Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Chicken Fajita Burrito Bowls

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I mean who doesn't love a good Mexican feast, right?  I certainly do!  But I'm also savvy enough to know that too many ... um... feasts brings out the clothes fairy and somehow my pants start shrinking. So the kids and I took a different approach to this and had a healthier version of a Mexican feast. We grilled the chicken, cut out the tortilla and replaced it with brown rice, added some healthy veggies (still trying to eat that rainbow), a pop of zing with some zesty condiments and even managed to squeeze in a little creamy light sour cream and of course some very flavorful crunchies! 

We actually did have every intent to put these in bowls - ha.  But we were trying to spread everything out pretty so we had to settle for plates.  This super healthy meal went over like a champ with my littles, and I was a little bit surprised because they sort of raised their eyebrows when I told them we were going the brown rice route.  I am thankful, though, of how they get on board when I tell them that we are trying to do a recipe makeover to make something healthier.  They almost take it on as a personal mission.  #teamwork! Another thing about this meal is that you could have all of these elements made up ahead of time and throw this together for some amazing lunches! 


Ingredients:
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  • Southwestern marinated chicken breasts
    • I purchased a pack that came already seasoned - great time saver!
  • Sweet corn niblets, drained or cut from the ear
  • Canned black beans, drained and rinsed
    • seasoned with cumin
  • Red and yellow bell pepper strips
  • Fajita seasoning
  • Green onion tops, chopped
  • Grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • Caramelized onions
  • Non-stick cooking spray 
  • Tortilla strips
    • I used the chili lime flavored ones 
  • brown rice
    • save time by using instant brown rice
    • make it with chicken broth!  :) 
  • Jarred taco sauce
  • Jarred salsa verde 

Step-by-Step Photos:
SO MANY of these elements can be done ahead of time for a super quick dinner!
Drain a can of corn.
corn niblets, drained
Drain and rinse a can of black beans.  Season liberally with cumin for that great Mexican flavor.
black beans, drained and rinsed
I grabbed a handful of pepper strips from the freezer.  As I always say, the frozen ones break down faster, so they are perfect for this application.  I'm going to sauté them - but NOT in butter. I'm going to just use water.  Yep.  I'll keep adding water until they are soft.  As it cooks out, I'll add more.  I'm going for healthy, here.
red and yellow bell pepper strips in water
To add flavor to my pepper strips (since I'm not cooking them in butter or oil), I'm going to add some fajita seasoning to them.  This will really wake them up.
fajita seasoning 
 Chop some green onion tops.  They look really pretty if you slice them on the bias.
green onion tops, sliced thinly
 Cut some grape tomatoes.  These are the sweetest.  :)
grape tomatoes cut in half
To my bell peppers, I'm adding some caramelized onions.  Love, love, love caramelized onions.  Keep adding water if you need to.
caramelized onions, yellow and red bell peppers
While the veggies are still cooking down, let's cook the chicken.  I am preparing my cast iron grill pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Still trying to be healthy here.  
non-stick cooking spray
When the pan is really hot, add the southwestern seasoned chicken breasts.  You should hear it sizzle when you add them.  If you don't hear that, your pan is not hot enough.  Once you put them in there, don't mess with them.  Just leave them along for a while.  Allow the pan to do its thing so you can get some good grill marks.  They should release easily and not stick when they are ready to be flipped.
Southwestern seasoned chicken
Okay, let's do the other side.  I can't give you an exact cooking time.  It depends on the thickness of your chicken, your pan, the BTUs of your range, etc.
Chicken breasts cooking
Once your chicken are cooked through and the juices are clear (but please not overcooked), allow them to just rest while you are putting everything else together.
Chicken resting
I will say that you really should NOT open these until you are ready to use them.  Somehow if you open them just to "taste" them... they may evaporate straight out of the bag.  I know, right?  It didn't make sense to me, either.  :/ 
Here were the zip and zing we added to the top.  Yep, straight from the jar.
All you do is put a little of each item on the plates, slice the chicken, top it off with your crunchies and sauces, and away you go!
I'm sorry I didn't take a photo of the brown rice.  To save time, I used instant brown rice that I prepared with chicken broth to infuse extra flavor into it.  You can do that while your chicken is cooking.  If you make long cooking brown rice, start it first.
So here we have a gorgeous, balanced burrito bowl (plate?) that still gives us lots of flavor and crunchies, but a healthier version.
I hope you've enjoyed this recipe!  Here are some others I think you'll like:
Tiger Tail Pasta - a creamy, slightly spicy pasta dish with crawfish perfect for crowds. (could sub chicken)

Mexican Salsa - great summer fun!  Throw it all in the food processor and let it go!
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Alice Springs Chicken - a favorite of a that steakhouse chain!
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Mississippi Mud Puddles - great for grab-your-own parties!
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Written Method:
SO MANY of these elements can be done ahead of time for a super quick dinner! 
  • If you make long cooking brown rice, start it first. 
  • Drain a can of corn.
  • Drain and rinse a can of black beans.  
  • Season liberally the beans with cumin for that great Mexican flavor.
  • Grab a handful of pepper strips from the freezer.  Sauté them in water until they are soft.  As it cooks out, add more.   
  • To add flavor to the pepper strips (since we are not cooking them in butter or oil), add some fajita seasoning to them.  This will really wake them up.
  • Chop some green onion tops.  They look really pretty if you slice them on the bias.
  • Cut some grape tomatoes.  These are the sweetest.  :) 
  • To my bell peppers, add some caramelized onions.  Keep adding water if you need to.
  • While the veggies are still cooking down, let's cook the chicken.  Prepare a cast iron grill pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Still trying to be healthy here.  
  • When the pan is really hot, add the southwestern seasoned chicken breasts.  You should hear it sizzle when you add them.  If you don't hear that, your pan is not hot enough.  Once you put them in there, don't mess with them.  Just leave them along for a while.  Allow the pan to do its thing so you can get some good grill marks.  They should release easily and not stick when they are ready to be flipped. 
  • If using instant brown rice, make it while chicken is cooking.  Prepare it with chicken broth to infuse extra flavor into it. 
  • Okay, let's do the other side.  I can't give you an exact cooking time.  It depends on the thickness of your chicken, your pan, the BTUs of your range, etc. 
  • Once your chicken are cooked through and the juices are clear (but please not overcooked), allow them to just rest while you are putting everything else together. 
  • All you do is put a little of each item on the plates, slice the chicken, top it off with your crunchies and sauces, and away you go! 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

