December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Friday, November 8, 2013

Trying My Hand at Making Lemon Chicken Piccata


My cooking frenzy continues.  I tried my hand at lemon chicken.  I remember from ages ago, when Connie and I were roommates in that big old third-floor walk-up on Stowell Avenue on Milwaukee's fashionable east side doing entertaining. One of the dishes we made together was a chicken dish, my recollection is that it was baked and it had anise and lemon in it.  I thought it was lemon chicken but, I think I did not do the right kind of search.  I searched lemon chicken, and I think perhaps I should have searched for Greek (?) chicken instead.

Anyway, I found dozens of lemon chicken recipes and quickly selected one that sounded easy enough for me to create. I tried my hand at it, with some changes. 

I will definitely make this dish again!  Loved it! 

Here's the recipe I utilized as the base for my own take on Lemon Chicken Piccata


3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 

I bought range-fed Perdue chicken (no hormones injected into the chickens).  The idea of no chemicals appealed to me greatly, and I was willing to pay up for it.  Two of the chicken breasts were nice sized and the third one was much smaller.  I forget the weight of the chicken breasts I bought, but since there were three, I figured I would have left overs (I did).  The price was $5.72 for the three chicken breasts.  Yeah, sticker shock.  Feeding just myself, with left overs, was okay. But feeding a family with chemical free chicken, tres expensive.  This makes me so angry!  Why does our food have to be so contaminated?

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed.  I used extra extra virgin olive oil.  It does, however, give a distinct flavor different than vegetable oil, so if you don't like olive oil, use vegetable oil.

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 clove garlic -- I don't use enough garlic to buy it fresh, so I used powdered dried garlic instead.  Probably anathema to devoted cooks!  I'm not much of a garlic fan so I probably did not use near enough to equal a clove of fresh sauteed garlic.

1 lemon, thinly sliced, zest it first and squeeze out all the  juice, set juice and zest aside.  Pick out whatever seeds get through your fingers when you squeeze the lemon halves

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
I used dried parsley instead, the regular old garden variety kind from the supermarket in the shake container

I added thinly sliced green pepper (I LUV green pepper), sauteed about 4 ounces of thinly sliced button mushrooms that I bought because they were on sale, and a small can of sliced black olives

I used a heavy aluminum skillet and cooked the dish on the stove top


Cooking the Veggies and Chicken

Cut chicken breasts into 1/2 inch medallions.  I cut mine into about 1 inch cubes. Presentation wise, cutting the chicken breasts in medallions would have been prettier.  I'll do that next time :)

Cut green pepper and mushrooms into thin slices and begin sauteeing in olive oil (or vegetable oil) with lemon slices.  Add a scant dash of salt to the peppers and mushrooms while sauteeing and add half the lemon zest.

I also added a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of diced sweet onion to the pan and cooked everything for a few minutes before adding the cubed chicken.

Season chicken with pepper and garlic powder in separate prep dish, add a dash of salt (just a dash because I added salt when I added sliced black olives near the end of cooking everything) and then add to pan with half-sauteed veggies. 

Cook over medium to medium-low heat along with green peppers and mushrooms until chicken is browned on the outside and begins to shrink in size.  Turn off heat and remove chicken, green peppers, lemon slices and mushrooms from pan with a slotted spoon. 

Set aside.

Making the Sauce

Turn heat back on under frying pan and add chicken broth, remaining lemon zest and all of the lemon juice.  Reduce by at least 1/3rd (I like my sauce thicker, so I reduced it more).   If you're a cautious cook like I tend to be and use a lower level of fire, it will take longer.  If you're brave and use a higher level of fire, just watch carefully :)

Stir the mixture and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon to deglaze the fond.  Once desired reduction of chicken broth is achieved, add butter to pan and rapidly stir in with fork or use a whisk.  Don't let it get brown, reduce heat if necessary and stir stir stir. 

Turn heat off.

Remove cooked lemon slices from chicken and veggies.  Add cooked chicken and veggies back to pan along with whatever juice has collected at the bottom of the saving dish, turn heat back on and bring to boil for a minute or two to bring everything back to heat and coat with the sauce. 

I then turned the fire off and sprinkled the food with parsley, quickly turning it into the chicken, veggies and sauce.  Serve on the side or spooned over your favorite cooked and hot carbohydrate (these days I favor basmati rice). 

Or make a lazy woman's casserole and pour (or mix) the whole shebang over (or into) a couple cups of your favorite cooked rice, and serve (this is what I did with the leftovers).

The final result!  YUM!

The lemon scent and flavor were irresistable!  Chicken was moist and tender, veggies added color and flavor.  Butter - well, what can I say about butter?  It adds calories (but not trans-fat) and also adds great flavor, as well as being a traditional thickening agent.  I didn't try this, but if you don't want to add butter perhaps a sluice of water and cornstarch would work to thicken the sauce.

I had a lot of leftovers.  When I make this recipe again I will use only two chicken breasts and adjust the recipe.

Low sodium broth is a must-use if you add black olives, otherwise I think the dish would turn out too salty.  It was borderline salty for me as I made it, so when I used my leftovers, I cooked and added rice and turned it all into a casserole -- but -- I am on a low sodium diet for health reasons for many years now, so maybe I notice the presence of salt more.   

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