Chicken Adobo

This classic Filipino dish is also a classic chicken dish: chicken, vinegar, rice (and a few other things). A friend who detests vinegar makes an exception for chicken adobo — it reminds him of home.

Traditionally, this recipe is made with bone-in chicken, but I will confess that I’ve used boneless chicken breasts or thighs. This has the effect of making the sauce less rich — the effect of cutting the bone-in chicken into smaller pieces is the release of marrow, the stuff that makes this dish more delicious.

The large amount of vinegar in this recipe creates a tangy sauce. Adjust as necessary (remembering that it’s the vinegar that makes this adobo!) or substitute a mellower vinegar for the white vinegar. Cooking reduces the harsh edges of vinegar, just leaving the tanginess.

Caramelized Onion Dip

For a few years, I had the nutty idea that healthy appetizers should be served at parties. I slipped them in alongside chips and dips. It sorta worked…the chips and dip always disappeared, and, yes, people went for the carrots and celery. Because they were even better covered in onion dip.

Since commercial dried onion soup mixes can contain gluten (as of this writing, it contains a barley product), I had to come up with my own recipe. Luckily, there’s nothing I enjoy more than letting onions caramelize on the stove while I’m making other foods for a party. This recipe makes a good amount of dip — adjust ingredients to fit the number of people you’re feeding.

And don’t be surprised to find every bit of it gone by the end of the evening!

Chicken Fried Rice

Fried rice is one of my favorite go-to dishes during the week because I always have leftover rice in the refrigerator — I make a big batch every week because it’s great for lunches and dinners. Taking a few minutes to mix up a sauce, shred some chicken, pull out some veggies, and, if I have one handy, crack an egg makes ordinary rice more interesting.

The recipe below assumes you’re working with pre-cooked chicken and frozen vegetables. If you choose to cook your chicken, make sure it’s cut into very small bite-sized pieces. Saute the chicken until nearly cooked through and set aside. Do the same for the vegetables.

Fish sauce is a key ingredient here. It adds flavor that soy sauce alone can’t create. Also, this is a lightly sauced fried rice because the fish sauce adds to much flavor. If you like more sauce, add at the end to make sure your flavors are balanced.

Meatloaf with Ketchup-Vinegar Glaze

I grew up eating really bad meatloaf — it was dry and covered with ketchup. Yet I still loved the stuff. I love it even more now that I’m an adult because, as with many of the foods from my childhood, I’ve discovered and refined recipes that suit my more adventurous tastes. But I admit it: I still frequently use a variation on the traditional ketchup glaze.

Traditional meatloaves are made with a bread-and-milk panade. Unless you’re doing a lot of gluten-free baking, chances are you don’t have much GF bread to spare. Another option is gluten-free breadcrumbs, or…you can do as I do and use meaty, tasty mushrooms to your meatloaf. In addition to adding incredible flavor, mushrooms help keep your meatloaf moist and increases flavor.

This recipe includes basic seasonings. Use them as suggestions. Fresh herbs and different spices can change up the flavor in great ways. Like heat? Add some cayenne or fresh jalapeno. I sometimes add about a 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese to my meatloaf mixture. There is no one way to make a meatloaf.

One thing: while you can make your meatloaf in a loaf pan, I like this freeform style because it keeps the loaf from stewing in its juices.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Instead the ketchup glaze, serve with mushroom gravy.[/box]

Banh Mi Style Chicken Breasts

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich filled with fragrant spices, seasoned meat, and crisp veggies. Traditionally, it’s served on a crusty baguette. I’ve been known to substitute Udi’s Gluten-Free breads as they’re more readily available.

However, one afternoon, I was craving this combination of flavors and found myself breadless. Since I had the chicken and the rest of the ingredients, I improvised. This chicken was so tasty, I snuck it into my leftovers for several days!

It combines sweet, sour, spicy flavors in a way that makes me want to make it again as I type this recipe.

Chicken Thighs with Teriyaki Sauce

While many people reflexively opt for a chicken breast when presented with chicken-ish options, I prefer the dark meat. It’s richer and more flavorful. Also, the thigh of a chicken doesn’t dry out during cooking the same way the breast does.

This is my way of saying you can substitute whatever type of chicken you have handy: breasts, legs, thighs, wings, or even tenders. It’s merely a matter of adjusting the cooking time to reflect the part you are using.

Finally, I like to pan roast my chicken, but this will work fine as an oven dish. Just cook the meat at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until done.

If you have extra teriyaki sauce (or decide to make extra because it’s so tasty), you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Over the holiday season, I find myself eating way more chips and dip than is healthy. The fault is mostly mine since I’m the one who makes this fantastic and addictive caramelized onion dip.

Caramelizing onions changes their flavor — they become mellow and sweet. The amount of heat you use informs the speed of this dish (and the attention required — higher heat requires much more stirring to prevent burning!). I like to cook my onions low and slow while I’m preparing other dishes.

The amount of onion in this recipe seems insane, but they will cook down considerably.