Thursday, September 30, 2010

Green Chili Chicken

This dish came about because I knew I was going to make tamales and I needed cooked chicken. The recipe suggests using a rotisserie chicken or chicken cooked by some other flavorful cooking method. I had some frozen tenderloins so I decided to make a dinner out of them before shredding them to use as a tamale filling... I didn't get as much shredded chicken for the tamales because this was such a huge hit! Plus it is SUPER easy - only 4 ingredients... so I hope you'll forgive me that I don't have more than just one photo. It is a pretty bland looking meal, I have to admit - but my family went back for seconds!

Green Chili Chicken

In a 9x13 pan, place chicken (either tenderloin or breasts - boneless & Skinless); you can use either frozen or defrosted chicken - frozen will just have to cook a little longer. Top with 1 can green chili enchilada sauce (or 1 16-oz jar of Salsa Verde). Bake until thermometer reads 160 degrees when inserted in chicken - about 20 minutes thawed, 40 minutes frozen. Serve over rice and top with shredded cheese.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kitchen Tip: Softening Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is an essential to making a perfect chocolate chip cookie, but what do you when it has hardened? I know there are a lot of tricks out there - these are the two I find most useful -

For immediate use - microwave the brown sugar for 10-30 seconds until it is softened.

For a whole container (takes overnight) - Place a slice of bread in with the brown sugar. Make sure it is in an airtight container.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Menu: Sept 20-26

Happy Monday everybody! I hope you all had a great weekend. Saturday I spend the whole morning writing and editing my post for Project Food Blog Challenge #2. I am so grateful for all of those who voted for me so I could make it to challenge 2! I wanted to express my gratitude in my post, but I was 1 word shy of my 1,000 word limit - I had to edit over 300 words out of my original draft... I never did well with word limits - I'm always really short (on those that require you to have at least ### words) or over. I can understand the word limit, after all they have 3 judges that read all the posts! I'm not done asking for votes, though - voting for Challenge #2 starts today. To vote click here or on the link on the left hand side of the blog.

Here's my menu from last week (you bet you'll see Tamales in it!):

Monday: Green Chili Chicken with Rice (I made extra of this chicken and shredded it for the Tamales)
Tuesday:  Tacos
Wednesday: Tamales
Thursday: Tamales
Friday: BBQ Beef Sandwiches

Saturday: Frozen Pizza

Sunday: Sandwiches (simple turkey deli meat - we packed them in a cooler and went on a 6 hour drive to pick up someone at the airport - yep I live 3 hours from the airport!)

Vote for which recipe you want to see on Thursday. Also vote for me for Project Food Blog!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Project Food Blog Challenge #2 required me making an ethnic classic that I've never made before and was outside my comfort zone.  A few weeks ago I went to our small library and found cookbooks from 3 different cultures - French, Italian and Irish. I decided not to do French or Italian (now I'm grateful because I missed where the challenge said no French or Italian!) In looking at the Irish cookbook I did not feel that they would be outside my comfort zone. So what to make? I finally decided to tackle a Mexican dish that I had wanted to make but it frankly scared the pants off me. I already own a Mexican cookbook so it worked great! For some reason I could never bring myself to make Tamales, so I decided it was now or never.  In researching I learned that making tamales is usually done with others. So keeping with tradition, I invited one of my closest friends to join me. I would advise anyone wanting to make tamales to do the same - it takes quite a bit of time to make these and its more enjoyable to have a friend to talk with during the assembly process!

Green Chili Chicken Tamales
From Mexico One Plate at a Time
Start by soaking corn husks in hot water about 2-3 hours before you want to start assembly (make sure they are completely covered in water - this bowl of water was just to keep them from drying out after they had soaked for hours.)

Next, to start on the filling – roast 1 pound of tomatillos that have been husked and rinsed by broiling on high for 5 minutes on each side about four inches below heat.
Cool and then add to a blender
Also add 2 jalapenos that have been stemmed and chopped (deseeded, if you don’t like a lot of heat), and 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped.
Blend until it reaches a smooth puree.
While mixture is blending, heat oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. 
 When the oil is hot, add the puree.
Cook, stirring occasionally 
until puree is darker and thicker – about 5 minutes.
Add 2 cups of chicken broth 
Simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon – about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt – about 2 tsp.
Stir in 4 cups shredded cooked chicken and 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro; cool completely - filling will cool while you are making the batter.
We also used a beef filling... I'm still trying to find a great recipe for beef!

Beat 1-1/4 cups vegetable shortening, 2 tsp salt and 1-1/2 tsp baking powder with an electric mixer on medium-high speed.
Beat 1 minute or until light in texture.
Continue beating and add the masa in 3 additions.
A note about masa – you can use 4 cups fresh ground corn masa for tamales (you’ll be able to buy this at a tortilla factory or some Mexican grocery stores.) 
 Or you can mix 3-1/2 cups dried masa harina for Tamales mixed with 2-1/4 cups hot water. This is the way I have to do it, being in a small community with limited options. At least they have Masa Harina at the local grocery store.
Once all the masa is added in, reduced the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup of chicken broth. Continue beating for another minute or until a half-teaspoon dollop floats in a cup of cold water.
Beat in ½ cup more chicken broth. The consistency should be a soft batter that holds its shape on a spoon. Salt batter to taste.  
**Note: I've used beef broth instead of chicken and it tastes great with a beef filling as well as the vegetable filling variation below (obviously not what you'd use when serving vegetarians though!) I also added some tomato juice to a different batch in with the chicken broth and loved it. If you wanted to do a vegetarian version, you could use a vegetable broth for sure!

