How to Pan Sear

pan searing 101

This cooking method, when done properly, ensures that your poultry, pork, and fish will have a crisp, delicate crust while maintaining a juicy, flavorful interior.

To pan sear, you will need:

A healthy oil that will stand up to higher temps (I prefer to use a small amount of olive oil or grapeseed oil -do not use extra virgin olive oil, since it will lose its integrity and degrade in high heat)

Your favorite type of fine flour, sifted.  Again, you only want to use a small amount.  Sprinkle on just enough to coat the meat, and dust or shake off excess.  You can add your favorite spices here, but be wary of those that may burn!

A pan that is heavy enough to hold in heat evenly, such as cast iron or stainless steel.

Patience

Tongs or metal flipper

Directions:

MISE EN PLACE This is a French term for “everything in its place”.  This will become your motto throughout this challenge!  When we have everything prepared and ready to go, we have an exponentially greater likelihood for a successful outcome.

Put a small amount of oil in your pan (just enough to coat the bottom and prevent sticking)

After your pan is on the stovetop, turn the burner to medium heat.  You do not need to char your food.  If you’re one of those people that cooks everything on high heat, just stop!  Seriously!  Slow down and enjoy the process, man!

You want to make sure that the oil has heated to a high enough temperature that it will sizzle when your meat hits it.  If your oil isn’t hot enough, it’ll just soak into your coating and you’re going to have a nasty, oily piece’o’meat.  Yuck!  You can test your oil with a droplet of water – if it sizzles, you’re ready.  If not, continue waiting.  This is about patience.  You can also try a second method, and this is to look for a LIGHT spurting of white smoke.  You don’t want it to be easily detected.  If you see a decent amount of white smoke, take your pan of the burner and let it cool, adjusting your heat to a lower setting.

Here’s the part that everyone messes up on, but you won’t, now that you know better:

Place your meat in the heated pan.  Leave it alone.  You’re only going to flip your meat ONCE before it’s done.  That’s it!

DO NOT take your pan off of the burner.  DO NOT force the meat to release itself from the pan.  If it’s sticking, it’s not done yet.

So, how will you know when it’s time to flip that sucker?  You will see that the meat has cooked about halfway through by observing that it has changed color about halfway up to the top half of the cut.  For instance, the bottom of your chicken will be white, the top half will be pink.  This is the best time to flip.  Again, if you have to fight it to pull it up, it’s not done yet.  Your meat will flip without sticking when it’s ready.  This process takes minutes.  You want the crust to be a paper bag brown.  This is the good stuff, right here.

Flip your meat at this point, and continue cooking until you no longer see raw bits around the edges and juices run clear.  Test with a meat thermometer, away from the bone (if any), and do so at the thickest part of the cut.

101 Ways to Use Shredded Chicken (that aren’t all soup and salad)

101 ways to use shredded chicken.pngA few months back, I had run a clean eating challenge which included the use of shredded chicken in multiple meals.

Since then, shredded chicken has become a staple item in our kitchen.  To break the monotony, I’ve compiled a list of recipes from around the ‘net that will offer variety & make any weeknight dinner a snap!

I typically make Salsa Verde Chicken, which always turns out juicy and delicious!  It’s so versatile, too! I’ve stumbled across a recipe that uses beer and cumin… that sounds pretty great, too!

Here‘s a link to the recipe, found on GimmeSomeOven.com.  Perfection.

Now that you have a base recipe, let’s look at the possibilities!  Remember, that you can certainly cook your chicken however you’d like.  Rotisserie leftovers would be great in these dishes, too!  Enjoy!

