easy fajitas with grilled chicken, peppers, and onions.

April 21, 2014 § 3 Comments

So, to tell you the truth, I am exhausted.  Ty & I have been house hunting for several months, and last week  involved several nights spent with our realtor.  It’s so much more of an emotional process than I had anticipated!  Lots of excitement followed by let downs… But my fingers are crossed that something good is just around the corner!

In the meantime, I’m counting on simple recipes like this one to get me through some hectic weekdays.  I’ve made double batches of these fajitas twice in the last two weeks to give us some great leftovers!

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Easy Fajitas with Grilled Chicken, Peppers, and Onions

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen with minor changes

What you need:

  •  1 and 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 6-8 flour or corn tortillas
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 3-5 assorted bell peppers (2-3 large or 4-5 small) – can be red, green, yellow, or orange
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • shredded cheese and/or sour cream, for topping

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What to do:

Start by preparing your chicken.  I like to trim excess fat off of my chicken breasts before thinly slicing them in 1/2 inch strips.  Put the strips into a plastic freezer bag.  In a bowl, combine the lime juice, salt, oregano, cumin, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika.  Pour over the chicken strips.  Seal bag tightly and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.  (This can also marinate overnight!)

Peel and slice your onion into very thin strips.  Cut your bell peppers into thin strips, as well, removing seeds and stem.  ImageHeat a very large skillet over a high heat.  (You want this pan HOT.)

Once skillet has heated, drizzle with olive oil to coat.  Place your sliced bell peppers in one layer on the skillet.  Allow them to cook for several minutes without touching them–resist the urge to flip them!  Turn one over as a test to see if its begun to char.  If so, flip.  Sear the other side until brown.  Then, add the onions.  Also allow them to char and turn golden.  Once the onions have softened, remove the entire onion and pepper mixture from the pan and set aside in a bowl.   Add another drizzle of olive oil to the pan.   Add the sliced chicken strips in a single layer.  Cook for 4-5 minutes on one side, then flip.  Cook for another 5 minutes on the other side.  Chicken should be browning.  Once chicken is cooked, add the onion and pepper mixture back into the skillet and toss well.  When you are ready to serve, remove the skillet from heat.

I warmed my tortillas on a grill pan until they were slightly charred.  Spoon a generous serving of the chicken fajita mixture onto each tortilla.

ImageAfter snapping these photos, I topped my fajitas with shredded cheese and sour cream.  (You could add other toppings, to your liking, like salsa, corn, black beans, cilantro, slaw, etc.)

Enjoy!

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smoky chicken chili.

March 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

I thought maybe I’d waited too long to share this recipe.  I thought, yesterday, Spring is here.  No one wants any more cold weather comfort food.  But then, I saw the forecast for Wednesday.  Five to eight inches of snow.  And I may have cried.  But then I thought…

CHILI TIME!

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I know I shared a recipe for a white bean chicken chili last month.  (It’s excellent.)  This recipe for smoky chicken chili has a completely different flavor profile.  It has a deep, smoky, lingering spiciness, the result of slow cooking the onions and allowing the chicken to absorb the spices.  It takes just a little extra time, but it’s definitely worth it.  Also, if you don’t have smoked paprika, I highly suggest you get some to use for this recipe.  (I know they sell it at Trader Joe’s!) It really makes the difference, and I don’t believe that regular paprika will have the same effect.

Smoky Chicken Chili

Recipe from How Sweet Eats, on the Tasty Kitchen blog

What you need:

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 28-ounce can roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 14.5-ounce cans white beans (use cannellini or Great Northern or both)
  • 2 4-ounce cans of diced green chilis
  • 1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese (for topping)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (for topping)

What to do:

In a large stockpot, cook the chopped bacon for 3 minutes.  Add the chopped onion and garlic to the bacon and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes.  The onions should begin to caramelize and brown.

