Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Recipe and Ramblings: Chicken Scampi

I recently received a comment from Kim Waggoner asking for another “I’m Not a Fancy Cook” blogger tutorial. And since I am all about making my readers happy, I have put a cooking post together for Kim. And also for all of ya’ll.

I actually already posted this recipe in October of 2009, but I didn’t include any pictures or rambling instructions. And since pictures and rambling instructions are just way too much fun, I am now re-posting it complete with the aforementioned photos. And rambles. This is an especially good recipe for summer since it doesn’t require an oven. (Complete recipe is at the end of this post.)

Before we get started, let me just mention that before I
ever even dream of making Chicken Scampi, I have to first of all call Snowy into the kitchen and inform him that the cooking of chicken is about to commence. He then gives me a look like that says, “Really? Are you 100% certain? Would you lie to me about something this important?” Snowy is all about chicken.


Just to show Snowy that I absolutely mean (chicken-cookin’) business, I pull out my perfectly organized recipe box and find my Chicken Scampi recipe. Try not to give into your very understandable feelings of “Perfectly Organized Recipe Box” Envy as you gaze in awe upon my envy-producing box.


It doesn’t take much detective work to look at this card and know that this dish is one of our favorites. (The recipe came from Steve’s mom.)


The first step in our Chicken Scamp adventure is to melt a stick of butter in the pan. (No, this is not a low cal recipe.) Then measure out 1/4 cup olive oil. Unfortunately, it appears that my bottle of olive oil has run dry. Thankfully, it saw fit to produce for me the 1/4 cup I needed before giving up the ghost.


Add the olive oil to the butter. Watch the oil and butter mingle in a marvelously messy morass of melded minglement.


While the mingling continues, open cupboard door where the grocery list is and write, “ol. oil.” (That’s the Smith Secret Code for “olive oil.” Pretty sneaky, huh?)


Then go to the fridge and pick out a new, lovely, fresh, whole onion to chop. Or if you can’t find one of those, procure a pitiful corner of an onion that has been in the fridge since 1978. Chop said onion and hope for the best.


Open the cupboard drawer and write “onion” on the list. (No Secret Smith Code involved here.)


Then gaze at the recipe and notice that it calls for 1 T minced garlic. Moan and groan to yourself that mincing garlic is just way too much work. Tell yourself that you refuse to go to that much effort just to make a stinkin’ chicken recipe. Threaten to quit. Threaten to never cook another meal. Threaten to write your congressman. Throw a fit.

Or as an alternative, you could always just reach in the fridge and get every kitchen’s Secret Weapon. Pre-minced garlic. Just dig your tablespoon in there, get some garlic and dump it in the pan. Now how hard is that?

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Oops. I have a bad feeling here. Looks like we’re headed back to The Cupboard. And The List.

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Okay. Now it’s time to add some lemon juice. Since actually squeezing a real lemon and getting real lemon juice from said real lemon causes me to break out in hives and also makes me feel crabby and exhausted, I always take the Easy Peasy Lemony Way out and buy ReaLemon. And why they call reconstituted lemon ReaLemon, I will never understand. But I will always be grateful for its semi-real, sort of fakey existence in my life.


Do you see this container of pepper? This, my friends, has changed our lives. No longer do we deign to use that pretend pepper, that pepper that comes out in teensy, weensy, wispy powdery poufs. No sirree. This pepper is a real man’s pepper. This pepper comes bursting on out in gargantuan peppery chunks that will make you stand up and salute. And sneeze.

(By the way, the blob of red you see in the pan is Lawry’s seasoned salt. Although the recipe doesn’t specifically call for Lawry’s, I always use it anyway. It gives me a sense of freedom and rebellion to do something that a recipe doesn’t specifically call for.)


Now it’s on to the chicken. I chopped this up earlier in the day in the hopes that I would feel efficient and organized. (It didn’t work.)


A few pretty puffs of parsley should follow behind the chicken. (In cooking, color is our friend.)


And speaking of color, do you see these two mysterious red, um, things on the counter? What could they possibly be? A strange and hideous addition to the chicken scampi? Some sort of exotic red pepper bean from South America? No, my dear friends, these mysterious red things are from my husband’s personal stash of Hot Tamales cinnamon candy. As I was cooking, I just had an urge for something sweet to chew on so I rummaged around and found these. And since I ate them standing up, they didn’t have any calories! Isn’t that convenient?

(Note from The Chef: Feel free to munch on the candy of your choice while you cook. It definitely enhances the experience, plus you won’t be as hungry when you sit down to eat. So you won’t ingest as many calories! It’s the Candy Diet!)


Ooooh. The red candy reminds me of something. I haven’t added tomato yet!

Take a tomato. Chop.


Add. (I just love easy recipes.)


Since the chicken is about done, it occurs to me that I need some sort of colorful vegetable to go with it. Enter sautéed green beans. Put a little oil (olive or vegetable) in the skillet, add some frozen green beans, add some pepper (the BIG flakes), some garlic salt, some nuts (I love almonds), and stir them around till everything’s crispy. If you want, add some parmesan cheese at the end right before serving.


Oh, and one more thing. While you’re cooking the beans, be sure call in the resident dog to come in and clean up the beans you spilled on the floor. If you’re lucky, he might just think he’s eating chicken. Since you told him you were cooking chicken.


