Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chicken Green Chile Salad

I love Bajio. There is one only two minutes from our house. It is a dangerous, dangerous thing for it to be so close to our house, because it means that we go there altogether too often. I always used to get the Chicken Green Chile Stuffed Quesadilla. I pretty much figured that nothing could be better than that. Sweet and spicy green chiles and savory chicken stuffed inside a fresh cooked flour tortilla with a side of mexican rice and smoky refried beans? Talk about tasty. Then my mom introduced me to the Chicken Green Chile Salad and I've never gone back. It's light enough that it doesn't make you sick after you eat it, and you can eat the whole thing without really feeling bad about it. It's pretty much the perfect combination of flavors and is even a well balanced meal! It's got veggies, fruit, meat, grain, and dairy. In the past year I've probably spent at least $200 at Bajio, so I figured I better figure out how to make my own version of it to save a little money. That being said, here is my answer to Bajio's Chicken Green Chile Salad. Enjoy!

Chicken Green Chile Salad (serves 4)

-------Green Chile Chutney--------
3 large annaheim or poblano peppers (or a combination of the two), halved, seeds removed
1 - 2 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeds removed
4 oz. can diced green chiles
5-7 tomatillos, husks removed
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
scant 1 cup sugar
dash each of chili powder (I like chipotle chili powder), cumin, salt
1 large sweet onion, halved

Place peppers, tomatillos, and onion on baking sheet/rack. Roast in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Place tomatillos and about 1/4 cup onion in blender and process until mostly smooth. Dice peppers. Add all ingredients except the remaining onion into a large pot. Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until thickened and reduced. Add more sugar/peppers to adjust the spiciness/sweetness to taste. Slice the remaining onion and saute with a little bit of the green chile sauce over medium-low heat until carmelized.

1 1/2 - 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
freshly ground salt and pepper

Cook chicken on grill set at medium-high heat. Brush both sides occasionally with a mixture of the lime juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Grill for about 7 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cool for about 5 minutes, then shred or dice into bite size pieces.

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup millk
1/2 cup salsa verde (or more to taste)
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 lime, juiced

Combine all ingredients in blender until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

8 c shredded romaine or green leaf lettuce
1/2 cup pico de gallo and/or 1/2 cup mango salsa (I recommend the mango salsa, it's delightful!)
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese
1/2 cup fresh guacamole (optional)
4 uncooked flour tortillas (you can buy these at Costco, Macey's or Bajio)
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup cilantro
Fried tortilla strips (Cut 4 small corn tortillas into thin strips with a pizza cutter. Fry in oil for 3-4 minutes or until crispy. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little bit of salt.)

To arrange the salad, add chicken, green chile chutney, and onions together in a pan and heat through. Layer 2 cups lettuce, 1/4 of the chicken mixture, 2 Tb. cheese, and 1/4 of the tortilla strips on each of 4 plates. On the side of each salad put 2 Tb. pico de gallo and/or mango salsa, 2 Tb. guacamole, 2 lime slices, 1 Tb. fresh cilantro, and 2 - 4 Tb. dressing. Serve each salad with a freshly cooked tortilla.

I know that this recipe looks a little daunting, but it actually went pretty quick yesterday. I made the entire thing in about an hour, and Corey and I both loved it. I even had a leftover salad today and tomorrow we'll be having quesadillas with the leftover chicken green chile mixture! I'm excited--and think of all the money I'm saving!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My Favorites: KRAFT Roasted Red Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing

KRAFT Roasted Red Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing is my very favorite salad dressing. It is packed with lots of flavor and goes with almost any type of salad and packs a big punch. It's also good on chicken, pasta salad, or even in pasta sauces. As an added bonus it's also low calorie and low fat--only 40 calories and 2 grams of fat per 2 Tbsp serving. That's at least 1/3 the calories and 1/7 the fat of regular ranch dressing. Here's one of my favorite recipes using the dressing--it's actually the reason that I bought the dressing in the first place, and I've been buying it ever since. Check it out on the kraft foods website. Enjoy!

