I know I’ve said on more than one occasion since I’ve started this blog that one thing or another is “one of my favorites,” and today I’m going to say it again. Since I moved out of my parents house, whenever my mom said that she was making or had made enchiladas, I always made sure to drop by to score some leftovers. Her not very traditional enchiladas (they’re stacked like lasagna, not rolled) are one of my favorite home cooked meals. They’re full of flavor, including way too hot green chili, and really creamy with crispy edges. On top of her awesome enchiladas, my mom makes a pretty mean green chili sauce for someone who doesn’t have an ounce of Mexican in her blood.

In the years since I moved out of my parents house (and more recently, since I’ve become obsessed with cooking), there are some meals I just haven’t attempted to recreate. Mom’s enchiladas were always one of them — until now. While putting our menu together this weekend, Billy and I got the urge to give them a shot. The results definitely weren’t my mom’s, but they were pretty awesome.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 4 to 6
Green Chili Sauce
– olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 4 oz. fresh (roasted) green chili, diced (if you can’t find fresh, canned is fine, it just won’t be as spicy so maybe add more)
– 2 to 3 tbsp flour
– about 1/2 cup chicken stock
– splash milk
Enchiladas
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 oz. green chili
– 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (any leftover chicken (or turkey or any other meat you like) will work, too)
– 1/2 cup Monterey Jack, shredded
– 1/2 cup Velveeta, cubed
– 1 can cream of mushroom soup
– cumin
– salt and pepper
– corn tortillas

My mom’s green chili sauce is killer and is good for so much more than just enchiladas. With that being said, it’s probably the tastiest component to these enchiladas. It’s also really simple. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until the onions begin to sweat out, then add the green chili and continue to saute for three to five minutes or until the onions are translucent and the green chili has cooked down a little. Add the flour to the pan and stir until it has completely cooked out, about one minute. Poor in the chicken stock (start with a 1/2 cup and add more if you prefer a thinner consistency — it’s all based on preference), stir to combine and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for a few minutes until the sauce begins to thicken, then smooth out using an immersion blender (or regular blender if you don’t have an immersion). Stir in a splash of milk and add more liquid if necessary. Set the sauce aside until you’re ready to assemble the enchiladas.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I said before that my mom’s enchiladas aren’t exactly traditional, and it’s probably going to become very apparent in the next steps so I’ll apologize now to any traditional Mexican-style cooks who may be reading this. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix together the onion, chopped green chili, shredded chicken, cheese, cream of mushroom soup and seasonings. Grease a large casserole dish, then begin layering the enchiladas.

Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with some of the green chili sauce, then completely cover with a layer of tortillas. Spoon over half of the chicken mixture and spread an even layer over the tortillas. Spoon over more green chili sauce, cover again with tortillas, and finally the rest of the chicken mixture. Add one more layer of tortillas and finish with plenty of green chili sauce. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until all the cheese has melted and the edges of the tortillas begin to brown.

Enchiladas with Accoutrements

Yum. Our version of my mom’s enchiladas were definitely not the same, but they were pretty dang close and for sure delicious. They really hit the spot, and the leftovers made a delicious lunch the next day. One of the best things about my mom’s enchiladas is how creamy they are (thanks in part to the cream of mushroom soup, but mostly because of the Velveeta), and in terms of creamyness, ours were spot on. The crunch of the onions and the crispy edges of the tortillas gave the enchiladas a little texture.

I know these may not be traditional or restaurant-style enchiladas, but they aren’t lacking anything in flavor. They may also sound a little weird (Velveeta? Cream of mushroom soup?), but I promise if you give them a shot you’ll see why they’re one of my favorites. :)

I’m a day late…but at least this time I have an excuse. (The hand, remember? Sheesh.) In the days following my big kitchen disaster, Billy and I have continued cooking together in the kitchen, only now we make it known when there’s a hot pan/dish/other kitchen item out. It’s also been pretty awesome because Billy has taken over all of the dish cleaning duties since my stupid hand can’t get wet. I can’t complain too much about that, right?

This week is a short cooking week for us because we’ve got family coming in to town and we’re also going out for Albuquerque’s first ever restaurant week (which I hope to post about early next week). Nevertheless, we’ve got some pretty awesome meals this week.

