All posts by whiskey & wry

just a guy with a skillet, cooking his heart out.

Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad

Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 50 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta
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This spring I built two raised garden beds and tried my hand at a garden of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It took off like crazy, especially the squash and cucumbers. I continue to learn about the benefits and purposes of pruning. So I have a few basil plants that are massive but I learned they are too leggy and I failed to prune properly. Nothing has flowered, so I caught before it changed flavors. The good news is that I have a boat load of beautiful green basil.

So I am going to make a pesto and incorporate some chicken and pasta for dinner. Jill loves pesto pasta so this should be right down her alley. My grocery stores pine nuts weren’t too attractive so I am going with walnuts instead.


Ingredients:

Basil Pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 breasts of free range chicken (seasoned, grilled and diced)
1.5 cups of cooked al dente penne pasta
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs of Butter
1 tbs of AP Flour
1/4 cup of cream
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Directions:
1. Make your pesto by first toasting your walnuts on the stove for a few minutes. Don’t let them burn. et them cool and then add all the Pesto ingredients and blend until smooth. Use Olive Oil and lemon juice to give it the thickness you like.
2. Season your chicken and grill outside of in a pan with olive oil and cook until 160-165k. Remove and when cooled a bit dice it up.
3. Cook pasta per directions but remove about 1 minute before the pasta is al dente. Grain and set aside.
4. Lastly make a basic roux by adding butter and flour, and stir for 2 minutes on medium-low heat until golden brown.
5. Slowly add the cream until smooth. Now add your chicken, pasta and sliced tomatoes.
Slowly add the pesto while stirring. When you get it flavored to your taste add some more parmesan cheese and serve.

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Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

IMG_1132
This spring I built two raised garden beds and tried my hand at a garden of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It took off like crazy, especially the squash and cucumbers. I continue to learn about the benefits and purposes of pruning. So I have a few basil plants that are massive but I learned they are too leggy and I failed to prune properly. Nothing has flowered, so I caught before it changed flavors. The good news is that I have a boat load of beautiful green basil.

So I am going to make a pesto and incorporate some chicken and pasta for dinner. Jill loves pesto pasta so this should be right down her alley. My grocery stores pine nuts weren’t too attractive so I am going with walnuts instead.


Ingredients:

Basil Pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 breasts of free range chicken (seasoned, grilled and diced)
1.5 cups of cooked al dente penne pasta
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs of Butter
1 tbs of AP Flour
1/4 cup of cream
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Directions:
1. Make your pesto by first toasting your walnuts on the stove for a few minutes. Don’t let them burn. et them cool and then add all the Pesto ingredients and blend until smooth. Use Olive Oil and lemon juice to give it the thickness you like.
2. Season your chicken and grill outside of in a pan with olive oil and cook until 160-165k. Remove and when cooled a bit dice it up.
3. Cook pasta per directions but remove about 1 minute before when the pasta is al dente. Grain and set aside.
4. Lastly, make a basic roux by adding butter and flour and stir for 2 minutes on medium-low heat until golden brown.
5. Slowly add the cream until smooth. Now add your chicken, pasta, and sliced tomatoes.
Slowly add the pesto while stirring. When you get it flavored to your taste add some more parmesan cheese and serve.

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Jalapeno Cilantro Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Jalapeno Cilantro Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 70 mins
  • Difficulty: meh
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Jalapeno Cilantro Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Last night was Taco Tuesday in our house. Which really means we are cooking something Mexican / Tex-Mex or something in a shell or tortilla. I have been trying to bump up the vegetable ratios in my dishes without tripping Jill’s food wires. As she admits her palate is that of a teenage boy. And when you make something with chicken it will be scrutinized heavily. So I was trying to figure what to make and thought I would go the enchilada route because you really can’t see what is in it as easily as you can a taco.

