My Healthy Plate; Shrimp Bowl

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Makes four servings

One can yellow corn

One can or one cup frozen peas

One bell pepper

One onion (or two cups of a frozen bell pepper and onion mix)

Four servings of shrimp

Four servings of rice

Four servings of beans

Cook the rice in your preferred method. This is one of the only times you’ll see me do this, but I cook the rice plain, without any seasonings, for this recipe. The other elements of this dish have enough flavor that the rice doesn’t really need anything.

Cook the beans in your preferred method. I like to boil them with bell pepper and onion, and I’ve come to prefer cooking a big batch of dry beans and freezing some. Doing this lets me take advantage of the price decrease of dry beans versus canned, and also gives me the convenience of having prepared beans on standby.

Defrost, if needed, your shrimp. Peel and de-tail, if needed. Sprinkle with one packet of Sazon and set in the fridge to marinate, at least 30 minutes but preferably longer.

Chop bell pepper and onion. I like a pretty rough chop for this recipe, as it gives a better bite, but you can cut them as small as you like. 

Saute in hot cooking oil. Add salt and pepper, and your preferred seasonings. I like chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and oregano. 

When the onion starts to go translucent, add about half a cup of water, the peas, and the corn, and cover. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, then remove lid. If pepper and onion are tender, remove from the heat. If not tender, add a little more water and continue to simmer until tender.

Saute the shrimp in a little cooking oil. Sometimes I cook them in the remaining seasonings from the pepper and onions, it depends on . Cook the shrimp, stirring frequently, until done. 

Assemble everything, sprinkle with cheese, and enjoy!

Remember when I said last week, that rice and beans are a great staple to keep in your pantry and build meals around? Well this week’s recipe has the same building blocks of beans and rice, and is a great option if you, like me, made a big batch of beans and now need ways to cook them.

I first made this meal a couple of months ago, and it has since become one of my favorites. Something about this exact combination of vegetables and spices just makes me really happy. And it’s a really colorful meal, too, so it’s visually appealing. 

Shrimp makes a great freezer staple, if you’re trying eat more healthy. It is super high in protein, as I’ve found most fish is. I have started keeping a bag of frozen shrimp or fish in my freezer at all times. It’s also great to have as a quick meal option, since both fish and shrimp defrost relatively quickly.

I haven’t experimented with variations to this recipe yet, but I’m sure you could make any changes you want. It works well with chicken instead of shrimp, and of course you could do red kidney beans or black beans instead of the pintos I used. For the vegetables, I think there are only certain vegetables that would work well in this meal. Carrots or broccoli may work well, though this will also be up to your personal taste.

This has been one of my favorite meals lately, and I really hope you enjoy it, too!

Shrimp Bowl Recipe Card

Makes four servings

One can yellow corn

One can or one cup frozen peas

One bell pepper

One onion (or two cups of a frozen bell pepper and onion mix)

Four servings of shrimp

Four servings of rice

Four servings of beans

Cook the rice in your preferred method. This is one of the only times you’ll see me do this, but I cook the rice plain, without any seasonings, for this recipe. The other elements of this dish have enough flavor that the rice doesn’t really need anything.

Cook the beans in your preferred method. I like to boil them with bell pepper and onion, and I’ve come to prefer cooking a big batch of dry beans and freezing some. Doing this lets me take advantage of the price decrease of dry beans versus canned, and also gives me the convenience of having prepared beans on standby.

Defrost, if needed, your shrimp. Peel and de-tail, if needed. Sprinkle with one packet of Sazon and set in the fridge to marinate, at least 30 minutes but preferably longer.

Chop bell pepper and onion. I like a pretty rough chop for this recipe, as it gives a better bite, but you can cut them as small as you like. 

Saute in hot cooking oil. Add salt and pepper, and your preferred seasonings. I like chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and oregano. 

When the onion starts to go translucent, add about half a cup of water, the peas, and the corn, and cover. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, then remove lid. If pepper and onion are tender, remove from the heat. If not tender, add a little more water and continue to simmer until tender.

Saute the shrimp in a little cooking oil. Sometimes I cook them in the remaining seasonings from the pepper and onions, it depends on . Cook the shrimp, stirring frequently, until done. 

Assemble everything, sprinkle with cheese, and enjoy!

