Pretty Chicken

Yummy dinner last night! Chicken with Bell Peppers and Hominy. Got it from Eating Well Magazine, which I’d never tried before. This was simple and easy. You can find the recipe at that link, but here’s a quick rundown with my substitutions. The one on the site is for four, this is halved for two.

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil—really might not even need that much
  • little less than a pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped—I did four small sweet yellow, red, and orange peppers
  • 1 cups sliced carrots —I did just a little more than a cup of multi-colored carrots
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 1 can 15 oz hominy, rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced—-didn’t halve this because garlic is awesome
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • a few pieces of diced avocado—didn’t use this on my portion, it’s an extra that I didn’t think it needed

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Cook chicken in a skillet over medium-high heat in the canola oil with half the cumin and salt. 5-7 minutes, just till it’s done. Put the chicken in a bowl, toss it with the cilantro, cover to keep it warm. In the same skillet (no additional oil) add the peppers, carrots, onions, water, rest of salt and cook about 5 minutes or so till the veggies are tender but not mushy. Add hominy, garlic, rest of cumin and cook about a minute. Add chiles and lime and cook one last minute.

Fill the plate with the veggies then top with chicken. It’s fairly hearty but not at all heavy and lots of flavor. It’s pretty as a picture, too.

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Like I said, I didn’t add the avocado to mine. Not a fan really. Here’s the nutrition info as prepared from the original recipe:

  • Serving size: ¾ cup chicken & 1½ cups stir-fry each
  • Per serving: 415 calories; 15 g fat(2 g sat); 10 g fiber; 34 g carbohydrates; 37 g protein; 123 mcg folate; 103 mg cholesterol; 10 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 12,846 IU vitamin A; 102 mg vitamin C; 86 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 485 mg sodium; 1,200 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (257% daily value), Vitamin C (170% dv), Folate (31% dv)
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Beans Yes, Kale Yes, Together NO

Thursday night’s dinner in my new meal plan was:

Peppered White Bean, Kale Egg Stack

So, I’ve been thinking that there are a lot of “stack”s and “bowl”s around these days. Perhaps it’s a food trend and I’m so out of it I didn’t know. I am very aware of the organic, locally grown, ethically managed trend in food. After all, I’m only an hour away from Asheville and, in my little Small Mountain Town, eating organic and local is what people have done since before there ever was a walmart.

Anyhow, “stack”s seem to be  dishes that are served in sort of a layered pile. A stack, if you will, of food. Not like mashed potatoes and gravy but like Parmesan Sprinkled Rustic Mashed Potatoes Over A Plank Of Meatloaf On A Bed Of Green Beans. (Mmmmm meatloaf) Actually, that doesn’t sound bad at all.

However, kale on top of mashed white beans does sound bad. And texture wise, it wasn’t so great. It wasn’t a total disappointment, but I won’t be doing a double post of it that is for sure.

Ok, so the recipe is, as always, in Cooking Light and the link is here and above.

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red onion–they are so lovely! 

First there are the beans! They were delish! I’ve never mashed beans before! What a marvelous idea! Great White Northern Beans are a little bigger than Navy Beans (why “navy”? they are white) and are shaped like Lima Beans but DO NOT taste like Limas! If you didn’t have a can of GWNB but had Navy Beans or Cannelini Beans, I think you’d be ok. The recipe calls for adding 1/2 cup of water along with a can of beans.

  • Mistake Avoidance Tip: drain the beans before adding them to the pot or add less water. Otherwise it’s really liquidy and requires some time boiling off extra liquid.

Mine were a bit liquidish, but they sure were zippy with the Parmesan cheese and lots of pepper! Yummy!

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fresh salsa

Topper was a simple fresh salsa. I used a red
onion to give it more color. It was really good and made just the right amount for two servings (I halved the recipe).

Then there is the Kale. Maybe it would have been better if I hadn’t gotten some kind of fancy super curly Kale. It was to be “wilted” in a dutch oven but it just didn’t want to wilt to well. Ended up chewy. Bad combo with the beans. A Kale salad would have been lovely but of course then it wouldn’t be a “stack”.

The dish was supposed to have a poached egg layer, between the Kale and the Salsa. What a pain in the neck a poached egg is! So, no–that didn’t happen. If I’d wanted to have an egg I would have substituted a soft boiled one because that’s a whole lot easier to

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Peppered Great Northern Beans, Kale, Egg Stack. Minus Egg. 

accomplish. If you ever have concerns about soft boiling an egg, this article here is really helpful!

But this time, no egg. How would that have worked with the chewy not-quite-
wilted Kale? I just don’t know.

So here it is plated for one single serving. Just for clarity’s sake, this is a smaller sized plate. It always feels like I haven’t gotten a full plate if I use a bigger one and have a regular serving. More likely to have a reasonable size portion with a smaller plate.

