Zin-Zen Chicken

I don’t even want to tell you when I made this stir fry originally. It’s too embarrassing. But it is what it is, and even though time has gone by since this dish graced our table, its goodness hasn’t gone away. [Did that make any sense to anyone but me?] ANYWAYS…. Ben, especially, loves stir fry. I can’t say that it was my favorite dinner as a kid, but I’m starting to appreciate it more and more these days since it’s quick, healthy, and flavorful.

Zin Zen Chicken | thepajamachef.com

What makes this stir fry SO good is the combination of the orange-flavored rice with the gingery and garlicky chicken and vegetables. Ya know, the zin/zen thing. Rachael Ray was up to something with her recipe title, I do believe. :) Another good thing about this dish? It uses up some of that Chinese five spice powder that’s probably languishing in your cupboard. Please tell me I’m not alone in that. Mmmmkay, thanks. As always, enjoy! :)

one year ago: Guacamole Salsa
two years ago: Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars
three years ago: Oreo Truffles

Zin-Zen Chicken [from Rachael Ray]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups chopped bell peppers [I used red, orange, and yellow]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch grated gingerroot [or 1 teaspoon ground]
  • 1 red or yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup Zinfandel wine or chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • 4 scallions, sliced on the bias

Directions:

Combine rice, chicken broth, and orange zest in a medium pan. Set to high heat, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is absorbed.

In a separate large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute chicken, seasoned with black pepper, until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Place bell peppers, garlic, ginger, and onion in the pan and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the veggies to the chicken, then melt butter in skillet. Whisk in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the wine/chicken broth, soy sauce, and five spice powder and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium low. Put the chicken and veggies back in the skillet and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.

After the rice is cooked, add scallions and orange juice and fluff with a fork. Serve the chicken and vegetables over the rice.

Time: 30 minutes.
Yield: 4-6 servings.
Note: For four, this amount of rice is perfect. For six, doubling it would be best.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

About these ads

Grapefruit Arugula Salad

Once I tasted a bite of this awesome Grapefruit Arugula Salad, I knew I had to photograph and share it, even though it was late and I was making this salad when all the natural light had already bid Nashville farewell. [translation=indoor photography :(] My sister and brother-in-law were visiting, and this salad was the perfect accompaniment to our roasted chicken and vegetable dinner.

Grapefruit Arugula Salad | thepajamachef.com

I know there are a million variations of grapefruit arugula salad out there, and this is the first version I’ve ever had, so I can’t say it’s the best, but I can say it’s MY best. :) How’s that? Well, it’s just so much yumminess in one bowl! You’ve got your juicy citrus, your tangy feta, and your peppery arugula all dressed in a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Basically an explosion of flavors. I totally wish I had made bigger salads so don’t make the same mistake I did. This is one salad I know I’ll be coming back to time and time again. Enjoy, friends!

one year ago: Herb, Tomato, and Cheese Crackers
two years ago: Smoky Fried Chickpeas
three years ago: Pantry Pasta for Two

Grapefruit Arugula Salad
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • lemon pepper
  • salt

Directions:

Using a sharp paring knife, section the grapefruit into segments. I tried to do this without a tutorial and it didn’t go so well, so check out this tutorial and your grapefruit will look better than mine. :)

Divide arugula between four bowls, then divide grapefruit between the bowls as well. Top with feta cheese.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, and balsamic for the dressing. Add lemon pepper and salt to taste, then drizzle over salad immediately before eating.

Time: 5 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.

Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes

Thanks for coming back for another edition of Thanksgiving week! On Monday I shared my recipe for Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls. On Tuesday, it was Mixed Vegetables Mornay [my fave side ever!!]. And today, it’s mashed potatoes.

Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes | thepajamachef.com

I know, I know. Mashed potatoes are super classic… and you probably don’t even need a recipe to make them. BUT hear me out! These mashed potatoes are something extra special, because they’ve got a Southwestern flair to them! Chipotle peppers and cilantro are an awesome flavor combo, so why not add ‘em to mashed potatoes??!

Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes | thepajamachef.com

I seriously couldn’t get enough of these potatoes. And I’m not a mashed potatoes girl. I prefer baked potatoes or fries, anything really besides mashed potatoes. These potatoes are different though. They’re interesting and spicy, but not hot or anything out of control. I thought about adding some cheddar cheese–and I’m sure that would be awesome, but before you add a bunch of cheese… just try ‘em! The cilantro adds SO much flavor. I know these mashed potatoes are far from traditional but you should definitely give them a try! Feel free to add more butter or use cream instead of milk if you like, but since I was making these for two, I decided to be a little less liberal with the indulgent stuff. And truthfully, I think these potatoes were creamy and flavorful enough without tons of cream and butter. They’re amazing, and I think I’ll go have a bowl now! Be sure to come back tomorrow for some turkey, and Friday for pear crisp! Yum yum and YUM!

Thanksgiving Meal | thepajamachef.com

two years ago: KC’s Dilled Carrots
three years ago: Layered Taco Dip

Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes [flavor combo idea adapted from Food Network Magazine, November 2011]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds potatoes [Yukon Gold or Russet]
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced [loosely packed]
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Wash and dry potatoes, then cut into quarters and place in a pan.  Cover with cold water by an inch or two, then add 1 tablespoon Kosher salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low heat. Cook, uncovered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes and let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel potatoes and transfer to a bowl.

