Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
I must admit that I’ve been incredibly lazy in the kitchen these past few weeks. It’s been really warm and humid (for San Diego standards, that is) and the last thing I want to do is hang out over the hot stove for long periods of time.

And don’t even get me started about my utter disdain for dishes!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
So my “cooking” of late has really consisted of compiling ingredients (salads or sandwiches), charcuterie boards (AMEN!), or quick prep dishes such as stir-frys.

Because…you know…. EVERYTHING STIR-FRY and all.

Total shameless plug.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
But all self-promotion aside, stir-fry dishes are a total legit way to get something scrumptious in your belly with minimal cooking time. The majority of your efforts primarily go towards chopping the ingredients— easy peasy!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
This Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai is a slight variation of my Pork Larb Gai which is a Thai minced pork salad. For the protein I went with a surf and turf approach as I love the flavor combo. For the ground chicken, you can go with breast meat but I prefer the flavor of dark meat. And if you want a really light approach, sub the chicken with ground turkey breast.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Whichever protein you select, you’ll really love Larb Gai –-especially during the summer months. The dish is light yet fulfilling and is punched up with TONS of flavor from the fresh lime juice, bright herbs and savory sauce. I often have it over steamed rice but when I’m feeling extra lazy or when it’s warm out, I use it as filling for lettuce wraps. Either way, you’ll love it.

Enjoy!

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Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 teaspoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced red onions or shallots
4-5 kaffir lime leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground chicken
½ pound peeled shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon ground toasted rice powder*
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn

In a small bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced onions, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the ground chicken.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the chicken around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes and then add the shrimp Stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes until the shrimp becomes pink and opaque. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, sliced red onions, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, and lettuce. Serve immediately with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.

20-ish Minute Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana

A couple of days ago I was playing around with a variation of my tried and true marinara recipe. I didn’t really have any particular purpose for the marinara but just felt a tugging compulsion to make some.

So what does one do when one finds themselves with a pot full of wonderful sauce?

Make some Chicken Parmigiana, of course!

It also may have helped that I was scrolling through IG while the sauce was simmering and saw a rich plate of Chicken Parmigiana that someone had posted. And since I hadn’t made some in a very long time, I decided to put my newly made marinara sauce to some delicious use.

Chicken Parmigiana
Chicken Parmigiana
is typically breaded and pan fried. And although it’s delicious, that step does take some extra time and if you don’t serve it soon after it’s made, the crust can get soggy. Let’s face it–what’s the point of taking the extra effort to have a crispy crust/breading only to have it get all soggy?

So I usually just skip it!

I like to make a very simple and quick version of this Italian-American dish which makes it a perfect weeknight meal. After a quick browning in the skillet (since I nix the breading/frying), I smother the chicken in marinara (homemade or store bought) and cheese before it bakes for several minutes.

Chicken Parmigiana
Super easy, super quick!

The sauce seeps into the chicken while it finishes cooking in the oven so it’s wonderfully juicy and flavorful. Serve it alongside some pasta, potatoes, veggies or even in a sandwich and you’ll be all set!

You can also make a very large dish/tray of it to serve during the holidays. Since there’s no crust, you won’t need to worry about it getting soggy.

That’s totally NGUYEN-ing!

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20-ish Minute Chicken Parmigiana
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 skinless boneless chicken breast
1 teaspoon dried onion powder
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried fennel seeds, crushed
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
¼ grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a kitchen mallet or bottom of a heavy pan, pound each of the chicken breasts to an even thickness. Place the chicken in a dish and add the onion powder, basil, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, paprika, garlic, lemon juice and zest, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Flip the chicken around a few times to coat evenly.

Heat a large heavy bottom skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook the chicken breasts over medium-high heat until golden—about 2 minutes each side.

Spread ½ cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the browned chicken breasts in the dish and top each breast with the remaining marinara sauce. Top each breast with sliced mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 7-8 minutes until the chicken has cooked through and the cheeses have melted and browned. If needed, turn on the broiler briefly to brown the cheese.

Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle the tops with chopped parsley. Serve warm.

