Monday, October 20, 2014

Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Salsa Verde & Monterey Jack Cheese

It's no secret that I love Mexican food.  In fact, I've been known to make comments like "I think I was Mexican in a past life" (I'm a European mutt) and "I could eat Mexican every day of my life if my waistline would let me."  And because of my absolute love for South of the Border yums, I do try to make it on the healthier side.  Anyway, when I saw this recipe online (sorry to the source, because I can't remember where!) I knew I had to try it.  I have a favorite enchilada recipe that I make regularly, but it's a bit time-consuming and has a lot of cheese involved (including cream cheese).  These are much lighter, and prettier, and I bet they'd make a great make-ahead meal during a busy week or to take to a neighbor in need.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar tomatillo salsa
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 large flour tortillas
2 cups shredded pepper-jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 500°F. 

Place the chicken in a large stockpot and fill with water to cover chicken by one inch.   Bring water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and poach for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove to a cutting board and chop into 1-inch pieces. 

While the chicken cooks, in a cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the salsa and lime zest.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until thickened and slightly reduced in volume.  Remove from heat.

While the salsa simmers, in a medium bowl, combine the black beans, cumin, chopped chicken, half the cilantro, the lime juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and half the cheese.  Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spread a thin layer of the salsa mixture in the bottom of a baking dish.  Divide the chicken mixture between the tortillas.  Roll each filled tortilla tightly and place in the baking dish, seam side down.

Pour the remaining salsa mixture over the enchiladas, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.  Place in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining cilantro.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Santa Fe Soup

This recipe comes curtesy of a dear friend of my mama's. Mom emailed me the recipe years ago, along with a story about how she took a double* of this recipe to a tailgate at the Army-Navy game and it was gobbled up in record time! Of course, the Army-Navy game was being played in Pennsylvania in December, and has a tradition of being bitterly cold, so it's no wonder the tailgaters wanted something warm and hearty. Included in Mom's story was the tale of how she wrapped her empty soup pot (a Calphalon one, no less) in a plastic bag so it wouldn't roll in the car and make a mess on the way home. My little brother, trying to be helpful, dumped the trash before they left the stadium. Well, you can guess what happened. Mom didn't discover her missing pot until they were back home in Virginia and it was far too late! Anyway, make this soup for a tailgate or gamewatch...or, if you're like me, you'll make it when it's 3 degrees outside with a windchill of -8!

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can whole kernel corn, undrained 
1 can black beans, undrained 
1 can pinto beans, undrained 
1 can kidney beans, undrained 
1 can diced tomatoes with green chili peppers, undrained 
1 can zucchini in tomato sauce, undrained 
2 packages ranch dressing mix (1 spicy and 1 regular) 
2 packages taco seasoning mix 
2 cups water 
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped 
diced avocado 
shredded cheddar cheese 
sour cream 
crunchy tortilla strips

Brown the meat. Drain well, unless using lean meat. Add onions and garlic. Continue to cook until onion is soft and translucent and garlic is fragrant.  Add canned goods, seasonings, and water. Mix well and simmer until time to serve.

Just before serving, stir in cilantro (save some for garnish, if you'd like).

Top with avocado, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

This recipe serves a crowd, particularly if you double it*!!  Feel free to let 'er go all day long in a Crock Pot set to medium.

***To double this recipe, simply add an extra can of corn, diced tomatoes, and zucchini!!***

Monday, October 6, 2014

BLT Salad

Who doesn't love a great salad?  While I certainly can appreciate a dinner salad, I also rarely put a meal on the table without some greens on the side.  By now it's a habit.  I grew up loving salad, and loving watching my dad mix up some Italian dressing in one of those old-school carafes.  In my teens, we saw the advent of "salad in a bag" kits, so we were often treated with Caesar salad at suppertime.  And while that certainly makes my busy life a ton easier, every now and then I like to change things up and do something a little different.  When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it.  I'm a sucker for a BLT, so this was a natural choice for me.  And it goes great with a steak.  Don't believe me?  Fine, but it's your loss!  Enjoy!

2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup olive oil
pepper to taste
1 head lettuce (I like romaine the best)
6 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
2 tomatoes, chopped

Whisk the mustard, honey, vinegar, mayonnaise, nutmeg, olive oil, and pepper together in a bowl.  Cut the lettuce into wedges, or tear if you prefer it that way, and place on salad plates or in a large serving bowl.  Cover the lettuce with bacon and tomatoes.  Drizzle with a generous portion of the dressing.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from My Mama Made That, by the Junior League of Hampton Roads.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

This Month: Hearty Mid-Week Meal

School is in session, the leaves are changing colors, the air is getting crisp, and the holiday season is fast approaching.  As life gets busy, it's always nice to have an easy one-dish meal in the works for the middle of the week.  Flavorful casseroles, hearty soups, and quick one-skillet suppers make a busy week much more relaxing.  Prep these on Sunday and you'll have meals that just need to be popped in the oven when you get home from work, chauffeuring kids, or whatever keeps your life on fast forward this Autumn!

