Roasted Garlic Hummus

I make a lot of hummus.  It is a great way to use up left over pita bread, and my family always devours it when I serve it with broccoli florets.  I almost always make the basic restaurant-style hummus both because I love it and because it takes just a few minutes with ingredients I nearly always have on hand.  However, I’ve been meaning to try this variation with roasted garlic forever.  The problem is, it requires a bit of foresight – at least enough for you to roast the garlic.  Finally I buckled down and decided it was time to try this stuff already!  Just as expected, it tasted great.  The garlic flavor was very subtle – basically, this tasted like the regular hummus but with a more complex flavor.  I realized afterward that I pureed the toasted garlic slices in with the hummus instead of using them as a garnish as I was supposed to.  I’ll chalk that up to making pita and hummus at 10:30 pm on a work night, and I’m sure it would taste great whatever way you choose to garnish it.

Roasted Garlic Hummus
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2 heads garlic, intact
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup water
6 tbsp. tahini
1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Remove the papery outer skins of the garlic heads, leaving them otherwise intact.  Chop off the top quarter of the head so that all of the cloves are exposed.  Wrap the garlic in foil and bake until very tender, about 1 hour.  Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the sliced garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving the cooking oil.  Set aside.  Once the roasted garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves from their skins (you should have about ¼ cup).

In a small prep bowl, combine the lemon juice and water.  In another bowl, whisk together the reserved garlic cooking oil and the tahini.  In the bowl of a food processor, process the chickpeas, the roasted garlic puree, the remaining clove of garlic, salt and cayenne until the mixture is finely ground, about 20 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the machine running, add the lemon juice-water mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream.  Scrape down the bowl and process for an additional minute.  With the machine running, add the oil-tahini mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream.  Scrape down the bowl and continue to process until the hummus is smooth and creamy.  Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, top with toasted garlic slices and minced fresh parsley, if desired.

Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, May/June 2008

Chicken Tequila Burgers

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been all about burgers lately thanks to these fabulous oven fries.  When I saw this recipe for chicken tequila burgers, I knew I would love them.  I love margaritas.  I love grilled tequila lime chicken.  Obviously, I would love this dinner – and I did.  These are easy to make and extremely flavorful.  You can taste the tequila and the lime – not too much, just the right amount.  We simply topped ours with sautéed bell pepper, onion, and lettuce.  If you really need a condiment, I think the cilantro mayo from the salmon burgers would be a nice addition, but I prefer to leave these without a sauce so the flavor of the burger itself really shines through.

The recipe calls for the use of a food processor to pulse the ingredients into a mixture that can be made into patties.  I had never done this before, instead always buying pre-ground chicken.  But with a freezer full of chicken breasts, I decided to give this method a try.  It worked very well and I didn’t have any problems at all.  If you don’t have a food processor, you could just as easily mix in the seasonings to pre-ground chicken and it would work fine.  The patties aren’t quite as sturdy as those made with ground beef, so the use of the broiler is an easy way to get them cooked and nicely browned without too much disturbance.  But really once they started cooking, they firmed up and were easy to flip.  Enjoy!

Chicken Tequila Burgers
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2 cloves garlic, chopped
½-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb. total)
3-4 tbsp. cilantro
Zest of ½ a lime
1 oz. tequila
Dash of soy sauce
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
½ cup panko bread crumbs

For serving:
Burger buns
Sautéed bell pepper and onion

Preheat the broiler.  Line a baking sheet with foil and brush lightly with olive oil.  Combine the garlic, jalapeno, chicken breasts, cilantro and lime zest in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse several times until the chicken is uniformly ground.  Mix in the tequila, soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and panko.  Pulse a few more times until the ingredients are well blended.

Form the mixture into 4-5 patties and place them on the prepared baking sheet.  Broil the burgers for about 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking to brown both sides.  Check for doneness before serving.  Serve on buns with sautéed bell pepper and onion, and lettuce as desired.

