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Salsa Chicken is a Simple Choice

It is frustrating at times to be a passive-aggressive indecisive person living with an equally passive-aggressive indecisive person.  Figuring out what to have for dinner often goes something like this:

Bill:  I’m starving.

Me:  Yep.  It’s getting to be about dinner time.

Bill:  It is.  Oh my God.  I’m starving.

Me:  Did we thaw any meat?

Bill:  What kind of meat do we have?

Me:  I’m guessing that’s a “no,” so we’re going to have to go out to eat or pick something up.

Bill:  OK.

Me:  What are you hungry for?

Bill:  (Playing Scrabble on smart phone) I don’t know.  What do you feel like?

Me:  I’m not the one who’s starving.

(Bill becomes re-absorbed in Scrabble and I go off to feed the dogs, who have blissfully eaten the exact same thing for dinner every night of their lives).

Bill:  (20 minutes later) So, what are we going to do for dinner?  I’m starving.

For a while, we thought we had this dilemma solved by inventing the ABC Restaurant Run game.  Starting with the letter A, each time we went out to eat, we would choose a restaurant beginning with the next letter of the alphabet.  Once we hit Z, I made up little pieces of paper with names of restaurants on them, and we would randomly draw one when we couldn’t make a decision.  I think I need to find those papers again…

Why is it so difficult for us to figure out where to get a simple meal?  Because we are JINXED, that’s why.  You see, far too often, when we have a hankering for a certain restaurant and actually make a hard and fast decision, we get thwarted.  To prove this point, within the past couple of weeks, here are some scenarios that we have encountered upon driving to our destination:

Chosen eatery:  Colombo Italia.  We decided to check out this restaurant in downtown Mt. Clemens that we had never tried.  It was pitch black inside–creepy even, with no sign of being inhabited anymore…except maybe by Freddy Krueger.  Which is entirely plausible, knowing what the basements of those old buildings are like.

Chosen eatery:  Firehouse Lounge (on Harper).  We got close and noticed that there were no cars in the parking lot, and there were no lights on.  There was a note on the door, but we didn’t even turn into the parking lot to read it.

Chosen eatery:  Quiznos.  Closed at that location. Forever.

Chosen eatery:  Zack’s Hot Dogs. I was craving a Rachel Dog.  Sadly, they no longer have dinner hours at that location.  Only lunch.

Chosen eatery:  Maya’s Deli.  This little place in downtown Mt. Clemens has some spectacular sandwiches!  Only, apparently, they are not open on the weekends.  So we decided just to get some tacos from Taco Bell.  Simple enough, right? I shit you not, our local Taco Bell, which we pass several times a week, has suddenly been reduced to a pile of rubble.  A pile of rubble! Because it knew we were coming.

This is why I am thankful for easy recipes, such as Salsa Chicken, that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes–even using oven ready tenders if we haven’t thawed anything–thus avoiding the drama of choosing a restaurant that will ultimately be unavailable.   For example, last week, after returning home from a party where we had just nibbled on appetizers, Bill uttered his famous words, “I’m starving.”  I yanked a package of breaded chicken tenders from the freezer, poured some salsa on them, topped them with cheese, and threw the whole thing in the oven.  When it came out, we garnished it with jalapenos and sour cream–and it was the perfect stomach filling, liquor absorbing, post-cocktail dinner.

Salsa Chicken has many variations.  For the meat, you can use boneless chicken breasts, tenders, breaded tenders or just about any other poultry parts that you know how to cook in an oven.  The salsa can be from a jar, the deli department, or homemade–hot, medium or mild.   Cheese?  You know me with cheese…the more, the better!

Here is a link to the base recipe for SALSA CHICKEN that we’ve use for several years now:

More about the salsa: In the summertime Bill and I make two different kinds, using a base recipe, but throwing in whatever kinds of tomatoes and peppers happen to be ripe in the garden.  The first salsa is good with chips and with the chicken, but because of the beans and corn it can also be eaten as a stand-alone side dish.  The second salsa is a nice fresh pico de gallo.  We adjust the heat by how many jalapeno seeds and membranes that we leave in.   I would give credit to the creator, but I’ve had that one in my recipe book for a while, and did not print the source.

Cilantro, Black Bean and Corn Salsa


Fresh and Chunky Salsa



  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 hot chile peppers, Serrano or Jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1 1/2 -2 tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper


1.   Boil enough water to cover tomatoes.  Dunk them in for a minute, take them out and plunge in cold water. Peel, seed and chop.

