Sunday, October 20, 2013

Melt The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

I ran across this lady on Pinterest and Facebook who posted some the best recipes.  I began following her and soon realized that we have a couple of things in common. One, she love food! Two, she lives in the Bay Area around where I used to live.  I soon came to appreciate her recipes, food talk and conversation. 

She asked me if I would like to preview a copy of her new cookbook. Of course I jumped on it.  As soon as the book arrived I tore it open and began working my way through it.  The book begins with the traditional orientation to cheese and pasta, but then it veers off into this culinary roadtrip of "not your momma's" mac and cheese.  It has elevated mac and cheese to a sophisticated dish worthy of any occasion or table.

My favorite recipe is the Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage and Macaroni.  The mac and cheese would be delicious on it own with the fontina and gruyere cheeses, but the addition of italian sausage and the pumpkin it's cooked in, add a tasty, depth not usually seen in mac and cheese.  My 16 year olds turned their noses up when I told them what I was fixing. However, one told me at dinner "mom, this is the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had." Quite a compliment from one who has the culinary range of about 10 dishes. 

I urge to buy a copy of this book.  It will change the way you look at mac and cheese.  They are also having a giveaway and you could win $500 set of Le Creuset cookware.  Click here for details

Here's a link the the video trailer for the book. Go... Now... You won't be sorry.

Recipes: Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company
Photos: Matt Armendariz, Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Slow-Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables

The humble slow cooker is one of my favorite kitchen tools.  I throw food in it and come home and dinner is ready.  So when I find a new recipe, and something a little off the beaten path, I just have to try it. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew it was going to make it's way to my plate. 

I didn't disappoint. It was favorful, creamy, delicious and healthy. What more can you ask for? One thing I really appreciated was the low amount of salt that it called for.  I did add salt at the table but I would much rather add a little at the table, than have the recipe call for massive amounts of salt to be added while cooking.  My one son said it reminded him of a curry dish without the heat.  He was right. It was like a really rich savory curry without the curry heat. I think you could probably add curry to it to change it up.  I used 2 packages of stir fry blend vegetables and served it over jasmine rice.  It definately will be made again and I hope you give it a whirl.

Slow Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables

Yield: 6-8 servings
Serve this creamy and fragrant stew over Jasmine or brown rice.
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 inch cube of ginger (about 30 grams), roughly chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled, quartered
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into four
  • 2 cans coconut milk, not shaken
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 can of baby corn cobs
  • 1 cup peas or frozen vegetables of your choice
  • For the spice blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine ingredients from the spice blend together and set aside.
  2. In a mini food processor, combine garlic, ginger and onion and pulse until it forms a paste.
  3. In the bottom of a slow-cooker placed on a burner, heat olive oil and melt butter. Add pureed aromatics and stir well. Cook for a few minutes, then add spice blend. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Move aromatics to one side of the pot and add chicken pieces to the pot. Cook chicken slightly on all sides, using a sturdy wooden spoon to move it around the pot. It should get thoroughly coated with the spice mixture.
  5. Open the cans of coconut milk and remove the cream from the top using a soup spoon. You should have about 1 cup. Pour the coconut milk over the chicken and with both cans, it should just barely cover the chicken.
  6. Drain the corn cobs and chop in half. Add to the slow-cooker.
  7. Place the slow cooker in the base and cook on low for 4 hours.
  8. Whisk cornstarch with coconut cream until smooth and add to the chicken. Stir well. Add frozen peas or other vegetables of your choice. Cook for another half an hour or until you deem the chicken cooked and the vegetables hot.
You can certainly use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in place of the thighs, but I prefer the dark meat and find it to have more flavor than the breast. It’s more affordable, too!
In the recipe I call for peas, but you can use any cooked or frozen vegetables you have on hand. In the version photographed above I tossed in a bag of my homemade stir fry packages of vegetables, which worked perfectly with the dish.
My slow cooker bowl can be used on a burner which can then be transferred to its electric base to cook further, but if you have a different type, then simply prepare the first few steps of this recipe in a heavy bottomed pot or skillet and transfer the ingredients to the slow cooker when the liquids are added.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bacon Deviled Eggs

Some things are just plain yummy and frankly anything with bacon is seriously yummy.  My boys are teenagers now and the days of dying Easter eggs has passed. I missed the deviled eggs that came with the dyed eggs. So I decided to make them for our Easter feast.  I looked at several recipes but decided to wing it myself.  They are really good and have that bacony goodness. Hope you enjoy.

12 hard boiled eggs, cut in half and yolks removed
1 1/2 tbsp mayonaisse *Note
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp dill pickle relish
4-5 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
pepper to taste

In a small mixing bowl, mash egg yolks.  Add mayo and mustard and stir until mixed well.  Add pickle relish and about 1/2 of the bacon and pepper. Mix until combined.  Spoon egg yolk mixture back into eggs.  Top each half with bacon.

*Note: ( you can add more mayo for loose mix or less for a stiffer mix)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Carne Adobada

I left New Mexico 3 years ago for Texas. One thing I rue is the Tex-Mex food out here.  Nothing is as good as my northern New Mexico food. When I was there I would simply go out to eat at my favorite restaurant with a family from northern NM that had recipes passed down from generation to generation. But since being exiled to the land of Tex-Mex, I've had to learn to cook those same delectable foods on my own.

I cleaned out my freezer over spring break. Two things that I found were my last carton of Bueno Foods red chile, and a pork shoulder.  Hummm the only thing I could do is combine the two together.  Absolute heaven. Rich savory, spiciness.  I'm home. Will have to call my neice and tell her to bring me some more when she goes to NM this summer.  I also have to say I really miss Bueno Foods. Great chile. The other thing I miss is the good homemade tortillas. The store bought ones just don't hold a candle to the real ones.  So here is my recipe for this great red chile and pork stew.

