Family Dinner Ideas

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

Make quick chicken soup in the pressure cooker! This classic recipe is made with whole chicken (or chicken pieces), carrots, onions, and celery, and it’s ready in 60 minutes. Just add noodles for chicken noodle soup!

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

The minute anybody in my house comes down with the slightest sniffle, I run to the store for ingredients for chicken soup. It’s the go-to cure-all around here!

The recipe I make is classic and very simple, but to get it ready even more quickly, I make it in the pressure cooker.

Why Use the Pressure Cooker?

Pressure cooking in the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) reduces the cooking time a fair amount. Using an electric one also allows you to leave the pot unattended while it cooks. The cooker will even switch to a “Keep Warm” setting once cooking has finished so you don’t have to worry about turning off the cooker right away when the soup is done.

How to Make Chicken Soup in the Pressure Cooker

Just throw all the ingredients in the pot, press a button, and come back to piping hot soup later on!

  • New to the Instant Pot? Check out our post How To Use an Instant Pot: A First-Timer’s Guide.

What Kind of Chicken to Use in the Instant Pot

I use a whole chicken for my soup for a few reasons:

  • First, it’s the most economical way to go.
  • Second, I like having a mix of white and dark meat.
  • Third, all of the bones and cartilage help to create a rich, nourishing broth.

You can also use any mix of bone-in drumsticks, thighs, or breast meat. Remove the skin if you like, but I like a little bit of rendered chicken fat in my soup!

Tips for the Best Pressure Cooked Chicken

  • You’ll need a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker for this recipe. The pot should be just big enough to fit a 3- to 4-pound chicken. If you have a larger pressure cooker (8-quart or bigger), you can also get away with using a slightly larger chicken.
  • Be careful when doing a quick-release. This is because liquid-heavy pressure cooker recipes like this soup can release a lot of steam during the venting step after cooking.
  • Scared of steam? That’s ok! If you want to avoid the jet of steam entirely, you can wait for the pressure to release naturally. Just wait until the pressure cooker’s float valve has returned to its “down” position. This will take quite a while, though, since this recipe contains a lot of liquid.
  • Chicken jello?! Good chicken soup made with the whole chicken will often develop a jelly-like consistency once chilled, so don’t be alarmed if this happens to you! The soup will turn back into liquid when warmed.

Add-Ins to Chicken Soup in the Instant Pot

  • Chicken Noodle Soup: Stir some cooked noodles into the soup; I prefer to cook the noodles separately so that they don’t absorb a ton of moisture from the soup itself. I mix them in just before serving, and store them separately from the soup in the fridge.
  • Chicken and Dumplings: Make this recipe in the Instant Pot if you’re dying for some dumplings!

No Instant Pot? Make This On the Stovetop!

Put the chicken in a large soup pot or Dutch oven, breast side up. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, pouring in the water last to avoid splashing. Cover the pot and place it on the stove over medium heat.

When the soup comes to a boil, turn it down to low and simmer, covered, until the chicken is tender and the meat is just beginning to come away from the bones, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Continue with the remaining steps as described in the recipe below.

MORE CHICKEN SOUPS TO CURE WHAT AILS YOU!

  • Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
  • One-Pot Chicken and Rice Soup
  • Mom’s Cold Season Chicken Soup
  • Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Chicken Mulligatawny Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 3- to 4-pound chicken, or an equivalent mix of bone-in thighs, legs, or breast meat
  • 4 ribs celery, sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium parsnip, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 12 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 quarts water
  • Cooked egg noodles, optional

Special equipment:

  • 6-quart electric or stovetop pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot)

Ingredients

  • 1 3- to 4-pound chicken, or an equivalent mix of bone-in thighs, legs, or breast meat
  • 4 ribs celery, sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium parsnip, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 12 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 quarts water
  • Cooked egg noodles, optional

Special equipment:

  • 6-quart electric or stovetop pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot)

Method

1 Put the chicken in the pot of a pressure cooker, breast side up.

2 Layer all of the other ingredients into the pot, pouring in the water last to avoid splashing. Adding four teaspoons of salt at this point will result in a well-seasoned soup broth. Use less salt or eliminate if you’d like to make basic chicken broth to use for other purposes.

