Cilantro Chicken


This dish happened because I was able to get a large bunch of fresh cilantro at the Farmers Market last week. Chopped Cilantro in the sauce and fresh chopped cilantro scattered on top plus lime juice added a bright fresh flavor. It is not only quick and easy, but mouth watering good!  I served it with baked sweet potatoes and pan grilled zucchini (more Farmers Market goodies) but it would be good served over rice. I adapted my recipe from one I found on a site called, and delicious it was!

Cilantro Chicken

4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tablespoon Grapeseed Oil

1 chopped onio

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth 

Juice of 1 lime 

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro plus more for topping

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup half and half 

Chicken Curry

My version of Chicken Curry is Javanese style, adapted from Foods Galore, a bilingual cookbook published by the American Women’s Association in Indonesia. I did not make my changes until after we returned to the U.S. after living there. I wrote my recipe on a card and although I vary the ingredients from time to time, I still use this basic recipe. When I decided to share it with you, I pulled my trusty cookbook out and looked at the original ingredients which included most of mine plus 1 cup of coconut milk from 1/2 coconut!  I am glad I have canned coconut milk now!  That recipe also created its own blend of curry powder  with turmeric, cumin, lemon grass, laos (ginger) and a red chile, crushed. I am happy to use one of Penzey’s many delicious blends of curry powder these days.

You might like to know that in Jakarta, Chicken Curry is called Ayam Kari Java. I first made this version for Joe, Ben and me on July 22, 1995.

Chicken Curry, Javanese Style

4 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks

3 Tablespoons olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons red chili flakes

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 onion, chopped fine

1 Tablespoon curry powder of your choice, or to taste

1 can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)

Rub chicken with salt and brown oil until golden brown. Remove, add onion and garlic. When onion is beginning to brown, add ginger, cilantro, and chili flakes. Cook 1-2 minutes, add curry powder. Add coconut milk, blending well. Return chicken to sauce and cook until done. Serve over rice.

Peking Roast

Recently, I opened a cookbook and a clipping fluttered to the counter. I do not know how long it had been there, probably used as a book marker since I am guilty of picking up napkins, grocery lists, and whatever might be at hand to mark my place. I do this with other books as well. It sometimes results in a happy surprise like this. The newsprint was old and beginning to yellow, but I recognized the neat handwriting in the corner immediately. It was a note from my Mother:  “This sounds good- like your cooking.”  I do not remember ever trying the recipe although I often use coffee as part of the liquid in making pot roasts. I also brown a roast to very dark. But I have not marinated a roast in vinegar as this recipe suggests. So I decided to try it soon for 2 reasons. I was curious. But the main reason was Mother’s note. I have been looking through recipes lately, loving the gift of those recipe cards in her handwriting.

Peking Roast

3-5 lb. Beef Roast

garlic and onion slivers

1 cup vinegar


Vegetable cooking oil

2 cups strong black coffee

2 cups water

salt and pepper

With a sharp knife, cut slits in roast and insert slivers of garlic and onion. Place the roast in a bowl and pour vinegar over it. Add enough water to cover the meat, then cover bowl and refrigerate 24 hours, basting occasionally. When ready to cook, drain liquid from meat and pat dry with a paper towel. Cover the bottom of a heavy pan or Dutch oven with cooking oil and heat. Sear the roast on all sides until very dark. Pour coffee over the roast, add water and cover. Simmer over low heat on top of the stove for 6 hours. Add salt and pepper after cooking. (If you wish to cook in a oven, bring the liquid to a boil on a stove burner, cover and place in 300 degree oven for 6 hours, adding liquid when needed.)

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to bake it in a low oven for 6 hours instead of simmering on top of the stove. The results? A kitchen that smelled heavenly all afternoon,  roast beef that fell apart it was so tender, and delicious flavor. My mother died over 11 years ago, and long before that stopped clipping and sending recipes. But she is still giving  to me!


Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mangos and Cranberries

Pork Tenderloin continues to be one of my favorite choices for a variety of menus. I like to grill it and add interesting sides, put it in my slow cooker, or roast.  For this dish, I rubbed the tenderloins with a spice blend combining black pepper, paprika, nutmeg, cayenne, and basil. Make your own blend if you wish but I used Penzey’s 33rd and Galena rub for chicken and pork. I layered on slices of mango from a jar I got at Costco and added some dried cranberries. This works well with several combinations of fruit – peaches, apricots, and pineapple all work well. The result is a colorful and delicious entree.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mango and Cranberries

2 pork tenderloins

1 Tablespoon Penzey’s 33rd and Galena Spice Rub

2 -3 cups sliced mango

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle tenderloins on all sides with spice and rub it in.  Place meat in Pyrex baking dish and surround with mangos. Spead cranberries over all. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature tests 145 degrees.. Remove meat to serving platter, leaving fruit in dish. Then dust fruit with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, and return with sauce to oven for an additional 10-15  minutes or until it begins to caramelize. Remove from oven and spoon fruit and sauce over pork.

Chicken Marengo

More than any of the cream sauces or pastries or souffles, I love to cook French dishes with fish or chicken and hearty tomato sauces that include garlic and olive oil and olives. I like to think my French great grandmother’s bloodline has something to do with this – she and her family sailed from the south of France (Marseilles) when they immigrated to the southern United States so perhaps that region is where they came from, although I have no way of knowing. If so, my love for Provencal cooking comes honestly. My favorites to eat and to cook have many common ingredients – Bouillabaise, Cacciatore, and Chicken Provencal. This dish, called Chicken Marengo has an interesting legend about its origin. Chicken Marengo is not Italian, as the name implies, but very French as the story goes, it was hastily invented by the cook who accompanied Napoleon when he went to battle. Following the narrow victory at the battle of Marengo in Italy in 1800, Napoleon is said to have been famished and directed a meal to be prepared right away. His cook gathered what local ingredients he could come up with, making this dish with its chicken, tomatoes, herbs, and olives. Tradition includes the addition of a fried egg and some crawfish on top but I chose to omit those!

Chicken Marengo

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and pepper for chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried French thyme
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup green olives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat , then sauté chicken, smooth sides down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over and sauté 1 minute more. Scatter mushrooms around chicken and cook, until chicken is just cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Transfer chicken to a plate, then add shallots, garlic, and thyme to skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, and water and simmer until mushrooms are tender and sauce is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
  3. Return chicken to skillet, add olives, and simmer, spooning sauce over until chicken is heated through   Serve with rice.

Slow Cooker Brisket


Since we live a short distance from one of the best BBQ restaurants in the state, I don’t often cook brisket at home these days. But we had a small one in the freezer I wanted to use and I thought it was too hot to heat up the oven in the kitchen, even hotter to cook it outside on the grill or in the smoker.  I remembered a recipe and a story I could adapt to the crockpot, loaded it with the few ingredients necessary, set the slow cooker on low and went about a busy day.  The results favorably compared with other methods, and nobody got hot cooking!

The recipe could not be simpler.  The story brings back fond memories.  In 1973, Joe worked with a young man whose name was Steve Greenwell. He and his wife Sondra had not been married long, had no children, and were fond of ours. They came to stay with Sean and Jeremy on the Sunday afternoon 44 years ago that Ben was born.  Sondra was learning to cook.  She told me she bought a brisket and asked  the butcher how to cook it.  He told her to heat her oven on low, put the brisket in a pan, and pour over 1 bottle of liquid smoke, 1 bottle of barbecue sauce, and enough water to cover the meat. Cover and cook for hours. Here is the story in recipe form.  I did not have a crockpot all those years ago and if you do not, you can always use the oven.

Barbecue Brisket

2-3 pound beef brisket

1 bottle barbecue sauce (any kind)

1 bottle Liquid Smoke (optional – omit if you prefer)

2 bottles of water (rinse out the barbecue sauce bottle), enough to cover meat

Add all ingredients to slow cooker set on low and cook for 7 to 8 hours.

