Salsa Chicken with Brown Rice

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." - Confucius

The other day at work, I realized how quickly the co-workers in your department can practically become as close to you as your friends and family are. Everyday you get to work, and if you have open and friendly co-workers, you get asked about your weekend or the previous night, how everything went, if anything cool happened. As time passes, you share your contact info with them, and your co-workers cross over the line into being your friends. Going to work turns into something fun where you can be with your new friends, and joke around, all while working and doing something you (hopefully) love. Having friends in your workplace can be relaxing and can make working an 8 hour shift seem like nothing. What's great about it too is how their habits tend to rub off on you, such as eating healthy. Most people at my job are extremely healthy. Seaweed chips are almost a daily snacking staple throughout my department. At lunch, you'll see everything being served from kale salads, to kale chips, to quinoa, to people strictly abiding to a paleo lifestyle. Heck, there are even a few Herbalife followers at the workplace. Since they know I love to bake and cook, they come up to me to talk about new healthy recipes that they've found, and they ask me if I know any that are great-tasting and easy to make. I've even had to branch out and suggest some gluten-free or even flourless dessert recipes. So, every time I try something healthy out, such as the recipe in tonight's post, I make sure to make extras and take some to the office, which is a lead-in into getting to gush about how great it was. This recipe was a big hit at the office. The combination of the brown rice with the carrots and the cream cheese-based sauce made this a definite go-to recipe for dinnertime. I've heard of several people even changing it up to make it even healthier (and at times unhealthier, but shhh that's just our secret). Since cooking with carrots was a first for me, I wasn't able to get the carrots to a perfectly tender texture, so I suggest really cooking your carrots well in order for them to absorb all the flavors and not end up as a potentially crunchy mess. I'm pretty sure this recipe can be adapted to fit healthier lifestyles and dietary restrictions, so feel free to play around with it.

Salsa Chicken with Brown Rice
adapted from: Comida y Familia Otoño 2009 by Kraft Foods

*makes: 6 servings*

"Enjoy this with a glass of iced tea, the perfect complement to this delicious dish."

6 slices original center cut bacon, chopped
6 small boneless & skinless chicken breast halves
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb baby-cut carrots, thinly sliced
14 oz fat free & lower sodium chicken broth, divided
4 oz 1/3 less fat Neufchatel cheese, diced
3 cups natural whole grain instant brown rice, cooked & hot

1) Stirring, cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove from skillet; drain on paper towels. Discard the fat from the pan. Add the chicken then cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden. Cover the pan and cook for 8 minutes or until it is cooked. Transfer to a plate; cover it.
2) Saute the onion in the pan for 5 minutes or until it is tender. Stir in the carrots and 3/4 cup of the broth. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Separate 1/3 cup of the vegetables.
3) Blend remaining broth, the 1/3 cup of vegetables, and cheese until smooth. Add the sauce along with the chicken into the pan with the original vegetable mix. Cover with lid and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Put the rice in a bowl; crown with the chicken mixture, sauce, and bacon.

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