Posts Tagged tomatoes

Stretch your dollar with flavorful rice and beans

Every Sunday I cook up a few dishes for lunch throughout the week. It takes a few hours and a little planning, but saves my sanity and figure by providing nutritious dishes during my busy workday. This week I was inspired by dry beans in my pantry. A quick peek in the vegetable drawer of the fridge and there you go, this dish was born.

Simple, yet delicious.

To me, simplicity is the best part of comfort food. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to be flavorful. This recipe serves four and can be made for less than $10. If this were mid-summer, it would be much cheaper given that I have raised garden beds in my back yard. Tomatoes, peppers and veggies are plentiful during the summer and always taste better than anything in the grocery store. If you don’t grow a garden, you can always pick up fresh veggies from roadside stands or farmers’ markets. Odds are the produce will have just come from the fields just hours before you paid for it.

In addition to veggies, beans are inexpensive, go a long way and can be added to lots of dishes–soups, quesadillas, salads, etc. With the leftover beans from this Sunday, I added them to a Southwest salad of greens, onions, grilled chicken and corn with crispy tortilla strips. I urge you to try this recipe and be creative with the extra beans in some new dishes of your own! I’d love to hear what you whip up.

Melissa’s Rice and Beans

  • 2 cups dry black beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 package salt pork (near the pork in the meat aisle)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 5 cups chicken stock

Add the beans, water, salt pork and seasonings to a stock pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until beans are soft. In the meantime, add the rice and chicken stock to another pot and simmer for 45 minutes or so until all the stock is absorbed. In a serving dish, layer the rice, beans and vegetables.


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Parmesan Chicken with Homemade Marinara, Yum!

It’s another cold Saturday here in Missouri, so what better way to warm up than a hearty plate of Parmesan Chicken with homemade marinara sauce. It takes a little time to put together, but it’s totally worth it. My family loves chicken and we’re always looking for a different way of making it, but there are some things that you really can’t improve and this IS one of them.
I would suggest starting with the marinara since it takes the longest to finish. Also, I would highly recommend not wearing clothing you truly like while making the sauce. My spotted T-shirt is proof that this red sauce loves to splatter when you lift the lid to get a whiff. And if you’re like me, that whiff has to turn into a taste. Quality assurance, right? Anyway, just be sure you let it cool a bit. If you have kids, this is a great dipping recipe, less the mozzerella. Just cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces before dredging–an Italian twist on good ol’ chicken nuggets.

Parmesan Chicken with Marinara Sauce

So let’s get started…
Marinara Sauce
  • Two (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
  • Two (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced  
  • 4 cloves garlic (if you use the jar kind, then remember 1/2 tsp. equals 1 clove)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. basil
  • 1 /2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. good balsamic vinegar

Finely Chopped Onions & Garlic

Wet Ingredients: Balsamic Vinegar, Crushed Tomatoes, Tomato Paste







1) In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, bring olive oil to medium-low heat.

2) Add onions and garlic and cook until golden. The caramelization will make the sauce sweeter.

3) Add the dry ingredients, then wet ingredients. Stir until the tomato paste is smooth.

4) Simmer for one hour with lid ajar so steam can escape.



Parmesan Chicken

  • 4-6 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 up all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tsbp. unsalted butter
  • 16 oz. fresh mozzerella

Pound Chicken

Dredge Chicken







1) Place 1-2 chicken breasts in a large Ziploc bag, get all the air out and seal. Use a kitchen mallet and pound  chicken into thin, even pieces. By doing this in a bag, clean up is easy and there’s no chance of splattering raw chicken juices.

2) In three separate dishes, place the following: a) two eggs and 1 Tbsp. water, mix together; b) flour, salt and pepper; and c) Italian bread crumbs, Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, mix.  
3) Now, take out the chicken and dredge each piece into the egg mixture, then into the flour mixture, back into the egg mixture, then into the bread crumb mixture. Place the finished piece onto a plate until you are ready to sautee the chicken.
4) In a skillet, bring the olive oil and butter up to medium heat. Once warm, place chicken in, one or two pieces at a time. Cook until golden brown.
5) Once cooked through (5-7 minutes, depending on thickness), place them on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to drain any excess oil.
Let’s put it all together…

1) In an oven-proof  baking dish, layer each piece of chicken with a couple of tablespoons of sauce and sliced fresh mozzerella. Most grocery stores carry fresh mozzerrella in a ball or in my case, I was lucky enough to find it pre-sliced in a log. Fresh is waaayyy better than the bag of shredded, but if that’s what you have on hand, go for it.
2) Place the baking dish under the broiler and broil until the mozzerella is melted and bubbly.
3) Now, ladle some sauce onto the plate then lay a piece of chicken on top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and dig in! 

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