Introduction: Make a Near-gourmet Meal Without a Lot of Fuss

First Instructable. Be gentle.

Let's start by saying that I have been cooking almost all of my life. As a boy, one day I was lying on the floor in the living room, watching cartoons. My father came in, nudged me with his toe, and said "Hey, do you want to eat today"? Of course I wanted to eat. I was a ten year old boy. All they do is eat and play and watch t.v. "Well , let's get to work". That day, I learned how to make macaroni, and soon I was cooking for my family of seven twice a week or more.
Next, it's important to say that I almost never measure anything. It's all about tasting to me; I taste my cooking constantly. So the fact that this instructable got made at all is a feat in itself. On the other hand, it also means that this recipe is infinitely able to be modified.
I made this recipe out of things that I had in the house at the time, just a day before payday. I had no money, and very little in the cabinets and fridge. Then I saw the things that I DID have, and it just came together.
Now, On to the good stuff.

Step 1: Who Needs Fresh Ingredients?

I know that some of you will consider me a blasphemer. That's perfectly ok. The fact of the matter is that I live in an apartment, and I have a very small kitchen. That means that I don't have a yard where I can grow herbs, and I don't have the money to buy a lot of fresh produce. Still, using frozen veggies and dry herbs from your local supermarket, you can make a meal that is rich and flavorful, without having to use a bulldozer to get around in the kitchen.
This recipe is for two people.

On to the ingredients:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast per person
1/2 bag (12-16 oz.) frozen vegetables of your choice
1-1/2 cups brown rice (penne pasta, white rice, linguine pasta will also work)
1 cup frozen "seasoning blend" (available anywhere under several brand names)
1 Tbsp Olive oil or cooking oil (I used butter)
1/2 tsp chopped Garlic
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Parsley
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
(if you prefer a taste that is less "winey" and more savory, use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine)

Step 2: The Sauce

First, place your chicken breasts on a roasting pan, and put into a 400 degree oven while we cook the sauce. I would have included pictures, but I had gone beyond this step when I thought to make an Instructable.

In a large pan, add seasoning blend, garlic, parsley, and oregano to oil.
Saute until onions are lightly brown.

Meanwhile, if using brown rice, bring water to a boil and add it. Brown rice takes longer to cook than regular rice, because it has a harder outer casing on the germ of the grain. This outer casing is why brown rice has more fiber than white rice.

When seasoning blend is sufficiently caramelized, add white wine and sour cream. Stir with a spatula until all ingredients are incorporated. Simmer uncovered for about 15-20 minutes, until thickened. The consistency that we're looking for is about like melted ice cream. You'll know you have it right when you scrape the bottom of the pan, and the sauce doesn't run back to fill the empty space.

Step 3: On to the Chicken and Vegetables

Remove the chicken from the oven. Let cool briefly on the cutting board, then cut the chicken on the bias.
Meanwhile, in a medium sized saucepan, heat frozen veggies until they are just hot, and still crispy.

Step 4: Stack It Up!

The way that I generally do it when serving guests (or when I'm making an Instructable) is I stack a bed of rice, then veggies, chicken, then sauce.
When I'm alone or just serving myself and my significant other, I just throw it all into the same pan, and mix it up, then serve it onto a plate.
This is a complete meal. It has everything that you need; vegetables, healthy grains, lean meat, and a very healthy sauce. It's suitable for someone trying to lose weight, since the fat content is almost nonexistent, and the brown rice actually has comparatively little carbohydrates in it.

As I said at the beginning, it's infinitely changeable.
Use fish or even lean pork instead of chicken.
Use penne pasta, white rice, even a white bean instead of brown rice.
Mix it up, and let me know what you think. I really hope you enjoy my little spur-of-the-moment recipe.

Comments

author
I Am An Evil Taco (author)2008-05-17

care to give a brand name for seasoning blend? That could mean a LOT of different things, and I'm a from scratch fresh herbs kinda guy. I need to reverse engineer and I have no idea what seasoning blend is.

author

In this case, the seasoning blend that I'm talking about is in the frozen veggies section. it's essentially just onions, green and red bell peppers, and possibly some parsley or other savory herbs blended and frozen in a bag. It's good stuff, and I actually use it sparingly, since I do actually use fresh onions and bell peppers. I just use the seasoning blend when I'm short on cash, frankly.

author

Ah, ok. Now I know what to look for. That sounds handy as hell for random stir frys.

author
canida (author)2007-07-31

Sounds pretty tasty. The one thing I'd suggest- since you cover up the color (vegetables) and are left with a pile of mostly white, turning the sauce reddish would be aesthetically pleasing. You could do this without adding much flavor (paprika) or with something spicy (sriracha, chili powder, chipoltles in adobo). All are cheap and easily stored in a small apartment kitchen.

author
Jouda Mann (author)canida2007-09-06

I actually followed your suggestion recently by adding tomatoes in the sauce just before it had thickened. Excellent presentation and flavor. Thanks for the suggestion.

author
canida (author)Jouda Mann2007-09-09

Nice!

I just spent most of the day roasting tomatoes for freezing. It really concentrates both color and flavor, and this is exactly the sort of thing I use them for. (Haul out of the freezer, slice off a corner, put back in freezer.)

author
Jouda Mann (author)canida2007-07-31

Indeed, and good suggestion. As I said, it's easy to modify to almost any taste.

author
TheStrangeAngel (author)2007-09-05

Is it just me or did we not get told how long to bake the chicken for? (I'm crap at cooking meat as i dont eat alot of it, so i need to be told these things)

author
craftykitty (author)2007-07-31

I'm not going to dignify this with its own instructable, but once upon a time, a confirmed geek explained to me his method of how to dine for a week without cooking...it required the purchase of a very large bucket of cheap fried chicken...

author
Jouda Mann (author)craftykitty2007-07-31

How funny... I'm a night manager at a chicken place.

author
craftykitty (author)2007-07-31

Hey, that's pretty good! Looks yummy. There's a fine tradition of cooking from boxes, cans, and dried food! We didn't used to have fresh fruits and veg year-round, you know. Anyone in a wintry climate, traveling by sailboat, camping or backpacking, or just being thrifty, knows how to build a meal from whatever is in the pantry. You've built a fine nutritious meal from scratch, you've plenty to be proud of! Presentation is nice too...

author
Jouda Mann (author)craftykitty2007-07-31

Thank you! It's so hard to jump into the unknown and put your idea out there. Your comment does my heart good. Now you need your own instructable.

author
craftykitty (author)Jouda Mann2007-07-31

I will document how to make 2 egg mc muffins in 5 minutes, just for you!

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Bio: I was driving my significant other nuts taking a bunch of pictures, so I figured I should actually do something with them.
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