Pure Cocina

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I am super excited to announce the launch of Pure Cocina Salsa! These salsas are the real deal! Organic, preservative free, small batch, and delicious! Getting these babies out there has been quite an experience, but we have officially launched.

Go check out the new page on our site, and find out where you can get it!

These salsas are full of flavor, made from old family recipes with some modern updates, and carry on the tradition of what Mexican salsas should be like. So many product these days have lots of filler, artificial colors or flavorings, but these are pure and simple.

Over the next few weeks I will add on some new recipes that incorporate the salsas, but for now, find some inspiration from our old recipes, and feel free to add them to anything you like!

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Shrimp Tacos go beautifully with any of these salsas, but particularly the tomatillo flavor!

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Chipotle Lime Salmon is super easy to make, but if you are in a bind, buy pre-cooked salmon and add on our chipotle salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime!

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Any fajita night is incomplete without salsa, here you can choose any flavor your like to compliment your meats. Also, a great tip for guacamole: add some of our mild, picante, or tomatillo to your smashed avocado before adding in salt, pepper, and lime juice for a fool proof, absolutely amazing guacamole!

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Finally, chalupas are another great vehicle for our salsas.  Again you can choose your favorite flavor for these, but with steak chalupas I recommend chipotle or picante!

I hope you are all inspired in time for your Memorial Day barbecues! And anyway, the best part about salsa is that it is delicious all on its own! If you’re local, pick up a Pure Cocina salsa today and be ready to find your new favorite!

Buen Provecho!

Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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My husband and I like to eat healthy several times a week, and that doesn’t always mean eating salads.  I think people run out of inspiration when trying to eat healthily, and I totally understand that frustration. Even we get into ruts sometimes with figuring out what we should eat on a daily basis.

I am a big fan of looking at other food bloggers sites and getting ideas from them.  There are so many amazing and creative food bloggers out there, its impossible not to be inspired by others. What is amazing about food is that everyone has unique tastes.  Each blogger has a unique voice because they all come from different places.

Cookbooks are also great inspiration. I have so many from different types of restaurants. One of my favorites is from our favorite Mexican restaurant back home in Texas.  I even have a cookbook from French Laundry in Napa, and those recipes are really special. Anyway, the point is, influence can come from anywhere, and if we keep our eyes and ears open to it, you won’t find yourself stuck in a cooking rut for long!

These stuffed peppers, were so tasty, with a Mexican spice flare, and were really satisfying. You are welcome to add cheese on at the end for some extra flavor, but we loved them without it!

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What you need:

  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 yellow and red bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a large pan heat about a tbsp of oil on medium high heat.

Add in your diced onion and green bell pepper and season with salt and pepper.

Cook for about 7 minutes until translucent, and add in your minced garlic and 1 min later the ground turkey.

Season your turkey with all of your spices, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Once your turkey meat is cooked through, add in your quinoa, beans, and corn.

Mix together, and cook for a further 5min or so until the whole mixture is warm.

Stuff your peppers with the mixture, and any excess meat can be served on the side.

Cover your peppers with foil and cook for about 30min.

If you are adding cheese, remove 5 minutes before, add cheese on top, and return to oven for 5 minutes for cheese to melt.

These are great to make ahead and re-heat throughout the week 1 at a time for lunch or dinner.

Enjoy!

 

Feliz Cinco De Mayo

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Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Now many of you may or may not know, but Cinco de Mayo is not a widely celebrated holiday in Mexico.  However, it has become a large holiday in the US for people to celebrate Mexican culture and drink lots of tequila! So today I am going to take a look back at some our favorite Mexican recipes from the past year.

Tonight I will be attending a charity gala for Sound Waters organization in Stamford, CT, so instead of throwing my own fiesta, I will be celebrating with friends for a good cause.

Obviously we love and eat a lot of Mexican food in our house, so below are just a few of our favorites. This summer I will add in some Enchiladas both verdes and with red sauce and lots of other yummy things, but for now these are all very easy dinners to throw together for any celebrations tonight or through the weekend!