Now, add the shredded chicken, smoky paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper to the pot.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring and pressing the spices into the chicken with a wooden spoon.  This helps to infuse the chicken with flavor.

Finally, stir in the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, beans, and green chilis.  Allow the chili to come to a slow, rolling boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the liquid reduces.

Top bowls with some shredded mozzarella and fresh cilantro, if you like.  I liked this chili just as well without any extra toppings.  Enjoy!

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I hope this makes you feel better about this never-ending winter.  It makes me feel better.

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white bean and chicken chili.

February 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

I’ve been living in Northeast Ohio now for a little over five months.  In the late summer and early fall, I worried a lot about what winter would be like in the snow belt, especially considering I drive a little (cute) Honda Fit.  So far, I’ve only had one or two truly scary commutes to work and my car’s doing better than I expected.  The constant brutal cold temps and the seemingly constant snow showers have started to wear on me, but I kinda think that about half our country is in the same boat.

In the past, I’ve struggled to stay positive through winter.  I miss the sunshine and being about to jog and hike outdoors without freezing my nose and toes.  I have to say, I’ve surprised myself this winter.  I do have a strong partner in Ty; I guess I’ll give him some (tons) of the credit for keeping my spirits up.  As much as I loved living in Columbus, I also love living here.  It really is a beautiful place, even snow-covered.

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I took these photos on the coldest day in Cleveland in 20 years.  Wind chills reached -35 below.

(-35 is not beautiful.  In case you were wondering.)

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Needless to say, this is optimal time for chili cooking.  I’ve been churning through a list of different recipes to figure out which ones we like the best.  This was one of the first I made:  quick white bean and chicken chili.  I have a clipping of this recipe that my mom gave me from The Columbus Dispatch a few years ago.  The article is titled, “Quick chili stands out as gift,” and says the chili is ready in “20 minutes flat.”  I agree: This is a perfect recipe to double and serve to family and friends.  It also comes together really fast.

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White Bean and Chicken Chili

Adapted from The Columbus Dispatch editors

What you need:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 can (15 oz.) great northern beans
  • 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) green chilies (mild or hot, depending on your taste)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (14 oz.) fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • 1/2 C shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese (optional garnish)
  • 1/4 C reduced-fat sour cream (optional garnish)

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What to do:

When I make this chili, I prepare all my ingredients first.  Peel and chop the onion.  Peel and mince the garlic.  Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Rinse and drain all of your beans, and drain the chiles.  Ready?

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large nonstick soup pot.  Add your chopped onion to the pot, and stir to prevent sticking.  Now add the chicken and garlic.  Stir occasionally and allow the chicken to cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add your corn, beans, and chilies to the pot.  Then add the chicken broth, cumin, and cayenne pepper.  Increase the heat to high.  Cover the pot, and allow the chili to come to a boil.

While the chili is cooking, mix the cornstarch and water in a small plastic container with a lid.  Shake well!

Add the cornstarch mixture to the chili a scoop at a time, stirring constantly to blend it in.  Continue to let the chili boil until it reaches the thickness you prefer.  Remove the chili from heat when you’re ready to serve.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of cheese.

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Easy, satisfying chili!

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Some notes:

This recipe will serve 2-3 very hungry people.  I would double or triple the recipe for company, particularly if you want leftovers.

The chili freezes well.

If you prefer, you could cook your chicken breasts in the oven ahead of time and shred for the soup.  Other options would be to use frozen chicken strips, like Tyson makes, or a rotisserie chicken.

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I love stirring in the sour cream and cheese.  So yummy.

Italian wedding soup.

January 8, 2014 § 1 Comment

Folks, I just have one more meatball-related recipe for you – Italian wedding soup!

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When I was a kid, I thought this was a soup that Italian people ate at weddings.  Seems logical, right?  Well I just Googled wedding soup and learned that “wedding soup” actually means “married soup”—referring to the marrying of the flavors of green vegetables and meat.  Now you know.

