Recently, someone asked me what I like to cook. I’ve always enjoyed cooking , and I’ve done much of our family cooking for over 35 years…I can’t say I’m much of a shopping type planner of a cook, but rather I use what we have or what has to be used at the moment when I cook. Perhaps, my biggest cooking feat was grilling about 28 streaks ordered rare to well up at the Lake house on two separate grills and delivering them as ordered at about the same time. To me, cooking is as much art as it is a sport. Cheers and beers… (but not too many beers or you’ll burn those steaks!)

 

Now, about chicken…( and I have to note here, that IF you are going to slice chicken breasts in half,, do it when they are slightly defrosted -enough to cut but not so defrosted they are difficult to handle.)

 

#1) Chicken Rolls.

Slice chicken breasts in half, length-wise and hammer flat to thin…Layer on the chicken in separate by not too thin amounts, cheese, (your choice), a Montreal seasoning of choice, while also adding basil( and an orange mint if you have it ) and diced, drained tomatoes usually with basil and garlic. Carefully roll up the chicken breast-it will try to break apart in places etc. -but just finger close the breaks and keep rolling. Use toothpicks to hold the roll in shape…jam turkey type stuffing cubes into both ends of the roll …baste the roll with olive oil and a heavy sprinkle of your favorite herbs. I top this all with cross striping lines of paprika for a nice visual. Put the rolls in the oven for about 40 minutes at 325 or so… hmmm… (Hint: You can add anything to the inside roll up mix you want.. .small pieces of spicy sausage works well…, small chunks of apple or some fruit but nothing that’s too wet.. .spinach -my favorite for the color contrast alone- works as long as you drain it well before adding…) Of course, variations include topping cooked rolls with any kind of heated sauce you like. I suggest a white wine Alfredo sauce with a heavy application of basil and pinches of turmeric and ginger. You have a white dish here so serve cooked and cooled sliced, red beets on the side with a small amount of green leaf underneath. Sprinkle the side dish with Italian dressing or choice….

 

#2) Thin, Spicy chicken.

I often slice chicken breasts in half, length-wise…then hammer them down until thin. I slice those thin fillets again into small pieces, add olive oil to pan-heat-then drop those thin pieces into hot pan oil, flip chicken almost immediately once the corners whiten and then remove (a slight amount of oil and water will rise through meat when done-be sure to not over or under cook the chicken)….I dab off the oil to dry chicken when done and lightly sprinkle with seasoning of choice…The thin pieces work great cold in salads and sandwiches or hot as a main meat dish. Have a wok? Toss the thin pieces in that…..

 

#3) Orange Glazed Chicken.

At home, we have lots of orange pulp from making OJ from our orange tree fruits, but you could buy cans of mandarin and mash those very well and strain…Place that in sauce pan with honey and water and reduce to a heavier smooth consistency. (If you like it,’zingy,’ add pepper and/or ginger. Like it different, add a heavy app. of dill and orange seed.) .. On the side while the reduction is working, thinly slice and dice, ( about one inch long) strips of peeled apple sprinkled heavily with cinnamon/sugar mix. Add the apples to the hot orange sauce and remove from heat…. this slightly softens the apples but keeps them from becoming mushy. Be sure to keep the apple slices a bit crunchy in the honey-orange sauce to put over any chicken. Season to taste; great on or mixed with rice, too.

 

#4) Garlic Chicken with Roasted Peppers

Use the chicken as prepared in recipe #2.

Slice a package of multicolored sweet peppers length-wise, swirl in olive oil and finely pressed already heated fresh garlic. Place the peppers in rows on tin foil. Bake at 350 for ten minutes, just enough to warm but not make the peppers soggy. Remove heated but firm strips of peppers from oven and place the pieces in one circular row along the top edge of a bowl. Place heated chicken in the center of the bowl and top with remaining olive oil and garlic drippings from the tin foil. Combine black sliced olives with crumbled blue cheese and sprinkle the mixture over the chicken. This dish works chilled or hot as a tasty, colorful, appetizer. The key is to keep the peppers cooked, but not too soft.

 

#5) Chicken Parmesan.

