staying hungry : maple mustard (aka man pleasin’) chicken

People, we have a winner.

Over the past 6 months of the Dinner Challenge I’ve made some meals that were good. Parchment paper salmon and Beef and Tomato Stew come to mind. Some will stay starred and highlighted and exclamation pointed as keepers in my recipe binder – we’re talking Salsa Chicken and Chicken Stir Fry with Goat Cheese and Raspberries.

But even though we’re only half way through the year, I already know that this week’s meal is going to be my ultimate favorite. Because OH MY WORD…it’s the kind of meal that is going to appear on the table at least once a week month for the rest of my life.

And that meal is Maple Mustard Chicken. Or as the original recipe states, “Man Pleasin’ Chicken.”

Since I’m fresh out of men, I just tried it out myself. And let me tell you, it’s “Woman Pleasin’ ” too! There is no gender inequality where this dish is concerned.

But really, when I am not lacking a man, this is what I’ll feed him. All. The. Time.

Without further ado:

Maple Mustard Chicken

originally posted by Witty in the City

Ingredients:

  • About 1.5 lbs chicken breast tenders (the original recipe calls for thighs; I’m sure that would be great too but this is what I had on hand)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • fresh rosemary (DO NOT skip this! I debated cutting it because for some reason I have a hard time shelling out $1.99 for fresh herbs, but seriously, this flavor combination makes the meal, and I’m not even a huge fan of rosemary!)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 and line a medium sized baking dish with aluminum foil. Whisk together the maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar. Add chicken strips to the marinade and toss to coat. Pour strips and marinade into your lined baking dish and arrange in a single layer. Bake at 450 for 40 minutes (or until fully cooked) and baste half way through. Rest for 5 minutes after cooking and serve with roughly chopped rosemary and a spoonful of sauce from the pan.

Then, pen a song of praise for this meal…and all chickens, everywhere. It’s going to happen.

Rating:

5/5. My life has changed for the better. Thank you, Man Pleasin’ Chicken (and Witty in the City!).

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staying hungry : favorite repeat! salsa chicken! and more!

I was a whirlwind of kitchen productivity on Sunday.

Two hours yielded a decent bounty. To the tune of:

1. Salsa Chicken

Yes, this is my dinner challenge meal this week. And yes, it’s totally a repeat. But I can’t help it! I’ve been wanting to make it again ever since I made it the first time in January!

2. Lunch Salads

I came home from the farmer’s market very enthusiastic about fresh greens. So I decided to make all of my salads for the week, because, you know, that’s not crazy. In the mix: Spinach, Arugula, Beets, Blueberries, Tuna, Sheep’s Milk Feta, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Apple Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette. It just works.

3. Raspberry Peach Iced Green Tea

This was such a happy accident. I started off making peach tea but didn’t have enough tea bags. So I thought I’d just throw some raspberry bags in and call it a day. But I didn’t have enough of those either. So in went two green tea bags just for the heck of it to complete the tea bag to water ratio. And of my goodness…a star was born. So good.

4. Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies

These guys need no introduction. Please make them soon. For your own sake.

I know some people don’t enjoy cooking, but I think for me it’s active therapy. Seriously. The combination of productivity and healthy food and creativity and Sunday sports and/or good music in the background…it’s like all of my favorite things in one place. Sunday afternoons in the kitchen fill my heart up and keep me sane.

Anyone else?

staying hungry : grilled chicken salad

I blame Park Ave for this week’s dinner challenge meal.

I had a perfectly good meal planned for this week…and then I had Magnolia’s Strawberry Spinach Salad. And it was SO GOOD that it was all I could think about. And I was still planning on making my previously scheduled dinner challenge meal until F. Oliver’s changed my life. And then…it was a done deal. I had no choice but to go to Wegmans and put this week’s previously scheduled meal on hold for this beauty:

Oh my word…great decision.

Grilled Chicken Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Directions:

Start with 2 cups of spinach and arugula mix, then add sliced strawberries and grilled chicken. Sprinkle with goat cheese and walnuts and then drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Rating:

4/5. Perfect spring salad, definitely hit the spot after craving Magnolia’s fantastic rendition.

staying hungry : grilled raspberry balsamic chicken over roasted asparagus and pecan pilaf

So, I kind of cheated this week…again. But whatever, at least this one didn’t start out frozen.

Technically, these meals are supposed to be derived from recipes pulled from the endless stream of blog posts and magazines I hoard, but this recipe came straight from the aisles of Wegmans.

And I have no remorse about said circumstances because it turned out to be a darn good, though perhaps long-winded, meal.

