Archive for the ‘Latin American’ Category

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Step Two of my complete, three-part Tex-Mex dinner. As you may recall, the black bean corn cilantro salsa was the opener, used as a dip for chips. Hopefully you saved some for this next adventure!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. or Gas Mark 3 for those who use it.

You will need:

9 x 12 inch rectangular glass baking dish

4 cups of black bean corn cilantro salsa

10 – 12 corn tortilla’s, each approximately 8 inches in diameter if you can get them

16 oz. shredded Colby Jack cheese

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Tablespoon of chili powder

1 Tablespoon of cumin

1/2 cup sour cream

Getting started:

In a large stock pot, simmer the chicken breasts in water or chicken broth until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Don’t eyeball it – use a thermometer or at least know the fastest way to the nearest emergency room. Oh yeah, have plenty of clear liquids on hand. You will need those when you recover from salmonella poisoning.

165 degrees F. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the breasts from the liquid and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Then, using two forks, shred the chicken breasts.Discard the liquid.

Add the cumin and the chili powder to the shredded chicken. Mix thoroughly.

Place the tortillas in damp paper towels and either steam in the oven for 5 minutes or in a microwave oven for 45 seconds to one minute. This will make the tortillas much more flexible and reduce the chance of rips and tears.

Putting it all together:

Take about a half cup of the salsa and spread it inside the glass baking dish.

Now, take one tortilla (Be careful! They are probably still very warm!) and sprinkle a little bit of shredded cheese inside.

Add about two spoonfuls of shredded chicken, making sure to spread it out.

Spoon in a little more salsa.

Now roll the tortilla up like a fat cigar, then place in the baking dish. If you are using 8 inch diameter tortillas and you have a 9 inch wide dish, this will give you a half inch of open space at each end of the tortilla.

Repeat the process until you have filled the baking dish.

Now add any remaining chicken, cheese and salsa on top.

Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

When serving, add a dollop of sour cream on top of each plate!

Pairs well with da Vinci Chianti 2010.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Black Bean Corn Cilantro Salsa

Making black bean corn cilantro salsa is actually step one to my three-step, complete Tex-Mex dinner. This recipe is easy to make and functions as a salsa for dipping chips as well as the base sauce for step two: chicken enchilada casserole. Today is just one of those “we want good tasting food but nothing too complex”: kinda days. If I really felt ambitious, I would have made my patented “Boot Stompin’ Kick Butt” Salsa. But I’m not. Maybe next time.

This version of salsa is reminiscent of my days stationed in Southern California. Back in the day, every restaurant used fresh ingredients, mostly those grown right there in California. They had a low carbon footprint before the term was cool.

This made about 6 cups, but the amount will vary based on how long you let this simmer.


1 can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz)

1 can of chopped green chiles (4.5 oz)

1 cup of corn kernels

1/2 cup of cooked black beans

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded

4 sprigs of fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper


Put the seeded jalapeno peppers into a food processor.

Before: Jalapeno Peppers

Add the leaves off of the cilantro sprigs, then pulse two or three times, just enough to chop everything up.

After - pulsed jalapeno and cilantro

Add this, along with the other ingredients into a stock pot or large sauce pan.

Cover and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Black Bean Corn Cilantro Salsa

The longer you can simmer this salsa, the better it will taste. The best option is to let it cool, then refrigerate it until the next day. This will give the flavors time to bloom!

Hot or cold, it is ready for dipping with your favorite chips! Just make sure you save a good amount for the chicken enchilada casserole!

Turkey Enchiladas with Molé Sauce

Tempting the Snowmen with Turkey Enchiladas with Molé Sauce.