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So I have a kid living with me who does not love vegetables.  Am I the only one?  The odd thing is though, when I make chicken pot pie, he will eat every single bite and go for seconds!  That at least gives me something to work with since I'm a huge proponent of trying to get them to "eat the rainbow."  Well on the particular day I made this soup, we found out on the morning news that we were going to be in for some nasty weather later in the evening.   My kids decided that the evening meal needed to be some type of soup - their favorite rainy day food genre.  When prompted on the kind of soup they wanted, my vege-phobe suggested, "make something new."  Oh gosh... now the pressure is back on me!  So this is what we came up with. 😀

We have a little joke between me and kids.  When something is extraordinarily good (like Nutty Bars that I can't stay away from if they are in the house somewhere), I'll say "They are from the Devil!" So when I tasted the soup at the end and rolled my eyes ".... Mmmm," my little girl said "Is it from the Devil?"  HaHa!!!  😂😂  Yes, it was that good.  Mr. I-don't-like-veggies ate three bowls of it, and both of them took leftovers in a thermos to school the next day for lunch.  Needless to say, this easy soup recipe will definitely be on the list of rainy day favorites for us! 

Ingredients:
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced (~ 2 stalks)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sherry (early) + 1/4 cup sherry (later)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed red potatoes
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 3 cups cooked chicken
    • I used a rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
Step-by-step photos:
Melt 4 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat.
4 Tbsp butter
Add 1 medium diced onion.  *I keep chopped onions, celery, peppers in the freezer for really quick meal prep.  
1 medium onion, diced
Add 3 medium carrots, diced.
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
Add 1 cup diced celery.  This is about 2 stalks.  
1 cup diced celery (mine were from the freezer)
Saute 6-7 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
Fun Fact:  A french culinary term for a medley of diced onions, carrots and celery is a Mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah).

Now add in the 4 large cloves of minced garlic, and saute an additional 2-3 minutes until fragrant.  
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
Stir in 1/3 cup flour and saute for 1-2 minutes until the "roux" has developed a faint color.
1/3 cup flour
Deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of sherry.  Don't worry if it all becomes a blob.  
1/2 cup sherry
Now slowly whisk in 3 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of milk, stirring as you go to make it smooth.
3 cups chicken stock
Whisk to make smooth

2 cups milk
Add in 2 1/2 cups cubed red potatoes.
*The reason I chose red potatoes is that they hold their shape during cooking and won't mush up once they get tender.
2 1/2 cups cubed red potatoes
Now let's add our seasonings:  1 tsp poultry seasoning, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 Tbsp dried parsley, and 1/2 tsp dried dill.
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp restaurant style black pepper
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried dill
Bring the soup to a simmer (NOT boil), stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking or scorching on the bottom of the pot.  Continue on simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (about 10-15 minutes).  

Once the potatoes are fork tender, add in the 3 cups of cooked chicken.  We didn't want to add it before now because we wanted to avoid it:  a) drying out, and b) shredding.
3 cups cooked rotisserie chicken 
Now add the 1 cup frozen corn and 1 cup frozen peas.  
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
After adding the peas, adjust any seasonings and remove from heat.  Stir in 1/4 cup sherry to finish the soup.
1/4 cup sherry
Mmmmmmm!!!!
Serve immediately with some warm tender Black Pepper Cheddar Bay Biscuits, bread sticks, French bread, or crackers.   Mmmmmmm!  
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I hope you enjoyed this easy and delicious family friendly recipe!  Here are some others I think you'll enjoy:
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Written Method:

Melt 4 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat.

Add 1 medium diced onion.  *I keep chopped onions, celery, peppers in the freezer for really quick meal prep.  

Add 3 medium carrots, diced.

Add 1 cup diced celery.  This is about 2 stalks.  

Saute 6-7 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.

Now add in the 4 large cloves of minced garlic, and saute an additional 2-3 minutes until fragrant.  

Stir in 1/3 cup flour and saute for 1-2 minutes until the "roux" has developed a faint color.

Deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of sherry.  Don't worry if it all becomes a blob.  

Now slowly whisk in 3 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of milk, stirring as you go to make it smooth.

Add in 2 1/2 cups cubed red potatoes.

Now let's add our seasonings:  1 tsp poultry seasoning, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 Tbsp dried parsley, and 1/2 tsp dried dill.

Bring the soup to a simmer (NOT boil), stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking or scorching on the bottom of the pot.  Continue on simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (about 10-15 minutes).  

Once the potatoes are fork tender, add in the 3 cups of cooked chicken.  We didn't want to add it before now because we wanted to avoid it:  a) drying out, and b) shredding.

Now add the 1 cup frozen corn and 1 cup frozen peas.  

After adding the peas, adjust any seasonings and remove from heat.  Stir in 1/4 cup sherry to finish the soup.

Serve immediately with some warm tender Black Pepper Cheddar Bay Biscuits, bread sticks, French bread, or crackers.   Mmmmmmm!  

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