Tag-Archive for ◊ Mexican ◊

30 Mar 2012 Chicken Tortilla Soup

The weather has just taken another cold turn. YES!  One last chance for a warming and comforting  soup!  Bring on the wind and the rain. We can enjoy Spring later  I have nothing against tulips and sproinging (yes, that’s a real word, and I love it, it is what lambs do), but with one last winter storm I am sure I will appreciate it that much more.

This soup is delicious, (would I post it if it wasn’t?  Rhetorical question: of course not!)  I am also posting this recipe because most everyone I know enjoys tortilla soup, but not many of us have a tried and true recipe in our repotoire.   My friend Adele made this soup  for an Ina Garden (AKA The Barefoot Contessa) themed cookbook club.  Two of us immediately re-made the soup for our families, and both to rave reviews.  I think Adele found a winner! Yay, Adele (and Ina)!

I had to twiddle with the original recipe a bit (I just can’t help myself). I added corn and black beans, plus I pureed part of the soup to make a thicker broth, which I enjoy, but you can totally skip the pureeing part if  you want fewer steps, less mess, and still have a tasty, hearty soup.

So, without any further ado, here’s my version of Adele’s version of Ina’s Garten’s “Mexican Chicken Soup” (from Ina Garten’s 2006 book, “Barefoot Contessa at Home“).

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 4 cups cooked chicken,shredded or chopped (baked, grilled, or poached chicken breast &/or thighs, or shredded  meat from a roasted chicken)
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions (brown or red, or a combo, 1 or 2)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (2-3 stalks)
  • 2 -4  jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1  or 2 15-oz. cans black or pinquito beans (one of each is nice, too)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (about 4)
  • approx. 2  1/2 quarts chicken broth (10 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • approx. 1 tablespoon salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 small corn tortillas (approx. 6 inch diameter)
  • for toppings (be SURE to include these!): lime wedges, chopped cilantro, grated jack and/or cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, and crushed corn chips (optional)
  1. If cooking the chicken specifically for this recipe, sprinkle chicken thighs or breasts (or combo) with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, turn chicken over and continue to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.  (cooking time determined by how large the chicken pieces are and whether or not the chicken pieces have bones).  Remove chicken from oven and when cool enough to handle, dice or shred and set aside. Discard  bones and skin.
  2. Heat approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet.
  3. Add onions to hot oil in skillet.  Saute onions until translucent, 5-8 minutes.
  4. Add celery and desired quantity of chopped jalapenos  to onions and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add garlic cloves and saute for another 30 seconds or so.  Do not let the garlic brown.
  6. Remove approx one third of the onion-celery-jalapeno-garlic mixture and place in blender. Leave the remaining 2/3 in the pan.
  7. Add 1/3 of each can of beans to the blender (you can add one can of beans or two, depends on how you like your soup and how much fiber you want), along with enough of the crushed tomatoes to make a puree-able mixture (1/3 – 1/2 of the can).  Whirl on high until mixture is pureed.
  8. In large stockpot heat the chicken broth, add the pureed mixture, the reserved onion-celery-jalapeno-garlic mixture, the chopped carrots, the drained and rinsed can(s) of bean(s),and the spices (cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and pepper).
  9. Bring soup to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  10. Add shredded chicken and corn and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  11. Cut tortillas into noodle-like strips. (Cut tortillas in half and then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips.)
  12. Stir cut tortillas and chopped cilantro into soup and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until chicken is heated through.
  13. Serve the soup hot, topped with lime wedges, chopped avocado, grated cheese, and crushed tortilla chips (if desired, and everyone I served this soup to, desired everything, including the crushed tortilla chips! The t-shirt people–my running addicted friends–added the most chips!!!  LOL)
Note:  If you are just going to eat half the soup, divide the soup and add half the tortilla strips.  When you eat the remaining half of the soup, add the remaining tortilla strips. The soup keeps well, but the tortilla strips, when sitting in a liquid, don’t)
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  It took me so long to type, edit and insert a picture into this post that the weather has turned warm again.  Shoot!

 

 

08 Oct 2011 Quesadilla Pie

Looking for something new for lunch? I have the perfect thing!  This lunch has to be baked, so it’s a great fall-winter recipe.  I found it at Simply Recipes awhile back .  Finding this recipe was a paradigm shift in lunches around here.

For me now it’s not so much a recipe, but a method.  I did make some changes to the recipe though,  mainly around baking time.  I don’t know why they cook their pie so long, the pie would be cracker crispy if baked for as long as they specify. Still, it would be good to go to the site, there are some good layering photos posted.

