Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

April 11th, 2015

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad 1

Mexican meals are so easy.  The ingredients are predictable; taco seasonings, cheese, sour cream, avocado, black beans, tortillas and tomatoes.  We have had a few warm days and a refreshing Mexican salad sounded like a great idea.  I found an excellent recipe in a Cooking Light cookbook.  It has a creamy dressing made with chipotle chile, lime juice, cilantro, seasonings and light sour cream that mellows the heat from the chiles.

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad 2V

The salad ingredients are simple.  You could use a rotisserie chicken if time is short.  But I had two boneless chicken breasts that I dusted with taco seasonings and sauteed until cooked through.  Also in the mix to dress the lettuce are red onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, black beans and corn.  I served a few corn chips on the side to be crumbled over the salad.

We are making progress on the cottage.  It makes me nervous when my surroundings are in chaos.  I like to be in control and am easily overwhelmed by the need to do everything at once when things are in disarray.  But I saw the light of day (literally) earlier this week and spent a sunny day with my blogging buddy Penny of the Comforts of Home.  We antiqued. . . . . . .

Screen Door 2015 1

It is always fun to visit The Screen Door in Asheville.  Love this vignette.  I am thinking of using chalk paint to transform one of my dressers like the one shown here.

Screen Door 2015 2

This is one of my favorite booths.  Lots of French linens, topiaries and antique posters.  After antiquing we dined . . . .

Fig 2015 1

 

It is a rite of passage for us to have lunch at our favorite French Bistro “Fig”.  We always try to eat on the patio.  The green grass is such a welcoming sight after a grey winter.  As is that lovely glass of Riesling.

Fig 2015 2

What a luncheon feast.  The other Penny (TOP) had PEI mussels with steak frites.  I had chicken schnitzel with white beans and greens in a flavorful red sauce.  We caught up with everything that has happened since we last saw each other last season.  It was a fun day under the warming sun.

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad 3

Hopefully we will all be experiencing warmer weather soon.  This salad is a good way to sit back and enjoy it.

CHIPOTLE CHICKEN TACO SALAD (Cooking Light; the Essential Dinner Tonight Cookbook )

Dressing:
2/3 cup light sour cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Salad:
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 2 breast halves)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, cooked and cooled

To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients, stirring well.

To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat.  4 servings.

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The Best Fried Green Tomatoes Ever

April 7th, 2015

Best Fried Green Tomatoes 1

Leave it to my husband to come up with one of the most delicious fried green tomatoes that I have ever eaten.  I love it when he cooks.  He just dives in, totally unintimidated by any complicated procedure.  There isn’t really anything complicated about this dish.  But it does require several steps to arrive at the finished product.  Some of the steps can be done ahead of time.  I am planning on making the Sweet Tomato Jam that goes on top as a condiment that I keep in the fridge at all times.  It will have many uses.

Best Fried Green Tomatoes 3

But enough from me.  Here is what David has to say.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES WITH BACON, PIMENTO CHEESE, AND SWEET TOMATO JAM

The basic idea for this delicious combination came from an episode of Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel in which they visited Yardbird Southern Table and Bar in Miami.  They did not include the recipe on the website, but I watched them closely as they made this dish on the show.  They fried the green tomatoes, topped them with their own house-made pimento cheese, a slice of pork belly bacon, and some sweet tomato jam.  I had never heard of sweet tomato jam, so I Googled it and found quite a few different recipes.  After reading several of them, I wound up combining two recipes to take advantage of the best aspects of both.  We didn’t have any pork belly bacon, so I substituted regular thick-sliced, apple smoked bacon, and used store-bought sharp cheddar pimento cheese spread.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

This is a basic recipe for making pretty good fried green tomatoes.  Two slices per person is plenty once you add all the other goodies.  One green tomato will produce at least four 3/8 inch slices, so slice up as many as you need.  The amounts below are enough for two medium size tomatoes.

2 green tomatoes, cut into 3/8 inch slices
Salt to taste, Pepper to taste
1/3 cup flour, or more as needed
1/2 cup Seasoned Panko Bread Crumbs, or more as needed
1 egg, or more as needed
A splash of milk for the egg wash
Enough cooking oil to fill your pan about 1/2 inch deep

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet until the surface is shimmery.  In the meantime, lightly salt and pepper both sides of the green tomato slices.  Make an egg wash with one or more eggs and a little milk in a bowl large enough to accommodate the biggest tomato slice.  Mix the flour with a little salt and pepper in another bowl, and pour the panko crumbs in a third bowl.  Flour both sides of the tomato slices, then coat thoroughly with the egg wash and dip in the panko crumbs.  Place the crumby tomato slices on a plate until the oil is hot, then place several slices in the pan without crowding too much and fry until golden brown on one side, then flip and fry until golden brown on the other side.  Remove the slices to a paper towel covered baking tray and place in a warming oven while you continue with more batches if necessary.

