There are a couple of foods that we love, and if we could eat them all the time, it would be more than a treat. Needless to say, a lot of those foods aren’t so great for you, and if we did eat them as much as we wanted, we’d be tipping the scales. There’s nothing like taking a favorite and trimming it down, so you don’t feel as guilty. Somewhere along the way, especially for those of us who know that being a foodie opens you up to a world of tantalizing treats, we’ve picked up a trick or two here and there to recreate a dish without all the extras–those additional ingredients that you can either decrease or lose entirely. Or maybe it’s just a change in the preparation. Whatever you do, the final dish will still be a winner.
We hosted a dinner party with American Southern fare as the theme. There were two things we wanted on the menu–chicken and cole slaw. We used a variation on the classic buttermilk fried chicken method, but there was no frying involved. Instead, we used a combination of fresh herbs and spices with panko crumbs to create a crispy crust. Rather than a heavy, mayonnaise based dressing for the slaw, we used a mixture of tangy Dijon mustard and honey to lighten the mixture. Sweet cranberries and pecans add another level of texture to an already crunchy side dish. Both dishes had lots of flavor, and we had little remorse.
Buttermilk Baked Chicken – Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast fillets or tenders
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
Zest of 1 lemon, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1 cup buttermilk*
1 tablespoon Tabasco
1. In a large bowl, mix buttermilk and onions with Tabasco sauce. Add chicken—coating both sides—cover and marinate overnight, turning occasionally.
2. Once chicken is ready, mix panko and breadcrumbs with herbs, zest, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic.
3. Pull out chicken strips and press both sides into the panko and breadcrumbs mixture. Lay chicken pieces on a parchment paper covered baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.
*If you don’t have buttermilk, make your own quick version. For every 1 cup of regular milk (we suggest a lower fat variety such as 2% or 1%), add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (any kind will do) and let sit for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Once the milk begins to curdle, whisk to combine. Use as necessary.
Honey Dijon Spiced Pecan Coleslaw – Serves 6 to 8
1/2 medium red onion, minced
16 ounces shredded cabbage
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon caraway seeds or celery seeds (optional)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1. Mix onion, cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.
2. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, lemon juice and zest and caraway seeds. Season to taste with salt. Pour dressing over coleslaw mix. Toss well then chill in the fridge.
3. As slaw chills, add butter to a pan and when melted toss in pecans. Sprinkle with cayenne and brown sugar and toss to coat. Slide onto a parchment paper or wax paper covered sheet and pop in the freezer until completely cooled.
4. When ready to serve, add spiced pecans and cranberries to slaw and toss to combine.
Oh, and of course there was a cocktail! It is a dinner party, you know. Over the 4th of July weekend, we whipped up Minty Arnie P.’s. They disappeared so fast at their first appearance, we had no time to snap a pic. This time, we made sure to save one for a photo. The sweet tea and lemonade mixture is a perfect drink for the hot weather days of summer, and when it’s spiked with Firefly Sweet Tea vodka, no one can resist it.
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