Lemon-Pesto Chicken and Pasta

Every once in a while, I decide that what I’m having is good… but it could be better. Take Safeway’s lemon capellini salad. It is tasty. It is one of the few things I will eat containing capers. But sometimes, it needs a little… je ne sais quoi. So, I indulged myself.

As a side note, I would add cut up fresh tomatoes and capers to this, but the husband is no more a fan of them than I am. In fact, he’s not a fan of fresh tomatoes at all, whereas I love them.

DISCLAIMER: All amounts are guesses. Some are more of a guess than others. Most liquids were “a splash or two”, and most seasonings were “mmkay, looks good…”. Just remember that.

You’ll need:

~1.3 lb boneless skinless chicken breast.
~6 oz rotini (or other types of pasta, but rotini holds the flavor well)
lemon juice
olive oil
pesto
~1/4 tsp salt
~1/2 tsp pepper
~1 tsp dried oregano
~1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic paste (roughly 1 medium clove of garlic, minced)

Directions:

Cut chicken breast into bitesize pieces and brown in skillet, using olive oil or cooking oil (a couple tablespoons) and around 1/4 cup lemon juice. When cooked, coat with the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and ~1.5 tablespoons pesto.

Cook and drain pasta such that it is a little softer than al dente. Add roughly 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1.5-2 tablespoons pesto. Mix until coated.

Serve chicken over pasta with your choice of cheese (I recommend something like parmesan, romano, etc.). Goes well with steamed veggies of most kinds, as well as white wine.

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A Dish for Any Meal: The Versatile Frittata

Okay, so it’s probably not an actual frittata. I have only one good frying pan, and while I’m pretty sure it’s oven safe… I have only one good frying pan.

It all started with the usual: me pondering what a good, quick-pack meal would be for my weekday lunches. Something pre-made, obviously, and something I could eat for other meals if I wound up not eating it for lunch.

I was tired of just veggie/meat dishes, and nothing with legumes was jumping out at me, and then, I remembered that one of my favorite Starbucks breakfasts is the spinach-feta wrap. The one with the egg white.

But I didn’t want any bread.

Heyyyy, frittata!

I went on a grocery run later that evening, and within fifteen minutes, my kitchen smelled like heaven and within an hour, I had an easy meal for the next four days.

The ingredients I used:

  • Open Nature chicken sausage with sun-dried tomatoes and provolone
  • arugula
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • common white mushrooms (fresh)
  • sun-dried tomatoes (mine were jarred with oil and herbs)
  • diced red, yellow, and green pepper
  • cayenne, black pepper, oregano, basil, and the Spice and Tea Exchange’s “Italian Street Fair” seasoning

The instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Dice the mushrooms and chop the sausage (I used 2 of the 4 sausages in the pack). Sauté the diced pepper, mushrooms, and sausage for seven or so minutes in two or three teaspoons of olive oil with a bit of garlic powder. Let sit. Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add two handfuls of washed arugula, and a half-handful of your cheese of choice. Add a few sun-dried tomatoes (I used maybe 7 halves). Stir. Pour in the sauté and stir again. Pour into a greased casserole dish–mine was a shallow 9 x 9 square. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top, and add a few shakes of each seasoning/spice/herb. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on how done you like your eggs.

I’ll confess, I had a bite while packing my first serving away to grab tomorrow morning. It was delicious. 10/10; would make again.

Meal in a (taco) bowl: Salsa-chicken mix

So… I need quick-pack lunches. Badly.

Salads are normally my go-to, but sometimes, I get bored of tossing lettuce (well, more recently, broccoli slaw) with some or all of the following: bell pepper (roasted or raw), tomato, carrots, celery, avocado, olives, and lunch meat. Oh, and also some manner of dressing, usually vinaigrette.

As much as I can do with it, it just gets boring.

I’d recently bought some Safeway Kitchens fire-roasted salsa, not knowing what I was going to do with it. I’d also picked up 3 bell peppers–one each of red, orange, and yellow.

On the walk back from the bus stop (got off one early to get in some walking on such a nice day!), it hit me: fiesta bowl!

