Monday, July 29, 2019

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Caroline and Adam have been renovating their Chicago suburban kitchen for what must seem to them an eternity. For several months they have been without a stove, oven or sink. In fact, there is only one room in their whole downstairs that isn’t gutted. As a result they turned an upstairs bedroom into a makeshift kitchen, using a toaster oven and microwave to get by. To help them out, I made a few frozen meals so all they had to do was defrost, then nuke or bake. One meal Caroline requested was chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce. Don’t let the sour cream in the filling scare you off- there’s just enough of it to bind the chicken and onions together and the tomatillo sauce supplies tartness to offset the richness.

Ingredients for the Tomatillo Sauce:

12 small to medium tomatillos
1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and tender upper stems
1 small to medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons canned green chili peppers
1 large clove garlic, put through a press
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt or less 


Husk the tomatillos by pulling the papery skins off. Wash and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes and drain. Place cooked tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic and peppers in a food processor. Blend for about 30 seconds to a minute until all ingredients are combined. 

Heat oil in skillet over medium high until it shimmers. Pour the blended tomatillo mixture into the hot pan. The liquid will hiss and start to boil. Give it a stir and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add in the chicken broth and stir well to mix it in. Continue to let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and if needed add the salt. If not, discard it.

Ingredients for Eight Chicken Enchiladas:

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed.
1 cup diced white or yellow onions
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 large flour tortillas
1 Batch of tomatillo sauce from recipe above
2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese


In a bowl, mix the chicken, onions, sour cream, salt and pepper together.

Ladle just enough tomatillo sauce into a 9x13 baking dish to cover the bottom. Place a heaping 1/3 cup of chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese on top of the chicken in each tortilla. Roll each tortilla up and place seam side down into the baking dish.

Pour the remaining tomatillo sauce over the top, reserving about 1/2 cup for serving.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until tortillas are browning and sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and sprinkle the top with remaining cheese. Return to the oven and bake 5 minutes more to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro leaves as a garnish.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Tomato Chickpea Stew

Around our house, everyone knows I can throw together a meal in minutes. Maybe it's years of practice but I know the real secret is opening a can! Lately, chickpeas have become one of my favorite cans to open. I know many people think that it's a cheat not soak beans and cook them for hours, but who has time for that? Canned goods have great nutritional value as long as you don't see a lot of additives on the label ingredient list and they taste just about the same as fresh. This recipe includes three cans to open - but it also involves fresh kale! So, I don't feel too guilty about making this fast and yummy stew.

Ingredients for Two Large Servings:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (8 oz.) package of cubed ham or 1 cup of left-over ham, cubed
2 good sized cloves garlic, put through a press or finally minced
1 (14.5 oz.) cans beef broth
1 (16 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can of chopped tomatoes
1 large bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped 
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Place olive oil in large saucepan over medium low heat. When the oil shimmers, add the ham cubes. Saute the ham for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow all sides to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for 30 more seconds.

Pour in the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up any bits that might be clinging to the bottom.

Then gently stir in the chickpeas, chopped kale, tomatoes and pepper.

   Bring the mixture up to a boil, then turn it back down to medium low heat and allow to simmer for five minutes.

  Ladle into soup bowls and serve.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Tortilla Pie

This is an old family favorite that's got it all in a wedge: taco meat filling, seasoned black beans, avocado and lots of melted cheese! It's a bit of a weeknight show stopper but easy enough to throw together in a hurry. I found that when I needed to bring a casserole to someone, it was a great option since it's different from the typical lasagna everyone else makes.


1 pound ground beef
5 tortillas large (10 inch) or 10 small (7 inch), flour or corn
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 (15oz.) can black beans
1 ripe avocado
Juice of one lime, about 2 tablespoons
*Taco seasoning mix, store bought or make your own
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

*To make your own taco seasoning mix combine 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper.


Pour tomato sauce in pan and add 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning.

Stir the seasoning into the tomato sauce and place over medium heat until it simmers.

Turn the heat down to low, stir occasionally and let it simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Drain and rinse the beans. Put the beans in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Stir in 2 teaspoons lime juice and 2 teaspoons taco seasoning.

Peel and scoop the avocado in a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons lime juice and 2 teaspoons taco seasoning and mash together.

Brown hamburger over medium heat, drain grease. Stir in 2 cups of the tomato sauce into the cooked hamburger.

Assemble the Tortilla Pie 

(If using small tortillas, cut filling amounts in half & make two pies)

1. Smear 1/4 cup around the bottom of the pie pan. Place a tortilla on top of sauce. Spoon 1/2 the meat mixture on top. 

2. Put a second tortilla on top and spread black bean mixture on top. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. 

3. Cover with a third tortilla and ladle on the rest of the meat sauce.

4. Place the fourth tortilla on top and spread the avocado mixture over the surface.

Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

5. Put the 5th tortilla on top and pour remaining reserved tomato sauce mixture on top. 

Bake for 30 minutes.

6. Put remaining shredded cheese on top of stack, return to oven and bake 5 or so minutes more until the cheese on top has melted.

7. Sprinkle with the cilantro leaves.

Cut tortilla pie into fourths and serve.