Friday, August 24, 2012

Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

I've been cooking the recipes of Rick Bayless once a week for five full months now.  This recipe, for Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, is hands down my favorite Rick Bayless recipe from the whole five month period.  I am so glad I spotted this dish over on the Sweet Life or else I may have missed out on it's deliciousness.

These enchiladas are absolute perfection in my opinion.  The sauce is a flavorful and creamy combination of spinach and poblano chiles with just the right hint of garlic. That delicious sauce blankets the corn tortillas and chicken to make for one extremely comforting dish.  These enchiladas were pretty much inhaled at my house.  Next time around I'd consider doubling the recipe so there would be leftovers.

Instead of rolling individual enchiladas I chose to make more of an enchilada bake.  I used twelve corn tortillas, layering six of them on the bottom of the dish, adding the filling, then layering the remaining six corn tortillas on top (the directions below reflect this). This style is much easier, quicker, and way less messy and I like the end result just as well.  I would recommend this style over hand rolling twelve enchiladas any day of the week.  However, if you choose to hand roll the enchiladas then you will need to soften your corn tortillas by heating them until they are pliable and brushing them with a little oil so you can work with them.

One Note:  Once I assembled the enchilada bake I felt like there was way too much sauce to pour over the top.  I went ahead and poured all that sauce on anyway and I'm glad I did.  The enchiladas really soak up that sauce and everything turned out excellent.  So, if you decide to make this recipe, go ahead and pour all that sauce on top.  You'll be happy you did!
Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from SweetLife
Serves 4-6

2 poblano chiles
1 cup roughly chopped spinach leaves
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter 
 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup flour
3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (I bought a rotisserie chicken)
12 corn tortillas
A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero, monterrey jack, or mild cheddar)
cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F.
Make the sauce– Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler. Turning regularly, until the skins have blistered and blackened on all side, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes under the broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and, when handleable, rub off the blackened skin, tear open and pull out the seed pod and stem. Quickly rinse to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Roughly chop and put in a blender jar. Add the spinach. 
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and broth, set over medium-low heat to warm.
In a large (4quart) saucepan, melt butter (or heat the oil) over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute to release its aroma, then add flour and stir the mixture for a minute. Raise the heat to medium-high.  Pour in the warm broth mixture and whisk constantly until the sauce boils. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. 
Pour half the hot sauce into the blender with the chiles and spinach. Cover loosely (I remove the center part of the lid, secure the lid, then drape a cloth over the whole thing.) and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce. Taste and season well with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons. 
Finishing the enchiladas– smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish. Stir 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.  Next, lay half of the tortillas (six) on top of the sauce that you added to the 13 x9 baking dish.  Now lay all of the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas making sure to spread the chicken in an even layer on top of the tortillas.  Finally, layer the remaining six tortillas on top of the chicken and cover the tortillas with the remaining sauce (this will seems like a lot of sauce but the enchiladas really absorb it well so go ahead and use it all).  Top the sauce with the shredded cheese and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.  Remove the enchiladas and garnish with cilantro.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto

Have you ever had dates before?  If not, then you totally should!  Dates are so sweet and chewy and really go a long way in satisfying your sweet tooth.  They can be hard to find (I found mine in the produce section of Trader Joe's) and they can also be expensive (about $5.00 for 16), but in my opinion they are worth sourcing.   

Dates are delicious just as they are, but stuffing them with cheese and wrapping them in prosciutto makes them heavenly and addictive!  These dates are split down the center and stuffed with creamy mascarpone and tangy goat cheese.  They are then wrapped with a slice of prosciutto.  They are sweet, chewy, creamy, tangy, and salty.  The perfect one bite appetizer.
Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
recipe available on Food

1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 ounces) mascarpone cheese, a room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 Medjool dates (12 ounces), pitted
8 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
 *Special equipment: 16 toothpicks or cocktail picks

In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses and basil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently pull and/or cut the dates apart, remove the pit if necessary, and stuff with about 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Close the dates around the filling. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each date and secure with a toothpick.  Arrange the stuffed dates on a platter and serve (I served my dates on a bed of baby arugula).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Antipasto Skewers

Once a month the ladies in my neighborhood get together to play bunco, a totally brainless dice game.  Upon reading this, you might be picturing nice little housewives all dressed up playing a proper game of dice.  I can assure you that it's nothing like that.  There's nothing proper about bunco night. 