Usually, this toast goes in the oven but since our downstairs air conditioning has not worked since we moved into the house and it’s 1.2 million degrees outside, using the oven is not a great idea. Therefore, I cook the toast on top of the stove and it works just fine. Not to mention dandy.


I add a few colorful side dishes. (Have I already mentioned that in cooking, color is our friend? I did? Well, let me mention it again.)


And then I ring the official dinner bell. I have trained Sarah and Steve to know that the first ring means that Sarah should come and set the table. The second ring of said bell means that dinner is ready and if you don’t come immediately (or even sooner) you will be in a big heap o’ trouble. (Bit of Smith Trivia: This is the very bell that Sarah used during the night to call Steve and me when she was sick from her cancer treatment. We’re all very thankful it has gone from Cancer Duty to Dinner Duty.)


My official table setter arrives on the scene. (I’m actually not quite sure why I set out the tub of butter for Sarah to put on the table since the “skillet bread” I’m serving is pre-buttered. Please disregard tub of butter. Please chalk it up to Forty-Eight Year Old Brain Syndrome. Please forget you ever saw it.)


As my personal assistant sets the table, I put some brown rice (and parsley) in a serving bowl, making a little hole in the middle of the bowl. (I usually cook enough rice for four but, guess what? I ran out of rice. So the presentation of rice is a bit skimpy. And yes, I did write “rice” on The List.)


I then add the scampi and spoon some of the (calorie-free) sauce over the rice. A little extra parsley and we’re ready to go! Sometimes I also add a few shakes of paprika but my family was sitting at the table with their most polite “hurry up looks” on, so I made the Executive Chef decision to forego the paprika. However, I want you to feel free to add as much paprika as you would like. Because remember? (All together now!) In cooking, color is our friend!


In closing, I’ll leave you with a picture of my sparkling clean and tidy counter top so that you can go into your day with sunbeams of countertop-generated inspiration following you wherever you go. (You can thank me later.)


And now here is the ramble-free recipe. You can have this dish on the table in about twenty minutes so it’s a great last-minute recipe, especially if you keep some boneless chicken breasts in your freezer. Speaking of which, I have found that it’s much easier to cut chicken into pieces if you do it while the chicken is still partially frozen.

Chicken Scampi (You can also use shrimp)

1/2 C (one stick) butter
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C chopped onion
1 T minced garlic (I use garlic from the jar)
Juice of one lemon (or 2 T. reconstituted)
2 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Can use more or less chicken)
1 t. salt (Lawry’s is good)
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 C minced fresh parsley (I just sprinkle in some dried parsley for color)
1 tomato (fresh or can use diced tomato from can)

In skillet, heat butter and oil. Saute' onion and garlic briefly. Add lemon juice, chicken, salt, pepper and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently for 5-8 minutes or until chicken is done. Add diced tomato and heat through.

Serve over noodles and rice. (With an extra sprinkling of parsley and/or paprika!)

About 4 servings.

6 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Anonymous said...

That looks GOOD! I have a bag of frozen shrimp that my mom gave me. I may just try this tomorrow evening.


Stefanie in St. Louis

Anonymous said...

Thank you Becky! :D
Why is it so thrilling to have one's name mentioned in a blog? But it is! And I do love your recipe blogs. I just sit here in front of the computer and read and smile a really big smile while I'm reading. You are so funny..."envy producing box"...haha LOL :)
The recipe looks fantastic and I will be trying it soon.
Thanks so much.
Kim Waggoner

Debbie said...

It's after 1 am and I can't sleep so I am reading blogs and now I am starving!! That looks so yummy!!! Thanks for sharing!!

God Bless~
Debbie Jean

Anonymous said...

I will be giving this a whirl this week! Thanks! Jill-FL

Anonymous said...

If I wasn't tube fed and could even taste something like that I have to wonder why oil and butter? Could you use a non-stick pan, or Pam (in my house we call it map because we are just cool like that)? Did you use boneless/skinless chicken breast? Also, could you use diced canned "toms" and drain the juice? And while I am totally rewriting your recipe could you substitute the beans for something else if you didn't have them? Just some things I am wondering. Perhaps, I wonder more about recipes because I don't eat them? It's really not bad. I hate to cook. So opening up a can, dumping it into a bag, threading it all to a pump, attach and press start I can get three meals a day with about 3 minutes of prep time for 18-20 hours of eating (1 ml/cc is the same as 1 cc). I don't have to count calories, or points, there's no flex or core, extra points for exercise. It's the good life I live. LOL! Oh and the best part; grocery shopping is a thing of the past. I go into a grocery store only because my pharmacy happens to be in one BUT they now have a drive thru. I now use a grocery service. Prices are comparable to what I buy. I buy sale items, or house brand. They take all coupons. You get discounts for paying by check and if you select certain delivery times. So, the with the $7 dollar service/delivery charge I only pay $5 of that and my bill is less than when I go to the store (no impulse buys or things NOT on the list). Happy Monday and Grocery Shopping (looks like you had a long list). Love you guys!

Jennifer said...

Yum! Made this last night for dinner - I'm always on the lookout for new recipes! :) Hubby and I both really liked it! I have teriyaki beef kabobs on the meal plan for tonight, and had planned rice with those - so I served the scampi over whole wheat linguine instead - yum!! :) We'll definitely make this again!