Friday, June 4, 2010

Keepin' it Simple with Cuban Chicken

Remember the old adage.. Keep it simple? Well, that is just what we aim to do. It helps ward off the evil Hot Mess in all her varieties. And she does come in all shapes, sizes, and occasions. She comes when I am doing too many things at the same time, when I am overwhelmed by my many projects, and when people want too much from me all at the same time. These are just a few examples, but the main reason she shoes up is that I am not being honest with myself and respecting my boundaries as a human being.

Can you relate? Do you ever feel the need to be everything to everyone, however you some how manage to fall short? Yeah, I thought that one might get you. Every once and a while I forget that the only one who is going to take care of me is... you guessed it.. ME! When I forget to take care of myself over-extending my boundaries because I say "YES" to everyone, my Hot Mess self almost always comes knocking. That is where I was at a few days ago.

So, this meal was prepared entirely by my mother. I said "YES" to myself and went on a road trip with my boyfriend (and YES, that's a 1981 Trans AM) and when I came back there was this delicious meal waiting there for me. It was pretty perfect and I said "YES" to letting her cook for me and I was able then to say "Hey! Let me do all the dishes" after dinner because I had nourished myself and allowed myself to have the gift of joy that I wanted.

In response, my mom got clean dishes and left overs put away from a gratitude filled daughter rather than an obligation filled one. It worked for everyone involved. Not to mention that this Keep it Simple Cuban Chicken is delicious and the Butter My Brownies are my new favorite dessert!

Keep it Simple Cuban Chicken 

1 whole chicken
1 pound bag of black beans; rinsed
1 pound bag of carrots; chopped
4 medium yellow onions; diced
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon Paula Dean's Poultry Seasoning
1 tablespoon chili pepper (can be less if you like it less spicy)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
16 ounces low sodium chicken broth
Juice of one small lemon

1. Using a large 6.5 quart crock pot. Add the chopped vegetables and black beans to the crock pot and pour the chicken broth over the top of the vegetables in the bottom.

2. Place the chicken on the counter and rub all of the seasonings over the skin of the bird including the garlic, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and chili pepper. Then place the bird on top of the vegetables in the crock pot.

3. Squeeze the lemon over the top of the chicken and cover the crock pot. Set to high and cook for 4-5 hours.

This meal is perfect served with brown rice (cooked with chicken broth rather than water) and garnished with a little fresh cilantro, a few slices of fresh avocado, and a wedge of lime! It is easy and family friendly.

Left over magic: You can also use this recipe to make tacos or enchiladas by wrapping the chicken in tortilla's and topping with sour cream and green onion.

Tips and alternatives: It is extremely cost effective because the cost of a whole chicken is much less than buying breasts although you could also substitute the whole chicken for 4 large chicken breasts as well.

How to carve a chicken:

The great thing about cooking the chicken in the crock pot is that the meat turns out so tender it will literally fall off the bone! So to get started, take a large cutting board and your favorite large serrated knife. Place the whole chicken on the cutting board and have a serving platter handy.

Start by carefully breaking off the legs. You can use your hands if it isn't to hot, otherwise run your knife along the joint and press down firmly. The joint will break and you will have a leg free. Repeat on the other side.

-Now you have the breast and thighs. Start by carving slices of chicken from the breast on either side of the breast bone and cut thick slices until the breast is gone. Now you will see the thighs and wings. You can either cut them out or using your hands you can break them off like you did with the wings.

-Place all pieces on a serving platter and serve with the beans and rice or simply shred the chicken to make taco meat and add back into the crock pot with the beans and vegetables. Any way you serve this will be delicious!

Butter My Brownies

1 box double fudge brownie mix
2 eggs
1 container low fat vanilla yogurt
1 (8 ounce) package reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup all natural peanut butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Mix all ingredients listed above in a large bowl until smooth and shiny. Pour into a glass baking pan.

2. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes in a glass 9 X 13 pan. Remove and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve immediately!

Mental Health Benefit: Saying "YES" is often a trap that we can all get sucked into. It isn't always a bad thing unless you are saying "YES" to obligations that you don't have your whole heart into. What I encourage you to do is say "YES" to yourself more. Say "YES!" to a nice bubble bath, a slow walk, or stopping to smell the freshly blooming poppies. Whatever tickles you pink, say "YES!" to it today and give yourself the much deserved pat on the back. We all deserve a little "YES!" in our lives!

Happy Friday and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! From our kitchen to yours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

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