Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

I may be terrible at blogging consistently but I can apparently grow cilantro like nobody’s business!  It is crowding out my chives and basil, so I’ve been trying to use it up as quickly as it can grow. 

  
This recipe doesn’t use much cilantro but the flavor really comes through. Along with cilantro, it uses just a few basics, so it sure is quick and easy!  

  
I love lime, so I use about 1/2 a lime’s worth of zest but if you don’t love lime, you can just use the juice. 

  
I cut my chicken breasts into strips. You could use any cut of chicken here that you like. I always have skinless boneless breasts in the freezer so they are a frequent ingredient for me. 

Stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours while you ponder cooking methods. You can bake, pan fry, or grill this chicken. 

  
I opted to grill because grilled food is the best food! 

Overall, this was A+ superdelicious! The chicken was super flavorful from the lime, garlic, and herbs. The avocado salsa was the perfect compliment. Next time, I might add a little bit of jalepeno to make the salsa a little more salsa-y but if you aren’t a spicy food fan, this is fresh and delicious as is. It was also quick and easy to put together as long as you have a little time to wait for the marinade. 

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons cilantro

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 heaping tsp red pepper flakes

Zest of half a lime

Juice of a lime

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of fresh black pepper

Salsa:

1 avocado, diced

1-2 tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup red onion, diced

Juice from 1/2 lime

Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the marinade and add 2 large chicken breasts, each cut into 2-3 pieces. Marinate at least 20 minutes or up to a few hours. 

Remove the chicken from the marinade. Cook the chicken as you wish–grill, roast, or pan fry. 

While the chicken is cooking, assemble the salsa.  When the chicken is done, serve with the salsa. 

  

Instant Pot Chicken Tacos

Like a meal in an instant pot, an instant pot post should be quick and easy, right?

   
Frozen chicken. 


Chicken tacos. 30 minutes. It doesn’t get much easier than this. 
Chicken Tacos

2 Frozen chicken breasts. 

3/4 cup of your favorite salsa

1 tablespoon of taco seasoning or dried chili powder/cumin mix

Salt and pepper. 

Set your instant pot on the poultry setting and increase the time to 30 minutes to account for your chicken being frozen. Set the pressure to high. 

Once it’s done, do a quick release. Remove the chicken to a bowl and shred it. Add some more salsa and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with taco fixins. 

Boom. Dinner from the freezer in 30 minutes. 

 

Chicken Pot Pie

I am of a certain generation that cannot think of chicken pot pie without thinking of Cartman from South Park.  I didn’t even really like that show but yet the most popular lines from the show were basically everywhere for several years.  Good grief, I feel sorry for anyone named Kenny during that time.  In the end, I have to say, I am on Cartman’s side when it comes to pot pie–don’t touch my chicken pot pie.

 

This isn’t a dish I make often because it does require quite a bit of prep and a lot of steps but the elements can be made ahead and assembled just before baking if you want a faster weeknight meal.  Its also a great way to use up leftover chicken.  I always roast two chickens when I’m making one for dinner–it doesn’t require any more time really and then you have cooked chicken ready for a dish like this (or soup!).

The key to making a quick (relatively, anyway) chicken pot pie is all in the mise en place.  Get everything out and ready to go so you can work quickly.  You don’t want your vegetables overcooking while you are trying to get the milk out of the fridge and measured.  That way lies madness–so get everything chopped, measured, and ready to go before you turn on the burner.

 

 

 

If you aren’t using leftover chicken, you’ll need to cook yours up.  It isn’t necessary to fully cook the chicken at this stage though–the carryover heat as well as the 40+minutes in the oven will finish it off for you.  Just get it so the outside isn’t pink any longer.

Then, remove the chicken and cook the rest of the filling.  All the veg and spices go in together with a little bit of vegetable oil.  Let them cook for a few minutes (again, we aren’t looking for done here, just started).  When the onions are translucent, its time to make the gravy.

I like to make a well in the middle of the vegetables so I can keep an eye on the butter.  Allow it to just melt, then dump in the flour.

It will be a pasty mess.  Its ok.  Just stir it around as best you can without mushing all your vegetables up.  Make sure all the flour has been moistened and let it cook for a few minutes to turn it from yucky raw flour taste to a more lovely nutty taste.

Then add your milk/stock mixture and stir continuously.  It will be very soupy for a while and then, like magic, it will thicken.  Its almost ready here.  Once it coats the back of the spoon and holds a sharp line when you run your finger across it, its done.  Turn off the heat because its time to make a Rough Puff Pastry.  Cube your (very cold) butter and add it to the flour/salt mixture.  Try to handle everything as little as possible as we are trying to keep it cold.  I put my bowl for this in the freezer for an hour or so while I was working on the filling.

With a pastry cutter (or a bench scraper), chop the butter into the flour until the pieces are almond sized.  Then, add the ice water 2 tblsp at a time until the dough just barely comes together.  You can do this with a spoon in a cold bowl or on your counter, whichever you prefer.  Working with your bench scraper and rolling pin, you want to roll/beat out the dough into a rectangle (about 8×10), then fold it in thirds as you would a letter.  Then turn it 90 degrees and repeat 3x.  This is what creates all the little layers in your crust.

 


This might get hard as the dough tightens up, just do the best you can.  Once youve made 4 or so folds, fold it one more time to be a small rectangle.  Wrap it in cling film and allow it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.  While that is resting, you can decide if you want one large pie or several small individual ones.  I opted for a large pie but you’ll need 4 16 oz ramekins for individual sized.

 

Roll out your pastry and use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut one large or four small circles about 1 inch larger than your dishes.  Fill the dishes with the filling and then brush the pastry with the egg wash.  put the egg wash side down on the filling and then egg wash the top.

 

Time for the oven!

If you make one large pie, you’ll have to kind of dish out the filling since this is on the thin side.  After opting for a large pie, I wish I had made several smaller ones to avoid the messy filling issue.  The taste however?  Amazing.  Tender chicken, tasty vegetables, and a super flaky buttery crust on top.

 

Chicken Pot Pie with Rough Puff

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Recipe

Filling:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick

4 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 ounces unsalted butter
3 ounces all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
6 ounces frozen green peas

Pastry Crust:
10 ounces bread flour
2 ounces whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon fine kosher salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
12 tablespoons ice water

Egg Wash:
1 large egg beaten
1 tablespoon water

Directions

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

For the filling: Place 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and set over high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken, season with 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside but not dry, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside in a medium bowl.

Decrease the heat to medium and heat the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil in the skillet until it shimmers. Add the onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, green beans, garlic, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, black pepper, dried thyme, and dried tarragon, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Make a well in the center and add the butter and melt. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring continually. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the peas, thyme, tarragon, and reserved chicken. Cover and set aside.

For the crust: Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Place in the freezer for 1 hour.

Place the flour mixture and butter in a mound on a clean work surface. Use a bench scraper to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of almonds. Add the ice water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix into the dough, using the bench scraper, until it just barely comes together. Do not add too much water, it will come together.

Shape into a rectangle and pound with a rolling pin until it is about the size of a sheet of notebook paper, approximately 8 1/2 by 11 inches.

Use the bench scraper to fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Pound with the rolling pin until the piece of dough is again the size of a sheet of notebook paper and rotate 90 degrees. Repeat the pounding, folding, and rotating 2 more times for a total of 4 turns of the dough.

Pound with rolling pin and fold the shorter sides of the rectangle in towards the center, from top to bottom, and then fold in half, like a book. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the egg wash: Combine the beaten egg and water in a small dish and set aside.

To build the pie: Divide the warm filling into 4 (16-ounce) ramekins and place on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  (I made a large single pie and regret not making several smaller ones as the pastry would have been better if it had been smaller and puffed more in the center.

Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator. Divide in half. Return one half to the refrigerator. Sprinkle lightly with flour and roll to 1/4-inch thick and, using your ramekins as a guide, cut 2 circles that are 1/2 inch wider than the rim, using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate excess dough for another use.

Brush each dough round with egg wash and place egg washed-side down onto the top of each filled ramekin. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to 400 degrees F and bake until the crust is puffed and golden brown and the filling is bubbly, another 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts

What? Something savory? Other than pizza? Its crazy, I know but I do actually both make and eat things that do not contain sugar.  Sometimes.  Usually every day.

The problem is that I find a lot of savory food kind of boring.  Skinless boneless chicken breasts?  Again? Ugh.  I’d rather have a muffin.  I’m always up for a more interesting way to prepare those things I make for dinner; adding bacon is almost always a no brainer way to accomplish this.

 

 

 

This chicken recipe uses a basic rub–brown sugar, spices, salt, etc on brined chicken breasts.  Then, you wrap them in a few slices of bacon and cook them up!  I had every intention of putting these on my smoker but ran out of time in the day and ended up putting them in the oven.

 

Even with this cop out, they were still delicious!  Dinner guest worthy even!   The chicken was moist and flavorful thanks to the brine and spice rub (and being basted in rendering bacon fat doesn’t hurt!).  I served them with green beans and some garlic toast made from my favorite easy sourdough loaf.

 

The Brine:

4 cups of cold water

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

 

The Rub (makes enough for 4 chicken breasts but make a double or triple batch while you have everything out.  It stores well):

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons brown sugar

The Assembly:

regular sliced bacon (3-4 slices per breast)

toothpicks

 

Brine the chicken for at least 1 hour but preferably closer to 4.  Remove from brine and rub with the spice mixture.  Lay 3-4 strips of bacon next to each other (depending on the side of your chicken breasts).  Roll the chicken, wrapping the bacon strips around as you go.  Secure with toothpicks if necessary.

Arrange on a metal rack on a sheet pan and roast at 350 until the chicken registers 165 and the bacon is crisp.