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Cooking questions
Old 01-03-2013, 09:00 PM   #1
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Cooking questions

One minor surprise I have discovered in my new retirement is that I really enjoy cooking. I notice there are many cooking-related threads here. Are there any other cooking forums you'd recommend for folks like me who are discovering they are interested in cooking and just want ideas for recipes? My specific question is what are some good ways to liven up chicken breast (I buy frozen un-breaded fillets at the store). Any ways to liven it up with just a few ingredients? I've been mostly baking or frying and adding mayo and/or ketchup.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:14 PM   #2
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Cooking is fun when you have the time to enjoy it! (Call it food engineering if you like). There are gazillions of cookbooks out there, but when I want ideas for a specific ingredient I search the Allrecipes app on iPad. The same info is available on Allrecipes - Recipes and cooking confidence for home cooks everywhere. For example, last week I bought bulk split peas and found several easy recipes for split pea soup. A quick search for "chicken breasts" turned up 100 recipes. One thing about cooking is that you need some good basic tools (e.g. a hand blender for soups) but there is no need to get carried away.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:19 PM   #3
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I second the Allrecipes but also like Chowhound home cooking board and the thathomesite.com cooking board. Really helpful people (like those here). I love baking so frequent some baking sites too--let me know if you want those names too.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:20 PM   #4
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I use apps on my iPad that are related to these websites: Epicurious and Spark Recipes. Both are excellent resources with easy to follow recipes. I'd also recommend checking out your local library-I love to browse printed recipes for inspiration.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:27 PM   #5
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Best investment for a new cook: 2 good knives (chef's knife and paring knife) and a sharpener. I'm partial to Wusthof but there are other good ones out there. Go to a good cooking store to try some out before buying. You might also want to find a knife skills class at a local cooking store if you are in a metro area - I finally did this in 2012 and as an experienced cook I learned how much I didn't know!

For recipes, I like Epicurious (Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and others) and myRecipes (Cooking Light, Southern Living, and others). Read the reviews and comments for helpful hints (note that the people who comment and say they changed out the main ingredient are not helpful). There are also some great bloggers out there. Kalyn's Kitchen® and A Year of Slow Cooking are two that I have found to have good solid recipes (obviously the 2nd one is only useful if you have a slow cooker). My personal tastes are high protein, low fat, low carb so YMMV.

Cooking is a great way to reduce expenses and improve health for us ERs, so you are on the right track!
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:28 PM   #6
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DW cooked chicken with soy and ginger tonight - yummy.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:32 PM   #7
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I buy teriyaki sauce and either pan fry or bake chicken breasts in it. I serve with rice.

Trader Joes has some good simmer sauces where you simmer the chicken in the sauce. I add onions, mushrooms and zucchini chunks. If you want more food, serve over rice or noodles.

I make a marinade of lemon juice, rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic and then either bake or grill the chicken.

Lemon pepper and cajun seasoning are easy, just put on the chicken and bake.

When I had 2 boys at home I would bake a whole pyrex baking dish of chicken breasts and another of chunks of potatoes, onions, carrots and beets. Both took 45 minutes at 400 degrees and it was bake and serve. I often cooked that on Sunday and then we reheated on subsequent days.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:40 PM   #8
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...My specific question is what are some good ways to liven up chicken breast (I buy frozen un-breaded fillets at the store). Any ways to liven it up with just a few ingredients? I've been mostly baking or frying and adding mayo and/or ketchup.
Do a search here for "boneless skinless chicken" and you'll find a whole thread started by Haha from July this past year, with some really good suggestions and ingredients. I am using the site's android app and cannot figure out a way to post the link for you.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by palomalou View Post
I second the Allrecipes but also like Chowhound home cooking board and the thathomesite.com cooking board. Really helpful people (like those here). I love baking so frequent some baking sites too--let me know if you want those names too.
Chowhound, home cooking forum. That's where I go if I'm deeply researching a dish or ingredient.

I also have an online subscription to Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. Lots of good stuff there.

I do general web searches for recipes all the time. Quite a few serious home cooks keep excellent cooking blogs.

Besides excellent knives (also Wustoff here), discover the joys of a Thermapen


ThermoWorks - Splash-Proof Thermapen Thermometer
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:43 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by David1961 View Post
One minor surprise I have discovered in my new retirement is that I really enjoy cooking. I notice there are many cooking-related threads here. Are there any other cooking forums you'd recommend for folks like me who are discovering they are interested in cooking and just want ideas for recipes? My specific question is what are some good ways to liven up chicken breast (I buy frozen un-breaded fillets at the store). Any ways to liven it up with just a few ingredients? I've been mostly baking or frying and adding mayo and/or ketchup.
I have no specific web sites that I go to. If you need some ideas for a chicken dish, you could just search for "chicken recipe" to see what shows up.

For chicken, there are zillions of dishes you can make. Right on top of my head, I can think of chicken tetrazzini, chicken marsala, lemon chicken. Though chicken cacciatore and "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic" are usually made with boned chicken pieces, I think the dishes are also good with boneless pieces if you make sure not to overcook them.

Then, how about Asian dishes like chicken curry, or chicken kungpao? Or baked with rice like arroz con pollo? There are so many dishes to make, one cannot run out of ideas.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:27 AM   #11
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Google is your friend; there are many good cookbooks devoted solely to chicken breasts and the hundreds of ways to prepare them (Think Bubba Gump Shrimp Chicken Breast...)
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:44 AM   #12
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Personally, I don't care to cook with chicken breasts. To me the meat is almost tasteless and thus uninspiring, and very easy to dry out. So if I cook it it will be in soups, stews or Thai or other Asian dishes. And even in Middle Eastern or European stews I prefer thighs.

