kid-friendly · Recipes

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

Every year I swear I’m going to talk about the weather less on this blog, and then the first mildly warm week rolls around, and all I can think about is how amazing it is that the sun makes people so much happier.

My birthday is Monday, and it’s always a toss-up as to whether it’ll be pleasant or dreary. I never grew up having outdoor birthday parties! Too unpredictable, as anyone with a late April Boston baby can attest.

I have a few traditions for my birthday every year. Get a pedicure (alone), make Mark take the day off if it falls on a weekend, and drag the whole family out for Mexican food. This year, it falls on a week day, and I have to spend it at the DMV of all places, but after that … AFTER that, we shall eat Mexican food.

img_4782

I’m the only one who really loves Mexican food in our house, although I’m gradually converting Georgia with tortilla chips, cheese and soft taco bread. (Are there people alive who don’t love those things? I don’t want to meet them).

This year, a new restaurant opened near us called 3 Amigos that I can’t wait to try. I was heartbroken when the former restaurant in that space, Fuloon, closed its doors suddenly in August. It was such a well-kept secret for excellent, spicy Sichuan cuisine! But 3 Amigos has gotten rave reviews in the short few weeks since its grand opening, and the cocktails sound to-die-for. They call themselves a tequila infusion bar; I’m not sure what that even means, but I am willing to test it out. I’ll report back my review!

img_4783

Sometimes, like a few weeks ago, I had a hankering for something Mexican when it wasn’t my birthday, so I whipped together this simple enchilada recipe and literally ate the whole thing myself: first for dinner one night, then for lunch the next three days in a row. It’s too good! I never got sick of it.

If your family doesn’t mind a little kick, this has medium spice and comes together very quickly — perfect for a weeknight. It’s even simpler if you pick up a rotisserie chicken and use that instead of boiling and shredding two chicken breasts, as I did. You can always dial down the heat by choosing a “mild” salsa instead of the Pace Salsa Verde I used (which is surprisingly complex for a mass market salsa brand — lots of garlic, lime and tomatillo hints in there!) Or, you can cook up the chicken and shred it one night, then save for dinner the next day. Once you have shredded chicken ready to go, this comes together fast and cooks for less than half an hour.


Salsa Verde Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 24-oz. jar salsa verde
  • 3/4 cup light cream or half-and-half
  • 4 TBSP (1/4 cup) sour cream
  • 1 package corn or flour tortillas (about 8, size depending)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1.5 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the light cream and sour cream in a bowl with the salsa and stir to combine. Set aside 1 cup of this mixture to pour in the bottom of the baking dish later. To the remaining salsa/cream mixture, add the shredded chicken and stir until coated.

Start by pouring about half the reserved salsa mixture into the bottom of a your baking dish; spread into a thin, even layer. Set aside the rest for the top.

Taking a tortilla in your hand, scoop a spoonful of the chicken mixture in and roll to close, placing in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat until the dish is full.

Pour the rest of the reserved salsa mixture on top of the tortillas, then top with the shredded cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes until the cheese bubbles, or up to 5 minutes longer if it’s isn’t browning and crispy at the edges. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • I used Pace Salsa Verde, which is medium heat; you can substitute any green salsa. Pace is sold at Target, where I shop weekly, and their salsa comes in the right 24-ounce size I needed for this recipe. If you buy a smaller jar, buy two.
  • You can sub in 1 full cup of half and half if you don’t like sour cream.
  • You can use corn or flour tortillas, and they can be any size; I’ve made this with a dozen of the smaller rounds, and about 8-10 of the larger tortillas.
  • I boiled and shredded my own chicken breasts, but it’s even faster if you pick up a rotisserie chicken; or, you can buy packaged shredded chicken at Trader Joe’s and Wegman’s; or, you can hit a salad bar and buy already-shredded chicken, sold by the pound.
  • In these pictures, I had taco blend shredded cheese on hand, so that’s what I used. It looks and tastes even better if you grate a block of white Monterey Jack cheese. You can also buy this pre-shredded from Sargento at Target!
  • I haven’t tried doing it this way, but I bet these would taste good if you put some more of the cheese inside each tortilla as well as on top. If you try that, let me know! Sounds delectably gooey.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Reading.


img_4781

Notoriously hard to photograph, I promise you these enchiladas are more delicious to eat than they are to look at. I love having these with a heaping side of guacamole or sour cream, and topped with fresh cilantro (another thing nobody else in my house will eat!)

