Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's hot, tasty, and easy...(insert joke here)

You know that feeling when you look at the clock and realize it's dinnertime and shake your head and say, "I got nothin'"?

I have those moments with this blog, too. I suppose I could share a small squeal over the fact that my editor, Deb Werksman, did an author roundup this morning over at the Sourcebooks Casablanca blog, and that seeing my name included thusly was one of those giddy OHMYGODITSREAL moments:

Seeing my name included just a couple spots below the great Laura Kinsale (one of the grande dames of the romance genre) was the icing on the cake.

But cake is not a suitable meal, no matter how much we might like it to be. And since I have a favorite dinner I trot out on those "I got nothin'" evenings, I figure it might make a good blog post as well.

This dish doesn't have a name, so feel free to give it one. What I like is that you make the whole thing in one pot and still manage to hit most of the food groups. Most of what's in it is stuff I keep around the house anyway, and if you don't have it, you can substitute something else and it's still good.

Here's what you need:
  • Two 14oz cans of coconut milk (I sometimes use the light stuff from Trader Joes)
  • A little less than a cup of uncooked rice (can be white, can be brown, whatever)
  • Chicken (I usually grab a couple frozen breasts, because grabbing breasts is always satisfying)
  • One 14oz can of black beans, drained
  • One red or yellow pepper, diced
  • A couple handfuls of cilantro, chopped
  • A pinch of sugar, salt, ginger, red pepper, or whatever the hell you fell like adding
In a good sized pot, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Watch it so it doesn't boil over – this happens fast. Dump in the rice, then the chicken. The chicken is optional, and you can make the whole dish vegan if you skip it. I often use a couple whole, frozen breasts and let them simmer in the pot to cook (shredding them up at the end). Other times I chop up the frozen pieces in advance and toss them in that way. Makes no difference, and like I said, you can skip them altogether.

Toss in any spices you feel like adding. I like to add about a teaspoon of sugar and a few pinches of crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover the whole mess, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Once the rice and chicken are cooked, pull the whole thing off the heat and dump in your can of black beans, your diced peppers, and your cilantro. Stir like hell (that's a Martha Stewart term) to mix it up. Taste, adjust spices if needed, and throw it in bowls.

Voila! Warm, yummy, filling, nutritious, and not terribly difficult.

Much like this blog post, right?

Do you have a favorite go-to meal when you need something simple and comforting? Please share, I like adding to my arsenal.

And on that note, I'm hungry. Who's got the cilantro?


Danica Avet said...

I generally don't cook, domestic goddess, I am not. However, when we need a fast meal, we make what we call chili beans. Brown some ground meat, drain. Chop up an onion and brown, then throw the ground meat back in the pot. Get a can or two of Red Runner Red beans and add it to the meat. Season to flavor. We add garlic powder, salt, and pepper and serve over rice. It's one of the few things everyone in the family can make. (No breast grabbing involved, more's the pity.)

Danica Avet said...

Oh, forgot to mention. You might need to add some water so the beans don't stick, but cook the mixture until it's thicker.

Anonymous said...

My favorite dish to make is Tuna Casserole!

1 can of Tuna (in water! NOT oil!)
1 can of English/Sweet Peas
1 can of Cream of Mushrooms
An Unknown Amount of Noodles aka Just Enough To Feed Us All
Parsley Flakes
Whole Cheddar Cheese / Monterey Jack (or ChedderJack shredded)

Mix up the Tuna, Peas, COM in one pot--add in dashes of salt & pepper & the parsley--until it's easy to stir (I sometimes add a tiny bit of water so it's more soupy than it would be otherwise). Just keep it on simmer.

Boil the noodles until they're however you prefer them. Drain noodles. Put into casserole dish (oven friendly!) and then spread the Tuna/Peas/Mushroom "gravy" over the noodles until it's covering all the noodles.

Spread cheese over the gravy. (Use however much you want. Personally, I like it to be REALLY cheesy.)

Place in oven at 450 degrees for about 8-10 minutes (basically til the cheese is melted and the the gravy has had a chance to kind of mix in with it all.)

remove and serve! (Remember to warn the eaters that it's hot!)

Definitely one of my favorite meals. =)

...actually, I might make that

Anonymous said...

OH--I also add powdered onion -- sometimes a little bit of garlic salt--to the gravy.

Unknown said...

Tawna--that dish sounds yummy. I made chicken with coconut milk and curry last night and even the kids liked it.

I'm queen of the slow cooker because it's easy--my hubby's favorite is my brown sugar chicken with roasted peppers and onions. Happy holidays!

Penelope said...

Sounds delicious! I will definitely jot it down to try.

