September 8, 2011

Experimental Dinner Success!! Chicken and Rice with Beans and Veggies Bake

Man, I really need to work on my "titling" skills. And my remembering to take photos of food. I'm blaming it all on pregnancy. ANYWAY, I made an "experimental dinner" tonight (which always makes Hubby a little nervous) but it came out pretty well! I was even given permission to use the technique and change up the flavors for different variations!

I always liked the idea of Cambell's Chicken and Rice bake that used condensed cream of mushroom soup... but it was never soupy enough for me, and always seemed to come out dry (maybe I cook it too long, I don't know). So today, having defrosted 2 chicken breasts with NO idea what I was going to do with them, and the only request from Hubby being that "whatever we have for dinner... I want a LOT"... I thought of chicken with black beans and rice. But I didn't know what to do with the chicken part... and since I'm working on getting more veggies and less salt in my diet to help reduce the pregnancy puff.... I was even more stumped.

So I looked up how to "bake rice" to find out how much LIQUID is required for that method. Turns out: 1.5 to 1.75 times more liquid than rice. With this knowledge, and a can of black beans... I went to brainstorming. This is what I came up with (including some changes I would do next time)

2-4 defrosted and trimmed chicken breasts, pounded flat (seasoned with salt/pepper/garlic powder/cumin)
1 small/medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or a minced clove or two)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup pepper, diced (I used frozen)
1 can of black beans, drained (and rinsed if you wish. I used reduced sodium beans)
1 cup rice
1 15.something ounce can of chicken broth (aka, 1 3/4 cup, again... reduced sodium)
Ovenproof cooking vessel with some sort of lid. I used a deep-dish-baker from Pampered Chef, but a pyrex dish and some tinfoil should work too.
Frying Pan

Preheat your oven to 375*
In a frying pan, heat up some olive oil, and sautee the onion until translucent, and add garlic until aromatic.
In Baker, place 1 cup uncooked rice, 1 cup pepper (frozen is still fine - no need to defrost), onion and garlic, cumin, black beans and broth (feel free to add additional veggies like tomatoes or 1/2 cup of salsa, or corn or what-have-you) and stir together.
Season your flattened chicken breasts with black pepper, cumin, garlic, salt... whatever floats your boat.
In now-empty, but hot, frying pan, place chicken to brown on each side (maybe 2-3 minutes each side?)- don't worry... you're not cooking it through, just getting some color on the outside.
Nestle the chicken into the rice/veggie/liquid mixture, throw a lid (or tinfoil) on and put in the oven. TECHNICALLY, it should take 35 minutes... mine took 45 to fully cook the rice. The chicken was done at 35 minutes (probably an extra few to heat up the stoneware).

Let it sit for a few minutes (to cool, and let the rice finish soaking up the broth after cooking) and you'll have moist chicken, flavorful moist rice, and a yummy dinner that took very little prep and follows up with very little cleaning. Heck, you can wash the frying pan, cutting board, knife and chicken-pounder all before dinner even starts!

The changes I included were: Seasoning the chicken. oops. Using 4 breasts instead of two (because portion wise... that's the right quantity for everything else). Using TWO instead of one tsp cumin. Using a WHOLE can of black beans (I used 3/4 cause... it looked good, and meant I'd have beans for quesadilla's later... and that's what came out of the can unassisted when I dumped it in the strainer). Not cooking the pepper ahead of time, and honestly? Using a frying pan. (my stock-pot was already coated in oil from popcorn!! I just went with it. Not ideal for browning chicken however...)

The hubster wanted "a lot" of food... so I doubled the amount of rice we normally eat - and after gorging himself, I still had about 2 cups of rice left-over (which is in the freezer in a ziplock now, waiting for us to eat quesadilla's next so it can be microwaved back to marvelousness - yay for freezing rice!) It always amazes me how much COOKED rice you get from RAW rice.  If you'd like a little heat... feel free to add some chili powder. About 1/2 a cup of salsa would be great too (in an attempt to avoid heartburn tonight, I refrained from heat and tomatoes).

I'll have to think up another flavor combo to try soon... a few ingredients thrown into that covered baker for a bit, and coming out with a meal-in-one?!? I LIKE it. It might become the "Crud. I didn't defrost a freezer-meal today" solution come December...

And speaking of freezer meals (I'm babbling tonight, sorry) - the chicken-pot-pies from yesterday came out well!! (although my crust never browned :-/ It might have been that I baked them in the toaster oven... which is part of why I didn't take a photo. The other part was that I cooked them FOREVER waiting for them to get brown, so I was super hungry by the time we caved and just ate.) Hubby wanted more salt in his since I made it SUPER low sodium... I want sleep lines that disappear in less than two hours, so he can deal for now. Maybe I'll go back to "regular salt" when I don't feel as puffy ;).



Vanessa said...

I made this:

the last time we had my parents over for dinner. Toss everything in a pan and bake - super easy. I really liked it.

If Chris would man up and eat the tomatoes I'd make it more often. :)

Betsy said...

Your boy doesn't like tomatoes either!! Hubby will do sauce, but not the chunks (big baby). That looks yummy!! I'm printing it out for future reference :-P (he can deal with the tomaters!!)