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.

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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!

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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.


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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!

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Recipes

Superbowl Recipes!

We aren’t going to be very social this year, since we have a little bundle whose iron-clad bedtime coincides with kickoff, but I couldn’t resist pulling out some of my favorite recipes for Super Bowl Sunday to share with you all. I always aim for crowd-pleasers that folks can fill up on, have fun eating, and serve themselves as the game goes on.

First up: Homemade Salsa!

How can you have a Super Bowl Party without it? I also have a recipe for homemade tortilla chips (very, very easy) on the same page.

Next up, Vegan Spinach & Artichoke Dip!

For another vegetarian option that’s just as festive as the meat version, here’s my recipe for Shortcut Chili, which tastes great with or without ground beef:

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Finally, our favorite — Brown Sugar Kielbasa!

This one I love because it doubles (or triples!) easily, and you just set it and forget it in your slow cooker.

Need more ideas? There’s beef stew, homemade pizza, an even spicier chorizo chili, and a truly gluttonous mac n’ cheese.

My beloved Pats aren’t in it this year (again…) but that doesn’t mean we won’t watch. We’ll put this little girl to bed, pop open some a couple Sam Adams Cold Snaps, and spend a rare evening just the two of us. How ’bout you?

Courtesy Marilyn Humphries, www.humphriesphotography.com.
Courtesy Marilyn Humphries (humphriesphotography.com)
Recipes

Shortcut Chili

Talk about easy! This is like “cheater chili” because it has so few ingredients and doesn’t have to cook for very long. You can use real beef or vegetarian meat crumbles. (I like MorningStar Farms vegetarian meat substitute).

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Shortcut Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb (approx.) lean ground beef or vegetarian crumbles
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 16-oz fresh salsa (from the refrigerated section of the store)
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans

DIRECTIONS

Brown the ground beef or vegetarian crumbles with 2 teaspoons of chili powder in a saucepan (I used my favorite, the Le Creuset dutch oven).

Stir in the 16-oz container of salsa (mild or medium; I chose mild) and the kidney beans with their liquid. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.

Optional: mash some of the beans with a spatula to thicken the chili. Season with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt and shredded cheese.

Thanks to Peg for the recipe!

Recipes

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Just like the Americanization of the holiday itself, these recipes are only marginally authentic — but man, are they festive. Cue the mariachi music and host your own fiesta! 

photo & recipe: FoodNetwork.com

Horchata

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Whole cinnamon sticks, optional, for serving

Directions

In a blender, combine the rice and warm water. Blend for 1 to 2 minutes until the rice breaks up but does not form a powder. Let the rice mixture stand in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to overnight.

Strain the rice mixture into a container through a fine-mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth to remove the rice solids.

Pour the rice water into a blender and add the milk, vanilla and almond extracts, cinnamon, and sugar. Blend for 1 minute until well combined and smooth. Serve the horchata over ice with cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Mexican Baked Eggs & Homemade Tortilla Chips

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (more or less to taste
  • jalapeno peppers to taste (I went light)
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or you could use fresh)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese like  jack & cheddar or a Mexican blend

Directions

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.Add the garlic, cumin, chipotle chili powder, and jalapeno saute until fragrant, about a minute.Add the tomatoes, black beans, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.Place half of the mixture into one or more baking dishes, top with the eggs and spoon the remaining mixture around the eggs.Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the eggs just start to set, about 5-8 minutes.Top with the cheese and broil until it melts, no more than a minute or so.

For the tortilla chips: cut a stack of corn or flour tortillas into wedges (I used 8-inch rounds, and cut up about four of them) and brush with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with kosher salt and a squeeze of fresh lime (you could also add cumin), and bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes. Turn the pan around in the oven and give the chips a stir, then put the pan back in for just a couple more minutes until they are crisp but not burned. Let them cool briefly before serving.

Spinach Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1 package of large flour tortillas (you can also use the smaller 6-inch size, but I prefer to make mine a bit larger)
  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I buy one small container and reserve the rest to serve alongside the enchiladas)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (I used green)
  • 1 package shredded monterey jack cheese (2 cups)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • butter, for cooking
  • optional: 1 small can of green chilis or a sprinkle of hot sauce

Directions

Start by preheating the oven to 375. Prepare the spinach (thaw, rinse and squeeze dry), and set aside.

