Friday, April 17, 2015

Spicy Chicken Avocado Enchiladas: Take 2

I love his blog for so many different reasons. It motivates me to cook and try new things on a constant basis. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It allows me to go back and see what my life was like at different times. Like my own very-public online diary. It feeds my soul. Andrew consistently tells me that one of my favorite dishes I ever made him was my Spicy Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas. To put this in perspective, I originally posted about this dish in July of 2012. Almost 3 years later and he is still talking about them. I pulled up the recipe recently and took a look at my original post. Awful grainy photos filled the page, and I just knew I had to re-make these. Both to please Andrew and his cravings for these enchiladas, and to do the recipe some justice with some updated photography. Not that I am a professional in any means. But anything better than a 2011 cell phone picture at night will do. So without further ado, I present to you the new and improved Spicy Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas: Take 2.

Spicy Chicken Avocado Enchiladas

White Enchilada Sauce:
  • 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped green chiles
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
Enchilada Filling:
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped or shredded
  • 1 cup shredded white or mexican cheese, separated
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large avocado, seeded and chopped
  • 8 flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, saute the jalapeno and garlic for about 1 minute. Whisk in flour and continue to stir for 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the broth in a steady stream. Add in the cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and add in the cilantro, green chiles, and sour cream or yogurt. Remove the sauce from the heat.

Add 1/2 cup opf the enchilada sauce to the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, onion, avocado, and 1/2 of the cheese. Place about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortillas. Roll up the tortillas and place seam-side down in the casserole dish.

Top with the remaining sauce and the rest of the cheese. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot with cilantro as garnish.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

One-Pot Lemon Basil Pasta

I felt inspired to make a spring-inspired Italian dish, seeing as Andrew and I will be exploring the streets in Italy in just 1 year form now, on our honeymoon!!! Insert all of the emojis here. I have been making more and more of these one-pot pastas for dinner. It is seriously the easiest thing to throw together for dinner since the crock pot, but tastes like I worked all day creating the perfect sauce. I bought one of those cheap basil plants at my farmer's market for like $3 a couple of weeks ago, expecting it to dry out and die within a day or so, but Andrew and I have been really good about watering it a little every day, keeping it in the shade for most of the day, and it is really flourishing! So much so, that I was able to throw in almost 3/4 of a cup of fresh leaves into this pasta dish, and you would never know that I ever took a single leaf. What I also love just as much as basil is fresh lemon. This dish calls for lemon juice and lemon zest. Double the fun! It makes for a very light dish, and if you're not a goat cheese fan, feel free to use cream cheese or heavy cream instead. But you all know me, and anything I can sneak goat cheese into, I will. I served this as a vegetarian meal, but feel free to add in some grilled chicken or sausage for an added boost!

One-Pot Lemon Basil Pasta

  • 1 lb. pasta of your choice, I used linguine
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2-3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsely for garnish
In a large stock pot, add in the pasta, broth, water, basil, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a medium boil, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes until the liquid is almost all absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat, add in the lemon juice, lemon zest, mozzarella, goat cheese, and parmesan. Stir until all of the cheese has melted into the pasta and a nice cream sauce forms. Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cast-Iron Chicken with Lentils

Taxes. No body likes them. Every body hates them. Guess I'll go eat worms? Remember singing that as a kid? No? Just me? Okay then. Well every year, tax time comes and goes, and like a good American I fill mine out as soon as I get my W-2, in hopes that I will get some money back. This year after completing the endless questionnaire of my life, they asked you if you wanted some free magazine subscriptions for using their specific online company. Like I am going to say no to free magazines!! Me loving magazines is an understatement. Sure the internet is cool and all, but I like flipping through the pages, folding down the corner of things that I like, and being able to physically hold while cozied up on the couch. One of the magazines I signed up for was Food & Wine. And in my first issue was this dreamy looking cast-iron chicken recipe. I did my best to replicate it, only changing a thing or two. This made a great dinner for us one night and again for lunch the next day. But this would be a great pleaser for a double-date night in, simple and classic, but with a twist. 

