Summertime means time for grilling! Time to get out of the house and enjoy family and friends. And what better way to liven up a grilled meal than to add a tangy, salty/sweet sauce that goes great with everything? Common folklore says Teriyaki was born when Japanese emigrants to Hawaii combined traditional Asian ingredients of soy sauce and ginger with pineapple juice from the island and served it with grilled meat.
Teriyaki is traditionally used as a marinade for soaking meats before grilling. Unfortunately, the high sugar content of teriyaki usually results in a "burned sugar" taste when subjected to the high heat of the grill. But you can get all the flavor without an overtone of "burn" by using the marinade AFTER cooking the meat rather than before. Stay posted!
Combine the soy sauce with the pineapple juice. Using a measuring cup to mix in is really handy because of the pour spout!
Add the brown sugar, ginger power, and salt and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
Add the minced garlic. Lazy cook's hint: The bottled, minced garlic is a great time-saver--Use 1/2 t. for 1 clove garlic.
Stir the Ultra Gel® in gradually. GRADUALLY! Lumps will always stir out eventually, but sometimes it takes more time than you want to spend, so just take it slow.
Allow to thicken for five minutes.
If you want the sauce thicker, add more Ultra Gel® 1 teaspoon at a time. If you want the sauce thinner, add 1 tablespoon at a time of pineapple juice or water.
Here's a trick--cook your meat to the recommended temperature (165 for chicken breast), then add it to the marinade in a ziploc bag and let marinate for 15 minutes, turning a couple of times to make sure all surfaces are covered. All the goodness and none of the burned taste!
Or brush on kabobs after the last turn for that salty/sweet island goodness!
Editor's note: I've had requests for the kabob ingredients.
Thread the meat and vegetable pieces on skewers alternately. Grill over a hot grill, turning frequently, until the chicken registers 165 degrees in the center. At the point, the vegetables should be seared and beautiful. Brush the teriyaki marinade on the skewers and let cook about 30 seconds, then turn and repeat with the other side--should be enough to put some color on the skewer ingredients, but not enough to char. Remove from the grill and serve. Add more sauce if desired.
Strawberry Cream Cake--So Much Easier than it Looks!
Looking for a Mother's Day treat that really says you care? That you care enough to take on a dessert that uses three different bowls? Plus a baking pan? That sound like real love! Just don't tell anyone that this cake is so easy it's practically criminal. If you can bake a box cake, you can make this elegant dessert.
First, put the ingredients together for a box cake according to the package directions. I put in the ingredients from a Duncan Hines cake mix, but your mix might be slightly different. The big thing is that you end up with a thin layer of cake for the base of the dessert. Author's note: Sometimes people ask why I made this cake so large (one-half sheet pan size) and the reason is that it just makes everything come out right--the cream cheese, the whipped topping the glaze and the berries. But if you don't want to make this much, use a 9x13 pan and only use half of the prepared cake batter and other ingredients. The other half of the cake batter will make some yummy cupcakes! Whatever baking pan you use, you only want the cake batter to be about 1/2" thick.
Be careful when you bake--the batter is thin and will cook quickly. Just cook until lightly browned--no more than twenty minutes.
Set the cake aside to cool. Put it in the freezer if you want to hurry things up.
While the cake is cooling, start the glaze by combining the sugar, unsweetened drink mix, and Ultra Gel in a bowl. Stir the ingredients lightly, then add the water all at once and continue stirring with a wire whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to thicken.
To make the cream filling, cut the softened cream cheese into cubes for easier handling, then mix with an electric beater until smooth.
Add the thawed non-dairy whipped topping and continue to beat with the electric beater until smooth.
Assemble the cake using the following process:
Spread the cream cheese filling onto the cooled cake.
Arrange the strawberries over the cream cheese filling
Drizzle the glaze over the top of the strawberries. Smooth if desired.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to blend the flavors before serving.
And there you have it! A Mother's Day treat that looks hard for the one that made motherhood look easy!