2.  Put chopped onion and garlic in a strainer; pour 2 cups of boiling water over them, then let drain thoroughly.  Discard water. Cool.

3.  Combine onion and garlic with chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.

4.  Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to blend flavors.  Makes about 2 cups of salsa.

Click FRESH AND CHUNKY SALSA for a printable PDF of this recipe.


Corn, Corn

Let’s play The Vegetable Game! First, grab yourself a beer or a cocktail. Now, pick a vegetable–any vegetable. No need to literally pick one from your garden. Just temporarily adopt a vegetable name. For instance, I will be Corn and you will be Summer Squash. The game works best with lots of participants and lots of beer. I will start the game by saying my own vegetable twice and then naming your vegetable twice. (“Corn corn. Summer Squash Summer Squash.”) You then say your own vegetable name twice and someone else’s vegetable name twice. And so on. The catch? If you show your teeth, you have to drink. The more drinks you’ve had, the funnier it is to watch someone scream, “Rutabaga Rutabaga!” while impersonating an elderly muppet.

The Vegetable Game was one of the many drinking games I learned in college. I was always Corn. This is because, while absurdly wrapping my lips around my teeth, I would shriek, “Corn, Corn!” in a high-pitched voice verging on hysteria, and could almost always make people laugh, which caused them to expose their forbidden teeth. I encourage you to practice toothlessly shouting various vegetable names in front of a mirror to judge their comic potential and then challenge your friends to The Vegetable Game at your next social gathering.

Speaking of corn, we picked our first ears this weekend! I am not sure how developed they will all become, because I did not assist them in their pollination this year. A couple of years ago, I read that it is difficult to grow just a few corn plants in a garden unless you hand pollinate them. So, last summer and the previous summer that is exactly what I did. I would knock the pollen out of the tassels onto a paper plate and then transfer the yellow powder onto the silks with a paintbrush. Although I had the uncomfortable feeling that I was perhaps becoming too personal with my corn, it must have worked, because the sixteen plants that we managed to fit in our tiny garden produced beautiful ears.

Our main issue has been knowing when to harvest the ears. We agonize over picking them too early or too late. Raccoons do not have this problem. They know the perfect time to raid our garden and steal the biggest, plumpest ear. After this happens, we follow their lead and rip down the rest of them. Thus begins our annual corn eating frenzy. We may have picked our corn a bit early this year in our attempt to beat the raccoons to the punch; the three ears we tried were a bit skinny but very tender. We are leaving the rest of the ears on the stalks to see if they will fill out a bit. The reason that I did not help my corn with its pollinating this year is because we were out-of-town when the corn silks appeared. I took a chance and decided to see if nature and the wind would take care of it. Hopefully the rest of the ears will properly develop, but not become raccoon chow.

It has been so freaking hot this year that we have not given our yard or garden the amount of attention that we usually do. Today, Bill cut our neglected lawn for the first time in three weeks–we finally got some rain, so the grass is starting to grow again. When he opened the back gate that leads to our alley he encountered a surprise: there was a perky little stalk of corn standing there blocking his way! Bonus corn!

I LOVE freshly picked sweet corn. Maybe more than raccoons do. You will not see too many recipes using corn on this blog, because I think the best way to eat it is straight from the cob just with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. On occasion, we will make some herb butter by mixing in some chives or basil, but that’s about it. If we end up with more that we can eat, we will blanch and freeze it. We usually use the frozen stuff in salsa (our salsa recipe will be coming soon). I know some people like to grill corn, but I am not one of them–just a personal preference.

I like my corn lightly boiled, so tender that it practically falls off the cob. I eat it slowly and savor the way each kernel bursts when I bite into it.  I detest when people cook the heck out of a beautiful ear of corn and make it tough and rubbery. I will not order corn on the cob in restaurants for this very reason. I have yet to find one that does not destroy its corn. Below is how I always cook it.  I sometimes leave out the lemon, but always add the sugar.   I also love to husk corn. Carefully peeling off each layer is soothing to me.  Kind of like eating string cheese or Little Debbie Pecan Spinwheels.

This cooking technique is verbatim from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook:


Refrigerate unhusked corn until ready to use.  Corn is best when eaten as soon after picking as possible.  Husk ears and remove silk just before cooking.


Place corn in enough unsalted cold water to cover (salt toughens corn).  Add 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp lemon juice to each gallon of water.  Heat to boiling.  Boil uncovered 2 minutes: remove from heat.  Let stand uncovered 10 minutes before serving.