Cast-Iron Chicken with Lentils

  • 1 4-lb. whole chicken, backbone removed and breasts separated from thighs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, separated
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
In a medium pot, heat 1 tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat and add in the shallots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened and just golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add in the lentils, vinegar, water, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover, stirring occasionally, and cooking until the liquid has been absorbed into the lentils, and they are tender; another 15 minutes or so. Remove from the heat, stir in 3 tbsp. of the butter, walnuts, mustard, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the other tbsp. of oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron or oven-proof skillet. Once the oil is hot, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and place, skin-side down in the skillet. Cover with tin foil and then set another heavy skillet on top. I placed a dinner plate on top and then a pot of water for weight. Cook until the chicken is crispy and golden on one side, about 10 minutes.

Remove the top weight and the tin foil, flip the chicken over and place into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until a thermometer placed into the breast tests at 165 degrees F. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes until serving.

While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the walnut oil, sherry vinegar, and parsley. Set aside.

While the chicken is resting, heat the juices from the cast-iron over medium heat with the remaining tbsp. of butter, salt, and pepper.

Serve the chicken over the warm lentils. Drizzle the vinegar dressing over the top, and serve the chicken jus gravy on the side. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

HDFB Takeout: Barrio Queen

Last week I met up with my wedding planner, and long-time friend Kris, 1/2 of of the Konsider It Done team, for happy hour. Her and her husband, Tyler, are helping Andrew and I plan the wedding of our dreams, but in order to talk wedding, we needed some food to tide us over the hours of idea swapping. We ended up at Barrio Queen in Scottsdale for their Taco Tuesday special. All tacos are $2.50, and you all know my love for tacos is infinite, so needless to say I was in my happy place. We grabbed a quiet corner table out on the patio, surrounded by fresh flowers, where we dined on tableside guacamole and tacos on tacos on tacos. Being as I have dines here dozens of times before, I was feeling adventurous, and went for the Nopalito taco. In other words, this taco was stuffed with tender cactus, serrano pepper, onion, tomato sauce, and queso fresco. Cactus was something new to me, other than the occasional prickly pear margarita, and I can't way that I would order it again, but I am glad that I tried it. It had somewhat of a mushy-mushroom-esque texture to it, and not much flavor. I am one who loves BIG flavor in my tacos, so this was a miss on my mark. An otherwise impressive as always visit to Barrio Queen left me wanting to share some of my favorite things with you all in case you find yourself in Scottsdale looking for a great place to dine.

Barrio Queen
7114 E. Stetson Dr. Suite 105
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

What to Order:
Any of their 400+ tequilas
Barrio Guacamole (made to order tableside)

Pictured below: the Cochinita Pibil, Nopalitos, Carne Asado y Huevo

I never met a taco I didn't like.

Monday, April 13, 2015

French Macarons for Beginners

Ahh, the ever elusive french macaron. It's mysterious in its ways if you haven't attempted making them yourself, but once you do, you come to find out that they are actually quite simple in nature. I have been obsessed (just like 99.9% of all other 20-something girls out there) with these gems for a few years now, and anytime a local bakery offers them, I just have to order one....dozen. A few months back, we made dream boards at work for 2015, and the very first thing I cut out and put on my board was a stack of french macarons. I have been determined to try my hand at them for some time now, but to be quite honest I have been afraid. Until now. Except I may have backed myself into a corner that I can't bake my way out of, because now that I bragged about how easy they were, my fiance has already requested 2 new flavors, pistachio and dulce de leche. These macarons I am showing you how to make today are just a plain almond flavored cookie with a simple chocolate ganache. If I do have one suggestion, do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, make your own almond flour. Just fork up the extra few bucks and buy it pre-made at the store. You can thank me later. It took me 2 bags of slivered almonds to make a cup of almond flour, leaving me with 2 cups of almond chunks and aching hands from trying to sift through all of it for about 30 minutes. Other than that, I found the process to be quite therapeutic. Each step takes precision, and then you are rewarded with a little break time. Perfect recipe for a rainy day at home or when you really want to impress someone. Stay tuned, as I plan on trying my hand at an infinite amount of flavors in the near future!

French Macarons for Beginners

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Chocolate Ganache
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, chopped into cubes at room temperature
Prepare 2-3 baking sheets with silpat, parchment paper, or macaron specific baking liners. Also, place a piping bag or gallon ziplock bag in a large cup with the top folded over the outsides. This will make it easier when you transfer the batter.

Whisk the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. Run the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a larger bowl. You may have a little bit of almond flour that is too large to fit through the sieve. Discard. This is a very important step if you want the macarons to be smooth.

