Salsa Verde Chicken Chalupas

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Pueblo, Mexico as a victory over France in the battle over Puebla and what better way to join the celebration than to eat a traditional street food of the region.

Chalupas (also known as sopes or tostadas) consist of a fried tortilla base topped with meat, salsa and cheese. They are a quick and easy meal to put together, especially if you cheat with a grocery store rotisserie chicken. Picked from the bone and mixed with some mild salsa verde (I use a can from Herdez), means you really elevate the chicken to the next level.

With a slathering of refried beans, a generous amount of shredded chicken and topped with cheese and avocados – this is super flavorful and delicious meal.

Sala Verde Chicken Chalupas

10 corn tortillas 
2 cups shredded chicken
1 – 7 oz can of Herdez salsa verde 
1 can refried beans
8 ounce block of pepper jack cheese, grated
sour cream or Mexican crema
2-3 sliced avocados

Fry the corn tortillas in a little vegetable oil. Turn over as they start to brown and remove from the oil when crispy. Drain on a wire rack over a paper bag or paper towels.

In a mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken and Herdez Salsa Verde. Stir to coat chicken well and microwave until warm, stirring after 30 seconds to a minute.

Warm refried beans in a saucepan.

To serve, spoon refried beans onto each of the fried tortilla shells. Top with the salsa verde chicken. Sprinkle on cheese, add some sour cream and top with avocado slices.

 

Chorizo Scrambled Eggs with Cheese Grits

Chorizo is a slightly spicy pork sausage seasoned with chili powder, garlic, cumin, oregano and other Mexican herbs and spices. As it can be a little spicy for me, I serve it with grits so I can cut the heat with the corn meal.

This is also the perfect scrambled eggs to put in a flour tortilla for a breakfast burrito.

I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished dish. Take my word for it that it tastes better than it looks.

Chorizo Scrambled Eggs with Cheese Grits

1 cup old fashioned grits (not instant)
2 cups water
2 cups milk
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

1 lb Mexican chorizo sausage
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the grits, bring water and milk to a boil. Whisk in the grits and stir vigorously to remove all the lumps. Once it comes back to a boil, cover the saucepan and lower heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally to keep clumps from forming. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed and grits have thickened. Add in cheese by the handful, stirring constantly until cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if desired. Remove from heat but keep covered to stay warm.

Remove the casing from the chorizo and add it to a skillet. Cut the sausage into pieces and cook all the way through, about 4-5 minutes until the color has browned. Once the meat is browned, add in eggs and let sit for minute without stirring. Using a fork, scramble the eggs with the sausage until at desired doneness.

Place together on a plate and dig in, eating a bite of chorizo eggs with a bite of the cheesy grits.

Limoncello Cheesecake

Michelle made a limoncello cheesecake for my birthday using some of the homemade limoncello I made in the late fall. I’m very thankful to my friend Dar who gave me a terrific recipe (Place together the zest of 12 lemons with a bottle of Everclear and store for 4 weeks. Next, strain out the peel and mix with equal parts simple syrup and set aside for another 4 weeks). As you can see below, it was beautifully yellow and very refreshing sipped right out of the freezer.

For the cheesecake, Michelle used ½ cup of the limoncello and the final dessert was so good. Lemony and light and refreshing. You can see the two layers of filling and topping that combined for one tasty cheesecake.

We had a flat of fresh strawberries, so we added one for decoration

She used a 10 ½ inch springform pan and, once the topping was added, it made for a very full pan. If your pan is smaller, consider cooking ⅓ of the batter in muffin tins to make sure you don’t make a mess of your oven.

Limoncello Cheesecake

Crust:

5 tablespoons melted butter
1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs

Filling:

4 packages of cream cheese, room temperature
5 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large lemons zested and juiced (⅓ cup fresh lemon juice)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Topping:

20 ounces of sour cream (NOT light or low fat)
½ cup limoncello
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 egg

Butter a 10.5 inch springform pan. Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes.

While the crust bakes, combine the cream cheese with the sugar in a mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and salt until smooth.

Remove the crust from the oven and drop the temperature of the oven to 200 degrees F.

Pour filling into prepared pan and place in oven to bake for 2 hours, until the topping is set.

While the filling is baking, prepare the topping by mixing together the sour cream, limoncello, sugar, corn starch and egg.

