Chicken is the most searched for food item on Food Network. A chicken dinner is one of the most versatile meals we eat. Chicken is high in protein, niacin (B-vitamin), low in fat and can be fancied up easily. For the next six weeks, I will share a series of recipes highlighting fun ways to prepare chicken and eggs that will keep you healthy and put dinner on the table inexpensively and without hassle. Here I share recipes for chicken fried rice and the perfect scrambled eggs.
Sesame chicken fried rice is a family-friendly meal that all ages can help prep. Grab your chopsticks (which make you eat slower) and indulge in this veggie-packed brown rice dish. The fresh ginger and sesame give the illusion of fast food takeout without the added fat and hefty bill. Sprinkle on some peanuts or cashews for extra crunch.
A protein-packed snack
Eggs are as versatile as chicken and full of healthy benefits. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent macular degeneraton in the eyes. Eggs are high in protein, choline (helps regulate the brain, nervous system and cardiovascular system), vitamin D and they contain all nine essential amino acids. The natural sulfur in eggs helps improve our looks too, keeping our nails and hair healthy.
A scrambled egg can serve as a quick breakfast or snack, but takes a few specific tools to perfect. The first step to a fluffy scrambled egg is to beat the eggs in a bowl with a whisk or fork so the yolk and white are very well mixed, this will create air which will help achieve a light texture. Next, heat a non stick pan over low heat and use a heat proof spatula to move the egg around enough to keep it from browning. Eggs, from cracked to cooked, take, on average, about four minutes on the stovetop. With these tools and a couple of bucks, you've got a quick, healthy meal to enjoy.
Sesame chicken fried rice
2 large chicken breasts, cubed (about 2 cups)
4 Tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 large carrots, sliced on diagonal, about 1/4-inch
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups brown rice, cooked
1/4 pound pea pods, chop each pod into three pieces
1/4 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned and sliced
1 Tablespoon ginger, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounches water chestnuts, diced
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1-2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Cashews, peanuts and soy sauce (optional)
In a large saute pan over medium low heat, toast sesame seeds until fragrant - about 6 to 8 minutes in a dry pan. Remove from pan, reserve. This step is optional.
Next, drizzle 1-to-2 tablespoons canola oil into pan over medium-high heat. Toss chicken cubes with flour, salt and pepper and discard excess flour. Cook chicken in pan for 5 minutes or until cooked through, stirring. Remove chicken and reserve. Turn heat to medium. Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring. Mix in rice, pea pods, mushrooms and ginger and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring until rice is warmed.
Stir in eggs and continue stirring until eggs are cooked, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and stir. Turn heat off and mix in diced water chestnuts, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
Perfect scrambled eggs
1 to 2 eggs
1 Tablespoon fresh herbs (basil, chives, tarragon, mint, parsley)
1 teaspoon cheese, grated
Heat a non stick pan over medium low heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk until they are light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Pour the egg into the warm pan and let cook one minute, or until the bottom is set. Using a heat proof spatula, scrape the bottom of one side of the egg gently to the other side of the pan, tilt pan and allow the uncooked egg to run onto the hot open pan. Add herbs. Repeat the scraping method in a gentle manner, allow the bottom to cook and gently scrape again. You don't want to break the egg curds up too much, so be delicate.
When the egg is still slightly soft, turn off the heat and gently stir in the cheese. Immediately place the egg on the plate, it will continue to cook slightly while sitting.
Tracy Miller adds fruits and vegetables to all her meals. She teaches culinary classes at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, hosts private cooking parties and shares recipes on TV8's Good Morning Vail. To contact her email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit colorfulcooking.com.