Source: adapted from Cara’s Cravings

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is such a classic.  I’ve been wanting to make it for a very long time, but to be honest I was a little intimidated.  This may seem strange considering that I have a slight obsession with soup, but it’s just that this is such a classic dish, I was worried whatever I made would fall short of greatness.  It seemed like a soup that could so easily be incredibly bland, and I just don’t do bland.  Bland foods were a fear of mine from childhood, and I’m still not over it.  I also didn’t want to spend hours and hours making chicken stock the old fashioned way.  I know, I know, homemade chicken stock is supposed to be great and everyone swears by it, but it honestly grosses me out a little bit (the whole chicken situation) and I was looking for a quicker option.

Cook’s Illustrated came to the rescue big time.  They created this fantastic version of chicken noodle soup that is packed full of flavor.  This recipe calls for a combination of chicken broth and homemade chicken stock.  The stock is made with a somewhat untraditional method, using ground chicken.  I was thrilled with the final result, and was amazed by just how flavorful the soup turned out.  The wonderful broth base combined with chicken, lots of veggies and egg noodles made for an amazing final product.  I used kale instead of Swiss chard simply due to availability, and I loved the lemony bite that the kale provided.  My only dislike was the chunks of potato added to the mix.  As we all know, potatoes need salt.  Because of the way these potatoes are added to the soup and cooked, they ended up with essentially no seasoning.  I didn’t really think they contributed anything in the way of flavor and I will omit them next time.  One final bit of praise is for the ratio of chicken, veggies and noodles to broth – it was perfect.  I don’t like soups that are primarily broth with an occasional chunk of the good stuff.  This was full of the chicken, veggies, etc. and the broth helped to accentuate the flavors.

Chicken Noodle Soup
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For the stock:
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1 lb. ground chicken
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped carrot
½ cup chopped celery
1 qt. water
2 qt. low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. salt
2 bone-in, skin on chicken breast halves, cut in half crosswise

For the soup:
3 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 cup thinly sliced onion
½ cup celery, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup (4 oz.) egg noodles
4-6 Swiss chard or kale leaves, ribs removed and torn into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

To make the stock, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the ground chicken, onion, carrot and celery to the pot.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink, stirring frequently.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add water, broth, bay leaves, salt and chicken breasts.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  (If the liquid is already boiling, remove the chicken breasts immediately and proceed.)  Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate and set aside.  Continue to cook the stock for 20 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle boil.  Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl or other container.  Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard the solids.  Allow the stock to settle for about 5 minutes.  Skim fat off the surface.

Return the stock to the Dutch oven.  Heat over medium-high heat.  In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water; whisk together until a smooth slurry forms.  Stir the mixture into the stock and bring to a gentle boil.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook 10-15 minutes.  Add the egg noodles and continue to cook until vegetables are tender and the noodles are cooked, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and discard.  Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.  Add the chicken, Swiss chard or kale, and parsley to the soup.  Cook just until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, December/January 2009

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo

In my never-ending search for meals quick enough for a weeknight, but different enough not to bore our taste buds, I stumbled across this lovely recipe.  Of course I have seen salmon burgers plenty of times before, though I’m not sure I had ever tasted one.  I like salmon and I like burgers so this sounded great to me.

Some fish can be quite delicate and I was a bit concerned that these patties would fall apart during the transfer or cooking process, but I was pleasantly surprised.  They held their shape perfectly and cooked through very well without falling apart.  I threw together a cilantro mayo and along with the fresh lettuce, tomato and onion on top, this burger was dressed just right.  The flavor was well balanced so that you could taste the salmon but it wasn’t too fishy.  Next time I may try mixing a few chopped green onions into the burger mixture to add another dimension of flavor.  We’ll certainly be having these again!

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo

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½ cup red bell pepper, diced
6 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 lb. salmon fillets, skinned, boned and finely chopped
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1½ tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
1-2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

For the cilantro mayo:
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ cup mayo
½ cup cilantro
Dash of cayenne pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

For serving:
Burger buns
Green lettuce
Sliced red onion
Sliced tomatoes

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the diced bell pepper, panko, garlic and salmon.  In a small bowl combine the egg white, soy sauce, lemon juice and salt.  Add the liquid mixture to the bowl with the salmon and toss gently until well incorporated.  Form the mixture into four equal patties.