Budget Friendly; Rice and Beans

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Rice and Beans with Baked Chicken

One bag of dry black beans, cooked according to bag directions

A third of a bag of frozen peppers and onions

chili powder and cumin to taste

Rice, two servings

one cup chicken broth

one tbsp Sofrito

one large chicken breast, or two thighs

one packet Sazon seasoning

1/2 cup salsa

I cooked the entire bag of beans, then divided them into one cup portions, which will ultimately make two servings of 1/2 cup each. I froze all but four servings, and cooked the remaining with chili powder and cumin.

I cooked two servings, half a cup dry, of rice in chicken broth and a tablespoon of sofrito. I used my rice cooker, but you could cook it in any way you want.

I let the chicken sit for a few minutes with the Sazon seasoning, then placed on a baking sheet and spread with salsa. I baked at 375 F for about 15 minutes, until the internal temp read 165.

I don’t think we could discuss budget meals without talking, at least briefly, about rice and beans. It is one of the most common suggestions when you start looking into inexpensive food, and I think it deserves at least a short discussion. I don’t intend for either ingredient to make regular appearances in this series.

The thing with rice and beans, is you have to get creative with them. I would never tell you to cook plain rice and plain beans and that be the entire meal. You have to add seasonings and spices to them both, and I normally serve them as sides with something else. This week, I made chicken baked with Sazon, rice cooked in chicken broth and sofrito, and black beans cooked with onions, bell peppers, chili powder, and cumin. 

Along with being creative with the flavors, I have found dry beans take some practice. The first time I made them, I don’t think I let them cook long enough, and they weren’t very good. Of course, the next time I overcooked them, and they weren’t very good that time, either. But now that I have more experience, I do think they are a great pantry staple. I’ll probably never solely rely on dry beans, as they do take some planning and forethought. Lately, I have cooked a bag of dry beans, served part of the pot in that week’s meals, then froze the rest in one cup measurements in freezer bags. 

Rice has nearly as many cooking methods as varieties. It might be fun to experiment for a while, until you figure out exactly what you like. I find a good rule of thumb is to use chicken broth, normally in the form of the “Better than Bouillon” paste that I always have on hand. In the past, I’ve added ginger, garlic, sesame oil, sofrito, spices, salsa, and frozen vegetables.

There are also a ton of cooking methods for rice. You can boil it in a saucepan, cook it in a pressure cooker, or use a rice cooker. I think the absolute best kitchen gadget is a rice cooker. You can find them really inexpensive online or at a store like Walmart, and they are so useful and easy, I really think they are worth the money. When I first got one, my family was skeptical, but it has turned into one of our most used kitchen appliances (behind my coffee maker, of course).

A note on cost, yes, rice and beans are really cheap to cook. But they are not a meal unto themselves (unless you just really want to only eat rice and beans). They are budget pantry staples because they are really versatile, so they can be served with chicken, sausage, pork chops, nearly anything. My two favorite meals are chicken baked with salsa and Sazon with rice and beans cooked with peppers and onions, and smoked sausage with red beans and rice.

Budget Break Down

Rice; $1.49/32 oz = $1.49/ 20 = $0.07/serving

*I found varying information on how many servings of rice are in one 32 oz bag, and went with the smaller number of 20.

Dry Black Beans; $1.49/16 oz = $1.49/14 servings = $0.11 /serving

Frozen Chicken Breast; $7.99/ 3 lb = $7.99 / 6 = $1.33/ serving

Frozen bell pepper and onion; $1.39/ 12 oz = ($1.39/ 3)/ 14 = $0.03

Sofrito; $2.49/12 oz = $2.49/ 10 = $0.25

Sazon; $1.29/ 1.41 oz = $1.29/ 17 = $0.08

*this number may not be totally accurate. I don’t remember exactly how many packets are in the small boxes, as I usually get the largest box I can find.

Salsa; $1.29/ 16 oz = $1.29/ 8 = $0.08

Total; $17.43 = $1.95/ serving

Chicken Enchiladas with Black Beans and Rice

Chicken Enchiladas

Two cans red enchilada sauce

One can green chile enchilada sauce

3 lbs boneless chicken (both dark and white meat work in this recipe, so use your personal preference or budget to decide. Generally, dark meat retains more moisture and white meat can be drier)

