chicken

A Leftover’s Makeover: Chicken Zucchini Boats

If you haven’t heard about using zucchini as a vessel for chicken, lamb, ground beef, etc., you absolutely live under a rock. It’s a “thing,” a trendy new way to use zucchini sans making them into noodles (I have feelings about zoodles but that’s for another post).

Zucchini happens to be one of my favorite vegetables to eat. Not only is it high in water and fiber, it’s actually known to lower blood pressure and provide your body ample amounts of vitamin C. Zucchini is incredibly versatile and when made into tiny “boats,” it can turn any meal into a low-carb masterpiece!

I originally sought to make these boats in an enchilada style, but that will be a follow-up recipe. Instead of taking out more chicken and boiling it then shredding, seasoning, and making an enchilada sauce, I opted to repurpose the leftover coconut cream and tomato chicken thighs from yesterday’s blog post (that recipe can be found here). Ready for the step by step? It’s super easy that it doesn’t even require a recipe. Here’s the deal:

  1. Take four zucchini and slice in half.
  2. Hollow out the zucchini with a spoon (or melon scoop) and repeat until all are finished. Remember to not hollow all the way down to leave a “skin” of zucchini so it resembles a boat. They will soften in the oven.
  3. Preheat oven to 350*
  4. Layer in the leftover chicken (or you can use ground beef, lamb, etc.) Be generous here 🙂
  5. Place in dish (pre-sauced with any kind of marinara sauce or some leftover sauce from the chicken).
  6. Bake for 15 minutes; take out at 15 minutes to sprinkle cheddar cheese and turn oven to broil.
  7. Broil until cheese is melted about 3 minutes.

THAT’S LITERALLY IT. Here are pictures to explain visually (it’s also really not complex, just follow the steps above).

Don’t worry, if you weren’t able to use leftovers it’s really alright. Make some taco meat with taco seasonings found on Thrive Market and make taco boats! Hmmm, #idea.

Nomaste 🙂

Coconut Cream and Crushed Tomato Chicken

Just like Bubba said in Forrest Gump about shrimp, there are a million ways to make chicken. You can grill it, bake it, bread it, fry it, broil it, sauté it, and the list goes on and on. There are days where I despise chicken, especially bland, grilled chicken breast on a salad (boring AF), but when chicken is done well, and it’s not always the breast, it can be a show-stopping meal.

The finished plate with crumbled feta on top, a side of sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes.

When I was in my 20s, I was told that the dark meat of chicken is bad for you and that it’s too “fatty” and will make me fat. Now that I’ve had 10 years of learning what foods work for me and my own body, and what foods I find I can and cannot eat, chicken thighs tend to be the cut of the chicken I gravitate toward most. Sure, there is definitely more fat, and there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Ya heard? Fat will not make you fat (at least not in moderation and eating the correct fats). This happens to be a very simple recipe and will cook on its own in a dutch oven (or a crockpot –> on low for 5-6 hours). The difference this recipe makes is two ingredients: Herbes de Provence and coconut cream (NOT milk, cream). These can both be found at Trader Joe’s.

*if you don’t have Herbes de Provence you can use several dried herbs such as sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder*

I start with the chicken thighs, organic and freshly cleaned, and place them on a cutting board. Sprinkle a generous amount of Herbes de Provence on both sides of the chicken and let sit. Another quick tip: let the chicken sit out to get to room temperature, as this allows the chicken to remain juicy and not tense up as it hits a hot pan.  I heat my dutch oven first then melt 3 tbsp of butter and add the chicken to the butter and let simmer.

Once the chicken simmers and sears on both sides, I add in the crushed tomatoes (I really like Cento 28oz as it yields a lot of sauce and is low sugar) and coconut cream. Cream is a thicker consistency and makes the sauce thicker too. I season with salt and pepper and lower the flame to low and cover. This will sit on low heat for two and a half hours, stirring occasionally. That’s it.

When the chicken is done, it’ll be beautifully pulled and in shreds, incredibly tender and juicy, and delicious with the coconut tomato sauce. Serve with any veggies and potato, or over rice and beans, maybe even fusili pasta?! The possibilities are truly endless 🙂 Nomaste!

Leftover chicken in coconut cream tomato sauce – can be reused for enchiladas…add some chili powder and BOOM!

Coconut Cream and Crushed Tomato Chicken

Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Chicken
Keyword Chicken, coconut, cream, dinner, dutch oven, easy, healthy, simmered, tomato
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 6 Chicken thighs untrimmed
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 1 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 3/4 can Coconut cream NOT milk
  • Herbes de Provence generous seasoning
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Clean and pat dry chicken thighs and lay on a cutting board. Sprinkle Herbes de Provence generously on both sides of the chicken.  Let sit.

