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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oaxacan Red Chile Enchiladas

Making enchilada sauce from scratch is very easy and tastes a million times better than the canned stuff!  This recipe is slightly different than traditional red sauce.  It's very garlicky, a little spicy and a little sweet.  I like to double the sauce ingredients and freeze half later, to use over quesadillas or in beans (or in another batch of enchiladas!) 


Yield: approx 6 servings 



1 medium white onion, diced

2 whole dried guajillo chiles
8 cloves garlic, peeled
6 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 serrano chiles (remove seeds for a less spicy sauce)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. fresh chopped oregano
2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 slice white bread, toasted and crumbled
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
Kosher salt, to taste
18 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
3 cups cheddar cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping) 

1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese 
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup copped cilantro
Salsa (for serving)
Heat a skillet over high and add the dried chiles. Toast for about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with boiling water, then allow to soak for about 20 minutes.  Drain the chiles, reserving the liquid, and remove the stems and seeds.  Transfer the chiles to a blender or food processor along with enough of the soaking liquid to cover the chiles.  Purée until smooth, and then set the chile purée aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat, and add the whole garlic cloves, tomatoes, chiles, spices, herbs, and onion.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.  Add the chicken stock, lime juice, sugar and bread, then cook until the mixture has thickened a bit.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once the mixture has cooled, pour into a blender with the chile puree.  Purée until smooth, then season with salt to taste.  That's the sauce!

For the chicken, I usually boil boneless skinless chicken breast for about 30 minutes, allow it to cool, then shred it by hand.  Depending on how saucy you want your enchiladas, you can add about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce to the chicken to coat it.  If not using additional sauce, add a bit of salt and pepper to the chicken so it isn't bland.

Now, set up your enchilada making station!  One bowl of chicken, one bowl of enchilada sauce, one bowl of cheddar cheese, and a pile of tortillas!  And a casserole dish.

The tortillas must be warm in order for them to be pliable enough to fold.  The traditional way to make them pliable would be to fry them, but personally I find that adds more grease (and more calories!) than necessary.  What I usually do is heat about half of the tortillas in the microwave at a time - about 30 seconds will do it.  It won't affect the flavor at all, and if the tortillas get cold while working, you can just nuke them again.

To assemble the enchiladas, start by spooning a bit of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish.  Dip a warm tortilla in the enchilada sauce bowl to coat each side.  Place chicken and cheese in the center of the tortilla, then roll tightly.  Place seam side down into the casserole dish, then repeat until the casserole dish is full.  Spoon additional enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.

Bake enchiladas in a 350 degree oven until melty and brown on top, or about 30 minutes.

To serve, transfer the enchiladas to a serving platter.  Sprinkle with cotija cheese, onion rings, and cilantro, and of course, don't forget salsa on the side!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Double Decker Inside-Out Grilled Ham & Cheese Sammie

This makes an enormous sandwich that you can share with a sandwich loving friend, or eat for two meals!  The method of cooking the cheese into each side of the bread makes for an extra crispy, cheesy sandwich.

Yield: 1 giant sandwich (serves 2)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large slices crusty Italian or Panini bread
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 pound sliced Swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese 
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound deli sliced ham

Optional:  any desired condiments or vegetables

Heat a griddle, grill pan, or large skillet to medium high heat.  Butter each side of the slices of bread.  Place the bread pieces (you may have to work in batches, depending on the size of your surface) onto the hot surface.  Sprinkle the top of each slice of bread with Parmigiano, cheddar and mozzarella, a light coating for the surface of each slice, about a teaspoon of each cheese.  Allow the cheese to melt for about a minute, then flip over to cook into the bread.  If the cheese falls off, don't worry!  Just place the slide of bread right on top of it, it will still cook into the bread.

Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is cooked into each slice of bread and is golden brown.  Repeat on each side for all remaining pieces of bread, then remove from heat, leaving the heat on but turning down to medium.

Top three of the slices with the swiss cheese and ham and sprinkle with remaining cheeses, repeating and stacking the sandwich as you go.  Cover with the fourth slide of bread and press together, then place back on the hot surface and cook until the cheese melts, turning once, about 5 more minutes. Cut in half and serve warm, with any desired garnishes.  Enjoy!


Chocolate Strawberry French Toast Roll-Ups

These are super easy to make and delicious for breakfast or dessert.

Yield:  Serves 2-4

8 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup prepared chocolate sauce
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Optional:  Maple syrup, for serving

Flatten each piece of bread slightly with a rolling pin.  Place about two teaspoons of the strawberries on one end of the bread in a strip.  Roll the bread tightly and repeat.

