No Fat, Low Sugar Meringues, For a Sweet Christmas

So good, though watch out for oil

So good, though watch out for oil

 

I love meringues. I’ve only made them one time before, but I grew up eating them. They used to sell them at the old Emporium department store in San Francisco, in the bakery, down in the basement. They were only a dime each, and it would only take one to give me that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth satisfaction.

I’ve only made them once before, and they came out pretty well, considering some people seem to think that they are complicated. They are actually pretty simple, though there is one, very strong piece of advice to heed while making them: keep oil out of the mix. That includes the tiniest speck of egg yolk, because if you do, your egg whites won’t stiffen up.

I actually kind of blew it with this batch, because I added just a smidgen of peppermint extract, toward the end. I noticed the stiffness withered a bit, and I wasn’t quite sure what I did wrong. I went online, and that when I found out about the oil… the peppermint extract that I used was made with oil of peppermint. Still I went ahead and made them, and they actually turned out really good, as far as taste and texture… they just didn’t stand up as much as I would have liked.

The other mistake I made was adding crushed peppermint sticks into the egg white mixture. When I starting piping with my pastry bag, the candy clumped together at the star tip I was using and jammed it all up. It started coming out at the top and made a big mess, so I’ll just have to recommend that you only sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top, before you put the baking sheet into the oven.

The main reason I made them in the first place is because I’ve got a bunch of lilikoi juice, waiting to be into gelato, and this is a great way to use up the egg whites. Since peppermint screams of the holiday season, it seemed only fitting to make these again.

Quick & easy, though they will take some time to bake, in a very low heat oven~
You can beat the egg whites by hand, if you like, but you will likely feel like your arm will fall off, by the end. Use a mixer with very, clean blades, if you can.

Start by preparing a large baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 250º.

You’ll need:

2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
2 candy canes, finely crushed

Beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form.
Add in ¼ cup sugar and beat. Add in vanilla and blend that in.
Add in the last ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Pipe or spoon small amounts onto the baking sheet, then sprinkle with the crushed candy.

Bake in oven for 1-½ hours. Turn of the oven and open oven door until it is ajar, then allow them to sit for another 1-1/2 hours.

They should be cool, by that time. They should also be pretty dry, crunchy and delicious.

If you’re like me, you’ll play with them on different plates, lights, settings, etc., just because it’s fun. 😄

151213_1293

Mixed lights

Mixed lights

 

White lights

White lights

 

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Flowers, because they're there

Flowers, because they’re there

 

Merry Christmas!

When Life Gives You Mangos…

Mangos!!

Mangos!!

I’ve always said, “Sometimes you get lucky.” Just last weekend when we visited the supermarket, I saw mangos for sale for $5.99/lb. I realized that I hadn’t had a mango all summer, but I also thought that the price was a bit spendy for something that would not be as good as something I could get at the farmers’ market. It’s just that I’ve finally really just started walking again! We did manage to find a couple of small mangos from a nearby tree on the way home from the store, but they were too small to inspire me to cut them open.

Walking again is what  brings me to to this post. I saw my doctor last week for my 6 week appointment regarding my recent knee replacement, and we discussed exercise and how much I couldn’t wait to get back into it. I told him I was already being a bit abusive, with spending a recent Saturday with friends, exploring nurseries in Waimanalo for hours. I told him that I was sore for a couple of days after, but it was totally worth it. He advised me that yes, that was to be expected for a while, but I would still recover. Anxious as I am, I took this as a green light. Also, the way I see it, the only way to build up any kind of stamina is to just do.

So this past Monday morning, I took a little bus ride and a bit of a hike to Kahala Beach to attempt catching a sunrise. I was a bit late for the colors, but I managed to get a couple of really nice shots.

 

Kahala Sunrise

Kahala Sunrise

 

Kahala Sunrise

Kahala Sunrise

 

Couldn't resist the plumeria

Couldn’t resist the plumeria

How I’ve missed it!

 

On the way home, walking through an old, favorite Kahala neighborhood, I happened to run into a lady pulling mangos off of her huge tree, in her front yard.

Ready for picking

Ready for picking

 

Mangos!

Free mangos!

