

PASTINA SOUP

INGREDIENTS

For the Chicken Stock:
Water
1 whole chicken*
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped

For the Pastina Soup:
1/2 onion
1 carrot
2 celery stalks
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup pastina or other small pasta
Chicken from stock, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

For the Chicken Stock:

Place chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Put on low heat (the water should bubble occasionally and produce steam only). Cook for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook for another 2 hours. Strain stock into large bowl.

For the Pastina Soup:

Grate onion, carrot, and celery. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery stalks. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2-4 minutes. Stir in stock and bring to a boil. Stir in pastina and cook for 4-6 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper (will need a significant amount since stock is unseasoned, make sure to taste). Cook until chicken is warmed through. Serve and top with grated parmesan cheese.

From Cinnamon Freud

*You can use any combo of chicken or reserved chicken bones for the stock. I have done this with a whole chicken, with wing tips mixed with old bones, and more. Just make sure to have chicken to put in the soup! Same thing with the veggies, you can use scraps of veggies that you have saved too and can add in other veggies and herbs.

Chicken Souvlaki

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Why is grilling a summer event?  Is it logical  to stand in front of a big metal contraption that is 100+ degrees when it is already 100+ degrees outside? And then you have to run in and outside, thus making your AC fight an even harder uphill battle to keep your house somewhat cool/bearable. And mosquitoes?  It takes approximately 5.3 seconds for my to get 6 separate mosquito bites, 3 of them in places that I swear was covered with clothing.  So basically grilling leads to me getting felt up by mosquitoes…and it’s the most action I have gotten in a while.

So you’ll see me this winter in my long underwear (…I promise to wear real pants too) grilling defiantly.  And these summer months you will see me inside standing in directly front of my AC vent in an attempt to get somewhat cool. (Except I won’t be grilling at all since I don’t have a grill, but that is another story entirely.)

Moral of this complaining rant: use a grill pan so you have AC in summer and heat in the winter and grill marks on your food.  Unless you want to stand outside in the heat.  Now that I have solved that problem, let me tackle that one little issue called world peace.

This chicken is light and refreshing, perfect for summer.  Warm, grilled chicken pairs well with cool yogurt and crispy cucumbers.  It will taste wonderful whether you grill it inside or outside. You can go through the entire process of marinating and such, but I won’t lie, sometimes I just splash a mix of the marinade in the pan while I cook the chicken and call it a day.

And looking back at this post I think I may understand why I am single and get those desperate spam e-mails for online dating: I complain a lot, get felt up by mosquitoes, and wear long underwear.  But I can cook! Come and get it, boys.

CHICKEN SOUVLAKI
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

For the Chicken:
1-1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into approximately 4 ounce pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Tztaziki Sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried dill
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Special tools: cheesecloth/tea towel

For Serving:
Wild Rice
Green onions, sliced

DIRECTIONS

For the Chicken:

In a large ziploc bake or baking sheet, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dill, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Add chicken and shake/stir to cover completely.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight).

Prepare your grill.  Grill chicken for 3-5 minutes per side until cooked through (will depend on the thickness of your chicken breast).

For the Tzatziki:

Secure a cheesecloth over a measuring cup.  Spoon yogurt on top.  Refrigerate and let yogurt drain for at least 3 hours.

Place cucumber on a layer of paper towel.  Salt cucumbers and let sit for at least 20 minutes.  Transfer cucumbers to a tea towel and squeeze to remove water.  Transfer drained yogurt from cheesecloth to a large bowl.  Add cucumbers, red wine vinegar, dill, and garlic.  Mix to combine.  Drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper to taste.
For Serving:
Place chicken on top of rice.  Spread Tzatziki sauce on top.  Garnish with green onions.
If desired, put remaining marinade in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Serve on top of chicken.

Chicken Pot Späetzle

I love chicken pot pie, but sometimes I just don’t feel like messing with the oven, pie crust, and all the work a pot pie entails.  And I often have problems with my chicken pot pie recipe getting thick enough (I hope Ina Garten doesn’t put a hit out on me now…).  So this is a quick and dirty pot pie replication with a little of chicken and dumplings mixed in.

Instead of crust, I made some homemade späetzle, which is mix of doughier egg noodle or a smaller dumpling.  Basically, it’s hearty, stick to your bones, warm deliciousness.  Throw in browned chicken, and the traditional pot pie vegetables.  Then mix it all together with a thick chicken pot pie gravy (that is the perfect thickness).  Or here is a great idea that I have also tested out: use your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving instead of chicken.  It will taste especially great if you are tired of turkey sandwiches.

I love this dish, but I may still have to make myself a pie crust every now and then to be able to make it through life.  Maybe I will eat this for dinner and apple pie for dessert- problem solved.

CHICKEN POT SPÄTZLE
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS

For the Spätzle:
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

For the Chicken and Gravy:
1 tablespoon butter, divided
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces chicken, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 carrots, chopped
2/3 cup frozen peans
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken stock, divided
Fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS

For the Spätzle:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.

