Asian Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

How’s it going y’all?

If you’re on my side of the planet, then the answer to that is probably…kinda hot.

Like, really really REALLY hot.  I was recently back in Michigan for a visit and the heat combined with humidity there was just unbearable. We get heat here, but because we’re in a desert valley, it’s really dry heat. The air back in the Mitten felt so noticeably wet. I’d forgotten how wet the air is there in the summer time. My hair was as unprepared as can be. Thankfully, we’re back now. But it’s still hot.

Not a lot of people out here have air conditioning, and in this type of heat the thought of turning on the oven to cook while not having A/C is just unbearable. So aside from take out, the solution to preparing food would be to opt for meals and recipes that don’t require any stove or oven so that your kitchen doesn’t turn into anymore of a sauna than it may be already. Today’s recipe is one of those meals.

The inspiration for this came from a post a few weeks back–this Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Chicken Salad I did, where I took rotisserie chicken and mixed it with some other fresh ingredients, then tossed the whole thing with a homemade vinaigrette dressing. We really loved it, and before the leftovers were even gone I was thinking about different renditions I could give to the base idea of the recipe. Asian was a direction that I knew I wanted to take and I decided to go ahead and test some things out with it.

The base of the dressing from the first recipe is a whole head of roasted garlic. This time around I decided to use a combination of garlic cloves with fresh ginger root as the base. The ginger cuts the raw flavor of the garlic while lending a spicy sweetness that works. From there, I also added rice wine vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar. It’s going to taste very strong–but keep in mind that rather than being meant to be eaten alone, the dressing is meant to season the salad, where all those assertive flavors are going to be mellowed & balanced out, especially after they’ve had time to marinate.

My mix-ins before were roasted red peppers, yellow onions, baby cucumbers and parsley. This time around I went with shredded carrots, green onions, sauteed cabbage and fresh mint. I also added some dried chow mein noodles for a crunch factor that’s supposed to mimic croutons. If you’d prefer to use different mix-ins than what I did that’s fine but one thing I absolutely insist you DO NOT try and substitute anything else for is the mint–besides the dressing, the mint is my favorite part of the salad. It gives this such a bright, fresh flavor that I don’t think can be replicated with anything else. So don’t skimp or do without it.

I’ll be sharing this at the Fiesta Friday #231, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health. Stay cool everyone!

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Asian Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

Recipe Courtesy of Jess@CookingisMySport

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Ingredients

For Dressing

  • 1/2 cup whole garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons Rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • Salt and plenty of Black pepper

For Salad

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned (It should yield 2 1/2-3 cups of shredded chicken)
  • About 3/4 cup (a generous handful) of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of matchstick carrots
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup of sautéed cabbage
  • Dried chow mein noodles, optional

 

Directions

Finely mince the garlic cloves and the fresh ginger. Place the garlic and ginger, as well as the rest of the dressing ingredients into a blender.

Process on high until smooth—taste and adjust for seasoning. If it’s still a little thick you can add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.

Combine the chicken, mint, carrots, green onions, and cabbage together in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in about half of the dressing and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste it—if it’s to your satisfaction, you can leave off the rest of the dressing and save it for later, or you can add and stir it into the rest of the salad mixture.

Cover the chicken salad and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld. When ready to serve, sprinkle the chow mein noodles on top as croutons.

Sweet Paprika Chicken Tacos

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I finally got around to going to see “Captain America: Civil War” two weeks ago. I figured it wasn’t going to stay in theaters for very much longer and my twin sister (who had already went with her husband to see it) had been nagging at me for weeks to see it because she, like practically everyone else, thought it was one of the best movies thus far  in the Marvel universe line-up.

For being a Captain America movie, the script actually manages to cram quite a few of the Avengers into the storyline, with the addition/introduction of several other new characters. I was aware of this before going to the movie and was concerned that it would make the film a little too busy and crowded. “Age of Ultron” was kinda lackluster in my opinion, and  several of the other latest Marvel movies I thought were overall decent, but nowhere near as good as the first Avengers movie.

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Well long story short, the hype over “Civil War” is completely justified. It’s a great movie, really second only to “The Avengers”movie in my opinion. The writers did a good job of making the plotline flow with enough finesse to where you don’t feel like it’s busy or convoluted. We knew that a showdown between Captain America and Iron Man was coming sooner or later, and it was interesting to me how that came about, the positions the two heroes took, and the sides that the others ended up taking. This just viewed like an overall “smarter” superhero film. It’s even good to the point where the absence of Hulk and Thor from the film didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.

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My favorite part of the movie was the introduction of Chadwick Boseman’s character Prince T’Challa  aka, Black Panther. He’s a real scene-stealer, his costume is badass, and the way that “Civil War” ends (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it) makes me VERY excited for the Black Panther film that’s currently in production.

Besides Black Panther, my other favorite character of the film was Paul Bettany’s character Vision. There’s a scene in the movie where he’s in the apartment Tony Stark set aside for him and Scarlet Witch at the compound, reading through a recipe. It’s pretty hilarious watching this A.I. superhero who doesn’t even eat attempt to cook; he makes a dish that incorporates paprika. Being the cooking enthusiast I am, my mind instantly thought, “Hmm. I wonder what KIND of paprika he’s using; regular paprika (pointless, it pretty much tastes like nothing), Hungarian sweet paprika (not too shabby if balanced with other spices), or smoked paprika (darn good stuff).”

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They never clarified what kind of paprika Vision used when making his dish, but shortly after going to see the movie I decided to go ahead and make one myself that would use up a good portion of Hungarian sweet paprika I had sitting around the spice cabinet and needed to use up before it started to lost its potency. I’d also been craving tacos for weeks and wanted an easy but still tasty way of getting some in my belly.

Enter this dish, stage left.

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Originally, this is supposed to be made in a slow cooker with chicken thighs. But not only was I too impatient and hangry for that, I also don’t like chicken thighs and prefer the cut of the chicken boob. So, I first adapted this recipe to be cooked in a Dutch oven rather than a crock pot, swapped out chicken breasts for the thighs, and finally I added some modifications to the spices that suited my own tastes.

What else can I say, you guys? I love what I do. Don’t believe what the haters tell you: making moist and flavorful chicken breast really is TOTALLY doable. Even quickly on a weeknight, which I think this dish would be wonderful to make for a relatively quick and delicious Taco Tuesday night dinner.

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It’s been a REALLY long time, but I’m glad to be back co-hosting this week’s Fiesta Friday #127   with my co-host and longtime blogging buddy Suzanne@aPugintheKitchen. We’d love for you to come and join in on the fun so,  please do click the link, read the rules and share your tasty posts/recipes with us all.

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Sweet Paprika Chicken Tacos

Recipe Adapted from Food & Wine

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic Power
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups), finely diced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons of light brown sugar (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime-juice
  • 12 warm 6-inch flour tortillas

Directions

In a large Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt, black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Add the chicken to the pot, making sure to not overcrowd the pan. Cook until richly golden brown and seared, about 4 minutes per side. Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pan. Transfer the chicken and the juices to a separate plate or container and cover with aluminum foil.

Set the pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, paprika, and chili powder and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the spiced onion mixture to the Dutch oven. Pour in the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the mixture for seasoning. This is where you can add the light brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce if you like. Place the seared chicken breast back into the pot. Lower the heat down to medium-low, cover and cook until chicken is fall apart fork- tender, probably about 20-35 minutes..

Remove the chicken from the sauce and transfer to a work surface. Using two forks, shred the meat. Stir the shredded chicken back into the sauce and add the lime juice . Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Using a slotted spoon, spoon the pulled chicken into the warm tortillas and top with desired condiments. Serve right away.

Maple Chicken

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Have any of you guys ever come across a recipe on television, in a magazine or cookbook and been super excited to try it out, then looked at the ingredients list and did a little sigh inside. Not because you thought that the recipe looked too difficult, but because one (or maybe even more than one) of the ingredients was just a liiiittle bit more pricey than you were willing to pay? That happens to me quite a bit, especially in some of my more ‘swanky’ cookbooks, or also in recipes from the ‘swanky’ chefs.

I did a quick Google search of some of the more common ingredients that I see in recipes that I really want to try, but haven’t as of yet because my wallet is still giving me a resounding “No, Jess!”

  • 1 Gram of Saffron: $8.95 , 2 Grams of Saffron: $13.00, 1 Ounce of Saffron: $58.00 (I get it: a little of this stuff goes a long way, but come ON!)
  • 2 Vanilla Bean Pods: $9.95 (I know that the comparison of vanilla beans to vanilla extract is like comparing cubic zirconia to diamonds. I also know that $9.95 is enough for me to buy two jars of vanilla extract that will last me more than just two uses.)
  • 8 oz. Pine Nuts: $12.63 (No. Just…just no.)

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While for the most part, I’m  willing to remain frugal on certain ingredients, there are others that I’m willing to be more flexible about- it all depends on the day and what kind of mood I’m in, honestly. If I’m caught on a good day, I’ll probably be more willing to splurge. If I’m having a bad day, then Scrooge is my middle name.

Confession alert: I’m one of those idiots that usually buys and settles for the cheap ‘syrup’ from Hungry Jack, Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin when eating her pancakes and waffles. I know, I know. Feel free to pelt me with tomatoes for that one. I deserve it. But here’s the thing: maple syrup- the REAL Grade A and B maple syrup, isn’t cheap where I come from. I’m talking a bare minimum of $10.00 dollars for a 12 oz bottle. And if you want to buy it Organic? An automatic average of $10-$15, and that’s only at the general grocery store. The Better Health store thinks they have the right to charge $20.00. It’s rough out here in these Lansing streets, you guys just don’t know.

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Maybe some of you are thinking: “Well , gosh Jess, isn’t 12 oz enough to eat with waffles/pancakes?” My answer would be, maybe if I lived by myself. But I don’t. I live with a whole house full of other people who happen to share my habit of dousing her pancakes or waffles in puddles of syrup. When there are three other people that are doing this at the table, that 12 oz bottle of maple syrup doesn’t last very long. So typically, I just don’t buy it.

However, I recently had a very good day where I was smiling and feel like a Super Foodie and I happened to come across this recipe when brainstorming what I was going to cook for dinner. Long story short, I suckered myself into buying a $12.00 bottle of maple syrup. On the way home, I consoled myself with the thought that so long as I reserve it for very important recipes (and not just for my pancake/waffle baths), it was a worthwhile investment.

After eating this dish, I strongly second that consolation. And third it. And fourth it.

Real maple syrup is worth the money, if only to make Maple Chicken. I’m Jess(ica) and I approve this message.

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Maple Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Great American Recipes

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 6 oz each)
  •  1 tbsp vegetable oil
  •  1 tsp paprika
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  •  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  •  1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  •  1/2 tsp. black pepper
  •  2 tbsp maple syrup
  •  1 tbsp. butter, melted

 Directions

 1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the vegetable oil.

2. Combine the paprika, salt, cinnamon, cumin, tarragon and pepper in a medium bowl; mix well. Coat the chicken evenly with the paprika mixture and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Combine the maple syrup and butter in a small bowl. Brush half of the mixture evenly over the chicken, return to oven and bake for 5 minutes.

4. Turn the chicken over and brush with the remaining maple syrup mixture. Bake until juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife, about 5 minutes longer. Serve hot.

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