One Pot Stovetop Chicken and Yellow Rice

Ever since I started avoiding MSG in my food, yellow rice has pretty much been off limits. But my favorite variety of chicken and rice is chicken and yellow rice. So I decided to try to make it from scratch, which required me to work with a foreign ingredient – saffron. I was very proud of my small-town Publix for actually carrying it (in the ethnic section near the Spanish and Mexican foods). I made a “saffron tea” with some of the chicken stock, and it worked like a charm – yellow rice the natural way.  This turned out really good and was exactly what I’ve been craving. If I wasn’t feeding it to the kiddos, I would have added a little heat, some more paprika and probably some red pepper flakes. This can be done start to finish in under an hour, so it’s definitely a weeknight possibility. And only one pot to clean, definitely a plus in my house! Hope you enjoy!

Chicken and Rice

Chicken and Yellow Rice

2 – 3 tbsp canola oil
3 lbs bone-in chicken pieces (I used legs and thighs), seasoned liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder
2 carrots, quartered and diced
1 stalk of celery, halved and diced
1 sweet onion, diced small
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
4 cups chicken stock
1 pinch saffron
1 3/4 cup white rice (I used Jasmine)
1 cup frozen peas
Corn kernels from one cob
Juice from 1 lime

1.) In a glass dish, heat about 1 cup of chicken stock in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, until very hot. Add saffron and stir. Allow saffron to dissolve in hot liquid until the recipe calls for the chicken stock (although all threads will probably not dissolve fully).
2.) In a large dutch oven (I used a coated cast iron pot), heat oil and add chicken pieces to pan, skin side down, in an even layer. Fry over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes, and then turn each one over. Cook for about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Remove some of the oil from the pot until only about 2 tbsp remain.
3.) Add carrots, celery and onion to pot, scraping bottom to release any brown bits. If bottom starts to burn, add 1/4 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze. Add garlic, salt, pepper and paprika and sauté until veggies begin to soften, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add rice and cook for about 1 minute longer.
4.) Remove any remaining saffron threads from the cup of chicken stock. Add that stock, as well as the other remaining stock to the pot. Stir well and then add chicken back to pot. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 17 to 18 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure rice does not stick, and that chicken cooks evenly.
5.) Remove chicken from pot and check the temp to ensure it is at 165 degrees. Add frozen peas, corn and lime juice to rice. Stir well and then add the chicken back to the pot. Cover and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Saffron

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Mexican Shrimp with Cilantro Lime Rice

Last night for dinner, I wanted to try something new with shrimp.  My go-to with shrimp is pasta or scampi, but I was wanting my weekly Mexican fix.  What to do, what to do…  So I decided on  shrimp with Mexican seasoning, sautéed with black beans, corn, salsa, lime juice and cilantro. I served it on top of copy-cat Chipotle cilantro lime rice. If I haven’t mentioned before, I LOVE Chipotle – one of my favorite places to eat. Good quality food, reasonable prices, and right across the street from my office makes it good and dangerous. But I digress.

This meal qualifies for the 30-minute designation, so it’s definitely weeknight worthy.  Since shrimp takes such a short time to defrost, I try to keep some in the freezer and it’s always good for a last minute dinner.  All three of my boys finished their plates with this one so it was a dinner success! Hope you enjoy!

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Mexican Shrimp with Black Bean and Corn Salsa

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 lb shrimp (make it easy – buy it peeled and deveined!)
1/4 tsp each – cumin, chili powder, paprika
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh salsa (I used Publix deli brand)
1 14.5-oz can black beans, drained
1 14.5-oz can corn, drained (or 2 ears fresh corn)
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1.) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, saute for 1 minute. Add shrimp to skillet and sprinkle, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper over it.
2.) Saute shrimp for about 5 minutes, or until shrimp is pink,  stirring well to incorporate all the spices.
3.) Add salsa, black beans, corn, lime juice and cilantro. Continue to cook until heated thoroughly. Remove from heat.

Mexican shrimp 1 Mexican shrimp 2

Cilantro Lime Rice

1 1/2 cup water
1 cup jasmine rice
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1.) Heat water, salt and olive oil until boiling. Add rice, reduce heat and cover. Cook over low for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
2.) Stir in lime zest, lime juice and cilantro.