In the meantime you should have fried some thick-sliced bacon until crispy.  You will need one slice of bacon for each tomato slice.  You can keep the bacon in the warming oven until ready to assemble.  When all of the tomato slices are fried and you are ready to serve, spread each slice with a dollop of pimento cheese, top with two half-slices of bacon, and top that with a dollop of sweet tomato jam.  (Recipe below)

SWEET TOMATO JAM

You can use any kind of tomatoes that suit your fancy.  I used a mix of Mountain Reds, Romas, and Cherry Tomatoes.  About 3 pounds total made about 2 cups of finished jam.

3 lbs of most any kind of tomato
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, if you don’t have smoked
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or a little more if you like it spicy

Peel the tomatoes by placing in boiling water for about 1 1/2 minutes and then move to an ice water bath in a large bowl.  After they cool, you can easily remove the skin by hand.  Cut the tomatoes into a medium course chop and place in a large pot.  Add the sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes.  Stir it all together and let it sit for half an hour to generate some liquid before heating.  Bring the mixture to a boil uncovered while stirring occasionally, reduce the heat to a heavy simmer and continue to cook uncovered, and stir once in a while to make sure it isn’t sticking and burning on the bottom.  Some recipes say it only takes 35 minutes of cooking to reach jam consistency, but it took me about an hour.  I think I started out at too slow a simmer and the liquid wasn’t boiling off quickly enough.  After about 45 minutes the mix was still pretty soupy, so I turned the heat up a little and it finished in another 15 minutes.  Next time I will start with higher heat and stir more often so it doesn’t burn.  The result is a delicious sweet yet savory jam that is not only super well-suited to the fried green tomatoes, but will also be delicious on crostini.

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Taco Pizzas

March 26th, 2015

Mexican Taco 1

This is my farewell post from Florida.  We are heading back to North Carolina on Friday.  It is a time for cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry.  It is also time for simple easy meals.  This recipe came from a new book by Ellie Krieger called Weeknight Wonders.  I love Ellie’s recipes because they are healthy and fairly uncomplicated.

Mexican Taco 2VI loved the crispy corn tacos, bean mixture and seasoned ground turkey.  I had to skip the corn called for because the freezer yielded only a sorry package of peas.  This has been a great meal to have on hand.  It has made one dinner and several lunches.

When we were in Sante Fe, New Mexico several years ago, we walked into an antique store and saw a whole set of Mexican pottery dinnerware.  I fell in love with it.  The platter pictured here is part of the set.  It was made in Patzcuaros, Mexico.  It is glazed so that it is food safe.  Now that we are selling the house I will have to part with the whole set.  Let me know if anyone is interested.  It will more than likely be a part of an Estate sale that we will have next year.

Mexican Taco 3I am looking forward to seeing you some time next week with news and recipes from Lake Lure.  Spring in the mountains is one of my favorite times of the year.

 

TACO PIZZAS (Weeknight Wonders by Ellie Krieger)

8 small corn tortillas (6 inches in diameter)
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 scallions
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 pound lean ground turkey
1 ear fresh corn or 2/3 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup canned low-sodium pinto beans
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
3 ounces pepper jack cheese (3/4 cup grated)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Brush the tortillas on both sides lightly with 1 tablespoon total of the oil.  Place them on 2 baking sheets and bake until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven, leaving the tortillas on the trays.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Thinly slice the scallions, keeping the dark greens separate, and mince the garlic.  Add the scallion whites and light green parts to the skillet and cook until translucent, 2 minutes.  Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute more.

Place half of the scallion-spice mixture in the bowl of a small food processor and set aside.  Add the turkey to the remaining scallion-spice mixture in the skillet and cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until it is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, if using an ear of corn, cut the kernels off. Add the corn kernels and tomato sauce to the skillet, with the browned turkey and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain and rinse the pinto beans and add them, along with the broth, to the food processor.  Pulse until smooth, scraping the sides once or twice if necessary.  Grate the cheese.

Spread 2 tablespoons of the bean mixture on each tortilla and top with about 1/4 cup of the turkey mixture.  Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of cheese on top and bake until the bean puree is warmed through and the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with the scallion greens.  Cut each pizza into quarters with a sharp knife or pizza cutter and serve each with a dollop of the sour cream.

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Sausage and Spinach Turnovers

February 21st, 2015

Sausage Turnovers 1

What a fun meal!  I am going to adapt this idea to all kinds of different fillings.  Meat pies, or pasties, have a long tradition.  When Cornish miners migrated to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 1800’s they brought this meat pie recipe with them.  It was later adopted by the wave of Finnish miners who followed.  It was easy to eat while underground.  The miners reheated their hand pies on shovels set over mining candles.

Sausage Turnovers 4VI have mentioned before that David’s Mother’s family were Finnish and settled in the UP.  Their last name was Syrjanen.  David’s Grandfather Gus Syrjanen founded the Trenary Home Bakery that is still in operation today.  It is known for its Trenary Toast.  There is also a family connection to designers and architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen.  When we were in the UP researching family history we enjoyed eating pasties at several small restaurants.  At the time, David did not love them, but the version I made this time was a real hit.

Sausage Turnovers 3 Better

It was probably the hot chicken sausage that did it for him.  Most pasty recipes use ground beef and potatoes, which can be rather bland.  This was very tasty with the sausage, onions, red bell peppers and spinach.  The crust was made from Pillsbury pie dough so was easy to assemble.  You could make your own pastry but I needed a quick dinner the night that I made these.  They were perfect over a tossed salad.

Sausage Turnover 6

Pasties or hand pies are so versatile.  You can fill them with anything.  How about a Mexican filling with ground beef, cumin, salsa and cheese.  Or make it vegetarian with black beans and cheese.  My DIL Kristen made a version using pizza dough, seasoned chicken, sour cream and cheese.  There are so many possibilities.

SAUSAGE AND SPINACH TURNOVERS (Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine )

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Medium red potato, peeled and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 (3.5 oz.) links of hot chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cups bagged washed baby spinach
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Add potatoes, bell pepper, and onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until onion begins to brown, stirring frequently.  Add sausage; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.  Stir in basil, crushed red pepper, and salt.  Remove from heat.

Cut dough into 4 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 5-inch circle.  Spoon about 1/2 cup sausage mixture on half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Fold dough over sausage mixture until edges almost meet.  Bring bottom edge of dough over top edge; crimp edges of dough to form a rim.

Place turnovers on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg white in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; brush evenly over dough.  Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons cheese over each turnover.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

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Puff Pastry Tomato-Parmesan Hearts

February 12th, 2015

 

Puff pastry hearts edited
Happy Valentines Day.  I know that most everyone is making chocolate desserts for Valentines Day, but I decided that I wanted something a little bit different. I love chocolate but I also love a good appetizer to be served before a decadent dinner of steak with bearnaise sauce, truffled mashed potatoes and asparagus with prosciutto and parmesan.  These bites would make the perfect beginning for that romantic dinner.  Actually that is just my fantasy dinner.  We will be in North Carolina celebrating our Grandson’s 4th birthday on Valentines Day.  Perhaps he will have a chocolate cake.

Puff Pastry hearts 3V

But I did make these last night before our dinner of Veal Saltimbocco with Julia Child’s scalloped potatoes and snow peas.  These puff pastry hearts are really very simple.  It just takes a little patience to spoon the topping of tomatoes, shallots, and Parmesan cheese on the pastry hearts.  I tried to maintain a heart shape with the red tomatoes.  My heart cookie cutter measured 1 1/2 inches, but you could use a larger cutter if you prefer.

Puff Pastry hearts 2

Wishing everyone a lovely holiday with your loved ones. I am linking this to Foodie Fridays at Rattlebridge Farm.

PUFF PASTRY TOMATO-PARMESAN HEARTS (Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)

3/4 cup finely diced seeded plum tomatoes (about 2)
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 to 3 grinds of black peppercorns
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
Cooking spray or parchment paper
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh small basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Place the sheet of pastry dough on a work surface lightly dusted with flour.  Cut the dough with the 1 1/2-inch heart cutter into about 20 pieces.  Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or a piece of parchment paper.  Top each heart with a small amount of cheese and a small amount of the tomato mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 15 minutes or until golden.  Sprinkle tarts evenly with salt.  Sprinkle with basil leaves, if desired.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.