Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Easy Margarita Chicken
from Cook This, Not That!

Another Quick Supper recipe, perfect for a weeknight dinner, chicken breasts quickly sautéed in a skillet and topped with salsa and a sprinkle of cheese, served with a can of black beans doctored with onions, peppers, cumin and lime juice. (The beans themselves are so good, you just might be tempted to make a meal out of them alone!)

Plus my reaction to Cook This, Not That!, the cookbook that food people love to hate.

~recipe updated 2017 for a little weeknight supper inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

Easy Margarita Chicken, another Quick Supper ♥ KitchenParade.com

My cookbook cup runneth over. Truth is, I’ve been collecting cookbooks like some women collect shoes or iPhone apps. So call me surprised when a gimmicky-looking cookbook caught my eye before Christmas.

The cover of Cook This, Not That! was jarring in that late-night-TV too-loud way. “The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution,” it claimed. “Easy and Awesome 350-Calorie Meals,” it shouted. “This is a book for people who love to eat,” it promised.

My inner foodie sniffed.

But upon inspection, the recipes looked good, really good, with appealing titles, affordable ingredients, generous portion sizes and easy techniques perfect for busy families.

Most of all, I was impressed by how many practical tips are crammed into 300+ pages, perfect for young cooks responsible for feeding themselves for the first time. Think provocative teaching tips, such as:

5 Calorie-Cutting Techniques – not "recipes," but techniques that just make sense: white sauce instead of cream sauce, fresh salsa, four different pan sauces, spice rubs and oven frying
“4 Reasons to Spend More Time in the Kitchen Than in the Gym” – ha! my sister caught the typo but entirely by accident, my first live version of this column actually read, "Spend More Time in the Kitchen, THEN in the Gym." – pretty apt, eh?
Salad Matrix – it's a great salad formula, choose a lettuce, choose a protein, choose vegetables and fruits, choose add-ons like beans and finally choose a homemade dressing
The World’s Best Asian Condiments – these can really bump the flavor profile of a dish, think kimchi, hoisin (though the commercial bottles of hoisin contain a lot of sugar), curry paste, sriracha, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and chili-garlic sauce

Cook This, Not That Cookbook review ♥ KitchenParade.com

So Cook This, Not That! is a real cookbook, and a teaching cookbook to boot.

I also appreciate the credible premise: how to lose weight eating healthy food, no dieting required. Each recipe aims for about 350 calories. That’s more calories than most Kitchen Parade recipes but then again, the portion sizes are larger. More importantly, Cook This, Not That! compares its recipes not to home cooking but to similar restaurant recipes, both in calories and in cost. The comparisons are alone are an eye-popping education.

So yes, I love this cookbook despite watching other "food people" sniff in condescension. At Christmas, my sister wanted to nab my copy so I sent her one and now we’re both cooking from it. Neither one of us qualify as "busy families" or "young cooks" anymore but for both of us, this cookbook gets high marks for inspiring easy every-day home-cooked meals. In my crowded bookshelf, I’m making room for Cook This, Not That!.

"... it was excellent!" ~ Anonymous


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4, easily adjusted for 1 or many

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • Splash of water (or oil, if you prefer)
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice of a lime (save the zest for garnish!)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 4 pieces (see TIPS)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup pepper jack or a "Mexican" blend cheese (about 2 ounces), grated

  • Lime zest for garnish

Heat oven to 450F/230C.

PEPPERS & BEANS In a large skillet, cook the onion and peppers in a splash of water, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked through but still crisp. (A non-stick skillet works best here, otherwise use a little oil to prevent sticking.) Add the beans, cumin and lime juice and heat through. Season to taste. Transfer the mixture to another dish, keep warm.

CHICKEN If needed, cut the chicken breasts into individual servings. Between two pieces of waxed paper, pound the thickest part of the breast until each piece is roughly the same thickness throughout. (Why? The breasts will cook more evenly when they’re the same thickness.) Season with salt and pepper.

