Tex-Mex Quinoa with Cheese Nip Chicken

photo (5)Not enough time to cook up a decent sauerbraten? No hot dogs sitting in the back of the fridge? Are there two people in the room looking at you, the food writer, expecting a culinary miracle – in under an hour? What? They’re vegetarians? And,,,when does Duck Dynasty start tonight?

Yep. I was suddenly in my own version of Food Network’s Chopped.

Let’s see. What do I have?

Chicken breasts, quinoa, half a bag of frozen corn, Cheese Nips, leftover black beans, and fresh broccoli.

Oh, this will be easy. Do you see it yet?

First off – preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Now, let’s deal with the chicken. Take the Cheese Nips and put a few handfuls in a zip lock bag. Close the bag, seal it up (trying to keep as much air out as possible) and pulverize the Nips using a heavy rolling pin.

Take your chicken and soak the breasts in a little milk, then put them in the zip lock bag and shake. You now have Cheese Nip coated chicken! Put the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and put in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes then check the temperature with a thermometer. You want at least 165 degrees in the thickest part. No thermometer? Stick the thickest part with a knife and see if the juices running out are clear. If not, put everything back in the oven until they do.

The quinoa – this has many options. I chose to go Tex-Mex. In a medium stock pot, put in 1 cup of quinoa, 2 cups of vegetable broth, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a little salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the broth is absorbed. When done, fluff a little with a fork and then add the frozen corn and leftover black beans. Cover and let sit for about ten minutes. Stir once more, just before you serve.

What can be better than plain old, unadulterated broccoli?  Stir fry the florets in a little olive oil. That’s all you have to do.

Put it all together and you have a great meal. My two vegetarians loved it (sans the chicken, of course) and I loved everything plus the Cheese Nip-flavored baked chicken.

No, it is not a hors d’ oeuvres of smoked salmon on crustini, garnished with basil cream cheese and capers.

But it was easy to make, didn’t take too long, and it tasted great.

Now, back to the mystery novel. I still have about six more recipes to write before Duck Dynasty starts.

Anyone want to be a taste tester?



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