Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Easy, Healthful Midweek Dinner Party

Menu: Totally gluten free of course!
Pecan, Cranberry, Brown Rice stuffed Chicken Breast
Peppers and Zucchini with Truffle Oil
Kale Sautéed with Mustard
Pecan, Cranberry, Brown Rice stuffed Chicken Breast
Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a casserole dish with olive oil, for non-stick.
4 fresh chicken breast, butterflied and flattened for rolling (I wrap the chicken breast in plastic wrap after butterflying, and use a meat tenderizer to flatten)
Olive oil
1/4c chopped coarsely pecans
1/4c chopped coarsely dried cranberries (fresh would be grand too!)
1 1/2 c cooked brown rice, cold
1 T rosemary
1 t basil
salt & pepper
kitchen string (if desired) or toothpicks for fastening rolled breasts
Mix together everything but the chicken breasts and olive oil. Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, then salt and pepper. May season with additional basil and rosemary if you wish. Place 1/4c stuffing mixture in center of each chicken breast, roll the breast around the mixture and secure with string or toothpicks. Place seam side to the side in the baking dish. Cook uncovered for 35 min, remove from oven and cover. Let stand for 5-10 min before serving.
While the chicken is cooking, begin your vegetables. Make sure you have two large pans ready to saute these healthy, vibrant dishes.
Peppers and Zucchini with Truffle Oil
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 medium zucchini
3 fresh garlic cloves, chopped finely or minced
1T Truffle oil
Olive oil (or other neutral oil, such as grapeseed)
salt & pepper
Slice vegetables into thin strips- remember to scrub them under luke warm water to clean before (I do it after too) chopping. Heat oil in pan over medium heat, add garlic. Add vegetables and lightly saute until just tender. Remove from heat and let cool. Drizzle truffle oil over vegetables, and salt and pepper to your taste. Serve at room temperature.
Kale Sautéed with Mustard
1 bunch fresh kale
2 T mustard seeds
1 T coconut oil
Wash kale thoroughly, bugs and dirt can easily hide in the leafy greens. Remove stalks and chop or tear leaves into bite-sized strips. Heat coconut oil in saute pan over medium-high heat, add mustard seeds. Continue to warm oil and mustard until seeds begin to pop and the mixture is aromatic. Add Kale and saute gently until the leaves just wilt. Serve warm.

There-done! Easy. This came out of a last minute dinner party my husband asked me to serve mid-week. Normally I would do a 4 course meal for a dinner party, using similar simple and healthy recipes, but maybe more elaborate and higher in presentation points. But this did just great for last minute. I really relied on the natural texture and taste of the vegetables, so if you do so also, make sure you get the freshest produce- you'll find you cook with less sugary and fatty additions and sauces if you like the taste of your fresh veggies. Also, the stuffing, using brown rice instead of bread crumbs, was entirely gluten free and whole-grain. It's pretty high in natural fat and natural sugars, so it's not something I would use daily, but as a nice treat- it was grand.

Now, one little snag- a lovely little dancing princess attended this party with her parents and did not warm up to my funny vegetables (although the chicken flew-not in so many words). So I made her a fun plate of crudités or raw vegetable strips and chunks. Cutting cucumbers with a wavy cutter gave them some character- and cutting carrots into bit-sized coins rather than sticks made finger-eating easy. Also, peppers were chopped into square chunks, rather than strips- also to give them character and dipping potential. Served with a light italian dressing- this little princess stopped dancing long enough to have more than a few fancy vegetables.

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