Tag Archives: chicken

Pineapple Chicken Curry

27 Jul

Tre tensed up when I told him that I intended to make a curry for dinner this past Monday. Luckily, I’d made this declaration to him at the market where he was unable to make a scene. About a year ago I’d attempted to make a curry dish — one that I’d had successes with before — but for want of a little heat I added far too much chili pepper. The dish was inedible, at best. I should have known when I couldn’t even stand close to the stove without my eyes burning and my nose opening to new levels of olfactory clarity. In spite of this being a one-time fluke, Tre made it clear that it was not a dish he wanted to revisit… ever.

Unfortunately for him, I’ve been on a curry kick lately. Anyone who’s ever read my yelp reviews knows how passionate I am about a solid curry dish and a restaurant that can do it justice. My absolute favorite comes from a hole-in-the-wall Thai/Vietnamese restaurant in the seediest part of the East End known simply as “SEA.” And while I’d love to go into how significant their beef curry is to my everyday life, I suppose this entry is best suited to sharing my own personal experience with this fantastic dish.

I first came across my source recipe when, on a whim, I’d purchased a mango, a red pepper, and chicken and had no idea what to do with them. Thanks to Google, I found a curry recipe involving all these ingredients for a tangy sweet and spicy dish that calls upon themes from both Indian and Thai curries. Needless to say, I diverged from that initial recipe a great deal as I was limited to the spices I had handy; a collection of oddities (clove, sumac, ginger) assembled by my culinarily eclectic former-roommate who refused to eat normal food and insisted upon utilizing every dish and utensil available in our kitchen.

An old manager of mine, who was from India originally, told me that the idea of a single curry spice is a misconception — obviously you can buy “curry” in the spice aisle, but a curry is really a combination of spices differing by personal preference, by the type of meal, even by the family who makes them. Basically anyone can make a curry, it just depends on what they want to put in. For me, a curry was the mixture of whatever spice I had that made sense.

This is a very loose recipe, that you can follow to a “T” or subtly manipulate according to your tastes and preference. I can confidently say that the end result I came to was Tre-approved, thank god! I don’t have a picture yet, though I will hopefully snap one when I make this dish again. Curries aren’t inherently beautiful to look at…. I consider them to be beautiful on the inside. But please trust me when I say this is worth trying, especially if you love curry as much as I do!

Pineapple Chicken CurryPineapple

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger (or dash ginger powder)
  • 1 cup pineapple, diced (or substitute mango)
  • 1/4 cup water or chicken stock
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Spices to taste *
* I used a combination of dashes of garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, clove, chili pepper powder, crushed red pepper flakes, curry powder, and cumin powder. Use any combination of spices you might enjoy or the ones I’ve listed.
Directions
  1. In a large non stick wok or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté until lightly browned.
  2. Add chicken pieces and red pepper. Mix in salt and pepper to taste and add spices one at a time, mixing in between each spice to avoid buildup. Sauté until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. When chicken is fully cooked, stir in pineapple pieces and water (or chicken stock) and simmer for a few minutes.
Advertisements

When in Doubt, Pack a Lunch: A Guide to Gluten Free Dining Outside of Your Home

20 Jan

Because of the required proximity to school and commitment to our respective jobs, Tre and I have become champions of the “staycation” …which I loosely define as Saturdays spent doing homework out of the house and in claustrophobic study rooms on campus. Lucky for us, the stars aligned perfectly allowing us the briefest of real vacations between the holiday and our somber back to school. Opting to make the best of our NY winter wonderland, Tre and I decided to get out of the city and head to scenic Lake Placid in the Adirondacks for a week of skiing, sight-seeing, and reliving the momentous 1980 Winter Olympics.

This is Tre and I (please don't mind the fact that I'm wearing zero makeup) on the second summit of Whiteface Mountain. In the background is frozen Lake Placid.

This is the first vacation Tre and I have gone on since his diagnosis and the first time we have had to consciously consider how we would eat while away from home. Previously, Tre and I would work restaurant visits into our travel budget and be content with getting all our meals out. Historically, this would always result in Tre being subsequently ill for the balance of our vacations eating foods that were laden with his allergens. For the briefest of moments, I experienced a twinge of panic upon realizing that with Tre’s allergy we would be unable to rely completely on restaurants — which are (generally speaking) notorious for having only limited WCRS-free options. With careful menu review we could get a couple meals out. But for 5 days-worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, it would be too risky to leave all our meals to the mercy of chefs. Yes, I am a bit of a micromanager when it comes to the food we eat, but this was one vacation that gluten was not going to ruin for us.