I'm a fan of the super quick make a pouch of Spanish rice, toss in black beans and roasted red peppers sauteed w/ chili powder, served in a tortilla with avocado, sharp cheddar and sour cream.

I have a broccoli cheddar soup recipe I'm rather fond of as well.

Thanks for sharing!

Summer Frey said...

For the two of us:

peel 2 large sweet potatoes and cut into large chunks

quarter 1 red onion

Toss with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, kosher salt & pepper and place in deep baking dish

Nestle in chicken thighs (or whatever cut), coat with oil and spices.

Bake @ 400 for 45-50 minutes, uncovered.

It's good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Boil angel hair pasta. Stir in a can of pasta sauce. Chop hot dogs into it. Add frozen peas if you're feeling ambitious.

What? I can't make tomato-herb risotto *every* day, now can I?

Steph Schmidt said...

Generally I love cooking that lets me walk away & go read so potatoes are my favorite.

Accordion Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 450F. Wash russet potatoes and place between a pair of chopsticks.

Slice potatoes down until reaching the chopsticks (basically do not slice all the way through). Make sure the slices are not too thick or it will take too long to bake. Remove chopsticks when potatoes are sliced up.

Drizzle the potatoes with extra olive oil, sprinkle garlic salt, dried rosemary and other dried herbs of choice between the slices.

Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with tin foil. Bake for ~30 minutes or until the slices are nice and crisp on the edges.

Optionally top with fresh herbs before serving.

The best part is with leftovers: chop up into cubes, throw in the skillet to heat & voila breakfast.

lora96 said...

Cut up whatever vegetables you have around (carrots, peppers, pea pods, mushrooms) and add chopped up leftover meat of any variety if desired. Add balsamic vinegar, a handful of brown sugar and dash of garlic. Then drain the juice off a can of crushed pineapple, add that and fluff it around in a hot skillet for about ten minutes. Note, mushrooms are particularly awesome with the balsalmic glaze.

Unknown said...

A simple pasta sauce (with apologies for a complete lack of proper terms):

Take a pot, fry bacon in butter until they're crispy. Add mashed up tomatoes (whatever those tomatoes in a can is called) and when it has boiled for some 5 minutes, add clams (not with the shell) with the water stuff in the can. Let it boil - I guess 5-10 min. Add basil or oregano or some similar spice. Pour on pasta. Voilà. Bon appetit.

Linda G. said...

I have a favorite go-to Thai place. Does that count?

When my nephew was getting married, somebody had a cooking shower for his soon-to-be wife. We were all supposed to contribute our favorite recipe, to be made into a book by her Maid of Honor. I sent her a take-out menu. ;)

Sarah W said...

Linda G., you are awesome.!

I married a picky eater and gave birth to two more, so I can highly recommend any of the recipes in the One Bite Won't Kill You Cookbook by Ann Hodgman.

Her Best Beef Stew is slow cooker gold:

Put two pounds of stew meat, carrots(coined or a bag of baby ones), cubed potatoes(peeled or not), and a rough chopped onion in a crockpot or in a dutch oven.

Add a squirt or two of Worchestershire sauce, and a can (not condensed) of Tomato Bisque soup. I also add oregano, a few bay leaves, some garlic powder, and whatever else I think will go over with the pickies.

Put foil over the pot and slap a lid on it. Set the crock on low for 6-8 hours or bake the Dutch Oven at 250F for five.

Check halfway through to make sure there's enough liquid in there. If not, add a little dry red. Or add it anyway.

It's one of my favorite "dump and do"s.

jill said...

when we really can't think of anything for dinner, it usually ends up being macaroni or soup.

I love your recipe, Tawna, and will have to try it (with modifications for our pepper-adverse family and cilantro-abhoring daughter). Anything I can throw together and leave alone while it cooks is great for me.

Hannah Hounshell said...

I prefer white chili myself. All you need is....

3 cups chicken broth

2-3 good-sized chicken breasts

2 16oz cans of great northern white beans(don't drain them, just dump it all in)

1 7oz can of diced green chilies(don't drain these either)

Half an onion(diced)

2 garlic cloves(minced)

1 teaspoon of cumin

3/4 of a teaspoon of oregano

A pinch of cayanne pepper.

Cook over a medium heat until the chicken is done(I just throw them in still frozen and let them cook). Take the chicken out and shred/chop it up. Simmer for a little longer and then serve. Feeds two people at least, usually with enough left over to make a good lunch the next day. Between prep time and cook time it takes about 30mins.

Goes really well with buttered french bread.

My husband puts sour cream and/or shredded cheese on his, but I'm lactose intolerant so I eat mine right out of the pot. Its incredibly yummy and perfect for cold winter nights.