Cilantro Citrus Chicken and Rice

Last weekend I went through my cookbook and made a list of recipes to make this month, with an accompanying list of ingredients that became my shopping list. When I make lunch each day, I remind myself to get meat out of the freezer to thaw for dinner at the same time. After picking which meat I’m in the mood for, choosing from a handful of recipes makes dinner less overwhelming. Planning makes dinner prep much easier, and leads to much more cohesive meals, like this one: Cilantro Citrus Chicken with Cilantro Citrus Rice and Spicy Chili Cooked Carrots.

Cilantro Citrus Chicken with Cilantro Citrus Rice and Spicy Chili Carrots

Today I chose chicken, and my fiance chose Cilantro Citrus Chicken from the list of chicken recipes. I originally clipped this recipe from Cooking Light, and it called for 12 8-oz bone-in chicken breasts. I cut the rest of the recipe in half for nearly 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts, and it ended up being nearly perfect. I’d say these amounts I used are spot-on for about a pound of chicken.

Cilantro Citrus Chicken Recipe

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb chicken
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

The original recipe calls for the first 7 ingredients to be mixed in a food processor before adding with the chicken to marinade for an hour. I just add the ingredients straight into a marinading dish with the chicken, adding a few tablespoons of pineapple juice I had on hand and subbing fresh parsley for dried because that’s what I had. I’d say that blending in a processor is optional.

At this point, I notice a similar recipe on the opposite page in my cookbook, a recipe for Swanson Citrus Chicken & Rice. I decided to incorporate this rice recipe, featuring similar flavors, to serve with my Cilantro Citrus Chicken.

So, after about 45 minutes of marinating the chicken, I began preparing the liquid for the rice. (Keep reading for the rest of the chicken recipe!)

Swanson Citrus Rice

  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz)(1 3/4 cups) Swanson chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

For once in my life, I didn’t have any chicken broth on hand (sorry, Swanson). So after adding 1/2 cup orange juice, I filled a 1-cup measure with the rest of the OJ (a few tablespoons), plus the rest of the pineapple juice (a few tablespoons), a few drops of lime juice, and about half a cup of white wine to fill the remainder of the cup. To this I added 3/4 cup of water (so this creative concoction equaled the 1 3/4 cups broth originally called for).

Bring this to a boil, then add one cup of white rice. Reduce heat to simmering, cover, and stir often while cooking for about 18-20 minutes. I add about 3 Tbsp of fresh cilantro instead of parsley to the cooked rice, mimicking the flavors of the chicken to make Cilantro Citrus Rice.

At the same time I start the rice, I heat olive oil in two separate skillets – one for the chicken and one for my mom’s Spicy Chili Cooked Carrots. This one is simple: a few small handfuls of organic baby carrots, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet (makes just enough for 2 servings). Cover and cook a few minutes on med-high until they start sizzling. Add a pad of butter then sprinkle generously with chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic and black pepper. Cover and cook till soft.

Meanwhile, add the salt, cumin and pepper to the chicken. The original recipe called for grilling, but it is January in Cleveland after all, so I pan-fry instead. Add the chicken and some juice to the heated, oiled pan, and cook till browned outside and no longer pink inside. The juices from the marinade brown into a nice sauce, so this alternative to grilling works well.

We both really liked this meal of Cilantro Citrus Chicken with Cilantro Citrus Rice and Spicy Chili Carrots. We’ll definitely make it again! 

Butternut Squash, Shrimp, Shallot & Shredded Carrot Soup

It started with a can of Amy’s Organic Butternut Squash Soup.

amys organic butternut squash soup
This creamy, squashy soup inspired a few additions for a little pizzazz, so while it warmed on the stove top, I thawed a dozen frozen cooked shrimp in the sink, then sauteed them in olive oil, adding a couple teaspoons of chopped shallots (about 1/4 of a whole shallot). As these sauteed, I sprinkled with Pampered Chef Red Thai Curry Rub, tumeric, salt and pepper.

I tossed the shrimp and shallots into the soup while it cooked, then peeled one organic carrot into the pot.
Within a few minutes, voila, Butternut Squash, Shrimp, Shallot & Shredded Carrot Soup.

Butternut Squash, Shrimp, Shallot & Shredded Carrot Soup Recipe

This butternut squash shrimp soup cried for some crusty bread to dip, so I made the quickest, laziest substitute for garlic bread ever: One hot dog bun, opened up, slathered with butter, sprinkled with garlic salt and shredded cheese, and popped into a toaster oven until the cheese melted and the bread crusted. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Shortcut Meat & Potatoes: Maximum Meal with Minimal Effort

Chicken noodle soup is for sissies. I maintain that there are much more appealing dishes to make when you’re sick. And no, not all meat and potatoes require full health and energy to prepare.

I had the onset of a migraine this afternoon – enough to wipe me out but not knock me out for the evening. So we prepared a full meal with minimal effort: garlic mashed potatoes, sweet n’ spicy steamed carrots, and grilled pork chops.

Wanna hear my secrets? Of course, it certainly helps having a boyfriend who knows his way around the kitchen as well as — if not better than — I do. But I’m not letting him have credit for this whole meal. So on to the secrets:

1. Instant mashed potatoes have come a loooong way. When I was growing up, the life cycle of a potato started in the garden. After grandpa popped them out of the dirt, I’d watch my mom wash, boil, and mash them manually. At no point did the potato pass through a phase as a box of flakes. If it could grow in the garden or graze in the pasture, it shouldn’t come in a box to end up on your dinner table.

It’s not that I’ve necessarily changed my mind about this conviction. You’ll still never find me picking up hamburger in a grocery store freezer when I can get it straight from the butcher. I wanna know what that cow ate for dinner before I eat him.

I will say, though, that instant mashed potatoes are a shortcut worth taking,whether you’re sick or just lazy. This time, I mixed in a few shakes of Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic. But I’ve also been known to add cream cheese (flavored, like sour cream and onion) to instant mashed potatoes for some extra creaminess.

2. Steamed carrots, or any veggie, are the easiest route to healthy side dishes – yes, easier than anything you’ll buy in a kit. Carrots, peppers, onions, celery: chop them up ahead of time and store in baggies in the fridge for quick snacks or to save you prep time at dinner — which is especially appreciated when you develop a migraine halfway through the day. Throw them in a skillet with melted butter and a little water, cover and let the steam soften them. We added some honey and cinnamon at the end for extra spice.

3. If George Foreman had never wrestled a man in his life, I’d wager his grill invention would have made him just as famous anyway, because this thing is a godsend. I can’t tell you how many nights it has offered a welcome solution when I didn’t want to heat up my tiny attic kitchen by turning on the oven or even the stove top.

Shake a little salt, pepper, and garlic over thawed pork chops, toss them on the Foreman and they’re juicy and done in minutes. Topped off with a little sweet chili sauce we overstocked from McDonalds, and the flavor is complete.

There you are, a maximum meal with minimal effort and even a slight handicap. Bon appetit.