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Thursday, January 31, 2013

roundup: The Hunger Games {food 'n flix meets cook the books}

At the beginning of this month, I announced that I would be hosting my two favorite foodie clubs, Cook the Books and Food 'n Flix, this month in a special double-feature of The Hunger Games.  We read the book.  We watched the film adaptation of the book.  We headed into the kitchen to cook/bake up something inspired by the story.  I always look forward to seeing everybody's interpretations and what it was that inspired their chosen dish - and this month was no exception.

We hunted, we foraged, we borrowed, and we bought our ingredients to bring together a feast of comfort food - from the humble food of the Districts to the richer, fancier food of the Capitol - every last dish is beautifully inspired.  Please join me in this virtual feast.

We begin with this Warm Katniss Salad and Roasted Pork Tenderloin from Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  Armed with her son's bow and arrow, she envisioned that roasted pig on the gamemaker's table - complete with apple (but in the end decided to forgo the whole pig and go for just the loin, instead).  Add a nice side of "katniss" salad with goat cheese, that could have been made by Prim, and you have Camilla's contribution this month.

Speaking of goat cheese, next up is Alicia of Foodycat's Goat Cheese and Persimmon Toast , inspired by Peeta.  The life of a baker (and family) may seem ideal, but in actuality often consists of living on stale bread.  What better meal to make of that bread than toast with something delicious slathered on top?

I do not think that any Hunger Games-inspired feast would be complete without the contribution of Katniss's favorite dish, Lamb Stew with Dried Plums .  No need to worry though, because Sarah at WELLDINED brought a pot full, with some goat cheese rolled in herbs and rustic seed bread on the side.

Drawing inspiration from the hunting and foraging prowess of Gale and Katniss, Claudia at Honey From Rock made a local meal using foraged dandelion greens, cassava root and lemons from her own land, and duck resulting from a trade with a friend to make a meal of Roast Duck with Cassava and Dandelion Greens .

Reading, watching, and cooking along with both Cook the Books and Food 'n Flix for the first time, Caroline from Caroline Makes decided to recreate the first meal which Katniss and Cinna share when they meet in the Capitol, Chicken in Orange Sauce & a pudding the colour of honey. Rolls shaped like flowers, chicken and chunks of oranges in a creamy sauce, and tempting pudding... need I say more?

Overwhelmed with all of the mouthwatering descriptions of food in the book and what it actually meant to the starving people of the districts, Tina from Squirrel Head Manor made not only this Rabbit Stew w/ a K to mark Katniss's first catch in a snare, but a line-up of other inspired dishes like Sauteed Rabbit, Gale's Marrow Bone Beefy Soup, and an Apple Tart.

Also joining us for the first time is Anne Marie from This Mama Cooks!  Inspired by a dish mentioned a few times, usually when Katniss was under a bit of stress (wait, wasn't that pretty much the whole story!?), "hot grain smothered in beef stew", this Slow Cooker Meat Stew w/ Brown Rice is packed with veggies and served over brown rice (plus it's gluten free).  Comfort, indeed.

With many of her favorite foodie moments coming from Greasy Sae, it's no surprise that Danielle of The Growing Foodie was inspired to make a dish of Wild Dog Soup (Beef Udon Noodle Soup) after dining out with a friend and being served from a huge pot with Udon Noodle soup being ladled out into waiting bowls. I can almost close my eyes and picture the black market!

Peeta's Gift of Bread (Hearty Bread filled w/ Raisins & Nuts) to Katniss on that rainy day when she was weak from starvation is our contribution from Debra at Eliot's Eats.  She was inspired by food from District 12 - "simple food, comfort food, food of love".

From the beginning, my CTB co-host, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen knew that she wanted to make something "comforting, simple and nourishing - a warm bowl of soup".  Drawing inspiration from Katniss's freshly caught fish and foraged greens, as well as the meal that Katniss made for Peeta by foraging and using little bits of leftover groosling, she brings us this beautiful bowl of Locavore Fish & Greens Soup (and some dark bread slathered with goat cheese on the side).

Inspired by a scene in which Katniss pulls bits of pine bark from the trees to chew on the pith beneath, one of my other co-hosts, Rachel of The Crispy Cook came up with these lovely Pignoli Cookies.  With the combination of two deliciously "piney" ingredients, pine nuts and rosemary, I cannot get the thought of these cookies from my mind.

