Greek Chicken Pizza

Anytime I can whip up a recipe using nothing but items I already have in the fridge, it’s a good thing. And if I can use up some leftover chicken (rotisserie, grilled, anything!), that’s a great thing! And the best part about this pizza – it’s so good that I make it sometimes even when I don’t have the ingredients already in the fridge.

Trader Joe’s is great for condiments and I regularly have their sun dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and balsamic glaze in my pantry. Throw in some chicken, a little mozzarella and feta and you have a tasty flat bread pizza that reminds me of a Greek restaurant.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
12 oz. pizza dough – see recipe
6 oz. cooked chicken, cut into bite sized cubes
3 tbsp. chopped artichoke hearts (3 small, chopped)
2 tbsp. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
4 oz. mozzarella
1 oz. feta
½ tsp. Greek oregano
Balsamic glaze

Optional Garnish:
Chopped basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll pizza dough into approx. 12” round and place on stone. Top with shredded mozzarella, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, chopped artichokes, feta cheese and Greek oregano. Bake for 15 minutes, until mozzarella is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped basil and balsamic glaze (if using). Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Averaen Pinot Noir 2015

Chicken and Spinach Tortellini Soup

chicken-and-spinach-tortellini-soupIt seems like the seasons change in a blink of an eye, and just like that it’s winter. Right now it’s all about the holidays, football, and cooler weather comfort food. A big pot of soup is one of my favorite cooler weather meals; there are endless ways change them up, and there is always enough to take for lunch the next day! The only rule in my house is that soup has to be hearty, and this Italian inspired soup is packed with tender chicken, fresh veggies and tortellini, which combines two of my favorites – pasta and cheese!

 

chicken-and-spinach-tortellini-soup-2Ingredients (serves 4):
1 lb. cooked chicken
4 cups (32 oz. chicken broth)
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, including juices
9 oz. container cheese tortellini (can be found in the refrigerated section)
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
2 celery stalks
1 zucchini
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

chicken-and-spinach-tortellini-soup-3Preheat stock pot on medium-low heat. Add olive oil and sauté onion, celery and garlic until translucent, about 5-7 min. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes and Italian seasonings, and bring to a simmer. Add diced zucchini and chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn heat up to medium and add tortellini to pot. Cook according to package instructions (mine was 7-9 minutes). Stir in baby spinach and let cook one minute more. Garnish with chopped basil and grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Cheesy Chicken and Corn Enchiladas

cheesy-chicken-and-corn-enchiladasThere are endless ways you can make (or order!) your enchiladas, from beef to bean to veggie, but the chicken enchilada is king! Chicken and corn, rolled up and topped with ooey-gooey cheese and a savory Red Enchilada Sauce is the ultimate comfort food.

This recipe is perfect to make with a store bought rotisserie chicken, which saves time and money. They are large enough to split among two recipes, one that calls for pulled or shredded chicken (like this one), and another that calls for soup or broth.  Making broth with a rotisserie chicken that has already been roasted adds tons of depth and flavor that you won’t get starting with raw chicken.   (See quick and easy broth recipe below.)  Use some of the chicken with these enchiladas, and make a BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet Pizza or Chicken Tortilla Soup tomorrow.

Ingredients (makes 8 enchiladas, serves 4):
8 corn tortillas (approx. 6 inch diameter)
1 tsp. canola oil
½ thinly sliced onion
12 oz. cooked chicken, shredded
½ cup frozen corn, thawed
1 ½ cup Red Enchilada Sauce (see recipe), divided
6 oz. shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
Green onion, to garnish

cheesy-chicken-and-corn-enchiladas-2Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small skillet, heat canola oil on low and sauté onion until starting to soften, approximately 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine sautéed onion, shredded chicken, corn and ½ cup Red Enchilada Sauce.

In a large baking dish, pour ½ cup of enchilada sauce in bottom of dish, spreading to coat evenly. Divide chicken and corn filling among 8 tortillas, roll, and place in a baking dish, seam side down. Top with remaining Red Enchilada Sauce and shredded cheese and bake until bubbly, 15-20 minutes. Top with green onions and serve.

To make your own broth from a rotisserie chicken, remove chicken from bones and set aside.  Place bones and skin in a small stock pot and cover with water.  If you have any ends or leftover bits from other vegetables (like carrots, onions, celery), throw those in the pot too.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Remove large bone and skin pieces and strain broth through a sieve.  Broth can be stored in freezer or used in any recipe that calls for chicken broth.

Enjoy!

Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Orange Chicken Lettuce WrapsLettuce wraps are some of my favorite appetizers at Asian restaurants and these delicious bites are so easy to make at home. Packed with citrus flavor, these Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps are diet friendly, full of fresh veggies, and perfect for a family style get together. Set all the filling out in a large bowl, stack up the lettuce cups, and everyone can build their own wrap (or two!)

