Lemon, Chicken and Rice Soup

This is a combination of a Greek avgolemono soup with chicken, rice, eggs and lemons and a low country bog (a swampy chicken and rice soup) common to the Carolinas. I like the addition of lemons to clear out the sinuses and, with all the worries about COVID-19, what could be more comforting and healthy than chicken soup?

If you don’t want to hassle with making the chicken stock, buy 10 cups of stock from the store and get a rotisserie chicken from the grocer. Start the recipe with cooking the rice in the stock. A whole chicken usually gives about 3-5 cups of chicken. I reserved the breasts for chicken salad and still had more than 3 cups of chicken to shred for the soup.

The final dish is silky and refreshing while also being immensely comforting.

Chicken and Rice Soup

1 – 4lb whole chicken, rinsed
10 cups water
2 carrots, broken in half
2 stalks celery, broken in half
1 small onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups long grain rice
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
⅓ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
2 large whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk

In a large stock pot, place chicken, carrots, celery, onion and garlic in the water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 60-90 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and water has become a flavorful broth.

Set chicken aside to cool slightly. Strain and discard solids from liquid and return the chicken stock to the pot. Run it through a fat separator if you want to reduce the fat in the final dish. Pick the meat off the cooled chicken, until you have at least 3 cups of chicken. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside, discarding skin and bones.

Bring broth back to a boil. Cook rice in the broth with salt and pepper on low heat until soft and tender, about 20 minutes.

Ladle out one cup of the cooked rice and place in a blender with lemon juice and zest and the eggs. Blend until smooth.

Stir shredded chicken into broth. Very slowly, add the warm egg/lemon mixture into the pot, whisking constantly to prevent any clumps from forming. With heat on low, cook for about ten minutes or until thickened. Taste for seasoning.

This soup will continue to thicken when stored, so have about a cup of chicken broth when reheating the soup. As it warms, the liquids will combine and make it the perfect thickness.

Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous

I had been craving tzatziki and decided to do a Mediterranean style chicken dinner. I’m calling it that instead of Greek as I don’t recall ever having couscous in Greece. This is a pretty quick cooking recipe (although the tzatziki and marinade will take a few hours). Actual cook time is around 20 minutes.

My recipe for tzatziki can be found HERE and you only need to make it a couple hours in advance for the flavors to come together. It will be stronger the next day, so don’t go too crazy on the garlic (unless you really hate vampires).

A few crumbles of feta cheese would have gone nicely with this dish, too.

Stuff any leftover meat in a pita with some more tomatoes, a little lettuce and another dollop of tzatziki. Definitely food for the gods!

Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mediterranean Marinade:
1 tablespoon lemon zest
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup olive oil

1 cup couscous
½ cup of Kalamata olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 recipe tzatziki

Slice the chicken into strips. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and place the marinade and chicken in a zip top bag. Remove as much air as possible when sealing the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken. Set in the fridge for up to 4 hours.

Heat 2 cups of water to boiling. Place the couscous in a medium boil and pour the water over. You can use broth here for more flavor but water is fine. Cover and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir fry the chicken until done, about 5 minutes per side.

Pit the olives and slice into quarters. Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves. Fluff the couscous and stir in the olives and tomatoes.

Place a couple of spoonfuls of the couscous on each plate. Add four strips of chicken and a healthy dollop of tzatziki and serve.

Quick Chicken in Pastry

When pulling a prepared pie crust out of the freezer for a pie, I found it was broken in half. While I could have thawed it and pressed it back together, I decided to hold on to it for a quick dinner instead. After a day of working in the yard (who knew the trees had so many leaves in them!), I wanted something uncomplicated but delicious.

You can coat the chicken in most any pesto sauce you like – I had a small jar (6.5 ounce) of A.G. Ferrari sun-dried tomato pesto that I used but feel free to use a more traditional basil pesto or even artichoke pesto. What you are looking for is a good flavored sauce that will go well with chicken.

I parboiled a sliced potato while the oven was heating, then drained them and tossed them with olive oil and rosemary salt and put them around the baking sheet. After 20 minutes, flip them over. When sprinkling on the parmesan cheese, put some on the potatoes, too.

If you are told by your girlfriend that potatoes don’t count as a vegetable – slice a large zucchini into spears and toss with a little oil oil, salt and Italian seasoning. About ten minutes into the chicken’s cook time, place the zucchini skin side down around the pastry covered chicken on the baking sheet. After about 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

Quick Chicken in Pastry

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 frozen pie crust, thawed (I used one of the Pillsbury Pie Crusts)
1 jar (about 1 cup) pesto sauce
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Pound the chicken to a uniform thickness. Make three shallow slices across the meat. Slather completely with the jarred sauce. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Place any leftover sauce on top of the chicken.

Cut the prepared pie crust into strips. Cover the chicken, overlapping each slice. Tuck under the ends. Beat egg with the milk. Brush over the top and sides of the pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is done. At the 20 minute mark, sprinkle everything with a little parmesan cheese, if using.

Greek Style Roast Chicken With Potatoes

I spent a lot of time in Greece while in college, as my Dad was stationed there. The flavors of the roasted chicken we got there still resonate in my mind – garlic, lemon, oregano. While Greek oregano has its own special taste and aroma, using generic dried oregano will work in this dish.

I used a deep cast iron pan instead of a roasting tray. I warmed it the oven while the stove preheated, so it sizzled a little as the potatoes went into the pan. As the chicken cooks, the potatoes will soften and become creamy in the pan juices, so expect your guests to fight over them.