She said hello and I noticed the pile of the fruit sitting on a platform by her fence. “Help yourself,” she said, though I noticed the sign that advised to take just two. I very, happily complied. She said that she was out there almost every morning at the same time to pull the ripe ones off the tree. She could only eat so many herself, so she offered them to whoever happened to pass by. Sweet! I thanked her profusely, and made my way home, dreaming of the luscious mango bread that I was going to make.

Now, I’m going to put a little bit of a kink into this recipe, just because I tried something a little bit different about a month ago with some banana bread I made. That banana bread was a good test for a great variation on any quick bread that you like.

 

 

Banana upside down bread

Banana upside down bread

It is a little bit like an upside down cake, but not using the traditional pineapple and maraschino cherries.

 

Just something different

Just something different

This variation simple means baking it in a round baking pan and melting about 2 tablespoons of butter to put on the bottom of the pan. Then you sprinkle about 2-3 tablespoons of sugar on top of the butter. Arrange fruit on top of that,  pour on the batter and bake. Invert when done. It makes it just a little bit more special.

 

If you have extra mangos, try this!

If you have extra mangos, try this!

This recipe is also very flexible. I used about half white whole wheat flour (I’m a King Arthur Flour fan!) mixed in with all purpose, just to make it a bit healthier. You can skip the nuts if you are allergic, or use whatever kind you have available.

 

Mangos!

Mangos!

So when life gives you mangos, you just follow this recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter a loaf pan or round baking pan, if you are trying the variation. Truthfully I needed both, because these mangos were huge!

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup macadamia nut oil (vegetable oil or olive oil will do)
¼ cup melted butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe medium mangos (and their juice) peeled,
pitted and diced (approximately 2 cups… more if you’re trying the upside down variation)
¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts
¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, mix together the oils and sugar, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, making sure not to over-mix… that will just make the bread tough.

Lastly, fold in the nuts, if you’re using them. Pour the batter into the pan (or pans, if you have lots of batter like I did) and bake for approximately 45 mins to 1 hour. This will depend on if you are making more than one bread, so I kept checking on it every 15 minutes.

Check with a toothpick for doneness, and when it comes out dry, let it sit in the pan for a bit while it cools.

Upside down mango bread… yum!

Upside down mango bread… yum!

If you make the variation, gently go around the edge of the pan with a small spatular before inverting onto a plate.

 

Mango bread

Mango bread

 

I sent the rest of this one to work with Monty

I sent the rest of this one to work with Monty

 

Mango bread… a treat worth heating up the kitchen

Mango bread… a treat worth heating up the kitchen

 

As the ice cream melts in 90º heat...

As the ice cream melts in 90º heat…

 

Eat it fast, before the ice cream melts!

Eat it fast, before the ice cream melts!

 

Until next time, enjoy the bounty of summer, while it’s here and never take walking for granted. ❤

 

Making What’s Left of Summer Peachy

Peaches, one of my favorites of Summer

Peaches, one of my favorites of Summer

You might have noticed that I’ve been gone… I had a knee replacement four weeks  ago. Before that time, I absolutely struggled to do just about anything that had to do with living, and I cannot tell you how glad I am to be reversing the trend! So, I think it’s time to dig back in again. Woo-hoo!

I have a love of Summer, and even though it’s rapidly slipping away before my eyes, I thought I’d do a tribute to one of my favorite fruits, as well as one of my favorite desserts. It involves pie crust, and making things look a bit rustic… I’m making galette!

It’s not as fancy as a pie or tart, but rather casual and easy to throw together. I made one last year, though that one was savory, using zucchini, cheese and tomatoes. This will be the sweet, peachy one, though you can use any kind of fruit that you like. I’m also going to top the crust with some slice almonds for texture.

For this, I’m using my favorite standby pie crust recipe, mainly making sure that everything I’m using is icy-cold, before I begin. I usually cut up the butter in a stainless bowl, allowing it to chill. The flour is also measured out and allowed to sit in the fridge for about an hour. This really helps to make a good, tender crust.

Ready?

For the pastry:

6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup ice water

1 beaten egg (for pastry egg wash)

For the filling:

3 cups peaches or other Summer fruit, thinly sliced (or, think berries, figs, apples, other stone fruit, etc.)
½ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, scraped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
juice of ½ lemon

Garnishes:

Turbinado sugar (just a sprinkle on the exposed crust)
¼ cup slice almonds (optional)

——————————————————————————————————————-

Whisk together the dry pastry ingredients in a large measuring cup and allow to chill for at least an hour. In a separate bowl, cut up the butter into small pieces and allow that to chill, also.

