Tag Archives: Main Dish

Chick-fil-A, I say!

25 Sep

What do you do when your absolute #1 favorite establishment to dine at is no longer located anywhere near you? As much as I would love to call up the CEO and demand that they build a location in the nearest vacant lot to me, that is sadly probably not the most plausible option. So instead, I settled for attempting to make their food myself!

The restaurant I’m speaking of is none other than the most delicious and, what I think to be, the most healthy of fast food chains: Chick-fil-A! In Texas, I had the luxury in both Houston and Austin to live right down the street from at least one Chick-fil-A, with others easily within driving range. Sadly, it appears that Chick-fil-A has yet to extend its warm, chickeny embrace to the northwest. I found myself craving it intensly – I needed a fix. I was ECSTATIC when I found a recipe online that claimed to be as close in taste to the real thing as possible, and set out to make it immediately.

Sadly, this is, AGAIN, ANOTHER RECIPE I MESSED UP! Sigh. But I almost can’t even find it in myself to care, because these were still super yummy. I can’t quite seem to get the hang of my oven here. I’m very used to gas ovens, but this one is electric, so it’s taking some getting used to. I had the heat up too high apparently, and thus, the oil too hot, and so the coating is far crispier than it should have been. I also used Canola oil instead of Peanut oil, because that was all we had here. I really want to make these again using Peanut oil to see if that gets the taste closer to real Chick-fil-A or not (because this recipe comes very close, regardless)!

Mock Chick-fil-A Chicken!
(As discovered here)

What you need:

  • Cooking Oil (Peanut or Canola would be best)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • I Tablespoon of Salt
  • 2 Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast, cut in strips or cubed

Directions:

1. Whisk together the egg and the milk. Cut chicken into cubes and place in the milk and egg mixture. I marinated them for four hours.

2. In a large Ziploc bag, mix together the Flour, Powdered Sugar, Pepper and Salt. After chicken is marinated, toss it in the bag and shake vigorously to coat well.

3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil to 375 degrees. Warning: the coating makes the oil pretty messy. Gently drop your chicken pieces in the heated oil and cook until golden brown.

4. Drain cooked chicken with a paper towel. Cool, pair with your favorite preferred dipping sauce, and enjoy!

Despite the heat fiasco, my husband still found them PHENOMENAL (he, too, is a Chick-fil-A aficionado). He wanted to eat all of them, if he hadn’t had to share them with me.

My favorite sauce at Chick-fil-A is the Honey-Roasted BBQ sauce that comes in those little long packets (my second favorite is the Chick-fil-A sauce). I paired these nuggets with an impromptu homemade honey-mustard dipping sauce that I made by mixing Miracle Whip, Dijon mustard, and honey (who would’ve thought!). Without the sauce, this recipe tasted kind of like real Chick-fil-A nuggets, though I felt like something was missing. However, when I dipped these nuggets in that sauce… wow. Yeah. They tasted EXACTLY like the real thing. And in that moment, I couldn’t have been happier.

Next on my list to find and try is a mock recipe for McDonald’s Quarter Pounder… mmm… mouth is watering just thinking about…

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Sage-and-Pecan Pork Tenderloin Cutlets

24 Sep

YUMMM!! This is one of my favorite pork recipes to make! The first time I ever made this dish, it turned out perfectly! This time though, not so much. I had the heat up too high for as thick of pieces of pork as I was using (because I used cuts instead of a tenderloin), and I forgot to reduce the vinegar enough, etc etc. But that’s what I like about cooking (as opposed to baking) –  you can mess a few things up, and it can still turn out delicious, as this did! And I mean, hey, everyone has their off days!

Sage and Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin Cutlets w/Blackberry-Reduction Sauce

What you need:

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons seedless blackberry preserves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 3/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • Fresh spinach leaves (optional)
  • Garnish: fresh blackberries

Directions:

1. Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 6 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in blackberry preserves, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in salt.

This is the step that I most fumbled in, and resulted in the greatest change in the overall flavor. I boiled and then cooked the vinegar for six minutes, however, I forgot the whole “reduced by half” part. It most definitely was not reduced by half when I added everything else. I tried to add more preserves to compensate, but I couldn’t seem to add enough, and so there was a slightly stronger vinegar smell and taste to the sauce than there ever should have been. For me, this was not a terrible problem, but for my husband who hates vinegar, it was. He still enjoyed the dish, but after having to eat it for a few days, he was more than pleased to see it gone. The first time I made this, I reduced the vinegar by half, if not more, and the sauce was very fruity (yet still dry), as it should have been. Better to over-reduce than to not reduce enough in the case of this recipe, I’d say!

