I love Clean Eating Magazine. It’s a fantastic idea and doesn’t rely on gimmicks. Do I follow the Eat Clean diet step-by-step? Eh….no. But I like cooking the recipes from the magazine. They’re usually pretty quick/easy and nutritionally balanced.
So as I’m writing this I’m thinking, I love food and cooking. I mean, that’s why I have this blog but here’s how I know it’s something I truly enjoy. I never watch the clock when I’m cooking something, it’s almost zen like. I never really had a hobby/talent/skill growing up but cooking really appealed to me because well, you can eat it when you’re done. But it’s only the last two years that I’ve really started to do it often and realized how much I actually enjoy it. Now are there times I’m super stressed and trying to throw together something quickly? Definitely. But if I’m not under a time constraint it’s super relaxing.
Anyway, so the recipe calls for 12 oz of chicken which is a bit of a weird amount if you’re buying packages at the grocery store. I shop at Findley Market so it’s a little easier to ask for random weights like that, although some people are obviously confused when I do. I guess they’re used to people buying in bulk (3 lbs of chicken etc.) or at least 1 lb at a time.
Anyone else always having to look for unusual weights? I love my digital scale because before that I had to rely completely on whatever I was buying and guesstimate. Example: So if this package of chicken weighs 1.64 lbs how much would equal 12 oz? (It’s a little under half). But on the plus side I’ve become better and better at doing conversions in my head. Plus I can convert back so when I go to the meat department and ask for .7/.8 lb of chicken breast it cuts through any misunderstanding about how much I’m actually asking for. I know the people at the meat department are hardworking buy maybe not used to working with ounces, so in the beginning when I would go up and ask for 12 oz of chicken there was a tendency for miscommunication. This way it works much better.
But I’ve been doing a new thing lately in an effort to cut costs/save money. We usually buy 4 to 5 whole chickens at a time and break them into parts ourselves (and for all of you awesome people who uploaded video/explanations, etc. explaining how to do that thank you!). I usually try to buy chickens that weigh around 3 lbs for piece consistency. Roast one whole and part the other 4.
My husband hates to cook and everything to do with it, but he’s like a random savant at breaking down chicken or something. The first time we did it, he was done and had finished skinning everything before I was even half way done with my second one. The nice thing is that since he is so awesome at it I can get him to help me do it. 2 people breaking down chickens goes a lot faster than 1, unless you’re Martin Yan who is absolutely crazy when you see videos of him doing it in 14 seconds…with a huge cleaver…I would end up lopping off a finger if I tried that.
So when all 4 chickens have been broken down into parts we usually end up with about 6 oz of chicken tenders. And who happened to have 2 packages of chicken tenders in the freezer last night? I did and was really excited at knowing that I didn’t have to worry about buying it because it was all safe and snug in my freezer at home. Apparently I’m very easily excitable.
I did change the recipe a bit by bulking up the veggies because why not? The fat and calories added are outweighed by the added nutritional value (in my opinion) and this way I don’t have to listen to my husband whining that he’s still hungry since he only gets one portion. Although in the two years we’ve been together he’s lost over 40 lbs thanks to my cooking/portioning and his 3 times a week in the gym.
To start I made a homemade creole seasoning to toss with the chicken. I’m a spice fanatic and I think the recipe was improved by adding it:
- 2 teaspoons preferably smoked paprika or can sub in regular paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (can add more or less depending on heat level desired)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- Dash of ground mustard
- Salt to taste (I’m trying to cut down on how much salt I use *sigh* but it makes things taste so much better!)
Combine all in a small bowl, then toss with chicken so it’s well coated. You could also easily double, triple, etc this recipe and save the rest in an airtight container for use another time.
Then I prepped all of my ingredients because it just makes things easier to have them all ready to go and on hand. I usually break recipes down by steps and combine ingredients in bowl that way so I’m not dirtying 20 different things.
From left clockwise: parsley, okra/tomatoes/thyme/bay leaves, chicken tossed in creole, onion/green pepper, garlic.
After the prep, I started cooking. I love recipes that don’t require more than 1 pan. I broke up the amount of oil called for in the recipe a bit more because I hate using oil spray on my nonstick pans. I’ve heard that over time in can build up a film and I like to keep my pans as nice as possible for as long as possible.
When it came down to the point where everything was done, I went to get the rice from the cooker and *gasp* my cooker that I had literally just been talking about how great it was, had messed up and switched to warm too early so the rice wasn’t done all of the way. What is with my week? That has literally never happened before. And I did not want to resort to Uncle Ben’s again (really need to start freezing precooked rice!) So after switching the cooker back to warm, I ended up having to keep the pan covered and turn the burner all the way down to keep it warm which I waited on the rice. The nice thing is that I think it actually made the recipe better since the flavors had time to meld together more.
How delicious does that look?
Here’s my slightly modified version, anything I’ve changed is in italics
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 2 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 – 12 oz grape tomatoes, halved (2 cup)
- 1 cup fresh chopped or frozen cut okra (thawed, if frozen)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot since it’s what I had on hand)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil and heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Cook chicken and cook for 2 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside on a separate plate.
- Return skillet to medium-high and heat 1/2 tbsp oil. Add onion and pepper and cook for 4 minutes or until beginning to lightly brown, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup water, tomatoes, okra, thyme, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken, hot sauce, salt, remaining 1/2 tbsp oil and continue to simmer, covered, for another 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in parsley and let stand for 5 minutes to absorb flavors. Honestly, I didn’t end up letting it stand because we were starving at this point, darn rice, and instead ended up keeping it over low heat for about 15 minutes.
- Toss rice with remaining 1/4 cup parsley and serve chicken mixture over top.
Nutrition: Calories: 294 | Total Fat: 9g | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 23g (per serving of 3/4 cup chicken mixture and 1/2 cup rice). Note: my calorie count is probably a bit higher due to the added veggies, but this may also be evened out by the fact that I reduced the oil.
An hour or so after dinner we each had a small mango for dessert and it was perfect snack. The food ended up being really tasty and apart from the rice fiasco was quick and easy. I did end up using additional hot sauce at the table but I prefer my food to be a bit spicier. Next time I make it I might even increase the hot sauce further if I’m using Frank’s Red Hot again (I think it’s a very mild hot sauce as far as they go) but it all depends on the hot sauce you’re using.