Cilantro lime rice ingredients Cilantro lime rice

Mexican Lasagna

I was in the mood for Mexican today, and since I hadn’t made one in a while, I decided on Mexican lasagna.  This is not your typical Mexican lasagna – it’s full of black beans, corn and fresh salsa. This freshness works well with the taco sauce coated chicken and cheese so you’re left with a very balanced dish.  I slow cooked my chicken and shred it, but if you used a rotisserie chicken (Mojo flavor, maybe?) or made the chicken ahead of time, the rest of this dish is pretty simple and could certainly be week-night worthy.  I paired it with my Spanish Rice and it was the perfect compliment.  Since I slow cooked my chicken in stock and seasoning, I felt really smart because I saved it and was able to make the rice with it (I love when that sort of thing happens!). The recipe below ended up being enough for two casseroles, so I put the extra one in the freezer.  The second one was a little smaller than the one we ate tonight. All three of my boys loved this and I, especially, am really looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

10 Mexican lasagna

Mexican Lasagna
Recipe will make 2 casseroles – see below for pictures

3 chicken breasts, shredded (recipe below)
Salt and pepper
16 oz. taco sauce (I used Ortega)
2 14.5-oz. cans black beans, drained (not rinsed)
1 14.5-oz. can corn, drained (or 2 ears fresh corn)
16 oz. fresh salsa (I used Publix deli medium salsa)
4 oz. can of green chills, drained
9 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Add about 8 ozs of taco sauce and mix until chicken is evenly coated. Set aside.
3.) In a bowl, combine black beans, corn, salsa and chilis. Set aside.
4.) Spray the casserole dish(es) with olive oil and then add the remaining taco sauce to the bottom of the dish(es). Cut tortillas in half (or quarters) so that they will fit along the bottom of the casserole(s).
5.) Layer the casserole as follows: tortillas, chicken, bean/corn/salsa, cheese. Repeat one more time, ending with more cheese than the first layer.
6.) Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the sides are bubbly.

3 Shredded chicken and taco sauce

2 Bean corn and salsa

4 Mexican lasagna step 1

5 Mexican lasagna step 2

6 Mexican lasagna step 3

7 Mexican lasagna step 4

8 Mexican lasagna

9 Mexican lasagna

Mexican lasagna 2nd meal
This was the second casserole.

How to store casseroles in the freezer
To prevent freezer burn, I always wrap my casseroles with plastic wrap first (making sure there is a perfect seal around the perimeter of the casserole dish) and then cover with aluminum foil. I then write what it is and when it was prepared, because I would totally forget if I didn’t.

Update **Simple Mexican Shredded Chicken**

Boil chicken breast and shred with a fork. Stir in 1 tbsp of Taco Seasoning per chicken breast.

Mexican Shredded Chicken

3 chicken breasts
4 ozs. taco sauce
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper

1.) Place all ingredients in a dutch oven. Cover and place in a 250 degree oven. Cook for 3 to 4 hours.
2.) Remove chicken from broth and shred the chicken with a fork and knife.

1 Shredded chicken

Chicken, Corn and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

These quesadillas were a last minute back-up plan that turned into a major success! My original plan for dinner was to make grilled chicken to go with the Guacamole Rice I’ve been craving, but the rain made me re-think using the grill.  And by the way, whoever came up with the concept of Guacamole Rice is a genius!  So I opted for quesadillas, using boiled chicken and veggies that were going to go bad in the fridge (my husband was so proud!!)  The sweetness of the corn and the caramelized onion really made this dish!

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Chicken, Corn and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

3 sweet onions, julienned
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 chicken breast
2 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp fresh salsa (I use Publix deli salsa)
Juice from half a lime
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
Butter for cooking quesadillas
6 soft taco sized flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

1.) Bring water in a pot to a boil and add chicken breast, boil for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.  Shred chicken with a fork and knife.
2.) Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat; add onions and salt. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it starts to get a golden hue.  Stir frequently to ensure onions don’t stick to bottom.
3.) Place corn in a small sauce pan and fill with water. Boil for about 4 to 5 minutes and then drain water.
4.) Combine together shredded chicken, caramelized onions, corn, cilantro, salsa, lime, garlic powder, cumin and paprika. Salt and pepper to taste.
5.) Heat 1 tsp of butter in a non-stick skillet. Place tortilla in skillet, add cheese to one half and add the chicken/corn/onion mixture. Cook until tortilla is browned.

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Guacamole Rice

4 servings of white rice prepared (I use Jasmine)
2 ripe avocados, cubed
1/2 of a medium sweet onion, chopped fine
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup fresh salsa
Juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together and serve!

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Original Guacamole Rice recipe

And this is what made the meal possible….

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