Friday, March 23, 2012

The Ultimate Chicken & Waffles

The other day, I pinned an incredible-sounding chicken and waffles cupcake.  Since then, I've had chicken and waffles on the brain. What?  You've not tasted Chicken and Waffles - you know, together?  Well, well, my friend.  Let me break it to you:  You haven't lived.
See?  There's nothing quite like a crisp-tender waffle topped with perfect fried chicken, then doused with real maple syrup.  Trust me.  This is soul food on its purest, divine level.  I had a vision, though, and wanted to up the ante on this great combo - make it an ultimate pairing with some hidden goodies that subtly stroked the palate.  Wow.  Waxing poetic, aren't I?

OK, so here's the deal - I won't lie - this is an involved recipe.  You need to have some equipment (waffle iron and cast-iron skillet), and the commitment, but I promise, it so, so worth it!

My vision was to make not just Chicken & Waffles but Fried Chicken & Butternut-Quinoa Waffles with Cinnamon Chipotle Maple Syrup. But I wanted there to be this baseline of....wait for it...
Oh. Yeah.
Here's how it went...

There's three main parts to this gig:  cooking the ingredients, frying the chicken, and making the waffles.  When it's time to make the waffles, you want the ingredients ready to roll, so it's a good idea to have them done ahead of time.  In fact, it would probably be great to make them a day ahead.  I tend to keep a cup or so of cooked quinoa in the fridge, so I just scooped some out for the waffles.  If you're working from the very beginning,  here's step one:
1)  Cook about 1/4 c quinoa according to package directions, then set aside

Meanwhile, get your butternut squash cooking.  
2)  Peel and remove seeds from a small butternut squash.
3)  Cut into 1" cubes, and place in a saucepan
4)  Dice two slices of bacon, add to squash

5)  Add water to saucepan to almost cover squash/bacon
6)  Cook on medium until squash is fork-tender - about 30 minutes - adding extra water if necessary
7)   Set aside when done

Now comes the heavy lifting - frying the chicken.  My husband did the dirty work for me on this one, and I'm sorry I don't have pics, but here's the process we followed:
  • 2 Boneless, Skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips or tenders
  • 2 c Plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 3 c All-purpose flour
  • 1 T Sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp Cayenne
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Canola oil for frying 
  1. Whisk together the yogurt, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Place chicken in yogurt, stir to cover, and refrigerate 3-4 hours. 
  2. In a large baking dish, combine flour, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.
  3. Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep cast iron skillet; the oil should not come more than half way up the sides of the pot. Put the pot over medium-high heat and heat the oil.
  4. To batter the chicken, remove tenders from yogurt, and dredge in flour mixture.
  5.  Working in batches, add the chicken tenders to the hot oil, 5 or so at a time and fry, turning the pieces occasionally, until evenly golden brown and cooked through, about 7 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil with tongs and transfer to a rack to drain; repeat to cook the remaining pieces. 
  6. Keep the chicken warm while making the waffles by placing it in the oven on the lowest temperature setting.
....and....finally, the Waffles
 This is my adaptation of the Basic Waffles recipe from the all-new Joy of Cooking.  If you have kiddos, and they're anything like mine, they'll laser in on the waffle part of this meal, and want nothing else.  By adding the quinoa and butternut, you can have the satisfaction in knowing they're getting a nutrient-dense vegetable in the squash, and important amino acids in the quinoa.  Win-win.

  • 1 3/4 c Whole Wheat spelt flour (you can use all-purpose or whole wheat, no worries)
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1/4 c cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 c cooked butternut squash, mashed
  1. Preheat waffle iron
  2. Whisk together in large bowl flour, baking powder, sugar and salt
  3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, and milk *If your melted butter is hot, be sure to temper it in the milk before adding it to the eggs
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients
  5. Gently whisk together to combine.
  6. Fold in quinoa and butternut *Just the cooked butternut, not the bacon
  7. Spoon 1/2 cup batter onto the hot iron, spread slightly, close lid, and bake until iron indicates "ready," or until waffle is golden brown


  • 1/2 c pure Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground chipotle 
  1. Mix syrup, cinnamon, and chipotle, and warm in a saucepan over low heat until slightly thickened.
The idea is to get all the amazing flavors in one bite, so it works well to slice a chicken tender, and place it over a plated waffle.  Cover it with a second waffle if you like, then drizzle the waffles and chicken with a generous amount of syrup.
Enjoy (and try not to swoon!)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Spring" Chicken Meat Loaf

Meat loaf typically finds itself settled in the annals of Comfort Food, which is all good - except when calories are being considered.  The good news is, the traditional fare can be lightened up significantly.  This recipe is an adaptation from a Cooking Light version calling for ground turkey breast.  I used ground chicken, as it is more readily available where I live in Brazil, but the results were the same:  a food good for the soul, easier on the belly.  Because it also calls for a nice amount of colorful and nutrient-dense vegetables, I'll call it a "Spring" Meat Loaf.

 Spring Chicken Meatloaf


  • 2 lbs ground chicken 
  • 1 c grated onion
  • 3/4 c dried Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c chopped parsley
  • 1/3 c finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 c grated carrots
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 c ketchup + some for topping
1)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2)  Place chicken and breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl
3)  Prepare vegetables - I tend to have a one-tool-does-it-all approach with my processor
4)  Mix onion, parsley, bell pepper, carrots, salt and pepper with meat mixture
5)  Slightly beat eggs; add to meat/veggie mixture
6)  Mix in 1 cup of ketchup
7)  Place meat mixture in an oven-safe dish, shape into a loaf form
8)  Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes
9)  Remove loaf from oven, and drizzle with a good amount of ketchup to coat the top
10)  Place back in oven for additional 15 minutes

Of course, serves perfectly with garlic mashed potatoes - Chow time!

**NB - I imagine this recipe could easily be adapted to a crock pot - I'd do 4 hours on high, or 8 on low, with maybe a tad more ketchup to coat and keep moist.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Zucchini Bread "Whoopie Pies"

Sandwich cookies are almost always a good thing.  When I can make myself feel they're somehow good for me by way of a vegetable ingredient - well, of course, they're that much bettah!
This one is an adaptation of zucchini bread - turning it into a cookie, then going one step further by adding a rich, sweet filling.  It's from Martha.  Oh, Maaaatha!

Zucchini Bread "Whoopie Pies"


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour *I substituted Whole Wheat*
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided (Need at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely grated zucchini
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted


  1. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl. 
  2. In a separate bowl or stand mixer, beat 1 stick butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Mix in zucchini, oats, and walnuts. Place batter in refrigerator until set or firm - about 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  6. Beat together remaining 1/2 stick butter, the cream cheese, and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon filling onto the flat side of 1 cookie, and sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining filling and cookies.
*Makes about a dozen average-size cookies.  If you want a smaller version like I did for my kiddos, use about 1 tablespoon of batter. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Meatless Monday: Loaded Veggie Burgers

We tend to fall off the Meatless Monday wagon, but we make up for it other days of the week.  My friend referred me to this recipe for Veggie Burgers - she said they were amazing, but honestly, she had me at "throw it all in the processor." 
...And you do!

Shall we? OK, here goes:

Loaded Veggie Burgers
adapted from here

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 red bell pepper
  • 15 ounces cooked black beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Cook quinoa according to directions - set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, onions, garlic, bell pepper, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
  3. Form mixture into patties - mine made about six. 
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned, about 8 minutes per side.