Chicken · Main Courses

Conquering Dinner for 1

 

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Piri Piri Chicken Thighs with Peanut Satay and Fried Plantain

Kevin has been away these past few days, and his absence has reminded that  while I love to cook, I don’t so much like cooking for 1.    Mostly, because it seems like a whole lot of effort for just me.   A psychologist may want to delve deeper into this thought; perhaps I feel I am unworthy of a healthy home cooked meal, but the reality is that I  enjoy the temporary freedom from meal planning and the need to have something more substantial than a sandwich or bowl of noodles on the table every night.

Which is why, in the past 2 weeks I have eaten Ramen Noodles for dinner at least 3 times!  Yikes, I do love ramen,  but I reluctantly had to admit last night that I had eaten too much of it for my own good.

So, I took a break from sloth and convenience, and actually cooked dinner for one.    It is obvious that my plating needs work, but aside from its lonely appearance on the plate, my one-pan dinner was extremely satisfying.

Peri Peri Chicken Thighs with Peanut-Lime Sauce and Fried Plantain

1 Tablespoon cooking oil, plus more for frying the plantains

4 chicken thighs

1 teaspoon Peri Peri spice blend (or more to taste, see cooks notes)

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice ( from about 1 large or 3 Mexican limes)

2 Tablespoons water

1 green plantain, cut into 1″ slices

Sour cream to top the fried plantains

sliced radishes

Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat.  Rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towel.  Sprinkle with Peri Peri spice on both sides and put in pan, skin side down.  Cook 15 minutes, then turn chicken over.   Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes more until thermometer inserted into centre of thigh reads 175.  Cooking time will vary, depending on size of the thighs.  Remove from pan to plate and tent with foil.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix peanut butter, lime juice and water together.  Mixture will seize at first, keep stirring until it becomes liquid and creamy again.  Add more water  by teaspoons if mixture it too thick.  It should be runny, but not soupy.  Set aside.

Put a paper towel on a clean plate and set aside.  Add more oil to pan to depth of 1/2 inch and heat over medium heat until shiny, but not smoking.   Using tongs, carefully place plantain slices flat in the oil.  Fry about 2 minutes and carefully turn over and cook 2 minutes more to brown the other side.   Remove from oil to paper towel lined plate.

Reduce heat under oil to low while you do this next step, and   work quickly.   Place the fried plantain pieces between 2 sheets of waxed paper and using a meat mallet or the flat bottom of a glass press gently to flatten each piece to a thickness of about  1/3 inch.  (Be gentle, you want to just squish them, so they will still be soft and chewy in the inside, not flatten them beyond recognition. )

Increase heat under oil, until it shimmers again, and with the tongs, gently place each flattened plantain in the oil and re-fry for about 3 minutes, until they are golden.   Remove from oil, back onto paper towel lined plate.

Put a smear of peanut butter sauce on the place, add chicken and plantains, some radishes or other fresh veggie on the side, a little sour cream for the plantains and you have a dinner for 1 ready in under an hour.

Bonus:  for me, the leftover chicken thighs are going into a chicken salad for tomorrow nights dinner.

COOKS NOTES  – depending on the brand of Peri Peri you have, and your personal taste, the amount you use will vary.  I used 1 teaspoon of Silk Road Inferno Peri Peri blend, for all 4 thighs and found it very tame so I sprinkled more onto the chicken after it was cooked.  Remember, you can always add spice, but you cant always take it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken

Za’atar Chicken Breasts

Stupidly simple.  Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend, made up mostly of thyme, oregano, marjoram and sesame seeds with a bit of citrus tossed in.  If you have trouble finding it,  just sub in poultry seasoning or thyme and toasted sesame seeds.  Not entirely the same, but who knows, you might come up with an even better blend.   The point here, is to try something just a tiny bit different on those predictable ‘same old’ chicken breasts.

