Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats




Having an abundance of zucchini is a good thing.   It is such a versatile vegetable that we never seem to tire of it....it readily becomes soup, a fritter, a muffin or a cake....but, today, it became a serving dish for a version of chicken enchiladas!

These little guys were really tasty...the spice mixture was perfect...dinner was filling!

Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Yield:  8 boats 
Serve 1 to 2 boats per person

Preheat oven:  400° F.

Enchilada Sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2/3 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Zucchini Boats
4 medium zucchini
1-2 Tbsp oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 can chopped green chiles, drained
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 lb chicken breast, cooked, shredded (Or, use shredded rotisserie chicken)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Topping
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or a mixture of Mexican cheeses

Garnish
1 avocado peeled and sliced
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro

For the Sauce
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Set aside until ready to use.

Zucchini Boats
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While waiting, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh leaving a 1/4-inch thick edge.  Chop the zucchini flesh into small pieces and set aside.  Drop the zucchini boats into the boiling water and cook 1 minute.  Remove from the water.  Drain on paper towels.

In a sauté pan, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic and the chiles.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender.  Add the chopped zucchini flesh and cilantro, season with salt and pepper.  Add the cumin, oregano, chili powder, water and tomato paste.  Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add in the chicken and mix.  

Place 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of the baking dish and place in the zucchini halves cut side up.  Fill each hollowed boat with 1/3 cup chicken mixture,  Top each with about 2 tablespoons of sauce and 1-2 tablespoons of cheese.

Bake 35 minutes.

Garnish:  Sliced avocado and dollop of sour cream, sprinkle with chopped cilantro.



These are worthy of a repeat performance!  Great flavors!

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm, as well as Weekend Bits at Simple Living and Eating.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Curried Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad is easily a popular spring and summer delight.  It is filling and doesn't take long to prepare...especially since I discovered the packages of rotisserie chicken chunks at Costco.  Being too hot for me to stand over the stove or to heat up the house by turning on the oven, this was a great find....speaking of finds, it is time to find a recipe for The Secret Recipe Club reveal day.

In preparing for this post I had to focus on something that did not involve an oven...that was not the easiest challenge.  Emily, at It Bakes Me Happy says she has a major sweet tooth.  She is a baker and lover of sweets...lots and lots of sweets.  I must say that Emily is one busy baker!  There were many sweet choices in her recipe archives...but alas, I have been trying hard to boycott sweets....so, I talked myself out of the Apple Crisp, the Apple Dutch Baby and the Buttermilk Biscuits!  No sweets!  No oven!

Instead, I focused on salads.  I spied a recipe for Curried Chicken Salad that looked perfect.  I thought that I might have everything in the pantry which meant no trip to the store...and that made it even better.  As the story goes I had to do some improvising as my pantry did not have golden raisins or pecans.  I had Craisins and slivered almonds.  I was also making more than Emily's recipe would make and serving it at dinner so I increased some ingredients and added a couple more ingredients such as pasta, celery and green onion.  It was quite tasty...and, as you know, I am a lover of curry, so curry always makes me happy.  Thank you, Emily, for allowing me to springboard from your recipe!


Curried Chicken Pasta Salad

Yield:  4-6 servings

2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast
2 ribs celery, diced
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup Craisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 thin green onions, chopped, both white and green portions
6 oz dried pasta, cooked and drained

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp honey
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper, 3-4 twists

Garnish:  Additional chopped green onion or chopped cilantro.

Boil the pasta until al dente, drain, and set aside.  Allow to cool as you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a medium size bowl combine the diced chicken, celery, hard boiled egg, Craisins, slivered almonds, and green onions.  Add the pasta.

In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, honey, curry powder and salt.  Fold into the chicken mixture, stirring until evenly moistened.

Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed.

Serve as a sandwich, as a side dish or main course on a bed of lettuce, if desired.

Garnish:  Sprinkle with additional chopped green onion or chopped cilantro.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


This was not an over-powering salad as curry can sometimes be. The addition of the honey was a great idea. It smoothed the edge that curry can have and created a very pleasant salad.  We really enjoyed it!




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Baklava Cookies


Just reading the name of these cookies had me conjuring up visions of flaky layers interspersed with walnuts and honey...what could be more satisfying...and how could that become a cookie? I wasn't certain but the vision I had conjured up must certainly have a happy ending....

And, it did have a happy ending.  These cookies were easier to mix up than laying out layer after layer...and, we were not disappointed in the taste.   The cookies were soft and chewy....the drizzle of honey...mmmm....I had a bit of chopped walnuts left and sprinkled just a bit on top.  They were just right.

Baklava Cookies
adapted from The Good Stuff Cookbook

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Optional:  Finely ground walnuts to sprinkle on top.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, walnuts, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a the bowl of your mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Slowly mix in the flour and nut mixture.

