Hearty Chicken Stew

In light of the fact that winter is just NOT giving UP, here’s a fabulous cozy winter dish to keep you warm until spring finally decides to arrive! I’m a big fan of any kind of stew, but this one is like if you made chicken pot pie without the crust – it is so thick and hearty and full of goodness.

What makes this even more awesome is that it’s SO cheap. I mean like less than $7 when you break it down – and this feeds 5-6 people. The most expensive part is the chicken – all the vegetables come SUPER cheap in the produce department.

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The best part is that the whole thing is made in only ONE pot – which means less dishes! Yay!

Start by doing all your prep work – called “mise en place” – you’ll need a cutting board and a good kitchen knife. 😉

Dice: 1/2 an onion, 2 stalks of celery

Peel & Slice: 2 carrots

Cube: 2 red potatoes, 1 large chicken breast

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Do it in THAT order and you should only need ONE cutting board and ONE knife! 🙂

Once this is all completed, put a couple tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. After the oil has heated, add the chicken to the pan and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.

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Allow the chicken to brown, moving it around the pan occasionally to keep it from sticking. This should take about 5 minutes or so. Once it’s browned, remove the chicken and then add the diced onion and celery.

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Sweat the onions and celery until they start to become translucent (about 3-5 minutes), making sure to scrape those brown bits off the bottom of the pot as you go! Once they’ve sweated, remove them from the pan.

Now, here’s where you can cheat a little: to the pan, add 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup and 2 cups of milk. Stir this until it has all combined, and then add two teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon each of pepper, oregano, and thyme. To give depth, add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and the zest of half a lemon. Stir in all the spices, and then add your previously cooked chicken, onions, and celery, along with the potatoes and carrots. Stir those in, then add 1 cup of frozen peas, 1 cup of frozen corn, and 1 cup of uncooked white rice.

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Cover and cook on LOW for about an hour (maybe even 45 minutes if you need it quick!), returning occasionally to stir. (The rice likes to settle to the bottom, so you’ll have to stir it every so often and scrape the rice off the bottom of the pan.)

After an hour of cooking it should be nice and thick and everything in it should be cooked through. Ladle it out and serve immediately!

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Best part, it just gets thicker and better if you leave it overnight! The starch from the potatoes and rice seeps into the liquid and just keeps thickening it!

Alternatively, you could do this in a crock pot by adding the soup and milk first and stirring until smooth, and then putting in everything (raw) at once and leaving it on low for about 4-5 hours or so. But I like this quicker version better. 😉 After you spent a few minutes prepping and browning, you can essentially busy yourself with something else for the hour that it’s cooking on the stove as long as it doesn’t take you too far from the kitchen. If you’re home from work at 5:00, you could theoretically have this on the table by 6:30!

Full Recipe:

Hearty Chicken Stew

Yield: 5-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of oil
1 large chicken breast, cubed ($2)
1/2 onion, diced ($0.20)
2 stalks celery, diced ( ($0.25)
1 can cream of chicken soup ($1)
2 cups milk ($0.50)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into medallions ($0.16)
2 red potatoes, cubed ($0.80)
1 cup frozen corn ($0.50)
1 cup frozen peas ($0.50)
1 cup uncooked white rice ($0.10)
Salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne (negligible)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon ($0.25) – because you can still use the lemon for something else.

(Total cost, if you buy in bulk and fraction it out: $6.26. That’s $1.05 per person!!)

Process:

1) Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add chicken, season with salt, pepper, and oregano, and stir occasionally until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

2) Add onions and celery to pan. Stir, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Once onions and celery start to become translucent, remove from pan.

3) Pour in can of cream of chicken soup and 2 cups milk. Stir until smooth and combined, then add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp each pepper, oregano, and thyme, 1/2 tsp of cayenne and the zest of 1/2 a lemon. Stir to combine.

4) Add previously cooked chicken, onions and celery, along with the potatoes, carrots, corn, peas, and rice. Stir until well distributed, cover, and cook on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to ensure rice doesn’t stick to bottom of pan.

5) After simmering for 1 hour, give it a final stir to ensure it has thickened properly and then ladle into shallow bowls and serve immediately.

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Grilled Chicken Cilantro Lime Salad

This is a fabulous summery dish that you can have really any time of year if you want to remind yourself of the crisp and sweet tastes of the warmer months! (I really needed that reminder since Old Man Winter keeps dropping snow on us!)

It uses a great combination of different flavors to provide a really great flavor profile for a great dish that’s good for a hearty lunch or a light dinner!

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Start off by getting your spices together: in a small dish, combine the zest of 1 lime, and then 1/2 tsp each of salt, cilantro, and garlic powder, along with 1/4 tsp of black pepper and cayenne pepper.

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Coat a small frying pan in a couple teaspoons of olive oil and heat it over low heat. Take about 1/4 of your seasoning mix and rub it over one side of a chicken breast.

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Put this in your frying pan, seasoning side DOWN, and then add some more salt, pepper, and cilantro to the unseasoned side. Let this cook for about 5-8 minutes or until it’s started to brown, then turn the chicken over, cover, and cook for an additional 8 minutes or so, or until the chicken is cooked through.

