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Chicken Enchiladas

We have a white chicken enchilada recipe that we love and Brandon requests all the time but I kept reading great reviews of a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. When I saw Josie blog about them and deemed them, “the best enchiladas ever,” I knew that I had to try this recipe. I think that Josie and I have really similar tastes. I don’t think she’s ever posted anything on her blog that I wouldn’t make. If you haven’t checked out her blog, Pink Parsley, you are totally missing out!

These enchiladas lived up to the hype. They were fabulous and I seriously couldn’t stop talking about how much I loved them. I think every time I took a bite I “mmm’d” and said “this is sooo good.” I couldnt’ wait to have the leftovers for dinner the next night. My favorite thing about them is that the enchilada sauce is homemade and not from a can. I am really trying to eliminate canned soups and sauces from our meals and this sauce was so much better than anything you can buy in a can and was relatively easy to make.

These enchiladas would be perfect for everything from a family dinner to entertaining to taking a meal to friends. I served them with Mexican Quinoa. A wonderful meal!

One Year Ago: Rocky Road Brownies (the FIRST recipe of 68 Days of Gourmet!)

Chicken Enchiladas
(Recipe source Pink Parsley, originally from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
1 teaspoon canola or olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large breasts)
1 cup extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch soft taco size) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add onion, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar. Cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, water and chopped tomato. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.

Nestle chicken into the sauce and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through (internal temperature should read 160 degrees), about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a strainer into a medium bowl. Press the onion mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the onions to a large bowl and set aside. Season sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the onion mixture. Add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1 cup cheese, and cilantro. Toss to combine.

Wrap tortillas in a paper towel and microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40-60 seconds. Working one tortilla at a time, spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each. Tightly roll each tortilla and lay seam-side down in prepared baking dish.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

Remove enchiladas from oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees.  Pour sauce evenly on top of enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with toppings of your choice: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, additional cilantro

Yield: 6-8 servings

First, my apologies for my recent lack of posts. I was busy running the Marine Corps Marathon! Check out my race recap on my healthy living blog. Now that marathon training is over, you can expect more regular posts. I am looking forward to spending lots of time in the kitchen this winter.

Now, on to tasty treats! I don’t bake biscotti often but when I do it’s because I’m sending a package with baked goods. Biscotti holds up extremely well when shipped so I usually include it in my Operation Baking Gals packages and when I send treats to my grandmother. Biscotti is one of her favorites.

Biscotti can seem a little intimidating or time consuming because there are multiple steps and you have to bake it twice but it really is a simple process. If you’ve resisted trying to make biscotti at home, give it a try!

I made this Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti a few months ago and was extremely impressed. It’s definitely my favorite biscotti recipe that I’ve ever made. I shipped some of these to my grandmother but saved quite a few for myself. I baked them in the middle of the summer but I think the flavor combination would be perfect for the holidays.

One Year Ago: Feta Potato Salad

Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti
(Recipe source Annie’s Eats, originally from Bon Appetit, Dec. 1999)

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional – I just used a nonstick baking sheet).

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest on medium-high speed until well combined.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add in dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and then stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries with a spatula.

Divide the dough in half.  Working with one portion of dough, shape into a 12″ x 3″ rectangle on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough so that the rectangles are parallel on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 30 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on – you will need to bake the biscotti again) and let cool for 25 minutes.

Carefully transfer the rectangles to a work surface and remove the parchment paper from the pan. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut into half-inch slices on the diagonal. Place slices cut side up on the baking sheet. Return to oven and bake for another 12 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Biscotti keeps for about seven days and freezes well.

Yield: about 3 dozen

I wanted to bake a fall-inspired dessert the evening that I made homemade Chicken and Dumplings. I know I’ve mentioned this in several of my recent posts but I have just had a strong desire lately to spend time in my kitchen. I browsed through a fall dessert gallery on Food Network and this Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust caught my eye. First, one of my favorite fall desserts is this Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust and second, I love any excuse to use my tart pan. I much prefer making tarts over pies.

I was shocked to review the ingredient list and find that the tart only had six ingredients. Needless to say, it was extremely quick and easy to put together. I did add some of the traditional pumpkin pie spices to the filling – I just couldn’t stop myself but many of the recipe reviews said that it was perfect just the way the recipe was written. I served the tart with homemade bourbon whipped cream and both Brandon and I agreed that it was a winner!