Ana from Sweet Almond Tree also had a tough time deciding on just one dish to make for The Hunger Games.  But lucky us, because she devised a feast for Katniss, which included Whole Wheat Raisin & Walnut Bread (spread w/ plum jam & goat cheese), Lamb Stew w/ Dried Plums, and an Apple & Goat Cheese Tart.

I will close out this virtual feast with my (Heather at girlichef) frothy, Mexican Hot Chocolate w/ Brötchen for dipping inspired by the passage in the book in which Katniss tries hot chocolate for the first time in her life.  Taking a cue from Peeta and dipping pieces ripped from a freshly baked roll, Katniss gets lost in this bit of comfort and decadence.
Pretty amazing assortment of dishes, ay?  What about you - have you read The Hunger Games?  Or watched the movie?  If you're a foodie and have not read the book, I highly recommend it (the food aspect of the books doesn't really get carried over into the movie very much)!  Have you made anything inspired by The Hunger Games?  If so, feel free to leave a link in the comments, I'd love to check it out.  Or let me know what you would make...or want to make after reading (or seeing) it.

(There is another version of this roundup at Cook The Books - our selections are rounded up on the actual site there, whereas Food 'n Flix is rounded up at the individual hosting site.)

I hope you'll join us while we cook up tasty food from our next selections at Cook the Books (The Shape of Water) which will be hosted by one of my CTB fellow hostesses, Rachel and Food 'n Flix (Today's Special) hosted by another of my fellow CTB hostesses, Deb!

Food‘nFlix cookthebooks
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hot Chocolate & Brötchen | The Hunger Games

Hot Chocolate & Brötchen | The Hunger Games | #FoodnFlix meets #CooktheBooks
It's hard for me to describe the precise pull that The Hunger Games has on me.  The fact that is is so far-fetched that I can't (or hope not to) ever see our world resembling it, or the fact that it's actually not so hard to imagine our world falling into a state of dystopia.  Something grabbed a hold of me when I started reading this book.

But let's back track a few years.  My son was probably around 11 or 12 when he read The Hunger Games.  I remember his face buried in the book on the way to a doctor's appointment, on a road trip, or cozied up in bed.  He described to me this post-apocalyptic world where children between the ages of 12 and 18 were forced to fight to the death for the survival of their families and their district.  The crazy costume-like dress of the people from the Capitol.  The poverty and near-starving state of the outlying districts.  This child who was left standing earns a "life of ease" once they get back home.  Grain, oil, and delicacies like sugar will be bestowed upon their district.  This is all punishment for an uprising of the districts against the Capitol in the past.
Monday, January 28, 2013

Brown Butter-Blueberry-Bacon Pancakes + Homemade Instant Pancake Mix

Brown Butter-Blueberry-Bacon Pancakes
Happy National Blueberry Pancake Day!

I know.  Really, I do.  You're shaking your head and murmuring about how there is no such thing as a national day celebrating blueberry pancakes.  But I'm just throwing back a shrug and a half-grin and saying gently how there actually is a national day celebrating blueberry pancakes.  And that today is that day.
Sunday, January 27, 2013

Creamy Lemon-Chicken w/ Artichokes

Creamy Lemon-Chicken w/ Artichokes
You (probably) know that I basically live in my kitchen.  It's my room.  It's my comfort.  It's where I create.  On an average day, I spend the majority of my hours in said kitchen.  So yes, I enjoy it.

That is not to say that there are days that I don't even want to turn that knob with the faded numbers on my stove.  Days when I don't care to watch over a pot.  Days when whisking until my forearm aches just doesn't appeal to me.  Or just days when everyday things snatch my time out from under me and dart through the crowd like a determined purse-snatcher... that I am not able to catch up with.

It's times like that when I do one of a few things.
a) complain until tell my beg my ask my husband sweetly to make dinner
b) order pizza
c) hope that there is something hanging around that can be made quickly.  Like, in the matter of minutes.

Okay, there's way more things that I do than that, but those are probably the three most likely scenarios.

