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Carne Guisada (Mexican Beef Stew)

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Recently, we had a rainy day and I thought it would be nice to sit down to some comfort food.  I found a recipe for beef stew, which I had been wanting to make, but this one had a Mexican spin on it.  I was curious to see how the Mexican flavors played out in the recipe, so I decided to try it.

Many beef stews take a while to cook.  This one requires one hour of simmering time, but the rest of the preparation is pretty quick, so you could still make it on a weeknight (if you prep the night before, it would be even quicker!).  I just love the way this smelled while it was cooking.  The simmering time definitely built up the anticipation for this, but it was worth it!  This was such a delicious dinner.  I loved how all the flavors came together.   It had some heat, but it wasn’t too spicy.  It was a great spin on classic beef stew, and something I will make again for sure!  The recipe said that you can serve this with warm flour tortillas, which I think would be delicious, though we ate it as is.

Carne Guisada
Source: The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds sirloin tips, trimmed of all fat and gristle and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup chopped onions

1 pound small red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chile, minced (I used a jalapeno)

½ cup chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ cup tomato sauce

1 tablespoon flour (I used cornstarch)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the meat and brown for 10 minutes.  Do not drain the liquid.  Add the bell pepper, onion, potatoes, garlic, chile, and tomatoes, and continue cooking for 10 minutes.  Add the spices, the tomato sauce, and 2 cups water.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is very tender.  Add more water as required.  Season to taste.

In a small cup combine 3 tablespoons cooking liquid with the flour.  Stir to remove any lumps, then add to the carne guisada, mixing well until evenly thickened.

Black Bean Squash Burritos

Black beans and squash aren’t normally a combination I would think to put into a burrito, but trust me, it’s a combination you want to try!  I’ve been thinking about this recipe for a long time, and after finding gluten free burrito-size tortillas, I’ve been all about having burritos and quesadillas for dinner.  This particular mixture was incredible as a burrito filling, and I even used the leftovers for enchiladas a few nights later and it was delicious both ways.  There were so many flavors going on in this recipe, but they all worked together so well.  I liked the sweetness of the squash, the spiciness of the chiles, and the flavor of the onions and coriander and cumin.  I love trying new things in traditional dishes, and this is a combination I’ll definitely have again!

The only thing I changed about the recipe was to peel the squash before roasting it, because it seemed easier.  I also used butternut squash because it was on sale 🙂

Black Bean Squash Burritos
Source: slightly adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Serves 4-6

2 small acorn squash (I used butternut squash)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
8 ounces green chiles, diced
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
10 (7-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
salsa
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled, or shredded cheddar (about 1 cup)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450F.  Peel the squash, then cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into ¾-inch slices. Spread 2 teaspoons of olive oil on a baking sheet and lay the squash slices on the oil, turning each slice over to thinly coat each side. Generously season with salt and pepper. Roast until the squash is browned on the edges and tender throughout, about 20 minutes.

2. Heat 4 teaspoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until just browned around the edges, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and coriander. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in the chiles, beans and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat to low, cover, and heat just to warm.

3. Roughly chop the squash into ¼- to ½-inch pieces and stir into the black beans.

4. Layer the squash-black bean mixture, salsa, and cheese in center of each tortilla. Fold and serve.

Mexican Beans with Chorizo and Greens

Another winner from Rick Bayless!  I love chorizo, and this recipe stood out to me.  It’s basically a soup, but a pretty thick one.  With the greens, black beans, chorizo, chiles in adobo, and cheese, there are a lot of strong flavors present, but they go together really well.  It was incredibly simple to make, and I put it together in about 30 minutes, making it a great weeknight meal.  The chiles make it nice and spicy, and you can adjust the spiciness by adding more of less, depending on your taste.  We both really loved this, and I know it will be a repeat dinner on the menu at our house!

Mexican Beans with Chorizo and Greens
Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

8 to 12 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed

10 ounces cleaned young spinach (about 10 cups) OR one 12-ounce bunch Swiss chard, thick lower stems cut off, leaves sliced crosswise into ½ inch strips (about 8 cups) (I used the Swiss chard)

Two 15-ounce cans black beans, drained

1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

Salt

½ cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

½ cup chopped green onions or thin-sliced red onion, for garnish

In a medium-large heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven), cook the chorizo over medium heat, stirring regularly and breaking up clumps, until lightly browned and thoroughly done, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the chorizo is cooking, place the spinach or Swiss chard in a microwaveable bowl, cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the top and microwave on high until completely wilted, usually about 2 minutes for spinach, 3 minutes or so for Swiss chard.  Uncover the bowl and set aside.

When the chorizo is ready, add the beans, chopped chipotles, and 1 ½ cups water.  Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors.  Taste and season with salt, usually about ½ teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of the chorizo and beans.  Add the wilted greens and let the mixture return to a boil.

