Posts Tagged ‘Main Dish’

I decided it’s about time I start cleaning out my freezer and seeing what I can use and what needs to be thrown away. This package of drumsticks was occupying the back of the second shelf. I don’t really know a whole lot of things to do with drumsticks, but the first thing I immediately think of is barbecue. I kind of needed something quick and easy too – I didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.

This recipe does take some think-ahead time because you start the day before, partially cook the chicken, and let it marinate in the sauce until you’re ready to use it, but actual preparation the day of is very simple. You can use whatever barbecue sauce you like, and using a bottled sauce would certainly make it an even easier recipe, but I wanted to try one from Cooks Illustrated (originally published for serving with pork), and I’ve included that recipe here for you as well.

The chicken turned out great, and the sauce was sweet and sticky and good. It made for a great summer meal! You can also use this recipe for thighs, and I’m sure other parts of chicken as well. This is a halved recipe, so if you have more than two people you may want to double it.

Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks (Recipe found here)

  • 5-6 chicken drumsticks and/or thighs, with skin on
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (or one recipe Cooks Illustrated sauce below)


In oblong storage container (I just used a large bowl), pour 1/4-1/2 cup barbecue sauce on bottom and tilt to evenly coat.

Put chicken into dutch oven or other large pot with a lid. Fill with water until water is about 2 inches higher than chicken. Bring to a boil and cook 15-20 minutes – no longer, or chicken will be tough. Pour into colander to drain water.

While chicken is in colander, turn on cool water, and while holding chicken leg under water, pull off skin and any fat (meat will be tender so be careful not to pull off any meat pieces).

Place each skinned piece into the prepared container. If using thighs, place the piece meat-side down, the side the bone isn’t sticking out of.

Pour the rest of the barbecue sauce evenly over the chicken, making sure to cover all the meat. Cover container (I covered the bowl with plastic wrap) and put into fridge either for the rest of the day or overnight. Because the chicken is hot, it absorbs more of the sauce flavoring.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place coated pieces of chicken in greased oblong or square pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Alternately, you can grill.

CI Barbecue Sauce (Slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated July & Aug 2009)

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses (calls for light or mild, all I had was dark and it was fine)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

Bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, 5-7 minutes.


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This casserole came about as an “oh crap I forgot to plan dinner tonight let’s see what I have in the pantry” meal. I’ve made similar dishes before, but this turned out to be my favorite by far. It’s simple, cheap, delicious, and really not bad for you. You could make it even healthier by using turkey sausage and low-fat cheese… but I didn’t.

Mexican Rice Casserole with Smoked Sausage & Black Beans

  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chicken boullion granules
  • 1 pkg smoked sausage, sliced (I also halve mine)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained insomuch as possible
  • 1-2 cups cheddar cheese (just eyeball it)

Preheat oven to 350 degree and lightly grease a 9×13 (or similar size) dish.

Prepare rice as you would normally cook rice, but add chili powder, cumin, and chicken boullion to the water.

Dump sausage, beans, and tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add cooked rice and mix well. Spread into casserole dish and top with cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted, it smells delicious, and it looks like something you want to eat RIGHT NOW.

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I’ve tried several “light” alfredo sauce recipes in the past (including one that was primarily cottage cheese – THAT was gross), and this is the only one JW has given a thumbs-up. I attribute the difference to the cream cheese – which is never a bad addition to any recipe ūüôā This one came from Our Best Bites – such a fun blog, I highly recommend visiting it if you haven’t before!

The original recipe uses a blender to mix the first ingredients together, but since I don’t have one I have sometimes used a food processor (only do this if it is water-tight unless you want milk everywhere – not that I would know from personal experience or anything), or an immersion blender. This last time, I just kind of whisked it all together. It was lumpy, but it all breaks down once it’s heated anyway. So do whatever floats your boat.

I added chicken this time, and chopped up some parsley for a little color. It was SO good.

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce (Recipe found here)

  • 2 C low-fat milk
  • 1/3 C (3 oz) low-fat cream cheese
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T butter
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 C grated Parmesan cheese

Combine milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a blender (or food processor, or bowl… see note above). Process until smooth and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter on med-high heat and add garlic. Let the garlic saute for about 30 seconds, you don’t want to burn it. It should be nice and bubbly.

Add milk mixture to the pan. Stir constantly for about 3 or 4 minutes or until it just comes to a simmer. Keep stirring and let it cook for a few minutes more. It should be thicker now. When it’s nice and thickened remove the pan from the heat. Add the cheese, stir it up and then cover immediately. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before using. It will continue to thicken upon standing. Serve with pasta, pizza, breadsticks, anything you like!

If you have leftovers in the fridge, the sauce will thicken almost into a solid. Just re-heat and add a little milk and it will be back to normal again.

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I have thoroughly been enjoying Ree’s “boy-centric” week at The Pioneer Woman. A series of 16-minute meals that taste great? Sign me up!

This week we made the beef and been burritos, and JW declared them a smashing success. You can tweak her basic recipe however you like it (leaving onions out, for example, because you don’t feel like chopping one up), and although it looks basic and simple (and it is), it tastes beyond delicious. It’s kind of like individual enchiladas.

Here’s my modified recipe, but you can go back and look at Ree’s, or create your own version to your liking.

Ree’s 16-Minute Bean and Beef Burritos

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can Mexican tomato sauce or enchilada sauce (I used El Pato enchilada sauce)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 can refried beans
  • Grated cheese (cheddar, colby, or colby-jack), one handful for the beans and more for sprinkling on top
  • Burrito-sized flour tortillas

Brown and drain ground beef, and add chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper if desired, and add enough sauce to make it moist but not wet. Simmer.

