Orange Chicken

I’ll spare you the “it’s been awhile and here’s my excuse as to why”… safe to say I still need to work on a normal routine! Anyway on to the topic at hand, Orange Chicken. Orange Chicken is by far my favorite item on a Chinese food menu and in a pinch I will definitely grab a bag of frozen Orange Chicken at Trader Joe’s (not ashamed to admit this). I found a recipe on a blog called Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, and it looked like she adapted her recipe from Cooks Illustrated. My recipe is an adaptation of her recipe. This recipe takes a bit of time to create, I would allow almost an hour to hour and a half to cook from start to finish. It’s definitely healthier than ordering out, but unfortunately is a lot more time-consuming.

Orange Chicken (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated/Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)

Ingredients:

Marinade/Sauce

1 1/2-2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 large oranges)
2 teaspoons grated zest
6 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus 2 teaspoons
2 tablespoons cold water

For Coating
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup canola oil

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan combine the chicken stock, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper.  Whisk thoroughly
2. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken to the bag then seal and refrigerate for no longer than 30 minutes
3. Heat the remaining sauce in the pan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil
4. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, mixing to dissolve the cornstarch
5. Once the sauce reaches a boil, whisk in the cornstarch mixture
6. Simmer the sauce until thick and translucent, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and set aside while you make the chicken
7. Preheat oven to 500 F.
8. In a shallow bowl add the egg whites and beat with a fork until they’re frothy and broken up
9. In a second shallow bowl,  combine the cornstarch and flour
10. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and drain to remove the marinade. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels
11. Add the chicken to the egg whites, turning to coat on all sides
12. Place the chicken in the cornstarch/flour mixture and toss to coat.  Shake off the excess and place the chicken on a plate
13. Repeat with all of the chicken pieces
14. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the preheated oven for 5 minutes
15. Remove the sheet, add the oil and return to the oven until the oil just starts smoking
16. Remove the baking sheet and add the chicken pieces in a single layer.  Cook for 7 minutes
17. Flip each piece of chicken over and cook on the other side until browned and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes
18. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil
19. Reheat the sauce and add the chicken, stirring to coat
20. Serve with white rice, and a garnish of green onion if you wish

Chipotle Orange Chicken

If you haven’t heard of the Homesick Texan, I urge you to go check her blog out. (She’s totally famous and really doesn’t need an extra endorsement but still). It’s beyond tacos, burritos and your typical tex mex. She has all sorts of recipes ranging from Mexican to barbecue and a few unique inbetweeners. When I was browsing through her blog the other week I came across this recipe for chipotle-orange glazed drumsticks. This recipe was very easy to make, and great for a large group of people. The sauce recipe makes more than enough to both coat the chicken and have extra on the side. I’ve made this recipe twice in the past week and a half, and it was a total hit both times.

Chipotle Orange Chicken Pieces (adapted from The Homesick Texan)

Ingredients:
6 drumsticks
6 thighs
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 chipotle chiles en adobo
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cups ketchup
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of ground allspice
1 teaspoon orange zest

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, place on the sheet and bake for 40 minutes.

2. While the chicken is in the oven, in a food processor mix together the orange juice, chipotle chile and garlic.

3. Pour into a large saucepot and stir in the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and allspice. Bring to a boil (it will likely splatter a bit), turn the heat down to medium-low and while stirring occasionally.

4. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until thickened. Adjust seasonings and add salt to taste.

5. Once the chicken pieces are done, remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. Add the chicken to the saucepot and toss with the chipotle orange sauce.

6. Replace the parchment paper on the baking sheet and place chicken pieces back on the sheet. Cook under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until darkened and brown spots appear.

7. Cool and serve!

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs tend to get a bad rep, especially when it comes to dieting. While being pretty strict on Weight Watchers, I was pretty wary of eating them… chicken breasts are always the go to “diet chicken” but it turns out when you use the boneless/skinless variety and trim the extra fat, they aren’t that bad for you. Adding a thin slice of prosciutto gives the chicken much more flavor and crunch without adding a ton of fat (for me it was just as good as cooking the chicken with skin on.) I served the chicken with a mix of roasted vegetables and brown rice.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Thighs (Serves 2, WW points+ 7 points for 2 thighs)

Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Trim the excess fat from your chicken
3. Using tooth picks, secure 1.5 slices prosciutto to the chicken

4. Place in a roasting pan (I put mine on a roasting rack over my veggies)

5. Cook about 25 minutes or until the juices run clear when pierced with a knife
6. Serve with roasted vegetables and brown rice for a complete meal

Panzanella

Panzanella is essentially just salad minus the lettuce with the addition of bread cubes. I made this one last night as I was running out of time to use an old loaf of bread and didn’t want it to go bad. Panzanella is fully customizable and is great for a side dish or a lighter main dish. You can add a protien as well, making it heartier.

