Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bring back the peppers...

For the last few weeks I have been unusually good at meal-planning.  I've been creating a loose menu of abut 5 or 6 dinner options, going to the grocery store on Saturday to buy everything I need and then sticking to it.  Because of this, I've been going to the grocery store only once, maybe twice (I always forget that one thing) and we've been eating really well.  We've also been wasting very little produce and our fridge is looking very neat and tidy, not over-stuffed with randomness.
Part of my meal-planning has included me being creative and adventuresome - lots of experimentation.  I've been meaning to blog about a few of the things I've tried but then one thing led to another or the picture didn't look very appetizing, etc. and I haven't gotten around to it.  And, of course, the one recipe I was really excited to try out - an orange cashew chicken recipe I got from our CSA - turned out to be less than delicious.  I'm going to have to tweak that one and try it again since it *should* have been good.  You'll have to take my word on the fact that the broccoli beef and creamy avocado chicken were delightful.  I'll post recipes next time I make them.
Anyway, on to tonight's dinner.  I decided that some sort of Arroz con Pollo or Pollo a la Creme sounded good and I've never made either.  I searched and searched for a recipe that seemed close to the way I was remembering it and nothing popped up that looked remotely appetizing (mixing ketchup and sour cream - are you kidding me?  adding mayo?  I don't think so), so I decided to make my own based loosely off of a couple more plausible recipes I looked at.  The result was really good, so I'm sharing it.  Neither of the kids would touch it but my husband and I sure loved it.  He is very happy that I have begun to experiment more with peppers.  I have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with them.  They were my biggest aversion during both pregnancies and I can still remember how acrid they smelled to me and how pretty much just the thought of them sent me running to the bathroom.  There were restaurants I couldn't even walk by.  Oh, the horror.  Now I seem to have made my peace. 
Tips: I'd recommend using low fat sour cream to off-set the use of cream.  It might help reduce the calorie content just a touch, but over-all I'm guessing this is nothing near as calorie-rich as what you'd find in a restaurant.  I am always tempted to cook with whipping cream since we tend to buy it in large quantities around here to thicken up the small-one's milk.  Most of the time I resist the urge, but every once in awhile I give in and lemme tell you, cooking with cream is completely wonderful (and no, we don't weigh 300 lbs).  This made about three adult servings, so adjust as necessary.  Also, it's a little spicy so if you are one who likes things mild, I'd suggest substituting paprika for some or all of the chili powder (but chipotle chili powder is more mild).  Do not substitute milk for the cream, the sauce will be incredibly runny if you do.
This is a surprisingly quick dinner (another plus).  The chicken was done LONG before the rice, so start the rice before you start chopping veggies.
Danielle's Pollo a la Crema
2-3 Tbls olive oil
2 chicken breasts, diced and salted
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
2 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups white mushrooms, quartered (I'd recommend the larger whites since they do shrink)
1 cup sour cream or Mexican sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp chili powder (I used smoked chipotle chili powder - good stuff)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp salt
12 or so wisps of saffron
2 cups jack cheese, grated

In a small bowl, mix sauce ingredients together until well-blended (except cheese).  Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil.  Add onions and peppers and fry for 1-2 minutes on high until the onions begin to soften.  Move onions/peppers to outside edges of skillet and add chicken to center with garlic, stir fry continuing on high until chicken is cooked through.  Add tomatoes and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms become tender, continuing to move the food around in the pan so it doesn't burn.  It's okay if there is liquid in the pan, it will mix with the sauce.
Reduce heat to medium, add sauce and stir until everything is evenly coated.  Add cheese and stir once again.  Let simmer at a lower heat for a couple of minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
Serve over rice.

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