Heat refried beans in saucepan or microwave. Add cheese and stir until melted. Keep warm.

Heat tortillas in microwave.

Spread a small amount of beans on a tortilla, followed by meat. Fold ends in and roll up. Place on a microwave-safe plate, drizzle with additional sauce, and sprinkle with more cheese. Microwave for one minute, until cheese is melted and burrito is very hot. Serve immediately.

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If you’ve never used panko crumbs for breading, you’re totally missing out. These Japanese breadcrumbs are light and airy and give a crispy coating even to things that are baked instead of fried – which makes them perfect for this crispy baked chicken recipe.

The chicken was basic and good; the most important thing is to coat the meat well and not overcook it. I especially loved that they are butterflied, so they are thinner and you get a much better breading-to-chicken ratio.

But the dipping sauce? Out. Of. This. World. If you don’t make a lot of Asian recipes, you may need to pick up one or two ingredients, but it’s well worth it. And then, of course, you have them for use in future recipes ūüôā

I’d love to use this sauce to dip other meats in, to give them an Asian flair. I think it would be good on just about anything. It is thin, a bit sweet, and reminds me of the sauce served with Chinese dumplings.

We served this with a cold Asian pasta salad, and it was delightful… stay tuned for that recipe!

I found this recipe at Annie’s Eats, but it originally came from Jaden Hair’s The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. For more of Jaden’s recipes, check out the Steamy Kitchen Blog.

Panko Baked Chicken w/ Asian Dipping Sauce

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tbsp. sake (or rice wine vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. mirin

For the chicken:

  • ¬Ĺ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¬Ĺ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¬Ĺ tsp. pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1¬Ĺ¬†cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3)
  • Nonstick cooking spray

To make the sauce, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, sake, sugar and mirin in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 6 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 475ňö F. ¬†In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. ¬†In a second bowl, lightly beat the eggs together. ¬†Place the panko in a third shallow bowl or pie plate. ¬†Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Butterfly the chicken breasts into halves so that you have 4-6 pieces total.  Lightly season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Using tongs and working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture to coat both sides.  Shake lightly to remove any excess.  Then dip into the eggs and shake gently to remove any excess.  Finally place in the panko, turning to coat well.  Transfer to the prepared wire rack.  Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.  Once all the chicken pieces are in place, spray lightly with cooking spray.

Bake for 11-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the bread crumbs are golden.  Let rest a few minutes before serving.  Serve with the teriyaki dipping sauce.

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Did you know there was a right way and a wrong way? Did you know that the wrong way is probably the way your mother did it, your grandmother did it, and you’ve done it all your life?

Me neither.

Personally, I’m fine with whatever floats your boat. If you want to tie your chicken up all nice and pretty and have the picture of a traditional chicken dinner, that’s cool. If you want to roast it breast-down to keep the white meat moist, that’s cool too (although it takes considerably longer than the method I’m about to propose).

I would like to suggest that you try roasting your chicken a different way just once. It’s quick, it’s tasty, and it’s easier to cut apart into manageable pieces. Plus I think it’s pretty and looks rather impressive, even though it really takes no more time to prepare than your normal (read: “wrong”) roast chicken.

The secret is butterflying.

Basic technique: Cut the spine out of the chicken, spread it out, and lay it flat on a rack in a cookie sheet. Roast 45 minutes and you’re done. Now chop it up into leg quarters, breasts, wings, and serve.

This article explains the background and the science behind why butterflying your chicken evens out the cooking and gives you a better finished product – dark meat that’s done, white meat that’s moist and not overcooked. It’s really a fascinating read if you like science, and food. But more if you like food, because I don’t really like science but I do like the science of food.

Here’s what I did:

Butterflied Roasted Chicken (Adapted from here)

  • 1 chicken, about 3 1/2 to 4 lbs
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Additional spices if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse chicken, remove giblets and neck if applicable and feed them to your dog and cats who will love you for it.

Cut the spine out of the back of the chicken, using sharp kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Lay flat, skin-side up, on a rack in a foil-covered cookie sheet (with edges).

Roast approximately 45 minutes, or until thickest part of breast reaches 150 degrees and joint between thigh and body reaches 170 degrees.

Remove from oven, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes before carving.

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This was good. Like really, really good. It came together pretty easily and tasted like something I’d order in a restaurant. JW doesn’t like sun-dried tomatoes (anyone surprised? me neither) but he really liked this.

The sauce is pureed together so the sun-dried tomatoes just give it a very deep tomato flavor without screwing with the texture. With fresh basil, heavy cream, white wine, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes, it has a wonderful balance of complex flavors that work together really well.

The original recipe calls for chicken, which we used and enjoyed, but in the future I will probably just double the sauce and use it over pasta on its own. It’s so stellar that it really doesn’t need the chicken.

Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce (Original recipe here)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 lbs total)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil – drain, pat dry, and coarsely chop (I used a 10-12 oz jar)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and black pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning once, about 6 minutes total (chicken will not be cooked through). Transfer chicken with tongs to a plate.

Add garlic and tomatoes to the skillet and sauté, stirring, until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute.

Add wine and boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, about 1 minute.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, covered.

Add chicken to skillet with any juices accumulated on plate and simmer, covered, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil.

Stir cream and 2 tablespoons basil into sauce in skillet and bring just to a simmer.

Transfer sauce to a deep heatproof bowl or 1-quart glass measure (I used a tall plastic pitcher to minimize tomato flying all over my kitchen) and purée with an immersion blender until almost smooth. Alternatively, you can use a standard blender or food processor.

If necessary, add water to thin to desired consistency, then season with salt and pepper.

Serve sauce over chicken, and/or pasta if desired.

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