I began to consider our options and I decided that the best course of action would simply be to pack food for the trip. Although our hotel room did not have a kitchenette, it did have a mini fridge; basically the one thing that allowed our necessary meal planning to go largely unhindered on our vacation.

Tre and I settled on eating out at restaurants only for dinners leaving breakfast and lunch to be prepacked. The Sunday before heading off to Lake Placid, we hit up the grocery store for a week’s worth of food. From our spoils, we were able to prepare and pack fruit salad, cheeses, trail mix, cold cuts, carrots, guacamole, smashed potatoes, and chicken salad among other things to ensure that we would have plenty to eat during the day.

Prepacking actually turned out to be dually beneficial: we had plenty of WCRS-free foods right in our room and we ended up avoiding premium prices for (potentially risky) meals in the resort town and on the mountain. Thank goodness, because with $8 french fries at the mid-mountain ski lodge where we ate our lunches, our vacation would have clocked in at a couple hundred dollars over our budget.

I'd say "don't knock it 'till you try it" but I think my garbage plate is suitable for people of very.... specific taste. We scarfed them down because we would be crazy-hungry by noon on a given day, but I wouldn't recommend this concoction for casual eating.

One favorite on our vacation was a chicken salad I’d thrown together that could be packed up and taken with us on the mountain. I say chicken salad, but really the dish that we ended up packing daily was what I would call a “gluten free garbage plate” which may be largely unpalatable for the general population. I’ll spare you an official recipe for my garbage plate, suffice it to say that it included my chicken salad, roast beef, turkey, provolone, swiss, smashed potatoes, and carrots stuffed into a tupperware and eaten as “fuel” for skiing.

That said, my chicken salad by itself was actually very tasty and has made numerous reappearances since our vacation. It’s a very simple yet flavorful dish that can be tailored by your choice of mustard. Dijon has been our go-to, but I’ve prepared this with everything from honey mustard to chipotle mustard each time yielding a unique and interesting dish considering its simplicity. Though typically served cold, I’ve been known to heat up my chicken salad.

Chicken Salad

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 4 heaping tbs dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased oven-safe pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  2. Allow chicken to cool until it can be handled, about 20 minutes. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, celery, onion, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Toss until chicken is completely coated adding more mustard by the tbs as needed to taste.

Skewer-less Sirloin Kebabs

1 Dec

In a pleasant turn of evens last night, Tre insisted on cooking for me when we got home from the grocery store. I’ll admit it was nice to have pre-dinner time off, not that I was any less domestic. I took the time to work on a scarf I’ve been knitting for Tre and to tidy up the kitchen. I know how that sounds and I swear I’m not undermining the last 50 years of feminist advancement. By day I’m an office worker in Information Technology at the local University. By night, I’m a Business School grad student. That leaves me a total of maybe 2 hours an evening to accomplish anything else I might have to do. With all the hectic running around, problem solving, and teamwork, I consider cooking, cleaning, light hobbies, even the gym to be a welcome mental break.

Having taken an adequate hiatus from red meat, plus celebrating a holiday that is centered around poultry, we decided to pick up some steak for a quick meal. Generally, I think that people perceive steak as being difficult to cook since it’s usually a top dollar menu item in restaurants. Having perfected my own brand of steak preparation, I’ve found that steak is not only quick and easy to prepare, it’s also very filling in smaller portions and, depending on the cut, still budget friendly. I will do a dedicated steak post to get into all that though. Stay tuned.

I admire Tre’s cooking in the sense that he keeps the dishes very simple, but he’s not afraid to try new things and experiment with spices and sauces. He also pays particular attention to pairing meats with veggies and entrees with sides. With three ingredients and a sauce, he was able to pull together a quick and delicious entree paired with a potato side that couldn’t have been easier for a Tuesday night. It reminded me fondly of summery beef kebabs, with a tangy marinade and chunks of pepper and onion cooked al-dente, minus the skewer and the grill. At some point I acquired one of those lean-cooking counter top grills that both robs you of flavor and is a pain in the ass to clean. Not to mention, it leaves anything you possibly cook on it with a distinct rubbery texture. Rather than bust out my only kitchen electric that I’m ashamed to own, we opted to cook over the stove for an autumn twist on kebabs. This recipe would also work well with boneless chicken.