What was unique with these chicken enchiladas was the filling. It had a 4 to 1 ratio of veggies to chicken. Most enchiladas around here are basically chicken only or an occasional onion or pepper. I was going for the Chipotle or Freebirds style burrito in an enchilada form. For the sauce, I hid some avocado in there and covered it up with fresh cilantro, jalapeno, sour cream and buttermilk for some extra tang. You can put whatever you want in yours and you can adjust your sauce the way you want but here is what I did….

Ingredients
2 Free range air chilled chicken breasts
6-8 flour tortillas
Mexican Rice (packaged)
1 cup cooked black beans
2 ears of fire roasted corn
Chopped pickled jalapenos
1/4 cup green chili sauce
1/4 fresh shredded Monterrey Jack
Diced cilantro
1 beer
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
Cumin
Garlic salt

Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 jalapenos cored
Handful of cilantro
Kosher Salt to taste
1 tbs of butter
1 tbs of flour

Directions:
Prep sucks for me, but it really is what pays off when pulling any meal together. So get chopping. For the filling, you are going to make your rice (stove top / or microwave) and your beans (fresh or canned). Dice the cilantro for the filling. Roast your corn…I did mine over the fire of my burner until blackened and then sliced the kernels off.
The last part of the prep is your chicken. I poached mine in a beer and can of fire roasted tomatoes and let that simmer for about 30mins.

1. Okay, let’s get to cooking. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. Let’s make the sauce first by blending together the cored jalapenos, cilantro, sour cream, and buttermilk. Taste and add salt as needed. It should be smooth and pale green in color.
3. In a sauce pan make a rue by melting butter and flour until light brown. Turn down the heat or turn it off and add the sauce and stir until it thickens up a bit. Set aside.
4. Let’s make the filling by cutting up your cooled chicken into small pieces. You should also have cooled beans, rice, and corn. I diced up the second half of my avocado, cut kernels, and pickled jalapenos. In a large bowl, I added the second cup of sour cream, a small can of diced green chili sauce and then stirred everything together. Taste it and season per your taste buds.
5. Take a 9 x 13 dish and put some of the sauce on the bottom. Thin layer. Take your tortillas and fill them up and then fold them over into an enchilada and lay them down in the sauced dish seem down. When done, spoon the sauce over the top of the enchiladas until mostly coated. Top with Mont Jack cheese and jalapenos and bake for about 20 mins. It’s all cooked at this point so you are baking to heat through and for a little color from the cheese browning.

Mediterranean Feta Chicken Pasta

Mediterranean Feta Chicken Pasta

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Mediterranean Feta Chicken Pasta

The other day my wife and I picked up some Zoe’s on the way home from work. Generally, we order the chicken kabobs and maybe some hummus. But the lady taking my order asked if I wanted to try this baked feta app that consists of sliced cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives cover served with fresh basil and olive oil over a slab of Feta cheese. That is baked off until the cheese is slightly melted and served with pita chips. It’s really simple but tasty.

So I was trying to come up with a recipe for dinner and that app popped into my head so I thought I would try to incorporate a little pasta and some grilled chicken and make a meal out of it. Kind of like a Greek version of a chicken divan, chicken spaghetti, or a favorite in Texas the King Ranch Casserole. It’s got to be healthier than the later but maybe not by much.

This turned out really tasty. You get the punches of salty tang from the feta and kalamata olives balanced by the sweetness of the fresh tomatoes and red onions atop a hearty chicken pasta dish.

