Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta

By Stacie Morgan, July 28, 2016, Recipes

Welcome to Cooking with Less Kilowatts! There is nothing better than sitting down in the evening to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal. But did you know that changing what you do in the kitchen can make an impact on your monthly electricity bill? Each week, I will help you find ways to cook using less energy while still getting a satisfying, flavorful meal. Trust me – I won’t just tell you to do everything in the microwave. I’ll help you cut down on your energy consumption.

This week’s low-energy-use recipe is a zesty one-pot pasta dish featuring juicy marinated chicken breast meat, classic fajita ingredients, and a creamy cheese sauce you cook right along with all the other ingredients.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

I have an original recipe for fajita chicken and orzo-stuffed bell peppers that is quite delicious but not energy-efficient at all. I have to precook the chicken, partially bake the peppers before stuffing them, make the sauce, heat the peas, and sauté the garlic and onions before adding them to the mixture. Then, the stuffed peppers go back in the oven for more time.

This one-pot pasta recipe tastes nearly identical to the stuffed pepper one, takes ¼ the amount of time to make, and only uses the stove top and the microwave. It’s the perfect “Cooking with Less Kilowatts” meal!

I like to be efficient with my time in the kitchen as well as my energy use. I recommend cutting the chicken breasts into chunks and letting it marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.  Since the chicken doesn’t need to marinate for long, you won’t need to place it in the fridge, saving you even more energy.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

After you dice the peppers and onions, defrost the frozen peas by running them under cool water. Then, measure the chicken broth while the chicken breast meat marinates, and microwave it before pouring it into the pot (which helps the pasta cook faster). This lowers cooking time because you aren’t waiting for all the broth to heat through before it can come to a boil to cook the orzo pasta.

You can always substitute in other shapes of pasta in this recipe, but I like to stick with orzo (or other small options) because it cooks quickly due to its small size. This is also why I like to cut my onions and peppers into small pieces. They take less time to soften this way versus a long, thin cut traditional for fajitas. The same flavors are there, but it just doesn’t take as long to cook.

The zesty lime juice, seasonings, spices, and little hint of sweetness from the agave nectar make a quick, easy marinade. And there is a little heat in this recipe from the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, but you can cut the amount in half for a milder version that’s perfect for the kids!

One Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken and Orzo Pasta

Ingredients:

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

  • 1 lb. Raw chicken breasts
  • ½ Large lime’s juice
  • 1 tbsp. Agave syrup (can substitute in honey)
  • ¼ tsp. Cajun seasoning (one with salt)
  • ¼ tsp. Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. Fresh cracked black peppercorns
  • ¾ c. Colored bell peppers, diced
  • ¼ c. Sweet yellow onion, diced
  • ½ tbsp. Minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Safflower oil
  • 1 Chipotle pepper (pressed to paste)
  • 2 tbsp. Adobo sauce from can
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  • 1 ¾ c. Chicken broth
  • 8 oz. Dry orzo pasta
  • ¼ tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 c. Defrosted green peas
  • ½ c. Half and half
  • ½ c. Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions:

1) Cut chicken breasts into approximately 1-inch cubes.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

2) Mix chicken chunks with the lime juice, agave syrup, Cajun seasoning, cumin, and black pepper in a bowl. Let the mixture marinate while prepping other ingredients.

3) Prepare the bell peppers, onions, and garlic as directed.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

4) Heat a large pot (I recommend enameled cast iron) over medium high heat. Add the oil to the hot pot and then add the marinated chicken. Sear the chicken for 4-5 minutes.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

5) Once the chicken is seared and halfway cooking, add the peppers, onions, garlic, and butter. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 4 more minutes to soften the peppers.

6) Microwave the chicken broth for 2 minutes during Step 5.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

7) Mix the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce with the chicken and peppers. Pour in the warmed chicken broth, sea salt, and dry pasta.

8) Cook over medium heat for 6 minutes while intermittently stirring to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pot.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

9) Add the peas and half and half. Stir, turn the heat to low, and cook 3 to 4 more minutes (or until pasta is cooked through).

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

10) Turn the heat off, mix in the shredded cheese, and serve with a garnish of fresh chopped cilantro.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Chipotle Fajita Chicken with Orzo Pasta | Bounce Energy Blog

Check in next week for another Cooking with Less Kilowatts series entry ready to help you create delicious, homemade recipes while keeping energy use and effort to a minimum!

Recipe and Images by Stacie Morgan

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About 

Stacie is a Texas A&M graduate using her animal science education and passion for food to get creative in the kitchen. She previously worked in business before becoming a mom to a special little boy. She's excited to share recipes her family enjoys at home - and they may even help you save energy and be more green in the kitchen.

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