Our go to for Mexican food night with ease is simple tacos.  We have fajitas, fish, shrimp, you name it. The best part about tacos is that the only piece you need to cook are the meat or veggies you are putting inside. If you serve with beans or slaw or guacamole, those are easy things you can throw together or reheat. One of my favorite tacos this year was the shrimp tacos with red cabbage slaw, guacamole and black beans.

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These wen’t down very well, and the recipe could be used on fish or chicken as easily as it was with shrimp.  Now with a dinner that tasty, you need to wash it down with an equally delicious cocktail.  My crowd favorite this year was the ginger jalapeño margarita I made for several parties we hosted. It is spicy, sweet, and just the right amount of strong!

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Another great recipe that would really impress your guests, but is actually so easy, is the shrimp and chorizo chile relleno. Stuffed peppers make for such a beautiful presentation for your guests and are a great way to portion out the perfect dish for your family. These are so packed with flavor, and if you are lucky enough to have any leftover, make the perfect lunch the next day!

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Now if you live in the North East, you might be experiencing rain like us today! It is truly a terrible weather day, and sadly it is meant to rain ALL DAY! This does not need to hinder your celebrations and instead of making summery fish or shrimp tacos, you can try out this salsa verde chicken chili! It is a great new way to make chili, and it will warm you up from the inside out on this dreary day.

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And finally, for the morning after celebrations, many of you will need a good hearty breakfast to absorb the alcohol and fill up your stomach after a rough night. Enter chilaquiles! This is one of the most delicious breakfasts, and everything about it is satisfying. You get a little crunch from your chips, some spice from the salsa, and the healing power of eggs after a big night out.  You cannot go wrong with this one!

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Celebrate responsibly friends, but to honor Mexican culture, make sure you have a great time! I will make sure to toast all of you this evening with a good strong margarita and some dancing to mariachis!

Olé!

Pad Thai

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Last week was an incredibly eventful and wonderful week.  As we get closer and closer into summer, I have to admit I am getting busier and busier! I have 4 parties for clients coming up, and an event with a charity I have been helping organize. It has all been a lot of fun to plan and be a part of, but time really is flying by!

We had a really nice weekend with friends: getting to know new friends and spending time with some older friends. Sunday was a beautiful day as well and we took Kuda pup for a 2 hour walk in the woods.  She swam in the river and played with her friends.  She was completely exhausted last night, and only got up to eat dinner and go out before bed.  A tired pup is a happy one, I can tell you that!

Anyway, the blog has been a little neglected because of how busy I have been, but I did manage to cook a few things over the weekend to build up some photos and recipes to post in the upcoming week. I made a really delicious, but quite involved Pad Thai last week, and it was SO GOOD.  I am sharing the recipe with you today, but know this recipe does take about an hour to assemble and cook. Next time I am going to sub in half zucchini noodles for the pad thai noodles and make this dish a little healthier.

We love Thai food and often with take out it can be quite heavy.  Thankfully this wasn’t heavy or greasy at all, so with the added zucchini noodles next time, it is going to be even better for you!

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What you need:

  • 8oz dried pad Thai noodles
  • 1lb whole shrimp (with heads on if you can get them)
  • 3 tbsp oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • white pepper, to taste
  • ½ block of extra firm tofu, cut into thin rectangles
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups Chinese garlic chives cut in inch long pieces
  • 3 medium eggs, (preferably at room temperature)
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts washed and drained
  • 1-2 tbsp Asian chili sauce (optional)
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed (optional)
  • a handful of cilantro leaves (optional)

Soak the pad thai noodles in warm water for about 20 minutes, and drain. If the noodles are in really long strands, cut them into 10- to 12-inch lengths.

Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp and collect them into a bowl. Wash and devein the shrimp and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your wok over high heat until just smoking. Add the shrimp heads and shells.

Stir-fry until all of the shells are bright orange, and add ⅔ cup water. When liquid comes to a boil, press the shrimp heads with your spoon to bring out the flavor and color.

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Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from heat. Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl and discard the heads and shells.

Add sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and white pepper to the stock and mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your wok over high heat and cook your shrimp for about 2-3min.

Remove them from the pan and set aside.

