Monthly Archives: August 2013

Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

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I make lots of different kinds of enchiladas, but this one seems to be my husband’s favorite.  Tender, flavorful, spicy chicken is wrapped up in flour tortillas, smothered in sauce and cheese, and baked until bubbly.  I find that something interesting happens to the tortillas when used in this preparation.  They plump up and absorb the sauce, similar to a pasta yet keep their form and help to temper the heat of the chipotles.  I actually cook, almost poach, my chicken in the homemade enchilada sauce, which not only gives the chicken incredible flavor, but also adds yumminess to the sauce.

Side story: did you know that chipotles are really just jalapeños that have been dried and smoked?  They sit in adobo sauce to reconstitute and give it nice flavor.

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. hungarian smoked paprika (sweet or hot depending on your tastes)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1, 16 oz. can of tomato puree
  • 1, 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese (use what you want – cheddar, monterey jack, etc.)
  • 10 flour tortillas, soft taco size

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9×12 baking pan.

Heat 1 T. vegetable oil in a large pot.  Add onions and garlic, and half the salt and pepper.  Cook until translucent.  Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes just to cook out some on the staleness of being in a can (tip: open both ends of the can, remove one end, and then push through, remove the other lid to get all the tomato paste out without having to dig).  Add tomato puree, chipotles and all the adobo sauce, red pepper, cayenne, thyme and cumin.

Cut chicken into large 2 inch chunks.  Season with remaining salt and pepper.  Add to the enchilada sauce.  Cook for 30-60 minutes, covered (depending on how much time you have) so the chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken chunks from sauce and shred or chop into smaller pieces.  Add 1 C. of the sauce along with the sour cream, and 1/2 the cheese.

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Cover the bottom of pan with enchilada sauce to give the enchiladas a place to sit.  Place 2 heaping soup spoons into the center, lengthwise in a flour tortilla.  Roll up and place in the pan.  Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.

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Cover with remaining sauce and cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and golden.

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Serve with freshly chopped tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

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Notes:

  • To make it gluten free, substitute corn tortillas.  Dip the tortilla in the enchilada sauce before rolling it up with the chicken mixture.
  • These are spicy!  If you’re not too into heat, omit the crushed red pepper and cayenne.  Use the sweet paprika or omit. The chipotles will give heat, but it won’t be overpowering.
  • Plan on 45-50 minutes from start to serving.

Mac and Cheese with Ground Beef, Jalapenos, and Cherry Tomatoes

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This mac and cheese is a bit different than my traditional recipe.  I add a little nutmeg to add a little “je ne sais quois”…  In other words, it adds a depth of flavor that you may never be able to place, you may not miss if it’s not in there, yet when it is, it gives an unmistakable oomph to your cheesy, cream sauce. This sauce uses both half and half and milk so it is decadent and rich, but feel free to use all milk and it will be just as good.  This meal is satisfying, comforting, and spicy — a grown up spin to the traditional.

I move pretty fast in the kitchen and it takes me about 35 minutes to throw this together.  If you’re newer to the kitchen and perhaps not as confident yet, I would plan on 45-50.  But you won’t regret it.  🙂

Cheese Sauce:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 C. milk
  • 1 C. half and half
  • 1 lb. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 box of your favorite pasta

“Filling”:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • A few shakes of crushed red pepper
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1-2 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1 C. cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 12 baking dish or other casserole pan.  Begin boiling water for pasta.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic.  Add salt and pepper and cook until translucent.  Add mustard, nutmeg and flour to make a roux.  (note: I use fresh nutmeg and grate…  It’s much tastier and actually stays fresh longer that way)

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Cook for about a minute to get the raw flour taste out.  Slowly add milk and half and half, stir, and cook until smooth and hot – stir often so the milk doesn’t scald.  Add cheese slowly, stirring often until it’s nice and smooth.

In a separate pan, sautee onions and garlic until translucent.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add ground beef and cook until browned.  Turn off heat.  Add cream cheese and jalapenos.

Place noodles in pan.  Mix with “filling”.  Toss in tomatoes.  Cover with the cheese sauce.  Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Cheesy Surprise Meatballs with Linguini and Marinara

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While eating breakfast yesterday, my daughter made a very random food request for dinner, which is a rarity.  If you’ll indulge a small tangent…  My oldest is 4, almost 5, is a fantastic helper in the kitchen and has grown up surrounded by lots of different kinds of food.  But lately she has hit the “live on air”, “everything is weird”,  “what I liked 2 days ago is now disgusting”, and my personal favorite “I like it, but I’m just not in the mood to eat it right now” phase.  So, when she makes a specific request and it is anywhere in the realm of possibility that I can actually make it, I do.  Perhaps that sounds indulgent, but c’mon, every parent wants their kid to eat!