Bruschetta 'n Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1-1/4 cups KRAFT Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
8 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (2 lb.)
1/3 cup KRAFT Roasted Red Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing

1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Combine tomatoes, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the basil and dry stuffing mix; stir just until moistened.
2. PLACE 2 chicken breast halves in large freezer-weight resealable plastic bag. Pound chicken with meat mallet or side of heavy can until chicken is 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding two at a time to bag. Place chicken, top-sides down, on cutting board; spread evenly with stuffing mixture. Starting at one of the narrow ends, tightly roll up chicken. Place, seam-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish. Drizzle evenly with dressing.
3. BAKE 40 min. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake an additional 5 min. or until chicken is cooked through (165°F) and cheese is melted.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Essentials: Cilantro

It's always important to have the right things set up before you start cooking. To get your mis en place (or meez) ready. Having all the ingredients cut, measured, or prepared can make things much quicker and easier. There are a few items that are important for every meal. Things like salt, pepper, oil, herbs and other spices. It's just plain important to have them. One of these things that's a vital piece, at least of my meez when I'm cooking is fresh cilantro. I think that it can make almost anything tastier, either when used as a garnish, or incorporated into a recipe. Either as whole leaves, or minced. And NOT THE DRY STUFF. There's no point to buying dried cilantro. The fresh kind is cheap, and much, much, much better. So try it out. Next time you're making something, throw a little cilantro on there. Even if it's just something as simple as Ramen noodles. It'll be mighty tasty.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Coconut Macaroons

I don't know why all of my recipes lately seem to have coconut in them...I don't even like coconut that much. Corey sure does, though, so maybe that's why.

Coconut Macaroons

1 pkg (14 oz.) coconut (5-1/3 cups)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp. almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix coconut, sugar, flour, and salt in large bowl. Add egg whites and almond extract; mix well. Drop by tablespponfuls onto greased and floured baking sheets.
2. Bake 20 inutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Immediately remove from baking sheets to wire racks. Cool completely.

These are good just plain, or you can dip in chocolate fondue. Or dip cookies halfway into 8 oz. melted semi-sweet baking chocolate and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes or until firm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Southwestern Eggrolls

This is one of my most requested recipes. It's pretty much a classic with the family. The recipe is originally from Todd Wilbur, based on Chili's Southwestern Eggrolls, but after making it many, many times, I adapted it. If I may say so myself, I think mine are even better than the originals.

Southwestern Eggrolls

4 chicken breasts (1 - 1 1/2 lbs), cooked and diced or shredded
2 Tb. vegetable oil
1 medium red bell pepper, minced
1 small or medium onion, minced
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 c. diced, canned jalapeno peppers
2 Tb. minced fresh parsley (or use 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder (I use 1 tsp regular chili powder and 1 tsp chipotle chili powder)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
dash smoked paprika
3 c. shredded Monterey Jack (or Colby jack) cheese
20 7-inch flour tortillas (Mission brand tortillas work best)


1. Preheat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add the red pepper and onion to the pan and saute for a couple minutes until tender.
3. Add the chicken, corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno peppers, and spices to the pan. Cook for another 4 minutes. Stir well so that the spinach separates and is incorporated into the mixture.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted.
5. Wrap the tortillas (10 at a time) in a moist cloth and microwave on high temperature for 1 minute or until hot.
6. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture into the center of a tortilla. Fold in the ends and then roll the tortilla over the mixture. Roll the tortilla very tight. Brush edge of tortilla with a beaten egg and press to seal. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until you have twenty eggrolls.

7. You can either deep fry the eggrolls or bake them. I prefer to bake them. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray baking sheet, and brush each eggroll with one beaten egg. Bake 10-15 minutes or until crispy. If desired, you can turn the eggrolls halfway through baking time and brush the other side with egg so both sides are extra crispy. To deep fry, preheat 4-6 cups of oil to 375 degrees. Deep fry the eggrolls in the hot oil for 12-15 minutes and remove to paper towels or a rack to drain for about 2 minutes.

Serve with Avocado Ranch dressing for dipping.

Note: I usually chop the onions, pepper, and chicken in a food processor to save time. I just use whatever cheese I happen to have at the time—colby jack is good, but anything works. You might want to cut back on the jalapenos as it can get pretty spicy. For the avocado ranch I just use a ranch dip mix and prepare according to directions and add one or two diced avocados (mash them a little bit when you mix it into the dip). You can halve the batch if you want as this makes a lot. Or you can freeze them (cooked or uncooked), that way you have more on hand without going through the trouble of making them again.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Orange Chicken

This is another thing that I make that doesn't technically have a recipe. So there won't be any quantities on it. I just sort of make enough to fit the amount of chicken I have.