Here’s what we’ve got going this week:
– Cioppino-Style Salmon over Angel Hair Pasta
– Mongolian Beef with Veggie Egg Rolls and Rice
– Pasta with Green Beans and Goat Cheese
Baked “Fried” Chicken with Fried Okra and Potato au Gratin
– Enchiladas with Papitos

This week is the first time ever that I’m trying my mom’s enchiladas (which happens to be one of my favorite comfort foods). I know they won’t be the same, but I’m hoping we can at least get close. So, until next time, happy eating! Ciao.

One night a week or two ago we found ourselves short on veggies for dinner. One thing we did have was a half a head of cabbage left over from when we made fish tacos. While Billy was out grilling, I decided to (attempt to, at least) throw something together with the cabbage. The results turned out better than either of us could have expected — we even decided to make it again (only, on purpose this time) the next week!

Here’s what you’ll need
– 3 tbsp butter, divided
– 5 cloves garlic, minced
– red pepper flakes
– dried, minced onions (you can use real onions, I was just in a pinch and the dried onions actually worked really well)
– salt and pepper
– 1/2 head cabbage, cut into strips (or however you prefer)
– 1/4 cup white wine

Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. When the butter begins to bubble, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, minced onions and salt and pepper. Saute until the garlic becomes fragrant, one to two minutes. Make sure not to let it turn too much because it will continue cooking while the cabbage is sauteing. Add the cabbage to the pan and saute until it begins to cook down, about three to five minutes. Once the cabbage is heated through and has cooked down (you’ll notice a considerable difference in how much room there is in the pan), add the wine. Deglaze and let the wine reduce. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, check for seasoning and you’re done!

Sauteed Cabbage

We were totally amazed at how flavorful this cabbage was. We’ve had it two or three times since the first time I threw it together, and it goes well with pretty much everything (I think it goes great with steaks). The leaves of the cabbage pick up a ton of flavor from the garlic and wine, and you get just a hint of butter in each bite. We love this because it’s really simple to throw together and it’s different than a lot of other veggie side dishes that can get old after a while. It has become one of our go-to favorites for weeknight dinners.

I had fully intended to catch up on the blog this weekend. We didn’t have many plans, it was supposed to be windy and rainy on Sunday — everything was looking good for a nice day on the couch full of relaxing and blogging. That is, until disaster struck in the kitchen on Saturday night.

We were cooking what looked and smelled like a delicious rack of lamb with an apricot glaze and panko crust. I had just finished sauteing some veggies and Billy had just pulled the lamb out of the oven. I got out a few plates and started taking pictures. Then it happened. I grabbed the handle of the pan. I threw the camera down on the counter, spun around and rushed to the sink. I turned on the cold water and let it run over my burned fingers and thumb. They were burning. They were throbbing. OUCH!

Within minutes I had five nice white spots on every finger (and thumb) on my left hand. Billy did some research and called the 24 hour nurse line. All signs pointed to a trip to the emergency room. So, we were off — little did we know we’d be waiting for five hours. Five hours. When we finally saw the doctor, they put cream all over the burns then bandaged me up. I was to go back in 24 hours to get them re-checked and to get further instructions. When we got home at 1:30 in the morning, I crawled into bed and slept with my hand resting on a bag of ice to keep it from throbbing. (Needless to say, we never got to eat the delicious looking lamb as it had been sitting out on the counter for over five hours and at 1:30 in the morning we wanted nothing to do with food.)

Fast forward to Sunday, late afternoon. We were back in the ER to get my burns checked out (thankfully there was zero wait this time). The doctor seemed surprised that I was back so quickly, but said that my burns looked good and I should be back to fairly normal after five days of medicating, bandaging and keeping the wounds dry. (I have to wear a glove any time I am dealing with water, which is a total pain. On the plus side, no dishes for me for five days!) Then, the next bombshell. I had to get a tetanus shot. So now, not only do I have four close to useless fingers, but also a half-dead arm. Lucky me!

My Monster Hand

The Lamb, Pre-Burns

The moral of the story? DON’T TOUCH PANS THAT HAVE BEEN IN THE OVEN! Pretty obvious, right? Apparently not for me…. Here’s your sign.

