Theresa’s Chicken & Black Beans

February5

What started as a “ministry” (defined as a term of service to others) for D and I has turned out to be anything but.  I’ll explain.  A number of years ago a young family came to our house to learn a little bit more about our community.  I had put out refreshments and a couple of things to nibble on.  They asked in advance if they could bring their newborn baby along.  When they arrived, our youngest daughter whisked the baby away and kept him entertained while the adults enjoyed some one on one time together.  This was our version of hospitality, nothing out of the ordinary, just how you take care of people when you invite them to your home.  Well, the husband and wife went on and on about how our evening together was an absolute delight and the most pleasurable evening that they had enjoyed in a very long time.  Even though our family is all grown up, it doesn’t mean that D and I do not remember those years, when everything was focused on the caring of our children with little time alone with other adults.  Well this got me thinking-maybe D and I should host one of these evenings once a month!

We start as soon as most parents are getting home from work so all that they have to do is gather up the family and arrive at our place in time for dinner.  D and I (and Sister #3 who had to be recruited when the gang grew too large for us to manage on our own), eat with the kids in the dining room and the parents help themselves in the kitchen and find a spot in the living room.  As soon as we have completed supper we head downstairs to our family room that we have set up for play.  The evening commences when the young families head home in time for their kids to have a regular bedtime.

Fast forward a number of years (I truly do not know how many), and our little time “of service” is rolling along.  Except that it does not feel anything like a favour to others but an absolute joy for us.  In fact, D is like a little child himself, watching out the window in anticipation of the families’ arrival.  I have had to become more and more imaginative with my cooking as the group has grown quite large and I want to ensure that the meals are quick, not messy, nutritious and affordable.  We plan in advance.  We have a gathering this week and found a great buy on whole wheat tortellini that I will serve with a tomato veggie sauce.

In addition to the joy that we experience when being with the families and all of the hugs and kisses from the toddlers upon their departure, the families take the time to reciprocate whenever they can with pictures for the fridge (both from the portrait studio and crayon renditions by the children), other much appreciate gifts and often times, dinners at their home.  I know that cooking for us is stressful.  Not because we are picking eaters, in fact, we are quite the contrary, but because people seem to think that we consume culinary masterpieces on a regular basis, when this is absolutely not the case.

Recently, one of “our” families asked us to dine with them.  As we were heaping accolades upon Theresa and the meal, she quietly said :”Oh, I am so glad.  We wanted this meal to be special, because we wanted to show you how much we appreciate what you do for us.”  There it is again:  Food=love.  We knew we were loved because of the care that went on in kitchen, in fact we knew we were loved, from the very time of the invite.

I didn’t want to put any extra pressure on T and J, so I didn’t take my camera that evening.  Instead, J texted me the main course recipe with his I Phone and I recreated it at home.  I altered the recipe quite substantially, not because it wasn’t perfect, but because I didn’t have the exact same ingredients as Theresa in the house.  Her version is from The Joy of Cooking which she indicates is her go-to recipe book.  It was mine too when I was a young Mom, but when the spine broke and my favourite recipes kept slipping out to be forever lost in the untidiness of new parenthood, I had to lay it to rest.

I assembled the dish last evening, but then when no one came home for dinner (I indulged in Superbowl leftovers in front of the Jets game) I baked it up this morning.  I have a dinner date tonight so that our house will enjoy this scrumptious dish without me.  In the mean time the taste is just as delectable as Theresa’s version.

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Theresa's Chicken & Black Beans
Author: 
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking
Ingredients
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (not IQF- individually quick frozen)
  • 4 oz. feta cheese (original calls for goat cheese)
  • 1 T chopped hot banana peppers (original calls for 2 jalapenos)
  • 3 minced rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes
  • 540 ml canned black beans, drained
  • 1 shallot, chopped (original calls for a small red onion)
  • ⅓ c cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t red wine vinegar
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • lime wedges if desired
Instructions
  1. Using a sharp knife, place a cut into the side of the middle of the thickest part of each chicken breast.
  2. Carefully moving the knife around, create a pocket in the meat.
  3. Using a small food processor or chopper, mince the peppers and sundried tomatoes.
  4. Add the feta and pulse another couple of times until well blended.
  5. Spoon ¼-1/3 of this filling (depending on whether you are using 3 or 4 breasts) into the pocket of the chicken.
  6. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  7. Cut 3-4 pieces of aluminum or parchment paper.
  8. Lay the breast, smooth side up onto these sheets.
  9. Mix the beans, shallot, cilantro, canola, cumin, cayenne and red wine vinegar together in a small bowl.
  10. Place onto the chicken on the sheets.
  11. Carefully fold the sheet edges together and create a firm seal.
  12. Bake at 375 degrees for half an hour. Check and leave until desired doneness.
  13. Serve with a squeeze of lime if desired.

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Kath’s quote: “Stand facing the stove.” – Marion Rombauer Becker (collaborator of the Joy of Cooking)

Love-that is all.

 

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posted under Cookbooks, Entrees
2 Comments to

“Theresa’s Chicken & Black Beans”

  1. Avatar February 25th, 2014 at 2:56 pm Theresa Says:

    thanks for your lovely comments Kathy! I wish we could dine with you even more often!


  2. Avatar February 25th, 2014 at 4:43 pm Kathryne Says:

    Us too.


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