How To: Quickie Meal – Oven Baked Sweet Chili Chicken with Eggplant & Zucchini

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Erin and I have been having a moment with sweet chilli sauce.

We’ve been putting that red and sweet sauce on pretty much everything. Have you tried it? It’s addictive. I had never thought to make my own before. I mean, why would I when the store bought variety is so darn delicious. But then I came across this recipe and it just looked too good and too easy to pass up.

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Now, you are probably asking the same thing I did – why make it myself? When you make this sauce from scratch you can control the sweetness. So you don’t have to use a boat load of sugar – here we use a mere half cup of honey to add that familiar sweet flavour. Now don’t misunderstand me – honey and sugar – the same thing. Your body processes all sugar in the exact same way. Sugar is sugar people! My point is that you can control how much of the sweet stuff you add, just like you can also control the heat in this recipe. So if you like things super spicy, throw in a little extra red pepper flakes. If it’s too much, dial it back. That’s the benefit of the “make your own” category – you know exactly what’s going in it and you get to have full reign over the finished product. The type A dietitian in me likes this very much!

So now that you’ve made a quick and delicious homemade sweet chilli sauce, we’re going to pour it all over some diced chicken breasts, zucchini, and eggplant. Now chicken breasts can be tricky – they have a tendency to dry out pretty darn fast. So that’s why we are baking them at high heat for a very short period of time and turning the broiler on for the last little bit so you still get that crispy texture and brown colour without ending up with rubbery and flavourless chicken. Because that is no fun.

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I love Japanese eggplant and zucchini in my traditional stir fry, but you can use other quick cooking veggies like green beans or peppers. Make sure to cook up a batch of quinoa or rice to go with this chicken. You need something to soak up all that delicious sauce you just put your blood, sweat, and tears into, right?

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Did I tell you this was a one pan wonder? My other new obsession. Two thumbs up for less clean up.

Dara

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Oven Baked Sweet Chili Chicken with Eggplant & Zucchini

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
  • 2 zucchini (sliced)
  • 2 Japanese eggplant (sliced)

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tsp sriracha
  • 1/2 Tsp salt

Note

You can prepare the sauce a day or two in advance if you would like. Red peppers or onions would work well in place of the zucchini and eggplant. If you don't want it too spicy, reduce the red pepper flakes to 1 tsp.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Sauce
2. In a small sauce pan whisk together all sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk, for about 3 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.
3. Place chicken, zucchini, and eggplant in the prepared baking dish. Spoon sauce over top until all the chicken and vegetables are evenly coated.
4. Bake for 25 minutes, until vegetables are soft and chicken is mostly cooked through. Switch oven to broil and cook for another couple minutes, until chicken and vegetables begin to brown.
5. Remove from oven and serve chicken and vegetables with sauce over your grain of choice to soak up all that delicious sauce.

 

How to: Recipe Makeover – Crispy Coconut Chicken Strips and Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

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Eating chicken strips (AKA fingers – which always weirded me out as a name btw) transports me right back to the big chains restaurants of my childhood.

Ahhh, the 90s.

No matter the chain, I could always count on a plate of these scorching hot…delicacies, generally complemented by an equally elegant…sugar sauce.

coconut chicken strips

Though my palate has matured, chicken strips still turn my crank.

Criteria being: MUST be crispy (generally deep fried), must NOT be overcooked and MUST have a kick-ass dipping sauce.

Homemade strips, historically, haven’t made the cut. I usually don’t go to the trouble of deep frying at home and baked strips have a bad rap for lacking a good crunch and/or being overcooked.

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All this to say, I’ve got a cure for shitty homemade baked chicken strips!

And it’s pre-toasting the crumb! In this case a magical combo of panko and coconut.

This simple 5 minute trick seriously revolutionizes the homemade chicken strip, guys.  This is high level stuff. By pre-toasting, you’ll still get a golden brown, crispy exterior without drying out the chicken.

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Add a super flavourful batter to lock in the moisture, and a slightly sweet (but way more grown up and complex) dipping sauce and CHABANG! Chicken strips are back baby!

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It almost makes me want to relive the 90s.

