Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do You Feel Like Chicken Tonight?

Sorry for the slight delay in recipe postings.  I've been trying to wean myself off pain meds and it is not going so well.  I can move more and each day I'm waking up feeling better; however, by 9:30 a.m. I feel like I need a heating pad, vicodine, and a nap. 

Anyhow, enough of the whining and on to the cheese:)  Do you feel like chicken tonight?  Chicken is by far the most versatile protein, but can get a little boring.  No worries! Here is not one but two recipes for you to try.  One is an spin on Chinese take-out.  The other is more Italian.  Either way, you should try these tasty recipes.

  Originally, this dish was on last week's menu plan, but we ended up eating it on Saturday when I could finally move again.  A traditional Chinese take-out meal takes on a healthier spin using far less oil, brown rice, and a lovely mix of veggies.  This recipe is inspired by Hy-Vee's Seasons magazine, which I believe is offered in stores quarterly.  You can check out the original recipe at Hy-Vee's website, or see my adaptation below.

Spicy Cashew Chicken
(inspired by Hy-Vee)

Non-stick cooking spray
14 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch chunks
4 tablespoons light soy sauce, divided
2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Thai red chili paste
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 stalk celery, chopped
20 baby carrots (you can roughly chop them, or leave them whole as I did)
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
1 cup frozen peas
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup cashews
4 cups steamed brown rice

In a small dish, whisk together 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/3 cup chicken broth, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, and one clove minced garlic.  In a plastic marinating bag (a Ziplock bag) or larger dish, toss the above marinade with the chicken.  Let stand for at least one hour or overnight if you are prepping the dish before hand.

Next, spray a large skillet with non-stick spray.  Heat the skillet to medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook the first side for 3 minutes.  Flip the pieces and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.  Remove the chicken and set aside in another dish.  Add the celery, carrots, broccoli, peas, and onion.  Toss and stir the veggies around in the pan until the onion starts to look slightly opaque.  While the veggies are cooking, whisk together the remaining 1/3 chicken stock, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, chili paste, 1 clove garlic, and 1 tablespoon corn starch together in a small dish to create your sauce.  When the onions turn opaque, add the sauce to the pan.  Add the chicken back to the pan and the water chestnuts.  Toss and stir to coat until the sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from heat.  Top the chicken veggie mixture over brown rice and sprinkle the cashews on top. 

  Well, this lasagna is not a looker, but pretty tasty.  My food photography skills are already lacking and this proved to be even more of a challenge.  D- on the photog, but A- on the recipe:)  If you're like me, lasagna is kind of a drag to make.  Boil the noodles, mix the ingredients, then the layering.  Bah!  Not with this recipe.  There is no boiling required!  Just mix and layer my friends.  Mix, layer, refrigerate for later, or pop in the oven to enjoy for a meal right away.  Nice!

Chicken Lasagna Florentine
(inspired by Cooking Light)

Nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup skim milk
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups poached and shredded chicken breast (see this post for flavorful poaching)
1 10 oz. thawed and drained box of frozen chopped spinach
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1 brick 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 box gluten-free lasagna noodles ( or whole wheat or whatever you prefer)
1 bag 2% shredded mozzarella cheese
1 sheet of foil to cover the top of your baking dish

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spray an 8 by 12 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.   Heat and melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat.  While the butter is melting, whisk together the chicken broth, milk, garlic powder, and corn starch until smooth.  Add the mixture to the butter.  Stir constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat.

In another dish, mix the chicken, spinach, sour cream, and softened cream cheese together.  You can add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread 1/2 of the sauce into the baking dish.  Arrange the noodles into the pan.  I used five noodles (4 across, and then I had to break one for the end).  Layer the chicken mixture over the noodles.  Again, arrange noodles over the top of the chicken layer.  Ladle the rest of the sauce over the noodles.  Top with the cheese. 

Cover your baking dish with foil.   Bake in the oven with the foil over the top for 30 minutes or until the middle of the lasagna looks like the cheese is melted.  Remove the foil.  Bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until the edges and top of the cheese look bubbly and golden.  Remove from the oven.  Let set for 5-10 minutes, slice and enjoy. 

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