3 Cook the soup: Place the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Select the “Manual” program, then set the time to 25 minutes at high pressure. (Instant Pot users can also select the “Soup” program and follow the same cooking time. For stovetop pressure cookers, cook at high pressure for 22 minutes.)

It will take about 35 minutes for your pressure cooker to come up to pressure, and then the actual cooking will begin. Total time from the time you seal the pressure cooker to the finished dish is about one hour.

4 When the soup has finished cooking, wait about 15 minutes before “quick” releasing the pressure. This helps prevent a lot of steamy broth spitting out of the valve. Even so be careful when releasing the steam!

You can also let the pressure release naturally, though this will take quite a while. Wait until the pressure cooker’s float valve has returned to its “down” position before opening the pressure cooker.

5 Prepare the chicken meat: Use a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pot, and transfer it to a dish to cool until you can comfortably handle it, about 20 minutes. It may come apart as you are removing it from the pot, so go slowly and carefully.

Take the meat off of the bones, and discard the bones, skin, and cartilage. Cut or tear the meat into bite-sized pieces.

6 Stir the chicken meat back into the soup. Ladle into bowls and serve. Add cooked egg noodles, if you like.

Let any leftover soup cool completely, then store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. The soup may gel as it cools; it will liquefy again when heated.

Posted by gen_gen - 2019 at 

Categories: Family Dinner Ideas   Tags: , , ,

Sheet Pan Chicken with Asparagus and Potatoes

Sheet pan chicken with asparagus and potatoes to celebrate spring! Everything cooks together until tender. Really easy and only one pan to clean!

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

If you’re feeling grateful for spring and eager to put fresh spring vegetables on your table, pull out your favorite sheet pan and make this simple supper.

Start with new potatoes, super-sweet onions, sliced lemons, and aromatic sprigs of lemon thyme. Roast them all together on your sheet pan until they’re tender, then add the chicken pieces. Continue roasting, and wait until everything is close to done before scattering the asparagus all around the pan.

It’s a clever way of making an entire meal at once, and you don’t even need a sauce because you’ll have chicken juices in the pan to spoon over the meat. Your trusty sheet pan does it again!

My sheet pan gets just as big of a workout as my favorite chef’s knife in my kitchen. In fact, most of the time, I pull out my sheet pan even before pulling out my knife because I know it will come in handy for something, even if it’s only as a tray to carry supper to the table!

The sheet pan I use most often are about the same size as a jelly roll pan – 11-by-17-inches – and it has stiff rolled edges. I think the aluminum pans are better than the nonstick because food on aluminum browns more.

  • If you can’t find the chicken parts called for in this recipe, you can buy a whole chicken and cut it into parts yourself (or ask a butcher to do it for you).

If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can substitute dried thyme. Use 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme with the vegetables and 1/2 teaspoon sprinkled over the chicken.

Ingredients

  • 16 small new potatoes (red or golden), halved
  • 3 small sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla), quartered through the roots; or 1 large super sweet onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 medium lemon, very thinly sliced
  • Large handful fresh lemon thyme or other fresh herb (oregano, marjoram, or thyme).
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 large bone-in chicken breast halves (1 1/2 pounds, 680 g)
  • 2 whole chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks attached; or 2 legs and 2 drumsticks (1/2 pounds, 227 g)
  • 1 bunch (1 pound) fresh asparagus

Special equipment:

  • Sheet pan, at least 11-by-17 inches or larger

Method

1 Prepare the vegetables for roasting: Heat the oven to 375F. In a bowl, combine the new potatoes, onions, lemon, a few of the herb sprigs, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and half the salt and pepper. Toss well and spread on a rimmed baking sheet.

