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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quick & Easy Dinner: Hawaiian Chicken (Light)

I've been trying to cook lighter lately, in a concerted effort to lose weight. Because of my working hours, I've been trying to concentrate on entrees that are not only light, but also quick and easy. Many nights, this means some variation on chicken, because it cooks quickly (especially if you pound it out thin, or buy the breasts that are sliced extra thin).

The great thing about chicken is that it is so versatile -- you can completely change the meal just by changing the sauce and or accompaniments.

This meal, Hawaiian chicken, I modified off of the Cooking Light site. It is a recipe for chicken breasts which have been marinated and basted in a soy sauce-pineapple glaze, and quite easy to put together.  If you are interested in some lighter versions of meals, I suggest giving this site a try. Just make sure to check out the serving size of any recipe you intend to try, because I've noticed that some of the "light" recipes have less fat and calories because the portion size is a lot smaller, not because of adjustments to the recipe. But in most cases, Cooking Light is a great resource, and most of the recipes seem fairly simple and fairly adjustable to your individual tastes.

This recipe requires a little forethought, because it involves marinating overnight (although, you can get away with marinating for 2 hours if you really need too, but you might want to make more sauce, so you can baste more as you cook).

The marinade contains low sodium soy sauce, pineapple juice, low sugar ketchup, ginger, and garlic. Combine everything first, and reserve about 1/4 C of the marinade, covering and refrigerating it.

 Add the rest to a ziplock bag filled with the chicken. This will get refrigerated, ideally overnight, but at least for a few hours if you can. Prep-wise, it is much more efficient to set up the marinading the night before.

The next day, you simply discard the marinade, salt and pepper your chicken to taste, and saute the chicken in some olive oil cooking spray.  How long will depend on the thickness of the chicken you are using and the amount of heat you are using. I normally buy thin-sliced breasts to save me time, which are about 1/2" thick. These take about 4 minutes per side on medium-high heat, and you can use the reserved marinade from the day before (the one that wasn't sitting with raw chicken) to baste occasionally. If you intend on serving the chicken with some additional sauce on the side, make sure that you put some on the side before you start basting, as you don't want to be dipping your basting brush that has contacted raw chicken into the same sauce you intend to serve with the meal.

 If you aren't sure whether your chicken is done, slice open a piece through its thickest part, and check. Keep in mind that the marinade itself is reddish, so it might tinge the meat pink.

And that is it, a quick, easy, flavorful and light way to dress up some chicken breasts for a weeknight dinner!

Hawaiian Chicken
(Printable Recipe)


  • 1/4  cup  pineapple juice
  • 2  tablespoons  ketchup
  • 2  tablespoons  lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  minced peeled ginger
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2  cups  hot cooked long-grain white rice
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade; place remaining marinade in a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Chill overnight (or at least a couple of hours)
  2. 2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade in bag. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; baste with 2 tablespoons reserved marinade. Cook 4-6 minutes. Turn chicken over; baste with 2 tablespoons reserved marinade. Cook 4-6 minutes.

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