The Eastern Shore farms would not be able to harvest as well as they do without the migrant workers. These Latino workers put in a hard day’s work so that you and I can buy those fresh vegetables. As a tribute to their culture, I decided to combine the traditional “American” turkey with a special sauce found throughout Mexico. This sauce is made in homes throughout the land and there are as many recipes as there are “casas.” Here is my version of…

Doug’s Famous Molé Sauce
4 red arbol chilés
2 New Mexico chilés
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. white onion, coarsely chopped
1 c. mango, peeled and cubed
1 c. cocktail peanuts
1/2 c. walnuts, shelled, chopped
2 c. chicken stock
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon clove
3 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 c. heavy cream

Turkey Enchiladas
4 cups turkey breast, roasted, shredded
2 cups Colby Jack cheese, shredded
3 cans green chilés (use the small cans)
8 flour tortillas (8 or 10 inch diameter)

Prepping the Peppers
Prepare the arbol and New Mexico chilés by placing them in a medium sauce pan filled halfway with water. Heat until the water starts to boil, then remove from heat and cover for 30 minutes.

Put on some gloves or put your hands in plastic baggies when handling the peppers. No need to get the oils from the peppers on your hands. It can be a tearful experience…
Drain the water and carefully remove the peppers. BE CAREFUL – THEY MAY STILL BE HOT.
Remove the stems. Slice open the peppers and scrape away the seeds. The skin/pulp is what you will need. Set aside until needed. (see recipe.)

Getting started on the Molé Sauce
Using a large sauce pan, heat the vegetable oil and then sauté the onion, mango, peanuts and walnuts, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent.
Add the chicken stock, followed by the arbol chilés and the New Mexico chilés, sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and clove. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Cover. When cool, place in refrigerator and let the flavors meld together overnight.

The next dayFinishing the sauce and putting together the Turkey Enchiladas
Puree the sauce mixture, then strain into a medium sauce pan. Add a little more chicken stock or water to the mash if you are not getting much liquid dripping through the strainer. You want about a cup of liquid when you are done. Discard the solids.

Add the chocolate and the heavy cream. Using medium heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Warm up the sauce until the chocolate and the cream have been totally incorporated. The sauce should be smooth and may look like a thick chocolate drink. Be careful to not scald the sauce! Remove from heat in order to assemble the enchiladas.

Steam the tortillas. I wrap them in damp paper towels and heat them in the microwave oven for 20 seconds or so. You could use a steamer if you want. You just need them pliable enough so that they roll up without cracking.

Take one tortilla, place a half cup of turkey and a half cup of shredded cheese in the center. Top with a touch of the green chilés, to taste. With a spoon, spread the mixture evenly on the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up like a cigar, but not that tight! Place in a baking dish large enough to hold 8 of the rolled up tortillas.

Complete all of the tortillas, placing them in the baking dish. Top with a little more cheese if you like, then slather the molé sauce on top and cover with foil. Bake (reheat, really) in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

This recipe makes 8 enchiladas and enough molé sauce for a lot more. Use what you want then freeze the rest for another time. Pairs well with black beans, corn and a nice glass of Toasted Head Merlot (2007.)

If you want a real adventure, pour some sauce in a coffee mug and take a swig! Buen Provecho!

Tex-Mex on the East Coast?

Sure enough, this displaced Texano and his familia had an awesome time last night team cooking a fabulous batch of chicken fajitas and Mexican rice. If you aren’t familiar with the name, it’s pronounced “fa-hee-tas” with the emphasis on the “hee,” but I digress…
We had four cooks, no injuries and enough food to feed everyone plus some.

The recipes came off the Internet, given to me by one of the sous chefs, so I can’t give credit where credit is due, but I’ll tell you up front, they aren’t mine…I only wish they were! These turned out great and I do believe that we will be using these again, many times!

Here we go:

Chicken Fajitas and Mexican Rice

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded flat

2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded
salt and pepper to taste

Put the marinade ingredients into a blender and puree. Put the flattened chicken into a gallon-sized zip lock bag and add the marinade puree. Seal the bag up and let the chicken soak for 30 minutes or so (in a cooler or refrigerator – no need to take chances!)


3 potatoes, cut into small cubes
3 zucchini, also cut into small cubes
1 yellow squash, cut into small cubes (see a trend?)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Put the potatoes, zucchini and squash in a glass baking dish. Add oil and seasonings; mix well.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until potatoes are soft; should take about 30 minutes, maybe more.

