Monday, May 20, 2013

two hundred and forty-five

Though I've been menu planning for the last five years or so, I still have my share of those what's for dinner tonight? moments.  They don't happen regularly or even often, but sometimes I realize that what I had planned simply wasn't going to work for whatever reason.  As someone who loves to plan and be organized, those moments drive me absolutely bonkers and often lead to a cheap but only kind of satisfying meal at a restaurant downtown that has epically good pickles. 

Since I decided to modify my grocery budget a couple of weeks ago, however, buying a BLT as an excuse to eat pickles is no longer an option (if I want my husband to eat every day of any given week, that is).  I figured I could avoid those what's for dinner? moments by more carefully planning my menus, but chronic pain and awkwardly timed Fresh Direct deliveries can get in the way of even my best laid plans--which is why I found myself wandering the Shop Rite in search of some sort of quick, budget-friendly meal last Friday.

I immediately saw yellow rice for 49 cents a packet, so I threw a couple of those in my basket.  I grabbed some black beans because, duh, black beans go with yellow rice.  Since my husband likes meat in meals, I decided I'd blacken some chicken, and since I like to not die of malnutrition, I decided some peppers and onions would round out the mix.  The only problem was how to serve it.  Feeling lazy, I decided on throwing it in a bowl and calling it a day.  Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to it, but the bowl'o'Mexican-ish stuff ended up being easy and delicious. 

Best of all, I got a blog post out of it!  Woohoo!

Blackened Chicken and Yellow Rice Bowls

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Adobo
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
2 + 1 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, seeded and diced
4 cups cooked yellow rice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
 1/3 cup taco sauce (semi-optional)
shredded Mexican cheese, sour cream, and/or cilantro (for serving)

Place the chicken breasts, soy sauce, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce in a gallon sized zip top bag.  Set the bag in the refrigerator and let the chicken marinate for 2 hours or up to overnight.

When ready to cook, remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and pat dry before brushing evenly with the melted butter.  Combine the paprika, salt, sugar, chili powder, onion powder, adobo, and oregano, then dredge the chicken in the spice mixture.

Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to a large saute pan placed on a burner set to medium-high.  Place the chicken in the pan and cook four minutes without touching.  Flip the chicken and cook another four minutes without touching unless you think the chicken is done.  The chicken is supposed to be blackened, so don't worry if the spices burn.  When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow to rest for five minutes.

Wipe out the pan (or get a fresh pan).   Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan.  When the oil shimmers, add the diced bell pepper and onion.  Cook, stirring frequently, until softened.  When the vegetables have cooked, reduce the heat to low and add the beans and taco sauce to the pan.  Mix everything together, then cover and let sit over low heat for 10 minutes.

While the beans warm, cut the chicken into cubes.  Then, add the chicken and prepared yellow rice to the bean/vegetable mixture.  Remove from heat and stir until well combined.  

Serve in bowls topped with cheese, sour cream, and/or cilantro.

Serves 4 .

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