Chicken Fajita Bowls with Mexican Cauliflower Rice

So I’m pretty active on Instagram. I’m not the best at taking pictures of my food, so I really love scrolling through people’s Instagram feeds with beautiful food pictures. I try. I like to think I’m getting better at it, but still. Taking lovely food shots is not my forte.
 

One of my favorite types of pictures are when people do food bowls. I don’t know if this is a new trend or if it just photographs well, but they are so beautiful. The food is organized so cleanly and is usually very colorful. I can’t get enough of them!

All that was said to introduce this Chicken Fajita bowl I recently made. I’ve made similar things before and I swear I posted them on here, but I guess not. Which just means I need to make them again so I can post them again and practice taking better pictures of them! See, it all works out.

This is a super easy weeknight meal that is totally family friendly and can be customized to your tastes.

Chicken Fajita Bowl

Makes enough for 2-4 bowls, depending on how much you put in them

 

Mexican Cauliflower Rice:

– 2 tablespoons Olive oil

– ½ onion diced small

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 bag riced cauliflower (I used the 12 oz bag from Trader Joe’s)

– 1 ½ tablespoons (or so) of tomato paste

– ½ tablespoon each garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder

– Salt to taste     

Bowls:

Mexican cauliflower rice (you can use regular rice or Mexican rice if you want)

Shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)

½ purple onion, sliced

½ each red, orange, and green bell pepper, sliced

Shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Plain non-fat greek yogurt for topping

Guacamole or avocado slices for topping

Place the onion and bell pepper slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Mexican cauliflower rice:

In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic and saute until just starting to soften. Then add the cauliflower rice and cook for about 7 minutes until cooked through. Add the seasonings and tomato paste and stir together until well mixed.

 


Once the rice and veggies are ready (either the cauliflower rice or whatever rice you want to use), you can assemble your bowls.

 

You can be fancy and do layers and sections and organize the whole thing by color or whatever. Or, if you are not planning on taking a photo and you couldn’t care less what your bowl looks like before you eat it because you are just going to mix it all up anyway, you can just throw everything together and have at it.

As long as it tastes good, who care? You do you, love.

Grilled Spinach Pesto Chicken

I’ve recently discovered that my entire family loves pesto. My husband has always liked it. I’m a bit late to the pesto game, only discovering how good it was a few years ago. My super picky 7-year-old just started liking it, and my almost 4-year-old has always liked it. Well, she used to love it, then she stopped loving most things. Now we are trying to get her back into her “eat anything” mode. 
 

One time, I made her pasta with pesto and I told her to just try it. She took a bite and I said, “See, that’s not bad at all!” She agreed with me and now she often requests that I make her “the pasta that’s not bad at all” :0)

What I love so much about this pesto is that it is mostly spinach. I also use walnuts (you can use any nut), which adds another layer of nutrition. I’ve made it before, but I’ll post the recipe again.

Spinach Pesto

In a blender, add the following (all eyeballed):

½ bag of prewashed baby spinach (about 3 oz or so)

1 big bunch of fresh basil

½ cup of walnuts

3-4 cloves garlic

½ cup parmesan cheese

Hefty pinch of salt & a sprinkling of pepper

Olive oil

Put everything in the blender. Start with about ½ cup olive oil and then you can add more as needed based on the consistency you want. 

 

Let the blender do its thing and ta-da! Pesto! Isn’t that green color gorgeous?!


You can use this in so many ways. For this meal, I cut two chicken breasts in half lengthwise to get four thinner pieces. Then I coated each piece in some of the pesto and let it marinade for about 20 minutes. You can do this longer, even overnight. You could also do this in a freezer bag and freeze the whole kit-n-caboodle. Then you’ll have premade pesto chicken ready whenever you want it.

 

When I was ready, I just grilled the chicken for about 7 minutes per side over medium-high heat.   

 

Serve with more pesto on top.

If I had mozzarella on hand, I think this would be delish with a couple tomato slices on top of the chicken, then place some sliced mozzarella and put the chicken under the broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese melts. Maybe even add a drizzle of balsamic glaze! Oh my mouth is watering already…

Quick and Easy Chicken Stir Fry

A super easy and quick way to get in a healthy meal is to do a stir fry. This is another non-recipe recipe. Well, it’s sort of a non-recipe; the sauce has measurements, but everything else is completely interchangeable. 

And technically, the sauce can just be a bunch of things thrown together too. That’s how I ended up with this one. Or even store bought.

A little background: Stir frying is a Chinese cooking technique where the ingredients are cooked in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok. If you don’t have a wok, that’s fine; you can accomplish the same end result in a skillet. A wok is nice to use because it’s shape lends itself well to high-heat cooking. The smaller area at the bottom produces a hot area to allow the food to sear and then the food can be pushed up the sides to continue cooking at slower rate while more food is added to the hot bottom. The high-heat cooking helps the ingredients to retain their color, texture, and nutritional value. This style of cooking dates back to the Ming dynasty. At the time, wood and charcoal used to fire stoves was expensive, so the stir fry method allowed people to cook quickly without wasting fuel. By the early 1900s, most Chinese kitchens were equipped with wok ranges.

