Basil chicken stir-fry

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First appeared in the Seward Journal Newspaper 02/22/2017

If I had my way, I would literally eat every meal directly from a can.
As much as I love good food, I hate dishes. This is even more true
when I’ve spent 8 hours working, 4 hours caught in traffic, an hour
cajoling the children into finishing homework and entirely too much
time shoveling the driveway, which still has me concerned
archeologists might very well find my desiccated remains at the bottom
of a glacier in a thousand years. Rather than giving in and having
‘everything from a can’ tacos, I rely heavily on stir-fry to keep
dishes to a minimum while still providing something vaguely like a
nourishing meal. That said, I can only get away with tossing the very
nearly expired vegetables with tofu and chicken with some some
‘stir-fry sauce’ from the bottle about once every other week. In order
to combat this prohibition, which my wife assures me is, in fact,
enshrined in our wedding vows, I have to get creative with the stir
fry. It turns out that if the flavor profile is different enough, even
if the ingredients really aren’t, it doesn’t count against the
stir-fry limit. So, here was this week’s version of stir-fry.

What you need:
Main dish:

  • 2Tbsp oil
  • 2Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1Tsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 Tsp Sage
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped – separate green tops from the white bottoms.
  • 1/4 Cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 Chicken breasts chopped into 1/2” – 3/4” cubes.
  • 2-3 Cups thawed or fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 small yellow squash

Rice:

  • 2 Cups jasmine rice
  • 1 Can of chicken broth
  • 1 C Water
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:
Cook the rice as you normally would in a pot by bringing the rice,
chicken broth, water, and parsley to a boil. Once the rice is cooked,
add the oil, mixing it in well. You can use 1-2 Tbsp or so of butter
instead of olive oil, but we’ve got food allergies to contend with so
this is what I use, it still gave a buttery taste.

Pour a couple of tablespoons into a 14” wok and brown the chicken,
garlic and the white parts of the onion. Once the chicken is browned,
add everything else, holding back only the green parts of the onion –
add those right near the end. Cook over high heat stirring frequently.
The goal is to cook down the water. There will be a lot of water
because a lot of water will come out of the veggies. Once the
vegetables are cooked through serve over the rice.

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Some Kinda Chicken Thing

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I’m starting to think that Sunday is really the only day I’ve got the stomach or attention span to cook. Not that I don’t have the stomach or attention span to eat the rest of the week, it’s just that when you’re in a household with children and two working parents, there just isn’t time to enjoy cooking, or cook, or think about what to cook. Most days you roll in the door at quarter after 5, and set to getting something resembling a meal on the table by about 6. That’s like 45 minutes to actually prepare. I’m not even sure you can routinely get a batch of hamburger helper to cook up in that span of time. Do people still eat that? It was basically a child-hood staple for me and I haven’t eaten it in over 20 years.

I can almost always have dinner on the table when it’s plain noodles – which my children and wife are generous enough to allow me to pass off as a perfectly acceptable option. It gets dicier when I try to get fancy. In the summer, I’ve got the luxury of tossing some chicken on the grill and nuking some canned green-beans, that goes over reasonably well because I can alternate between barbecue sauce, various non barbecue marinades, or olive-oil and spices. Winter is a little more difficult. I can still get away with chicken in the oven, but it takes a lot longer and roughly 94.2% of the time, I’ve forgotten to either pull the chicken from the freezer or ask my wife to before she leaves for work. Without defrosted chicken, it’s either Dave’s special ‘Damn-near everything from a can’ tacos, or plain noodles, which you can only do once a week each.

Last week was no exception to this rule. I cooked ham on Sunday, spaghetti on Monday, fast-food on Tuesday, Wednesday was crock-pot day, so my wife threw leftover ham and beans into the crock-pot, and Thursday I didn’t even bother with a meal. So, today, I decided that we needed something approximating nutrition, or at least a dinner that resembled a home-cooked meal. Unfortunately, I also wanted to wallow in self-pity over my failure to get a book published, avoid house cleaning, and play a bit of classic video games. The obvious way to manage all of these, and still end up with good food at the end, is the crock-pot. I selected a recipe from the chicken book, modified it to include only ingredients I have on hand, adding a few others for good measure, and converted the whole thing into a crock-pot meal. Here is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • A bunch of chicken (I used like 5 Thighs and about as many drumsticks)
  • 3 cans of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup pitted & quartered kalamata olives
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup wine (use a nice one, I prefer Black Box)

Directions:

Throw all that stuff into the crock pot, I didn’t even bother defrosting the chicken. Cook on low for 7.5 hours and serve over jasmine rice. That’s it. It took longer to work out what ingredients we had than to prepare and cook it. Cheers!