2 Roast the vegetables for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost tender when pierced with a skewer.

3 Prepare the chicken: While the vegetables roast, sprinkle the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, and the remaining salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from several thyme springs and scatter them on the chicken.

4 Add the chicken to the vegetables and roast: Move the vegetables in the pan aside to make room for the chicken. Set the chicken in the pan, skin side up, so it isn’t sitting on vegetables. Continue cooking for 30 minutes.

5 Prepare the asparagus: Snap the spears near the base, where they break without much effort. Cut the spears in half to make shorter lengths. In a bowl, toss the asparagus with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

6 Add the asparagus and roast: After the chicken has been roasting for 30 minutes, pull out the sheet pan and scatter the asparagus around the chicken.

7 Continue roasting for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken pieces all register at least 165°F in the thickest part of the meat on an instant-read thermometer (the thighs will cook slightly faster than the breasts; you can pull them off the sheet pan as they reach temperature and keep them on a plate covered with foil, if you like).

All of the vegetables should also be cooked through. (Total cooking time is roughly 1 1/2 hours.)

If your chicken isn’t brown enough, slide the pan under the broiler for 2 minutes, watching it carefully to avoid burning.

8 To serve the chicken: Discard the cooked thyme sprigs. Use kitchen shears to separate the legs to form 2 drumsticks and 2 thighs. Snip the breasts in half horizontally.

Arrange the chicken and vegetables on a platter. Remove the thyme from the remaining fresh sprigs and sprinkle it over the chicken.

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Baked Chicken Parmesan

Baked Chicken Parmesan! EASY and quick, simply bread the chicken cutlets with Parmesan and crumbs, bake in the oven, and top with a fresh, homemade tomato sauce. This baked chicken parmesan is delicious. Serve with noodles.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Chicken Parmesan has to be one of the easiest and tastiest ways of preparing chicken, don’t you agree?

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Below are the steps on how to make this version of easy baked chicken parmesan:

  1. First get started on a simple homemade tomato sauce with crushed tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano (though you could easily use already prepared sauce).
  2. While the sauce is simmering, take boneless chicken cutlets, (breast or thigh meat) dredge them first in a mustardy coating, then in Parmesan tossed breadcrumbs (we like panko),
  3. Bake the chicken parmesan in oven!

By the (short) time the chicken is done, the sauce is perfect.

A Tip for Baking Chicken Parmesan

The trick to cooking the chicken just right is to start with cutlets that are a thin, even thickness, about 1/4 inch. You can buy them this way, or cut whole breasts in half horizontally, then pound them thin between 2 pieces of plastic wrap with a mallet or meat hammer.

Updated recipe and photos, first published 2005

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (we use Muir-Glen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh basil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh oregano)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Chicken:

  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast cutlets (or skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs that have been pounded to a 1/4-inch thickness)
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs (panko or homemade)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (we use Muir-Glen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh basil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh oregano)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Chicken:

  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast cutlets (or skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs that have been pounded to a 1/4-inch thickness)
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs (panko or homemade)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Method

1 Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, sugar, a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

Continue to simmer until sauce thickens a bit and flavors meld, about 10-12 minutes. Taste sauce, adjust seasoning if necessary, cover and keep warm.

2 Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil, parchment, or Silpat. While the sauce is simmering, prepare the chicken in the next steps.

3 Make the coating: In a large bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

Add the chicken cutlets to the mixture and coat well on both sides.

4 Dredge the chicken: In another bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Mix well and stir in the melted butter. Transfer to a shallow plate.

Dredge the chicken pieces in the breadcrumb mixture, gently pressing the breadcrumbs into the chicken cutlets. Place dredged chicken on the lined baking sheet.