Carne Adobada

1 28oz carton of Red Chile *see note
2 tbsp red chile powder
2 tsbp honey
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp cayenne
2-3 tsp lime juice
3 lb. pork shouder cut into bite size chunks
beef or chicken stock
olive oil

Pour 2-3 tbsp of olive oil in to a large dutch oven. Heat over medium-high heat. Place half the pork into pot and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate. Brown the remaining pork. Add all pork back to pot.

While meat is browning, in a bowl mix red chile, honey, vinegar, cumin, cloves, cayenne, and lime. Add enough beef or chicken stock to bring to 8 cups.  Stir well.  Add chile sauce and bring to boil. Reduce to medium-low and cook until liquid is thickened and pork is tender, stirring occasionally ( approx. 1 1/2 hours).

Serve in corn or flour tortillas with cheese, sour cream, lettuce tomatoes and guacamole or any other toppings you like. 

Note: If you cannot get processed red chiles you can make your own chile sauce by heating 5 oz dried red chile pods with 8 cups of water to boiling and turn off heat and let sit for 20 minutes.  Drain chiles keeping 1 1/2 cup liquid. Place chiles into a blender and add reserved liquid. Puree until smooth.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Smothered Creamy Green Chile Bacon Chicken

One of my favorite food bloggers is a young woman named Nikki.  She is known as Chef in Training.  She has some really creative recipes.  She posted one on Pinterest called Smothered Creamy Green Chile Bacon Chicken.  Ok, so first rule, anything with bacon in the heading is definitely going to get looked at.  Second rule, anything mentioning green chile is going to get looked at. Very smart was she cause she put BOTH bacon AND green chile in the name so you know I'm am most certainly going to not only look at but give it a whirl. 

 I have to say it didn't disappont.  It was creamy. It was smothered. It did have a good smoky bacony taste to it and of course it had the pièce de résistance, green chile. It was an easy recipe that had dinner on the table in an hour and a half.  I would most certainly make this again.  I served it with Creamy Garlic and Parmesan Rice ( and steamed broccoli.  I hope you give it a try, it's worth it. While your at it, add Nikki to your friends on Facebook or Pinterest.

Notes:  I used fresh jalapenos in the stuffing and fresh roasted green chiles instead of canned.

Smothered Creamy Green Chile Bacon Chicken

By Chef in Training March 15, 2013
  • Yield: 5-6 Servings

This recipe tastes like it comes off the menu of a fancy Mexican Restaurant! It is INCREDIBLE!
  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced jalapenos drained
  • 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • . . SAUCE
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles drained
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1/8-1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Carefully slice chicken in half to make a pocket so you can stuff it. Don't cut all the way through. You just want to make a good sliced flap for stuffing.
  3. Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan.
  4. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, bacon, jalapeños and salt. Stir to evenly combine.
  5. Divide filling into 5-6 equal parts (depending on how many chicken breasts you are making) and stuff the chicken breasts equally, placing back into the 9x13 pan.
  6. Cover 9x13 with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes or until cooked through.
  7. While chicken is cooking, make sauce. To make sauce melt butter in a large sauce pan. Once melted add flour and stir for a minute or two to make a roux. Once roux has been made, add half and half slowly, stirring constantly, until all has been added and sauce thickens to desired consistency. Remove from heat and add garlic salt, onion powder and green chiles. Set aside until chicken has been cooked through.
  8. After chicken has cooked for 50 minutes and is cooked through, remove foil. Cover chicken with sauce. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and bacon and place back in oven and cook additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Green Chile Posole

A substitute is working in our room this week. She is originally from El Paso. Our conversation yesterday turned into a love fest about Mexican and New Mexican food and of course my favorite green chile.  She asked if I had ever tried posole and my enthusiastic answer was yes I even make a wonderful green chile posole.  I started looking for my recipe and realized I had never really written it down, I just made it. 

Traditionally posole is made with red chile.  Being the green chile fan I am, what else could I make it with other than  yummy green chiles. So for my fellow New Mexico green chile fans here is my recipe
3-4 lb. boneless pork loin, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large can of white hominy - drained
1 large onion chopped
2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt (more or less to taste)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
10-12 chopped green chiles (use mild or hot, your preference)
1 jar green chile sauce (I use 505 Southwestern)
1/2 cup Pace salsa.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add pork to pot and brown quickly.  Add remainder of ingredients.  Cook over low heat for 2-3 hours.  Serve with sour cream and tortillas. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Braised Chicken with Lemon and Capers

There are few dishes that I could eat over and over. This dish had me literally licking the plate when I was done. Super easy to make and absolutely delicious. I served it with lightly sauteed green beans and a baked potato. For good measure I spooned some of the sauce over the potatoes and it was just wonderful.  Definitely one I will revisit many times.

Ingredients: (serves 2)
  • 2 bone-in chicken thighs with skin (6 ounces each)
  • 2 chicken breasts with skin (6 ounces each)
  • all-purpose flour for dusting
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin 0live oil
  • 3 large peeled garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 1-inch strips of lemon zest
  • 4 thyme springs
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • 2 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour.  In a large ovenproof skillet, melt the butter in the oil.  Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned (12 to 14 minutes).  Transfer the chicken to a large plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.
Add the garlic to the skillet and cook over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the stock, lemon zest, thyme, capers and bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up.  Transfer the skillet to the oven, cover and braise for 30-35 minutes, until the meat is tender.
Remove chicken, then return the skillet to the stove and boil until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme, bay leaf and lemon zest before serving.