I’ll end this post with a picture of a lovely red onion. Because they are really so lovely. This was a super duper fast dish to prepare, less than 20 minutes definitely. If I ever do it again, I’ll probably do it in parts but not as a whole dish.

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Sausage and Pasta Redoux

Last month I started the new cooking plan with recipes from Cooking Light. So far it’s been pretty good, even though I’ve spent some of the intervening time out of town and unable to cook.

This week I made a plan. An actual cooking, meal, grocery store, recipe, get-it-in-order plan. Not a set of mix and match diet choices made primarily of some combination yogurt and almonds or something super simple largely raw throw together thing. Not a dream list of fabulous food I’ll never really make but has beautiful photos in the cookbook or website that ultimately self-sabotages me into eating out because I’m tired and don’t want to go to that much trouble. That always ends up in me throwing away a lot of rotten food.

Nope, this is a grown up, real life meal plan for the week. Seems like a small thing to be so proud of, but there you go.

Monday and Wednesday are covered with other responsibilities, so tonight was the first one in this new Meal Plan Adventure. And, it was a redoux.

Formerly know as Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Penne, it is now Sausage and Pasta Redoux. 0209161717a

Penne is great, but I made dinner for a friend who doesn’t want to eat a lot of pasta. So I went with this veggie rotini. It’s pretty, not as pretty when it’s cooked because there’s color fade. It’s made with spinach, tomato and beet. But it just tastes like pasta.

I’ll admit that rotini is typically better when there’s some kind of sauce to hold on to and there isn’t really in this, but that’s ok. It worked.

As before, I used regular ole broccoli and not broccoli rabe. I have since learned that broccoli rabe is not at all the same thing as broccoli. Totally different kind of plant. But it’s green, so there! And Turkey Sausage, which I think I did before, too.

So there it is. However, I did realize that it sure is a lot of food. And I realized it just before 0209161751aI re read that the recipe was for four and I should have halved it. Oh well, good thing I like it! Two days of lunch!

Rest of the week it will be Peppered White Bean Kale and Egg Stack and Chicken Kofte with Zucchini.

What is a Kofte you may ask? Well, I don’t know either, so it will be a new thing for us all.

Flatten That Chicken!

Dinner last night was another from the Cooking Light magazine. This one was Flattened Chicken with Almond and Paprika Vinaigrette.

So, the weird thing was that I always thought a vinaigrette needed to have vinegar. But this doesn’t and apparently a vinaigrette doesn’t require it anyway. There are vinegary olives in the topping though, so maybe that counts? Anyhow, it was good. I used too much olive oil in the pan and you can see it in the plate, but who ever said that was a bad thing was a liar!

Pictured here is a single serving.

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The recipe called for flattened chicken breast halves but I had chicken tenderloins and used that instead. They flatten out really easily; only had to put them between two sheets of parchment and beat on them with the heel of my hand. Chicken breasts are a lot harder to flatten! But flattened chicken cooks super duper fast! 3 minutes per side! Whole thing was done in less than the 28 minutes the recipe says it would take. It could have been really easily over cooked though.

Was it tasty?  Yes, I give it a 8*
Was it easy? Pretty much, could have been harder with actual chicken breasts though. 7
Was it quick? Less than 30 minutes start to finish sounds quick to me.
Would I cook it again? Yes
Overall I’d rate it a 8

*scale of 1-10 with one the worst and 10 the best

New Cooking Plan

Starting some new cooking habits. I like to cook and I love to bake! Ovens are like magic to me. You put something in it, wait a while, and it comes out entirely different. My mother was a Home Eco teacher and a great cook, but my father’s tastes were simple and he preferred the same five or six things over and over and over.

And over.

I learned to cook from my mother (obviously) who approached cooking more as a science than an art. It was all about the chemical reactions between the foods. Precise measuring was critical as was timing. I suppose I am ok in the kitchen. Most of all, I know how to follow a recipe and I think that’s a fine skill to have.

Recently I’ve been inspired by a friend of mine who cooks for her family all the time and has been using a lot of Cooking Light magazine recipes. Typically, I’m cooking only for myself, so this is often an impediment to cooking altogether. However, looking at the things she had prepared, they were almost all 4 servings. Perfect for her three person family and perfect for cutting right in half for little ole me tonight and lunch tomorrow.

I’ve been trying Blue Apron. I say trying because the food is fantastic and fresh and almost always organic and easy to make and just right portions. But the food just kept coming and I kept forgetting to cancel the week before I wasn’t going to be home and consequently I also kept throwing away really great food that had spoiled before I even got to it.

So, I put the Blue Apron on hold, got a Cooking Light subscription and…. Here We Go!