Lift out brisket to slice.  Pour sauce into pitcher or bowl to pass when served.




Italian Sausage, Crispy Greens, and Fontina Pizza

We keep trying different ways to prepare one of our favorite family dishes – pizza. One of my fondest memories is of my 3 little boys, stairstep ages,  all standing on a bench in our kitchen in Dallas making pizza. We have made little snack pizzas with English muffins, big pan pizzas, flatbread pizzas,  pizza on the grill with figs and prosciutto.  Lately I have been trying different cheeses, as well as Joe’s favorite white pizza, not a tomato in sight.  Sometimes there is homemade dough, but often I use a ball of frozen dough I get at HEB because I can keep several in the freezer for setting out to thaw – a nice shortcut.

This pizza does not have the traditional spicy tomato sauce for a base.  It is a variation of a recipe found in Bon Appetit.


3/4 lb ground Italian sausage, hot

1 cup rough chopped Kale or Swiss chard which is stripped from stems

1/2 cup Ricotta cheese

1 cup grated Fontina cheese

1/3 cup shaved Parmesan

1 lb Pizza dough
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Fresh rosemary, 1 Tablespoon finely chopped, 1 sprig for garnish
Maldon Sea salt
  Preheat oven to 400°. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add crumbled sausage and brown. Add rough chopped greens,  tossing until beginning to crisp. Transfer sausage and greens to drain on paper towel  with a slotted spoon.

Coat dough with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and stretch into an oval on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top with half of Parmesan and rosemary, followed by sausage mixture, Fontina, ricotta, then remaining Parmesan and rosemary. Sprinkle with flaked Maldon Sea salt. 

Bake pizza, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is golden brown and crisp,  15 to 18 minutes. Cut with kitchen shears and serve with a garden salad.


Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew is one of our favorite hearty soups and stews. A list that included them all would be a long list!  But if filtered by how many years they have been appearing on our table, this one makes the short list.  In 2012, a post on KItchen Keepers mentions Brunswick Stew along with other dishes. The following quote introduced our fondness for it along with the timing.

In 1984, I traveled with friends to Colonial Williamsburg.  We loved the living history lessons at every turn and enjoyed stopping by its inns and taverns for meals. The cookbook I purchased there has remained one of my favorites for nearly 30 years not only because it reminds me of travels and tastes of the past, but also for recipes that have become keepers for our family like…Chowning Tavern’s Brunswick Stew.

So if you do the math, I have been serving this stew for 33 years!  It is a traditional dish, popular in the South. The origin of the dish is uncertain, but it is believed to have been invented in the early 19th century, with both Virginia and Georgia making claims for originating it. That explains its inclusion in the The Williamsburg Cookbook. A photo of this dish is used for the cover of that book, and  that recipe is the starting place for the ways I prepare it. Although various meats can be used, I always use chicken, but not always the same combination of vegetables, although lima beans, okra, and some tomatoes are consistently included. In this photo, I have used a shortcut, 3 cups of frozen mixed vegetables.

Brunswick Stew

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

2 Tablespoons butter

2 garlic pods, peeled and minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup okra, ends trimmed and sliced into rounds

2 cup fresh tomato, peeled and chopped (1 15 oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes)

1 cup lima beans

2 cups corn (fresh corn, cut from the cob is best, but may use frozen)

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce (serve when stew is served so each can add his own)

Melt butter in heavy pot.  Add onions and garlic, then saute until onions are soft.  Add chicken and all other ingredients.  Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least an hour. Traditionally, this stew is cooked for a long time over low heat and is believed to be at its best when reheated the next day!

I like to serve with a skillet of hot cornbread. Pass the hot sauce after serving!







