Mexican Chicken & Rice Skillet

Mexican Chicken Rice Skillet with text

I’m a planner... Especially when it comes to meals.  I plan my meals every week and prepare a grocery list according to my meal plan.  BUT, sometimes whatever I have planned for dinner, just isn’t floating my boat.  This recipe was born on one of those days.  I knew I wanted something Mexican, and only had chicken in the fridge, so I started digging thru the fridge and pantry and came up with the ingredients for this recipe.  AND, it’s actually healthy and very low-calorie… BONUS!!

So today was not a great day… Our air conditioning went out around 7:30pm last night and we aren’t able to get the a/c tech out here until Monday, ugh!  It’s May in Texas and the high was 90° today, so in an effort to keep the house as cool as possible, I cooked outside using the side burner on my Charbroil TRU Infra-red Grill.  If you’re thinking about getting a new grill, I highly recommend this one.  I’ve had it for almost a year now and it’s the best grill we’ve ever owned.  It has very even heating and will heat to about 500-600 degrees in 15 minutes.  Because it’s an infra-red grill, there’s a U-shaped trough over the burners, which means no flare-ups at all.  You can spray cooking spray directly on the cast iron grill grates and not worry about flames shooting up or setting the house on fire.

There is a bit of prep involved in this recipe, but really, it couldn’t be simpler.  Cook your rice according to the package directions, you’ll need 1 and 1/2 cups cooked rice.  Start out with some taco seasoning and chicken breast strips, and cook in a pan with cooking spray until done, about 8 minutes.  Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.  Spray pan with more cooking spray.

Chicken with taco seasoning

Slice up your veggies, cut up your stewed tomatoes, press or mince your garlic, thaw out your frozen corn and get your spices ready.  Add your onion, green peppers and zucchini to the pan and saute for about 5 minutes.

Cast of Characters

After your veggies are done, add in the tomatoes, corn and spices, combining well, and bring to a boil.  Add in your chicken and rice and simmer until heated through.  Serve with salsa and tortilla chips if desired.

Mexican Chicken complete

If you’re a lover of Mexican food, you’re going to want to try this!  It’s spicy but won’t hurt you.  The veggies are sauteed just enough to be crisp tender and the cumin and chili powder give it that distinct Mexican flavor that Tex-mex is famous for.

Mexican Chicken Rice Skillet 2

With the highs in the 90’s again tomorrow and no air conditioning til Monday, I think tomorrow’s dinner will definitely be a cold one.  🙂

Mexican Chicken & Rice Skillet

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

1 and 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning

Cooking spray

1 medium onion, cut into thin strips

1 medium green pepper, cut into thin strips

1 1/2 cups zucchini squash, halved and sliced about 3/4″ thick

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced or pressed

1 can stewed tomatoes, cut up

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1  and 1/2 cups cooked rice

fresh cilantro (optional)

Coat chicken strips with taco seasoning and toss to coat.  Spray a large skillet with cooking spray,and stir-fry chicken unit no longer pink.  Remove and set aside.  In the same skillet, add more non-stick spray and saute the onion, green pepper and zucchini for about 5 minutes, until crisp tender, adding the garlic at the very end of the saute just until fragrant.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn, salt, cumin and chili powder and bring to a boil.  Add in chicken and rice and cook until heated through.  Add in chopped fresh cilantro (if desired) right before serving.

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Ultra Creamy Macaroni & Cheese (slow cooker)

Ultra Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Is there anything that screams “comfort food” more than Macaroni & Cheese?  I’m not much of a Velveeta fan, so this Macaroni & Cheese is loaded with REAL cheese.  One thing you will love about this Macaroni & Cheese recipe is how easy it is to have it ready at the same time as the rest of your meal.  It takes about 2 1/2  hours from start to finish, give or take a couple of minutes and comes out perfect every time.  I honestly do not know where the original recipe came from as I’ve had it for quite some time, but I’ve adapted it to make it somewhat healthier… I mean, really?  How healthy can Macaroni and Cheese be, loaded with all that cheese?  This recipe had 3 3/4 cups of cheese and 3/4 cup of sour cream and I’m using 3 cups of cheese and 3/4 cup of non-fat greek yogurt instead.  The original recipe also included whole milk and 3 eggs and I’m using 2% milk and have completely omitted the eggs from this version.