After two hours, remove almost baked cheesecake from the oven. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Pour topping on to the top of the cheesecake. Return pan to oven to bake for 17-20 minutes or until top is set. Remove from oven and, after ten minutes, run a knife along the edge to keep the cheesecake from cracking. Cool for 30 minutes more before placing in the refrigerator to cool completely, at least 4 hours before serving.

I can’t believe I ate the whole thing

Preserved Lemon Butter Broiled Shrimp

This is a messy but good recipe that comes from my Great-uncle Garrett. He published it in Gulf Stream Cookin’ a “gourmetish” little book the Orange Beach Community Center put together of seafood recipes.

Back when I was a kid, they’d make several pans of these the evening after we’d pull a shrimp trawl and bring them to the table with paper plates and a couple rolls of paper towels. All of us would fall on them like ravaging hordes – peeling as fast as we could and licking our fingers to get all the terrific spice. As I’ve added cayenne pepper to the spices, be careful on how many fingers you lick if you’re not a big heat fan.

My big change is to remake his two sticks of margarine into 2 sticks of preserved lemon butter. I made up the preserved lemons in the fall and they are luscious and golden with an intense lemon flavor. Absolutely perfect for this dish. Here is how to make preserved lemons.

The preserved lemon butter is a step up from regular lemon butter. Mellow but lemony and the added kick from the cayenne makes for one tasty dish.

Preserved Lemon Butter Broiled Shrimp

2 sticks butter, softened
1 preserved lemon
2 lb large shrimp, heads removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Prepare the preserved lemon butter by finely slicing one preserved lemon, rind and all. Mix with the softened butter until well combined. Place on plastic wrap and roll up, twisting ends tightly. Place in the refrigerator to solidify.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

If you are squeamish about the vein, run a deveiner or a pairing knife down the back to remove it. Leave the rest of the shell on. Otherwise, just leave the shrimp in shells.

Mix together the salt, black pepper and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.

Butter a large rimmed baking sheet. Place shrimp close together in rows on the pan. Thoroughly sprinkle with spices until well coated. Place thin slices of the preserved lemon butter all over the shrimp.

Bake until pink, about 5-10 minutes depending on size of the shrimp. Turn oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes. Done shrimp are deep pink and firm to the touch.

Since the shrimp are peeled with the fingers at the table, serve with a good supply of napkins. The more you lick your fingers, the spicier the shrimp will be.

Serve with bread for dipping into the lemon butter.

Buttery Sourdough Cornbread

I had already pulled out the discard from my sourdough when I realized what I was really craving was cornbread. Back to the drawing board to figure out to combine my two loves.

My go-to cornbread recipe is my mom’s (it can be found here). With the addition of a cup of sourdough starter, I first jumped to the next size up skillet – 10 inches of cast iron.

I usually like to use buttermilk in my cornbread but, with the tang from the starter, I decided to use whole milk instead. The batter was super tight so I upped the butter to ½ cup and added 2 eggs instead of my usual one. That seemed to do the trick of loosening things up.

The cornbread turned out really well – it isn’t quite as fluffy as Mama’s but it is pretty light for having a cup of sourdough starter and it is very tasty.

Sourdough Cornbread

1 cup sourdough starter discard
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, whisked together
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

Mix the sourdough starter, milk, cornmeal and flour together in a mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and set the mixture aside at room temperature while you preheat the oven.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside and the stick of butter in the skillet. When the butter is melted remove from the oven and swirl the skillet to get the butter to cover the bottom and a bit of the sides. Carefully, pour over the dough. Stir to combine.

Add the eggs, salt, baking powder and baking soda to the mixture and stir well. Pour the batter into the heated and buttered pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden-brown. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving hot, slathered with additional butter.

Leftover Brisket Beef Stroganoff

As a kid, I took a lot of comfort in the ground beef, can of cream of mushroom soup beef stroganoff that mom would make a few times a year. As good as that was, I’m going to kick it up a notch with some of the leftover beef brisket I smoked on the grill.

I use a Dalmatian rub on my brisket (equal parts salt and pepper) so I didn’t need to add either to the finished dish. Here is my method for preparing the brisket.

If you don’t have any leftover brisket, use ground beef or any stir fry type meat like flank steak or sirloin, sliced thin and pan fried in the skillet you’ll then use to sauté the mushrooms.

If you’re using egg noodles, cook them in the sauce as the added cook time deepens the flavors. However, as I’m trying to make do with what I have in the house, I’m using rice. 

The sauce is luscious and so very tasty. The brisket and stock give a big, beefy flavor to my new, favorite comfort food. We were all members of the clean plate club.

