Celebrate the Return of College Football….with Buffalo Wings!

Buffalo Wings

 

 

Thank the Heavens…….

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RETURNS THIS WEEKEND!!!!

 

 

Buffalo Wings

As my mighty USC Trojans kick off their season this Saturday, I will be eagerly cheering them on with a buffalo wing in one hand and—let’s be honest, an adult beverage in the other.

Buffalo Wings

 

 

But I must confess to you my friends. I am a severely LOYAL and sometimes insane FANATIC when it comes to my USC Trojans and Minnesota Vikings.

You’ve been warned.

FIGHT ON, SC!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

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Buffalo Wings
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:

2 Pounds Chicken Wings, separate wings at the joint with tips removed
½ Cup Unsalted Butter
¼ Cup Hot Sauce (I like to use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
Vegetable Oil

Fill a large pot or dutch oven with about 2 inches of oil and heat until 350-375 degrees F.

While the oil is heating, toss the chicken in the flour. Shake off excess flour and carefully fry the wings in the heated oil for about 3-4 minutes on each side and until they become golden brown. This may need to be done in batches to not overcrowd your pot.

When the last batches of wings are frying, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat and stir in garlic powder, onion powder, and hot sauce. When the wings have all been fried, toss them with enough of the butter-hot sauce mixture until the wings have been well coated. Serve warm with blue cheese dressing, carrot sticks, and celery sticks.

Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza

Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza

I could eat pizza all of the time.

Which, lucky for me, is brilliant since I’ve worked for universities for the past 10+ years. And if you didn’t know it before, the most popular equation on college campuses is Pizza = College Students.

True story.

Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza

In an effort to further explore the versatility of pesto, I turned to slathering pizza with this herbaceous mixture. And not just any pesto—-but Macadamia Nut Pesto! Thanks to an excess of macadamia nuts I had in my pantry (I was on a mac nut baking binge) I was able to create another version of pesto by substituting pine nuts with them.

The natural creamy rich taste of macadamia nuts was a perfect marriage to pesto and offers some solid health benefits, too.

I made my Macadamia Nut Pesto a tad on the thicker side since I knew I wanted to use it as a “sauce” for my pizza. But if you prefer a looser consistency, just stream in a tad more olive oil when processing it. I also was pretty heavy handed with the amount used for the pizza so adjust according to your preference.

And with college football gearing up this weekend, this unique spin on a pizza pie will be a sure fire win for any game day celebration!

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Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza

Ingredients:

16 Ounces Fresh Pizza Dough
8 Ounces Grilled Chicken Breast, sliced
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1½ Cups Macadamia Nut Pesto*
8 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
¼ Cup Yellow Cornmeal
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Macadamia Nut Pesto:
2½ Packed Cups Sweet Basil
½ Cup Roasted Macadamia Nuts, unsalted
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and nuts. Add basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, stream in olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

Place pizza stone or large baking sheet in the middle rack and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly dust your surface area with flour. Take dough and stretch into your desired shape. Once the oven reaches its temperature, pull the baking stone/baking sheet out of the oven, and sprinkle cornmeal on the surface. Carefully slide the dough on top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is lightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and brush with olive oil over top. Spread an even layer of pesto over the crust. Top with the chicken, mushrooms, and cheese. Return the pizza back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the cheese has melted and pizza is golden brown. Serve with additional parmesan cheese and red chili flakes.


Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

Pesto is one of those things that is so versatile and can be made a gazillion different ways.

By switching up the types of nuts used or greens/herbs, you can alter the flavor of the pesto—giving your old favorites a new makeover.

Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

I happened to be strolling through my local farmers market the other week when one of the produce stands was getting ready to close up shop for the night. The vendor was selling the remainder of his produce for a ridiculously cheap price and I somehow managed to walk away with two HUGE bags of fresh arugula for only a dollar. A DOLLAR!!!!!

The arugula was so fresh and delicious but I couldn’t finish it all. Not wanting my arugula to go bad before I could use it up, I decided to throw some of it in to make a version of pesto for some pasta. DEE-LISH.