To make the cilantro may, combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until well combined and smooth.

Lightly coat a grill pan or skillet with 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Heat over medium-high heat until hot.  Cook the patties about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through.

Place the burgers on the buns, spreading one side of the bun with the cilantro mayo.  Top as desired with lettuce, onion and tomato.

Source: burgers adapted from Paula Deen via Food Network

Fruit Bruschetta

So often when I take the time to actually make a breakfast at home, it’s something on the heavy side (waffles, pancakes, etc.)  This fruit bruschetta is like a breath of fresh air into breakfast time.  Not only does it taste amazing, it is light, colorful and healthy, and a pleasant change from the usual breakfast fare.   What a wonderful way to start the day!

I started with thin slices of challah toast spread with a little bit of butter and sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar.  Then I combined finely chopped kiwi, strawberries, banana, and pineapple and spooned the mixture onto the toast rounds.  Finally I drizzled a bit of vanilla yogurt over the top of each piece.  We all loved it and there was not a bite left over.  Ben and I both agreed that this would be a perfect addition to any breakfast or brunch, and I will definitely be making this again to bring to our next brunch with his parents.  Of course one of the best things about this recipe is that it is so easily adapted to whatever fruits are in season.  I can’t wait to try it in the summer with some fresh peaches and blueberries from the farmers’ market.  Yum!

Fruit Bruschetta
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¼ pineapple, diced
6 oz. strawberries, hulled and diced
2 kiwis, peeled and diced
1 banana, diced
Sliced bread rounds (challah, baguette, etc. will do)
Cinnamon sugar
Vanilla yogurt

Combine diced pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, and banana in a small mixing bowl.  Mix well and set aside.  Toast thinly sliced bread rounds until crisp and spread lightly with butter.  Sprinkle each toast round with cinnamon-sugar.  Spoon the fruit mixture on top of each round.  Drizzle lightly with vanilla yogurt.  Serve immediately.

Source: inspired by The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Brown Rice with Black Beans

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions.  There is no magical date to make changes in your life, and if you want to make the changes, you can put forth the effort on any day of the year.  There’s no time like the present!  However, if you are trying to make some healthier choices (whether because of a New Year’s resolution or not), this side dish might be a good thing to incorporate into your menu plan.  It has whole grains in the form of brown rice, veggies, and beans to provide some protein.

Bridget suggested using two cans of black beans, so that is what I did.  I liked it this way because I love black beans, but I think if you’re wanting a rice dish, it might be a little heavy on the beans.  I suppose it just depends on if you’re in a rice kind of mood or a bean kind of mood 🙂  With all the beans, I think topping with a bit of salsa and shredded cheese could make this a light meal all on its own.  It would also be great with some spicy grilled chicken mixed right in.  I served it alongside honey chipotle glazed chicken, and it was an excellent pairing.

Brown Rice with Black Beans
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4 tsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2¼ cups water
1½ cups long-grain brown rice
1 tsp. salt
1-2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
¾ cup corn kernels (fresh from cob, or frozen and thawed)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and tender, about 12-14 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the chicken broth and water to the pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the rice and salt, and cover.  Bake until the rice is tender, 65-70 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and uncover.  Fluff the rice with a fork, stir in the beans and corn, and replace the lid.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Mix in the cilantro and black pepper.  Serve.

Source: adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cook’s Illustrated

Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp fried rice has been my standard order when we have Chinese food for as long as I remember.  Oh, every once in a while I switch it up with chicken and broccoli or something else, but this is my default favorite.  In college there was a wonderfully cheap restaurant just down the block that had great shrimp fried rice and I probably had it once a week.  Of course, with that (tsk, tsk) styrofoam container came a lot of grease as well.  I’m thrilled to have learned to make this dish at home!  No wasteful take-out containers and no pool of grease…and wouldn’t you know it, it was even better than take-out.  Even Andrew loved it.  Who knew a 16-month old would be gobbling up shrimp fried rice?!  As much fun as it was to make all his baby food, we’re very happy to have him eating table food now, and we’re thrilled that he is not a picky eater.

