Getting Out Of My Food Rut

As some of you know, I have been in a food rut regarding dinner. This happens to me with relative frequency, and I am always looking for ways to get out of the rut – and frequently failing and eating Teddy Grahams for dinner. But this week I have had some success with new recipes, and I’m pretty excited about them, so I am sharing them with you all.

I know what you’re supposed to do to get out of a food rut – try new recipes! But every time I do and it turns out to be a disappointing finished product, it turns me off from trying anything new for weeks. So I go back to the old standards, get tired of them, get frustrated, eat Teddy Grahams, and the cycle continues.

Part of my problem is the sheer number of food resources out there. If you listen to RadioLab, you might know that having too many choices can be problematic. People have recommended to me, approximately, eleventy billion food sites, and while they always look amazing, it’s always just too much for me. We used to get a subscription to Cooking Light, but we didn’t renew it once we realized that you can get all the recipes online. We’ve tried a few disappointing recipes from there, but a lot of recipes that have made it into our regular rotation in the last year or so have been Cooking Light recipes, so this week I decided to spend a little time perusing the website to see if anything sounded good. Well, we tried three recipes in a row (pretty much unheard of for me!), and they were all keepers. A-mazing.

On Saturday, we made Chicken Tamale Casserole:


  • 1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded four-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next seven ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken, and sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Luci’s notes: We found the cornbread base a little rich with the creamed corn.  Next time we make this, we plan on using just regular canned corn. We are also thinking of putting black beans in with the chicken.

We had leftover Tamale Casserole on Sunday (reheats very well), and on Monday we made Ancho Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw:


  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 3/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 ripe peeled avocado, diced
  • 2 cups packaged angel hair slaw
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas


  1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with chile powder, garlic salt, and cumin. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan.
  2. Combine rind, 1 tablespoon juice, and next 3 ingredients (through avocado) in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
  3. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon juice, slaw, onions, cilantro, oil, and salt, tossing to coat.
  4. Heat tortillas according to directions. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top each tortilla with about 1 tablespoon avocado mixture and 1/4 cup slaw mixture.

Luci’s Notes: We couldn’t find corn tortillas and ended up using whole wheat tortillas, which tasted fine. When we make this again, I think we will double up the avocado in the sauce, or slice up the rest of the avocado to put in the tacos, or both! Because I wished the tacos had a little more avocado flavor. I liked the slaw a lot more than I thought I would.

And finally on Wednesday, we had Chipotle Barbecue Burgers with Slaw because I wanted to make sure we used up the rest of the bag of coleslaw we had from the chicken tacos.


  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns


  1. Combine first six ingredients. Divide mixture into four equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
  2. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; cook for four minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer registers 160 F.
  3. Combine coleslaw and next six ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl; toss well. Place one patty on bottom half of each bun; top each serving with 1/2 cup coleslaw mixture and top half of bun.

I feel bolstered to keep trying new recipes, and I’m really pleased to have three new recipes to add to our collection.  Thanks, Cooking Light, for helping me out of my food rut!

By Luci Furious

There are no bad times, only good stories.

4 replies on “Getting Out Of My Food Rut”

I’m in a food rut, too. This is not normal for me, so I’m trying to retrain my tastebuds to crave other things (other than generic carbs, chicken, cereal, and ramen). I agree that you just have to keep adding new things to the menu, sometimes it’s just a matter of getting out of bad/boring eating habits.

Well done you! The lists of ingredients are scary enough for me, there’s so many! But I am scared by my kitchen in general.

Now that I’ve moved in with my boyfriend, we’re trying to curb our terrible take-out habits (four times a week was pretty standard). I made a big batch of chili earlier in the week, and we even froze some (look at our domesticated selves!). I have some asparagus to use up, and I’m tentatively game to try something more fancy, like an asparagus and goat cheese pizza.

In other words – keep the recipes coming! But maybe with fewer ingredients :P

Oh don’t be intimidated! Most of the ingredients were things we already had, including the spices, chicken and avocado. I suppose the things like the chiles in adobo and green chiles could seem like a lot, we cook with them all the time though and often have some on hand too. Mmm.
But I am with you, if something looks like it’s too much stuff to buy, forget about it.

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