Skillet Chicken and Orzo

Skillet Chicken and Orzo

Weeknight cooking can be hard!

You forgot to take something out of the freezer, the fridge is empty, and you only have an hour to get something on the table. This is just a few of the hurtles busy families face daily in the quest to enjoy a family meal together. Skillet Chicken and Orzo is a great weeknight meal that’s easy to prepare, dirties only one pot and can be on the table in about an hour. It’s also super delicious with minimal effort.

Tips to easier weeknight meals

1. Make a meal plan for the week which can be as simple as writing down what meals you intend to prepare. Have fun with it by including the family in your choices. Including others helps to identify preferences and dishes that everyone likes.

 2. Make only one trip to the grocery store by purchasing the ingredients needed for each meal in advance.

3. Take items out of the freezer to have completely thawed and ready for use.

4. Make simple dishes that can be on the table within an hour or so.

5. Make dishes that other family members can help with such as washing and chopping vegetables.

6. Make only one meal that everyone can/will eat. So if you have a dish that everyone loves except the “onion” hater, then make the dish without onions and therefore suitable for everyone.

7. Don’t be afraid to settle for something as simple as eggs on toast for supper.  Eggs are very nutritious and quick to prepare. Make them a great meal by simply sauteeing up a few greens, sausage and/or vegetables.  Top with olives, cheese, breadcrumbs, or chives for a great weeknight meal.

8. If you gotta give your 5-year-old a “grilled cheese night” in exchange for eating other meals later in the week, then everyone eats grilled cheese, making it about balance and compromise.  Besides, who doesn’t like grilled cheese!!

9. Stick mostly to recipes/dishes you are comfortable and familiar with making during your busiest days.  No one wants to fumble around with a new recipe when time is tight.

10. Make extra when you can and freeze for use later, either as a leftover lunch or a meal for someone who gets home late.

The key to Skillet Chicken and Orzo is to give the chicken and mushrooms a good sear. The mushrooms need a very hot pan and should not be overcrowded. Resist the urge to stir them and you will hear them “squeak”. That is a sign that they are becoming golden on the bottom and starting to release some of their liquid. The chicken also benefits from a good sear that helps to render the fat and crisp up the skin. Taking the time to brown both ingredients lends to a more flavourful dish that you’ll want to make again and again. Enjoy!

Want more great weeknight options like Skillet Chicken and Orzo?  Here are a few of my favourites.

Tarragon Chicken Cutlets

Red Curry Coconut Shrimp

Mushroom and Arugula Quinoa Bowls

Product Favourites!

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Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets

Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets

Why are chicken cutlets so good?

Simply put, they are pounded thin.  This not only makes them tender but makes them cook quickly leaving them little chance of drying out. The trick is to pound them out as evenly as possible which results in even cooking.  Breading the cutlets isn’t always necessary but it does help to keep in all the moisture as does a good sear if opting not to bread them. Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets is a good example of both pounding thin and breading.

 

 

I love versatile food!

Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets are a great example of how one dish can become 3 different kinds of meals.  These crispy cutlets slathered with pesto are fantastic served with buttered noodles for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  They’re also great cut into wedges and served atop a crisp salad. I’m thinking my favourite though is nestling said cutlet between chewy bread and tomato slices for an upgraded sandwich that ‘s good for lunch or dinner.

 

Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets are cut into strips in the foreground, while whole cutlets remain on a parchment lined tray in the background. A black kitchen towel, knife, fresh basil and pesto adorn the scene.
Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    8 cutlets 35 minutes
    Cook Time
    12-15 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    8 cutlets 35 minutes
    Cook Time
    12-15 minutes
    Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets are cut into strips in the foreground, while whole cutlets remain on a parchment lined tray in the background. A black kitchen towel, knife, fresh basil and pesto adorn the scene.
    Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      8 cutlets 35 minutes
      Cook Time
      12-15 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      8 cutlets 35 minutes
      Cook Time
      12-15 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: cutlets
      Instructions
      1. Using a blender or mini processor combine the first 7 ingredients and blend until combined but still has some texture. Set aside.
      2. Using three shallow bowls, combine flour and 1/2 tsp salt in one, breadcrumbs and 1/2 tsp salt in the second and the eggs whisked with the milk in the third.
      3. Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. Cut each breast in half horizontally and then cut each half into half vertically, giving you 4 pieces per breast.
      4. Place chicken pieces between 2 pieces of parchment. Pound to about a 1/4" thick (no thinner).
      5. Dredge chicken cutlets with flour, shaking off excess.
      6. Dunk floured cutlets into egg wash and then into bread crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Arrange prepared cutlets onto a clean plate or tray.
      7. Add enough oil to a large skillet to come up about an 1/8" of an inch. Heat over medium until hot. Add 4 cutlets and cook approximately 2 1/2 minutes per side depending on thickness. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining cutlets.
      8. Turn oven to broil, with rack 8-10" from heat.
      9. Arrange cutlets on a foil lined tray. Spread 1 tbsp of pesto onto each cutlet and sprinkle lightly with grated parmesan cheese. Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
      Recipe Notes

