Monday, July 14, 2008

Curiouser and Curiouser ...

... its been a while since we've seen our friend the chicken head. Shocking! I've missed him ... and, admit it, you have too. He returned to Diva-land on Friday night at my soirée and he was glorious and crunchy.

I threw a little dinner party for a friend who was in town and what with the summer heat and all, it seemed like a good night for chicken. The menu was as follows:
  • Red Bell Pepper Gazpacho
  • Pecan Chicken Breasts over mixed greens with Shallot Vinaigrette
  • Barley Risotto
  • Peach, Nectarine & Blueberry Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
Obviously, that dessert was not South Beach friendly ... but that was all part of my devious plan. I have no interest in any dessert which does not contain chocolate ... so it was easy for me to pass it by! I did change up the recipe a bit and switched out some of the white flour for whole wheat in making the crumbly topping. No one was any the wiser.

Aside from that crisp, the rest of the menu was 100% South Beach "legal" and 100% delicious. Naturally, I fiddled with the recipes a bit to achieve legal status. I removed the sugar called for in the gazpacho recipe and substituted a whole grain cereal for the Special K that was suggested for the chicken coating. Again, no one was any the wiser and no flavors were compromised in the making of this dinner. A good time (and a very good meal) was had by all.

Pecan Chicken Breasts:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 cups whole grain cereal (I used Flax Plus)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 wedges of lemon
Place the chicken breasts in a non-metal container, such as a large glass baking dish, and cover with the buttermilk. Use enough buttermilk to cover all of the chicken by about a 1/4 inch. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours - or up to 24 hours.

Pre-heat the over to 375 degrees.

Using a food processor, crush the cereal to form coarse crumbs. (Or you can use a resealable plastic bag, and crush them with a rolling pin, etc.) Add the pecans, lemon pepper, poultry seasoning, paprika and salt to the food processor and pulse briefly to combine.

Pour the cereal mixture into a large, shallow dish and removed the chicken from the fridge. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, one piece at a time, and dredge in the cereal mixture to coat on both sides. Press the crumbs onto the chicken so they will adhere - and place the coated chicken on a large, lightly oiled, baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Bake in the oven for @ 45 minutes or until an instant-read meat thermometer (inserted into the thickest part of the breast) registers 165 degrees. Dust the cooked chicken with the chopped parsley and serve with a garish of fresh lemon to be sprinkled over the chicken at table.

* Notes: My version of this recipe was adapted from one that appeared in Prevention Magazine several years ago. You can use whatever kind of cereal flakes you enjoy, but watch the sugar content if you're carb conscious. I like to serve the chicken over a bed of mixed baby lettuces, or mixed greens, dressed with my version of a classic vinaigrette.

Mixed Greens with Shallot Vinaigrette:

  • 1 large Shallot, minced
  • 1/3 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. good quality Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. good quality red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • generous grinding of fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Basil
  • 8 cups organic mixed salad greens, or mixed baby lettuces
Pour 1/3 cup of olive oil into a glass measuring cup, add the minced shallots, both vinegars, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and whisk vigorously, using a small wire whisk, to combine. Whisk until the dressing has emulsified, then add the lemon juice and dried basil, whisk again and taste for seasoning. You may add more pepper, etc., if you wish. If the dressing is a little sharp for your taste, add 1 tsp. of water and taste again to see if its to your liking.

Pour the finished vinaigrette lightly over your greens and toss to coat evenly. Do not drown the greens, just coat them lightly and pass the reserved dressing at the table if you wish.

As written, both of these recipes will serve six very happy people. Send out some invitations of your own and make your next dinner party ... Divalicious!


Anonymous said...

pecans! (my southern aunt calls them PEE-cans). How I love them. If I were on death row, and had one last meal, it would be Pecan Pie. The whole thing (around 5000 calories, prob'ly).

So -- yeah. I'm gonna make this.

vicki jo (my southern name)

pixelgal said...

Happy Birthday to you, dear Diva, and many happy returns of the day. Keep those recipes coming and all you fans out there, The Diva would really like it if you could send her a comment on this day of days.


Deb said...

Happy Birthday Diva and glad to see the chicken head back in circulation. I personally have missed him. Party sounded divine - loved the recipes. I've made a similar dish but without the pecans. I think I like the sound of your version better.

Hope you are having a fabulous, diva day!


The Diva on a Diet said...

Hi Vicki Jo and thanks so much for leaving a comment! Its good to see you here! :)

Aw, thanks for the birthday wishes pixelgal and Deb ... my most faithful readers! I did have a good day! xoxoxo

HJDinny said...

This meal was fabulous! I should know, I was one of the guests at the party. Normally, I don't eat Gazpacho but since I was guest of the diva I had to try it. I'm in LOVE. Diva can you post this recipe! I have to give it a try. It's HOT out there and I need something that is refreshing. Ice cream is satisfying that for me right now. Not a great dinner choice!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Done ... I'll post the Gazpacho recipe today!

Country Pumpkin said...

I plan to attempt these recipes as soon as possible. I am loving your blog by the way, what a great idea! I love cooking, so any tips and tricks are always welcomed by me. Keep up the good work!
(Also, I am liking the chicken head QUITE a lot. And of course, feel free to stop by my place anytime!)

The Diva on a Diet said...

Country Pumpkin - thanks so much for checking out my blog. The encouragement is much appreciated! I'll be stopping by yours later today too! Come by any time. :)