Chicken & Pepper Mexican Rice

The other day I had an intense craving for chicken fajitas. Over the last year I have developed a real love for Mexican food, and fajitas are probably my favorite Mexican creation to make at home. I tore through my kitchen for the necessary ingredients and was disappointed to find that I had everything I needed – EXCEPT tortillas. Which are sort of the most necessary part of a fajita. Otherwise it’s just a pile of delicious chicken and vegetables.

*Bing.* Light bulb. It’s just a pile of delicious chicken and vegetables … until you add ANOTHER starch to it. And thus, the idea for this dish was born. All the goodness of fajitas, but on top of a bed of cilantro lime wild rice instead! This recipe serves two.

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Wild rice takes a little longer to cook than regular white rice, so you’ll want to get the rice going first. In a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup wild rice and a 1 cup of water plus a couple more tablespoons. Put it over high heat and then add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, the zest & juice of one lime, 1/2 tsp cilantro, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover until all the water is absorbed. (Wild rice takes 20-25 minutes or so to cook.)

While you’re waiting for your rice to cook, dice 1/4 of an onion and 1/4 of a green pepper and set them aside. Then take one chicken breast and slice it into thin pieces.

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When your rice is nearly done, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat and then add your chicken to it. Spice the chicken by adding 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cilantro, 1/2 tsp cayenne, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Toss to coat, and continue to toss occasionally to ensure even cooking.

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It should only take a few minutes to cook the chicken. Once it’s cooked through, add your diced onion and pepper, reduce heat to low, and cover.

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Allow this to simmer for a few more minutes to soften the onion and pepper, then uncover and add 1/2 cup of your preferred salsa. Stir this in, and then serve by plating the rice first between 2 plates and then dividing the chicken evenly between them on top of the rice. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and enjoy!

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Of course, you could always modify this by julienning the onions and peppers instead of dicing them and serving this all on nice flour tortillas with sour cream to make fajitas!

Full Recipe:

Chicken & Pepper Mexican Rice

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

Rice:
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
Zest & juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Chicken:
1 large chicken breast, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp oil
1/4 onion, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish.

Process:

1) In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients for rice over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until water is cooked through.

2) In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and chicken. Season with spices listed and toss to coat, continuing to toss occasionally to ensure even cooking.

3) After about 3 minutes, once chicken is cooked through, add diced onion and pepper and cover. Let simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

4) Once onion and pepper have softened, uncover and stir in 1/2 cup salsa. Allow this to heat through for about a minute and then remove from heat. Plate the rice first and then add the chicken on top, and garnish with cheddar cheese. Serve immediately.

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Parmesan & Panko Breaded Chicken

So I know I’m normally all about being creative and different here, but there are some classic recipes that absolutely everyone deserves to know how to do perfectly. Breaded chicken is a classic but, let’s face it… it’s normally pretty boring. I’m about to revolutionize the way you view breaded chicken, however, so this is one worth reading!

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Begin by prepping your breading assembly line. In the first dish, put a few tablespoons of flour and then season the flour with 1 teaspoon each of salt and basil 1/2 teaspoon each of pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. Stir this together so the seasonings are all incorporated into the flour.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: The seasoning in the flour is important because it locks the flavors onto the chicken underneath the breading so they don’t fall off when you put the chicken in the pan!

In the middle dish, crack and beat one egg.

In the final dish, combine 1 cup Panko bread crumbs and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: The Panko bread crumbs are what really make the difference between “meh” breaded chicken and “holy wow!” breaded chicken! They are originally from Japan and are lighter and airier than normal bread crumbs than what we are used to in Western culture, so they make everything extra crunchy! Most grocery stores sell them, most likely in their “foreign foods” aisle.