The tart is very reminiscent of pumpkin pie and would be a nice addition to Thanksgiving or holiday dessert spreads.

One Year Ago: Apple Cinnamon Cake

Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust
(Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups gingersnaps, crushed (about 55-60 cookies)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (be sure you are not buying pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom on a baking sheet.

Prepare crust by combining gingersnap crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and mix until crumbs are moistened. Place crumbs in tart pan and press evenly over the bottom and sides with your fingers or a measuring cup. Bake in preheated oven until set and lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, condensed milk, egg yolks, spices and salt until well combined. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and return to oven. Bake until set and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Remove tart from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Chill in refrigerator at least one hour or until ready to serve.

To serve, remove tart from outer ring and slice. Serve with whipped cream, if desired. I made bourbon whipped cream by beating together 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of bourbon and 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Yield: 8 servings

Get ready for my first Thanksgiving recipe post! I will be sharing Thanksgiving recipes here and there from now until Turkey Day. I actually made this side dish last year because I wanted to introduce some more inventive recipes to the traditional spread. I was browsing through Epicurious’ top-rated Thanksgiving recipes and found this recipe for Brussels Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots from Bon Appetit.

The preparation is a little different than your traditional brussels sprouts recipe. Instead of cooking them whole or halved, you cut them into shreds. I like this because they seem more cabbage-like and visually help those who aren’t so sure about brussels sprouts. The caramelized shallots add so much to this dish and the apple cider really brightens the overall flavor.

I don’t really understand how brussels sprouts got such a bad rap? I was interested in how they’d be received by my family. (Please note that I wrote this post after I made the dish last year. It’s been waiting a whole year to be published!) The verdict? My mom claims she’s still not a fan (oh well). My grandmother, who is a cabbage lover but never liked brussels sprouts because she had only ever tried the frozen ones, decided that she is a fan. My dad and I, who’ve always liked them, enjoyed this recipe. Everyone at the table at least gave them a try so that’s all I could ask.

If you are a brussels sprouts love this is a great preparation variation to try.

One Year Ago: Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots
(Recipe source Bon Appetit, November 2007)

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water

Directions:

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes.

Cut brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Cut lengthwise into thin (1/8-inch) slices. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add sprouts and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until brown at edges, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and 3 tablespoons butter. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, about 3 more minutes. Add shallots and mix to combine.

Yield: 8-10 servings

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have no reason to ever try another chicken and dumplings recipe. This one is going straight to the “tried and true, will make this for years and years to come” file. I have tried a lot of chicken and dumplings recipes and have never been blown away by any of them – except for this Chicken Pie With Biscuit Crust but it’s not truly chicken and dumplings.

I was in the mood to cook on Saturday afternoon. I wanted to make a dinner that would take a while so that I could spend the evening hanging out in the kitchen, one of my favorite activities to relax and unwind. I chose this recipe from Tyler Florence because I loved that it featured homemade stock, sauce and dumplings. No canned stock, cream of yuckiness soup or refrigerated biscuits.

I made the stock by placing an organic/free range chicken in a pot with garlic, peppercorns, thyme and salt. I covered the chicken with water and boiled. This was a great reminder that homemade stock is easy and far superior in flavor to what you buy in the store. While I am guilty of buying stock, I will be trying to keep some homemade stock in the freezer moving forward. I only used about half the stock this rendered in the chicken and dumplings so I was able to freeze a good amount of leftovers!

I put Brandon to work shredding the cooked chicken while I prepared the sauce. I sauteed carrots, celery and garlic in a mixture of butter and oil and then added in flour to make a roux. I slowly incorporated the chicken stock and then added in extra veggies. I love that this recipe includes peas and pearl onions. The sauce simmered until it was thickened. You get a nice creaminess with the sauce by adding a little heavy cream at the end. Side note: please remember to taste your sauce as you go and season – you might need to add a good bit of salt.

Soon enough it was time to add the chicken and dumplings and sit back and watch magic happen. I love dropping the dough in and then seeing it turn into perfect dumplings.

