Cilantro Lime Chicken with Southwestern Quinoa

Last week it was absolutely roasting in the Midwest.  Our relatively mild summer was slammed with a 90 degree finale.  I was meal planning for the week and trying to come up with ideas that required little indoor cooking.  I had made this chicken and quinoa salad earlier in the summer and my mom has been bothering me to remake it ever since.   Since the recipe requires almost no indoor cooking, it was the perfect dish to make in the oppressive heat.

The chicken portion of this dish is marinated in a mixture of fresh cilantro, lime and various spices, and because it is cut in small pieces and grilled as a kabob, every bite is packed with flavor.  The quinoa salad is the perfect accompaniment to the chicken and has a fresh bright flavor from tomatoes, green onions and fresh cilantro and an added creaminess from black beans.  A winning combination if you ask me!

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I should also note that I made zero changes to this recipe.  This almost never happens to me.  My friends laugh at me because I usually look at a recipe and think of things I can add or substitute to make the recipe better.  The flavors of this recipe, however, are so well balanced that they speak for themselves.

Start by blending cilantro, spices, oil and lime juice for the marinade.  Chop 2 pounds of chicken breast into bite size pieces and pour the marinade over chicken.  Allow to marinade for  at least four hours.  I did this step in the morning and let the chicken marinade all day.

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Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.   Let it cool slightly and then mix in chopped tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and black beans.  Whisk together lime juice, olive oil and several spices to create a dressing for the salad.  Pour over the quinoa while still slightly warm and toss everything together.  This salad can be served at room temperature or cold.

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Before serving, place several pieces of chicken on each skewer.  Grill the kabobs for 15 minutes on medium high until cooked through.  Serve warm over the quinoa.

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Cilantro Lime Chicken with Southwestern Quinoa (from My Life as a Mrs)

Ingredients:

For the Cilantro Lime Chicken:
2 pounds (about) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1 1/2″ cubes
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 limes juices (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup extra light olive oil (or other mild flavored oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the Southwestern Quinoa Salad:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a mesh strainer
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup extra light olive oil
2 limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions: 
  Cube the chicken and place in a gallon size ziplock bag.  Blend together the garlic, cilantro, oil, salt and pepper together until smooth.  Pour over the chicken and marinate for at least four hours.
  Cook the quinoa according to the package directions, using chicken broth instead of water.  Whisk together the lime juice, oil, garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt.  Set aside.   Add the tomatoes, green onions, black beans and cilantro to the quinoa. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and mix all ingredients together.  Serve room temperature or cold.
  Place 4-5 pieces of chicken on each kabob.  Grill for about 7 minutes per side or until cooked through.  Serve on top of the quinoa.
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Broccoli Chicken and Cheddar Panini

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my very dear college roommate, Laura.  We only get to see each other about once a year, but each time, I feel like no time has passed and we slip right into the way things used to be.

Since we lived together for 3.5 years, we did our fair share of reminiscing over the weekend.  Our senior year, we lived with two other friends in a campus apartment and the four of us set up a meal rotation where we each cooked once a week.  I kicked things off by setting off the fire alarm and evacuating the entire apartment building.  My friends could barely contain themselves as we stood around with a bunch of co-eds wondering who in the world was dumb enough to set of the smoke detectors (I guess the secret’s out now!).  That was one of the first of many meals we shared together; some meals huge flops, others smashing successes, but all viewed through the rose colored glasses of fond memories.

Some of the meals that I do remember were Laura’s turkey burgers.  She paired a lot of creative flavors together, all of them delicious.  So, I was not surprised that when we started talking food this weekend, she suggested a panini with roasted broccoli, cheddar and turkey.  I was intrigued so I looked up the recipe immediately on my way home and made it the very next day.  Laura came through again with another delicious flavor combination.  The caramelized flavor of the broccoli pairs beautifully with the sharp tang of the cheddar cheese and the addition of roasted garlic adds a nice complexity.  The original recipe calls for focaccia bread and I substituted the gluten free version my sis posted a few weeks ago.  I also used grilled chicken instead of the turkey cold cuts called for in the original recipe.

The sandwich has few ingredients and comes together quickly.  Once you have roasted off some broccoli, you simply stack all of the ingredients on your bread of choice and then place the sandwich in a panini press or skillet with several heavy plates weighing it down.

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The sandwich should cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the outside of the bread is browned and crispy.  If you are using a skillet, you should flip the sandwich half way through the cooking time.  Slice in half  and serve warm.

