Being Mrs. Pierce

Life as a wife, hiker, wanna-be chef, book-lover, traveler, and now, mom

Honey-Crisp Oven Fried Chicken January 26, 2014

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 7:51 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

004 005


My husband loves fried chicken. Last summer when we went to Garner State Park with my in-laws, John’s one food request was his mom’s fried chicken. I ate it, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I mostly try to avoid fried foods in my kitchen and my diet. So when I found Ellie Krieger’s Honey-Crisp Oven Fried Chicken (which is really baked, not fried) in Comfort Food Fix, I was excited to give it a try. Perhaps I could “fry” chicken for my husband, after all!


I could only find bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on, so I had to go through the process of removing the skin myself. Apart from adding a little time to the prep and being slightly off-putting, it was not too big a deal. After all, I’m the squeamish girl who now sticks her hand up a whole chicken on a weekly basis.


The process of coating the chicken in honey and dredging it in the corn flake mixture was a little messy, but also quick. As I closed the oven door with the chicken tucked safely inside, I was feeling proud of myself for pulling it all together in so effortless a fashion. Two minutes later, I realized that I had forgotten to spray the tops with olive oil spray. Oops! I pulled the chicken back out and remedied my omission. I baked the thighs for 50 minutes, at which point my instant-read thermometer was over 165°F.


From the first bite, I loved this chicken. The crispy coating provided a pleasant crunch, and the sweetness of the honey and the spiciness of the cayenne pepper balanced one another out nicely. For my part, I especially enjoyed the taste of the dark meat, as I usually limit myself to chicken breast. John and I granted this recipe 4 stars! It was the definite highlight of our meal, which also featured sautéed greens and roasted butternut squash (both fresh from my CSA). While my husband would not go so far as to say this chicken is better than fried chicken, he did eat three thighs in one sitting.


Comfort Food Fix recipes made: 7
Comfort Food Fix recipes still to make: 146


Honey-Crisp Oven Fried Chicken

4 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1½ lbs)
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
4 cups corn flake cereal
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
2 TB honey

1. Place the chicken in a bowl with the buttermilk and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to four hours.

2. Place the corn flakes in a food processor and process until crumbs are formed (You should have about 1 cup of crumbs). Transfer to a shallow dish and mix in the paprika, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.

4. Remove chicken from buttermilk, shaking off excess buttermilk from the chicken. Discard the remaining buttermilk. Brush each piece of chicken with honey, then dip in the corn flake crumbs, pressing hard so crumbs adhere to chicken. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil spray and place coated chicken on sheet. Spray each piece lightly on top with olive oil spray. Bake until chicken is crisp and meat cooked through, 45-50 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken thigh). Per serving, 9 PointsPlus.


Chicken and Biscuit Potpie January 20, 2014

001 003


The first time I looked through Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger, the Chicken and Biscuit Potpie recipe stood out as one of the more enticing ones. So when I decided to work my way through this cookbook in 2014, I was especially eager to whip up this potpie.


I planned this recipe for our Sunday evening supper before MLK Day. John and I both have the holiday off from work, so I knew I would not be feeling my usual night-before-work pressure to get in and get out of the kitchen. I could tell just from reading through the recipe ahead of time that it would be a time-consuming one, and this turned out to be the case. There are vegetables and herbs to chop, chicken to dice, and a biscuit crust to make from scratch. In addition, the potpie filling is first cooked in stages on the stove before being baked in the oven. I was glad I had on my comfy house-shoes while making this recipe, as I was up on my feet for over an hour before I finally slid the casserole dish into the oven.


Another reason that I was excited to try this recipe was because it finally forced me to use my 7-cup KitchenAid food processor for the first time since I purchased it over five years ago. I had been inexplicably intimidated by this slicing and dicing machine, so it had sat for years unpacked in my closet. When John and I moved into our current house after getting married, I finally opened the box and removed the food processor. Then it sat in the bottom of one of our kitchen cabinets for a year and a half. Until last night, that is! I dug out the manual, washed the various parts, and set it to whirling to make the biscuit crust. It was easy and straightforward, and I feel silly about the whole thing.


