Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I need help...

My mom and sister would tell you I need a lot of help. I say I just like to be organized. It's an on-going debate. But today I need your help in the kitchen! Last night I made a very simple dinner. Now I need to know how to spice it up without going over the top. What do you suggest?
I cut chicken breasts into bite sized chunks and sauteed them in olive oil with a little salt and pepper. (Is freshly ground pepper that much better? Should we invest in some grinders?) I boiled a bag of egg noodles (or what was left of the bag) and dumped it in a casserole dish. I tossed in the chicken and a can of cream of chicken soup. (I mixed the cream of chicken soup with pureed cauliflower because that's what I always do. It's healthier that way. You know me - always a rebel in the kitchen!) I mixed it all up real good and dumped in some cheddar jack cheese. I stuck it in the oven until the top noodles were crispy because that's what the original recipe called for.

It was delicious but a bit bland. And if I'm the one calling it bland, then you know it really was. It needs something, I just can't figure out what. More salt and pepper? More seasoning on the chicken?

Here are the other details you need to know:
-We both hate snow peas. Don't tell me to throw those in there!
-D.J. doesn't like broccoli. I love it and will eat it on the side, but he's not a fan of it in a dish.
-We think I'm allergic to ginger. It's new. Well, it's not new - it's just finally identified. But we're not sure. We never cook with ginger and so it's hard to tell if I'm allergic to it or not. But that's what our hunch is... (We also have recently learned that they use a protein in kiwis to tenderize meat. I'm allergic to kiwis. Maybe this explains some of the un-explained allergic reactions.)
-We only like garlic in small doses. Small, itty bitty doses.

So what do you think? How could I make this again and spice it up? Make it healthier and tastier? You guys ponder and let me know... I'm off to iron my pants for my 11:00 interview! Woo hoo!


Anonymous said...

Hmm...there are a few flavor directions to go here - Italian, Hispanic or All Amerian. All herbs and spices added "to taste" - add as much or as little to suit your taste. Start with a little, because you can always add more, but you can't take the flavorings back out once you've added them!

Italian: toss in some dried oregano, a pinch of basil and a few grates of a nutmeg. Swap out the jack cheese for motzarella.

Hispanic: swap the jack cheese for pepper jack, or cheddar/chili cheese, add ground cumin and chili powder for more kick. Stir a few spoons full of sour cream into the chicken soup.

All American - add parsley to the mix; sprinkle the chicken breasts with celery salt or other mixed flavoring (bon appetit, Mrs. Dash, etc.) before your saute.

For all three versions, finely chop and saute about 1/2 cup of sweet onions (vidalia, Texas 1015) with the chicken.

I was sorry to hear about Fred; Super Good Luck on your Interview!!

Anonymous said...

First, make sure you salt your water good when you boil pasta. I know it sounds like nothing, but it really does help. Second, good job on seasoning your chicken! A lot of cookbooks don't even say to season the meat which I think is ridiculous... I always season my meat before I put it into something.

As far as pepper goes, I do prefer freshly cracked. One reason is because when you buy a container of ground pepper, it's just impossible to use it in a timely manner no matter how much you cook! It might taste good at first, but it will lose it's flavor. When you use freshly cracked, you can just tell that it's fresh... it smells peppery, it tastes peppery, it's just yummy! Don't get rid of your containers of S&P though for baking purposes or if you need a LOT of pepper (you'd be grinding for hours otherwise!)

For other chicken seasonings, you can use anything depending on what route you're going with your meal (fajita seasoning, Italian seasoning, etc.) But one seasoning I almost ALWAYS use on chicken is Spice Islands Tuscan Chicken Italian Blend. It comes in a grinder (a plastic disposable one, so not really expensive) and I got mine at Sam's (I also have pepper, sea salt, steak seasoning, and pizza/pasta seasoning in the same kind of grinders from Sam's... I love them!) but they probably have smaller ones at Wal-Mart as well. It has some of everything in it, and all I can say is it's GOOD no matter what kind of dish you're making. I also recommend Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning... it's on the regular spice aisle in a yellow container with a white label/red writing. Before I found my Tuscan Chicken seasoning I used Cavender's on EVERYTHING! Uncle Bill introduced me to it, he even puts it in his eggs before he scrambles them (I just stick with S&P on mine). It just has a little of everything in it so it's one of those great all-purpose spices.

So, if seasoning your chicken well doesn't help, I always recommend garlic, but you don't like it as much as I do. I always cook my chicken with garlic, I LOVE it! If you want garlic flavor distributed more evenly without having lots of pieces of garlic, use a microplane and grate the garlic into your pan. All of the garlic juice drips down and flavors your meat without having chunks of garlic.

When I made a casserole from the Campbell's cookbook the other day I stirred a little cracked pepper into the cream of chicken soup/milk mix before adding the soup to the chicken and veggies and I could really taste it in the sauce when we ate it... it added a lot to the dish.

I would add a bag of frozen mixed veggies to the dish, but DJ doesn't like broccoli so you'll have to find one without it... maybe carrots and cauliflower or something like that? I think even broccoli would be ok if you chopped it up small and could get him to try it, I mean it's covered in soup and cheese! How could it be bad?

I just read over this and realized it's probably longer than your blog, so I'm going to stop monopolizing your comment section now! I love spices and love experimenting with them, so call me if you have any more questions! Love you!