Tag Archives: chicken

Easy weeknight lemon-pepper chicken and potato wedges

I have a love/hate relationship with Sundays.

My ideal weekend includes a productive Saturday and a relaxing Sunday. I usually spend my Saturday mornings cleaning the house (I try to do it a little bit at a time through the week, but it never seems to happen that way) and catching up on laundry. If Alex is working, I might spend the day with my mom at Costco or go grocery shopping/errand running. If he’s home, we’ll make breakfast together (and by that I mean he’ll make breakfast while I drag my lazy butt out of bed!), and work on house projects, wander around Home Depot or some other home improvement store, or take Stella for a walk. I like getting things done on Saturday so that we can take it sloooow on Sunday.

This weekend was a little bit different. On Friday night after work, my mom and I took off for a little shopping getaway. She found a great deal on a hotel in Buffalo and we went over for the night for some shopping and mother-daughter time! My mom and I are besties . . . seriously! It was so nice to have some time for just the two of us. We hit great some great sales and had some great eats! Saturday morning we had brunch at the hotel. Mom had a three-cheese fritatta and I opted for the buffalo-chicken breakfast panini. They were both fabulous, and we were absolutely stuffed!

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ImageOur meals kept us going as we shopped until we dropped – allllll day! We finally stopped around 4:30 on Saturday at Panera Bread for dinner before we went home. A cup of broccoli-cheddar soup and half a Frontega chicken panini for me . . . and a cup of French onion soup and a spinach power salad for mama!

ImageMmm, I love me some Panera. It’s finally making its way to Canada with a few locations near me, but I haven’t been to any of them yet. Probably a good thing that it’s not near where I live . . . I’m sure I’d visit far too often!

Anyway, we made it home and then I met up with Alex at our friends’ house before going to a Buck ‘n Doe for friends of ours. It was a super fun, but late night! What made it worse is that we changed the clocks ahead early this morning. I love that our days will be longer, but hated that we lost an hour today! Sundays always go by way too quickly, which is why I haaaate them, and today seemed to fly by. We did have a nice relaxing day, had lunch with friends and a delicious steak dinner, but it went by way too fast. I could have used an extra hour!

Earlier last week – before this beautiful weather hit! – I had a craving for some warm, soul-pleasing food. You know what I’m talking about, right? The meal that usually takes all day to prepare; one that fills the house with the best smell. But it was a weeknight, and I just wasn’t in the mood to get fancy. On nights like these, chicken is usually my go-to. I was smart and took out a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts to defrost the night before. When I got home, I decided I would make easy lemon-pepper chicken with asparagus and potato wedges.

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I started by combining about a teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning with a teaspoon of garlic powder. I sprinkled it all over the chicken breasts and popped them back in the fridge until I was ready to cook.

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Meantime, I cut three medium-sized potatoes into wedges and soaked them in water for about an hour.

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This releases some of the starch in the potatoes, so that they become extra crispy when you bake them. Soak them for as long as you can – at least 30 minutes – and pat them dry with paper towels thoroughly. Drizzle some EVOO and seasonings of your choice – I opted for plain old seasoning salt. Lay them on a non-stick sprayed baking sheet, and pop them in the oven at 400 F for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

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I put my asparagus in the oven at the same time as the potatoes. Baked vegetables are our fave around here. Whether it be broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower or even Brussels sprouts, a drizzle of EVOO and lots of salt and pepper does the trick for seasonings, and baked at 400 F for about 20 minutes keeps the crunch of the veggies that I love so much.

I decided to brown the chicken in a frying pan for about three or four minutes on each side to get an extra-crispy coating, then finished them in the oven along with the potatoes and asparagus. The chicken took about 15 more minutes in the oven, but be sure to cook them until they are no longer pink inside.

ImageThis was a simple, satisfying dinner that came together quickly. I had time to play with since Alex wasn’t due to arrive home until about two hours after I got home from work, but it could easily come together even quicker. The potato wedges were crispy, the asparagus was crunchy and vibrant green, and the chicken was perfectly spicy and tangy! A super soul-satisfying meal.

ImageI can’t believe it’s already so late – I know we only lost one hour, and it’s worth it, but I always find this is a weird adjustment! Here’s to a great week of sunshine and good eats!

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Home run!

I love experimenting and trying new things in the kitchen. Sometimes things don’t work out – like my brownie dessert from a few weeks ago. But sometimes, I hit it out of the park. Crunchy Buffalo Ranch Chicken is one of those recipes.

Toot, toot.

Hear that?

Just me . . . tooting my own horn.

πŸ˜‰

Crunchy Buffalo Ranch Chicken combines spicy buffalo wing sauce with tangy ranch seasoning, all rolled into crispy French-fried onions. This recipe is definitely a take-out fake-out. It doesn’t mimic a restaurant recipe, per se, but it certainly tastes fast-food worthy!

