Tag Archives: dinners

abi’s chicken with peppers

This dish is what chicken parmesan would be if it grew up, ate mostly salad, and got a personal trainer, but still yielded to the occasional urge to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy. Is it perfectly healthy? No. But it’s trying, and it comes close.

Maybe this dish deserves a catchier name. But let’s be honest. Abi – Xavier’s daughter – is the one who requests this dinner most frequently. She calls it “the chicken with the peppers.” Then I wonder if it was the stir-fried chicken, where bell peppers were accompanied by a handful of broccoli? Or perhaps the curried chicken with caramelized onions and strips of pepper almost melting into the sauce? As it turns out, none of the above. Why not just call it “Abi’s Chicken with Peppers?”

Abi’s Chicken with Peppers was born by accident. Don’t you love when you throw together a random meal and it turns out to be a huge hit? The kind of meal that is requested again and again? That was how this happened. It was the end of the week and the fridge was looking bare. I had chicken breasts, some leftover tomato sauce, and a smattering of vegetables. What to make?

My first thought: chicken parm. Now, our household loves chicken parmesan. I mean, really, really, really loves it. Nobody is Italian, or even close to it – we’re a mixture of Eastern European and Ecuadorian – but somehow that dish has made its way into our hearts and souls. The only issue is, we feel guilty eating it. The chicken is breaded, fried, and smothered with mozzarella. Obviously we love our indulgences, but generally we try to stay active and eat healthy foods.

I decided to skip the breading stage, and just saute chicken breasts to give them a quick sear. Then I’d smother the cutlets in sauteed bell pepper. Crunch is great, especially when it comes from crispy veggies and not breaded chicken coating! The chicken is placed in a baking dish, just like chicken parmesan, where it receives a healthy splash of tomato sauce and a moderate sprinkling of cheese. Sure, you can skip that if you’re really going for the low-calorie version. But as I tell myself, our brains need fat to stay healthy and continue to think of healthy modifications to recipes!

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Abi’s Chicken with Peppers

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pint tomato sauce, warm (my favorite)
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
Olive oil, for sauteeing
1 bell pepper, sliced
Mozzarella cheese, grated, to taste (I use about 1/2 cup)

First, prepare the chicken breasts. Using a very sharp knife, slice the breasts in half lengthwise so you end up with four thin cutlets. Pound the cutlets (between two pieces of plastic wrap, or inside a plastic bag) until they are thin and somewhat even. I do this with whatever heavy object I have laying around, be it a wine bottle, a can of tomatoes, or sometimes my fist.

Right about now, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 425F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge the chicken breasts in the mixture. Pre-heat a large saute pan over medium-high. Add a tiny bit of olive oil and saute the chicken breasts until browned on each side. You may need to do this in batches. The chicken is thin so this won’t take long, maybe 2-3 minutes per side. The idea is just to brown them. It’s okay if they’re still a little underdone inside, because they’ll be spending time in the oven, and you want to keep them moist! When the chicken is done, place the cutlets in one layer on a baking sheet that fits them comfortably.

Add just a splash more olive oil to the still-hot pan, and saute the bell peppers for just a minute. You want them to cook just a bit, but keep them crispy.

When the peppers are finished, layer them on top of the chicken cutlets. Ladle sauce on top, then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese on top melts and begins to brown.

With pasta and salad, this will serve four people… or two to three hungry ones.

Notes: I have been known to add onion and mushroom to the pepper mixture. You could definitely experiment here.

If you make Chiffonade’s sauce, you’ll end up with much more than you need for the chicken. Serve some with the side pasta, and refrigerate or freeze the rest.

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sushi-seared tuna, edamame “risotto,” seven-spice brussels sprouts recipes

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In addition to regular recipe posts, I’m going to be posting snapshots of what we’ve been eating at home, along with loose recipe guidelines. I hope you’ll be inspired to try something new. Also, I’m doing this for selfish reasons! Most of the time, I just make up whatever we’re eating for dinner. Weeks or months later, when that meal is requested again, I don’t remember how I made it! So, I’d like to remember how to prepare the big hits.

Today’s dinner is: sushi-seared tuna, edamame “risotto,” and seven-spice Brussels sprouts.

I call the tuna “sushi-seared” because it incorporates many elements of your favorite sushi roll: soy, ginger, wasabi, and sesame seeds. Missing the rice and edamame? Well, they’ll be on the other side of the plate, looking something like risotto. I added roasted brussels sprouts, sprinkled with Japanese seasoning, because they’re healthy and delicious.

Let’s get started!

You might need to buy:

  • Ahi tuna steaks (one per person)
  • Edamame (shelled, or whole)
  • Green onions/scallions
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Japanese seven-spice powder (I got mine from SpiceHouse.com, http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/japanese-seven-spice)
  • Sesame seeds (black and white, or whichever you have on hand)
  • Prepared wasabi

What you’ll need that you should have in your fridge or pantry:

  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, ground
  • Arborio rice

To make the whole meal, which comes together startlingly fast:

First, make the marinade for the tuna, being sure to grate double the ginger so you’ll have some for the risotto. Marinade it while you do the rest.

Preheat the oven, then trim and prepare the Brussels sprouts.

Prepare the rest of the aromatics (garlic, scallions) and mise en place.

Stick Brussels sprouts in the oven, then start risotto.

Towards the end of the risotto’s cooking time, heat up the pan for the tuna.

Everything should finish around the same time.

For the sushi-seared tuna:

Ingredients:

  • Ahi tuna steaks
  • 1 one-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoons wasabi
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Sesame seeds (black and white, mixed together), 2-3 tablespoons per tuna steak

First, prepare a marinade. In a bowl that will hold the tuna steaks, stir together the grated ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, wasabi, and salt. Add tuna steaks, coat well, and allow to rest covered at room temperature for about 30 minutes. The idea here is to let the steaks warm up so that the chilled insides don’t cool off the entire steak when it’s pulled from the pan.

(If you’re making the other dishes, prepare them here).

Preheat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high. Immediately before cooking, sprinkle both sides of each tuna steak with sesame seeds. Press into tuna to coat.

Add a tablespoon of canola oil to the pan. When hot, add tuna steaks. Sear on each side for 1-2 minutes max, flipping when brown and the sesame seeds have become a crust.

Serve immediately.

For the Brussels sprouts:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese seven-spice powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Just enough sesame oil to coat

Preheat oven to 450F.

Prepare Brussels sprouts by trimming tough stem end, removing loose leaves, and slicing into halves or quarters.

Toss with salt, Shichimi Togarashi, and sesame oil. Spread on a baking sheet, careful not to overlap – you want them to roast, not steam.

Roast for about 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout – when they are beginning to brown and crisp up, they’re done.

For the “risotto:”

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 one-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin, separated
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup sake
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup edamame (shelled – so you have ½ cup of little beans, not ½ cup of whole pods)

In a medium saucepan, heat the sesame oil over medium. When hot, add ginger, garlic, half of the sliced scallions, and salt. Saute until fragrant, about one minute, then add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute.

Pour in sake and stir to coat. When almost all of it has evaporated, add water until the rice is just covered. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost evaporated. Again, add more water and repeat. Continue adding water and stirring until rice is tender and creamy. Add edamame towards the end. The whole process should take 15-20 minutes.
Garnish with remaining sliced green onions.

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