Once your breading assembly line is ready, add about a half cup of vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium low heat. Allow the oil to heat up for a minute or two, and then bread your chicken breast by lightly coating it in the flour (tap off any excess), coating it in the egg, and then finally in the panko-parmesan mixture. Use your fingers to sprinkle additional breading onto each side and press it in, and then lay the chicken carefully into the oil. Repeat with three more chicken breasts, and then add some additional seasoning and cheese on top once they are in the pan. (Sprinkle on additional salt/pepper/basil/garlic and about 1/4 cup total additional parmesan.)

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Allow them to cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the breading on the underside is turning a golden brown color, and then flip them.

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Allow to cook for an additional 5-8 minutes or until they are cooked through, and then serve with a side of your choice!

Full Recipe:

Panko-Parmesan Breaded Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 small (or 2 large, cut in half) chicken breasts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 tbsp flour
Salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder, cayenne

Process:

1) In a shallow dish, combine flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.

2) In a small bowl, beat 1 egg.

3) In another shallow dish, combine Panko breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.

4) Coat a skillet in 1/2 cup vegetable oil over medium low heat. After allowing pan to heat for a few minutes, coat each piece of chicken first in the flour (tapping off excess), then the egg, and finally the Panko-parmesan mixture (using your fingers to add and press on additional breading) before laying each piece of chicken in the skillet, making sure there is about an inch between each piece.

5) Season each piece of chicken with additional salt/pepper/basil/garlic and parmesan.

6) Allow to cook for 5-8 minutes or until breading is golden brown on the underside, then flip. Cook for an additional 5-8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Baked Lemon Chicken with Parmesan Rice

So remember the Lemon Coconut Cookies and how I hadn’t figured out a “real meal” to use all those lemons?

Yeah. I figured one out. And it is AMAZING.

And it’s seriously SO easy!! Like really, it looks all fancy and stuff but it’s almost as simple as a crockpot dinner. Not even kidding.

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Start by getting a marinade together for your chicken. I used the juice of a whole lemon and the zest of half of it (I saved the other half of the zest for the rice), 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup orange juice (or any citrus juice you have on hand, really), two smashed cloves of garlic, 1 tsp each of oregano, thyme, and crushed rosemary, and a 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper, just for a little kick.

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Put this all in a plastic bag, add your chicken, and seal the bag. Use your hands to make sure it’s all distributed, and then pop it in the fridge for at least an hour. Using a plastic bag means you need less marinade to cover the meat, and it’s much easier clean up and takes up WAY less space in the fridge!

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This recipe serves four, and I used two large chicken breasts cut in half. You could also do four of the kind that are already sliced thinner (like Perdue “Perfect Portions”) – but basically, just make sure there’s four pieces of meat that are each reasonably sized for one person.

After your chicken has marinated for a while, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking pan by coating it with about a tablespoon of olive oil, and take another lemon and slice 8 thin (1/4 inch or so) slices. Place the chicken in the pan (discard the marinade), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then put 2 lemon slices on each piece of chicken.

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Bake for 40-50 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

As for the rice, when you have about 15-20 minutes left to go on your chicken cooking time, go ahead and put 1 cup of uncooked white rice, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of milk into a sauce pan. Bring it to a boil, add your leftover lemon zest from earlier, the juice of whatever was left of the lemon you used for your slices on the chicken, and a tablespoon of salt. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let the liquid absorb.

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Using milk as part of your liquid to cook the rice makes it thicker and creamier! Remember that rice just needs a boiling liquid to cook in – it doesn’t necessarily have to be just water!

Once the rice is almost done, add another teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of thyme, a teaspoon of oregano, and a 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Stir these in, and then add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir this in until it has melted and then remove the rice from the heat.

Once your chicken is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for just a minute.

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Spoon rice onto each plate, then use tongs to place a piece of chicken over each bed of rice. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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This would really be super with some blanched green beans, or asparagus, or even a nice side salad, if you’re looking for something green to color it up! I just only had the energy for two dish components this time ­čśë

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This will become a house favorite – I guarantee it!