Orange Chicken


Flour (I usually start with about a cup)
Black Pepper
Ginger Powder
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Chili Powder
4-5 egg whites
Chicken (as much as you want to make- I'd say about a 1 1/2 or 2 lbs for a cup of flour)- cut into bite sized pieces
Vegetable Oil
Orange/Ginger Sauce (you could make this yourself, but I always just buy the Iron Chef brand sauce at the store. It's very good and much easier that way.)
Green Onions- chopped- for a garnish
Cilantro- finely chopped- garnish
Almonds- very finely chopped- garnish (you can substitute other kinds of nuts for this if you want, or omit it all together)


1- Combine dry ingredients together in a shallow dish (I use a pie plate). This will make the breading for the chicken.
2- Put the egg whites in another dish. It's ok if there's a little bit of yolk. Just try to avoid it if you
can. It makes the texture weird if you include too much yolk.
3- Heat enough oil for deep frying in a large pot or deep pan.
4- Batter the chicken. Put it first into the egg wash and then into the flour mixture. Use the wet hand dry hand method.
5- When chicken is battered, put it into the hot oil. Let fry until it's crispy and light brown. Put it into a large bowl when done.
Repeat steps 4 & 5 until all the chicken is fried.
6- Pour the orange sauce over chicken and mix well, until all pieces are completely covered.
7- Garnish with green onions, cilantro and almonds.

Serve with rice. This amount will feed 4-5.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm Sick and Home and All Alone Pudding

When I'm sick, tapioca pudding is one of the only things that sounds good to me. I try to come up with creative ways to eat it, since it's all I'm eating and I'm home all alone and sick anyway. Here's my favorite recipe:

Tapioca Pudding (Courtesty of Minute Tapioca)
Makes 6 (1/2 cup) servings.
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. Minute brand tapioca
2-3/4 cups milk
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Mix sugar, tapioca, milk, and egg in edium saucepan; let stand 5 minutes.

2. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred. Pudding will be thin, it thickens as it cools). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

3. Pour yourself a bowl of the hot pudding and let it cool for about 10 minutes; eat. Doesn't it taste good?

4. Put the rest of the pudding in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing it on the surface of the pudding while cooling. Cool for at least 20 minutes. Then you should be ready for another bowl, right? This time, stir in 1/4 tsp. almond extract into your bowl (about 1/2 cup serving) and add 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries. Yum!

Sugar Free Apple Crisp

Sugar Free Apple Crisp
6 or 7 large apples peeled and sliced
2 cups of water
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup Splenda
Simmer until the apples are tender (don’’t overcook)
Thicken the juice with 3 Tbsp of corn starch dissolved in ½ cup water.
Place in baking dish
1 cube melted butter
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
½ cup Splenda
1 tsp salt
Mix and sprinkle over apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes

This is receipe that Becky submitted. It's from Bobby Clasby

Monday, April 7, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa

My husband thinks I'm insane. Tonight I'm tempted to agree with him.

2-3 Hours
4 Grocery Stores
1 "Easy" Food Network Recipe
2 People

The enchiladas FINALLY are in the oven!

Chicken Enchilada with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa
recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa:
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced

Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, storebought
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 large flour tortillas
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 cups sour cream
Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish
Spicy Black Beans, recipe follows
Yellow Rice, recipe follows
Guacamole, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the salsa: On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.

Enchiladas: Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish, cilantro and tomato.

Serve hot with Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice, the remaining tomatillo salsa, sour cream and fresh guacamole, if desired (and if you have time after all that :))

Spicy Black Beans:
2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season with salt and pepper.

Yellow Rice:
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf

Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Sometimes I think I'm a star in the kitchen and then this brings me back to reality. I love Tomatillo salsa so I had to try this. Just a note, it is hard to find good tomatillos (Best were at Wild Oats for twice the price of Albertsons).

Some tips after making these: I think the sour cream is supposed to be added to the chicken mixture but was accidentally omitted from the instructions. I only used 1 larger
jalapeno so I didn't have to seed it (just blended it all). The Tomatillo Chile Salsa was surprisingly easy to make and I'm sure I'll make it again. The Enchiladas were really good too, but too much effort for a weeknight dinner. I also think its a good idea to double the Salsa recipe.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sweet and Sour/Teriyaki Sauce

I tend to be something of an experimental cook. Which means that often times I'll take a recipe and modify it to something I think will be better. It's not always a very exact process. This is one of my favorite things to make. It started out as just my mother's sweet and sour sauce recipe, but has been changed so many times that it's barely the same.