First meal: Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Penne
Follow the link for the recipe itself*

Remember how I just said that I am usually cooking for me, myself and I? Well, every once in a while I’m cooking for a whole bunch of campus ministry college students. We have a smallish group, but it’s a whole lot more than the “single serving” I typically search for.  But those Cooking Light meals are servings for 4, which is easily doubled to 8, which was just what we needed Monday night. And pleasing college students with a “light” meal was a big test. They loved it!

There was no Broccoli Rabe in my local grocery store, so it was regular broccoli. Looks like the nutrition is similar. Although there are more calories, it isn’t significant and IT’S A GREEN VEGETABLE so I think it’s ok. A good place to look for nutritional values I’ve found is here, especially if you like pretty charts and lots of data!  It was easy to make, not quite as quick as the recipe implies, but still not a lot of effort. I will definitely make it again.

Pictured here is the platter with four servings.

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*the Cooking Light website has all of their recipes stored on the My Recipes database. This does not mean, however, that all the recipes at My Recipes are light. They really, to my great disappointment, are not. Even so, My Recipes has a save feature that is admittedly pretty cool. But, my advice is to either buy the magazine or search on Cooking Light for what you want.

 

End Of Summer Canning

Well, I want to be canning but it seems that I can’t get there from here because my schedule is overflowing with work things to do. However, it appears there may be canning opportunities next week!

What to can? Well, I’m not completely sure what will be on the menu, though apples are likely. Barber’s Orchard is just down the road and they’ve got some delicious apples! I found this article about what kinds of foods are in season in North Carolina throughout the year and it seems, logically, that what’s in season is what’s eligible for preserving. I’d like to freeze some things but I have extremely limited freezer space so I couldn’t really do much with that.

Although I’d be happy to not deal with apple sauce for a while (due to the relatively recent apple sauce extravaganza at the church with over 21 gallon bags to freeze), I’m still quite likely to do something or another with apples. I’d like to make stewed (not sauced) apples or something like I usually put into apple pies so that I could have canned apple pie filling. I’ve still got some of these spiced apples that I canned a couple of years ago and they’re pretty yummy but not exactly what I wanted to do.

Hopefully more posts and photos of fruity veggie goodness will follow soon!

Freezing Fresh Basil

Last week I joined several ladies at the church for a “Canning Bee” as we sliced, cooked, squished, and bagged countless apples into over 20 gallons of applesauce. It was all spooned into plastic bags and frozen and it made quite a windfall for the Community Table! While I think it is really great to give food to community organizations that provide meals to those who need some assistance, I also think it’s pretty awesome to give them really GOOD food–good tasting and good for you, too!

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That same day, the woman with the proliferation of apples brought an equally abundant harvest of basil. In fact, it was so much basil that the whole church smelled deliciously of basil even the next day long after the apples were gone.

Ultimately, I was the recipient of the lion’s share of this harvest (two gallon sized bags crammed full!) and was delighted but clueless as to what to do with it all. My hope was to make pesto at some point but that point was not any time soon, so the only option I could come across was freezing.

However, I’ve never frozen basil before. One suggestion I had been given was to place them flat in a ziplock and freeze them that way. Then they could be crushed when frozen and wouldn’t have to be chopped. I was pretty worried that they would turn brown or black if I did that. I did a small sample of leaves in this way and while it was super easy to “chop” them by simply squishing the bag, they did indeed turn quite dark.

Even though I was willing to use a small portion of the enormous bounty of basil for that test, I wasn’t willing to risk it all, so I found a solution on Pinterest. (see my Pinterest page for my boards.) Here’s what I found and it really does a super job and it’s part way towards the pesto I want to make, too, because it involves olive oil.

You will need: fresh basil, olive oil of your choice, some kind of container to freeze it in that is (my suggestion) no larger than a 1 cup size.

Wash the leaves, trimming off any flowers and long stems. Let them air dry on a paper towel or clean dishtowels. This took about 20 min for me and I wasn’t super patient about the drying part! It was really late at night and I’d been chopping and squishing apples all day!

There seem to be several options at this point.

Chopping: fine or coarse. I chose coarse because, as I said, I was tired. Plus, my little tiny food processor would have taken FOREVER to do this much basil–if, of course, I could find the blades!

Containers: some people choose to freeze the basil in ice cube trays. I thought that was a brilliant idea! I didn’t have any, though, and I did have a few of those ziplock type small plastic containers. I think you could use anything you wanted but I’d guess it shouldn’t be more than about a cup size since you’ll have to thaw the whole container when you’re ready to use it.

Pour a layer of olive oil in the bottom of the container and swish it to cover the sides. The OO is what keeps the leaves from turning dark, so you want as much of everything covered as possible. Pack in the leaves, covering with the oil, and stick in the freezer. I did mine in layers since it was a rough chop: put in a bunch of basil, pour in some OO, squish, repeat.

Yummmy! I’m looking forward to making pesto soon!