Fresh Potato and Leek Soup
Potato and leek soup--pure comfort food! This classic French soup has a place in any kitchen--easy-to-find ingredients and mild flavors--perfect for a chilly Sunday afternoon. Or a quick weekday meal--pair it with crusty bread and curl up with a blanket!
Leeks look like really big green onions, and are a very mild and flavorful member of the same plant family. I put the lemon in the photo to help show how big leeks can really be! I've seen them in a variety of sizes, so I think a measurement of the quantity of "sliced/chopped leek" is more accurate than "one leek". Leeks are often used in soups and other dishes where their mild flavor is treasured.
Leeks sometimes pose a challenge to clean, as they often have dirt packed firmly in the leaves. This is because during the growing process, dirt is piled up around the leek plants to help develop more of the tender white part. That just means that you need to be careful about washing. The white and light green parts are most commonly used, so the green fibrous leaves can be peeled back during slicing and any dirt rinsed away.
It's always a good idea, though, to put sliced leeks in a colander and rinse them well before cooking.
Lazy man's trick--you can measure multiple items in the same measuring cup if it is big enough to "add to". Here the diced onions were measured, then the diced leeks added to them. Less dishes to wash!
Saute the onions and leeks in the butter until the vegetables are tender.
Then add the potatoes and chicken broth, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender.
Add the half and half or heavy cream, then stir in the Ultra Gel® gradually with a wire whisk. Continue heating at a low heat to serving temperature. Keep a close eye on it--it will scorch easily!
If you want the soup thicker, add more Ultra Gel®, a tablespoon at a time. If you want it thinner, add more chicken broth or half and half.
You can serve it "chunky", or use a hand-held blender to smooth it into a silky smooth creamy puree that soothes both the stomach and the soul.
Best Potato and Pork (or Chicken) Sheet Pan Meal
So--I've always kind of wondered about what the big deal was with sheet pan meals? I mean, meat and veggies roasted together on the same baking sheet. And it seemed risky to me--What if things didn't get done at the same time? Who loves limp, lifeless veggies and underdone meat? Seemed like scary business.
But then I spent a substantial amount of time on roasted potatoesfor a recent post and kind of got my head around roasted veggies. . And they . . are. . .SOOOO. . . GOOD!!! And the really good thing is--cook's secret here--while they roast, you can do something else!! And suddenly I got it--time to greet guests--or make a salad--or set the table. While your dinner is merrily roasting away. And it can go straight from the oven to the table on the baking sheet if you like a "cottage" style meal.
I recently served this Potato and Pork Sheet Pan Meal for a Sunday evening group of 6 adults and 4 kids. I made one pan just as the recipe says, and another that was 1 1/2 of the recipe. So in theory there should have been ten servings. I served it with a simple fruit salad, and everyone had their fill with about a quarter of a sheet pan remaining. As we sat at the table and talked at the conclusion of the main course, forks leisurely picked away at one piece of roasted goodness after the other, until every single piece was gone--and everyone was wonderfully stuffed. Easy ingredients, easy to prepare ahead, and easy cleanup. I get it!
6 c. raw potatoes, preferably red or yellow, unpeeled and cut in 1" dice
2 T. Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
1 T. vegetable oil
1 lb. pork loin, chicken breast, or other TENDER meat cut cut in 1 1/2" dice
1 T. Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
1 T. vegetable oil
1-2 c. onion or shallot pieces, large dice
4 c. firm zucchini squash, sliced about 1/3" thick
1 T. Ultra Gel Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
1 t. chili flakes (optional)
1 T. vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Wash and cube 6 c. potatoes.
Immediately toss with 1 T. Ultra Gel® Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix. The moisture left on the vegetables and will combine with the Ultra Gel® in the Salad Dressing and Seasoning mix to create a nicely seasoned coating that will crisp up during roasting.
Add 2 T. oil and toss to distribute evenly.
Spread out on a half sheet pan (12" x 18") or other shallow baking pan. Line with foil if you wish.
Trim the meat and cut into 1" cubes.
Immediately toss with 1 T. Ultra Gel® Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix.
Add 1 T. oil and toss to distribute the oil evenly on the meat.
Add to the potatoes on the baking sheet.
Sprinkle the onion or shallot pieces across the baking sheet.
