Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chicken and Basil Stir Fry: Sometimes husbands just have to take matters into their own hands…

Hey foodies, it’s Stew. As many of you know, my wife Lindsey is 38 weeks pregnant. You know what that means?? Pain everywhere…from the back to the stomach…from her shoulders down to her feet. The last thing a 38-week pregnant woman wants to do is figure out “what’s for dinner”…so sometimes husbands just have to take matters into their own hands…and that’s exactly what I did tonight. The wife was feeling horrible (but super hungry) and so I “volunteered” to cook dinner (I actually had to insist since sometimes our wives can be reluctant to turn over the apron and spatula). So I turned to a cookbook that I bought for my wife a while ago, Fresh Flavor Fast (from Martha Stewart's "Everyday Food" books). As I flipped through recipe after recipe I honed in on what sounded good to me to eat (fortunately we both have similar tastes and it turned out that this sounded good to Lindsey too….whewww!).

I love THAI food (like a lot…see this link)!! I didn’t always like it but it is something that I have come to love more and more after each plate. Lindsey is actually the one that opened my eyes to the wonderful flavor of basil. In dishes like this one, some people actually describe the taste of basil like that of mint, cinnamon, or licorice. Personally, I always seem to find the licorice taste…but that is okay with me because I love black licorice. Adding the basil after the stir-fry is off the heat is key to keeping the flavor bright. This dish really isn’t spicy…it’s more about the wonderful mix of flavors. The rice-wine vinegar adds SOO much.

So here it is…

Chicken and Basil Stir Fry
Serves 4

1 ½ pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into thin strips)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
6 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 red bell peppers (you can use red, green, or a mix), ribs and seeds removed, cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar (we were out of this…so I mixed rice cooking wine with rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ cups fresh basil (regular or Thai basil)
Cooked white rice, for serving

1. Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Toss chicken with cornstarch until completely coated; season generously with salt and pepper.
2. In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil, over medium-high. Cooke half the chicken, turning once, until browned on both sides but not completely cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with another 2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken; transfer to plate.
3. Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, along with the onion and bell peppers; cook over medium heat, tossing often, until vegetables begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the water, vinegar, soy sauce, and chicken; cook, tossing, until chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute. REMOVE FROM HEAT (very important step). Once removed from heat…stir in basil leaves. Serving over rice is a MUST.

I hope you like this dish…it’s really good and the taste is amazing…serious. If you don’t believe me, try it. Let me know what you think (especially about the basil).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scarborough Fair Chicken

For dinner the other night I wanted to bake some chicken, but didn't really know what I was going to put on it. I put the chicken in the pan, and sprinkled some rosemary on top. This made me start singing the Simon and Garfunkel (I went through a big sixties music phase in high school) song, Scarborough Fair:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

So what did I do? On top of the rosemary, I sprinkled parsley, sage, and thyme. I thought, if the spices are in a song together, then they should taste good together, right? I'm so glad the song isn't "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Cumin," or chili powder or something...that could have been interesting.

I served the yummy chicken with some pasta tossed with fresh asparagus and tomatoes. It was a great dinner! Here's the lindstewfoodies original recipe! There's no measuring, just make one chicken breast per person.

[ Sorry, this pic was taken on my phone, because our camera is packed away in the hospital bag! ]

Scarborough Fair Chicken

Chicken breasts
Olive oil
Garlic, minced (1 large clove for every two chicken breasts)
Lemon Juice

Heat oven to 350º F. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Place chicken breasts in pan. Sprinkle evenly with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Mince garlic on top of chicken. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Bake, covered, for about 45 minutes, then uncovered until juices run clear (about 15 minutes more).

Pasta with Asparagus and Tomatoes

Angel hair pasta (or other desired pasta)
Asparagus, chopped (did you know the thinner the asparagus spears, the more tender they are?)
Tomatoes, chopped
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Salt water and add pasta. Two to three minutes before pasta is done, toss in asparagus. When pasta is al dente, strain and put back in pot. Drizzle a little olive oil over pasta. Toss with tomatoes, parmesan, salt and pepper, to taste.

Easy! A light but flavorful meal! Hope you enjoy! :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

It seems like the posts are getting fewer and fewer every month! This is partly because I am too tired to try new recipes that look somewhat time-consuming, so I rely on tried and true recipes (like macaroni and cheese, tacos—and not even with homemade tortillas, soup, and meals that I've frozen). However, my awesome niece and nephews recently came over for lunch one day when they were in town and I made barbecue chicken pizza (Liz's recipe, with Famous Dave's barbecue sauce—our fave!) and decided that pizza is pretty easy to make. The hardest part is rolling out the dough and prepping the ingredients. I decided I'd make homemade pizza at least once a month, if not more. I'd had my eye on a ranch chicken pizza recipe for a couple weeks, so I decided to give it a go on a night I had enough energy (and had some ranch dressing mixed up).
This pizza rivals our favorite barbecue chicken pizza (you can find the recipe on Liz's site)! Now every time I make pizza, I can alternate between the two, instead of always making barbecue chicken pizza!

Use a ranch dressing you love (I don't love any bottled ranch dressings, instead I like to mix up my own using Hidden Valley Ranch packets, but using half sour cream and half mayo instead of all mayo). The fresh tomatoes are a must! I almost left them off because I didn't have any, but I'm glad I ran to the store, because they added a lot of flavor (in addition to adding some much needed color). I also used Monterey Jack cheese, because I hardly ever buy mozzarella, and I think Mont Jack is a little more flavorful. I prefer to use canned or leftover chicken on pizza—less work! You can use turkey bacon, too, of course (do I ever buy real bacon? No way, Jose). On to the recipe!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza
[ modified slightly from this recipe ]

5–6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 13 oz. can of chicken (this tops two pizzas pretty heavily, so you can reduce this if you wish)
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing (depending on how many pizzas you're making and how big they are)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup cheddar)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped green onions
Your favorite pizza dough

Preheat the oven to 425º, with a pizza stone (if using. If not, grease a pizza pan or baking sheet).
Roll out the pizza dough to a circle. Bake the crust for 5–7 minutes in the oven, or until it just begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.
Spread the ranch dressing over the partially baked crust. Sprinkle on half the cheese. Add the chicken, bacon, tomatoes and onions, then top with the rest of the cheese. Return the pizza to the oven and back until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10–15 minutes.