Saturday, March 22, 2014

Honey Dijon Pretzel Crusted Chicken

We happen to be moving.  If you've ever moved, you know what a pain that is.  And because we've been involved in packing and house showings and a whole bunch of other unsavory things, dinners have had to be quite a bit simpler lately.  That's also the reason why you haven't heard as much from me as usual.  I'm just spread so thin you'd you think I could fit into Barbie clothes by now.... alas, that part oddly has not come true.

Anyway, we were having lunch one day and my husband had a whole pile of honey mustard with his nuggets from Chick-fil-a.  Everyone else in the house apparently likes ranch.  Go figure.  So we were idly chatting about the joys of such a condiment.  Haha!  He mentioned that when he was flipping through the channels one day, he saw a chef on TV coating his chicken with honey mustard and then rolling them in crushed pretzels before baking them.  Oh.  Wow.  Okay... Now THAT idea may have to be stored away for an emergency situation, because that could work, right?!  So  when I started looking around, it turns out that a whole plethora of folks are doing this, and I might be like the only one who HASN'T discovered this?  Oh MY!  Where have I been?

Well just in case you are on team Julie.... and you, too, have not yet jumped on the bandwagon, here it is.   

The recipe was super simple.  The only thing I actually purchased that I didn't already have was the chicken and a bag of pretzels.  


Ingredients:   (for about 4 - 5 servings)
Honey Dijon - (for 1 cup of final product)
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Chicken -  (enough breading to accommodate about 3 large individual breasts)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cups pretzel crumbs
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup flour
Step-by-Step -    

For the chicken.  I usually find that the chicken breasts come in a pack of three these days, but they are HUGE!  As in, one chicken breasts is WAY more than an individual serving.  Three breasts will definitely feed more than three people in my house.  

Let's make the pretzel crumbs first.  This is the fun part.  I let Lily crunch up the pretzels in a zip top bag to her heart's content and then we added them to the food processor.  You want to pulse them until you have them mostly processed, but still have some texture... a few little chunks left in there for texture.  You know I like texture in my food.  I wanted to have some crunch left.

Add the pretzel crumbs and the Panko bread crumbs to a shallow plate (like a pie plate) and mix to combine.  This is another great job for the kids. 
Pretzel crumbs - you need 1 cup
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
For the honey mustard.   I found that the honey mustard came together in a snap in the food processor, with just the right amount of zing!   But here is a great opportunity to individualize, with the addition of minced garlic, different oils, different amounts of heat perhaps and maybe even some ground whole mustard if serving to adults who like heat.

Lovely Lily will demonstrate how easy it is to make the honey mustard.  Just add all the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until smooth.  Adjust seasoning and amounts to your liking. 

 Now , let's get this started with 1/2 cup Dijon mustard + 1/3 cup honey.
Tip - If you spray your measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray before adding the honey, the honey will just slide right out.
1/4 cup canola oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
That's all.  Close it up and press 'go.'  You should get about 1 cup of honey mustard. 

Lets assemble.
Trim the chicken of any fat and stuff.  Season well with kosher salt and black pepper.  If you want to add some extra seasonings or heat, here is your chance.  The chicken is mild and has a flavor that most children would enjoy.  For adults, feel free to add some heat if you wish.  Note - I expected the pretzel coating to be salty, because my idea of pretzels are 'salty,' but it turns out that the salt is really just on the exterior.  So be sure you season the chicken well.
Seasoned chicken with kosher salt and black pepper
In the next (pie) plate, dredge the seasoned chicken in flour.  Shake off the excess.   And set aside.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Divide the honey mustard in half.  Using the half that your dedicating to the raw chicken, "paint" your floured chicken with this dressing on both sides.  The flour should help it adhere.
add the honey mustard
Press the mustard coated chicken into the pretzel/Panko mixture to coat.  You want to really press this coating onto the meat.   Come to think of it, I don't see why you couldn't use different sorts of bagged chips or cereals for this. 
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs + 1 cup processed pretzel crumbs
coating + plus this humongo chicken breast!
You can set the coated chicken breasts on a parchment lined baking sheet, or on wire rack set into your baking sheet.  Or you can use a silicone baking mat to line your baking sheet if you have those.  If you've followed my blog for long, you know that I'm going to insert a digital thermometer into my chicken so I don't have to guess when it's done.  I can rest easy knowing that my chicken won't stick to my parchment, and that cleanup will be a snap!
Set your temperature!
Cook.  
Bake at 400 degrees F until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  This will probably take around 15-20 minutes.  (See why I don't like to guess?)  If you have a digital thermometer, set the alarm for about 162 and walk away until it beeps.  The temperature will continue to rise several degrees once you remove it from the oven, and you will want it to rest about 5 minutes after removing it from the oven.  If you overcook it, it will be dry and hard.  We want tender and juicy.
Cut the chicken into strips and serve with the reserved honey mustard as a dipping sauce.  
Do you see this whole platter of chicken?  This is all just ONE chicken breast?!  Now good Lord!  There's no way one person is going to eat all that, right?  But it will obviously depend on the size of the breasts you are using.  I don't see any reason why you couldn't use this same technique on drumsticks or thighs if that is your preference.  You will just need to cook them longer.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Garlic Aioli

