Chicken Caprese

The painting in the pic above is titled “Peg’s Produce” and is by the amazing Kristin Gibson, reflecting this wonderful season of the freshest fruits and vegetables here in Eastern North Carolina. So look forward (and backward) to lots of postings including strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, corn, and so on… so here we are with luxury on a budget. This is the essential summer staple of caprese, with the added bonus of extra protein with a chicken breast. American Made! Yummy all the way down to the Tummy.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
3 Tbs olive oil  
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper 
12 cherry tomatoes
3 Tbs basil paste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, thinly sliced 
Torn fresh basil for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in small bowl.
Pour half on bottom of casserole dish.
Add chicken, and top with remaining oil mixture.
Place cherry tomatoes around chicken.
Bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Brush with 1Tbs basil paste.
Sprinkle on mozzarella.
Top with sliced tomatoes.
Top tomatoes with more basil paste.
Return to oven and bake another 15 minutes.
Remove and allow to rest 5 minutes.
Slice on the diagonal.
Top with fresh basil.
Serves 4 with a side of vegetable and starch.

Pistachio and Halloumi Crusted Chicken

Hello Dinner!

“We’re not losing a lifestyle;
We’re gaining a new place in which to live.”
I can’t find who wrote this, but it’s been in my quotation book for quite a while. But how relevant for our reentry in to the social world today, as we become vaccinated and begin to gather with a couple of pals now. Remain cautious, safe, and well my friends!

And remember, Friday brings Suzi, her amazing story, and her incredible Strawberry Bread!

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup shredded Halloumi cheese
1/4 cup Panko
Zest of a lemon
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbs light mayonnaise
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400°.
Coat small cooking pan with nonstick spray.
Drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil.
In small bowl, stir together pistachios, cheese, panko, and lemon zest.
Salt and pepper the under side of chicken breasts, and place that side down in baking pan.
Salt and pepper the top side.
Brush mayonnaise evenly all over the chicken breasts.
Sprinkle with the pistachio mixture, and press to adhere.
Drizzle oil over breasts.
Add tomatoes around edges of chicken breasts.
Bake 30 minutes until internal temperature is 165°.
Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serve with lemon slices on the side.
*This pistachio topping is also excellent on mahi or halibut.
Reduce cooking time to 8 to 12 minutes for fish.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Polenta and Cherry Tomatoes

Wake up Monday…I’m here to put some well being in to your day. The last couple of weeks I took some personal time to try a few recipes that I have seen on Food Network, daytime talk shows, and in magazines. I went straight by the recipes (well, for the most part)! It was fun, mindless cooking, with the recipe front and center, rather than analyzing and creating. So remember the Buddy System and pass it on; be sure to tag the source if you post it on the Insta. This first one is from Katie Lee Biegel, as seen on The Kitchen a couple of weeks ago. Kicks you happily in the back of the throat and keeps you smiling. Simply put, it’s simple but not simplistic. How’s that for using a “root” word thrice in one sentence…grammar baby! Ha!

Nonstick cooking spray, for the baking dish
1 lb tube polenta, sliced 1/2″ thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
2 t Italian seasoning* 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving 
6 cloves garlic 
1 pint cherry tomatoes (a slight break from Katie’s recipe, because this is what I had on hand)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Place 5 slices of polenta in an even layer on the bottom of the baking dish.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 Tbs olive oil.
Place the chicken breasts on top of the polenta slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top each with the Italian seasoning* and Parmesan.
Arrange the garlic cloves and tomatoes around the chicken.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 4 Tbs olive oil.
Bake until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes.
Garnish with Parmesan and olive oil to taste.
Serve warm.

*If you don’t have premixed Italian Seasoning, simply combine and whisk together the following:
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried rosemary

Katie’s cookbooks always find their way to the top of my browsing pile! And her newest book It’s Not Complicated comes out in March. Can’t Wait!

Chicken Tenders, the Homemade Way!

I scream. You scream. Children scream for chicken tenders. Homemade that is. My three grands and another darling two year old all enjoyed these for Sunday brunch at Rock Dam (affectionate name of a fun filled home and kitchen)! Yep three generations gathered strongly; the grandparents of these lucky grands have been friends since ’round about the sixth grade. Nurturing relationships of long standing and building new ones, baby. That’s what we’re doing! Good food, good fun. (I’ll have to feature Gray’s veggie/egg strata soon!) But back to the chicken tenders…Yummy. Let’s just say that I bet you will never rarely serve your child or loved one a processed chicken product again.

Entree Chicken Gurmet Chicken Tenders I

Sautéing in light olive oil. You don’t even want to see an image of my very messy breading station!