Since "option c" can be completed in the least amount of time of those scenarios (you guessed it, "option a" takes the longest), I was looking forward to giving Land O Lakes new product, Sauté Express Sauté Starter, a go!  There are four flavors to choose from - Garlic & Herb, Italian Herb, Savory Butter & Olive Oil and Lemon Pepper.
Creamy Lemon-Chicken w/ Artichokes
Basically, they are little squares (well, technically rectangular prisms) of flavor... butter, olive oil, herbs and/or spices.  Throw them into a pan and add fish, seafood, chicken, or pork, and you are minutes away from a quick, well-seasoned meal.  I've tried all four flavors.  I've made pork chops.  I've made shrimp.  I've got a little Tilapia all set up for a date with Garlic & Herb tomorrow.  But so far, the best thing that I've made with the Sauté Express Sauté Starter?  It's this one.

Go ahead and say it.  I know you're thinking it.  That is it!?  Five ingredients in the whole recipe?  How can that possibly yield a meal that is both quick and packed with the tongue-tickling combination of lemon, artichoke, and cream-bathed chicken at the same time?  Were you thinking that?   I don't know how.  Magic?  Innovation?  I simply know that it's true.  And that you'll probably want to run to the market and grab a few boxes of this Sauté Express Sauté Starter to keep in your fridge.

You know.  For "those" days.  When you want a good meal on the table in approximately 30 minutes.  Or less.

Creamy Lemon-Chicken w/ Artichokes
Creamy Lemon-Chicken w/ Artichokes
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: saute entree nut-free soy-free chicken artichokes American

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 3 squares (3 oz.) Land O Lakes Lemon-Pepper Sauté Express Sauté Starter
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can artichokes hearts, drained & quartered
  • ~½ c. heavy cream (or whole milk)
to serve (optional):
  • 2-3 c. cooked, warm rice (brown, white, wild, or mixed)
  • OR
  • 1 lb. pasta, cooked & drained
Place a large, non-stick (like a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or wok or hard-anodized surface) sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the Sauté Express® Sauté Starter. When it has just about melted completely, add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onions just begin to soften, ~2 minutes.

Add chicken, and continue to cook, stirring until chicken has browned in spots and cooked through, 7-8 minutes. Add quartered artichoke hearts and cream (or milk), and stir. Cook until sauce just begins to thicken a bit, ~3-5 minutes longer.

Serve hot, over warm rice or noodles, if you wish.

Using whole milk will make the sauce slightly less thick and creamy, but it will taste every bit as delicious.
Creamy Lemon-Chicken w/ Artichokes
Creamy Lemon-Chicken w/ Artichokes
I received a full-value coupon redeemable for Sauté Express® Sauté Starter for recipe development and review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sopa de Jitomate y Rajas / Roasted Tomato Soup with Poblanos {she made, ella hace}

When Leslie and I were trying to decide what we wanted to make for she made, ella hace this month, my brain could only muster "soup".  All I could picture were hands cupping a bowl with steam rising from the top.

You'd get a good idea why if you took a gander out my window today.  White as far as the eye can see.  Small plants drooping heavy with the weight of the snow.  Not much movement, aside from the eerily large crows flying past the barren branches set against a grey sky.

And if by chance you were brave stepping outside, you would probably turn tail before you could get your second foot out the door.  With the temperature sitting at a balmy 3 (wind chill making it feel like -15), well... Even the schools didn't open their doors today.

What better way to spend the day than sitting indoors, looking out at the beautiful snow, slurping a bowl of soup.  And if by chance you were to be slurping on THIS soup, you would probably even start stripping off some layers.  Perhaps don your tank tops and bermuda shorts.
Not only is it warm... it's spicy!  A thin film of sweat on your forehead.  Small beads across your upper lip.  You'll forget all about that ill-guided attempt to venture outdoors.

In case you hadn't guessed, Leslie and are bringing steaming bowls of Tomato Soup to the table for she made, ella hace today.  My version is not the one that normally comes to mind when you think tomato soup.  Instead of being thick and rich and creamy, it is brothy and earthy and very spicy - with noodles of roasted poblanos lacing every spoonful.  It is unexpected, but entirely welcome.  Don't forget the cubes of fresh, slightly salty cheese and a few tortilla chips for little variety in texture.  This will change the way you look at tomato soup.

But what I'd really love is to have a double-feature in front of me.  One small bowl of this, and one small bowl of Leslie's beautiful Homemade Tomato Soup.  Slip me a grilled cheese and I might think I was in heaven.