If you want to shred your own chicken, here’s how to do it. 

  1. Pat the chicken dry and then season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large stockpot (I used this one) place the chicken in the bottom and cover with an inch or two of water, then bring to a boil. Lower heat to a rolling simmer and cover.
  3. Cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes or no longer than 14 minutes; you can test the temperature with a meat thermometer, and they should read 165°F.
  4. Remove to a cutting board or clean plate and shred. I find this is easier to do when they are still hot, so I shred right away and then store in an airtight glass container for when I’m going to cook them, always within 24 to 48 hours. I use two forks and just tear in opposite directions, pulling the meat into shreds of whatever size I like to use.

Poaching chicken is a great way to keep the meat moist and full of flavor. The leftover poaching liquid can be re-purposed as a stock/base for soup, and you can add other aromatics to the water to complement the ultimate recipe you’re using the chicken in, such as onions, garlic, bay leaves, whole peppercorns, ginger, even wine.

Happy meal prepping this weekend, and let me know how you like this one!

***

Christmas · Holidays · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

Michelle’s Stuffed Mushrooms

By popular demand, I’ve got Michelle, my brother’s girlfriend and an awesome cook, to guest blog about how she makes her easy yet delicious stuffed mushrooms. They’ve been a staple at our holiday celebrations this year, and are truly addictive! Interested in finding out how she makes this healthy dish? Keep reading!

IMG_9376

Michelle’s Famous Stuffed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

  • White mushrooms, 3 or 4 packages
  • Plain bread crumbs, any brand
  • Butter (5 TBSP total)

DIRECTIONS

The number of people you are planning to serve determines how many packages of mushrooms to buy. I buy the white mushrooms that still have the stems attached. For Christmas, when we had 12 guests, I got four packages, and for Easter I got three. It may seem like a lot, but remember that mushrooms shrink! I also use the 4C Plain Bread Crumbs but you can use your favorite kind.

Usually the night before I am going to make them, I take the stems out and I save about 10 of them. Then I wash all the mushrooms to make sure I have all the dirt off, and put them back in the fridge. (Don’t forget to wash the stems too!)

IMG_9374

To make them, I get a pot of boiling water and put the mushrooms in the water for 5 minutes. Make sure not to leave them in any longer then that! I have a limited amount of large pots in my house so I boiled them in three batches, and it works well either way. Then use a (clean) towel and put them facing down so the water doesn’t pool. Then, you want to use the stems: chop them up very fine and use about 1-2 tablespoons of butter (it can be salted or unsalted). I use salted butter for mine. Have the butter melt in the frying pan then put your stems in and let them cook until they get a deeper brown color. Make sure to keep stirring them so they don’t burn. That usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat.

In a bowl, have your bread crumbs ready. The amount will vary depending on how many mushrooms you have. I used a little less than a cup. If you’re making more mushrooms, then add more breadcrumbs. Once the stems are done cooking you add those in with your bread crumbs.

IMG_9375

You will need to melt about 2-3 more tablespoons of butter (just use the same frying pan you cooked the stems in) and once that is melted add that to your bread crumbs and mix it all up until it kind of looks like wet sand. (You can do a taste test here ~ I promise you it doesn’t taste like sand!) You just want to make sure that all the breadcrumbs are coated.

**At this time if you wanted, you could add whatever spices you like, for example garlic powder, cheese, onion powder, etc. You can get creative, but I keep things plain.**

Now time for stuffing! I have a large round glass dish that I like to cook my mushrooms in. By this time they will be cooled from being boiled so just move them into whatever dish you baking them in and stuff them! I use a small spoon and make sure I really pack the stuffing into each mushroom by using the back of the spoon. You will more than likely have a little left over stuffing, so that’s what I sprinkle over the top. Put them in the oven at 350F for about 20-25 minutes (or until the stuffing looks golden brown) and that’s it! Very easy and delicious!

Thanks, Michelle! We are so glad to have you sharing your recipe with us by popular demand, and can’t wait to see what you cook up next 🙂

Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

These are very pumpkin-y and taste like Fall (in Mexico)? Super easy and nutritious with a few key ingredient swaps, these make a good weeknight meal when served with veggies (I chose corn) or a salad.

