Dinner Menu: Spicy Lime Cilantro Chicken w/Mexican Rice

It’s been unseasonably warm here after our early snow in September, so grilling is on the menu.

On the board:

  1. Spicy Lime Cilantro Chicken
  2. Mexican Rice Medley
  3. Green Beans
  4. Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe here)

Spicy Lime Cilantro Chicken:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup sliced pickled jalapenos and juice

 Place ingredients in a zip-lock bag and marinate 1 hour or overnight.  Broil or grill for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until breasts are cooked to 165 degrees. Continue reading

Tangy Yogurt Chicken Marinade

This is a great recipe to grill (or bake) – the tangy yogurt marinade keeps chicken moist and creates a flavorful outer coating that zings.  Serve with couscous and citrus chunks for a winter break.


Yogurt Dill Chicken:

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp dry dill, crushed
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded*

large shallow covered dish, broiler or grill 

Mix together yogurt, mustard, dill, thyme.  Place pounded chicken in dish, spoon yogurt mixture over, cover and let marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.  Grill or broil for 10-15 minutes each side, until fully cooked at center.  If you’re broiling, place rack one level from the top most setting. 

*The easiest way to pound chicken is to wrap in plastic wrap and pound with the smooth side of a meat mallet.  Keeps meat from splattering.

Tuscan Panzanella Salad

This is great with grilled chicken or steak.


Tuscan Panzanella Salad:

  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 6 kalamata olives, halved or sliced
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

large bowl


In serving bowl, combine basil, onions, olives, tomatoes and beans.  Whisk together vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper.  Toss with tomato mixture and refrigerate until serving.  Just before serving, add to bread bowls and toss with croutons and parmesan cheese.


Bread Bowls:

  • 2 small loaves Shepard (round) bread
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter

baking sheet


Cut each loaf in half to make two bowls.  Hollow out the loaves to make bread bowls.  Tear the torn bread into 1-inch pieces, toss with olive oil and spread onto baking sheet and bake at 350° until toasted for croutons.

Comfort Food and Mom’s Recipes

I realized when I was writing the recipe for Oven Fried Chicken, that it is probably my all time favorite comfort food.  My Mom makes it best.  She uses crushed rice crispies and a variety of spices.  It’s mmm, mmm, good.  I loved it every time she made it.  I used to use rice crispies and I don’t remember why I stopped, probably because the cereal gets stale quickly and bread crumbs seem to stay fresh forever.  I usually make a package of thighs and take them cold for lunches.  Really good.

Most of my comfort foods come from childhood: mac ‘n’ cheese made with velveeta, spaghetti with garlic bread, meatloaf, beef stew and pot roast.  These were all great meals my Mom created.  My recipes only vary slightly from hers.  Sometimes to make them a bit lighter, but that’s only when I don’t want the true comfort experience.

Mac ‘n’ cheese:  Mom always made it with Velveeta.  Then she added a dash of onion powder, not onions, not onion flakes, it has to be onion powder.  It adds a little something, a bit of zing.  I make mine with jalapenos and serve with a garnish of diced tomatoes.

Spaghetti:  My Mom’s sauce is the best.  I cannot really duplicate it.  I make good sauce, but it’s not Mom’s.  It’s tomato sauce and tomato paste, spices and hamburger or chicken.  Chicken Cacciatore was my all time favorite Italian meal she made – though her Lasagna is great, too.  Served with butter soaked toasted garlic bread, yummmmeeee.

Meatloaf:  No idea how she makes it, but it’s good.

Beef Stew and Pot Roast: Simple flavors cooked to perfection – vegetables, onion, beef, salt, pepper and a bay leaf,  maybe a dash of wine.

Dinner always had a salad served in a garlic rubbed bowl to round out the meal.

In the summer we always had a garden of some kind.  My love of fresh vegetables began there.  Such a change from the canned vegetables that were prevelant in the late 60’s, early 70’s.   My Dad can grow amazing tomatoes and green peppers.

Family dinners were good times in my house.  Even better were meals with extended family.   Loud and raucous, never a dull moment.  I remember one dinner where dinner rolls were thrown around the table, instead of being passed. I’m sure some adults were mortified, but all of us kids loved it.

