Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I really like to use spices in unconventional or unexpected ways in my cooking. So when I found a recipe for cinnamon chicken on All Recipes, I was intrigued. Sweet chicken? It seemed a bit odd at first, but also potentially tasty. After all, I love carrots glazed with cinnamon and brown sugar. Why not chicken?

So I tried it out. It tasted tangy, instead of sweet as I expected. The chicken was moist and flavorful. And -- I loved it. My husband liked it. It was healthy, filling, and delicious. In short, a winner. As a result, my tweaked version of this recipe has earned itself a permanent place in my cookbook. It hits the spot on chilly days when an oven-warmed kitchen filled with the aroma of cinnamon and spices is especially cozy.

Cozy Cinnamon Chicken

canola oil non-stick cooking spray
skinless & boneless chicken breast halves (I use the frozen 99% fat-free version from Costco)
1 tsp cinnamon
dried basil, oregano, & parsley
1.5 tsp diced garlic
1 tsp black pepper
1 dash of salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat your oven to 350 or 375 degrees F (this will vary by altitude -- if you opt for the lower temperature you may simply have to bake the chicken longer).

While the oven is heating up, mix the applesauce in a bowl with everything except the chicken (and the cooking spray, of course!). Be sure to use only a single teaspoon of cinnamon, otherwise the taste will be overpowering. You can, however, be quite liberal with the basil, oregano, & parsley. You probably want to end up with about 2 teaspoons of all three combined in the "marinade," but I never measure these three spices out. Instead, I just give each spice jar about 3-5 shakes into the bowl. Stir well.

Coat both sides of the chicken in the applesauce mixture. Set any extra "marinade aside." I apply the concoction straight onto the frozen chicken, but you can also put it on thawed chicken and adjust the oven time. Place the chicken in a baking pan coating in cooking spray. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-45 minutes. Bake until the chicken is cooked through. When the chicken is almost done cooking (I try to aim for when it's got about 10 minutes to go), remove the foil and continue baking.

I use any extra applesauce mixture on a side of vegetables to round out the meal. My favorite choice is French-cut green beans and cranberries. Again, I used frozen beans and berries, but fresh is a great choice as well. I just find that I don't use enough green beans and cranberries to warrant buying a slew of fresh ones. I take the greens and berries and mix them with the rest of the "marinade." Cook them any way you'd like! My favorite is to simply throw them in the same pan with the chicken and bake for about fifteen or twenty minutes. Then remove, serve, and enjoy. Yum!

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