Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry

I love stir-fries for two reasons: 1) lots of veggies, and 2) lots of flavors. I can’t seem to successfully make a really AWESOME stir-fry unless I have a recipe to go with it. Throwing veggies in? Not a problem. The sauce? Well…still working on my own concoction.

When I saw this recipe in my Jan ’13 issue of Cooking Light, I was intrigued by the usage of lemongrass (which I have in my cupboard, dried) and green beans in the veggies list. I decided to make this for dinner one evening after work, and it was definitely a hit.

Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry – adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (divided)
  • 2 tsp dried lemongrass
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 8-oz green beans, trimmed
  • 1 lb boneless&skinless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced (I had a whole cayenne pepper frozen in my freezer from summer, so I used that).
  1. Combine brown sugar, stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sambal oelek in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large work or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of the oil & swirl to coat the pan.
  3. Add lemongrass & garlic; stir-fry for 30 seconds. Turn heat up to high. Add bell pepper, shallots, & green beans to the pan & stir fry for two minutes. Remove all vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon & set aside in a bowl.
  4. Add remaining oil to pan & swirl to coat. Add chicken and cook until browned (2-3 minutes).
  5. Add cashews & chile & cook for about two minutes. Then, add the vegetables back in and the sauce mixture.
  6. Bring to a boil & cook until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately with rice or noodles.
Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

When I was younger, I was not a huge fan of dark-meat chicken, especially chicken thighs. The more I cook, the more I have noticed that they have a very rich flavor and are especially great with Asian cuisine. I do my best to cut off as much fat as possible, but am definitely not as wary about using them as I used to be.

I served our stir-fry with some ready-to-serve udon noodles that I found at my grocery store. Since they were pre-cooked, I threw them into the wok when I added the vegetables back in. They were absolutely fantastic & I highly recommend you try them. I think I like them better than the dried rice noodles I normally buy.

The only thing I did not enjoy about this dish was – believe it or not – the green beans! I would have much rather preferred carrots or zucchini in the stir-fry. They tasted okay, but it just didn’t seem ‘right’ to have them in there. One part of this dish that I suggest you don’t leave out is the cashews – that is, of course, unless you or someone in your home has a nut allergy. They added a really good texture to the dish and I was surprised at how much I enjoy them. I am looking forward to making this dish in the summer, when more vegetables are in season. This stir-fry is definitely in my arsenal for dishes to repeat!

As far as the spiciness is concerned – I personally needed more punch. If you like, you can add more sambal oelek for some more heat. Or, of course, sriracha…

…speaking of which – have any of you out there tried those new Sriracha chips from Lays? 🙂 YUM!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

The past two weeks, northern Michigan had been getting pummeled with snow & very cold temperatures (I’m feeling for you all in the Northeast, though – two feet of snow absolutely sucks wherever you live. Stay warm!). This soup is a week overdue, as both my husband and I were laid up with colds…and had I actually made this last week when we were sick, I bet we would’ve recovered quicker.

I like easy dinners on Friday nights; if Mike is home, it’s often out to happy hour for a drink & small plates to share. If he’s working, I often get lazy and order take-out. We were both exhausted yesterday after a very long week, and we didn’t feel like going out anywhere. Thus, the soup. It only took about a half hour; five minutes of prep and 25 minutes of boiling/waiting. The results were delicious and made great leftovers for today’s lunch.

Chicken Tortilla Soup – adapted from Rescue Chef

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 4-oz can diced green chiles
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper – to taste
  • chili powder, paprika, & cumin – to taste
  • cilantro – to taste
  • Toppings: Monterey Jack cheese, hot sauce, avocado, grilled tortilla strips, tortilla chips…you name it
  1. In a stockpot, heat oil. Add onions & cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add chiles & garlic, and saute for about 30 seconds. Add broth & vegetables, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer  & add the chicken breasts. Add spices (about a dash of each). Cook for about 20-25 minutes until fully cooked through.
  4. Remove chicken from soup & place on plate or small bowl. Shred chicken (I used two forks & shredded right away) and add back to stockpot.
  5. Add cilantro. Let simmer for 5 more minutes, then serve in bowls topped with cheese.
Great leftovers on a Saturday afternoon

Great leftovers on a Saturday afternoon

Had I not been as sleepy and lazy, I probably would have made a few quesadillas to go with this meal. You can also make this a meatless meal by adding black or pinto beans instead of the chicken.

The original recipe recommends topping with avocado and grilled tortilla strips. It also recommends adding lime juice to the soup. Next time I plan on at least having the limes handy – that would have made this soup even better. I added a cheddar-pepper jack cheese blend and hot sauce to my soup – I really wanted to have a spicy kick!

For a lazy Friday night (and Saturday morning), this soup really fit the bill. Especially if it’s *very* cold outside.

**This recipe was shared on Homemade Mondays, Week 16 at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity**

Chicken Fajita Quinoa Bowl

This recipe was one that I sort of threw together on a whim. I was in the mood for fajitas, but didn’t have enough shells. I also have an abundant supply of quinoa in my pantry. Since I’m a huge fan of one-bowl dinners, I figured that this one would be a winner.

If you’ve never cooked with quinoa before, don’t panic! It has a similar cooking time& style to rice. I make it in my rice cooker, using a similar ratio of water to grain (2:1). It also reheats very, very well – much better than rice. The only catch is that you need to rinse it before boiling, or else it will have a bitter taste to it.

The leftovers are good on their own, as well as in a stray tortilla shell.