Typically, this soup contains some sort of green leafy vegetable, such as escarole or spinach or curly endive, and meat – usually a small meatball made of beef and pork, cooked in a chicken broth.

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Chances are, you’ve had this soup before.  You’ve probably had several varieties.  For this soup, I used my own Italian meatball recipe.  I rolled smaller meatballs with this soup in mind, but you could totally cut larger meatballs in half or quarters.  Otherwise, I loosely followed Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe, with some minor changes and some additions to make the soup more hearty.  This girl needs sustenance!

A quick note:  You can really play with the ingredients of this soup.  Add as many meatballs or as much shredded chicken or as much pasta as you like, etc.  You get the idea!

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Italian Wedding Soup

What you need:

  • 20  small Italian meatballs, or several large meatballs cut into small pieces
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of small pasta shells
  • 1 pound spinach, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

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What to do:

If your meatballs are not already prepared, make them! Otherwise, make sure you have the cooked meatballs ready to go.  If using meatballs that were previously frozen, I suggest defrosting them before adding to the soup.  Also cook and shred your chicken breast.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Season the broth with the dried basil, salt, ground black pepper, and dried oregano, or an Italian seasoning blend of your choice.  Add 2 cups of small shells to the pasta and boil for 8 minutes, until pasta is tender.  Now add the meatballs and the chopped spinach to the broth.  Cook for 5 minutes, then lower the soup to a simmer.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and the Parmesan cheese until blended.  Slowly drizzle the egg mixture into the soup, while continuously stirring the soup in a circular motion.  By stirring gently, you will form thin strands of egg in the broth.  This should take about 1-2 minutes.  Add the shredded chicken and stir well. Taste the soup, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Serve in bowls topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Note:  Don’t be alarmed if your meatballs crumble while simmering.  Mine became so tender that they broke apart easily while I stirred the soup.  This is a good thing!

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crispy buffalo chicken salad.

December 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

This buffalo chicken salad is going to become part of my regular rotation.

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The baked buffalo chicken breasts are simple and delicious, and if you’re not in a salad mood, you could serve them whole as a main dish with potatoes or a vegetable.  But I suggest trying the salad first.  Super satisfying!

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Recipe slightly modified from How Sweet Eats

What you need for the chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mild buffalo wing sauce
  • 1 C panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 C seasoned fine bread crumbs (I used Progresso Italian Style)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ tsp onion powder

What you need for the salad:

  • 6-8 cups of butter lettuce, chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 chives, sliced
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

What you need for the dressing:

  • 6 tablespoons ranch dressing (I used low-fat)
  • 1 tablespoon creamy blue cheese dressing
  • 2 teaspoons mild buffalo wing sauce

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spritz with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut your chicken breasts into small pieces.  Trim the fat, if you prefer.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Get two bowls ready!  In one bowl, whisk together the eggs and buffalo wing sauce.  In a second bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs, fine bread crumbs, onion powder, and flour.  Dredge each piece of chicken first into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumb mixture—use a fork to lightly press the crumbs against the chicken.

Place the pieces of chicken on the foil-lined pan. Spritz with nonstick spray.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Chicken ready to go into the oven:

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Let’s zoom in here, folks.

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While chicken is baking, prepare your dressing!  Simple:  Just whisk your ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, and buffalo wing sauce together.

Once chicken is ready, you can assemble your salads.

Place several handfuls of lettuce in each bowl.  Add your carrots, chives, and green onions.  Place 4-5 pieces of chicken on top.  Add some crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and bacon pieces, then drizzle with dressing, to your liking.  EAT UP PEOPLE!

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*This recipe yielded two large salads, enough to feed two very hungry people.

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thai chicken enchiladas.

November 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

I know we’re all getting in the spirit of turkeys and sweet potatoes and stuffing.  But I just have to share this recipe for thai chicken enchiladas.  Oh my gosh.  I will be making these again.  And again.  And again.