Put the baking sheet in the hot oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini by slicing, tossing in 1 T. Ultra Gel® Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix with chili flakes, then in 1 T. oil.
When the mixture in the oven has cooked twenty minutes, add the zucchini and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Check to make sure veggies are tender and meat is no longer pink (ovens vary substantially!)
Wash the potatoes and cut into generous cubes. Sprinkle with 1 T. Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix and shake to evenly distribute. It's important that the vegetables are still moist, as it will allow the seasoning to adhere, creating a flavorful starch coating that will provide crispness as well as flavor. I like the visual effect of yellow and red potatoes, and I've even substituted sweet potatoes with really yummy results!
Add 2 T. vegetable oil, and shake the bowl of potatoes until the oil is evenly distributed. Pour the potatoes out onto a half sheet pan or other shallow baking tray.
Prepare the meat by removing visible fat, then cutting into cubes.
For ease, you can use the same bowl you used for the potatoes. Toss the meat cubes with 1 T. Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix, then with 1 T. oil., then add them to the baking tray. Tuck the pieces of onions or shallots in among the meat and potatoes
Roast for twenty minutes in a hot 450 degree oven. Prepare the zucchini by washing and slicing, then tossing with the Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix and chili flakes, then oil.
After the first twenty minutes, add the zucchini pieces to the pan and roast an additional ten minutes. Remove from oven and check to make sure the meat pieces are no longer pink and the vegetable pieces are tender. Serve as desired
Instant Pot Spicy Chicken Thighs
Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker) and Ultra Gel®? What a great combination! The Instant Pot relies on superheated steam to cook food quickly, which means there has to be a source of liquid. That means that there is usually a sauce or gravy as a part of the Instant Pot dish. But that raises the eternal question--if I don't like to make gravy ANYTIME, why would I like it any more with the Instant Pot? I mean, you still have to make a cornstarch slurry or flour thickening, and there's still the lump thing to worry about. . .
Ultra Gel® to the rescue! Because Ultra Gel can be poured directly into hot cooking liquid, it's incredibly easy to get a meal on the table quickly and without drama!
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great choice for Instant Pot meals. Because dark meat has a higher fat content than breast, it's more forgiving and stays moist much more gracefully. Boneless, skinless thighs often need a little trimming, but don't get carried away--trim out the large fat globules, but don't worry too much about every piece of fat--much of it will cook out.
1/2 c. pineapple juice (I save this from a can of chunks when I drain them--freeze for later use)
1/2 c. soy sauce
5 T. brown sugar
2 T. Sriracha (this is pretty mild--add up to 2 T. more if desired)
2 T. hoisin sauce
6-8 T. Ultra Gel®
Set the Instant Pot to the "Saute" function.
Add the oil.
When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs a few at a time to brown. For best flavor, don't crowd them. Remove to a plate when browned (the chicken will not be cooked at this point!) and add more pieces until all are browned and removed to the plate.
Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent.
Add the chicken pieces back to the Instant Pot.
Combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, sriracha, and hoisin sauce in a cup, stirring until the brown sugar is largely dissolved, then pour the sauce over the chicken in the Instant Pot.
Add the lid to the Instant Pot, close the steam valve and set to manual, pressure, high for 14 minutes
When done, release the steam slowly, then lift the lid.
Remove the chicken to the serving platter, and gradually stir in the Ultra Gel®, using a wire whisk, until the desired consistency.
Pour the sauce over the thigh pieces, garnish with cilantro, and serve.
Start by browning the meat pieces on manual in the electric pressure cooker. You can add a little oil to the Instant Pot to keep the meat from sticking at first, but fat will begin to accumulate, so keep any added oil to a minimum. Brown both sides well, working in batches if necessary, then remove the meat to a plate. It won't be fully cooked at this point!
Add the onions to the fat and browned meat bits in the Instant Pot pan. Continue cooking on manual, stirring occasionally, until the onion pieces are translucent and tender.
Measure the pineapple juice into a measuring cup, then add the soy sauce.