Ingredients:
Penne Pasta
2 chicken breasts (free range, air chilled)
Container of cherry tomatoes
Handful of spinach
Handful of mushrooms
4 tbs of diced red onion
4 cloves of garlic diced
1 tbs of fresh diced basil
Dashes of dried oregano and red pepper flakes
1 tbs of butter
1 tbs of flour
1/4 cup of chicken stock/broth
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
Paprika for the chicken
Block of Fresh Feta Cheese
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Prep: dice your garlic, red onion, mushrooms. Slice about half of the cherry tomatoes. Assemble three bowls based upon cook times.. 1. Red onion, whole cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms. 2. Garlic and spinach 3. Sliced tomatoes, olives, basil, vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes.
1. Preheat oven to broil but use the bottom rack.
2. Get a pot of boiling water going and follow the directions of your favorite pasta. Pull it out right before they say to do so. Set aside a cup of pasta water in case you need to add moisture later on.
3. On to the chicken… Heat up a cast iron skillet with some olive oil in it. I used medium to medium-low heat. I salted, peppered and paprika my chicken breasts and cooked them so that they were done with a nice color.
4. Remove your chicken to rest.
5. In that skillet add butter and your bowl of mushrooms, whole tomatoes, and red onion. Sweat them out.
6. Now add flour to the pot to build a rue that will help us thicken the sauce. When it’s golden brown add your second bowl of garlic and spinach for 30 seconds and then quickly add the chicken stock and stir until thickened. About three minutes.
7. While your mixture thickens cut up your chicken breasts into bite sized pieces.
8. Now add your pasta and chicken to the skillet and turn off the heat. Crumble and stir in half the feta cheese and slowly stir to get everything well coated with melted cheese and sauce. If it looks dry, add some pasta water and stir until it has the consistency of mac n cheese.
9 Pour that mixture into an oven ready dish. Top with the third bowl of halved cherry tomatoes, olives, basil with the vinegar and spices. Lastly, top with the remaining block of Feta and crumble it over the top. Put it into the oven uncovered for about 4 to 5 minutes so that the feta takes on some brown color. It won’t melt like other cheese but it is soft despite looking like it did when it went into the oven.

Serve with pita bread or anything else that you come up with.

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

  • Servings: 3
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

I ran across this recipe on another blog and when I was cooking according to her directions, I found myself immediately deviating from her directions. This actually turned out as a great creamy, herby pasta dish that comes together in about 20-30 minutes. So if want a departure from your typical pasta dish but not skimp on flavor this one might be a good fit.

I still have a case of the blog blahs and in perfect form, I thought I took pictures last night but didn’t have my card in my camera…doh. So picture if you will, a creamy pasta dish resembling a looser alfredo sauce but packed with herbs, spinach and grape tomatoes. Additionally, some sliced pieces of bite sized chicken that replaced a meatball.

The recipe that I followed used evaporated milk which I did do but wouldn’t do it again. Instead, I would use whole milk, cream or even a dollop of cream cheese or something. Also, she suggested covering your chicken with pesto prior to cooking. I found that it started to burn the pesto. So much so, that when I removed my chicken I had to deglaze the pan with water and start from scratch missing out of on those lovely chicken bits and juices. I also amped up the parmesan cheese to compensate for the evaporate milk.

Last note, I have been falling in love with my grocery store salad bar. Instead of buying vegetables that I wouldn’t always use, I load up on the vegetables I want to cook that night. I added spinach, grape tomatoes, sliced red onion and a few mushrooms.

My recipe should deliver a super fast but delicious meal.

Ingredients:
Free Range Chicken Breasts
Fresh Basil
Fresh Pesto (store bought)
a handful of fresh spinach
a handful sliced grape tomatoes
small amount of sliced red onion from salad bar.
4 cloves of garlic
Cooked spaghetti (al dente)
1 cup whole milk or cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 tbs of grated parmesan cheese (use more or less to your taste)
1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:
Needed: Two pots: one for the sauce and chicken and one for boiling the pasta.
1. Start boiling the water for your pasta.
2. Lightly salt and pepper your chicken breasts. I tenderized them with a mallet to flatten them out to an even thickness. I heated a pan with olive oil on medium heat. The idea is to put a little color on them. Cook three to four minutes each side and remove them to rest.
2. Make a roux by adding the butter and flour in the same pot of the removed chicken. When it turns light brown, go ahead and add your minced garlic, red onion, and halved grape tomatoes and stir for one minute.
3. Add the chicken stock and loosen everything up. Turn down the heat to low and then add the pesto, the cream/milk and parm. Stir until the sauce thickens.
4. Cook your pasta according to the package in salted water. While it cooks cut the chicken breast on the bias and then add the sliced chicken back into the sauce and continue to stir.
5. When your pasta is cooked al dente, remove it, drain it and add the pasta into the sauce pot. Now add in your spinach and basil until nicely wilted but not over cooked. Serve and top with some fresh shaved parm and torn basil.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl
If you have followed me, you know I really like Asian Fusion foods and crave them several times a week. My lovely, on the other hand, doesn’t share my enthusiasm. She likes it but doesn’t crave it like I do. I’ve made chicken lettuce wraps more times than I can count and I love them. The cool lettuce with the spicy salty ground chicken It’s such a simple, flavorful, quick and fairly healthy depending on what you put into it (or don’t). My suspicion with jill’s tepid interest in the lettuce cup lies in the lettuce as a vehicle. It’s messy, or at least mine is messy.

