Braised Chicken with White Beans and Olives Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

Yup. That's snow. In October!

Yup. That’s snow. In October!

After what may have been one of the warmest Septembers on record, it’s finally getting cold here in Vermont! (And as I write this, it’s snowing rather hard outside!) Which means all I can think about is making soups, stews, bread, anything that will warm the kitchen and my soul.

With this in mind, I started creating a recipe for dinner in my head during the week: a braised chicken dish with tomatoes, white beans, lots of garlic, a touch of cinnamon, and tangy Kalamata olives; also something that could be slow cooked so I wasn’t hovering over the stove for the entire evening, too. I set to work one night as we were watching the movie “Love and Mercy,” which is fantastic movie if you haven’t seen it!

When The Eater of the House asked what was for dinner earlier in the day, I didn’t have the recipe completely sorted out so I described this dish as “sort of a chicken cacciatore.” “With pasta?!” he asked excitedly. “Um, no.” He frowned. I think serving pasta when you already have beans in a dish is odd because that gives you two carbohydrates. But of course, you can serve this with pasta, rice, or just on its own like I did.

I think Chicken thighs are the most forgiving piece of meat out there; you can cook as long as you like and it almost never dries out. Braised with the tomatoes and beans, I was able to go back and watch the movie while dinner simmered on the stove.

This dish turned out just like I had hoped it would; warm and spicy beans with lots of garlic, tender chicken, and briny olives. Plus it’s all cooked in one pan! If you find you have leftover beans but no chicken, just add a little cheese and warm for lunch the next day. It will be delicious!

chicen and white beans
Braised Chicken with White Beans and Olives

4 skinless chicken thighs
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
¾ cup red onion, diced (or half of a large onion)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cup small white beans (I used navy)
¼ cup Kalamata olives, halved
Chopped parsley (optional)

1. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil, When it gets shimmery, add the chicken and cook until is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes each side. (Note: The chicken won’t be fully cooked.) Place on a plate to rest.

2. There should be some olive oil and fat left over from the chicken in the skillet, but if there isn’t, add a little bit more oil. Add the onions and garlic, cook at medium heat until they are translucent. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, and cinnamon. Add the rested chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add the olives, and let everything simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Top with chopped parsley, if you have some on hand.

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Oprah Now Part Owner of Weight Watchers!
Imagine my surprise the other morning as I’m on and see a photo of Oprah. I just happened to go to the website when the company made their biggest announcement in years: Oprah has joined forces with the company, purchasing a 10 percent stake and serving as a Board member! The company has been faltering financially in the last year and they’ve decided to bring in the big guns.

As a WW graduate, I think this is phenomenal news; just like she did for books, my hope is having the Oprah name will encourage people to join and get healthy. The company said while it will continue to focus on weight loss, its mission also will focus on an all-around healthy and happy life.

You can read more about the deal here.

Roasted BBQ Drumsticks and Cowboy Beans Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

The leaves are finally beginning to turn!

The leaves are finally beginning to turn!

Before turning my cooking attention to warm stews, squashes, and gingerbready sorts of treats for fall, being it is the end of September, I thought I would bring you one last blast of summer this morning! Although, since this recipe is roasted in the oven, you could bring summer to the dinner table any time of the year!

Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients; it’s just some measuring, placing in a bowl, and giving a stir. The cowboy beans were so delicious and flavorful, just the right balance of sweet, spicy, and a little tangy. They’ll definitely make my meal rotation when I’m looking for something different to accompany chicken or pork or just on their own as a vegetarian meal with a salad. I used smoked paprika to give it a little extra kick of heat.

This is another one of those quick dinners you can easily make on a weeknight. If you have time in the morning, you can prep the onion and red pepper, and mix the ketchup mixture for the beans, so it’s all set to go when you’re ready to cook. I served this with the last of the summer’s corn on the cob and it was delicious. It was even better for lunch the next day!

cowboy chicken
Roasted BBQ Drumsticks with Cowboy Beans
This recipe first appeared in the September 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 2 drumsticks and about 1/2 cup bean mixture)

8 skinless chicken drumsticks (about 2 pounds)
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup unsalted ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Place drumsticks on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Combine tomato paste, soy sauce, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl. Brush half of soy sauce mixture over chicken; bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Turn, brush with remaining soy sauce mixture, and bake at 450° for 5 minutes or until chicken is done.