Add the brown sugar, hoisin sauce, garlic, and sriracha sauce to the pineapple juice/soy sauce mixture. Add the meat back to the Instant Pot pan and pour the sauce over all.
Add the lid to the Instant Pot, and set to high pressure for 15 minutes. Release the pressure, slowly, then remove the lid. Remove the chicken from the pan.
Stir the Ultra Gel into the remaining sauce gradually. Adjust to your desired thickness by adding a little more Ultra Gel if too thin, a little more liquid if the the sauce is too thick. Totally adjustable!! Add more Sriracha sauce to taste if desired.
Arrange the chicken pieces on a plate or serving tray with rice. Cover with the sauce. Garnish with cilantro and serve!
The really good news is that Ultra Gel® thickened sauces refrigerate and freeze beautifully, providing a good meal for another day. It certainly makes it worth making a double batch for a future night off!!
There are some people who, looking at our fridge, think we get a little territorial about these "plan ahead" meals. I'm not sure exactly how they get this idea! But when you're competing with two other desk-jockeys for future lunches, everything is fair!
Quick, easy, and delicious! Plan to try it soon!!
World's Easiest Cheese Sauce (and Gluten-Free!)
Saturday afternoon on a crisp fall day could only mean one thing to my husband and sons--Football games! And having the gang over to cheer the favorite team is the best ever! And it's a great chance to share some of those fall goodies that make the afternoon satisfying even if the favorite team isn't having its best day.
Cheese sauce--gooey, rich, golden. Makes everything better from corn chips to apple chips. Even makes broccoli go down easier for the younger set!
A few observations about cheese. First--which type of cheese best for cheese sauce? I've been happiest with a cheese of medium sharpness for use in a cheese sauce. I know a mild will work--but it somehow seems flavorless to me. But it may be just right for you. Use what your family likes. But if the cheese sauce doesn't seem to have a rich flavor, you might want to kick the cheese sharpness up a notch!
Second--Why not use the grated cheese from packages at the store? I get it--It's one of the best inventions since sliced bread. Why wouldn't you want to use that inexpensive convenience rather than buying a brick and grating it yourself? It's just because the additives used to keep the grated cheese shreds separated can make the cheese sauce grainy. Here's an example of an ingredient statement from a package of store brand grated cheddar cheese:
CHEDDAR CHEESE (PASTEURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES, ANNATTO (FOR COLOR)), POTATO STARCH, CORN STARCH, DEXTROSE AND CALCIUM SULFATE (ADDED TO PREVENT CAKING), NATAMYCIN (A NATURAL MOLD INHIBITOR).
Everything after the "Annatto" is added to help keep the shreds from sticking together and to make the cheese keep longer. Again--this isn't bad--but it isn't a part of a high-quality cheese sauce either. So just take a few minutes and grate the cheese! I think it is useful to just divide a pound block of cheese into four parts and eliminate the measuring after it's grated.
So here's a one-pound block of cheese divided into fourths. One fourth of a pound of cheese seems to me to make more than 1.25 cups. It all depends on how it is grated. So weighing is more accurate.
There are lots of ways to grate cheese. This stand-up grater happens to be one of my favorites for small amounts, but I also have machines that will grate cheese--probably ten of them--all of which are just too much trouble to get out and clean up for a small amount of cheese. So the hand grater will never go away.
Here is one-fourth of a pound of cheese after it's grated. It sure seems like more than 1.25 cups!
Evaporated milk and seasoning salt--adding the Ultra Gel® gradually.
The milk, salt, and Ultra Gel® will thicken up slightly after the first minute in the microwave. Stir the cheese in a little at a time.
Return the cheese sauce to the microwave for a little more heat to finish melting the cheese.
Stir until smooth
Smooth, creamy, and stretchy--just like it should be!
And here's where the creativity takes over. Use the cheese sauce as a dipper for chip, fruits, or vegetables. Or pour it over vegetables or nachos. Put it in the fridge and warm and use it as needed.
And this is what survives first contact during the game. . .
Two-Minute Hot Fudge Topping - Dress up your Ice Cream!
My thermometer leisurely smiled at 100 degrees today, and I broke a sweat even thinking about turning on the oven. Perfect time for a cool dessert. But, I ask myself, how many times can I pull out the ice cream carton before it looks like I've stopped trying. . .
So--I reach in the bag of hot-weather tricks, and pull out a long-time classic: Hot Fudge Topping. Who doesn't have memories of spoonsful of rich, warm, gooey chocolate with cold, creamy ice cream. Definitely a treat to savor. And so easy to prepare--pantry staples and two minutes in the microwave. Couldn't get easier!
Combine evaporated milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and Ultra Gel® in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir to combine ingredients with a wire whisk. Remember, the topping will boil in the microwave--be sure to use a bowl that is oversized!
Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir thoroughly.
Return to microwave and cook on high for another minute.
Remove from microwave and stir in butter, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.
Serve over ice cream and garnish as desired.
This recipe was tested in a 1250 watt microwave. Microwaves with less wattage may require more time.
Decidedly UN-Sloppy Joes! Great for summer picnics!
Ever had that moment when you thought "I need a hearty, substantial main dish for an event away from home?" Or a quick and easy meal for in-home eating? Look no further! The Sloppy Joe of your youth has been updated and slightly thickened to result in an easy to prepare, easy-to-carry and easy-to-eat summer "go to". Ground beef is browned and mixed with many of the traditional ingredients of a summer hamburger cook-out. Ketchup? Check. Mustard? Check. Tomato? Check. But it stays juicy over a period of time, doesn't require condiments, and is easy to carry and serve.
You can easily half this recipe--but why would you? It freezes great--if there's any left!
Hints: If you will be serving children who would be offended by seeing any vegetables (including onions) on their plate, take a few extra minutes to chop the onions and celery extra fine. Also, finely chopped red peppers won't be as obvious to said picky child as green peppers.
If you're packing this up for eating away from home, be sure to follow the rules for safe food storage--food shouldn't be between 40 degrees F 140 degrees F for more than two hours. A slow cooker will keep the product above the danger zone for a good period of time, as long as both the product and the slow cooker start out hot. A fuller slow cooker will hold heat better than a mostly empty one. Or if you're camping for a couple of days, the cooked UN-sloppy Joe mix can be frozen in a container and stored in an ice chest, where it will help keep other items cold as it thaws. Be sure to discard products after the meal if you don't have the facilities to cool them back down quickly.
If you have never used Ultra Gel® to thicken a fruit dessert before, you're in for a pleasant surprise! This modified food starch, made from a type of corn, will thicken without any heat. So fruit stays fresh and colorful with all of the "fresh fruit" texture. Mmmm!
Making the glaze is easy. Start with water, sugar, and Kool-Aid powder. Kool-Aid? Yep--its the cheapest, easiest strawberry flavoring around. Of course there are lots of other ways to flavor the glaze, but this is a winner. But if you prefer, instead of 2 cups of water, use 1 3/4 cups of water with 1/4 c fresh lemon juice, 1 cup of sugar, and a few drops of red food coloring for the liquid for the glaze. Or use a commercial fruit juice like apple juice with a little added color, lemon juice and sugar if needed. If you want a sugar-free pie, try using a sugar substitute like Splenda, which works great, too. The best clarity comes from using sugar, though.
When the sugar is completely dissolved, add the Ultra Gel® gradually to the liquid, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Or with a fork and some care. Be patient--if you add the Ultra Gel® too fast, you might end up with little lumps that make you nervous. Keep stirring--they will usually stir out--but add the Ultra Gel® a little slower next time. When you have added the full amount, relax and let the Ultra Gel® do its work. This is a great time to wash and hull the strawberries because it takes a few minutes for the glaze to reach maximum thickness.
Stir the glaze until it is thick and glossy. Pour it over the hulled and washed strawberries and toss gently . Then turn the strawberry mixture into a baked pie shell and refrigerate. SPOILER ALERT: The pie will have a soft set--it won't set up like gelatin. It may not even cut spectacularly, but strawberry pie never cuts all that well and nobody seems to mind. Use lots of whipped cream if you need to!