Hammer thinly sliced chicken breast, dip the breasts in whipped eggs, then pepper and salt before rolling in flour mixed heavily with crushed herb stuffing and grated Parmesan cheese. . Place in oven at 350 for about 20 minutes until top is crunchy brown and flip pieces and return to oven for about another 10 minutes. The key here is to broil each side of these pieces for about one minute to make sure the crust is crunchy before you top with sauce and layer of mozzarella cheese. Place back in oven and broil for a quick 3 minutes careful not to burn the cheese. Please have extra sauce available to use when served…

 

#6) Dicey Chicken Curry

I like to use Golden’s Curry (comes like a candy bar) but the type of curry and mild, medium or hot is up to you. Thin chicken by slicing in half and pounding well with mallet. Cut chicken in small squares and set aside. Simmer curry pieces until smooth and warm in pan, adding water until you reach the consistency you like-keep warm.  In a separate pan, place diced onion squares with craisins or you could go nutty here with thin almonds, crushed peanuts-etc…(pre-soften nuts well in warm water and drain.) Quickly heat the onions, craisin and/or nuts in hot olive oil stirring as you do. The key here is to warm the onion and the craisins and/or nuts until cooked but not too soft— dump this into warming curry when done. Toss chicken in separate pan of hot olive oil until cooked soft and add to curry mixture. Pick your pasta to smother…Sesame seed looks great sprinkled over the dish; parsley or a green leaf and fresh tomato to garnish the side.  (Hint: add a tad of red cooking wine to the curry sauce.)

 

#7) Pineapple, Orange Chicken.

Here, I prefer to cook my chicken breasts as they come, fairly thick, in olive oil, white wine and spices ( I’d use pepper, pink Mediterranean sea salt, sage and thyme) in a large stove top pan so I can make sure they don’t over cook. In another pan, combine sunflower seeds, basil, canned crushed pineapple with a few small chunks and mandarin oranges cut in half and cook in white wine over low hear. Add a light application of paprika, salt, pepper, orange peel and a dab of ginger to zing to taste. Stir and heat until the mixture is semi-thick. Spoon sauce over chicken breasts with a clump of chilled, diced, basil garlic tomatoes on the side along with a toasted roll of choice. Make your roll crunchy on top by splitting in half and broiling for about one minute before serving. Extra special roll? Slice ‘Old Crock’ Australian cheese very thin and place on top of hot roll so it melts. Three pieces of dark, green celery cut short and full of cream cheese look great next to this meal.

 

#8) Chicken with a hole.

This is a simple variation for breakfast your sleep-over victims will never suspect is coming.  Egg-in-the-hole is famous. Here, you simply replace the toast in that dish with a THIN, good-sized piece of chicken breast. (Thin because this is breakfast, and the chicken should not over ride the egg) Cook bacon medium and remove from pan leaving some of the grease in the pan. Add a can of diced tomatoes (any flavor) mixed with thinly sliced black olives to the bacon greased pan and slowly heat evenly. Cut a hole in the center of the chicken breast and place it in hot olive oil in another pan; once flipped, crack and egg into the hole in the chicken breast—be sure to time this dish so the egg is cooked to preference at the same time the chicken piece is ready to remove from pan. You can flip the chicken breast to cook both sides of the egg if so desired. I leave mine sunny-side-up for the visual effect. Place the chicken with egg in middle of the plate, place two spoonfuls of warm tomatoes and olives on top of the upper right side of the chicken breast and crumble warm bacon pieces onto the lower left side. Fruit goes well with any breakfast, so I’d serve a small amount of well-shaped, (Not mushy), warmed, cinnamon apple slices on the side.  If you want bread, make the rolls described in meal, # 7.

If you like coffee… you can’t go wrong with  WestRock Coffee Company..( google it.) I recommend the ,’Rich and Robust,’  RWANDA select reserve selection as offered.

And yes, I took pictures of all these dishes, but I’ve no idea which one of two camera’s I used and both batteries are well past dead… figures. Maybe, the lack of pictures will fire-up your imagination! Just remember to contrast your colors and textures when you cook. Chicken is white, so use lots or reds, and blacks or greens. Use any herbs you like.  I left many out since I hate it when a cook book delivers up a zillion herbs I don’t have to use…

Use what you have; now, we’re dancin’!

Franque23

 

 

 

 

 

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