Just kidding.

Never.

Erin

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Strips and Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 22 minutes
Website Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup medium unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard (or your mustard of choice)
  • water (a few teaspoons, as needed)

Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mango chunks (thawed frozen work well)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, coconut, canola oil and salt until the whole mixture is evenly and lightly coated in oil. Transfer mixture to a lined baking sheet in a shallow layer. Bake for 4-5 minutes until golden brown, stirring halfway through.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine egg, flour, mayonnaise, and mustard. Whisk in water, by the teaspoon, as needed to make a batter that evenly coats the back of a spoon and runs off slowly.
3. Add chicken pieces to the batter and toss to coat each piece well. Transfer chicken piece by piece to the panko/coconut baking sheet. Cover each piece generously with crumbs, pat gently and flip to repeat. Transfer coated pieces to a second lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-12 minute until chicken is just cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the mango dipping sauce in a blender and puree. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.
5. Serve hot and crispy chicken strips with dipping sauce immediately.

How to: Make a Chicken Soup for Cold Season

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Anyone else feeling like this cold and flu season has been particularly brutal?

Granted, my daughter is spending her first year daycare, too. Also known as the world’s biggest germ factory.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised it’s been cold central around here.

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When my nose is raw and my throat lumpy, all I want is a magical cure for my dulled taste buds.

This soup is some seriously heartwarming shit.

Like it will satisfy your soul, people.

Ginger and lemon give it a bright, zingy flavour and turmeric, a spice that can be found on many a 2017 food trends lists, is your anti-inflammatory and antioxidant friend.  It also gives it a pretty colour.

Of note, I tried to find credible, scientific evidence supporting turmeric’s ‘super food’ status with little success. There are only a small number of human studies that exist, with an even smaller number of double-blind placebo controlled studies (the gold standard in scientific research) to support the many many MANY claims being made about its power to cure everything from acne to cancer to Alzheimer’s.

Big picture, guys: Eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods & focus on vibrant colours (ahem…turmeric) and you’ll get plenty of anti-imflammatory goodness.  Dieititian hand to heart.

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Now, back to this fan-bloody-tastic soup that takes 30 minutes start to finish.

30 minutes for soul satisfaction? Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

And it might even cure your cold.

Erin

Chicken Soup for Cold Season

Serves 4-6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Website Adapted from Soup Addict

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 Small onion (diced)
  • 2 celery stalks (sliced)
  • 2 Medium carrots (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked cubed or shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken is an easy option)
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Note

I found Israeli couscous at my local bulk store, but feel free to use your favourite pasta shape in this soup.

Directions

1. In a large pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes until softened.
2. Add garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook, stirring for another minute.
3. Add broth, chicken and couscous and simmer for 10-12 minutes until couscous is cooked through. Add lemon juice along with salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

How To: Slow Cooker – Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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Last week I was lounging by a pool, running in shorts, and enjoying daily 2 for 1 happy hours.

Now, I’m bundled up in a parka, glued to the treadmill, and have 2 slightly under the weather kiddos. Reality bites!

One benefit to being home in our lovely Toronto winter – this spicy chicken. Are you also freezing your little tush off? This spicy chicken will warm you up. Okay, I’m lying, nothing can warm you up from this past weekend’s -22 degree weather. But, I do promise it will make ya sweat a little.

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Really, it is so simple. A little hot sauce, a little oil, a sprinkle of spices. Done. It is quite a bit salty, so just keep that in mind – nothing a large glass of beer water can’t fix.

The homemade ranch dressing is totally optional. I find it does a good job at cutting the heat. But you could leave it out or simply top with a dollop of yogurt or drizzle of plain old mayo.

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I’m normally all for a slow and low cook in the slow cooker – a set it and forget it type of meal. But cooking the chicken breasts on high keeps them from drying out, which they have a tendency to do. And it also means it’s the type of dinner you can throw together in the afternoon with two sick kids hanging off your legs.

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While I’m missing that Florida sun, this chicken makes being home totally worth it – right?

