Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken with Chipotle Sauce

I'm a cookbook whore.  Harsh, I know, but it's true.  I just love them.  Love reading them.  Love buying them.  Love receiving them as gifts.  A good evening to me consists of me on a couch with the sales flier from the local grocery stores, a couple cookbooks and a pad of paper to plan out the week's meals.  Oh, all while Food Network or some trashy reality TV is on in the background. Ahhh........

Abe, on the other hand, feels that maybe I had too many (to which I laughed my butt off) and asked me to get rid of some.  The ones I could spare were mainly ones that he had gotten before we were married. One that he decided to keep was his old Mexican cookbook.  And today he asked me to make something from it. To be honest, I hadn't even looked at it.   I was sure I couldn't find anything in the old dusty book. 

But I was wrong. This is what I came up with.  Simple, but flavorful.  The boys really liked it.  It was, however, too spicy for Adam, who took one bite and stuck his tongue out and said "Too Picy!"

The sauce can be made ahead of time and put in the fridge.

I served it with a side of white rice with vermicelli and green beans.

Recipe adapted from one in Mexican by Jane Milton.


Chicken with Chipotle Sauce
Serves 6

6 chipotle chilis (from can)
1 2/3 cup chicken stock
3 onions
6 boneless chicken breasts or thighs
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Place chipotle chilis and chicken stock in blender or food processor.  Process on high until smooth. 

Peel the onions.  Cut in half, cut them in half, then slice them thinly.  Separate the rings.

Heat oil in large frying pan, add onions and cook over low to medium heat for about 5 minutes or until they have softened but not colored, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion slices to a casserole that is large enough to hold all the chicken breasts in a single layer.  Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper. 

Arrange the chicken on the onion slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pour the chipotle puree onto the chicken breasts.  Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through, but still moist and tender. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cheese Steak Nachos

If you've read my kabob entries, you know I have a weird obsession with the "50" recipe booklets that I get from my Food Network magazine.  If not, I get a different booklet with 50 variety of a certain type of food... kabobs, holiday drinks, stuffings, etc.  Well, this month was nachos and my mouth started to water and the obsessive wheels in my brain started turning.

So, I suggested to Jimi that we should have once a month be Nacho Night, full well knowing I wouldn't have to do much more than say 'nachos' and "you want?" to get him on board.  Abe too, for that matter.  So, Abe declared every 2nd Thursday of the month Nacho Night. 

You might not think roast beef when you think of nachos, but when you have to come up with 50 different kinds of nachos to make, you have to think outside of the box.  This one caught my eye because, to be honest, a lot of the other recipes seemed too "fancy" for my boys.  I can't see Jimi eating that beef nachos... well, he's probably like it once I forced him to take a bite.  So, this seemed a happy medium between fancy and the "Can't we just make cheddar cheese and salsa kind?" Abe wanted.  I'm glad I did because the boys really enjoyed it!  I, on the other hand, had a veggie version.

The original recipe called for cheese-flavored chips, but I couldn't get myself to eat Doritos, so I opted for regular corn tortilla chips.  Go for the Doritos if you're into that stuff.

I think if I made this again, I would substitute Steak Umms for the roast beef to make it taste even more like a cheesesteak.  

So, come on.... join us in celebrating Nacho Night!  You know I won't have to twist your arm very hard!


Cheese Steak Nachos

Top cheese-flavored tortilla chips with 2 cups each sliced roast beef  and caramelized onions, and 3 cups jarred nacho cheese sauce. Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes, then top with hot sauce and pickled Italian peppers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mexican Black Bean Enchiladas Casserole

You know you can't go wrong with the words "cheese", "enchiladas" and "casserole".  Throw in "black beans" to make believe you're eating healthily and you won't feel quite as bad about enjoying every single bite of this yummy, gooey dish.

Abe and Jimi were expecting a dish made with chicken, so surprise when Mama made it where her vegetarian mouth could enjoy it too.  Abe loved it, but Jimi picked both the red peppers and the black beans out of it.  Quite the feat, I have to say.  He said that it was still ok and would be move to the "great" category if I had put chicken in it instead.   I'll take his suggestion into consideration.  Adam, as usual with most food he's given, devoured it. 

Actually, the base recipe would be good with any kind of switch up.... beef, pork, chicken would be tasty.  Even cubed baked tofu or mushrooms could work.  I can see adding cilantro the next time I make it, plus a dash of chipotle chili.

I got the recipe from 


Mexican Black Bean Enchiladas Casserole
Serves 8 (or 4 hungry people)

2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup salsa
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 15.8 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
12 6-inch corn tortillas
2 cups Monterey Jack and Cheddar blend cheese shredded
3 tomatoes chopped (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine onion pepper, garlic, salsa, cumin and black beans in large skillet and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.

Arrange 6 tortillas in bottom of 9" x 13" baking dish overlapping them as necessary. Spread half of bean mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat layering process with remaining tortillas, bean mixture and cheese.

Cover dish with foil and bake 15 minutes.

Carefully remove foil and serve warm. Garnish with tomatoes, sour cream and olives.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tabbouleh Salad

My husband is Middle Eastern and both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law cook wonderful Arabic dishes.  I don't even attempt to duplicate their dishes for family dishes and stick to what I know.  But over the years, Abe has encouraged me to make some of his favorites.

Tabbouleh, for those who haven't had it, is simply parsley salad.  It might seem like a strange thing to make salad from, but believe me, it's refreshing and delicious.  Not to mention healthy.  We will make a huge batch and munch on it whenever we get the urge for a snack.  Talk about guilt-free snacking! 

Bulgar is cracked wheat and can be found in the Middle Eastern section of your grocery store or in the bulk food section.  Make sure you get the fine or medium kind.

Use fresh lemons (as you really should for everything you make) or the taste will be off.

Eat with a fork or serve over lettuce leafs.  You can also use it on sandwiches.  

This recipe is from an old Arabic cookbook that came with the marriage. 


Serves 4

1/2 cup fine or medium bulgar (cracked wheat)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 bunches parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint or 2 tablespoon dried mint
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Rinse bulgar.  Drain and place in a large bowl.  Add all chopped vegetables and mix well.  Add oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

Allow bulgar to soak and absorb the juice- about 1 hour. 


Friday, January 7, 2011

Roast Pork with Apples

I belong to a great playgroup in my town.  I've met so many wonderful friends there and we get together pretty regularly.  One of the perks of the group is that whenever one of the women has a baby, we all get together and make the family a meal.  I got 3 weeks worth of meals after Ava was born!

A friend from the group recently got a job offer that sent her out of town for a full month for training.  She's got 2 small children, so it was a bit of a scramble to find care and to make her time away as easy as it could be on her kids and husband.  So, the group got together and decided to make her husband a month of meals so he would have one less thing to do and so our friend wouldn't worry while away.

So, I threw this in my crock pot, hoping that it would taste good.  Abe got half of the meal (hey, I'm not going to cook 2 dinners if I can help it!) and declared it very tasty.  The meat becomes so tender and juicy that it practically fell apart when I tried to slice some for the photo.  The apples cook down to a chunky applesauce. 

I got the recipe from my Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook.


Roast Pork with Apples
Serves 4-6

Cooker: Medium or large round or oval
Settings and Cook Times: High for 1 hour, then Low for 7 to 8 hours

One 3 to 4 pound boned and tied pork loin roast, trimmed of visible fat (I was lazy and skipped this)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 to 7 tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1/4 cup apple juice, fruity white wine or champagne
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the broiler.  Season the pork roast with salt and pepper and place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.  Brown it on all sides under the broiler or in a skillet over high heat to remove excess fat; drain well.

Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Put the apple quarters in the cooker and set the roast on top of them. Combine the apple juice, brown sugar and ginger in a small bowl and spoon over the roast, rubbing it all over.  Cover and cook on High for 1 hour.

Reduce the setting to Low and cook until fork tender, 7 to 8 hours.  Transfer the pork to a warm platter and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve warm.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Baked Tilapia with Tomato and Basil

So, along with about a couple of million other Americans, we're trying to start this year off in a healthier way.  Shoot, after all of the desserts and huge meals we crammed into just a 2 week period, we'd better slow it the heck down.

Here's a healthy and tasty way to cook up that frozen tilapia that you got on sale the last time you promised you'd eat more fish.  You know you did that, just admit it. 

I got this recipe from, and surprisingly, it's probably one of the few butter-free Paula Dean recipes.  For those who don't know PD, she's well-known for her large amounts of butter used in almost everything.  The recipe does call for olive oil, but olive oil is more heart-healthy.  If you feel it's too much oil, just cut the amount. 

If you don't have fresh herbs, you can sub dried.  I did and it came out great.  


Baked Tilapia with Tomato and Basil
Serves 4

Nonstick cooking spray
2 (8-ounce) tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray a shallow 1-quart baking dish with nonstick spray.Sprinkle the fish evenly with salt and pepper.

Arrange the tilapia in a baking dish and sprinkle evenly with basil, oregano, onion powder and garlic. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Arrange the tomato slices evenly over the fish, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake until fish flakes easily with fork, about 20 to 25 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over fish and serve immediately.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Roasted Chicken with Rosemary

 When I first got married, I wasn't much of a cook.  I knew how to make a few recipes, but as a single vegetarian, dinner mostly consisted of salad and ice cream.  I did go through a phase where I was obsessed with Asian noodle soups and trying to recreate Martha Stewart desserts, but once I started seeing the results of all of that cooking on my thighs, I went back to salads (and a little less ice cream). 

One of the first gifts my mother-in-law was a Taste of Home cookbook.  I remember feeling very proud of mine because she got the same one for all of the daughter-in-laws, so it felt like an initiation into the family. I had know her for about 14 years at that point, seeing that I'm best friends with her daughter (hence how I met my husband), but this moment felt like family. 

This was the first recipe that I made for Abe from the cookbook and it was the first time I had ever made a whole chicken.  I remember being very nervous about it, but then amazed at how easy it turned out.  Since then, I've made several different recipes, but always get the same reply from Abe and Jimi....."It's really good, but it's not like your rosemary chicken."  So, while they humor me by trying my newest found recipe, I humor them by making the basic chicken that they love so much.  If I ever find a recipe that tops this one in their mind, I will be sure to run to the blog to post it!

The beauty of the recipe is that it makes 2 guaranteed meals for pretty cheap.  I always take the bones and simmer it in a pot of water with some whole peppercorns, garlic cloves, bay leaf or two and a couple of onions and carrots thrown into a large pot, and make chicken noodle soup the next day.

Recipe by Isabel Zienkosky, found in The Taste of Home Cookbook

Rosemary Chicken
Serves 9

1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 roasting chicken (5 to 6 pounds)
9 small red potatoes, halved
6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 medium onions, quartered

In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in rosemary, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.  Place chicken on a rack in a roasting pan; tie drumsticks together with kitchen string.

Spoon half of butter mixture over chicken.  Place potatoes, carrots and onions around pan and drizzle the remaining butter over them. 

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes (I'm lazy and skip this part).  Uncover;  bake 30-60 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees and vegetables are tender, basting occasionally.

Cover with foil and let stand for 10-15 minutes before carving to allow juices to settle back into chicken.  Serve vegetables with chicken.