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Broccoli Chicken and Cheddar Panini (adapted from Shutterbean)

Ingredients:

2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 loaf of regular or gluten free focaccia (note: I used my sister’s version but topped it with shallots, parmesan and minced garlic)

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 chicken breasts, prepared to your liking and sliced

1 tbsp butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss broccoli with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Roast on a baking sheet for 20-25 min until softened and nicely browned.  Divide the focaccia into four sections and slice each section in half.  Layer broccoli, chicken breast and 2 oz of cheese on each sandwich. Butter the panini press or skillet and cook sandwich until all of the ingredients are melded together and the cheese is nicely melted.  If you cook the sandwich in a skillet, be sure to weight it with several heavy plates or another skillet.  You should also flip the sandwich halfway through cooking.

Rosemary Roasted Chicken

By Megan 

I think I have mentioned before in my other posts that the price of meat has gone up.  I feel as though this is a great opportunity to get creative in the kitchen with ingredients you might not be the most comfortable with but that are more affordable than others.  A whole chicken, for instance.  A whole bird tends to intimidate people, but I promise you this recipe will be one of the easiest meals you have ever put together and it will look like you are a skilled culinary chef.  That’s a success in my book!

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Start by allowing your chicken to come close to room temperature; 30-40 minutes before preparation should do the trick.  Be sure to clean out the insides of the bird before seasoning.  Don’t worry, most of the time the chicken is already cleaned out.  Once your chicken is cleaned, drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the bird and sprinkle generously all over with kosher salt and pepper.  Now for the fun part; time to brown your bird.  Heat some oil in a skillet and place your bird in the hot skillet.  In 5 minutes or so flip the bird to the other side. Place the chicken in a baking dish breast-side down and surround with sprigs of fresh Rosemary and Thyme. Stuff more rosemary and Thyme inside the chicken.  So much flavor!

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Doesn’t it look pretty already!?  Now, all there is left to do is cut the veggies and disperse around the chicken.  Be sure to add the chicken broth to the baking dish before putting the chicken in the oven so everything stays juicy and delicious.  The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the chicken to get done!

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Rosemary Roasted Chicken:

1 whole chicken

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbs. Olive Oil (1 Tbs. drizzled over bird, 2 Tbs. for the skillet)

3 carrots

2-3 Red Potatoes

1 Fennel Bulb

6 Cloves of Garlic

1 bunch of Thyme

4 sprigs of Rosemary

1/2 cup Chicken broth

1 Shallot

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and begin preparing your bird with seasoning.  Brown your bird in a heated skillet and set aside in a baking dish. Pour chicken broth into hot skillet to deglaze the pan.

2. Surround the bird in the baking dish with Thyme and rosemary sprigs; stuff more inside the bird.  Pour the chicken broth over the bird from the skillet.

3. Cut up all vegetables including the shallot and garlic and surround the bird with the vegetables. Place baking dish in the oven and allow to bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Greek Summer Salad

There is something about summer that makes me crave salads.  We like to eat outside in the summer so a salad is the perfect cool accompaniment to the warm weather.   So, when I found the recipe for this salad over at Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to try it.  I made a couple of changes and added a few things to make it more of a complete meal and it was awesome!  The hubs even gave me the thumbs up without me fishing for compliments.

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I really love the vibrant colors in this salad and the feta cheese adds just the right amount of tang and creaminess.  The best part of this salad is that it can be made to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions by simply adjusting or omitting ingredients.

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Greek Summer Salad with Grilled Chicken (serves 2)

Ingredients:

Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 lemon juiced

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Salad

1 english cucumber, diced

1/2 red onion thinly sliced

1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 c kalamata olives, pitted and halved

5 mini bell peppers, sliced

6-7 asparagus spears

1-2 oz Feta cheese (I used the kind seasoned with Mediterranean herbs)

1/2 cup hummus of your choice

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tblsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

   For the chicken, combine all ingredients in a shallow dish or plastic bag and allow to marinate at least 2 hours before serving.  Preheat grill to high and cook chicken for about 10 minutes per side, depending on the size of the breast.

While chicken is cooking, toss the asparagus spears in 1 Tblsp of olive oil.  Place on the grill and cook for about 10 min, rotating at least once.

Combine remaining vegetables in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, wisk together lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat.  Once finished, slice the asparagus spears and add them to the salad.

To serve, place 1/4 c hummus on each plate and spoon the vegetables over the top.  Sprinkle as much feta cheese as you would like on the vegetables.  Slice the chicken breast and serve on the side.