The only two ingredients needed for this pie are cheese and flour tortillas.  Everything else is up to you, what you like, and what you have on hand! (see the ingredient suggestion list).  Do you see the paradigm shift potential here?  It’s kind of like learning to make an omelet, or a sandwich, and realizing there are no limits to what you can do, every omelet could be different, every sandwich could be different, just every Quesadilla Pie can be different.

Yes. every time I make Quesadilla pie, it’s different, and every time I make it, it’s good. Sometimes it has three layers, other times five layers. Some times it’s all veggie-most of the time actually, and sometimes it’s a carnivore’s delight. The pie I have pictured here has a layer of spinach and cheese, a layer of fresh tomatoes (juiced, seeded, and chopped) and cheese, a layer of fresh spinach (no need to precook) and cheese, a layer of sauteed onions and zucchini and cheese, and a layer of corn and cheese. That’s five layers, and six tortillas.

Quesadilla Pie

  • 4 or 5 or 6 plate sized flour tortillas (9-10 inches diameter), depending on how many layers you want your pie to have!
  • A bit of butter (not optional)
  • Approx. 1/2 pound grated cheese-one kind, or a mixture based on what you have on hand, (Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Mozzarella are really good.  I usually blend a variety of cheeses-whatever I have in the refrigerator, and always add some Mozzarella (I like it’s “stringy” qualities!).  A bit of cheddar is OK when mixed in with other cheeses, but I find a lot cheddar results in an oily, soggy dish.  A pre-packaged, pre-shredded “Mexican Blend”  could be used, too.)
  • Choice of filling ingredients: (Each layer should have cheese plus one, maybe two, filling    ingredients. Don’t make each layer the same!)
  • fresh  spinach leaves; tomatoes, juiced, seeded and chopped (otherwise they make the tortilla soggy); sliced olives; sautéed/cooked zucchini; any leftover cooked veggie, diced (I’ve added broccoli, asparagus, sweet potato…); chopped and sautéed/cooked onions (yellow or red onions); chopped green onions; cooked mushrooms (if not sautéed first, they make the tortilla soggy); leftover cooked and cubed or shredded chicken, beef/steak, pork, sausage, bacon; cooked or canned green chiles; canned or cooked beans (black beans, pinto beans, pinquitos); fresh or frozen corn
  • Cumin and/or chili powder for extra heat, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a pie plate or quiche dish, (pie plate or quiche dish should be approximately the same size as your tortillas). Do not skip the butter.
  3. Place one tortilla on the bottom of the pie dish. Sprinkle some shredded cheese over the tortilla. Use a generous portion of cheese. Add your chosen filling ingredient to this layer. If you want, sprinkle some cumin or chili powder on top for a spicier pie (probably  not necessary if you are using Pepper Jack and/or chilies).
  4. Repeat: tortilla, generous sprinkling of cheese, a chosen filling ingredient, and a sprinkle of optional cumin or chili powder. Make three or four layers, all stacked on top of each other.
  5. Butter the top of the final tortilla and place on top of your “pie”, buttered side up.
  6. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
  7. Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and increase the heat to 375°F. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the top tortilla is lightly browned and cheese is bubbly.
  9. Remove from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  10. Cut into slices.  This pie is finger food (once it cools off a bit!).  It’s actually a bit difficult to eat with just a fork.
  11. Serves 2, 3, or 4 persons–depending on appetites and possible side dishes. We just eat, as-is, for lunch.
  12. Serve with salsa, sour cream, and/or avocado, if desired.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I hope  you and this recipe for Quesadilla Pie enjoy many happy years together!


13 Jul 2011 Southwestern Pasta Salad

I have not been very impressed with the food section of our local paper in the last, oh, decade.  There is one column in particular that drives me iNSaNe.  Typical recipes include a bit of Dream Whip here, Bisquick, Cream of Chicken soup and canned mushrooms there,  with Tater Tots, Rice-a-Roni, and crushed up Ritz Crackers stirred into a can of Pineapple Tidbits on the side. PLUS, not one of the recipes has been tested by the columnist! (Although she does say how good they all sound and she might get around to trying one over the weekend…)  Arggghhhhhh!!

That all been said and vented, there have been a few recipes over the years that I have tried.  And I have to admit, most have been pretty good.

