Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowls

I won’t hesitate to admit that I’m a bit of a Pinterest addict. Before I had my son, I could easily browse garden tips, home decorating ideas, and recipes for hours. During one of these sessions, I came across a recipe for teriyaki chicken. I decided to give it a try because it was pretty similar to recipe I made with shrimp, only it had an awesome homemade teriyaki sauce. And I already had all of the ingredients to make it, which was an added bonus.

This recipe quickly became one of my husband favorite things to eat. And I don’t feel guilty about eating it often. It’s even great leftover. You can’t go wrong with chicken, vegetables, and rice.

First, make the teriyaki sauce by adding the soy sauce, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, and garlic to a small saucepan. Mix  everything together and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cornstarch with the remaining 2 tablespoons water, then add to the saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to a boil for 1 minute longer, making sure to stir continuously so the sauce doesn’t burn. Remove from heat.

To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the chicken breasts in half in order to make 2 smaller chicken breasts. I do this so the chicken will cook faster, but you can skip this step if you want. Just adjust your baking time.

Place breasts in a lightly greased 9 by 13 baking pan, then season with salt and pepper. Next, brush the chicken breasts with some of the teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes, and then cut into strips or cubes.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

To cook the vegetables, place the butter and chopped vegetables in a large pan with lid over medium heat. Next, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

To assemble the bowls, first scoop a layer of rice into the bowl. Next, add a layer of vegetables, then a layer of chicken. Finally, drizzle the desired amount of teriyaki sauce over the top. Serve and enjoy!

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books



Pollo Rey Fiesta Veggie Burrito Copycat

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I remember being  surprised when I took my first bite of the burrito. It was was heaven on a flour tortilla. After that day, whenever I would go to Pollo Rey I would order the Fiesta Veggie Burrito. So when I heard that Pollo Rey would be closing in the fall of 2017, I knew that if I wanted another veggie burrito I would have to make it myself.

When I was working as an auditor, I would eat out quite a bit. Mostly because I was really bad at remembering to pack my lunch. But it was also because my downtown Boise office was within walking distance of TONS of great restaurants. On any given day of the week, I could eat whatever my little heart desired, from bagels to sushi and everything in between. But when I got pregnant, there was one thing that I wanted more than anything else – a burrito.

Luckily for me, there were multiple burrito options that I could choose from depending on what kind of burrito I wanted. If I wanted sweet pork, I would walk to Costa Vida. If I wanted chicken, I would make the short drive to Parilla in Hyde Park. On the days I wanted a veggie burrito, I would head to Pollo Rey.

I had never had a veggie burrito before I went to Pollo Rey. One day, some of my co-workers were going so I decided to tag along. I remember staring up at the menu and trying to decide what to get, when one of the ladies I was with ordered a fiesta veggie burrito. Shortly after it was my turn, so I panicked and ordered the same thing.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I remember being  surprised when I took my first bite of the burrito. It was was heaven on a flour tortilla. After that day, whenever I would go to Pollo Rey I would order the Fiesta Veggie Burrito.

In the summer of 2017 I heard horrible news. Pollo Rey would be closing the coming fall. I knew I had to go have one last burrito. So I packed my little boy in the car and we met some friends downtown for lunch. As we were eating, I paid special attention to what was in the burrito. I knew that from then on if I wanted a veggie burrito I would have to make it myself. Here is what I came up with.

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The first thing I did was chop the vegetables. I used a mandolin for the zucchini and summer squash so they’d have a more uniform size, and the remaining vegetables I chopped by hand, except for the carrot because I bought a bag of shredded carrots at the store. Then I threw them in a big pan with a lid along with some butter, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. I covered the vegetables and let them cook, stirring occasionally until they were tender.

Fiesta Veggie Burrito by Cooks My Books

Meanwhile, I opened a can of black beans and put them in a separate pan to warm up. I also made some Cilantro Lime Rice to include in the burrito. If you prefer Mexican Rice then you can make that instead.

When everything was ready, I warmed up some flour tortillas on our cast iron griddle. When the tortilla was ready, I added the rice beans, cheese, vegetable mix, sour cream, salsa, and avocado into the tortilla and wrapped it up.

Fiesta Veggie Burrito by Cooks My BooksFiesta Veggie Burrito by Cooks My Books

Not to pat myself on the back, but it was just as good as the ones I used to get at Pollo Rey.