Chicken Fajita Quinoa Bowls

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1 pepper, your choice of red or green (I used red)
  • 1 onion, your choice of red or yellow (I used red)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • taco seasoning – I used Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming blend. You can also use your own favorite taco/fajita seasoning.
  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked – make sure you start cooking the quinoa about 15 minutes before you start the chicken!
  • your favorite taco fixin’s
  1. Heat oil in pan. Add pepper & onion.
  2. Once they are tender, add garlic and chicken. Cook until chicken is no longer pink, adding spices to the pan as time goes on.
  3. Once chicken is cooked, remove from heat.
  4. In a bowl, layer as follows: Quinoa, fajita mixture, taco fixin’s.
  5. EAT.

Easy peasy deliciousness.

Beef or pork can easily be used instead of chicken. Truthfully, you could even eat this sans meat, as quinoa is chock-full of protein. And, as I said before…oh-so-EASY!

Garlic Pesto Chicken with Tomato Cream Sauce

This recipe was so easy for a weeknight, so tasty with its flavor combinations, and so great as dinners for Mike at the foundry. I found it off of Pinterest; while my picture doesn’t do the dish justice, I can verify that it’s still a great meal.

The important thing to do with this recipe is marinate the chicken for a few hours, or even overnight, as I did. I adapted the recipe to use spices in my kitchen, and not buying a bottle of marinade (which can have loads of sodium).

Garlic Pesto Chicken with Tomato Cream Sauce – adapted from Southern Girl Cooking

  • 1 pkg thin-sliced chicken breasts (chicken tenders will work also), cut into 1-inch strips
  • garlic powder, onion powder, italian seasoning, & salt-n-pepper, to taste
  • a few dashes of lemon juice
  • 2 spoonfuls of pesto

In a baking dish, layer ingredients & mix to coat chicken. Cover & store in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

For the sauce, the night you’ll be eating it:

  • 8 oz pasta (I used basic, whole-wheat spaghetti)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, or 2 tbsp minced/crushed
  • 2 spoonfuls of pesto
  • 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 8 oz of tomato sauce (I used Ragu)
  • 1 cup half-n-half
  1. In a saucepan, boil water & begin cooking pasta.
  2. In a skillet, cook up chicken & marinade. Cook chicken until no longer pink, and remove from heat.
  3. In the same pan, heat up the olive oil and cook the garlic.
  4. Add pesto & broth; cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
  5. Add tomato sauce, and stir. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes. *At this point, I also added some frozen peas.*
  6. Add pasta & toss to combine; add chicken and do the same. Serve nice and hot, topped with a bit of parmesan cheese.

This can easily be made without the chicken, but I’m going to warn you – the chicken makes the dish. There is so much flavor from the marinade; I may even make the chicken alone by itself for another dish or two in the future. I love cooking Italian-inspired dishes, and this is a great, easy dish to add to your arsenal.

Just Like Mom Used to Make: Chicken Pot Pie

‘Tis the season of comfort foods! While my husband and I were out to dinner on Saturday, we made a quick meal plan for the week. He suggested chicken pot pie – which we both haven’t had in ages. I immediately recalled my mom’s chicken pot pie and how much I enjoyed it growing up. When I called her over the weekend to get the recipe, she mentioned how easy it was – and she was right!

I also ended up giving her a taste for chicken pot pie, so she made it this week, too 🙂

Chicken Pot Pie – adapted from my mom (thanks, Mom!!)

You need:

  • 1 box pre-made pie crust (the kind you roll out)
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken (I used some from a ready-made rotisserie chicken at the grocery)
  • 1 can cream-of-whatever soup (Hubs picked out potato)
  • frozen vegetables (I used just a mixture)
  • herbs & seasonings, if you like
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  1. Spray a pie plate with Pam. Unroll & lay one of the pie crusts on the plate.
  2. In a bowl, combine chicken, soup, veggies, seasonings, and cheddar cheese. Pour onto pie crust.
  3. Top with the remaining pie crust. Poke a few holes in the top of the crust to vent. Seal the edges with your fingers or a fork.
  4. Bake at 425* for 35-40 minutes.

I’ll admit – it’s not the prettiest chicken pot pie ever, but it’s very tasty! A good, comforting, and quick weeknight meal!

Just like Mom used to make 🙂

Rosemary-Chicken Paninis with Spinach & Sundried Tomatoes

This recipe was one that I had eyeballed right away in a magazine as a must-try. It took me a while to finally cook it, and an even longer while to write about it! (oops) I’m still trying to figure out if I’m going to blog every dish that I cook, or just the ones that my husband and I both enjoy. Thus…I’m working on it.

I made these sandwiches on a busy Tuesday night. They did take a little longer than your typical panini, but I feel that these were well worth it. I did make some adaptations to the recipe, based on what I had on hand.

Rosemary-Chicken Paninis with Spinach & Sundried Tomatoes – adapted from Cooking Light

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 slices of rosemary-olive bread
  • 1 lb thin-sliced chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/8 tsp crushed redpepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz fresh baby spinach
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • cooking spray
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. To pan, add tomatoes, red pepper, and garlic; saute until garlic begins to brown. Add spinach and cook until the spinach wilts. Add salt & pepper, and set aside.
  2. Heat your panini press (or a grill pan) and coat with cooking spray.
  3. In the same skillet that you cooked the spinach mixture, cook the chicken, roughly 3-5 minutes on each side, until done.
  4. Top 4 slices of bread with some cheese, chicken, 1/4 of the spinach mixture, and a bit more cheese, followed by the remaining bread slices.
  5. Cook in pan or on press until the bread is nice and crunchy.
I misread the recipe and interpreted ‘fresh mozzarella cheese’ as being from the actual fresh mozzarella ball. I have found that while the flavor is nice, sliced cheese is easier. So, feel free to interpret the above to whatever you wish. In addition, using chicken tenders instead of thin-sliced chicken would suffice. This sandwich is nice with a green salad, or french fries.