When you are ready to make the pastry, mix the chilled butter into the bowl with the flour and work with a pastry cutter or two knives. Mix until you the dough forms little pea-sized clumps. Add in the ice water and mix just until it holds together. Just don’t overwork it, or it will become tough. Gently shape the dough into a ball, then transfer to a firm surface with a large piece of plastic wrap laid out on it.  Flatten the dough ball into a disk about ½” thick, wrap it up in the plastic wrap, and then allow to chill for at least 1½ hours.

When the pastry is chilled, and you are ready to make galette, pre-heat the oven to 375º F. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it set out for about 10 minutes or so. It should be very firm. Prepare a work surface by covering it with a large piece of parchment paper. I usually bake mine on a round pizza pan, so I simple cover that with the paper and dust it with a little bit of flour—it saves steps and mess. Meanwhile,  you can make the filling.

Mix together the sugar, scraped vanilla bean, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. Place the sliced peaches into a larger bowl and squeeze the lemon juice over them. Sprinkle the cornstarch mixture over the peaches and very gently stir them together. The peaches should become quite juicy.

Gently mix the filling ingredients together

Gently mix the filling ingredients together

 

On the prepared surface, roll out the pastry into a round about 14″ to 16″ in diameter.

Arrange the sliced peaches in concentric circles on the pastry, leaving about 1½ to 2 inches from the outer edge. You may want to leave most of the juice in the bowl, because if you put it all into the galette, it will likely overflow onto the baking sheet and make a big mess. Of course, you may not mind that, either. When you run out of peaches, fold the outer edge of the pastry over the top of the peaches, pleating as you go around.

Fold the outer edge over the fruit

Fold the outer edge over the fruit

 

Brush the outer exposed edge of pastry with the beaten egg, then sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top.

Brush on the egg wash

Brush on the egg wash

Sprinkle sugar

Sprinkle sugar on the exposed edge of the pastry

 

Top that with sliced almonds if desired, gently pressing them into the pastry.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

 

Place into the preheated oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Cool.

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

 

Serve by cutting into wedges and topping with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Makes about 6-8 slices.

Light and fruity peach galette

Light and fruity peach galette

 

Look at that tender crust!

Look at that tender crust!

 

It's hard to resist juicy, vanilla-y peaches wrapped in pastry with almonds

It’s hard to resist juicy, vanilla-y peaches wrapped in pastry encrusted with almonds

 

It's a luscious combination

It’s a luscious combination

 

You'll savor every bite!

You’ll savor every bite!

 

 

Strawberries and Basil, Bringing Out the Best of Summer

I really ❤ this combination!

I really ❤ this combination!

I tried strawberries mixed with sweet basil for the very first time, just a couple of weeks ago. Now, I’m wondering where I’ve been all my life, that I managed to miss out on this wonderful combination of flavors. We were having breakfast at our usual Saturday morning buffet, and there they were, begging for me to try them. I did, and I’ve thought of little else since.

 

Strawberries and basil, some of the best of summer

Strawberries and basil, some of the best of season

I researched a little bit on this, and I found that berries prepared in such a way are usually macerated, i.e., soaked for a bit in vinegar to make them softer. Knowing that this is the best time of year to buy and eat strawberries, timing couldn’t be better. This week, I found the strawberries on sale, so I made a point of getting to one of the smaller, weekday farmer’s markets to get the basil. I knew there would be nothing better than some that’s fresh and locally grown.

 

An unexpectedly good combination

An unexpectedly good combination

Once again, this is another “What could be simpler?” recipe, one that I barely even need to write down.

All you need is…

1-2 pounds fresh strawberries
A bunch of sweet basil, though you’ll just need about 8 leaves
A sprinkling of sugar, maybe a tablespoon?
A large dash or three of balsamic vinegar

 

Simply slice

Simply slice

Wash, hull, and slice strawberries, placing them into a non-metallic bowl. Sprinkle just a bit of sugar over the berries, then add some balsamic vinegar~ you’ll need to taste it to find the right balance, but it isn’t too hard, since the flavors blend so well. With kitchen shears, thinly snip several leaves of basil over the berries. Gently mix with a spoon and serve.