We love Chinese food, but trying to replicate restaurant-style food at home doesn’t always work out. While it’s usually really good cooked at home (and probably way healthier), it’s just not the same. Until now. One of my (new-found) favorite bloggers, Kathy over at Las Vegas Food Adventures, did a post on a basic stir fry recipe that you can use as a base and adjust however you like. Let me tell you…this base stir fry recipe is spot on. My only complaint is that, when we made it, we went a little crazy with the veggies and there wasn’t enough sauce (this was totally our fault, Kathy mentioned in her post that the recipe isn’t very saucy). regardless, it was delicious.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: about 4, depending on how many veggies you add to the base recipe
– 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– 3 to 4 tbsp oil for frying
Marinade
– 1 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp sherry
Sauce
– a few drops sesame oil
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 2 tbsp sherry
– 3 tbsp water
– 1/2 tsp cornstarch
(- for a more saucy dish, add 1/2 to 3/4 cups chicken broth and an extra 1/2 tsp cornstarch)
Seasoning
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
– 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Apparently, the secret to making super tender chicken without going through all the trouble they do in Chinese restaurants is pounding it out before cooking. Not to mention that pounding out food is a perfectly acceptable way to take out your frustrations!

Pound out the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap (or using a Ziplock bag) until it’s an even 1/2 inch thick. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and toss in a bowl with the soy sauce and sherry. Set aside and prepare any veggies you need to chop up.

Once all your prep work is done, combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Set aside (you won’t be using the sauce until everything is cooked).

In a large saute pan or wok, heat the oil over high heat. Once the oil and pan are very hot, add the garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir the ingredients around, they will only cook for about 30 seconds — until they become fragrant. Add the chicken to the pan and fry until the chicken begins to brown and is mostly cooked through, about three minutes. Add in any veggies or other ingredients that you’re using and continue to fry until everything is cooked and a little brown, time will vary depending on your ingredients (probably anywhere from one to five minutes).

Whisk the sauce to combine, then add it to the pan, stirring continuously. Cook until the sauce thickens, one to two minutes. Spoon over freshly cooked jasmine rice or Chinese noodles (or a combination!).

Garlic Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry

The flavor of this sauce was amazing. It really did taste like something you’d get in a restaurant. Best of all, the chicken doesn’t need to marinade for a lengthy period of time — just long enough for you to prep everything else. The chicken came out very tender, and the veggies were all cooked perfectly. It’s amazing how quickly a steaming hot wok will cook things and make them taste delicious.

Like I said earlier in the post, my only complaint was the lack of sauce. There was plenty to coat all the food, but not enough to really drizzle anything extra over. I think this was partially due to the fact that it wasn’t a very sauce recipe to begin with, but mostly because we added a ton of veggies.

Check out Kathy’s original post here. Her’s looks more like chicken stir fry than ours — I should have called titled my post veggie stir fry with a side of chicken!

I haven’t always been a fan of fish tacos. That’s probably because my first experience with them was sub-par. Since then, I’ve had many variates of fish tacos — grilled, fried, shrimp — and I’ve determined that when they’re done right, they’re delicious. One of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had came from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill restaurant in Vegas. They were served with three different sauces and a slaw for garnish. They were totally awesome, and from then on I knew I wanted to find a recipe for fish tacos that was easy but full of flavor.

When looking through our collection of cookbooks and recipes (including Bobby’s Mesa Grill cookbook) none of the recipes for fish tacos really stood out to us. So, we turned to the interwebs. We settled on Tyler Florence’s recipe made with mahi mahi and panko bread crumbs. After all, he does make the ultimate everything, right?

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 2 to 4
– 1 lb mahi mahi, skinned, boned and cleaned
– 1 cup flour
– 2 eggs
– 2 tbsp water
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– salt and pepper
– vegetable oil

To prepare the fish, cut it into strips of about one ounce each. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan. While the oil is heating, set up a breading station — flour, eggs beaten with water, panko (season each with salt and pepper) — and dredge each strip of fish. Test the oil by dropping in a piece of bread or a small piece of fish, it should be about 375 degrees. Once the oil reaches the right temperature, fry the fish in small batches and drain on a paper towel. Season with salt while still hot.

Serve the fish in toasted corn tortillas with Tyler’s pink mayo (find the recipe for the may here) and other accoutrement (I love these with cabbage and avocado). Tyler also suggests a mango-radish salsa, but we weren’t huge fans of it and preferred the tacos without.

The Ultimate Fish Tacos

These are amazing. We’ve had them twice since the first time we tried them, and we still can’t get enough. The fish is so crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. All it takes to make a perfect taco is a little pink mayo, a few strips of nice crispy fish, some avocado (although, Billy would disagree with that one) and some shredded cabbage. A little bit of seasoned rice is also a great addition. One bite and we were sold on these amazing fish tacos. They taste so fresh, and the crispness from the cabbage adds a great crunch to the already crispy fish. It doesn’t take much effort to make these, but the little effort it does take really pays off in flavor. I guess that’s why their called the ultimate fish tacos.