2. Remove silver skin from pork tenderloin, leaving a thin layer of fat covering meat. Cut pork into 8 slices. Place pork between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and flatten to a 1/4-inch thickness, using a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet.

Again, I would stress the importance of that thinness, especially if you are like me: paranoid of under-cooking your meat. With pork being as dangerous as it is when undercooked, I tend to prefer it a little overdone, if I have to. Generally I manage to get it just right, but this time, my cuts weren’t thin enough (and I too lazy to flatten them), so the coating definitely browned way before the meat was anywhere near done, even though I had the heat down pretty low.

3. Stir together breadcrumbs, pecans, and sage in a shallow bowl.

4. Dredge pork in breadcrumb mixture, dip in beaten eggs, and dredge again in breadcrumb mixture.

5. Cook 4 pork slices in 2 tsp. hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 8 minutes or until done, turning every 2 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining pork and oil. Serve pork over fresh spinach, if desired. Drizzle with vinegar mixture; garnish, if desired.

Despite my mishaps, it managed to turn out alright. Though the coating was quite brown (as you can probably see in the picture), I managed to salvage it by turning the heat down even lower, and cooking them for what seemed like forever, managing to avoid any burned taste. So I guess, overall, a bit of a more complicated recipe that, when completed accordingly, is absolutely fabulous!

Oh, and I suggest serving this oover a bread of fresh spinach. It is a fabulous compliment, as the sauce ends up doubling as a dressing!

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 452
  • Fat: 22.4g
  • Saturated fat: 3.9g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 11.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 4.4g
  • Protein: 29.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 33.6g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Cholesterol: 171mg
  • Iron: 3mg
  • Sodium: 516mg
  • Calcium: 68mg

Chicken Cutlets with Fontina and Fresh Blueberry Sauce

2 Sep

Apologies for the slacking! I was working on my resume and applied to a few jobs this week, so I’e been focusing on that and not my cooking! NO EXCUSES THOUGH! XD So, I managed to make this dish the other day. My camera battery was dead (poor planning!) and thus, I have no pictures of my own. However, like the picture above (from a basic Google images search), this dish is beautiful. The blueberry sauce has a gorgeous dark violet hue to it that compliments the glossy melted Fontina cheese by painting the chicken in their wonderful, vibrant colors. My final product looked very similar to the image above, but imagine more gooey white cheese melted and sliding down over the edges of the chicken.

Blueberries are my absolute favorite thing to eat, period. I could eat them all day long. I have adored in the past the fruit + meat combination in regards to pork dishes. My favorite dishes I’ve ever made involved pork and some sort of berry (assorted, cheeries, blackberries, etc.), the sweetness and juiciness of the fruit just compliment pork SO well. Perhaps it was because of my extreme love of the taste fruit brings to pork, or my love for pork in general (no matter how ‘dangerous’ or unhealthy it may be), but I definitely had some reservations about pairing fruit with Chicken. It’s so rarely done that I was unsure about it. BUT, I am extremely curious in nature, so I HAD to try it! And I was not disappointed. It was not my husband’s favorite thing by any means, nor mine either, but it was still a pleasing dish.

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, divided (1 teaspoon / 2 teaspoons)
  • ¾ lb. chicken cutlets (about four cutlets) –  I suggest slicing them on the thinner side
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ cup (2 oz.) shredded Fontina cheese
  • 3 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (but I love them so I threw in extra!)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. IIIIII, on the otherhand, used the entire Tablespoon of butter at this step! Because I forgot to divide it!! So I’ve split it up for you here already. It still worked out though, and I don’t think it really mattered (aside from adding extra calories)! Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.

2. Remove chicken to a serving platter; sprinkle with cheese. Keep warm.

3. Combine apple juice, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add apple juice mixture to pan; simmer 1 minute. Add blueberries and thyme; simmer 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons butter. Spoon blueberry sauce over chicken. Serve!

One more note: for the butter, I use Smart Balance Organic. It looks like this:

It is THE best butter you will ever eat, hands down, period. IF you can find it, I swear… try it. It will change your life. I have no idea what it is about this butter, but it just has this certain taste to it that is way more delicious than the original or light Smart Balance, and definitely superior to any other butter or spread I’ve ever had. I do not eat it for that fact it’s organic and vegan (non-dairy – though those are both pluses, I supposed), I eat it for the taste alone. I don’t even remember how I came to buy it in the first place, but I started eating it when I lived in Austin, in 2008. I bought it all the time, until one day when it just DISAPPEARED from every single grocery store shelf in the greater Austin area. I could not find it ANYWHERE, try as I might. I moved back to Houston for a few months, where I still couldn’t find this butter; it seemed to have just disappeared from Texas altogether, with no trace. BUT when I moved here to Seattle, I found STORES OF IT at QFC. I almost had a heartattack I was so thrilled. I freaked out in the middle of the aisle, and David was like, “OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG?!?” I had to compose myself before I alerted him of my monumental find. Because, as I said, this butter changed my life; I ate it, and suddenly bread, cookies, anything – you name it – was never the same without it. I always became so depressed with every single trip to the store where I could not find it. And so I suggest you try it, too!