I stopped into the grocery store to grab two grilled chicken breasts and a large avocado.

I chopped up the avocado and peppers, shredded the chicken, and tossed that together with the can of salsa. (Probably a 15-oz can–I’ve recycled it, good Seattleite that I am, and composted the leftover veggie bits. Yeah, I’m good.) I then smeared a bit of that on a tortilla and put some shredded cheese on that and microwaved it. I probably could have actually made a taco bowl (or 6) out of the mix, but I tried it as a burrito first.

The results were 100% delicious. Also messy. Very, very messy. And very, very worth it.

So, for those of you who want an actual recipe-format recipe…

Chickadoodle’s Taco Fiesta Bowl Mix… Stuff

1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 large, ripe avocado (firm-ish, just a bit of give to the touch)
2 medium-ish grilled chicken breasts
1 can Safeway Kitchens fire roasted salsa (~15 oz) or similar

Wash, seed, and chop the peppers. Cube the avocado. Chop or shred the chicken. Toss that in an at least 4-cup container with the salsa. Spread as a burrito filling or use as a dip or its own salad. Top with shredded cheese if desired. As always, enjoy. (If you don’t, you’re probably doing it wrong.)

Cooking with Chickadoodle: Roasted Bell Peppers

So, like any normal, sane, and decent person, I love bell peppers.

Okay, like any person who likes bell peppers, I… like bell peppers.

I love ‘em in salad, on pizza, as an appetizer on a veggie tray, and most other normal ways they can be eaten. They don’t even have to be raw! I love them pickled, stir-fried, barbequed, and oven-roasted.

So, often enough, long about this time of the year, when the weather turns cold, I will get some bell peppers from the store and roast them.

I don’t really do anything special—it’s about a 45-minute process total, but dagnabbit, they turn out so tasty!

So, here’s my prep, complete with pictures.

First, I foil-line my pans, even the non-stick ones. Bell peppers stick. I also coat the foil with a thin layer of olive oil. Then, I cut the bell peppers into chunks and place them skin-down on the foil.

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After that, I pour a little more olive oil on the peppers, as well as some “Italian Street Fair” from the Spice & Tea Exchange. I stir the peppers to coat them.

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Next, I add some pepper, thyme, basil, and rosemary and stir some more, and put the peppers in at 425 F for 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes, I check and stir the peppers, then set the timer for another 20 minutes.

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Tasty!

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So many salads…

I’m trying to eat healthier. It’s not that hard–I like my fruits and veggies. But still, keeping it creative can be a little challenging.

My sausage-veggie bake is a pretty good start, and is great for winter.

But during these warm summer months, it’s nice to not heat up my kitchen.

This is where salad comes in.

I love salad. There is so much to do with it.

So, without further ado, here are two of my more recent creations:

Greek-style salad with French flair:
Combine and toss:
–a bed of Safeway’s fresh herb salad mix
–5-6 dry salame nuggets, cut into chunks
–black olives
–1 small-ish roma tomato
–an agreeable amount of cucumber
–half an avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
–Safeway’s cucumber-tzatziki dressing
–crumbled chevre (just found out this is a thing, OMG…)

Green fusion salad:
Combine and toss:
–a bed of Safeway’s fresh herb salad mix
–5-6 dry salame nuggets, cut into chunks
–red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size chunks
–1 small-ish roma tomato
–an agreeable amount of cucumber
–half an avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
–Private Selection (QFC/Fred Meyer) miso orange sesame dressing
–crumbled chevre (just found out this is a thing, OMG…)

You may have noted, these salads have many ingredients in common.

I love the herb salad mix, but I think the second salad might do well with some dried noodles and some cabbage instead, and the tomato could be removed. Grilled salmon or chicken would substitute well for the salame, and it could be grilled teriyaki chicken or salmon in the second salad, and lemon and pepper for the chicken in the first salad. Both could stand the addition of snap peas. You could substitute pretty much any crumbled or cubed cheese for the chevre, or remove it entirely in the second salad.