In a bowl, whisk egg, milk, flour, white pepper, salt, and black pepper together. To make the späetzle use a cheese grater or strainer. Place or hold strainer/grater over boiling water. Pour batter into strainer/grated and press with the back of the spoon to force through. Allow batter to drop into boiling water in small pieces. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining batter.  Set aside.

For the Chicken and Gravy:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and add onion.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5-6 minutes, until light browned.  Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and chicken.  Brown until no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes.  Stir in carrots and peas and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Set aside and keep warm.
In a small sauce pan, whisk together flour and 2 tablespoons of chicken stock to form a paste.  Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Whisk in remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 4-6 minutes, until thickened.  Stir in chicken mixture and spätzle
Serves 2.

Strawberry and Chicken Poppy Seed Salad

It is official: I am no longer a working girl.  Well, at least for the next few weeks anyway. This past Friday was my last day working as a front desk worker at urology practice.  I got to work with some fun people who I’m going to miss, and I’ve learned also learned a little bit about urology, medical insurance, and the working world.
One thing I learned about being a working girl is that some days you just come home plum tired and burnt out.  And on those nights you are just not into making dinner for yourself.   Those nights are the nights when you constantly ask yourself “How many more days until the weekend?”.  Those are the nights when you should make this salad.  While some chopping is involved, this salad is simple, fresh, and filling. The faster you eat dinner, the fast you get to go to bed and get some sleep, right?
Before we get to the recipe, I have an announcement: Cinnamon Freud is now on FacebookPintrest, and Instagram!  For those of you who are so inclined to learn more about my food centric life musings, hit me up there!
STRAWBERRY AND CHICKEN POPPY SEED SALAD
Inspired by Panera Bread
Vinaigrette adapted from How Sweet It Is
INGREDIENTS

For the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:
4 strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Pinch of salt

For the Salad:
4 cups spinach
8 ounces cooked chicken, sliced
1 cup chopped pineapple
8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup toasted pecans

DIRECTIONS

For the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:
In a large measuring glass, combine strawberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey.  Using an immersion blender or a food processor, process until is reaches the desired consistency, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt and poppy seeds.  Chill in fridge for at least 20 minutes until ready to use.
For the Salad:
In a large bowl combine spinach, chicken, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, and pecans.  Pour strawberry poppy seed vinaigrette over top.  Toss.
Serves 2 as a main dish.

Brown Sugar Chicken with Balsamic Mushrooms and Mango

My name is Karen, and I have a problem.  I have a sweet tooth.

I have accepted that this is my lifelong trait to bear and that I will always choose dessert over dinner, sweet over salty (or salty and sweet together!).  I could eat cookies for breakfast, cake for lunch, and pie for dinner and be a happy camper.  So, when I came across a recipe that combines chicken and sugar for dinner, I knew I would like it.  A way to have sugar for dinner?  I’m in.

The chicken is soft and juicy with a crispy brown sugar crust.  The balsamic vinegar brings great acidity with the meatiness of mushrooms and the tender mango.  A strange cast of bedfellows, but I promise the combination is delicious.

BROWN SUGAR CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC MUSHROOMS AND MANGO
From Cinnamon Freud, Inspired by Fake Ginger
INGREDIENTS
4 chicken breasts, pounded thin
Flour, for dredging
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cups sliced mushrooms
2 medium mango, chopped
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
DIRECTIONS
Season about 1/2 cup of flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken breasts, until lightly coated.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Coat pan with olive oil.  Add chicken breast to pan and cook for 5-7 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken) then flip.  Spread brown sugar on top of the chicken.  Cover chicken breast with lid and cook 5-7 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and brown sugar has melted.
While chicken cooks, heat another large pan over medium heat.  Coat pan with olive oil and add mushrooms with a pinch of salt.  Cook 7-10 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through and no liquid remains.  Add mango and balsamic vinegar.  Toss to combine and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.  Serve chicken over top mushroom mango mixture.
Serves 4.

Teriyaki Glazed Drumsticks

So apparently there is this great American tradition that everyone loves to do on Sunday and Monday nights.  It’s called football- have you heard about it?

I am not a sports fan by any means, but I do love food.  I am definitely one of those people whose only interest in sports is the food that is eaten while watching.  Chips, dip, cracker, pretzels, wings- such good food is served with that background noise of a sports game.  This food becomes perfectly acceptable for dinner if you happen to be watching men run around a field with a ball on television.

This is a healthified version of chicken wings that can be enjoyed during a sports game guilt free. They are sticky, tender, and delicious.  Fantastic finger food and great served with summer rolls.

TERIYAKI GLAZED DRUMSTICKS
Adapted Slightly from Skinnytaste
INGREDIENTS

Olive oil
16 drumsticks, skins removed
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
3 tablespoons honey
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Sriracha
Sesame seeds, for topping

DIRECTIONS

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Coat with olive oil.  Brown chicken wings, about 5 minutes per side.  Pour balsamic vinegar, teriyaki sauce, honey, garlic, and Sriracha into pan.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove cover and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, until sauce is thickened.  Remove chicken from pan.  Pour remaining sauce over top.  Top with sesame seeds.