Are your pants starting to feel a little tight? Maybe your demanding schedule is pushing you into bad eating habits, like eating frozen dinners filled with salt and preservatives, picking up fast food and cramming yourself with empty calories? If you are like me, you want to eat right but a healthy option is not always easy: lunch break at work it’s difficult to find something satisfying and quick; when I get home from a long work day I’m hungry and will eat junk food if something healthy isn’t a quick and easy option. So, here’s a remedy for our woes.
I found out about this nutritious, quick, and yummy system from my boyfriend when we were first dating. After lamenting my bad eating habits on the phone with him because of my busy work schedule, he decided to do something about it. In a couple of hours, on a weekend, he fired up his stove and cooked the most appetizing dinners and vacuum sealed them for me. My little baggies were filled with chicken breast sautéed and covered with sauces like apricot-orange sauce or sweet-tart sauce with tomato and thyme, or hearty brown ale sauce with a side of broccoli florets or black beans. While some women might have received a bouquet of flowers, I was lavished with a bouquet of frozen gourmet baggies and I couldn’t have been happier.
You’ll need a vacuum sealer: it makes tidy packages that freeze and travel well. Good quality vacuum sealers are available for less than $150. We recently purchased a nice vacuum sealer at Costco for $120. The cost of the sealer is quickly recouped if you eat your own cooking instead of eating out.
Now you are ready to get cooking! All the recipes can be found in The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which is the cookbook we reach for first out of a bookshelf full of cookbooks. You can also look for other sauces at epicurious.com.
Pound boneless chicken breasts to uniform thickness to ensure even cooking. Place the chicken breasts in a gallon freezer Ziplock and pound them with the flat side of a meat tenderizer mallet or a cast-iron skillet. Also, breasts cooked to 160 degrees will be perfectly cooked every time.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (not olive oil)
Whisk the flour, salt, and pepper together and then spread in an even layer on a plate. After you have pounded the chicken, dry with paper towels. Immediately before adding to the skillet, place the chicken in the mixture of flour, pepper and salt, making sure it has a nice coat of the mixture.
Place it in the skillet once it is heated. Make sure that you don’t place the chicken in the skillet too early or you won’t get the nice browning of your chicken. Of course if it’s too hot you’ll scorch the chicken and it will be bitter to the taste, so be mindful of your chicken.
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-heat until it just begins to smoke. This can take several minutes.
2. Gently lay the floured chicken in the skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Check after 5 minutes and adjust the heat down if chicken is too brown.
3. Place the chicken on a plate and set aside while you start to cook your sauce.
4. Return skillet to stove, add more oil, and follow the sauce directions.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup orange juice
1 orange, peeled and chopped medium
1 cup dried apricots, chopped medium
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper
Add the butter to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the orange juice, chopped orange, and apricots.
Simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in any accumulated chicken juice. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Allow the chicken and sauce to cool for 15min. Place a chicken breast (or a half breast) in a vacuum bag then put 1/4c of sauce on top.
Add fresh frozen broccoli florets and/or black beans for a complete meal. Vacuum seal according to product directions.
Reheat by placing vacuum bag on a plate and piecing multiple times with a sharp knife. Heat in a microwave on high for 5-8 minutes. Times vary according to microwave power and amount of food. Wait for a minute after removing from microwave, empty packet onto plate and enjoy!
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