Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cjalsòns rustìcs

What are Cjalsòns? I'd describe them as a type of dumpling. But I didn't know until I played with this recipe and made them for myself. And I did so because Rossella of Ma che ti sei mangiato?, and Italian food blog, asked us to all try them.

We had a lot of fun converting the measurements and trying to figure out the recipe. I guess I am used to recipes with more detailed information. For example, "some parsley" is usually measured. But we were laughing and guessing so it was a fun evening.

I don't know that you need to cook the potatoes as specified in the recipe - feel free to peel and cook them any way you like. The starting point is just to have some cooked and mashed potatoes.

I'm not sure how many these were supposed to make, but we got about 14 Cjalsòns and could have had 2 or 3 more with the extra dough we had left over.

The original recipe I received is European so I have converted everything into ounces and cups and shared below. Hope I did it right... it turned out okay so I must have done it okay.

I'm looking forward to the roundup to see how everyone else fared attempting to make these!

Cjalsòns rustìcs
Rustic pirogi
Adaptation of a traditional recipe

For the dough:
10.5 ounces potatoes
1 2/3 cup flour
1 egg
a pinch of nutmeg
some parsley

For the filling:
3.5 ounces sausage
1/2 glass of white wine
1 beaten egg

For the dressing:
1 2/3 cup ricotta
3/4 cup milk

Prepare the dough by boiling the unpeeled potatoes. Afterward, peel the potatoes & pass through a sieve and allow to cool. Then mix them with the egg, flour, nutmeg and parsley.

To make the filling, in a pan saute the crumbled sausages, moisten with white wine and let evaporate.

Roll out the dough onto a floured pastry board (or surface) making sure it does not stick. Cut discs of 6 cm in diameter, & place at the center of each a spoonful of filling.

Fold the discs in half and close them by pressing the edges well.

Cook the discs in boiling salted water for several minutes, then drain.

Separately prepare a warm whipping cream made of ricotta and hot milk. Pour this sauce of each plate, place the six warm Cjalsòns on the sauce and sprinkle with freshly crushed coarsely ground pepper.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Poblano White Chili

I've never been attracted to the concept of "white" chili. I guess I'm much of a purist and prefer chili to be red and with beans and meat. However, the photo for Poblano White Chili in the October, 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine looked so good that I knew I had to try it. I was really drawn to the use of poblanos, corn and roasted pumpkin seeds as well.

We roasted the poblanos on the grill one night when we were grilling our last brats of the season. They kept for several days before we made this chili. I was also able to use fresh corn kernels and I think they made a big difference. I should have tried to roast my own pumpkin seeds, but I bought them already roasted and salted.

This chili goes together very quickly. And the goat cheese sauce that you pair with the chili makes it really special. The sauce has a nice tang.

Poblano White Chili
Serves 8

3 cups cooked white beans or 2 15.5-oz. cans white beans, rinses and drained
1 recipe Rajas (see below)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 Tbs. lime juice
1/4 cup low-fat milk
3 oz. fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Bring beans, Rajas, broth, oregano, and cumin to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook 2 minutes more.

Warm milk in separate saucepan. Add goat cheese, and stir until smooth. Serve chili garnished with goat cheese sauce, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro.

Makes 2 cups

6 poblano chiles (1 lb.)
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp. dried oregano

Roast and peel poblanos. Slice into 1/4-inch strips; set aside.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook 5 to 9 minutes, or until onion is soft and golden brown. Add oregano and poblano strips, and cook 3 to 4 minutes more, or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Nutritional information as printed in magazine:
Per 1-cup serving: 219 Cal; 12 G Prot; 6 G Total Fat (2 G Sat Fat); 31 G Carb; 5 MG Chol; 250 MG Sod; 6 G Fiber; 4 G Sugars

See more legume recipes in the My Legume Love Affair (MLLA) roundup hosted for October by Divya at Dil Se.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Glazed Carrots with Tarragon

Tarragon is called the "King of Herbs" by the French, but I'm not quite sure I'm on board with that. I have heard of tarragon and know that I've never grown it, but I thought I had cooked with it before. However when I recently made Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Apple and Tarragon it seems to be the first time I really remember tasting it. I was surprised at the licorice-type flavor, like a mild anise. And even though I wasn't too happy with that soup, I decided to give tarragon another try.

