I stared longingly at my kitchen and pantry. Hoping that by some magic food would miraculously appear. How can I have so much food and yet nothing to make a meal with? I thought. My mind went through a list of things that I had the “ingredients” for, only to realise that I did not in fact have the ingredients for. What I was missing in each case was fresh produce. I mean, what is chili without the freshly chopped and sauteed onions and green peppers? What was stir fry (even with dark mushroom soy sauce) without the vegetables? What was chicken stew without the potatoes and onions? Besides, I thought as I put yet another set of ingredients away, all of those things make meals for 6+ people. I just have to feed myself.
I don’t know how many times this happens to you, but it happens all the time with me. Sometimes you just want a recipe made from “pantry” ingredients that is delicious and satisfying. One can only have a meal of popcorn so many times (though it is a whole grain!). I scrounged through recipes trying to find ones that I could adapt. I stumbled across one in the deep dark recessed of my OneNote “Chicken/Skillet” Folder, that wasn’t quite right, but gave me inspiration. Spicy Skillet Chicken from the Betty Crocker website, was one I stumbled across about 3 years ago when I had a roommate who loved Mexican. I don’t, so I never actually used it. The original recipe is designed to feed four people, and well, my adaptation is both very similar and very different.
The measurements are rough, rough estimates because I just tossed everything together in a hungered craze. A moment of clarity made me think to grab my camera before I chowed down. What I like about the recipe though is it includes things I almost always have on hand: rice, frozen chicken, salsa, and frozen corn.
SKILLET SALSA CHICKEN
- 1/3 cup of rice
- 3/4 cup of water
- 1 frozen boneless skinless chicken tenderloin
- 1/3 cup of cornstarch
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- dash of cumin
- generous dash of cajun seasoning
- oil for cooking
- 3/4 – 1 cup salsa
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup frozen corn
- Add rice and water in a small pot. Bring to boil over medium/high heat. Cover and reduce to a simmer. This can/should be cooking while you are making the chicken, however keep an eye on it.
- Defrost chicken in microwave until is is thawed enough to work with. Cut into half inch slices/cubes. I personally hate working with raw chicken, so I often defrost it enough to be a still partially frozen on the inside. Soft yet firm enough to easily cut.
- Mix cornstarch and seasoning.
- Coat pieces of chicken in cornstarch mixture.
- Pour oil in a small skillet: enough to coat the skillet generously. Heat over medium high heat.
- Add coated chicken pieces to the oil. Cook until browned then turn and finish cooking on the other side. You may need to reduce heat to prevent burning. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink inside and the coating is somewhat crispy.
- Drain excess oil. Add salsa and frozen corn. Cook over medium heat until the corn is heated through and the salsa is bubbling.
- Hopefully you’ve kept an eye on the rice and it is done and not burned. Put rice in a bowl/plate and pour chicken over top. Enjoy!
A variation or addition, would be to add about 1/4 cup (or more) of black beans when you add the corn and salsa. I didn’t do that because I didn’t want to open a can of beans and probably have to throw out what I didn’t use (let’s be honest, my job feeds me Monday through Friday, I won’t use the rest of the can).