Spray the skillet with cooking spray, heat on medium high. Add the chicken pieces (they should sizzle) and let cook, without moving, for 3 to 4 minutes until a crisp crust forms. With tongs, turn the pieces over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Spoon the Peppers & Beans around the chicken pieces, then cover the chicken with salsa and cheese. Bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

TO SERVE, sprinkle lime zest over top and serve.

ALANNA's TIPS Chicken breasts are Hooters huge these days, often more than a pound a piece. So if size matters, get out your scale and cut the meat down to serving size, I usually allow a quarter pound (about 110g) uncooked chicken per serving. Big eaters will eat two of these. To get supper on the table even faster, use two skillets, one for the Peppers & Beans, another for the Chicken and cook them simultaneously.

SUPPER SAVER 2017 It'd already been a loooong day one day last week when I started to cook supper, worn down but feeling pretty smug that the supper plan would use up chicken breasts from the freezer and leftover bell pepper and salsa from the fridge.

EXCEPT.EXCEPT.EXCEPT. Oops, no red pepper; no problem, green pepper was an easy substitute. Oops, no black beans; chickpeas should've been an easy substitute too but Trader Joe's chickpeas just aren't great, they're barely cooked. And that chicken from the freezer? Oops, it wasn't chicken at all, but wild duck breast. And the leftover salsa? Oops, a genuine "science experiment".

Luckily, I found some frozen cod in the freezer and my husband (!) had made a great salsa verde on the weekend. I added frozen fire-roasted corn and some roasted mushrooms to the skillet, topped it with the still-frozen cod, the salsa verde and a little cheese, then threw the whole thing in the oven.

Wow. DELISH! Add "adaptability" to this recipe, truly.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 298 Calories; 6g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 95mg Cholesterol; 772mg Sodium; 22g Carb; 7g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 36g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 6 & PointsPlus 7 & SmartPoints 7 This recipe has been "Alanna-sized".

Cook This, Not That! compares its copycat Margarita Chicken recipe to TGI Friday’s Sizzling Chicken & Cheese which racks up 1200 calories a serving and costs $11.49. YIKES.

Adapted from Cook This, Not That!. I especially like the adaptability of this cookbook’s recipes. For example, the original recipe called for a half can of beans for four people which seemed just silly to me, no vegetables, six-ounce chicken breasts, a cup of salsa and a cup of cheese. But the inspiration for my own recipe? Definitely Cook This, Not That!.

FYI there seems to be more than one Cook This, Not That! edition. Mine has burgers on the front cover and it came from Sam's Club for about $12 in early December. It can also be purchased at Amazon and there's more information about the books (with lots of "yelling", you might want to put in your Internet ear plugs!) at Men's Health where one of the authors is editor.

For the record! This is not a sponsored post. I purchased the book myself and a second copy for my sister. The publishers at Rodale, the authors David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding, have no clue I exist.

My Disclosure Promise

TIS THE SEASON: This Week, Other Years

Finnish Whole-Wheat Flatbread Cashew Chicken Curry Chicken Sybil Chicken Nachos with Homemade Pickled Jalapeño Rings Lighter Mashed 'Potatoes' Beef Bourguignon Savory Cornbread Muffins How to Poach a Perfect Egg Cast Iron Meatloaf

More Easy Chicken Recipes
(More Reasons to Cook This, Not That!)

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Chicken Sybil Chicken Cider Stew Sweet 'n' Hot Chicken

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2011 & 2017 (republished)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Baked Cabbage Wedges

A healthy cabbage recipe, big wedges of cabbage baked low and slow in the oven with carrot and onion. The heat turns the cabbage into something entirely different, dark and toasty, sweet and smoky. Best made one day and served a day or two later.

Baked Cabbage Wedges, wedges of healthy cabbage with carrots and onion, here ready for the oven where it will turn dark and toasty, sweet and smoky. #LowCarb #GlutenFree #Paleo For Weight Watchers, just #PP2.