Grilled Ham and Gruyere with Apples

Monday, September 29, 2014

Smoky Cheese Fries

I don't know about you, but there is just something about football games that screams for cheesy fries!  These pack some heat with the added chipotles, so adjust the flavors as you see fit.  Try different cheeses to your liking.  Season the fries, or even try different cuts of fry to sop up as much of the sauce as your little heart desires.  Just make sure to keep it one likes cold cheese...or cold fries!

1 large pacakge frozen waffle fries
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 chipotles in adobo, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons adobo sauce

Preheat the oven and bake the fries according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat.  Stir in the flour to make a roux.  Add the tomato paste, stirring to combine.  Whisk in the milk.  When the milk begins to bubble and thicken, add the cheese, chipotles, and adobo sauce.  Season with salt.

Serve the fries piping hot with a bowl of the hot cheese dip on the side.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pimento Cheese Patty Melts

I'd never had a patty melt until I tried this recipe. And now I can't believe how I survived! I found this recipe on the internet somewhere (my guess would be Rachael Ray) and tweaked it ever so slightly to accommodate the contents of my pantry. This is the perfect dish to grill up at your next Game Watch, or just for a weekend cookout with your friends and family. The pimento-cheese is classically Southern, the bacon is a traditional accompaniment to grilled meat, and the patty melt version makes this sandwich just the tiniest bit different from your everyday cheeseburger. Serve it up with your favorite fries (we like sweet potato fries in our house) and crunchy dill pickles on the side! Enjoy!

8 slices smoky bacon
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
Coarse salt and pepper
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 cups sharp yellow cheddar, shredded
1 roasted red pepper, diced (or 4 oz diced pimentos, drained)
4 oz package cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tobasco
1 teaspoon paprika
2-4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
Softened butter
8 slices good-quality white bread

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bacon on a broiler pan until crisp, about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, season the beef with salt and pepper. Mix in the worcestershire, parsley and onion. Form 4 large patties (thinner in the middle for even cooking). 

Heat a large skillet or cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat. Add the patties and grill, turning once, 10-15 minutes for medium-well. Transfer to a plate. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cheddar, roasted pepper, cream cheese, mayo, hot sauce, paprika and garlic until well mixed. 

Reheat the skillet or griddle over medium heat. Butter 1 side of each bread slice, placing buttered side down on a work surface. Spread with cheese mixture. Top each slice with a burger, 2 pieces of bacon and another bread slice. Griddle until golden and the cheese is melted. 

Serves 4.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cheesy Chicken Tostadas

Everyone knows I love Mexican food.  Good thing my husband loves it too, or we'd be in a world of hurt with most of my cravings, restaurant choices, and at least one meal a week!  And for some reason, Mexican food seems to go great with sports.  I mean, who doesn't love nachos during the big game?  But, let's get real.  Mexican food and game day food are not known for their nutrition factor.  In fact, just the opposite.  And while I fully subscribe to giving yourself some wiggle room over the weekend, I never want to totally derail my diet and exercise program for a few guilt-free hours of gorging myself at the game watch.  Enter this recipe.  Straight out of one of my many South Beach Diet cookbooks, these tasty tostadas are great as appetizers, lunches, or a light(ish) dinner.  I've made them several times, much to the delight of my husband, who has absolutely no idea that they're "chick food"!!  Take them to your next tailgate, and let the ladies know they can have their football, and eat too!!

4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas (except that I typically buy these)
5 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound chicken breast cutlets, cut into thin strips (or thinly slice a boneless, skinless breast)
1/3 cup minced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 can diced tomatoes, well drained (go for the Mexican varieties, which are easy to find)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese (Mexican blend, sharp cheddar, or pepper jack are great choices)
1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced
fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the oven to 400.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Place the tortillas on the baking sheet.  Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the tortillas on one side with olive oil, then lightly sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp.  Remove from the oven and turn the oven to broil.  Leave the tortillas on the baking sheet.

While the tortillas are baking, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 4 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, onion, garlic, and jalapeño and sprinkle with salt.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until the chicken is almost cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and coriander.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes.

Top the tortillas evenly with the chicken mixture, then sprinkle evenly with the cheese.  Broil 6 inches from the heat, watching carefully to prevent the tortillas from burning, just until the cheese melts.  Top evenly with avocado and garnish with fresh cilantro.  Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook, by Arthur Agatston.