Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Modified Chicken Caprese January 7, 2011

Filed under: chicken,dinner — freerangenurse @ 1:12 pm

Chicken Caprese
The other day while surfing cooking blogs, I came across a recipe on Steamy Kitchen that intrigued me.  It was basically a Caprese salad on top of a chicken breast.  Unfortunately for me, the tomatoes at the grocery store were more orange than red and were probably not going to have the delicious, juicy sweetness of a ripe summer tomato.  I did pick up a carton of grape tomatoes and those are almost always tasty and sweet.

I modified the recipe a little by brining the chicken for a few hours.  For those of you who don’t have to watch your sodium intake, brining is a wonderful way to enrich the juiciness and flavor of a boneless, skinless chicken breast.  I have the details of how to do it here.  After brining, rinse the chicken in cold water to remove the excess brine.  If you don’t brine, that’s fine (I made a rhyme!) too, just omit that step.  I really should be watching my sodium, but for goodness sakes, I can only take so many changes at a time.

The Weight Watchers point count is 10, but that can vary depending on your chicken size.  The chicken breasts I bought were huge, with one almost weighing in at a pound!  I took a puny one and cut it down to 7 ounces and that was plenty.

What you’ll need:

  • A chicken breast, brined if you can afford the sodium intake
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 ounce fresh mozzarella
  • sliced tomato or grape/cherry tomatoes sliced
  • basil, but in my case, I used sauteed spinach and red pepper
  • minced garlic
  • pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375.  Rinse brined chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Season chicken with pepper, it shouldn’t need any more salt.  In an oven safe skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil on medium high heat until it shimmers.  Place chicken breast smooth side down and leave it alone for 3 minutes, once it gets nice and brown, turn it over and sear the other side.  Rub the smooth side of the chicken with minced garlic, then cover the skillet and place in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes to finish cooking.  My chicken took the full 20 minutes (there were two 13 ounce breasts along with mine).  Remove the chicken from the oven and uncover.  Pour out juices and reserve for other use, if you like.  Top the chicken with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella slice and place under a broiler for a minute or so until the cheese melts slightly.  You can then drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on the top, if you like.  Serve with the vegetable of your choice or a small salad.  Thanks for visiting!


From Mothers to Daughters to Granddaughters: Enchiladas Suizas de Pollo May 26, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner — freerangenurse @ 11:12 am

In continuing with my Mexican food week, I am presenting the (slightly altered) recipe for enchiladas suizas.  Growing up, I always looked forward to my mom making enchiladas.  Those rolled tortillas filled with spicy beef and gooey cheese, then covered in a rich red sauce with even more melted cheese….not exactly heart healthy, but oh, so delicious.  We always had beef enchiladas at home.  I had never heard of enchiladas suizas.  This is likely due to the fact that we rarely ever ate out.  My mom cooked breakfast and dinner nearly every night, despite working full time and having six children, although there were never more than five living at home at any given time.  Our house was always spotlessly clean (my mother would disagree with this statement, but that is because if the magazines are not perfectly fanned out, the house is a wreck, in her opinion).  While we kids had chores on Saturday and alternated days washing dishes, I am still amazed at how she managed to get everything done.  I am the mother of one and generally only work two days per week and my house is in a constant state of disarray!  While I do cook, the dishes are often left until the following morning, I don’t cook every day and I almost never cook breakfast. (more…)


I Believe in a Thing Called Brine May 16, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner — freerangenurse @ 3:22 pm

I’ve made fried chicken many times.  I’ve made good fried chicken many times.  I made exceptional fried chicken for the first time.  What was the difference between the chicken I’d been making and the chicken I will make from here on out?  A little thing called brine.

I’d heard of brine before now.  Deb at Smitten Kitchen extolled the virtues of brine here and here.  I just hadn’t ever tried it, fearing it would make the chicken too salty.  I then read Thomas Keller’s recipe in his Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. (more…)


Chicken Tortilla Soup February 8, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner,lunch,soup — freerangenurse @ 8:31 am
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Okay folks, you asked for it and I delivered.  As my facebook friends know, I asked what Mexican food recipes you wanted to learn how to make and you answered….boy, did you answer!  Unfortunately, few of you answered with the same suggestion.  I decided to go with one I know like the back of my hand (although, truth be told, I don’t really spend much time getting to know the back of my hand).  Tortilla soup is one of Sydney’s favorite meals.  She asks for it all the time.  She doesn’t care if it’s 100 degrees outside, she wants her tortilla soup.   I usually don’t want soup until it gets cold outside.  Thankfully for Sydney, we have had a lot of cold days this winter. (more…)


Who You Callin’ Chicken? January 16, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner — freerangenurse @ 2:19 pm

If there is a dinner that epitomizes home cooking, it is oven roasted chicken and potatoes.  I am pretty sure it’s a classic.  If it isn’t in your household, it may be time to make it so with this recipe.  I got this gem from Jean Georges Vongerichten via the Martha Stewart Show.  Jean Georges is a Michelin star rated restauranteur/chef.  That doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot to us mortals who don’t get out regularly to graze on $300 meals on a regular basis, but this man definitely knows his way around a chicken!  This recipe proves that sometimes the simplest recipes can yield the most delicious results.  It has quickly become a regular around these parts, and I’m sure if you try it, you’ll love it, too. (more…)


Italian Wedding Soup December 5, 2009

Filed under: chicken,lunch,soup — freerangenurse @ 2:22 pm

Well, as some of you may know, Eileen recently proposed (see comment section of the last post), and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.  The recipe today is for wedding soup.  I first saw this recipe featured on The Barefoot Contessa.  Ina was making a special anniversary dinner for her husband and while soup would not be on my top ten list of things I want to eat on my anniversary, it looked delicious and on a cold fall/winter day, it seemed perfect.

The problem is I had several perfect recipes to choose from, for example abondigas soup (mexican meatball soup), meatball and tomato soup from Rao’s Recipes From the Neighborhood cookbook, and Ina’s wedding soup recipe with chicken meatballs.  Are you sensing a theme?  I decided to go with Ina because, well, she’s never steered me wrong (well there was that one time I tried her butternut squash/apple soup which ended up tasting like baby food).

I made a couple of changes, but stayed pretty true to the original recipe.  I would like to make the chicken meatballs again in some other meal, maybe a tomato based soup?  I’ll let you know.

Italian Wedding Soup

(adapted slightly from Ina Garten)

For the meatballs:

  • 3/4 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed (I used one mild and one hot)
  • 2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs (I used store bought – don’t tell)
  • 4-5 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten (I used a large egg)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 up minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup small pasta (I use ditali)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 12 ounces (1 head) escarole

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork.  With a teaspoon (I use an extra-small ice cream scoop), drop 1 to 1/4 inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  (You should have about 40 meatballs.  They don’t have to be perfectly round.)  Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned.  Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the pasta is tender.  Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the fresh escarole and cook for 1 minute until just wilted.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.