My Sweet and Sour/Teriyaki Sauce.

About a 1" piece of fresh ginger- grated or minced.
1 large clove garlic- minced
1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce (I don't usually measure this- just put it about this much)
Juice from one can (about 8 oz size) chunk pineapple.
1/2 teaspoon Oyster sauce. (this can be omitted if you want- but I like it)
1/2 teaspoon Sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar.
pinch of black pepper

1. In a sauce pan on medium to medium low heat saute ginger and garlic in oil until tender. About 2-3 minutes.
2. Add in soy sauce, pineapple juice, oyster sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and black pepper. Whisk these ingredients in until fully combined. For a sweeter sauce decrease the amount of soy sauce and add in more pineapple juice. Leave on medium to medium low heat until it boils. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
3. When it reaches boiling turn down heat to low. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes. It should reduce by about 50%. Sort of a syrupy consistency. If you want it to be thicker, or to cut down on the cooking time, use a corn starch slurry to thicken.

And that's about it. You can modify this recipe many different ways:

Put the pineapple in with the sauce instead of just draining the juice. This gives you chunks of sweet pineapple.
I like to add about 1/2 teaspoon of sambal olek chili paste to give it a little bit of a kick. Also works with a little Tapatio.
A couple teaspoons of lime juice makes for an interesting addition. It gives it more of a Southeast Asian flavor.
Cinnamon. Just a little bit. Quite tasty.

So there you go. It's a versatile recipe.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Raspberry-Nut Dreams

I discovered this recipe in one of my cookbooks. It is a compilation of the top 100 recipes from the 42nd Pillsbury Bake-Off contest. There are a lot of really good recipes in there, but this one caught my eye. They are really good for dinner (paired with some nice fresh fruit or scrambled eggs) and the leftovers are perfect for a quick breakfast (just take them out of the fridge and microwave for about 20 seconds). I know that my pictures make them look a little "oozy." I kind of went overboard on the raspberries. I recommend you stick to the 1 cup! They still taste great, just a little extra cleanup and a little less pretty.

Raspberry-Nut Dreams

1/2 cup salted roasted macadamia nuts OR sliced almonds (we use the almonds because Corey doesn't like macadamia nuts as much)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (I use a litte extra) frozen raspberries, thawed, drained and liquid reserved
1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® Flaky Layers refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/3 cup flaked coconut

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 16 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray. In food processor, process macadamia nuts with on-and-off motions until coarsely chopped. Add brown sugar; process until combined. Place in small bowl; set aside.
2. In same food processor, process cream cheese, 2 tablespoons nut mixture and 1 to 2 tablespoons reserved raspberry liquid until smooth.
3. Separate dough into 8 biscuits; separate each into 2 layers, making a total of 16 rounds. Lightly press each round in bottom and up side of muffin cup. Spoon about 1/2 tablespoon cream cheese mixture into each dough-lined cup. Top each evenly with raspberries, 1 tablespoon remaining nut mixture and 1 teaspoon coconut.
4. Bake 14 to 22 minutes or until coconut is lightly browned. Cool in pan 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sloppy Joe's

I think nearly everyone grew up on Sloppy Joe's. We weren't any different. The only weird thing I've noticed is that all Sloppy Joe's taste completely different. I love my mom's recipe because's what I grew up on. I love Mom's Sloppy Joe's, when I try others I am always sorely disappointed.

Mom's Sloppy Joe's

1 lb. hamburger
1 onion
1 T. mustard
1 Cup ketchup
3/4 tsp. salt
2 T. Vinegar
1/4 tsp cloves

Brown and drain meat and onion. Combine other ingredients. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes (may need to add more ketchup).

I always make extra because they are also great for leftovers with no complaints from the boys. We used to eat them with potato chips, but I can't bring myself to do that anymore with all the fat in the meat anyway...oh wait we aren't supposed to talk about fat on this blog. I served it with fresh asparagus cooked in a good quality olive oil and sprinkled with salt and freshly ground pepper.

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