Sunday, February 23, 2014




As promised....My Follow Up Installment of "What I Have Been Up To" in my kitchen. 

 I had an idea that I realize is not a new idea (Rachael Ray has talked about this a zillion times), but as I have mentioned recently, my New Year's Resolution is to shop smarter and much more budget conscious. With that said, I have been thinking about ways to "stretch a buck". A pretty familiar term these days, right?  So I challenged myself:  how many dishes could I make - that serves four - with one package of (6) boneless/skinless chicken thighs?  You know me, I am a thigh guy;  I love the richer, juicier flavor of chicken thighs. I digress.....sorry.  These are the dishes I put together:

Chicken Fajita Pita Pizza 
 
 I used two chicken thighs; 1/2 yellow onion, slivered; 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated; 2 teaspoons dried oregano, halved; 2 tablespoons Smoked paprika; 1 tablespoon Chipotle powder or Pasilla powder (I used half a tablespoon of each); juice of a lime; 1/2 cup Italian cheese blend, finely grated; 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme; 1 pinch mortar/pestle roughly ground cumin seed; salt and pepper; 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

Saute the chicken for three minutes in heated evoo over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute three minutes.  Add all of the seasonings and the lime juice and saute over medium-low heat for then minutes.  Meanwhile, add garlic and/or basil infused extra virgin olive oil to two pocketless pita rounds with a brush.  I like to add a sprinkle of palm-crushed dried oregano and garlic powder to the pitas before baking three or four minutes at 400-degrees.  

Remove the pitas and, using a slotted spoon, add some of the aromatic mixture to the pita, spreading it around. Add a sprinkling of cheese and bake again for eight to ten more minutes, until the cheese and toppings are bubbling.  Remove, allow to cool a few minutes, cut, and serve. I like to add a sprinkle of oregano (my secret ingredient, as you know) or fresh basil ribbons as a garnish.  I also like to (and this may sound weird to some of you) drizzle sriracha or hot sauce to the pizza - because it IS chicken fajita, afterall!


 That is dish one!


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Chicken Fajita Roll Ups

I followed the recipe above in much the same way, but I changed things up a little.  I added a half palm full of coriander seed and cumin seed, which I'd roughly ground in my mortar/pestle, and added that and the other half an onion, slivered.  I also added 2 cloves garlic, slivered. Instead of using grated cheese for the roll ups, I added baby marinated mozzarella rounds, which I'd halved. For the bread, I used Naan Flat Bread.  Ok.  Here I Must confess that I cheated a little bit with this and the next recipe.  I couldn't help myself!!!  However, if I had not cheated, the chicken thighs would Still have been more than enough for four servings. I added two garlic chicken sausage links, chopped. Simply for more fun.  Here is what it looks like.  
I added sriracha to give it even more of a kick!  



 This makes four roll ups.  So good for lunches, and really filling!


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Rigatoni with Chicken in Semi-Homemade Pasta Sauce

In a skillet, I added 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.  I added two chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces which I'd added a little dusting of salt and pepper to.  In addition, while it sauteed, I added a sprinkling of paprika, Italian seasoning, fresh basil, finely chopped (I know, Nonnas, don't be mad!) and a pinch of dried oregano crushed in my palms. Meanwhile, in a high-sided sauce pan, I added two pints of grape tomatoes, halved, sprinkled with salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil.  I covered the pot for about twelve minutes over medium-high heat until the juices flowed from the little tomato halves.  I crushed them with a potato masher.  Not original, but effective, right?  To that, I added one 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes, juice and all, along with one tablespoon of dried Italian seasonings and fresh basil ribbons, about two tablespoons, and simmered that for about ten minutes before smashing those, as well.  My goodness, the aroma was fantastic!  After that, I boiled my rigatoni in liberally salted water in a large pot, until al dente. 

*As I mentioned above, in the previous post this evening, i cheated a little by adding two more) garlic chicken sausage links, chopped into discs.  As I stated above, had I not, the chicken thighs would have sufficed quite well.  As it was, one small plate was more than enough to fill me up!  I just cheated because I really wanted to try the sausage.  

As I normally do, I drained the pasta, saving a partial cup of the starchy cooking water, added the pasta to the sauce, along with the saved part cup of pasta water, and tossed the pasta with the sauce.  I wanted the sauce to cling to the rigatoni for the best possible flavor experience.  I served myself simply, just adding a little sprinkle of cheese over the pasta.  Very filling and satisfying!  



I was very excited to be able to prepare three dishes with four servings each with one package of boneless/skinless chicken thighs.  YES, I know, I cheated a little, but as I said, without the sausage, the meals would stand alone in their own right.  Take the challenge!  You will Not be sorry!  So much savory flavor in each dish!  Enjoy!  
  
Thank You gentle readers!  I appreciate your time and support!