Monday, October 18, 2010

Spicy Chicken Chili

This recipe is really easy to pull together either for a quick dinner or to portion out for lunches during the week (like I did).  It's fairly spicy, so feel free to eliminate the jalapeno or reduce the chili powder or chipotles if you like.  Or just serve it with lots of sour cream.  :)  I vaguely followed this recipe from Martha Stewart when making the chili, but I decided on ground chicken since ground meat says "chili" to me more than cubes of chicken and made various other substitutions based on what I had in the fridge/pantry. 

Spicy Chicken Chili
Serves 4

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 T chili powder
1 jalapeno, halved
1 pound ground chicken
2 chipotles in adobo, minced
2 cups canned diced tomatoes (and their juice)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan, and then add the onion and pepper.  Saute until softened, and then add the chili powder and jalapeno.  Saute for a minute or so, and then add the chicken.  Saute, stirring often to break up the meat, until it is cooked through.  Add the chipotles, tomatoes, and black beans.  Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes (or longer).  Remove the jalapeno halves before serving.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Peach-Tomato Salad

This quick summer salad is really delicious and it's a great way to add more fruits and veggies to a meal.   It would also be very easy to scale up in order to make enough for more people.  Of course, it will be best if you get the most perfectly ripe, amazing peaches and tomatoes, but if you can't quite find those, just let the salad marinate in the vinegar for a little longer and it will still be very tasty.

Peach-Tomato Salad (adapted from The Family Kitchen, original recipe here)
Serves 1

1 medium peach, cut into medium slices
1 medium heirloom tomato, cored, cut into medium slices
A few very thin slices of red onion
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss the peach slices, tomato slices, and onion together in a bowl.  Drizzle over the oil and vinegar, toss again, and then top with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Part 1: Caramel Apple Cake

My birthday is today, 10-10-10!  For such a great date, I had to have a great party!  I went with a wine-and-cheese theme.  Tim and I picked out 10 amazing cheeses at Cheeseboard, our local cheese shop, and I also baked two cakes.  This caramel apple cake was my favorite, although the chocolate cake, which I'll post soon, was the crowd favorite (you can never go wrong with chocolate!).  The cake itself is Dorie Greenspan's perfect party cake - which truly lives up to its name.  I've made this cake for lots of parties, and it always comes out perfectly and is easy to pair with lots of different flavors.  Here, it's filled with a sweet apple filling, and topped with my favorite brown sugar frosting.  These were the perfect flavors for fall, and I was very happy with how everything came together.

Caramel Apple Cake (adapted from honey and jam, Dorie Greenspan, and You Made That Dessert?)
Makes 1 9-inch round cake

For the cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray with flour (or butter and flour the pans).  Set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Put the sugar and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
4. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature.

For the filling:
2 large apples, grated
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring often, until the apples are very tender and the liquid is mostly reduced.

For the frosting:
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
 5 T butter, cut into 10 pieces
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Note: Do not make the frosting until the cake is assembled and ready to frost, as it must be used immediately.
1. Combine all frosting ingredients in a saucepan.  Place over medium heat and cook, whisking often, until the butter is melted and the ingredients are combined.  Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches a full boil that cannot be stirred down.  Boil 1-2 minutes, whisking vigorously.  (This will take quite a while, especially in a small pan - just be patient and keep whisking!  For faster results, use a wider saucepan.)
2. Remove from heat, and beat the frosting with an electric mixer for 6-8 minutes, until lightened in color and thickened to a spreading consistency.  The frosting should be completely cool at this point.  Frost the cake immediately, before the frosting forms a crust.

To assemble:
Place one cake on serving tray.  Spread the cooled apple mixture over the cake in an even layer.  Top with the remaining cake layer.  Spread the frosting over the cake quickly, as a crust will form as it cools.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sweet Potato-Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

These enchiladas are unusual and very tasty.  They're easy to pull together, and also easy to make for just one or two people, or for a group.  I really like the filling combo of the creamy sweet potatoes, slightly spicy peppers, and chicken, and it contrasts well with the acidic green sauce.  These enchiladas are great to try when you're in the mood for Mexican but want something a little different.  They're not too spicy, so feel free to add more jalapeno to the sauce if you like.

Sweet Potato-Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce (adapted from Chili Cheese Fries, original recipe here)
Makes 4 enchiladas, serving 1 with leftovers

For the sauce:
3/4 pound tomatillos
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 small white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups chicken broth

For the filling:
2-1/2 ounces chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1 small sweet potato (about 3 ounces), cooked, peeled, and cubed
1 small poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and sliced into strips
1 ounce Mexican blend cheese

To finish:
4 corn tortillas
1 ounce Mexican blend cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the tomatillos in a bowl of hot water, and let sit for about five minutes.  Slip off the husks, remove any stems, and wash well.  Place in a sauce pan with the garlic, onion, jalapeno, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until the tomatillos are soft and have lost their bright green color.  The liquid should be almost entirely reduced.  Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.
3. Soften the tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  Dip each tortilla into the sauce, and then fill with a quarter of each of the filling ingredients.  Roll up and place in an oil-sprayed small casserole dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.
4. Pour a bit more tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas so the enchiladas are well covered.  You will have quite a bit of sauce leftover.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1 ounce cheese.  Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted, about 20-30 minutes.