Last year my girls were in soccer. The months of September through November were a nightmare for me because I was stuck sitting outside in either humid, gnatty conditions or frigid, wet-grass-clippy conditions. There seemed no in between on that front. Two nights and one weekend morning a week, we trekked to and from the field amidst screaming, crying, and temper tantrums. Sometimes the girls complained, too. (LOL!)
|Seriously, though, it's supposed to be boneless & skinless.|
Why is there always that gross pile of stuff still on it (see left)?
I also peeled and chopped my butternut squash and onion. Completing that work ahead of time made the dinner-making process incredibly fast! Here's a quick squash-prep tutorial for you:
|Use a potato peeler tool to peel the skin from the squash.|
Cut the two ends off using a knife.
|Slice the squash in half vertically. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.|
|That's a pound and a half of beautiful diced squash!|
But even if you don’t have time to do it all early, your rice can cook while you prep your chicken, and you can peel and chop your squash while your chicken cooks. Your oven can preheat while your squash and onion cook.
1 cup uncooked(3 cups cooked) –because it was the perfect portion, I used a box of Long Grain & Wild Rice with a seasoning packet, and didn’t add the seasoning packet
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
|After 2 minutes, add the lid and cook for 6-8 more|
Here’s the thing about this meal. I mentioned how I made it the day I had a cold. By the time dinner rolled around, I’d lost my sense of taste. So although I ate it, I couldn’t taste it. (Does this happen to you? It always happens to me when I’m sick. Once my sinuses become congested, I can’t taste a thing. It usually lasts for 3-4 miserable days.) I spent all of dinner watching my family eat and asking if it was good. They all said yes, though—full disclosure—my kids only ate some of the squash and picked around the rest. I moped, quite concerned I wouldn’t be able to comment on the flavor since I couldn’t taste it. Lucky for me, my cold was hella accelerated and I enjoyed a serving reheated for lunch two days later. I really enjoyed it. The squash lends a sweetness, the cranberries a chewy burst of bright acidity, while the chicken and rice come together to make it filling. I enjoyed the flavor a lot.
It occurred to me, though, that I’m not sure this needs to be a casserole. To save time and effort (of cutting stupid chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces), I’d make the squash-craisin-rice mixture on its own and serve it atop or alongside a baked chicken thigh or breast. I don’t think anything would be lost doing it that way.
No matter how—or if—you slice it, I’d make this again, and I’d suggest you do, too. The harmonious blend of flavors is second only to the harmonious joy in my heart over not eating it before soccer practice.
**I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the brands mentioned or linked in this post. All opinions and experiences expressed herein are my own.**