Smoky Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables

Last week we spent four glorious days in Burlington, Vermont with our family.  In addition to hiking, eating, and puzzle-ing, this included one of the most epic LNDPs in which I’ve ever participated.  Lesson learned – the power of an LNDP is heightened through 1) a straight T. Swift soundtrack and 2) your mom/mom-in-law.

I also think the universe is trying to tell me something about New England.  The Husband and I got caught on “flypocalypse” on our way home – meaning we spent an extra two days in Vermont (there are worse places to be stuck).  And…this weekend I head BACK to Vermont for my BFF’s wedding.  I’ll just let that marinate.

Given our quick three days at home, not a whole lot of fancy cooking going on in our kitchen this week.  I bought some fresh herbs, veggies, and fruit – but other than that, we’re making do with what we have on hand.  Like this chicken, inspired by Bon Appetit.

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Smoky Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables

  • olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 handful smoked paprika
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 (small) handful cumin
  • 1 (small) handful crushed red pepper
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • **2-3 portabello mushrooms, sliced (see below)
  • arugula
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Mix olive oil through salt/pepper in a small bowl, whisk together.  Pour about half of the oil mixture into the yogurt, mix thoroughly, and set aside.
  2. Rub the oil mixture into the chicken on both sides and then place on a baking sheet.  Toss the remaining oil with the tomatoes, chickpeas, and mushrooms and spread alongside the chicken.  Season again with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast everything for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.  Serve on top of arugula with yogurt and parsley.

The Verdict:

I got creative here with the addition of the mushrooms, but truth be told, this would probably be better without them – the roasting makes them release a lot of liquid, which then means the chickpeas don’t roast quite as well.  However, for a one pot meal, this is healthy, tasty, and easy.  The yogurt, says the Husband, is key.

(My First-Ever) Roast Chicken

There are few things in the kitchen that scare me quite as much as roasting a whole chicken.  There are lots of reasons for which I could blame this fear: general squeamishness with respect to handling liver and “giblets” (side note: what ARE those?!); general preference for white meat over dark meat; not knowing how to carve the bird once it’s done; not knowing how to use a meat thermometer…

The main reason driving my fear, though, is this: fear of not living up to my mom’s (delicious) roast chicken.  As it turns out, conquering this fear is even easier than reading the thermometer’s instructions: I just called my mom.  (And pulled up an Ina recipe for inspiration.)

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A Perfect Roast Chicken

  • 1 whole (5-6 pound) chicken
  • salt, pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • 1 large bunch rosemary
  • 1 lemon, sliced into about 4 parts
  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half cross-wise, plus another 5-6 cloves, crushed
  • about 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch segments
  • 1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced
  • olive oil
  • for the sauce:
    • 1 shallot, sliced
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    • about a cup dry white wine
    • about 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Chop all your vegetables first before you get your hands mucked up; place the carrots, fennel, onion, and 5-6 cloves garlic at the bottom of a roasting pan.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and a small handful Herbs de Provence and set aside.  Add about half of the rosemary to the veggie mix.
  2. Remove anything icky from the inside of the chicken, including aforementioned giblets and liver.  Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water and then pat it really, really dry with paper towels.
  3. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
  4. Liberally season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper.  Stuff the cavity with the garlic, lemon and the other half of the rosemary.  Brush the melted butter (you could also use olive oil, if you want to keep this dairy-free) all over the chicken’s skin; season with salt and pepper (and if you can, you can stuff some garlic under the skin).  Season some more with Herbs de Provence.
  5. Tie the chicken’s legs together with kitchen twine.  Tuck the wings under the body of the bird and place it on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.
  6. Roast the chicken until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F – this took about 1 hour and 15 minutes in my oven. The juices should run clear when you slice between the leg and the breast.
  7. When finished, remove the bird from the pot.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the roasted vegetables and plate them around the bird.  Tent the chicken with aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes, while you make the sauce.
  8. At the bottom of your roasting pan, there should be all sort of delicious goodness.  On your stovetop, heat the pan, add the shallots and garlic, and bring the liquid to a boil.  Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom.  Turn down the heat and let the alcohol cook off a bit, and then remove entirely from the heat.  Stir in the sour cream (you can leave this step out if you’re keeping it dairy free).  Pour the sauce into a bowl and serve as a gravy side.
  9. Be like my mom: serve the chicken with a starch (I made couscous with pine nuts and parsley) and a vegetable (roasted vegetables AND a salad).  Don’t forget dessert.

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The Verdict:

This meal was epic.  Epic, I tell you.  I cannot believe it took me this long to make a roast chicken.  (That being said: it isn’t necessarily a casual weeknight affair, as my mom used to do.  This bird takes tender love and care, and time.)  Ina, Mom, you’re both genius.

ALL the Go-Tos…AKA Showering Sasha.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the epic bridal shower my mom threw for one of her BFF’s daughters.  She made lobster paella and smoked salmon canapes.  We drank champagne and rose.  I left home feeling happy, full, and totally in awe.

So, it was sort of a hubris-filled idea to host a bridal shower for one of my BFFs this past weekend.  You will note from the picture below what was not on the menu: lobster paella or smoked salmon canapes.  (Obvi on the champagne and rose, though).

