Mexican Rice

mexican rice final Mexican Rice

When I made this smoky Mexican pulled chicken I promised to post the recipe for the Mexican rice that I had with the chicken.  I am finally getting around to that promised post.  The chicken is easy and quick to make, which means I had the energy and time to make a more interesting side dish that my normal steamed rice. If you really were in a hurry with the chicken, I would probably just heat up a tortilla in a microwave, then roll the chicken in the tortilla with some tomato and make some guacomale. But if you have the time, this Mexican rice is worth the effort.

It is a light rice and not oily at all. The tomatoes and onion add a subtle flavor to the rice, perfect to compliment the smoky Mexican pulled chicken.

To make this for one I used the following ingredients:

  • ½ tbs of olive oil
  • 1 tbs of onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of basmati rice – I use basmati for pretty much everything. It has a lower glycemic index than other rices.
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic (equal to one clove)
  • 160ml of chicken stock (chicken broth)
  • ¼ of a cup of tomato puree (tomato sauce to those of you in the US and possibly other parts of the world)

You can garnish with parsley if you want to make things look pretty.

smoky mexican chicken bowl final Mexican Rice

I followed the recipe as given. Preparation time is 5 minutes and cook time is 30 minutes but keep an eye on the rice as it is simmering. The chicken stock may evaporate faster for a single serve as there is less of it. One serve has about 200 calories.

Peanut chicken

peanut chicken Peanut chicken

I am off on my first holiday in quite a while. I am going to the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria for a week’s walking. The Great Ocean Road is a well-known drive along the beautiful Victorian coast line. A walk has now been developed and I am looking forward to getting away from the desk and enjoying the beautiful coastline on foot.

I am a little bit anxious about my level of fitness – I haven’t really done enough preparation but my friend and I are going with a reputable walking company so it should all be ok. There are campsites along the route but we are going to stay in an eco lodge and bed and breakfasts and most of our meals are fully catered, which suits me just fine. They are also transporting our bags along the way so we aren’t weighed down as we walk. I am looking forward to a week where the only thing I need to worry about it putting one foot after the other and enjoying the view. Oh and maybe taking a few photos.

peanut chicken 2 Peanut chicken

I’ll share photos of this beautiful part of the world when I get back but in the meantime, sit back, relax and make this super easy and super fabulous peanut chicken in under 20 minutes. What I think makes this recipe is the lime juice. I love peanut butter but if you aren’t careful it can overwhelm a dish. The lime juice lightens and sweetens everything up. Then the curry powder and cayenne pepper add a hint of spice. And the soy sauce adds the whole umami thing.

To make this for one I used the following ingredients:

The sauce:

  • ½ tbs of peanut butter (no reduced fat for me)
  • 1 tsp of fresh lime juice
  • ½ tsp of soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/8th tsp of curry powder
  • A dash of cayenne pepper

The chicken:

  • 125g of chicken breast cut in to bite sized pieces
  • 1 tsp of peanut oil

The original recipe is for barbequed (grilled if you are in the US) chicken where the sauce is brushed over the chicken as it cooks. But I find that when cooking for one, the idea of firing up the barbeque feels over the top. My barbeque is a lot more effort to use than a frypan.

The sauce is not very saucy – it is more of a marinade by the time it has cooked down. The sauce is made by mixing everything in a bowl. I did find the sauce a bit difficult to mix – my peanut butter was not keen on being incorporated with the other ingredients in the bowl. But once it hit the fry pan, it was all good.

peanut chicken 3 Peanut chicken

To make this in a fry pan, I heated the peanut oil on a medium heat and then threw in the chicken. I sealed the chicken which took about 4 minutes and then added the sauce. Keep cooking the chicken until is cooked through – about 5 minutes. I ate the chicken with steamed rice.

It is a very quick dish to make. 5-10 minutes to prepare and then 10 minutes to cook. All done in under 20 minutes. And only about 290 calories per serve – without the rice.

Baked Orange Roughy

baked orange roughy 3 Baked Orange Roughy

One of the things I find most problematic about cooking for one is fresh ingredients and especially herbs wilting before I can use them. I sometimes buy the small packets of fresh herbs at the supermarket instead of the bunches but find they often don’t last very long – particularly basil. I have tried just about every tip I can find to keep basil fresh but they don’t seem to work in my kitchen. My Mum does really well keep the basil you can buy in small seedling type pots alive on her kitchen window. But I don’t seem to be able to. I think there isn’t enough sun in my kitchen. I am going to try planting it in the garden again when the weather warms up but I love basil and eat it year round.

I have found the best way around this conundrum is to plan my meals so that I eat meals from a certain part of the world for a week. For example, one week might be Thai week. There tends to be overlap in the herbs and other ingredients in each dish, two recipes might call for Thai basil. I have certainly found it cuts down on wastage.

This recipe for baked flounder has great Italian flavours with basil and tomato. So for my meals for this week, I also made this recipe for sun-dried tomato, mushroom and basil pasta. It takes a bit of thought when planning your meals, but if you are trying not to waste food, it can make a real difference to your weekly food budget.

I worry about overcooking fish and I blame Masterchef for upping my anxiety levels with this. But I had no issues with this recipe. The fish was cooked just right and the sauce was just fabulous. It has so few ingredients but has so much flavour. That to me is one of the great joys of Italian cooking. Sure they have complicated dishes but I think overall as a cuisine the Italians have simple rustic food nailed.

This is the perfect work night spring dinner. It is so tasty but so quick to make.

I couldn’t find flounder at my local fish shop so bought some orange roughy instead which is a very similar firm white fleshed fish. But I bought too much so I made enough for almost two people and ate it all. Oops. But I did skip a side dish to compensate. And I hate wasting food.

I made this dish with:

  • A few squirts of olive oil cooking spray
  • 250g of orange roughy
  • ½ tbs of extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of capers
  • 1 tbsp of black olives
  • ½ a lemon, sliced as garnish
  • 4 basil leaves as garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I followed the instructions as given in the original recipe. I used my olive oil cooking spray to grease the baking tray – actually a square cake tin to be precise. I liked the trick given to dry the fish fillets to they don’t cook in their own juice.

baked orange roughy 2 Baked Orange Roughy

The preparation time for this recipe is only about 5 minutes and cook time is 17 minutes once your oven is heated. With all this fish the dish comes in at only 364 calories. It is quite filling and with such low calories, you could easily still have a side.

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