5 Bake: Bake at 450°F on the center rack of the oven until cooked and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

6 Serve: Serve with a side of rice, noodles or pasta. Ladle sauce with the chicken.

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Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Potatoes

Sheet pan chicken with roasted potatoes and broccoli! Everything cooks together on one baking sheet – so easy. Use chicken thighs for tender, juicy results every time.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Everyone should have at least one meal that they can make without having to think too hard – a recipe that is easy, reasonably healthy, and totally delicious.

These chicken thighs with roasted potatoes and broccoli truly fit the bill. And the best part is that you only have one pan to clean up after dinner!

Chicken thighs are a fantastic protein because, in addition to being affordable, they are so forgiving when cooking. Unlike breast meat, which get dry and stringy when over cooked, chicken thighs will still be tender and juicy even if they’re in the oven a minute or two too long.

Of course, chicken thighs are not complete without crispy skin. In order to get that gorgeous golden crackly skin, preheat the sheet pan and cook the thighs skin side down so the skin has a chance to sear. Flip them over halfway through cooking, and you’ll have perfectly crispy skin!

The potatoes can cook right alongside the chicken thighs. Since broccoli cooks quickly, wait to add it until you flip the chicken.

All told, dinner is on the table in just about 35 minutes, most of which is hands-off time. Serve this with a simple side salad and a glass of white wine for a nice treat!

Mix up the seasonings in this recipe with any favorite spice mix!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
  • 1 pound marble-sized baby potatoes (or small waxy potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked – your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules, or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion granules, or onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • A pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into small florets
  • Zest of 1 lemon, to serve
  • Mince chives, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Method

1 Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 500F for at least 15 minutes.

2 Season the chicken and potatoes: Combine the chicken and potatoes in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of oil, paprika, garlic granules, onion granules, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Use your hands to toss the chicken and potatoes with the oil and spice, mixing until everything is evenly coated.

3 Roast the chicken and potatoes: Pull the hot pan out of the oven and place the chicken skin-side down. Scatter the potatoes around the chicken. Place the pan with the chicken and potatoes in the oven. and immediately lower the heat to 425F.

Roast for 15 minutes.

4 Add the broccoli: Toss the broccoli in a clean mixing bowl with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Remove the pan from oven (and close the oven door so the heat doesn’t escape). Use tongs to flip the chicken and potatoes. Arrange the broccoli on the pan around the chicken.

Roast for another 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and registers at least 165F in the thickest part of the thigh. The potatoes and broccoli should also be tender.

4 To serve: Rest chicken thighs for 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the chicken, broccoli, and potatoes on the sheet pan with lemon zest and chives, then serve with lemon wedges

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Salsa Verde Chicken Bake

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts baked in tomatillo salsa verde sauce, topped with melted jack cheese. 1-pot, easy dinner!

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

This recipe is so easy, it’s surprising how good it is!

You just line a baking dish with chicken breasts, pour over plenty of salsa verde, bake, sprinkle with some cheese, bake some more, and presto wham-o you’re there. Serve over rice to absorb the sauce.

If it’s not the season for fresh tomatillos to make the salsa verde from scratch, salsa verde is easily available jarred (look for it in the salsa section, or Mexican food section, of your grocery store). Thankfully with our ginormous tomatillo harvest this summer, we have plenty home canned in the pantry.

Many thanks to my dear friend Bruce, who came up with this recipe and urged me to give it a try. It’s perfect for a midweek meal. Enjoy!

While the chicken is cooking, prepare some rice or quinoa to serve with the chicken. The recipe produces a lot of sauce which will go well with the sides.

You could easily make this with boneless, skinless chicken thighs as well. You may need to cook them just a few minutes longer than the breasts.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 3/4 cups (1 15-ounce jar) tomatillo salsa verde
  • 4 ounces grated Monterey jack and/or pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F.

2 Cut chicken breasts and line baking dish with them: Cut the chicken breasts into halves.

Line a 1 1/2 to 2 quart casserole baking dish with the chicken pieces. Try to cover the bottom as completely as you can with the chicken.