Comfort foods are big business, there are websites dedicated to helping people find flavors of their youth.  They might not have even been good food (think 1960 era tv dinners), but they evoke fond memories nevertheless.  I think this may be why I believe so strongly that family dinner time is such an important ritual.  A time to connect and make memories.  And shouldn’t it be around really good food and not another fast food takeout dinner? IMHO 🙂

Spring is back, so I’ll look for a recipe to reflect that before the next snow storm.  Until then….

Snow Day

I got up, did the shower, make-up and hair thing.  Started off to work only to be met with whiteout conditions.  It’s not like I didn’t know it was going to snow (blizzard), it’s all the TV talking heads have been gushing about for 3 days.  But it was suppose to start this afternoon.  Thought for sure I’d get at least a half day in.  My boss said I just didn’t want it enough – LOL.  I told him he would have been very unhappy if we all got stuck in the office fighting over who gets to eat the last of the coffee creamer.  Schools are closed, travel is discouraged and I’m stuck at home.


Gives me time to find a recipe.  I really wanted to do something with a spring theme, but not now.  Now I want hot chocolate and a good book.  So let’s go with a recipe that’s good anytime.  Oven-fried chicken.  Serve with baked potatoes and green beans, yum.


It’s Not Fried Chicken:                            

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts*             
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs                    
  • 2 eggs, beaten                                         
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • ¼ cup water**                                    
  • 1/8 tsp ea. salt & pepper (or to taste)

large mouth bowl, large plate

baking sheet lined with foil or parchment


Wash and pat dry chicken.  In large bowl, add water, eggs, oil, salt and pepper and mix well.  Spread Italian breadcrumbs evenly on large plate. Take chicken pieces one at a time and dredge in the egg mixture* – coating completely, roll in bread crumbs until lightly coated on all sides.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake 30 minutes with foil covering the chicken, uncover and cook 15 minutes.


*You can substitute thighs, 2 per breast

** add more if needed

Washday Beans and Rice

Did not mean to go away for so long. I switched DSL providers and what should have been a 3-day event, turned into a 10-day ordeal.  Without further ado, here is the great, inexpensive beans and rice meal.  Add cornbread (those $0.60 Jiffy boxes are great) and you’ve got a tasty dinner.


Washday Beans & Rice:                        

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth                               
  • 14oz can red kidney bean           
  • 4 links Italian or Andouille sausage (sweet or spicy) – slice each link into 4 to 6 pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun Creole Seasoning* (start with tsp and work your way up to taste)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato diced (or 14 oz can of diced tomatoes)

2 quart saucepan

deep skillet or Dutch oven


Combine rice with water & chicken broth in a saucepan, cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cook until all the liquid is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet (medium-high temp); add onions & sausage, cook until sausage is done in the center, mix sausage, beans, seasoning and tomatoes together into saucepan.  Keep heat low and let simmer 10 minutes to let flavors blend.  Serve beans mixture over rice, add cornbread and honey.

*You should be able to find Cajun spice in most grocery stores, but if you cannot find this seasoning, mix equal parts of the following together and store in an airtight container:  paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon zest, black pepper, red pepper, allspice, thyme, ground cloves, mace, cayenne, and crushed bay leaf.

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Our run of unseasonably warm weather has come to an end and once again, it’s time for comfort foods.  This soup is one of my favorites.  Quick, easy and full of goodness.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • ½ tsp ea. – sage, basil, rosemary
  • ½ ea. chopped green, yellow, red pepper
  • 1 to 4 jalapenos chopped
  • ½ tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 8 oz frozen sliced carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 16 oz sweet corn
  • 1 cup fresh salsa
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 flour burrito size flour tortillas

large saucepan


To saucepan, add water, chicken, vinegar, orange juice, limejuice, sage, basil, rosemary, bell peppers, celery, red pepper flakes, carrots and 8 oz of corn. Puree 8 oz corn, jalapenos, salsa, and ½ of cilantro.  Add to soup.   Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Cut tortillas into strips and add to soup.  Simmer for 5 minutes; add remaining cilantro and cheddar cheese.


Serves: 4  Prep time: 10 minutes  Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Can You Afford to Eat Healthy?

I just posted my newest Ask TaMara column.  In it Patti feels that home cooking is expensive and hard to do.  I break down the prices of two easy menus that take about 15 minutes to prepare, and about 10 to 20 minutes to cook (depending on the recipe).  Both meals came in under the cost of feeding 4 fast food.  If you’d like those menus and recipes, they availble with my free week of menus, all you need to do is ask.