Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals

I’m a big fan of “semi-homemade.”  There’s no shame in using prepared foods as ingredients if it can save you time (and save your sanity).  Let’s face it, after spending an hour in traffic, having to wait 50 minutes for wild rice to cook, just ain’t gonna happen.  Occasionally, I will prep stuff the day before – whether it’s chopping, or marinating, or pre-cooking – but that doesn’t always happen, and that’s when I start singing the praises of the likes of canned broth, frozen rice, and butternut squash that’s already peeled and cubed.

This meal is one of those that I just threw together at the last minute.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the package of fresh chicken tenderloins that was in the fridge, so I opened the pantry and got creative.  In this case, I happened to have a microwavable package of wild rice.  Don’t turn your nose up; pre-cooked rice is a life-saver for busy people.  Trust me, 85% of the rice I cook is cooked the proper way in a rice steamer; the other 15% is cooked in my microwave (and I’m not ashamed to admit that).  Some sweet yellow onion, diced canned tomatoes, and cooking sherry season the rice and make it a little more interesting.  I didn’t feel like firing up the grill, so the chicken was done in a grill pan inside on my cooktop.  I did let the chicken marinate for a little bit to help tenderize it and give it some flavor.

*This recipe serves two adults; you can double it for a family size meal.

Grilled Balsamic Chicken Tenders with Tomato Wild Rice and Baby Broccoli

1 lb. fresh skinless chicken tenderloins (or 2 chicken breasts, cut into tenders)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 8-oz package Simply Balanced Wild Rice Microwaveable Pouch from Target (*do not cook it in the microwave)
1/2 can Market Pantry Diced Tomatoes
1/4 cup diced sweet yellow onion
1 tsp olive oil
3 Tbsp cooking sherry
1 tsp Italian season blend
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, minced
*Balsamic Glaze (I use Bertolli)

bertolli glazePlace chicken pieces in a large zip-top bag.  In a small bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients, pour over the chicken, and let it sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Do not pre-heat the rice; open the rice package and using your fingers, break up the rice (so the grains are no longer sticking together) in a bowl.  Set aside.  In a large pan, sauté the onion in 1 tsp of olive oil over medium high heat until golden, careful to not burn. Pour the cooking sherry into the pan, scrape down the sides and bottom,  and reduce the heat to medium low.  Add the rice to the pan, season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, and mix it into the onions.  Open the can of tomatoes and using a spoon, scoop out about half of the contents (with some juice) and stir it into the rice.  *You can put the rest of the tomatoes into an airtight container and keep in the fridge for use in another recipe.  Heat the rice all the way through and keep warm while the chicken cooks.

Cook the chicken tenders in a grill pan (or on the grill) over high heat for 3-4 minutes, flip and cook another 3-4 minutes.  When ready to serve, sprinkle the rice with fresh parsley, plate, then drizzle the chicken with Balsamic Glaze and serve over the Tomato Wild Rice with a veggie and Archer Farms Take and Bake Rosemary Olive Oil Focaccia. Honestly, I could just eat the entire loaf for a meal itself, it’s that good!  Pick it up in the bakery section at Super Target.

*Of course you can make your own balsamic glaze, but to be honest, there’s really no reason to when you can buy quality glaze.  Besides, it stinks up the house if you do it yourself!

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