3 Cover the chicken pieces with the salsa verde. Cover completely, there should be no exposed chicken or it will dry out.

4 Bake in a 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, use it. The chicken should be removed from the oven when the internal temperature of the breast meat reaches 150°F.

5 Sprinkle cheese over the chicken, increase the oven heat to 400°F and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, enough time for the cheese to melt and the sauce to get bubbly.

Remove from oven. Serve immediately. Spoon over cooked rice or quinoa. Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips for crunch if you would like.

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Chicken Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta

20 Min EASY Chicken Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta! Swap the shrimp for chicken in this classic recipe. All you need is chicken, angel hair pasta, butter, olive oil, garlic, white wine, lemon, and parsley. Perfect midweek dinner!

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Most people associate scampi with shrimp and other shellfish, but guess what? This classic pasta dish works just as well with chicken.

The richness from the butter and olive oil are balanced by the acidity of the lemon juice and white wine. You also get a punch of garlic, a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes, and some freshness from the parsley.

The most important thing to remember with this recipe is to reserve some of the pasta cooking water. It helps to make a luscious sauce that brings all of the ingredients together.

This recipe is all about the sauce and the pasta. If you’d like more protein or fresh vegetables in your meal, feel free to increase the amount of chicken or throw in whatever veggies you have in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus more lemon wedges for serving (about 1 tablespoon of zest and 3 tablespoons of juice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus more lemon wedges for serving (about 1 tablespoon of zest and 3 tablespoons of juice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Method

1 Make the pasta: Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, according to package instructions or until al dente. Scoop out about a cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside. Drain the pasta.

2 Cook the chicken:  Meanwhile, melt the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pat the chicken dry and season both sides with the salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest, leaving the fat in the pan.

3 Make the sauce: Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and simmer until reduced by about half, 3 to 5 minutes.

4 Finish the pasta: Add the cooked pasta, lemon zest, parsley, and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet and toss to combine. If it seems too dry or like the sauce isn’t coating the pasta, stir in some more of the reserved pasta cooking water.

Cut the chicken into slices and toss with the pasta. Serve with extra lemon wedges for squeezing over the scampi.

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Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken Fried Rice! This is an easy weeknight meal made on the stovetop. Made with chicken, eggs, onions, carrots, peas, and rice!

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to days when my mother made fried rice for dinner. Like most Asian families, we ate regular plain rice almost every day with dinner, so any time my mother felt inspired to change up our dinner routine felt like a treat to me!

Fried rice is a dish that is meant to repurpose leftover rice from a day or two before. The first time I tried cooking fried rice on my own, I made the mistake of using freshly cooked rice.

Because it was still so moist and soft, resulting dish was far too gummy — nothing like what my mother cooked. I don’t even remember if I ate much of that batch of fried rice, but I certainly learned a big lesson!

Now, I make fried rice at home often, and this version with chicken is one of my favorites. I add onions, carrots and peas to my rice, but you can throw in whatever vegetables you have. Diced bell peppers, zucchini or sliced cabbage work well, too.

I also add a bit of Chinese five-spice powder to flavor the rice, a habit I picked up from my mother who always used it in her cooking. This is a blend of star anise, peppercorns, cloves, fennel seed, and cinnamon, and it gives the dish a warm spiciness. Feel free to leave it out if you like.

How to make chicken fried rice

Fried rice is best made with leftover rice that’s at least a day old. Otherwise it becomes gummy in the skillet.

If you don’t have any leftover rice from the night before, cook a batch of rice and spread it on a large baking sheet or several large plates. Let the rice dry out for about 1 to 2 hours before using it for fried rice.