      -You can use any pesto you'd like here, however, the one included with this recipe contains less oil than regular pesto.  I found regular pesto makes the cutlets too oily.  This slightly drier version gives the same great flavour but less oil and better results. If you'd like to use a classic pesto, here's the recipe Classic Pesto

      -These cutlets are also great on top of pasta drizzled with extra pesto or in a sandwich.

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      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta

      One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta

      Bring on the leftovers!

      Get ready for the inevitable week of turkey leftovers with this creamy and delicious One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta.  It will gobble up 2 cups of leftover turkey while being quick, easy and perfect for the whole family.  This one tastes a little like turkey pot pie, without the pie.  One of the ways I make sure there’s added flavour is to brown the mushrooms nicely.  The trick here is to start with a hot oiled pan, don’t overcrowd the mushrooms and allow them to cook on one side until golden before stirring.  It’s a great way to maximize flavour.  I also like to use flavoured cream cheese for added flavour.  For this recipe, I used a garden vegetable cream cheese, however, herb and garlic would also work well. 

      While this post is geared at using up leftover turkey, you could also use leftover chicken, purchased rotisserie chicken or even frozen cooked cubed chicken. The whole premise is minimal cooking involvement but great tasting creamy pasta cooked in one pot.  

      Being a shift worker, I’m a big, big fan of one pot dinners.  Working nights, I still cook dinner prior to leaving for work, so easy and relatively convenient is a must when it comes to getting dinner on the table. One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta is just one of my go-to meals to make my work week easier. 

      Author:  Compelled to Cook

      One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        4 people 20 minutes
        Cook Time
        25 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        4 people 20 minutes
        Cook Time
        25 minutes
        One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          4 people 20 minutes
          Cook Time
          25 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          4 people 20 minutes
          Cook Time
          25 minutes
          Instructions
          1. In a large skillet heat oil over high heat. Add sliced mushrooms and allow to cook until golden on one side and moisture is starting to evaporate. Stir mushrooms and cook for an additional minute. Add chopped onion and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until starting to soften, 3-5 minutes.
          2. Add wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes until most of the wine has cooked out. Stir in 3 cups of chicken broth, pasta, thyme and parsley. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on low, stirring once.
          3. Whisk cornstarch into remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Stir into pasta and allow to come to a full simmer to reach full thickness. Stir in cream cheese, turkey, peas, salt and pepper. Allow to cook 1-2 minutes to heat turkey and peas. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

          Crispy Chicken Sliders with Wasabi Slaw

          Crispy Chicken Sliders with Wasabi Slaw

          I love, love, love crunchy food! For me, the crunchier and saltier the better.  I’m the gal who’ll choose a bag of Doritos over a piece of cake. This may be why I love these amazing Crispy Chicken Sliders with Wasabi Slaw.  The traditional three stage breading using Panko or coarse homemade bread crumbs, makes the crispiest little chicken cutlets that are so perfect with creamy crunchy slaw.  And this slaw has a nice, but not too hot, nasal clearing heat from the wasabi.  It’s a fantastic combination.

          Yes, you heard me right, there’s wasabi in the slaw, and it’s my new favourite coleslaw.  Creamy, crisp and cool with just enough wasabi to create a warming bite and provide a definite sense that you’re not in coleslaw Kansas anymore.  It’s not “reach for water hot” by any means, but if serving this coleslaw on the side, I’d warn the kids and grandparents…just saying!  With its creamy and tangy dressing, the coleslaw is absolutely perfect with the crispy chicken cutlets.  I like to really pile it on for the ultimate little slider.  Don’t forget this amazing slaw is also great with pulled pork or as a side to BBQ’d meats. But don’t take my word for it, go on and give it a try.  You’ll love these wonderful, easy to put together Crispy Chicken Sliders with Wasabi Slaw.  Enjoy!

