Chicken Breast Cutlets with Artichokes and Capers


Chicken Breast Cutlets with Artichokes and Capers

Such a creative name.

I made this for friends a couple of years ago and we all liked it a lot, as far as I know. 🙂 (Why haven’t I made it since?) I used this recipe, but I did a few things differently based on some reviews, preferences and what I had, so I’ll post it as I made it:

About 1 cup whole wheat or white flour (I just put some in over the raw chicken in a dish and tossed the chicken in it, so who knows how much I actually used)
salt and pepper
2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins or strips
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 can quartered artichoke hearts (unmarinated, drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup capers (drained)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus some sprigs for garnish
1 T cornstarch mixed with a bit of cold water (not sure if this actually helped once the chicken was in there, but I wanted to post it exactly as I made it :))

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine flour, salt and peppers. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour and shake off excess.
2. Heat canola oil and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook until golden brown on both sides, and no longer pink on the inside; set aside.
3. Pour in chicken broth and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve the caramelized bits. Add cornstarch mix. Add artichoke hearts and capers, return to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half.
(NOTE: I couldn’t tell that it was half or not, it seemed to just be taking too long so I eventually just added the chicken which had that flour coating, so it helped thicken things a LOT)
4. Place cooked chicken back into pan, and simmer in the sauce for a few minutes to reheat. Serve on a platter sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.

The recipes shows it with pasta, but I decided I wanted rice. I cooked the rice over the stove like this (it’s sort of the beginnings of rice pilaf):

Rice

Heat large pot.
Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
Pour in 2 cups of rice, stir to coat with oil.
Add 4 cups of water and 2 cubes of chicken bouillon.
Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally (but not too much or it’ll get too starchy and be more like risotto – yuck).
I had to add (about 1 cup) more water later, but I guess it depends on how hot you have it and how much it’s kept covered, so use your best judgment. I’m not very “by the book” about cooking, so I tend to have to correct things like this. 😛
When the rice is no longer crunchy inside, you can turn the burner to very low and leave it there covered for awhile to keep it hot, and it’ll be fine.

Muy delicioso!

Spring

Yesterday was the first day of spring, and the weather was appropriately spring-like. SO NICE. I went a few places to get some photos, though I didn’t really take all that many. Still, I can share a few here. Please excuse the vague descriptions…


Here’s a blossomy tree.


The lovely cherry trees. I take the same pictures each year–some of you are probably bored right now. 😛


Nothing special about this photo, but I like white daffodils (and most white flowers).


A nearby wildlife refuge has a nice trail. It’s still a little early, so it’s obviously not lush, but it was nice to get out in nature anyway. I’ll probably go back in a few months when it’s greener.


I’m not even sure I like this photo, but it’s kind of springy looking. I had the wrong lens on when I took it, so it didn’t really turn out as I wanted, but I was too lazy to switch lenses.

Is it springy where you live?

Current Interests

Like most people, I go through phases with what I prefer to eat, listen to, play, watch, etc. Here are some of the things I’m into right now. I’m not necessarily proud of this list, just so you know.


SCRABBLE

I recently re-found an old Scrabble computer game that I got years ago. I think the person who gave it to me got it free from their cereal box, which is pretty awesome. I’ve always loved Scrabble, but the problem with playing it with humans is that it can take such a long time for each turn. Playing at the computer means it’s always my turn (except the 2 seconds while “Maven” is taking his/her turn), so I can finish a game quickly (and start a new one…27 times per night). I get a lot of practice and can exchange my tiles without waiting an hour before I can play another word. It’s great–who needs people?

Since it’s an old program, it kind of jumps out of Windows (that sounds weird) so that my task bar isn’t showing, and I don’t know what time it is or if I have new email. It’s pretty dangerous, actually, because I tend to sink into a timeless, introspective bubble of smooth jazz (that’s what the game has playing), where words like QAT, XI and OE are the norm.

The above photo was taken last night so I could show my friend how much the game celebrates me. That brought some human interaction into the game, so now you know I’m not a complete robot-snowman-loner.


STARBUCKS ICED TEA AND SAFEWAY SANDWICHES

The Starbucks iced tea (with Splenda, no “classic”) is not so much a current interest as a lifelong pursuit of happiness, but I have definitely had my fair share lately. I can’t seem to not crave one, no matter the day or the weather. LOVE. Send me gift cards so I can buy more overpriced goodness.

As for the Safeway sandwich, well I can’t really explain this particular phase because it’s not like Safeway has the world’s best sandwiches. There are plenty of other great sandwich places, but I guess I got stuck on this one particular type that Safeway makes for me, and now I have been craving them very often (and giving in to said cravings more than I should). I think it started because I had one after a hike one day and it was so satisfying that I have had a nice association with it ever since. Ingredients: original split-crust roll, turkey, provolone, lettuce, and light on the mustard/mayo. It’s really nothing special. Okay, yes it is.

