Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easy Chicken 'n Black Bean Stew

I know right?  It was lip smacking delicious, I am serious!  This recipe started with my experiment on making Polenta. 
I have never made it, and I have heard horror stories to be quite honest, so I kept it on the back burner, or shall I say on my "bucket list" till tonight.  For whatever reason I had it in my mind I was going to make Polenta tonight come hell or high water, and that is the end of that!

I perused recipes on my lunch hour and came across one of my favorite TV Network Stars recipes - Giada De Laurentiis.   Her step by step instructions produced a "perfecto" in her words Polenta!
Her recipe can be found HERE .

This is the final product which I also added 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, because you know, I had to and all...

So what is a busy working mom to do I ask?  Make a nice stew of some kind to enhance this amazing piece of goodness I say!  So I did.  I threw a little bit of this and some of that, and next thing you know, the house was emanating absolutely wonderful Mediterranean aromas and I couldn't wait to dig in!  Better yet, I had leftovers for lunches, SCORE!

Ready for this very simple recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  45 minutes
Yield: 5-6 servings

*Polenta* follow the recipe link above 
1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese

*Chicken Stew*
5 chicken thighs
2-1/2 cups diced peppers and onions, (I used frozen)
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp ground cumin 
1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
1-1/4 cups water

-Prepare Polenta using link above, spread on baking sheet to cool.  

-Using a large skillet with lid, add the olive oil, butter and let melt.

-Season the chicken thighs with salt & pepper.

-Add the oil/butter mixture to pan and bring over to medium high heat.  Sear chicken on one side till nicely brown, flip to brown on other side.  

-Lower heat to medium low and add in the onions, peppers, un-drained diced tomatoes and sprinkle the garlic powder and cumin over the mixture. 

-Semi-cover with lid and let cook for about 10 minutes.  Add in the water.  Semi-cover the skillet again and simmer for another 20 minutes.  

Let's taste for seasonings at this point.  Do we need salt?  Pepper?  We have to be the taste testers I say.  I know, I know.  The sacrifices we make!

-Now come the black beans.  Let simmer, semi-covered again for another 10 minutes till the beans have melded with the onions and peppers and warmed thru.  

-Turn off heat and let the chicken sit, covered completely for a few minutes to rest.  

-Serve over that amazing Polenta or side of your choice!

For as little seasoning as this dish has, it's the natural flavors of the onions and peppers and tomatoes that are the star of this show.  I was literally amazed at how light and bursting with flavor this stew was!  I hope you try it.  My family absolutely loved it.  I will be recreating it soon let me tell you.  I'm hoping it will be during the day, when I have light so I can show you this baby plated!  It was a show stopper!

***Note*** You can always use chicken breasts or tenders, you can reduce the cooking time too.  I just happened to have defrosted chicken thighs, you know for budget reasons and all...

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Broccoli & Bacon Salad

I love salads, no really, like ♥ LOVE ♥ salads.  All varieties!  With a nice salad, you can use it as a side, or as a meal.  We have salad in my household at least 2x a week.  In the spring/summertime I usually have a variety of salads in the fridge for easy and fast meals.  Grill a chicken breast, burger, sausage - bring out the salad and "voila", dinner in no time!

I always make some kind of layered salad for Easter.  I experimented with a few recipes, and using the various ones I perused as a base.  {I mean this salad has been around for some time now, let's face it}.  I came up with my own version of this salad, with just a smidgen of Didi's personal tweaks.  

Can I just say, IT WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!  It was sweet, it was smokey, with that amazing apple wood smoked bacon, (I know), it was crunchy, but with a smidgen of much needed tang.  Then the nuttiness of those sunflower seeds; "a must have I say"!  It was as CW says; "a winner, winner chicken dinner"!
Where he gets this from?  Have no clue, I wish he would stop saying it! *wink, wink*

Okay, ready for this super easy and absolutely delicious salad?  Here we go;

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings (1/2 cup)

16 ounces Apple Wood Smoked bacon (trust me)
6 - 7 cups, (3 medium crowns of broccoli), broccoli florets, cut small & rinsed
1-3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chopped green onion, diced

2 cups, (8 oz) mild cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp granulated sugar 
2 tbsp milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried apple chips - *seriously, beyond delicious, I can't even begin to describe.  I  used the granny apple chips*

1/3 cup sunflower kernels


Cut the bacon into small/medium pieces and cook over medium heat just until crisp; drain on paper towels. Grab a couple of pieces for yourself, careful not to burn yourself.  *What*

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch until bright green and slightly softened, about 1 minute or so. Drain well, run under cold water to stop the cooking, and drain again. You want the cooking process to stop so they can remain nice and green.  Were all about eating with our eyes, yes?

In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, onion, sugar, milk and cranberries.  Add the broccoli and toss to coat with the dressing. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Just before servings, fold in the sunflower kernels, the shredded cheddar cheese, those amazingly delicious apple chip pieces and finally, that crispy bacon.  I mean it is indeed it's own food group, yes?  I know!!

Easy enough to make anytime, and pretty enough to serve for special occasions, right?  That my friends is what I call versatility.  
Okay, off I go to scoop just a smidgen more for myself...

**This will keep for about 3 days in the fridge**

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi