Calabacita Cheese Casserole

Calabacita-Salad This is a thoroughly Mexican dish and probably has as many variations as their are Hispanics in New Mexico!

It’s main feature is the Calabacita or”little squash”. You probably can’t get the variety we use here in the Land of Enchantment which is called a Calabacita Italiano, but a plain old regular zucchini will do. These are just a bit milder and sweeter.

This is a wonderful side to any number of meat dishes, unlimited in fact, so don’t be afraid to use it with some utterly red/white/blue dishes like fried chicken or fried pork chops. It goes with anything.

Recipe from Adobe Nido.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 each yellow summer squash and Calabacita squash (or zucchini), medium-sized
  • 1 c corn, frozen, fresh off the cob or canned
  • 1/2 c diced sweet onion
  • 1/2 c grated cheese (to be authentic use queso fresco or cotija) otherwise a Monterey jack works well.
  • 1-2 cloves garlic grated
  • 1/4 c roasted chopped green chili (Hatch is best but you can substitute Anaheim or Poblano). Sear the outside until blackened, remove the skin, remove seeds and chop. One should be enough. Left overs can be frozen for another use.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Wash squash and then dice up.
  3. Saute onion in olive oil until just about to turn brown. Add the garlic about midway and add salt and pepper.
  4. Add the squash and cook until about half done, still a bit crisp.
  5. Add the corn, mix in.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the chili and the cheese. Stir and pour into a casserole dish.
  7. Place in oven uncovered for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and things are getting bubbly.

Serves: 4-6

NOTES: This goes wonderfully with some carne guisada with refried beans and some rice. But as I said, it’s versatile enough to go well with any main meat dish.

Chorizo With Cheese and Caramelized Onions Dip

chorizo-bean-dip-1024x621 It will soon be March Madness, and you know what you need–plenty of dips and other finger food as you watch the games.

This appetizer dip is a rich one, so you won’t want to eat bunches alone. Figure on plenty of additional “cooler” offerings with it.

But it is very very good. Use it with tortilla chips, crackers of any kind, or raw veggies. They all work just fine. It’s good cold too.

Adapted from Foodiecrush.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 c onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/8 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 10 oz of chorizo sausage ( beef or pork), casing removed
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 c mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c mozzarella or Monterey Jack, shredded
  • 4 green onions, chopped (including the green parts)
  • salt to taste (I didn’t need any)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the chorizo in a skillet and cook until done, stirring and breaking it up. Remove to another dish
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet, adding the onion, and saute slowly until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes or so.
  3. In a medium bowl add the cream cheese and mayo and blend with a whisk until smooth. Add the onions, oregano, green onion and shredded cheese. Mix well.
  4. Add the chorizo, and fold in.
  5. Place in a baking dish.
  6. Place on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 350° oven for about 15 minutes, just until the top starts to brown and gets bubbly.
  7. Let sit for a few minutes to cool. It’s best served just warm.

Serves: 6-8 as part of a larger spread of appetizers

NOTES: I think the cheese you use is pretty much up to you. A good melting Mexican cheese would work great here as well such as Cotija.

Killer Deep Dish Pizza Dough

Chicago-Deep-Dish-Thin-Crust-Deep-Sausage-Whole-ccWell, you know I make a great pizza, and my pizza dough is something that I have learned over many a trial and error and help from Cook’s Illustrated.

I did you expect to ever find another than I thought was as good.

I have.

It’s quite different, and depending on your schedule and tastes, might be the one for you sometimes.

Generally speaking I’m not a big fan of deep dish pizza, because it’s just too bready. There was a place in Hamtramck, Michigan, outside of Detroit that made a pizza crust to die for. It was thick, but full of air and crunchy. Never found one better.

This is like that. But it’s a two-day affair, so you must plan ahead. Sometimes that works best because it takes very little time on the day of eating! Best of all you use those big old cast iron skillets. I used two for this recipe. And they were so good. We loved it.