The arugula offered an additional peppery flavor to the dish— not to mention the extra Vitamin C and potassium I was getting by enjoying the dark leafy green.

In addition to using it in pastas, this pesto would be wonderful over grilled proteins, mixed in with hummus, or even over pizza.

Speaking of pizza and pesto— Watch out for my next post where I share another variation of pesto to make a delicious pizza!

Have a great week, Friends!

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Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken
Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 Grilled Chicken Breast
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
¼ Cup Shallots, sliced
½ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
1 Cup Arugula Pesto
1 Pound Farfalle Pasta, cooked al dente, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Arugula Pesto:
2 Packed Cups Fresh Arugula Leaves
1/2 Cup Sweet Basil
½ Cup Roasted Pine Nuts
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and pine nuts. Add arugula, basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, stream in olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

In a large and heavy bottom skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute mushrooms, garlic, and shallots until tender. Add chili flakes. Add the freshly boiled pasta to the pan and toss. Add pesto and toss to coat all items thoroughly. Add in a few spoonfuls of pasta water if you want a “looser” sauce consistency (optional). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate pasta and top with sliced chicken breast. Optional: Serve with additional Parmesan Cheese and Chili Flakes.

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

 

Growing up, our mom never measured her ingredients out. It was a toss of this, a pinch of that…..taste, adjust, and a few more shakes of whatever just for kicks. And even when she was coerced into documenting her dishes, they were vague amounts such as a “1/2 rice bowl of sugar” and a “handful of garlic”. Everything was “to taste”.

It made it difficult as heck to learn her “recipes” but I soon realized all of our aunties were like that too. And that’s what I’ve come to believe Vietnamese cooking to be. It’s pretty tricky as it’s all “to taste” and highly subjective.

You’ll find this quandary even more prominent in “simple” dishes as one slight off-balanced proportion will throw your taste buds for a spin. Things like nước chấm, soups, and even salads will have you repeatedly tasting and adjusting for the perfect balance.

 

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

 

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm, is a perfect example of this challenge and was a staple in our household growing up. Popularized from the Huế region of Viet Nam, shredded poached chicken is tossed in a light vinaigrette and packed FULL of fresh herbs and thinly sliced onions. And although I’ve given some measurements in the recipe below, it really depends on your flavor palette to add as much or as little lemon juice and sugar or salt and pepper. Just keep in mind that it’s also served with the nước chm dipping sauce so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

With all that said, the rau răm (known as Vietnamese Cilantro or Vietnamese Coriander) is my favorite part of the dish. The uniquely bright and slightly peppery flavor this herb adds is something that is difficult to describe but must be experienced. In fact, I’d say that it’s my favorite herb, closely followed by fresh cilantro and Thai basil. The addition of the shredded red cabbage is my nod to the restaurant, Hue Rendezvous in Westminster, California. They serve their Gà Bóp on top of shredded green cabbage, which I think is such a great addition for the added crunch and texture. This time around, I chose to use red cabbage because it’s a little milder in flavor and because its beautiful color provided such a striking contrast.

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm is best served at room temperature and would be a great addition to any summer picnic or luncheon. I’d even venture to say a light Rau Răm Mojito would be a great cocktail pairing for this dish. And that, my friends, is how I also come up with random cocktails :)

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Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken, preferably Free-Range
2 Tablespoons Nước Mắm, fish sauce
2 Inches Fresh Ginger
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, lightly crushed
½ Tablespoon Black Pepper Corns
1 Small Sized Red Cabbage, shredded
1 Medium Sized White Onion, sliced paper thin
½ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Bunch (about 1½ cups) Rau Răm leaves, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Optional: Nước chấm, fried shallots, crushed peanuts, and chilies

Thoroughly wash and clean the chicken. I usually lightly scrub several tablespoons of table salt all over the exterior body/interior cavity of the chicken and rub cut lemon wedges over the skin. This acts as a type of “exfoliant” and helps to reduce impurities and grit as the chicken is poaching. Trim any excess fat and skin as well as be sure to remove the bag of giblets and neck. Rinse the chicken well with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Prick the skin of the chicken all over with the tines of a fork.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the nước mắm, ginger, garlic cloves, and pepper corns. Gently ease the chicken into the pot and lower the heat to an even simmer. Poach until cooked—about 25-30 minutes. (Skim off any impurities that may form and discard.) Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and cool to room temperature. *At this point, the poaching liquids can be strained and stored to be used as a light chicken broth at another time.

