Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pretending It's Really Spring

Hey all!  Happy Wednesday! Low key is the pace around here this week.  Rest and relax.  Lots of reading, reminiscing, and of course cooking.  I've been cooking up all kinds of good eats this week.  The problem with that is now I need to go to the grocery; one of my least favorite things to do.  {Sigh} This cold weather has me craving all things carb- pasta, rice, sweets.  My boys are loving all of the yummy aromas filling the house each day.  Strawberry-Rhubarb pie, yellow cake with brown butter frosting,  Cracked pepper-Dijon Pork Chops, and one of our new favorites, Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Chicken with Cauliflower Rice.  No, my kids don't care for the cauliflower rice, but they'll eat it.  Rex and I are enjoying it.  It fills you up without all of the carb overload of regular rice or pasta.  It's a good substitute when craving pasta but trying to add more fiber and veggies into eating.

This is my first attempts at recipe blogging so I apologize in advance for my poor iPhone photography and my pic monkey attempts at creating something that resembles an appetizing meal.  Next time I will take more, and hopefully better, pictures as I am going through the entire process, not just after the fact when realizing the meal actually looks and tastes amazing.  Pictures of plating would have been awesome.  If there were leftovers I'd have done that.  Next time.  

Overall difficulty level: Medium- not terribly difficult, but not just opening a can or box and dumping.  

2-3 sweet red peppers, roasted (see below)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 14.5oz can artichoke hearts (non marinated), drained & halved
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
1 jar kalamata olives, drained
1 jar capers (about 2 tbsp), drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon 
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
1 head cauliflower, cleaned and cut into florets 

Food processor with shredding attachment
oven safe skillet
cookie sheet lined with foil
large skillet for browning rice

Step 1: Roast Peppers (Medium)

The first thing to do is roast the peppers.  My grocery had three packs of sweet red peppers on sale last week.  I eat peppers like apples.  They are sweet and satisfying.  Mine were on the verge of getting soft so I cut them in half, cleaned the seeds and white membrane from the centers and placed them on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Place in 425F preheated oven for 25 minutes until they look like the picture below.  They should have blackened places on them and be crispy around the edges. 

Let cool about 30 minutes and peel the skin from the outside of the pepper.  NOTE: If you are not planning to use the peppers right away, place in a container with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and cover tightly.  They will keep several days, though I've never honestly had them longer than 2 days.  #justsayin

Step 2:  Prepare veggies. While peppers are roasting, drain capers and artichokes. After halving artichokes, place capers and chokes in a glass bowl.  Halve tomatoes and place in bowl with capers and chokes. Peel and slice red peppers into strips and place in bowl.  Drizzle mixture with about a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the juice of the lemon. Let flavors to their happy dance together.  Chop the onion and mince garlic, but don't add to the bowl.

Step 3:  Add 2tbsp olive oil in oven safe skillet.  Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in skillet on medium-high heat.  Begin browning chicken breasts in (I did this while my peppers were cooling), about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from skillet and place on plate to rest.

Step 4:  Put minced garlic in skillet and sauté over medium heat until carmel in color (maybe 2 minutes).  Add onions and sauté until they turn translucent.

Step 5: Place chicken back in skillet (low-medium heat).  Move them around in the goodness of the onion and garlic.  Arrange them in the pan so they don't overlap (as much as possible).  Then add bowl of marinating capers, chokes, olives, tomatoes and red peppers.  Cover and bring to a simmer for a few minutes.

Step 6: Place covered skillet in 350F oven for 30 minutes, or until contents are bubbling and chicken is fork tender.  Mine was falling apart tender when scooped out of the skillet.  So good.

Step 7: While chicken is in oven, clean and section cauliflower into florets that will fit into the food processor trough.  I used the Medium shred plate.  In past experiences the fine shred plate easily plugged and it was more of a fight than anything.  The medium plate was perfect and I got a great rice texture.  Put cauliflower in non-stick skillet on medium-high heat and until brown on the bottom.  Flip it like a pancake to brown on the other side.  I didn't use any oil, just a light mist of cooking spray.  I didn't have any trouble with it sticking.

Step 8: Plating- I like my chicken over the rice.  I place a bed of rice on the plate and smother it with a chicken breast and a spoonful of the red pepper-artichoke-caper sauce.  Sprinkle a pinch of parsley and lemon zest before serving.  Enjoy!

Looks yummy!
This meal was fantastic!  My boys gobbled it up like it was sunshine on a plate.  They requested it again next week.  Despite the lengthy list of directions it really wasn't difficult.  It's not quick.  Total time spent was around 1 hour.  I try to multitask while cooking the different parts of the meal.  That helps a ton.  Blogging the process may have taken me longer than actually cooking the meal... a little more difficult than I had thought. Ha!  Next time maybe I'll plan better.  I hope you all enjoy this as much as we did!

Do you like cauliflower rice? What is one of your favorite healthy swap-out recipes?

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