Bunco night is our night.  We look forward to it all month.  The messy houses, hyper kids, broken vehicles, and numerous other problems and errands get left at the door.  For that night we let our hair down, we dress in costume, we turn the radio up loud, and we get our drink on!

Last Friday night I hosted bunco at my house and I made a few munchies.  These antipasto skewers were probably the all-around favorite.  Salty little bites of salami and pepperoni, smooth and silky balls of mozzarella, pungent briney bites of kalamata olives, marinated cheese tortellini, and gorgeous garden fresh cherry tomatoes all skewered together and coated in Italian or Balsamic dressing.  Serve these up on a bed of baby arugula and you have a really pretty and tasty appetizer for a party.  I also think these skewers would be great to pack in a lunchbox.

You can use so many different ingredients here (marinated artichokes, strips of roasted red pepper, green olives, black olives, salami, pepperoni, cubes of mozzarella, balls of mozzarella, basically anything you'd see on an antipasto plate).  Additionally, you can use any kind of dressing.  I used balsamic dressing on half and plain old Italian dressing on the other half.  Surprisingly, the skewers  with balsamic dressing seemed to go faster. 

These are great make ahead appetizers because the flavors do improve if they have a few hours to marinate together.

Antipasto Skewers
Adapted from Hungry Housewife

1  (9 oz) package of Three Cheese Tortellini, cooked to package directions
1 Large Jar of Large pitted Black Olives (I used Kalamata)
1 container grape or cherry tomatoes
2 (12 oz) containers of marinated mozzarella balls
30 slices of Salami, cut in half
60 pieces of pepperoni
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing or Italian Dressing (store bought or homemade)
60 Skewers  (or however many you want to make)

Place the cooked tortellini in a bowl or large gallon freeze bag. Pour the salad dressing over the top and marinade in the fridge for a few hours. Drain the pasta. Place one of each item onto the skewer using the pointy side (I did kalamata olive first, then a tortellini, followed by a tomato, then a ball of mozzarella, slice of pepperoni, another tortellini, another olive, and then a rolled up piece of salami). The skewers look especially pretty if you serve them on a bed of arugula (or any other type of green).

Can be made a few hours in advance. Just cover tightly and place in the refrigerator.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Spicy Chorizo, Zucchini, and Egg Breakfast Tacos

After a late night, and a fair share of cocktails, you need a really hearty breakfast.  And, I'm not sure why, but I always crave spicy food the morning after.  The spicier the better.

This recipe is a combination of two recipes from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday cookbook.  I took inspiration from his Zucchini Tacos with Chorizo and also his recipe for Mexican Scrambled Egg Tacos and combined them. 

These breakfast tacos are a spicy blend of chorizo, onion, zucchini, chipotle chiles, and scrambled egg.  They're spicy, hearty, full of flavor and just what the doctor ordered after a night of partying.
Spicy Chorizo, Zucchini and Egg Breakfast Tacos
Inspired by Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
Makes about 4 breakfast tacos

8 ounces chorizo, removed from casing
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 chipotle chile en adobo, chopped (divided)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1/2 cup total)
4 eggs
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon butter or canola oil
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
4 flour or corn tortillas
hot sauce or salsa for serving

Add 1 teaspoon canola oil to a medium sized skillet over medium heat.  Add chorizo to pan , stirring regularly and breaking up clumps, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Add finely chopped onion, half of the chopped chipotle chile en adobo, and the zucchini.  Cook over low heat until the flavors blend and the zucchini begins to soften, about 4-5 minutes.

In a medium sized bowl, beat four eggs.  Add the remaining half of the chopped chipotles in adobo as well as salt and pepper to taste.  In a second skillet, over medium-low heat, add one teaspoon butter or canola oil.  Add the beaten egg mixture and cook until the eggs are as done as you like.  Add the cooked eggs to the chorizo and zucchini mixture and stir until everything is mixed together. 