In contrast to my enthusiasm, I was a little nervous ahead of time about what my husband would think of this recipe. It calls for celery and fresh thyme, two ingredients that he has often professed not to be his favorites. Yet I wanted to try this recipe as written, so I kept in the celery and thyme. It was a night of firsts all around, as I not only used my food processor for the first time, but I also worked with fresh thyme, something else I had never done before. I loved the smell of the thyme as I removed the leaves from the stems, although I found the overall leaf-removal process to be somewhat of a pain.


Despite all of the time and effort, this recipe earned a solid 4 stars. The vegetable-chicken-cream filling was spot-on: flavorful but not too rich. John wished for more of the biscuit topping (and frankly, so did I), but the lack of a complete crust is what makes the recipe reasonable, calorie-wise (one generous serving is 10 PointsPlus). The thyme and celery did not impede John’s enjoyment of the recipe, so next time I would make it the same way again (perhaps doubling the biscuit topping if I’m feeling indulgent).  This potpie is comfort food at its best.  While we ate, John and I exchanged stories of chicken potpies from our childhoods, and I left the dinner table with a warm, happy feeling in both my heart and stomach.


Comfort Food Fix recipes made: 5
Comfort Food Fix recipes still to make: 148


Chicken and Biscuit Potpie

For the filling:
Nonstick cooking spray
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
½ pound green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups lowfat (1%) milk
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1½ tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

For the biscuit crust:
½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour or whole-wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup lowfat buttermilk

1. To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a large shallow casserole dish, or 6 individual casserole dishes with cooking spray.

2. Season the chicken with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the chicken with its juices to a bowl.

3. Add 2 more teaspoons of oil to the same pan and heat it over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the green beans, garlic and remaining salt and pepper and cook for 2 minute more. Add the milk. Stir the flour into the broth until it is completely dissolved and add to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes more. Return the chicken with its juices back to the pan. Add the peas and thyme and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish or individual dishes.

4. To make the crust: Put the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 12 times, or until pebble sized pieces are formed.

5. In a small bowl or pitcher, whisk together the buttermilk and oil. Add the buttermilk-oil mixture to the food processor and pulse until just moistened. Do not over mix. Drop the batter in 6 mounds on top of the chicken mixture (1 mound on each individual dish, if using) spreading the batter out slightly. Bake until filling is bubbling and the biscuit topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1¾ cups or 1 individual potpie). Per serving, 10 PointsPlus.


Thai Chicken Stir-Fry (New Recipe #89) November 26, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 7:27 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,



Earlier this fall, I was on the hunt for quick and easy weeknight dinner options when I stumbled across this WeightWatchers Thai Chicken Stir-Fry recipe, which is advertised as “super quick, super tasty.” Quick and tasty? Sold!


The list of ingredients numbers an even ten, which is an easy enough amount to prepare and assemble. The recipe also is cooked in a single pan (I used my wok), which equals quicker clean-up time.


For the Asian hot sauce, I substituted sweet red chili sauce, and I used fresh Italian basil leaves. I served the stir-fry over jasmine rice, as suggested, and I would second that recommendation. One major item to note: slightly steam the green beans first! They were very squeaky, even when left on longer to cook than the stated 2-3 minutes.


Despite the chewy green beans, the recipe still earned 3.5 stars. It was rather delicious! It was my first time to use fish sauce, and the smell of the sauce had me doubting the recipe while it sizzled on the stove. Yet the final product was tasty enough to warrant a second batch on yet another busy weeknight of the school year.


Thai Chicken Stir-Fry

1 TB vegetable oil
1 lb uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
1 medium uncooked scallion, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups uncooked green snap beans, each sliced into 3 pieces
1 TB fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp Asian hot sauce, such as chili paste (I used sweet red chili sauce)
½ cup fresh basil leaves, Thai or Italian

1. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add oil and swirl to coat pan. When hot, add chicken; sauté for 3 minutes.

2. Add scallions and garlic; sauté until quite fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add green beans, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and chili paste; sauté until green beans are crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add basil and cook for 1 minute more.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1½ cups). Per serving, 4 PointsPlus.