Next, whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl.  Heat a griddle or skillet to medium heat and add the butter.  As the butter melts, dip each french toast roll in the egg mixture, coating on all sides.  Place them on the heated surface, seam side down.  Cook in batches until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Serve warm, drizzled with the chocolate sauce and dusted with powdered sugar, with maple syrup on the side, if desired.  Enjoy!
Note: This is an easy recipe to customize, and would be good with any type of fruit, or stuffed with cream cheese, peanut butter, or nutella, or rolled in cinnamon-sugar, etc.

Beer-Battered Buffalo Fried Shrimp

Buffalo sauce!  This is a perfect appetizer or you could make it and serve it over pasta.

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dark beer
1 1/2 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 celery stalks, sliced diagonally

Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup prepared buffalo sauce
3 tablespoons melted butter

Optional:  Ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping 

Heat several inches of vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until a deep fry thermometer reaches 375 degrees.

Whisk the flour, beer, and 4 tablespoons of the buffalo sauce in a large bowl.  Add the shrimp to the bowl and toss to coat.  Cook the shrimp in batches, frying until fully cooked and golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per batch.  Do not overcook or your shrimp will be tough.  Drain on paper towels.

Add the sliced celery to the remaining batter and toss to coat with the sauce, then fry the celery until crisp, about 2-3 minutes.  When ready to serve, whisk the buffalo sauce and butter together, and serve on the side with the warm buffalo shrimp, celery, and ranch or blue cheese dressing, if desired.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

French Fry Hamburger Bun

Okay, so this is barely a recipe... it's almost an edible craft idea.  I personally don't like to put french fries on a burger but I know many people (including my boyfriend Kyle) who do this to a burger every time they eat one, so the concept makes a lot of sense.  And of course it's an impressive presentation!

I won't bore you with a standard french fry and hamburger recipe- I'm sure you can figure that part out for yourselves : )

French Fries (fresh or frozen will work)
Wilton Edible Adhesive
Hambuger Patties
Any desired garnishes (cheese, condiments, veggies, pickles, etc)

Note:  You can find the Wilton Edible Adhesive in any craft store, such as Joanne's Fabrics or Michael's.  It is normally used for decorating wedding cakes, so it can be found in the cake decorating aisle.  It costs about $6-7 bucks and can be used for lots of other edible projects - pic below!
Assemble the buns first.  I have done this twice, once with fresh french fries and once with frozen.  The only discernible difference was that the fresh potatoes glued together more readily, probably because they were not as wet.  However, I did like using the frozen fries because I had more options for shapes & sizes to glue together.  If you don't usually make homemade french fries at home, now would be the time to give it a try!  They taste infinitely better than the frozen ones you're used to eating (and that most restaurants are serving you!)

Heat the oil that you plan to fry your french fries in to 400 degrees, or preheat an oven to 450 degrees if you plan to bake them.  Begin by assembling the puzzle of your bun, using longer and shorter pieces to achieve the desired shape.  Then separate them and glue them in the order you assembled them in.  Allow to dry for about 5 minutes, then fry or bake your french fry buns.

If frying, use a large pair of tongs or metal spatula to carefully remove them from the oil to drain.  If any pieces fall off, don't freak out!  The glue has no flavor or texture and you can easily reglue the piece without any noticeable difference to the food.

Finally, make your burgers, add your desired toppings, and enjoy!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Oaxacan Black Mole with Braised Chicken Thighs

Mole is an acquired taste, especially a dark mole like this one, which tends to be more spicy and intense than a red or green version.   When I first tried mole, I hated it.  But, I eat a vast amount of Mexican food, and am pretty much obsessed with Mexican regional cuisine... so I never gave up on it completely.

Now that I've developed a taste for mole, I respect it.  So much so that I was teaching mole classes over the summer!  The word really just means sauce, and there are literally thousands of different preparations.  It is usually rich, spicy and complex, full of seemingly out of place ingredients that pair surprising well together.

This recipe is no exception, so don't freak out when you read the list of ingredients!  I've made this particular mole negro about 20 times and it is one of my favorite recipes.  It isn't difficult to make, just a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort.

Yield: 8-10 servings

2 1/2 quarts water
4 cups chicken stock
3-4 lbs bone-in chicken thighs
2 onions, quartered
6 peeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 poblano peppers
4 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 plantains, sliced
1/8 cup golden raisins
2 slices bread, toasted
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup rum
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon oregano
2 peppercorns
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional garnishes:

Additional sesame seeds, fresh cilantro, sour cream, chopped onions

Brown the sesame seeds in an ungreased skillet. Transfer the seeds to a blender or food processor and add the dried guajillo chiles, poblanos, and tomatoes. Add 1 cup of chicken stock to speed the blending. Blend together well, then strain through a sieve or cheesecloth. Discard any thick residue that remains. Transfer the blended ingredients to a large pot.

In the same skillet, divide the oil and cook in several batches the nuts, peppercorns, and seeds, onions, garlic, plantains, raisins, and bread. The onions, garlic and nuts should be lightly browned and the plantains should be soft. The raisins should brown slightly.