Nutrition (for the meal, not the butter!):
Calories: 199
Fat: 8.2g
Protein: 23.4g
Carbs: 7.2g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 5.2g
Cholesteral: 73mg
Iron: 0.8mg
Sodium: 491mg
Calcium: 89mg

B-E-A-UTIFUL Bulgogi~

29 Aug

Last night saw the cooking of the second great batch of Bulgogi (that my husband demanded I make again because he loved it THAT much)! And, again, it did not disappoint!

The Bulgogi recipe I used came from this website (she has a bunch of delicious traditional Korean recipes compiled there). Bulgogi is a sweet, staple meat dish of South Korea. Typically, restaurants in Korea consist of tables that have open-flame grills built into them. Customers then cook their own meat (pre-marinated) at the table themselves! I am lucky (or, perhaps, unlucky?) enough to live within walking distance of traditional Korean style restaurant here in Seattle called Shilla. I will probably write a review of Shilla in another post, but for now I must sing it’s praises – the food is PHENOMENAL. It’s actually a Korean-Japanese restaurant, so they have a both types of cuisine, and it is quite entertaining to cook your own food right at the table over a warm open flame (especially in this chilly and rainy city)! But back to my main point… though Bulgogi is typically grilled, this recipe is cooked in a pan over the stove-stop, making it so easy to enjoy this delicious dish any time!

Aside from the marinating time for the beef (it must marinate for at least half a day), all in all, I’d say total preparation and completeion of this meal sit somewhere in the 30 minute range, at most. It takes almost no time to slice the onion and carrot, or to mix the ingredients for the sauce. Slicing the beef into super thin strips could take the longest time of all the steps, unless you can find thin-cut steaks at the grocery store, as I did. I bought about 1 pound (about equivalent to the 3 cups the recipe calls for) of already very thinly cut beef steaks, which I then only had to cut into small strips, saving time. Because the meat is sliced so thin, it cooks very quickly, and is done in no time!

Now, on to the recipe (again, from here, where she also has a great video for making it, if you want to watch it)! What you need:

  • 3 Cups (about 1 lb) of Beef (Sirloin, or any cut)
  • 1 Onion
  • ½ a Carrot (as you can see, I used baby carrots, because I had them. I chopped up about 10 of them)
  • 6 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Asian Pear Juice (which I found very easily at the local asian market)
  • 3 Tbsp water (I substituted water in place of the cooking wine her recipe calls for)
  • 3 Tbs Green Onion
  • 1½ Tbsp Garlic
  • 1 Pinch Ginger Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil

As I’ve said, start with all your slicing. Slice the onion, 1/2 of the carrot (into long, thin strips), and the meat (again, into thin slices). Simple! Set aside in a large bowl or container. Slice the green onions as well, but put those aside to mix in with the sauce.

(Also, that’s my beautiful new knife!!! Thanks Ravi!! :D)

Then, just combine the sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Asian pear juice, water, ginger powder, pepper, garlic, green onion, and sesame seeds in a bowl, stirring well to mix.

Pour the sauce mixture over your meat, onion, and carrot (which should be set aside together in that large bowl you put them in). Get your hands dirty and mix it together well! Then cover with either saran wrap, or a lid (if your container has one – mine did), and toss in the fridge for at least 12 hours (both times I’ve made this, I marinated it for an entire day).

After marination is complete, take the meat out, toss it in a large skillet, and cook until the meat is done. I poured some, but not all, of the marinade over the beef while it was cooking, and it worked out well that way.

All that’s left to do is enjoy!