Now for the arroz Mexicano:

2 Cups long grain white rice
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 cup of your favorite salsa (I use Mrs. Renfros, out of Fort Worth Texas)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

Soak the rice in a bowl of hot water for about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse and shake dry.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the rice and toast – stirring often to prevent too much sticking to the pan. Do this for about ten minutes; the rice should start to turn tan, slightly brown, but not too much!
Meanwhile, put the onion, salsa and garlic into a blender. Puree, then add to the rice mixture and cook until the liquid is absorbed.
Don’t ask questions – now add 3 cups of water, and the chopped jalapeno. Mix well, then cook over medium heat until the rice is tender. This will take about ten more minutes.
Remove from heat; cover.

Back to the fajitas…

1 large white onion, peeled and cut into slices
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil

In a different skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Add sliced onions and bell peppers.
Cook until the onions start to turn translucent and the pepper soften.
Set aside on the stove top to keep warm.

In yet another skillet (use the vegetable skillet above, unless like me, you have vegetarians in the house) pan fry the chicken. Once done, cut into strips.


8 inch, soft flour tortillas (three per person, at least)

Let’s use some technology here:

Using a microwave oven, steam the tortillas. Start by dampening two folded paper towels with water. Wrap the tortillas in a different paper towel and place on top of the damp ones. Put the whole stack in the microwave oven and cook on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Check to see if the tortillas are warm and steaming. If so, you are done. If not, cook for 20 seconds more. This should do it! If not, keep trying 20 seconds intervals until done.

Get the plates ready, because by now the potatoes should be done!

Grate some Colby Jack cheese and get some sour cream ready for optional toppings.

Put a tortilla on the plate. Add a bit of potatoes, zucchini and squash, chicken (for those who partake) and some onions and peppers. Fold the tortilla over, top with cheese and sour cream if it suits you, and serve with a side of Mexican rice.

Recommended beverages:

Any fine red wine will do, as will tequila straight up (but we didn’t have any so Merlot it was)

Buen provecho, mis amigos!

Puchero Hondureno

A while back, actually a long, long while back, I used to hang out on the northern coast of Honduras.  It’s an even longer story, but suffice to say if you want to taste (maybe experience is a better word) true Latin American food, go to the source.  Realize, however, if you enjoy our American Tex-Mex, that’s great.  I grew up on the stuff thanks to Mama Cuellar and her boys, so rest assured I am not disparaging the Lunch Special Number 7 or any of  its’ ilk.

With the first frost of the season last night, I decided that a good hot stew of some sort would be just the thing for dinner today. And after having two bowls, I think I was right.   This may not be exactly what my host family cooked up for my partners and me, but it is pretty close. Easy to make; great to eat on a cold day.

Puchero Hondureno:

8 oz. Chorizo, or any spicy sausage.

2 cans Goya black beans

1 can chopped tomatoes with green peppers and onion

1 can chopped green chiles

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 tspn minced garlic

1 Tblsp cumin

1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar

2 cups cooked rice


In a large pot, cook the sausage, shredding into small chunks.  Drain the fat when done.

Add everything except the rice. Simmer on medium heat, reducing the liquid, but not eliminating it.  Be sure to stir often with a wooden spoon  (after a while, the mixture can start to burn and no one wants “that” flavor…)

With the stew still a bit soupy, add the cooked rice.  stir.  The rice should absorb the rest of the liquid.

The next liquid you may need will be Flor de Cana, but that’s another post for another day!

Buen Provecho!

Sometimes it pays to live with vegetarians

Today was a busy day.  Drove a lot, worked a lot, drove some more.  Got the oil changed in the buggy, probably because I drove so much. Now here it is, 13 hours later and the personal chef has yet to arrive.  What to do, what to do?

Well, it’s starting to get cooler outside.  Swine flu is running amok across the land. There is only one solution:

Amy’s Black Bean Soup “Plus.”