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. light cream cheese  (about half a small container)
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (fresh or frozen — I used fresh!)
  • heaping TBSP pumpkin butter
  • dash of nutmeg
  • packet of taco seasoning (only need a tablespoon or so, to taste)
  • 1 can (7 oz.) diced green chilis
  • 1 can (10 oz.) green enchilada sauce, mild
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) fat free black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1 package whole wheat tortillas (small or large)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 and get out a 9×13 glass baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pureed pumpkin (use frozen if you don’t have fresh) with the cream cheese (brought to room temperature) and stir to blend. Then, add the taco seasoning mix, chilis, and black beans (rinsed). Stir until just combined. Last, add the pumpkin butter and nutmeg and mix by hand until just blended.

In my opinion, the pumpkin butter really MAKES this dish and gives it the flavor punch it needs to be special. Without it, though, the enchiladas will turn out just fine, so don’t let one ingredient deter you.

Assemble each enchilada one by one, cupping the tortilla in one hand while scooping a few spoons full of the pumpkin mixture into the center, adding cheese on top. You’ll use about half your cheese inside the enchiladas and the rest on top of the dish before it goes into the oven.

Place the tortillas folded-side down in the pan; you can probably squeeze about 7 in one pan. Top them with enchilada sauce, taking a spoon to spread it in between and beneath each one, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese starts browning. Serve warm.

I made some key choices to keep this healthier: whole wheat tortillas, low-fat shredded cheese, fat free black beans (which I rinsed under cold water to reduce the sodium content), lite cream cheese, and serving this with veggies on the side instead of tortilla chips, and without sour cream (it’s creamy enough already!) I also reduced the amount of cheese I typically bake on top. One of these enchiladas plus a full serving of veggies, like the frozen corn I used here, is a much healthier choice than using “Mexican night” as an excuse to overload on fried chips, fatty condiments and beer!

If you liked this, check out my butternut squash enchiladas, and my spinach-ricotta enchiladas — two more vegetarian options that are just as easy and delicious.

Recipes

Christmas Recipe #2: Vegetarian Stuffed Shells

These are great for feeding a crowd, and they make excellent leftovers the next day, when the last thing you want to think about is cooking. I make them meat-free and will often throw in different veggies to vary the sauce — think spinach or kale, sauteed in the pan with the onion and garlic — before I mix in the tomato sauce. You can also add sauteed mushrooms, or crumbled cooked veggie-burger patties, to mimic the feeling of ground meat. If you decide to add beef or sausage, you’ll need about half a pound, and you want to go lean or it gets too greasy. The possibilities with these are endless!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a package jumbo shells (one package = 12 oz. They only sell this size, so you’ll either need to make a double batch and freeze one pan, or count out about 20 shells to fill one 9×13 glass baking dish).
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce (honestly, I seldom make my own sauce for this dish — it just turns an easy recipe into something time-consuming. My preferred sauce for stuffed shells is Classico, the Florentine variety).
  • 1 package shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 1 container ricotta cheese (about 15 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I grate myself — one of my kitchen rules is to never use packaged parm. There’s a huge taste difference).

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Set a large pot of water on to boil. I find it’s easier to use a large stock pot for this, even though the shells with probably fit into a saucepan, because in a bigger pot they don’t stick inside of each other. Plus, you can easily fish them out of the bigger pot with a slotted spoon, which prevents them from breaking apart like they do when you drain them in a colander.

In a small skillet, combine the chopped onion & garlic with some butter and olive oil (because using a little bit of both, as I always say on this blog, helps prevent the other from burning). I add the garlic after the onion has softened for a minute or two by itself, so the garlic doesn’t scorch.

If you are adding meat, this would be the place to add it — use a bigger skillet than the one I have here, and make sure you drain the fat once it’s browned.

Pour your jarred tomato sauce into a mixing bowl, and add the cooked onion and garlic. Stir. If you are making the meat version, it makes more sense to add the tomato sauce directly into the larger skillet instead of dirtying a bowl.

Next, you want to mix your cheeses.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, half the mozzarella, (1 cup), the Parmesan and the egg and mix well.

By now, your shells should be done cooking. One by one, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon; place them on a paper towel, face up, so they fall open. You only need to let them cool for a couple minutes, so you can handle them.

Now comes the fun part: stuffing the shells!

Before you stuff the shells, pour half your tomato sauce mixture into the bottom of your baking pan and spread evenly. To start stuffing the shells, use a spoon to scoop up about a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture. Line them up in the pan:

Aren’t they beautiful?

Next, pour the remaining sauce over the top, cover, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Uncover; top with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and bake for another 5 minutes.