The point? The possibilities are endless…

French Breakfast Muffins, à la Chickadoodle

So, Betty Crocker has a recipe for some incredibly tasty muffins.

I have made these particular muffins many times. Only once did I fail, omitting the leavening completely and turning out dense disks of nutmeg-y goodness. I still call them my fail muffins in a somewhat affectionate way. (I think it was the time after that when I was making Betty Crocker coffee cake that I managed to triple the baking powder when doubling the recipe. That was the day I learned how to clean an oven. Also, all the new recipes use Bisquik. Much as I love the stuff, it does not belong in coffee cake.)

But, per the usual, I make them… a little differently.

Muffin ingredients:
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1.5 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or 3/4 or a full teaspoon. I like ’em nutmeg-y.)
1/2 cup milk

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or 1.5 or 2 teaspoons. I like ’em cinnamon-y.)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted (1/4 cup is usually plenty, I find)

Directions
Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 15 medium muffin cups, 2 1/2×1 1/4 inches.
Mix shortening, 1/2 cup sugar and the egg throughly in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg alternately with milk. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. brush tops of hot muffins immediately with melted butter, then dunk thoroughly in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve hot.

My dad, however, is the champion of eating these muffins. He will cut off the top and eat it, then put the left over cinnamon and sugar on it. This is a good idea.

Supposedly easy cinnamon rolls

Okay, I really shouldn’t slam these so hard–they were pretty easy (the only non-easy bit was entirely my own fault), and they do taste pretty good. They’re no-yeast, so use them only if you want dense, cake-y cinnamon rolls.

The original recipe I used for all the non-icing bits can be found here, though the directions are a little hard to read, as they combine the ingredients for filling and the dough itself. I’m simplifying them here:

To make the filling:

In a small-ish bowl, mix

1/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Combine with 1 Tbsp. melted butter (this recipe uses 1/2 c. total) and mix until butter is evenly distributed. (Original recipe says until all parts are “equally moistened”–basically, mix it good.)

To make the dough:

Mix the following in a large-ish bowl

1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (you’ll need more for rolling out the dough)
1/8 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

In a > 1 c. measuring cup, mix

1 1/4 c. butter milk (original recipe explains how to clabber milk if you have no butter milk and don’t know what to do about it)
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the solid ingredients and mix until a “shaggy” dough forms. Knead with hands until smooth–approximately 30 sec. The recipe says that the dough will be sticky. It’s wrong; it will try to eat your hands. You have been warned.

Put it all together…

Clean your hands. Spread some (read: a LOT of) flour on a surface large enough that the dough can be patted into a 9″ x 12″ rectangle.

Butter a pan large enough to hold 8 or 12 rolls (this recipe makes 8 large, or 12 medium, which I found out rather by accident after I cut it into 12 rolls instead of 8). To give you an idea, a 9″ x 13″ is way too large, but a 9″ cake round works for 8 rolls.

Heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Pat out the dough into a 9″ x 12″ rectangle, making sure that the dough is of even thickness everywhere. (I didn’t take quite the precautions I should have. This resulted in much cursing, and in a very Victorian novel way. Guess what I’ve been reading lately?) Brush it with 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Pat the filling firmly on the dough–it shouldn’t absorb it, but the layer should be even and should stay somewhat when you roll the dough. Make sure you leave a 1/2″ border around the edge of the dough.

Roll the dough from one long side to the other. (i.e. If you were folding, you’d be folding “hot dog” style vs. “hamburger” style.) Pinch the seam to seal the roll. Cut the log into 8 or 12 rolls; whichever amount you want to make. Brush the tops with 2 Tbsp. melted butter, and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden-brown.

Now, for the fun part: the icing.

I used this recipe for sour cream icing, as I had a spare 1/2 cup of sour cream lying around. As I learned, though, unless you want to absolutely smother 12 rolls in a thick enough layer of icing to make the most placid and lethargic of children bounce off the walls, halve the recipe. (I wound up using about 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar for a full batch that was rather more thick and frosting-y than viscous, by the way.)

Spread it on the just-done rolls and serve.