Full Recipes:

Baked Lemon Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
Juice of 1 lemon, zest of half of it
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp crushed rosemary
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 thin lemon slices

Process:

1) In a plastic bag, combine lemon juice/zest, olive oil, juice, garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Add chicken, seal bag, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2) Once the chicken has marinated, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking pan with 1 tbsp olive oil.

3) Place chicken side by side in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then top with lemon slices.

4) Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through. Serve over rice.

And for the rice…

Lemon Parmesan Rice

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked white rice
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 tbsp salt
Zest & juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Process:

1) Add rice, water, and milk to a saucepan. Bring to a boil.

2) Add 1 tbsp salt and lemon zest/juice. Cover, and let simmer until liquid is almost all absorbed.

3) Once rice is almost done, add 1 tsp salt, thyme, oregano, and pepper. Stir to combine, and then stir in Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Honey Teriyaki Slow Cooker Chicken with Fried Rice

When you cook for large groups of people as often as I do, slow-cookers really do become your best friend. I swear. It’s like the greatest cooking tool ever invented.

My last visit to the slow cooker was to make last week’s amazing apple pulled pork. If you happened to miss that, seriously, go read it, and mark a day to make it. It’s the most popular post I’ve ever written, by a long shot!

This week, however, we’re paying homage to the other side of the world and tipping our hats to Asian cuisine, with a little bit of a twist. This requires almost no work at all, seriously, so there should be nothing keeping you from tackling this one!

Start by making your sauce right in the slow cooker itself. Dump in 1 cup teriyaki sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp thyme, and salt and pepper (about 1 tsp each). Use a whisk to combine it all (it may take a minute or two to fully break up the honey and dissolve the brown sugar).

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Take 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them up into bite size pieces. As you cut each breast, put the pieces right into the slow cooker.

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Stir the chicken a little to ensure every piece is coated, put the lid on, set the slow cooker to low, and walk away for 4 hours.

After the time is up, the chicken should have darkened in color from absorbing the sauce. It should also be super tender and pretty much fall apart if you try to stab it with a fork. Use a slotted spoon to dish the chicken out, and then serve with fried rice (recipe below) or stir-fried veggies. (Tip, use the leftover sauce from the chicken to flavor your rice and/or veggies.)

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I have done several variations of cooking with this honey-teriyaki concept and this is by far the one that is the least work, but they are all delicious! When it gets warmer out, I’ll post the grilled version – it still has an Asian flair but is definitely much more home-town barbecue-esque!

Depending on the size of the breasts you use (the ones I used were fairly large), this should feed about 5-6 people, bearing in mind that it’s meant to be combined with rice or vegetables to make a full meal.

Full Recipe:

Honey Teriyaki Slow Cooker Chicken

Yields: 5-6 Servings when served with rice or vegetables.

Ingredients:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Process:

1) Combine all ingredients except chicken in slow cooker; whisk to combine.

2) Add chicken to sauce in slow cooker. Put the lid on and cook on low for 4 hours or until chicken is cooked through and darkened in color.

3) Remove chicken from slow-cooker with a slotted spoon and serve with fried rice or vegetables.

For those interested, here’s a quick process on how I do my fried rice:

Yield: 5-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 green, orange, or yellow pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs

If you are NOT using the teriyaki sauce from the chicken above, also:
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup soy or teriyaki sauce, to taste
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Process:

1) In a large sauce pan, add the uncooked rice. Pour the water on top of the rice, add the olive oil and salt, and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let simmer until all the water is absorbed. (15-20 minutes, typically.)

2) In a frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and then quickly saute diced peppers and onions (3-5 minutes). Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute, then push veggies to the side of the pan.

3) Crack eggs directly into the empty half of the pan and quickly move them around to pan-scramble them (1-2 minutes).

4) Once veggies and eggs are done, add them to the rice and stir to combine.

5) Add seasoning elements (either remaning teriyaki sauce from above, or sauce elements listed in this recipe). Stir to combine and then serve immediately.