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Beat the Heat with Grilled Chicken Tacos

After taking a few days off to do some fun family things, it’s back to blogging and back to the recipes. Thankfully the stifling heat we have been experiencing here in New York seems to have eased a bit the last couple of days, giving me a chance to do some cooking again and get some recipes ready to post. I still have a couple from last week that I made when it was really hot, including this easy recipe for grilled chicken tacos. This one is kind of a combination of recipes I got from America’s Test Kitchen and Bon Appetit, using the best of both them to make an easy meal that you can do on the grill or indoors.

Grilled Chicken Tacos

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1 medium onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 corn tortillas, warmed (for serving)

2 avocados, sliced (for serving)

Sliced radishes (for serving)

Homemade Tomato Salsa

Whisk together the lime juice, cilantro, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, cumin, vegetable oil, salt and pepper in a bowl until well combined. Toss the onion, garlic and chicken thighs until all are well coated. Prepare your grill for medium-high heat. Grill the onions and the chicken thighs until they are cooked through and lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side.

Let the chicken rest for about minutes before slicing. Serve the chicken and onions with the warmed corn tortillas, avocados, sliced radishes, the homemade salsa and some extra cilantro along with lime wedges and sour cream, allowing each person to build their own tacos how they like it.

The great thing about this meal is that it can take you no time at all to put it all together. You might actually spend more time getting the grill going then you will with actual preparation and cooking. In our house, there are rarely any leftovers when we make tacos or quesadillas. I served this alongside some black beans and rice that I made and the homemade salsa goes very well with this meal. You can also make some guacamole instead of just slicing the avocados if you prefer to have it that way.

That’s all there is for today. Just a very quick and simple recipe that is great for a summertime meal. Check back next time to see some other recipes that I have made recently, including a roast chicken and vegetables from Chef Marc Murphy. a roast beef recipe. some burgers with onion strings from Cook’s Country and more. I do have a few other recipes I’ll be trying out this week as well that I may get on here, so keep checking back. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Grilling, Poultry, Rice, Side Dishes

 

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Cinco de Mayo Feast

I wanted to make something for Cinco de Mayo today that was different for me at least without it taking me hours in the kitchen or having something that is smothered in cheese (I am not a fan of all things cheesy). I looked around this past week and saw some great recipes in a few places and decided to give them a try. The bulk of them came from America’s Test Kitchen, including this one for Mexican Pulled Pork, or Carnitas.

Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)

1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/8 inch thick, cut into 2-inch chunks

Salt and ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 small onion, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime

2 cups water

1 medium orange, halved

Tortillas

Lime wedges

Minced red onion

Fresh cilantro leaves

Thinly sliced radishes

Sour cream

Guacamole (recipe to follow)

Salsa

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine the pork, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice and water in a large Dutch oven. The liquid should just barely cover the meat. Juice the orange into a medium bowl and remove any seeds. You should have about 1/3 a cup of juice. Add the juice and the spent orange halves to the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during the cooking process.

Remove the pot from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a bowl; remove the orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from the cooking liquid and discard. Do not skim the fat from the liquid. Place the pot over high heat and simmer the liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy. A heat-safe spatula should leave a wide trail when dragged through the glaze. The process should take 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup of reduced liquid when done.

Using two forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in the reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the pork in an even layer on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet or on a broiler pan. The meat should cover almost the entire surface of the pan. Place the baking sheet on the lower-middle rack and broil until the top of the meat is well browned but not charred and the edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and continue to broil until the top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes longer. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and any garnishes that you like.

All 3 of us loved this pork. These tacos were easily some of the best I had made. The pork just melted in your mouth and was cooked perfectly. You could easily use this pork in other ways for other Mexican meals if you wanted, such as burritos, enchiladas or tamales, but I think they worked great as a taco myself. We did have some good leftovers which I am looking forward to having for lunch this week.

As a good side dish to go along with this, I decided to make a Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos). I thought it would make a nice accompaniment to the pork and I got the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen as well.

Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos)

Salt

1 cup dried black beans, rinsed and picked over

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

2 large green peppers, halved and seeded

1 large onion, halved at the equator and peeled, root end left intact

1 head garlic, 5 medium cloves removed and minced, remaining head halved at the equator with skin left intact

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces lean salt pork, cut into 1/4 inch dice

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves

4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 medium scallions, sliced thin

1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts of cold water in a large bowl. Add the beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.

In a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, stir together the drained beans, broth, water, 1 pepper half, 1 onion half (with root end), halved garlic head, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the beans are just soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Using tongs, remove discard the pepper, onion, garlic and bay leaves. Drain the beans in a colander set over a large bowl, reserving 2 1/2 cups of the bean cooking liquid. If you don’t have enough bean cooking liquid left, add some water to equal 2 1/2 cups. Do not wash out the Dutch oven.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the rice in a large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake the strainer vigorously to remove all excess water; set the rice aside. Cut the remaining peppers and onion into 2-inch pieces and process them in a food processor until broken into rough 1/4-inch pieces, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary; set the vegetables aside.