  2. In a dutch oven, melt butter and place chicken into pan.  Searing both sides of chicken, about 5-7 minutes each side.

  3. Add in can of crushed tomato sauce and 1/2 can of coconut cream.  Stir to mix liquid.  Judge here if you need more coconut cream, if so, add in a drop more.

  4. Turn heat to low and cover. Simmer for 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

  5. Serve immediately with vegetables or sides of choice.

Tuscan Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach

When you think of creamy, cheesy, rich foods, what comes to mind?  I immediately think of a thick cream sauce or a buttery garlic sauce.  Tuscan chicken does a beautiful job of combining strong ingredients and melding them together to create this perfectly decadent sauce to go atop seared chicken.  Of course, throwing a vegetable in like spinach, basil, and sweet roasted peppers only enhances the dish.  This was my FIRST time making this, and I must say, I can’t wait to try this sauce over other proteins soon!IMG_0380.JPG

In preparing for this meal, I had to really think about what makes a creamy sauce, creamy.  Of course, I immediately jumped to heavy cream and cheese.  This is a very traditional way of making a “tuscan” creamy sauce by combining all the dairy components together, simmering on low, and layering it on top of pan seared chicken.  That is exactly what I did.  I started by taking chicken breasts and seasoning them with a generous amount of salt, pepper, and oregano.  I say generous because when chicken breasts cook, they tend to lose all the tenderness, so over-seasoning can capture the juices and make this particular cut of chicken tender and tasty! I heated a pan and then added in some avocado oil (has a higher smoke point and makes food taste badass) and began to pan sear the chicken.  Each side cooked for approximately 4-5 minutes, the chicken will finish cooking when added to the cream sauce.

For the cream sauce, I started with wilting some fresh spinach in 2 tablespoons of butter.  Once the spinach became soft and dark green, I  poured in the heavy cream and parmesan, stirring and letting the sauce bubble.  Once the liquid started to reduce, I added in sweet roasted red peppers and some sprigs of basil.  I mixed it altogether and sprinkled in n some salt and pepper.  Lastly, I added back the chicken and let the entire dish simmer for a few minutes (around 5-7m).

Served with some mashed potatoes, or homemade fries, maybe some brussel sprouts, and you’ve got yourself an awesome sauce (haha, get it?) meal!  Nomaste 🙂

Tuscan Chicken with Spinach and Roasted Peppers

Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Comfort, Italian
Keyword Chicken, creamy, parmesan, red peppers, spinach, tuscan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg chicken breasts can buy thin sliced already if desired
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan grated
  • 1 pkg fresh spinach
  • basil leaves
  • 2 halves sweet roasted red peppers from a jar, can slice them
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano

Instructions

  1. Clean and prep chicken breasts (either filet them or pat dry the already filed breasts).  Season with salt, pepper, oregano on both sides.

  2. Heat a large pan on medium, add avocado oil and let coat bottom of pan.  Add in chicken.  Sear on each side for 4-5 minutes until sides are browned. Taken chicken out and set aside.

  3. In the same pan, add the tbsp of butter and melt.  Add in fresh spinach and cook until leaves are wilted. Pour in heavy cream and parmesan cheese.  Mix together and let come to a gentle boil (soft bubbles form).  Simmer on low.

  4. Add in basil and roasted red peppers.  Stir together.  Place chicken into cream sauce and ladle sauce on top of the chicken.  Let simmer for 5-7 minutes.

  5. Serve with favorite side of potatoes, with rice, or simply roasted veggies.

Ma’s Chicken Scampi

It’s my husband’s birthday on November 20th, and ever since we’ve moved in together 6 and a half years ago, I’ve made this dish for him every birthday.  This recipe is called Ma’s because it’s my mom’s recipe. I always loved when she made it, and I’m so grateful to have seen the women in my life duplicate it so I can have it etched in my memory forever.

I have a love-hate relationship with this one, because it tastes so damn delicious, but it takes forever to prepare.  Sure, I can go the easy route and just bread cutlets and cut them up afterwards, but where’s the fun in that?  The term “Scampi” actually refers to tiny shrimp from the seas, but nowadays, the term Scampi refers to the style of cooking: a light fry in a shallow pan in oil until golden.  Traditionally, this dish is made with garlic, butter, and white wine, with a pinch of parmesan and cream.  I leave out some ingredients and stick with the big guys: garlic and crap-ton (yep, it’s a word) of buttah!fullsizeoutput_1066

Let me start by saying the trick with this dish is pacing – you have to be cognizant about timing the chicken and the pasta water, and how long the pasta cooks so it all finishes at roughly the same time.  I start out by taking 3 meaty chicken breasts and slicing them into “nugget” form.  I dip the chicken nuggets into the beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs (no skimping out on the carbs here), and set aside.  Olive oil is the choice of fats for frying the chicken, but start out with a small amount, just enough to coat the bottom (the oil with sputter if it’s not evenly distributed).

