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Archive for November, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

” Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise! Give thanks
to Him; bless His name!  For the Lord is
good; His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.”

For the unbelievable beauty of the Creation…

For the bounty of our table…

For those we love…

For all of this may we understand and be truly grateful…

Happy Thanksgiving to All of You!

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Stack ‘Em Up!

What do tomatillos, Anaheim peppers, pinto beans, and bacon all have in common? Well, judging on a strictly food category basis, nothing at all. However, when combined they make one of the most most delectable and highly requested dishes ever to grace our table and that is the Stacked Enchilada. We can thank genius food writer and home cook, Matthew Amster-Burton for both this recipe and his hilarious book, Hungry Monkey. Which you can purchase…here. (Warning: this book contains some profanity)

Not enough can be said about the flavor of this meal…the smokiness of the beans, the fire-roastedness of the chile sauce, the white meatiness of the chicken all with the lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sour cream…well I think you’ll have your Peeps shouting, “Ole’!” and find that when folks want some Mexican food, instead of hitting their local Cantina, they’ll be calling you to find out if you have any reservations left for the evening. And that, as Martha says, is a good thing.

So, a few things you should know before you get started.

One, is that while this recipe is not hard it is a bit time consuming and requires several steps.

Two, this recipe will require you to shred an entire rotisserie chicken.

Three, this recipe is entirely delicious and worth every minute of effort you put in.

So, here we go with…

Stacked Enchiladas

(adapted from Matthew Amster-Burtin’s Stacked Green Chile Enchiladas from the book, Hungry Monkey)

Rotisserie Chicken

You can make this or you can make your life easy and go to Costco and get one

  • Shred your entire rotisserie chicken, cover her and put her in the fridge for later.

Smoky Beans

(Matthew calls them, Cowboy Beans), makes about 4 cups and should serve 4.

  • *4 slices of turkey bacon (you can also use regular bacon, I have some beloved non-pork eaters so I always use turkey)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I added a bit more)
  • *Good garlic powder, 2 shakes
  • 1/2 a 15oz can diced tomatoes, not drained (Muir Glen Fire-Roasted are what Matthew uses and they are the best)
  • 2  15oz cans of pinto beans, not drained (you can also cook the beans from scratch, which I often do which makes this even better)
  • 1 T minced canned pickled jalapeños, optional
  • 2 T minces cilantro
  • Salt, to taste
Actually, I usually quadruple this recipe. I am rarely serving only four people when I make this and the leftovers make excellent lunch and dinner or gifts for your guests to take home.

In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until it gets crispy. Then add your garlic, and cook about 30 seconds, stirring. Add your tomatoes and cook about 4 minutes, keep stirring to make sure everything gets combined and doesn’t stick. Stir in your beans and simmer uncovered for approximately 15-20 minutes over med-low heat. If your using the jalapeño, add it now. Add cilantro. Add salt, if needed. Your beans will be a bit soupy and that is also, a good thing.

You can make these early, even a day to two ahead and stick it in the fridge. In my humble opinion, the beans taste even better after the flavors had even more time to combine.

Green Chile Sauce

Also makes about 4 cups

Okay, I am a Hispanic woman, and so I must say that this sauce is not going to be like the green chile our Grandmas make but all of the ingredients make it very authentic and you get a ton of flavor without getting the heat that can make it hard for some to eat.

  • 1.5 lbs of fresh Anaheim Chiles
  • 12 oz tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • *1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (I omit this)
  • *2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 T cornstarch, dissolved in 2 T water

First of all you wanna get those chiles roasted, so put them on the grill or under a broiler until they are well blackened. When cool, peel the chiles and remove the core and seeds. Mince chiles and set them aside.

Now, boil a pot of water and add tomatillos. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring once. Drain and puree in a food processor.

Pour puree into an empty pot with chicken broth, chiles, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add your cornstarch, stir and return to a boil. Simmer an additional 5-10 minutes until the sauce is thickened  and  reduced to about 4 cups.

I usually double this recipe because I really like to smother everything with Green Chile.

Corn Tortillas

  • corn tortillas (as many as you need to serve your Folks, I use 2 to 3 tortillas per person depending on the crowd and how high I am in the mood to stack that day.
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, fry each tortilla 20-30 seconds on each side, until they are just beginning to brown and stiffen. Hold each tortilla over the pan with tongs to drain and place it on a paper towel on a plate.

Assembly

Okay, just like Kevin from Home Alone, don’t get scared now…

Now, take a plate and put a generous scoop of beans on it (about half cup), top with a tortilla, chicken, green chile sauce and cheese, then repeat thus layering process one or two more times depending on how many layers you would like, finish with a generous ladling of green chile and cheese.