I have more, but this post is getting pretty long, so it’ll be continued later.

Smashed Potatoes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m attempting to cook up some corned beef for my first time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I suppose I should make a more festive post with Irish recipes, but the closest thing I can do is give you a recipe for some delicious potatoes, per a friend’s request. First, here is the exciting story of how I came to be introduced to these tasty morsels. While talking potatoes with a friend, she linked me to this recipe for Crash Hot Potatoes. They looked great, but I guess they slipped my mind until I saw these Smashed Potatoes months later and decided it was time to try them. I did, and ohmygosh they were so good! They don’t look like anything special, but they end up having a combination of crisp, soft and salt that is so perfect.

This photo I took of them isn’t all that impressive, though. I would make them and photograph them again, but I am sort of avoiding potatoes at the moment (and this post is making me regret that :P).

I made them a bunch of times last year, so I learned a few tips. Here’s basically how I make them (you will probably want to peruse the linked recipes first to understand what I’m talking about):

1. Preheat the oven to about 465 F. Boil a bunch (you’ll find yourself adding more and more each time you make these) of little potatoes for about 20 minutes. I prefer the little white/golden ones to red (I tried red once and they seemed to have a flavor or richness that wasn’t quite right for this recipe).

2. Meanwhile, swirl (or write your name with) some olive oil on a baking sheet. I ended up buying one of those ketchup bottles with the small spout for my olive oil, because it has worked better for occasions such as these.

3. Sprinkle salt all over the oil on the pan. Seriously, this step makes a wonderful difference.

4. After the potatoes are all nice and boiled, remove them from the water and lay them on the baking sheet, smearing them in the oil a bit to help it coat the bottom.

5. I use the bottom of a drinking glass (usually covered in foil) to smash each potato. It’s fun!

6. Brush each potato with more olive oil and top with plenty of salt and pepper (and whatever other herbs/spices you might like).

7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how crispy and brown you like your potatoes.

So who here has made these before?

Wildlife

My apologies to those of you who have already seen these photos, but I thought they’d be fun to show everyone else. I’m fortunate enough to live on a small lake (pond, really), so there is some wildlife that I see right from my back door! (Get excited: I take lots of bird photos and will share those in the future! :P) I have always loved seeing animals in the wild, but getting a photo of them is an awesome bonus. A couple of weekends ago I had two sightings, and was able to take photos both times. These photos aren’t great quality (I had to zoom all the way in, plus the morning sun was reflecting off the water), but that’s not the point of this post. Okay! Here we go…


First, was the beaver! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in real life before, even though I live in The Beaver State.


Check out his adorable hands! He’s probably eating pancakes.


The next day I saw an otter. He swam around in the part of the water closest to me, so I got plenty of photos. They all pretty much look like this one, though.

Just for the record, I have also seen deer and a nutria right in this vicinity. Oh and millions of squirrels, but they don’t count. My current wildlife photo goal is to get a decent photo of a blue heron. I keep seeing them, but they always land so far away. I did get some okay heron photos at the coast years ago, but it’s time for more. Meanwhile, I’m trying to train myself not to grab the camera every time a hummingbird eats from the feeder I have hanging. I really don’t need a zillion copies of the basically the same photo (and same hummingbird, probably) on my computer.

Ides of March

One of the nice things about my job is that I work in lovely surroundings. And even better: it’s actually part of my job to take photos of said surroundings. Of course, not every photo I take has a work purpose, but it’s been cool to see how many types of photos we do actually use. Even details of nature, which is one of my favorite types of photos to take. And the ones we don’t use? Well they count as practice for me. 🙂 Might as well use them for my personal galleries, which brings me to this post: Today is was very nice weather, so I took the camera out for a bit. My walk included a visit to my friend K’s office, where she happened to have homemade rolls to share with me. It was so meant to be!


I’m not a huge fan of these flowers (look at the disorganization of those petals), but the tree gave it some good background texture, and I like how this photo turned out.


There are aspects of this photo I don’t like, but I do like these cute daffodils. Since I moved to Oregon, I tend to take daffodils for granted. They are everywhere–just growing on the side of the road, even! They’re pretty, though.


Just a tree trunk that had some nice texture (okay that’s twice I’ve used that word…now I feel annoying).

(I’m working on getting a good template/frame for my photos so they will be consistent and eventually have my site URL included, but first I need to upgrade my photo site.)

(More parentheses: I’m pretty sure it is my cousin’s birthday today. Happy birthday, I! No, I’m not talking to myself, I’m just using initials in this blog to keep things a little more private. We’ll see how long that lasts.)

PS Posting to this blog regularly is going to be easier than I thought! I’m already holding back on a few posts I have planned.

