A Meal for Cinco de Mayo

Mexican chicken, yellow rice, and black bean and corn salad.

Mexican chicken, yellow rice, and Southwestern black bean salad.

With this Sunday coming up being the 5th of May, that means its Cinco de Mayo.  This Mexican holiday commemorates the victory of Mexican military over the French at the battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862.  This relatively little known holiday is a big day in Mexico and Mexican and Chicano communities.  Over the past few years, since Mexican foods have become so popular here in the U.S., this little holiday has also gained importance and now provides a good reason/excuse for putting together a Mexican meal and perhaps having a party.  Pinatas anyone?

The Mexican Chicken recipe produces an extremely tasty dish that is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates.  It can be served over rice, or wrapped in a tortilla, or simply eaten as is.

Mexican Chicken

Mexican Chicken

Along with it I served yellow rice, for those who can eat carbs, and a corn and black bean  salad.   The recipe for the salad is included here also.

The menu included Mexican Chicken, yellow rice, and corn and black bean salad.

The menu included Mexican Chicken, yellow rice, and Southwestern black bean salad.

I love this salad as it makes a great side dish, or appetizer served with chips.  It can also be used as a topping on taco salads or served with grilled meats.  Nutritionally, it is very low in saturated fat, and loaded with antioxidants.  The carbohydrates that the beans and corn provide are complex carbs for the most part, and do not have an immediate impact on blood sugar.  Use fresh sweet corn when it is in season, otherwise, frozen, thawed corn,  or canned corn will work just fine also.

MEXICAN CHICKEN

The menu includes all these ingredients plus chicken.

The menu includes all these ingredients plus chicken.

Servings:   about 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. taco seasoning
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 green onions, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Grease or spray an 8-inch  baking dish.

2.  Sprinkle chicken on all sides with the taco seasoning.

Sprinkle chicken all over with taco seasoning.

Sprinkle chicken all over with taco seasoning.

Grill or pan sauté  until just cooked.  Remove from the pan or grill and cut into smaller bite-size pieces.

Pan grill or saute the chicken breasts.

Pan grill or saute the chicken breasts.

Cut into smaller pieces and coat with enchilada sauce.

Cut into smaller pieces and coat with enchilada sauce.

3.  Place chicken in the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with salt if desired, and add enchilada sauce.  Toss to coat with the sauce.  Sprinkle cheese over the top.

Spread in a baking dish.

Spread in a baking dish.

Top with grated cheese.

Top with grated cheese.

4.  Bake at 350* for 10 – 20 minutes until heated through and bubbly.  Scatter green onions over the top.

Once baked, sprinkle with green onions.

Once baked, sprinkle with green onions.

Serve over rice or wrapped in a tortilla if desired.  The yellow rice I served was Carolina brand packaged mix that only required water added before cooking.

Nutritional index:  calories, 266,  carb. 4 g.  fat, 12 g.

SOURCE:   genaw.com/low carb

IMG_3928

SOUTHWESTERN BLACK BEAN SALAD

SERVINGS:   about 6 – 8

Ingredients:

  • 15,5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

    Corn and black bean salad with avocados.

    Southwestern black bean salad with avocados.

  • 9 oz, cooked corn, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped,  or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 – 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped ( or more to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced.  (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, scallion, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Squeeze fresh lime juice into the mixture (to taste) and olive oil.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.   Add avocado before serving.

A delicious side dish, topping or dip, and so good for you!

A delicious side dish, topping or dip, and so good for you!

Nutritional profile:  Wt. Watcher Points+;  2 pt.,  calories: 79.5,   fat:  3.5 g.,  Carb:  12 g. Sodium:  127mg.(with no added salt)

SOURCE:    skinnytaste.com

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Chicken Provencal Revisited

Chicken Provencal

I made this dish recently to share with a friend of ours who had undergone surgery, and was recuperating at home with no-one to cook for him.  I chose to make this because the recipe makes a large quantity and could easily be split for him and for us.  Its one of my favorites to make whenever I’m called upon to help out in this way.  Everyone who has it always comments on how flavorful it is with its mixture of vegetables and chicken.  Leftovers seem to taste as good if not better the second time around.

I first wrote about this recipe back in April when I was new to writing this blog, and less experienced with my photography.  Having tweaked the recipe a bit since then I thought it was worth presenting again for those of you who may not have seen it.

CHICKEN PROVENCAL

SERVINGS:   6         Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • 1 broiler-fryer chicken, cut up; or chicken parts to equal 3-4 pounds.
  • 1 scant Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large ribs celery, sliced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 can (29 ounces) tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans ( 15 1/2 ounces each) beans, rinsed and drained.  These may be black beans, or any white beans.  My preference is to use 1 can white beans and 1 can black.
  • 1 Tablespoon instant chicken boullion
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.  In a large skillet drizzle the olive oil and heat to very hot, add the chicken skin side down and cook just to brown, turn over and continue browning. Remove to a platter and set aside.

Saute the raw vegetables in pan drippings.

2.  In the pan drippings, sauté onion, garlic and celery until tender.  Stir in carrots and continue to sauté for another minute.

Add remaining ingredients.

Ready for the oven.

3.  Spoon into a 3-quart baking dish; arrange the chicken pieces on top.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 65 – 75 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

I have served this entree at a dinner party to rave reviews.  What I like about it is the amount of time you have to serve appetizers and visit with your guests while it bakes.  Have a salad made in advance and maybe a loaf of crusty bread to go with it and you will be a hero without a whole lot of effort.