Serve immediately. I always put out shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced onion, Mexican crema or sour cream, and Cholula.

Matthew has a completely different way of assembling and serving these, which involves broilers and crunchy cheese and broiler proof dishes…but frankly, by the time I am done with all these steps, I just want to eat and not broil anything else. If any of you gets a chance to read his book and gives the original ending a try please let me know how that goes, it really sounds delicious…

And to everyone else I offer this alternative version and I wish you a very Happy, Stacked Enchilada Filled Weekend!

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That's a lot of leaves!

The weather has definitely turned colder, music recitals abound, and we have so many leaves falling in the front yard, we’re having trouble finding the front yard! But despite the busyness and the (endless!) raking, I have been trying to slow down and focus on what I am most thankful for and, really, it’s a whole lot…starting right there with that Little Guy in the leaves! I encourage you, as you’re going about your own busy days this week to take a moment to think about what you’re most thankful for!

And then get back to cookin’…

Monday

  • Chicken and Rice Soup
  • Arugula Salad
  • Bread

Tuesday

  • Moroccan Meatballs
  • Rice

Wednesday

  • Teriyaki Chicken with Broccoli
  • Steamed Rice

Thursday

  • Lentils
  • Bread

Friday

  • Pizza (Sausage and Ham and Pineapple)
  • Salad
  • Ice Cream Sundaes

Saturday

  • Out!

Sunday

  • Lasagna
  • Salad

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For those of you who tuned in on Wednesday, you will know that the first time I tried to make a bit of Caramel Corn was an utter failure. If you’ve never made a caramel coated mess before either, I will tell you what happened. I burned it. Well, not all of it just the caramel.

This was so sad!

So what can we take away from this little disaster?

Well, I think we’ve learned that Caramel is a bit of a princess and if you overcook it, even a bit, it becomes bitter. So, to recap, don’t overcook Caramel, just don’t do it. (To find out more about making perfect caramel visit author and baker, David Leovtiz’s blog at www.davidlebovitz.com.)

Okay, so now we come to the happiness! In my research to find out how I ruined my Corn, I came across this blog and found in its author a kindred spirit…you can check out his blog here.

And here is his delightful remedy to the Caramel Corn Blues…

Craft’s Caramel Popcorn

[Makes 8 Cups.]

1 to 2 Tbs peanut oil

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

2 cups sugar

2 Tbs unsalted butter

1 Tbs kosher salt

1 tsp baking soda

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a lidded pot. Add the popcorn and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the popcorn stops popping (I pop mine in an air popper). Transfer the popcorn to a very large oiled bowl.

Place the sugar in a large saucepan and dampen with about 2 Tbs water (enough so the mixture looks like damp sand). Add the butter and salt and heat over high, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is melted and the caramel is amber. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda.

Pour the hot caramel over the popcorn and carefully stir with a heat-proof spatula until the caramel is evenly distributed and beginning to cool. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then serve or store in a covered container.

Here’s how it looked when I did it…
Heating the sugar, butter, and salt…
Adding the baking soda and watching it become a bit foamy…
Plain Corn…
Wishig you all Caramel Coated Popcorn happiness this weekend!

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Last Wednesday it was snowing. Really snowing. And when it she comes down like that, I have one thing on my mind and that is what are all of the very warm to very hot things I can cook for us today?

This got me thinking, soup, hot drinks in several varieties…your teas, your flavored coffees, and your hot cocoas…

And this got me thinking about Christmas, which for some reason got me thinking about Caramel Corn…so, I got busy, found myself an online recipe and gave it a whirl. Here’s the recipe I used from the website, www.ellenskitchen.com.

Deluxe Caramel Corn
Way Better Than Crackerjack

Pop 4-6 quarts of your favorite popcorn and place in a large buttered roaster. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, put the popcorn in the oven while you make the syrup.

In a deep pot, stir together constantly while heating, then boil together at a full boil for 5 minutes without stirring:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey OR corn syrup

Remove syrup from heat, stir in:

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups toasted pecans, almond slices or other choice nuts

Syrup will foam high when you add the soda. Stir down and as it cools slightly, pour in a thin stream all over the popcorn. Stir in well with two large spoons or gloved hands, this stuff is HOT*HOT*HOT. Put the well mixed popcorn in its roaster into the oven uncovered, increase temperature to 250 degrees. Stir thoroughly every 15 minutes for 1 hour 15 minutes. Break apart and cool before eating or storing.