Greek Eggplant and Chicken Casserole (New Recipe #70) August 14, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 6:53 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

004 009


When scrolling through the WeightWatchers website recently, I came across this Greek-inspired casserole recipe. Billed as a lighter version of Greek moussaka, the recipe had 400-plus positive reviews. I had been wanting to attempt more eggplant-based recipes, so I hit “Print” and made plans to work it into our dinner rotation.


This is not a quick, weeknight dinner recipe. The casserole is prepared in multiple phases, and from the time I began chopping vegetables to the time John and I sat down at the dinner table, at least two hours had passed. That being said, I rather relished the time and effort that I put into this meal; it made the result that much more satisfying.


I could not find extra-lean ground chicken breast, so I used the regular. While this likely upped the Points value, it also probably made the dish taste better. Instead of grated Parmesan, I used 3 oz of shaved Parmesan (1 oz went in the middle, the remaining 2 oz went on top). I wish I had reduced, or even eliminated, the cinnamon and nutmeg. Those flavors were much too strong in this dish; next time I may try just a dash of each to add warmth to the casserole without overpowering the other flavors. Otherwise, the casserole was quite tasty, and it holds up well as a leftover. John and I gave the recipe 3 stars, but I suspect that after adjusting the cinnamon and nutmeg, this will be at least a 3.5-star dish.


Greek Eggplant and Chicken Casserole

olive oil cooking spray
2 medium uncooked eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices
¾ tsp table salt
1 lb uncooked extra lean ground chicken breast
1 cup uncooked onion, sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 TB fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 tsp dried parsley
1/3 tsp chives, dried
1/3 tsp dried tarragon
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp table salt
½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 TB canned tomato paste
6 oz grated Parmesan cheese, (about ¾ cup)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Place eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon of salt; let stand 20 minutes to draw out moisture.

3. Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; set pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until browned, breaking up meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 3 minutes more. Add fresh parsley, dried herbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cook until herbs and spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

5. Off heat, coat surface of same skillet with cooking spray; set pan over medium-high heat. Wipe salt from eggplant slices with paper towel and add eggplant to hot skillet. Cook, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

6. Arrange half of eggplant slices on bottom of prepared baking pan, slightly overlapping pieces to cover entire surface of pan. Top eggplant with chicken mixture; top with ¼ cup of grated topping. Top with remaining eggplant slices and remaining ½ cup of grated topping.

7. Bake until top is golden brown and filling is hot, about 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, slice into 8 pieces and serve.

Yield: 8 servings. Per serving, 5 PointsPlus.


General Tso’s Chicken (New Recipe #69) August 13, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 1:54 PM
Tags: , , ,

002 003


My dad is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. He likes his food heavy on the protein, fairly plain, and with sauce. So I assumed that this WeightWatchers recipe for General Tso’s Chicken, which my mom frequently cooks for my dad, would be standard stir-fry fare. I was both right and wrong, in the end. It may be standard, but it’s quality standard.


One nice aspect of this recipe is that it is a good way to make use of small bits of vegetables left over from other recipes. I had small amounts of the following veggies on hand: red bell pepper, sugar snaps, broccoli, and bamboo shoots. I simply tossed them into the wok and instantly upped the nutrient power of the dish.


The sauce is the big draw of this recipe (which explains why my sauce-loving Dad loves it so much). It thickens up nicely while cooking and clings to the chicken and vegetables, thereby providing lots of flavor in each bite. The recipe earned itself a strong 3.5 stars.


General Tso’s Chicken

¾ cup canned chicken broth, reduced-sodium
1½ TB cornstarch
2 TB sugar
2 TB low-sodium soy sauce
1 TB white wine vinegar
½ tsp ground ginger
2 tsp peanut oil
2 medium scallions, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp red pepper flakes, or 1 dried chili pepper, minced
1 lb uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups cooked white or brown rice, kept hot
assorted fresh vegetables (optional)
small can water chestnuts, drained (optional)

1. Whisk together broth, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger; set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add scallions, garlic, red pepper flakes and any other vegetables you might be using; cook, stirring frequently, 2-5 minutes or until tender. Add chicken; saute until browned all over, about 5 minutes.

3. Add reserved sauce (and water chestnuts, if desired) to pan and simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.

4. Serve chicken over rice.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup chicken mixture and ½ cup rice). Per serving, 8 PointsPlus.