SOURCE:   Taste of Home magazine

Stuffed With Good Stuff

Looking back over my more recent blog postings I was struck by how many contained the word “stuffed”:  Stuffed Peppers, Stuffed Zucchini, Stuffed Mushrooms.  I didn’t realize until now how many vegetables I prepare with a stuffing that seems to make the base veggie  as well as the stuffing itself so much better–one enhances the other.  Well, if you can stand another such recipe this one uses those nice big tomatoes fresh from the garden.   You know, the ones that could be a meal in themselves.

These big boys are juicy and tender, and contain a filling on the order of a salsa, but better because of the cheese and breadcrumbs.  I served them with a fillet of tilapia, lightly crisped with a cornmeal crust, and a mixed greens salad.  This was so good my husband has requested that I make it all again very soon. I only made two but next time I will make the full recipe of four, as I think they would make a great lunch just rewarmed in the microwave.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make only half, or double it and make 8 if you’re feeding a larger group.

TOMATOES STUFFED WITH CORN AND BLACK BEANS

SERVES     4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4  beefsteak tomatoes, or large heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels ( from one ear of corn)
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts separated, and thinly sliced.
  • 1/2 to 1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, divided
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, divided.  I used prepared seasoned bread crumbs, 1/2 cup total, divided.
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Coat an 8″ square pan with non-stick spray.

2.  Cut top 1/2 inch from each tomato, and scoop out flesh and seeds.  Turn upside down on paper towel to drain while you prepare the stuffing.  Don’t waste a bit of these delicious tomatoes–use the flesh you scoop out here to make a simple bread to go along with your meal.  (see below)

3.  In a medium skillet heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat.  Add corn and scallion whites and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the jalapeño, black beans, 1/4 cup cheddar, 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs) and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the filling ingredients all together.

4.  Turn the tomatoes right side up.  Sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper, and spray or brush the skins with olive oil.  Place in baking dish.  Fill the tomatoes with corn mixture.  Combine remaining 1/4 cup cheese, 1/2 cup bread crumbs (1/4 cup seasoned crumbs),   and 2 teaspoons oil.  season with salt and pepper and divide among the tomatoes.

5.  Tent loosely with foil and bake 10 minutes.  Uncover and bake until tomatoes are soft and breadcrumb topping is deep golden, about 5 minutes more.

PAN CON TOMATE

This is a simple Spanish appetizer, and the name means Bread with Tomato.  Here’s how to make it:

Spread reserved tomato flesh on rustic bread–a crusty loaf, split in half lengthwise.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of herbs (any).  Bake in a 450 degree oven until the edges are brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Watch carefully  so it doesn’t get too browned.  Serve with more olive oil for dipping.

SOURCE:   Everyday Food

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa

I’ve been making this salsa every summer since 2003 when the recipe for it was published in our local newspaper. It uses the kernels of sweet corn cut from the cob plus black beans and anything else you might want to add.  That’s what I like about it;  its so versatile.  If I have a tomato that needs to be used, I cut it in, or perhaps an avocado that’s ripe.    If I don’t have a red onion I use scallions,  likewise if I don’t have cilantro I use parsley.  If you like some heat in your salsa, cut in a small jalapeño.   Put everything in a bowl, mix up the super simple dressing, and Bingo! its done.  We use this salsa as a snack, with  healthy multigrain chips,  or sometimes I use it as a salad.  Just put 1/2 cup on a leaf of romaine, arrange some tomato wedges and cucumber sticks around it, and there it is, a quick salad.

I find that the flavor improves if you make it a day ahead of when you will serve it but that’s hard for me to do.  I always want to sample it right away.  Oh, another thing:  if you like cilantro as much as I do, use twice the amount!

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl mix together all of the following:

  • 2 ears fresh corn, cooked, cut kernels from cob
  • 1 16 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Toss all the above with dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons oil ( corn, safflower, or olive)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Serve with tortilla chips or cheese quesadillas.

Pineapple Jerk Chicken and Rice

I made this dish for the very first time just a few days ago, and it came out so good I must tell you about it.  Normally I steer clear of dishes that I think will be very spicy.  From what I know about jerk seasoning, it is quite “hot”  since Scotch Bonnet peppers are usually  amongst the ingredients.  But on reviewing the ingredient list on the bottle of jerk seasoning marinade I became convinced that it would be OK.  So I purchased the suggested brand:  Lawrys Jerk Marinade, and proceeded with the recipe.

This is a one-dish meal featuring chicken breasts, pineapple, black beans, cilantro, onions and the jerk marinade served over brown rice.  It goes together quickly once you have everything prepped.   Mr. D.,  a person who likes spicy foods, was very complimentary when he tasted it.   It does have some heat to it especially with the jalapeño  chile in it, but I could tolerate and even enjoy it, so I know I will be making this dish again.

INGREDIENTS 

SERVES    4

  • 2 cups brown rice,  or 2 bags Boil-in-Bag brown rice, such as Uncle Ben’s
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile–stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple cut into 3/4 inch pieces  (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup jerk marinade, such as Lawry’s
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1.  In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rice, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes;  drain.  If using bagged rice, cook in boiling water 10-12 minutes, as package directs.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and jalapeño and cook until the onion is browned, 7 minutes;  transfer to a bowl.

3.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the same skillet and increase the heat to medium-high.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the pineapple and jerk marinade and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, another 2-3 minutes.

4.  Stir in the onion mixture, black beans and cilantro; cook until the beans are heated through, about 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper and serve over the rice.

SOURCE:   Every Day with Rachael Ray