Rice sticks to the pan very easily, so make sure to use a wok or pan that doesn’t have a sticky surface. I usually cook stir-fries in my seasoned carbon steel wok, but cast iron or nonstick pans work well, too. You might need to add a little more oil if things aren’t releasing easily.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or any high heat oil), divided
  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • 2/3 cup yellow onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas, rinsed under warm tap water for a few seconds thaw
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice (preferably leftover from at least a day before, see Recipe Note)
  • 2 scallions, sliced (separate the white and light green parts from the dark green part)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (optional)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Special equipment:

  • Wok, or large skillet

Method

1 Prepare the chicken: Chop the chicken into small 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the chicken and mix to combine. Set the chicken aside for about 10 minutes (I usually use this time to chop all the vegetables).

2 Scramble the egg: Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Swirl in a tablespoon of oil and add the whisked eggs. Use a spatula to quickly scramble the eggs, breaking the curds into smaller pieces as they come together. Transfer the eggs to a plate.

3 Cook the chicken: Add another tablespoon of oil in the wok or pan. Add the chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and transfer the cooked chicken to a plate.

Using your spatula, scrape off any chicken bits that are still stuck to the wok so they don’t burn during the next step. You can also use paper towels to wipe down your wok or pan.

4 Cook the vegetables: Swirl 1 tablespoon of oil into the wok over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and cook them for 1 minute, until they start to soften. Mix in the minced garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the diced carrots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the peas, and stir to incorporate.

5 Cook the rice: Add the rice to the wok or pan on top of the vegetables and stir to combine. Using the back of your spatula, smash any large chunks of rice to break them apart. Add the white and green parts of the sliced scallions (save the dark green parts) and five-spice powder. Stir to incorporate. If the rice starts to stick to the pan, stir in a little more oil.

Drizzle the soy sauce and sesame oil over the rice and stir to incorporate. Stir in the cooked chicken, scrambled eggs, and the dark parts of the scallions. Stir briefly to bring it together, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Taste, and add more soy sauce if necessary.

6 Serve immediately while hot.

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Fettuccine Alfredo with Mushrooms

Fettuccine alfredo with mushrooms brings a mix of cheesy, creamy and earthy flavors together. It’s a restaurant-worthy dish you can totally make at home.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

If you’re a beginner cook, or even an intermediate one, it may not cross your mind to try making alfredo sauce from scratch. For me, it seemed just a tiny bit out of reach for years. Then one day, I gave it a try and quickly found myself saying, “Oh. That was really easy.”

Alfredo is one of the most underrated sauces—it’s made with just a few pantry staples, it’s always satisfying, and it’s surprisingly easy to make at home.

Every home cook should have a recipe at the ready for quick weeknight dinners. It’s certainly not just for restaurant dining!

The version I’m sharing today is jazzed up with loads of fresh mushrooms. I like to use a mix of baby cremini and shiitake mushrooms, but you can really use any mushroom for this sauce. I’d only avoid white button mushrooms as they don’t have much flavor when they cook down.

When buying shiitake mushrooms, try to get mushrooms that are on the smaller side, as they tend to be more tender. If you can only find larger ones, trim off any hard, woody stems.

Pile this sauce on top of your favorite fettuccine, spaghetti, or any pasta you like. You’re in for a great classic Italian dish.

Other Creamy Pastas You Might Like!

  • Classic Fettuccine Alfredo
  • Spaghetti Pasta Carbonara
  • Creamy Ziti Florentine
  • Easy Make-Ahead Alfredo Sauce

To Make in Advance: Cook sauce as directed. Cool and store in the fridge for up to two days. To reheat, add back to a medium pot along with 1/2 cup milk and gently reheat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces baby cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces small shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound fettuccine, spaghetti, or your favorite pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Method

1 Cook the mushrooms: Melt the butter in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until they have released their liquid and become tender. Season with salt and pepper (give one a taste!).

2 Add the flour: Add the flour to the pot and stir it in to coat the mushrooms. The flour will form a paste on the mushrooms and the pan will look quite dry. Cook for a minute and turn heat down to low.

