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Cooking at the Cove: A simple meal and a seasonal dessert

Sometimes a meal in a bowl is just the ticket. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

I’m one of those fortunate people who have spent some time in the part of the country where there is some really authentic, tasty Mexican and Southwestern-style food. Not to say that you can’t find that here in Maine, but it just seems … harder. I don’t want my enchiladas, burritos and the like to be soggied up with an inordinate amount of sauce. I want to be able to taste all the ingredients and punch up the heat to my level of comfort all by myself.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundys Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

I also like creating a meal in a bowl by cooking all the components in advance then reheating and combining them when I get hungry. With only a little prep, you can have a meal that’s easy, healthy and one you can tweak to your liking.

I chose brown rice for this burrito bowl, but any grain will work so just use your favorite. Riced cauliflower is also an option if you’re watching your carb intake, as is shredded iceberg or other greens to turn your bowl into a salad. And of course, the chicken becomes more flavorful the longer it marinates, so leave it for at least a few hours. But if you get a late start, a half hour is fine.

Add condiments, extra lime, sour cream and/or guacamole, and if you fancy a margarita or Corona to have alongside, by all means, go for it!

For a finale, let’s have dessert in a bowl. I happen to love rhubarb and I’m especially excited to be growing my own modest crop this year, thanks to my friend, Mary, who brought me some plants last spring. Nothing much grows in this craggy, obstinate ground here at the cove. However, rhubarb can latch on even in adverse conditions and my plants are thriving. Since it looks like I’ll be in rhubarb for weeks to come, watch for more fruity treats, and have your whipped cream or vanilla ice cream at the ready!

Chicken Burrito Bowls

Rice
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Combine brown rice with 2 1/2 cups water in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 40 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is done.

Stir in salt, lime juice and cilantro. Set aside, covering it to keep warm.

Chicken and vegetables
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 large red peppers, thinly sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Cilantro for garnish
Sour cream, optional

Whisk together tomato paste, spices and lime juice in a medium bowl. Add chicken and marinate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Sear chicken on all sides until golden, about 7-10 minutes, and continue to cook until done. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add corn, red pepper, onion, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender and begin to caramelize. Turn off the heat and stir in black beans.

Guacamole
3 large avocados
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons red onion, finely minced

Mash avocado with other ingredients in a bowl.

To serve, divide rice between four bowls. Top with chicken and vegetables. Add guacamole and other condiments and garnishes. Yield: 4-6 servings

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

4 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) rhubarb, diced
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rhubarb in a buttered 9-inch square baking pan. In a small bowl, mix together flour, sugar, milk, butter, baking powder, salt and vanilla (mixture will be stiff). Spread over rhubarb.

Topping
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine sugar and cornstarch. Sprinkle over dough. Pour water over all; do not stir. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until cake tests done. Yield: 8 servings