J’s Smoked Turkey Breast

With the unseasonably warm spring, we’ve not only broken out the grill, but the smoker as well. J is perfectly happy to get up early on a Saturday morning and spend all day monitoring the grill.

Ingredients:
turkey breast (we used boneless, skinless)
Salt Lick Dry Rub (or your favorite dry seasoning rub, we’re pretty partial to Salt Lick though)
mesquite wood

Directions:
Liberally pat the turkey breast with Salt Lick dry seasoning rub, cover and refrigerate overnight. Start grill, let coals get good and gray, until grill temperature reaches  about 250 degrees. Add mesquite wood to top of coals. Place turkey on grill for about six hours. Check the coals every 30-40 minutes, adding a handful of coals and a chunk of mesquite each time to keep the grill temp around the 250 mark. Be sure to let it sit for about 30 minutes before carving so it stays moist.

My opinion:
I love smoked turkey. It’s one of my most favorite ways to eat turkey breast. With J’s recipe, the smoke ring is really thick (the pink part in the picture) and the crust is spicy. The turkey is fantastic alone, but equally good in sandwich form or with your favorite BBQ sauce. Yum!

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J’s Chicken and Dumplings

Just like with the Chicken Pot Pie, J and his cousin have spent several years perfecting a replica of their grandmother’s famous Chicken and Dumplings. While the made from scratch noodle recipe is lost, they successfully recreated the rest of it. Here’s their recipe.

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Or to be more traditional you can use a whole chicken) boiled and shredded
2 cans cream of chicken soup
32 ounces chicken stock
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
8 flour tortillas, cut into strips
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into strips or diced

Directions:
If the chicken isn’t cooked, boil it. Once it’s cooked, shred it using two forks. Then combine the rest of the ingredients, except the tortillas and eggs, in a large pot. Stir to combine. Bring to a slow boil over medium high heat. Turn to low, add the tortillas and eggs. Cover and let simmer at least 20 minutes.

My opinion:
This is the perfect dish to have right after a taco night or fajita night when you have left over tortillas and don’t want them to go to waste. You can also make this in the slow cooker, so dinner is ready when you get home in the evening.

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti Squash

Like everyone else the two days before the holidays are hectic. Putting finishing touches on things, wrapping up at the office, there are a million things vying for our attention the last two weeks of the year. Which is why I’ve turned to the trusty crockpot to make our dinners this past week. After a quick search on my new favorite recipe finding site, Pinterest. I found this simple, basic Chicken Cacciatore (originally from this blog, I think) and it was wonderful.

Since we were out of a few ingredients (like mushrooms, feel free to include them if you want!) I made a few tweaks.

Ingredients:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
1/2 large onion, sliced into half moons
1/2 large carrot, shredded
1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used green, it was what we had on hand)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used the ones with onion and garlic added)
3 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs minced garlic
Italian seasoning to taste
1 large spaghetti squash

Directions:
Chop up the vegetables and place them in the bottom of the crockpot. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and Italian seasonings. (Frozen is ok!) Place the chicken on top of the veggies. Mix the tomatoes, tomato paste and garlic. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. (I cooked on high for 4 hours. ) When there’s an hour left for the dish to cook, poke at least 12 holes in the spaghetti squash. Roast in a 375 degree oven for at least an hour, remove and let cool. If you want to reduce the liquid once the chicken is done cooking, remove the chicken from the crockpot and pour the vegetables and sauce into a large saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes uncovered, or until it is thickened. While the sauce is simmering, cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds and fiberous middle. Use a fork to pull the remaining flesh into strands. Plate the spaghetti squash and pour the sauce and chicken over the squash.
My opinion:
This was so easy, I made a freezer bag of the ingredients so I could just toss it in the crock pot on another super busy evening. I’ll add a bit more garlic and Italian seasoning next time. This would be equally good over rice or pasta. Enjoy!

Sticky Coconut Chicken

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have recently noticed, I’ve given in to Pinterest. I’ve loved finding new recipes and recently tried the Sticky Coconut Chicken (originally from this blog). The rave reviews were an understatement! This dish was amazingly flavorful, the chicken super tender and just a hint of sweet enhanced the entire dish. I’ll only make two small changes when we have this dish again.

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the original recipe suggest thighs, but we didn’t have any).
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper (we used white)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (we’ll use more next time)

Marinade chicken in coconut milk, ginger, pepper and red pepper flakes at least one hour (the longer the better! We let it marinade for about two hours, but it only gets better the longer you let it marinate). Grill (since it’s winter here, we used the George Foreman).

Glaze:
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar (we actually used a bit less)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (will need to add more next time!)

Directions:
While the chicken is grilling, bring above ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture is reduced and thickened, about 8-10 minutes (actually took us about 20, but I kept it on medium heat so the mixture didn’t burn). Once the mixture starts getting really thick, immediately take it off the heat! Glaze both sides of chicken the last few minutes of grilling and serve chicken over rice. We used the remaining glaze to dip the chicken and added it over the rice.

My Opinion:
Amazing! With a little extra spice (red pepper flakes and maybe some more garlic) and a longer marinating time, this will become a regular dish in our house!

Tortilla Soup

The best tortilla soup is either at Luby’s in San Antonio or Magnolia’s in Austin. Seeing as how I no longer live in Texas, it was high time I learned to make this amazingly tasty, wonderful, cold winter night meal. As Emeril Lagasse has never led me astray before, we decided to try his Favorite Tortilla Soup.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (we were out, it is winter after all!)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 avocado diced
tortilla chips, broken

Directions:
In a large heavy pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, salt, cumin, and coriander for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and lime juice, and stir well. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

My Opinion:
We modified and put everything in the crock pot minus the tortilla chips and avocado. Let it cook on medium for about 6 hours. In the future, we’ll up the spices and use more jalapenos. It was very close to Luby’s version.

Don’t forget! #cookchat this Thursday, January 20 at noon! Hope to see you there!