Have you ever had one of those diet frozen meals? You know, Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, that kind of stuff? Do you ever wonder how they’re absolutely chock-full of sodium but they still taste like they are in major need of salt? How is that possible? And salt is just the beginning. They also seem to lack any sort of discernible flavor (and color) altogether. Now, I’ll be honest. It’s not that I never have these types of meals (though I do prefer versions by Trader Joe’s, Amy’s & Kashi). Sometimes, they’re just incredibly easy to throw in a bag and head to work on days you don’t have leftovers or a lot of food around. But on those days, I always dread lunch. Every time, I think about just dropping the money and getting myself a better lunch.
I’ve always thought that if I worked in the food industry, one of the things I would be awesome at is creating low cal 1-dish meals, like Lean Cuisines, that had flavor. Now, of course this meal is about 100 calories more than your average Lean Cuisine. But, it’s also a bigger portion (so you’re not hungry 20 minutes later), has all real ingredients, and actually tastes like something…and that “something” isn’t the different Lean Cuisine Meal you had the other day. (Yeah, how is it that chicken parmesan and chicken Santa Fe taste pretty much the same?)
As you’d imagine with the lack of an oven (by the way, Jenn-Air customer service? Right up there with AT&T and Comcast), I’ve become quite the pro at stove-top meals. I guess I’ve always liked making them, though. They’re easy to do, make for easy cleanup, and for some reason or another heat better for leftovers that most meals.
Technically, this one required two posts (see my note below a bout parboiling rice) but still came together incredibly quickly and easily, and used up the random portions of ingredients, like sour cream and chipotles, that I had sitting in the fridge. It’s has just a little kick from the chipotle, a little creaminess from the sour cream & cheese, and some crunch from the green onion. Serve this with a salad and a XX beer and you’re good to go!
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1 Tbsp. canola oil
4 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb. total)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, diced
1 chipotle in adobo, minced + 1 tsp. adobo sauce
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
3/4 cup white or parboiled brown rice*
1 tsp. cumin, divided
1 tsp. oregano, divided
1/2 tsp. chili powder, divided
1/4 cup lowfat sour cream
2 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
4 green onions (green tops), sliced
Heat a large skillet/saute pan with a lid over medium heat and add the oil. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp. oregano and 1/4 tsp. chili powder, and then add to the oil. Brown on each side for about 2 minutes and remove to a plate.
To the pan, add the onions, garlic, and green pepper. Saute until tender and then add the chipotle and tomato paste, stirring around for about a minute. Drain your diced tomatoes over a measuring cup. Add enough chicken broth to the cup to equal the amount you need to cook your rice (*see note below). Add the diced tomatoes, broth/juice, black beans, rice, and remaining 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/4 tsp. chili powder, and salt & pepper to taste to the pan. Bring to a boil and then add the chicken back in. Cover and reduce heat to low until chicken and rice are cooked through. Allow to stand off the heat for about 5 minutes.
Stir in sour cream and reseason to taste if necessary. Plate and top with crumbled queso fresco and green onions.
* I don’t recommend using raw brown rice for this because the length of time it takes to cook will overcook the chicken. However, what you can do–and what I did do–is parboil your brown rice for 15-20 minutes (just boil & drain as you would pasta) or use a packaged parboiled/minute brown rice and then finish cooking for about 10 minutes in the skillet. The amount of chicken broth will vary based on the type of rice you use. The amount of liquid from the broth and tomatoes should equal 1.5 cups if you are using raw white rice, and around 3/4 cup if you are using parboiled rice (or, check the directions on the box of rice).
Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 470 / Fat: 11g / Saturated Fat: 4g / Carbs: 52g / Protein: 40g
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