Stir frying was brought to the US by Chinese immigrants around 1820. In 1945, a cookbook called How to Cook and Eat in Chinese was written by Buwei Yang Chao and introduced the term “stir fry” which is a rough translation of the Chinese term for the technique “ch’ao”. By the 1970s, stir frys were widely popular since they were healthy and quick, allowing families with busy schedules to still have a family dinner.

And that leaves us where we are today. I think stir frying is a method that most people use, especially when trying to get a quick meal on the table. And who isn’t trying for that?

You can use any sort of meat you want, or make it vegetarian. You can use any sort of veggie you want. You can use vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil. You can add any herbs and spices that your heart desires. You can add a sauce or don’t add a sauce. The possibilities are quite endless.

For this stir fry, I used 1 pound of chicken cutlets because they are thin and cook quickly. I used the veggies I had on hand, which were leeks, purple onions, bell peppers (red, orange, and yellow), carrots, collard greens, and broccoli. I would have added zucchini too, but I completely forgot I had one. I also added a lot of garlic. Just try to make sure everything is roughly the same size.


I started with some oil in the pan and let it get hot. I added my carrots first because those take longer to get soft. After a few minutes, I add the rest of the veggies. When they were almost soft, I added the garlic and some salt. Once all the veggies were pretty much cooked, I pushed them up the side of the wok and added a little more oil and the chicken, which I had cut into small pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper. 


Cook until done and then mix the veggies back in. If you are using a skillet instead of a wok and don’t have the space to move the veggies to the side, you can remove them to a plate and add them back in when the chicken is done.

While the chicken is cooking, mix up your sauce. There are probably hundreds of stir fry sauces available, but this is what I just randomly put together and it was yummy:

¼ cup coconut aminos (you can use reduced sodium soy sauce if you’d rather, but the aminos add another layer of healthy ingredients)

A small splash of fish sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

A splash of lime juice

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon or so of cornstarch

Whisk together and when ready, add to the stir fry. Let it come to a boil and it will start to thicken up.

 

Serve over rice, preferably brown rice.

Start to finish, this is a very fast meal. The cooking part is especially quick, so I highly recommend having all the ingredients cut up before you begin.

 

Roasted Veggie and Chicken Quesadillas

Oh my goodness! You guys!! I’ve been so busy. I mean, it’s a good thing to stay productive, but it means I neglect my blog and that makes me sad because creating recipes and meals makes me so happy. And I love sharing my foodie love with all my tens of readers :0)

In the spirit of my busy-ness, I will be sharing some “non-recipes” with you. These are some meals that I’ve thrown together out of necessity but actually turned out really good. They are very versatile so you can you change ingredients, do more or less of some flavors, whatever you like.

Sometimes we don’t have time to sit and measure and read through a recipe. Just get into the pantry and start throwing things together and see what happens. What’s the worst that can come of it? You have to call the pizza guy? Still a winner dinner in my book! We all have lives and things to do and, like the name of my blog says, at the end of the day, we are all just trying to put food on the table.

My first non-recipe recipe is for Roasted Veggie and Chicken Quesadillas. These are great for when you have veggies that you need to use up. Or when you just want something comforting but still has some nutritional value.

Bell peppers, cut into strips (I used half each of a red, orange, yellow, and green)

Zucchini, cut into strips

Garlic, minced

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Cooked, shredded chicken

Lowfat Mexican cheese blend

Ezekiel Tortillas (unless you like these, use something else. I was not a fan.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out your cut up veggies in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix them around so they are all coated. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until soft and fragrant.

Lay out one tortilla. I used Ezekiel brand and I did not really care for them. They have a weird texture and not much flavor. I would just use a regular whole wheat tortilla or a regular tortilla.

Anyway, lay out one tortilla and sprinkle with some cheese. Put a layer of veggies and some chicken. Sprinkle with more cheese on top and add the second tortilla.


Cook the quesadilla in some melted butter in a skillet for just a few minutes per side. You just want the cheese melted and the outside a nice golden brown.

Serve with some avocado and plain Greek Yogurt (I swear you won’t go back to sour cream once you try this much healthier alternative!)

Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Broccoli Sheet Pan Meal

Do you ever wish that you had, like, 5 more hours in the day? Seriously, when I look at our calendar there are times when I think a 29 hour day is something I could totally work with. 

Alas, that is not possible. So, I just have to make the most of the 24 hours that do come in the day. That’s one of the reasons I really like sheet pan meals. You can cook everything all at once and only have to dirty one dish. And if you use parchment paper, even the one dish you use isn’t that tough to clean.

My favorite sheet pan meal is pretty basic, but still has a lot of flavor. You can always change things around too, like the veggies and the seasoning. Even the meat, just be aware of how long it takes to cook different types of meat.