A few quick tips regarding the recipe – first and foremost, it is very important to use previously cooked, leftover rice.  If you use freshly cooked rice you will end up with a gloppy mess.  Have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking, because things move quickly once you get going.  Also, use high heat to cook the ingredients, but avoid constantly poking and prodding at the food as it cooks.  The various ingredients need decent contact with the pan to allow them to cook appropriately.


And on a slightly related note, since the baby food recipes have ceased for the time being, here is a picture of my not-so-little foodie just because I think it’s been too long 🙂

Shrimp Fried Rice
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1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil, divided
3 eggs, beaten
2 stalks green onions, minced
4 cups leftover rice
¾ cup frozen peas and carrots, defrosted
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Few drops sesame oil

In  a medium mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, salt, pepper and cornstarch, and toss well to coat the shrimp.  Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat.  When a drop of water immediately sizzles and evaporates, the pan is hot enough to add 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Swirl to coat the pan well.

Add the shrimp to the hot pan and quickly spread them out so that they are in a single layer, and all touching the pan surface.  (You may need to do this in two batches to ensure even cooking.)  Let them cook untouched for 30 seconds, then flip over (tongs work well for this) and let cook for 30 more seconds, so that the shrimp are about 80% cooked through.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat on the pan to medium.  Add the eggs to the pan and stir quickly, to break up and scramble the eggs.  When the eggs are almost cooked through but still slightly runny in the middle, remove from the pan to the same plate as the shrimp.

Use paper towels to wipe the pan clean and return the pan to high heat.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, swirling to coat.  Once the oil is very hot, add the green onions to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Add the rice to the pan and mix well to combine with the green onions.  Spread the rice out evenly over the pan and let cook without stirring, until you hear the rice grains sizzle, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Toss the rice a bit with your spatula, and again spread it out over the cooking surface.

Drizzle the soy sauce all over the rice, and toss again.  Add the peas and carrots, the cooked shrimp and eggs, and the sesame oil to the pan.  Toss to combine all the ingredients well with the rice.  Let everything heat back up again until the rice grains are sizzling again.  Add additional soy sauce to taste, if needed.  Serve.

Source: adapted from Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen via Simply Recipes

Island Chicken

This is another of those recipes that is such a staple in my house, and I have been making for so long, I can’t believe I haven’t shared it on the blog yet!  I really don’t know what it is about this chicken that is supposed to be “island”, but regardless, this is one of my favorite dinners ever.  It is a super simple marinated chicken breast with tons of flavor.  Another reason to love it is how gosh darn easy it is!  It takes about 5 minutes to prep before work in the morning, and then when you get home you just pop it in the oven to bake.  It couldn’t be easier!  Served with mashed potatoes, a green veggie and yeast rolls this meal is pure comfort food to me.

Island Chicken
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½ cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1½ tbsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-4 chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a mixing bowl or large airtight plastic bag.  Whisk or shake well until the marinade is well mixed.  Add the chicken breasts to the bowl or plastic bag so that they are covered by the marinade.  If using a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap.  If using a plastic bag, press out all the excess air and seal the bag tightly.  Refrigerate and marinate up to 10 hours.

When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and pour the excess marinade over them.  Bake in the oven until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 45 minutes (exact baking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces.)  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from a recipe passed on by a family friend, Sidney L.

Grilled Pesto Shrimp and Veggie Salad

I always try to include a good variety of different types of meals in our weekly dinner menus, so I am bound to have some more hearty and heavy dinners, and some lighter, healthier options.  This one is most definitely on the lighter side, but certainly not lacking in flavor.  I can’t believe I’ve never tried combining pesto and shrimp before since they are two of my favorite things – what a winning combo!