The combination of flavors just works well–and the sweet and spicy sauce?  I could eat that by the spoonful.

These enchiladas come together very quickly, and only require 20 minutes of baking time, perfect for a weeknight.

Confession:  I ate one in the middle of the afternoon, hot out of the oven.  Could.not.stop.myself.

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Recipe slightly modified from How Sweet Eats

What you need:

  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped/shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped/shredded cabbage
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped + crushed peanuts + more for garnish
  • 2 1/2 cups light coconut milk (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce (this will approximately be one 7 oz. bottle of Thai Kitchen Sweet Red Chili Sauce, which I used—very mild spice)

*I lightly seasoned my chicken breasts with a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, and baked at 325 for 40 minutes.  The breasts were tender and easily shredded.

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What to do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add your olive oil.  Add your thinly sliced onions, your minced garlic, and your shredded carrots and cabbage.  (Pro-tip: For easy prep, get your shredded carrots and cabbage from your grocery’s salad bar.)  Let the vegetables cook for about 8 minutes, until you see them starting to get soft.  Now, add your shredded chicken, sliced green onions, crushed peanuts, and salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Cook for several minutes, then pour in ¾ C coconut milk and 1/3 C sweet chili sauce.  Again, mix well until combined.  Turn off the heat.

Set out a 9 by 13 baking dish and spray with nonstick spray.  Pour the remaining coconut milk and sweet chili sauce in a bowl, and whisk until thoroughly mixed.

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Pour ½ C of this mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.  Spread with a spatula to coat.

Now it is time to fill your enchiladas!  Place several generous spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla.

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Roll each tortilla tightly and place in the dish.  I was able to fit 8 rolled tortillas.  Cover with the remaining coconut milk/chili sauce mixture.

Bake the enchiladas for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with additional crushed peanuts.  Spoon sauce from the bottom of the dish over the top of the enchiladas.

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This recipe (again, from How Sweet Eats) is exceptionally good.  Just the right amount of spice and sweetness.

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I am not a big fan of coconut, but I still love the flavor that coconut milk adds to a dish.  It works so well in these enchiladas.

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grilled Greek chicken gyros.

November 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

These grilled Greek chicken gyros are the ticket, let me tell you.  I’d always thought of tzatziki sauce as this delicious mystery sauce too complicated to ever make at home.  I was so wrong!  I always crave gyros, and this recipe definitely satisfied my craving.

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Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

What you need for the chicken:

  • 1.5 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into thick strips
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 3 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper

What you need for the tzatziki:

  • 16 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 regular cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • half a lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

What you need for serving:

  • 4 to 6 pitas
  • Kalamata olives, chopped
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • feta cheese
  • 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced

What to do:

First, make your chicken marinade.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, Greek yogurt, oregano, dill, salt and pepper until mixed well.  Slice your chicken breasts into thick strips and add the strips to the bowl.  Make sure the pieces are thoroughly coated.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken for at least one hour—could marinate overnight if time allows.

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Next, prepare your tzatziki sauce.  Make sure that you pour off any liquid from the surface of the Greek yogurt container.  I used full fat yogurt, because it is thicker.  Mix the yogurt with your diced cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, dill, oregano, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Add a little drizzle of olive oil.  Pop the sauce in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Ready to grill your chicken?  I used my grill pan.  Heat a grill pan to high heat, then remove your chicken from the marinade and  grill, 5-6 minutes per side.

Once your chicken is ready to go, gather the rest of your ingredients for serving.  I heated my pitas for 15 seconds in the microwave before serving.  Top each pita with your chicken, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and chopped Kalamata olives.  Add a spoonful of tzatziki sauce.

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I wrapped our gyros in foil, to collect all the overflowing toppings.  I may have been overzealous in my stuffing.  Or maybe I just need larger pitas.  Whatever, it was delicious.  EAT UP!

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