Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken and Rice

Whenever I ask The H what he wants to eat in any given week, his typical answer is, "Hmm, how about chicken and rice?" Like that doesn't have 80 million variations. It's been one of my personal missions to find new ways to serve "chicken and rice" since I *did* ask, after all, so I might as well make him what he wants. One of our favorites, chicken-salsa-rice, came out of this quest. Tonight's dinner, which came entirely from Clean Eating Magazine, also fits the bill, though it may not yet be considered a favorite.

And yes, I know it didn't photograph well... and I didn't have the time, energy, or daylight to attempt an improvement. Such is life with an overtired, hungry toddler. I had a few issues with these recipes and will explain at the end.

Sesame-Mango Chicken with Brown Rice
from Clean Eating Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 4, Fall 2008
serves: 4
total time: 30min

2 1/2 cups water
2 tsp salsa
1 cup brown rice

2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 mango, peeled and diced (approx. 1 cup)
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water and salsa to a boil. Add rice and simmer over low heat for about 25 minutes or until rice is done.

2. Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in a medium skillet over low heat for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Pour onto a plate to cool.

3. Add olive oil to the skillet, swirl to coat the bottom, and add chicken. Sprinkle garlic, ginger, and pepper over the chicken and increase heat to medium. Cook about 4 minutes, then turn over, stirring to keep garlic from burning.

4. Add diced mango to pan; saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and lime juice. Simmer 5 minutes or until tomatoes are hot and mango is juicy. Serve over rice.

Nutrition information for 1.5 cup serving: 391 calories, 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 51g carbs, 4g fiber, 10g sugars, 32g protein, 112mg sodium, 66mg cholesterol.

Thai-Style Broccoli with Peanuts
from Clean Eating Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 4, Fall 2008
serves: 4

1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)
1 cup water, divided
1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp dry roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed

1. Place broccoli florets and 1/2 cup of the water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Immediately ocver and set a timer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut sauce.

2. In a small glass bowl, stir together peanut butter and 2 Tbsp water. Microwave for 15 seconds; remove and stir until cream. Stir in lime juice, red pepper, and salt.

3. When the broccoli is done, drain water and place broccoli on a serving plate. Top with peanut sauce. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts and serve.

Nutrition information per 1 cup serving: 69 calories, 4g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 6g carbs, 3g fiber, 0g sugar, 4g protein, 82mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol.

Here are my thoughts about these recipes:

First, the chicken. It was good, but the rice needed salt. I always salt the water when I make rice, so I don't know why I didn't this time. Also, 2 teaspoons of salsa is NOTHING in 2 1/2 cups of water, so I increased to 2 tablespoons (of my beloved Trader Joe's Smoky Peach goodness). The water called for was about 1/2 cup too much in my opinion, and it took longer than 30 minutes to cook. The end consistency was more like a thick risotto than the fluffy rice shown on the magazine page.

But what about the sesame seeds? Where do these tiny shiny fellows get added back in? The recipe does not say. Thus, you see in the first two photos above that I simply scattered (ok, dumped) them on top before serving.

And now the broccoli. I loved it, but it would've been much tastier if it had been hot. Make this *just* before you serve it, because once you drain it, there is no good way to keep it warm without causing it to turn that weird yellow-green-gray shade of overcooked vegetation. Also, note how much water is called for: 1 cup. Yet in the recipe instructions, you simmer the broccoli in exactly half of that, then make the peanut sauce with a mere 2 tablespoons of the remaining half cup. What happens to the other 6 tablespoons? (FYI: there are 16 Tbsp in a cup.)

These aren't deal-breakers by any means; if anything, they make me want to try these recipes again to see if my fixes would improve them at all. The H liked both dishes, but didn't really appreciate them together. Too much "roasty" he said, with the combination of sesame seeds (which are a surprisingly brilliant source of calcium, did you know?) and roasted peanuts. The little guy ate a little bit of each dish before he put his feet up on the table and demanded to be let down to wash his hands. Next time I attempt these it won't be so close to bedtime. I would eventually like to try the peanut sauce over rice noodles, perhaps with some extra vegetables, and serve it as a main meal. Stay tuned. :)


  1. LOL @ chicken-n-rice suggestion. Thanks for nothing, H!

    My H shovels broccoli in his mouth so fast when I serve it to him -- not because he loves it, but because, according to him, it has a very high surface-area that increases cooling (can you tell he's a math-man?)

  2. The surface area! That makes complete sense. Broccoli and squash always cool off so fast.