3 Make the sauce: Slowly add the milk while stirring; the flour will dissolve in the milk. If any lumps of flour form, break them up against the side of the pan with the back of your spoon. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly, and then add Parmesan cheese.

Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm until ready to serve, up to 10 minutes. If the sauce thickens too much before you’re ready to serve, add a splash of milk to thin it out again.

4 Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

5 Serve: Divide the pasta between plates and top with a generous serving of the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

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Categories: Family Dinner Ideas   Tags: , , ,

Cheesy Bruschetta Chicken Cutlets

QUICK and EASY cheesy bruschetta chicken cutlets! Ready in 15 minutes flat. Chicken cutlets topped with canned tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella and parmesan cheese!

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Chicken Cutlets in 15 minutes

This is a fast-as-it-gets weeknight dinner, perfect for those midweek nights when you’re ready to cave and order a pizza instead of cooking.

Put the phone down, open the pantry, and you’ll have these cheesy bruschetta-topped chicken cutlets ready in about fifteen minutes!

With its warm topping of tomatoes and cheese, this dinner is plenty rich and flavorful. Serve on top of fettuccine or zucchini noodles, or alongside steamed rice and vegetables. I actually like these more than their fussier cousin, chicken parmigiana!

How to Make Chicken Cutlets

Bruschetta chicken cutlets are just what they sound like: thin cuts of chicken breast, seared and topped with diced tomatoes and lots of melty cheese.

The recipe makes use of a convenient pantry staple: canned diced tomatoes. Doctor them up with some olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning, and they make a great stand-in when fresh tomatoes are out of season.

Use chicken cutlets for this recipe because they cook so quickly. Look for them next to the chicken breasts and tenders at the grocery store. If you have trouble finding cutlets, you can also make your own by butterflying chicken breasts in half and pounding them flat.

More Great Weeknight Italian Recipes!

  • Fettuccine Alfredo with Mushrooms
  • Cheesy Chicken Parmesan
  • Shrimp Pasta alla Vodka
  • Chicken Piccata
  • Creamy Ziti Florentine

Look for chicken cutlets next to the chicken breasts and tenders at the grocery store. If you have trouble finding them, you can also make your own by butterflying chicken breasts in half and pounding them flat.

Serve this chicken on top of fettuccine or zucchini noodles or alongside steamed rice and vegetables.

Ingredients

For the bruschetta topping:

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed in a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or 1/4 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the chicken:

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast cutlets (about 4 cutlets)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Method

1 Heat your oven broiler to its highest setting. Place a rack a few inches below the broiler.

2 Make the bruschetta topping: In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all of the bruschetta topping ingredients. Set aside.

3 Sear the chicken: Season the chicken cutlets on both sides with the salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch), oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. I like to use either a cast iron or stainless steel skillet — nonstick and enameled cast iron cookware usually aren’t meant to be used above 500ºF, so they aren’t broiler safe.

When the oil is shimmering, sear the chicken cutlets for 3 minutes on one side, just so they get a little bit of color. It’s ok if they are not cooked through, since they will finish cooking in the oven.

4 Flip the cutlets over, then spoon on the bruschetta topping and sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

5 Broil the chicken: Place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and brown and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Check for doneness by cutting into one of the cutlets to see if it’s opaque in the center, or by checking the temperature of one of the cutlets with an instant-read thermometer (the chicken should be 165ºF or higher in the center).

5 Serve: Sprinkle the parsley on top of the chicken and serve the cutlets hot.

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Categories: Family Dinner Ideas   Tags: , , , ,

Easy Vegetable Fried Rice

Skip the wait for take-out, and make this Easy Vegetable Stir Fried Rice instead! It uses up a mess of vegetables along with leftover rice and some eggs for protein, and it’s ready in a half an hour.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Stir fried rice is really a great springboard for adaptation. This one is simply flavored and has more than four cups of chopped and sliced vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, and broccoli—though you can change up the vegetables as you like!