 

 

Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps 2Ingredients:
Butter lettuce
8 oz. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp. canola oil
½ red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup shredded carrots
Pinch of crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
Juice and zest from ½ orange
½ cup chicken broth
Sliced green onions and chopped peanuts, for garnish

Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps 3Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté chicken in a skillet about 5 minutes until cooked over medium heat. Remove chicken from pan and add diced onion, bell pepper, minced garlic, shredded carrot and crushed red pepper until vegetables start to soften, around 3 minutes. Add zest and juice from ½ orange, hoisin sauce and chicken broth. Return chicken to skillet and let cook for 3 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and starts to thicken. Place chicken mixture in large bowl for sharing, garnish with sliced green onions and chopped peanuts, and serve with lettuce cups.
Enjoy!

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and FarfalleSpring is upon us, and that means fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden. Even if you don’t do any gardening at home, the quality of vegetables found in the grocery store has improved significantly over the past few weeks, and makes me want to ditch the red sauce and full bodied red wines with pasta in favor of fresh veggies and a lighter, crisp white wine.

Nothing tastes more like summer than fresh basil.  If you have no other vegetable or herb plants, get a potted basil plant. Dried basil loses so much flavor, and the little packets of basil cuttings are pretty expensive – $4.00 for a little packet!. I picked up a big beautiful potted basil plant at Trader Joe’s for $3.49. With a little TLC, it will last the whole summer long. Or even better, I’ll take enough cuttings from it to make 4 or 5 plants, and live happily in pesto-Calabrese-salad heaven all summer long!  (More on how to propagate basil from cuttings later.)

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 zucchini, grated, excess liquid squeezed out and discarded
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
8 oz. Farfalle, prepared according to package
½ cup reserved pasta water
Salt and pepper
8 basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Note: the easiest way to chiffonade basil is to stack the leaves on top of each other, gently roll the stacked leaves and chop into ribbons using a sharp knife. It’s the perfect garnish for any summer dish.

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle 2

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle 3

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle 4Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes, and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. In a heavy sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil on medium heat. Cook chicken for 4 minutes per side until golden. Meanwhile, grate zucchini into a bowl using the medium side of a grater, squeezing out and discarding the excess liquid. Remove chicken from pan and add additional tbsp. olive oil. Sauté zucchini, garlic and crushed red pepper for 10 minutes. Add chicken, cooked pasta and reserved pasta water, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with basil ribbons and parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Chicken Scampi

Chicken Scampi 1Good food is very important to Austinites. There are trendy new restaurants opening nearly every week, and sometimes it seems like people work in Austin solely to frequent their favorite places. There are hardly any chain restaurants here, but we all have those certain dishes that take you back to being a teenager, and we will always love them.

I love the chicken scampi from the Olive Garden. There. I said it.

Most of the time, I like to make dinner at home. I like to control the quality of ingredients and it’s always less expensive to cook for a family than it is to eat out. Plus, I like to save our nights out to try some of the fabulous local eateries that Austin is so famous for. So, without further ado, here is my Chicken Scampi. The peppers, onions, garlic and white wine give this sauce a great flavor, and it would be easy to substitute chicken for shrimp or fish if you wanted to change it up. When cooking with wine, it’s best to use a wine that is drinkable, but won’t break the bank! If you wouldn’t want to drink it, why would you want that flavor in your food? At $6.99/bottle, Costco puts out some very commendable wines under their Kirkland brand that fit the bill perfectly. Their Pinot Grigio is dry, crisp, and since this recipe only calls for a cup, there is plenty left over for sipping. Drink up!

Ingredients (serves 4):

Chicken Scampi 2For the chicken tenders:
1 lb. chicken tenders
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp Italian seasoning

For the scampi sauce:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
½ red onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
10 oz. angel hair pasta, prepared al dente according to package

In a medium bowl, mix flour, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper and ¼ tsp. Italian seasoning. Dip chicken tenders in milk, then in flour mixture. Set aside.

Chicken Scampi 3Using a large skillet (I love my Le Creuset 5 Quart Covered Braiser) heat olive oil over medium heat and brown chicken tenders, 3 minutes a side. Remove chicken from pan, add peppers, onions and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes until beginning to soften, but not mushy. Remove from pan. Add white wine and let deglaze for 2 minutes. Add butter, crushed red pepper and remaining salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and stir until butter is melted. Turn to low, add heavy cream, stirring until heated. Fold in pepper mixture and cooked pasta until evenly coated. Top with chicken tenders and garnish with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Enjoy!

Wine Pairings
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos 1Tacos are a way of life in Austin. You can get tacos for any meal, any time of day, with nearly anything on them. A stormy weekend followed by a cold front inspired a spicy mixture of chicken, onions and peppers simmering away in my slow cooker. The end result is tender chicken, loaded with flavor, and piled high with shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese (like any good taco should be!) The mixture of spices could easily be substituted for a taco seasoning packet, but it’s cheaper to make your own (plus no mystery ingredients!).