This makes at least six servings. Serve with a nice salad and you’ve got a delicious Italian dinner! This is a potluck favorite of mine, and added to any holiday spread it gives a tasty option for vegetarians who won’t be having the ham or turkey that’s typically the focus of the meal.

Happy New Year!

Recipes

Breakfast of poor new homeowners

Well, this morning my husband and I passed papers on our very first home: an adorable 4-bedroom, bungalow-style house next to public transit AND a state park reservation. For the first time in over a decade (and in some cases, ever), I will have:

  • More than 1 bedroom
  • More than 1 closet (!)
  • My own laundry
  • A yard (gardening, anyone?)
  • A porch
  • A WATER BILL (no better reason to conserve, right?)

In light of my newfound house-poor status, I thought I’d post my favorite wintertime/cheapo breakfast. No more early-morning pit stops at Dunkin’ Donuts for THIS gal!

“It’s all about the Benjamins” Oatmeal

Photo courtesy of canyoustayfordinner.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (do not use quick-cooking or instant)
  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 banana, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/3 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

Directions: Combine oatmeal, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, over medium-high heat,  then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until thickened & creamy. Add the peanut butter, banana, milk and butter; mix gently to combine. Cook for one minute. Serve hot. To reheat, add a little extra milk. (It tastes even better the next day, and has just over 200 calories per serving, so go ahead and double it!)

This makes 2 to 3 servings, and has 4g fiber per serving, plus 7g protein. Carb count is 30g per serving for any diabetics out there.

(Adapted from French Women Don’t Get Fat).

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Meat-free Shepherd’s Pie

This one truly was a triumph. I actually – wait for it – fooled the husband. I let him eat three helpings before I told him it wasn’t beef.

Looks like beef, doesn't it? It's portobello mushroom.

The weather just turned crisp and cool in New England, so I got a hankering for Shepherd’s Pie. My mom makes the absolute best — simple sauteed beef & onions, creamed corn, mashed potatoes — and I wanted to re-create the taste and texture of it while designing a meat-free, yet still hearty and delicious, version. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients

  • 4 frozen portobello burger patties, thawed in refrigerator (or, about 2 cups of chopped and de-gilled fresh portobello mushroom caps. 2 cups chopped = roughly 2 whole mushroom caps.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2-3 carrots,cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 or 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed for boiling
  • Butter/ butter substitute (for skillet and potatoes)
  • Cream/milk/soy cream/dairy sub of your choice (for mashing potatoes)
  • Worcestershire sauce, to give the mushrooms a meaty flavor. (*Worcestershire sauce traditionally contains anchovies, but you can find varieties that do not. You could also substitute Henderson’s Relish, which has a similar flavor but is 100% vegan*).
Beautiful organic carrots from Sparrow Arc Farm in Maine.

Directions

Set the potatoes on to boil while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Heat butter in a good-sized skillet over medium and add the onions, sauteeing until translucent. Add the portobello mushrooms and brown them, adding a dab of butter as necessary to keep the pan from sticking.

Add the carrots, cover and reduce to low-medium, stirring occasionally until carrots are tender.

Add worcestershire sauce (eyeball it) and other seasonings to your personal preference. (You know me — my favorite is the Trader Joe’s 21-seasoning salute).

Take off heat and spread the “meat” mixture into a 9×13 glass baking dish or two 8×8 square glass baking dishes (I did this because I was making one for us and one for my husband’s grandfather, who is almost 90. Hi Granddad!)

Top the “meat” mixture with the canned corn, spreading out evenly over the dish, and then with the creamed corn, doing the same.

Finally, drain and mash your potatoes, adding butter and cream (substituting non-dairy as per your diet) and salt if you prefer. I use a hand-masher to keep things quick and simple.

Spread the potatoes evenly atop the corn.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 35 minutes, uncovering for the last 5 minutes to brown the potatoes. I actually set mine under the broiler for the final 5 minutes of cooking time because I like a crisp shell of potato to dig into.

Cool briefly and serve.

You can also assemble and cook the next day / at someone else’s house like I did. In my opinion, Shepherd’s Pie, traditional and otherwise, is a dish that improves when it is reheated as leftovers.

Uncategorized

What a perfect Friday night dinner

20110923-083925.jpg

Chunky tomato soup, grilled cheese (cheese: Colby Jack. Secret ingredient: mustard), salad (Arugula and Mesclun) with oil and vinegar (key: put the oil on first, then the balsamic, then add salt) with Pinot Grigio (2-buck chuck).

COMFORT!