Chicken Chilaquiles and Guacamole Salad

June 8th, 2009

All I can say about this meal is Wow! I am visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. They had been to a birthday party all Sunday afternoon and when I arrived Kristen put this meal together in no time at all. The chicken chilaquiles should be on everyone’s rotation of quick meals. It starts with a rotisserie chicken. Need I say more? But the end results are worthy of any company dish you would want to make. Kristen is a fantastic cook. I remember the time, shortly after she and Michael were first married, when they ate the lettuce wraps at P.F Changs. She has a very sophisticated palate and figured out what was in them and started making them at home. Every meal at their home is an adventure in wonderful flavors; exotic pizzas, complex salads and flavorful Mexican dishes like this one. Kristen got the original recipe from epicurious but she tweaked it to suit her taste. The guacamole salad is from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home. I have been buying Kristen the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for Christmas and she loves them as much as I do. This is one of my favorite summer salads. It is colorful with grape tomatoes, yellow peppers, black beans and avocados and paired so well with the chicken. It was a lovely Summer evening and we enjoyed this feast on the deck with a bottle of chardonnay. Life is good.


1 cup sour cream
3 to 4 Tbls milk
1 3/4 cups Green salsa ( Pace has a good one, as does Trader Joe’s)
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
Coarsely shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken, skin removed
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips plus a few more for the top
6 ounces grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Stir together sour cream and just enough milk to get a thick pourable consistency.

Bring salsa and broth to a boil in a heavy pot over moderately high heat. Add the chicken, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until chicken is heated through, 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in 6 cups tortilla chips and cook until chips are softened (but not mushy), about 1 minute.

Transfer chilaquiles to a large platter. Sprinkle with grated cheese, sour cream, broken chips and cilantro. Serve rest of sour cream on the side.


1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2 inch diced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup small diced red onion
2 Tbls minced jalapeno peppers, seeded (2 peppers)
1/2 tsp freshly grated lime zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled and 1/2 inch dice

Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. Toss well.

Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad. Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.

Printable recipe – Chicken Chilaquiles
Printable recipe – Guacamole Salad

Picadillo Empanadas with Cornmeal Crust

April 26th, 2009

Crusty food appeals to me. Pizza, quiches, pies and sourdough baguettes are all high on my preferred foods list. This recipe for empanadas came from another old Gourmet magazine that is part of my collection going back so many years that I hate to count. Actually this recipe appeared in the September 1992 issue so it is not that old, but one of these days I am going to post a recipe from the 1970’s to see how well it holds up after all of these years. The empanadas were part of a picnic menu and I can see that they would be a good addition to any picnic because they transport easily and can be eaten without utensils if you wish. They remind me of the pasties that the Finnish people introduced to the upper peninsula of Michigan around the turn of the last century. Many Finnish men worked in the copper mines and the pasties were easy to carry for lunch and could be reheated on a shovel held over a headlamp candle. Some say the origin of the pasty is Cornish and indeed when we were in England we ate pasties there. But what I liked about this south of the border version is that the filling is spicy and cornmeal is used in the crust.


For the cornmeal dough:
a 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbls sugar
1/2 cup milk, heated to lukewarm
1 large whole egg, beaten lightly
1 large egg yolk, beaten lightly
1/3 cup sour cream
5 Tbls unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour ( I needed only 2 cups )
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 tsp salt

For the picadillo:
1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 drained bottled pickled large jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced, about 1 1/2 Tbls.
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbls chili powder
1 tsp cumbled dried oregano
a pinch of ground cloves
2 Tbls vegetable oil
1 pound ground chuck
1/4 cup tomato paste
28 ounce can plum tomatoes including juice chopped ( I pureed in blender )
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
dried hot red pepper flakes to taste

Make the cornmeal dough: In the large bowl of an electric mixer proof the yeast with the sugar in 1/4 cup of the milk for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy. Beat in the remaining 1/4 cup milk, the whole egg, the egg yolk, the sour cream and the butter, add 2 cups of the flour, the cornmeal, and the salt, and beat the mixture until it forms a dough. With the dough hook knead the dough, adding as much of the remaining 1/2 cup flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking, for 4 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to an oiled bowl, and turn it to coat it with the oil. Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours and punch it down. The dough may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Let the dough return to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Make the picadillo: In a large heavy skillet cook the onion, the garlic, the jalapenos, the cumin, the chili powder, the oregano, the cinnamon, the cloves, and pepper to taste in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the chuck, and cook the mixture over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the tomato paste, the tomatoes with the juice, the raisins, the olives, the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste, simmer the picadillo, stirring occasionally, for 10 to15 minutes, or until it is thickened and most of the liquid is evaporated, and let it cool. The picadillo may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Let the picadillo return to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time and keeping the remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap, on a lightly floured surface roll our the dough 1/8 inch thick and with a 6 inch round cutter cut each piece into a round. Put about 1/3 cup of the picadillo onto the bottom two thirds of each round and fold the rounds in half, enclosing the filling. ( I brushed the edges with egg wash before folding ) Seal the edges of the dough and crimp them decoratively. Transfer the empanadas with a spatula to a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake them in the middle of a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden. Transfer the empanadas to a rack and let them cool. Makes 12 empanadas.

We have had beautiful Spring weather lately so we made a picnic of these on our screened porch.
I loved the empanadas. My husband was only lukewarm about them. You would think he would love them because his Mother’s family was Finnish and settled in the Upper Peninsula where pasties reign supreme. Oh well, they reheat well and I have enjoyed several more lunches of them on the porch. So glad that Spring is here.

Printable recipe

Healthier Mexican Comfort Food

January 18th, 2009

I have a weakness for a certain Mexican Taco Dinner Kit in the Supermarket that makes me feel guilty every time I buy it. But to me it is really good and easy to make – just grab a pound of ground beef and throw it together. But my mind is working while preparing this dinner. What is in this Taco seasoning? What kind of cheese is this that I’m squeezing out of this small foil packet. Surely there is a better value in buying a 12 pack of flour tortillas than the 4 tortillas in this box. So the last time I was strolling the international aisle of the supermarket and was tempted by the siren call of this convenience food, I paused and decided that maybe, just maybe I could make my own so called dinner kit. And maybe I could make it healthier. I decided to substitute ground turkey for the ground beef and as a bonus, the turkey is less expensive than the ground beef. I substituted multi-grain flour tortillas for the flour tortillas and decided I could make my own taco seasoning from the herbs and spices in my pantry. The only liquid in the store taco kit is water, so I bought canned tomatoes. And last but not least I bought real cheese, not the grated variety but real block cheese. To go with this, I added black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, scallions and avocado. I should have gotten sour cream too but thought I had it in the fridge. It was a comforting meal. From now on I plan to keep my dinner kit ingredients in the pantry, fridge and freezer. The peace of mind and body is worth it, while other things to get mental peace, there are products like THCA cartridge that help in this area.


1 pound ground turkey
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t.cumin
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried oregano
1 10.75 oz. can tomato puree
1 10 oz. can Ro-Tel
4 Multi-grain flour tortillas – 8 inch
3 to 4 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
3 to 4 ounces monterey jack cheese, grated

Brown turkey in 12 ” skillet breaking apart until no longer pink. Drain off any liquid. Add herbs and spices and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato puree and ro-tel and cook at medium low heat until liquid is somewhat reduced about 15 minutes. Film a deep dish pie plate with oil. Place 1 tortilla in dish. Top with 1/4 of turkey mixture and 1/4 of each cheese. Layer 3 more times ending with cheeses. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges. Serve with heated black beans, lettuce, tomato, scallions , avocado, and sour cream. I dressed the lettuce with vinegar and oil. Add other condiments to your taste.

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