When you’re borderline OCD about scouring food mags and cooking sites, ravenously seeking inspiration before locking in on a tempting meal quest, you can’t help but pick up a few gems along the way. Gradually, I’ve developed some sense of what flavors mingle together best, as well as which shortcuts are handy and which are epic fails (despite anything you read online about rice noodles, you will actually need to soak them for an entire day).
Eventually, with a fair share of satisfying wins to balance those devastating fails, you’ll manage to throw something together with confidence that it will likely result in an enjoyable dining experience. The following foolproof recipe was lovingly concocted by yours truly and based on a couple recently acquired gems that fall under the category of handy shortcuts:
- Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce make a fantastic, no-fuss marinade.
- Lipton, the quintessential iced tea producers, also offer surprisingly tasty boxed rice mixes.
Also: The oven is your friend. (Potholders are, too.) For this quick and savory Mexican casserole, you’ll need:
Chipotle Chicken-and-Rice Bake
- 1 lb. chicken breasts or tenders
- 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (look for in the Latino food section)
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 a small yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 package Knorr/Lipton’s Fiesta Sides (either Mexican or Spanish Rice)
- 4 slices melty cheese, such as provolone, havarti or monterey jack
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Rinse the chicken breasts, cut off excess fat and marinate them in a medium bowl with half the can of the adobo sauce, preferably overnight for a more intense heat, but 30 minutes will do in a pinch. Preheat oven to 400°, and prepare rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil on medium-high heat in a large cooking pan. Cook chicken in the pan with excess marinade and chiles. Add the onion to the pan when chicken is almost done and cook until translucent. Add the halved tomatoes for one or two minutes to warm. When the chicken is slightly
browned and longer pink, remove from heat.
In a greased 9″ x 9″ glass or metal baking dish, spread rice evenly and layer chicken, tomatoes, onions and any remaining juices over rice. Note: IF you used large chicken breasts, slice or chunk them before adding to baking dish.
Top with cheese slices and place in oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Use some handy-dandy potholders to remove from oven. (It just so happens that a wonderful someone recently outfitted me with my first potholders – and completely adorable ones, at that. THANKS TRINA!!) Let cool five to 10 minutes, minding the drool as you impatiently wait to dig in.
Serve and enjoy! We do every time. (Try substituting sliced bell peppers for the tomatoes.) But for real, it’s so easy and delish, this dish is as an easy fall-back. Just keep a can of chipotle chiles and a package of Fiesta Sides on hand, and you’re good to go for a no-brainer meal.
Until next time…