Weeknight Shorts: Fire and Forget

I grew up on meat and potatoes and chicken and rice. One of our regular dinners included a creamy bed of rice topped with meaty pieces of chicken. It was always a hit and the sort of thing that makes you feel all warm and cozy inside. I have my own version of it, updated to avoid canned soup, add some heat, and make for an easier-to-eat meal:

The original dish I recall from my childhood involved chicken on the bone with the skin, so there was always a bit of prep work at the table required for eating. Mind you, we did that and enjoyed the meal, but there is something to be said for a meal you can simply slice with a fork and enjoy. No disassembly required! Also, while it's not that I will never used canned soups in my meals, I do prefer to make things with sauces I put together myself. It helps me understand what I've serving my family better and I can easily avoid causing trouble for dinner guests with allergies. Finally, as I believe I've noted several times before, we like a little heat in my home. Therefore, this version has a creamy sauce for the rice that's infused with chipotle pepper sauce and a generous sprinkling of paprika over the chicken. As it's presented below, my first grader will happily clear a plate set before her. I also put out bottles of hot sauce on the table for post-cooking heat addition. Yum.

You might wonder why I've included this particular recipe in the Weeknight Shorts series. It's simple. You have about 10-15 minutes of hands-on prep time followed by 45 minutes in which your home slowly fills with mouth-watering aromas. You can use that time to convince the kids they should do their homework, brush the dog, check the mail, make a green salad to serve alongside dinner, or just sit back and relax. Oh, you might also want to pour yourself a nice glass of white wine!

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice

  • 1/2 c. cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1-2 T. chipotle-flavored hot sauce -- I like the variety offered by Tabasco
  • 1 c. uncooked white rice
  • 1 c. sliced mini sweet peppers
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • Paprika
  • 1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Stir the cream cheese, milk, water, hot sauce, and rice in a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Top with the sliced peppers and the chicken. Sprinkle with the paprika and shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 375° F for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve warm and with more hot sauce.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour