Pork and Poblano Pepper Tamale Pie

Now that the posse are back in school and life has resumed a bit of normalcy, I have found the time to get back into my exercise groove. Let’s be honest here, I just didn’t make the time over the past 6 weeks.

Honestly.

After completing my 30 day workout challenge to myself (and succeeding!), I took a break and enjoyed myself immensely over the holidays. Now, however, with a wedding to plan (sweet!), a house to build (yay for a spacious abode!), and three (count’em, THREE!) epic birthdays coming up in less than 6 months, I need want must have my exercise time to sort everything out in my head and plan accordingly.

And while I might not be able to micro-plan every event, I can at least figure out dinners a bit ahead of time.

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Pork and Poblano Tamale Pie – adapted from Epicurious

  • 2 ounces fresh poblano chiles* (about 4 large)
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen corn kernels, thawed (or 1 15 oz can, drained)
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil or olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups chopped white onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup purchased salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Cornbread topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream

For pie filling:  

Char poblano chiles and bell pepper directly over flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer chiles and bell pepper to large bowl; cover and let steam 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chiles and bell pepper.

Coarsely puree corn kernels in processor and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with pepper. Working in batches, add pork to pot and sauté until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to medium bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot, then add chopped onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground spices, garlic, and oregano; stir 1 minute. Return pork and any accumulated juices to pot. Add salsa verde and bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer 30 minutes. Add chopped chiles, chopped bell pepper, and corn puree to pork mixture; cover partially and simmer until pork is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes longer. Season pie filling to taste with coarse salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Pie filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm pie filling, stirring over medium heat, before continuing.Transfer pie filling to 10-inch-diameter 2 1/2-inch-deep ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron). Stir in chopped cilantro.

For cornbread topping:  

Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, and chili powder in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, melted butter, and egg in medium bowl to blend.  Stir in shredded cheese and drop cornbread batter by large spoonfuls atop pie filling. Spread cornbread batter evenly to cover pie filling completely.

Bake tamale pie until cornbread topping is deep golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve tamale pie hot, passing sour cream alongside.

Potato, Cabbage and Bacon Casserole

I found myself at an impasse the other day. I was in a predicament, a quandary , and completely devoid of intelligent thought.

Translated – I couldn’t think of anything to make for dinner.

I try really hard to come up with something new and somewhat exciting for dinner several times a week. And I just wasn’t feeling anything – I was browsing recipe after recipe, for what felt like hours, but nothing jumped out at me and said, “MAKE ME”.

And then, like the sky clearing after a storm, I found it. I can’t seem to locate the glorious photo I took of this dish, but it was outstanding and the entire family requested it become part of the regular rotation.

Of course, anything with bacon is a surefire hit with J and Sabrina…..

Potato, Cabbage and Bacon Casserole – adapted from Serious Eats

  • 3 medium russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices (about 4 ounces) thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 small but heavy head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), quartered, cored, and sliced into ribbons
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar (I used red wine)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup grated mild white cheese, such as edam or gouda

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Add potatoes to a medium pot and cover with water. Set pot over high heat and bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer. Cook potatoes until they are firm-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain potatoes and set aside.

Add bacon to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until bacon has rendered most of its fat, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

If bacon has rendered more than 3 tablespoons of fat, drain fat, reserving 3 tablespoons. Return Dutch oven to medium-high heat and add cabbage, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until vegetables have wilted and begun to brown, about 15 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and deglaze pan, stirring rapidly and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add potatoes to cabbage mixture and stir to combine. Season thoroughly with pepper, then add reserved bacon, parsley, half-and-half and breadcrumbs. Stir to combine.

Lightly coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Add cabbage mixture and press firmly and evenly into pan. Top casserole with an even layer of grated cheese, then cover pan with a sheet of tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake until casserole is bubbling and cheese has browned, about 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, let rest for 10 minutes, and serve.

Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole

I think, if my not-always-reliable memory serves me correctly, that this recipe was featured in the “Chopped Dinner Challenge” on the Food Network recently.

Yes, a quick check on their site confirms that my facts (and memory) are indeed correct.

alert the media. 

Anyhoo, tater tots, for the uninitiated, are ground up, formed, seasoned potatoes that are held in very high regard in this house. Very high regard. Very high. Very.

Capiche?

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This was a winner all around and will definitely be made again.

Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole – adapted from Food Network

  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter
    2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
    1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Fresh ground black pepper
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 cups milk
    1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 3 cups frozen tater tots, thawed
    1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the carrots and onions and season with pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 6-7 minutes. Add the peas, and cook for another minute or so. Stir in the flour, and then whisk in the milk and wine and bring to a boil, whisking. Boil until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken. Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the chicken mixture.

Pulse the tots in a food processor with the thyme until medium ground. Scatter over the top of the casserole and bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole

Happy Friday and holy smokes today is August 1! School starts in three weeks – how thrilling is that? The posse get so mad at me every time I say that… but it’s an especially exciting year for them – Sabrina will be a senior and Alexander will be a sophomore!

If he lives that long…..

Anyway, I only have one thing to say about the month of July…. it was quiet. Quiet because it was just Sabrina and I for 90% of the time (unless you count the dogs, but aside from barking, they really don’t talk too much, thank goodness)…. J has been traveling nonstop, Alexander is in Vegas, so she and I have had a lot of time together.

A lot.

As in, I’m quite confident she’s ready for a break from me.

But no matter, we did all sorts of productive things, and most importantly she finally obtained her learners’ permit!

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I’m so happy! However, given the fact that most of the roads here have 65-80 mph speed limits (which I love!), we have been taking drives out by the ranch, where it’s less…… congested…. with people anyway….

The bovine population is another story entirely.

Chicken Chilaquiles – adapted from The Wanderlust Kitchen

  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed, torn into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mild beer
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 (7.5 ounce) bag white corn tortilla chips (I made my own!)
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • ½ lb. cheddar/jack cheese blend, shredded
  • ½ c. chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add chile pieces and toast for a few minutes until fragrant. Set aside in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes.

Puree with garlic, beer, and ½ cup soaking liquid in a blender. Add in the whole tomatoes and continue to puree. Run through a fine sieve and return to the pan. Stir in cumin and coriander. Simmer over medium-low for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Layer a 9 x 13 baking dish with half a bag of corn tortilla chips, using your hands to press the chips down and break into pieces. Add half of the shredded chicken, then half of the sauce. Layer the remaining chips, chicken, and sauce, then top with shredded cheese.

Bake, covered with well-greased foil, for 25 minutes. Remove foil, bake another 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Let sit for 15 minutes to cool and set, then garnish with cilantro, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and jalapeno (if using).

 

Spinach-Rainbow Chard Lasagna

I’ve become a huge fan of rainbow chard lately, for two very important reasons:

1. It has a nice bitter tang to it, sort of like escarole and rapini,

and

2. The market down the street sells big bags of it already washed and cut up.

Conveniently, I might add.

So when I decided to make this lasagna a few weeks ago, instead of using all spinach, I tuned into my rebel side (stop laughing) and used a bag of chard that I had in the fridge.

And...dun.dun.dun….it was already washed and cut up.

Ready to go.
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Spinach Lasagna – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds baby spinach (I used a combination of rainbow chard and spinach)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 packed cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 6 ounces mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/3 packed cup (1 ounce) grated Pecorino Romano
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle position.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions  and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 minutes. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook, stirring frequently, until all spinach is wilted, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a mesh strainer and press against spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is golden brown, 1 minute. Add milk and continue whisking until milk begins to boil and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cover surface with plastic wrap.
Spread 1 cup bechamel along the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Place one-third of noodles over bechamel in a single, overlapping layer. Top with 1 cup bechamel and half of spinach. Repeat with a second layer of noodles, bechamel, and spinach. Top with remaining noodles, remaining bechamel, zucchini, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese is golden in places and lasagna is bubbling along the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove lasagna from oven and let stand 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Shepherd’s Pie

Are you ready for Memorial Day Weekend?

I’m……..not. Well, I mean I’m ready for the weekend, but not ready in terms of what we are doing/eating.

I think what is really throwing my groove off is the fact that my barbecue is out of order. Simply put, it was hooked up to a natural gas line in Vegas, and here in Texas it needs to be hooked up to a propane tank. I contacted the friendly folks at Weber BBQ and they very nicely informed me that I am out-of-luck. You can’t convert the gas line from one to the other.

Which, quite frankly, sucks.

Even though J bought a Big Green Egg (greatest invention ever, by the way), it’s more of a smoker than a grill. And although we share everything, I do believe the Egg is his.

You know how men are with their grills :)

Anyway, I loved the ease and simplicity of being able to go outside and grill just about anything and everything – pizza, ribs, beer can chicken, steaks – even toasting slices of pound cake for dessert.

I may have to buy a George Foreman Grill to get my fix.

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Shepherd’s Pie – adapted from Alton Brown

For the potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 cup half-and-half (I used buttermilk)
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk


For the meat filling:

2 tbs canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth (I used red wine)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shepherds-pie-recipe2.print.html?oc=linkback

Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping

You know, I’m reasonably certain that I’ve made (and posted) chicken pot pie before.

I suppose I should have cross-checked that information before I opened my mouth.

Or put it in writing.

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Alas, a quick search of my site has confirmed that I have not, in fact, made or posted a chicken pot pie before now.

strange

Anyway, with this crazy winter-like weather we’ve had over the past few days, I seized the moment (and the fact that we had company) and made this the other night. What goes better on a cold, wretchedly thunderstormy evening than a big bowl of warm, comforting pot pie?

This was more than just good. It seriously was one of the best pot pies I’ve ever had. In fact, I’m waiting for J to come home so we can demolish the leftovers.

I made encouraged the posse eat the leftover chili, just so there is more for us.

I probably shouldn’t have admitted that.

Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping – adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Filling
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
10 oz cremini mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons minced parsley, divided
3/4 cup frozen baby peas

Crumble Topping
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used buttermilk)

To cook the chicken: Add chicken and broth to a Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Cover and bring to a simmer, then continue cooking for about 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer will register 160-165 F). Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a large heatproof measuring cup and set aside for later. Set the Dutch oven back on the stove top (no need to wash).

Preheat oven to 450 F, with a rack in the upper third. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add the butter, and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal – the largest pieces of butter should be no bigger than peas. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, then add the heavy cream and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened. Crumble the mixture into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the topping just begins to brown. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and set aside. (Maintain the oven temperature.)

To make the filling: Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the Dutch oven you used earlier. Set over medium-high heat, and when the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrot, and pepper. Cooking, stirring a few times, until the vegetables are just barely tender, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and return to a large bowl. When the vegetables are ready, transfer them to the bowl with the chicken.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the same Dutch oven and place over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms. Cover the pot and cook, stirring a few times, for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their liquid. Take the cover off the pan and mix in the tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking (uncovered) for another 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have browned and their liquid has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the chicken and veggies.

Add the butter to the same Dutch oven you’ve been using. Allow to melt, then add the flour. Cook, stirring almost constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually add the chicken broth you reserved earlier as well as the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a simmer – while you do, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Continue simmering for about 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, then remove the pot from the heat, and mix in the lemon juice and two tablespoons of the parsley.

Add the chicken and veggies as well as the peas to the sauce in the Dutch oven, and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 13×9-inch baking dish. Distribute the crumble topping evenly over the filling, then bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until the filling bubbles and the topping browns. Garnish the dish with the remaining tablespoon of parsley then serve.