Caribbean Chicken and Rice

I consider myself to be a fairly adventurous cook.

Grocery shopping makes me happy.  See here, here, here.

I like buying interesting ingredients like tempeh and achiote paste and creating recipes to fit them.

And while I appreciate my family’s old recipes as much as the next Norwegian (hello, lovers), I try to venture out and try new ones as often as I can afford.

Although, I don’t bake.  I don’t own a hand mixer, let alone a stand mixer.  I can only push my limits so far.

This twist on chicken and rice is nothing if not affordable, but the ingredients and method make it feel different than the ol’ rice/broth and grilled/baked chicken stand-by.

Caribbean Chicken and Rice
Serves 2-3

1 lb chicken drummettes, bone-in, with or without skin
1 medium onion, chopped and divided
1/4 cup flour (I used all purpose, but whole wheat is fine)
1 cup brown rice
1 can light coconut milk, divided
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 t paprika
1/2 t cumin
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t turmeric
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 t + 1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a saucepan, heat 1 t olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once shimmering, add 1/3 of the chopped onion.  Saute until translucent but not brown.  Add uncooked rice and cook until it begins to smell toasty (about 3 minutes).
2. Add 10 oz (about 2/3 of the can) of coconut milk and a cup of water to the rice and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes.
3. Add peas to the rice once it’s almost tender and cover.  After 5-10, fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

4. While rice is cooking, heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a medium to large skillet.
5. Sprinkle flour onto a plate and season with all spices, salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken lightly in flour and place in skillet.  Cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides.  Remove to separate plate.
6. Add remaining onion and bell pepper to the skillet and saute until onion is translucent.  Add remaining coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to a bubble.

7. Nestle chicken back into skillet, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

8. After 15 minutes, remove cover from skillet and allow liquid to reduce by half.
9. Serve chicken over rice, drizzling sauce and veggies over top.

I usually prefer white meat over dark meat, but this was dang good.  And that package of chicken drummettes only set me back $1.79 at Trader Joe’s.

BLAM!

I named this recipe “Caribbean” chicken, but honestly I make no actual claims to the authenticity of this dish.  But the heat from the spices and the velvety coconut milk made me feel like I should be swinging in a hammock on a white sand beach with a fruity drink in one hand.

Anyone have a deal on airfare to share?

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Bao Chick-a Bao Wao

Watch out, there is some serious food porn comin’ atcha.

(Mom, close your eyes.)

So here’s the thing: there are a few dishes that I just won’t bother cooking.  Buffalo wings (the bars have that one covered), doughnuts (bakeries have those covered), beef stock (boxes have that covered)…

Most of the time it’s because I don’t have the proper equipment, and I’m not about to go out and buy a deep fryer because just imagine how much trouble that would get me in, or it’s just too time consuming and/or complicated.

Or there’s just too much majesty in the dish for me to risk f’in it up by blindly attempting my own version.

My latest Trader Joe’s discovery-of-the-week were these frozen bao.

If you’ve never heard of bao, they’re steamed Asian buns filled with meat and/or vegetables.  The dough is almost a little bit sweet, and so fluffy it’ll make you want to close your eyes and reflect on things like kittens, marshmallow fluff and Snuggles the bear.

In all likelihood, bao is not something that I will ever attempt on my own.

For one thing, I’m not a dough maker.  A dougher, if you will.  I don’t get the same joy out of kneading as some people do.

And just look how perfect they are!

Why would I go and possibly screw this up when I now know that I can buy 4 of them for $2.99 at Trader Joe’s?

Thank you once again, TJ’s, for eliminating all the problems in my life.

I ate this for dinner the night after I got back from New Orleans.

Can you sense how much of a vegetable withdrawal I was going through?

:::Sigh:::

Much better.

Case of the Tuesdays

I know I sound like Amy right about now, but I totally have a case of the Tuesdays.

It was one of those days when I had so much going on and so much running through my head that it was super difficult to concentrate on my work and I couldn’t wait to come home and put on my sweatpants.

Oh, and do some laundry.  But that’s neither fun nor exciting, so we’ll just pretend that I’m important enough to have a butler that does my laundry for me.

Ok so “laundry” might not be in a butler’s job description, but I’ve always wanted someone to buttle for me and I don’t particularly enjoy doing my own laundry.  So there.

Having a rough day also means that I’m craving comfort food.  Technically, I crave comfort food every night, but that’s neither here nor there.

I wanted to make some healthy comfort food, though, a) because I’m trying to clean up my eats a little bit and b) because I started Insanity this morning.

Oh yes I did.  Eeek!  I’m not going on a diet for this program (diet is such a dirty little word anyway) but I want to see how great my results will be if I add some effort to improving what I put into my mouth in addition to kicking my own butt 6 mornings per week.

So, comfort food that’s healthy.  I see meatballs in my future…

I made Spicy Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Sauce

The meatballs are just an easy combo of 1 package ground turkey breast (check the package- not all ground turkey is just breast meat and can have 16g fat/serving), 1/2 a yellow onion, a couple minced garlic cloves, spices (1 teaspoon each of ginger, basil, turmeric, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon), 2 t Thai chili paste, a bunch of cilantro, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and an egg.

Combine everything in a bowl and mix with your piggies.  (ie, hands.  Sorry, I thought I was a kindergarten teacher there for a minute.)

I baked them in the oven at 375° for about 20 min, til they weren’t pink in the middle.

The sauce was ridiculous. Here’s what I used:

3 T minced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 T brown sugar

1/4 t cinnamon

1/2 t each cumin, basil, ginger, turmeric

1 1/2 T Thai chili paste

1/4 cup chicken stock (or broth)

1 can light coconut milk

1 T soy sauce

salt

2 T minced cilantro

1 t corn starch

———————————–

Saute onion and garlic over medium-high heat until translucent.  Add brown sugar, chili paste and spices to pan.  Add chicken stock and let simmer until most of the broth evaporates.  Stir in coconut milk and soy sauce.  Create a slurry by combining corn starch with 2 t of water and pour into the sauce.  Add cilantro and simmer until slightly thickened.

I sort of winged it with this recipe.  I’m wild like that.  Somehow this recipe was genius and turned out really, really well.  I don’t say that lightly.

It’s like a hug in food form.

Aahh, much better.  And tomorrow’s already hump day!