I had pulled down my copy of Padma Lakshmi's Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet cookbook recently and fell up this recipe for Glazed Carrots with Tarragon. The photo looked so tasty and I think I have a new thing for carrots lately so I knew I had to try it. I think it's fun buying carrots with the big long greens on the top. That is somewhat new to me because I used to by them already shredded or whole ones in a bag. But I feel very natural buying the whole carrots and peeling them is kind of meditative.

We were all thrilled with these carrots! And we all had a second impression on tarragon. They went perfectly with the carrots and there was no over powering licorice flavor this time. Making glazed carrots is always fun because I love it as the carrots cook up with all the butter, and the touch of maple syrup make is fun. The whole house smells great while these are cooking and we loved them so much we wish I doubled the recipe!

Glazed Carrots with Tarragon
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup finely diced onion
1½ pounds young carrots, scraped and sliced 1 inch thick diagonally
⅓ cup loosely packed fresh tarragon
1½ teaspoons maple syrup
⅓ teaspoon salt

Heat a deep skillet on medium heat; add the oil and butter. When the butter is melted but not burned, add the onions. Lower the heat if the butter starts to burn, and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add the carrots, and continue to stir for 6 to 7 minutes, depending upon the width of the carrots.

Add the tarragon leaves, ripping them apart as you add them to the skillet. Drizzle the maple syrup into the skillet, add salt to taste, and stir the carrots until they are glazed uniformly, cooking approximately 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve as a side dish.

Honestly, I made this recipe with Weekend Herb Blogging in mind because fresh tarragon was an herb that seemed new to me or something I hadn't worked with in a while. Look for more herb recipes at Mele Cotte who is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging roundup.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dante's Inferno Chili

When I was in junior high school, my step-father often made dinner. He was a fireman and usually did all of the cooking on his shift. So in 1984 when the city held a fireman's chili cookoff, which pinned all the firehouses in the city against each other to determine which one made the best chili, my step-father played around and came up with his own recipe. And he won! But then again, how could anything that starts by cooking green peppers in half a cup of butter now win?

"I went through about five recipes and had feelings about certain spices and ingredients and then added some of my own," Donati said. "I think the wine is the key ingredient. It gives the chili some body and an aroma." Another reason Donati believes he clinched the title is that he cuts the onion and green pepper in large pieces instead of mincing them.

For us it was so exciting! We were dragged downtown to a crowded convention center with a bunch of people tasting chili and the next thing we know, they announced our step-father as the winner and the newspapers were flashing photos of us all giving him hugs. The picture on the front page of the food section that week was my sister getting a hug from him - you could only see the reflection from my glasses in the photo. As part of the prizes he won a few weekend stays at Hyatt hotels and his chili was added to the menu at the a downtown restaurant for a while.

Like myself, my step-father never really made the same thing twice, so we didn't keep eating that chili over and over. It was pretty much just a one time great food related memory. I did dig out the recipe though and made it for myself. My whole family sampled it again and the general consensus was that it needed salt! How the heck did this win and get published in a newspaper and all that without any salt in it? Oh well, if you make it, I suggest adding some of your own. Because if you add some cheese, onions and a little salt, it's really yummy!

Below is the recipe as printed in the Chicago Tribune on October 11, 1984.

Dante's Inferno
10 servings

½ cup butter for frying
1 pound green peppers, seeded, coarsely chopped
3 cups chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds coarsely ground chuck
1 pound coarsely ground pork
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cumin
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons hot chili powder
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, chopped
1 can (10½ ounces) beef broth
1 cup dry red wine, such as burgundy
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
½ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2 cans (16 ounces each) dark red kidney beans

Melt butter in a large skillet and saute peppers about 10 minutes. Add onions and garlic; cook 5 more minutes. Add beef and port mixture; increase heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink, ab out 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in cumin, basil, cayenne, black pepper and chili powder. Stir in tomatoes, beef broth, wine, tomato paste, hot red pepper and salt. Simmer, covered, about 1½ hours.

