Marie-Inspired Chicken and Rice

Fall. Comfort food. It is time.

This particular dish is an imperfect version of a delicious original Lebanese Chicken and Rice dish that got me through two rough periods of morning sickness cooked by a friend’s mother who probably thought I would starve to death during my last pregnancy.

Because I need this dinner for myself and people I care about more than once a year when Mrs. Nammour visits this country, I came up with this version that in no way compares to hers, but still hits the spot–pregnant or not.

In fact, it is so good, so wonderfully healing and comforting, I named my daughter after her.

Comfort in a dish.
Comfort in a dish.

Marie-Inspired Chicken and Rice

1 rotisserie chicken, cut up and bones and skin discarded
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups long grain rice
32 oz. hot chicken stock

1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds and/or pine nuts

1.) Strip chicken from bones, discard skin. Chop or shred into bite-size pieces.

2.) In small saucepan, heat chicken stock.

3.) In a large pot, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion and ground beef until no longer pink. Add garlic.

4.) Stir in spices and salt, cook for a minute, and then add rice and stir so that the raw rice gets well-coated and combined. (If you like a spicier dish, you may add cayenne pepper or chili flakes.)

5.) Add hot chicken stock, stir to combine, and then turn down heat to simmer. Cook about 20 minutes–checking occasionally–until rice is cooked and stock is absorbed.

6.) Add the chicken and nuts and simmer a few minutes longer.

This one pot meal is perfect to bring to a sick friend, a starving pregnant woman, or anyone in need of food for the soul.

New Neighbor Bribe

Blueberry muffins: perfect new neighbor graft
Blueberry muffins: perfect new neighbor graft

Dear New Neighbor,

Allow me to introduce myself, I’m your new neighbor. That neighbor.

Oh, I don’t plan any trouble, slights, inadvertent impoliteness, or anything to make you call your insurance company, emergency services or realtor; but chances are pretty good that you will at some point. I apologize in advance and offer these anticipatory peace offering muffins.

We have teenagers who park poorly and will probably impede your driveway access at some point. We have young kids that have cannot keep a ball in their own yard to save their life. We have a dog. Cute, but she’s a runner and a digger with a propensity for your fence line and begonias.

We have parties. And house guests. And a drum set. And inappropriate boundary issues.

But if you’re able to overlook these few flaws–and the tragic paint color experiment on your side of the house–we do have our good points.

Like you know the Bunco group with all of the popular people in the neighborhood? Well, I’m blacklisted from that one but I’ll bring you as my personal guest to the one formed by outcasts in dramatic protest.

And you know that giant nest of rabbits that live under your back porch? They used to live here before I chased them out after eating the biggest patch of basil this side of Tuscany. I’ll make you (and your exterminator) a batch of homemade pesto.

And since we are in a constant state of violation with the homeowner’s association, chances are you can get away with a plethora of infractions with their attention turned our way.  We are responsible for so many of the amendments to the covenants they refer to us as the Continental Congress. You’ll probably be able to skirt a fine for those bottle rocket casings littered all over your roof for at least six more months. (I’m sorry and you’re welcome.)

So while it may not seem like we make the best neighbors, we do make pretty decent friends. Join us for a BBQ this weekend and I’ll show you.

(And how that large bare patch in your lawn in the shape of a giant chicken wing got there.)

 

*******

 

Anticipatory Apology Blueberry Muffins 

Makes a dozen

 

1 1/2 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

1 cup sugar

1 cup sour cream

1 egg

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon almond extract

 

1 pint fresh blueberries (They’re your new neighbors, make a good impression and splurge on fresh berries, for goodness sake.)

Turbinado sugar, if desired

 

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Reserve 1 Tablespoon and toss over blueberries in another small bowl. Set both aside.

2.) Whisk together sugar, sour cream, oil, egg and almond extract. Slowly add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries.

3.) Line a muffin tin with papers and fill each with the batter evenly. Sprinkle each with a healthy sprinkle of turbinado sugar before putting in the oven.

4.) Bake for 20-25 minutes. Deliver to new neighbor. No mention of highjacked wifi needed.

 

©2013 Tracey Henry