Since arriving in New York I’ve had to think about food and groceries differently. Instead of just ‘what do I need?’ and ‘how much will it cost?’, a third variable enters the equation: ‘how much can I carry?’
It’s been easy to just drive my car to the store, load up the back with whatever I need, and then not have to go back for a week or two. Heck, a successful trip to Costco and it might be months before I need some non-perishable items again!
The closest grocery store is about a 12 minute walk away, which isn’t bad at all. I take my backpack, load it up, a bag for each hand… but things like enormous jars of peanut butter PLUS a 4 litre jug of milk PLUS things like apples or sweet potatoes, and all the other food I need… let’s just say my backpack starts creaking. And it’s not like my small university town where we could just borrow a grocery cart to take things home and then return it.
Because of this, my grocery list has transformed drastically, carefully balancing ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ foods, more frequent trips, and more specialized trips like getting bread from the bakery down the street instead of the store. I can get nothing frivolous, nothing extra, every single food item must be accounted and planned for.
It’s great for my muscles, my budget and my calorie count! It’s so easy to take some things for granted, but even a small change presents a welcome challenge. I’d love to know how you city-dwelling people actually do it! What strategies do you have?
In keeping with my ‘waste-nothing’ philosophy, I purchased some chicken breasts with the intention of making some grand chicken based masterpiece. And I kept forgetting one ingredient or another. Repeatedly. Finally I had to throw in the towel and just cook these bad boys.
There was really only one solution. One delicious, delicious solution.
This marinade is amazing. I came up with the recipe a long time ago (used to be laced with paprika and chili powder too!), and it never fails me. It comes together so fast! It’s great in a chicken salad sandwich, over a salad, with roasted sweet potatoes for dinner… this is an amazing, versatile marinade. I can bake, barbecue, fry, anything with this recipe.
The first thing you need to do is whip up the marinade sauce. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and onion powder in a bowl. I always add cilantro because we love it, but I know some people don’t (evil tastebud genes, making it taste like soap to some people…) soooo it’s optional.
Now to marinade! There are a couple ways you can do this. It really only has to sit for an hour or two in the marinade, but I really prefer it overnight.
I’m marinading the breasts in a baking pan, having placed some of the marinade under the chicken and then over top of it, making sure it’s completely covered. Alternatively, one quick and easy way is to just toss everything in a large Ziploc bag, and make sure everything’s coated. Either way, it goes back in the fridge to soak up all those amazing flavours!
You have two options to cook the chicken at this point: bake it or barbecue it! We are sadly grill-less at the moment, so baking it is.
If you are baking, you’ll want to use a baking pan. I’m using our 9×9″ one. Try to give the chicken a little space, or make sure they’re barely touching. These chicken breasts were HUGE. Like, the largest I have ever seen, so I gave them as much space as I could. If you are lucky enough to have a meat pounder or hammer and saran wrap, flatten the chicken breasts as best you can. This will ensure they cook the same throughout, you don’t want some parts of the breast overcooked and others still raw!
If you’re grilling, just toss them straight on the grill (aim for about 375-450° if you can) and let it do its thing for a couple minutes on each side, flipping only once.
The best way to bake chicken to make it juicy and delicious is to use high heat and a shorter baking time, so we’re going to crank the oven up to 450° and only bake them for 15-20 minutes. They come out absolutely perfect, just this side of cooked, completely juicy and flavourful.
And they smell amazing.
Ooooh man they look so good!
Now, you can either use these as the meat in a dinner, beside salad or whatever you want, OR you can use them how I’ve been using them this week: cut up over salad. They’ll keep for three days in the fridge, so I usually cut them all up and freeze some for later on in the week.
- 3-4 chicken breasts , thawed
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp garlic powder or 2 cloves , minced
- 2 tsp onion powder
- dash each salt and pepper
- OPTIONAL: 1 tsp cilantro
Mix together olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper (and cilantro).
Flatten the chicken with either a meat pounder or hammer and saran wrap until it is all the same thickness to ensure it cooks evenly.
Either put chicken in a Ziploc bag, cover in the marinade and close securely, smooshing (technical cooking term, I know) until all the chicken is covered OR pour some marinade on the bottom of a baking pan, add chicken and then pour the rest over the top.
Let sit a minimum of 1 hour, but I recommend overnight! Another option is to freeze the chicken in the marinade until you need it.
Either bake at 450° for 15-20 minutes in a baking dish, or barbecue around 450° (if you can control this) for a couple minutes on each side. Ensure that the chicken breast is cooked all the way through before you serve.
Serve immediately, cut up and serve over salad, freeze it, whatever you like!