In the now-empty Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and the salt pork over medium-low heat; cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned and rendered, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the remaining oil, chopped peppers and onion, oregano, and cumin. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the beans, reserved bean cooking liquid, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Serve, passing the scallions and lime wedges separately.

A few things about this recipe. First, I did not use salt pork. I had bacon on hand, so that is what I used. If you are using bacon, you only need to cook it for about 4 to 8 minutes instead of the 15 to 20 for the salt pork. If you want a more vegetarian version of the recipe, eliminate the pork altogether and use water instead of the chicken broth. You could also add a little tomato paste when cooking the vegetables for some more body and flavor. Lastly, although a traditional sofrito calls for green peppers, green peppers upset my stomach and Michelle’s, so I went for red pepper instead. I actual like the flavor better and the color of the final product. This recipe makes a lot of rice and could easily feed 8 people, so you may want to cut it down to half if you have a smaller table to feed. Overall, I thought it was a very nice side dish and I could use the leftovers with a wide variety of other dishes.

I also made the fresh salsa that I usually make, which is America’s Test Kitchen as well if you want to check it out. I also made the guacamole I had made in the past as well if you want to see that recipe. The entire meal turned out great and we had a very relaxing late lunch/early dinner for the day.

I do have several other recipes to share for this week, including the dessert I made for tonight of a Mango-Pineapple Fruit Salad. I also have recipes this week for chicken, crab cakes, griddle cakes and a few others since I didn’t get to share any this past week. Check back and see if you like anything you see. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!010 007 008 009

 

 

 
 

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Tilapia For a Tuesday

I got some tilapia on sale at the market the other day and was looking for a new way to cook it without frying. I came across this recipe on the Food Network and it fit perfectly. I already have everything in the house, which made it even easier. It’s a very quick recipe and goes perfectly at this time year when tomatoes are ripe and tasting great.

Baked Tilapia with Tomato and Basil

Non-stick cooking spray

2 (8 ounce) tilapia fillets

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large tomato, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a shallow baking dish with the nonstick cooking spray.

Sprinkle the fish evenly with salt and pepper. Arrange the tilapia in a baking dish and sprinkle evenly with basil, oregano, onion powder and garlic. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Arrange the tomato slices evenly over the fish and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and serve immediately.

The fish turned out perfectly and the flavor from the tomatoes mixed very well with the fish and the spices on the fish. As side dishes, I made corn on the cob and I decided to make some black beans and rice. The black beans and rice could easily be a meal on its own if you wanted it to be. It’s not a tough recipe and takes a little longer, but you can make it ahead and re-heat it if necessary.

Black Beans with Rice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 red or yellow pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3/4 cup dried black beans, washed, picked over and soaked if you have the time

1 1/2 cups long grain rice

1 cup chopped tomato

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Put th oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low so that the mixture bubbles gently. Cover loosely and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are about half-done, softening but still tough in the middle, about 40 minutes (if you didn’t soak the beans, it will take about an hour or more) Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Use an immersion blender or a potato masher to semi-puree the beans in the pot. Leave at least half unpureed.

Stir in the rice, tomato and a good amount of salt and pepper. If you don’t want a crust to develop, cover the pot. Bake in the oven until the rice and beans are tender, about an hour, adding a little water if needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with parsley and serve or store, covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If storing, when you re-heat, stir in a little water and olive oil just before serving.

As I said, the black beans and rice could easily be a meal as themselves. You could eat it this way as a vegetarian meal or you could add in things like chorizo, some diced cooked chicken or some shrimp.

All in all, it was a very nice meal for the two of us.For tomorrow, I do have some chicken that I am not sure what to do with yet. Check back and see what I can find. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Rice, Seafood

 

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A Quick Post on Quesadillas For Dinner

Tonight’s dinner is super easy and simple. I am making Bacon-Chicken Ranch Quesadillas, kind of a take one the ones you find at Chili’s Restaurant. They are very easy to make, and even easier if you already have some cooked chicken on hand. If not, all you need is to bake or saute 2 boneless chicken breasts before hand and you’re half the way home.

Bacon-Chicken Ranch Quesadillas

1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced

1/2 pound bacon, diced

1 yellow or red bell pepper, cored and seeded, thinly sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 – 3 cups shredded cheese ( I am using cheddar, but use whatever you  would like)

Ranch dressing

1 tomato, seeded and diced

8 tortillas

Butter for cooking

Cook the bacon in a skillet until desired crispness. Remove to drain with a slotted spoon. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Add the pepper and onions to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender.Add a handful of cheese to the tops to 4 tortillas. Top each with chicken and bacon, then lightly drizzle some ranch dressing over that. Top each tortilla with the cooked peppers and onions, then add the tomato and remaining cheese on top of each pile.

