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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Blackened Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, and Black Beans and Rice

My two favorite vegetables are asparagus and broccoli.  Aaron doesn't eat either.  I love rice and beans, and black beans and rice used to be one of my favorite meatless meals.  Aaron doesn't eat rice or beans.  I haven't had blackened chicken in over two years.  The last time I had it was my Grandpa's birthday when I was pregnant with Bailey.  It's one of those things that I used to get when we went out to eat, but we go out so seldom now.  Aaron says it's too spicy for him (but he can eat tons of buffalo wings, I don't get the difference) so I've never made it at home before.

That's the nice thing about your birthday though.  You get to eat your favorite foods and don't have to worry so much about everyone else for the day.

So, today is my birthday, but I made my birthday dinner last night.  It was fabulous!  The chicken was spicy and tender and juicy, the broccoli was crunchy just the way I like it, and the rice and beans just added the balance that the meal needed.  When I put the spices in the beans the kitchen started to smell so delicious.  It reminded me of how the house smelled when my parents would cook when I was in high school.

You'll need to cook everything sort of at the same time.  The beans and rice take about 20-25 minutes to cook.  The broccoli bakes for about 10-15 minutes but the oven has to preheat.  And the chicken is seared in the pan for 10-20 minutes on each side and then finished in the oven for about 10 minutes.  I didn't actually time the chicken I just used my thermometer and waited for it to hit 170 degrees.

This meal will serve 2 people so it's perfect for a date night.  Let's start with the chicken.

Blackened Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 tsp olive oil (or olive oil cooking spray)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and put a small, empty, metal baking sheet in the oven to heat up.  Heat a skillet over medium heat with the olive oil or spray oil.  Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the chicken on both sides and rub in a bit.  Once the pan is hot add the chicken and cook 10 minutes on each side.  Transfer the chicken to the heated baking sheet and bake for about 10-20 minutes, until an instant read thermometer reads 170 degrees.  Allow to rest for 5-8 minutes before slicing and serving.

Once you get the chicken in the pan you can start on the beans and rice.  You'll want a medium sauce pan and either a small sauce pan or a small skillet.

Black Beans and Rice

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup basmati rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 Tbsp finely chopped green pepper (or red bell pepper if you prefer)
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion (or shallots)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup water or chicken broth

In the medium sauce pan bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil.  Lightly salt the water.  Add the rice, bring back to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cover and allow to simmer about 15 minutes.  (You could also just follow the directions on the package, but mine would have overcooked had I let it cook the full 20 minutes that the package suggested.)  Remove the rice from the heat and let sit covered for 3-5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

In the small sauce pan add the olive oil and heat over medium.  Once the oil is hot add the green pepper and onion.  Saute for about 2 minutes, just until the vegetables start to soften.  Add the beans and garlic and toss to combine.  Add the cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine (and enjoy the aroma because it's seriously wonderful) and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add just enough water or broth to let the beans simmer and keep adding as needed so that the beans don't dry out.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, add to the cooked rice and mix.  Serve warm.

Since the broccoli is easy there's less of a recipe for it.  There were lots of recipes on Pinterest, but the spice combinations sounded too complex and I wanted something simple so I just made it up.

Oven Roasted Broccoli with Garlic

1-2 heads of broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
about 1/4 tsp cumin to tie in the flavors from the chicken and the beans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a small baking sheet with olive oil spray.  Chop the broccoli.  In a medium size mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients.  Toss with your fingers to coat the broccoli with the spices and the olive oil.  Spread the broccoli on the baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges start browning.  (If you like your broccoli less done, this is perfect for you.  If you like it more done you may want to blanch the broccoli in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then dunk it in ice water before seasoning it.)  Serve warm.

The schedule for the week has been changed again.  I rearranged the menu because I had a rough Monday, Aaron's sister-in-law called to invite us to dinner on Friday so I don't have to cook Friday, and we are now celebrating my birthday at my Mom's house on Thursday instead of Wednesday.  Since I made Friday's hot dogs Monday instead of lasagna, and I won't be cooking dinner on Friday, and I won't be cooking dinner on Thursday but I still want to try our new recipe, I think tonight I'll probably make the new recipe and try the lasagna again next week.  As much as I hate having my schedule messed with, I don't mind this week.  I'm being very relaxed about the whole thing.

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