As I mentioned in my last post, Jill bought me Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook at her book fair. As with all my cookbooks, I go through every page and tag the ones I want to try. So I took her base sauce and added some extra veggies and will toy with making a rice lettuce bowl like you would get at Chipotle and add the chicken on it to see if I can move Jill’s needle or determine if the lettuce cup is the culprit of indifference.

Results: So I made this recipe this week and used Chrissy Teigen’s sauce recipes but added some additional vegetables and instead of serving it atop a lettuce cup, I just added it to a bowl for my wife. Flavor was good but I like my recipe a little better due to the peanut sauce but I loved the spicy notes. I didn’t like the bowl idea and would go back to the lettuce wrap. I also didn’t like the mushroom addition and I thought there was too much ginger. But I will be making lettuce wraps in future but using my recipe with a few tips from Chrissy’s book on the sauce.

Ingredients:
Sauce
3 Tbsp. GF Thai sweet chili sauce
3 Tbsp. GF hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp. light GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Sriracha
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1½ Tbsp. GF unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger

Filling
1 lb. ground chicken
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
8 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens kept separate
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. of minced jalapeno
4 tbs of minced carrots
4 tbs of diced mushrooms
½ cup finely diced water chestnuts
3 tbs finely diced red bell pepper
Fresh Cilantro
Prepared Rice
Butter Leaf Lettuce (torn)

Directions:
1. Prepare the sauce by mincing everything and then mixing with the wet ingredients. Set aside 2 tbs for browning the ground chicken. img_1051

2. As with most stir-fry type dishes, they go really quickly so go ahead and cut up all your veggies and put them into three different bowls. (hard= carrots, bell pepper, ginger, medium jalapeno, white parts of scallions, mushroom and garlic, soft= cilantro, green onion parts). img_1049

3. Mix in 2 tsp of the sauce into the ground chicken. In a medium heated wok or skillet add some oil and your ground chicken and cook until brown. 5-6 minutes. and remove from the pan.

4. Now for the veggies. Add some oil back to the pan and start by adding the “hard” veggies first and stir and cook for about a minute. Then add your medium and stir for another minute. img_1052

5. Add the chicken back into the pan with the “hard” and “medium” veggies and pour in the rest of the sauce.

6. Right before plating add the cilantro and green onions.
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7. Remove from heat and give it one more stir. To plate the dish, I tore up the lettuce and put it on the bottom of the bowl and then layered on the rice and topped it with the chicken mixture.
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John’s Lemon Brick Chicken

John's Lemon Brick Chicken

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 2hr 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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John’s Lemon Brick Chicken
I have been on a diet, or better yet a fast, of “stars / famous people”. When you have an opinion that differs, they seem to immediately place a label on you and try to shame or bully you into their views. Most of these intolerant disconnects get millions for simply pretending to be another character on screen/stage. How can they relate to me and expect to know how I should live and think? I am soo tired of lectures, politics, social justice bullies. So when Jill bought me Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, I took it in with tepid interest.

That said, I was actually really surprised when I leafed through it and saw really great looking food. I’ve never seen her on a cooking show or anything so had no idea of her kitchen talents. It’s not a lecturing cookbook with a single focus on popular food trends ( paleo, whole30, GF, or Vegan) but instead features just great food she likes to make. It’s written in a very relaxed conversational style. I am trying two recipes this week.

So tonight I am going to try her John’s Lemon Brick Chicken and a play on her garlicky green beans. The chicken is very much like my 420 Chicken, chalk full of herbs, but with crispy skin and lemon.

Side note: Speaking of chicken skin, In my adulthood I was also told to not eat skin or fat but ran across a dietician, Dr. Marlene Merritt, who talks about how good fat is for us. When you think about the bone broth craze and you read really old cookbooks they are constantly adding fat/lard not only for flavor but for health. I guess everything in moderation. But her points have helped relax my stand on some intake of natural fats.

Result: Chicken was terrifically juicy with lemony herb notes. My chicken skin probably was over done and I should have kept my pan at medium. I turned it on to heat up the oil and left it on screaming high accidently. I pulled the temp down but should have waited for the pan to come down in heat. It didnt impact the chicken itself. I also should have roated the potatoes for about 15 minutes before adding the beans but I actually like my green beans well done.

Ingredients
2 Free Range Bone in, skin on chicken breasts
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbs chopped fresh sage
4-5 minced and smashed garlic
Zest of a lemon
1 tbs of Kosher salt
1/2 tbs of Black Pepper
2 tsp of Red Pepper Flakes


For Potatoes and Green Beans

Butter
Oil
Salt and Pepper
Squeeze of Lemon


Directions

1. At least 2 hrs before cooking (up to 24 hrs) mix your oil, minced garlic, rosemary, and sage into a bowl. Add salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Rub that all over the chicken. Cover and let it rest for 2hrs.

2. I used a large cast iron skillet and instead of wrapping a brick in foil, I just used another smaller cast iron pan for the weight necessary to get the chicken skin nice and crispy. I also am going to finish mine in the oven to roast with my green beans and potatoes. 7-9 minutes on each side of medium to medium high heat. As she states, don’t peak let the heat do its thing. Flip it bone side down, skin side up and cook for another 7 minutes (no weight) and then into a 400-degree oven until done (mine took about 35mins).

3. As for the beans and potatoes. I preheated an oven to 400-degrees. I cut my potatoes into large bite size pieces. Then I cleaned and trimmed my green beans. I cooked them in a pot over the stove in boiling water flavored with salt, stock, and miso. I let em rip for about 10 minutes and then removed and drained them.

4. Then on a cooking sheet, I added my beans and potatoes and coated them in butter and garlic and squeezed lemon juice over them. Tossed around until coated and then into the oven until tender.
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Chicken Curry Garden Stew

Chicken Curry Garden Stew

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chicken Curry Garden Stew
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Indian food flavors are some of the most advanced and interesting in the world. A touch of curry can transform a chicken salad or even a deviled egg. Today is one of those chilly and dank days that is worthy of a hearty stew. Instead of a vegetable rich chicken soup, I am going to add some curry, soy, and coconut milk to make something a little different than the standard chicken stock or tomato based soup.

Ingredients:
Add the veggies and amounts that you have on hand or that you suits your palate
2 air chilled free range chicken breasts
1 onion diced
4 diced celery stocks
4 diced carrots
cherry tomatoes
broccoli
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 tbs of red curry paste
1 tbs of turmeric
1 cup chicken stock
1 can of coconut milk
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tbs Soy sauce
1 tsp Fish Sauce
Cayenne pepper
Turmeric
Dry Curry
Kosher Salt to taste
olive oil

Directions:
1. In a large pot add your carrots, onion, and celery to some oil and the curry paste and heat to medium to have them sweat for 5-7 minutes.

2. Cube your chicken and add it to the pot to cook through and then add the rest of the vegetables. Stir for about 5 minutes to soften the broccoli up.

3. Pour in the chicken stock and coconut milk and season with the rest of the ingredients. About 5 minutes before serving, tear the basil and add it to the stew. Enjoy.
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