Heat flour or corn tortillas in a skillet over medium heat.  Add chorizo, zucchini, and egg mixture and top with cheese.  Enjoy!

Theme: Feel the Heat!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Vegetables with Sausage and Potatoes

I first noticed this meal on the fabulous blog, Skinnytaste and had to make it right away. Sausage and peppers is one of my all-time favorite things to eat and I was completely smitten with trying this healthier version.  This is one of the most beautiful meals I've cooked in some time. The red, orange, and yellow bell peppers mix with the green zucchini and white potatoes to create a real feast for the eyes.  This dish is a great way to celebrate summer.

 Did I forget to mention that this is a one-pot meal and it's healthy too? Total Score!
Summer Vegetables with Sausage and Potatoes
Adapted from
4-6 servings

1 lb baby red potatoes, cut in half or quartered
2 tsp oil (I found I needed slightly more)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
14 oz Italian chicken sausage, sliced 1-inch thick (or use your favorite sausage)*
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of the knife
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares 
1 red bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
2 tbsp fresh rosemary (I garnished with basil)
2 cups zucchini, 1/2 inch thick and quartered

Place oil and potatoes in a large, deep non-stick skillet with a tight fitting lid on high heat; season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. When the skillet gets hot and starts to sizzle, reduce heat to low and cook with a tight lid on for about 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent the potatoes from burning. Remove from heat and let them sit 5 minutes without removing the lid.  Set potatoes aside on a dish.

Add the sausage to the skillet and saute on medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until browned but not quite cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season chopped vegetables with salt and pepper. Add onions, peppers, garlic and rosemary to the skillet and mix. Continue cooking stirring occasionally until onions and peppers become slightly browned. Add zucchini and cook an additional 5 minutes, mixing as it cooks until cooked through.

Return the potatoes back to the skillet and mix well. Adjust salt and pepper as needed; cover and cook 5 more minutes.

Makes about 7 1/2 cups.
Servings: 4 • Size: little over 1 3/4 cups • Old Points: 7 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 326 • Fat: 11 g • Protein: 23 g • Carb: 33.5 g • Fiber: 5.3 g • Sugar: 5 g
Sodium: 897 mg

*If made with other sausage (such as classic Italian or turkey sausage) the calorie count will increase, but I bet it would taste fantastic!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Queso Fundido Burger

Introducing the Queso Fundido Burger.  A thick meat patty made of ground beef and cooked chorizo that is studded with spicy chopped chipotle chiles in adobo and topped with loads of melting monterey jack cheese, roasted poblano strips, caramelized onions, and garlic.  Serve it all on a lightly toasted bun and it's one incredible burger!

 Queso Fundido Burger
Adapted from
Serves 4

2 fresh medium poblano chiles
1 medium onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons oil
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
8 ounces chorizo, cooked
1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely minced, seeded if you wish
8 thick slices Monterey Jack cheese
4 hamburger buns, lightly toasted

Roast the poblanos over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler.  Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let cool.  Rub off the blackened skin and pull out the stems and seed pods.  Cut into 1/4-inch strips.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium.  Once the oil is hot, add the onions, stirring frequently until it begins to brown, 7 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and poblano and cook for 2 minutes.  Season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon.  Scrape the rajas into a bowl and cover to keep warm.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, cooked chorizo, chipotles and 1 1/2  teaspoon salt.  Mix until well combined.  Divide the meat into 4 equal portions and form the patties.

Heat a gas grill to medium-high, or light a charcoal fire and let it burn until the charcoal is covered with white ash (and about medium hot); bank the coals to one side.  (It was too hot for me to grill outside so I just cooked the patties in a skillet on the stove, about 3-4 minutes per side). Place the hamburger patties on the grill and cook for a total of 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare.

Lay one piece of cheese on top of each burger, top with the warm rajas and then another piece of cheese.  Close the lid and continue cooking until the cheese has melted about 1 minute.  Remove from the grill and place on a toasted bun.  Serve immediately.
Theme: Green, Green, Green