Basic sheet pan chicken and vegetables*

boneless skinless chicken breasts

Broccoli

Red bell pepper, sliced

Olive oil

Garlic salt

Grated Parmesan cheese

*no amounts here. Make however much you need. This is totally an “eyeball it” dinner. I made 2 chicken breasts, but you can always make 3 or 4. I also just filled in the outside with the veggies.

Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet. Add your vegetables and toss with olive oil, garlic salt, and parmesan cheese, to taste. Remember, you can always add more later.

I LOVE this olive oil from Trader Joe’s!

Move the veggies to the side and add your chicken breasts. Coat them in olive oil and garlic salt as well. Top each with a little parmesan cheese.

 

Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes. Then turn on the broiler for 5 minutes to get the top of the chicken nice and golden.

That’s it. Serve it up and enjoy an easy, healthy dinner.

Chicken and Harvest Veggie Skillet 

This time of year always seems to get really hectic. With all the other things going on during the holiday season, easy dinners are high on my priority list. 

Another thing I’m looking for is healthy meals. I’m all about the Christmas treats and yummy special meals, so that makes it all the more important that we eat healthy as often as we can to try to stay on track.

This meal fits both those criteria. It honestly came out of necessity. I needed to clean out my fridge so I just sort of threw a bunch of ingredients in a skillet and crossed my fingers. I’m so glad it worked because this was delicious! My husband requested it immediately be added to our regular rotation!

Chicken & Harvest Veggie Skillet 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed, seasoned with salt and pepper

4 slices of bacon, cut into pieces

1 medium sweet potato, cubes

3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered 

1/2 diced Onion 

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Granny Smith Apples, cores and cubes

2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 cup chicken broth 

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 

1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

In a skillet, brown you chicken in some olive oil until just cooked through. Remove from the skillet to a paper towel-lined plate.

In the same skillet, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove to a lined plate.

To bacon grease, add the onion, garlic, sprouts, and sweet potato and cook until slightly softened.

Add the thyme, salt and pepperto taste, and apple and cook until softened and the rest of the veggies are slightly browned.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the broth evaporate. It will only take a few minutes.


In a small bowl, add the Dijon, vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk until smooth. Note: these are approximate measurements. I eyeballed it and forgot to keep track. 

Add the chicken and bacon back to the skillet. Toss the whole mixture with the Dijon vinaigrette.

Enjoy!!! 

Jerk Chicken (Jamaica)

If you remember, when I initially started this blog, it was for the purpose to explore food cultures from around the world. I think the culture and universality of food is so fascinating! Well, as I would have expected, my “Global Cuisine” project has taken a bit of a back seat to some of my other kitchen creations. That’s OK though. I’m still having so much fun with this blog, that the “Global” posts will just come as I get to them. This is the 19th dish in the Global project (the intial was 80. Like “Around the world in 80 days”) and I have another one in my drafts folder, so that means I’m a quarter of the way through, right?!

Anyway, we eat a lot of chicken in our house and my husband really likes spicy food, so I figured this would be a great option for us. Here is a little bit of info about Jerk: 

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica where meat, usually chicken or pork, is rubbed or marinated with a hot spice mixture called jerk spice. This is usually a combo of all-spice, scotch bonnet peppers, cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, brown sugar, ginger, and salt. There is a slight sweetness to the mix from the sugar and cinnamon, but don’t let that fool you, it is definitely spicy! 

One common theory of how Jerk began goes back to the 1600’s African slaves. When the British invaded Jamaica in 1655, the Spanish colonists fled, leaving behind their African slaves. The Africans did not want to be re-enslaved by the British, so the ran to the mountains and hid out with the indigenous people of the island. So, while the jerk sauce/seasoning does have African roots, because of their new living situation, the recipe had to be manipulated a bit based on the ingredients available to them. The scotch bonnet pepper, for example, was one of the new additions.

The jerk cooking method, which comes from the term jerking which means poking holes in the meat so it absorbs the rub or marinade, could be considered a type of bbq. The meat is generally cooked over a flame or on a grill. It is often served with bread or fried dumplings, but can also be served with vegetables and fried plantains (which I wish I had done because those are really so, so good!). 

Now, I took the lazy-girl way out of this dish. McCormick makes a Caribbean Jerk Spice, already mixed up for you. I bought it, put it on some chicken and let it marinade for a couple hours. Then, since it was raining, took out my Griddler and grilled them up inside.

Looking back on it, it is a bit funny that I bought the Jerk Spice because I have all the ingredients on hand that I would need to make my own jerk spice. Oh well. It was still delicious and very spicy.

  

I grilled up some pineapple as well, which made a deliciously sweet accompaniment to the spicy chicken. Next time I will do the plantains, because just thinking about them makes me want to make some again.
    
 

I’ve never had jerk seasoning before but I really did like it. There is a new restaurant in my town that serves authentic Jamaican food and now I really want to try it. Funny story, though: It is called The Jerk Spot and every time I drive past it, all I can think of is this: