Chicken Piccata with Orzo

chicken piccata w orzo

I married a red meat lover. If the husband had his choice, we would eat steak/roast/hamburgers every single night of the week. While I appreciate and enjoy red meat, and often order steak when we go out for dinner, I prefer to cook chicken at home. Generally it’s much healthier (we only do white meat here), and is almost always cheaper. I always laugh at his reaction when I tell him we’re having chicken for dinner as it usually involves a heavy sigh, or a complaint about us not eating enough red meat. The boys, on the other hand, love chicken and are always happy to have it for dinner. In fact, baby boy (who doesn’t really talk much yet), kicks his feet excitedly as I cut up his chicken and will start crying if I don’t get it on his high chair tray fast enough!

Suffice it to say, we eat A LOT of chicken, so I am constantly on the lookout for fast, healthy and delicious ways to jazz up our chicken dinners.  When I found this recipe on Pinterest, I instantly added it to our weekly meal plan.  I love chicken piccata and orzo, so this was the perfect combination!  The only change I made was cooking the orzo as done here as I think it adds more flavor and creaminess.  Everyone, including our resident red meat lover, enjoyed this to the point of complaining that there wasn’t more!  A healthy dinner loved by the whole family and on the table in 20 minutes?  Fantastic!

1 cup uncooked orzo
1 tablespoon butter
1 (14.5 ounce) can low sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
4 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used 2 tsp dried parsley)

Melt butter in pan over medium heat.  Add orzo and stir 2-3 minutes to lightly toast.  Add broth; bring to a boil for 1 minute.  Turn heat to low, cover, and cook 15 minutes or until broth is almost absorbed and orzo is soft.  Stir in rind.

While orzo cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat; add butter, stirring until butter melts. Stir in parsley. Serve over orzo.

Source:  Slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Lemon Blueberry Muffins – Crazy Cooking Challenege #8

Wow, how is it April already? I swear this year is flying by! One of the things I wanted to start with my family is a Saturday breakfast tradition. Saturdays are usually the only day during the week that we don’t have to run around crazy in the morning, so I though having a nice, homemade breakfast to enjoy as a family on a leasurly Saturday morning would be a great tradition to start. It also helps that we are huge fans of breakfast food around here. Up until now, I’ve mostly scrambled some eggs, and maybe cooked up some sausage and/or bacon and called it good, but I wanted to start branching out and trying some different kinds of breakfasts. So I was very excited about this month’s Crazy Cooking Challenge theme – Blueberry Muffins!

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I found this recipe for Lemon Blueberry Muffins over on Savory Sweet Life.  I am so glad I discovered her blog, and have already bookmarked several recipes that I cannot WAIT to try!  It’s no secret that I am a big fan of lemon, and one of my favorite flavor combinations is lemon and blueberry, so these muffins were right up my alley.  I was not disappointed!  The lemon flavor wasn’t overpowering, which works well for us since the husband is a purist when it comes to his blueberry muffins, and he enjoyed quite a few without complaint!  It only took me about 10 minutes to mix everything up, and after 25 minutes of baking time, we were ready to rock.  The only change I made was I omitted the turbinado sugar from the top as I didn’t have any.  Definitely give this a try for a quick and satisfying breakfast treat!

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a medium mixing bowl, cream sugar, butter, oil, and lemon zest for 3 minutes until light in color and creamy on medium speed using a mixer. Add sour cream, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla extract beating for 2 minutes. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt gently mixing everything for an additional minute until everything is fully incorporated, approximately 2 minutes. Batter will be nice and thick. Gently fold in the blueberries. Line a muffin tin with paper cups and pour batter 3/4 full into each muffin cup. Bake for 12 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Bake for an additional 12-15 minutes or until the center of the muffins springs back when touched.

Source:  Sweet Savory Life

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Lemon Chicken

I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated here…my laptop met an unfortunate end a few weeks ago. I normally do my blog updates from the comfort of my favorite chair with my trusty laptop, and I’m usually feeling too lazy to sit in my office to use the desktop computer once I FINALLY have the kids in bed, so my posts have certainly been lacking. However, my cooking has not been lacking, and I’m very excited to share this recipe with you!

As soon as I saw this on Tracey’s blog, I IMMEDIATELY added it to my meal plan. I love lemon in just about any dish where lemon could be appropriate, and for all of the recipes I’ve tried with lemon, this one is at the very, very top of my favorites list. The chicken was tender and delcious, and the lemon sauce was bright and flavorful. Served with a a side of some fantastic green beans (recipe coming soon!), this made a quick and healthy weeknight dinner that will certainly frequent our dinner table.

Lemon Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 oz each)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 lemon slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place the chicken on a cutting board. Working with one breast at a time, place your hand on top and use a sharp knife to cut the breast in half horizontally, to make two thinner chicken cutlets. (Don’t worry if they’re not perfectly even, mine never are!) Place each cutlet between two sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or skillet to pound to 1/4-inch thickness.

Season the chicken on both sides with the salt and pepper. Lightly dredge each cutlet in flour, shaking off the excess.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil to the pan. Once the butter is melted and the pan is hot, add the chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the chicken broth and lemon juice to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly, scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen any brown bits. Add the lemon slices to the sauce and let sit undisturbed for about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley and remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir until the butter is melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve (you can garnish with the lemon slices if desired).