          Recipe source for Crispy Chicken Sliders with Wasabi Slaw:  Compelled To Cook

          Crispy Chicken Sliders with Wasabi Slaw
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            8 sliders 55-60 minutes
            Cook Time
            10-12 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            8 sliders 55-60 minutes
            Cook Time
            10-12 minutes
            Crispy Chicken Sliders with Wasabi Slaw
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              8 sliders 55-60 minutes
              Cook Time
              10-12 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              8 sliders 55-60 minutes
              Cook Time
              10-12 minutes
              Ingredients
              Wasabi Slaw
              Chicken Cutlets
              Servings: sliders
              Instructions
              Wasabi Slaw
              1. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, wasabi, salt and pepper. Cover and keep chilled until ready to use.
              2. When ready to assemble sliders, toss cabbage, green onion and grated carrot with dressing.
              Chicken Cutlets
              1. Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally and then cut each half into half again, getting 4 pieces (each being about 1.5 ounces) out of each breast. Place the chicken pieces between two pieces of parchment or wax paper and pound with a rolling pin or flat side of a mallet to 1/4" thick.
              2. Using 3 shallow bowls, to the first, add the flour, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. To the second, add eggs and water and whisk to combine. To the third, add the bread crumbs.
              3. Add several chicken pieces to the flour bowl and flip around to coat. Shake off excess and add pieces to egg bowl. Using a fork, flip to coat with egg and place in bread crumbs, turning each piece and patting gently to adhere crumbs. Place breaded portions onto a clean plate or wire rack and repeat breading procedure until all pieces are done.
              4. Add enough canola oil to a large skillet to just start to cover the bottom. Heat over medium high until hot. Add breaded chicken to pan, being careful not to overcrowd pan. Cook for approximately 2 minutes per side until golden. Remove from pan to a paper towel lined tray to dab off any excess grease and then to a clean plate. Keep warm in a low 225℉ oven while remaining cutlets are fried. Wipe out pan with a paper towel to remove excess crumbs that may start to burn prior to frying more cutlets.
              5. Slice slider buns in half and brush lightly with butter. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and place slider buns buttered side down in pan and heat over medium until starting to brown and become warm. About 2 minutes.
              6. To each slider bun, add a chicken cutlet and top with a generous amount of wasabi slaw. Secure each slider with a long toothpick if desired and serve immediately.
              Catalina Wings

              Catalina Wings

              A long, long time ago I used to make wings similar to these piquant Catalina Wings.  I was in college and had a summer job cooking at a golf and country club.  The food was basic fair, nothing too over the top, catering to the golfing crowd, small banquets and business meetings. It was a fun job, good people to work with and a happy crowd, because they’re golfing of course.  It wasn’t unusual for the dining room to be filled with thirsty golfers looking for a mid afternoon snack and beverage.

              Like many places of the time, we offered hot wings, but not everyone liked there wings “hot”. So to please the masses we mixed the hot sauce with Catalina Dressing to lighten some of the heat.  The ratio of dressing to hot sauce was adapted to make the wings mild, medium or hot.  We didn’t have a formula, it was always eye balled, so I doubt anyone ever got the same plate of wings twice.  It’s the memory of this job and the tossing of bowl after bowl of chicken wings that Catalina Wings are derived.  Not new in concept but these Catalina Wings are made with fresh Catalina dressing, making them zesty and sticky.  You’ll love them! 

              Recipe source for Catalina Wings:  Compelled To Cook

              Catalina Wings
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                30 wings 20 minutes
                Cook Time
                16-18 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                30 wings 20 minutes
                Cook Time
                16-18 minutes
                Catalina Wings
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  30 wings 20 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  16-18 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  30 wings 20 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  16-18 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Dressing
                  Wings
                  Servings: wings
                  Instructions
                  Dressing
                  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Makes about 1 cup of dressing. Refrigerate extra dressing for up to 1 week.
                  Wings
                  1. In a large heavy duty pot fitted with a clip on thermometer, heat a minimum of 3" of canola oil to 350℉ 375℉. (oil will cool when wings are added)
                  2. Pat chicken wings dry with a paper towel. Add half the wings to the hot oil, dropping them in one by one. Cook for 5-6 minutes, depending on size, until no longer pink. Remove with a slotted scoop to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining wings.
                  3. Preheat broiler and line a large baking tray with foil. In a large bowl stir together Catalina Dressing and Franks Red Hot sauce. Add wings and toss to evenly coat.
                  4. Arrange wings in a single layer on baking tray and broil 8" from broiler for about 2 minutes per side. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
                  Recipe Notes

                  Wings can be made hotter if desired by decreasing the amount of dressing and increasing hot sauce to your preference.