This will help you ‘chili’ out about meal plans

I have a bad habit of realizing on my way home that I have no plans for dinner, pulling into the grocery store parking lot, scrolling through my Pinterest pages for a good idea and heading inside to buy ingredients for a hastily planned meal.

We tried meal plan­ning for awhile and discovered quickly that leading the lives of newspaper publishers means that sometimes you’ll think you’re going to be eating at home in the morning, and by evening, you find yourself several towns away from home for one reason or another.

After watching ingredients for carefully planned meals fade in the refrigerator and end up in the garbage and even having to call friends to turn off our crockpot when we realized we weren’t going to be home until late into the evening, I began my last-minute parking lot shopping trips.

On a recent evening, I scrolled to a recipe that appeared to be a quick and easy option: green chili chicken bake.

It included lots of mild chili peppers and cheese, so I was immediately interested. It ended up being a great, quick meal, and it reheated well for subsequent days when we had no time to cook at all.

I found the recipe on the blog “The Pinning Mama.” You can find it at http://www.thepinning­mama.com/green-chili-chicken-bake-recipe/. I didn’t really change this very simple recipe other than to amp up the spices a bit, but I do recommend serving it with some Mexican rice. It’s the perfect pairing.

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Green Chili Chicken Bake

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trim off extra fat)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 ounces chopped green chili peppers

1 cup mild cheese, shredded (I used Colby jack; the author used Monterey jack)

1 teaspoon cumin

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lay the chicken breasts in the bottom of a baking dish (I have a three-quart baker that’s about 9×12 inches that I used).

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Once it’s well combined, spread the mixture evenly over the top of the chicken breasts and top with the shredded cheese

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (it should be 165-degrees Fahrenheit and the juices should run clear).

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Like I said, I’d highly recommend serving this over rice. There will be a bunch of melted cheese in the pan, and the rice is a great vehicle for enjoying that.

I ended up making homemade Mexican rice that I wrote about in this column long ago, but if you’re buying a box mix, I recommend the Rice-a-Roni Mexican Style. That’s our favorite.

And this wasn’t overly spicy, so I do think this would be a crowd pleaser for all taste buds.

Plus, since it comes together pretty quickly, you can totally look like you had a plan all along and didn’t just come up with dinner while sitting in a parking stall.

Lindsey Young is managing editor of The Clarion, the Kansas Publishing Ventures newspaper in Andale. She can be reached at lindseyclarion@gmail.com.