In a stand mixer or bowl with a hand mixer, whisk the egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium-high and add in the superfine sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy, about 5-8 minutes more. When you remove the whisk, the whipped mixture should stand up off of the whisk. 

Fold the egg white and sugar mixture into the almond flour mixture until well combined. The batter should be very fluid and when you lift the batter up with a spatula, it should fold back into itself within a matter of seconds. Lastly, add in the almond extract and mix until combined.

Place the batter into a piping bag or large ziplock bag that you prepared earlier. Cut the tip off, about 1/4-inch. Pipe 1-inch circles about an inch from each other. They should not spread too much, so you can pipe them fairly close together. Once all of the batter has been piped, tap each tray 2-3 times against the counter to release any air bubbles in the batter. Then let the macarons dry out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour until they are set and firm to the touch. The length of drying time will vary depending on how humid it is where you are.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place the 1st tray in the oven on the middle to bottom part of the oven (farthest from the heat source) and cook for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through. The cookies will be just beginning to turn golden. Remove and set on the counter to cool for 2-3 minutes until transferring onto a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining trays of cookies.

To make the ganache; heat the cream over medium-high heat until just barely beginning to bubble. Pour over the chocolate in a medium bowl, stirring until the chocolate is melted and creamy. Add in the butter and stir until combined. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes until set. Pour the ganache into a piping back or ziplock bag. Cut the end off of the bag and pipe a small amount of chocolate onto one cookie, then top with another cookie. Serve immediately, or place into an airtight container in the freezer. Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before serving. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lightened Up Pad Thai Cabbage Stir Fry

I'm never one to durn down a bowl of pasta, let alone a heaping serving of pad thai. But with my upcoming wedding come lots of parties and I plan on looking my best. So instead of noodles I tried my hand at replacing them with sliced cabbage. Now I am in no way stating that cabbage is better than pasta. It's just better for my waist line. This lightened up version of pad thai is perfect for bikini season and you can feel like you are indulging without the guilt. You can even add some grilled chicken into the mix if you like! Best part is, this makes a huge batch and it is delicious both hot and cold. So make it fresh and piping hot for dinner one night, then have it cold for lunch the next day. Win-win!

Lightened Up Pad Thai Cabbage Stir Fry

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded brussels sprouts (optional)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 red cabbage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup edamame beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 lime, quartered
Pad Thai Sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce (coconut aminos for soy/gluten-free)
  • 3 tbsp. sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp. chili sauce
  • 3 tbsp. peanut butter
Heat the olive oil in large skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add in the sliced cabbage and brussels (is using). Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together the carrots, red cabbage, cilantro, and edamame. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the pad thai sauce ingredients and add to the cooked cabbage "noodles". Cook for another 2 minutes, tossing to cover the cabbage in the sauce. Then pour the hot ingredients into the large bowl with the rest of the vegetables. Toss well and add chicken if using.

Plate onto bowl or medium sized plates and garnish with chopped peanuts and lime quarters. Serve warm.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Brussels Sprout Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs

Is there anything that Brussels Sprouts aren't good in? If there is, I have yet to find it, and even then I would probably find them delicious. I just can't seem to get enough of them, and have been sneaking them into as many things as I can before Andrew calls a Brussels timeout. I made this breakfast for us last weekend, which happened to be our first weekend off together in a month. I wanted to make something that was no fuss, that we could just enjoy together while we sipped our coffee at the table together and talked about weekend things like, where we were going to dinner that night with friends, what we should watch while we lounged on the couch, and only a couple of wedding details. The nice thing is, that if you don't like Brussels Sprouts (what is wrong with you?), that you won't even notice that they are there. Because they are sliced so thin, they don't have an overbearing flavor and you can all enjoy breakfast together!!

Brussels Sprout Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (can substitute bacon fat, or combination of both)
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. brussels spouts, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 4 farm fresh eggs
  • salt and pepper taste
  • hot sauce for serving

Heat the bacon fat or olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or cast-iron pan. Once the oil is hot add in the sweet potato and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally for 6-7 minutes until beginning to soften. Add in the thinly sliced brussels and toss well. Add in more oil at this point if you think you might need it. Cook, tossing occasionally, for another 5 minutes. 

Add in the bacon and toss well. Create 4 wells in the pan and crack an egg into each one. Lower the heat to medium-low, careful not to leave it on too high or the bottom might burn. Cook until the eggs are set to your liking. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot with coffee and hot sauce.


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