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Colorado

white chicken chile

IMG_4019

It’s been drizzling rain here Denver for about 6 days now. Our seasons usually casually slide into each other, but this year summer abruptly clicked into fall. This may be the first year that I don’t have post-summer blues.  Perhaps it’s because it’s the first year that I’m not returning to school or teaching, as I have for the past 30 years of my life.  I went from college right into teaching first grade.  No, this year I’m excited for fall, and fall cooking. Nothing could be more fall than chile. How do you spell chile by the way? Is it chilli? White chicken chile is not anything new.  But it is delicious. I typically don’t like the “white” version of things, chocolate, pizza. But this is good. Lick your bowl good.

I’m currently experimenting with not eating dairy for various reasons (yeah, it’s sad). You could easily make this without the cream cheese. Please only do so if you have to! It’s quite the cheater recipe in that gets a lot of its seasoning and flavor from the prepared enchilada sauce (So “semi-homemade” cooking of me, but no I won’t do a “table scape”). This helps to make it a super easy week night meal that should only take about 30 minutes.

white chicken chile

makes about 4 large servings

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 14oz. can pinto or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 block (8 oz.) cream cheese
  • 1 quart chicken broth (my favorite)
  • 1 pouch (8 oz.) Frontera green chile enchilada sauce (you can use any other brand of canned green enchilada sauce)
  • 1 small can of green chiles
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • optional toppings: lime wedges, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips
  1. Heat a large pot with a little oil over medium high heat. Add the ground chicken and let it sear for a bit before you move it. You want it to get brown. Don’t stir it around too much. You can break it up later. Browning makes flavor.
  2. Once the chicken is cooked through and browned, remove it and set it aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the browned bits left in the pot from the chicken. Add a little more oil if you need to. Cook the onion about 4-5 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds-1 minute.
  5. Add the smoked paprika, some salt and pepper and cook for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add in the beans, cream cheese, chicken broth, enchilada sauce, and green chiles. Cook over medium heat until the cheese is melted.
  7. Return the chicken to the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve the chicken chile with cilantro, tortilla chips, sour cream, lime wedges, and avocado.

*My husband loved this chile. I thought it wasn’t creative enough or special enough for a blog but he said “why not?”. So, I hope you feel the same way. Let me know in the comments below what you think and especially if you try this!

 

 

Mexico, North America

simple summer salsa

This recipe is not some new discovery. I’ve been making this since high school when I ordered my “Kitchen Quick” off of t.v. Saying “off of t.v.” feels really weird. But it wasn’t online. I had my mom call to order this kitchen quick for me and it came with a recipe for salsa. This Kitchen Quick really catapulted my cooking love.  It was basically a hand-powered food processor. My friends would tease me that I would never come and hang out on the weekends anymore because I wanted to stay home and make “sals” (right, Min). The salsa recipe called for fresh cilantro, but this was ’98 in Iowa and we only had dried. By about 2000, you could easily find fresh cilantro in the stores.  The first time I used the fresh I about croaked. Disgusting! Now I love it. I can’t get enough.

I realize that this is the most basic salsa, but I think that’s what makes it so good! This is so easy, and there are so many GOOD tomatoes out there right now. So take advantage! You only really need a chef’s knife and a cutting board, but if you like a more blended salsa, use a food processor (I’ve had this one for 11 years) or blender.

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapenõ
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  1. chop the onion
  2. rinse the onion (rick bayless trick)
  3. chop all the veggies OR cut the veggies into large pieces and then put into the food processor or blender- including cilantro so skip step 5
  4. juice the lime and add it to the veggies
  5. chop and add the cilantro
  6. season with salt.

*besides fresh cilantro, I think that having a fresh salsa with enough lime and salt is key. It’s so important that it can make up for the fact that you have bad tomatoes.  Speaking of which, make this salsa even if you DON’T have tomatoes. Still good!

*I searched and searched for the Kitchen Quick infomercial youtube but I couldn’t find it.   I did find this creepy one though.

