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Monday, September 28, 2009

Chillin' With Chilaquiles

The weather was gross yesterday, the kind of New England fall rain that sucks all ambition and energy out of you and leaves you a soggy brain dead heap huddled under a blanket on the couch, staring soullessly at the TV. I've been so busy lately that I didn't even put up a fight. I ran some laundry, cooked some stuff, and my friend Kaliis and I drank wine and caught up on a bunch of shows. It was glorious.

I made Chilaquiles-Style Chicken and Rice & Goat Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash. Kaliis contributed delicious and seasonal apple crisp, and my daughter Eliza baked 3 Hour Cookies.

(3 Hour Cookies are just like chocolate chip cookies, but it takes Eliza 3 hours to make them because she keeps getting distracted. Teens, man. Teens.)

I did not think to take pictures of dinner, this time. I promise that I will for future posts.

The Chilaquiles-Style Chicken is based on a recipe from the October 2009 issue of Food & Wine. I tend to look at recipes, retain the basic info, chuck it aside and start thinking bout how to change it. (It's never that the original recipe isn't good, I just have Ideas.) It was really easy, it tasted delicious, and my boyfriend did a little dance he liked it so much. Here's the recipe;


family-sized package of chicken thighs (about 8 or 9 thighs)
ground cumin
chili powder -or- taco seasoning
olive oil
small red onion, diced
4 oz can of green chiles (I like fire-roasted, if you can get them)
28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
can hominy, drained
bag of tortilla chips

Pre-heat the oven to 450.

How I did it:

First, crush the garlic into a paste. The best way to do this is with a mortar and pestle, but I realize that not everyone has that lying around. An easy way is to finely chop the garlic, then add a little bit of salt and work it around with the back of a spoon. The salt will help macerate the garlic with Science. I did not give a measurement here, because I cook with a lot of garlic. The average person will probably want to use about 3 cloves or so.

Mix the garlic paste with your cumin (about 2 tsp) your chili or taco seasoning (about 1T) and a tablespoon or two of olive oil. I used taco seasoning because I have a big thing of it that I bought at Costco, but if/when I make this again I will probably switch to chili powder. Chipotle chili powder would also work nicely! Set this mixture aside.

In a 9 x 12 casserole dish; mix the onion, tomatoes, hominy, green chiles, and half of the spice paste. Lightly crush the tortilla chips, then fold into the sauce.

- a note on chips: I used Trader Joe's tri-color veggie and flax chips, to add a little more flavor and because they're denser and heartier than the average chip. Blue corn would also be nice, but you can use whatever chips you want and they will be fine, don't worry.

Trim any extraneous fat/skin from the chicken thighs, but leave the skin on for the most part. You want the skin, and you want to use thighs instead of boneless skinless breasts so that as the chicken bakes, the juices blend with the rest of the casserole and the flavor all comes together. If you're concerned about fat content and you choose to go with naked breasts, then I would mix some bouillion powder or concentrated broth* into the sauce.

Rub the rest of the spice paste on the thighs, and lay them on top of the chip & sauce mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

*more on concentrated broth packets in a later post, but you can get really good ones at Trader Joe's


Rice-Stuffed Acorn Squash

My kids hate squash. I love squash. We belong to a CSA, which means that come September, we have tons and tons of....squash. I always take it home in the hopes that someday I will find the magical recipe that tricks the kids into liking squash. This was not that recipe, but they did pick the rice stuffing out and eat that, and sometimes you take what you can get.

This recipe was thrown together with things I had kicking around, but it came out GREAT. I am looking forward to having the lunchovers later.

This makes 4 servings as a main course, 8 as a side dish.


1/2 c uncooked rice (I like basmati, any rice will do)
1 packet Sazon Goya Culantro y Achiote (best rice seasoning ever, I can get it at any chain grocery and at Costco)

chopped garlic (to taste)
1/4 c diced onion
2 cooked sausages, chopped - I used chicken and apple, I would highly recommend it
handful of chopped scallion
1 c crumbled goat cheese

Cook the rice, like you do, in your choice of broth or water with the Goya seasoning packet. It will be fragrant and bright yellow and wonderful. In the meantime, halve the squash and scoop out the seeds and guts.

Now, I am a cheater when it comes to stuffed squash, and I always give the squash a microwave head start. Place the halves face-down on a plate with a little bit of water in the bottom. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove from the microwave and pop them (face-up) into a baking dish, also with a little bit of water in the bottom. This helps the squash cook faster and keeps it from drying out.

Give the onions, garlic, and sausage a quick saute', until the onions are translucent. Remove from heat and toss the cooked rice, sausage mixture, scallions and goat cheese together. Spoon into the acorn squash - don't be afraid to pack it in.

Loosely cover with tinfoil and bake for about 30 minutes at 450 degrees.


We had Bota Box Shiraz with dinner. Yeah, box wine, I know I know. I have to say that Bota is pretty tasty, it's a really good value, and it's environmentally friendly. I give it two thumbs up, but I also sometimes choose wine by who has the prettiest label so what do I know. I'm a beer snob more than a wine snob.

We were all excited to crack into the mead that I had picked up to go with dessert. I realize what that sounds like to the average person - "Oh fie, I hath eaten so much that I must loosen my corset...pass the mead kind sir!" - but mead is enjoying a resurgence. A lot of wineries have taken to producing signature meads, and some of them are just amazing. This one, however, was not. I stuck my nose in the glass, deeply inhaled, and my frst thought was, "Liquid Ricola??"

This mead was extremely medicinal tasting. I understand how it happened, some kinds of honey taste like that. Last winter I bought some local wildflower honey and mixed it into a mulled wine and my whole house smelled like cough drops. However, it wasn't what I wanted or what I was expecting - especially since the label boasted that it was flavored with vanilla bean and spices. I will keep it in mind for later in the winter when I'm sick. I can warm it up and have a nice toddy before bed.

Uh, I just tried to find the bottle because I can't remember the name - and the bottle is gone. Stolen in the night by the brewers to avoid a bad review? Spirited away by Kaliis in her need to mix bad with good to make better? Who knows...but I'll remember it eventually.


Kevin K. said...

The chilaques recipe looks ubertasty, I will have to try that this week.

My personal favorite garlic destruction device is a microplane grater. I love that thing, you can render just about anything to component atoms in seconds. Killer for getting zest off citrus fruit, too.

Holly said...

That's true! A microplane is one of those kitchen tools that I always mean to buy and never remember when I'm at the store - like an immersion blender.

Gary said...

Have you tried roasting squash loaded with butter and cinnamon? I defy the kids to not like that.

Holly said...

Of course I have, Gary. I live in New England and I think it's a law.

They don't like it, and I think it may be a texture issue. Sometimes if I mix squash into mashed potatoes, they'll eat that. Squash bread, they'll eat that too.

Kevin K. said...

The other thing I like to do with squash, especially delicata, is to cut them into 1/2"-3/4" slices, toss them with some oil and salt, and put them into a single layer on a preheated foil-lined cookie sheet. 8-10 minutes each side at 450 until they're browned, maybe toss 'em with a little maple syrup. =9

I am a big fan of the oven-roasted vegetable. Doing green beans like this results in food that closely resembles french fries, and is just as addictive.

Gary said...

I should never have doubted you; I am a Bad Friend. =(