While the chicken is cooling, combine the sliced onions and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Toss to cover thoroughly and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. In another small bowl, dissolve the sugar into the lime juice.

When the chicken is cooled enough to handle, shred all the meat into bite sized pieces discarding the skin, bones, and fatty portions. Toss the shredded chicken with the pickled onions and add in the rau răm and cilantro.  Add the lime juice mixture a little bit at a time to your taste preference. Season with salt and pepper.

To plate, spread the shredded cabbage on a large plate and top with a pile of the  shredded chicken salad. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots, chilies, crushed peanuts and serve with nước chấm on the side.

*It should be noted that Gà Đi B (free range chicken) is preferred in this dish for its texture and flavor.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #14, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Rau Om for hosting this month!**


Panko-Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers

Panko Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers

 

Now that I’m back on a “normal” work schedule, I need meals that are relatively quick to prepare but still make me happy to end the day with. And let’s face it, who couldn’t use another quick recipe in their back pocket?

These Panko-Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers fit the bill P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y! Not only are they palette pleasing but they are a healthier version of the much beloved chicken tenders. I was initially concerned that the oven baking process wouldn’t yield the crisp texture that we all love. But to my delight, these chicken fingers had a super crunchy exterior and juicy interior.

Both adults and munchkins alike will be begging you to make these all of the time!

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Panko-Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers
From America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Ingredients:

2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. canola oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or ¼ tsp. dried
Cooking spray
1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch wide strips


Preheat the oven to 475˚ F.  In a large skillet, toss the panko with the oil.  Toast over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Transfer the toasted crumbs to a shallow dish or pie plate.

In a second shallow dish, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.  In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.

Spray a wire rack lightly with cooking spray and place over a rimmed baking sheet.  Working in batches, dredge a few pieces of the chicken in the flour, then the egg whites, and finally the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off the excess between each step.  Lay the coated pieces on the prepared wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Spray the tops of the chicken pieces lightly with the cooking spray.  Bake until the chicken is cooked through, 10-12 minutes.  Serve warm.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

 

Without a doubt, Indian fare is one of my favorite cuisines. I love the deep layers of flavors and spices—delicious.

But the reasons why I love it so much is also why I have never really prepared Indian food before. I was intimidated. Totally overwhelmed.

Of the scores of recipes I’ve reviewed, the ingredient lists have always thrown me off. A huge laundry list of spices—-all of which I knew were integral to the deep flavors that I loved so much. So whenever I had hankerings for Channa Masala, Curried Paneer, Samosas—-I would head straight to my favorite Indian spot and order up the goodies.

But then the other day I became set on making Homemade Naan for the first time. And in this gal’s opinion, very little goes better with Naan than Chicken Tikka Masala. MMMMM! This popular chicken curry with it’s creamy, tomato sauce is easily my favorite Indian dish. Is it authentically Indian? I don’t think so…..I’ve actually heard that it was created in London. Nonetheless, I love it.

I recalled an episode I saw of America’s Test Kitchen when they prepared Chicken Tikka Masala. It seemed so simple and relied on Garam Masala as the primary spice agent. As Garam Masala is a blend of a variety of spices, there was no need for me to purchase a ton of different seasonings! P-E-R-F-E-C-T!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

 

While I was preparing this dish, the aromas quickly filled the entire house—- and it smelled amazing! It was fairly easy to prepare and was really flavorful. I was worried that the boneless/skinless chicken would be dried out due to the cooking method. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the meat to be quite moist—probably as a result of the generous coating of yogurt that sealed in the juices. The photos here show the Chicken Tikka Masala served with a Turmeric Rice but Basmati would be perfect with it, too.

In the end, we had a lot of sauce left over and I didn’t want to waste all of that great flavor. So the next day, I lightly grilled some prawns and threw them into the sauce. It was really delicious and became a wonderful seafood option!

