Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Chicken With Olives"

This recipe was very tasty--just the right amount of savor from the tang of the olives. The chicken was tender and the tomatoes and garlic gave it the Italian signature! Joe was happy! Sophia only had one thumb-up for this, and Giovanni, surprisingly gave it two huge thumbs-up!!! There is a first for everything, I suppose. I am sure that one day, when he is eating us out of house and home, I will miss the days of his bird-like consumption.

This dish was one of the "Prize Tested Recipes" and was the $400 winner in the "Better Homes & Gardens" September 2008 publication. Its author is Donna Ricci from Scottsdale, AZ. Very easy to make as well - I am learning to do all of the preparation before I even begin so that I am simulating the cooking shows with adding a little bowl of this, a pinch of that, and a bowl of this, and a pour of that. The soiled prep bowls then make a mound in my sink, but at least the cooking part is smooth-sailing.

The fact that this recipe is published in "Better Homes & Gardens" brings me to another point of awareness. There are so many people without families or "homes" in the family-sense of the word, and my heart aches for the voids their hearts must endure. I will never grasp the maltreatment of a child or the suffering that some children have to endure, let alone encounter the loss or absence of a parent. Or even worse, living with a parent that is abusive or neglectful. WHY? I will never know, but I can try to help in some way through loving acts. So I attempted to research some other hunger/homeless charities in Orange County, CA, in addition to the Second Harvest Food Bank. My goal is to donate everywhere possible to legitimate organizations, through money, volunteering and food donations.

I came across the Orange County Rescue Mission and was so touched by the amount of assistance and aid that they provide to the homeless, neglected and hungry individuals that are existing in our own County in substantial amounts--a great number of these individuals are neglected and abused children. I get so angered by the thought of someone abusing anyone, let alone an innocent soul and defenseless child. How easy it is for the map of that child's life to be altered forever by this abuse and abandonment. With love, patience and care, that route can be redirected toward a life of fulfillment and happiness--this is my prayer.

There is a facility called the Double R Ranch (the "R"s stand for Redemption and Restoration),which is operated through the Orange County Rescue Mission, where foster children (who have been placed in group homes) are taken to this ranch to interact with animals as a form of therapy so that they can learn trust and a positive part of relationships. The stories of some of these individuals whose lives have been forever positively changed are very emotional and very real.

There are volunteer opportunities where an individual, or an entire family, can go to the Ranch for a day to volunteer services in the chores/maintenance of this facility. The website lists various dates that are open -- my family will definitely be doing this as soon as Joe returns from Spring Training travels. We look forward to doing what we can to make even the slightest bit of difference. Our donation at the end of this month will go 100% to the Double R Ranch. Thank you to the Orange County Rescue Mission for being there for these deserving individuals. Please let this goodness continue so that these worthy individuals can find hope in their hearts.

"Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today."--Thich Nhat Hanh

Here is the recipe for you to enjoy:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb. total)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 5.75oz. jar sliced pitted green olives, drained
1 2.25-oz. can sliced pitted ripe olives, drained
2 Tbsp. capers, drained
2 Tbsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1. In a large skillet brown chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, turning once. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside. Add onion to skillet. Cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally and adding garlic the last 1 minute of cooking.
2. Stir tomatoes, olives, capers, lemon peel, and oregano into onion mixture. Place chicken on tomato mixture. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 13 to 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F).
3. To serve, place chicken on platter. Season tomato mixture to taste with salt and black pepper. Spoon tomato mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 servings.

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