Ladle into bowls and serve, passing the cheese and onion for each person to add.

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry-Pecan Salsa

I love Mexican food more than any other type of food, but foods traditionally made with flour tortillas have been a problem.  Luckily, I recently discovered brown rice tortillas at Earth Fare, so the problem has been solved.  I have loved being able to eat quesadillas and burritos at home so easily.  I got the Pastry Queen Christmas cookbook for Christmas, and I almost immediately wanted to make these quesadillas.  The good thing about this cookbook is that, even though its name implies Christmas, many of the recipes are appropriate all year.  Even though I’m a little late on the cranberries, I had a bag in the freezer from all my Christmas baking, so even though it’s February, I’m making them anyway 🙂 This was one of my favorite quesadillas ever.  The mushroom mixture has so much flavor, and the goat cheese is a strong cheese that really stands out.  The cranberry salsa was more of a relish than a salsa, but complemented the meal really well, and I know I’ll find other uses for it as well.

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry-Pecan Salsa
Source: The Pastry-Queen Christmas by Rebecca Rather

Salsa:

½ cup whole pecans

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries

1 shallot, sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until deeper brown and aromatic.  Transfer to a bowl, let cool, and coarsely chop the pecans.

In a food processor, combine the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, mustard, orange zest, orange juice, salt, and pepper.  Process until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.  Make sure you combine the vinaigrette before adding the fruit.  The mixture becomes cloudy and less attractive if you process all ingredients at once.  Then again, if you don’t, it will still taste as good.

Add the cranberries, shallot, and jalapeno and pulse until the cranberries are coarsely chopped.  Pour the salsa into a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Stir in the pecans just prior to serving.

For the quesadillas:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (I used a few teaspoons of olive oil instead)

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 ½ pounds mixed wild mushrooms (I used baby bellas for the whole recipe)

1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2/3 cup dry white wine

½ teaspoon ground white pepper (I used regular black pepper)

Eight 8-inch flour tortillas

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey jack cheese

3 cups (15 ounces) crumbled fresh goat cheese

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter (or olive oil) over medium-high heat, add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes, until translucent.  Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt, and Worcestershire sauce and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the while wine and pepper and cook the mushrooms until the liquid is absorbed, at least 5 minutes.

While the mushrooms cook, coat a griddle or large skillet with cooking spray and heat over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium.  Lay each tortilla on the griddle or in the skillet and cover with ¼ cup of the Monterey jack.  Evenly spread about 1/3 cup of the mushroom mixture on half of the tortilla and cover the mushroom mixture evenly with a thin layer of crumbled goat cheese.  Use a metal spatula to fold the tortilla in half and cook until lightly brown and crisp on the bottom.  Flip and cook until brown on the other side.  Transfer to a plate in a warm oven.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas.  Cut each tortilla into wedges.

Jalapeno-Baked Fish with Roasted Tomatoes and Potatoes

I have really been enjoying Mexican Everyday and have been trying to cook as many things from it as possible. There are so many delicious recipes and I want to try them all! I really like fish, but haven’t really tried it very many times with Mexican flavors, so I wanted to give this recipe a try. I thought the potatoes sounded really good as well. This is a simple dish, and one that I made on a Friday after a long week, making it a good possibility for weeknight dinners. To prepare the potatoes, you just steam them in the microwave (can it get any easier?), and while they are cooking, just blend the tomatoes, jalapenos, and the spices in the blender. You can make the mixture as smooth or chunky as you want. After the potatoes are done, just layer the fish on top, pour the tomato mixture over it, bake for 15-20 minutes, and dinner is ready! I also like that you can adjust the spiciness of the dish- if you don’t like spicy, just don’t add as much jalapeno, and if you like it spicy, just add more!

Jalapeno-Baked Fish with Roasted Tomatoes and Potatoes
Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Serves 4

4 medium (1 pound total) red-skin boiling or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

Salt

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice

1 large garlic clove, peeled and cut in half

1/3 cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish

About ¼ cup sliced canned pickled jalapenos

1 tablespoon jalapeno pickling juice

Four 4- to 5-ounce (1 to 1 ¼ pounds total) skinless fish fillets (I used tilapia), preferably ¾ to 1 inch thick

Turn on the oven to 400 degrees. Scoop the sliced potatoes into a microwaveable 8×8-inch baking dish. Drizzle on the oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Toss to coat, then spread the potatoes in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a couple of holes in the top. Microwave on high until the potatoes are nearly tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes with their juice, garlic, cilantro, jalapenos, and pickling juice. Process to a puree, leaving just a little texture.

Lay the fish fillets in a single layer over the potatoes. Pour the tomato mixture evenly over the fish and potatoes.