1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup fine dried breadcrumbs
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 t granulated garlic
1 t dried oregano
Olive oil or vegetable oil, for shallow frying
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (nice culinary term)

Place flour in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper.
In another shallow dish, whisk eggs.
In a third shallow dish, mix panko, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, granulated garlic and oregano.
In a large, shallow skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium-high.
Coat the chicken in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumb mixture.
When oil begins to ripple, add half the chicken.
Cook until deep golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer to paper towels or wire rack to drain.
Repeat with remaining chicken.

Serve with condiments of choice. I personally like mine dripping with honey!

Entree Chicken Gurmet Chicken Tenders II

Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup

Sunday Soup Day! Or Any Day of the Week is Soup Day (for Me)!  This is a Software Update for Your Palate. Sleep In and Then Whip This up in a Nano Minute. Trust Me!

I made this for my nephew a few weeks ago when he was recovering from a summer case of pneumonia…cured his ills…may cure yours too!

Soup Summer Lemon Chicken Rice Soup II
1 Tbs olive oil
2 leeks, white and pale green parts, rinsed, halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
4 celery stalks, sliced crosswise
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 3 lemons
Breast meat of rotisserie chicken, chopped
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.
Add leeks and celery, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes, until tender.
Bring broth to a boil over medium high heat in large soup pot.
Add orzo and cook 2 minutes less than package directions.
Remove pot from heat.
Stir in cooked onion and celery, salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, chicken, and dill.
Cover pot and allow to stand 10 minutes.

Serve with lemon slice as garnish.

Chicken Soup with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings

Soup. Owned.

Everyone knows I could eat soup for every meal. Make this yummy chicken and dumplings (with a twist), and call your best friend. Some things are simply worthy of passing down, and this one will not disappoint! It’s a one bowl wonder; no need for bread on the side – it’s right there in the soup just looking up at you. Licking my lips.soup-chciken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings-iv

Here’s your grocery list:
1/4 cup salted butter, divided
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
8 stalks celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided
8 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 t kosher salt
Breast meat of a rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup coarse plain yellow cornmeal
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t lemon salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme

Now, here’s your “how to”:
Melt 2 Tbs of butter in soup pot over medium high heat.
Add carrots, celery, and onion.
Cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 6 minutes.
Add 2 Tbs of flour.
Stir to combine, and cook 2 minutes.
Add half of broth, bay leaf, and 1/2 t salt.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in remaining broth, and chicken.
Remove pot from heat.

In medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, lemon salt, black pepper, and remaining 1/2 cup flour.
Cut remaining 2 Tbs butter into flour mixture with pastry blender, until it resembles coarse meal.
Add buttermilk, parsley, and thyme.
Stir just until dough is moistened.

soup-chciken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings-iiHeat soup pot over medium heat.
Roll dumplings into 10 to 12 balls.
Drop dumplings 1/2 to 1 inch apart into soup mixture.
Cover and cook until dumplings are done, and dry to touch, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Initially they will appear to be breaking apart.
Leave them alone and they will be just fine.
Serve immediately.
Serves 6.

Next stop, Bangkok! Crossing borders. Taking cooking lessons as we venture to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Um hmm. Coming home with new talents to share. Can’t wait. Bet you can’t either!

Strawberry Chicken and Spinach Salad

Ha Hump Day! Hooking you up with a delicious nutritious midweek, or anytime really, supper. And at a mere 300 calories per serving, go ahead and have seconds. This works beautifully with blueberries as well. So choose your fruit and race to the kitchen. Leave your love life to chance…but not your cooking!

Entree Salad Strawberry Chicken

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 t honey
1/2 t chopped fresh thyme
1/4 t kosher salt, divided
1/2 t black pepper, divided
2 cups halved strawberries, divided
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 t paprika
Cooking spray
4 cups fresh baby spinach
3 Tbs chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Whisk together 1 Tbs olive oil, vinegar, honey, thyme, 1/8 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper in medium bowl.
Add 1 cup halved strawberries, tossing to coat.
Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes.
Heat medium skillet over medium high.
Brush chicken with remaining oil.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika.
Coat skillet with cooking spray.
Add chicken, and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove chicken from skillet.
Let stand 5 minutes.
Cut across the grain into slices.
Divide spinach, and 1 cup strawberries between 4 plates.
Lay chicken evenly across spinach.

Top with strawberry balsamic mixture.
Sprinkle with pecans and feta.

A Fantastic Celebrity and Thai Evening!

