Monday, April 25, 2011

Sesame Crusted Chicken

In a world that is trying to focus the attention away from meat, my Husband and I are headed in the opposite direction. The world is giving us "Meatless Mondays" and veggie options popping up everywhere and we are eating more meat than we have in our entire lives.  This has been a huge change for us as we have lived a mostly plant based diet for a long time, but we are certainly enjoying eating this way.  Our intention is to carry on with copious amounts of vegetables and fruits, fish and healthy fats as we always have...but the addition of healthy, responsibly raised meat to our diets has proven to be both delicious and nourishing and we are sticking with it.  We are nearing the finish line on the Whole 30 challenge.  Less than a week to go.  The healthy recipes will continue, but I can guarantee there will be bonuses like celebratory cocktails and birthday cakes.  This chicken recipe satisfies a craving for all things breaded and fried.  A great option for calming the beast within that is begging you for chicken fingers and fries.  It's a straightforward recipe with only 4 ingredients that you can whip up in less time than it takes to get to a drive through.

Sesame Crusted Chicken
Origin: Adapted from Gourmet

Notes:  Serve these simple chicken fingers with your favorite dipping sauce.   I served mine with spicy aioli, but plum sauce or a soy dipping sauce would also be great.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup sesame seeds, mixture of black and white
2 egg whites
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
coconut oil for frying

Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into slices about a 1/2 inch thick.

Whisk together egg whites, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish until whites are loosened but not foamy.  Put sesame seeds in another shallow dish.  Dip chicken, a couple of pieces at a time, in egg whites, letting excess drip off, then dredge in sesame seeds. Transfer to a wax-paper-lined tray.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add chicken, reduce heat to medium and cook pieces of chicken, turning over once with tongs, until coating is golden and chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, then transfer to a plate.  Do not crowd the pan, cook the chicken in small batches.  Remove any browned sesame seeds from skillet, before cooking remaining chicken.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken Paillard with Arugula & Tomato Salad

 A major perk to this whole diet change is that dinner takes much less time to prepare.  Fewer options means fewer decisions to make!  Nah, it hasn't been too hard.  There are tons of options from cuisines around the globe, you've just got to hone your recipe searching skills to suit.  There are no slow grains to cook and many of the fresh, unprocessed foods we are eating require little effort to taste fabulous, the ingredients speak for themselves.  The inspiration for this quick dish comes from Lincoln Road in Miami, it seems like each time I visit, I end up lunching on a patio enjoying this refreshing meal.  It's light and simple and provides the perfect fuel for powering an afternoon of intense shopping in the Miami heat.  Use the highest quality chicken, the juiciest tomatoes and freshest greens for this easy, bright tasting dish.

Chicken Paillard with Tomato & Arugula Salad
Origin: Jaime, Impeccable Taste

Notes:  To pound the chicken, you can place individual chicken breasts in a large resealable plastic bag and pound them with the flat end of a meat tenderizer, or pound them out between two sheets of parchment paper with a heavy rolling pin as I do.  The idea is to thin the chicken out a bit and ensure it is an even thickness throughout.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thinly
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 shallots thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper

6-8 cups baby arugula
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (any variety of good tasting tomato will do)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine, white wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a baking dish (or in whichever vessel you want to marinate the chicken), combine the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, shallots and garlic, season well with salt and pepper.  Add the pounded chicken breast to the marinade and turn to coat.  Cover and set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.  Take out 5 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile prepare the salad.  Make the vinaigrette in the bottom of your salad bowl.  Combine the shallots, lemon juice, vinegar and salt and pepper with a whisk, drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to emulsify.  Place the arugula and tomatoes over the vinaigrette, toss just before serving.

To prepare the chicken, heat a large heavy bottomed skillet or frying pan over medium high heat.  Give it a few minutes and make sure it's really hot. Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off all the shallots.  Add just a teaspoon of olive oil to the hot pan, the oil coating the chicken should be enough.  When the pan is hot, add the chicken, you must hear a good sizzle or the pan is not ready.  Cook the chicken for about 3 minutes per side or until cooked through.  You want the chicken to have a good brown crust on both sides.

Toss the salad and serve with the hot chicken.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Asian Salad with Salmon

I have been making this salmon salad for ages.  It was one of my first great successes cooking from the Everyday Food mag by Martha Stewart.  You may think that I have fallen off of the Whole 30 challenge wagon, with the sounds of this delicious offering.  I'm happy to report that I am 11 days into this thing and this dish happens to fit in comfortably with only 1 ingredient to reconsider...a smidgen of honey, which I replaced lickitty split.  I used a bit of pureed pineapple to fill the role of honey and it worked great.  All of the components in this salad play an important part, and the outcome is fantastic.  Crunchy vegetables, sweet fruit, and toasted almonds topped with chunks of the simplest salmon drizzled in a sweet, tart, sesame vinaigrette.

Asian Salad with Salmon
Origin: Adapted from Everyday Food, Martha Stewart

Notes:  You can substitute different types of fruits and nuts in this salad.  Try chunks of pineapple or mango or cashews in place of the almonds.  I have served this dish as a part both a lunch and brunch spread and I have made it countless times for dinner.  It is really simple and quick.


