Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Southwestern feast

Hi everyone! I just got back from Arizona, and came back armed with a great Arizona cookbook and a Southwestern slow cooking cookbook. What better way to wind down after a long plane ride than to spend a few hours back in my kitchen getting reacquainted with my appliances and a nice glass of wine?

Montezuma Chicken Bake

6 c cooked cubed chicken
12 6" corn tortilla, cut into 1 1/2" strips
1 1/2 lbs of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
16 oz container of sour cream
14 oz can of tomatillos, drained
1/2 c chopped onions
1/2 c cilantro leaves, packed
4 oz can of green chilies, undrained
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

In food processor, combine tomatillos, onions, cilantro, chilies, garlic, salt and sugar and process until smooth to make a green sauce. Grease a 13x9 baking dish and start layers with half of the chicken on the bottom, half of the green sauce, half of the sour cream, half of the tortilla strips and cheese. Repeat, ending with the cheese. Cover with foil. Dish may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated up until this point. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. If refrigerated, cooking time will be 45-50 minutes.

What I liked about this dish: I was able to be a little creative! I substituted the Mexican blend cheese for the Monterey Jack, I accidentally picked up canned jalapenos instead of chilies because I wasn't paying attention (and cut it to half the can), and when I cooked the chicken, I added some chicken rub to it to give the chicken a nice flavor. All of the cheese makes this a great dish.
What I disliked about this dish: The prep time is a little extensive and I was so distracted about halving all of the "layer ingredients" that I mixed up the order and forgot the first layer of tortilla strips. It turned out fine though. Also, in my store, tomatillos only come in a 28 oz can, so I had to guestimate on the amount needed. I wish the recipe had listed the drained tomatillos needed in weight. Also, I bought only one flat of chicken, thinking that would yield 6 cups of cooked chicken. NOT even close. You will need six chicken breasts for this recipe. One breast yields a cup. I had to stop in the middle of my prep and defrost a few breasts out of the freezer so I would have enough chicken for this recipe. Thank goodness I had some in the freezer.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: My food processor makes great salsas, so making the green sauce in it was a breeze.
Tastiness factor: Delicious. Probably one of THE best Mexican dishes I've ever made. And it makes a LOT. There will be a ton for leftovers this week. I would easily make this for a party...it will easily feed six or eight people.

Skillet Spanish Rice

1 c instant rice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 c finely chopped onions
2 c chicken broth
1 Tbsp taco sauce
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Saute rice and onions in oil heated in large skillet until slightly golden. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

What I liked about this recipe: It was easy and quick.
What I disliked about this recipe: Not as tomatoey as I like my Spanish rice to be.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I have this tiny little chopper that I bought for baby food a few years ago and it is great for chopping small amounts of vegetables like I needed for this recipe, and my food processor was dirty from the green sauce for the chicken dish.
Tastiness factor: It was not a bad dish and all of it disappeared. However, it was a little plain and bland for my taste. If your biggest objection to most Spanish rice dishes is the spiciness, you will probably like this.

Golden Cornbread

1 c cornmeal
1 c all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
1 egg
1/2 c vegetable oil

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add milk, oil and egg and beat about one minute until smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 425 for 23 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

What I like about this recipe: Easy and no-fail.
What I dislike about this recipe: The first couple of times I made it, I did not find it sweet enough for me, so I upped the sugar to 6 tbsp and it was better.
Cool kitchen gadgets: I love my 8x8 glass Pyrex baking dish. It has a plastic cover which makes it perfect for storing the leftovers.
Tastiness factor: Great. Just great!

Lemon Pudding

2 c sugar
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
juice and zest from 1 large lemon or 1 1/2 small
2 eggs, separated
1 c milk

Cream sugar and butter together and add flour. Blend in lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add egg yolks and milk. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold whites into lemon mixture. Spread in a greased 1 qt casserole dish and place in a shallow baking dish with 1/2" of water in it. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

What I liked about this recipe: It was FAST.
What I disliked about this recipe: I did not like that it did not specify the exact amount of zest and lemon juice needed. I measured out what I put in and I ended up using a little less than a 1/2 c of zest and a little less than a 1/3 c of juice. It turned out very lemony and was perfect.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I had bought this 1 qt Lucerne casserole dish at Crate and Barrel about 2 months ago and I finally got to use it for this recipe!
Tastiness factor: I ate it when it was still pretty hot, so it was a little runny and liquidy. I don't know if it still will be today. It kind of had a souffle like top and then lemon pudding on the inside. Very, very good and sweet...great lemon taste. It was a great quick dessert to make for company.

Sassy Sangria

1 gallon red burgundy wine
1/2 c sugar
48 oz can pineapple juice
8 oz can pineapple chunks
1 lime, cut into rounds
1 orange, cut into rounds.

Combine wine, sugar and juice. Add fruit. Chill before serving.

What I liked about this recipe: It required no overnight chilling...many of my other sangria recipes do.
What I disliked about this recipe: It was hard to get the sugar to dissolve, even with the wine at room temperature.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I finally came up with a use for my water bath canner...it is going to be my sangria pot! I also have a neat terracotta sangria pitcher that I serve it in...it has a pinched spout to keep the fruit from going into the glasses.
Tastiness factor: Eh. That's about it. This was not the best sangra recipe I have ever had or made. But it was fast, quick and cheap, and that's what I was looking for. Definitely not as sweet as I would have liked...I ended up adding diet Sprite to it to sweeten it up a bit to my liking.

I also made this bread for my father-in-law a few days ago. While I did not personally get to try it, I heard it was fantastic.

Certainly Citrus Bread

7/8 c milk
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 c orange marmalade
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/8 tsp lemon zest
3 C white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp active dry yeast

All ingredients should be at room temperature. Add to bread machine in order given. Select white bake cycle, 1/2 lb setting and light crust. Let cool on wire rack one hour before slicing.

What I liked about this bread: I had everything in my fridge to make it! I basically decided to make it that morning and didn't have to run to the store. Even though I'm sure it would have been better with fresh squeezed juices, I just used the lemon and lime juices I had in the refrigerator.
What I disliked about this bread: I didn't get to try it since it was a gift.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I love my microplaner....awesome for zesting citrus!
Tastiness factor: I heard it was great! Very citrusy and light and wonderful paired with my apricot jam.

What a fantastic meal! Muy bueno!


Blogger Shannon said...

Good Grief! You've become Martha effin Stewart!!! Did you have friends over to help eat this deliciousness??? I'm so jealous I live 1200 miles away. I love the sound of all this!!

5:28 PM  

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