Monday, January 21, 2013

Freezable Chicken Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce

I found this recipe on Pinterest a couple of months ago. It was love at first sight. Enchiladas packed with chicken, onion, peppers and cheese covered in a creamy avocado sauce... Who wouldn't swoon? I did, and I made this within a few days of finding the recipe.

I'll tell you this, these are some of the most unique and delicious enchiladas I've ever had. They are packed full of flavor, and don't take very long to prepare. We enjoyed these with homemade re-fried beans and Spanish rice.

The recipe made 12 enchiladas, so I split them into two 8X8 dishes and froze one. You'll definitely want to give these a try, and don't be afraid to double the recipe so you can freeze some yourself.

Chicken Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce

Enchilada Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled diced
2 poblano peppers, stemmed and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
12 taco sized flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie works best) (I used leftover pulled pork)
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
optional garnish: fresh cilantro, sour cream, and/or shredded cheese

Avocado Cream Sauce Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of one lime

First make the avocado cream sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the flour, whisking until golden and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk the broth into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, cumin, salt, garlic powder and pepper, whisking if necessary to remove any lumps. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a blender or food processor. Add avocados, cilantro and lime juice, and pulse until smooth and well-blended. (Be very careful blending hot liquids — the heat will expand! So be sure to remove the lid occasionally so that the heat can escape.) Season with additional salt or pepper if needed.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, poblano and jalapeno, and saute for 5-6 minutes until the onions are cooked and translucent. Remove from heat.

To assemble the enchiladas, place a tortilla on a flat surface. Spread a tablespoon or two of the avocado sauce down the middle of the tortilla. Then layer on some of the vegetable mixture, shredded chicken and cheese. Carefully roll the tortilla and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Drizzle the top with about half of the remaining avocado cream sauce, then cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tortillas are heated through and begin to harden.

Remove from the oven, then serve individual enchiladas drizzled with the remainder of the avocado cream sauce. You can also garnish with additional cilantro, cheese, and/or sour cream.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Homemade Wonton Cups

Don't you love wontons? I do! You can make egg rolls, pot stickers, gyoza, raviolis, the list goes on! This recipe turns them into crisp little cups that become a vessel for any filling of your choice! In the picture you see, I stuffed mine with a baby lettuce salad tossed in a mango vinaigrette. But really, there are countless ways you can fill these little guys up. Caesar salad, chicken salad, crab salad, tuna salad, cream cheese and chutney, salsa and guacamole, bean dip, taco fillings, whipped cream and berries, smoked salmon with cream cheese and cucumbers, spinach and artichoke dip, so on and so forth...  

You can make these a day or so ahead of time, just make sure you keep them stored in an air tight container away from moisture. I like to salt my wonton cups, but if you want to stuff them with something sweet you may want to nix the salt. These are great for a party, especially for a football game! Imagine the possibilities for fillings! These are super fun to serve, and everyone loves them. You're sure to be the hostess with the mostess when you make them! 

Wonton Cups

12 wonton wrappers
Cooking spray
Filling of your choice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Spray the wonton wrappers with oil, and place each wrapper into a section of a muffin tin. Gently press each wrapper into the tin and arrange so that it forms a cup shape. The wrapper will overlap itself and stick up out of the cup. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove from the tin and allow wrappers to cool.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vanilla Coconut Granola

I've been making this granola since Summer time and it's now my husband's favorite breakfast cereal. I found this recipe on 100 Days of Real Food a few months ago, and the combination of ingredients sounded delicious! She uses cashews, sliced almonds, raw sunflower seeds and raw pumpkin seeds, oats, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, butter and honey (I've used agave and real maple syrup instead of honey). There's a lot of things I love about this recipe, but one great thing is that a relatively small serving is more than satisfying! Also, there isn't an overload of sugar in it. Do you know how much sugar is in normal store-bought cereal? I'd say 90% of the time it's one of the first three ingredients, and since ingredients are listed in order of greatest amount to least, that means there's more sugar than you probably realized in your morning bowl. This next factoid might not surprise you, but this is also cheaper to make than it would be to buy. Especially if you buy your nuts, seeds and spices in the bulk section of your grocery store. I encourage you to find a grocery store that has a bulk section, especially for recipes like this where you only need 1/2-1c of nuts, or a small amount of a spice you may not normally use. You'll pay pennies for spices, and maybe a dollar or so for the nuts.

One thing I started doing to stretch the granola, was adding flax flakes or puffed brown rice (like rice crispies). There's some things you can do to customize this (according to 100 Days of Real Food). You can use all cashews or almonds, or an entirely different nut altogether. Same with the seeds. If you want to make granola bars, she suggests making it with steel cut oats instead of rolled oats. Also, adding dried fruit bits before baking granola bars is quite nice. For the cereal, she adds dried fruit after it's baked and completely cooled.