But this particular dish, the breasts are a perfect foil for the wonderful sauce. A big fave of my husband - I need to make it again soon.
Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon Recipe | Eating Well

P.S. they try to make this a bit healthier by using low-fat sour cream and a thickener, but I just usually go with the original creme fraiche.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:37 AM   #13
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Though chicken cacciatore and "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic" are usually made with boned chicken pieces, I think the dishes are also good with boneless pieces if you make sure not to overcook them.
Oh man, 40-garlic chicken is incredible but not sure how good it would turn out with boneless breasts. We use bone-in thighs for that. I used to make chicken cacciatore quite often with boneless breasts and it turned out pretty good. The key is picking recipes that let the chicken cook in a lot of sauce so they are surrounded by moisture. Curry is good too - I've been eating leftover curry stew all week and it is wonderful. The packs of spicy curry sauce (Japanese brand) are the best and found at most Asian supermarkets. If you grill, pan fry, or bake boneless breasts it might be good to brine them for a few hours first.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:58 AM   #14
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I'm a big fan of adding flavor to bland proteins (like chicken breast*) taking cues from India. Chicken curry is perhaps the easiest, but there are several different preparations, relatively easy once you get the hang of them (and it is relatively easy to get prepared masalas, i.e., spice mixtures), to yield unique and interesting dishes.

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* Though I'm a vegetarian, so I'm actually using mycoprotein, something similar to mushrooms, that tastes just like chicken.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:18 AM   #15
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I've also gotten more interested in cooking since I retired. I make dinner every Mon thru Fri, DW (still working) has made dinner twice in the past 18 months. My go to sources for online recipes are Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentis, and Marcela Valladoid for Mexican with a few from other FoodNetwork chefs.

As for something very simple yet tasty to do with chicken breasts, Chicken Vesuvio is one of our favorites. Here's a recipe similar to mine Chicken Vesuvio Recipe : Giada De Laurentiis : Recipes : Food Network. I make it using chicken breasts, an everyday cast iron skillet and with frozen peas (instead of the artichoke/Lima beans). And any potato works, doesn't have to be red potatoes. A complete meal in 'one pot' - no sides needed. Yummy!
Other chicken "standards" at our house, Chicken Cacciatore, Curried Chicken, Coq au Vin, étouffée (+ shrimp & andouille), Jambalaya (+ shrimp), Chicken Mole Enchiladas, Chilaquiles, White Chili & Garlic Chicken w Fingerling Potatoes.
Where we used to make 2 serving dinners while we were both working, I usually make 6-10 servings now, and my freezer is well stocked. Why we never picked up on the ease of leftovers while working I can't explain. We eat much better, healthier and yet easier now. Too soon old, too late smart...
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:06 AM   #16
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I second Epicurious for good recipes on the web. Just Googling a recipe you want to try will usually bring up Epicurious, allrecipes, and thefoodnetwork showing the stars their suggested recipes got from reviewers. Comparing notes allows you to make an educated cjoice. For simple, bonelss chicken filets you can't go wrong with a simple, classic sautee: Briefly sautee the breasts in oil and butter, then sautee some chopped shallots in the pan, splash in some white wine and chicken broth and reduce that in half. Finally, swirl in some butter to thicken and pour that sauce over the breasts. Delicious and easy.

I gave myself a Christmas present that I would highly recommend to any cook who wants to understand what they are doing and pick up some great recipes: The Science of Good Cooking (Cook's Illustrated Cookbooks). The hardcover was $40 is available for $25 from Amazon. It is an excellent reference and fascinating reading.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:11 AM   #17
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Oh man, 40-garlic chicken is incredible but not sure how good it would turn out with boneless breasts. We use bone-in thighs for that. I used to make chicken cacciatore quite often with boneless breasts and it turned out pretty good. The key is picking recipes that let the chicken cook in a lot of sauce so they are surrounded by moisture. Curry is good too - I've been eating leftover curry stew all week and it is wonderful. The packs of spicy curry sauce (Japanese brand) are the best and found at most Asian supermarkets. If you grill, pan fry, or bake boneless breasts it might be good to brine them for a few hours first.
Ah, here's a cook who is definitely more experienced than me. And I have a confession to make.

Thouth I have made chicken cacciatore with boneless breasts, I have not tried with the garlic dish. Thanks for sparing me this would-be failure.

PS. Just remember another dish that my wife often makes: chicken rice soup. Perfect for cold winter days!
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:30 AM   #18
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Ah, here's a cook who is definitely more experienced than me. And I have a confession to make.

Thouth I have made chicken cacciatore with boneless breasts, I have not tried with the garlic dish. Thanks for sparing me this would-be failure.
!
+1 on the 40 garlic recipe. I have been thinking of trying that. I will go bone in. On boneless cacciatore, coq au vin, etc., I recommend going with thighs or a mix of thighs and breasts. Thighs are mighty succulent after slow cooking. And that brings up another great Cook's Illustrated book: The Best Slow & Easy Recipes. Got that one as an Xmas present a while back. And for all these hearty, meaty recipes you need to look into switching to a lowish carb diet so you can feel self satisfied with all the fat.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:34 AM   #19
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Here is a shot of our 40-garlic chicken. After the chicken is taken out we toss pasta in with the baked garlic and drippings from the chicken. Sinful, but delicious!

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Old 01-04-2013, 08:35 AM   #20
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