Dara

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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Well Plated

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cups Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (mixed with 1 tbsp water)
  • 4 sweet potatoes

Dressing

  • 5 Tbsp low-fat mayo
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper

Note

This recipe comes together so quickly, making it the perfect weeknight dinner. You could also serve the chicken over your favourite grain, on top of a salad, or as a sandwich on a nice crusty bun.

Directions

1. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray and place the chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker.
2. Whisk together the hot sauce, canola oil, garlic powder, and salt. Pour over chicken. Cook on high for 1.5 hours, until chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove to a plate, shred using two forks, and set aside.
3. Add cornstarch mixture to slow cooker and whisk to combine. Cover and continue to cook on high another 20-30 minutes, until thickened. Add chicken back in and stir to evenly coat with sauce. Reduce temp to warm.
4. About an hour or so before chicken is done, prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and bake in a 400 degree oven on a foil lined baking sheet for about an hour, or until soft and cooked through.
5. Cut sweet potatoes down the middle with a knife and push down with a spoon to create a little well in the middle. Top with chicken and drizzle with ranch dressing.
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6. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.

How to: Make your own – Shortcut Chicken Pot Pie

I’m in a chicken pot pie phase. If that can be a phase.

I hope it’s a phase everyone has to go through in life because, damn, it’s awesome.

I’ve been flirting with the idea of posting a chicken pot pie recipe for such a long time. It’s one of those recipes that when made from scratch, takes a whole lot of steps. And while totally worth it, it doesn’t really fit the How to Eat MO of simple, easy, fast.

Until now.

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My little cheater short cuts for this recipe are:

a. Use fully cooked, store bought rotisserie chicken.

b. Use store bought puff pastry

These two little pot pie hacks mean this fabulous homestyle classic can be in the oven in less than 30 minutes and on the table within an hour.

Giving you more time to read, relax, do some yoga or catch up on Netflix. Or if you’re me, (and let’s face it, probably you too), scoop dog poop, clean crusty food off the floor, fold laundry or scrub a toilet bowl. The glamour of it all!

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However, who needs glamour when you’ve got chicken pot pie? Not I.

This is a very basic pot pie recipe.  The flavour comes from the veggies and whatever broth you decide to use.  If you’ve got some homemade stock in the freezer, even better!

You can even make your own with the leftover rotisserie chicken carcass and freeze it for your next chicken pot pie.

Then you too, will officially be in your own chicken pot pie phase.

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Don’t be shy to switch up the suggested filling, either.  Parnsip, squash, turnip or sweet potato could easily replace (or complement) the carrots or potatoes and spinach or arugula (chopped up) could easily work instead of peas for some greenery.

You can even switch up the shortcut. Above, I’ve pictured another pot pie made in a store bought frozen pie crust.  They come in packs of two, so use one as a base and the other as a top. We’re basically pastry chefs now.

And pot pie connoisseurs.

Erin

Shortcut Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 Small onion (chopped)
  • 2 Medium carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 2 Small thin skinned white or red potatoes (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken (meat from 1/2 - 1 chicken)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (thawed on the counter for about an hour or overnight in the fridge)
  • 1 egg plus 1 Tbsp water (beaten)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F
In a large pot over medium heat, heat canola oil and butter. Add onions, carrots, celery and potatoes and cook until they are softened but still have 'bite', about 7-9 minutes.
2. Sprinkle flour over softened vegetables and stir, cooking for 1-2 minutes until flour is well absorbed. Slowly add chicken broth, while stirring and cook for 2-3 more minutes until sauce is thickened.
3. Remove from heat and add chopped chicken and peas, stirring until well combined. Transfer filling in a 2-2.5L baking dish. A 8"x11" lasagna type pan or an oval Corningware dish works well.
4. Sprinkle some flour over a clean dry surface and roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle that will slightly overlap the edges of your baking dish.
5. Dip your finger in some water and rub the rim of the baking dish to moisten. Top the baking dish with the rolled puff pastry pressing down along the entire rim to secure it. Cut a few holes for the steam to escape with the tip of a knife. Brush the surface of the puff pastry with egg wash.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until pastry has puffed (it will be more noticeable around the edges) and browned. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.