Mary Ann’s Pot Roast

There are so many versions of pot roast; there have been several posted. But I have never shared the one I have used most during my cooking years. My mother (long before crock pots)  always browned a small chuck roast on top of the stove, added onions, carrots, and celery sprinkled with salt and pepper, plus enough liquid to simmer for several hours. She probably put this into the oven at times, but I remember clearly the ways she avoided “heating up the kitchen.”  My own version started with this. Early in my marriage, a friend told me her mother-in-law shared her secret to a tasty pot roast – don’t just brown the meat to start but “burn” it on both sides before adding vegetables. Later I read another hint for adding flavor and tenderizing the roast:  For liquid, add any leftover coffee from the morning pot before topping off with water!

So that is what I do when I decide to make a pot roast the old way!  The vegetables I add may vary, but browning the meat very dark and adding some coffee produces a rich, dark cooking liquid that can be served as is or thickened as a gravy. This works whether you have the pot roast bubbling away on the back of the stove, cooking in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Any way you cook it, a pot roast is not a quick cooking dish.  The hours it cooks along with fragrant vegetables and herbs produces tender, fall-apart delicious food – an old-fashioned favorite that will never go out of style in our kitchen.

Mary Ann’s Pot Roast

3-4 pound chuck or shoulder roast

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper

3 medium potatoes,  coarsely chopped

4 carrots, sliced00

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, sliced

dried or fresh herbs of your choice

Rinse and pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and flour.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet and brown the roast on both sides until dark brown and charred. Place roast in a baking dish if cooking in the oven or crock pot if using a slow cooker. Layer all vegetables around and on the sides of meat. Add salt, pepper, and herbs if you wish.  Pour at least 1 cup of strong coffee over all, top with enough water to almost cover.  Add lid and cook for several hours.  If baking, cook in 325-degree oven for at least 3 hours, or until roast is very tender, adding water if necessary. In a slow cooker, the roast should cook for 4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.

To serve, lift the pot roast and veggies out and place on a platter. Serve the broth in a small bowl with ladle.  For gravy, thicken the broth by heating 2 Tablespoons oil with 2 Tablespoons flour, stirring while adding the cooking liquid.  Stir and simmer until thickened, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

There are almost as many versions of gumbo as there are cooks, especially in this corner of Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico for seafood, and near Louisiana, the place of gumbo’s origin. It is said that gumbo is to Louisiana as chili is to Texas!  But, here on the south Texas Gulf Coast, both are famous.  I think that most often gumbo is either Seafood Gumbo or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but the gumbo I make in my kitchen can be either or both – or in this case, both Shrimp and Chicken. It is a matter of what ingredients I have on hand to use!  Last week, we had some leftover jumbo boiled shrimp and some chopped rotisserie chicken.  I had put both into the freezer to wait until Gumbo night. Since our garden tomato production is at its peak, I also had ripe heirloom tomatoes that went into the pot.  A simmering pot of gumbo tempts almost any appetite. I have several cookbooks collected through the years from Louisiana. The basic recipes I started with came from 2 of those books:  River Road Recipes II and Shadows on the Teche, Cuisine of the Cajun Country.  

I enjoy making the roux and prepping as I go This dish has quite a story.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

2-3 cups chopped chicken

2 cups large boiled shrimp

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (you will use 2 for the roux, and 1 to prep the okra)

2 Tablespoons flour

2 large onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and rough chopped

1/2 lb (or more to taste) okra, small to medium pods, sliced thin

1 hot pepper

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Prepare okra by frying in 1 Tablespoon oil in small iron skillet 5- 10 minutes,  until okra is dried out and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Begin making the roux by heating 2 Tablespoons of oil in large heavy pot.  Add flour, stirring constantly while cooking on medium heat until roux is a deep caramel color. Add onions, then bell pepper and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes.  Add okra and stir.  Then add 6 cups chicken broth or stock.  Add tomatoes and chicken and simmer for about an hour. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are heated through.  (If you are using raw shrimp, follow the same instructions but cook until shrimp are pink and done.) Add 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar just before serving.

We like to add a few hushpuppies on the side.  I usually buy frozen ones and either bake or fry them while gumbo is cooking.