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!

Tex-Mex Skillet

Serves 4
print Printer Friendly Recipe

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
Chicken broth*
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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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

thecookingnurse May 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm

This looks great, I love Mexican food!

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jess May 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm

This sounds really good! I too have been known to buy those yucky freezer meals. Though, these days, all I ever buy (when I do break down) is Kashi meals. At least I can pronounce everything in it! :)

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Kerstin May 9, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I love adobo sauce and this chicken looks super flavorful with all the spices you used! And it’s healthy and full of protein – what a great dish!

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Erin May 9, 2009 at 5:30 pm

I love Tex-Mex more than any other food, so I will definitely have to try this! It looks delicious!

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petercooks May 9, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Who cares if this has 100 extra calories! It looks and I bet, tastes better than any “Lean Cuisine”…very healthy Elly!

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Mary Ellen May 9, 2009 at 8:34 pm

This looks really good, and Iove the one dish meals. I made something similar with tomatillos and jalapenos – think I need to pull out that recipe again!

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maria May 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Sounds delicious … I love one pan meals. Great flavors here; now I’m craving Latin and Tex/Mex.

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maria May 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Sounds delicious … I love one pan meals. Great flavors here; now I’m craving Latin and Tex/Mex.

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nina May 11, 2009 at 1:12 am

I have a pan just right for this!!! Love all the flavors and textures that you have used here!!!!

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Colleen May 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Yum! We love anything Mexican in my house and that queso fresco looks amazing on there!

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kmays May 11, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I like the way you think! This looks fabulous.

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arimou0 May 12, 2009 at 5:52 am

Generally it is so easy to make low-cal low-fat meals at home that buying frozen “diet” meals is really not worth the money or their lack of flavor. This is a great dish and I will be making it for my “it’s-almost-summer diet” :-p

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Peter May 14, 2009 at 7:20 am

Fabulous looking dish and with the use of herbs and certain ingredients you’ve created a flavour and salt merely enhances everything. I’d hire ya! ;)

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Stacey May 20, 2009 at 7:56 pm

My two favorite things—mexican and one pan cooking! I must try this!

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Kevin May 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm

That looks so tasty! It has so many of my favorite flavours in it.

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