Vinaigrette Marinade — Yields 1-1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Whisk ingredients together until combined. Store in a large jar and keep refrigerated.

Skewer-less Sirloin Kebabs — Serves 4

  • 2lb sirloin steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped into 1 inch squares
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped into 1 inch squares
  • 1 large red onion, chopped into large chunks
  • 1 12-ounce package whole white or small portabella mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1 cup vinaigrette marinade (see above)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Cooking up our skewer-less kebabs. I popped into the kitchen long enough to snap a photo. Disclaimer: We used yellow onion instead of red and only one pepper. They also were not cut into squares as recommended in the recipe... but still the same general concept.

 

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine sirloin cubes with peppers, onion, and mushrooms. Toss with vinaigrette marinade and transfer to two large ziplock bags. On plates, flatten the bags to allow the ingredients to all sit in the marinade. Refrigerate the bags for no less than 2 hours and as long as over night.
  2. After the ingredients have finished marinading, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Transfer the meat and vegetables to the skillet by spooning them out of the bags. Do not dump the entire contents of the bag into the skillet. Save 1/3 cup of marinade from the bags and pour over the cooking vegetables and meat.
  3. Allow the meat and vegetables to cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables have softened and the meat is cooked through to desired doneness, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

If you’re feeling particularly Mediterranean, you could crumble some feta cheese on top and serve over greens (or over a pita if you are not gluten-intolerent).

Enter Fish into the Rotation: Pecan-Crusted Honey Mustard Salmon

18 Nov

Filets getting ready to be put into the oven. Love that even through the pecan coating, you can still see the bright coloring of the fish.

Aside from the fresh produce section of my local grocery store, I consider the seafood counter to be the most colorful and interesting spot to shop. With cuts of fish ranging in color from snow white to deep scarlet on silvery scales, rocky displays of oysters, thick and gnarled king crab legs, and pastry-like scallops, seafood has a diverse spectrum of flavors and textures that makes for an intriguing choice in the kitchen. Although I am limited by my allergy to shellfish, I love the experience of choosing cuts of fresh fish and preparing them in ways that help them to express the flavors and nuances that make them so pleasantly different from typical meats.

Tre and I are fortunate to have a pescadería to call our own with an expansive and colorful selection of fresh fish as well as a frozen section with ample stock and prepared meals that put some of my creations to shame. Although my local grocery store (a behemoth in the north east that somehow also manages to be personal and superb in quality) has a wonderful spread, I love going to specialty stores especially when it comes to buying fish. I prefer to buy fresh, but frozen fish is a viable sub when you want to buy in large quantities or don’t know exactly when you’ll be able to prepare it.

This week, Tre and I opted for salmon and cod; two mild yet meaty fish that cook quickly and with little effort into phenomenal entrees.  Salmon especially is one of my personal favorites, from small tastes in sushi to whole fish cooked on the grill. With its bold coloring and rich texture, salmon makes a great substitute for red meats while still being filling and maintaing its own unique flavor. Salmon also boasts health benefits being high in protein, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

 

Finished! We paired our salmon filets with sweet potatoes.

Unlike chicken and beef which are typically seasoned, marinated, or incorporated into other recipes, I think people struggle with exactly how to prepare fish in interesting ways. For a long time, this deterred me from entering fish into the culinary rotation for fear that I’d end up with something bland or, god forbid, fishy. However, after trying a few unexpected recipes, I began to discover that fish is not only very easy to prepare, but also, with the right treatment, quite a delicacy. One of my first-attempt salmon recipes — which also happens to be wheat, corn, rice, and soy free — quickly became a midweek favorite and has served as a reminder as to why I love cooking with fish.

Pecan-Crusted Honey Mustard Salmon

  • 2 medium sized fresh salmon filets, or thawed frozen filets
  • 1/2 cup shelled pecans
  • Dash garlic powder
  • Dash white pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard (regular/dijon/spicy whichever you prefer)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon sliced for garnish

Honey is so pretty. It's also a fabulous sweetener with its unique flavor.