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While the chicken is cooking you can prepare the salad. Roughly chop 1 romaine lettuce heart and add it to a medium-large bowl. Then, julienne 1 carrot, 1/2 an onion, and 1/2 an apple. (I used Gala to add some red color, but any crisp/tart variety would be fine!)

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Add these to your lettuce and toss them together. Then, to the dish of your remaining seasoning, add the juice of the lime you zested earlier, 2 tbsp of olive oil, and 1 tbsp of rice vinegar. Use a fork to whisk this together, then pour it over your salad and toss to combine. Dish the salad out into two bowls.

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Once your chicken is done and has cooled a bit, cut it into thin slices and then top each salad with equal amounts of chicken. Serve immediately!

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Full Recipe:

Grilled Chicken Cilantro Lime Salad

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

Zest & juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp olive oil
1 boneless skinless chicken breast

1 romaine lettuce heart, roughly chopped
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 onion, julienned
1/2 apple, julienned

Process:

1) In a small dish, combine lime zest, salt, cilantro, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

2) Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Rub 1/4 of the seasoning mix onto one side of your chicken breast and place it seasoning side down into the skillet. Sprinkle unseasoned side with additional salt, pepper, and cilantro. Cook for 5-8 minutes, then turn and cover and cook for an additional 8 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside to cool.

3) Stir in 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, and juice of 1 lime to your seasoning mix.

4) Combine lettuce, carrots, onions, and apples in a large bowl and toss together. Add dressing and toss to combine.

5) Plate salad in two separate dishes. Cut your chicken into thin slices and divide evenly between the two salads. Serve immediately.

Not Your Momma’s Coleslaw

I hate winter. Everything about it. The cold, the snow, the ice, the dry skin… About the only redeeming things of winter to me are the holidays (from Thanksgiving all the way through Valentine’s Day) and the extreme dip in the bug and spider population. (Especially this year, since at least around here, we’ve had far colder temps than normal!)

So, naturally, I spend every last frigid winter minute wishing for summer. And while I can’t replicate the hot, humid weather that demands the necessity for shorts and flip flops, I CAN still cook like it’s summer – even when it’s far too cold outside to even think about turning out the grill.

This post, and the two following it, are going to be a trifecta of summer lovin’. And by trifecta, I mean this one and the next one are going to be delicious, and the last one will be KNOCK your socks off AMAZING.

A summertime staple that seems to be an either-you-love-it-or-hate-it sort of dish is coleslaw. I grew up with an affinity to liking coleslaw, but I was always very picky about it. It was either REALLY GOOD, or not at all acceptable. Everyone’s opinion on what makes “really good” coleslaw seems to differ, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this coleslaw will change whatever your opinion is of how the stringy, cabbage-y dish should taste. Forever. If this slaw doesn’t at least sort of tickle your taste buds, well… Color me shocked.

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Any slaw is essentially comprised of a bunch of thinly cut or shredded vegetation, dressed in some sort of sauce. The choice of the vegetation and the base of the sauce are what really make a slaw into its final tasty creation. Personally, I’m a big fan of slaw with a crunch. If it feels mushy before I even chew it, well… To me that sort of sounds like baby food. Not particularly appetizing.

Most traditional coleslaw starts with cabbage. Though there are some variants that don’t use cabbage or lettuce at all, we’re staying traditional here (at least for now) and starting with cabbage. I used about 1/3 of a head and shredded it with a knife. This is fairly simple to do; just cut each wedge of the cabbage into thin strips with a large, sharp kitchen knife.

Next comes the crunchy bits! I used 2 carrots, half a large red onion, and a medium sized granny smith apple. (Yes, really, an apple. I swear, it makes it so delicious and makes all the difference in the world!) Each of these needs to be julienned to approximately equal sizes. A super easy way to do this is to use a mandolin to help you out:

Mandolin

The onion should end up being able to be pulled apart into fine enough strings after being sliced on the mandolin. For the apples and carrots, use the mandolin to make thin slices, and then use a kitchen knife to cut these slices into thin strips.

Just for fun, I also added in about 8 gherkin pickles (diced).

Toss the cabbage, pickles, and julienned carrots, apples, and onions into a large bowl and mix it up gently.

Vegetables

Set this aside and then make your dressing. I’m still staying somewhat traditional here and using a mayonnaise based sauce… I used 3/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Put everything in a small bowl and stir until smooth.

Dressing

Pour this right overtop of your veggies and use tongs to toss it all together. Serve immediately, or keep refrigerated until it’s time to eat!

Finished Dish 2

This is fabulous all by itself, of course, but stay tuned for an even more delicious way to enjoy it… 🙂

Full Recipe:

Not Your Momma’s Coleslaw

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

Slaw:
1/3 head cabbage
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 granny smith apple, cored and julienned
1/2 large red onion, peeled and julienned
8 Gherkin pickles, diced

Dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Process:

1) Combine cabbage, carrots, apples, onions, and pickles in a large bowl.

2) In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until well blended.

3) Pour dressing over slaw and toss to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.