Not only is this meal healthy, it is incredibly low maintenance and can be easily adapted to whatever you have on hand or in your garden.  I threw some vegetables into my grill basket and cooked them on the grill.  After the veggies were finished cooking I put the skewers of shrimp onto the grill and cooked them for just a few minutes.  I tossed the whole mixture together on a bed of green lettuce and topped with some crumbled feta cheese.  The pesto on the shrimp and the seasonings from the grilled veggies provided so much flavor that actual salad dressing was totally unnecessary, so I skipped it entirely.  You can make this meal even more convenient by having the pesto prepared in advance.  This would make a wonderful light lunch or dinner at any time of the year!

Grilled Pesto Shrimp and Veggie Salad
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For the grilled veggies:
1 red and 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into large pieces
1 red onion, chopped into large segments
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the pesto shrimp:
2 tbsp. pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

For serving:
Leafy green lettuce
Tomato wedges
Crumbled feta cheese

Heat a grill to medium-high heat.  Oil the grates to prevent food from sticking.

To prepare the veggies for grilling, combine the bell peppers, red onion, squash and zucchini in a large bowl and toss.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly.  Set aside.

To make the pesto, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium-high heat until just golden and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.  Set aside.  Add the garlic to the empty skillet and toast, shaking occasionally, until the cloves are fragrant and the color deepens slightly, about 7 minutes.  Transfer the cloves to a cutting board, cool, peel and chop.  Place the basil in a heavy-duty, gallon size plastic bag.  Pound the bag with a rolling pin until all the leaves are bruised.

Combine the pine nuts, garlic, basil, olive oil and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the Parmesan cheese and adjust the salt to taste.  Set aside.

Thread the shrimp onto skewers for the grill.  Once the skewers are assembled, use the back of a spoon or a pastry brush to spread the pesto onto both sides of the shrimp.  Set aside.

Transfer the veggies to a grill basket and cook on the grill until they are crisp-tender, about 10-15 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill).  Remove the grill basket from the heat and place the shrimp skewers on the grill in a single layer.  Assemble the salads while the shrimp cook by tossing the grilled veggies atop a bed of green lettuce.

Allow the shrimp to cook just until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill), turning once during cooking.  Remove the shrimp from the skewers and place them on top of the salads.  Top with crumbled feta cheese and garnish with fresh tomato wedges.  Serve immediately.

Source: Annie’s Eats original, pesto adapted from Baking Illustrated

Red Chile Chicken and Rice with Black Beans

Any time I see a new variation of a recipe including some of my favorite ingredients like black beans, chicken and salsa, I know it’s going to be a winner in our house.  Even though I knew we would enjoy it, this dinner far exceeded my expectations.  It may not look like much but I like it not only because it tastes fantastic, but because it was a quick and easy weeknight meal.  Even better, it’s a one pot meal – something my dishwasher (Ben) and I both appreciate!  It makes plenty so there will be yummy leftovers for lunch as well.  The amount of chili powder may seem like way too much, but it is actually just right so don’t be scared.  Enjoy!

Red Chile Chicken and Rice with Black Beans
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2 tbsp. canola oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total)
2.5 tbsp. ancho chili powder, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup long-grain rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup green onions, chopped (or 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro)
½-1 cup salsa, for serving

Heat the oil in large heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Season both sides of the chicken breast halves with salt and sprinkle with half of the chili powder.  Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown on each side, 2-3 minutes.  Remove to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.

Add the onion and rice to the pot.  Stir for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque.  Add the garlic and the remaining chili powder to the pot.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the chicken broth and salt to taste.  Stir well.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer on medium-low heat.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces and add them to the pot along with the beans.  Recover the pot and allow to cook 12 minutes longer.

Sprinkle the green onions on top of the chicken, beans and rice.  Test a grain of rice – it should have no more than a hint of chalkiness at the center.  If the rice has the correct texture, replace the cover, remove the pot from the heat and let stand 5-10 minutes.  If the rice is not completely cooked yet, cook for 5 minutes longer before covering to let stand.

Fluff the mixture with a fork and serve with salsa.

Source: adapted from Elly Says Opa, originally from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless