Chicken Enchiladas

I cooked up a STORM of freezer friendly meals over weeks leading up to Mia’s arrival last fall.  I found a recipe for the “best enchiladas ever” on Gimme Some Oven and was obviously intrigued.  I liked that the site also provided a recipe for enchilada sauce from scratch.  I don’t mind store-bought, but I really like knowing what is my food and being able to make adjustments accordingly.

Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is great for parties too.  The theme of this year’s annual Sho-Yu holiday party was Mexican food, and this ended up being a great potluck dish!

Here’s the recipe, as adapted from Gimme Some Oven.  I highly recommend doubling the recipe, eating half for now and freezing the rest!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded or diced into small 1/2-inch pieces (*see substitution below for making shredded chicken)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 13-15 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese
  • 1 batch red enchilada sauce, or 1 can store-bought enchilada sauce
  • (optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare your enchilada sauce, if making homemade.
  2. In large saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add cooked chicken and green chiles, and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove from heat and set aside.

    Shredded Chicken with Sauteed Onions and Green Chiles
  3. To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line including: tortillas, enchilada sauce, chicken mixture, and cheese. Lay out a tortilla, and spread two tablespoons of sauce over the surface of the tortilla.  Add a spoonful of the chicken mixture on top of the tortilla, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Roll up tortilla and place in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish, lined with foil for easy clean-up (unless you love really scraping melted cheese off your baking dishes). Repeat with the remaining ingredients.  Then spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas, and sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheese.

    Assembled and Sauced
  4. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve immediately, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

    Ready for the Oven

*If you are using pre-cooked chicken, just leave it out of the saute and cook the onion and green chiles for 1 additional minute (instead of 6-8).  Once you remove the onion and green chiles from the heat, stir in the chicken (which should be shredded or chopped into bite-sized pieces).  You can find instructions on how to make shredded chicken here via slow cooker or stove top.

Shredded Chicken with a Batch of Enchilada Sauce
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Boeuf Bourguignon

Ever since I saw Julie and Julia years ago, I’ve wanted to try making boeuf bourguignon.  When Kevin and I visited Paris a couple years ago, we made sure to taste the authentically Parisian version of the dish.  As a new mom, “me time” these last few months has consisted of grocery shopping alone, working out once a week, and cooking.  My mother-in-law volunteered to watch Mia one Sunday morning so Kevin and I could have some time to ourselves.  Kev graciously used that time to scrub our house sparkling clean, and I decided to try my hand at the aforementioned quintessential French supper.  We are very exciting people, I know.

I had originally committed to using this recipe planning to use the slow cooker to finish the dish. However, Kevin kindly reminded me that I had yet to christen the Le Creuset dutch oven that we received as a wedding gift, so I decided to go that route.  It worked out because the prep took so much longer than anticipated that I would’ve missed the dinner window using the slow cooker anyway.  I’m also convinced that the dutch oven method yielded better results than the slow cooker would have.

This recipe is for the dutch oven method, so if you want the slow cooker version, you can find it here.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounces thick-cut bacon (5 to 6 slices), diced
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef chuck roast, round roast, or other similar cut (don’t cut into cubes yet)*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the meat
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups red wine, divided*
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if necessary
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced

To serve:

  • Chopped parsley, to garnish
  • Cooked pasta
  • Crusty baguette

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is golden and crispy. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan into a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  2. Pat the beef dry with paper towels, cut into steaks large enough to fit in your pan, and sprinkle with with salt and pepper. Return the skillet to medium-high heat until the bacon fat is shimmering. Add one steak at a time and sear on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

    Brown on All Sides
  3. Cut the beef into two inch cubes. Yes, two inches is larger than bite size, but tender meat is more important! Transfer the meat to the slow cooker or a large bowl. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the wine. Simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the the browned bits are completely loosened. Pour the wine over the seared meat.

    Meat with Deglazed Wine
  4. Add 1 tablespoon bacon grease to the pan. Repeat with another cut of the beef, then deglaze with wine, and continue until all the beef is seared and cubed.
  5. When all the meat is seared, add 1 tablespoon bacon grease to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes more. Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook for another minute. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the dutch oven with the meat.

    Ready for the Oven
  6. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and warm 1 tablespoon bacon grease over medium heat (if no more bacon grease remains substitute with vegetable oil). Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have release all their liquid, the liquid has evaporated, and the mushrooms are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a clean bowl and set aside — keep the mushrooms separate from the meat and onion mixture for now.