All in all—I was quite happy with this Chicken Tikka Masala and will definitely make it again! My Host Family in Chennai would be proud :)

*Friday’s Post: Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)


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Chicken Tikka Masala
From America’s Test Kitchen: Cooking for Two

Ingredients:

For the Chicken
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Two (6 to 8-ounce) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, trimmed
1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Teaspoons Grated or Minced Fresh Ginger

For the Sauce
One (14.5-ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Small Onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 Teaspoon Grated or Minced Fresh Ginger
1 Small Serrano Chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 1/2 Teaspoons Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Teaspoons Garam Masala
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Salt
1/3 Cup Plain Yogurt
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Cilantro


Make the chicken
1. Combine the garam masala, cayenne, and salt in a bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then coat the chicken thoroughly with the spices, pressing to help them adhere. Place the chicken on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Whisk the yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger together in a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until needed.

Make the sauce
1. Process the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until pureed, about 15 seconds. Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Stir in the processed tomatoes, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the yogurt and cover to keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to be 6 inches from the broiler element, and heat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and top with a wire rack. Using tongs, dip the chicken into the yogurt mixture so that it is thickly coated and arrange on the prepared wire rack; discard any excess yogurt mixture. Broil the chicken until the exterior is lightly charred in spots and the thickest part of the breasts registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Stir the chicken pieces into the warm sauce (do not simmer the chicken in the sauce). Stir in the cilantro, season with salt to taste, and serve.

NOTE: I’m not sure why, but the ingredients shown on the episode of ATK are slightly different than what is actually published in their cookbook. What you see here is the cookbook method.

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

I often braise chicken because it’s so easy and makes the meat deliciously juicy. And best of all—you only need to use one pot!

 

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

This Oven Braised Lemon Chicken pairs thighs and drumsticks (my favorite chicken cuts) with the bright notes of lemon and capers to produce a wonderfully hearty dish. I also threw in some mushrooms since I’m kind of obsessed with them. But if you’re not a fan, leave them out. It won’t hurt my feelings :)

 

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

Your finished product will be so beautifully tender and flavorful that you’ll be doing a little dance after your first bite. Because if you didn’t know….a little dancing while you eat helps with digestion :)

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Oven Braised Lemon Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 Pieces Bone-In Chicken (I prefer thighs and drumsticks)
6 Whole Garlic Cloves
1 Small Onion, thinly sliced
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
8 Lemon Slices, seeds removed
1 Dried Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Capers, drained
2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch Oven heat olive oil to medium high. In batches, brown chicken pieces on both sides and transfer to a plate. Discard all but 2-3 tablespoons of left over grease. Lower heat to medium and add garlic cloves, cooking until lightly golden. Add onions and cook until all items are evenly browned. Add chili flakes and sauté for an additional minute.  Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes. Carefully add chicken stock and bring to a boil. With a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the chicken to the pot with the skin side up. Add lemon slices, bay leaf, capers, and rosemary sprigs–submerging those items underneath the liquid.  Place lid over the pot and put into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done.

Carefully take the pot out of the oven. Remove rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and skim off and discard any fat and impurities from the juices. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper as necessary.

Plate chicken with sauce and serve with fresh bread or other desired sides.

Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Chicken Noodle Soup…..what could be more comforting?

Cultures all around the world have their own spin on this soul warming dish. For the Vietnamese, we have at least two versions— Phở Gà and Miến Gà.

Phở Gà is the lighter alternative to the traditional beef Phở and follows a similar cooking method. Due to the slow simmering process of the broth and spices, it takes me a couple of hours to complete a quality Phở Gà. Miến Gà offers a lighter broth and is served with glass noodles (Miến). White on Rice Couple gives a great overview of Miến.

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Both soups are delicious–especially on cold days. However, I find myself making Miến Gà more often. My version of Miến Gà can be done in a quick 20 minutes. In addition, you can tailor the ingredient amounts to make anywhere from 1 to 8+ bowls. Whereas with Phở Gà, you need a couple hours (at least) and are committed to a huge pot of it!

