Thursday, June 9, 2011

Easy, Healthy Chicken Dinner

There's you. There's some chicken breast. There are some sweet potatoes that have been sitting for a week on the counter, and there are some green vegetables in the fridge that need some attention before they are past their prime. Plus you don't feel like going to the grocery store. That was my experience this evening, and I'm so glad that I decided to spend a half hour cooking instead of shopping because I created an easy and really nice meal for myself at home. The techniques are here--substitute regular potatoes, butternut squash, or carrots. Substitute fish or pork for the chicken. And substitute any vegetable for the green beans. Play with spices that you like--you can take it in an Asian direction with a nice Teriyaki marinade. Or Moroccan, Indian, or Mexican with those flavor profiles. Play! Have fun! That's what it's all about anyway.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, half minced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes
Lawry's seasoning salt
Bunch green beans, trimmed

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice and equal part olive oil, minced garlic, and minced rosemary. Add chicken breasts and set aside to marinade.

3. Cut sweet potatoes into large chunks. Set into large bowl. Add whole garlic cloves. Add 1 Tablespoons olive oil, toss to coat. Spread out onto baking sheet and sprinkle with Lawry's. Ad the rest of the rosemary. Put in oven. (Note time...after 10 minutes, reduce heat to 400 degrees)

4. Heat a large pan over high heat with 1 Tablespoons olive oil. Take chicken out of marinade and blot dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Add to hot pan and do not move around. Meanwhile, toss the green beans with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. After 2 minutes (or when browned), flip chicken, add green beans to pan, and place pan in oven. (If your pan has a wooden handle, wrap with foil). Finish cooking chicken in oven, 5-15 minutes depending on thickness of chicken breasts.

5. Plate and enjoy.

Serves 4.

Printable version here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Crispy Crushed Potatoes

Syracuse, New York. 1999. My typical day started with a bagel, dry, as I rushed to class in the sleet and snow. After a few hours of class, I'd be hungry again, so I'd usually order a turkey sandwich, light on the mayo, with maybe a bag or pretzels on the side. For a snack, perhaps some Snack Wells cookies or some microwave popcorn covered in fat-free, canary yellow who-knows-what. Then for dinner, a big bowl of spaghetti with fat-free marinara. No wonder I screamed at the scale for 'lying to me' and one boy described me as 'under-the-radar attractive.'

As all of us who fell victim to the low-fat craze know, you can't always believe the hype. Which brings me to the poor, forgotten potato. For years, Atkins-era on, I demonized the potato (unless I was 'cheating' with French Fries.) I capitalize French Fries because they deserve our respect due to their deliciousness.

But the thought of cooking a potato in my kitchen was ridiculous to me.

Of course, some of us have to learn lessons the hard way. Although low-carb was effective, it was not sustainable. Nor healthy, I might add. Carbs are important for digestion, brain function, and blah blah blah. You don't care about that anyway. You want to eat carbs and I support you in that, my potato-loving friend.

So have two or three fingerlings with dinner! And if you make them this way, you won't even feel like cheating next time your girlfriend orders a side of fries.

OK, I'm lying. You'll still cheat but now you can get the crunchy, salty, creamy taste of fries at home, in your comfy pants, and not feel the leering stare of the creepy guy at the bar. Enjoy!

1 lb fingerling potatoes
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the potatoes and cook until they are soft enough to be crushed but nowhere near mashed potato consistency.

3. Drain the potatoes and dry with a towel. Lay on baking sheet (use a Silpat or parchment paper for easy clean-up) and smash with the bottom of a glass. Tip: I spray the bottom of the glass with a little olive oil or PAM before I smash each potato. You want to keep the potato in tact, so don't get overzealous here.

4. Drizzle half a teaspoon of oil on each potato and rub it around with your fingers so the whole top is coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Bake til golden and crispy.

Serves 4.

Printable version here.