Post #375 What’s On The Plate?

May 29, 2015 at 11:49 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #375 What’s On The Plate?

Okay, so dinner last night was going to be a late one.  Partner/Spouse was late coming home from work.  I needed something that was going to come together fast, and good.  Here’s what I had.

dinner 01

In case you can’t tell, that’s a package of chicken breasts and a chopped salad kit.  It’s a standby, safe, and reliable.  It’s always good, always quick, and always satisfying.  We cook the chicken, usually by grilling it, toss the salad in a bowl, and put the two together.

Have you ever used these salad kits?  I think they’re the best things to come down the pike.  One bag of salad greens, plus dressing and extras.  Toss all together in a bowl, takes about 4 minutes.  Just buy them fresh.  Look closely at the salad greens.  I’ve seen some pretty wilted lettuce, and very brown greens in some of these.  If they don’t look good, don’t buy them.  They have all kinds of variety.  There’s four or five different kinds of Caesar salad, one with bacon!  Another one is “lite” but I’ve never tried it.  There’s also spinach salad, Chef’s salad, as well as bags of chopped lettuce or shredded lettuce.  Then there’s the chopped salads.  A chopped salad uses cabbage as its base along with other veggies that are long lasting like carrots and radishes.  The one we like best is the Asian salad which uses a ginger soy dressing and has small packets of slivered almonds and fried wonton strips.  There are also other varieties we’ve tried and have never been disappointed.  We try to keep them on hand since we love fresh veggies.

So anyway, one of our favorite quick meals is grilled animal flesh of some kind, and a quick salad.  If we have tortillas, sometimes we’ll convert that into tacos.  But, alas, no tortillas (we aren’t in Arizona anymore) so I was looking at chicken and salad.

But what would you say if I added this?

dinner 02

That, my friends, is rice.  It’s only a half cup, but I actually used a full cup of rice so I could have some for the dogs.  They like rice, and it’s good for their digestion.  So now we’re looking at chicken and salad and rice, right?

Not so quick.  I made the rice like I always do.  One tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, and the cup of jasmine rice cooked in it until about 1/3 of the rice is toasted.  It takes about 10 minutes to get it to that point, but it’s well worth it.  It gives the rice a nutty flavor and since the oil cooks into the rice, it doesn’t stick together.  When the rice is ready, pour two cups of chicken broth into the rice, but be careful because the pan is hot and the broth will steam immediately.  Stir so the rice doesn’t clump, and once it starts to boil again, turn the heat down to very low (on my electric stove top, I set it to 1) cover and let simmer for 18 minutes.  Remove the rice from the heat leaving the lid on.  The rice will stay hot for several minutes after.

Now, originally, I was going to pan-grill the chicken.  We have a cast-iron stove top pan grill that we use for this kind of cooking.

dinner 03

It’s not the same as outdoor grilling, but it does give a nice sear and you get the flavor of chargrilling.  And ever since we got our new grill brush, cleaning is a piece of cake.

grill brush

It’s a small hand-held job that was recommended by America’s Test Kitchen.  We’ve never been disappointed by their recommendations for kitchen tools, and only once by their recipes.

However, I didn’t grill the chicken, though I could have.  I didn’t make chicken and salad and rice.  I didn’t make Arroz con Pollo, although I could have.

I made a chicken stir fry!  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  Yeah, all right.  I didn’t fool anyone.

I cut the chicken into large bite-sized pieces while I heated oil in a large skillet, as I now no longer have a wok.  Not to worry, I’ll have another one day.  I’m just being very slow about what goes into my kitchen these days.  I stir fried them until they were brown on all sides.  Then I added the dressing from the salad kit which was a Sesame Orange vinaigrette and coated all the chicken.  I emptied the salad greens into the skillet and stirred to combine the chicken and sauce.  I tossed in about a tablespoon of soy sauce and stirred to blend it.  Then I added a handful of cashews that I had, plus the almonds in the kit.  I heated everything through and turned off the heat, but left the pan on stove to stay hot.  Total cook time, less than ten minutes.

Then I called Partner/Spouse to the kitchen to prepare his plate.  I put two large spoonfuls of rice on my plate, then topped it with the chicken stir-fry.  And it was good!  It disappeared so fast, I didn’t get a picture of it.

So the chicken and salad stand-by turned into a chicken stir-fry with the same ingredients and a little imagination.

Enjoy

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