Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Balsamic Chicken with White Beans and Wilted Spinach

One of the biggest issues I run into when cooking dinners is usually a lack of time.  Most recipes say that they take a certain amount of prep time, and somehow I end up taking about 5 times as long to get the meal done.  9:00 is the usual dinner time in my home, even when I make super fast meals.  So I've been trying to choose meals that say that they take 30 min or less, knowing that if it takes me an hour, so be it.  This one from Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals ended up in that category.  I'm sure I could have used pre-chopped garlic or other shortcuts, but I'd rather take the few minutes and chop the clove myself.  One time-saver was that I used my mandolin slicer for the onions.

It felt like a complete meal in one dish and even let me be a little fancy with the presentation; though I will admit I added a little more chicken to the plate after taking the picture.  I wanted to serve a complete chicken breast, not just the half that looked pretty :o)

In all, it took almost an hour, but I was also puttering around at the beginning since I had forgotten to make or buy chicken stock and had to send my husband to the store while I got started.  I waited til he returned to actually start cooking, so this probably would have taken less than 45 min in total otherwise.

Balsamic Chicken with White Beans and Wilted Spinach (from Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals)

makes 4 servings

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grill seasoning (I used McCormick's Montreal Chicken seasoning)
4 boneless chicken breasts
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
14 oz can cannellini beans
12 oz sack baby spinach
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
juice of 1 lemon


- In a shallow dish, combine the balsamic vinegar, about 2 tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil, and the grill seasoning.  Coat the chicken breasts in the mixture and set aside to marinate while you start the white beans and wilted spinach.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, twice around the pan.  Add the onions, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are a little brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the white wine and chicken stock, bring up to a bubble, and cook for 5 minutes.

- Heat another large skillet over medium-high heat.  When it is hot, add the chicken breasts and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side.  Remove the chicken to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and let rest a few minutes.

- Add the cannellini beans to the skillet with the onions and stir to combine.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until the beans are heated through.  Turn off the heat and discard bay leaf.  Stir in the spinach, parsley, and lemon juice.  Toss and stir until the spinach wilts.

- To serve, place a portion of the white beans and wilted spinach on each serving plate.  Thickly slice each chicken breast on an angle and arrange over the bean and spinach.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Banana-Fig Bread

For this month's What's Baking challenge we were charged with baking with summer fruits.  July kind of got away from me, and as I've been running around enjoying my summer I didn't realize that I was nearing our deadline.  A few weeks ago I was on a business trip and picked up People magazine (my usual guilty pleasure for travel).  On the last page they had a recipe from Ted Allen for banana-fig bread.  I ripped it out, figuring it was something to add to my pile of recipes I'd get around to making one day, although my husband saw it and started asking me almost daily when I was going to make it.  Then as I started doing research earlier this week into what fruits are in season I noticed that figs were on the list.  Much to my husband's delight, I realized that this recipe fit the bill perfectly!

This ended up being a way to spend today's rainy afternoon.  It takes almost an hour of baking time, so it's great for a day when you have to hang around the house anyway.  And, ironically, we ate it while watching tonight's Chopped.

I'm excited for next month's What's Baking when I get to play host!!

Ted Allen's Banana-Fig Bread (originally published in People magazine, July 23, 2012)


1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole-what pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups dried figs, stemmed and diced
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla


- Preheat the oven to 350

- Bake walnuts 5 to 10 minutes or until golden, stirring after 4 minutes; set aside

- Whisk flours and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.  Combine bananas and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir in walnuts.

- Fold banana mixture into flour mixture.  Spoon batter into a buttered and floured 9x5 in loaf pan.  Bake 55 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean, shielding with foil if necessary.  Cool bread in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes.  Remove from pan, cool completely.