Green

This weekend I went to a St. Patrick’s party and brought green cupcakes. There’s nothing special about these cupcakes–I used a mix and canned frosting. (I know, I’m an amazing cook.) But when I was stirring the green dye into the batter I thought, “Oh I should add some almond extract to this!” Then I remembered I don’t own almond extract and opted for vanilla. I didn’t actually think it would make a difference (I like doing pointless activities), and I quickly forgot about it after stirring it in.

At the party, the hostess was trying one (she approved) and asked if there was vanilla in it. I probably startled her when I yelled, “OH MY GOSH, YES THERE IS!” I’m such a chef! Or, more likely, food connoisseurship is her spiritual gift. (If you assumed I knew the word “connoisseurship” before this entry, you think way too highly of me. I don’t even know if I’m using it correctly.) Next time, I’m totally going with almond extract, though. Then they’ll be like Spritz* cakes.

Of course you want to see the inside, right? The cake was greener than this, but I think it’s partially washed out in the photo. I need to get some plain white plates, too–they would make for better photos. Until then, you can enjoy my leafy plates that I got for an awesome clearance price at Target.

I know you don’t really eat cupcakes with a fork (or on a plate), but I think it looks a little more inviting this way. Food photography isn’t really my forte, so I do what I can.

*Not sure if anyone besides my family will know that term since most treats have like a thousand names.

Smothered Chicken with Brown Rice

I’d like to post some recipes for food I made and enjoyed. Some of my photos aren’t the greatest, but I hope to get better at that. Anyway, here’s my first recipe post!

I made this after seeing it among the Kraft recipes online. I changed some things, mostly out of necessity, and the result was good, but not great. I couldn’t find PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese (whatever that is), so I used an artichoke cream cheese that I found (which I can’t wait to try on a bagel, too). I also used turkey bacon instead of regular, but added salt and some olive oil at various points, so it kind of all balanced out, fatwise. I think the best thing about it was the texture of different ingredients. I think this recipe has potential, which is why I’m posting about it.

6 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, chopped
6 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 lb.)
1 large onion, chopped
6 large carrots (1-1/2 lb.), thinly sliced
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, cubed
3 cups hot cooked brown rice

COOK and stir bacon in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 min. or until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; drain on paper towels. Discard drippings from skillet. Add chicken, cook 1 to 2 min. on each side or until browned; cover. Cook 8 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF). Transfer chicken to plate; cover to keep warm.

ADD onions to skillet; cook 5 min. or until tender. Stir in carrots and 3/4 cup broth; cover. Simmer 10 min. or until vegetables are tender. Reserve 1/3 cup vegetables.

After stirring in some carrots and broth, I let it simmer and then checked back and saw it had formed a pattern! I’m sure there’s some physics explanation for this, but I found it pretty weird. I mean, is that a subliminal message to go to Target? Or do I have crop circles in my food?

PLACE remaining broth, reserved 1/3 cup vegetables and Neufchatel in blender; blend until smooth. Add sauce and reserved chicken to vegetables in skillet; cover. Cook 2 min. or until heated through. Spoon rice onto serving plate; top with chicken mixture, sauce and bacon.

Bottled Water Reviews

Market Pantry (from Target)
This is delicious water! It’s like the ice cream of waters, hold the cream. They sell it for a reasonable price, too, and my only complaint is that the label is boring. Even the name isn’t all that enticing. Market Pantry doesn’t make me think of cold, refreshing water, it makes me think of room temperature snacks.

Nestlé
I know, how weird is it that Nestlé makes water and doesn’t even disguise the brand? It’s like if Hershey’s made water. Or Cadbury. I don’t want chocolate water (chocolate soda taught me that there is an evil side to our dark friend), but it’s often on sale so I have been able to get past the name and enjoy the water. It’s good enough. Recently they changed their bottle design to something more curvy and it actually makes me like the water more. It’s funner to hold. It really is – pick one up and tell me I’m wrong.

Evian
This is the brand of water I associate with all rich or perfect people. The few times I’ve had it I haven’t been that impressed. Plus, it’s hard to say – is it like Ev-ee-un or Ev-ee-on?

Aquafina
Something is wrong with this water. I’ll drink it if it’s the only thing available, but it seems to have an aftertaste to me. I shouldn’t have to experience an aftertaste with a beverage that has no taste to begin with. That’s not fair.

Oregon Rain
This is disappointing, because the label and concept seem really tempting. It says it’s “virgin water,” never touched by the earth but gathered in rain farms. To be honest, it tastes like it’s gone farther than first base with the earth, maybe even several times. Plus it’s super expensive unless you can find it in 99 cent bottles at a grocery store (when sold separately). I guess it’s kind of a fun Oregon souvenir, though.