Using your hands or a cookie scoop, form small, round balls of dough and place them on the parchment lined baking sheets.  Gently press down on the balls, to flatten each cookie slightly.

To make the glaze, heat the honey, butter, vanilla, lemon juice and cinnamon in a saucepan over low heat until the mixture is syrupy.  Set aside until ready to use.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Remove the cookies from the oven and drizzle the glaze over the cookies.   (Lightly sprinkle with finely ground walnuts if desired.)  Let the cookies stand on the sheets until cooled completely.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


While I have been boycotting sweets, I couldn't resist making these little guys....nor could I resist eating a few....

I am sharing today to Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and Foodie Friday at Simple Living and Eating.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Barbecued Baked Beans

I used to think that there was a season for baked beans, at least, I guess I did, as I never seemed to make them except in the spring.  How silly is that?  If there is a dish that you really like, then it should be enjoyed year round!  Don't you agree?  That is how Barbecued Baked Beans moved from spring to summer...and I can see them creeping into the fall.

I had seen a recipe from Cathy at Wives with Knives.  She is a great cook and has a wonderful blog. I know that you must have visited her her now and then to see what is cooking....and it is always good!  I know that we certainly enjoyed her Barbecued Baked Beans.


Barbecued Baked Beans
adapted from Wives with Knives

1 pound small white beans
6-8 slices thick cut smoked bacon, about 1 cup diced
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3 large cloves)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups tomato sauce, homemade or canned
1/3 cup brown sugar, or more to taste
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard or 1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco sauce, or to taste
3 1/2 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp cracked pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dry thyme)

Pick through the beans to remove any debris. Rinse the beans and place in a large pot. Cover the beans with cold water and allow the beans to soak overnight or for several hours.  Drain the soaked beans and transfer them to a cooking pot.   

In a skillet, saute the onions, celery and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for about four minutes or until the onion is translucent.  Add the mixture to the cooking pot along with 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, the bay leaves, salt, pepper and thyme.  (The beans should be covered with at least an inch or more of liquid, so you may need to add additional water or stock.)  

Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a high boil. Keep the beans at a high boil for 5 minutes, then reduce them to a gentle simmer and cover.  Simmer the beans until they are soft.  The best test is to bite into one or mash one or two between your fingers.

Saute the bacon pieces until crisp and drain on paper towels.  

Preheat the oven to 300° F.

Once the beans are cooked through, add the tomato sauce to the pot, stir.  Add the bacon pieces, stir. Next, mix in the brown sugar, molasses, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasonings by adding more brown sugar, mustard, Tabasco, salt or pepper.

Bake the beans in the oven for 4-5 hours or in a crock pot on high for 4-5 hours.  Sir the beans now and then.  Should the beans get too thick, add a little more water or chicken stock.  The beans should thicken some as they cool.  Save any extra liquid to thin the beans after they have cooled, if necessary.


We loved this recipe as the beans were not too sweet nor were they too hot.  BBQ Baked Beans are the perfect side dish for a barbecue.





Friday, August 22, 2014

Lechon Asado - Cuban Grilled Pork

I promised that my next post would be the Lechon Asado or Cuban Grilled Pork that Mr. T grilled to be used as one of the layers in Cubano Sliders...a miniature version of the Traditional Cuban Sandwich...that were so tasty.  We promptly left on vacation after that post and I have not had internet for two weeks!  I am amazed at how dependent I have become on the internet....what did I do before wifi?  "smile"

Anyway, as I mentioned we left for vacation so the photo is severely lacking...while I was running the last of the errands, Mr. T shredded the pork and sealed it up...no pictures except for a large piece of pork and the pieces on the sandwich..  Oh well.

The key to the grilled Cuban pork focuses on one main ingredient:  Seville orange juice.  This juice is more tart or sour than sweet.  Finding it can be a challenge....but, one can easily substitute a mixture of regular orange juice and lime juice to get the same tart flavor.


Lechon Asado
Cuban Grilled Pork
adapted from Epicurious

Citrus Garlic Marinade
1 1/3 cups fresh squeezed lime juice
2/3 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 heads garlic, roughly chopped
4 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 onion, slice and rings separated

Pork
3 to 4 pounds pork shoulder (preferably boneless), trimmed
Salt

Prepare the marinade by mixing all ingredients in a bowl.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Using a along thin knife to make deep gashes all over the flesh.  Generously season the outside of the pork with salt.  Place the pork in a large bowl and pour the marinade over the pork, spreading the onion rings over the top.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 24 hours. (We prepared the pork and marinated overnight.)

Basting Sauce
Remove the pork from the marinade and place it on a baking sheet, set aside.  Transfer the marinade to a saucepan, add the onions and bring to a boil for about two minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Place the the cooled marinade and onions into a blender and puree until smooth. The puree is used as a basting sauce during grilling.

Grilling
When the pork has reached room temperature, you are ready to grill.