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)
The key to my Miến Gà is homemade chicken stock—something I almost always have on hand.  That combined with a splash of what I call “Vietnamese Liquid Gold” and you will have a wonderful and clean broth for your Miến Gà.

Wondering what Vietnamese Liquid Gold is? Nước Mắm (fish sauce), OF COURSE! :)

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Serve your Miến Gà with fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai Basil), a few slices of red chilies, and a squeeze of lime. The herbs, spice, and the tiny bit of citrus perfectly rounds out the flavors. This type of balance is the quintessential foundation in Vietnamese cuisine.

Miến Gà— now that is comfort food :)

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Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1.5 Quarts Homemade Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons Nước Mắm (fish sauce)
1 Inch Fresh Ginger, peeled
1 Teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1 Boneless Chicken Breast
4 Ounces Dried Miến (glass noodles)
Hot Water
Garnish: Chopped Scallions, Chopped Cilantro, Thai Basil, Slices of Red Chilies, Lime Wedges

Fill a large bowl with hot water and add Miến. Soak Miến for at least 15 minutes until they have softened.

In a medium size pot, add chicken stock, Nước Mắm, peppercorns and ginger. Bring to a simmer and add chicken breast. Continue poaching chicken breast until it is fully cooked, about 8 minutes–depending on size. Remove the chicken breast. Once it’s cooled slightly, slice or shred the meat.

Turning back to the the broth, skim off any impurities that may have formed. Taste and adjust the seasonings—adding more pepper or a dash of Nước Mắm as needed. Keep the broth at a low simmer to ensure it stays hot.

Drain the Miến and add to bowls. Sprinkle with scallions, cilantro, and arrange chicken slices on top. Ladle hot broth over and noodles. Garnish with additional scallions, chilies, basil, and lime.

Note: It’s important that the broth remain piping hot when it’s poured over the noodles. The heat will finish cooking the Miến.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. To participate,  please send entries to theculinarychronicles@gmail.com by March 13th! For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam**

 

 


Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

 

In college, one of my dearest friends and I would often meander over to The Cheesecake Factory to grab some food, sip on a few cocktails, and catch up. We would always sit at the bar for our meal because let’s face it, no matter what time of day, the average wait for The Cheesecake Factory can be ridiculous! Why are they always so PACKED?!

But I digress…..

Despite their billion page menu, PB (as she will now be known) and I would always split an order of their Chicken Piccata. It was always tasty, a TON of food (even for two to share), and was well priced. Hey, we were college students on a budget after all :)

 

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

 

After college when I finally got into my own kitchen, I began making my own version of Chicken Piccata. I love the light, lemony sauce with capers and how it pairs so well with the tender chicken. As an added bonus, you can get away with eating a huge plate of it without feeling too weighed down. Now that’s a Nguyen-Win Situation!

Quick, simple—and delicious.

And yes, PB. A very large plate of this Piccata will be waiting for you with an extra large Gimlet next time you come into town :)

Note: Up for seafood instead? Switch up the chicken for some scallops or a lovely white fish. Follow the same method and it will be just as delish!

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Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/3 Pound Angel Hair Pasta
1 Boneless Chicken Breast
½ Cup All Purpose Flour, plus ½ Tablespoon
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest, freshly grated
6-7 Lemon Slices, very thinly sliced
1 Lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon Capers, drained
½ Cup Roma Tomatoes, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
¼ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 ½ Cups Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, chiffonade
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Place ½ cup of flour in a shallow dish. Using a sharp knife, slice chicken breast in half. Place a piece of wax paper on top of each piece of chicken and pound with a kitchen mallet until it is about ½ inch thin. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper.  Take the chicken and roll it into the flour, using your fingers to assist in adhering it to the meat. Carefully shake off excess flour. Repeat with second piece of chicken.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Slide chicken into the skillet and sauté on each side until it becomes golden brown—about 3-4 minutes each side. Once chicken is done, transfer to a clean plate and tent with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Begin boiling the pasta.

Using the same skillet, add remaining olive oil and sauté garlic until it becomes aromatic but not browned. Add chili flakes, capers, lemon juice, lemon slices, zest, and chicken broth. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Raise the temperature to medium high heat and allow the liquid to reduce by almost half. While the liquid is reducing, use a fork to mash together remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and butter in a small bowl.  Whisk it into the reducing liquid and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to whisk out any lumps of flour. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt/pepper accordingly. Remove from heat.

Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the starch water. Toss the pasta in the lemon caper sauce, tomatoes, and basil–reserving a few spoonfuls of sauce. Add in a few spoonfuls of pasta water if you want a “looser” pasta consistency (optional). Check for seasonings and adjust with salt/pepper accordingly. Plate pasta and top each with a piece of chicken. Spoon extra lemon caper sauce over the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.

Thai Red Curry Chicken

Thai Red Chicken Curry

 

A few weeks ago, my sister labored in the kitchen with her version of Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Cà Ri Gà). The next day, Pioneer Woman posted her version of Red Thai Duck Curry.

It was a Sign.

The Kitchen Gods were telling me to make Curry.

And I don’t mess with Kitchen Divinities. That’s just bad Ju-Ju.

 

Thai Red Chicken Curry

 

I haven’t had Thai in awhile so I opted to give the Pioneer Woman’s recipe a spin. I heart PW. She wouldn’t steer me wrong.

 

Thai Red Chicken Curry

 

I took a few liberties and slightly modified PW’s original recipe. First–I used chicken instead of duck since it was what I had on hand. I also added a few more tablespoons of the curry paste for an added oompf of flavor. Since I do not like the taste of cooked pineapples (BLEH!), I totally omitted it. I found that the curry had natural sweetness from the coconut and didn’t need to add any sweeteners to compensate for it.

And because this gal loves heat, I threw in a few Thai Bird Chilies. But if you don’t like your curries too spicy, skip it. Finally, I added some scallions and cilantro at the very end with the Thai basil.

It was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! Rich, savory, herbaceous—and just yummy! For next time, I’d like to throw in a few kaffir leaves for an added layer of citrus flavor.  Note to self: Smuggle a few leaves off my auntie’s kaffir lime tree next time I go visit.

If you want a seafood option, I think prawns would also be fantastic in this curry. Just wait until the last few minutes to throw them in because overcooked prawns is no bueno.

 

Thai Red Chicken Curry

 

 

And for the record, I did end up making my own curry paste. I contemplated using the jarred stuff but then I heard my sister’s voice in my head asking “So…..did you make your own curry paste?”  Sheesh…..That woman always keeps me honest in the kitchen :)

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Thai Red Curry Chicken
Slightly modified from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Serves 5 – 6

Ingredients:

1½ Pounds Boneless Chicken Thighs
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
8 Tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste
14 Ounces Coconut Milk
2 Cups Hot Water
4 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
3 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, minced
½ Whole Red Onion, sliced
3-4 Thai Bird Chilies, minced (optional)
1 Whole Red Bell Pepper, cored and sliced
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes
1 Cup Fresh Thai Basil, chopped
½ Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
½ Cup Scallions, chopped
Serve with Jasmine Rice Cooked

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken skin side down and cook for several minutes, or until skin is crisp and golden brown. (Don’t worry about cooking the chicken at this point. You just want to give the skin some great color.) Remove from the skillet and cut into slices. I also removed the skin but that’s completely up to you. Set aside.

Reduce heat to medium low. If oil isn’t overly brown, go ahead and add the minced garlic to the pan. (If oil is to brown, pour it off and add some new oil.) Add red curry paste to the pan and stir. Cook paste for several minutes to release the flavors. Pour in the coconut milk, hot water, fish sauce, and minced ginger. Stir and allow to cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a separate pot heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Add sliced onions and bell pepper and cook for several minutes. Make sure the pan is hot, then add sliced chicken and stir. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.

Taste curry sauce, which should be slightly thickened by now. Add more spice if needed.  Pour curry sauce into the pot with the veggies, chilies, and chicken. Stir to combine and allow to bubble and simmer for a good 10 to 15 minutes. Add a little hot water if it seems too thick, or allow to bubble longer if it needs more thickening. Remove from heat and add scallions. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. At the last minute, stir in lots of chopped basil and cilantro. Serve immediately over jasmine rice.