Chicken Fajita and Rice Bake

Clearly, I’ve been in a mood for Mexican this week. I think that’s a constant state of being for me. I love the spices, plus cooking everything in one pot or pan certainly makes life easy.

My Dad was not a fan of one-pot dishes. For some reason he always referred to it as “Ladies’ Luncheon food.” Not sure why, as he loved Arroz con Pollo (I need to do that one soon). But overall, he was not one to make these kinds of dishes. So when he was traveling for work (IBM for 25 years), Mom would make things like this and I was always excited for them. Maybe it was because my veggies had lots more flavor, or maybe I thought I ended up with more starch to protein ratio? Who knows. But when I’m cooking, throwing one pan into the oven, or using the slow cooker is certainly easy after a long day of work.

This recipe spoke to me for many reasons, mostly because it gave me what I love – Mexican-type flavors in the form of fajitas, without the filling tortillas. Plus, I could do it with healthier brown Jasmine rice and not feel so guilty. So if making brown rice, follow the package instructions for the proper ratio of liquid to rice before trying.

15732433_10154780241917978_5164804981003318097_oAdapted from Tasty.com
Yields 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 Tbls chili powder
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper, cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbls salt, Kosher
1 tsp pepper, black, ground
1/2 Large onion, white sliced
1 Large bell pepper, green sliced
1 Large bell pepper, yellow sliced
1 Large bell pepper, red sliced
2 Tbls oil, olive
1 Cup rice, long grain white (I prefer Jasmine)
2 Cups broth, chicken
1 3/4 Pound chicken tenders, boneless, skinless

Optional Ingredients:
1 Medium tomato, beefsteak chopped
1 Small lime cut in wedges
1 to taste cilantro picked leaves
1/2 Cup cheese, Mexican blend shredded
1/2 cup sour cream

Tools Needed:
Pyrex Basics 3 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish

Tutorials:
First, let’s slice the bell peppers and the onions and remove the tendon ends from the chicken.

Bell peppers:

Slice the end off the bell pepper. Now it will sit flat on  your cutting board.
pepper_1

Slice downwards toward the cutting board and slice off the first side.
pepper_2

Turn a quarter turn clockwise and slice off the 2nd side. Notice you are leaving behind the center and ribs of the pepper?
pepper_3

Turn a quarter turn again and slice off the 3rd side. The last one is the hardest one…
pepper_4

Carefully, while holding the top of the pepper, slice off the 4th side.
pepper_5

Remaining in your hand is the top of the pepper (with the stem) and the guts of the pepper. Now you can easily slice your pepper. There is a bit more waste this way, but you are less likely to slice off a finger.

Now slice your pieces into thin strips – in this case 1/4-inch strips maximum. Finish by slicing the bottom of the pepper the same way.
pepper_6

Now you have a beautiful pile of pepper strips.
pepper_7

As for the onion, start by cutting in the onion in half and peeling away the dry outer layer. Now you have a safe flat surface to anchor the onion.
onion_step1

Slice downward town the cutting board – again in 1/4-in slices, until you reach close to the root end. Separate the rings.
onionslice_step2.JPG

As for tenders, there is this gnarly tendon running thru them. You can’t miss it, it’s white. My Mom would have you pull it all the way out, but really that isn’t necessary. But the top end is very chewy and not pleasant to eat. Make sure you cut off the top end very close to the chicken meat for each tender.
chicken_cutofftendon.JPG

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, combine spices to make fajita seasoning (chili powder through black pepper).
spices

In a large bowl, combine, onion, bell peppers, and chicken. Add oil and seasoning mix; toss until seasoning is fully incorporated.
veggies_spiced.JPG

In a casserole dish, add rice and chicken broth. Stir well.

rice_step2.JPG

Then lay down all veggies and chicken.
allinpan.JPG

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 50 to 55 minutes until rice is fully cooked.
allbaked.JPG

Serve with tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, and cheese, if desired.

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