Category Archives: chicken for dinner

chicken and veggie soup

It’s been a tough few weeks as I’m getting over the stomach flu. I’ve had the stomach flu twice in less than 2 weeks! My doctor recommended that I stick to soups and get lots of rest, which is what I’ve been doing (aside from the ahi tuna watermelon radish salad I had yesterday at work).  The funny thing is I start making a mental list of what I want to eat (a lot of junk food). Once the nurse said to avoid hamburgers, that’s what I started craving. Haha… I guess that’s how it is, I crave what I can’t have. In the meantime, I’m enjoying homemade soups like this one.

This is not an exact recipe but pretty close. I’ve been making chicken soup since college and it’s one of the easiest ones to make, especially if you have a rotisserie chicken. I would recommend using homemade chicken broth (recipe here) but store bought works too. It’s amazing that Costco still sells their rotisserie chicken for 4.99 after all these years.

chicken soup pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chicken and veggie soup (serves 4 hearty portions)
6 cups of chicken broth
2 small carrots, sliced
1 celery rib, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 russet potato, diced
handful of mushrooms, sliced
add other veggies (added broccoli)
2 handfuls of dried pasta or rice (used orzo)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp of sea salt (adjust the amount accordingly)
black pepper to taste

1. In a stock pot, pour in the chicken broth, add carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, herbs, and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, bring it down to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until carrots are fork tender.
2. Add your pasta or rice and other softer veggies (don’t need as much cooking time) and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so or until the pasta/rice is cooked.
3. Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.

The amount of salt you want to add is up to you. I opt for the low-sodium chicken broth to control the amount of sodium in my soup. I like adding it at the end for that reason. Hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. Sure beats a brown bag sandwich any day.

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Dr. O’s Signature Chicken Pasta

My graduate program held an end-of-the-year reception for graduates and family members and it was the job of the 1st and 2nd year grad students that volunteered were suckered into preparing food and decorations for 250. This is dinner mind you. This was my first experience in catering and I LOVED it!

My faculty member, Dr. O, taught us how to make this wonderfully simple and addicting pasta dish that I still make to this day (it’s been 6 years since I first made this). The warm, nutty flavor comes from toasting the pine nuts, which are pricey but a little bit goes a long way.

It’s also great for feeding a crowd and a lunch idea (tastes great at room temperature).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. O’s Chicken Pasta
Serves 6-8
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into strips
1 jar (8.5 oz) of sun-dried tomatoes, julienned (Trader Joe’s)
1 cup of basil
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
1/8 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 package of tortellini pasta
Salt and pepper to season

  1. Boil pasta until al dente.
  2. Drain sun-dried tomatoes and set aside the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Take stems off basil and chop into thin strips.
  4. Toast pine nuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 250F for about 5 minutes or when they brown (keep a close eye as they can easily burn).
  5. Mix pasta, tomatoes, basil, cheese, chicken, and pine nuts into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Pour 1/8 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup oil from sun-dried tomatoes, and minced garlic onto a pan over medium low heat until it boils. Immediately pour over pasta mixture and mix thoroughly.
  7. Season with salt and pepper accordingly.
  8. Serve and enjoy! Dish can be served at room temperature or warm.

I also recommend the sausage and veggie pasta for a meatier dish. For this Mother’s Day, I’ll be making lasagna for the first time (wish me luck!).

It was a big hit at my office potluck this past January. Check out the delectable spread.

work potluck jan 2014

 

 

thai green curry: a weeknight meal

photo 2

Earlier in the month, I was wandering through the farmers market on a rainy Saturday morning and came across stalks of lemongrass. That got me thinking about making green curry which one of the key ingredients is lemongrass. Since I have easy access to Asian supermarkets like Ranch 99, I was able to pick up items like coconut milk and an authentic green curry paste (see note after recipe).

This is an easy and economical weeknight dinner that takes about 30 minutes and is great the next day. If you like curry, check out my yellow curry recipe (my first blog post). It’s another easy weeknight dish.