Set the wok to medium high heat and cook the firm tofu in the wok in one layer, and sear on both sides until slightly browned (about 1 to 2 minutes). Next, add the shallots, garlic, and chives. Turn up the heat to high.

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Add the noodles and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until all the ingredients are combined. Pour the tamarind-shrimp sauce mixture over the noodles, and stir fry for another minute or so.

Push the noodles to one side of the wok to make way for the eggs.

Crack the three eggs in, using your spoon to lightly beat them in the wok. Fold the eggs gently without completely scrambling them, and when they’re about 60% done, fold the noodles over the eggs.

Lastly, add the bean sprouts. Stir fry everything at high heat until the bean sprouts are just cooked.

Toss in the cooked shrimp, chili sauce, and soy sauce, and serve the Shrimp Pad Thai with crushed peanuts and cilantro on top, if using.

This Pad Thai was so delicious, James had about 3 bowls of it!

Sunday Barbecue

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Sundays are always a bittersweet day. Especially when you get gorgeous Spring days like we did yesterday.  Sundays always mean the weekend is almost over, but sometimes, a Sunday afternoon can feel like it goes on forever. We had our first true day of Spring yesterday, almost 70F outside, crystal clear skies, and our first bbq of the season!

Sundays are a day for family, and since right now our little family is just James and I and Kuda girl, we like to spend Sunday afternoons with our extended “family” – our friends. I am always a social person, but when the weather is nice, I love having people over for bbq and good times. Yesterday, we invited a few of our favorite people in CT and had a great classic backyard barbecue!

I made barbecue ribs, chicken, and sausage, charro beans, a salad, and some grilled peppers. It was so filling, but with two light veggie side options, we didn’t need to feel too guilty.  I also made a really yummy berry cobbler for dessert with vanilla ice cream, but I will share that recipe with you tomorrow. For now, I am just going to share with you my special rib recipe! Don’t forget I am a native Texan, so this is a big deal!!!

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What you need:

  • Two racks of baby back ribs
  • 1 full flavor beer
  • 1/3 cup bbq dry rub (I used Salt Lick, but a homemade recipe is below)
  • 1/3 cup of good bbq sauce

Heat your oven to 200F.

Rub your dry rub all over the ribs and let sit for a few minutes.

Pour beer into the dish holding the ribs and cover with foil.

Cook ribs in the low heat oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove ribs from the oven and brush with your bbq sauce.

Finish on a medium high grill for about 4 min per side.  You should get a good char on the outside, and your ribs will fall off of the bone!

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Serve with some extra barbecue sauce on the side, and make sure you get your hands good and dirty!

I used the same rub and bbq sauce on the chicken thighs as well, and just used a simple kielbasa sausage grilled for a little more variety.

Home Made Dry Rub:

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Mix it all together and rub all over any meat you want to bbq!

Asian Style Beef Short Ribs

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I realized this week that I posted an instagram story about Asian style short ribs in the slow cooker, but didn’t actually share the recipe!  That was silly of me!  As I have already mentioned life at Casa Burke is a little busy at the moment, but all good things.

James was traveling this week so I didn’t cook as much.  I cook for clients and myself, often 2-3 times per day, so when my hubby goes away, I lazily order in food.  Usually Greek or Sushi.

I made these delicious short ribs for us last week on a rainy day. Connecticut is really taking April showers seriously and we have had rain for 5 days out of 7 days of the month so far! Thankfully the temperature is increasing a bit, but the gloomy weather calls for lots of slow cooker type meals.

These ribs literally fell off the bone and were so tender and full of flavor.  The best part about them is that it takes about 15min of prep, and you just leave them in the slow cooker all day!

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 5 lbs bone-in beef short ribs
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

In a bowl mix together your soy sauce, broth, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes until a homogenous mixture.

Using a good sized slow cooker, place your short ribs into the pot and pour the liquid over.  If the ribs are too long, feel free to cut them up a bit to fit into the pot.

Cover and cook on low heat 7-8 hours or high heat 3-4 hours.  I recommend using low heat as the short ribs come out even more tender.

After the 7-8 hours, mix together 2 tbsp of corn starch and 1/4 cup of water, and then add the mixture to the crockpot.

Stir in the corn starch, and cook for a further 30min on high or until the sauce has thickened.

Serve with veggies or rice or quinoa and enjoy!

 

 

 

Shrimp Tacos

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Yesterday was taco Tuesday, most everyone’s favorite night of the week! I love making seafood tacos because they feel a little better for you than using beef or chicken. We recently had the most delicious fried oyster tacos, and I will work on reproducing those this summer!

It’s another really beautiful day here in CT, but man a cold front blew in and the wind is chilly! After today we will be making a slow ascension to more Spring like temperatures, but for some reason the warm weather just won’t stick! We had a really mild winter, but it does seem to be dragging on a bit… And to rub salt in the wound, down in TX, where my family is, it is in the mid 80s! So unfair!

Back to tacos!  The other fun part about taco night is that it is a very easy and fast dinner to get on the table.  Shrimp only take a few min to cook, and the guac and red cabbage slaw take only a few minutes as well.  I cheated on the beans this week and used canned black beans drained and rinsed, so all the more, this dinner was VERY fast to get on the table.

They key to this recipe was the marinade!

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What you need:

  • 1-2lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 guajillo chile (dried and ground up/broken apart – seeds and all)
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix together all of your ingredients except the shrimp.

Rinse the shrimp and pat dry before you put them in the marinade.

Add the shrimp and let sit for about 30min – 1 hour.  You don’t need to leave seafood to marinade as long as meat, it can over power the flavor.

In the meantime, heat your grill or grill pan to medium heat.

I used kabob sticks as they make it easier to cook this many shrimp at once, but that is up to you.

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Put your shrimp on the kabob sticks (if using bamboo, make sure to soak in water for at least 30min before using to avoid fire).

Cook shrimp for about 2-3min per side until cooked through.

Remove from the kabobs, and serve with tortillas, guacamole, salad, or whatever other sides you might like.

Buen Provecho!

 

Chipotle Lime Salmon

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We try to eat fish about twice a week because we love it and because its good for you.  We like salmon, but it isn’t our favorite type of fish.  I usually use white fish like cod, haddock, pollock, hake, or others.  We also like to make seared tuna sometimes to switch things up, but every now and again salmon just sounds good!

Last night James flew to the UK for a stag weekend.  James absolutely refuses to miss out on fun, so even though he has a lot going on with work, he always makes time to see his friends and participate in a good stag weekend! For those that don’t know, a stag weekend is the UK version of a bachelor party.  It’s bigger, longer, and crazier than a traditional American bachelor weekend!

Anyway, his flight was not until 9:30pm, so he made time to come home and eat dinner with me before heading to the airport. For those of you that have taken any red-eye flights, you will know that eating a heavy meal before getting on a plane is really unpleasant! So I thought making fish would be a good, light option.  Plus James is about to have, or given the time difference, is in the process of having a rather unhealthy weekend, so a light meal was doubly beneficial!

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What you need:

  • 1-2 lbs of salmon filets
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo (depending on the amount of heat you want)
  • 2-4 tsp adobo sauce (see above)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

Pat your salmon dry and season with salt and pepper.

In a blender or food processor mix together your lime juice, half of the zest, olive oil, cumin, chipotles and sauce, cumin, and the grated garlic clove. Blend until mostly smooth.

Place your salmon on a baking sheet and cover it with the chipotle sauce.

Cook for 10-12min and remove from the oven.

Use the second half of the zest to garnish your fish for a prettier presentation 🙂

I served ours with half an avocado, charro beans, and some warmed corn tortillas, but you could do this with roasted veggies, rice, or anything else you might like!

This recipe is so easy, and packed with flavor; I highly recommend it for your next Mexican night!

Buen Provecho!

 

 

Sausage Marinara

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Well we are back from our glorious vacation in Hawaii, and majorly back to reality.  We were away for about 9 days, and it was so nice to get away to somewhere warm and not stress about anything for a few days.  Don’t get me wrong, we are very blessed people, but we do have things come up from time to time.  Since being home, I have not stopped moving: running errands, doing laundry, networking, going to meetings, and James has become insanely busy with work.