Roasted Tomato Soup w/ Poblanos (Sopa de Jitomate y Rajas)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 25-30 minutes
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
Keywords: simmer roast soup/stew chiles tomatoes Mexican

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 2½ lbs. Roma tomatoes
  • 1 lb. Poblanos
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 small onions, sliced ¼" thick
  • 4 fat cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 6 c. beef stock or good beef broth
  • salt
  • queso fresco, storebought or homemade, cubed
  • tortilla chips or fried tortilla strips
Set the tomatoes on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil and place 4-inches below a very hot broiler. Roast until the skins are blackened on one side, and then flip and repeat; it should take ~6 minutes per side. Set aside and allow to cool. Peel the skins off the tomatoes and place the tomatoes and their juices in the jar of a blender or food processor, and process to a coarse puree.

Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame, or below a broiler until blackened on all sides, 5-10 minutes total. Cover the roasted chiles with a clean kitchen towel and allow to stand and steam for at least 5 minutes. Peel, pull out the stem and seeds. Rinse briefly to remove little bits of skin and seeds. Slice the roasted chiles into strips that are ~¼-inch wide.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add onion and cook, stirring often, until slightly browned, ~5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and cook for another minute. Add roasted poblano strips, stir, and heat through.

Add the tomato puree to the pot and cook, stirring often, until thick and reduced, ~7 minutes. Stir in the broth, partially cover, and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and add salt, if needed.

Serve the soup with cubes of queso fresco and some tortilla chips/strips. Enjoy!

adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
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What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
She Made, Ella Hace Banner- and

I am sharing this post with:
FOTMC: Soups
FOTM at La Cocina de Leslie Souper_Sundays2
Monday, January 21, 2013

Fantan Rolls: Orange Marmalade + Cinnamon-Sugar. It's official, I'm a Babe.

Yup, it's true.  I am a Babe.  For a couple of years now, I have been baking alongside the Babes as a Buddy.  But this month, I have officially been welcomed into the racy* circle of lovely ladies and given the title of "Babe".  I'm honored!

And to kick off my very first month as an official babe, I made our bread of the month (chosen and hosted by Babe Elle), Fantan Rolls.  Fantans are basically a mini... or individually portioned... little pull-apart breads like this one.  It just so happens that that is one of THE most requested types of bread in my house - especially by my littlest man.

If you check out Elle's original recipe, you'll see that she used orange marmalade in hers.  It looked so sunny and jewel-like that I had to use marmalade myself.  But since I know the fam's favorite filling in this style of bread is cinnamon-sugar, I made half of the Fantans that way.
I really loved the lightly sweetened dough that is speckled with hints of whole wheat and nutmeg.  Plus, once drizzled with a little icing, these rolls would make the perfect addition to any breakfast or brunch table!  I am aching to make a savory version, though...maybe half using smooshed, roasted garlic and brie, and half using salty olive tapenade.

I did two things slightly different when making and forming the dough than the original method stated. Number one, I used my trusty bread machine to do all of the mixing and kneading (it was a busy weekend - that half hour with free hands really helped).  And number two, I found that cutting the dough into all squares before stacking (as opposed to stacking the long strips and then cutting) really made for a much easier time assembling the dough.

So what do you think?  Would you go sweet or savory?  And what would you fill your fantan rolls with?

Fantan Rolls

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 2½ hrs. + overnight (largely
Cook Time: ~20 minutes
Keywords: bake bread breakfast

Ingredients (12-18 rolls)
    • 2¼ tsp. instant yeast
    • ½ c. warm water
    • ½ c. bread flour
    • ~3 c. bread flour + more as needed
    • 1 c. whole wheat flour
    • 1 tsp. fine salt
    • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 c. non-fat evaporated milk
    • ¼ c. (½ stick) butter
    • ¼ c. pure maple syrup
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
    • ~2 oz. (½ stick / 4 Tbs.) melted butter
    • ⅔-1 c. jam or marmalade, warmed for 30 seconds in microwave
    Combine yeast, warm water, and flour in a bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight; it should be a bubbly.

    Combine the evaporated milk, butter, and maple syrup in a small saucepan and heat slowly until butter is just about melted. Turn off heat and swirl to finish melting butter. Let cool to 110° F if not at that temperature already.

    Place the flours, salt, and nutmeg into a large bowl and mix to combine. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture; start stirring. Add milk mixture and continue to stir until fully incorporated, switching to your hands when too stiff for spoon.

    Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and silky; should be just tacky to the touch, but not sticky. If needed, add a bit of additional flour while kneading.

    Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, ~1 hour.
    Dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Punch it down, then divide it in half (to make 12 really large rolls) or in thirds (to make 18 medium-large rolls). Wrap unused portion in the plastic wrap and set aside while working with other dough.

    One at a time, roll the dough portion into a 12"×12" square (or square-ish shape). Brush dough with half (or a third) of the melted butter.

    Spread the surface of the dough with about ½ (or a third) the warmed filling. Cut into 6 equal strips. Cut again the opposite way to make 6 equal squares per row (you should wind up with 36 squares). Pile the squares into stacks of 6, turning the top square on each stack filling side down.
    Place each stack into a greased/buttered muffin tin, standing up so the layers are visible. Gently fan them open. Each will have six dough pieces with filling in between. Repeat with the remaining dough and the rest of the filling for the other six cups of the muffin tin (or use an extra half of a muffin tin if making 18).

    Cover with a plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let the rolls rise in a draft free spot at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.

    Place the rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 375° F during last 15-20 minutes of rise time.

    Remove plastic or towel. Slice rolls into preheated oven and bake until golden brown, ~20 minutes. Let the fantans cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and allow to cool for about another 20 minutes before serving. (It is important to turn them out after 10 minutes, especially if you used a jam/marmalade filling, as it can start to stick as it cools.)
    You could also use cinnamon-sugar in place of jam or marmalade - or do half and half. You could also add finely chopped nuts or dried fruit.

    Try making a savory version by leaving out the nutmeg and maple syrup, and using a savory filling (like pesto, tapenade, etc.).

    If you like, you can whisk together 1 teaspoon milk with enough confectioners' sugar to make a thick glaze. Drizzle over the rolls and let icing harden a bit before serving.

    If you don't have any evaporated milk, you can stir together ⅔ cup non-fat powdered milk with ¾ cup warm water until dissolved; this should yield 1 cup.

    These rising times were what worked in my kitchen. Depending on the temperature of yours, it's possible it could take a bit longer. Just keep an eye on the dough.

    Also, I'll admit that I like to use my bread machine to mix up the dough when I'm busy and want to use the mixing and kneading time to get something else done. Simply place all of the ingredients into the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer (with the overnight starter added last), and let run through mixing and kneading cycles. Remove and place dough in oiled bowl for first rise and continue as directed. I did this and it worked beautifully. I was also too lazy to mix the powdered milk and water that I used in place of evaporated milk, so I added the water with the wet ingredients and the powdered milk with the dry - didn't make a difference.
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    *rac·y  /ˈrāsē/Adjective
    1. Lively, entertaining, and sexually titillating.
    2. (of a wine, flavor, etc.) Having a characteristic quality in a high degree.
    Synonyms: spicy

    The Bread Baking Babes
    Bake My Day - Karen
    blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth
    girlichef  - Heather
    Life's a Feast - Jamie
    Provecho Peru - Gretchen
    Babe Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms is the Bread Baking Babes host kitchen this month.  If you'd like to be a buddy this month, bake your fantans and send the link over to Elle by the 29th!

    I am also sharing this post with:
    YeastspottingBake Your Own Bread
    Sunday, January 20, 2013

    Irish Cheddar Whiskey Fondue

    Irish Cheddar Whiskey Fondue
    {Close your eyes.}  Wait.  Don't close your eyes.  Read this and imagine closing your eyes.  Envision my words in a soothing, transportive (totally a word) voice.

    Picture, if you will, a bright, snowy day.  You've just donned your avocado-green ski suit.  You know the one.  It has sunset yellow and burnt sienna stripes across the breast.  You even bought special ski boots, a hat, and gloves to match those stripes.  Your chunky, white goggles are poised across your hat, on your forehead and your cheeks are bright pink from the winter air.