Next, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and then the garlic (so it doesn’t burn), cooking until fragrant but not browned. Stir in the spinach. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring, then remove from heat. Mix in the ricotta cheese, sour cream, and half the monterey jack cheese.

Prepare the bottom of a glass baking dish by pouring about a third of the enchilada sauce in the bottom, making sure you spread it around to coat the bottom of the baking dish evenly.

Now, assemble the enchiladas. Take a tortilla, spoon some of the warm spinach mixture into the center and fold into thirds, placing the rolled-up enchilada face down in your baking dish.

Repeat, laying each enchilada side by side until the dish is filled. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top, spooning it evenly over each tortilla and making sure it gets down in between the seams to nothing sticks while cooking.

Sprinkle the remaining monterey jack on top of the enchiladas. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the whole thing looks browned and bubbly. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, rice … you name it!

Restaurant Style Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups tomatoes (about 3 heirloom) or 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (10 oz) Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, mild or medium
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • jalapenos to taste (start with a few slices and add if needed)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • juice of 1 lime

Directions

Using a large food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients until you get the consistency you desire. I err on the side of chunky and not smooth. Test the seasonings, refrigerate for an hour and serve! This makes a pretty good-sized batch, so you can definitely bring plenty to a party and still have leftovers (or, if you have a huge family, just eat it all at one sitting).

Mango Margarita

FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 cups mango nectar
  • Tequila (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Directions

Spread the salt out onto a small dish. Dip the rims of 4 margarita glasses in water and then dip them into the salt.Into a blender, add the ice, lime juice, orange juice, mango nectar, and 4 shots of tequila, if desired. Blend until smooth. Pour into the prepared glasses and garnish with a lime wedge.
Recipes

Homemade Salsa

Just in time for March Madness! Make enough to get you from the Sweet Sixteen to the Final Four, and you won’t be sorry. Here’s what you need:

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Tomatoes, canned jalapenos, fresh cilantro, and — my secret ingredient, cribbed from The Pioneer Woman’s salsa — two cans of Rotel. Here’s her original post, where she also makes some killer nachos. This fresh salsa is awesome with heirloom tomatoes from your garden or the farmer’s market, but regular old supermarket tomatoes will do just fine, too.

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Homemade Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups tomatoes (about 3 heirloom) or 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (10 oz) Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, mild or medium
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • jalapenos to taste (start with a few slices and add if needed)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • juice of 1 lime

Directions

Using a large food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients until you get the consistency you desire. I err on the side of chunky and not smooth. Test the seasonings, refrigerate for an hour and serve! This makes a pretty good-sized batch, so you can definitely bring plenty to a party and still have leftovers (or, if you have a huge family, just eat it all at one sitting).

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I used this handy guide to figure out how many garden tomatoes would give me the same quantity as a 28 oz. jar of the whole canned variety (the answer: about 2 1/2 cups). So if you have no choice but to sub in the canned kind, that’s the size you want to grab.

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This salsa has a satisfying smooth yet chunky texture with a tiny bit of heat, but not too much. In my opinion the fresh cilantro really makes it, but you can certainly adjust to your preference if cilantro isn’t really your thing!

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***IMPORTANT!!!*** If you are considering canning your salsa, please consult a guide such as the Ball Canning Book or a reputable reference for proper food preservation — this website is a good place to start — because you can’t just take any old salsa recipe and throw it in a hot water bath to preserve it long-term. There are USDA guidelines over the ratio of acidic foods to alkaline ingredients to prevent spoilage and growth of dangerous bacteria. Unless you are using a pressure canner, please be very careful while canning salsa or similar sauces! Mine are pictured in Mason jars because I gave them out as gifts the day after I made them, so they’re safe to keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

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Want to learn how to make jam? Check out my how-to guide for fruit preserves.

Recipes

Soy Chorizo Chili

I got this recipe from Food to Run For. It sounded easy and hearty for a cold winter day, and what better opportunity for comfort food than Blizzard 2013! Plus, it gave me a chance to break out my new, red Le Creuset, which Mark got me for Christmas. Ogle the beauty:

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You only need a few simple ingredients — sweet potatoes, red onion, black beans, chorizo, broth and salsa — and then it simmers on your stovetop for an hour or more, filling the house with yummy smells. And it’s versatile, so if you don’t care about keeping it vegetarian, you can swap the meat and the broth to suit your taste.