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon filets in a greased baking dish and set aside.
  2. Combine pecans, garlic powder, and white pepper in a food processor and pulse to a medium coarse powder. If you do not have a food processor, crush pecans in a mortar and pestal a small amount at a time until powdered and combine with garlic and white pepper. You can also place pecans in a plastic bag and roll them with a rolling pin. Whatever gets the job done.
  3. In a small bowl, heat honey for about 15 seconds in the microwave to make it more workable. Be careful not to burn the honey. Combine with mustard. Using a spoon, glaze the salmon filets with the honey mustard mixture then cover with the crushed pecans.
  4. Garnish filets with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon slices and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes per inch of filet thickness. Switch oven to broil and broil filets for about 2 minutes to crisp the topping. Remove and serve.

This recipe also works very well with chicken. If you have skinned cuts of salmon, you can also glaze and pecan-coat the entire filet instead of just the tops for an all around flavor. Paired with mild veggies like green beans or broccoli, this makes for a wonderful and filling dinner.

Slow Cooker Series: Pulled Chicken

9 Nov

One of my only complaints in this diet adjustment process has been that the cooking required is somewhat hindered by the amount of personal time tied up by the Simon School. It’s close to impossible to scrounge up a meal at a fast food place or cafe that Tre can feasibly eat since almost everything is contaminated with wheat, corn, rice, and/or soy in some capacity. As a result, we need to cook almost everything ourselves or run the risk of simply not eating. With grad school constantly monopolizing our time and energy, it’s a relief to once and a while hand the cooking almost entirely over to an appliance such as my crock pot.

It’s difficult to argue against the merits of slow cooker dishes as they are usually very low maintenance in terms of preparation and cooking and they create strong, aromatic flavors that just don’t express themselves in dishes that are cooked for short periods of time. In my experience, I’ve had to do little more than combine ingredients in the pot and let it cook overnight for pungent and flavorful meals that span a week of lunches or dinners without becoming boring.

This was one such week where after an exhaustive meal planning session, complete with consideration for when we actually have the time to cook, Tre and I settled on a basic crock pot recipe. This time around, it was my allergy dictating the dish and we opted for a basic BBQ pulled chicken recipe — since I am allergic to pork — to be served similar to a stew.

This is my pulled chicken after shredding it and returning it to the crock pot.

Tre and I are both huge BBQ fans, more so in the Autumn I think than in the Summer. The smoky, spicy flavors from slow cooked meat in BBQ sauce brings about a comfort food warmth necessary to fend off the early Winter chill. For those of you who are lucky enough to have access to Dinosaur sauce in stores (online here also), this is my go-to for everything BBQ. The sauce has a flavor quality unlike any BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted. As the signature sauce of a NY BBQ Mecca, Dino sauce is bright and tangy and has a flavor I’d describe as being more fresh and hot than the run-of-the-mill hickory BBQ sauces that are indistinguishable from one another. I could go on all day about the aroma’s and nuances of Dino. If you’ve had it, you know. If haven’t, treat yourself and nab some at the store or online. I promise it will be worth it. For Tre and I, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Dino is gluten free and in fact, I can count all of its all natural ingredients on two hands.

With a bottle of Dino and some frozen chicken breasts, it was clear that this recipe couldn’t be any simpler. Yet despite its simplicity, it’s received high marks as being very filling and very flavorful.

Shredding the chicken after cooking

Pulled Chicken

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 19oz bottle of Dinosaur BBQ’s “Sensual Slathering” sauce OR 2-1/4 cups BBQ sauce of choice
  • Directions

    1. Combine ingredients in a slow cooker. Set the cooker on low and cook for 6-8 hours until chicken is tender.
    2. Turn off the slow cooker. Remove chicken breasts and place in a large bowl. Using two forks, shred the chicken to desired consistency.
    3. Return chicken to the slow cooker with the remaining sauce and combine.

    Tre and I literally box this up in tupperware, heat it, and eat it like a stew for lunch. Just today I was heating mine up and a coworker from down the hall stopped in to tell me my office smelled like Court Street, where Dinosaur BBQ’s restaurant is located. Like its pork counterpart though, pulled chicken can also be served on a bun as a sandwich which I also recommend highly for the non-gluten intolerant.