Za’atar Chicken Breasts

Serves 2

2 boneless, skin on, chicken breasts

salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 1/2 Tablespoons Za’atar

Heat oil in heavy frying pan over medium heat.  Pat chicken breasts dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.   Add to frying pan , skin side down and cook until , 6 – 10 minutes (depending on thickness of breasts), until sides of chicken start to turn white and become opaque.  Turn breasts over, lower heat, partially cover pan and continue cooking another 6 – 10 minutes.

Sprinkle Za’atar seasoning over both sides of  breasts and cook another minute.  (a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast should read 170F).  Remove from pan, set on plate and tent with foil.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes.  This finishes the cook on the meat and prevents all the juice  from running right out the second you cut into it.  Failing to rest any meat will result in  a flavourless, rubbery mass, so have patience and let it rest.  Mix yourself a dinner cocktail , set the table, toss the salad or  pay a bill on line, while you wait.  Just be sure to wait!!

Chicken

Oriental Chicken Sandwich

It seems very strange to be posting a recipe for a sandwich, but hey, people are actually publishing whole cook books based on the subject so I guess it isn’t that far out of the park.    And, besides, summer is here which means most of us will be looking to spend less time in front of the stove and more time enjoying the great outdoors!

But, as much as we want cool  and convenient, we still want flavour.  This sandwich will give you both.

 

Serves 2

Banh mi sandwich topping

Oriental Chicken Sandwich

3 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 carrot, shredded

3 radishes, shredded

1 cup finely sliced lettuce

thinly sliced red onion (about 2 rings, separated)

5 fresh basil leaves, shredded

2 cups shredded chicken, either rotisserie or left over from last nights bbq

1  baguette or small french loaf, halved lengthwise

mayonnaise

Whisk rice vinegar, oil sugar, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl, combine carrot,  radishes, lettuce, onion and basil.  Pour dressing over, toss and let stand 10 minutes while you shred the chicken and assemble the sandwiches.

Spread mayo over cut sides of bread, top bottom half with the shredded chicken then the tossed veggies.   Add the top half of the bread and enjoy!

Chicken · Main Courses

One Pot Chicken and Rice

I like this dish because it has a short list of ingredients which I usually have on hand and there is only 1 pot to wash up.   It also tastes fantastic.   The short simmer time makes this good  for weeknight dinners, and tasty enough for a casual dinner with friends.  Add some good bread, a nice salad, maybe some wine….

Serves 4

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One Pot Chicken and Rice

4 chicken thighs with legs attached

1 teaspoon salt  (divided)

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (divided)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 cup long grain white rice

1 3/4 cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 1/2 cups peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse and pat chicken dry.   Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy deep skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken,  on both sides, about 10 minutes total.  Use tongs to transfer chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoon fat from skillet.   Cook onion and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add rice and almonds and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add stock, water and tumeric and bring to a full boil. Nestle chicken in rice, keeping as much rice around (rather than under) chicken as possible.   Pour any juices from plate into the pan.   Cover tightly and simmer, over very low heat until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender and most liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.   Remove from heat and stir in peas.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and then lid and let stand until all of liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle cilantro over top and serve.

 

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Chicken · Main Courses

Chicken Vindaloo

Yes, the list of ingredients is long, but dont let that discourage you.   You probably have most of them hiding in your cupboard anyway, so you might as well give this a try.

Take a few minutes to assemble and measure everything before you start and this will be a snap!

Even for slow cooks like me, it was ready from start to finish in under an hour.

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Chicken Vindaloo

2 onions, one roughly chopped, the other sliced

3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground tumeric

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more later if you like it hot, but taste first)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces *SEE COOKS NOTES*

1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peels left on, cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock

 

Blend the roughly chopped onion and the next 11 ingredients in food processor until a more or less smooth paste forms.  Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, add paste from processor and cook until darkened in colour and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.  Add the sliced onion, chicken and potatoes; sauté 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Season with more cayenne, if desired, and salt and pepper.

COOKS NOTES- you can sub chicken breast for the thighs, but wait until the potatoes are nearly cooked before adding to the mix.  Those small pieces of chicken breast take only a few minutes to go from nicely cooked to dry so watch carefully.