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I work for two food trade magazines and, as part of my job, from time to time I am required to attend industry trade shows. At one show, I visited a company’s booth for a demonstration and received a bag of these crispy fried onions. They’re the crunchy garnish that restaurants often serve over top of salads, burgers and steaks. The bag sat in my pantry before I realized that the expiry date was soon approaching and I should try something with them. The back of the bag had recipes on it, including one that used the onions as breadcrumbs for chicken. When I turned to the trusty ole’ Internet, I found that other people had done this with rave reviews, and made some modifications to the recipe.

I started by cutting two boneless, skinless chicken breasts into nugget-sized pieces. You could leave the chicken breasts whole, but this ensured more of the crunchy coating covered each bite.

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Prepare your dredging station. My usual breading process starts with dipping the meat in a beaten egg, followed by breadcrumbs and seasonings. In this recipe, I replaced the egg with my favourite buffalo wing sauce, and crushed up about one cup of fried onions into a breadcrumb consistency. For an extra kick, I added a package of ranch seasoning into the onions (usually I use homemade ranch seasoning, but I had an extra package kicking around). I’ve seen smaller packages of these fried onions in the salad dressing/crouton aisle at the grocery store. If you can’t find them, don’t sweat. Just substitute something else crunchy for the breading, like corn flakes – but don’t skip out on the ranch seasoning!
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The chicken pieces were dunked into the buffalo wing sauce and rolled around in the onion and ranch powder mixture. Line up the chicken pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 F for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. DSC_0649

The buffalo wing sauce makes the chicken so tender, and with a crunchy coating and bite sized pieces, this chicken is perfectly poppable.

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You guys, this chicken is the bomb. I’m not even kidding . . . I would make this (and eat it) every day if I could. And it got a double thumbs up from hubby – and my mama! She may or may not have kept the chicken I gave her to try all to herself. Hey, I’m not judging . . . I may or may not do the same thing!

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Thursday night traditions

Thursday night at my mom’s house is always pasta night. It’s been like that for years – and I’m not even sure why, to tell you the truth. But no one ever asked what was for dinner on Thursdays – we knew it would be some kind of pasta, and it would always be delicious.

My family has been making tomato sauce for longer than I can remember. When tomatoes come into season at the end of August or early September, my grandfather goes on a hunt for the best looking tomatoes and buys bushels upon bushels.

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We dedicate an entire day to making sauce. Sorting the tomatoes, washing them off, boiling them, feeding them through the sauce machine (I’m sure there’s a more technical term!), boiling the sauce and then jarring it. This past year we had 12 (or maybe more . . . ) bushels of tomatoes. It was one of our biggest years yet! I look forward to this day every year.

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My adorable Nonno draining the boiled tomatoes.

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A giant pot of sauce, ready for boiling and jarring.

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The day always ends with a late-afternoon feast, including homemade wine, natch.

The ironic part of all of this is . . . I HATE tomatoes. I know. What kind of Italian hates tomatoes? Not only that, but I hate ketchup, and store-bought tomato sauce. The sauce we make is literally pure tomatoes, and it is the best.sauce.ever. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve forced myself to eat tomatoes more, and to not be afraid to order pasta at (certain) restaurants. But I’m definitely a tomato sauce snob.

All of this is to say that no matter what happens on Thursdays, I know I can walk into my mom’s house and smell sauce simmering and instantly be happier (luckily she only lives five minutes away!).

In the last year or so, since Alex and I have lived on our own, we haven’t held up the Thursday night pasta tradition. I know. Blasphemous. It’s just that Thursday nights have somehow become pizza-and-wing night or clean-out-the-fridge night. But in an attempt to eat better (and save money), we’ve been trying to turn this around. One of my faaaavourite food blogs, Iowa Girl Eats, is pro at making lighter versions of delicious restaurant-style food. Alex and I love everything Buffalo-related (well mostly the wings and hot sauce for him, and the shopping deals for me!), so naturally her recipe for buffalo chicken egg rolls stood out for me. Tangy ranch sauce is combined with perfectly spicy shredded buffalo chicken and sealed in an egg roll wrapper, baked to crisp perfection.

I seasoned two chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then pan fried in a teaspoon of olive oil until golden brown. I’ve read on Pinterest that a stand mixer comes in handy when shredding chicken, and I’ve been converted. Add your chicken breasts (I had cut mine into a few smaller pieces before hand, but I’m not sure this was necessary) and turn your mixer on to medium. Within a few minutes, my chicken was perfectly shredded.

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I added a dash of my favourite Buffalo-style wing sauce and spooned about two tablespoons full of shredded chicken into an egg roll wrapper with some ranch dressing (you can use blue cheese if you want, but I prefer ranch!).

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Wrapped up and baked for 20 minutes at 400 F (my personal preference, 425 F was too high in my oven), these buffalo chicken egg rolls were a perfect lighter alternative to chicken wings. I chopped up some broccoli and drizzled it with olive oil, garlic salt, fresh cracked pepper and a dash of parmesan cheese and baked it right along the egg rolls for the same amount of time, and threw some potatoes in my beloved ActiFry, and voila!

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A delicious, fairly healthy, Thursday-night-pub-food-worthy meal. It’s not my mom’s pasta . . . but there’s always next Thursday!

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Do you have food traditions? Certain things you eat on certain nights of the week?

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