Game Day BBQ Chicken Pizza — Fight On!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Alright y’all….this is a last minute post so please excuse the quality of the photos and any typos.

But it’s the SEASON OPENER today for my boys and kick-off is in less than 5 hours–a GOOD LUCK post was a must!

GO USC TROJANS!!!!!!!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Growing up, football always had a “shadow” presence in my childhood. We lived in Minnesota–land of the mighty Minnesota Vikings. So when football season came along in the fall, Sundays and Monday-nights were off limits for the TV.

Dad held permanent residence in front of the sole family tube during the season.

And as funny as it is now for me to think it, I didn’t really enjoy the game at that time. All I knew was that I had an unquestionable loyalty to the Vikes.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Then I found myself as a cheerleader all throughout high school (2-year varsity cheer captain–thank you very much! Go BRAHMAS!!) and spent every Friday night cheering for a CIA Champ Football Team. By then, my own appreciation and understanding for the sport had taken shape which only catapulted and grew a MILLION times when I went to school at the University of Southern California during the Coach Pete Carroll/Carson Palmer years.

It was extraordinary…

It’s been over a decade since I’ve been at USC but my loyalties have never waned. In fact, it’s such a serious thing for me during the season that I will rarely watch a game in public at a sports bar (unless I’m at the game) because this 5’2″ gal gets so heated, I become a sailor!

Well, my potty mouth becomes a sailor.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

To cheer on my boys as they face Arkansas State tonight, I made a quick pizza using ingredients that take on the spirit of College Football tailgating– BBQ Chicken Pizza!!

I know, BBQ Chicken Pizza is so “1990’s”–but after all this time, it’s still dang good!

And with that, I’ve got to get back to my usual game day rituals.

Here’s to an incredible College Football season– GO TROJANS!!!!!!

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Game Day BBQ Chicken Pizza
Serves 2

Ingredients:

6 ounces fresh pizza dough, rested and at room temperature
all purpose flour
¾ cup barbeque sauce, divided
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, divided
1 cup sliced red onions
1/3 pound thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
¼ cup diced scallions, divided
1 cup diced cooked chicken
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ tablespoon corn meal
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Take the pizza dough and flatten it with your hands on a floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll the crust to about ¼ of an inch thickness. Transfer the rolled out dough to a pizza paddle or lightly floured cutting board.

Spread ½ cup of the barbeque sauce over the dough. Next, top the sauce with the minced garlic and ¼ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes. Cover the pizza with the red onions, mozzarella cheese, 2/3 of the scallions, chicken, and tomatoes. Drizzle the remaining barbeque sauce over the top of the pizza.

Sprinkle the corn meal over a baking sheet. Carefully slide the pizza onto the baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake the pizza for 15-20 minutes until the crust becomes golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle the remaining red chili pepper flakes, scallions and cilantro over the top. Slice the pizza and serve warm.

Pan-Roasted Rosemary Chicken Thighs

Pan-Roasted Rosemary Chicken Thighs

The thing is, I’m kind of obsessed with rosemary.

Nearly every time I pass by a bunch at the market, I always stop to smell them. If I come across a rosemary bush during my walks with Bella, I always brush my hand across the top so that the oils will release and the scent will stay with me.

I’ve got issues, I know.

Pan-Roasted Rosemary Chicken Thighs

At the farmers market last Saturday, I grabbed a huge bunch and decided that my meals for the week would all feature rosemary. I marinated prawns in them to top some pizzas, roasted some pistachios with chopped rosemary and garlic, brined some pork chops with rosemary and lemon, bottled some rosemary infused olive oil, and made a huge batch of pan-roasted rosemary chicken thighs in my cast iron skillet.

This recipe is a nod to all of those delicious spots that make European-style rotisserie chicken. A whole chicken is marinated in fresh herbs (yep-rosemary!) and garlic, which are then slowly spun and roasted. Extra bonus? The establishments that place a tray of new potatoes underneath the spinning chicken so that all of those spectacularly flavored juices fall down and infuse the potatoes.

I’m drooling.