The original recipe, printed in Bon Appetit, Sept 2002 is from The Ambassador Dining Room in Baltimore MD,  I have tweaked it a bit to suit me, but it is pretty much as written.

 

 

 

Beef · Main Courses

Chili with Baked Potatoes

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When my sister and I shared an apartment all those years ago, we always had a pot of chili in our fridge.  For us, it was the ultimate single girls go-to meal.    We would make a big batch which would feed us for most of the week.   Not having to worry about what to make for dinner left our minds free to think about more important things… like what to do on the weekends.   All good things must come to an end, and eventually, our apartment sharing days were over and our weekly chili routine was abandoned.

I honestly have not made chili in so long that I had forgotten how good it was.  This version uses dried chilies because they are easily found where I live.  If you cant find dried chilies,  sub regular chili powder.   The taste will be a little different, which will make this recipe your own.

All you need to round this meal out is a big green salad.

Serves 4, but you can easily double it and it freezes very well.

 

Chili with Baked Potatoes

1 Tablespoon oil

1 lb lean ground beef

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 dried ancho chilies, seeds & stems removed

14 oz can tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons ketchup

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1  Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce

1  whole dried chipotle chile  or 1 Tablespoon canned chipotles in adobo, minced

1 – 16oz can black beans (do not drain) or 2 cups prepared pinto beans, with some broth

1 1/2 cups water

4 medium potatoes, “baked” in microwave

Sliced scallions, grated cheese, sour cream for topping

 

Remove stems and seeds from the ancho chiles and tear into large pieces.  Place in heatproof bowl and add 1 cup boiling water.  Set aside.

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook until meat is no longer pink, stirring often to break up any lumps – about 5 minutes.   Add onion, garlic, paprika, cumin and ground pepper.   Cook, stirring until onion is soft and spices are fragrant – about 4 minutes.

Put the ancho chilies and their soaking liquid into blender.  Add tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar,  and Worchestershire sauce.  Blend on high until smooth.  About 45 seconds.

Add chili mixture to ground beef.  Stir in beans, the whole chipotle chili  (yes, just leave it whole)  and 1 1/2 cups of water.   Bring to boil, reduce heat, stir occasionally and let simmer, uncovered for 1 hour, until liquid is reduced and chili has thickened.   Remove the whole chipotle before serving.

To serve, place potato on plate, open it up and spoon chili over it.  Top as you like with grated cheese, sour cream and scallions.  Or any other topping you can dream up.

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Beef · Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bolognese Sauce

BologneseA family favourite in our house, and so easy to put together.  It does take time, so its a good ‘Sunday afternoon when there is nothing much to do’ project.  The good news is that the flavours are even better the next day, so make on Sunday to enjoy later in the week.  After a long day at the office, dinner will be a snap!  Just boil your favourite pasta and you have a quick and easy mid-week dinner.  This serves 8 generously, and freezes very well.

 

Bolognese Sauce

 

3 Tablespoons oil

2 yellow onions, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

3 medium carrots, shredded

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 lb bacon finely chopped

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

14 oz can tomato puree

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup water

1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but skim will work too, if that’s what you have)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Get your big pot out… not that one, the bigger one – 6 – 8 quarts.   There is lots of stirring and simmering involved here and you will want the extra room a larger pot gives you.

Heat oil in pot over medium heat.   Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until onion is translucent and vegetables are slightly soft.  Do not let them brown.  About 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium- high, add bacon, beef and pork and cook, stirring to break up  any chunks until meat is no longer pink.  About 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomato paste  until well combined with meat and vegetables.  About 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato puree, wine, water, milk, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered until liquids reduce and sauce is thickened.  About 2 hours.  Remember to stir occasionally while sauce simmers.

Spoon over cooked pasta and serve immediately or cool sauce uncovered, at room temperature.  Once sauce has cooled, cover and refrigerate.  Will keep  3 days in the fridge or frozen up to 3 months.