Slide the baking dish into the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish flakes when pressed firmly.

Scoop a portion of the fish-potato-sauce onto each dinner plate, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve right away.

Spice-Rubbed Pork with Apple Pear Chutney

We recently had my sister and her fiance over for dinner, and I wanted to make something special.  I had just gotten two new Pastry Queen cookbooks. and I first looked there for inspiration.  I came across this recipe for rubbed pork and had a feeling it would be a winner.  I love cooking pork, and this was a spice combination I had never tried before.  The combination of the chili powder and the honey was delicious and had a perfect spicy-but-sweet flavor.  Searing the pork beforehand also gave it lots of flavor on the outside and made sure it was nicely browned. The pork does need to be marinated the day before, but the day of is quite simple, and while the pork is baking, you can prepare the rest of the meal.

This was my first time making a chutney to go with the meat, and I’m totally sold on this recipe.  I liked the combination of apples and pears, and it was a good recipe to use seasonal flavors and ingredients.  For the chutney, I skipped the dried cherries and used dried cranberries instead.  I’ll definitely use this recipe again.  It was a great mix of savory and sweet flavors.  I served this meat along with black-eyed peas and mashed potatoes, and it was a definite hit!

Spice-Rubbed Pork with Apple Pear Chutney
Source: Pastry Queen Christmas by Rebecca Rather

1 boneless pork loin roast (5 to 6 pounds)

One 12-ounce can or bottle bock beer (I skipped this, but I’m sure it would make this even better!)

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil for searing

Apple Pear Chutney, recipe follows

Resist the urge to trim any visible fat from the pork loin.  The fat will help keep the pork moist as it roasts.  In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the beer, olive oil, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, and honey.  Gently submerge the pork in the marinade, seal the bag, and place in a large bowl or baking pan.  Refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.  Remove the pork from the marinade and pour the marinade into a large measuring cup.  Combine the chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Rub it evenly over the pork.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat.  Place the roast in the sauté pan and sear until the meat is evenly browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side.  Transfer the pork to a large roasting pan, and pour half the reserved marinade around the roast (Do not pour it over the roast, or it may wash away some of the chili rub).

Bake for about 45 minutes, then add the rest of the marinade to the bottom of the pan.  Bake another 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 140 to 145 degrees, for a total time of about 1 ½ hours (your thermometer will be a more accurate measure of when it’s done than the time!).  Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Apple Pear Chutney

½ cup whole pecans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

2 pounds unpeeled pears, cored and coarsely chopped

1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, cored and coarsely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup good-quality white wine vinegar

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup dried cherries

2 tablespoons dried cranberries (optional)

1 tablespoon brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes , until darker in color and aromatic.  Remove from the oven, let cool, and chop coarsely.

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-low heat.  Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.  (Do not let it brown).  Stir in the pears, apple, lime juice, vinegar, sugars, salt, cherries, cranberries, and brandy.  Bring to a boil,, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, until the chutney is thickened, most of the vinegar has been absorbed, and the juice has a syrupy consistency.  Remove from the heat and let cool, then stir in the toasted pecans.  To store, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Mongolian Beef with Broccoli

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I’ve been making this dish for about six months now, and it’s become one of our favorites.  I can’t believe I haven’t included it in the blog until now!  Usually when I made it we are in such a hurry to eat it that I don’t get to take a picture.  Last time I made sure I took one so I could share this delicious recipe!  I have always been a fan of Chinese food and I love finding new recipes so I can make my own at home.  David’s favorite Chinese dish is beef and broccoli, and it’s one of my favorites, and I hoped that I could recreate it at home.  This definitely met our expectations!  It was full of flavor, and the sauce was perfect.  I changed the recipe a little bit so that I could fully cook the beef at once rather than having to partially cook it, take it out of the pan, and then finish cooking it.   It was much simpler that way and didn’t dirty as many dishes. I also pan-fried the beef rather and immersing it in oil.  The broccoli was a great addition- I love broccoli in dishes like this.  The soy flavor was prominent and well balanced by the dark brown sugar.  We served this over rice and enjoyed having one of our favorite Chinese dishes at home rather than having to go out!

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli
Source: adapted from Love and Olive Oil

Ingredients
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil, for frying
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 large green onions
1 cup broccoli, microwaved for 2 minutes

Directions
Make the sauce by heating 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4″ thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet until it’s nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and fry until browned.  Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add sauce and cook until thickened to almost desired consistency. Add partially steamed broccoli and cook until heated through.  Serve over rice.

Ingredients
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil, for frying
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 large green onions
1 cup broccoli, microwaved for 2 minutes

Directions
Make the sauce by heating 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4″ thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet until it’s nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and fry until browned.  Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add sauce and cook until thickened to almost desired consistency. Add partially steamed broccoli and cook until heated through.  Serve over rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

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I haven’t had much experience with Indian food, but I found myself wanting to try it one night.  I thought I was taking a big risk when I made this, as I wasn’t sure if we would like it.  Luckily, there was no reason to worry, because we loved this!  It is now one of our most favorite dinners.  It was so full of flavor.  There were lots of flavors going on- the cinnamon, coriander, pepper, cumin, ginger, tomato, and garlic.  I loved how each stood out, but they all came together really well.  It is a fairly spicy dish, but if you want it less spicy, you can leave out the seeds in the chile.  The spicy flavors and the sweet flavors balance each other well, and you taste both in each bite.

This dish was pretty easy to prepare, and would make a good weeknight meal.  You first coat the chicken in a spice mixture, then you can forget about it for the next 30 to 60 minutes.  Then, you start making the sauce, and you broil the chicken at the same time.  Just before serving, you cut up the chicken, and stir it into the sauce.  I had never eaten basmati rice before this, but I really liked it.  It had a lot of flavor, and went really well with this.  It’s nice to have found a new dinner to put in the rotation, and I already can’t wait to have this again!

Chicken Tikka Masala
Source: Cook’s Illustrated September 2007

Chicken Tikka
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken beasts, trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Masala Sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala (can substitute 2 tsp. ground coriander, 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

  1. 1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.
  2. 2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. 3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
  4. 4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Red Chile Chicken and Rice with Black Beans

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David and I just can’t get enough Mexican food, and I love finding new recipes to try.  I have heard such wonderful things about Mexican Everyday in the blogging world and I know I’m going to have to add it to my collection soon.  I came across this recipe and knew it would be something we would love.  We have never been “meat and three” eaters, and I love dishes like this that incorporate all the ingredients in one dish.  One-dish meals like this are also great because you can incorporate meat without having to eat a lot of it, which is definitely easier on the budget!  This was pretty easy to put together and took about 30 minutes, making it a perfect weeknight meal.  The rice was delicious.  It got toasted after cooking it for a short time before adding the broth, and it turned out so moist and fluffy- not dry at all, which can sometimes happen in dishes like this.  This dish was so full of flavor.  I love chili powder, and I loved having it in a dish where it played such a prominent role.  I will definitely be making this often!

Red Chili Chicken and Rice with Black Beans
Source: Elly Says Opa, who adapted it from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

2 Tbsp. canola oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1.25-1.5 lbs. total)
2.5 Tbsp. ancho chili powder, divided
1 medium onion, large dice
1 cup rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green onions, roots and wilted outer leaves removed before chopping (OR 1/3 cup cilantro OR 2-3 Tbsp. epazote or hoja santa)
1/2 to 1 cup salsa

Heat the oil in a medium-large heavy pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt and 1 Tbsp. of the ancho chili powder. Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown on each side, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.

Add the onion and rice to the pot. Stir for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque. Add the garlic and the remaining 1.5 Tbsp. ancho chili powder. Cook one minute, and then add the broth and salt to taste. Stir well. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Cut the chicken breast into 1″ pieces.  Add them to the pot along with the beans. Re-cover and cook 12 minutes longer.

Sprinkle the green onions and test a kernel of rice.  It should  have no more than a hint of chalkiness at in the center, in which case you place the cover back on, remove it from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes.  If it’s not cooked, cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Fluff the mixture with a fork and serve with salsa for each person to spoon on al gusto.

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad

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I am lucky that my husband doesn’t have to travel for work, so he is almost never away.  This is great, but sometimes I like to be on my own for dinner so I can cook what I want and not have to feel guilty about it.  One evening, he went to a football game with a friend (and the Clemson Tigers won!), so I used it as a chance to fix something he wouldn’t want to eat.  I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a long time, and I couldn’t wait to try it, especially with fall approaching.  I haven’t eaten butternut squash that many times, but I just love it and couldn’t wait to try cooking it a different way.  The last time I had butternut squash was when I made this roasted version, which you should check out 🙂

This was a very simple recipe , but was very full of flavor.  You start off by roasting the squash until it is soft.  While it is roasting, you make the dressing, which is a mix of tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and water.  Once the squash cools down a little bit, you mix it with the dressing and the chickpeas, and a little bit of parsley.  The squash and chickpeas pair together nicely, and the garlic really brings them out.  The tahini gave it a slightly nutty flavor, and was delicious with the lemon juice.  I skipped the red onions because I’ve never card for them.  I was definitely pleased with the outcome of this.  It was just what I was looking for!

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad
Source: Smitten Kitchen (you can see the string of sources in her post)

Yield: 4 servings

For salad:
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice (I skip this)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.

To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.