Five Minute Salsa Chicken

IMG_2228Do you have five minutes? Great – because that’s about how long you need to prepare this delicious Salsa Chicken! Two ingredients + one slow cooker = a delicious dinner that you can prep early and forget about for a few hours.

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we Continue reading

Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

IMG_2139For some reason, fried rice has always sounded complicated. It’s not. The trick is to cook the rice the day before and refrigerate it overnight. It is much easier to stir-fry cold, day old rice. Trust me on this, and dive into this delicious, Thai inspired treat!

IMG_2138Ingredients (Serves 4 with leftovers)

1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided

2 cups Jasmine rice, cooked to package instructions and refrigerated overnight

1 cup diced, fresh pineapple Continue reading

Chicken Noodle Spring Rolls

IMG_2131During the height of summer, fresh spring rolls are a refreshing afternoon lunch. Spring roll wrappers used to be tricky to find, but as Asian cuisines have increased in popularity throughout the US, these wrappers have become readily available in supermarkets and online. This recipe uses other easy to find ingredients as well. For the cooked chicken, either a can of chicken or part of a supermarket rotisserie chicken will work. For the noodles, feel free to experiment! I really enjoy Japanese sweet potato noodles, but a cooked package of instant ramen noodles will work just fine.  Have fun!

Ingredients (Makes 12 Spring Rolls)

IMG_212712 round spring roll wrappers (rice paper)

1 cup cooked chicken cut into small cubes

3 ounces cooked noodles cut into 2 inch pieces

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 large carrot, grated

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons chili vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 inch piece of ginger, finely grated


IMG_2126Step 1) In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the five sauce ingredients. Fold in chicken, noodles, cabbage, carrot, and peanuts.

Step 2) Place about 1 inch of water in a 12 inch skillet and bring to a simmer (not a boil) over medium heat.

Step 3) When water is hot but not boiling, place ONE spring roll wrapper in the water for 2 SECONDS (really… just two seconds). Use a spatula to gently remove the spring roll wrapper from the water and place it on a wood cutting board. Gently smooth out the wrapper; a few wrinkles are fine. If parts of the wrapper are still hard, you can dip the wrapper in water again for an extra second.

Step 4) Place 1/4 cup of filling in a small rectangle near the center of the wrapper.

WIN_20160502_170716Step 5) Fold the sides of the spring roll wrapper over the short sides of the rectangle of filling, as shown. Then, gently roll the spring roll from top to bottom, sealing the filling inside of the spring roll. The wrapper will stick to itself and form a nice seal.

Step 6) That’s it! Repeat steps 3 – 5 until you run out of filling.

Spring rolls are a FRESH food and are best enjoyed within a few hours of rolling (store in the refrigerator if not enjoying immediately). Try dipping your spring rolls in soy sauce, plum sauce, or peanut satay sauce – delicious! Spring rolls are inherently low in fat and are gluten free. You could also omit the chicken and add some shredded greens for your vegan friends. Have fun!

Chicken Dip with Crostini


Start a conversation at your next summer party with Chicken Dip and Crostini straight out of the 1950s! Go ahead – channel your inner Betty Draper and let’s get started. Martinis optional. Continue reading

World’s Easiest Chicken Chili

chiliHow  easy is this chicken chili?

It’s so easy, you’ll be eating chicken chili faster than you’d be eating if you picked up dinner at a fast food drive-thru. Don’t believe me? Set your stopwatch, and let’s get started!

Ingredients (Serves 4 – 6)

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (you can buy this frozen or even canned if you’d like) Continue reading

Chinese Tang Yuan Chicken Soup

WIN_20160424_133707Tang Yuan are glutinous rice balls – easy to prepare, versatile in recipes, and a delicious comfort food. In my German-American kitchen, the equivalent would be dumplings. Today we are making a simple chicken soup with Tang Yuan. Children and grown-ups alike have given this soup rave reviews. I think you’ll enjoy it, too!