Pan-Roasted Rosemary Chicken Thighs

Since I don’t happen to own a rotisserie (ahem…birthday is in May folks!), I decided to turn to my trusty cast irons to sear and render down some chicken before roasting them in the oven. But before any of that happened, I marinated the chicken (I prefer chicken thighs) in an obscene amount of fresh rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and a few other spices overnight. If you don’t have that kind of time, you could do it for about 6 hours but overnight is best. After the chicken has roasted, the skillet is quickly deglazed with wine and stock for a light sauce.

The end results? Perfectly moist and aromatic chicken.

If you prefer white meat, you could substitute with chicken breast. But do yourself a favor and make sure you use bone-in. You’ll get SO much more flavor and the meat tends to be more moist.

Now excuse me as I go enroll myself in a Rosemary Addiction Group.

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Pan-Roasted Rosemary Chicken Thighs

Ingredients:
½ cup chopped rosemary
¼ cup minced garlic
zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 pounds chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup low sodium chicken stock
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

In a bowl, mix together the rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, red chili flakes, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place the chicken in a large shallow dish or gallon sized resealable bags. Pour the herb mixture over the chicken and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, or preferably overnight.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet or other oven proof skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, take each chicken thigh and wipe off any excess marinade. Carefully lay each piece into the skillet, skin side down. Allow the skin to crisp and become golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Once browned, turn each chicken thigh over. Since a good amount of the fat would have rendered out of the chicken, carefully spoon out and discard. Transfer the skillet to the oven.

Roast the chicken for an additional 10-15 minutes depending on the size. If pierced with the tip of a knife, the juices should run clear or use a thermometer and roast until internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees F.

Pull the skillet from the oven and transfer the chicken to a plate. Cover with foil. Return the skillet to the stove and over medium-high heat, pour in the chicken stock and white wine. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the liquids to come to a boil and reduce for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the butter (optional). Adjust with additional kosher salt or pepper as needed.

Place the chicken back into the skillet and serve. Alternatively, you can spoon the pan sauce over chicken thighs and serve.

Enjoy!

 

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I know, I know.

It’s kind of silly that I’m even posting this recipe as it’s a near no-brainer.

But if any of you are like me and have been running around like crazy with holiday errands, festivities, tasks, etc —then you know how clutch it is to have a “set it and forget it” kind of meal in your back pocket.

 

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

And that’s where slow cookers are my saving grace.

I got up pretty darn early this past Saturday with coffee in hand and a heavy to-do list that needed to be tackled. But before I dashed out of the house, I threw some chicken, aromatics and a couple of glugs of BBQ sauce in the slow cooker pot, flipped the switch on and let it do its magic while I battled crazy holiday shoppers.

I’m still sporting the wounds from some ‘bows being thrown at the toy store.

Scawie.

 

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

But my quick 5 minute prep in the morning was rewarded when I got home to a pot of delicious chicken ready to be piled on to some soft Kings Hawaiian buns.

So tender, so tangy, so delicious and so dang easy.

 

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Slow cooker pulled chicken is definitely one of those fab dishes that you can add or omit whatever you may have handy in your pantry or fridge. Crushed tomatoes, canned chili, cream of mushroom soup, bell peppers, root veggies—whatever goes! But if you do opt for the BBQ sauce route, don’t skip the liquid smoke. It adds that wonderful smokey element you can’t get if you don’t use a smoker or outdoor grill.

This time around, I topped the chicken with lightly pickled onions and shredded lettuce. But definitely use whatever toppings you like. Or in my case, whatever I managed to scrounge up from the fridge.

And with that dear friends, let me wish you and your loved ones a very, very….

Happy Hanukkah!
Joyous Kwanzaa!
Merry Christmas!
Cheerful Winter Solstice!

and a Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us!!!

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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Serves approximately 8

Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ small white onion, sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 dried bay leaves
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
2 cups BBQ sauce, divided (homemade or bottled)
4-5 dashes liquid smoke
8 large hamburger buns/rolls
optional: cole slaw, pickles, cheese, shredded lettuce, pickled onions, avocado, etc.