I got this recipe (for the dough only) from Griffin’s Grub, and he got it from somebody else. I’ve adapted it in minor ways.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 c warm water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 c bread flour + 1 c bread flour more or less

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the warm water and yeast into a heavy-duty mixer bowl and stir until mixed.
  2. Add the three cups of flour.
  3. With the dough hook attachment, mix until just together. It will be very soupy which is what you want.
  4. Turn off and cover the bowl and let stand for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the salt and start adding more flour until it pulls away from the bowl, but still tends to pool when you shut off the motor. It will be very sticky.
  6. Oil up your hands and a spatula and get the dough out of the bowl. Place it all in a big oiled bowl, and then take a knife and divide in half and place the second half into another big oiled bowl. Turn the dough so it’s coated with the oil. (this will give you 2   10 1/2″ skillet pizzas.
  7. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 4 days.
  8. Remove about 2 hours before baking.
  9. Oil your skillets and then pull, push, pour out the dough into each. Leave for an hour.
  10. Gently with oiled fingertips push it out to the edges of the pan until you have it spread about. Leave it for another hour.
  11. It should now be ready, puffy and warm.
  12. Use your favorite pizza sauce  homemade or bottled, spreading carefully not to disturb too many of the bubbles.
  13. Use your favorite toppings.
  14. Place in a preheated oven to 500° (usually takes a good half hour)
  15. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.
  16. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so before cutting.

Serves: 6 easily

Cheddar Pepper Biscotti

biscottiFrankly it has never occurred to me to make a savory biscotti. I always thought of it as a breakfast thing, and dunking it in coffee.

Well, I can learn a thing or two!

This recipe is from A Passionate Plate, and adapted from another one.

I loved it fine as is.

It works so well with a great homemade soup, either as a dunker or as croutons.

I have another one with I’m going to try with Romano! That should be equally good.

Oh, before I forget, these recipes are really fast to get together so do try it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c cheddar, shredded
  • 1 c + 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp salt.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. In a food processor, combine the eggs and cheese until fairly well combined.
  3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Add to the egg mixture and whir just until it comes together.
  5. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board, kneading just until it holds together.
  6. Shape into a 10″ log. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes until firm and golden.
  8. Cool for a bit, then slice into 1/2 inch pieces, laying them flat on the baking sheet. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes, turn and bake for another 15 minutes.
  9. Cool. Store in airtight container, or freeze and use as needed.

Serves: about a dozen slices

NOTES: Other hard cheeses can be substituted.

Trees and Cheddar Soup

broccoli_cheddar_soup_620Yes, it’s broccoli and cheddar cheese soup. And it’s delicious if I do say so. I cannot take all the credit for I grabbed this recipe from the Foodnetwork. But of all the recipes I’ve looked at and tried, this is the best. I did make some minor changes.

It has a few unusual ingredients, which is why I think it stands out as better than most.

Even though it has cream, it does freeze quite well. It’s easy enough to half or double as you need.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 3 c salt-free chicken stock
  • 1 c heavy cream.
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 lg sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 c broccoli florets, steamed until tender crisp
  • 2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat the oil in a saute pan and cook the onion and celery until softened.
  2. Remove to a soup size pan. Add the stock, the potatoes, bay leaf, and 1 c of water, some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are done.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and either use a blender or immersion blender to puree about 1/2 of the mixture (or all if you desire)
  5. Return to the pot. Add broccoli and heat until just off the boil. Add the cream and the cheese, stir, and continue heating until just short of a boil again.

SERVES: 4

Southwestern Pulled Pork Sandwich

pulled-pork-sandwich-with-cole-slaw-and-picklesOh hold me back. I do love a GOOD pulled pork sandwich, emphasis on the good. For there is much bad, mundane, and otherwise passable pulled pork out there.

Good pulled pork takes TIME. No way around that.

But it does not take a lot of effort.

So, it’s a planned for meal which you can start early in the morning, forget about most of the day, and finish off late in the day for a great-tasting meal. Think relaxed picnic-type meal. Leisurely had upon the veranda.

Okay, so I’m day dreaming now.

Let’s get to the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • A 3lb or so pork butt or shoulder. (Don’t worry, you can freeze the meat if you don’t that much pulled pork at one time.
  • For a rub: salt, pepper, chile powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, chipotle powder.
  • 3-5 green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lg onion roughly chunked up (to be discarded after cooking)
  • 4 c chicken stock or a combination of beef and chicken
  • 1 1/2 c barbecue sauce  mine, your own recipe, or your favorite bottled variety
  • 2 c of coleslaw