One friendly tip: There are only a few ingredients in this recipe, so each of them is important! Please don’t skimp on the quality of the chicken stock by substituting cans of chicken broth or cubes of bouillon. Chicken broth is a watery, less flavorful cousin of true chicken stock… you’ll taste the difference in this soup. Bouillon cubes are mostly salt.

WIN_20160424_132041Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 cup glutinous rice flour (sometimes called “sweet rice flour” or “sticky rice flour”)

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 quart good quality chicken stock

1 cup diced celery (or substitute carrot)

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt)


Step 1) Combine glutinous rice flour, boiling water, and sugar in a medium size, microwave safe bowl. Stir together with a fork.

Step 2) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a small edge uncovered to allow steam to vent. Microwave the bowl for 2 minutes. Stir, cover again, and microwave an additional two minutes.

Step 3) Grease the bottom of a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Transfer the microwaved rice flour mixture to the greased bowl. Use your knuckles to press down on the mixture, kneading and compressing the mixture into a dough. Do this for at least five minutes, or until the mixture has formed a smooth dough. If the mixture is too hot for your hands, use the flat bottom of a cup or a mason jar to press down on the dough.

Step 4) Break off tiny pieces of dough and roll them into balls about the size of marbles. Be careful not to roll your Tang Yuan balls too large, especially if you are feeding children! Small, marble size Tang Yuan are more desirable.

Step 5) In a medium size pot, heat chicken stock to just below boiling. Add Tang Yuan balls, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add celery, ginger, and salt. Cook for an additional two minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Ten Minute Rotisserie Chicken Stir-Fry

WIN_20160110_184331This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights when you don’t have a lot of time or energy for cooking, but the thought of one more drive-thru meal is just too depressing to consider. Pick up a precooked rotisserie chicken on your way home from work, and this Ten Minute Rotisserie Chicken Stir-Fry will have you enjoying a wholesome meal in less time than you would have spent sitting in a drive-thru line waiting for a paper bag full of fast food!

Introducing Prime Pantry – Everyday Essentials Delivered to You

Ingredients (Serves 6)

4 cups of rotisserie chicken, shredded or cubed

3 carrots, sliced thin

3 ribs of celery, sliced thin

1 inch piece of ginger, minced Continue reading

Peach Mustard Baked Chicken

WIN_20160118_204716Chicken thighs are my favorite for baking and roasting. They are juicier (and less expensive!) than chicken breasts, meatier than wings, and contain a more favorable mix of white and dark meat than drumsticks. The uniform size and thickness of chicken thighs means they are easy to arrange in a baking pan and cook evenly every time. This Peach Mustard Baked Chicken recipe offers a simple preparation for chicken thighs. We’re combining the classic flavor of honey mustard with the bright sweetness of peaches to make a marinading paste. If fresh peaches are out of season, no worries. Frozen peach slices will work just fine!

Ingredients (Feeds a crowd!)

5 pounds chicken thighs (10 – 12 chicken thighs)

1 cup peach slices (fresh or frozen)

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons brown mustard

freshly ground black pepper

Additional peach slices to garnish


Step 1) Thaw peach slices if frozen. Puree honey and mustard with 1 cup peach slices until a smooth paste forms.

Step 2) Arrange chicken thighs on a baking sheet with shallow sides. Using a very sharp knife, score the skin on the top of each chicken thigh in one or two places.

3-Piece Baking Sheet Set

Step 3) Rub the peach mustard paste onto each chicken thigh.

Step 4) Bake chicken thighs, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes. Check the temperature of a chicken thigh with a meat thermometer. When the internal temperature (not against a bone!) reaches 165 degrees F, your Peach Mustard Baked Chicken is ready to enjoy! Garnish with additional peach slices just before bringing your chicken to the table.

I recommend serving this with fresh baked cornbread and a green salad. Delicious!