Pick out the largest and most pliable husks - you'll want them to be 6 inches wide and 6-7 inches long. You can overlap some if there are not enough large ones to make all the tamales.
Prepare thin strips of corn husks (you'll want them 8 inches or longer) or pieces of string.
To form the tamales, place 1/8-1/4 cup batter on a husk and spread it out to a 4 inch square. Spread ~1/8 cup filling down the middle of the batter. Fold the corn husk - making sure the batter meets to cover the filling. Once it is in a 'tube' fold the tapered end over the stuffed part of the husk.
Just a note about putting the filling on the husk - be sure to leave at least a 3/4 inch border around the edges (obviously the tapered end will have a lot more than that!) If you have the batter go to the open edge it will spill out while steaming.
Once the corn husk is folded over, use the corn husk strips (or string) and tie it around the tamale to secure it. Make sure this is loose to give the tamale room to expand!
We placed our formed tamales on cookie sheets until we were ready to steam them. 
For the steamer - line the bottom of the basked with remaining corn husks - this is a great use for the ones that were not the right size. Make sure there are holes so the condensing steam can run off.
Place wrapped tamales in steamer.
We did not use a traditional steamer so we had to adapt placement... You are supposed to place them vertically with the folded bottoms on the bottom of the steamer. You may need to cook in batches. Do not pack them in too tightly - they will need room to expand. If all the tamales do not fill up the steamer - use aluminum foil to keep tamales from falling over.
 In the pan pour water until it is an inch or more - you just don't want the tamales to touch the water. Bring water to boil. Place in steamer basket
Cover with more husks.
Top with lid, steam for 75 minutes adding more water as necessary - do not let it run out of water... it could ruin you pan and your tamales. Not that I would have had a pan run out of water while steaming these! It gives them a nice smoky flavor... luckily we caught it before it was a nice charred flavor.
Tamales are done when the husks peel away easily. 
 Leave them to stand in steamer for a few minutes to firm up.
These were absolutely delicious!


Green Chili Chicken 2- I shredded the leftover Green Chili Chicken from the night before and used the leftover sauce - turned out great.

Another great variation is this recipe for a vegetarian filling. Except I used button mushrooms and a large sweet potato and I used shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Spinach Garlic - I roasted the garlic with the veggies from the recipe linked above and minced the 4 cloves of garlic and mixed it with some olive oil then tossed it in with 3 cups chopped fresh spinach. I added some shredded Monterey Jack cheese with them as well. Everybody loved this type including my dad and husband!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Busy day...

Originally uploaded by crystalscozykitchen
I have a busy day ahead of me - getting ready for Challenge 2 with Project Food Blog! Thanks for all of you who voted for me! Stay tuned tomorrow for my challenge 2 post - The Classics. For now, I'm going to get busy editing photos! I hope you all have a great Friday afternoon!

This photo of me is a sneak peak at tomorrow's post.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baked French Toast with Apple Spice Syrup

 On Tuesday I let you know that this recipe was one of my ideas for using Nature's Pride bread. I'm glad I decided to make baked french toast - honestly I am a total fan of it now. I think in the future all my french toast is going to be baked. Could I tell a difference? No - in fact I mentioned it to my husband that I had baked the french toast and he was surprised it was baked - he couldn't tell the difference. I'd have to say that there is one difference - all the french toast was finished at the same time, every piece was hot and toasty at the same time. None of the french toast got limp as we waited for the rest of them to cook. It makes it much easier to sit down for dinner/breakfast together to eat hot, fresh french toast. It also gives you plenty of time to make your own syrup and even eggs if you wanted to!

Just a reminder - today is the last day to vote for Challenge 1 on Project Food Blog - click here to vote for me!

Baked French Toast
First, preheat oven to 350 degrees, then grab 3 eggs from the fridge (I use 1 egg for 2 pieces of bread so adjust as necessary)
Next add a splash of milk (about 2 Tbsp)
Mix them all together.
Then grab your bread (I used Nature's Pride 12 grain bread for this one) and dip it in the eggs.
Flip to cover the other side.
Place on greased cookie sheet.
Repeat with remaining slices of bread.
I only used 5 slices of bread - one being the end (it could have been six, if I'd had more bread.) Now would be a great time to wash the egg off your hands. ;)
Next sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg (this spice container actually has 4 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg.)
You can sprinkle as little or as much as you want on each piece of bread - it makes it easier to cater to picky eaters.
Turn the bread over.
Sprinkle the second side as well. You're now ready to put them in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven
Flip each piece of toast over.
Bake for another 10 minutes.
They'll be nice and brown on each side.
I think this piece of French Toast is missing something - 
the Syrup! 
Apple Spice Syrup
You can make this syrup while the toast is baking. It only takes about 10-12 minutes.
You'll need 3/4 cup apple juice.
1/2 cup water
And a saucepan.
Pour the apple juice and water in the saucepan.
You'll also need to packets of Spiced Apple Cider - any brand will work.
Pour the cider powder in with the apple juice and water.
You'll also need 1/4 cup sugar.
Add it to the saucepan as well. (I first made this with 1/2 cup sugar - but it was a little too sweet - you may be able to reduce the amount of sugar even more if you would like.)
Mix everything together. Place on burner and turn on to medium heat.
You'll also need 1 Tbsp corn starch and 1/4 cup cold water. (You can omit the cornstarch if you would like - but add the 1/4 cup water.) 
Dissolve the cornstarch in the water.
I had to include this picture - my son wanted to help me so I let him 'stir' these together.
Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan as well.
Whisk together to dissolve the cornstarch - keep stirring until the syrup turns back to the browinsh color and the white is gone.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep warm until ready to serve.
Pour over top of French Toast.
You can feel a bit healthier eating this syrup - it is made of juice ;).