3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 6 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ketchup, and next 6 ingredients (through paprika); bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add beans; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Serve with drumsticks.

(Image: POPSUGAR Photography)

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Want to Lose Weight? Keep These 10 Foods in Your Fridge
Even if you don’t need to lose weight or just want to eat more healthfully, I always find it a good reminder to read articles such as this one from Pop Sugar for a reality check. And it’s a good reminder when you’re writing your grocery list! Check it out!

The Bounty is Coming….

Happy Summer Solstice!

With the rains slowly stopping and July 1st just a couple of weeks away, the bounty from our farms is starting! This is a most exciting time; Saturday mornings I stop at the farmer’s market before the grocery store and coop. In the picture you’ll see this week’s picks: pea shoots, scallions, basil, breakfast radishes (named by the British, but I put on an evening salad instead), kohlrabi, spinach, garlic shoots, and more. Saturday evening’s salad was a simple one, assorted greens topped with leftover avocado, those British radishes, and pea shoots. Two teaspoons of olive oil, a dash of champagne vinegar, and some salt and pepper. Divine! Stay tuned, while the season got a late start, I think this is going to be a fantastic one for recipe creations!

* * *

Friday night dinners are always a conundrum. After a week of work, I’m tired, yet don’t want to go out, but am willing to cook if it’s really simple. In the winter, this usually means homemade pizza or soup. Throw it in a pot and turn on the heat–or toss the crust on a pan, add some sauce, cheese, and veggies and pop in the oven. Last Friday I had no clue what I wanted to eat for dinner. Every meal I thought of just didn’t appeal to me, and I dislike going to the grocery store and searching for something to strike my fancy. So as I was driving there, I thought of the vegetables I had left in the bin from last week (peppers and carrots), some dried shiitake mushrooms in the cupboard, and some shallots and garlic on the counter. A few more veggies, a package of chicken, and a can of coconut milk and I could make a tasty red curry stir fry over rice. Exactly what I wanted! Some asparagus and chicken and I was ready for dinner, except the coconut milk. After a thorough search, I found the spot where the coconut milk was supposed to be–empty. Foiled!

I saw a recipe last week called “Sherry Vinegar Chicken Nuggets and Herbs” or something like that, so I was intrigued by the name, so I decided to make my version. It was delicious, nutritious, and best of all, really easy for a Friday night; the only thing that really took time was chopping the veggies and chicken! I put five shiitakes in a small bowl with boiling water to reconstitute them; you can used dried mushrooms, fresh one, or leave out. I’m not sure what vinegar to suggest for substituting the sherry vinegar, so I would urge you to buy a bottle. It’s my new favorite vinegar, I used it on salads all winter long. It’s tangy yet subtle, and its flavor is divine. It may be hard to find, my supermarket has just one brand, and although it’s a small bottle and a little pricey (yet under $4), I think it’s totally worth it and a little bit goes a long way. Depending on your own vegetable bin, you can use more, less, or substitute whatever would be tasty in a stir fry! Oh, and by using the skillet for both the veggies and the chicken, clean up is two knives, a cutting board, a bowl, a skillet, and plates!

Lazy Friday Night
Stir Fry
Serves 2 with plentiful leftovers

2 boneless breasts of chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces

1 cup chopped asparagus
1/2 chopped carrots
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted (you can leave out or use fresh mushrooms)
A couple gloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced

A pot of cooked brown or white rice

In a skillet, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil. When warm, add the asparagus and carrots and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add red pepper, mushrooms, and stir. When the veggies are just about done, add the garlic and jalapeno and mix until they become fragrant. Take the skillet off the stove and put mixture into a bowl.

In the same skillet, add a little bit more olive oil. When warm, add the diced chicken. Add about 1/3 of a cup of the sherry vinegar and mix it in the chicken. Since the chicken is bite sized, it should take about five minutes or so to cook, but make sure the meat doesn’t absorb the vinegar, you want a little bit left for flavoring the stir fry. On a plate, add the rice, veggies, and chicken, relax, and enjoy!