Fry a few pieces at a time and, this is important, be quick with the chicken.  They’re small pieces so they’ll burn fast.  Each piece takes about 2m per side.  As the second batch of chicken cooks, I turned the pasta water on to boil. This dish is always best with fresh pasta, which we’re grateful for at our little Italian market that opened up the block.  The water boils, add in salt, and dump in the pasta (we used Rigatoni).  Continue to fry the chicken and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Once all the chicken is done, take the garlic (3 cloves roughly chopped) and add to the pan with 3 (yes THREE) tablespoons of butter to melt.  I really feel like garlic and butter are the perfect combination for any recipe, especially as a sauce.  This dish calls for a lot of oils and butters, which thankfully is part of my diet on the regular, so no difference to me.  Mix around with a spoon and scrape the bottom of the pan to get the remnants of the chicken mixed in as well. *Wipes drool from mouth*.  Throw in the chicken to mix around in the butter-garlic sauce, strain the pasta (about 9-10m until al dente), then add the pasta directly to the sauce/chicken.  Stir together until all noodles are coated.  If you need more butter, DO IT.

Serve immediately with garlic bread, some roasted veggies, and top with a dollop of ricotta. Buon Appetito!

Ma's Chicken Scampi

Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Chicken, italian, pasta, scampi
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Resting time for chicken 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Chicken breast or 3-4 breasts
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 pkg (16 oz) pasta fresh is better!
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic rough chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pan or skillet, drizzle the olive oil into the pan to coat the bottom.

  2. Clean the chicken breasts, trim of excess fat, and slice into "nugget" style.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

  3. Pour breadcrumbs onto a plate and crack and beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

  4. Create your assembly line: (left to right)

    Chicken - Egg - Breadcrumbs.

    Dip the chicken into the egg and then into breadcrumbs, coating both sides well.  Put breaded chicken nuggets on a separate plate.  Repeat until all chicken is breaded.

  5. Turn stove on for the pan with oil to medium.  Place 6-7 pieces of chicken in the oil at a time, monitoring the chicken as it cooks.  Chicken will cook quickly; turn chicken pieces over when sides are lightly brown (about 2m).  repeat for all chicken and set aside on paper towel/plate.

  6. Meanwhile, take a large pot and fill with water.  Place on stove. Turn flame onto high to boil water. Add salt pasta to boiled water and cook for time described on package (9-10m).  Drain pasta and set aside.

  7. Take chopped garlic and 3 tbsp of butter and add to pan that chicken cooked in.  Heat on medium-low flame and melt butter, sautéing the garlic.  Add chicken back into garlic-butter sauce and stir.  Add in pasta and stir to coat all noodles. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

We used fresh ricotta to add to the pasta on top, if this fits your fancy, feel free to do so!

Baked Garlic Buffalo Wings

When Football season kicks in (see what I did there? Kick? No? Okay…), it seems like there’s only two options for food: burgers and fries, or wings.  I love me some good ol’ fashioned buffalo wings, fried to perfection and drenched in hot sauce. Boneless or on the bone, they’re so freaking delicious.  I’m of the “ranch dip” type rather than blue cheese, but that’s not a problem in our home.  I’m proud to say that this recipe calls for five ingredients: wings, avocado oil, cassava flour, garlic powder, and hot sauce.  THAT. IS. IT.IMG_4274

I played around on the internet to see how other food bloggers and foodies make their wings, and realized that everyone except for moi have a wire rack.  Rather than running out to the local 99c store to buy a cheap one, I just prayed that a lined baking sheet pan with sprayed aluminum foil would work.  Honestly? It did, and it did taste pretty damn good.  I started by cleaning and pat drying my wings (I got them from an online meat-delivery system Butcher Box, I highly recommend them if you want to ramp up the quality of your meats – plus, they have add ons like bacon and breakfast sausage… mmmm, sausage.)

After drying the wings, I tossed them in avocado oil (this oil has a high smoke point and will not burn in the oven) and coated with a generous layer of garlic powder.  Lastly, I added 1/3 cup of cassava flour to crisp the wings as they bake.  Grease a pan (or use a wire rack) and lay the wings down skin side up, bake for 50 minutes at 400 degrees, and then toss in your favorite hot sauce (I’m not sure of the brand we used but it was really yummy).

The beauty about eating wings is that it is versatile and goes with just about any dipping sauce, any sides, and of course celery and carrots.  Now go throw on your Giants jersey, crack open a Corona, and enjoy them wings!