“This really isn’t so hard!”, I thought…I think I heard the Caramel Corn laughing at the way my simple mind works.

I did just as I was told in this recipe…I made a beautiful caramel and stirred when I should and didn’t stir when I shouldn’t. I removed caramel from heat, added said ingredients, and stirred its foamy contents into my popcorn. I was aware of its HOT*HOT*HOT-ness and was very careful. And then I baked and stirred every 15 minutes for 1 hour and 15 minutes. And we were so happy when we saw this beauty emerge from the oven…

The results had a certain je ne sais quoi about them and the sais quoi was bitterness. Yes, cue the tragic music, all of that hard work for nothing, for inadvertently I had set the oven a bit too high, resulting in beautiful, disgusting, bitter caramel corn. It was so hard not to eat it, it still looked so good and I kept trying it, hoping that it was only the piece I got last time that was bitter. Alas, every bite was more disgusting then the last…it was like being out on the ocean and seeing all that beautiful water and you can’t drink any of it.

Anyway, into the trash went all that carmel coated gorgeousness, but really this story has a happy ending, check back in on Friday for (Not So) Good Caramel Corn, the Sequel…and just like Aliens or the Empire Strikes Back, the Sequel will be way better than the original!

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Here’s hoping you all had as lovely a weekend as we did! Lauren had her big recital and delivered a beautiful (3 minute!) performance of Bach’s Bouree’, we had a ball at the birthday party of a dear friend who I am shocked to tell you has turned six (where does the time go with these Little People?), enjoyed a much needed dinner out with wonderful friends, and finished off with an excellent church service followed by a rockin’ football game and fun with the Fam!

Now, back to the kitchen I go and here’s what I’ll be cooking up this week…

Monday

  • Steak- Our new meat is in so out with the old, in with the new!
  • Salad
  • Baked Potatoes

Tuesday

  • Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
  • Salad
  • Bruschetta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

Wednesday

  • Turkey Burgers
  • Baked French Fries

Thursday

  • Chicken Curry
  • Steamed Rice

Friday

  • Chili Cheese Dogs
  • Root Beer Floats

Saturday

Friends Over For Dinner!

  • Stacked Enchiladas
  • Carrot Cake

Sunday

  • Out-Football and Dinner with the Fam…Go Tebow!

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Last year I was down for a spell with a touch of the flu which was, of course, miserable. I was so sick I couldn’t even eat and let me tell you that the circumstances under which I am unable to eat are rare, indeed. In fact, as a sidebar, my ringtone when I call my brother is the voice of that little Hobbit from Lord of the Rings asking if Aragorn knew that he needed a “second breakfast”…suffice it to say that I don’t skip many meals. However, in this case, I was so sick that I hadn’t actually eaten in a few days…and then, just as I was about to be able to fit into my jeans again, a food angel showed up in the form of my adorable sister in law and she brought with her a magical healing serum in the form of her awesome Chicken Noodle Soup.

I got one whiff of all that delicious Chicken Soup-y broth and I started to feel better immediately…but then I locked eyes with those thick, home made noodles and, inexplicably, I felt so well I was able to eat again. I won’t lie to you, it was, like, Wow!

And all of that flavor combined with my miraculous recovery, well, it made for a darn nice afternoon.

As you all know, the weather has already turned and cold and flu season is upon us so if I were you I would run out right now and get all the stuff for this delectable soup before you find yourself sick or snowed in or way too thin…if you don’t, you’ll wish you did!

Gena’s Awesome Chicken Soup

1 ½ cups cooked cubed chicken (I use the Chicken Thighs for more taste)

1 cup sliced carrots

½ cup chopped onion

1 parsnip peeled and cubed

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

4 14 ½ oz. ready to serve chicken broth

3 ½ oz.  (2 cups) uncooked wide egg noodles  (I use grandma’s homemade frozen noodles in the organic frozen isle)

 

In large soup pot combine all ingredients except noodles, mix well.  Cook over medium heat 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.  Then microwave frozen grandmas noodles for 60 seconds.  Open the package and empty the warm noodles into the soup. Cook 15 minutes or until desired tenderness.  

 

Yum………….. My favorite soup 😉  Enjoy!!

My husband can not vouch for this soup because I made such a miraculous recovery that I was able to ingest it all…I thought that was best what with my poor health and all. But if he could tell you about it, I am sure he would completely agree with me that not only does this soup have amazing depth and flavor (the dill is a stroke of genius!) but it also has incredible healing qualities, too!

Thank you for sharing this with us, Gena! You and your soup are awesome!


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