Somewhere along the way I must’ve done something really right because I ended up landing a job that I fell in love with.  I realize how lucky I am, as not many people are able to say the same.

I work in a public relations agency alongside a group of smart, creative and really fun women. Our clientele? Luxury hotels in beautiful destinations that include the Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America and even Africa. In a nutshell, it’s part of my job description to visit these places. A couple of Thursdays ago, I found myself at the incredible site of Machu Picchu–will someone pinch me already?

It goes without saying that lately my biggest source of inspiration for new recipes is travel. Regardless of where I am, I try something delicious and even while I’m savoring it I’m already thinking of how I’ll make it at home, the “Fit Cook” way. During my last trip to Peru, however, it wasn’t business as usual–things got even better!

Lusiana-llamaAfter spending a morning exploring Cusco (during which I played with llamas and alpacas), I found myself behind the scenes at the JW Marriott Cusco kitchen. Not only was I behind the scenes, I was wearing an apron… and a chef’s hat (but only for a few minutes because it didn’t do much for me, style-wise). That’s right — Executive Chef Teddy Bournocle and his team of crazy talented chefs (I don’t remember the last time I ate that much) let me take over the kitchen where I was free to make a dish that stood the chance of ending up on the hotel restaurant’s menu.

I had spent days indulging in the deliciousness that is Peruvian gastronomy — ceviche, lomo saltado, anticucho — I even tried CUY!  I’ll let you Google that. With a lot on the line and it being my first time cooking in an industrial kitchen, I opted for something more familiar to me — quinoa.

Instead of my traditional Couscous con Pollo, this time I’d make Quinoa con Pollo, using local ingredients like the biggest and juiciest of choclo kernels (corn) to add a Peruvian twist. Although I had a few blunders, such as seasoning my chicken with salted-sugar (who knew restaurant kitchens carried different types of salt?) and letting out a girly cry at the sight of a tall flame, I’d say the end result was a success, and Chef even promised to put my dish on the menu. I’ll believe it when I see it, I told him.  No doubt this is only one of many recipes I’ll develop after a still surreal trip to Peru.

For now, I’ll leave you with a recipe for my “fit” Quinoa con Pollo that you can enjoy at home, along with a few pictures of what’s been one of my favorite days on the job so far.

Buen provecho!

Quinoa con Polloquinoa_con_pollo
Ready in: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

You’ll Need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup choclo kernels (extra large, white corn kernels)
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro

lusianaHere’s How:
1. Heat the olive oil a large, non-stick IMUSA CALDERO over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with coriander, paprika, salt and pepper. Place the chicken in your IMUSA CALDERO in an even layer, and cook on each side for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Allow to cool, then cut into strips.

2. Meanwhile, add the bell pepper, garlic, and choclo to your IMUSA CALDERO, and sautee for a couple of minutes, until the pepper begins to brown. Add the cooked quinoa and season with a dash more of salt and pepper. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes before adding the cilantro, reserving a tablespoon or two to garnish the dish.

3. Divide the quinoa among two plates and top each with chicken. Garnish with remaining cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil and sliced red chiles if you like it spicy.