IMG_3833For everyone’s benefit (and so that I’d actually have something to feed 15 people), I stuck to some tried and true standards.  These are truly the go-tos in our house: I realized as I was posting this that every single item is something I’ve already posted about here.  Which tells you I’m either really uncreative, or just totally confident in these recipes.  Probably both.

(I think) it turned out beautifully.  And most important, my friend Sasha seemed really touched.

IMG_3844 I hope everyone went home happy and full.  Unfortunately, I was already home, which means I was also in charge of cleaning up.

Good thing I had lots of leftover champagne and rose.  And basil vodka lemonade.  (Main idea: create a basil-infused simple syrup by boiling 1 part water, 1 part sugar and 1 big handful basil.  Add to lemonade, another handful basil and a big old splash of vodka.  Start showering/TPing the bride/asking the embarrassing “how well do you know your future spouse” questions.)

Grilled Curried Chicken Breast and Peach Salad

When the Husband and I were forced to move from our last apartment, we decided to make a big leap and move a whole one and a half blocks down, on the same street.  We are nothing if not adventurous.

Surprisingly, even this small change of scenery meant we noticed things we had never registered before.  For example, the Indian/Pakistani takeout place in the basement next door.  It even had an amazing name, involving the word “sacrificial.”  Um, OK.  Because the first thing either one of us suggests when we get home from a trip is Indian food, we’re in.

Sadly, Sacrificial didn’t live up to our (mental) hype.  So when we don’t want to walk the whole five blocks to our normal Indian place (hey, DC is HOT in the summer!), we have to make our own.  Fortunately, this dish is so easy no one feels like they’ve sacrificed anything.  Recipe adapted from Real Simple.

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Grilled Curried Chicken Breast and Peach Salad

  • about 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2-3 peaches, sliced
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • arugula
  • avocado
  1. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, curry powder, hot sauce and garlic.  Set a little bit aside, for use as your sauce later.  Stick the rest of the mixture in a ziplock bag, put your chicken breasts in there, and make sure they’re coated thoroughly.  Go off on your merry/to work ways, and let marinate for about 8 hours.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium & coat with a little cooking spray.  Toss the sliced peaches with a little salt, pepper and olive oil; grill those about 3-4 minutes.  For the last minute or two, add your scallions.  Set aside and keep warm (I wrapped mine in aluminum).
  3. Remove the chicken from its marinade and add to to the grill, cooking about 4-5 minutes per side, or until done.
  4. Assemble your salad: arugula, avocado, chicken, peaches, & scallions.  Top with a little bit of reserved sauce.

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The Verdict:

I like to make a grilled peach, chicken and goat cheese salad that’s become a staple around here on those summer nights that we realize that we’ve eaten mostly ice cream, chocolate covered pretzels, and/or cheeseburgers.  This is a nice little update that delivers those same healthy-reset vibes, so you can get back to eating ice cream, chocolate covered pretzels, and/or cheeseburgers.

Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato-Stuffed Chicken

We are home.  And we are stuffed.

For the past week, we have eaten nothing but baguettes, cheese, croque madame, pain au chocolat, croissants, steaks and frites.  We have consumed bottle after bottle of champagne and red wine.  We bought ice cream cones for the express purpose of passing the time, standing in line for museums.  We were gluttons and we are not sorry.

Paris and London were in a word, amazing.  We climbed all the monuments (sort of atones for the food? maybe?).  We took boat tours down the Thames and the Seine, and toasted each other as the Eiffel Tower lit up the sky.  We looked at crowns and wandered through gardens.  We saw close friends and family; I wandered the grand flower store at the foot of our old apartment, where my father took me the day I turned 8 and let me pick out any flowers I wanted for a birthday bouquet.

We are stuffed – food-wise, but also joy-wise.  (I know, I’m cheesy, but it’s just the truth.)  In that honor, some stuffed chicken breasts I made before we left.

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Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 large ball mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • large handful fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons or so sundried tomatoes, julienned
  • about 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten with a dash of water
  • about 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  1. After you rinse and pat dry chicken breasts, rub with a little bit of olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.  Use a small knife to carefully make an incision in each chicken breast; take care not to cut it all the way in half (you want to create a little pocket for all your goodies).
  2. Place each chicken breast under a sheet of parchment and pound with a mallet or small pan.so they are each less than an inch thick.  Insert a layer of basil, mozzarella and a few sundried tomatoes into each “pocket” of the chicken breast.
  3. Dredge each chicken breast individually in the flour, shake off excess flour, coat in the beaten eggs, and then dredge in panko.  Repeat for each chicken breast.
  4. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Without crowding the pan, cook each chicken breast for about 3-4 minutes on one side.  Lower the heat and use tongs to carefully flip to the other side, cooking an additional 3-4 minutes.  Keep chicken warm while you cook the additional breasts.
  5. Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread.

The Verdict:

This is a go-to in our house: that panko crust keeps the chicken juicy and crispy at the same time, while the cheese just oozes on to your plate.  And no one argues with oozing cheese.