For the side dishes, I made:

Eggplant (가지 – Gaji) Bokkeum (볶음), which is basically eggplant and onion fried together in a skillet with garlic and soy sauce, and Soybean Sprout (콩나물 – Kongnamul) Muchim (무침):

Regarding the soybean dish, instead of Soybean sprouts, I used Mung Bean Sprouts (숙주나물 – Sukjunamul), because that was all my grocery store had. Fun fact: although mung beans are more widely available in Asia than soybeans, soybeans are more popular! But anyway… as I’ve never made this dish before and it’s been a while since I’ve had any, I cannot compare the taste of the soybeans against that of the mung beans, but the mung beans did taste delicious and thus, I believe them to be an adequate substitute. Both recipes made for very quick and delicious sides, and they complimented the Bulgogi nicely. All 3 recipes result in tastes that are the same (namely, the sesame flavors from the oil and seeds), but very different, at the same time. It is subtle enough to tell they all share something, but different enough for the dishes to each bring something diverse to the plate (literally!). The sweetness of the meat is complimented nicely by the saltiness of the eggplant, while the sprout dish adds a refreshingly neutral, earthy flavor that balances the salty eggplant dish.

All in all, it was a FANTASTIC meal, and I definitely suggest you all try it out!

Primavera Pasta in Fall!

27 Aug

So earlier today, I began marinating more Bulgogi, which I will cook and post tomorrow! I was using the same small, dull, expensive-in-cost-though-cheap-in-make knife I purchased 2 months  ago when we first moved to Seattle, as I always do, to dangerously chop the onion and carrot (what can I say, I must like to live on the edge… #cheappuns, #cheaperthanthedullknife). All of our stuff was in storage, and we had little money to spare on a nice knife, and the Safeway across the street was convenient, so I searched there for a knife, never looking back. However, I cannot lie, with each use grows in me a fear that manifests as a vivid image in my mind: the knife slipping and going straight through my left hand. It is terrifying, and strikes predominantly when I’m cutting onions (perhaps also sparked by the fact I can’t ever see through the immense tears that swell in them). But I digress…

So, I’m slicing away per usual, when in walks our good friend, Ravi. He and my husband have been working on a super secret Windows phone game, so he came over to work on that. BUT, he had in tow with him the wedding present he got for us! WHICH JUST SO HAPPENED TO BE…… guess… A NEW KNIFE SET!! My face immediately lit up, and I found myself suddenly indebted to him, Needless to say, I tore into eagerly, and finished my carrot chopping and beef slicing with my brand new chef’s knife. It was glorious, and effortless. Long gone are the days of pain in my hand, and fear in my heart, and I could not be happier! So, thank you again, Ravi! ;D

Tomorrow you will get to enjoy the fruits of this labor, but the recipe I made for the three of us for dinner tonight actually involved no need of the knives at all. It is probably the simplest recipe I’ve ever made, as it has few ingredients (all of which are ready straight from the store), but we enjoyed it nonetheless: Tortellini Primavera w/Pesto Sauce (I have a relentless headache all day long refusing to subside, so I needed something easy to whip up).

(Also, please, you must bear with me and my currently amateur photography. I JUST received this camera as my wedding gift from my husband, so I am still trying to get the hang of it <3)

What you need:

  • 1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetables
  • 1 (8-ounce) container fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • YIELDS: 4 (1 1/4 cup) servings

To begin, bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a large pan. Add the tortellini and frozen vegetables, cooking 5-7 minutes, or until both pasta and vegetables are tender. When done, drain in a strainer. Also, a note on the frozen vegetables: my grocery store was limited in their selection of broccoli-oriented stir-fry mixes, which I failed to pay detailed attention to. I bought one that I came to find had water chestnuts in it. While I tend to ADORE water chestnuts in my oriental dishes, I do not so much enjoy them in my pasta dishes. This may just be my own personal preference, but if you feel you, too, may also not enjoy that, then try to find a stir-fry mix without them.

While the pasta cooks, combine the sour cream, pesto, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Generally, my husband and I really do not enjoy sour cream, so I was slightly apprehensive about making this dish. But I do love my pesto, so I decided to go for it. The pesto and sour cream surprisingly compliment each other well by toning the other down a bit, as I feel both have pretty strong flavors on opposite spectrums. A smooth, soft, and creamy pesto tasted better than I had imagined!

After the pasta is drained, transfer it into a large bowl. Pour the pesto mixture over the pasta, and stir well to coat everything. Serve, sprinkling each serving with pepper and Parmesan cheese! Additionally, while the recipe calls for 1/8 t. pepper, I ignored that and just sprinkled as much as I felt was right. Super quick, super easy, straightforward dinner in minutes!

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 331
  • Calories from fat: 33%
  • Fat: 12.2g
  • Saturated fat: 4.5g
  • Protein: 18.7g
  • Carbohydrate: 38.1g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 32mg
  • Sodium: 659mg

I served with slices of Texas Toast (again, easy – just throw them from the freezer to the oven for 5 minutes @ 425 degrees). For the Texas Toast (Pepperidge Farm) Nutrition (per slice):

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 7g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Carbohydrate: 18g
  • Sodium: 190mg