Southwest Spiced Chicken Dinner

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Southwest Spiced Chicken Dinner

Looking for a new way to get chicken on the dinner table faster? This recipe showcases a great time saving technique: flattening chicken breasts with a rolling pin. Not only does this decrease cooking time because the meat is thinner, it also tenderizes the chicken so it is extra juicy. Additionally, this approach stretches the ingredients to feed more people, which is always a welcome thing in a house full of hungry eaters! 

Here's another recipe that's great for a crowd

Another clever cooking trick for getting a lot of flavor in a little time is to season meat or veggies with a blend of spices. This way you don’t need to marinate for hours; rather, a concentrated paste of spices and a bit of oil adds intense flavor in just minutes. Chicken in particular is a great base for this type of marinade since it is mildly flavored and acts like a sponge, taking wonderfully to a range of flavor profiles. From tandoori and jerk chicken to coq au vin, this versatile protein is a star ingredient in many cuisines around the world. 

Prefer plant based protein sources? Try this easy & delicious protein packed harvest bowl

In this recipe, paprika, cumin, onion powder and cayenne create the base for the marinade. With all of these bold seasonings, just a touch of salt is needed to bring out all of the flavors and help further tenderize the meat. 

A sprinkling of pepper jack cheese adds a layer of heat to the chicken breasts, which are rolled into pinwheels. As the chicken cooks, the cheese becomes gooey and melted inside of the rolls. If you like less heat, use a shredded cheddar or mozzarella. Any type of cheese that melts will work well. 

To turn this savory stuffed chicken into a wholesome meal, serve it over a festive salad. Fiber-packed quinoa with raw vibrant veggies complements the heat of the spiced chicken. A quick vinaigrette of lime juice and olive oil is all the salad needs to marry the Mexican-inspired ingredients together, and create a flavorful, healthy dinner that can be on the table in under thirty minutes. 

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack, sharp cheddar cheese or mozzarella 
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 green bell pepper, chopped 
1 cup chopped cherry or Roma tomatoes
1 can corn, rinsed and drained 
2 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 limes) 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. 
In a small bowl, mix cayenne, paprika, cumin, onion powder, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil to combine. 

On a large cutting board, flatten chicken with a rolling pin until it is 1/4-inch thick. 

Rub chicken all over with spice paste. Top each flattened breast evenly with 3/4 of the cheese. Roll each chicken breast into a log and pierce them with toothpicks to hold them in place. Transfer chicken rolls to a foil-lined baking sheet and top with remaining cheese. Bake until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, toss quinoa, bell pepper, tomatoes and corn with lime juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer salad to a serving platter. 

Slice chicken into strips and arrange over quinoa salad. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Alternatively, store in an airtight container up to 2 days. 

Serves 4