hoisin-grilled chicken with soba noodles

If my kid had to choose one thing to use as a dipping sauce…because, well, meat can’t be eaten in our house unless dipped in something, she’d choose barbecue.  Her sauce of choice is Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Tangy.  She’ll put it on everything, but particularly her least favorite meat of all time: chicken.

Isn’t chicken supposed to be every kid’s favorite meat?  I mean, it’s generally tender, virtually devoid of any offensive flavor (or, flavor of any sort unless dredged in Sweet Baby Ray’s)?  Well, not my kid, I guess, resulting in this recipe being a sort of double whammy – she detests chicken and the sauce is NOT Sweet Baby Ray’s.  The sauce is better, in my opinion, but I don’t have the culinary sensitivities of an eight year old.

I love hoisin sauce.  I love Asian-inspired dishes.  I won’t go so far as to say I love chicken because handling raw chicken is enough to make me contemplate full-time vegetarianism.  But once it’s cooked, I’m OK with it.  Fortunately or unfortunately, chicken is flavorless unless you do something good to it.  In this case, the sauce.  The hoisin adds sweetness and the chili-garlic the heat.  I love the savory warmth of dark sesame oil, too.  But the really interesting flavor comes from the Chinese 5-spice blend.

You can make your own at home; it’s a combination of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and Szechuan peppercorns, but 5-spice blend is readily available in the spice aisle at your local grocery store.  The spice adds a deeper warmth to an already savory combination of flavors.  Overall, this Asian-inspired barbecue sauce was quite good.  Don’t worry, Sweet Baby Ray’s.  A certain eight year old will  make sure my pantry remains well stocked with your products.  Nice change of pace, though.  Enjoy!

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Hoisin-Grilled Chicken w/Soba Noodles (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, July 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 3 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 ounces uncooked soba noodles (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 tsp lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste), or 1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken; toss to coat. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 10 minutes or until done, turning after 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain,
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook 2 minutes. Add peas; cook 1 minute or until noodles are tender. Drain. Combine rice vinegar and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Add noodle mixture; toss to coat. Arrange about 1 cup noodle mixture in each of 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with about 3 1/2 ounces chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and onions.

hoison_grilledchicken©zouptonuts***Cook’s Note:  Per the picture, I was convinced I had Soba noodles in my pantry when I didn’t.  Substituting any pasta will serve you well, however.

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chicken on the grill – easy marinade

Grilling and salads.  That’s what I’m doing, lately.  This was a last minute marinade that came together with stock pantry items and had nice flavor.  It’s nothing wild or over-the-top, so it’s pretty kid friendly, but had nice flavor which I attribute to my substitution of fresh, minced garlic instead of garlic salt.  The fresh garlic gives a bigger flavor punch while also reducing sodium in the finished product.

I served this with Harvest Grains Blend by Trader Joe’s and a green salad for a light, tasty dinner that didn’t involve heating up my kitchen in this desert heat.  If you’re bored with chicken (I completely understand that), I think this marinade would work nicely with pork, shrimp, or fish, as well.  Enjoy!

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Chicken on the Grill (recipe adapted from Grilling: Food Writers’ Favorites)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp garlic salt (I used 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced, to reduce sodium)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions:

In a large resealable bag, combine oil, orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and garlic salt.  Add chicken cubes.  Seal plastic bag and turn to coat all chicken pieces evenly.  Refrigerate at least 30 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice.

Remove chicken from marinade and discard remaining liquid.  Thread chicken cubes on metal skewers.  Place skewers on gas grill over medium-high heat.   Cook about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, or until chicken is done.

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Cook’s Notes:  Give this marinade a kick with some red pepper flakes or a splash of hot sauce.  Instead of a side salad, skewer some veggies and cook those on the grill with the chicken.

chicken with pepperoni-marinara

This is the perfect quick ‘n dirty dinner meal.  It’s in my regular rotation, particularly on the nights I’m running late, or behind, or I’ve simply procrastinated myself into a dinner emergency.  My favorite thing about this recipe is the pizza overtone:  cheese, pepperoni, tomato sauce, but without all that thick crust guilt.  The chicken is just a protein bonus!!
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The original recipe calls for regular pepperoni, but this night I happened to have turkey pepperoni on hand.  In my opinion, the turkey pepperoni is every bit as yummy as regular pepperoni (which I admit, I love), and with a lot less fat.  The sodium content is still off the charts in my book, but the recipe calls for a fairly minimal amount of pepperoni and I don’t add any additional salt during preparation.
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So, that’s that:  a quick ‘n dirty blog post for an easy-to-prepare, delicious, healthy dinner even the kids will should love.  Enjoy!
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Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce

Recipe Courtesy: Cooking Light, January 2012

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 16 slices pepperoni, coarsely chopped (I opted for turkey pepperoni this time)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon’s)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (I use whole mozz, sliced)

Directions:

1.  Preheat broiler to high.

2.  Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.

3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

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meat-of-choice teriyaki

This recipe came from one of my many, many Pinterest pins (can you say, “Get a life?”).  Actually, it’s so easy to pin from anywhere now that killing time at gymnastics or swim lessons or waiting for school to let out is a lot more productive.  (You can follow my pins here, if you’d like).  And Pinterest is absolutely overflowing with amazing recipes I can save for later, or a rainy day, or the day my husband comes home from the doc and tells me his cholesterol is too high.  Huh??  Ok, that’s just genetic, but to the extent I can make my already healthy cooking healthier?  Yeah, I’m in.  I kinda want to keep him around for a while.

The original recipe was for Teriyaki Turkey Tenderloins (say that three times fast), but my butcher was out of turkey tenderloins.  And, hey, it’s teriyaki.  Doesn’t that pretty much go with everything?  So, while I ended up using chicken breasts, any meat will do: chicken, turkey, pork, your choice.  It was also a little different from my standard teriyaki with the addition of sesame oil and chili-garlic paste.  The chili-garlic gave this version a nice kick and a little heat, but not overpowering.  I’ll definitely use it again – maybe on the last of the shrimp in the freezer now that my healthy cooking just got healthier.  Enjoy!

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Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients:

  • turkey breast tenderloins, chicken breasts, or pork tenderloin (meat-of-choice), approx 1 – 1 1/2 lbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbps fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ c  low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ c orange juice
  • ½ Tbps sesame oil
  • 2 Tbps rice vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ½ Tbps chili garlic paste (optional, or cut back quantity to taste)
 Instructions:
  1. Place meat-of-choice in a resealable plastic bag and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and pour in to resealable bag containing your meat-of-choice.
  3. Marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  4. Pre-heat grill to medium high heat.
  5. Place your meat-of-choice on the grill and cook to recommended temp (have a meat thermometer handy).
  6. Let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

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