Easy Pineapple Chicken


As the name implies, this recipe is incredibly easy to prepare. The simple marinade imparts a subtle, sweet flavor to the chicken that pairs well with just about any side dish. Children in particular seem to love Easy Pineapple Chicken!

WIN_20151116_173027Ingredients (Serves 4 – 6)

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper


Step 1) Place chicken in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan, so that chicken pieces close together.

Baking Pan with Cover

Step 2) Combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and minced garlic to make a simple marinade. Pour marinate over chicken, cover with foil, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Step 3) Remove chicken from refrigerator sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Arrange pineapple chunks evenly on top of chicken.

Step 4) Bake Pineapple Chicken in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the meat (but not against a bone!) reads 165 degrees. Enjoy!

Chinese Barbecue Chicken


This post offers an idea rather than a recipe… a simple way of jazzing up plain old chicken. Take a stroll through a grocery store which specializes in food items from a specific part of the world, and keep an eye out for items that you can use to spruce up old favorites. That interesting chimichurri you spotted at the South American market? Try it on a hamburger instead of ketchup or mustard. The plum sauce you found at the Asian grocery store? Give it a whirl on your favorite meatloaf recipe. Today, I’m having fun with a jar of Chinese barbecue sauce.


Chinese barbecue sauce is very, very different from any American-style barbecue sauce I’ve ever tasted. While the ingredients vary from one brand to the next, the jar I selected contains fermented soybean paste. This gives the barbecue sauce a very salty, very earthy flavor – overall, the taste is strong and powerful. A little goes a long way… don’t get carried away. You can always add more sauce to whatever your preparing later!


To create the meal shown at the top of this post, I started with one pound of chicken tenderloin strips (any boneless chicken will work just the same). I placed the chicken in a greased pan and baked it for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. After removing the chicken from the oven, I shredded the chicken using two forks. Finally, I stirred in about 1 cup of Chinese barbecue sauce, and served the coated chicken over cooked jasmine rice. It was delicious. I hope you give this, or something similar, a try. If you find a new use for an unfamiliar condiment, please post a comment below. I’d love to hear about it!


Chicken Lemongrass Soup


If you’ve never cooked with lemongrass, pick up a few fresh stalks at the market and give it a try. Better yet, plant some this summer. While lemongrass only survives as a perennial in very warm climates, it will grow as a seasonal, summer annual just about anywhere. If you end up with more than you can use, just wrap it up and freeze it whole, or make a new friend by giving some away. Lemongrass also makes a delicious tea simply by steeping a few slices in boiling water for a few minutes.

Today we’re making Chicken Lemongrass Soup, which is light and delightful as a springtime lunch. If you’d like something a bit more hearty, try stirring a tablespoon or two of coconut milk into each bowl just before serving.

WIN_20150407_115331Ingredients (Serves 4)

Two stalks fresh lemongrass, tops and ends trimmed

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups cooked, diced chicken

1 cup sliced button mushrooms (or WIN_20150407_115907substitute canned straw mushrooms)

Sea Salt

Chili Paste such as Nam Prik Pao

Thinly sliced zucchini, for garnish


WIN_20150407_171621Step 1) Crush lemongrass with a rolling pin. This releases the fragrant and flavorful oils inside the stalks.

Step 2) Chop lemongrass into 2 inch pieces and place in a large saucepan. Add chicken stock and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Do not boil.

Step 3) After 15 minutes, add cooked chicken and sliced mushrooms. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Step 4) Taste; add sea salt and chili paste as desired. One option would be to serve sea salt and chili paste at the table, so that everyone can season their own bowl (I like more chili paste in my soup than my pint sized diners prefer).

Step 5) Garnish with zucchini slices and enjoy!