 

Good for breakfast, a snack or dessert

Good for breakfast, a snack or dessert

That’s it! The result is a beautiful, elegant, fragrant dish, that will make you want to experiment.

 

You can serve this for breakfast with a dollop of vanilla yogurt

You can serve this for breakfast with a dollop of vanilla yogurt

We had these for breakfast, this morning… they were wonderful!

 

Try it on toasted bread with cheese

Try it on toasted bread with cheese

You can also use them to top toasted bread spread with cheese~ you could choose from any number of cheeses that would work well, such a cream cheese, goat cheese, or even brie. Serve as an appetizer or an afternoon pick-me-up snack.

 

Spoon it over ice cream

Spoon it over ice cream

Lastly, you could spoon it over ice cream, or even a simple cake. Vanilla would be good, but since it’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, that’s what we’re having. Try this easy recipe and enjoy!

 

Quick & Easy Blood Orange-sicles

Here’s an easy treat that you’ll love, with the warm summer days coming up. I found a couple of blood oranges last week, so I bought them, mainly because I know their season is about over. With the past fews days being so humid here, I thought it might be good to make something frozen and refreshing.

I’ve already made gelato from the last batch, so you have to figure that I came up with something new, or else I wouldn’t be here. I just had to think of what ingredient would go well with them. Since I only had two oranges, I wouldn’t have enough to squeeze one into a frozen dessert. I thought of using just regular oranges to make juice, but I really wanted to keep the blood orange theme going throughout. That’s when I thought of using gourmet blood orange soda.

San Pellegrino blood orange soda

San Pellegrino blood orange soda

This is the one. Of course, another would be just fine.

 

You only need one can

You only need one can

 

Just 2 ingredients and a popsicle mold & 4 popsicle sticks:

1 can blood orange soda
1 blood orange

That’s it!

Simply pour the soda into the molds, leaving about an inch and a half from the top.

Slice the oranges thin

Slice the oranges thin

 

Cut the blood oranges into thin slices.

 

They almost look like stained glass

They almost look like stained glass

The slices look really pretty held up to the light.

 

Add a couple of slices of blood orange into the mold. Put into the freezer for about 45 minutes.

Take the mold out of the freezer and poke the popsicle sticks into the slushy soda…. they should stand up by themselves. Freeze for another 4 hours or so, until completely frozen. Serve.

The orange slices look so pretty

The orange slices look so pretty

What could be simpler!

 

his makes a great afternoon treat

his makes a great afternoon treat

They are also impressive enough to serve to a guest.

 

So refreshing and not too sweet

So refreshing and not too sweet

Enjoy and happy summer!

 

Vietnamese Food, Anyone?

Chayote

Chayote~ they come in white and green

We have a real passion for Vietnamese food, in this house. Usually, we go out to eat it, and if we’re hungry and there happens to be a pho house around, we are almost sure to go in and try it. We usually order the same thing too, just so we can compare and contrast. I go for the green papaya salad, and Monty goes for lemon grass chicken or shrimp vermicelli. We have a couple of favorite places, such as Super Pho, which is one of our favorites. Let me show you a few examples:

Summer rolls are de rigueur for appetizers

Summer rolls are de rigueur for appetizers

I have a real passion for peanut sauce, too.

 

The best green papaya salad… how I love it

The best green papaya salad… how I love it

 

Lemon grass shrimp… get those chopsticks ready

Lemon grass shrimp… get those chopsticks ready

 

As you can see, all of this food looks super-light, healthy and refreshing. Now that you understand that we have a passion for this cuisine, you’ll understand why I’d be interested in learning a bit about learning how to cook some of this, myself.

I’m very lucky in this, on two counts. The first count is that Monty works with someone who grows chayote on his property, and last year he gave us a few. I had no idea what to do with it, so I ended up making a Mexican-stye soup with it. (Chayote sounds Mexican, doesn’t it?) Well, I did learn something, after I cooked that, and here’s where the second count of luck comes in.

I have a very, dear Vietnamese friend name Jess. When she saw my post last year, she got excited because her mom used to make chayote for her—so in her eyes, it’s comfort food! As I’ve found out, it is Mexican, but as it turns out, it is also very popular in Asian cuisine. The good about this food is that it’s very low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. It’s also a good source of niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, zinc, copper and manganese. That’s a lot of nutrition for a little squash! There isn’t much of a bad about this food, except that it excretes a sticky substance while peeling it,  that can feel a bit odd… almost like the feeling of superglue. The sensation can last a few hours, but I promise that it’s harmless.

Now, I’ll give you another warning: This recipe is not hard and fast, which means if you want to try this, you’ll need a brave heart. I did make this last week for dinner, mainly because I wanted to get a feel for the recipe. Jess tells me that the usual ratio is 2 chayote/1 egg. I was hungry for eggs so I used 2 chayote/2eggs… no regrets here! Today, I made it for lunch, and I truly enjoyed it. It’s very easy to throw together, and delicious. Another warning to the brave: this recipe uses fish sauce. A lot of people are put off by the smell when they first open a bottle, but I promise you that it won’t taste like you think it will. Fish sauce is a very common ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai and Filipino cuisines. Adding the lime and sugar to the condiment really changes the flavor, and give it the “umami” flavor that is so treasured in these recipes.

What I will do is give you the measurements that I used today for lunch. It was all I ate, so consider this two portions, if you are serving something else with it, such as rice or a salad.

Very few ingredients are needed for this

Very few ingredients are needed for this

What you’ll need:

1 Tablespoon cooking oil (I used olive)
3-4 green onions, chopped into long pieces about 2 inches long (you’ll want to use the green ends)
2 chayote, peeled and ends chopped off and discarded (you’ll want to discard the seed, too)
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed  lime juice
2 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper

Prep the fish sauce condiment to have it ready. Simply mix the fish sauce, lime and sugar in a small bowl.

Slice the chayote

Slice the chayote

Slice the peeled and seeded chayote.

 

Add the chayote to the green onions

Add the chayote to the green onions

Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the green onions for a minute or so, then add in the chayote and allow to cook. I liked mine just when it became soft. Add in the fish sauce/sugar/lime condiment and continue to cook for another minute.

 

Add eggs

Add eggs

Drop the eggs in, one at a time.

 

Stir the eggs into the chayote

Stir the eggs into the chayote

Stir the eggs into the chayote and cook stirring, until the whites become solid.

 

Add pepper

Add pepper

When eggs are cooked, add pepper and serve.

 

Serve

Serve

What could be simpler?

 

Makes an easy lunch

Makes an easy lunch

This makes a super, easy lunch or a nice, light supper.

 

Bon appétit!

Bon appétit!

Bon appétit, and thank you, Jess!

 

 

Quick & Easy Tortilla Soup

This is perhaps the Mexican equivalent of the American "tomato soup and grilled cheese"… try it for lunch one day.

This is perhaps the Mexican equivalent of the American “tomato soup and grilled cheese”… try it for lunch one day.

Now that Cinco de Mayo just kind of sneaked up on me, I figure I’d best do something quick and easy. Since I just made some fairly complicated enchiladas a couple of weeks ago, I have something much easier to make.

My tortilla soup is a wonderful, tomato-based soup that can be made as spicy or as mild as you like, just by changing out the jalapeños for a hotter pepper. I’ve made this with chicken broth, but you can also easily go vegan by using vegetable, instead.

Tomatillos! They are very interesting looking, too.

Tomatillos! They are very interesting looking, too.

 

The only ingredients that you might have trouble finding are the tomatillos, but if you look hard enough, you should be able to find them.

Quick & easy, here we go~

1 white onion, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (or any spicier pepper, if you desire)
5 tomatillos, diced
1 4-oz can diced green chiles
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth or stock
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon chile powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
kernels from 2 ears of corn
tortilla strips (make them from corn tortillas~ I’ll tell you how)
cilantro for garnish, and/or plain yogurt, avocado

 

Fresh corn makes it better

Fresh corn makes it better

Cut corn like this… it's so much easier

Cut corn like this… it’s so much easier

 

In a large pot, cook onion on low heat, until onions caramelize. Add in the jalapeño peppers, tomatillos, and diced green chiles and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Pour in the chicken broth, stirring to mix. Add in the cumin, chile powder and cayenne. Cook for 45 minutes, then turn of heat and allow to cool for a bit.

When soup has cooled, whir with an immersion blender to liquify the solid ingredients. Add in the corn kernels and cook on medium heat for about 30 more minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tortilla strips. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray. Thinly slice the tortillas (make as many as you like!) into strips and place in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Cut the tortillas into strips

Cut the tortillas into strips

Spray again and put into the oven. Give them a stir after about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with some salt and stir again.