Easy Garden Fresh Salsa

It seems like forever since I wrote a blog post. Probably because it has been. But I promise I haven’t been ignoring writing for no reason. I have been in the garden pulling weeds, making sure everything was growing, or trying to figure out what to do with 50 pounds of cucumbers. Literally 50 pounds of cucumbers. But I didn’t start writing this post so I could rant about cucumbers. I wanted to write today because our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen and I’m super excited about it. 

I already made a list of all the things I plan to make with them, but I since I haven’t blogged in a while I figured I’d start with something simple. Today I wanted to share with everyone a recipe for a simple garden fresh salsa.
Easy Garden Fresh Salsa by Cooks My Books

In the past, I’ve mentioned that I’m a little obsessed with vegetables in unusual colors. For example, last year we had a yellow tomato plant. The yellow tomatoes looked so pretty in salsa. SO, when picking out plants this spring I made sure to include a yellow lemon boy heirloom tomato plant.

Do you have to include yellow tomatoes in your salsa? Nope. It will taste just as good with any color tomato that you decide to use. The best thing about this recipe is that you can tweak it to taste however you want it. 
Easy Garden Fresh Salsa by Cooks My BooksTo get started, chop 4 to 5 cups of tomatoes. I used roma tomatoes and the yellow lemon boy tomatoes. Roma tomatoes aren’t as juicy as other tomatoes. They are usually the main ingredient in making tomato paste because of their lower moisture content. If you want a less juicy salsa, you can use all roma tomatoes.

Kitchen Tip: When you are cutting the tomatoes, try putting a towel under your cutting board. This will keep your cutting board from wiggling around, and it will hopefully soak up any excess tomato juice that drips off.

Next, chop the onion and jalapenos. I used 2 small red onions, but white or yellow will work just as well.

Did you notice that I didn’t say how many jalapenos to use? That’s because it depends on how spicy they are. And how spicy you want the salsa to be. This time, I chopped up 4 jalapenos and the salsa ended up being between mild and medium. Other times when I use 4 jalapenos the salsa is too spicy for me to eat. If you don’t like spicy at all, you can skip the jalapenos or substituting for sweet or bell peppers. 

Lastly, add the cilantro, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir everything together. Ta da! You have salsa. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments or on the Cooks My Books Facebook Page.


Garden Update

Holy cow, it’s been way too long since I wrote a post. I thought I would take the opportunity to give all of you an update on the progress of our garden.
Cooks My Books Garden Update
Pumpkin plant, with onions in the background
Because our garden is so large we ended up planting everything in stages. We started at the beginning of May, which is a little early for our area, but we were having such warm weather we decided to go for it. The first weekend in May we planted corn, green beans, snow peas and bush peas, as well as red, yellow, white onions. A few days later we planted tomato, jalapeno, and bell pepper plants we got from the store, because the seeds we started in March didn’t make it. Again. Hopefully I will figure out the trick to starting seeds next year.

The second weekend of May we planted a few cucumbers, one zucchini, garlic, watermelons, pumpkins, regular and rainbow carrots, and red potatoes, Yukon golds, russets, and purple potatoes. If you hadn’t noticed yet, I love vegetables that are fun colors. A few days later I finished things up by planting sweet potato plants that I sprouted myself.

I’m happy to say that everything has sprouted. A few of the potato and pumpkin plants have already gotten pretty big. I was worried that the carrots might not have made it, but I spotted a bunch of tiny sprouts when I was wandering around the garden today making sure the irrigation where it needed to go.
And when I say everything is coming up, I mean the weeds too. It is seriously crazy how many weeds we have. 
Cooks My Books Garden Update
There is one area that the weeds are much thicker than the rest of the garden. This is where we planted the corn last year. As a result, that part of the garden didn’t get tilled as often as the other areas, and it was too big of an area for me to go in and pull the weeds by hand.
Obviously, I don’t want the weeds to choke out our crop plants so I will be trying to figure out a solution. We have used the tractor to till the spaces where we don’t have any crop plants. But because we have flood irrigation we are still trying to figure out the best way to get rid of the weeds without messing up the rows we made for the water to flow. Honestly, I’m not sure there is one, but I am still hopeful.

My plan is do some research on weed control methods and give them a try to see which ones are the most effective for our garden. I will let you know what I find out.

How is your garden going? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook.