Cajun chicken. Hot Cajun spices are contrasted with sweet grapes. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Photo: Linda Gassenheimer
Photo: Linda Gassenheimer

Cajun chicken dish perfect for a chilly day

Hot Cajun spices are contrasted with sweet grapes in this quick chicken dish. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a flavorful alternative to chicken breast. This dish is a breeze using Cajun spice seasoning blends to add zip to the chicken. There are many Cajun spice blends to choose from. They normally include cayenne pepper, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. I like the salt-free ones and add my own salt to the dish.

Warm rice mixed with red kidney beans and green peppers complete the meal. Canola oil and balsamic vinegar is all the dressing the salad needs.

Fred Tasker’s wine suggestion: The spicy heat of this dish calls for a white wine with a hint of sweetness. A chenin blanc could do that.

Helpful Hints:

  • Cajun seasoning blends can be found in the spice section of the supermarket.
  • If boneless, skinless chicken thighs are not available, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
  • A quick way to defrost frozen chopped green bell peppers is to place them in a colander and run hot water over them.

Countdown:

  • Place water for rice on to boil.
  • Prepare ingredients for chicken and rice.
  • Boil rice.
  • Make chicken.
  • Finish rice.

Shopping list:

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for tonight’s Dinner in Minutes.

To buy: 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 1 small bottle salt-free Cajun seasoning, 1 can Vegetable oil spray, 1 bunch red grapes, 1 bunch green grapes, 1 package microwave white rice to make 1 1/2-cups cooked rice, 1 small can low-sodium, small red kidney beans, 1 package frozen chopped green bell pepper and1 small bottle hot pepper sauce

Staples: Canola oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and black peppercorns.

Cajun Chicken

2 tsp. canola oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. water

3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 Tbsp. salt-free Cajun seasoning blend

Vegetable oil spray

Salt

4 oz. mixed red and green grapes, cut in half (about 3/4 cup)

Mix canola oil, balsamic vinegar and water together and set aside. Open chicken thighs flat. This can be done where the bone has been removed. Remove visible fat. Sprinkle Cajun seasoning evenly over both sides of chicken. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with vegetable oil spray. Add chicken and sauté 3 minutes, turn and sauté 3 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 180 degrees. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with salt to taste. Add the oil and vinegar mixture and the grapes. Cook over medium heat, scraping up the brown bits in the skillet 2 minutes or until sauce is warmed through. Serve over chicken.

Yields 2 servings

Per serving: 314 calories (40 percent from fat), 14.1 g fat (2.4 g saturated, 6.5 g monounsaturated), 138 mg cholesterol, 34.7 g protein, 12.2 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g fiber, 147 mg sodium.

Rice and Red Beans

Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

1 package microwave white rice to make 1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 cup canned, low-sodium, small red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup frozen chopped green bell pepper, defrosted

Several drops hot pepper sauce

1 tsp. canola oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Microwave rice according to package instructions. Measure 1 1/2 cups rice and reserve remaining rice for another time. Place in a bowl. Rinse and drain beans and add to the bowl with green bell pepper. Add hot pepper sauce, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.

Yield 2 servings

Per serving: 215 calories (12 percent from fat), 2.8 g fat (0.3 g saturated, 1.5 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 4.8 g protein, 42.2 g carbohydrates, 2.2 g fiber, 17 mg sodium.

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