Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chocolate: Good for what ails you

Lately, I've had a bit of an obsession. With chocolate.

First, there was book club movie night. I made a brownie recipe from Cook's Illustrated (Here's a similar one via Brown Eyed Baker, adapted from Baking Illustrated).

They are, I think, the perfect combination of chocolate, fudge and ridiculous, baked in a square.

To top it off, we paired it with chocolate fudge topping and Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Therapy ice cream.

We might need help.

(We also, I should mention, had these ridiculous ham sammies that hailed from Pinterest and instantly made fans of all of us. "Oh, no, I couldn't eat another one," I said. An outright lie. Easily could have taken down the whole pan. I made them this weekend and they were just as good! There was also an excellent salad with dressing. Will get the recipe for you soon.)

Then, for my birthday weekend, I couldn't pass up this recipe from TiffanyD. Am I supposed to argue with a faster, easier way to make Chocolate Whiskey cake? I didn't think so.

Thankfully, we broke up the dessert binge with some healthier options.

I kid, I kid! There were vegetables in there, somewhere. We did grill out again, and there was corned beef and brussels sprouts and carrots for St. Patty's.

Most of all, there was warm weather and funny cards and new books and sproutlings run amok and sun. Sun! Who knew. Hope renewed.

And, then there was dinner out, followed by a performance by Jim Gaffigan. So hilarious.

In any case, hope your weekend has more chocolate and laughs than not, and that things are well in your corner of the world. Back later with recipes!

P.S. Had someone ask about a particular recipe, and wanted to let you know the Recipe Index is now updated. Check there when you can't find something!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chicken avocado enchiladas: A taste of spring

So, yeah, the photo isn't super, but I snapped it as an afterthought, because we attacked this meal as if it were our last. However, I assure you, no photo would do this meal justice. After the temperature started to rise (!) and the snow began to melt in earnest (!!) I decided I was done with the heavy in the dinnertime arena.

Even the chalkboard agreed.

It was time for spring to hit the oven in a big way. Thus, avocado and cilantro.

I should mention it's rare that I spring for fresh cilantro, but I'm so glad I did. I've been throwing it in everything over the past week! I put it in a jar with some water, and put it in the fridge, and it seems to be keeping pretty well.

This dish is heavy on ingredients, and not on seasoning. It could do with some pico de gallo if you were motivated. Also, a dash of garlic and a bit of salt wouldn't go amiss here.

Chicken avocado enchiladas

What you'll need:

7-8 small corn tortillas
1/2 pound cooked, shredded chicken breast
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
2-3 cups cheddar and monterey jack cheese
1 small handful of fresh cilantro, sliced
1 small handful of kale, torn
Canola oil

All you'll need to do:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8 or 9-in. square pan with oil.

Prepare all ingredients. Shred chicken, pit and slice the avocado, and shred the cheese. Tear the kale off the stem into small pieces. Take a bunch of the fresh cilantro, fold it over, and slice in thin strips.

Heat about 1/4 cup canola oil in a small saucepan on low. Dip one corn tortilla into the oil, and let it warm for about 30 seconds. Turn and warm on the other side. Pick up and let oil drain back into the pan.

Put tortilla on a plate, and layer about a tablespoon of cheese, a little bit of chicken, a slice or two of avocado, a pinch of kale, a pinch of cilantro, and more cheese. Carefully roll up, and place seam side down into the greased pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and ingredients. Tuck rolls tightly together in the pan.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of the enchiladas, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

I paired this with baked asparagus, but you could put it with rice, beans or salad -- these enchiladas go with everything!

P.S. The seedlings have sprouted -- hopefully we can keep them alive! If we do, apparently we will be eating a lot of kale this year.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sweet potato and carrot soup

Last week, all I wanted was soup. Not something heavy, but something that would keep me warm. Apparently the layers of fleece were not doing the trick.

I was done with broth-y soups. I didn't want more tomato, after a spate of sauce-covered pasta dishes. I didn't want a thick potato soup which, while excellent, begs for bacon, cheese and other coma-inducing ingredients.

Rather, I wanted (sigh) a sign of spring in a winter soup. Also, if it could be easy, well, that would be good too. (So demanding.)

Anyway. Here it is — a soup of sweet potatoes, spring carrots, a hint of winter broth and a touch of autumn spice, all in one dish.

A note here — I used four cups of water, but you might even dial that back to 3 1/2 cups, or keep it at 4 cups and add another sweet potato. It was just a bit thin, and I think either of those changes would prevent that. Also, I put a teaspoon of pepper in my batch, and am still feeling the burn, so I've reduced it to a half teaspoon here

Sweet potato and carrot soup

All you need:

5 carrots, cut up in large chunks
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 T. chicken base (I use Better Than Boullion)
4 cups water
1 t. cilantro
1 t. Greek seasoning
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. white pepper
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice

All you have to do:

Put everything into a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender. Let cook another 10-15 minutes to thicken.

Once I ate this, I wished I had a sort of fresh mozzarella and tomato panini to put with it. Also, if you were of a mind, you might lace this with a topping of Parmesan and fresh basil before serving, if you had it on hand. Myself, I'd put all that in a mug and pair it with croutons.

P.S. We grilled out, finally! It was snowy and cold and glorious. I recommend getting out your grill and dragging it through the snow at your earliest convenience. :)