So the menu was:
*Quinoa with apples and cranberries
*Leftover french bread (home made!)
Unfortunately this was all eaten before I thought to take pictures, so you will just have to imagine the delicious images in your mind.
The Quinoa is what knocked Andrew's socks off, so I will start with that.
- 1/2 c Quinoa (rinsed)
- 1 c chicken stock (home made in our case. That makes me sound so much more gourmet than I probably really am!)
- 1/2 of a granny smith apple chopped into reasonable sized chunks
- A good handful of dried cranberries
- A shake of cinnamon (1 tsp if I had to guess)
- A dash of cayenne pepper
- A squirt of honey
All of this is brought to a boil and then allowed to simmer until the liquid is all absorbed and the grains are translucent and the outer shells have separated.
If I had to do it again, I may have given an extra dash of the cayenne and added some salt- it was just a bit too sweet I think. But Andrew made numerous happy noises while eating it and insisted repeatedly that I write down how I did it. Maybe I shouldn't show him this entry...I wouldn't want to become redundant!
Now for the chicken, which was MY favorite part of the meal.
- Two chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut in half to make 4 manageable chunks
- Chile Cocoa (this was in Andrew's stocking and I was excited to try it out)
- Flour (I used whole wheat flour and threw in some flax seed meal)
- Bread crumbs (I made this with the heel of my first- very dense- loaf of wheat bread. I filled it out a bit with commercial bread crumbs and also threw in some flax seed meal because we need more omega 3s in our life)
- 1 egg, beaten with a small amount of water
The base of this recipe is from Cooking Light- it gives me my most consistently cooked chicken and is delicious. I use it all the time- adding various flavorings to the flour and bread crumbs (I often put garam masala in the flour, or I put mustard in the egg wash and dried onion in the bread crumbs. The possibilities are endless! This is the first time I have pre-flavored the chicken with anything besides salt). Making sure the chicken is nice and thin means that it cooks quickly and evenly so you end up with perfectly done chicken that doesn't get all dried out in the process.
You pat the flattened chicken dry (actually, I patted it dry before taking the mallet to it since the bag I was defrosting it in had a leak and it was wetter than most chicken) and salt it a bit. Then sprinkle the cocoa mix over the first side pretty thickly. Dredge the cocoa'd side in the flour and cocoa the exposed side since it is staring up at you anyway. Then finish coating the entire thing in the flour. Shake off the excess flour and dip it in the egg wash. Then dredge the chicken boobie in the bread crumbs. Repeat for all of the chicken chunks.
Meanwhile, of course you've been heating some oil on the stove in an oven-safe pan and it is all hot and ready for your breaded chicken boobs. You have also very cleverly pre-heated the oven to 425- good for you! Fry the breasts until one side is brown and tasty- it doesn't take very long at all. Then flip the chicken over (I sometimes have to add a bit more oil at this point because I never put in very much to begin with and it disappears fast) and pop the whole kit and kaboodle in the oven for 10 minutes. Voila!
Andrew thought the chicken was just a bit dry (a result of the breading- the chicken itself was quite juicy and perfectly cooked. Thank you Cooking Light!) so we had a spoonful of apple butter on the side to dip it in. But I really enjoyed it just alone- you could really taste the cocoa and the subtle bite of the chile side of the mix.