It's the best kind of Monday here - a holiday! Columbus Day isn't one that everyone around here gets off, but luckily Shane does, so he is home with me today and we're enjoying the last of our 3-day weekend. This darn cold of mine is still lingering, but I'm feeling a lot better and definitely want to get out of the house, so we're going to head to the orchard and do some apple picking today! Their website indicates they have more than 10 varieties ready to go, so I'm really excited to get down there and check it out. Shane's tall enough to reach all of the best apples for me as I point them out :) The temperature is supposed to climb to 80 today, so it's not exactly the nice fall day I'd envisioned for apple picking, but since we're already into the second week of October, I don't want to wait much longer, especially since the 10-day forecast seems to indicate it's going to stay warm for the foreseeable future. I just hope we get some more cool fall days before it starts snowing!
This fiesta chicken and rice was one of the recipes we tried over the weekend, and it's definitely going to make its way into the regular rotation. This is my favorite kind of dinner - it's made entirely in one skillet, with a short list of ingredients that I'm likely to have on hand 90% of the time. Most of the cooking time is hands-off too, so you'll have time to get other things done while you wait. The meal was completely delicious all on its own - the chicken was tender and the Mexican rice was really flavorful. That said, I enjoyed it even more with sour cream and lime wedges on the side so feel free to add your favorite accompaniments. There are leftovers sitting in our fridge which I'm really looking forward to having for lunch today, which is definitely an indication of my feelings on this dish :)
Fiesta Chicken and Rice
from Cook's Country via Skillet Suppers
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup long-grain rice
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped medium
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Set a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the chicken and cook on one side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
Add the rice, onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is toasted and the onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, chili powder and cayenne, cooking just until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Mix in the tomatoes, green pepper and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken back to the pan, browned side up, along with any accumulated juices. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes. (My chicken breasts were quite big, and they took longer than 12 minutes to cook through. I just reduced the amount of time I cooked the rice alone in the next step, and it worked out fine.)
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and gently give the rice a quick stir then replace the cover and continue cooking until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into 1/2-inch slices.
Turn off the heat under the pan then arrange the sliced chicken on top. Sprinkle with the cheese and scallions then cover the pan again and let stand for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.