    Fast forward two or three hours and many rides up the lift.  Your last trip down the slope, you feel a pull towards the belly of that lodge burning warm and glowing from within.  You set your skis by the door and strip down to cozy leggings, an over-sized turtleneck sweater, and warm, fuzzy slipper-boots.
    Friday, January 18, 2013

    Ham & Greens Pot Pie w/ Cornbread Crust

    Ham & Greens Pot Pie w/ Cornbread Crust
    I think the rich, savory combination of smoked ham, collard greens, and black-eyed peas is a combination that deserves to be enjoyed more than just once a year.  I mean, I don't know about about you, but I could use a little dose of good fortune at least once a month.
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Cowboy Casserole. {yee-haw}

    I'll admit, the list of ingredients for this is a little bit unwieldy.  But sometimes, I get in a mood, a mood that can only be described as ambitious.  Apparently the day that I made this was one of those days.  I mean, it's not a difficult recipe or anything.  It just has a lot of ingredients.  But oddly enough, most of them are ingredients that I almost always have in the house, anyway.

    Plus, that long list?  It bring major flavah!  Did I just use that word the wrong way?  Hmmmm.  I think it fits.  We're talking tasty, Southwest flavor.  A hearty casserole that even non-cowboys can get behind.
    And sometimes, I like prepping a dish and putting it all together in one little cooking vessel, only to cover it and stick it in the fridge.  It makes me feel especially accomplished the next day.  What's that?  You want to have guests over for dinner?  Ah yes, I whipped up a casserole yesterday, so that won't be a problem.   I'll just pull the casserole out of the fridge and bake it.  No muss, no fuss.  (Previous day obviously forgotten.)

    The layer of tortilla chips that are crushed up at the bottom of this casserole really remind me of this one chicken tortilla casserole that my mom made a few times when I was a kid.  And now swears she doesn't remember how she made it.  I've been trying to recreate it for years, to no avail.  This isn't it.  That one was green.  But still, it sort of reminds me of it.

    Cowboy Casserole

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 1½ hours (largely unattended)
    Cook Time: 45 minutes
    Keywords: bake entree chicken cheese tortillas American Southwest

    Ingredients (serves 8-10)
    • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 2½ c. chicken stock
    • ½ c. white wine
    • handful fresh cilantro, ripped in half
    • 1½ Tbs. lime juice
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
    • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
    • 1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
    • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
    • 1 lb. white button mushrooms, quartered
    • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
    • 4 Tbs. all-purpose flour
    • 1½ c. whole milk
    • 12 c. tortilla chips
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 1 large bell pepper, finely chopped
    • 2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, & finely chopped (optional)
    • 8 oz. Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
    • 8 oz. Sharp Cheddar, shredded
    • 1 Tbs. Emeril's Southwest Seasoning, either store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)
    • 2 tsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 c. canned, diced tomatoes, drained
    • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles, drained
    Combine the chicken, chicken stock, wine, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the oregano, and bay leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and allow the chicken to cool in the poaching liquid for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and tear or cut into bite-size pieces; set aside. Strain the cooking liquid; reserve.

    Preheat oven to 350° F.

    Heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat until melted and just begins to foam. Add mushrooms, remaining salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid. Continue to cook until the mushrooms are golden brown and all the liquid has evaporated, ~6 minutes.
    Scatter the flour over the mushrooms, and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the milk and stir, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken.

    Add 1½ cups of the reserved poaching liquid, stir, and cook until very thick and flavorful, ~10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    Place the tortilla chips in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch glass casserole. Crush the chips with your hands so they form a thin layer on the bottom of the dish. Pour ~1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid over the tortilla chips and allow them to soak up the liquid. Scatter the chicken over the top of the tortilla layer. Spread the chopped onions, bell peppers, and jalapeños (if using) evenly over the chicken. Top with half of the grated cheeses. Sprinkle with the Southwest Seasoning, chili powder and ground cumin. Spoon the reserved mushroom mixture evenly over the top of the spices, then top with the tomatoes and green chiles. Cover with the remainder of the cheeses.

    Bake uncovered for ~45 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the casserole is heated through. Let sit for 5 minutes or so before serving.

    This casserole may be prepared in advance. Assemble and cover; refrigerate overnight or freeze until ready to use. Allow to thaw 1 day in the refrigerator (if frozen); remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature before baking as directed.