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Make the rub. I’d think about a tablespoon each of salt, chile powder and oregano, a tsp each of pepper, cumin and garlic. The chipotle is up to you, depending on how much heat you wish, AND how much heat your bbq sauce might have.
  2. But the rub all over the meat, and let sit lightly covered in the fridge for a good couple of hours or overnight if you wish.
  3. Place the meat in a heavy-duty oven pot, with a couple of tablespoons of canola oil and brown on all sides.
  4. Add the chopped up onion and stock. Either cook on top of the stove on low or place in a 250-275° oven. Cook for a good 4 hours, more if needed. You can always tell when it’s ready–the meat will break off and shred easily with a fork. Make sure you seal the pot lid on tight, using a piece of tinfoil if needed to keep it from steaming out. You need the liquid to stay inside.
  5. Remove the meat from the pot, and cool enough to fork it apart into shreds.
  6. The green chiles can be prepared sometime during the time the meat is braising. Ditto homemade barbecue sauce and coleslaw, but don’t dress the coleslaw until just before eating to prevent it getting watery.
  7. Warm your buns or bread, toasting if you desire.
  8. Warm your bbq sauce is needed, and add the chiles to it. Then add to the shredded meat until you get the consistency you want. Nicely wet but not sloppy is my preference. You can do this well in advance of eating if you wish and let the meat have marinating time in the sauce.
  9. Put a nice pile on your bun, top with some coleslaw, and well, stop reading and EAT!

Serves: the full 3 lb roast should feed about 8

NOTES: if you want to add dill pickles to the sandwich feel free. That’s a bit more Cuban than Southwestern. Also, you may want to add a half cup of brown sugar to the marinade of the meat IF you don’t use a sweet bbq sauce, and if your coleslaw recipe is not sweet. My coleslaw recipe has a bit of sugar but not a lot, but my bbq sauce is both sweet and hot. My coleslaw  also has got a cayenne kick. So adjust the heat and sweet depending on your coleslaw and bbq sauce. If you use my recipes, then you will not need these adjustments.

Eggnog Monkey Bread

eggnogmonkeyEver since I discovered monkey bread, I just can’t get enough of it. If you stay away from the “biscuit dough” in the tubes and make it from scratch, which takes no time at all, and doesn’t have unhealthy additives, you will do just fine.

If you are not living in a wonderful place like Las Cruces, then perhaps you can’t get egg nog year round. But I do believe there are eggnog recipes around which will allow you to whip some up!

I love this stuff. It makes a great breakfast item as far as I am concerned, but of course, it can be a dessert as well.

I have revised the recipe a bit, so it is adapted from Recipe Girl .

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • FOR THE DOUGH
  1. 1 c eggnog
  2. 4 tbsp butter
  3. about 2 1/4 tsp fast rising yeast (1 pkt)
  4. 1 lg egg at room temp.
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  7. 3 – 3 1/2 c bread flour (higher gluten than regular, but I think you can use regular)
  • DOUGH COATING
  1. 1 – 1/4 c brown sugar, packed
  2. 1 tsp cinnamon
  3. 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  4. 1 c butter, melted and cooled
  • DRIZZLE GLAZE
  1. 1 c powdered sugar
  2. 2 tbsp eggnog
  3. dash of nutmeg

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Melt the butter, and let cool down to below 110°. (tepid) Warm the eggnog in the microwave.
  2. Add the yeast to the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, adding the eggnog, and mix, and add the butter.
  3. Add the egg, two cups of the flour, and nutmeg. Run mixer slow, just combining.
  4. Cover the bowl and let sit for 20 minutes to let the gluten start working.
  5. Add the salt, and begin adding the rest of the flour until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. Once there, turn the mixer up and let it knead for five minutes (using a dough hook).
  6. Turn into a greased bowl, cover and let rise until double. ( a great way to do this in the winter is to turn on your oven light and place the bowl right in front of it)
  7. Prepare the coating mix by mixing it all together, except for the butter.
  8. When the dough is risen, turn out onto a floured surface and pat it into a rectangle of about 8 x 8 inches. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide and then into squares.
  9. Dip a few pieces into the butter and coat. Place them in a bundt pan or an angel food pan that has been greased.
  10. When you have a layer, sprinkle some of the brown sugar mixture over the pieces. (You can roll each piece in the sugar if you wish, but it’s way too tedious for me!)
  11. Do another layer, and if you have enough pieces, another. By the first layer you should have an estimate of whether you are getting two or three layers. Use the brown sugar mixture accordingly. There is no precision needed, just gently stack ’em and sprinkle. Drizzle any leftover butter and sugar mixture over the final layer.
  12. Preheat the oven to 375°
  13. Bake for around 30 minutes or until the top is hardened and you see some bubbling of the buttery caramel around the edges. The top will sound hollow when tapped.
  14. Cool on a rack for a few minutes (15 or so) and then turn out on a plate. Cool until fairly to room temp.
  15. Make the glaze (put everything together) and drizzle on with a spoon.

Serves: 10-12 servings