Quick Balsamic Panzanella (serves 1)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 inch slice of ciabatta bread
4oz shredded chicken
Half pint of cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup thickly sliced onion
1 garlic clove, cut in half
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt/Pepper

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Half tomatoes and combine them, the chicken, cucumber and onion in a small bowl
3. Oil each side of the bread. Place in oven and brown on each side
4. Let the bread cool, then rub each side with the garlic clove
5. Slice the bread into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the vegetable/chicken mix
6. Drizzle oil and vinegar over the salad (to your specifications). Toss with salt and pepper to taste

Herb and Balsamic Sauced Chicken

Well I’m back from vacation and all though it was a wonderful time of eating, drinking and hanging out with friends and family, I was VERY ready to be home. I was practically melting in Texas, I don’t know how people live there full time! I’ve been craving a home cooked meal that wasn’t 1. BBQ 2. Tex-mex (all though I think I’m ready to eat tacos again) or 3. red meat. This week has been a lot of salads and lighter meals, including last nights dinner. I adapted this recipe from one I found in a Bon Appetite several years ago (original recipe) and has become a favorite when I wanted something light yet flavorful. The sauce is really versatile and can be used on anything from fish to steak to potatoes as well! I served the chicken with roasted asparagus and oven roasted potatoes.

Herb and Balsamic Sauced Chicken (adapted from Bon Appetite, serves 4)

Ingredients:
12 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts (I cut mine in half to make them thinner)

Directions:
1. Cook 8 garlic cloves in boiling water 2 minutes, drain garlic and cool
2. Add the remaining 4 garlic cloves and next 6 ingredients
3. Gradually add oil, blending until thick sauce forms and season with salt
4. Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag and add 2/3 cup sauce and turn to coat evenly
5. Chill at least 1/2 hour and up to 4 hours, turning bag occasionally
6. Heat outdoor grill to medium/high heat and grill each chicken breast half about 4 minutes on each side
7. Top with a bit more sauce before serving and pass additional sauce for anyone that wants more (it was great on the sides* I served it with too)


*I suggest serving this dish with asparagus and roasted potatoes, as the sauce accompanies both side very well!

Bruschetta Chicken

A particularly warm and sunny April evening last night called for a more summery type of meal. Nothing says summer and warm weather to me like tomatoes especially when combined with something off the grill. Warmer weather also has me craving something lighter, and this recipe was just what I needed. You could also make a bruschetta chicken sandwich if you feel like getting your carb on 🙂

Bruschetta Chicken (Serves 4, Weight Watchers Points+ 9 points – includes the cheese)

Ingredients:
4 – 6oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. tomatoes (I used mini heirlooms for this particular recipe), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15-20 basil leaves, chopped
1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper
1/2 cup shredded parmesan (I shaved mine into ribbons)

Directions:
1. Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar and a shake of salt/pepper. Let this mixture sit for up to an hour
2. Heat a gas grill to medium high heat
3. Sprinkle each chicken breast liberally with salt and pepper
4. Grill chicken 4-6 minutes on each side
5. Top each chicken breast with 1/4 of the tomato mixture and add 2-3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese on top


Chicken, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pasta

Asparagus is starting to pop up in grocery stores and fruit stands now and I couldn’t be more excited. I bought a bundle last week without even having a clear intention for them, so I set out to find a good recipe. I wanted something new and different and I wanted to make a main dish with the asparagus, not just put on the side like I usually do.

I stumbled upon an asparagus-goat cheese pasta recipe from Real Simple which looked absolutely to die for.  I wasn’t in the mood to be a vegetarian, so I decided to add some chicken to the original recipe. I also changed the amounts of some of the ingredients, but tried to keep true to the spring time flavors of this lovely pasta!

Chicken, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pasta Adapted from Real Simple (Serves 6, WW Points+ 11 points/serving)

Ingredients:
1 11/4 pounds chicken breast
1 pound asparagus
1/2 pound dry whole wheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
4 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Heat a large pan of lightly salted water to boiling over high heat. Trim the ends of the asparagus and cut the stalks into 2-inch pieces.
2. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
3. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken about 4 minutes on each side, or until done. Slice into strips, cover.
4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain.
5. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour.
6. Add the broth and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly (make sure to stir constantly!), until the sauce thickens. Blend in the goat cheese and lemon zest.
7. Toss the spaghetti with the chicken, asparagus, sauce, and half the Parmesan. Serve with pepper to taste and the remaining Parmesan.

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Andouille Sausage Pasta

I am writing this post as I am eating the leftovers of this dish for lunch, it’s almost better the next day! Lately on Weight Watchers, I’ve still been hungry after dinner so I was looking for a creative and healthy way to get more volume into my dinners.