Top each tortilla with the remaining four tortillas. Melt a little butter in a large skillet and cook the tortilla stacks one at a time over medium heat, about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and cheese is melted. Add more butter to the skillet as needed. Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve with extra ranch for dipping, if desired.

I am serving the leftover mango pineapple salsa, cabbage slaw, black beans and rice and guacamole with this dinner as well to round things out. You can see the recipes for all of these from Sunday’s blog, or just click here and go right to them to check them out.

This is a fast, simple dinner that is a great kid dinner as well. Sean loves quesadillas and this was a good way for us to serve them (having bacon in them doesn’t hurt in getting the kids to like them either, if your child is anything like mine and loves bacon). I told you it was a quick post today! Tomorrow is a good stir fry dinner, Sesame Chicken with Fried Rice and steamed vegetables. It promises to be a good one, so please come back and check it out. Enjoy your evening and your day!

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry

 

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Feasting on Fish Tacos

I took the weekend off from blogging and the computer to spend some time on other things, but now I am back this morning to write about our dinner last night, which was a very good one. Last night I made Fish Tacos,  Pineapple Mango Salsa, Black Beans and Rice, Cabbage Slaw and Guacamole. It sounds like a lot, but it was all very easy to make and a lot of it could be done ahead of time, cutting back on what needed to be done right at meal time. There are a lot of choices when it comes to the fish you want to use for the tacos. I chose grouper, mainly because it looked good at the fish market on Saturday and it was on sale. you could really use any firm-fleshed fish for this dish, like halibut, cod or Mahi Mahi and it would be fine. There’s not much of a recipe when it comes to just doing the fish; most of the work lies in what you make with it.

Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

2 cups shredded green cabbage

1/2 cup diced English cucumber

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Serrano chili, seeded and minced (optional)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pound grouper or other firm-fleshed white fish fillet, skin removed

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

8 flour tortillas

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, cucumber, bell pepper, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the chili, cilantro, onion, cumin and salt. Stir to mix well. Cover the slaw and refrigerate for 1 to 6 hours.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Place the fish on a plate and coat lightly with the remaining  1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Saute the fish, carefully turning it over once with a wide spatula, until opaque in the center, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer the fish to a platter, break into 8 pieces and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Warm the tortillas in a warm skillet for 10 to 15 seconds each tortilla, or place 4 tortillas between 2 damp paper towels and heat in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds or until heated through and repeat with the remaining 4. Serve with the cabbage slaw and pineapple salsa (recipe to follow).

To go along with the fish tacos, I made a very tasty Pineapple-Mango Salsa. It was quick and easy to make and tastes really refreshing and delicious with the tacos or just by itself.

Mango-Pineapple Salsa

1 large mango, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 1/2 cups peeled, cored and diced fresh pineapple (1/2-inch dice)

1 tablespoon diced red onion

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 teaspoon minced fresh mint

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 to 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

In a bowl, stir together the mango, pineapple, onion, lime juice, mint, cilantro and jalapeno. Cover the salsa and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I made some guacamole to go along with the tacos as well. I’ve posted my guacamole recipe before, but if you would like to check it out, you can just click here for it.

The final recipe as part of the meal is a simple Black Beans and Rice. This makes a lot, so we have leftovers to use for Tuesday’s quesadilla dinner, and this could easily be a meal on its own if you are looking for a meat-free meal to make.

Black Beans and Rice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 red or yellow pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3/4 cup dried black beans, washed, picked over and soaked if you have time

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice

1 cup chopped tomato (canned is fine; include the juices)

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

put the oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low so that the mixture bubbles gently. Cover loosely and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are about half-done – softening but still tough in the middle, about 40 minutes (an hour or more if you didn’t soak the beans at all). Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Use an immersion blender or potato masher to semi-puree the beans in the pot (leave at last half unpureed). Stir in the rice, tomato, and a good amount  of salt and pepper. (If you don’t want a crust to develop, cover the pot.) Bake in the oven until the rice and beans are tender, about an hour, adding a little water if needed, Taste and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Pureeing the beans and then adding the rice allows the bean flavor to really penetrate the rice. If you would like a method for soaking the beans ahead of time, here is my method.

That covers Sunday’s meal. It was delicious and not a lot of work. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and the only things leftover are some salsa and beans and rice. We’ll be able to use both again with Tuesday’s dinner, so that works out great. Later on today I will post my recipe for Monday’s dinner, a Beef Stew in the slow cooker. Check back later to check it out!

 

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Rice, Seafood

 

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Jennifer Probst

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