Monday, April 2, 2012

Southwest Shredded Chicken and Quinoa

Dinner is always one of those meals that I struggle with. I am full of energy all day until about 3:00 or 4:00 pm and then I run out of steam. I don't feel like doing anything, let alone making dinner.
I truly appreciate those meals I can throw together in 5 minutes or the ones I can throw in the crockpot in the late morning (when I can still function like a human being) and let sit all day.
This is one of those meals.
I had originally planned to put it in the crockpot while I did other things but, of course, I got sidetracked and completely forgot about that. So, instead, I threw it all together in a casserole dish and baked it in the oven. It worked just as well and was still easy, peasy.

Southwest Shredded Chicken and Quinoa

3 - 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar salsa (about 2 cups)
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1/4 cup water
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 - 2 cups Tex-Mex cheese, shredded (You can use aged cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large casserole with cooking spray.  (OR - you can spray a large crockpot insert with cooking spray and not worry about preheating the oven)
Add everything except the quinoa and cheese to your casserole dish (or crockpot) and give it a good stir. Make sure the chicken breasts are covered with the salsa mixture.

Cook in preheated 350 oven for about one hour, until chicken is done. (Conversely, cook in crockpot on low for about 8 hours. Until chicken is cooked)
Remove chicken breasts from the mix and shred with 2 forks until completely shredded. Place shredded chicken back into mix and stir. Place back into oven while you prepare the quinoa. (Or, turn crockpot to warm and let sit while you prepare quinoa.
Prepare quinoa. (Place the 1 cup of quinoa into a pot with 1 3/4 to 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.)
Serve quinoa with a scoop of the shredded chicken mixture on top, sprinkle generously with shredded cheese.

There is a couple of things that are great about this recipe (if I do say so myself ):
1. There is hardly any prep work - does opening cans even count as prep work?
2. It is fast - just over an hour from start to finish (if you use the oven.)
3. There is only one dish to wash.
4. It is delicious.
5. You can fine tune it to your personal preferences - mild or spicy salsa, more or less cayenne, other veggies, etc...
6. You can use the leftover shredded chicken in tortilla wraps the next day for lunch, or sandwiched between two tortillas with some shredded cheese and grilled for a tasty quesadilla.
7. Did I mention it was delicious?

The one issue I have with this dish is the amount of effort it requires to shred the chicken. It only takes 5 minutes to do but, if you are having a "too lazy to cook dinner" day, then it seems like there is an unecessary call for a heavy duty arm workout.
It's a small issue though.
I get over it by pretending that I'm in a chicken shredding competition in the Olympics and that I'm going for the gold.
  I think it would be a pretty legit Olympic sport.


  1. Thanks for the recipe--I found it on Pinterest and made it tonight--I really appreciate fast, easy meals. Question though: Did you actually mean Tbsp for the chili powder and cumin? The flavor seemed rather strong, and I was wondering if you meant tsp instead or if that quantity was just a preference thing. Also, should I have drained the corn or not? Thanks!

  2. I put in the 1 Tbsp quantity. It definitely is a preference thing - use less for a milder taste. I didn't drain the corn, I threw the whole thing in there :)

  3. I know this is an older post, but for those who aren't a fan of shredding chicken by hand, we learned you can use the big KitchenAid and the flat paddle to shred the chicken quick!