Season the chicken with kosher salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Place in the slow cooker and top with the onions, garlic and bay leaves. Pour in the can of chiles and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce. Cover the pot and cook on low for about 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.

Once done, carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a platter or large dish. Use two forks to shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Spoon the onions, garlic and chiles from the slow cooker over the chicken. Pour the remaining BBQ sauce over the meat and stir in the liquid smoke. Taste and season with additional salt as needed.

Assemble each sandwich by placing a large mound of the pulled chicken and sauce on top of each bun/roll. Serve with additional toppings/condiments as desired.

 

Cobb Salad – Taste the Rainbow

Cobb Salad

I made a Rainbow.

Well….a huge salad that looked like a Rainbow.

Cobb Salad

And the thing is….I wasn’t intending to write about it but after I assembled everything, I said to myself:

“Damn. That is a good-looking bowl o’ goodness.”

Cobb Salad

So here it is.

My Cobb Salad.

Nothing crazy, nothing shocking but darn delicious. And like all great Foodies and Nutritionists will tell ya –each meal should cover the Rainbow.

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Cobb Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad
5 cups roughly chopped Romaine lettuce
1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1 small avocado, diced
1/2 cup diced bell peppers (I like to use orange and yellow peppers)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup diced grilled chicken
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 crispy bacon strips, roughly chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. (I also like to add the ingredients into a mason jar and shake it up–it’s a wonderful alternative to emulsify the vinaigrette but it serves as the perfect storage vessel for the remaining dressing.)

In a large bowl, add the Romaine lettuce and arugula. Add enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. Toss to evenly cover and plate between two bowls.

Divide the remaining ingredients between the two bowls. Serve additional vinaigrette alongside each bowl. Enjoy!

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

So here’s the thing.

I’ve never claimed to have a blog about figure-friendly, low-calorie recipes. I mean, c’mon now. I believe in BUTTER….BACON…and BOOZE!

My kitchen’s Holy Trinity.

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

But even this gal has to be a bit health-conscious sometimes. Eating (or drinking) lots of fresh veggies, getting in some regular workouts and finagling lean proteins into the menu as often as possible.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t naturally gravitate towards chicken breasts–especially boneless/skinless chicken breast. And don’t even get my brother started on his feelings on chicken. But the proof is in the puddin‘ — chicken breast is one of the leanest proteins you can put in your tummy.

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

And since we all know that it can so easily dry out and taste like sandpaper, here are my two no-brainer tips to combating the chicken blues.

First, you’ve got to pump the chicken with as much flavor as possible. We’re talking a boom-pow marinade and let the chicken soak in it as long as possible. And if you want to get crazy– brine it!

Second, smother it with goodness! Yup, it’s condiments time – and you know how much I love condiments! Things like pico de gallos, salsas, marinaras, and chimichurris are fantastic over grilled chicken.

My Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken is a standard way I like to marinate my chicken breasts overnight before throwing them on the grill. The tequila and limes help to break down the chicken and as long as you’re not going rogue on the grill, it stays nice and juicy. It’s also a great method for chicken wings—just put a bit of the marinade aside and when you start cooking, baste the wings with it.

Over a salad, inside quesadillas/burritos, in sammies or as a stand alone, my Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken has helped me {in a delicious way} with my skinless-chicken breast aversion.

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Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
1 small white onion
4 large garlic cloves
1-2 jalapeno peppers (depending on heat preference)
zest of 1 lime
½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup tequila
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup olive oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts*
vegetable oil
lime wedges

In a food processor or blender, add the first 15 ingredients. Pulse several times until the fresh aromatics have broken down. Place the chicken breasts into a gallon size resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken and massage it through. Be sure to get most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. Put the chicken in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

An hour before you start cooking the chicken, pull it from the refrigerator to take the chill off of it. Heat your grill to medium-high. Brush the grates of your grill with the vegetable oil. Place the chicken breast on the grill and cook for about 5-6 minutes on the first side before flipping. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes on the 2nd side until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches approximately 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the grill and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for about 5 minutes.

Serve warm with fresh lime wedges and your choice of condiments.

*Bone-in chicken breast can also be used but adjust the cooking times as needed.