The scent of the house as this chicken roasts must be what Elysium is like!

Greek Style Roast Chicken with Potatoes

1 4 lb whole chicken
1 stick butter, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon plus one additional lemon, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 to 4 russet potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, use a fork to mix 6 tablespoons of the softened butter with the garlic and lemon zest.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside of the chicken and stuff in the lemon halves. Gently separate the skin and work the butter garlic mixture under the skin and massage to work into an even layer over the flesh.

Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter with the olive oil. Stir in the lemon juice. Massage this mixture all over the outside of the bird.

Slice the potatoes into rounds and place in bottom of roasting pan. Place chicken on top, tucking the wings under to prevent burning. Pour over any remaining olive oil, butter and lemon juice. Sprinkle salt and oregano over chicken.

Bake for 90 minutes in a 400 degree F oven, basting every thirty minutes with the pan juices. The dish is done when the internal temperature of the bird is 165 degrees F. Let rest for 10 minutes before squeezing the roasted lemon halves over the chicken and slicing for serving.

Kalí órexsi!

Boursin and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I had a package of Boursin Gournay Cheese that I found in the back of the fridge and boneless chicken breasts were on sale, so we had basically all we needed for a chicken dinner. Toss in half the package of portobello mushrooms and we upped the deliciousness factor by twelve.

I used the Garlic and Herbs style of Boursin but every kind they have would work in this dish. If you don’t have Boursin, you can approximate your own by whipping half a package of cream cheese and mixing in garlic and herbs and a little salt.

This is a two person dish but can be scaled up for a larger dinner.

Boursin and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts


2 large boneless chicken breasts
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped
2.5 ounce package Boursin Gournay cheese, room temperature
⅓ cup flour
1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of olive oil
½ cup breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes

In a small skillet, sauté the mushrooms in butter until they’ve released their juices. Set aside to cool slightly while you pound the chicken breasts to about ¼ inch thick.

Stir pecans into the Boursin cheese. Stir the still warm mushroom with the cheese and pecans. Spread in a thick layer over the pounded chicken. Starting at the narrow end, fold up the chicken breast, tucking in the ends. Secure with toothpicks. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the stuffed chicken from the fridge and take off the plastic. Dredge them in flour, coat with egg and roll in breadcrumbs or corn flakes. Place coated chicken on a greased baking dish, seam side down. Bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the breast, until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F and the chicken is slightly browned.

Slice and serve.

Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken

For my Labor Day weekend grilling, I’m taking advantage of the local sales on whole chickens and bags of lemons.

I’ve always been a fan of lemon pepper seasoning on seafood, especially fish and shrimp and my dad loves it on his steaks, whether venison or beef. But don’t forget that it also goes really well on chicken, too. You can buy a jar of the seasoning from the store or make your own. I use this version when making my own.

Because Michelle made a special request, I’m serving the chicken with a broccoli casserole and some grilled zucchini with lemon salt. Recipe for the zucchini was found on the Pioneer Woman’s website.

Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken

4-5 lb chicken
4 lemons, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning, divided

Butterfly chicken by cutting out the backbone and the wings. Reserve the backbone and wings for stock. Place remaining chicken in a zip top bag.

Zest two of the lemons and then place the zest and juice from three lemons in a bowl. You want to have about a 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Whisk together with the olive oil, garlic and 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning. Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours, occasionally turning the chicken to make sure it is fully covered.

Remove from marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides with remaining tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning.

Set up the grill for indirect cooking. Place chicken on the cool side of the grates with the legs facing the coals. Grill chicken for approximately 60 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Let rest 5 minutes before carving.

For the last 15 minutes of grilling, place the final lemon, cut in half on the grill. Once you’ve plated the chicken for serving, squeeze some of the grilled lemon on each piece for a bright hit of lemon flavor.

Skillet Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie

I wanted some comfort food, so I decided to make a pot pie for dinner. My version includes chicken and onions and mushrooms and seasonings but none of those pesky peas, confounded carrots or other vexing vegetables. My version, in other words, is awesome.

I used large portobello mushrooms, sliced but most any mushroom would do. Make sure they are in bite sized pieces.

For this recipe, I’m using a Pillsbury Pie Crust for the topping. It is easy to thaw and unroll and tastes great.

Skillet Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 cup low salt chicken stock
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 roll of pie dough
1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of water

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Dice the chicken breast into bite-sized cubes. Stir them with the Worcestershire sauce and then toss with the cornmeal to coat. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat and add in some oil. Turn the heat down to medium and sear the diced chicken until browned on all sides. Remove the seared chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate.

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add in the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Toss in the sliced mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have reduced in size and given up their liquid. Remove from the skillet to a bowl.

Melt butter and stir the flour in the skillet over medium heat. Cook the roux for 5 minutes to make sure the raw flour taste is cooked away. Stir in the pepper, salt and sage. Pour in the chicken stock and turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the sour cream. Return the onions and mushrooms to the skillet and stir to coat with the pan sauce. Return the chicken to the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture has thickened. Turn off the heat.

The pie crust should be about the size of your pan. If not, roll it out until it is just a little bigger than the pan, then place it over the filling, using a wooden spoon or scraper to push the edges down into the sides. Cut slices in the top to allow steam to escape during baking.

Brush the top with the beaten egg and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the chicken juices are bubbling and overflowing.

Let the chicken mushroom pot pie rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Yummy!