How to Make a Great Stir Fry

When you are making a stir fry like this, you want to make sure all of your ingredients are cut and ready to go before you begin the cooking process — once you start cooking, it goes very quickly and there’s no time to pause or chop veggies.

The idea is to add the ingredients in stages, so that everything finishes cooking at the same time. Start with the more dense vegetables first since these will take longer to cook, or cut them into smaller pieces so they cook more quickly.

In this recipe, the various vegetables are cut so that they can cook all together and become tender at the same time. Then the other ingredients are quickly cooked in stages, and a simple stir-fry sauce pulls it all together–the whole cooking process takes less than 15 minutes.

Use Day-Old Rice to Make Fried Rice

Day-old cooked rice is best for stir fried rice dishes. It’s a little dried out so it doesn’t get clumpy when you return it to heat.

If you don’t have rice already made and need to make some for this dish, use a bit less water than usual and let it cook until it is quite dry so that the grains stay separated.

If you have both time and forethought, you can also spread out freshly cooked rice on a dishtowel or cookie tray and leave it uncovered for an hour or two so that it dries out somewhat.

Ways to Adapt this Stir Fried Rice Recipe

Once you get the hang of it, there are endless ways you can adapt this recipe for yourself! Here are a few:

  • Use fewer veggies: If you wanted to skip a vegetable or two in the recipe below, no one would be the wiser. You also can add the edamame or peas straight from the freezer; there’s no need to defrost.
  • Or switch up the veggies! You can also switch up the vegetables depending on what you have around, and what you and your family like!
  • Use white or brown rice: White or brown rice can be used interchangeably.
  • Add more flavor! Play around with various Asian ingredients you may have in your pantry or fridge, from pickled vegetables to water chestnuts to bean sprouts. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of hoisin or oyster sauce along with the soy sauce, both of which are savory Asian condiments that will add another layer of flavor to your stir fry.
  • Add some protein: Add some more substance to this recipe with cubes of tofu. And if you’re not looking for a vegetarian dish, feel free to add some leftover small cubes of pork, beef, or chicken.

More Easy Stir Fries to Make at Home!

This stir fried rice could certainly be a meal on its own, but it would also make a great or partner for all kinds of Asian dishes. Some recipes to try:

  • Ginger Pineapple Fried Rice
  • Chicken Fried Rice
  • Ginger Beef Stir Fry
  • Chicken, Broccoli and Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry from my website, The Mom 100
  • Lemon and Scallion Chicken Stir Fry from my website, The Mom 100

If you don’t have or can’t find low sodium soy sauce, use 3 tablespoons of regular soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of water.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli (crowns and stems)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame or peas
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked and cooled white or brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, plus more for serving or 3 tablespoons regular soy sauce and 1 tablespoon water, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (regular or spicy)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, plus more for garnish

Special equipment:

  • Wok or large skillet

Method

1 Cook the veggies: Heat a wok or a large skillet over high heat until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, and then the broccoli, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, peppers, and edamame.

Stir often until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes (they will get another few minutes to cook at the end of the stir fry so it’s ok if they’re still crunchy right now). Transfer them to a plate and set aside.

2 Scramble the eggs: Heat 1 more tablespoon of oil in the same wok or skillet over high heat. Add the beaten eggs and scramble quickly, just about 1 minute. When they are just cooked through, slide them out onto the plate with the vegetables.

3 Stir fry the rice: Return the wok to the burner over high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, then add the cooled rice . Stir fry, stirring occasionally, until it is lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger and the garlic to the rice, and stir until they’re fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/2 cup scallions.

4 Finish the stir fry: Return the vegetables and eggs to the wok with the rice. Cook, stirring often, until everything is combined and hot and the vegetables are just tender, about 3 minutes.

5 Garnish and serve: Sprinkle the additional scallions over the top, and serve right away, passing soy sauce on the side for those who want a bit more.

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Categories: Family Dinner Ideas   Tags: , , ,

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