A second look some favorite chicken recipes

I've become quite the chicken lover now that I'm learning more and more about how to cook it and cook with it. [From reading my nutrition book from the class I'm taking, this likely means I should branch out and start learning to cook other meats as well, for the variety element of a healthy diet, but that's food for a different post.]

Two chicken recipes in particular have caught my fancy - and I generally cook them up about every 2-3 weeks. So, this post is really just my stories of two favorite recipes... enjoy!

Baked Chicken with Apples
Mmm, looks good enough to eat!

I love this recipe. In "IM terminology," you could say I definitely "heart" (<3) this recipe. [Heh, too bad this isn't gmail so that the keystrokes I put in parentheses would turn into a red heart...]

When I get a craving for chicken - this is often what I'll pull out of the recipe box. It's so easy, and so good! I made it most recently for dinner one of the nights when I was out visiting Chris over Valentine's Day weekend. (He was a big fan... when given the choice of leftovers between this and the other dinner I'd made - meatballs - he was all over keeping the chicken.) It was fun making it with someone else, actually; I guess I'd never realized how fun it is to cook with/for another person. We had a little trouble with the honey he had at his house when making the marinade: it was very crystallized. And I learned this dish is better baked in a glass dish than a metal pan - because the charred crust from the marinade+chicken juices mixed with the salt, pepper, and cinnamon I put on top of the chicken made for quite a difficult mess to wash later. But all-in-all, this is a hugely successful dish that has become a classic in my recipe box. Here's the recipe again, for your viewing pleasure:

1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups apple juice [go with the good foggy stuff, none of that transparent juice!]
1/4 cup honey [I used pure MN honey from our property neighbor in Southern MN - you will likely not have access to this stuff, but I do suggest pure honey over processed honey - tastes so much better]
2-3 chicken breasts, cut in half width-wise
~2 medium apples, peeled, sliced and soaked in cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until saturated [these were the canned slices I mentioned above]
spray cooking oil

Preheat oven to 375.
1. Mix together apple juice, honey, and cinnamon until honey has dissolved completely in apple juice (this is not heated).
2. Place chicken breast halves in mixture and marinade for about 1-1.5 hours. Turn at least once during that time period.
3. Once chicken has marinated, place in glass baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Spread apple slices atop the chicken pieces.
4. Bake for 45 minutes, and check. If the temperature of the chicken is at or above 165 deg F, it's done. If not, back in the oven for another 10-15. The original recipe calls for baking for about an hour, but that was just a tad bit to much for me. Also, the top-most apples should have a little bit of a singed look, so if they still look mushy, I'd put it back in for a little longer.
5. When chicken has 15 minutes left to bake, pour marinade into a saucepan over medium heat and reduce until it's about half the volume of what it originally was. Use this as a sauce to top the chicken and apples when ready to serve.

What a cute little pyramid of chicken, apple, and cinnamon-y goodness!

Chicken Noodle Soup
Can I just say: YUM!

So, the first time I made this, I was sick, and I needed sick-comfort-food. Nowadays, though, I just crave chicken noodle soup. It's so much better when made from scratch! And the whole apartment smells of chicken broth all day long (hours and hours after I've made it, seriously!) It's becoming quite the little tradition for me. Every month or so, I'll get the craving. So, I head off to Whole Foods, get a 4-4.5 lb chicken, have the wonderful Meat Counter Guys cut it up for me, then bring it home, de-skin it, and boil it for 1.5 hours. (And then, obviously, do the rest of the stuff necessary to make that into chicken noodle soup.) Such an enjoyable way to spend a lazy Saturday morning, or a cozy Sunday afternoon. Big shout out to Better Homes & Gardens' cookbook for giving me this recipe!

One thing I've found, as I make this recipe again and again, there is way too much shredded chicken in a 4-4.5 lb chicken for one batch of chicken noodle soup. WAY too much! So, this time I only used about 2/3-3/4 of the shredded chicken in my soup (basically until I felt like I had a good balance of chicken with the veggies and noodles already cooked in the chicken broth). The rest I'll be using in other recipes. (I put some warmed up shredded chicken atop a baked potato last Saturday, actually, with a nice helping of brown sugar on the potato as well. Yum!)

The crazy huge pile of shredded chicken from my 4.5-lb bird...the picture doesn't quite do it justice, though - it looks like a lot more in real life!

The last time I made this recipe, I'd run out of batteries for my camera, so this time around you get the picture (above) AND the recipe - all in one convenient location! [Wow, do I sound like a TV-ad right now...]


1 3.5-4 lb chicken, cut up into pieces, with as much of the skin and fat pulled off of the pieces as possible
8 cups water
~1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup frozen peas
1.5 cup dried egg noodles (I got the thin egg noodle nests - because they're fun! If you go this route, use 1.5-2 of them)
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1. In a 6- to 8-quart soup pot or Dutch oven, combine chicken, water, onion flakes, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for about 1.5 hours, or until chicken is tender.
2. Remove chicken from broth. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones. Discard bones, and any left-over skin. Meat should be tender enough to pull apart with your hands - so break it up into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Discard bay leaf & skim fat off top of broth.
3. Bring broth to boiling. Stir in carrots and peas and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Stir in noodles and simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes or until noodles are tender but still firm. Stir in 2/3-3/4 of the shredded chicken pieces and the parsley; heat through.

- Skimming the fat off the top of the broth is easiest if you let the broth cool a bit first. That way, the fat will all gather itself together into a nice little film that's easy to skim off the top.
- The parsley is of course optional, but fresh parsley has a very strong smell, which was somehow even more soothing to my stuffy nose. That, and it brings out the flavors in the soup so well! I tried using dried parsley flakes one time because I'd neglected to get myself some fresh parsley. Yeah - big mistake. Use the fresh stuff!
- The original recipe called for 1/2 cup chopped onion - I used a small amount of onion flakes just to get the flavoring called for, but not enough to mess with my system. And the original recipe also calls for 1 cup chopped celery instead of frozen peas, but since I can't eat celery, I went for the peas. I think it was a solid choice - I recommend it.

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