King Ranch Chicken with Black Bean Salad

Long time family favorite King Ranch Chicken is paired here with a new family fave, black bean salad with fresh corn and peppers.  Make alot, because everyone wants seconds!

King Ranch Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 Bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried thyme

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

12 corn tortillas

2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 1/2 cup chicken broth

1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (we like Hot, but use mild if you prefer)

Cover chicken breasts with water in large pan, add bay leaf and thyme, salt and pepper.Bring to boil and then simmer until chicken is cooked and tender.  Lift chicken from broth and place on plate to cool.  Save broth.  When chicken is cooled enough to handle, shred with fork.

Tear tortillas into pieces.  Mix soups, Rotel tomatoes and 1 1/2 cup chicken broth.  Mix cheeses. Spray large casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer 1/2 of  tortilla pieces,   1/2 of shredded chicken,  pour 1/2 of sauce over the top. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.  Repeat, ending with grated cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until heated through and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.  Serve with tortilla chips and black bean salad.   8 hearty servings

Black Bean Salad with Fresh Corn

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 ears white or yellow corn

1 small onion, chopped

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, diced (optional)

1/2 cup picante sauce of your choice

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

fresh ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.


Sugar Scrub with Ginger and Almond

Occasionally I do come up with something inedible from my kitchen.  NOT because I burned it or messed up the recipe, but because I am not making food.  I have melted old crayons into muffin pans to make color muffins, made homemade playdough, baker’s clay, and lavender hand cream!  But last week I adapted a recipe from to try this sugar scrub for the face, and I like it well enough to pass on. 

Sugar Scrub with Ginger and Almond

1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, found with cooking oils at supermarket.

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger. 

1/4 cup almond oil, found in the cooking oils section of supermarket

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sea salt

6 drops of essential oil of your preference.  (Sweet orange, lemon, lavender, etc.)

Heat coconut oil and ginger in small pan over low heat for at least 5 minutes.  You should be able to smell the ginger as it cooks out into the oil. Strain and return to pan. While the oil is warm, mix in almond oil.  Stir and allow to come to room temperature before adding sugar, salt, and scented oils. Spoon into a jar.

When ready to use, rub a small amount onto wet face, let it rest for 2 minutes (longer if you wish), then cover your face with warm washcloth, steaming and enjoying the fragrance. Wipe excess scrub, rinse and repeat.  Smooth!

Pot Roast, etc.

Pot roast is a comfort food, nourishing body and spirit.  It is a one dish meal whose leftovers have any number of possibilities.  I can, and do make pot roast like my mother did, browning the chuck roast, adding onions and carrots, and cooking until the meat is very tender.  Added to that are a number of variations.  I have made fruited pot roast with dried apricots or prunes.  I have cooked the meat in wine, adding vegetables cooked separately.  But my favorite and most often chosen method combines using coffee for tenderizing with browning the meat to begin with until it is almost burnt!  The latter hint came to me from a friend years ago who said her mother in law told her the only way to cook a roast was to burn it first!  Mind you, the meat is not charred black, but seared until it has a dark brown crust.  The combination of that flavor and the cooked down coffee lends delicious flavor to the meat and vegetables, but the gravy is the star.  That gravy will be dark, rich, and perfect to spoon over servings of your pot roast.

Parkers’ Pot Roast

                                                 2 to 3 lb. chuck roast

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper

1 large onion, sliced

10 small red potatoes, or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in small pieces

4-5 carrots, cut in 2 inch pieces

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 Bay Leaves

2 cups strong coffee

Heat oven to 350. Dust roast with flour, salt and pepper.  Brown in an iron skillet or Dutch oven until dark brown (almost burned!).  Pour coffee over the top.  Add bay leaves and scatter vegetables on top and around meat. Season vegetables with salt and pepper.  Cover and bake for at least 3 hours, adding water or beef broth if necessary.  Remove from oven carefully so that hot liquid does not spill.  Transfer the roast and vegetable pieces to a platter, reserving liquid.  To make gravy, stir 2 Tablespoons flour mixed with 1/4 cup water into the cooking juices and season to taste.  Serve gravy on the side or spooned over portions on each plate.

One of the best things about making a pot roast is using the leftovers.  Trim and chop leftover roast and add with vegetables to soup pot with some canned tomatoes – the best soup ever!  If there is enough, slice bits of meat and serve over toast with reheated gravy – hot beef sandwiches!  My mother’s favorite use of the leftovers was making hash by chopping meat and veggies and reheating together.


A cold rainy Saturday morning begs for a hearty breakfast. This skillet breakfast is delicious and filling.  Eggs and cheese star in a number of recipes for any meal, but the addition of corn tortillas and picante sauce make this one a spicy treat for your taste buds! 


3 or 4 small red potatoes, unpeeled and diced

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped jalapeno

Olive or coconut oil for cooking

4 eggs

1/4 cup picante sauce

1/2 cup grated cheese plus a little more for topping

1/2 cup crushed corn tortilla chips or more to taste

sea salt

Heat small amount of oil in skillet and add onions, peppers,  and potato. Saute until potato pieces soften and begin to brown. Sprinkle with sea salt. Scramble eggs and picante sauce together and pour into potato mixture.  Cook, folding the edges back from the sides, until eggs are almost done.  Add tortilla chips and cheese and mix to stir.  Serve on hot plates with added picante sauce and cheese on top. Garnish with whole chips and fresh cilantro if desired.  Cook’s note:  I frequently use a time-saving shortcut for the potatoes, onions, and peppers – 1/2  cup of a frozen hash brown potato, onion, and pepper mixture called Potatoes O’Brien which is sold in the freezer case along with other hash browns. If I use this, I still like to add a fresh jalapeno.  Hot flour tortillas are a good accompaniment. Serves 4.