Tyler’s complete recipe, including the pink mayo and mango salsa, can be found on the Food Network Web site. I strongly suggest you check out the recipes and try them ASAP! You’ll be addicted, I can almost guarantee it.

A few weeks ago, Billy and I made a decision that we were going to limit ourselves to eating out once per week and once per weekend (in other words, twice a week). While this isn’t a huge challenge for us, we do enjoy eating out on weekends while we’re out an about. Despite that, we’ve been on a roll lately with the home cooking, and I think it’s forcing us to try a lot of new recipes that we’re totally falling in love with!

We had to adjust a few things on last week’s menu because Billy’s mom ended up coming down for a short weekend, so we wanted to make something special while she was here. So, this week we have a recycled recipe or two to try out.

Here’s what we’ve got going this week:
– Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Spaghetti Squash and Sauteed Cabbage
– Pasta with Green Beans and Goat Cheese
– Curry Lime Chicken Wings with Grilled Zucchini and Potatoes
– Rack of Lamb with Sauteed Vegetables and Quinoa
– Teriyaki Hens with Crab Spring Rolls and Rice

We’ve made veggie spring rolls before, but never anything with meat so we’re really excited to try Gordon Ramsay’s crab rolls. The weather is supposed to be awesome here in the coming days, so we’re also doing a few things out on the grill. It’s shaping up to be another week of food adventures! Until next time, happy eating. Ciao.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

I’m probably going to get shot for saying this, but I’m not a fan of tiramisu. So, needless to say, I wasn’t totally thrilled about this challenge. But I was determined to make it and enjoy eating it…and I succeeded at both! I was thrilled that everything (well, almost everything — more on that later) worked out and that I actually enjoyed eating the fruits of my labor. That’s right, that’s two challenges in a row that I’ve felt good about!

The challenge was comprised of three parts: the mascarpone cheese, the lady fingers and the tiramisu itself — including the pastry cream and zabaglione. It sounds like a real challenge (that’s the point, right?), and it was. But this time around, I didn’t feel like it was difficult, it was just a lot of components that all had to be done separately. I think I was working on this stupid thing for about four or five days straight before we could even eat it!

The first part of the challenge I decided to tackle was the lady fingers. When it comes to classic New York bakery cookies, these are my absolute favorite. Anytime I’m back east visiting my family or they come out our way, one huge box of lady fingers is all mine. So I was definitely going into this with mixed emotions. I didn’t know if my lady fingers would be anything like the ones I’m used to or if they would be a total failure. I stress out when it comes to “gently folding” things together because I always think I’m over mixing and will loose all the air that I so carefully beat into the thing. Anyway…the lady fingers turned out awesome. They were so easy, I couldn’t believe it! They came out pretty darn good, but not as good as anything I’ll ever get in NY.

Lady Fingers

A few days after the lady fingers were done (it was a task for me to leave them on the counter without eating any of them) I decided to tackle the mascarpone cheese. What a disaster. If it weren’t for all the other Daring Bakers’ posting their horror stories about this stupid cheese on the forums, I probably would have gotten even more discouraged than I was at the point that my “cheese” completely separated and looked like a pile of disgustingness that no one should have to look at or eat. So, as you can probably guess, I ended up using store bought mascarpone cheese like some of the other bakers because I just didn’t have the time or energy to try to make it again. (By the way, I really don’t know what I did wrong. I heated the cream over a double boiler — using a stainless steel bowl — and it never got above 165 degrees. I stood there for at least an hour, stirring, letting it sit, checking the temperature. If anyone knows what could have gone wrong, please let me know!)

The day after the mascarpone disaster, I made the pastry cream and the zabaglione. Both of these were really easy and turned out perfect (at least I think). They chilled in the fridge overnight, and the next day I was finally ready to assemble the whole thing. I combined the mascarpone cheese, pastry cream and zabaglione then folded it all into freshly made whipped cream. Next, I dipped the cookies in espresso for like two seconds (so they didn’t get too soggy) and began layering — cookies, cream, cookies, cream, cookies, cream. The (almost) finished product chilled overnight and we were finally ready to eat!

