Recipes for Busy Weekdays and Leisurely Weekends

Daytime Recipes

Street tacos with spiced chicken and pepper jack







I REFER TO THESE as “Mary’s Favorite Tacos” because they are made on a regular basis at my mom’s house. I think there are two things that make my version her fave. The first is the chicken rub. Mom makes it by the cupful and stores it in the pantry. The spice combo is perfect on a quick-grilled piece of chicken. The second is melting the Pepper Jack cheese on the tortillas before assembling the tacos. It’s pretty heavenly and Mexican-food-loving-mom approved.

Since authentic street tacos have only a few staple toppings, maybe some hot sauce, and some really flavorful meat, it’s easy to make this taco-stand-favorite at home.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1½ to 2 pounds)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

12 corn tortillas

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces grated Pepper Jack cheese (2 cups)

White onion, diced

Chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

Hot sauce

1. Heat oven to 350˚F and center the two oven racks. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

2. Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound to just under 1-inch thick with a meat mallet or heavy pot. Alternatively, cut breasts in half, horizontally, to make thinner pieces.

3. Heat grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, and salt; rub spice mixture all over chicken. Grill chicken, turning once, until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes total. Let rest before slicing, as described in step 5.

4. Brush tortillas with oil and lay flat on the baking sheets. Bake until warm, 5 to 7 minutes. Top each tortilla with a few tablespoons of cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted.

5. Slice hot chicken and add to tortillas. Top with onion and cilantro. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and hot sauce.

LOOKS DELICIOUS I toast my corn tortillas over the grill flame or my gas stove burner before brushing them with oil. This gives them a toasty flavor and pretty look.

TARA’S TIP I double or triple the spice rub and store the extra in an airtight container in the pantry so I have it on hand the next time I want to make these. Don’t forget the diced white onions and lime wedges when serving; they make these tacos extra authentic.  

Soft gingersnaps with sweet orange cream cheese







MY GREAT-AUNT RUTH always made soft gingersnaps when I was young, so I didn’t know traditional gingersnaps were crispy until I was much older. Mom made my aunt’s recipe often, which called for an orange-infused cream cheese spread on top. They are ridiculously good! I’ve made this family classic my own by making the gingersnaps smaller and filling them with my own version of the frosting. The problem is, now that they are small and super cute, I can’t help but eat too many!

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup molasses (not blackstrap)

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating cookies

1 large egg

1 teaspoon grated ginger

2¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 recipe Sweet Orange Cream Cheese (below)

1. Heat oven to 350˚F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle at­tachment, beat together butter, oil, molasses, and sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and fresh ginger. Add flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cinnamon. Mix at low speed to combine completely.

2. Roll dough into ¾-inch balls (about 2 teaspoons each) and then roll balls in granulated sugar to coat. Bake in batches on an ungreased baking sheets until edges are crispy and the center is soft but starting to set, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool.

3. When cookies are completely cool, use Sweet Orange Cream Cheese to frost the underside of one cookie with 2 teaspoons filling and sandwich with another cookie. Repeat for all the cookies.

4. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 day or refrigerated up to 3 days.


12 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon orange zest

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese with vanilla and zest until smooth, about 1 minute. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth.

TARA’S TIP I have a small cookie scoop that is 2 teaspoons in volume, and I use it here for both the cookies and the filling. If you don’t have a cookie scoop, you can measure a cookie to see the size and use it as your guide for the others.  

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