Add kidney beans; simmer for an additional 45 minutes. Serve with extra sharp shredded cheddar cheese.

Note: For a milder version, use only 3 tablespoons of chili powder and ½ teaspoon cayenne.

See more hearty recipes for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted weekly by Kahakai Kitchen.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto

Mushrooms, nuts and herbs are the seasonal ingredients proposed for In the Bag: Cooking the Month of September hosted by A Slice of Cherry Pie. I love this challenge because it gives me a reason to search through my many cookbooks and magazines for something that has all the ingredients and is something I want to cook. I was having a hard time though and always seeming to find recipes with two out of the three. And just when I decided I was either just going to add the third ingredient to one of those recipes or make stuffed mushrooms, I found this recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto in the September/October 2010 issue of Clean Eating magazine. It has mushrooms (I used a chef's mix), sage and thyme for the herbs, and walnuts for the nuts. Yeah!

In the past I haven't been a big fan of making risotto. It takes long and you have to stand and stir over the hot stove which kind of sucks. But this time I had some patience and was ready to give it another try.

I have made something similar to this before - Butternut Squash Risotto with Pesto - but I didn't get how to work with squash at that time and used the frozen stuff. One of the appealing things about making this recipe is that it is published along side an article all about how to pick, prepare and cook various types of squash! And now it seems like such as waste of money to me to spend on the frozen already prepared stuff. There are so many funky looking types of squash out there and this fall I plan to play with them a bit and learn how to handle them and use them in foods. They are super cheap and super healthy!

Butternut Squash Risotto
Serves 4. Makes about 6 cups.

3 cups peeled, diced fresh butternut squash
Extra-virgin olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup shredded fontina or Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat the over to 425°F. Toss squash with a little oil or mist with cooking spray; season with salt and pepper. Spread squash in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Set squash aside.

Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat; keep warm.

While broth is heating, saute onion in 1 tbsp oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until they start to soften, 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Add rice and stir to coat with oil and vegetables.

Add ½ cup warm broth; simmer and stir with a wooden spoon until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Stir in another ½ cup warm broth; simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost all evaporated. Continue adding broth in ½-cup increments, adding more only after previous addition has been absorbed. Taste rice after three-quarters of the broth has been added. Rice is done when it's tender but still slightly firm and white in the very center (not chalky). Continue adding broth until only ½ cup remains.

Add thyme, sage, peas and cheese to pan with last ½ cup broth; stir until cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat before all liquid is absorbed. Gently fold in cooked squash and walnuts. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional thyme, if desired, and serve warm.

Nutritional information per 1½-cup serving (as printed in magazine):
Calories: 359, Total Fat 9g, Sat. Fat: 2.5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.5g, Carbs: 60g, Fiber 6g; Sugars: 4g, Protein: 14g, Sodium 163 mg, Cholesterol: 8mg

Friday, October 8, 2010

Almond Biscotti

When I saw the Dispensing Happiness post last week for 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies I couldn't believe how close to Christmas it is already! But I did go ahead and count weeks and they are right - we're T minus 12... So even though I missed the first week, I want to join the cookie challenge. I may not make "Christmas" cookies each week, but baking is stepping out of my comfort zone so it will be fun to look for various cookies to make each week for the next few months.

I started with a simple Almond Biscotti that I found in the Holiday Cookies: And Other Festive Treats cookbook. I went with this one because a) I love biscotti; and b) I don't know how to use a rolling pin. Why do so many cookies call for the use of a rolling pin? And cookie cutters? What a pain.

These are relatively easy to make. I did have a bit of a challenge with parchment paper because I never used it before and it kept rolling up, but it ended up being functional (meaning I got the dough on it and it didn't stick to anything) so that's all that matters.

I showed this recipe to a buddy of mine before I made it and he mentioned that he doesn't like cranberries, so I substituted for dried cherries that I chopped up. All I can say is - yum! And these go great with tea or coffee.

See more cookies at the roundup of 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies - Week 2 hosted by Abby Sweets.

Almond Biscotti
Makes 24

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
a good pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup blanched almonds, roughly chopped
2 baking sheets, lined with baking parchment

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer or wooden spoon, until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs.

Stir the flour, slat, and baking powder into the bowl and work in with a wooden spoon. When almost combined, add the cranberries and almonds and mix thoroughly to make a soft dough.

Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and divide into 2 equal portions. Using well floured hands, lift a portion of dough onto each prepared baking sheet and shape into a brick 10 x 3½ inches. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Using a serrated bread knife, slice the logs (still on the sheets) on the diagonal about 1/3 inch thick. Put, cut-side down, on the sheets and return to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes until starting to color.

Remover the baking sheets from the oven, put on a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container and eat within 3 weeks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Apple and Tarragon

I like the concept of using cauliflower in soup. It's a filling vegetable that can be blended for a creamy soup. But unfortunately this recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Apple and Tarragon found in the September, 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times did not work for me. However, some of you may like it. It ends up that I don't really like sweeter soups (from the apple) and I don't really like tarragon.

The process for making this soup was very simple. The instructions say to blend the ingredients and I did so with my immersion blender. And actually that did not work that well. I kept blending and blending and finally I poured it all into the blender and it was pureed in only a few minutes.

I have not given up on cauliflower as a soup yet though! I hope to find something with stronger spices next time.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Apple and Tarragon
Serves 4

5 cups chopped cauliflower florets (1 lb.)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
1 pinch ground tumeric

Bring cauliflower, apple juice, broth, onion, and coriander to a boil in saucepan over medium heat. Cover, and simmer 15 minutes, or until tender.

Blend cauliflower mixture, tarragon, and tumeric in blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with tarragon.

Nutritional information provided with magazine article:
Per 1-cup serving: 100 CAL; 3 G PROT; <1 G TOTAL FAT (<1G SAT FAT); 22 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 89 MG SOD; 4 G FIBER; 14 G SUGARS

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Stilton

There's nothing like a salad to throw together the best food of the season! I found this recipe for a Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Stilton in the October, 2010 issue of Cooking Light magazine and it's really tasty. I like the use of three different lettuces in this salad. I did have to do a few substitutions though. I used watercress instead of arugula and Danish Blue instead of Stilton. It came out fabulous anyways!

The dressing is tangy and flavorful. But I'd suggest to watch how much dressing you actually put on the salad. I followed all the instructions and them tossed the full amount of dressing in with all the lettuces and apples (we added the prosciutto and cheese after it was plated) and I think it ended up being too much. We were kind of tilting our plates to let the sauce run off.

Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Stilton
Makes 4 Servings

1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 dried apricot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups torn green leaf lettuce leaves
2 cups thinly sliced Belgian endive (about 2 heads)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) Stilton cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 (5-ounce) package baby arugula
1 ounce very thin slices prosciutto, torn
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced

Combine first 6 ingredients in a blender. With blender on, slowly add oil; process until well combines. Stir in salt and pepper.

Combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; add apricot mixture, tossing gently to coat.

Nutritional information provided with magazine article:
CALORIES 294; FAT 18.4g(sat 3.6g, mono 8.9g, poly 5g); PROTEIN 9.2g; CARB 28g; FIBER 10.8g; CHOL 9.5mg; IRON 3.7mg; SODIUM 429mg; CALC 254mg

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Beans Rancheros

What do I like to do with eggs? Top them on everything! I realized that when Caroline over at Serious Eats posed the question for this week's Weekend Cook and Tell: Egg-ventures.

Previously, I have topped them on asparagus (Roasted Asparagus and Eggs), baked feta (Poached Eggs with Baked Feta and Olives) and even pepper stew (Tomato-Pepper Stew with Poached Eggs and Harissa). So when I saw Mark Bittman's Beans Rancheros in his new book The Food Matters Cookbook, I knew I'd have to make it.

The presentation of this dish is really great! I love the way the cooked eggs are sitting on top of the beans. I found it relatively easy to divide into four and lift each section out onto a plate by itself (or tupperware for lunch leftovers). I was careful and none of the yolks broke (even when heating up the leftovers). But what is neat is that you just mush the egg up a bit and mix it around on the plate and then you can use it as a filling for tacos. I heated up some corn tortillas and put some of the beans rancheros in there and then topped with a bit of diced onion, shredded cheddar and salsa. Yum! And healthy too.

