This is certainly a fusion recipe! I am kind of amazed at the flavors that popped out of this recipe. I borrowed inspiration from two of my fave websites: cleaneatingmag.com and epicurious.com. My mom introduced my family to the concept of clean eating awhile ago, and I must admit that the recipes that pour out of Tosca Reno’s wealth of cooking knowledge never disappoint. Some of my favorite recipes come from her visions…and I always walk away from a meal feeling healthy and light. I stumbled upon the other website, Epicurious on my own. My style in many things is to blend, create and try new things, and Epicurious certainly appeals to this!

So here it is, Creole Chicken with Black Quinoa and Rice:

Creole Chicken
Serves: 4
Hands-on time: 8 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
Olive oil cooking spray
2 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry, cut into bite-size pieces
(Chicken can be rubbed with spices: I recommend a blend of cumin and Fiery 5 Pepper)
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh chopped or frozen cut okra (thawed, if frozen)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked black quinoa

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium high. Coat skillet with cooking spray, add chicken and cook for 2 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside on a separate plate.
Return skillet to medium-high and heat 1 tbsp oil (I actually used the flavorful juices from the chicken just cooked instead of oil, tasted great and saved on fat content!). Add onion and pepper and cook for 4 minutes or until beginning to lightly brown, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup water, tomatoes, okra, thyme and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until okra is just tender. Remove from heat, stir in hot sauce, salt, remaining 1 tbsp oil and 1/4 cup parsley. Add chicken, stir to blend, cover and let stand for 5 minutes to absorb flavors and heat chicken thoroughly.

I spent the afternoon chopping up all the ingredients, so that by the time hunger set in, all that was left was to cook everything.

Now, for the unique twist…

Black Quinoa and Brown Rice

(Black quinoa is denser and crunchier than regular quinoa. I recommend soaking the quinoa for 15 minutes in cold water, straining it, and THEN cooking it. Also, unlike a typical quinoa recipe, black quinoa requires a 1.25/1 quinoa to water ratio.)

Ingredients
1 cup black quinoa (or any type of quinoa, the black adds a very earthy and crunchy texture)
1 bay leaf
1 cup brown rice
1/4 tsp salt

Combine quinoa, bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/4 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return quinoa to hot saucepan. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf, fluff quinoa with a fork, and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, bring brown rice and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, 45-50 minutes.

Stir rice and quinoa together, adding 1/4 cup parsley from above Creole Chicken recipe.

When the entire process is finished, serve the Creole Chicken with the quinoa and rice. I started cooking the brown rice first (as it takes the longest), then started the quinoa 10 minutes after. With just 15 minutes remaining on both the rice and the quinoa, I started the chicken and Creole mixture. This ensured that everything was finished at the same time. Might I say, this is one for the books!!

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