The idea came from these places:

1. Wegmans is giving out samples of asparagus! I like asparagus. I’ve never purchased and/or cooked asparagus.
2. Asparagus = spring.
3. Chicken sounds good.
4. Oh my word what if I marinated the chicken in that dressing again??? That’s such a good idea!
5. Do I want to put it over a brown rice pilaf?
6. Do I want to put it over a roasted vegetable pilaf?
7. Do I want to put it over a wild rice and quinoa mix?
8. Do I want to put it over a brown rice pilaf?
9. Wait, did I already look at that one?
10. How long have I been standing in this aisle?
11. HEY! Pecan!
12. Man, I’ve been here for awhile.

And behold, a recipe was born.

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken over Roasted Asparagus and Pecan Pilaf

Or: Holy Goodness That Title Is Long

Ingredients:

Directions:

I’m so bad at this part. Here’s my best effort. Or an effort:

1. Marinate the chicken in the dressing for at least an hour. How much dressing, you ask? Oh, you know, that much. Enough to cover it well.

2. While the chicken is marinating, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss asparagus in olive oil, salt, and pepper and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.

3. Start the rice. Read the box. And then proceed as directed.

4. Put the asparagus in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until tender but not too tender.

5. When you have about 10 minutes of cooking time left, start grilling the chicken. Depending on the size of your cut it should only take 3-5 minutes per side to grill well.

6. Assemble: scoop of rice, a few stalks of asparagus, a few pieces of chicken.

7. Drizzle a little extra dressing on top.

8. Devour.

Rating:

4/5. I really, really, LOVE this meal – it’s 110% spring! Next time I’m adding goat cheese because I have issues and I’ll add goat cheese to basically anything. I think I’m also going to start adding this dressing to everything because oh my word…it’s so amazing. But overall: winner, winner, chicken dinner!

staying real : oh, the chicken.

(Late night last night + early morning this morning = no time to blog today. But look what was lurking in my drafts folder! Another embarrassing story showcasing my inability to function like a normal human in public! I’ve got an endless supply, really. Enjoy…and Happy Tuesday!)

This weekend I experienced my first ever bout with abandoned groceries. Which is actually surprising, seeing as how I’m really good at forgetting things. As I was leaving the store with my reusable bag I noticed that I didn’t see a separate plastic bag for the chicken anywhere. I figured the 15 year old behind the register shoved it to the bottom of the reusable bag. I had some choice mental words for him and my flattened chicken.

But alas, when I arrived at home and unpacked my bag, there was no chicken to be found, flattened or otherwise.

There was, however, plenty of crow. My apologies, Register Boy.

So back to Wegmans I went, receipt in hand, already wondering how in the world I’m going to prove that “Yes, I paid for this chicken, and no, it’s not actually at home in my crockpot at this moment.”

But Wegmans…oh, Wegmans…they were so cool. As cool as the cucumbers in their produce stands. And they were Antarctica compared to me. Because I needed to explain my situation in (too much) detail to the poor guy working at the customer service desk before he finally interrupted me to say, “Ma’am…it’s ok. Really. Happens all the time. You can go get another package of chicken.”

Then, for reasons known only unto me, I felt compelled to leave the peanut butter I had just purchased during Trip #2 behind the customer service counter as collateral. I don’t know why. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It did not seem like a good idea when I returned to the customer service desk after obtaining my replacement chicken to find a new person behind the counter (Other Guy, if you fled the scene while anticipating my return, I wouldn’t blame you) and tried to explain why I taking both a pound of chicken and a jar peanut butter for no apparent reason other than a very long, enthusiastic, exhausting story.

But at least I came home with the chicken this time.

Even though my dignity is still somewhere behind the customer service desk.

staying hungry : ginger chicken with peaches

Another week, another dinner challenge that didn’t thrill me.

Man, I’ve hit a dry spell!

But I have high hopes for next week’s selection. Although I had high hopes for this one too…

In theory, this dinner rocks. In fact, I’m so sure of it that I’m absolutely convinced I did something wrong somewhere along the way because this really should have turned out much better than it did. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it this week? I’m not sure what the problem was, but one way or another it ended up being a bit of a flop.

Ginger Chicken with Peaches

from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:

1 bag (1lb) frozen peaches

1 red onion, halved and sliced 1/4″ inch thick

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, micro planed or finely minced

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

cooked brown or white rice

For the marinade:

1lb chicken breasts

salt & pepper

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, micro planed or finely minced

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions:

1. Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper. Combine ingredients for marinade in a large zip lock bag. Add chicken and marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place frozen peaches and onions in a large bowl then add ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, vegetable oil, sesame oil, and red-pepper flakes, and toss to coat. Pour into a non-stick sprayed 9×13 casserole dish. Nestle marinated chicken into the peaches and onions, and roast until chicken is cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

Rating: 3/5. So much potential, but for some reason it just wasn’t my favorite. Bummer!

beka stays hungry : chicken stir fry with goat cheese and raspberries

IMG_2069

Oh. My. Word.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

As soon as I saw this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats I abandoned my former Diner Challenge plans for this week and switched to this recipe. I just couldn’t wait to try it!

