Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday: Apricot-Lemon Chicken with Lemon-Mint Pear Salad and Orange-Cherry Orzo

 We've enjoyed this Cooking Light chicken recipe so much through the years that we made it for my daughter's birthday party last year, and it was a BIG HIT! The curry- lemon-apricot flavors mix perfectly together to create a savory dish. Place it on top of a bed of minty spinach salad and add a side dish of Orange-Cherry Orzo and your meal is complete. If you have leftovers, it makes a great chicken sandwich the next day!

Chicken Recipe
4 servings

  1 tsp curry powder
  1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper, freshly ground

4 6-oz skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or thighs
1/3 cup apricot jam or spread
2 TB lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp lemon rind, grated

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; rub mixture over chicken.
2. Over a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken over medium-high heat for approximately 6 minutes or until done. Remove chicken, place on a plate, and wrap with tin-foil.
3. In the same skillet, add apricot jelly, lemon juice and 2 TB water, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Spoon sauce over chicken, sprinkle with lemon rind. 

Orange-Cherry Orzo 

3/4 cup orzo (rice shaped pasta)  
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB Orange Marmalade

1 tsp sugar or to taste
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (place almonds on a dry skillet; over medium-high heat toast almonds, constantly stirring until browned, about 3-4 minutes)

1. Bring orzo to boil, and cook for 5-7 minutes, until pasta is soft, but not mushy. Drain pasta, and put pasta in a medium-sized bowl. Mix in cherries and almonds. In a separate small bowl,
whisk together lemon juice, orange marmalade, and sugar. Pour over pasta, and toss to coat.

Lemon-Mint Pear Salad 

1 TB sugar
3 TB lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp canola oil

4 cups spinach, packed
1 firm pear, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Add spinach and remaining ingredients. Mix together well. Serve immediately.

Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Make salad ahead of time without dressing and store in air-tight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
~Stir together dressing for orzo dish and store in air-tight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Try Orange Marmalade instead of Apricot Jelly.
~Use rice or couscous instead of orzo.

~Cut up some apple instead of pear for the salad.
~Replace honey for sugar.

Keep an Herb Garden

For the last several years, I have kept a mini herb garden that I frequently use for our meals. Fresh herbs enhances flavor to your favorite dishes, have aromatic foliage and some even produce beautiful flowers. Keeping an herb garden is very low maintenance and is well worth investing in. You can keep it either indoor or outdoor, just make sure it gets enough sunlight and water.
You can either buy a plant from a nursery or start it from seed. In my herb planter I have mint, oregano, sage, lemon thyme and rosemary. I also have a separate basil plant, that I use to make pesto. 
In my planter, I like to keep mostly perennial herbs, meaning they will grow year after year, and all you have to do it prune it instead of replant it. An annual plant, like basil, will die after it's growing season is over. So, when buying an herb plant or growing it from seed, see if it's an annual plant or a perennial.

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