I will start this off by saying as the Queen of the Ponderosa and the head chef, cooking healthy is a foreign concept for me. It is a total change from what I know. You know I have the philosophy that a little butter is good but a lot of butter is better. However, the hips don’t necessarily agree with that.
Tator and I have a different opinion about trying to lose weight. He believes I can continue to cook the way I do, but that eating less of that is the key. He also believes that losing weight does not require a crazy overhaul of our existing menus. As the head chef, I like that a lot. I believe that we need to have to have a plan. I have to have it written down. For it to say you can have 4 fruits, 2 carbs, 4 protein etc. I function better by having the information in front of me. I also believe that I have to remove the “snacks” of days past and make available more fruit and veggies as snacks. This is an area of concern as Colton is not a snack on carrots or eat an apple kind of boy. There are no veggies or fruit that are on his snack list. So as a Mom, I struggle with that. What’s your opinion of how to lessen your waist line?
Normally, we would have nachos at the Ponderosa. That would consist of tortilla chips, taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados(sometimes guacamole), cheese, sour cream, cheese dip (for Izzy), black beans, and rice. So, I knew that was a calorie catastrophe. So it was time to lighted that. So I pondered what could I do to make a “mexican” type dinner without a gazillion calories. A quick google search turned up quite a few ideas. That is where the burrito bowl was born!!
Here is what I did. I took 3 chicken breast. First I cut the tenderloin off and then I pounded them even. When grilling meat it cooks evenly when it is the same size. A big fat chicken breast that tapers to a small point cooked on a grill will result in dry chicken. Because by the time the big fat “hunk” gets done the smaller tapered end is toast. So pull out a meat tenderizer or mallet and put your chicken breast in a ziplock bag and take out some of your days frustrations. Now we don’t want to read the newspaper through your chicken breast. Just flatten them until they are even.
Next, in a ziplock bag I whipped up my marinade for the chicken. I used about 1/2 cup of olive oil, juiced 1 lime and added a packet of Chicken Taco seasoning into the bag and squished it around to mix it up. (note- you could totally make your own chicken taco seasoning, but I was lazy) Then I added the chicken and moved it around to make sure it all had some marinade on it. I had about 1 and 1/2 hours before I needed to cook dinner. I think you could let it marinade for 1/2 hour and be fine too. Of course, the longer it hangs out in the bag of lovin’ the better the flavor. YOU do not want to leave it in there for more then 3-4 hours. The lime juice will start to “cook” you meat. Not something you want to happen. I would walk into the kitchen every so often and flip the meat and move it around in the ziplock bag.
I am a big fan of Jasmine rice. I always measure it out, add the liquid and cook. But I have been reading about soaking the rice makes a better rice. So I decided to give it a whirl. I started soaking the rice about 30 minutes before I was going to cook it. I filled up a bowl with water and added 1 and 1/2 cups of Jasmine rice. It then just hung out for a bit. The water turns white as the starch is released. Drain it in a colander(with small holes so the rice doesn’t go through the colander) then fill bowl up with water and add rice again. I did that 3 or 4 times.
Time to fire up the grill. Yes, I have a grill pan for indoors. But to be honest, I haven’t used it in over a year. I really like cooking on my grill outside. Preheating the grill is important. You don’t want to put your chicken on a cold grill. You want the sizzle of the chicken hitting the hot grates! That is a magic sound.
While the grill was preheating, I transferred the rice into my Instant Pot to cook. I used 1 and 1/2 cups of jasmine rice, 3 cups of chicken broth and 1-2 Tablespoons of butter. Put the happy hat on the Instant Pot and hit the “Rice” button and walk away!!! The time it takes it to pressure up, cook and pressure down is enough time to cook the chicken and prepare the toppings for our bowls.
For our bowls I chopped up tomatoes, sliced up Romaine lettuce, cut up an avocado and a squeeze of 1/2 a lime, shredded some cheddar cheese, and heated up a can of black beans. For the black beans I added about a teaspoon of Southwest Seasoning to them and heated them up. I also made a quick dressing. Take 1 cup of Ranch, 1/2 a lime, 1-2 Tablespoons of southwest seasoning. In the past I have added a chopped jalapeno, but I didn’t have any today.
The chicken cooked on the grill while the rice cooked in the Instant Pot. The Chicken was done in about 15 minutes. I took it off the grill and placed it on a cutting board to rest. After about 10 minutes I sliced it up and it was ready for dinner.
I did read some recipes where for the rice you could add about 1/2 a cup of chopped up cilantro and juice 1/2 a lime. I thought that would push the envelope for my family. But keep that as an option for you.
Just like that it was dinner time at the Ponderosa. Hip Hip Hooray. Tator said that they were awesome and a definite add to make again list. Colton really wished we had had nachos. Izzy raved about the chicken and how flavorful it was. I really liked the rice. I think the soaking method was a great step to add in. So all in all that was a successful healthier dinner at the Ponderosa. I am a happy Queen.
From the Ponderosa Kitchen to you,
Queen of the Ponderosa ~Elizabeth~