My instincts have never served me better.

Chicken Stir Fry with Goat Cheese and Raspberries

mildly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

1 cup chicken broth

dash garlic powder

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 chicken breasts, sliced

salt & pepper

1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

1 scallion, sliced diagonally

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 bag (6oz) baby spinach and arugula

1/4 cup bottled fruity dressing – I used Annie’s Fat Free Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1 oz goat cheese (or feta cheese)

Directions:

1. Combine quinoa, chicken broth and a dash of garlic powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then cover and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer until quinoa is tender and all the broth has been mostly absorbed, about 10-12 minutes. Turn heat off and let the remainder of the liquid soak into quinoa, about 2 minutes. Fluff with fork.

2. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season chicken slices with salt and pepper. Add chicken, red onion, scallion, and minced garlic to the skillet and stir fry until chicken is cooked all the way through.

3. Add salad dressing and baby greens to the skillet and toss until wilted, about 1 minute. Divide quinoa among plates, then top with the chicken stir fry, raspberries and cheese.

Rating:

5/5. AMAZING!!! This dinner is spring. You can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be making it again (and again and again) throughout the spring and summer…and fall and winter, too.

beka stays hungry : slow cooker pineapple chicken

Me and the slow cooker? We’re tight these days. Not as tight as me and Castie, but we’re all about hanging out on the weekends for Dinner Challenge meals.

This is another meal from the 24 Day Challenge Cookbook, and another winner! I only made a few minor alterations – here’s the recipe:

Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken

mildly adapted from the 24 Day Challenge Cookbook

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces

20 oz can of pineapple chunks

1/4 cup pineapple juice (from can)

1/4 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 red onion, finely sliced

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup spinach and arugula

2 Tbsp slivered almonds (lightly browned in oven)

Directions:

Place chicken, pineapple, pineapple juice, Braggs, red pepper flakes, and onion in the slow cooker. Heat on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. Serve on top of 1/4 cup brown rice and 1/4 cup spinach and arugula mix and sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp toasted almonds on top.

Rating: A solid 4/5. If you are craving a light stir fry/Chinese option, this will definitely do it for you. And I love the subtle heat from the red pepper flakes!

beka stays hungry : applesauce chicken

Here for your dining pleasure is another non-boring 10 Day Cleanse recipe, this one straight from the 24 Day Challenge Cookbook.

IMG_1041

Clean Eating and I…we speak the same language. It’s like we were meant for each other.

Especially when that means meals like this one.

You have two preparation options: stovetop or slow cooker. I chose the path of least resistance and went with the slow cooker. When it comes to dinner, I love that path.

Here’s the low down:

Slow Cooker Applesauce Chicken:

from the 24 Day Challenge Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
  • 1 cup applesauce (No Sugar Added)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Are you ready?

Put all of the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.

DONE!

Seriously.

Rating: 4/5 – The combination of water and applesauce made the chicken so moist, and the garlic/onion/cinnamon gave it a great flavor – all with no oil or sugar! This one’s a keeper.

beka stays hungry : chicken and lentil burgers

And we’re back in the saddle again!

Sometimes success is a burnt well-done patty.

First homemade burger! Although it feels unAmerican to have my first homemade burger not feature cattle of some sort. But I’m really more of a white meat and legumes kind of gal. (And doesn’t that sound wildly attractive?)

Disclaimer: it looks more burnt than it actually was. For real.

I only made minor adjustments on this one: added green onions and made six patties instead of four. That’s all! Here’s the recipe from Everyday Food:

Chicken and Lentil Burgers

from Everyday Food, December 2011

Ingredients:

  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 3/4 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 can (15 ounces) lentils, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 English muffins, split and toasted
  • Toppings (optional), such as lettuce, tomato, and ketchup

Directions:

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until lightly golden, 7 minutes. Add cumin and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl and wipe out skillet with a paper towel. To bowl, add chicken, lentils, breadcrumbs, egg, cilantro, salt, and pepper. With your hands, mix until combined and form into 4 patties.
  2. In skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium. Add patties and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once. Serve on muffins along with desired toppings.

And The Rating:

Difficulty: Fairly Easy (Burger making = mess. Burger frying = mystery.)

Preparation Time: Fairly Quick (See above.)

Dumpster Dinner, Not Bad, Good, Really Good, or Unbelievably Amazing: Really Good! The recipe says the cumin is optional…but it’s totally not. It’s essential to the flavor, and even with the cumin I wished for a bit more profound flavor profile.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5. I really liked these, but it wouldn’t be the first recipe I’d go back to when pondering what to make for dinner.