What’s Cooking: Simple Herbed Chicken Breasts

My apologies for not writing a blog post at the regular time on Sunday evening. I simply wore myself out over the weekend doing what I think of as the usual stuff–a three-mile walk to check if spring was springing along the river, plus laundry and other household tasks, and readying the studio for a house guest. Somehow that all took more out of me than usual.

I think I'm still recovering from the nasty respiratory flu I picked up in early February. I was really sick for a week, then sort of sick for week two–I sounded like a frog and had a deep cough that frightened dogs and small children. By the third wee, I thought I was over it, but my energy has never really recovered. Or maybe I'm just getting old. 😉

(By the way, the answer to the question about whether spring is springing along the river is told in the buds of the native sand cherry in the photo above: close but not quite. It's been unusually windy and dry here during both February and March, and so far "spring" means wind and blowing dust.)

One thing I did do was cook, including figuring out a simple and delicious new recipe for baking chicken breasts. I'm always looking for prepare-ahead recipes, things I can cook on the weekend and use for several meals during the week, when I often don't have time or energy to do much cooking. I particularly like this way of preparing chicken breasts because it's easy and quick (half an hour total, including prep time), makes enough for half-a-dozen meals for one or a dinner with friends, and the herbs add a lovely flavor. 

Simple Herbed Chicken Breasts

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I use organic, free-range)
olive oil
Mediterranean herbs (I use a mix of dried oregano, basil, tarragon, garlic, and lemon peel)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the chicken breasts, removing any remaining lose membrane, and pat them dry. Cut four or five squares of aluminum foil (depending on how many breasts there are) nine or so inches on each side. Pour about a tsp of olive oil into the middle of each square. Place two chicken breasts onto the square, spreading the olive oil around under each, and then pour about another tsp olive oil over them. Sprinkle each chicken breast with herbs. Pull the sides of the aluminum foil up and over the chicken breasts and fold the edges together to seal in juices during baking. 

Set the foil packets on a baking sheet with edges to catch any drips (a pizza pan with sides works too), and center the the sheet or pan on the middle rack in the oven. Bake for about seven minutes or until interiors of the breasts are no longer pink. Open packets and serve. Also good cold, chopped in salads, or used in sandwiches. After cooling, you can refrigerate uneaten ones in the foil packets; they’ll keep for a week.

For lunch, I often make a bowl of salad with whatever greens and fresh vegetables and fruits I have around. Today, I added one chopped chicken breast to my salad ingredients: a quarter of a ripe avocado, five small organic tomatoes, and some corn I shaved and froze last summer.

I heated the corn right in the bowl, added the rest of the chopped ingredients, plus a sprinkle of salt, a splash of orange-infused California olive oil that Molly brought me from San Francisco (thanks, sweetie!), and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Simple, fresh, pretty, and tasty–the perfect meal, from my point of view.