As the ingredients are cooked, transfer them to the blender and puree, adding stock if necessary, then straining and adding to the pot. Repeat until all of the ingredients have been cooked, strained and added to the pot, adding the peanut butter into one of the last blender mixes. Add any remaining chicken stock, rum, cocoa powder, seasoning and bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Reduce the heat, add the chicken, and let the mixture simmer on medium for 60-90 minutes, or until the chicken is soft and falling off the bone.

At this point, taste the sauce.  If it is too bitter or not quite flavorful enough, you can add either vinegar or sugar, or both, to balance the taste.   Add very lightly, then taste, so as not to ruin the sauce.  Lime juice is another option to intensify the flavor.  If the sauce is too spicy, adding more water or stock can work, or you can serve it with sour cream to cut the heat.  Either way, give it one more final taste and season with salt, if necessary, before serving.

Serve warm, with rice and or beans, and garnished with cilantro, lime wedges, onions and/or sour cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Baked Chili-Cheese Dogs

This is a great recipe to make if you're having a Superbowl party, or if you're just having people of the male persuasion over.  I've included a link to my new favorite chili recipe, but I won't sue you if you use your own recipe, or, god forbid, chili out of a can.

Leah's Chili Recipe

Yield:  Serves 4-8

8 hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
2 cups chili
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Hot dog garnishes/condiments (optional)
Such as chopped onion, pickles or relish, mustard, ketchup, diced tomato and/or pepperocini, etc

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Place a hot dog into each bun, then place into pan.  Repeat until all of the hot dogs have been squeezed into place.

Ladle approximately 1/3 cup of chili onto each hot dog and then sprinkle with each of the cheeses.  Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until cheese is melty and buns are brown.  Use a flexible spatula to remove hot dogs from pan, then serve with desired garnishes and condiments.  Enjoy! 

Note:  I made a sort of healthy version - turkey franks with turkey chili.  Of course, the cheese is still a heart attack waiting to happen, but you do what you can!  The point is, you can customize this easily with any type of franks, chili and/or cheese.

Sweet Surrender Fire Roasted Turkey Chili

People are always trying to reinvent chili, but I've always preferred the basic formula. What's not to like about old fashioned chili with all the standard spices and fixings?

For this recipe, I wanted to try making a sweeter version, to use as a topping for baked chili dogs (recipe coming up!). I experimented with a baked beans sort of flavor by adding molasses and brown sugar and surprise- it's my favorite chili recipe ever!  Of course you can sub any type of meat for the turkey burger, or omit altogether for a meatless version.  This is a particularly colorful chili, with four kinds of beans and five kinds of peppers.

Yield: 6-8 servings

3 bell peppers (1 each yellow, green and red), seeded and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper
1 head of garlic
1 16 ounce can each black, pinto, kidney and white beans
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3 cups chicken broth
1 pound ground turkey, browned and drained
3 dried arbol chiles, seeds and stems removed
3 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper, to taste

Start by roasting the peppers, garlic and onion.  Peel the onion and break the garlic cloves apart, but leave inside the skin.  Leave the peppers whole.  Drizzle the veggies lightly with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and roast in a 400 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, turning once, until the vegetables are soft and have begun to char.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then peel the garlic and set aside.  Dice the peppers (remove the skin if desired, I actually like the flavor and color of it in the chili), jalapeno, and onion.

Add the vegetables to a large pot with 2 cups of the chicken broth, reserving one cup.  Add the cans of beans (including the liquid from the cans), diced tomatoes, molasses and brown sugar, and turn heat to medium.

For this recipe, I used a fun technique I learned from another recipe, roasting the chiles and then pureeing them to make a version of my own chili powder.  Yum!  If you want, you can omit the arbol chiles and add additional prepared chili powder to taste, skipping this next step altogether, but it's fun ; ) and I thought it added a nice flavor and creamy texture to the chili.

In a separate skillet, roast the dried arbol chiles over high heat for 2-4 minutes, until they begin to brown.  Remove and cool.  Add the roasted chiles to the bowl of a blender or food processor, along with the reserved cup of chicken broth, flour, roasted garlic, and spices (cumin, oregano, and chili powder).  Process until incorporated into a smooth paste, then scrape from the bowl and reserve.

Next, cook the turkey meat over high heat until browned.  Drain and add to the chili.  Add the pureed chili powder to the chili, mixing to incorporate.  If you are concerned about the heat or seasoning, add in batches and taste until you are happy with the flavor.  Cook the chili for about an hour, until it thickens and the beans and meat are sufficiently tender, then season to taste and serve.  Add cayenne or additional chili powder if more heat is desired, and any of the traditional garnishes (cheese, sour cream, onions, cilantro, etc).  Enjoy!