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Soy Chorizo Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped sweet potato
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 Package of Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s, removed from the casing
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky salsa, mild or medium
  • 1 14-oz. can black beans
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • Water, if needed to thin out the chili
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

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Directions

In a large stock pot, simmer all the ingredients except the water, broth and seasonings for at least one hour. After an hour, taste for salt and pepper and add broth. Turn up the heat with medium salsa instead of mild, or a splash of hot sauce; or keep it mild like we do. And, if you don’t care about it being vegetarian, you can add in spicy sausage or even use chicken broth instead of veggie.

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One important note about using a Le Creuset: you must coat the bottom of the pot with a fat, whether butter, olive oil, or a combination of the two like I used here. I sauteed the chopped red onion for a few minutes while I prepped the sweet potato. I found that two cups of sweet potato amounted to just about what you’d yield from chopping one large sweet potato (peeled, of course).

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If you buy the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s, which I highly recommend, you have to remove the casing before using it. It ends up having a crumbly texture that’s perfect for chili.

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A little bit messy, but so worth it!

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Another important note about cooking with Cast Iron: you really, really can’t start cooking over high and then turn down the heat like you do with normal cookware to get the pan hot, as cast iron retains heat extraordinarily well and it’ll ruin your food if you do that. Start over LOW and then turn up a tiny bit if you need it. These cook so evenly and efficiently, it takes getting used to.

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I added in the broth bit by bit, so I could see how it was absorbing before adding too much. If you prefer it more liquid-y than I do, you can add all the broth and even some water too.

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I also covered mine for a bit to help the liquid absorb. You can leave it uncovered for sure.

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It’s done whenever the sweet potato chunks are nice and tender but not falling apart!

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Serve it plain or topped with sour cream or Greek yogurt. Delicious.

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I like this recipe even better than the Real Simple Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili I made last Valentine’s Day (what was I thinking, making chili for Valentine’s Day??) You can tell I’m not a newlywed I guess. We also went to the Bruins game and drank 6 beers and two plates of nachos between us instead of hitting a nice dinner, so you can see where our priorities lie.

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I realized after making this that the soy chorizo might be the perfect taco filling that I’ve been searching for since becoming vegetarian. You wouldn’t even need to season it; it has that taco seasoning flavor going for it already, with just a touch of heat.

The heat in this mellows a bit if you reheat the next day, making it the perfect candidate for leftovers. I served it topped with sour cream for Mark, and plain Greek yogurt for me. That was a delicious substitution which I highly recommend!

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Enjoy this flavorful, filling dish to take the bite out of winter.

Recipes

Sweet n’ Spicy Macaroni & Chili

Remember two weeks ago, when everyone stayed up past midnight to watch the election results right on the heels of Hurricane Sandy and just before a big Nor’Easter? Yeah, that’s when I made this. This cheesy lazy thing. I’m pretty glad it’s in my repertoire with the holiday craziness rolling in.

Sweet n’ Spicy Macaroni and Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 16-0z. package) small whole wheat shells
  • 1 can (14.7 oz.) Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili (or similar)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salsa
  • Salt, to taste
  • optional but snazzy: 1 TBSP chutney

I used orecchiette, when I couldn’t find the small whole wheat shells I wanted; Trader Joe’s Organic Vegetarian Chili; shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese (Target brand); Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk; Trader Joe’s Smoky Peach Salsa; and Trader Joe’s Mango-Ginger Salsa.

Obviously you can make this with real chili, any variety of salsa, another kind of shredded cheese, and dairy milk if you eat those foods. I personally love how this is safe for lactose-intolerant and vegetarian seekers of comfort food.

Directions

Set a medium sized pot of pasta on to boil. You want it slightly undercooked as it will continue cooking in the final pan. Once the pasta is done, set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan you cooked the pasta in, add the chili and cheese. Stir in the coconut milk, salsa and a pinch of salt.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture is warm and the cheese is melted; toss in the pasta. Stir, add the chutney if using, and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve warm!

The original recipe also offered the following substitution to make the dish vegan: 1 cup Daiya vegan shredded non-dairy cheese, or 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup coconut milk.

You can also feel free to add in a dash more coconut milk if this comes together too thick, and if you prefer even more heat than the salsa and the chutney offer, splash in some tabasco sauce or some jarred jalapenos (maybe these?)

Recipe inspiration came from healthy slow cooking.