Thai green curry (adapted from simply recipes)
serves 4
1 TB vegetable oil (canola or olive oil works too)
½ red bell pepper sliced
1 carrot, ¼ inch slices
1 small onion (or ½ medium onion) sliced
½ cup frozen peas
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
2 TB green curry paste (see description and pic below)
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
¾ cup chicken broth
1 TB fish sauce
1 TB brown sugar
¼ cup Thai basil leaves (or regular basil is ok too)
1 lime, sliced in 8 wedges to garnish (optional)

1. In a medium pot or wok on medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. To that, add 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Saute until fragrant, which will be about 20-30 seconds. Pour in about half the can of coconut milk and stir. Let the mixture simmer for about 3 minutes.
2. Add fish sauce, brown sugar, chicken broth, and remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add all the veggies and cook for about 4 minutes or until they are softened. Lastly, add the shredded chicken to heat up.
3. Turn off the heat and add fresh basil to serve. Enjoy with rice or rice noodles.

photo 1

Note on green curry paste: I recommend the Maesri brand of curry paste (amazon sells it) from Ranch 99 for about $1.59 for a 4 oz can. It’s the real deal. The ingredients are legit (like green chiles, kaffir lime, galangal, and a whole bunch of spices) and it saves you the time/hassle of buying at least 8 more ingredients to create the curry paste). Also, it’s free of MSG and other preservatives (and a product of Thailand).  Some recipes that I found have you actually make your own curry paste but I don’t think it’s necessary unless you lack access to quality Asian products.
Veggies: You can easily swap out the veggies listed above for whatever you have at home. I would recommend keeping the peas, so good! Traditionally, Thai eggplant is the main veggie in this dish but add what you like.
Also to note: some recipes call for sliced Thai chili to garnish the soup. Personally, I thought the curry had enough of a peppery kick but if you want to turn the heat up, by all means add some Thai chili but proceed with caution; the smaller the peppers, the spicier they are.

At Last Cafe

I met up with Christine, fellow blogger and former roommate at one of her favorite LB joints. I actually saw them featured on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The concept is comfort foods prepared with a lot of love and an upscale touch, using local ingredients in a local neighborhood setting. This place is a gem! It’s actually a few blocks from where Christine and I used to live. Sad that the cafe started after we moved. Here’s what we enjoyed:

polenta cakes with mushrooms and cheese– so good!

yellowtail with potatoes and veggies (special); very good

their famous brick chicken – my fav!!! They actually put a brick over the chicken to give it that nice caramelization (looks almost burnt but is sooooo good!)

If you’re gonna try this restaurant, come hungry and give yourself enough time to find street parking. Reservations are recommended. The entire restaurant is about 25 at capacity, it’s intimate in a say-hi-to-your-neighbor kinda way.

baked ginger soy chicken

If I were a book publisher, I would give this food blogger a cookbook deal for my selfish pleasure. I love her recipes as they are great for a Korean American palate. Familiar enough flavors, yet blending the Asian and Western traditions with simplicity. Her recipes aren’t fussy and they are also well described and executed. Lots of Korean or Korean inspired dishes and yet a mixture of other ethnic dishes such as Italian American. I ‘cook’ off her blog at LEAST once a week if not more. I tried this one over the weekend. Delicious. Takes some time to make and care but it’s well worth it. Enjoy!

 

baked ginger soy chicken (adapted from week of menus)
serves 8-10
16-20 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Glaze
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of sake
1/4 cup of sesame oil
3 tablespoons of ginger, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of garlic, finely chopped

In a heavy saucepan, add all ingredients for glaze together and cook until simmering, reduce heat, and maintain low simmer for about 20 minutes, then set aside. The mixture won’t be thick and syrup-y, but the glaze mixture will reduce and the flavors will be concentrated. This can be done ahead of time (save time) and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400. Heavily line a roasting pan with several layers of tin foil to prevent it from creating a burnt sticky layer that’s hard to clean. Lay the chicken thighs on the pan in a single layer. Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes, until cooked through.

Carefully brush glaze over the cooked chicken. Be generous with the glaze allowing it to fully cover the chicken. Return chicken to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. Take chicken out, flip it over and add more glaze and cook it again for another 10 minutes. Again, take it out, use whatever leftover glaze you have plus pan juices and coat the chicken well and cook for another 10 minutes. The chicken will be well coated and glossy from the glaze. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Tip: the chicken tastes better the day after you make it since it’s been soaking in the glaze overnight. Great with rice and this salad or a side of veggies.