Two cups mexican shredded cheese blend

16-18 small tortillas (flour and corn both work, but corn can cause a bit more work as they are more difficult to work with but have a better flavor)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Cook the chicken your preferred method. I like to place it in a pressure cooker with about ½ a cup of water, season with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and cook for about 15 minutes. When it’s done I simply drain the water and use the bowl of the pressure cooker for the next step.
  3. Shred the chicken and combine with the can of green chile enchilada sauce.
  4. Set up an assembly line with the tortillas on one end, then the chicken mix, then a 9×13 pan. Have your red enchilada sauce neary, first pouring a small amount in the bottom of the pan to help keep the enchiladas from sticking. 
  5. Place a small spoonful of the chicken mix into a tortilla, roll, and place in the pan. It can take a little experience to know how much chicken to put into each enchilada, so err on the side of not enough. I find that it normally takes less than I first think.
  6. Once all of the chicken is rolled into tortillas and placed in the pan, cover with the rest of the enchilada sauce, then cover with cheese. 
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes. It’s done when the cheese is well melted and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
  8. Let cool and enjoy!

Rice and Beans

In this version of rice and beans, I put a lot of flavor in the beans, but leave the rice more plain. I like the balance as I usually serve the beans on top of the rice, but if you want more flavor in your rice you can add a ½ cup of salsa, diced tomatoes and green chiles, or mexican style spices.

For rice, I follow the formula for my rice cooker and add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon paste.

For the beans I use one can of black beans or pinto beans, half a bell pepper, half an onion, one clove of garlic, and a little oil or butter. I sauté the pepper, onion, and garlic in the oil for a few minutes, just until the onion starts to go  a bit translucent, then add the beans and simmer until warm and the rest of the meal is ready. Serve over the rice.

Weeknight Chicken Enchiladas

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I love Mexican food, and it’s one of the staples in my personal recipe repertoire. However, for a weeknight meal, I don’t always have the time or effort to make a sauce or tortillas from scratch. So I have a shortcut version of chicken enchiladas for those everyday meals. This recipe is also great as it’s perfect for a crowd. One of my favorite ways to use this dish is to double it and take to my father-in-laws house for a big family meal.

I have included short notes on how I make rice and beans to go with this dish, which is a great way to extend this meal into more servings. With a side, I find this typically makes 8 total servings.

A note on timing. For this meal, I find the easiest way to time the meal is to start the chicken cooking in the pressure cooker, start the rice and beans, then when the chicken is done to prepare the enchiladas. If you are using precooked or slow cooked chicken, I would probably go ahead and get the enchiladas in the oven, then start the rice and beans. The good thing about this meal is everything will keep warm really well, so it’s ok if everything isn’t done at the same exact time. If the timing doesn’t line up, just leave the rice on warm or low, leave the beans on low, and leave the enchiladas in the oven with the temp at 200 degrees fahrenheit.

Chicken Enchiladas

Two cans red enchilada sauce

One can green chile enchilada sauce

3 lbs boneless chicken (both dark and white meat work in this recipe, so use your personal preference or budget to decide. Generally, dark meat retains more moisture and white meat can be drier)

Two cups mexican shredded cheese blend

16-18 small tortillas (flour and corn both work, but corn can cause a bit more work as they are more difficult to work with but have a better flavor)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook the chicken your preferred method. I like to place it in a pressure cooker with about ½ a cup of water, season with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and cook for about 15 minutes. When it’s done I simply drain the water and use the bowl of the pressure cooker for the next step.
  • Shred the chicken and combine with the can of green chile enchilada sauce.
  • Set up an assembly line with the tortillas on one end, then the chicken mix, then a 9×13 pan. Have your red enchilada sauce nearby, first pouring a small amount in the bottom of the pan to help keep the enchiladas from sticking. 
  • Place a small spoonful of the chicken mix into a tortilla, roll, and place in the pan. It can take a little experience to know how much chicken to put into each enchilada, so err on the side of not enough. I find that it normally takes less than I first think.
  • Once all of the chicken is rolled into tortillas and placed in the pan, cover with the rest of the enchilada sauce, then cover with cheese. 
  • Bake for about 30 minutes. It’s done when the cheese is well melted and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
  • Let cool and enjoy!

Rice and Beans

In this version of rice and beans, I put a lot of flavor in the beans, but leave the rice more plain. I like the balance as I usually serve the beans on top of the rice, but if you want more flavor in your rice you can add a ½ cup of salsa, diced tomatoes and green chiles, or mexican style spices.

For rice, I follow the formula for my rice cooker and add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon paste.

For the beans I use one can of black beans or pinto beans, half a bell pepper, half an onion, one clove of garlic, and a little oil or butter. I sauté the pepper, onion, and garlic in the oil for a few minutes, just until the onion starts to go  a bit translucent, then add the beans and simmer until warm and the rest of the meal is ready. Serve over the rice.