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  • {Recipe Redux} Quick & Simple Italian-Inspired Rice with Chicken, Basil & Mozzarella

    Monday, March 21, 2016

    Quick Italian Chicken and Rice Skillet
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    There are times in life when excuses are perfectly acceptable.

    “….but it was buy one get one free!”

    “….sorry honey…you have so many toys, I totally thought you’d never play with that beat up old dinosaur.”

    “….sorry I’m two hours late for work. I took a long hot bath and couldn’t get my bra on.”(A former boss delivered this excuse to me and my co-workers (straight-faced). True story!

    Where is there little room for excuses? Not making a healthy dinner, even when you are convinced that pizza is the only way to get a meal on the table with your sanity in-tact.

    Which is why I love this month’s Recipe Redux excuse-killing challenge—a recipe with 7 ingredients or less. I may have treated the “7-ingredient” rule as more of a guideline, since I didn’t count kitchen pantry staples such as olive oil and garlic powder …. so yea, exactly 7 ingredients. If you’re like me and can count wine as a kitchen staple in your house, then we are down to 6-ingredients for this one.

    Quick and healthy Italian Chicken and Rice

    So, confession–there are plenty of times when I walk into my kitchen at dinner time with a feeling of dread and a head full of thoughts about how awesome it would be to just order out from the amazing Vietnamese place around the corner. Sometimes I even give into those thoughts. Can’t you just smell the scallion pancakes and spring rolls?

    mmmmm……noodles. A heaping, steaming, delicious bowl of noodles.

    I mean, come on, it’s just one meal, right?

    One of the classic excuses we make on our way down chubby lane.

    That’s why we all need a repertoire of quick and healthy go-to recipes. You know, the ones that involve just a few ingredients and not more than 20 minutes to whip up? I have several that I fall back on when there just isn’t enough time (or ambition) to go 100% from scratch.

    This recipe is one of my favorites. Made up of almost all convenience foods, including fully-cooked all-natural grilled chicken breasts, precooked frozen (microwaveable) brown rice, fresh mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes and capers. Heck, you don’t even really have to know how to cook to pull this one off!

    One of the best things about this dish is that you could certainly give it a Spanish flair by replacing the basil with cilantro and adding some saffron. Mexican? How about oregano instead of basil, a sprinkle of cumin and chili powder (or maybe a diced jalapeno) and cilantro. Greek? Replace the mozzarella with feta the capers with kalamata olives and the basil with oregano. So much versatility, so little effort!

    So, about a couple of my go-two shortcuts on this. First, frozen microwaveable brown rice from Trader Joes. I always have a pack in the freezer–ready for a quick soup, stir-fry, or side dish. If you don’t have a Trader Joes nearby, there are plenty of cooked rice packets available in most larger grocery stores. The second shortcut is the cooked chicken breast. If you don’t have leftover chicken on-hand, you should be able to find cooked chicken breast in most grocery stores.

    Trust me when I tell you that getting a healthy meal on the table doesn’t have to mean a long list of ingredients or a mind-numbing array of instructions. With little planning ahead by stocking a versatile healthy pantry, you can virtually outsmart any weeknight moment of “let’s just order out”.

    © 2016 Kindred-Kitchen / Nancy Granada

    {Recipe Redux} Quick & Simple Italian-Inspired Rice with Chicken, Basil & Mozzarella

    servings: 2 | time: about 20 minutes

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    3 TBSP. olive oil
    1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
    1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    2 cups cooked brown rice
    8 ounces fully-cooked grilled chicken breast
    3 TBSP. capers
    Small handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
    1 4-ounce fresh mozzarella ball


    1. Heat a medium skilled over medium heat. Add the olive oil

    2. Add the sliced tomatoes, garlic powder and a light sprinkle of salt. Saute for 3 or 4 minutes

    3. Add the wine and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. In the meantime, microwave the rice and chop the chicken in to bite-sized cubes

    4. Add the microwaved rice and cubed chicken to the pan and toss to combine. Heat for a couple of minutes, til the chicken is heated through

    5. Add the capers and torn basil. Toss to combine. Turn the heat off (but leave the pan on the burner)

    6. Tear the mozzarella ball into bite-sized pieces and arrange on top of the rice. Cover and let sit for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted

    Serve with a big (bagged) salad

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    One response to “{Recipe Redux} Quick & Simple Italian-Inspired Rice with Chicken, Basil & Mozzarella”

    1. Serena says:

      A BIG bowl of comfort food! Love the use of capers…they are so yummy but I never think to use them! Great idea to make Mexican or Spanish too!

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