France

summer squash gratin

If you’re a gardener, right about now you have way too much zucchini or yellow squash. You can say you’re going to make zucchini bread, but will you really? Those zucchinis in your fridge are mocking you, just like the black bananas in your freezer. Use your zucchini tonight as a savory side.  I’ve got Martha’s recipe for you, with a few naughty tweaks. And it was already pretty naughty.  This recipe has butter, heavy cream, and parmesan. So yeah. It’s good. It’s a gratin without potatoes and trust me you won’t even miss them. How can you with so much butter, cream and cheese? But don’t worry, it’s low-carb. Except for the bread crumbs. Never mind. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 large zucchinis or yellow squash. Not the overgrown kind that are as big as your arm. They’re no good. Large is about 8 inches. Really, zucchini tastes best at about 4-6 inches, F.Y.I.
  • 2 shallots or a half a large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (use butter if you want)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, divided (gluten-free breadcrumbs are good)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (thanks for the tip Rachel Ray!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400. In a large skillet or wok, melt ghee over medium heat; add zucchini, yellow squash, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini and squash are crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. I had to work in batches. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Add cream, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in 1/2 cup panko and 1/4 cup Parmesan and use a microplane zester to grate the fresh nutmeg into the mixture.

  3. Spoon mixture into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, uncover and sprinkle with remaining panko and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Bake until top is golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

    * You could totally do this on the grill if you don’t want to heat up your house. Just be sure that your baking dish is grill safe. I have no idea how you’ll know this. But still.

    *Did you know that unless you buy organic, all zucchini squash are gmo? It’s one of the most heavily gmo’d veggies out that. I think papaya is the most. Don’t care? Ignore that fact then. But if you do, buy or grow organic!

 

Europe

goat cheese, prosciutto, and fig bites


These little bites are a classic and decadent combo, perfect with snacking on with a friend over a bottle of wine. Fresh figs are in season now. I use the green ones because they’re just gorgeous in color, both inside and out.  I used Trader Joe’s French baguette as the canvas then I layered the cheese, prosciutto, a honey balsamic glaze, fresh basil and topped with a beautiful fig slice.

Enzo is such a nosy dog.

ingredients:

1 baguette, sliced, toasted or not

1 package of prosciutto

1 cup washed and sliced fresh figs (dried will be just great when fresh is out of season)

1 package fresh basil, washed and dried

1 4 oz. package goat cheese, softened

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar glaze

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

method:

Mix together the balsamic vinegar glaze, honey, and olive oil. If you don’t have, or can’t find the glaze, use a regular balsamic vinegar and use a little less and add a little more honey. Season this mixture with salt and pepper.

Assemble the bites. Take a piece of baguette and spread it with goat cheese. Since my baguette slices were very small, I used just a 1/4 slice of prosciutto. Do this to all slices of bread and then take the balsamic honey mixture and drizzle over the top. Now lay one basil leaf on each piece then a slice of fig. Season all slices with some course cracked pepper.  Enjoy outside with a friend and a glass of Rosé

Aren’t those fig’s gorgeous?
Colorado

my favorite breakfast: green chile eggs and hash browns

If there is a food that is quintessential “Colorado” it would be green chile. In the fall, you can easily find fresh roasted green chiles on many street corners. Most are New Mexico Hatch variety.  I love making homemade green chile. But if I don’t have the time or the fresh roasted chiles, I like to buy Nanita’s. I get it at Sprouts in Denver but you can buy it online here. Its the sauce variety of green chile and not the stew or soup.  My favorite way to eat Nanita’s is with hash browns and eggs.  I cook the hash browns, pour over the green chile, and then crack the eggs into the hot green chile. I then cover it all and let it cook until the eggs are set, white are cooked but yolks are a thick-runny consistency.  Yum yum yum! Another way to make this is with cheesy grits.  For this, you would cook the grits separately and then serve with the hot green chile and eggs on top.

Ok, it seriously bothers me that I can’t seem to figure out how to flip that so it’s fitting the pan shape.

​​​​


​​green chile eggs with hash brownsserves 2-4

ingredients

2 large russet potatoes- peeled and shredded

1 small onion-chopped

2 tablespoons avocado or other high heat oil + 2 teaspoons more

1/2 teaspoon each: smoked paprika and garlic powder

salt and black pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups Nanita’s green chile sauce or other commercial or homemade green chile sauce

2-4 eggs

optional toppings: chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, crumbled bacon, cheese

method:

Heat a cast-iron or non-stick large skillet to medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and let heat for a bit. Add the shredded potatoes, chopped onion, and seasonings. Don’t be shy with the salt and pepper! Let it cook for about 5-7 minutes until golden brown on one side. Drizzle the other 2 teaspoons of oil over the top and then carefully flip over. Let the other side cooked for about 5-7 minutes.  Pour the green chile sauce over top and let it heat for a bit. Carefully crack the eggs into the hot green chile. Cover to cook. Don’t get distracted. This would be a sad dish with cooked through eggs. Serve it up with the optional ingredients. But honestly, it’s amazing without them too. This dish is well-paired with good coffee.


If you want to make it with grits instead you’ll need to cook the grits according to the package directions. For a 2-4 person serving: add a tablespoon of butter and some sharp shredded cheese or good parmesan.

 

Hawaii

macadamia crusted cod

My husband left for 3 weeks of work in Hawaii. He will be working on a home show about luxury swimming pools. (enter Hawaii-ish and jealousy emjois) I wanted to make a nice dinner for him last night with a Hawaiian flair.  Turns out, this week is also Hawaiian Food Week. How perfect! I made macadamia crusted cod with sushi rice and a salad of pineapple, avocado, and cucumber.  The macadamia nuts are finely chopped and then mixed with some panko bread crumbs for the perfect crunch. The sushi rice is mixed at the very end with some lime zest, coconut aminos, and rice vinegar. The avocado, pineapple, cucumber salad adds the perfect fresh contrast and really makes this dish. I have to be honest though, I used nectarines instead of pineapple because that is what I had. It was fantastic! But this is Hawaiian foods week, so pineapple it is.

ingredients:

macadamia crusted cod

8-12 ounce cod fillet

1/4 cup macadamia nuts- finally chopped into crumbs

2 tablespoon panko bread crumbs (I use gluten free)

1 egg + 2 teaspoons water, throughly beaten

salt and pepper

sushi rice

1 cup sushi rice

zest of 1 lime

1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

*a note about sushi rice: This is easy to find now in most grocery stores. I like it for this because it keeps with the Hawaiian theme and I love the sticky texture. You could definitely substitute regular rice in this dish. Quinoa could be a good choice too if you’re trying to behave yourself.

salad

1 small avocado, small chunks

1 cup pineapple (or nectarine or mango), small chunks

1/2 cup English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick and then into fourths

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper

method:

Start the sushi rice. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Then combine with 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 tablespoons in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle a little salt in there and turn on high.  Once it’s boiling turn it to low for about 10-15 minutes and then turn it off, DON’T PEEK, and let it set for another 15 minutes. My big rice cooking advice is to just not lift the lid. Every time I peek, ruined.

Meanwhile, mix the finely chopped macadamia nuts with the panko breadcrumbs. It should be chopped this fine, or even finer:

season with some salt and pepper and set aside. Mix the egg and water and set aside. Get out the cod and pat it very dry with a towel.

Prep your salad fruits, then mix with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Don’t start making the fish until after the rice has cooked. Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl like this:

Stick it in the fridge while you get the cod going. For this meal, the cod is best nice and hot but the rest of the meal is best at room temp. Cut the cod in to the portion sizes you desire. I cut our 2 servings into four pieces. Season each side of the cod with salt and pepper. Add the 3 tablespoons of coconut oil to the non-stick pan and turn on medium high.  Then, take the cod pieces and dunk into the egg and then dredge into the macadamia nut/breadcrumb mixture.  Press each side firmly into the crumbs and then place into the hot pan. Repeat with all cod pieces.  You want to keep the temp on medium high so that the coating gets nice and crunch and brown but the fish doesn’t get too done. overdone cod is pretty gross. Perfectly done cod is, well, perfection. 2-4 minutes each side should do the job. ​

​Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and season with a little more salt and pepper while it’s hot. Stick it in a 180 degree oven while you mix the rice.