Homemade Snickers Bars

Stuffed Zucchini

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Apple Praline Bundt Cake
 
Written Method -    

For the chicken.
Let's make the pretzel crumbs first.  This is the fun part.  Crunch up the pretzels in a zip top bag first or add directly to the food processor.  You want to pulse them until you have them mostly processed, but still have some texture... a few little chunks left in there for texture.  Add the pretzel crumbs and the Panko bread crumbs to a shallow plate (like a pie plate) and mix to combine.  This is another great job for the kids. 

For the honey mustard.   I found that the honey mustard came together in a snap in the food processor, with just the right amount of zing!   But here is a great opportunity to individualize, with the addition of minced garlic, different oils, different amounts of heat perhaps and maybe even some ground whole mustard if serving to adults who like heat.  Add the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until smooth.  Adjust seasoning and amounts to your liking. 

Lets assemble.
Trim the chicken of any fat and stuff.  Season well with kosher salt and black pepper.  If you want to add some extra seasonings or heat, here is your chance.  The chicken is mild and has a flavor that most children would enjoy.  For adults, feel free to add some heat if you wish.  Note - I expected the pretzel coating to be salty, because my idea of pretzels are 'salty,' but it turns out that the salt is really just on the exterior.  So be sure you season the chicken well.

In the next (pie) plate, dredge the seasoned chicken in flour.  Shake off the excess.   And set aside.

Divide the honey mustard in half.  Using the half that your dedicating to the raw chicken, "paint" your floured chicken with this dressing on both sides.  The flour should help it adhere.

Press the mustard coated chicken into the pretzel/Panko mixture to coat.  You want to really press this coating onto the meat.   Come to think of it, I don't see why you couldn't use different sorts of bagged chips or cereals for this. 

You can set the coated chicken on a parchment lined baking sheet, or on a wire rack set into your baking sheet.  Or you can use silicone baking mat to line your baking sheet if you have those.  If you've followed my blog for long, you know that I'm going to insert a digital thermometer into my chicken so I don't have to guess when it's done.

Cook.  
Bake at 400 degrees F until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  This will probably take around 15-20 minutes.  (See why I don't like to guess?)  If you have a digital thermometer, set the alarm for about 162 and walk away until it beeps.  The temperature will continue to rise several degrees once you remove it from the oven, and you will want it to rest about 5 minutes after removing it from the oven.  If you overcook it, it will be dry and hard.  We want tender and juicy.

Cut the chicken into strips and serve with the reserved honey mustard as a dipping sauce. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Orzo Artichoke Pasta Salad

I made this for the first time on Valentine's night.  Just an impromptu side dish to go with our delicious surf and turf dinner-for-two.  And yes, contrary to what some people in my family think - I can cook without a camera in my hand.  Okay... so I was itching to take photos, but I resisted.  But we enjoyed it so much, that we've continued to make it since.  It's great both hot AND cold.  As a matter of fact, after doing it a few times, that's my favorite way - as a cold pasta salad.  This works great for a number of reasons.  It gives all those flavors time to sort of marry together and really get comfortable with each other.  And if you ARE taking it on a springtime picnic, family reunion, or tailgating, it's a great choice because there's no mayo in there to spoil.  