Tiramisu

I didn’t do much in the way of decorating the finished product, but I did sprinkle a little coco powder on top (which was the perfect final touch, by the way). I wanted to do something a little different for the presentation, so that’s how I ended up with wine glasses. I was pretty satisfied with the way they turned out. Nothing professional, that’s for sure, but not too bad for a novice!

Coco Dusted Tiramisu

Like I said before, I’m really not a fan of tiramisu. But seriously…this was awesome. It’s not something I would eat every day, but the taste was totally spot on. The custard layers were so flavorful and the lady fingers were the perfect texture. Aparna and Deeba did their research for this challenge, and it really showed! Thanks for a great challenge, ladies!

Recipe link: Tiramisu

When it comes to Arabic food, there’s one main ingredient that’s pretty consistent in most dishes — rice. In the old days, it was probably (don’t quote me on this) used as a way to make a small amount of food go farther — just like pasta for Italians — but today it’s just an essential part of any Arabic dish. It’s a perfect vehicle to soak up all the delicious juices that the food cooks in, especially when it comes to ruz-al-loubi.

This dish of green beans and lamb is braised in a light tomato sauce and then served over rice. It’s packed full of flavor, and without the rice, you’d loose a huge amount of that flavor.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 4 to 6
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 to 2 lbs lamb, cut/chopped into small pieces
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 small can tomato paste
– about 5 cups water
– 2 lbs frozen green beans (Billy’s grandma always insisted on using frozen, so we’ve never tried using fresh)

In a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until translucent and soft, about five minutes. Add the chopped lamb to the pan and brown, stirring to insure all of the meat gets color. Next, add the garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then add the tomato paste and water, scraping the bottom of the pot to get any brown bits. Bring to a boil and add the green beans to the pot, stirring to combine. Finally, cover the pot, reduce to simmer and let cook for one hour.

While the lamb and green beans are cooking, cook one to two cups of rice and set aside. You will serve the lamb, green beans and plenty of sauce over the rice.

Ruz al-Loubi

I love the tomato sauce that the ruz al-loubi cooks in. It’s full of flavor and the rice soaks up every drop of it. The green beans always cook perfectly, as does the lamb. Everything in this dish is really juicy and flavorful, and I love the hint of cinnamon you get in every bite.

This makes a great side dish, but can easily be a full meal if there’s a lot of meat in it. Another great way to eat the green beans and lamb (can you say leftovers?) is to make a sandwich using Arabic (or Greek, because it’s way easier to find in the regular grocery store) pita bread.

While shopping at Costco (don’t you just love that store?) last weekend, we happened to see a package of frozen bison steaks. They were about the same price as the pre-packaged Costco steaks we had picked up already, so we decided to give them a try instead. They came individually wrapped in six ounce portions, which was really convenient since we do that on our own with all the meat we buy there anyway. (On a side note, if you’ve never bought meat from Costco, it’s a really good deal. They have quality meat in large packages for cheaper than traditional grocery stores, a perfect way to stock your freezer for a few weeks.) After getting home and replenishing our freezer, we got to thinking about our menu for the week and made sure to include the bison steaks.

We prepared them just like a regular steak, right on the grill for ten or so minutes (depending on how you like your meat cooked), but we seasoned pretty lightly to let the flavor of the meat really shine. We have a few more steaks, so maybe the next time we make them we’ll be a little more brave and try something creative. Suggestions from anyone who eats gamey meats?

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 2
– 2 6 oz. bison steaks
– garlic powder
– salt and pepper to taste
(- for more flavor you can add steak seasoning or any other seasonings you like)

I’m not a fan of rare meat, but I know when it comes to specific meats and cuts, it’s best to prepare them as close to the rare side as you can handle them. I usually eat my steaks medium to medium-well, but told Billy (AKA, the grill master) to cook the bison to whatever he thought would be best. He came in off the grill with a pretty medium steak for me, and a medium-rare for himself. I thought mine was perfect, but he insisted that his was even more perfect. Either way, medium to medium-rare seems like a safe bet for this particular cut of bison.

Bison Steaks with Mashed Potatoes

I have never had such a tender cut of meat before. The bison just melted in my mouth with each bite. And even though we didn’t go crazy with the seasonings, the steaks were full of flavor. I didn’t taste much of a difference compared to regular steak, the bison just had a hint of a gamey taste. We served the steaks over mashed potatoes and the perfect bite, in my opinion, was a marriage of bison and potatoes. Every “meat and potatoes” person reading this blog has to go find themselves some bison steaks and try this. Enough said. Period.