Take the rice out of the fridge and mix it with the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Use a microplane to zest a lime over the bowl and then mix it into the rice. Save that lime to serve with the meal.

Time to plate! Use a 2/3 measuring cup to scoop out rice and press it firmly into the cup. Turn it upside down and transfer to a plate to make it look fancy.  Put the cod on the plate and then spoon the salad over everything. Garnish with green onions or chives, lime wedge and some chili pepper powder. I used gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes), but ground ancho pepper would be good, or a little smoked paprika, or even spicy cayenne pepper.

Makes 2 servings with a little extra rice to put in the fridge and to make fried rice with the next day.

 

Uncategorized

monday musings

I can’t help myself. I love latte art.

I’m thinking about doing a series “cooking through the decades”. Each week I would cook  and share 2-3 recipes from each decade starting 100 years ago.  I think it would be so fun! I’ve already been doing my research with articles like this one and this one.  Do you have any ideas for me? What dish comes to mind when you think of the 40’s, 60’s, 2000’s?

Cookbooks among celebrity non-chef’s are so popular. Have you tried any? These are a few that look good to me: Cravings, (here is a good review on itThe Seasoned Life, Audrey At Home and here is a long list of celebrity cookbooks. Pippa Middleton? Freddie Prince Jr? Kris Jenner? Ok!

I heard a piece on the radio today about bringing back fresh cooking in schools.  When is the last time this was common practice? I know at the school I teach, the actual nutrition is much better than it was 10 years ago, but the main dishes are still majority pre-packaged and heated up.  I will say that there are always fresh fruits and veggies instead of canned. There are so many good cooks out there, I know many school food service people would be happy to actually use their real skills to cook again in the school.  Like this woman!

On that note, I leave you with a lovely picture of some chives I snapped as I was leaving my doctor’s office last week. It makes me wonder and hope that perhaps employees get to go out and snip some fresh chives for their meals?

Chives at Kaiser
Uncategorized

twice cooked truffled baby potatoes 

Ok! Last Easter recipe post. I gotta make it short and sweet. My laptop is broken and so Ive been blogging the last couple posts from my phone. Yuck! 

These potatoes are delicious of course because of truffle oil and truffle salt, two items worth splurging on. A little goes a long way and they are soooo delicious on things like potatoes, risotto, scallops. The trick to these potatoes is to cook them long enough. You’ll boil them, smash them and then oven fry them. They go great with anything! Serve them room temperature or warm.

twice cooked truffled baby potatoes

ingredients

serves 6-8 side dishes

2 lbs small baby potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 more tablespoons

2 teaspoons white truffle oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teasooon truffle salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf (italian) parsley

Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil the potatoes in a large pot with salt water that just barely covers the potatoes. Boil for about 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are quite tender when pierced with a fork. You want to be able to easily partially smash them with your fork once they’re drained. After the potatoes are partially smashed. Transfer them to a baking sheet and toss with the 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees until browned and a little crispy but still soft too. 

Remove from the oven and put in a large bowl. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil, the truffle oil, parsley, truffle salt and more pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Add more truffle salt and oil if desired. Happy Easter! 

I apologize for any mistakes. Again, iPhone blogging is a true struggle. But I do it for you, my faithful 5 readers. xoxox

Iowa, North America

easter feast part three: mini ham loaves

Mini ham loaves or ham balls, however you shape these tasty little things you’ll love them. Both my grandma’s used to make ham balls. They were one of my favorite things they made. Ham balls have that sweet, salty, tangy factor. In Iowa and other parts of the Midwest you can buy pre-mixed ham loaf. It’s usually a mixture of ham and pork or ham, pork, and beef. In Denver, you really can’t find this premixtire of ground meats. I had to really ask around several meat counters before I found one willing to grind up ham and pork for me. Special thanks to Marczy’s Fine Foods on 17th in Denver for happily accepting this special order!

I didn’t have my grandma’s recipe so I called my mom and she gave me a recipe that was not my grandma’s exact recipe but she thought it was “pretty close”. This recipe had graham crackers as a binding agent and tomato soup in the sauce. Oh my. As she was reading me the recipe my aunt, who happened to be visiting my mom, yelled out that she didn’t think grandma used Graham crackers and she KNEW that her sauce didn’t have tomato soup. Uh oh. I needed to find out more! After that I messaged my cousin and my sister because I knew they would have the best memory of the ham balls and maybe the best resources. They didn’t dissappoint. My cousin even had grandma’s recipe card! 


My aunt was right. No grahams and no tomato soup. We also decided that grandma’s recipe was most likely not developed because it was her preferred method, but rather because she didn’t have those ingredients on hand and she did without, or she thought they were too expensive and it was “just fine” without. I plan on trying the graham cracker, tomato soup version soon, but for the sake of authenticity, I’m making grandma’s simple version for my Easter feast. 

grandma’s mini ham loaves

ingredients:

2 1/2 lbs ground ham loaf mixture- a combo of ham, pork, and beef. I just had them grind together 1 1/2 lbs ham and 1 lb ground pork (not lean)

2 cups fresh bread crumbs- put a few slices of bread in the food processor

2 eggs

1 cup milk

sauce:

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup white or apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the meat mixture, bread crumbs, eggs, and milk. Shape the mixture into small little loaves. They should look sort of like little footballs. About 2 inches wide and 3 inches long. Place them in a 9×13 casserole pan. Mix together the sauce ingredients and pour over the little loaves. Bake, uncovered for about an hour and a half. 

Let me know what you think! Did you like this retro Midwest recipe? 

Anywhere and Everywhere

easter feast part two: spring pea salad

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine.  I’ve adapted it slightly. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon it, probably at my friend Jamie’s house because she always has Food Network Magazine.  I’m surprised I even tried it because I’m not always wild about peas of any variety and my husband certainly is not.  It’s strange, Dirk is a pretty open guy when it comes to food.  He actually prides himself on it.  But he has this strange prejudice when it comes to springtime veggies.  That being said, we both love this recipe.  Can you believe it?  I will definitely admit that these ingredients sound a little suspect but the combination is really beautiful. Cook the peas to just tender. Don’t overcook!  The shallots are salty and sweet, the walnuts roasted and crunchy and the dates add even more sweetness to round the salad out perfectly.  What better addition to your Easter dinner than a recipe that is all about the renewing of the growing season? And dates? That’s totally a biblical food. Right?

One note: Unless you are a die-hard pea fan, only use the English peas if you can find fresh.  If you’re like me and you’re quite suspicious of peas you won’t want to use frozen. And I can’t even talk about canned.  Fresh peas that you shell yourself are an entirely different story.  If you find those at the store, definitely add them. I typically can’t find fresh peas, so I leave the English peas out.  I usually increase the amount of snow peas but 1/2-1 cup.

Kosher or coarse sea salt

2 cups shelled fresh English peas or thawed frozen peas (about 10 ounces)

2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 2-3 pieces 

1 cup snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced 

2 tablespoon walnut oil

1 medium shallot, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped pitted dates

⅛- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

 

snap peas
Thinly sliced snow peas. I used more than a cup because I didn’t use any English Peas.

 

About the walnut oil…you can definitely sub extra virgin olive oil and it will taste great.  But really, it’s worth looking for the walnut oil. It adds amazing flavor and it an oil that can stand up to some heat so you can use the rest of the bottle for cooking or in salads, no problem.  I used this brand:

I found it at Marczyk’s Fine Foods in Denver and I’m sure they would have it at Whole Foods too. Or order it here.

method:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water. If using fresh English peas, add to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add the snap peas and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes, then add the snow peas and cook 30 seconds. Drain the peas and plunge into the ice water to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the walnut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, dates, and cayenne and cook until the nuts are slightly toasted, about 1 more minute.

Drain the peas, shaking off the excess water, then add to the skillet (if using frozen peas, add them here). Add some salt and cook, stirring, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the walnut oil and toss. Add more salt and some freshly cracked pepper to taste.