    Cook Until All Liquid Has Evaporated
  7. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 300°F. Transfer the beef and vegetable mixture to a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed 6-quart pot with a lid and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Tuck the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over the beef and vegetables — the liquid should not quite cover the beef and vegetables; the ingredients should still be poking from the surface of the liquid. Add additional stock if necessary.
  8. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, then begin checking the meat every 15 minutes. The dish is done when the meat falls apart easily with a fork. Exact cooking time can vary.
  9. Once the meat is cooked, stir in the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Simmer in the Dutch oven over medium heat until the mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes.
  10. Serve in bowls over noodles or with crusty bread on the side. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

    Beef Bourguignon

*NOTES:

  • Cubing the meat later: Instead of cutting the beef into cubes, I cut the roast into three steaks and browned each before cutting into cubes.  Browning the beef enhances the flavor, but it also dries out the surface of the beef cubes so the meat doesn’t fall apart as easily once cooked (even stewed in liquid!).  This extra step ensures good browned flavor and tender meat.
Gorgeous Chuck Roast
  • Choosing the wine: I used a dry pinot noir that I enjoy drinking that didn’t break the bank for this dish, but I’ve read that wines from Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône work well. The rule of thumb is to choose a wine that you also like to drink and you can’t go wrong.
  • Make ahead: The meat and vegetables can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook.
  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 3 months.  I doubt you will be able to resist not finishing this up in a couple of days!

Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies

I’ve been lucky enough to dine at a few of David Chang’s eateries over the years – Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Milk Bar, and Momofuku Ssam Bar.  All were very memorable experiences in their own way, and I’m excited for Majordomo to open up in LA soon!  I loved the Milk Bar concept and still dream about that cereal milk soft serve.  My sister-in-law loves salty snacks and cookies, so I wanted to make a crowd-pleasing sweet and salty treat that wasn’t the usual Brown Butter Sea-Salted Rice Crispy Treats for the family get-together.  I remembered the Compost Cookie from my first visit to Milk Bar in New York and wanted to recreate it.

I followed the recipe exactly as written the first go around, and I thought the cookies were a bit too sweet for my taste and way too big.  The next time, I used a 1/4 measuring cup to portion out the dough and reduced the time in the oven.  I also used less butterscotch (which I thought overpowered the rest of the cookie a bit) and added pecans.  The original recipe came from an article in the Los Angeles Times if you want to use the original version. I’m sharing the recipe here with my tweaks:

MAKE THE GRAHAM CRACKER MIXTURE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter, more if needed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a medium bowl, toss together the graham cracker crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands to evenly distribute.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter and heavy cream. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and mix it in with the crust base.
  3. This makes about 2 cups crust base, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. Eat the base, or use as desired in other recipes. Store in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature, or for one month in the refrigerator or freezer.

MAKE THE COMPOST COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons glucose or light corn syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup (1/4 recipe) graham crust
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground coffee
  • 2 cups potato chips
  • 1 cup mini pretzels
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugars and glucose on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for an additional 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute, being careful not to overmix the dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Still on low speed, add the chocolate and butterscotch chips, the graham crust, oats and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 15 seconds.

    Add the Sturdy Add-Ins
  4. Add the potato chips, pretzels, and pecans and beat, still on low speed, just until incorporated, being careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips. I found that giving the stand mixer a “pulse” or two to incorporate the chips and pretzels was enough to incorporate them but not break them up too much. (LA Times says you deserve a pat on the back if one of your cookies bakes with a whole pretzel standing up in the center.)

    Add the Salty Add-Ins
  5. Using a  1/4-cup measure, portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing each portion roughly 4 inches apart.  I fit four per baking sheet after learning from this little disaster:

    When You Try to Cram Too Many on a Baking Sheet
  6. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to one week. Do not bake the cookies while at room temperature because they will not bake up properly.

    I used a 1/4 Measuring Cup
  7. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  8. Bake the cookies, one tray at a time on the center rack, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the cookies halfway through baking for even cooking. The cookies will puff, crackle and spread while baking, and should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if needed.
  9. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; frozen, they will keep for up to 1 month.

NOTE:  If you plan on freezing the extra dough, portion out the dough before freezing it or it will be very difficult to scoop into the measuring cups later.  Once the dough is cold, it really is hard to deal with!