  1. Creamy Chicken Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole
  2. Top your shredded chicken with Mango Salsa!
  3. Chicken Pesto Salad
  4. Chicken Gyros
  5. Healthy Chicken Tamale Pizza
  6. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Sandwich
  7. Chicken Tortilla Soup
  8. Mexican Chicken Bake
  9. Crustless Chicken Quiche
  10. Chicken Tamale Pie
  11. Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Chicken
  12. Chicken and Garden Veggies Quinoa Skillet
  13. Asian Shredded Chicken
  14. Shredded Chicken with Ginger and Cilantro
  15. Shredded Chicken Salad with Mango Chile Salsa
  16. Creamed Chicken with Corn and Bacon Over Polenta
  17. Chicken Enchiladas
  18. Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
  19. White Chicken Chili
  20. Peanut Butter Vegetable Chicken Soup
  21. Chicken a la King
  22. Jen’s Jambalaya
  23. Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
  24. Spiced Couscous and Chicken
  25. Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas
  26. Pulled Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
  27. Throw it at someone you don’t like
  28. Chicken Tamales
  29. Cold Peanut Soba Noodles with Chicken
  30. Open-face Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches
  31. Middle-Eastern Style Chicken, Veggies, and Rice
  32. Chocolate Chicken Mole
  33. Italian Chicken Pasta Salad
  34. Baked Gnocchi with Chicken
  35. Chicken Carbonara
  36. Chicken and Cheddar Souffle
  37. Chicken and Arugula Pita Pockets
  38. Thai Coconut Soup
  39. Single-Crust Chicken Pot Pie
  40. Lemon Pepper Chicken
  41. Hearty Spanish Soup
  42. Potato & Hatch Chile and Chicken Soup
  43. Green Curry Chicken
  44. Lime Soup
  45. Chicken with Escarole
  46. Gluten-Free Chicken Cacciatore
  47. Thai Steamed Chicken and Vegetables
  48. Toss it in with some Vodka Blush Sauce and bowtie noodles…
  49. …or some alfredo sauce made with cauliflower
  50. Chicken Pot Pie
  51. Italian Chicken Salad
  52. Sriracha Chicken Quesadillas
  53. Magic Chicken Pie
  54. Drizzle it with Magic Sauce
  55. Chicken Parm Casserole
  56. Southwestern Chicken Wraps
  57. Easy Green Pozole
  58. Cashew Chicken with Mushrooms & Green Beans
  59. Easy Red Pozole
  60. Chicken Nicoise Salad
  61. Cajun Chicken and Rice
  62. Chicken, Pesto, and Fried Egg Pizza
  63. Greek Lemon Soup with Chicken
  64. Chicken and Gruyere Turnovers
  65. Toss it with your favorite tortellini & sauce!
  66. Chicken and White BBQ Potatoes
  67. Tzatziki Chicken Salad
  68. Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh
  69. Chicken and Guacamole Tosatadas
  70. Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
  71. Chicken Fried Rice (light)
  72. Chicken and Goat Cheese Pizza with Fresh Herbs
  73. Add it to Butternut Squash Pizza with White Sauce, Spinach, and Goat Cheese
  74. Cobb Salad Tacos
  75. Potato, Chicken, and Fresh Pea Salad
  76. Chicken and Mushroom Panini
  77. Chicken, Red Grape, and Pesto Pizza
  78. Roasted Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad
  79. Chicken with Ginger and Green Onion Salt Dip
  80. Muffulettas
  81. Chicken Enchilada Stack
  82. Pita Salad with Cucumber, Fennel, and Chicken
  83. Chicken Chilaquiles
  84. Peanut-Sauced Chicken Pitas
  85. Quick Chicken and Dumplings
  86. Lemony Orzo-Veggie Salad with Chicken
  87. Cover them with this Creamy Mushroom Sauce
  88. Cheese Tortellini and Chicken Mushroom Casserole
  89. Chicken Crepes with Mole Amarillo
  90. Hot Chicken Salad Casserole
  91. Garlic Cashew and Chicken Casserole
  92. Chicken and Olive Tamale Pie
  93. Easy Chicken Tikka Masala
  94. Tandoori Spiced Chicken and Rice Bake
  95. Potluck Chicken Tetrazzini
  96. Chicken Taco Casserole
  97. Creamy Chicken-Broccoli Bake
  98. Chicken Caesar Lasagna
  99. Chicken and Stuffing Bake
  100. Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole
  101. Chicken Supreme Casserole

BONUS!  Corn and Chicken Chowder

 

 

*wreath by VectorStock

 

 

 

Nine Ways to Make Your 2016 Resolution Stick!

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If you’re one of the millions who’ve made a New Year’s resolution, congratulations!

Making the decision to change means that you recognize that something in your life can be better and this is a wonderful first step!

Before you go out into 2016 determined to be a different person, make certain that you have created a plan to reach your goals.

There’s no greater disappointment than feeling overwhelmed and quitting.