If you go to your local grocer, you will hopefully find Amy’s brand vegetarian foods.  Tasty, a little heat in some of them, and probably good for you; I have yet to find one I didn’t enjoy eating.  And this coming from a meat and potato guy.

When you find the black bean soup, you “could” just heat and eat. Or…you could make it “Plus.”  This is where I start having fun.

Try this…it’ll warm your insides.

1 can Amy’s black bean soup

1 tsp minced garlic (can this EVER be bad?)

Tostitos restaurant style chips

1/2 cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese

Salsa to taste (you can pick your own brand, but I have my opinions…)


Heat the soup in a sauce pan.  Add the garlic.

Fill a big soup bowl with chips.  Cover with shredded cheese.

Pour the soup on top of the chips.  Top with more cheese if you want.

A good spoonful or two of salsa on top and you got yourself some tasty vittles.

Don’t wait, start chowing down before the chips get too soggy.  Once that happens, keep eating anyway!

Better than chicken soup, I tell you  =8>)=


Doug’s Boot Stompin’ Kick Butt Salsa

So the weather today on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is crappy.  It’s the tail end of a Nor’easter.  Off and on rain, lots of wind and the temperature is in the low 50′s.   The weather had canceled our Chesapeake Bay fishing excursion last week and put the ka-bosh on a neighboring town’s celebration this week.  There was supposed to be an outdoor festival in Cheritan, but from the looks of it, the party moved inside the firehouse.  Probably the best decision.  Judging by the number of cars parked around the firehouse, it was well attended.

I decided against leaving the house entirely, save a trip to the local grocery store for mason jar lids.  Today was “Homemade Salsa Day” and in between football games, it was time to get a cookin’!  This salsa was a variation of my normal recipe and it turned out well.  Normally I use fresh cilantro, but none was to be had.  Time to start that herb garden, I guess! It was also my first time using a pressure cooker for canning and I can happily report that three out of four jars sealed the first time.  There’s always one, as they say, and it took three tries to get the last jar of salsa to seal correctly.  It’s well cooked, to be sure.

So when you have an hour or two and the weather inside the house is better than the weather outside, get yourself some chips and make some of this salsa.  It has just a little bite to it, but I focused on good taste rather than heat.  You can always up the quantity of peppers or go for broke with a few Serranos, that’s your choice.  My salsa has good flavor, but every once in a while  you will get a piece of jalapeno. Then you’ll want to stomp your boot, saying “That pepper is kickin’ my butt!”  Enjoy.

2   28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes

1   28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

3   Jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (use food service-quality protective gloves, for your own safety!)

5   Chile de Arbol peppers, seeded and chopped (hopefully you didn’t take the gloves off yet!)

5   Bunches of fresh cilantro* (1 bunch chopped finely, the rest chopped coarsely)

*  4 tablespoons of dried, chopped cilantro will work, if the cilantro truck didn’t arrive…

4   Tablespoons of minced garlic

2   Tablespoons  of black pepper

2   Tablespoons of crushed red pepper

2   Tablespoons of olive oil

1   Tablespoon of salt  (don’t leave this out unless you are on a low sodium diet, in which case you shouldn’t be eating salsa anyway.)


Assemble your ingredients.  Seed, chop, measure as appropriate.

In a big bowl, crush the tomatoes with your hand; you want big bits and little bits. Wash your hands afterward because the acidity in the tomatoes may affect your delicate skin. Or put your hand in a gallon zip lock baggie and viola, instant tomato crushing protective gear! (my personal favorite technique.)

Add everything else.

Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is mixed well.

Poof.  You’re done.  Dip in some chips and you are good to go.  Not that I would know, but a decent margarita on the rocks (no salt) would probably wash it down real good!

This makes about 5 pints.  I canned four and served 1 pint to the family.  I used a pressure cooker to be safe and after three tries I had all four pints ready for travel up north as gifts.

The weather seems to be getting worse so maybe I’ll stuff some pimento cheese into my remaining jalapeno peppers, bread ‘em and deep fry them.  Ahhh, but that’s another post….

Try the salsa and let me know what you think!


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