Last weekend one of my girlfriends made fabulous roasted vegetable and chicken enchiladas. I was inspired to turn that into a healthy pasta dish. The amount of vegetables in this gives it the bulk I was looking for, and one serving of the sauce plus one cup of whole wheat pasta came in at 10 points and left me feeling full. If you don’t like my selection of vegetables below, by all means add ones that you like. The addition of the butternut squash made it more hearty, but you can use any squash you like, or leave it out all together. (Forgive my glad ware in the last photo, was too hungry to take a pic last night!)

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Andouille Sausage Pasta
Serves 4 – Weight Watchers Points+ 6 points/serving of sauce

Ingredients:
One pound chicken andouille sausage (I get mine at Trader Joes), cut into small pieces
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
A few glugs white wine (about 2 Tbs)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 medium bell peppers (red, orange or yellow) cut into small pieces
1 medium white onion, sliced and quartered
2 cups cubed butternut squash
4 garlic cloves cut in half
Handful of basil, roughly chopped
Salt
Pepper
Cooking spray
4 cups cooked whole wheat pasta

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. On a foil lined baking sheet, spread out the peppers, butternut squash and garlic cloves. Spray with cooking spray and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.
3. Remove baking sheet and redistribute the veggies. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
4. In a large saucepan heated to medium/high heat, add the tomatoes, garlic powder, wine and basil. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
5. Remove the veggies from the oven and add the sausage and onions to the baking sheet distributing equally among the other vegetables. Place back in oven for an additional 15 minutes, redistributing a few times.
6. Add the roasted veggies to the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then take it down to a simmer (low) and cover for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
7. Add sauce to 1 cup of cooked whole wheat pasta and enjoy!

Roasted Poblano Stuffed Chicken

Last night I had a craving for the Chicken Verde burger from a local burger place called Red Mill. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to fit within my Weight Watchers points I had left for the day, so I had to get creative. I wanted to go bun-less so I could enjoy some sweet potato chips on the side, so I decided to stuff a chicken breast instead. I sliced the chicken breast in half width wise, grilled each piece of chicken, then laid the peppers and cheese in the middle. It was not even close to my favorite burger, but I tried…

Roasted Poblano Stuffed Chicken (serves 4, WW Points+ 7 per serving)

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts, about 10oz each
3 poblano peppers
4 slices pepper jack cheese
salt/pepper

Directions:
1. Set your oven to broil and move the oven rack to the highest position. Set poblanos under the broiler. Make sure to keep an eye on them (you’ll hear some popping noises) and turn them as the skin starts to blister/turn black. This whole process should take about 10-15 minutes.
2. Remove peppers from oven and place in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
3. While the peppers are resting, cut each chicken breast in half and then slice each half width-wise creating two thin pieces. Salt and pepper each side.
4. Turn on an outdoor grill on medium high heat
5. Place the chicken on the grill, cooking for about 3-4 minutes per side.
6. While the chicken is cooking, remove the stems, seeds and skins from the poblano peppers (it should pull off easily). Cut each pepper into 4 large pieces.
7. Once chicken is almost done, top four pieces of the chicken with pepper slices and one slice of pepper jack cheese. Place the other piece of chicken on top of cheese and peppers.
8. Heat on the grill for an additional 2 minutes to melt the cheese and serve with fries or in my case, sweet potato chips.*
*To make sweet potato chips:
-pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
-thinly slice a large sweet potato (I used my mandolin)
-place slices in a large bowl with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, mix thoroughly
-on a baking sheet with parchment paper, lay each chip out individually
-bake for 5-7 minutes on one side, flip and bake another 5 on the other

Frittata Cupcakes

A breakfast cupcake, brilliant! This is a fantastic recipe to make ahead for a crazy busy work week. They are good hot or cold as well. As with any frittata, you can pretty much add any extra veggies, cheese or left over meat you have laying around the fridge. In this particular recipe, that’s exactly what I did. (See my crustless quiche post for other ideas.) The ingredients are totally random, so feel free to start with the standard base (6 eggs and 2 Tbsp. milk) and add anything you like!

Frittata Cupcakes

Ingredients:
6 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
1 chicken andouille sausage, cut up into small pieces
20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 oz goat cheese
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions: 
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Heavily grease a cup cake tin (or line with an aluminum cupcake liner – paper just gets soggy)
3. Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet over medium high heat
4. Saute the tomatoes and the sausage until tomatoes are soft
5. In a large bowl, scramble the eggs and the milk together
6. Add the tomatoes, sausage and goat cheese to the eggs
7. Season with salt and pepper
8. Fill each tin with the egg mixture to the top of the liner

9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set