This one here is a keeper. The basic salad can be thrown together with cans from the pantry, and it’s good for you with lots of fiber from the beans and lots of other feel good stuff from the veggies.  If you have some fresh herbs on hand, the basic salad can be jazzed up a bit, but it’s not necessary, the basic salad is good as it is.  If you want to go all out, throw in a few chopped avocados and a pound of bay shrimp.  This salad serves a bunch of people, so it’s ideal to take to any potluck or family gathering.  I’ve made this a number of times, and I have only had the recipe for a few weeks.  It’s been a popular side dish, and I love, love, love how fast and easy it is to throw together from ingredients I have in my pantry.

This recipe was inspired by two recipes that ran in the “Home Plates” column in the San Jose Mercury News in June 2011, both recipes were attributed to Hazel Lawson Gentry.  I took the best of both recipes, experimented a bit with quantities, and came up with this, my new “go-to” Pasta Salad.  You can do the same!  This recipe is very flexible and very forgiving. Make it yours!

Southwestern Pasta Salad

For the Dressing

1 cup ranch dressing

1 7 oz. can chopped mild green chilies

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

For the Pasta Salad

1 pound corkscrew, penne, or wagon wheel pasta, cooked and drained according to package directions (if you want less pasta in your salad, cook only 1/2 lb pasta, use 1 can of beans, and  keep all the other quantities the same.)

1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (in the summer use 2 cups diced tomatoes from your backyard or from the farmers market), do not drain

1 OR 2 15 oz. cans (your choice) of black beans, pinquitos, or kidney beans (I use 1 can black beans), drained

1 15 oz. can corn (or 2 cups frozen corn, or fresh cooked corn stripped off the cob), drained

1 7 oz. can sliced black olives, drained

If you have it…

4 sliced green onions

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, or basil

To make this Pasta Salad “Supreme”

2 diced avocados

1 lb. bay shrimp

  1. Combine the ranch dressing with the undrained chiles and the cumin powder.  Set aside.  (Dressing can be made up to one week in advance.)
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Cool with cold water, and drain well.
  3. Combine the pasta with the can of undrained diced tomatoes and the drained beans, corn and olives.
  4. Stir in the desired amount of the prepared dressing–you might use 3/4, or you might use all of it.  It all depends on how much liquid your pasta absorbs (this depends on the brand, the style, and how long you’ve cooked your pasta), and your personal preference, how saucy do you like your pasta salad?  Stir in as much as you think you’d like.  Save any leftover dressing, after a few hours the salad might look a bit dry and you can stir in the rest of the dressing at that time.  (If the salad looks dry and you have no dressing left, stir in a few spoonfuls of salsa!)
  5. If using, stir in your choice of herbs, green onion, avocado and bay shrimp, and salt and pepper, if needed.
  6. Cover the salad with plastic wrap and chill until serving time.

That’s all there is to it!  Easy peasy!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Print out this recipe.  It will become a staple. Do you know how much stress is relieved by having a good, “go-to” pasta salad that can be made at the drop-of-the-hat, without a trip to the grocery store? Invite the neighbors over, get the burgers on the grill…, it’s Summertime and the livin’ is easy!!

25 Sep 2010 Baked Chicken Taquitos

Yes!  You can bake taquitos!  Who knew?  My kids loved taquitos when they were growing up.  They were always happy when there was a box of them in the freezer. I wish I knew then what I know now.  I could have made batches of these and had them in the freezer for them to reheat.  I could have been my own Costco!  I could have served them real food, and it could have been baked, rather than fried.  Oh well.  I can make these now and my daughter is heading back to her college apartment with two dozen of them (frozen), and the knowledge of how to make them for herself.  Hey, I AM my own Costco!

I was afraid this would be a bit spicy for my tender palate.  Not at all.  In fact, if you want a bit of a kick you should probably add in a few chopped chilies.  We made most of these with corn tortillas, but tried a few with flour, too.  We didn’t like the flour ones nearly as much. BTW, I’ve found a really good brand of corn tortillas, they don’t crack when folded (even when taken right out of the refrigerator).  They are  “La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style Corn Tortillas”.  Here in San Jose they are at both Lucky and Safeway. I found this recipe at Our Best Bites.

Promise me you won’t skip the sprinkling of Kosher salt before baking.

Baked Chicken Taquitos

4 oz cream cheese
1/4  cup Salsa Verde (green salsa)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1  cup grated pepperjack cheese

16-20 small corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray (Pam) or oil placed in an oil mister

Heat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it’s soft and easy to stir (but not melted).

Stir salsa verde, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic, cilantro, green onions, chicken and grated cheese into softened cream cheese and combine well. You can easily prepare  this mixture ahead of time and store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Working with a few tortillas at a time, place between damp paper towels and heat in microwave (20-30 seconds) until soft enough to roll without cracking (not necessary if you are using La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style Corn Tortillas!)