So back to her food request: “mommy, for dinner tonight, can we have those meatballs with the cheese inside with my favorite pasta you make with my favorite, favorite pizza cheese on top?”  Now, I hope you can feel my inner eye-roll, sigh, and why-couldn’t-she-request-something-easier feelings.  She literally requested a fully, from scratch meal.  Sigh.  But I made it.  And when she began to almost melt down because she decided she wanted the cheese on the side and not on top, she caught herself and proceeded to scarf down an entire bowl of noodles and 2 large meatballs.  And at that moment, it all became worth it.  🙂

To make my life easier, I use my mini chopper/food processor to do ALL the work for me.

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 large carrot or 2 small
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1/2 parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C. basil
  • 1/4 C. parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • Olive oil and 1 T. butter for pan frying
  • 1 lb. linguini (I use my fresh pasta)
  • Marinara (I use my fresh)

Place meats in a large bowl.  Puree carrots, onions, and garlic and add to meat.

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Place bread into chopper and make bread crumbs and add to mixture:

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Grate parmesan cheese:

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Chop basil and parsley and add to mixture.

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Add milk, egg, salt and pepper.  Combine mixture thoroughly.

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Slice 4 slices of mozzarella cheese. Then cut lengthwise into strips and cube into 1/4 inch cubes.  Add to mixture and combine.

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Place 2 T. of meatball mixture in hand, make sure to carefully tuck the cheese cubes into the center, otherwise it will spill out into your pan during cooking, ruining the surprise.  🙂

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Pan fry meatballs until brown on all sides.  They won’t be cooked through, but that’s okay, they’ll finish cooking in the sauce.  Remove from pan and add sauce, scraping the bottoms to deglaze.  Add meatballs back in.

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Cook pasta to al dente and then add into the sauce and meatballs to finish cooking.

Avocado, Corn and Black Bean Dip

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This recipe is so easy that it’s hard to believe it’s so tasty.  And it’s really versatile.  Don’t like it spicy?  Omit the jalapeño.  You could substitute grilled corn for the canned stuff, which would be really yummy. (If you want to do this and haven’t before, shuck 2 ears of corn and place directly onto a very hot grill.  Cook for 5 minutes, turning periodically so that all sides get a nice char.  Remove from grill and let cool. Cut kernels off cob.)  Not a fan of raw red onion?  Replace with scallions.  It really is easily adaptable and would be delicious in any combination.

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 jalapeño (minced)
  • juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 1/2 small red onion (chopped finely)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 C. frozen corn (thawed and drained)
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 C. grape tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 T. of chopped cilantro (or parsley)

Mash up avocado but leave chunky.  Add lime zest and juice.  Stir.  Add remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Zucchini Bread

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While pregnant with my oldest daughter, something horrific and devastating happened to me…  The most wicked sweet tooth emerged and has plagued me ever since.  And in fact, my second pregnancy only heightened my intense urge for baked goods.  I have always loved to bake and was raised in a family that relished their sweet endings to a meal.  Before I had my girls, I could take a couple of bites and be satisfied.  But now, my life somehow would seem incomplete without those sweet, delectable morsels…

Partly to rationalize my dessert inclination, I often will mix veggies and fruits into my baked goods.  Doesn’t the addition of zucchini make the bread healthy?!  🙂  Okay, so I’m not truly disillusioned to actually believe that the sweet bites miraculously become healthy and wholesome, but I do think it softens the blow.  🙂  And I do feel better serving it to my kids.

I made and ate so much zucchini bread while pregnant with Alex that it has actually taken me 4 years to be able to look at it again.  This is no joke, I am actually completely serious.  Four months x 2 loaves of zucchini bread per month = zucchini bread overdose.  I only count 4 months because I truly did eat so much of it that I couldn’t even eat it for the rest of the pregnancy.  And you should remember that this was a time before children, with my veggie-detecting husband, so I was completely on my own to enjoy every delicious morsel.

Anyhow, four years later with a very healthy garden bountiful with zucchini, I am now back in the zucchini bread saddle.  This bread is not too sweet and you can still see the green flecks of zucchini, which I think is really pretty.  My favorite thing to do is eat it when it’s still a little warm with some butter and the top is still a bit crunchy from the oven.  Mmmm….  Here’s my recipe:

  • 1 C. butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 . whole wheat flour (I use the white whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
  • 3 C. grated zucchini
  • 1 C. chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 2 8 x 5 bread pans.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs, one at a time and combine thoroughly.  Add salt, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda and combine.  Scrape down sides of bowl and mix thoroughly.

Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing and scraping down sides after each one.  Add zucchini last.

Bake for about 40-60 minutes.  Why the broad time frame?  Begin checking the bread at 40 minutes, but expect that it won’t be done.  If the center looks very jiggly, expect another 10 minutes.  At that point, insert a toothpick into the center.  If it comes out clean, it’s done.  If there is any wet batter on the toothpick, it will only need another couple of minutes.  This is what the toothpick should look like when it “comes out clean”:

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