Crispy Chicken Bites

You know how sometimes in life you just happen upon something and it turns out to be so amazing you are STILL talking about it?  Like the “Cowie” that I bought for my niece when she was two.  Cowie is a stuffed Precious Moments cow that I bought on the clearance table outside of a Hallmark store. I know I didn’t pay over $5 for him (if even that), and I had no idea the impact Cowie was going to have on Alyssa.  Lys immediately started carting Cowie everywhere with her.  I can’t tell you how many times my sister had to turn the car around because Lys had forgotten Cowie somewhere.  How Cowie was in Lys’s backpack through each and everyday as she navigated elementary and junior high school.  Well, Lys is now in high school.  I don’t think Cowie is still tucked away in her backpack, and I know that’s because my sister cannot repair Cowie anymore.  He’s too thread bear and been repaired too many times before.  So, Cowie rests at home now, waiting for the moment Lys will get home and hold him in her hand again. This recipe, admittedly somewhat less dramatic, is like that amazing purchase you make and can’t get over.  When I found this recipe, I read it, I rolled it around in my mind.  Thinking of ways to make it mine. This dinner was THE dinner of the week, if not the month!

Ingredients:

For the Sauce:

3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs soy sauce (I always opt for low sodium)
2 Tbs barbecue sauce (check out Sweet Baby Ray’s Original)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water

For the Chicken:

1 lb boneless / skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup panko
Oil for frying

Preparation:

To make the Sauce:

Add all sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Set aside until the chicken is done.

To make the Chicken:

Add flour to a gallon Ziploc bag.  In a small, shallow dish (I usually use a Tupperware type dish), whisk eggs together.  In a second gallon Ziploc bag, add the panko.  To bread chicken, first add several pieces to the flour.  Shake your money-maker for all it’s worth!  Then dip the chicken in whisked eggs.  Finally, add chicken to panko Ziploc bag and again, shake it.

Add oil to a large, nonstick frying pan. Heat to medium high. Cook chicken in batches for 6-8 minutes or until golden and crispy. Chicken should be cooked through.

To Assemble:

Add cooked chicken back to pan and pour sauce over, coating chicken thoroughly.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Chenin Blanc
Fume Blanc
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4 small portions. For lunch tomorrow, double the chicken and adjust everything else

Total time:  About an hour and half

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*Derived from Nora Rušev

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

This is a wonderful, completely filling No Meat Monday.  What makes this even better, there are so many things you can add, adjust.  The possibilities are endless! Add a touch of enchilada sauce to each layer.  Or, add a thin layer of refried beans. Can’t hang without your meat?  Go ahead, add some!  Use corn tortillas.  For an extra fresh, crisp taste, top with sour cream, shredded lettuce and diced tomato.  Don’t forget the avocado!

Ingredients:

4 10″ flour tortillas (or slightly smaller, see below)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp Mexican Blend seasoning (Such as Morton & Bassett)
Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, drained and rinsed (always check sodium levels, even “low sodium” can be quite high)
12 oz beer, or 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I used Corona, but any would do)
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen corn
1 jalapeño chile, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat) optional
4 scallions, thinly sliced, optional
2 ½ cups Mexican blend cheese

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400.  While oven heats, drain and rinse beans.   If using 10″ tortilla, grab a paring knife and trim down to fit spring form pan.  Use the bottom of the pan as a guide.  I used a slightly small tortilla because it’s what I had on hand.  Even though there was some extra space on the sides, the smaller tortillas worked just fine.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion, garlic, jalapeño (if using), and Mexican blend seasoning.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (5-7 minutes).

Add beans, beer (or vegetable broth), bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, simmer until liquid has almost evaporated (8-10 minutes).  Stir in corn and scallions (if using) and remove from heat.  Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

Place tortilla in bottom of springform pan; layer with ¼ of bean mixture and ½ cup of cheese.  Repeat three times, using 1 cup of cheese on top layer.  Bake until heated through and cheese melts, 20-25 minutes.  Remove side of pan, sprinkle with scallions (optional).  Slice into wedges to serve.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Zinfandel

Tortilla & Black Bean Pie

Tortilla & Black Bean Pie

*Derived from Everyday Food


Pancetta Risotto with Truffle Oil

There are two things always welcome in my home, risotto and pancetta.  Ok, there are a whole lot more than that, but for the purposes of this post, let’s just go with it.  Now that we are fully ensconced in the comfort food time of year, I just naturally gravitate towards risotto.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be making spring risotto, too!  But the pancetta and the rosemary in this one screams comfort.  With the first bite you feel as if you are being lovingly  wrapped in a cozy blanket.  Nothing beats that feeling on a cold night after a long day!

Ingredients:

5 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 Tbs olive oil
3 oz chopped pancetta (you can often find it already chopped and packaged in the deli section of national grocery stores)
½ cup minced shallots
1½ cups Arborio rice
1½ tsp chopped rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine (might as well pour a glass for yourself, too!)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white truffle oil
½ tsp kosher salt

Preparation:

Bring stock to simmer in small saucepan.  Keep warm over low heat

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add olive oil, swirl to coat.  Add pancetta; sauté 6 minutes, or until crisp.  Remove pancetta from pan and drain on a paper towel.  Add shallots to pan drippings and cook 2 minutes (being careful not to brown), stirring frequently.  Stir in rice, rosemary, and garlic.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add wine and cook for 2 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.  Stir in 1½ cups of stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Add remaining stock, ¾ cup at a time (reserve 1/3 cup for end), until each portion of stock is absorbed, stirring near constantly (it will take about 20 minutes).  Stir in pepper, truffle oil, and salt.  Remove from heat and stir in reserved 1/3 cup broth.  Top with pancetta.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Grüner
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio

Serves 5
Total time: 40 minutes

Pancetta Risotto with Truffle Oil

Pancetta Risotto with Truffle Oil

*From Cooking Light