This one batch of granola (with our flakes or puffed rice added) usually lasts us at least two weeks. It has taken us longer to eat a batch, and we've not seen any ill effects from it. I would imagine that you'd want to be close to eating a whole batch within two weeks. If you're not sure you could eat a batch that quickly, just cut the recipe in half. I definitely recommend trying this out, especially if your family consists of cereal or granola eaters like mine!

Granola Bars/Cereal from 100 Days of Real Food

3 1/2 cups rolled oats (if you want bars use steel cut oats so it will stick together better)
1 cup raw sliced almonds (or walnuts or pecans)
1 cup raw cashew pieces (use bits and pieces if you can find them, they're cheaper!)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I had sweetened on hand, so I used that)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (I've used coconut oil instead)
1/2 cup honey (I've used agave and real maple syrup instead)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Also need – parchment paper (I usually just grease my baking sheet)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the dry oats, almonds, cashews, coconut, seeds and spices together in a large mixing bowl.

Heat the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the butter melts stir in the vanilla.

Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated.

Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 75 minutes.

The granola will become crisp as it cools at which point you can break into pieces (if making bars) or break it up into small chunks by pounding it in a zip lock bag (if making cereal). Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meatless Monday: Freezable Ribollita (Vegetable, Bean and Stale Bread Soup)

Oh this soup... I made this a few months ago now, and I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to write the post for it because it's amazing! I saw it on Rachael Ray's show where she cooks an entire week's worth of meals in one day. I've seen Ribollita (stale bread soup) made a few times, but for some reason this one struck me as different and delicious. Plus I had most of the vegetables it needed already in my fridge, which is always a bonus. 

Let me just tell you, this soup is cozy, comforting, warming and oh so perfect for these cold winter nights. It's been in the 20's around here lately, and I'd like nothing more than to curl up with a bowl of this perfect soup. It's packed full of veggies, and the broth is made up of chicken stock with tomato puree and a bit of white wine, which makes everything a little more special. I would also recommend not skipping finishing the soup with the raw onion, olive oil and cheese. Unless you don't like raw onion, then obviously leave the onion out of the finishing touches. But these three components balance and compliment the soup making it even more perfect. 

I would definitely say this is a complete meal all by itself since it has lots of veggies, and the bread is already in there. I hope you'll give this recipe a try, it's truly a new favorite around here!

Ribollita (Vegetable, Bean and Stale Bread Soup) from Rachael Ray

1 cup borlotti beans or other small dried bean of choice, soaked for 4 hours (I used canellini beans)
8 cups chicken stock
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, 1/2 peeled, 1 1/2 chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 to 6 slices 1-inch thick peasant style bread, cut into coarse cubes or torn into pieces
About 1/4 cup EVOO, plus some for drizzling at the table
2 carrots, chopped
2 small ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/3 palmful
1 fresh bay leaf
Herb bundle of fresh parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato or dinosaur) or Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped, (about 12 ounces trimmed greens)
1/2 small savoy cabbage, cored and chopped, about 2 to 3 cups (I used regular green cabbage)
A few grates of nutmeg
2 cups tomato puree or passata
Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, plus freshly grated to pass at table
1 small white or red onion, finely chopped

Variations: For a sweeter soup, add chopped fennel to your mix. For autumn, add zucchini or butternut squash to your blend.

Drain the beans and place in a pot with 4 cups chicken stock, 1 clove garlic, half an onion and some salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the bread until deeply golden and toasted. Store in foil.

Heat 1/4 cup EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, remaining 3 cloves garlic, chile flakes, bay leaf and herb bundle. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, partially covered, to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, kale, cabbage and a little nutmeg. Stir. Wilt the greens, partially covered, 5 to 6 minutes more. Add the beans and their liquids and the tomato puree. Stir. Add 2 cups more stock (reserve 2 cups for the night you serve). Add the cheese rind to the soup. Simmer to combine flavors, 15 minutes. Remove 3 cups of the beans and vegetables, about half the soup, to food processor and puree. Then add back to pot. Cool and store the soup for a make-ahead meal.

To serve, heat the soup over medium heat, add the bread to the soup and let it absorb the liquid. Thin the soup with the remaining 2 cups of stock. Taste to adjust seasoning. Remove the herb bundle, rind and bay leaf. The ribollita is done when a wooden spoon can stand straight up in the soup. Ladle into shallow bowls and garnish with a generous drizzle of EVOO, finely chopped raw onion and cheese. Leftover soup can be fried in olive oil in a skillet like potato pancakes or hash, and topped with over easy or fried eggs.