Chicken Chipotle Quinoa Skillet (Or: the Perfect Recipe for “New Year, New Me” Week)

Happy 2016! My sincerest wishes for a healthy and happy new year. I don’t make resolutions because I’m extremely aware that I’m too lazy to stick to any major life changes for longer than about two days, but I look forward to spending a lot of time playing an astonishing amount of Super Smash Brothers on N64.

But let’s be real here: after weeks of Christmas cookies, indulgent holiday meals with a lot of meat and gravy and probably a few pieces of that gingerbread family living in the house (you sick bastard), you’re probably craving something a little lighter. Alarmingly, I found myself in desperate need of a salad the other day at a diner. In a landscape of waffles, bacon, overeasy eggs and chicken parm sandwiches, I settled for a rather terrible, but still somewhat refreshing, bowl of nutritionally vacant romaine lettuce with a ton of veggies, but also eggs, bacon, ranch dressing and extraneous bullshit that negated any substantial value it could have had. I just pat myself on the back and then went to Windmill at 1:30 in the morning and ate onion rings sadly.

But all is not lost! Here’s something I made recently, adapted from the Grant Life. I was a quinoa skeptic (how could I really trust something that has such a deceptive pronunciation?) and even now I’m not sure what the big deal is, but it’s a good way to get a filling meal without lapsing into a food coma.

I was advised by a friend to get pre-rinsed quinoa. It’s easy to find. The jury’s still out on whether rinsing is even a necessary step, but it’s what I had in the house (my roommates are always interested in exploring new grains, apparently) so into the skillet it went! The recipe advises that once the quinoa is done, it’s a light gold color and the outer ring should be “falling off” when it’s done. Here it was when I took it off the burner and was like “fuck it, hope this doesn’t poison anyone!”:

I really liked photographing this stuff on account of it being weird looking.

When you start it, it seems like there’s so much water and it’s helpless, but just let it sit there and cook uncovered for the recommended time and here’s how it goes:

Quinoa Skillet Stages

The original recipe (once more: find it here) calls for “chipotle corn.” I have no idea what that is. Upon asking the author, here’s what she said:

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 13.20.30

They didn’t have it at the store and I’ve never seen it, ever, so I swapped it out for a can of regular corn and hoped for the best. Is this regional? Am I just heinously ignorant? WHO KNOWS?! I just grabbed diced tomatoes with green chilies to compensate for the spices I was definitely missing by not having chipotle corn.

Anyway, here’s the recipe, with my adaptations. Trust me on this one: it’s a flavorful and satisfying one-pan dish that’s on the lighter side (especially for me, the self-dubbed Crisco Queen). I recommend it.

Chicken Chipotle Quinoa Skillet


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into evenly-sized chunks
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 can of bread & butter corn (15.25 oz)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans (15.5 oz)
  • 1 can Ro*tel diced tomatoes and green chilies (10 oz)- I used mild but you can pick whichever spice level you want.
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 C pre-rinsed quinoa
  • 2 C water
  • 1 – 2 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute the onion and bell pepper together in a little bit of olive oil until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and cook them until they’re no longer pink (they don’t have to be cooked all the way through since you’re going to continue cooking it in the skillet for a little while). Advice: let them cook each side for a few minutes at a time, then turn them all at the same time.
  3. Pour in the cans of corn, tomatoes and chilies- don’t drain them first, you need the liquid for cooking!
  4. Add the quinoa and the water.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Turn down to medium-high heat and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid and is a golden color with the outer ring falling off. (I believe when I cooked it it took closer to 20 minutes, but I can’t really remember too well and didn’t write it down. Boo!)
  7. Remove the skillet from the burner and sprinkle the cheese on top. No one’s judging if you put more than the recipe says. Cheese is basically the best.
  8. Serve, eat, and then go for a walk or something because this doesn’t make you sluggish and tired.
  9. Remember that the next day your roommate is making oven-fried chicken.
  10. Be really stoked that in only 24 hours, you’ll be eating great food that makes you sluggish and tired.


2 thoughts on “Chicken Chipotle Quinoa Skillet (Or: the Perfect Recipe for “New Year, New Me” Week)

  1. This sounds so good! Definitely going to have to try it. A few years ago I used to make a cheesy chicken and broccoli quinoa bake. It was tasty but I can’t find the recipe for the life of me.

    Also, in regards to the corn, I’ve seen it! Our ShopRite has it (here’s a link to a few I’ve seen: and I swear Shop Rite sells a store brand of it, too but I can’t seem to find it online.


    1. I think I saw something like that bake when I was hunting around for this! It sounds good and I’ll have to look around for it.

      It’s so crazy that the store by me didn’t have chipotle corn, but to be honest Wegmans lacks in surprising ways…


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