    Emeril's Southwest Seasoning (yield: ½ c.):
    2 Tbs. chili powder - 2 Tbs. ground cumin - 2 Tbs. paprika - 1 tsp. ground black pepper - 1 Tbs. ground coriander - 1 tsp. cayenne pepper - 1 Tbs. garlic powder - 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes - 1 Tbs. salt - 1 Tbs. dried oregano

    Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Store in an airtight container at cool room temperature.

    slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse
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    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Spaghetti Squash & Kale Gratin {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

    Apparently I have a thing for spaghetti squash and kale together.  I didn't even realize how close this dish would be to this dish until I was halfway through making it.  Oops.  And while, yes, they both contain spaghetti squash and kale and parmesan - they are actually quite different.  They don't taste the same at all.  Which is strange, because neither dish really contains that many ingredients.  I consider that one an entree, and this one a side.

    And of course, what is the absolute perfect accompaniment to spaghetti squash?  Italian sausage.  I mean, seriously, it's one of those perfect marriages.  And I didn't even do this on purpose, but I happened to make Italian sausage and red sauce for dinner last night (this was more of an experiment and a separate thought).  So while I enjoyed the bite and slight tang of this alone, when it was eaten with a bit of that sausage swirled through it?  Money.
    Now, I can hardly believe that this is our twelfth and final week of the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash.  It went by incredibly fast!  I want to thank my co-host Joanne of Eats Well With Others for inspiring me to explore the wonderful world of winter squash (and for letting me come along for the ride).  This may be the "official" end, but winter squash has earned a permanent place in my kitchen.  And I cannot wait until next year!

    Spaghetti Squash & Kale Gratin

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 45 minutes (to roast squash)
    Cook Time: 30-35 minutes + time to roast
    Keywords: bake side vegetarian kale spaghetti squash American fall winter

    Ingredients (serves 6-8)
    • 1 medium (ish) spaghetti squash
    • coconut oil or olive oil
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
    • small handful (1-2 Tbs.) chopped, fresh herbs of your choice
    • ~12 oz. kale, tough stems removed, chopped (or 1 bag Cut 'n Clean Greens Kale)
    • ¾ c. large curd cottage cheese
    • ½ c. sour cream
    • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh chives
    • 2 green onions, sliced thinly
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • ¾ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
    • ¼ c. fresh bread crumbs
    • salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil, or a silicone baking sheet.

    Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle all over with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on prepared baking sheet and roast for ~45 minutes, or until just tender (skin should pierce easily with the tip of a paring knife). Set aside for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle. Rake a fork through the flesh, until you have turned the whole thing into spaghetti-like strands. Place in a colander and let sit in sink or over a bowl while you are moving on to the next step. (Alternately you could pierce the whole squash with a knife ~10 times. Microwave for 10 minutes, turning once or twice. Cut in half, scoop out seeds. Rake fork through and set in colander. Proceed as you would with roasted squash.)

    Increase oven temperature to 400° F. Put cottage cheese in a strainer and gently run cold water over it so that you only have the curds. Set aside and allow to drain while you get on with it.

    Drizzle about one tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil into a large, deep, heavy skillet set over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about ~3-5 minutes minutes. Add garlic and fresh herbs (if using) and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add another drizzle of oil, and then add kale and continue to cook for a another 3-5 minutes, stirring, until slightly wilted. No need to cook completely as it will finish cooking in the oven.

    Combine the cottage cheese curds, sour cream, egg, and ½ cup of the Parmesan in a very large bowl with the chives and green onions; mix to combine. Tip the spaghetti squash into the bowl, as well as the kale mixture. Stir gently until everything is thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Transfer to a gratin dish or a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray; distribute evenly and press down.

    Toss the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan with the bread crumbs and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Distribute evenly over the top of the mixture. And then, if you're like me, grate even more Parmesan over the top. Just because.

    Slide into preheated oven and bake for ~30-35 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling around the edges and the topping is golden. If you'd like, you can slide the whole thing under the broiler for a few minutes longer for more color. Serve immediately.

    You can use any type of herbs that you have on hand (and that you think would taste good in this application); this time I used chives, sage, marjoram, and thyme.

    inspired by and adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
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    And now we'd love to know what you've been doing with winter squash in your kitchen this week... or heck, anytime over the past 12 weeks.  Feel free to link up as many winter squash recipes as you like below - we want lots of recipes to guide us through the rest of the season!

    1. Spaghetti Squash & Kale Gratin

    2. Butternut Squash Waffles

    3. Pumpkin with Tomato Sauce, Cocoa and Pepitas

    disclaimer: I received a free coupon to try Cut 'n Clean Greens. I was under no obligation to write about them or use them in a blog post. But I did. And I liked it.