Momofuku Compost Cookies

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

The season of soups and stews is in full swing!  I’ve always been curious about trying a leek and potato soup, with its earthy flavors and creamy texture.  However, let me preface the rest of this post by saying that this isn’t Julia Child’s famous recipe.  I wanted a healthier version that didn’t use heavy cream.  I came across a vegetarian version of the soup on Life As a Strawberry, but used chicken broth instead of vegetable stock and also changed up the way I dealt with the potatoes.  On a gloomy day like today, I thought I’d share my version below!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, roughly chopped (rinsed thoroughly to remove any dirt)
  • 4 large yukon gold potatoes, roughly chopped  (I used 3 red potatoes and 1 russet for this post because…that’s what I had in the pantry)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large saucepan or pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. When oil is hot, add leeks, potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes or until leeks have softened.

    Saute Leeks, Potatoes, and Garlic
  3. Add vegetable stock to pot and stir to combine.
  4. Strip leaves from thyme sprigs and add to pot. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring soup to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and easily pierced with a fork.
  6. Add milk to soup and stir to combine.
  7. Remove soup from heat and carefully remove potatoes from the soup, and place them in a large bowl.  Mash potatoes with a potato ricer (or pastry blender in a pinch!).  Blend the remaining liquid contents of the soup in a blender until smooth, or use an immersion blender.

    Puree Leek Mixture
  8. Stir riced potatoes back into the soup, and season with salt and pepper as needed.*

    Mash Potatoes Separately

*I don’t like the idea of blending potatoes, because the blending process changes the potato texture to be gummy.  This soup won’t be silky smooth, but I prefer that texture to that of gummy potatoes.  That being said, if you don’t mind that glue-y texture and really need the soup to be silky smooth, use an immersion blender to blend all ingredients together in step 7 instead of removing the potatoes and mashing them separately.

Yes, I am fully aware of how very not photogenic this soup is.  We can toss this into the as-tasty-as-it-is-ugly category!

If your soup is too thick after blending, thin it out with a splash of milk or vegetable stock. Too thin? Bring it back to a simmer and cook until it’s reached your desired consistency.

This soup is easy to make in advance and it freezes well.

To make this soup vegan, replace the milk with additional vegetable stock, coconut milk, or almond milk, and omit the heavy cream.

Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves

The brief cold spell we had last month had me pining for comfort food, and I turned to who better than Smitten Kitchen.  A photo of her Tomato-Glazed Meatloaf and Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes popped up on my Instagram feed, and I pulled up the recipe immediately.  I did make a batch of mashed potatoes to go with this, but I didn’t use the recipe paired with the meatloaves on Smitten Kitchen – it was a bit too rich for me.  I went for a lighter version and used a pastry blender instead of a potato ricer to mash the potatoes.

Aesthetically and practically, I liked that the recipe separated the meatloaf into individual giant meatball-like servings instead of your typical bread-loaf shape making it much more freezer friendly.  I had originally intended to wrap a few up in plastic wrap and freeze for another time, but Kev and I loved them so much we polished them all off in just a few days.

Here’s the recipe as adapted from Smitten Kitchen for just the Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves!  Instead of using sandwich bread, I used panko breadcrumbs.

INGREDIENTS:

GLAZE

  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smooth dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

MEATLOAVES

  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 medium stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea or table table salt, plus more for vegetables
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground beef (I used 1 lb 90% lean ground sirloin, and 1 lb 85% lean ground beef)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, and simmer, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes until and glaze is satiny smooth. Set aside.

    Make the Glaze
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 2 9×13-inch baking dishes with nonstick spray, or line with nonstick foil for easy clean-up.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot to a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, coat the bottom with olive oil, and heat the oil for a minute; add the finely chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

    Brown the Pureed Vegetables
  4. Add the vegetables to a large bowl with the panko breadcrumbs, then add the remaining ingredients.
  5. Stir the ingredients together with a fork or your hands until evenly blended.

    Get Your Hands Dirty!
  6. Form the meatloaf mixture into twelve 3-inch meatballs; each will weigh about 4 ounces. Arrange 6 in each prepared baking pan, evenly. Drizzle or brush each meatball with a teaspoon or so of the tomato glaze you made earlier, and bake until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a cooked meatball will register 160 to 165F).

    All Dressed Up and Ready to Go!

We ate this with the aforementioned mashed potatoes, and some parmesan roasted cauliflower and garlic lemon asparagus.

Perfect on a Cold Night