Add butter and milk, then mash with a fork or potato masher. Stir in chipotle pepper and cilantro, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Time: 60 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings.

Mixed Vegetables Mornay

Thanksgiving week continues with one of my favorite side dishes of all times… Mixed Vegetables Mornay! I know vegetables aren’t on most list of crave-worthy, holiday-table-worthy comfort foods, but after you try these Mixed Vegetables Mornay, I bet they will be on yours! At first glance, frozen mixed vegetables aren’t that exciting. But when you taste this fabulously cheesy, buttery mornay sauce, you’ll know why they should be–and why this dish tops my list of veggie comfort.

Mixed Vegetables Mornay | thepajamachef.com

In my family, this side dish is the equivalent of the quintessential holiday green bean casserole. I like to think it’s a little bit better than that though–a little healthier, a little more flavorful, and a lot more awesome. I love green beans and mushrooms, but out of a can? No thanks. I like to opt for this dish instead. And it’s cheesy, so what more can you ask for? :)

Mixed Vegetables Mornay | thepajamachef.com

Mixed Vegetables Mornay is super simple to put together, so don’t be afraid of the fancy-sounding sauce. It’s basically a Béchamel sauce with Parmesan cheese. If you can make a roux, you can make mornay sauce. And when you do, try really hard to save some for the vegetables. Fresh mornay sauce is great, but it’s excellent when it bubbles up around all the veggies….and paired with some toasted and buttered bread crumbs? Oh my goodness. I could eat these veggies for BREAKFAST they are so tasty! Be sure to come back tomorrow for another dose of Thanksgiving week, and if you missed my Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls from yesterday, check them out too! :)

Thanksgiving Meal | thepajamachef.com

two years ago: Crockpot Saucy Italian Chicken
three years ago: Lime-Soy Chicken

Mixed Vegetables Mornay
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 32 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • up to 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch thyme
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted [or olive oil]

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 inch casserole dish and set aside.

Cook vegetables with 1/2 cup water for 5 minutes in the microwave until crisp-tender. Drain well, reserving cooking liquid for mornay sauce. Place vegetables in prepared dish with 1 tablespoon butter and 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, stirring to combine.

Meanwhile, prepare mornay sauce. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for one minute. Fill measuring cup with cooking liquid and top off with enough milk to equal 2 cups. Then sloooowly add milk, stirring constantly. Cook until thick [about 3 minutes] then stir in garlic powder, nutmeg, thyme, and parmesan cheese. Simmer for 5 minutes, then pour over seasoned vegetables. Top with bread crumbs and drizzle with melted butter or oil.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

Time: 50 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings.

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

How many new foods have you tried because you read about them on a blog? For me, it’s probably been a lot–namely a lot of veggies I didn’t grow up eating and/or didn’t know how to prepare, cheeses, grains, etc. I’ve never really been a picky eater, but reading blogs and cookbooks certainly have revealed gaps in my foodie education. Since I’ve been reading blogs, one of my favorite new foods has been butternut squash. Sure, it’s a pain to cut, but it’s just. so. tasty! And it makes this quinoa–one of my favorite foods ever, btw–an essential dish for your fall cooking season. Period.

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad | thepajamachef.com

One of my favorite ways to enjoy butternut squash is roasted and tossed in a salad, particularly this quinoa salad. I made this several times last winter and just never got around to sharing it here, so I was so happy when I realized this week that it was finally butternut squash season again! What makes this salad so good is the always delightful pairing of sweet and spicy seasonings, some strong cheese, and some salty meat. Molasses! Lime juice! Feta! Canadian bacon! All the good things, huh?! :)

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad | thepajamachef.com

One of the key flavors here in this nutty salad is the molasses. It does a double duty as a marinade for the roasted squash, and as a dressing for the salad itself. Molasses is totally underrated, but it lends such rich flavor and subtle sweetness to this dish. It’s such a great fall flavor that I want to play with more! In the meantime, enjoy it on this fabulous side dish or light lunch. I can’t wait to make this many more times this fall and winter, and hope you try it out too! :)

one year ago: Carnitas
two years ago: Thai Seared Shrimp with Tomato, Basil, & Coconut
three years ago: Apple City Barbecue Sauce

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups broth [chicken or vegetable, as desired]
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped and soaked in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes then drained and thoroughly dried
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup canadian bacon, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and cut a large butternut squash into 1 inch cubes. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, molasses, chili powder, lime juice, and a generous amount of black pepper. Add cubed butternut squash, then toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on two large rimmed baking sheets, then bake for 30 minutes or until fork-tender.

Meanwhile, cook quinoa in broth according to package directions. Stir in soaked and dried red onion, molasses, lime juice, crumbled feta, and chopped canadian bacon. Fold in cubed butternut squash, then season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

Time: 45 minutes.

Yield: 4-5 servings.

Linked up with: What’s Cookin’ Wednesday.