dinner

Chicken Fried Quinoa

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I’m forever trying to find ways to make classic comfort foods more healthy. Tonight I had such a strong craving for chicken fried rice, but the MSG in most takeout versions gives me the WORST headaches. Not to mention the fact that I’m trying to save money for my next trip, so picking up Chinese is pretty much out of the question.

In typical food-fiending fashion I began searching Foodgawker for inspiration and found the perfect compromise – Chicken Fried Quinoa! I’m not exaggerating when I say I have an obsession with this seed. I usually cook a cup of it at the beginning of every week and use it as a healthy filler in my lunches. Whether it be on its own or in some hodge podge salad quinoa is definitely a superfood.

This recipe is super simple and once again can include basically any veggies that you have lying around. If you haven’t noticed a theme yet most of my recipes include a mix of whatever is about to go bad in my fridge!

Chicken Fried Quinoa

2 tbsp canola oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp hoison sauce
1.5 cups quinoa
1 medium stalk broccoli
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1.5 cup chicken stock
1.5 cup vegetable stock
1 green onion, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

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Generously season the diced chicken breast with salt and pepper – no one likes bland chicken! Make sure all the vegetables are prepped and cut beforehand and set them aside.

I had some leftover quinoa from earlier in the week, but if you don’t have a fridge brimming with half eaten (aka forgotten at the back of the fridge) meals like me, you’re going to need to make some! In sauce pan combine both veggie and chicken stock and the quinoa. You could just use either chicken or vegetable stock alone, I just ran out chicken stock … so the perpetual laziness continues! Follow the quinoa’s package directions to cook – typically you need to bring the mix to a boil then reduce the heat so it simmers, cover the pot and cook for 15 mins, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. DO NOT BURN THE QUINOA – unless you a) want to say goodbye to your pot … burnt quinoa is near impossible to get off or b) want to have the most sore arms in existence from scrubbing said pot.

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In a large frying pan heat the canola oil on medium-high and add the diced chicken breast. I ended up frying it in two batches so that the pieces weren’t crowded. Crowding the pan will make the chicken boil not brown – you want to see that light brownish crispy exterior :) After the chicken is cooked remove it from the pan, reserving the cooking oil, and place it on a plate
covered in paper towel to blot off the excess grease.

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Add garlic, onions, carrots, and broccoli into the same frying pan, season with half the 1 tbsp of both hoison and soy sauce and cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots have softened. Slowly mix in the quinoa until everything is combined. Add the remaining hoison, soy sauce and the eggs, quickly stirring so that the egg breaks up coats everything evenly. Grab your cooked chicken and toss that back in the same pan. Once the chicken is heated through pour it into a serving dish and garnish with green onion.

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If you wanted to make this recipe even healthier you could even swap out the whole eggs for egg whites! What are some recipes you’ve made with healthy ingredient substitutions?

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Jamaican Seasoned Rice

My family, like many others, is utterly obsessed with food. When we get together we mainly discuss new recipes we’ve attempted and restaurants that everyone ‘MUST TRY’. Holidays around here are like going to a 5-star restaurant that serves family style. Being food centric meant that I spent a large part of my childhood in the kitchen helping my parents . I will forever be thankful to my parents for teaching me how to cook, in my opinion there are wayyy too many twentysomethings that have the culinary expertise of Carrie Bradshaw (ovens are NOT for storing magazines) !!

My Dad is definitely the head chef in our family, I’ve always been amazed by his ability to throw together a meal with random ingredients he finds in the fridge. Growing up I was very privileged to have him show me the ropes in the kitchen, and it was great bonding time for us. Even now that I’m older he still surprises me with delicious new recipes. Just last week I came home to the most amazing smell wafting out of the kitchen. When I asked him what he made all he said it was Jamaican Seasoned Rice. To be honest I had to ask him twice – I couldn’t hear him over my salivary glands going into overdrive. If you enjoy ackee and saltfish (a classic Jamaican dish that’s usually served with green bananas) you’ll love this dish! It was everything a one pot meal should be savoury, salty, and satisfying.

It was so delicious that I decided to recreate it for dinner last night with a few additions (AKA vegetables that were about to go bad in my fridge).

Jamaican Seasoned Rice

2 cups basmati rice

2 cups cubed butternut squash

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1 cup green beans, chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped Scotch Bonnett Pepper (this can be omitted, but I LOVE spicy food)

1/2 cup broccoli, chopped

2 tbsp dried thyme

1 1/2 cups salted cod, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup coconut milk powder

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp canola oil

2 tbsp olive oil Becel

Fresh ground pepper

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Heat the canola oil in a large pot on medium-high heat and add the butternut squash. Season with pepper and cook until it’s softened, but not browned. Add the onions, red pepper, thyme, Scotch Bonnett pepper, green beans, broccoli, and salted cod and cook for another 5 mins (basically just look for the onions to be translucent).

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Combine 1/3 cup of coconut milk powder with 1/3 cup of water and set aside.

Wash the rice under cold running water until the runoff water runs clear. You don’t want all that gross starchy-ness making your delicious rice sticky! Then combine the rice with your veggie pot. Make sure you’re stirring this mixture continuously so the rice doesn’t burn. Trust me, burnt rice is not fun to remove from the bottom of a pan.

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Once the rice is combined with the vegetables add the coconut milk mixture and Becel.  Bring the pot to a boil and ladle in a small amount of chicken stock, reduce the heat and cover it so the mixture is just simmering. At this point you’re probably thinking I did not sign up for risotto-esque cooking, but trust me – it’s worth it. Check the pot often and add chicken stock as needed, making sure it’s fully absorbed into the rice before adding more. I used around a cup and a half of chicken stock to cook the rice, but you may need more or less depending on the type of rice you’re using.

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The final product is fluffy, salty, spicy heaven. As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of ackee and saltfish, but there’s been a green banana shortage in Toronto so this is a perfect replacement! My Dad’s original recipe included tomatoes as well, but I was far too lazy to head out to the store so I’ll definitely be using those next time!