Source:  Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, originally adapted from Southern Living (via MyRecipes)

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans and Potatoes

This is yet another Pinterest find that looked intriguing.  The husband and my toddler man both love green beans, and I love lemon, so I added to my meal plan for the following week.  This dish was so easy to throw together and works great for a weeknight if you have the time for everything to cook in the oven.  We all really enjoyed it and had absolutely no leftovers.  I, a very vocal green bean hater, even ate and ENJOYED the green beans!  I’m slowly coming around to vegetables…very slowly, but this dish was a good step for me and something I will make again very soon!

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans and Potatoes

1 pkg boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 1.5 pounds)
3/4 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed, washed
8 small red potatoes, washed and quartered, skin-on
1 lemon
5 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Lemon-Pepper seasoning

Preheat oven to 450.

Mix your olive oil, the juice of the lemon, salt, pepper and garlic in a medium-sized bowl.  Toss the green beans in the mixture, then using tongs remove the green beans to a roaster or casserole dish (coated with nonstick spray), leaving the liquid in the bowl.

Now toss the potatoes in the liquid, and using a slotted spoon remove them and add to the green beans.

Toss the chicken in the mixture and then place the chicken on top of the green beans and potatoes.  Drizzle any remaining liquid in the bowl over the chicken.  Sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning on top of the chicken.

Bake/roast for 50 minutes, then remove the chicken from the pan and set aside and cook the green beans and potatoes for another ten minutes or so – until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork.  While that’s cooking, check if your chicken is done.

Return the chicken to the pan and serve.

Source:  Slightly adapted from Cooking with Christen, originally adapted from Real Simple

Garlic and Citrus Chicken

Oh, this chicken.  Let me tell you about this poor chicken.  I first made this recipe about 4 years ago, shortly after the husband and I moved into our house.  Before we did some renovations a few years ago, my only oven was a 24″ wall oven that is about 30+ years old.  You cannot fit most roasting pans in there.  I finally found one that would fit, and so I was excited to try this chicken.  Let me just say, it was a collosal failure.  Because the chicken sat up too high and thus too close to the heating coils, it was burnt beyond reason on the outside, but still really raw on the inside.  Add to that the fact that I was about 3 months pregnant with the toddler, and I was a sobbing mess about my ruined chicken.

Fast forward 4 years, I was determined to try again since we finally have a normal sized oven.  I prepped the chicken, cooked it perfectly, pulled it out of the oven, and realized I cooked it breast side down, not breast side up.  Despite that, the chicken was delicious!  The flavors work really well together and the meat was super tender and moist.  I will make this again and again, although perhaps I should work on paying closer attention to what I’m doing.

Garlic and Citrus Chicken

1 (5 to 6-pound) whole roasting chicken, neck and giblets discarded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise, plus 3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Kitchen string or butcher twine

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the orange, lemon, and garlic halves. Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string to help hold its shape. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place a rack in a large roasting pan. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the rack in the pan. Roast the chicken for 1 hour, basting occasionally and adding some chicken broth to the pan, if necessary, to prevent the pan drippings from burning. Whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, oil, oregano, and chopped garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Brush some of the juice mixture over the chicken, after it has baked 1 hour. Continue roasting the chicken until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the innermost part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F, basting occasionally with the juice mixture and adding broth to the pan, about 45 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Tent with foil while making the sauce (do not clean the pan).

Place the same roasting pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in any remaining broth and simmer until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Strain into a 2-cup glass measuring cup and discard the solids. Spoon the fat from the top of the sauce. Serve the chicken with the pan sauce.

Source:  Food Network

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

I’m a big fan of shrimp scampi, and anything lemon pepper, so when I saw this recipe, I knew it was something I had to try.  I’ve been hungry for shrimp lately, so tonight was the night to try it!  This was very easy to throw together…I had dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.  I made a few changes to this.  I cooked the orzo in about 2 cups chicken broth to add some additional flavor and creaminess to the orzo.  I also forgot the parsley, and deceided to double the sauce since I know the husband likes a lot of sauce.  The husband and I both enjoyed this; the toddler, however, did not like it, and opted for PB&J instead (I expected as much though…he’s never tried shrimp before).  The husband thought it was a little to “light” for a main dish dinner, and thought I should make this again as a side dish.  Men.  I loved it, but for some reason, the shrimp that sounded so good earlier today did not satisfy as much as I’d hoped.  I will definitely make this again, but may substitute chicken next time.

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

1  cup  uncooked orzo
2 cups chicken broth
1/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
7  teaspoons  unsalted butter, divided
1  pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
3 cloves garlic, minced
4  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
1/2  teaspoon  black pepper

Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat and substituting chicken broth for the water. Drain. Place orzo in a medium bowl.

While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done. 

Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light March 2009

CEiMB Rewind: Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

This is another recipe the CEiMB group made prior to my joining, and was also one I really wanted to try after buying Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, The Food You Crave.  As usual with Ellie’s recipes, this one did not disappoint.  The only thing I didn’t care for was the amount of onions and the celery, so next time I will cut the onion in half and omit the celery.  Other than that, this was a great dinner for a chilly, rainy day.  It comes together easily and I’m happy to have another soup recipe to add to my repoitre.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

4 tsp olive oil
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo, preferably whole-wheat
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with the salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tsp oil to the pot.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil.  Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes.  Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling. 

Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.  Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs.  Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while.  Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened.  Do not let the soup come to a boil.  Add the cooked chicken to the soup.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Source:  From page 86 of Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, The Food You Crave