You could easily turn this into a complete meal salad with the addition of cooked chicken or grilled shrimp, for example.  The flavors are light and bright and sunny.. and even though its filling, you won't feel weighed down.  Yes, I know the orzo looks like rice, but I assure you - it really is pasta.  Oh, and one more thing, it makes a ton, so this would be great for large family gatherings! 

Print this recipe! 

Ingredients:   (8 - 10 servings)
  • 1 pound of orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced (~ 2 full Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 pints mixed red and yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half (about 3 cups)
  • 8 oz marinated, grilled artichokes in oil.  Do not drain.
  • 3 Tbsp capers, drained.
  • 5 Tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (not table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 large lemons juiced (about 1/2 cup of juice)
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves (the leaves from a 0.75 oz container)

Step-by-Step:  
Do yourself a favor and prep your ingredients first; because the rest of this recipe is basically just throwing it together.   Lovely Lily is cutting 1 1/2 pints of grape tomatoes in half, and chopping a 1/2 cup of basil leaves for me. 
Please note that she has been doing this for a LONG time, and has lots of kitchen experience.  Please allow your children to assist you to the level that THEY are safe as well as supervised.

Now we will need 1/2 cup of lemon juice.  Please don't use the fake stuff.  Those bottles don't grow on trees.  These lovely yellow things do.  They taste so much better.. and they are so much fun to squeeze!
This is a great job for the kiddos!!!
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
While water is heating, start on the dressing for the pasta.  Saute onions and garlic in 1/4 cup EVOO a few minutes until they start to soften. 
1/4 cup EVOO
1 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp finely minced garlic (about 4 large cloves
Add tomatoes, artichokes, and capers.  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium, then turn off the heat.  
3 cups mixed red and yellow grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 (7.5 - 8 oz) jar grilled, marinated artichoke hearts, WITH liquid.  Do not drain first.
3 Tbsp capers, drained
Pretty, huh?!  You can turn off the heat now if your onions are soft.  We don't really want the tomatoes to be mushy.
I see the water boiling.  Let's get that pasta going!
1 pound orzo pasta
Cook according to package directions, leaving it just a bit al dente.
Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta water before you drain it.
Returning the pasta to the large pot you cooked it in.  Add back the hot cooking water. 
Add the warm tomato and artichoke mixture to the cooked pasta.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup EVOO and parsley and stir to let it warm through and wilt the parsley. 

1/4 cup EVOO
5 Tbsp chopped parsley
Season with the salt and pepper.  Stir in the lemon juice and chopped basil.  It's going to seem really soupy, but this is pasta, so it will drink up lots of liquid.  And you don't want it to be dry later on.
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Enjoy now, hot - as a side dish.  Or refrigerate and have cold!  

 My bet is that you will have some of BOTH!!!

I really hope you enjoyed this recipe!
There are many more to be discovered and cooked just waiting for you, on my Recipe Index.  You may also enjoy my Filmstrips for Pinning page, where you can see whole recipes at a glance.

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If you are not already a subscriber, Click here to subscribe to MenuMusings so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help keep you out of the cooking rut, or at least hopefully give you new ideas.   You can also follow me on Pinterest or on the MenuMusings Facebook page.  
Here are some bonus recipes for you. 





 
Written Method:  
Start the water to heat first.  When boiling, add pasta and cook according to package direction - it will probably take around 10 minutes.   Do not overcook.  We don't want mushy pasta.

While water is heating, start on the dressing for the pasta.  Saute onions and garlic in 1/4 cup EVOO a few minutes until they start to soften.  Add tomatoes, artichokes, and capers.  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium, then turn off the heat. 

Once pasta is cooked, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.  Then drain the pasta, returning it to the large pot you cooked it in.  Add back the hot cooking water.  Add the warm tomato and artichoke mixture to the cooked pasta.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup EVOO and parsley and stir to let it warm through and wilt the parsley.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Stir in the lemon juice and chopped basil.

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