Tag Archives: lunch

Cajun Chicken Stew for Lunch this Week

Most weekends, I try to get ready for the week’s meals. Sometimes that means getting ingredients to try something new…sometimes it means making sure I just have lettuce for salads…and sometimes it means making sure I have enough cash for the cafe at work. 🙂 But usually I make something that I can easily bring with me all week. This week, I picked a good one…Cajun chicken stew.

The stew itself was very easy to make. It’s a rich, spicy sauce with big chunks of chicken, onions, and peppers. The roux for the sauce is cooked for a while, getting a rich brown color and deep flavor. Served over rice, this recipe from Gourmet Magazine was perfect reheated this week.

To start, cut up 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast. You want to cut the chicken into bite size chunks. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 teaspoons salt, then cook in 4 batches until browned all over, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large bowl.chickencubesolive oilcookingcookedbowl of chickenIn the same pot, you’ll make the roux, which is really just fat and flour cooked together that’s used for a thickener and flavor. You’ll need 1/4 cup olive oil. You could use the fat that’s left in the pot, and add extra to reach 1/4 cup. When I made this, though, there were some small pieces of chicken that burnt to the bottom, so I ended up cleaning the pot and starting with new oil. Heat the oil over medium low heat. Add 1/2 cup flour to the fat. Stir to combine, then cook for 10 to 20 minutes until the color of milk chocolate. The recipe I had said not to stir, only to scrape back and forth, but I’ll admit it, I stirred, and it still came out great.flour and oillight rouxdarkermilk chocolateOnce the roux is the color of milk chocolate, add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped green bell pepper, and 1 chopped celery rib. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add 3 cups water to the mixture, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. The roux will start out not looking very smooth or combined, but as it heats and comes to a boil, it will come together.veggiescookingboilingAdd chicken and any juices from the bowl, reduce the heat, and simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Finally, stir in 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if you can handle it. I can’t!adding chickencoveredTo serve, just scoop the chicken, vegetables, and delicious sauce over rice. And, as I said, it reheats in the microwave beautifully, making it just perfect as my lunch this week! 🙂donerice

An Italian Grilled Chicken Salad…a Quick and Easy Lunch

For the last several months, I’ve been working for a new company, and, because the company is based in Boston, I’m working from home.  I was originally nervous about the prospect of working from home full-time, but I’m loving it.  One of the best perks is having access to the kitchen all day.  I can run downstairs and grab a snack, or take a quick break to start dinner, or, and this is my favorite, actually make my lunch everyday.  I’ll admit, when I was going into an office, I was never on top of lunch. I usually had to run out.  But now, I’m making lunches, and one of my favorites, that is also quick and delicious, is an Italian grilled chicken salad.

ChickenIn my effort to eat healthier, I’m trying to have more vegetables, and I find a hearty salad is a great way to do this.  For this salad, I grill a chicken breast I’ve pounded thin, which cooks quick and is a great addition, making the salad a meal.

To start, prepare the chicken.  Just take 1 chicken breast and remove any chunks of fat.  Place the cleaned chicken breast on a cutting board that’s covered with a piece of wax paper big enough to be folded to cover the chicken.  The wax paper helps you not make Poundinga huge mess when you’re pounding, but also makes clean up a breeze.  Take a sharp knife and cut partially through some of the thick parts of the breast to make it as flat as possible.  Then cover the top with the other side of the wax paper.  Take a meat cleaver, or something you can pound with, like a saucepan.  Use the smooth side, and just pound that chicken breast until it’s all the same size.  You’ll end up with a nice cutlet.  You could always buy the cutlets at the store and skip this step, but I usually don’t have them at home, and with the wax paper, it’s a Grilled Chickenpretty easy step.

Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper, and cook the chicken over medium heat.  I use a non-stick grill pan to do this.  I have the Cuisinart 12″ Non-Stick Round Grill Pan, but you don’t need it.  If you don’t have one, you can use a saute pan.  I like to use the non-stick so I don’t have to use any fat, but you could use a regular stainless pan, just spray it with some non-stick cooking spray.  After just a few minutes, you’ll see the top portion of the chicken start to cook around the edges.  Turn the cutlet at this point to cook the other Dijon and Balsamicside.  If the chicken resists at all when you try to turn it, give it more time.  It will release when it’s cooked.  The other side should take about another minute or two, and then, your chicken is done.  Because you pounded that chicken so thin, it really does cook quick.

While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the salad.  I make a simple vinaigrette in a bowl big enough to hold the dressing.  I just use about 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, and whisk those two together until combined.  Then add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Whisk until everything is Emulsifiedemulsified, and taste to see how it is.  You can always add a little more of this or that to adjust the flavors.  For the lettuce, I use hearts of romaine, just chopped and added to the bowl.  I also use 1 roasted red pepper.  You could always roast these yourself, but you can also get them jarred at the grocery store, and the jarred ones are good.  If you’re going for speed here, definitely get the jarred.  Add those to the bowl with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and toss everything together.  I don’t add salt, but I do add pepper.  I find the dressing has enough salt for me, but you can add it if you’d like.Roasted PeppersTo serve, I put the chicken on a plate and top with the salad.  You can sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top if you prefer, and dig in!Romaine and Roasted Peppers