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos 3Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos 2Ingredients:
2 bone in chicken breasts
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, sliced

Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos 4Place chicken in slow cooker. Top with diced tomatoes, chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, crush red pepper, salt and pepper and cook on low for 3 hours. Add onion, bell pepper and jalapeno to slow cooker for 1 hour more. Remove chicken and shred, discarding bones and skin, and return to slow cooker to heat thoroughly. Serve with tortillas, shredded cheese, lettuce, salsa and your favorite taco toppings. Enjoy!

Half Roasted Chicken

Half Roasted ChickenI was really excited when Whole Foods started carrying half chickens. Roasted chicken is so delicious, but it can be notoriously difficult to get the skin perfectly crispy, while getting the chicken evenly cooked and juicy. My Bundt Pan Roasted Chicken is a great way to get deliciously crispy skin while roasting a whole chicken, but making a half chicken is my favorite for a few reasons. 1- Since there is skin on only one side, roasting it skin side up gets beautifully browned skin all over; 2- It’s more uniform in size, so cooks more evenly and is less likely to dry out; and 3- a half chicken is the perfect size for a meal for 2, and since it’s already cut from the backbone, you aren’t paying for parts you don’t need. The backbone is great for making stock, but otherwise it is a fairly heavy part of the chicken that gets thrown away. When is the last time you got dinner for 2 people from Whole Foods for about $3.00? Since they don’t always carry them, I grabbed a few to stick in the freezer to cook at a later time. They come out Just. That. Good.

Half Roasted Chicken 2Ingredients:
Half chicken
1 tsp. olive oil
Seasonings of your choice, here are some favorites:
Lemon pepper seasoning, salt, pepper
Rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper
Garlic, paprika, salt pepper

 

Half Roasted Chicken 3Preheat oven to 425. Place chicken on a cookie sheet, skin side up and brush skin with olive oil. Add seasonings of your choice and bake for 40-45 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes before carving.

That’s it! Couldn’t be any easier and pairs perfectly with some Roasted Broccoli or potatoes. Enjoy!

 

Wine Pairings:
Averaen Pinot Noir 2015

Bundt Pan Roasted Chicken

Bust outBundt Pan Roasted Chicken 2 that Bundt pan because we are making some chicken! I saw this method in Food and Wine Magazine and thought it was pretty genius. Having the chicken sit upright while cooking exposes the entire exterior to the heat, and lets the chicken get deliciously crisp on all sides. Throw all your vegetables in the bottom of the pan, and not only do you have a “one pan meal” but all of your veggies cook in the savory pan drippings and are totally awesome. The vegetables and spices used are completely customizable.  I used Trader Joe’s Poultry Rub to season the chicken – they have some great spice mixes!

Bundt Pan Roasted ChickenIngredients:
Whole chicken
3 medium potatoes
Yellow onion
Red bell pepper
Yellow bell pepper
Trader Joe’s Poultry Seasoning
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing chicken
Salt and pepper

Bundt Pan Roasted Chicken 3Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover hole in center of Bundt pan with aluminum foil. Cut all vegetables into 1 inch pieces and mix with 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper and place in bottom of pan. Pat skin of chicken dry with a paper towel; having dry skin will ensure the crispiest skin possible. Place chicken in pan, arranging so that the chicken stands upright over the center tube of pan. Season liberally and brush with olive oil. Roast for approximately 1 hour, or until internal temperature reads 160 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve chicken and roasted vegetables on a large platter with juices from pan.

Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Averaen Pinot Noir 2015

Parmesan Crusted Pesto Chicken

Parmesan Crusted Pesto ChickenWith the cold front that moved through this past weekend, I knew it would be too cold for my outdoor basil plants to survive. I was thinking about making a traditional pesto with pasta, but tis the season for heavy eating, and wanted to keep it light with Thanksgiving only a few days away.

I tried this on a whim, but this is the most fresh, flavorful chicken, hands down! I will need a few more basil plants next summer, so I can make this a weekly tradition. It’s a relatively light dish, but it sure doesn’t taste like it with the garlicky parmesan crust. It’s a great dish if you don’t have a grill; the cast iron skillet is perfect for going right from the stove top into the oven. Less to clean up!

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 chicken breast halves
1-2 cups loosely packed basil laves
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
1 oz. parmesan, shredded
½ tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste

Parmesan Crusted Pesto Chicken 2In a food processor, process basil, garlic, oil and balsamic together until basil is crushed. Pour marinade over chicken, and mix in shredded parmesan, salt and pepper. Heat skillet to medium-high, and sear chicken for 3-4 minutes per side until nicely brown. Cook in oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Enjoy!