Nearly two years ago (which blows my mind by the way), my son was born. A good friend of mine brought us a truly yummy concoction of chicken, veggies, black beans, and rice. Every so often it pops into my head and I keep intending to ask her for the recipe but of course, I always forget. Tonight is a work night for me, which means dinner needs to be simple and hopefully assembled ahead of time. So here I am, chicken and rice, chicken and rice, what to make, what to make...Voila! Here is my interpretation of that tasty and thoughtful meal, which of course reminds me of the snugly, sleepy newborn that came into our lives two years ago.
Fiesta Chicken Casserole
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed, patted dry and cut into bite-sized cubes
2 cups brown instant rice
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
4-5 small or 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped as small as possible (the better to hide from picky eaters)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
3-4 green onions, sliced
1-2 cups cheese of choice
Season chicken as desired (I used black pepper, paprika, cumin, and coriander). Brown in 1T olive oil in medium skillet. Remove chicken from pan and drain on paper towels. Add veggies to pan and saute 5-10 minutes. Add beans and tomatoes and cook through. While chicken and veggies are cooking, prepare rice according to package directions.
Stir veggie/chicken mixture and rice together in large casserole dish. Stir in some raw green onion slices, like the white parts. Scatter with choice of cheese.
I intended to use Queso Fresco and Pepper Jack, but thought I should play it safe since there are spicy chilies in the dish as well. My daughter does not exactly love Mexican flavorings and I thought I would be better able to trick (um, I mean encourage) her to eat it if I hid it under "regular orange cheese." If you haven't tried Queso Fresco before, I encourage it. It is sort of like solidified cottage cheese or ricotta, just very creamy and mild. And, like Feta, it doesn't melt and I like the texture it has when cooked.
Oh, back to the recipe: top with the green onion tops, if desired. I love green onions, love them! Between the green onions and the black beans, this little baby has two of my top favs in it. Mmmm....check out this hunk a, hunk a, burning pot of love! And it's not even cooked yet. I don't know if this is exactly my friend's recipe, but it looks good to me and I am appreciative of the inspiration!