Five Minute Chicken Mango Salad


Sometimes you have oodles of time to play in the kitchen, and sometimes you just don’t. Being pressed for time doesn’t mean you can’t make something delicious. This Chicken Mango Salad takes five minutes to prepare – seriously, five minutes, start to finish. You can’t jump in your car and get processed junk food from a drive-thru in less time than that, can you? I didn’t think so. Put the car keys down, and let’s get started!

WIN_20150327_134722Ingredients (Makes about 6 side dish servings)

1 pound cooked, cubed chicken (Pull some out of your freezer or just use canned chicken! I won’t tell.)

1 ripe mango, diced

WIN_20150327_1350501 stalk of celery, diced

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

1 teaspoon lime zest (just grate the peel – the dark green part only)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

WIN_20150327_1403151/2 teaspoon salt


It doesn’t get any easier than this! Just mix everything together in a big bowl and you are DONE! Serve on salad plates over romaine lettuce, or alongside big pieces of iceberg lettuce to make wraps, or enjoy with crackers as an appetizer.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Legs


This recipe is stone simple – I mean simple as in “if you can make a frozen pizza, you can handle this!”  There are no strange ingredients, making this dish a real crowd pleaser even in a finicky crowd. When chicken legs or “drumsticks” are on sale for 99 cents per pound, this recipe is also very economical.  Add a starch like mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese, along with the vegetable of your choice, for a complete meal. Leftovers freeze well, so go ahead and make a few extra!

Ingredients (Makes 12 chicken legs, or about 6 servings)

12 chicken legs

6 strips of bacon, cut in half

1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari)

1 tablespoon brown sugar (or use honey as a Paleo alternative)


Step 1) Grease a baking pan with the raw bacon.

Step 2) Wrap a half slice of bacon around the meaty part of each chicken leg.  It’s OK to stretch the bacon a little if needed; make sure the bacon ends meet underneath the WIN_20150123_175636chicken leg on the pan.

Step 3) Bake in a preheated, 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Step 4) Mix together the soy sauce and brown sugar.  After the chicken has baked for 35 minutes, remove chicken from the oven and turn your oven up to 400 degrees.

WIN_20150123_190326Step 5) Baste the tops of each bacon wrapped chicken leg with the soy sauce/brown sugar mixture. Return chicken legs to the oven for a final 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Greek Chicken

picture1040Why is this Greek Chicken so spectacular?  It’s just marinated and oven baked – fast and easy, no fancy schmancy kitchen skills needed.  The secret is in the marinade.  This is not your typical oil and acid marinade – it’s made with a yogurt base.  That’s right, yogurt – stay with me for a moment here.  The enzymes in yogurt are perfect for tenderizing meat, and yogurt itself easily takes on the flavors of the other marinade ingredients – lemon, parsley, garlic, etc.  The end result is plump chicken with rich flavor.  Give it a try!

picture1037Ingredients (Serves 4 – 6)

1 fresh, whole chicken, cut into pieces

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Juice from 1 lemon

1 cup chopped fresh parsley


Step 1) Combine yogurt, olive oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and parsley in a medium bowl.  Stir until well blended.

Step 2) Score each piece of chicken several times with a sharp knife.

picture1038Step 3) Generously coat each piece of chicken with the yogurt marinade, using a basting brush.  “Pile” chicken into a large bowl; this keeps both sides of each piece of chicken in contact with the marinade.  Pour any remaining marinade over top of the pile.

Step 4) Cover the bowl with foil, and refrigerate for at least1 hour, but no more than 24 hours.  This marinade seems to work faster than other marinades I’ve used.  While I always recommend marinating all day if possible, you’ll still get good flavor with this recipe if you only have an hour.

Step 5) Remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking, and rearrange chicken so that it can bake in a single layer.

Step 6) Bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the meat (but not against a bone!) reads 165 degrees.  Tip:  I bake the smaller pieces (wings, drumsticks) on a their own pan, as these pieces are usually ready to come out of the oven at least 10 minutes before the larger pieces (breasts, thighs). Serve with a salad and your choice of sides.