Peg Brenton CocktailsBrenton and I donned our finest frocks and jewels a few days ago. We were fortunate enough to be guests of Schuyler at the White House Correspondents Cocktail Party, (she’s obviously the most amazing Advertising Sales gal with the Wall Street Journal) . Thank you darling friend for a wonderful evening. It all began with champagne and marvy cheese at Schuyler’s gorgeous condo with a few lucky friends, also attending, due to her graciousness. We walked into the gala on the famed red carpet and were star struck thrilled from the get go, to see so many political and Hollywood celebs.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabulousness and Deliciousness! After we had our fun hobnobbing with the elite we ventured to the newly opened Mango Tree in the striking CityCentreDC. where we ordered a LOT of their offerings to sample. It was all amazingly presented. If you live in the area…get yourself there asap! We had green curry chicken; but I’ll share my red curry chicken recipe, compliments of our chef in Istanbul. We also had their vege spring rolls (the lightest and best ever) and their wonderful  tom kha gai (Thai Chicken Soup). I have attempted this recipe twice since I returned home. I think I have it now…altho not nearly as wonderful as Chef Richard Sandoval’s version…I mean he’s rather great, right?!

Pre Red Chili Sauce

Pre Red Chili Sauce- perfectly fine served like this if you like a mild soup.

Breast meat of 1 roasted chicken, sliced as thinly as possible
2 cans coconut milk
3 cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
12 quarter-size slices fresh ginger
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 Tbs fish sauce
2 1 t sugar
2 t Thai chili paste
1 Tb chili oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

With Thai Chili Sauce, stirred into Soup...Spicy!

With Thai Chili Sauce, stirred into Soup…Spicy!

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, and lemongrass.
Bring to boil over high heat.
Add lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste, and chicken pieces.
Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Discard lemongrass.
Garnish servings with basil and cilantro.
Place in bowl.
Drizzle with chili oil.
Garnish with cilantro

250 calories for 1 1/2 cup serving

Blueberry BBQ Chicken

Entree Chicken Chef Farmer BBQ Sauce

Photo from Southern Season website.

Oh goodness! Vivian Howard of Chef & The Farmer has a scrumptious Blueberry BBQ Finishing Sauce…a unique twist on BBQ sauces. I LOVE that they claim right there on the bottle that the sauce is “great with chicken and pork and grilled veggies and cocktails and friends and weekends.” Well said! Don’t worry if you don’t live in our fab ENC; you may order it from the restaurant or Southern Season. “Take a break from traditional red sauce and go blue!” You do watch A Chef’s Life, right?

2 large organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup Chef & The Farmer Blueberry BBQ Sauce
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepperEntree Chicken Chef Farmer BBQ

Preheat oven to 400°.
Salt and pepper both sides of chicken breasts.
Heat olive oil and BBQ sauce in skillet on medium high until sizzling.
Place chicken in skillet and reduce heat to medium.
Cook 4 minutes til browned on one side.
Turn chicken over.
Place in oven.
Bake 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to rest 4 minutes.
Slice chicken on diagonal.
Drizzle with skillet juices.

Serves 4.

Nut-Crusted Chicken Breasts

Go ahead and flip for this. It totally works for me, and then some! Plus the prep scoots on along faster than it reads, always a bonus. A perfect midweek dinner, or fine enough to share with friends for a celebratory weekend evening while sipping a little fine wine!

Panko and nuts browning

Panko and nuts browning

2 breasts sliced for coating and cooking

2 breasts sliced for coating and cooking

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup peanuts, chopped
4 Tbs butter
1 cup panko
Zest of 1 lime
1 t chipotle chile powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1 t dried cilantro
3 large eggs
2 t Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350°.
Place baking rack in rimmed baking pan.
Slice each breast on diagonal into 3 or 4 pieces.
Pat dry with paper towel.
Prick thickest part of each slice several times with fork.
Sprinkle with salt.

Pulse peanuts in food processor about 15 times.
Melt butter in skillet over medium low heat.
Add panko and nuts.
Cook, stirring often, 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Transfer panko mixture to shallow dish.
Stir in lime zest, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and cilantro.
Lightly beat eggs and mustard together in separate bowl.Entree Chicken Nut Crusted Breast III

Dip each piece in egg mixture.
Coat with panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
Place chicken pieces on wire rack.
Bake 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes.
Garnish with lime wedge.

Please alert your friends that this contains nuts.
Not everyone can tolerate nuts.

Thank you Andrew Janjigian, Cook’s Illustrated, Best-Ever Recipes. I only tweaked a couple of steps to make it more “Hardee Friendly!”

Serves 8 easily.