Friday, September 14, 2012

Salsa Chicken

Looking for a versatile, tasty dinner with a Tex-Mex flair? Then look no further. Salsa Chicken has something for everyone: easy prep, hands-off cooking, and at least a dozen ways to serve it. It's also gluten- and dairy-free, if that matters to you and yours. And it's very healthy, as it's loaded with protein and fiber and almost no fat. Best of all, you might even have all the ingredients on hand in your pantry and fridge. My kind of meal!

Let's get started: First, you'll need to get out the crock pot and dust it off. Also, you'll want to give a moment's thought to what you want to serve with this blend of chicken, beans and corn. Try to use something you've got rather than making a special trip to the store. When I made this for dinner, I opted for roasted sweet potatoes and a green salad. At lunch the next day, I enjoyed it on top of rice. I'm thinking it would be terrific wrapped in a tortilla or a crunchy taco shell (and topped with cheese, of course), as a nacho topping, or even reincarnated as a tasty Salsa Chicken Soup, with the addition of some chicken stock and garnished with tortilla strips. You could even serve it on top of a baked potato for a very filling meal.

Here I am making dinner ;)

Salsa Chicken
Serves 4 - 6

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs (I used breasts, cut in half)
1 can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 jar salsa

Spray your crock pot insert with nonstick spray. Lay the chicken pieces on the bottom of the pot. Place the beans, corn and salsa on top of the chicken. No need to stir. Cover and cook on LOW for 3 - 8 hours. (Timing depends on how hot your crock pot runs. Mine runs VERY HOT so the chicken was done in 2 1/2 hours. You really don't want to overcook chicken in the crock pot. It's horrifyingly dry and dusty tasting if you do. I speak from experience.)

Recipe adapted from "Make it Fast, Cook it Slow" by Stephanie O'Dea

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Frito-Crusted Chicken Fingers

While this meal didn't instantly appeal to me, I decided to give it a try recently because I thought the other three family members would really like it. I've been experimenting with a gluten-free diet for the past few weeks, and this recipe qualified, so I took my chances.

Wow! Not only did the family gobble almost 2 pounds of chicken (unheard of at this house), but the four leftover chicken fingers, when heated briefly in the toaster oven the next night, were as good OR BETTER than the night before.

As always, I served this as the kind of meal where those who wanted healthy could veer that way (two of us had the fingers on top of a green salad) and those who wanted a Chick-Fil-A experience could have it with fries and ketchup (that would be the guys).

Frito-Crusted Chicken Fingers
Serves 4

1 bag Fritos corn chips (6 cups), crushed
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 - 2 pounds chicken tenders
1/4 cup Ranch dressing (light is fine)
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup hot salsa

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.

Place the corn chips in an aluminum pan or large plate. Season with a pinch of salt and a nice grind of pepper.

Place the beaten eggs in another aluminum pan or bowl.

Dip each chicken finger first in the crumbs, then in the egg, then in the crumbs again. Lie on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the fingers for about 18 minutes, or until cooked throughout.

While the fingers are baking, combine the Ranch, barbecue sauce and salsa. Use this as a dip. Serve the fingers with fries, salad or whatever floats your boat.

Recipe adapted from "Cooking for Isaiah" by Silvana Nardone.