Heat the grill to 550° F. and close the lid.  Wait at least 15 minutes before lowering the temperature to 300° F.  Oil the grill grates with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel.  (Use tongs to hold the paper towel so you do not get burned.)

If your cut of pork has skin still attached, begin grilling with the skin side up, away from the direct heat.

Grill the pork about 2 1/2 hours total.  Turn the meat over one quarter of the way through the cooking time and again at halfway, continue turning until the  cooking time has lapsed.  The pork is ready when the internal temperature reaches 150° F. on the grill.  It will continue to cook when it is off the heat, raising the temperature to 160° F.

Using two forks, shred the pork or if prefered, cut into thin slices.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Mr. T and I thought the pork had a great flavor and intend to make it again....only not just before leaving on vacation!   I can think of a few ways to use the leftovers and want to give them a try....I did made a few wraps for the road....delicious!!

We are still on vacation but have found our way to Seattle to visit family....and reconnect on the internet!!



Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Traditional Cubano Sandwich....Becomes A Cubano Slider!

How does one prepare for this month's Secret Recipe Club?  Easy.  Go to the local Cuban Restaurant and sample their Traditional Cubano Sandwich!  This was one BIG sandwich....Delicious.


This tasty sandwich originates in, yes, Cuba around the 1500's.  Who would have thought that this sandwich evolved over 400 years ago....?  As sandwiches go, it is pretty basic:  ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, butter and yellow mustard on Cuban bread which has a "tender interior", not chewy....  The key to a great Cubano is said to be in the press.  The idea is to toast and press the sandwich so that the juices from the ingredients are sealed together by the melted cheese. It is grilled in a plancha or sandwich press.  The sandwich, when served, is very thin and has a crusty exterior....sounds good to me.

There are a lot of "twists" on the sandwich as folks add a mojo, a few onions, or a tomato...to mention a few, but, it is not traditional and I am all about tradition!

The idea of making the Traditional Cubano into sliders was excellent!  Sarah at Sarah's Kitchen says that she had to try it when she saw it in cyberspace.  Well, I had to try it too.  I had been thinking that making sliders would be fun so when I saw Sarah's recent post for Cuban Sliders, my decision was made....no fondue, no Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes....Sliders!

I must admit that I did toy with Sarah's recipe.  I wanted to add the roasted pork that is traditionally one of the layers in the Cubano....so I did....and the Lechon Asado is in the next post.  Also, so as not to stray too far from Sarah's creation, I made a couple sliders similar to hers, too.  (We aren't really big onion fans so, sans the onions....)


Sarah baked her sliders but I did not...it is way too hot here to use the oven.  To create the crispy golden brown bread, I needed a plancha....I do not have a sandwich press so it was the next best thing...the George Foreman Grill.  "smile"


The Traditional Cubano Slider!

1 loaf Cuban bread (if available) or sour dough dinner rolls or 1 package Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
1/2 pound Black Forest Ham, sliced thin (Any sliced ham would be fine.)
1/2 pound shredded roasted pork (Lechon Asado)
Swiss cheese slices
Dill pickles (I used sandwich slices.)
Yellow mustard
Butter

Slice the bread or rolls in half.  Butter the outsides of the top and bottom half.  Set on a paper plate. On the bottom half layer the sliced ham, shredded pork, Swiss cheese and pickle slice. Squeeze mustard onto the inside of the top half of the roll.  Place the slider on the grill and close the lid, pressing to flatten the slider.  When the slider is heated through and the cheese melted, remove from the grill and serve.

Ice cold beer is a great accompaniment for the sliders!


These little guys are great for a light dinner or for one of those evenings when appetizers are dinner!  We enjoyed making them as well as devouring them!




Friday, August 8, 2014

Hot Artichoke Soufflé Spread


Everybody has a "go to" appetizer that they can count on and this is mine... I call it my "go to" appetizer because I seem to make it when I am in a pinch or want something to take to a friend's and I have been making it for at least twenty years.

I always seem to have the ingredients on hand and it is super easy.  You wouldn't think that this would amount to much just reading the recipe....the proof is in the taste.  To be good, things do not have to be complicated.

Served in your favorite dish, bubbling hot and steaming, with the pungent aroma of Parmesan cheese, this dip will quickly become your favorite!  This also fits perfectly into a 4-inch soufflé dish.

Hot Artichoke Soufflé Spread
adapted from West Coast Cuisine

Yield:  2 cups
Time: 30 minutes

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (I use shredded.)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3-4 shots Tabasco sauce
1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Thoroughly blend the cheeses, mayonnaise and Tabasco.  Fold in the chopped artichoke hearts. Pour into a small soufflé or other dish.  Dust the top with additional Parmesan.  Bake 20 minutes until the top is brown.

Serve hot and bubbly with an assortment of crackers.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


My daughter recently had some friends over for the evening....and of course, I took my "go-to" appetizer...there wasn't a smidge let in the dish....no leftovers for me.