Baked tortilla strips

Baked tortilla strips

Remove from oven when they are golden brown and crispy, about another 5 minutes.

Tortilla strips~ have the ready to sprinkle on the soup

Tortilla strips~ have them ready to sprinkle on the soup

 

When the soup is ready, garnish with some cilantro and the tortilla chips, and maybe some plain yogurt and avocado.

Easy Mexican Tortilla Soup

Easy Mexican Tortilla Soup

Serves 4.

 

Salad and a quesadilla are great options to serve with the soup

Salad and a quesadilla are great options to serve with the soup

 

Those tortilla strips go great on salad, too!

Those tortilla strips go great on salad, too!

Have a wonderful and safe Cinco de Mayo!

Not-So-Traditional Chicken Enchiladas

Remember that grilled chicken I made a couple of nights ago? Well, we enjoyed a little bit of that on that night, but the main reason I made that was to make a big batch of chicken enchiladas.

Shredded, leftover grilled chicken

Shredded, leftover grilled chicken

 

If you are looking for traditional Mexican enchiladas, you had best go elsewhere, because I will come out right now and tell you, that I’ve taken a few shortcuts and liberties with these. I’m not making my own sauce here, and I put some canned beans in mine, which I’m pretty sure isn’t done in a real, Mexican household.

But what I will tell you is that they are delicious, and they work quite well for me, because they don’t take up my entire day (or my entire energy) to make them. They also freeze really well, so on those days when neither one of us feels like cooking, we just take a couple out of the freezer, heat them up and serve with a salad.

Enchiladas also offer a lot of flexibility as to what you can (and want) to put into them. These ones will have two types of Mexican cheese—queso fresco and queso quesadilla. I really like the queso quesadilla melted over the top, so that’s what I’ve used, as well as a bit of that mixed into the more crumbly queso fresco, inside the enchiladas. I mentioned that I like to put beans into mine~ you can use black beans, pinto beans, pinquito beans, or what ever you like. I am also adding some chorizo with my chicken mixture, this time.

Whatever you decide to put into them, I highly recommend that all ingredients be ready, when it comes time to assemble them. Make it easy on yourself! Please note also, this is usually pretty messy and a bit time consuming, but I always think the results are so worth it.

For the ones I just made, here’s what I used. All ingredients amounts are approximate:

12 flour tortillas (I’ve mixed white and whole wheat flour ones)
16 ounces red chile enchilada sauce (I like Rick Bayliss’)
2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
¼ pound chorizo, casing removed
½ white onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, diced small
1 10-ounce can whole, green chiles, sliced lengthwise
1 or 2 15-ounce cans beans, drained, but not rinsed~ I’m using some pinquitos and some seasoned pintos, for this
5 ounces queso fresco cheese, shredded
5 ounces queso quesadilla, shredded, divided use

For garnish:

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
½ cup sliced olives
3-4 green onions, sliced width-wise
2½ ounces queso quesadilla cheese

Prepare a large baking pan or dish (13″x9″x2′ is good) by giving it a good coat of cooking spray. You might also need another small baking dish, just in case you manage to make more enchiladas than your pan will fit.

Mix all 5 ounces for the queso fresco and about 2½ ounces of of the queso quesadilla together. The remaining 2½ ounces of the queso quesadilla will top the pan of enchiladas before baking, so set that aside.

Cook the chorizo with onion and jalapeño

Cook the chorizo with onion and jalapeño

Remove the casing from the chorizo and place it into a small skillet, along with the white onion and jalapeño. Cook over medium-low heat, breaking up the sausage as it cooks. When finished cooking, add to the shredded chicken and gently mix together.

When you are ready to assemble, get out a pie plate and pour the enchilada sauce into it. This is also probably a good time to pre-heat the oven to 350º F.

Dip the tortilla into the enchilada sauce

Dip the tortilla into the enchilada sauce

Dip a tortilla into the enchilada sauce and coat both sides. This will make the tortilla soft and pliable, and will also keep it moist during baking.

 

Roll 'em up, right in the pan

Roll ’em up, right in the pan

Place the wet tortilla directly into the pan. We’re going to roll them up right in the pan, and it’s going to save a whole lot of mess, believe me.

 

Place some chicken near the center

Place some chicken near the center

Put some chicken in there. This is probably a little bit too much, but we learn, as we go along. The first ones are usually really big!

 

Add a spoonful of beans

Add a spoonful of beans

Next, add a spoonful of beans.

 

A couple of strips of chile pepper

A couple of strips of chile pepper

Then, add a few strips of the green chile.

 

A good sprinkling of cheese

A good sprinkling of cheese

Top with cheese. Again, this is probably a bit, too much.

 

Tuck in the ends and roll

Tuck in the ends and roll

Tuck the ends on the sides in and roll, also tucking the ingredients into the tortilla, and place it seam-side-down in the pan. Yes, you are using your fingers. This is what I’m talking about when I say messy.

 

Roll 'em up along side each other

Roll ’em up along side each other

Continue those steps,  until you run out of whichever, though usually the space to put them in, is the first thing to go.

 

You might need another little pan

You might need another little pan

I ran out of room this time, mainly because I’m trying to make as many as I can. So just have a small pan ready, in case you need it.

 

Sprinkle with cheese and your favorite garnishes

Sprinkle with cheese and your favorite garnishes

Sprinkle with cheese and garnish as you please. I love uncured black olives, cilantro and scallions.

Cover the top of the pan with foil and bake at 350º for about 45 minutes. Take the foil off and allow to bake for about 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes or so.

This makes 10-12 servings.

Serve! They go great with a salad

Serve! They go great with a salad

Serve. I find salad and wine make the perfect accompaniments.

 

It's hard to beat homemade enchiladas

It’s hard to beat homemade enchiladas

 

Not-So-Traditional Enchiladas

Not-So-Traditional Enchiladas with beans

 

Good and messy, until the very end.

A Marinade for Mexican-Style Chicken

I’ve been craving some homemade enchiladas lately, and though there are easier ways to prep the chicken, I thought it’d be nice to whip up a marinade and grill it. A little bit of smoky flavor is added, and then because I’m using citrus, there is a lovely bit of tang!

A little citrus makes it tangy

A little citrus makes it tangy

 

This recipe is not specifically meant for chicken enchiladas, so I would encourage you to try it any old time! You can marinade in the chicken in the morning and then grill it in the evening.

It was originally meant for about 6 chicken thighs, but it can be easily doubled, for a very, large whole chicken. I actually made 1½ portions, because my whole chicken was small.

This is easy:

¼ cup orange juice, and you can squeeze this yourself, for a more natural flavor
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano, though regular oregano will do
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon very, finely, minced cilantro

6 chicken thighs (or in my case, a whole chicken)

Combine all ingredients (except the chicken, of course) in a large measuring cup and whisk together.

Wash the chicken thoroughly with water and pat dry inside the cavity (if it’s whole) and the skin, with paper towels.

Place the chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it. Massage the marinade into the chicken so that it’s well coated with it, then place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Turn the bag over a couple of times while it’s chilling to make sure all sides are covered by the marinade.

When ready to cook, discard the marinade and put the chicken skin-side-up on the grill, away from the fire.

Meet Juicy-Lucy! She's been on for about an hour, at this point

Meet Juicy-Lucy! She’s been on for about an hour, at this point

Still cooking, and she's still looking good

Still cooking, and she’s still looking good

 

Remove when juices run clear when the thighs are pierced with a knife, or in the case a whole chicken, the temperature reaches 180º.

About to come off the grill, a crispy skin is a tasty thing

About to come off the grill, a crispy skin is a tasty thing

If it’s a whole chicken, let it rest covered for about 15 minutes.

Serve with your favorite Mexican sides.

In my case, chicken enchiladas coming soon!

Happy Easter, Happy Spring!

 

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Keeping it short and sweet, this idea for just the eggs was stolen fair and square off of Pinterest, but I happened upon these cute, little egg cups, and I decided to take it one step farther. Any deviled egg recipe will do to fill these, and all you need are some tiny carrot triangles for the beaks and some tiny olive pieces for eyes. I found the cups at Amazon for about $20.00 and found that they worked perfectly for this. I think they really add a lot to the concept.

I think she's winking!

I think she’s winking!

Enjoy your day and the best of the season! Whatever you are celebrating, Happy Spring!