I’ll never go back to making Macaroni & Cheese the traditional way.  This recipe has a very creamy texture and is loaded with honest to goodness cheese flavor… I could eat this stuff all day!

OK, people, bear with me on these photos… I waited a little too late in the day to start all this, and then add cloudy, dark, rainy skies to the mix and there was very little natural light for my photos coming in thru the windows, so I did the best I could with the photo editor.

First Step: Melt the butter and cheese together in a small to medium saucepan until it looks like this:

Butter and Cheese

Step 2: Spray your slow cooker with non-stick spray and combine all ingredients, except for your cooked pasta.  OK, I know this looks a little freaky and scary, but it will all turn out wonderfully creamy in the end.  There will be some lumps and it won’t be smooth at all at this point.  This is what you can expect:

All ingredients except Macaroni

Step 3: Add in your cooked, drained macaroni and stir.  The hot macaroni will somewhat melt some of those lumps and it will begin to look a little less scary at this point.  This photo has all ingredients combined and is ready to be put on the slow cooker base and set to low for 2 hours.

All ingredients, including macaroni

Ultra Creamy Macaroni & Cheese (slow cooker)

Servings: 12-15    Prep time: 30 minutes or less     Cook time: 2 hours

3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

3/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt (I like Fage brand)

1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cheddar cheese soup

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/2 cups 2% milk

3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Boil the macaroni for 7 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  While your macaroni is cooking, in a small to medium saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter and add in the cheese slowly, until it is all combined, melted and ooey gooey.

Spray a 3-6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray, and combine the cheese/butter mixture, non-fat greek yogurt, cheddar cheese soup, salt, milk, mustard, and pepper and stir well.   It will be very lumpy and have a weird texture at this point.  Don’t worry, it won’t stay this way.  It will be creamy when done.

Add drained macaroni and stir again.  Set the slow cooker to the low setting and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove from slow cooker and serve.  It has a wonderfully creamy texture and takes about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  It re-heats very well in the microwave with a little milk added before re-heating.

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Easy To Stuff Manicotti

Easy To Stuff Manicotti with text

This recipe is so easy, it almost isn’t a recipe.  I think this is a Taste of Home recipe I got from their magazine many years ago.  When you’re just not in the mood to cook, it’s a very easy dinner to get into the oven.  My family loves this!  Heck, who doesn’t love loads of hot, melty cheese?  I haven’t made this in forever, but I wanted something Italian and something that would get me out of the kitchen in a hurry.  This one did it.  Add a green salad and garlic bread and you’ve got a meal.  It makes a large 9 X 13 inch pan, and leftovers re-heat well in the microwave.

Easy to Stuff Manicotti

1 package Manicotti shells (14 count)

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (You certainly may use homemade here)

14 pieces string cheese, unwrapped

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9 X 13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.  Cook the manicotti shells according to the package directions, but reduce the cooking time by 1 minute.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the ground beef and onion and drain fat.  Add the jar of spaghetti sauce to the meat and onion mixture and cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add half of the sauce mixture to the bottom of your prepared baking dish and spread to cover evenly.  When the manicotti shells are done, remove them from the pot with tongs and drain on foil.  Allow to cool enough to be handled and then stuff each manicotti shell with a piece of string cheese and arrange in the baking pan.  Cover the manicotti shells with the remaining sauce mixture, covering them as evenly as possible.  Bake covered for 25-30 minutes and them remove from oven and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.  Put back in the oven uncovered for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until cheese has melted.  Serve with Garlic Bread and a Salad for a complete meal.

Easy to Stuff Manicotti Dinner

Recipe Source: Taste of Home