"Soooo good. ... If this gets any better the second day - hold me down!" ~ yarby50

My parents "recycled" garbage before it was the cool thing to do. They burned what they could, everything else had to be hauled to the town dump, the collection of human refuse we now call "landfills".

Back then, it was a treat to clamber into the pickup beside Dad for a trip to the dump. Before hitting the highway, we’d be singing “To the dump, to the dump, to the dump-dump-dump” and another a song about hillbilly moonshine that my now 80-something and entirely respectable father is still known to belt out around campfires, even without influence of said moonshine.

This month, my town switched from a drop-off recycling center to curb-side no-sorting-required recycling and I’ve got to say, I-LOVE-IT. I’d gotten lazy about sorting and storing and hauling tins cans, glass bottles, newspapers, paper and cardboard to the recycling center just a short drive away. It added up. Now though, the garage feels positively roomy now that all the garbage, my personal human refuse, collects in a sparkly-green albeit L-A-R-G-E recycling bin. Come Mondays, I'll make the short haul to the street and just might find a song on my lips. “To the dump, to the dump, to the dump-dump-dump.”

ALANNA's TIPS Make this healthy cabbage once, you’ll never need a recipe again. I cut the wedges big, about a quarter pound each but feel free to make dainty wedges too. The cayenne provides a little zip but it’s easy to go overboard, take care. Use olive oil and vegetable broth for an easy and healthy vegan side dish.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!


Hands-on time: 10 minutes over 2-1/2 hours
Time to table: 24 hours
Serves 1 to many
  • Wedge of green cabbage (see TIPS)
  • Carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Onion, in large chunks separated into layers
  • Olive oil or bacon grease (not much, about 1 tablespoon for 4 wedges)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste, optional (see TIPS)
  • Broth (about 1/4 cup for either 4 or 8 wedges)

Preheat oven to 325F/160C. Place cabbage wedges cut-side down in a baking dish in a single layer. Add the carrots and onions. Drizzle with olive oil or dot with bacon grease. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Add the broth, cover with foil.

Bake for one hour, then turn the cabbage wedges over. If needed, add a splash or two of liquid. Bake for another hour. Remove the foil.

Increase the oven temperature to 400F/200C and let finish cooking for about 15 minutes until the cabbage begins to darken.

Remove from oven, let cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. To rewarm, set oven to 350F/175C and heat through, about 20 minutes.

Prefer a more precise recipe? To serve four, use a pound of cabbage cut into four wedges, four carrots, a large onion, a tablespoon of fat, 1/4 cup broth and seasonings to taste. To serve eight, double all the ingredients except the broth.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving (assumes the "precise" recipe above): 65 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 90mg Sodium; 8g Carb; 3g Fiber; 5g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW PointsPlus 2
Thanks to reader Sherry Milligan for sharing these cabbage recipes published in the Dallas Morning News, see Cabbage Recipes That Make You Forget They’re Good for You by Tina Danze. This one is just that good!

Cabbage Turned Dark & Toasty, Sweet & Smoky

Baked Cabbage Wedges, wedges of healthy cabbage with carrots and onion, turned dark and toasty, sweet and smoky. #LowCarb #GlutenFree #Paleo For Weight Watchers, just #PP2.

So the crunch and color of raw cabbage and carrots turn into something soft (but not mushy) and smoky, dark and toasty. Ahh, the surprising experience of slow-slow cooked cabbage.

TIS THE SEASON: This Week, Years Past

Karelian Borscht (Russian Beet Borscht Soup) Winter Pesto with Pasta Winter Stew Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Garlic & Olive Oil) Football Fever!

Crazy for Cabbage? More Healthy Recipes!

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Caraway Cabbage Alice Waters' Coleslaw Caraway Corned Beef with Red Potatoes, Carrot Chunks, Cabbage Wedges & Cheese Sauce
~ more cabbage recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ Cabbage Roses ~
~ Swedish Red Cabbage & Apples ~
~ Cabbage & White Bean Stew ~
~ more cabbage recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture, my food blog

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