I realized that the recipes I've been posting may have given the impression that I'm a vegetarian. I haven't posted a recipe with meat in it since the rice with butternut squash, kale & bacon, which was 6 months ago. The recipes I post do generally reflect how I eat, (Lots of vegetables and whole grains accompanied by plenty of baked goods/desserts) but I do cook meat at least once a week. (I have a meat-loving husband, after all.)
I guess I feel the way I cook meat (usually chicken) is not terribly exciting and/or worthy of a blog post. I leave that for other more experienced chefs and bloggers. Do you really need to see what I whip together in 30 minutes on a random Tuesday?
However, recently a post by Local Milk on what we really eat, also known as the quick and dirty, inspired me to share a typical week night dinner with you. Let's be honest, we all don't have an extra hour for pizza dough to rise or a cake to bake on a week night.
To me, ideal week-night dinners can be made in an hour or less. They involve one or two pots and pans MAX. They have grains/protein/vegetables all together in one bowl. They have cheese. (kidding, on that last one, kind of...)
Anyway, this creamy chicken fiesta rice meets all those criteria. It's loaded with fresh veggies, lean chicken and brown rice, while still being a little bit indulgent with some cream cheese mixed in and monterrey jack and avocado (duh!) sprinkled on top.
I'm trying to take advantage of this fresh summer produce as long as possible, so I used fresh corn and tomatoes, but if you're making this in the winter months (or just in a hurry), you could easily substitute a can of mexicorn and a can of tomatoes with green chiles.
Speaking of every-day-kind-of-things, since I have previously written about my week when everything went wrong, I wanted to share some things that went right this week. On my drive home from the grocery store yesterday, I was suddenly struck by the number of small acts of kindness I had received from strangers this week.
There had been a sale on avocados at Whole Foods (5 for $5!) which I pounced on like a cheetah to its prey, as did several other people. I waited patiently for a plastic bag to carry my loot as a man in front of me procured his, but once he took the bag off the rack, he handed it directly to me. Just to be nice! It made my day.
Earlier in the week, I was leaving a parking lot during the crazy after-work-rush-hour time and at two different points, two different people stopped and let me in. For no other reason than to be kind.
The day before that, I was making the drive from Charlotte to Durham, which I always attempt to do without stopping to go to the bathroom, but alas, my miniscule bladder rarely allows me to do. No longer able to hold it, I stopped at a gas station and walked inside, at which point I was in the oh-my-god-I'm-going-to-pee-on-myself-if-I-hold-it-another-second stage. I walked straight to the bathroom door and opened it, only to discover there was already a woman inside with her three-year-old son. Did I mention there were no bathroom stalls? AWKWARD.
Then I turned around and noticed there were two other women waiting in line, which made me feel like an oblivious idiot. When the woman and her son came out of the bathroom, I apologized profusely, and she brushed it off like it was no big deal. Afterward, one of the women waiting in line let me go in front of her. All of this was completely undeserved on my part.
These little acts of kindness happened in instances when I truly needed them, and served, for that one moment at least, as a way to change my mood and perspective. Too often, I go about my day consumed by my own thoughts and problems, but I was humbled by these strangers who chose kindness over their own needs.
What about you? What small acts of kindness made you grateful this week? What are your go-to week night dinners?
Creamy Chicken Fiesta Rice
3 ears of fresh corn on the cub, kernals removed carefully with a sharp knife
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a red onion, minced
1 medium green pepper, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup salsa, plus 2 tablespoons
4 ounces cream cheese (I used jalapeno cream cheese)
3 chicken breasts
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
1-2 avocados, cubed
**I use regular brown rice in this recipe, which requires water to boil and the rice to cook for 45 minutes. To speed things up, you can use instant or quick cooking rice**
In a large ziplock bag or container, combine chicken breasts, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Let marinate for anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours.
Pour chicken stock and 2 tablespoons salsa into a medium sized saucepan. Once it boils, add in the rice, cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 45 minutes.
Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and turn heat to medium. Add chicken breasts. Brown on each side, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, then remove from pan and cut into bite-sized pieces.
If necessary, add an extra tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add onions and tomatoes, cooking until both are beginning to soften, followed by the green pepper and corn. Sprinkle with remaining cumin, chili powder, and red pepper flakes. Cook until green pepper is desired consistency, then add cream cheese, salsa and black beans, stirring until cream cheese is melted.
Add cooked chicken and rice and mix well.
Top with shredded monterrey jack cheese and avocado.
Recipe inspired by Gimme Some Oven.