2 salmon fillets (about 8 ounces each)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons pineapple puree (or 2 tablespoons honey)
1 small head napa cabbage, shredded (about 6 cups)
1 small head red cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
2 large carrots, shredded
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1/2 cup sliced or chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place salmon fillets on a rimmed baking sheet, rub with a 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Bake fish for 10-15 minutes, turn the broiler on for the last minute or two to brown the tops a bit.  (If your salmon has skin on it, bake it skin side down the entire time, once cooked, remove the salmon leaving the skin behind.  A layer of aluminum foil will make your clean up a lot easier.) The fish can be served warm or room temperature.

While the fish is cooking, in a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and pineapple puree (or honey), season with salt and pepper. Set aside 2 tablespoons dressing.

To remaining dressing, add napa and red cabbage, carrots, onion, almonds and apricots and toss to coat.

Top the salad with chunks of salmon and drizzle remaining dressing over salmon.  Serves 4.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spicy Grilled Chicken & Mango Slaw

Challenge!  My husband and I have been given a 30 day challenge to change our eating habits in a major way.  It's pretty drastic, so this blog is going to look a little different in the coming weeks (no more of these or these for a while).  Based on the paleolithic diet, this 30 day plan focuses on clean eating.  It strips away processed foods and aims to reset your digestion and metabolism, curb cravings and promote strength and well being.  It brings us back to caveman times and encourages us to eat from the land.  Meat, fish, healthy fats (like those found in avocados or olive oil), vegetables, fruits and nuts.  Yep, that's it.  Cavemen didn't have the tools to process milk products or grains - so they're out.  If you read between the lines, you might have gathered that my vegetarian Hubby has made a huge change in his diet by taking on this challenge, adding meat and taking out all of his vegetarian staples.  No processed foods or beans means no soy products, which means no fake hot dogs and hamburgers!  The idea of eating meat has been marinating (sorry) inside him for a while now.  This challenge and the promise of feeling great and getting stronger was motivation enough for him to take the plunge after more than 10 years meat free.  This way of eating is meant to accompany a very active lifestyle, there is a large focus on protein of the highest quality to encourage strength building.

So here we go.  No dairy, no legumes, no beans, no grains, no sugar.  But have no fear.  I will not compromise the quality of the recipes I am offering you.  I have spent the last week researching and experimenting and I hope to bring you recipes that are healthy and full of satisfying flavours.  Stuff you would want to make regardless of what it's missing.

Although some of the recipes featured on this blog could be easily modified, looking back through my archives I found only one solitary recipe that fit the bill as is...a side dish, not even a complete meal.  The winner?  Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce.  I obviously have work to do!  If you'd like to check out the challenge, here is the info.


Without further ado, on to the recipes.  I'm off to an easy start.  I had no problem scarfing down these great dishes.  The mango slaw is probably my favorite mango salad ever, and I have had my share of 'em.  There is no soy or fish sauce (which contains sugar!) only tart lime juice and vinegar, balanced by a touch of oil, salt and spicy red pepper flakes.  I love the addition of mint in lieu of cilantro and cashews instead of peanuts...which works perfectly because peanuts are not on the menu as there are considered a legume and not a nut.  The chicken is a super versatile, easy dish that you can turn to anytime.  It can be grilled or roasted in the oven and you can use any part of the bird that you fancy.  Made with simple things that I always have on hand.  It hits all the right notes and is pure juicy goodness.

Spicy Grilled Chicken
Origin: adapted slightly from NY Times, Suvir Saran

Notes:  I have made this several times using just thighs or a mixture of thighs and breasts.  I have roasted it in the oven and grilled it on the BBQ, it always turns out great.  Its not too spicy and it's an easy recipe that will please whomever you are feeding.

8 chicken thighs (or 4 thighs and 2 breasts), with skin, pierced all over with a small knife
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated or minced
1 small jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander seeds or ground coriander

Place all of the ingredients in a resealable plastic bag and toss, squish, rub or smoosh everything around to coat thoroughly.  Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours.

Preheat your grill on high, (or preheat oven to 400 degrees).   If grilling, turn down grill to about medium and grill skin side down first, for about 25 minutes, turning once.  If roasting, put chicken, skin side up, in a roasting pan. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until done and the juices run clear.

Mango Slaw with Cashews & Mint
Origin: Smitten Kitchen

Notes:  This recipe is easily halved but I use the full 1/4 cup of mint and cashews because I'm baaaad!  A slightly firm, but ripe mango is best for this salad.  Deb at Smitten Kitchen has an amazing Thai-Style Chicken Legs recipe that goes perfectly with this slaw, but for the 30 day challenge, the spicy chicken recipe above does the trick.

2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and julienned
1 to pound Napa cabbage, halved and sliced very thinly (savoy works too, sliced as thin as possible)
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, from about two limes
1/4 cup rice vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar during my 30 day challenge)
2 tablespoons oil of your choice (I used grapeseed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (or omit this and whisk in a chile paste to taste)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted cashews, coarsely chopped