You can do this.  Here’s how:

Remember that you are the same person you were a day ago. But, work to make something just a little better today.  Whatever it was that you had done in your past can be moved forward from.  Seriously.  Your life is a narrative where all of the pages after this moment are completely blank, and you are the narrator.  YOU are in charge of your life, your actions.  No one else.  Remember that as you make every choice.  Did you mess up yesterday?  Find ways to rectify those mistakes with yourself first, and then take action!  You cannot make peace or change anything external until you have changed internally first.

Come up with a realistic plan that includes smaller, gradual changes.  It’s great to set a goal to save $1,000 this year or lose 20 pounds!  Truly!  However, if you’re not actively setting up steps to get yourself there, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.  Perhaps your first steps should be to take  $20 per week out of that paycheck and place it into a savings account or lose one pound per week.  That way, you’re not completely overwhelmed or leaving yourself deprived.  You’ll feel the momentum of your smaller actions grow in just a few weeks!

If you slip up, just start again… now! Was there a work party, filled with treats too tempting to pass.. and you had a moment of weakness… and, oops! Did you eat two or three days worth of your caloric allotment?  Maybe you found concert tickets that were wayyy more than you’d budgeted for, but it’s your favorite band.. and, and…  now you feel like a failure because you blew through your goals?  STOP.  Breathe.  Life happens!  While you are responsible for engaging in those activities, you also have control over what happens next!  Drink your water, put a little extra away in your next paycheck.   Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week; your chances of actually committing will decrease. Your next steps may have to reflect a bump in the road or alter to accommodate your new circumstances, but c‘est la vie!  There is no end date to your journey… well, you know what I mean (insert tasteless death joke here).

Be easy on yourself!  I cannot say this enough or with ample sincerity!  You are your own best friend, and ultimately, no one will love or take care of you like you! Let me ask you something: would you speak to a friend in the same manner with which you speak to yourself?  Most likely, the answer is no! We’re human, and as such, we’re hardwired for error.  Aim for an 80/20 balance in life.  Do the best you can, always, and remember that bad choices are normal, human, and will happen!  And, refer to the above point… you can always start again!

Habits are made and broken on Mondays… or Thursdays… or…?  Think about your routine and your mood changes throughout the week.  Write it all down if you have to.  Find what works best for you, and go with it.  Personally, I prefer to start a new habit on Monday.  This gives me several days to prepare mentally and physically for the weekend, plus allows me to experience one last weekend of bad choices to make me feel extra guilty before I start.  Perhaps it’s the Catholic upbringing, but it works for me! My point here is to get to know yourself well enough that you have a strong idea of what YOU need.  The process of change is very personal and completely different for everyone.  

Keep track of your progress. I cannot stress this enough.  Sometimes we feel like we’re treading water, doing tons of work with little-to-no results.  Change takes time and comes in so many different, and at times, unexpected forms!  For instance, I had set a weight loss goal for myself.  I was working hard, drinking half my body weight’s worth of ounces in water, eating right, and that scale would not budge!  My pants, however, told a different story, and were loosening up around my shrinking hips. Look for other measurements of success!  Those measurements could be anything from passing up something tempting to feeling more responsible and empowered!  It’s always a good idea to have a record of where you started from, so you can have an accurate assessment of what’s working… and what’s not!

Reward yourself.  Celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small or large.  Treat them all the same!  You should be proud of your efforts!  The reward doesn’t have to include food or spending money, but can be something as simple as taking part in your favorite activity, calling a supportive friend or family member, or having some quiet time to yourself.  The possibilities are endless because we are unique individuals!  Again, find what works for you!

Partner up.  Doing something alone can be empowering, but at times can feel alienating as well.  If you can’t find a close friend or loved one to jump on board with you, look for alternative solutions.  There are support systems for everything under the sun if you turn to social media!  Sometimes just having another person’s positive input or knowing that another can relate is enough to get us back on track.  No person is an island… we are social creatures and there are people out there that are going through what you are! (I personally run fitness support and accountability groups via Facebook.  If you’d like to learn more, leave a comment below or e-mail me at Amanda.C.Fager@gmail.com.)

Know your weaknesses and have a ‘plan b’.  This may actually be two in one, but they go hand-in-hand.  Knowing where the weak points are in your journey will empower you to come up with a fallback plan.  Life is full of plot twists, so having an idea of what you’re going to do if a bump in the road pops up will leave you in a better position to make the right decision.  Be prepared and you’ll be well on your way to meeting, and perhaps exceeding, those goals!

Now, go out into the world and be great!

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by Amanda Fager// Jan 4, 2016