See other fun things to do with eggs as the Serious Eats Weekend Cook and Tell Roundup: Egg-ventures.

Beans Rancheros
Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups cooked or canned pinto or black beans, drained
1 or 2 canned chipotle chiles, minced, with some of the adobo sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and black pepper
2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 eggs
1/4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving

Heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch square baking dish or oven proof skillet with oil. Add the beans, chipotles and adobo, cumin, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper and roughly mash the mixture with a potato masher or fork. Stir in the tomatoes and transfer the pan to the oven.

Bake until he mixture is hot, bubbly, and some of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. (The dish can be prepared ahead to this point and refrigerated for up to a day; bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

Make 4 indentations in the beans with the back of a spoon. Crack 1 egg into each hole, sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper, and return the pan to the oven. Bake until the yolks are still jiggly and the whites have turned opaque (or longer if you want the eggs cooked firm), 10 to 20 minutes. Garnish with the scallions and serve with lime wedges.

Monday, October 4, 2010

RecipeNut Contest and Giveway

Lately I've been playing around with RecipeNut, recently launched by Hormel. It's a site where you can collect recipes found from all around the web. I put links to my own blog posts there, but have also been saving recipes from all around the web that I dig up while I'm researching what to do with leftover ingredients. The site itself is a good resource for finding recipes that other users have recommended. And it has all great features of a social network site for recipe lovers. You can friend people and save other people's recipes to your own profile. (If you'd like to friend me on RecipeNut, look for the user rachelsbite.)

In celebration of the launch, RecipeNut is sponsoring a contest through Facebook where you post a favorite family recipe and the story behind it for a chance at up to $1,000 in prizes. I've already been digging around in my mom's recipe tin and found something really exiting to write about for my own entry! (I'll attempt to make the recipe and post about it soon.)

The official contest kicked off at and entries will be accepted through October 11th. Simply fan or “like” the page, submit a name and description of your favorite family recipe and the story behind it as well as an image of the note card or page that it’s printed on. Ten finalists will be selected and fans can vote for or “like” the entry they think best exemplifies a truly treasured recipe. The winners will be announced on the RecipeNut Facebook page on October 25th.

Prizes include:
(1) Grand Prize:
  • Premium Calphalon Cook Set
  • $200 in Hormel® product coupons

    (2) Runner-up Prizes:
  • Mid-tier Calphalon Cook Set
  • $100 in Hormel® product coupons

    In addition to their Facebook contest, RecipeNut has also put together a fun prize package that I will giveaway to one of my readers! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post below letting me know what you think about RecipeNut or an interesting recipe you found on there and you will be eilbigle to win the prize package which includes:

    • RecipeNut Oven Mitt
    • Hormel® chili with beans
    • Hormel® premium chunk chicken breast
    • Hormel® pepperoni minis
    • Hormel® real crumbled bacon bits
    • Hormel® Natural Choice® deli meat full value product coupon
    • Hormel® Always Tender® pork product coupon

    This contest will end on October 10, 2010. At that time I’ll randomly select a winner. Have fun and good luck!

  • Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Chicken Tamale Casserole

    With the cool weather settling in on Chicago, I decided it was a perfect time to make a casserole. I love to put everything together and then bake it up in the oven - making the house smell so great. I found this recipe for a Chicken Tamale Casserole in an email I received from Cooking Light highlighting casseroles.

    Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in this recipe - not the taste, but the ingredients. I'm not a big fan of using processed products. This recipe calls for a lot of pre-packaged items (corn bread mix, creamed corn, canned chilies, etc.) and I used a rotisserie chicken which I purchased at the grocery store. Of course that made it very easy to prepare, but I felt a bit unhealthy while I was making it. And coming from Cooking Light I guess I expected a bit healthier of a recipe.

    I thought the leftovers of this was tastier than when it was fresh out of the oven. The bottom of the casserole tasted a bit sweet at first so I think it tasted alot better after the flavors melded. I'd let it sit about a half an hour if you can.