Place 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Roll tortilla as tightly as possible.  Secure with a toothpick if desired, but it’s probably not necessary (Now would be the time to freeze, if you want to save and bake at a later time). Place rolls seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. The rolls should not touch each other.

Spray taquitos lightly with cooking spray or oil in a mister.  Sprinkle tops lightly with kosher salt. Don’t you dare skip this!

Place taquitos  in preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Serve hot, with dips that suit you–guacamole, sour cream, salsa…

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, I hope you enjoy this recipe!

02 May 2010 Chicken Enchiladas with Green Sauce

Mmmm…, must have been the thought of Cinco de Mayo… but I’ve finally found a great green sauce for enchiladas.  Not spicy (although it would be easy to up the heat) but tasty and tangy, which it should be, having being made with 2 lbs of fresh tomatillos. I liked the flavor of the chicken poached in cilantro and mint, but I think that delicate flavor got lost when the sauce, cheese, and tortillas were added.  So you might just want to make your own enchilada filling and use this sauce. Delicioso!

Don’t assemble the enchiladas until 10 minutes before you want to eat (but the the sauce, the chicken, and the filling can be made a day or more in advance). I made the mistake once of assembling the enchiladas in the morning and refrigerating until ready to cook.  The sauce soaked into the tortillas and by the time I had removed the casserole dish from the oven I knew that I had one horribly dry dish on my hands.  So dry, that all the sour cream in the carton couldn’t help…

Green Sauce (Salsa Verde)

2 lbs tomatillos (about 15), husks removed and washed
2-3 Serrano chilies or 1 Jalapeno (I’m a wimp, I used 1 Anaheim)
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small while onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil (divided use)
1 1/2 tsp. salt (more or less to taste)
1 cup chicken broth (saved from poaching the chicken)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Char the tomatillo and chilies. Do this over an open flame on your stove top, on the grill, in the frying pan, or in a hot oven.  I grill over the gas burner on my stove.  You are looking for the tomatillos to soften slightly and have a few charred spots.  Remove tomatillos to a large bowl or platter to cool.  Put the charred chili in a brown bag to cool.  When cool, remove all the charred skin.  Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to a frying pan.  When hot add onion and saute onion until soft, add the garlic, and saute about 2 more minutes.  Put the tomatillos, peeled chili, onion and garlic in a blender and process until smooth.  Heat remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in the frying pan.  Add in sauce from blender and cook for about a minute. Stir in salt (to taste), chicken broth, cumin, and cilantro. Simmer for about 4 minutes and set aside.

For Chicken

1 small chicken, cut into 3 parts (or all thighs, or all breasts, or combo…about 2 lbs meat total)
8 cups water
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped (skin still on)
6 garlic cloves
2 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, divided use
8 springs cilantro
3 large sprigs fresh mint
1/2 tsp. black pepper
salt, to taste

Place chicken in pan with water, yellow onion, garlic, 2 tsp. salt, cilantro, and mint.  Poach chicken until done, 20-45 minutes depending on cuts of chicken and thickness of meat.  Let chicken cool in broth. Remove chicken from broth and shred.  Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken bones back into broth and simmer for an additional 30-60 minutes to make a richer broth. Strain 1 cup of broth from pan and add to the green sauce above.

For the enchiladas

shredded chicken from above
2 cups monterey jack cheese (or mexican blend cheese), divided use
1 can sliced black olives, optional
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup salsa verde
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
Queso Fresco, crumbled (or additional shredded cheese)
Sour cream or Mexican Crema
1/2 red onion, finely chopped, optional

Combine shredded chicken, 1 cup shredded cheese, optional olives and onion along with 1/2 cup salsa verde.  Stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just before it’s time to eat…

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat vegetable oil over high heat.  Lightly fry tortilla in oil for about 5 seconds on each side or until soft. Drain on a paper towel.  Repeat until all 12 tortillas are cooked.  Dip tortilla into salsa verde, add in a scant 1/4 cup of chicken mixture, and roll.  Place into baking dish, seam side down.  Repeat until all tortillas and chicken are used.  Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas in pan. Top with remaining 1 cup shredded cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Finish off in a hot broiler for 2-3 minutes if you want nicely browned cheese.  Garnish enchiladas with crumbled Queso Fresco and sour cream or Mexican Crema.  Servir y disfrutar.

Ooops.  Almost forgot to tell you where I found this recipe. It was in the San Jose Mercury News last month (don’t have the date on the clipping)  and it’s attributed to Agustin Gaytan.

Thanks for visiting!