While this is a labor intensive recipe, it is not hard. I highly encourage you to try this now that the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are turning. This dish is so comforting and it just feels good to eat it knowing that everything is made from scratch.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Chicken and Dumplings
(Recipe source Tyler Florence)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CHICKEN AND STOCK
1 (3 to 3 1/2 pound) whole organic chicken
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
4 to 5 black peppercorns
1 head garlic, split through the center (leave garlic unpeeled)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Enough water to cover chicken

FOR THE DUMPLINGS
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped chives
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish

Directions:

FOR THE CHICKEN AND STOCK
Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for one hour until the chicken is tender and internal temperature registers at least 165 degrees. Skim the surface of fat as it cooks.

Remove chicken from pot and place on a cutting board. Let rest until it is cool enough to handle. Strain the stock and set aside. When chicken has cooled, shred and set aside.

FOR THE DUMPLINGS
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, chives and buttermilk together; pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.

FOR THE SAUCE
In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux and continue to stir for two minutes to coat the veggies in flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add frozen peas and pearl onions.

Let sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.

Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Discard the bay leaves, season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped chives before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Recently, I’ve had the baking bug. I attribute it to our staying in town on the weekends. We went through a four-week stint where we traveled every weekend. All of that traveling made my weeks crazy trying to cram everything in and prepare for the next weekend’s travel. I have loved being home on the weekends and back in the kitchen. Over the last couple weeks I’ve baked pumpkin chocolate chip bars, homemade crackers, peanut butter chocolate chip bars, pita bread (twice!) and these muffins.

The inspiration from these muffins came from a can of Libby’s pumpkin puree in my pantry that was calling my name. I came home one night and it was rainy and cool. I immediately headed to the kitchen and started paging through my favorite cookbooks for pumpkin muffin recipes. I found a Pumpkin Apple Bread recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook and decided to adapt it to be a bit healthier and muffin form.

The modifications I made included halving the recipe, subbing some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat, reducing the sugar, cutting back on some of the oil in favor of applesauce and omitting the streusel-like topping in favor of a small sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. The muffins turned out great, even with the modifications! Usually Brandon can immediately tell when I’ve “healthified” things but he was totally on board with these and ate them every morning for breakfast.

I think my favorite thing about these muffins is the addition of  diced apple. How perfect is it that this recipe includes two of the best Fall baking ingredients!? These are a great change from my normal banana muffins and I will be baking them again this season!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Apple Muffins
(Recipe heavily adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Very small pinch of cloves (1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 (of a 15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
Extra brown sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle over the muffins before baking

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with liners (or cooking spray).

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a separate medium bowl, mix together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Add wet mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined. Fold in apples.

Divide batter between muffin tins, filling about 3/4 (or a tad more) full. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the tops of muffins. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Muffins will keep for 3-5 days out or freeze well for a couple of months.

Yield: 12 muffins

Shaksuka

I blogged about making Shaksuka on my healthy living blog a few nights ago. I was surprised that it received a lot of positive feedback and quite a few people have indicated that they would like to make this dish.

A very quick overview of Shaksuka for those who didn’t read my post earlier this week. Shaksuka is a vegetarian dish of Moroccan/Israeli/Egyptian origins. It’s traditionally served as a breakfast item. It’s a spicy tomato broth with poached eggs. The dish is very quick and easy to make and also healthy. I served the Shaksuka with homemade pita bread for dipping. I had the leftovers the next night for dinner and the flavors were even better after they had a chance to develop.

I followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen with a few modifications. First, I used three jalapeno peppers because I was looking for heat in this dish. I find jalapenos to be pretty hit or miss with the spice level but luckily the ones I picked up at the store were nice and hot. Second, I reduced the garlic to two large cloves. I knew that the five the original recipe called for would be way too much for us. And last, I added turmeric in with the spices. While reading about Shaksuka online I noticed that turmeric was a common ingredient but SK’s recipe didn’t call for it. I have a whole jar in my pantry and love finding ways to use it due to its known anti-inflammatory powers.

This is a fun dish for vegetarians and those who love to try new ethnic recipes.

One Year Ago: Incredulada Enchiladas (one of my”biggest hit” recipes!)

Shaksuka
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs (I only used 4 because there was just no reason to use 6 for the two of us)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (that has a lid – don’t use it now) over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands or place in food processor and pulse a few times. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce, cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5-7 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Yield: 4 servings

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