    To make this casserole taste a bit more homemade and also to make it more of a meal than just putting a piece of casserole on an empty plate, I placed it on to of some red leaf lettuce and then I topped it with a bit of chopped onion, sliced black olives and diced avocado. Those extra flavors made a big difference. We served this with Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup and it was a very filling meal.

    Chicken Tamale Casserole
    Serves 8

    1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
    1/3 cup fat-free milk
    1/4 cup egg substitute
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
    1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
    1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
    1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
    Cooking spray
    1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
    2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
    1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

    Preheat oven to 400°.

    Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

    Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    Pineapple Muffins with Coconut Crumble

    In honor of LiveSTRONG Day I wanted make something to participate in the Taste of Yellow event hosted by The rules are to make some kind of yellow food and include a heart in the picture of the item. While I was thinking over what I could make, I found a heart shaped muffin tin that I had bought years ago, unused and in its original packaging. So I decided to make some type of yellow cupcakes or muffins. I'm not a big cupcake fan so I went with muffins. I turned to my trusty Cupcakes from the Cake Doctor cookbook and narrowed it down to either lemon or pineapple... pineapple won.

    I have loved every recipe that I have ever made from Cupcakes from the Cake Doctor so I had high expectations. This recipe didn't let me down. It's really easy to whip up a batch of these and the coconut crumble which you top the muffins with really makes these special. And the smell of toasting coconut while the muffins bake makes the whole house smell great too.

    Pineapple Muffins with Coconut Crumble
    Makes 12 muffins

    Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan

    Coconut Crumble
    ½ cup packed light brown sugar
    2 tablespoons self-rising flour
    1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
    ½ sweetened flaked coconut

    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
    ½ cup milk
    ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2 cups self-rising flour

    Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Mist the bottom of 12 muffin cups with the vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

    Prepare the crumble: Place the sugar, flour, and butter in a small bowl. Work the butter into the mixture using a fork. Stir in the coconut and set the crumble aside.

    Prepare the muffin batter: Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture is creamy, 30 seconds. Add the egg, pineapple and juice, milk, and vanilla and blend on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Fold in the flour with a wooden spoon or the rubber spatula, 25 strokes. The batter will still be a little lumpy. Spoon or scoop 1/4 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of crumble topping on each muffin and gently press the topping into the batter. Place the pan in the oven.

    Bake the muffins until they are lightly golden and just spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the muffins, lift them up from the bottoms of the cuts using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. The muffins are ready to serve.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup

    I was looking for a traditional tortilla soup in the New England Soup Factory Cookbook and found this recipe for Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup. The author describes is as tasting like nachos so I was intrigued. And also, it's the perfect time of year for butternut squash.

    This soup is fun to make. Figuring out how to cut the butternut squash was the first bit of fun. But it cut in half easily and was also easy to peel and these were the things I was afraid of. The butternut squash and other vegetables made the house smell absolutely wonderful! I like that you add tortilla chips and let them get all soggy. They do add an amazing flavor that does make it taste like nachos.

    The only thing I didn't like is that because of the tortilla chips I couldn't get it super creamy when using the immersion blender. I had to blend it for quite a while and it did get to a nice texture, but I could still tell a bit of graininess from the chips.

    This recipe makes a huge batch and even though I ate this soup every day as part of my lunch, I still had enough leftover to freeze a few quarts for later. I topped the soup with a bit more shredded cheese and some avocado bits.

    Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup
    Makes 12 to 14 servings

    3 tablespoons salted butter
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups diced onions
    3 carrots, sliced
    3 ribs celery, sliced
    1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
    12 cups chicken stock
    1 cup sherry
    8 ounces salted tortilla chips
    ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
    2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies
    1 bunch scallions, sliced
    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    8 dashes green Tabasco sauce
    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    In a large stockpot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and butternut squash. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the stock and sherry. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the tortilla chips until wilted. Add the cilantro and cheese and let the cheese melt into the soup. Pour the soup in the pot using a hand blender or working in batches with a regular blender until completely smooth. Add the chilies and scallions. Stir to combine. Season with lime juice, Tabasco sauce, and black pepper. Return to the stove and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

    This is my first submission for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted weekly by Kahakai Kitchen. See more great soup recipes at this week's roundup.