He has worked late every night so far this week, and today we have already gotten about 8 inches of snow and are expected to get up to another 5.  So as busy as he is, he is working from home, which is inevitably a bit more inefficient, but lucky for me as I get to distract him every so often.

Given the winter storm Niko, yesterday I made sure to run out and get plenty of food and snacks to get through today and potentially tomorrow.  Lots of fresh fruit, and yummy dinner and lunch options.  When I know I have James home, he is usually my guinea pig! Thankfully he will eat anything, so I do recipe testing usually on weekends and he gives me his honest opinions. This recipe was one of my experiments, and James really enjoyed it! I’ve got a few more tests up my sleeve for our snow day and weekend, and will share those recipes as I perfect them.

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What you need:

  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1lb hot Italian sausage, removed from the casing
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup basil plus 1 tbsp, chiffonade
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan, warm about a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.

Add in your minced onion and cook until translucent, about 8 min.

Once your onion is cooked, add in your minced garlic and cook for about a minute.

Then add in your sausage removed from the casing and cook until browned and cooked through, about 10min.

If your sausage is really oily, drain out some of the oil before adding in the red wine so that your sauce isn’t too greasy. Once you add in the wine, cook down for about 5 min.

Add in your crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of chiffonade basil. Save the extra tbsp for garnish at the end. Season with sugar, salt and pepper. Chef’s tip: the sugar cuts the acidity of the tomato, and you only need a small amount to round out the flavor of your sauce.

Lower the temperature and partially cover the sauce.  Let simmer for at least 30min, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, boil a pot of salted water and cook your pasta according to the package instructions .

Once its done, you can either add your pasta to the sauce for the final minute of cooking, or you can cook it longer in the water and top with sauce at the end. I prefer to toss the pasta in the sauce for the final minute, but its up to you.

Top with your fresh basil, and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.

The beauty of this dish is that you don’t need too many ingredients, and because the sausage already has so much flavor, the sauce has this wonderful smokey, spicy flavor to it.

This is the perfect cold winter night pasta dish, and I highly recommend it!

 

Arroz con Pollo

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On cold wintery nights, sometimes you just want a little comfort food.  One of my favorite things growing up was arroz con pollo, which literally means chicken with rice. It is hearty and so full of flavor. This doesn’t fall into the super healthy dinner options, but its not that bad!

I had a sour stomach the other day, and I was attempting to heed the “B.R.A.T.” diet (Bananas, Rice, Apple Sauce, and Toast). Now being a private chef, eating just plain boiled rice is definitely NOT an option – give me some flavor please! Plus eating only the B.R.A.T. ingredients, you don’t get any protein and are thus hungry. Enter a childhood favorite: Arroz con Pollo.  It is predominantly rice based, but it does have chicken as well and some very nice flavor.

This was James first time to have it, and he enjoyed it a lot. It is kind of a Mexican version of a risotto or paella – what is not to love?

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What you need:

  • 1 1/2 lb chicken thighs (boneless/skinless)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced in strips
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced in strips
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced in strips
  • 1 small can tomato sauce + 1 can of water
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups of long grain rice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt +more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper +more to taste

In a large dutch oven, warm about a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium/high heat.

Chop your chicken thighs into 1″ cubes and season with salt and pepper.

Cook in the dutch oven until about halfway done, 5 min or so, and add in your onion and bell pepper.

Cook a further 7-8min until onion is translucent and the chicken is cooked through.

Add in your rice and diced tomato and cook without any liquid for about 3-4min to get the raw flavor out of the rice.

Add in your garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Add in the tomato sauce, water, and stock, and season with salt and pepper and stir around.

Once liquid starts to boil, cover the pot and reduce heat to low.  Cook for about 25min, but double check the rice package for timing instructions.

When you are done the onion and bell pepper float to the top, you can either leave them in or pick some of them out to keep the flavor but not bite into large pieces of onion and pepper.

Finally enjoy! This is an easy one to prepare for a lot of people and please a crowd!