Note: For a little flavor burst, and a pie shell that will never get soggy, try mixing 4 oz softened cream cheese with 2 T. milk and 2 T. powdered sugar and beating well, then spreading on the bottom of the pie shell before adding the strawberries. Mouthwatering!!
Orange Chicken - Quick and Easy
Here's a quick and easy orange chicken recipe that makes your kitchen smell like heaven! You might want to start the rice before you start the recipe so they'll both be ready to serve at the same time.
1-2 T. chile paste (ie Sambal Oelek) One T will give a touch of heat--2 will give more pronounced heat!
1 t. salt
1/4 c soy sauce (watch ingredient list for gluten-free)
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. chicken broth
6 oz sweet orange marmalade
1/4 c. brown sugar
4 T. Ultra Gel® (or as needed)
Whole orange slices for garnish if desired
Add the oil to a heavy frypan, tip to distribute, and heat to shimmering.
Add chicken thigh pieces and brown on both sides on a medium heat, leaving plenty of room between chicken pieces. Work in batches if necessary.
Remove chicken pieces to a plate. They will not be fully cooked at this point.
Don't wash the pan--the crusty bits from browning the chicken will add flavor.
Add ginger and garlic to the fry pan and cook until fragrant and softened.
Add chile sauce, salt, soy sauce, orange juice, chicken broth, marmalade, and brown sugar. Cook and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and brown sugar has liquified.
Add chicken thighs back to the frying pan with the sauce, add a lid, and cook until thighs reach at least 165 degrees. Turn the thigh pieces after ten minutes to allow the flavors to permeate both sides.This will only take about 15 minutes, as they have already been partially cooked.
Remove the chicken from the pan to a serving plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Thicken the sauce by gradually stirring in the Ultra Gel®. Adjust to your desired thickness by adding additional Ultra Gel® for more thickness or more chicken broth or water to thin.
Pour the sauce over the meat on the serving plate.
Here are a few hints--This recipe doesn't start with a lot of oil. The dark meat will contribute more. You might want to trim the meat a little if there are large globs of fat, but thigh is a fatty cut, which helps keep it moist. Much of the fat will melt into the meat as it's cooked. Don't worry if the meat seems like it might stick--if you're using a good, heavy pan and a medium heat, the meat will release from the pan as it develops a "crust".
Turn to brown both sides as the color develops. The browning process adds flavor by a chemical reaction between the amino acids and the sugars in the meat that most people find very pleasant! Make sure the chicken pieces are not crowded--work in batches if necessary.
Remove the browned chicken to a plate. Don't wash the pan first--those little crusty bits from the browning add extra flavor! But if there is more than about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan, feel free to pour it off. Heat the pan to medium heat and add the fresh ginger and the garlic and stir until fragrant. Then add the chile paste, salt, soy sauce, orange juice, chicken broth, orange marmalade, and brown sugar to the pan and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
Add back the chicken pieces and cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer until the chicken pieces are done all the way through (165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), turning once to flavor and color both sides. This will not take long, as the chicken will be most of the way cooked in the browning process. Don't cook it to death!!
Remove the chicken pieces to a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Meanwhile, thicken those lovely juices! Here's the magic--The simmering process can leave different amounts of liquid depending on how hot the heating unit is, the amount of time the heat is applied, and the thickness of the pan and lid (more evaporation will occur if the pan and lid are not as heavy). This can create a problem when thickening with traditional cornstarch, as it is highly dependent on the amount of liquid to starch. But Ultra Gel® used as a thickener is very flexible. Add it gradually while stirring, one tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is the desired thickness. Be sure to wait about a minute between additions to give the Ultra Gel® a chance to fully thicken. Pour the thickened sauce over the chicken pieces on the serving platter serve, spooning sauce portions over the meat and rice. Queue for applause. .
I've been asked if boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces can be used and the answer is an enthusiastic Yes! Thighs are by nature more forgiving for long cooking and naturally more juicy, but chicken breasts can be impressive, too. Just remember not to cook too long. Chicken breasts are at their most juicy and flavorful at about 160 degrees (internal temperature). Long cooking just makes them tough and dry.