 

Pasta for the Parents

Last weekend my sister, Alice, and I tag teamed and made a simple pasta dinner for my parents. They work in the food industry so the last thing they want to do is come home to cook a meal (they meaning my mom =) This dish is great for spring or summer because it highlights the seasonal veggies and makes good use of whatever protein you have on hand. To our surprise, our Korean food loving parents happily ate this up. Even my dad commented on how much he enjoyed the simple flavors. Happy eating! -S

Photo credit to Alice who shot this on her Canon DSLR

Simple Chicken and Veggie Pasta
Serves 6
1 lb of fusilli pasta (or penne)
1 1/4 lb of cooked chicken breast (or thighs), cut into strips (option: use leftover rotisserie chicken or sausage would great too and add some peppery flavors)
1/2 cup of chicken broth
2 TB olive oil (for cooking chicken) + 3 TB olive oil for pasta
6 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
1/4  head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1 cup)
1 lb of cherry or grape tomatoes (I used cherry), halved
1  cup of asparagus (frozen or fresh, I used frozen), cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup of fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a stockpot, boil water for cook the pasta and cook based on package instructions. Set aside. While water is boiling, preheat oven to 400F for roasting the tomatoes.
2. Cover a baking sheet (or roasting pan) with foil and pour the halved tomatoes into the pan/baking sheet. Pour a little olive oil and gently toss with your hand. Roast for 10 minutes or until bruised. (This step is optional but it emphasizes the wonderful and vibrant flavors of these mini tomatoes–you’ll be amazed! But I realize it’s an extra step).
3. Season uncooked chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and cook on a frying pan, 7 minutes on each side. Side aside for about 5 minutes or until cooled. Cut into strips.
4. Over medium heat, heat a stockpot (same one used for cooking pasta). Once heated, pour  2 TB of olive oil. Add chopped garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add cauliflower and asparagus and saute for 2 minutes or until slightly browned. Turn the heat down to medium low add chicken broth and cover with lid for 5 more minutes until the veggies are cooked (and slightly crunchy) and the broth is reduced by about half. Turn off the heat.
5. To the stockpot, add cooked pasta, tomatoes, remaining olive oil (3 TB) and gently toss and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Plate meals into pasta bowls/plates and top with basil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Thai yellow curry

My first memories of eating curry was what my mom would make from the Japanese blocks of dried curry paste (that comes in that gold paper — doesn’t it remind you of a chocolate bar?). That sweet, thick, and peppery aroma would fill the entire house with its distinct smells. I wasn’t introduced to Thai style curry until college but once I tried it, I was hooked! It was creamy, sweet, more soupy than the kind I was used to eating growing up.

I found this simple recipe and thought I’d give it a shot – my first Thai dish and a success! Looking forward to making more later this week to put to use my leftover ingredients.  Being cost conscious, I calculated that it cost a little more than $5 to make this dish for 4 servings (really cheap!).   Side note: I was surprised that my local Fresh & Easy carries coconut milk (is it because I live in a heavily Asian American community, or has Thai cuisine become a mainstream people are buying Asian staples like coconut milk?).

Thai yellow curry (Adapted from avocado & bravado)
1 TB vegetable oil
1 onion, finely minced
1 chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
1 small Thai chile, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 thumb size piece of ginger, finely minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 large red potato (or 5 small red potatoes), cut into 1″ pieces
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 – 15 oz can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Pour chickpeas into a colander. Scoop out 1/3 of the beans and mash them into a paste (with fork or some flat surface). Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and chicken and cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and chili into stockpot and stir for about a minute. Add curry powder  and stir for another 30 minutes.
3. Add potatoes and carrots and make sure they’re well coated with curry powder. Stir in the chicken broth and coconut milk, chickpeas (both whole and mashed). Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or when potatoes and carrots are tender (seems really watery when you first put in the liquids but it’ll thicken as the potatoes cook with the mashed chickpeas).
4. Season with salt and pepper accordingly.  Pour curry into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!