Leftover Brisket Beef Stroganoff

1 lb leftover beef brisket, cooked and roughly chopped (or a 1 lb browned ground beef)
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef or mushroom stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces egg noodles or 2 cups cooked rice
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter in a large cast iron skillet. Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt remaining butter and then sprinkle on the flour and whisk together. Cook the roux for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly. Keep the heat low to just cook away the floor taste, not to add color. Slowly whisk in the stock. Keep stirring to remove any lumps. Add in the Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add in mushrooms and noodles and cook until noodles are cooked, about ten minutes. Add in beef and stir to coat. Stir in sour cream and cook about 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Spoon onto plates (if using rice, use it as a base layer) and sprinkle with a little paprika, if desired.

Cherry Pie for Pi Day

I decided to make a cherry pie this year for 3.14.

I’m being super lazy this year and using a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust – buying a 2 crust box for the top and bottom and using a can of Duncan Hines Comestock Original Country Cherry Pie Filling.

I’m spending any creativity on the top crust. I decided to go with a mock lattice,  grate pattern. Instead of weaving strips, I sliced slits in the top dough and stretched it to open it up.

Here is what I did:

Adjust oven rack to lower-third of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place bottom pie crust in bottom of 9-inch pie plate and flute the edges.

Unroll remaining dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Starting on right side, 2 inches from edge with a ruler held vertically, cut 2-inch slits with a paring knife into dough, spaced about 1 inch apart. Move ruler 1 inch to the left and continue making 2-inch slits, starting parallel to center of first set, so spaces alternate. Continue working across rest of dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Gently stretch dough horizontally to reveal grate pattern (if dough is too soft or breaking, refrigerate until pliable, about 10 minutes).

Pour cherry pie filling into bottom crust. Dot top with 2 tablespoons of butter pieces. Place top dough on pie, stretching slightly to open up the pattern. Crimp to seal the top dough to the bottom dough. If there is any leftover dough, cut into a Pi shape. Beat 1 egg with a teaspoon of water and brush over top dough. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the pie is bubbling and crust is golden brown. Let cool 30 minutes before slicing.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Grilled Debris Po’boy

Michelle’s local grocery store, Ramey’s, had a sale on beef chuck roasts. As I was passing through on my way back to New Orleans, we stopped in and each got one. She is going to do a classic slow-cooker pot roast but I decided to go a little different and do a combination of grilling and braising on the grill to make debris po’boys.

I can tell you the cats in my neighborhood sure came out for the delicious smells coming from the grill. The little black cat scooted when the camera came out but the noisy one stayed until I finally pulled the meat off after nearly 3 hours.

Before serving, to be super authentic, I had to dash over to a local grocery store (Zuppardo’s) which carries loaves of Leidenheimer’s French bread – the official bread of the po’boy. The bread is tender on the inside with a crunchy crust. As that specific bread is hard to get elsewhere in the country, go ahead and use French bread loaves or rolls instead.

The finished sandwich is awesome. Lots of beefy flavor and the sauce soaks into the bread, making it melt in your mouth good. I was out of tomatoes but the lettuce added a nice crunch. Dad took too long slicing the pickles and I was hungry, so I took the picture without them in it.

Debris Po-boy

3.5 lb beef chuck roast
coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups beef stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce

Generously rub salt and pepper over the chuck roast and set aside while you prepare the grill. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a pourable container and set aside.

Set the grill up for indirect cooking with a semi-circle of 14 to 20 unlit charcoal briquets as a base layer. Use a chimney starter to bring the rest of the charcoal to heat and pour over the unlit coals. Place several hickory chips on the coals to add smoke.

Sear the chuck roast on both sides for about 5 minutes per side over direct heat. Place the meat in an aluminum pan on the cool or indirect zone of the grill. Carefully pour over the beef stock mixture. It should fill the pan and mostly cover the meat.

Braise, uncovered for 1 hour. Rotate the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Continue to braise for 2 hours more. Internal temperature of the meat should be 200 degrees F.

Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes on a cutting board before shredding with your hands or two forks. Bring the sauce to a boil to reduce slightly. Remove from heat and defat the remaining sauce before returning the meat to the sauce to stay warm.

Slice French bread or rolls lengthwise, leaving a hinge on the opposite side. Spread the cut sides with mayonnaise. Place a generous amount of meat and a ladle of the sauce on one side of the loaf. To dress your po’boy, top with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and a couple of pickle slices.

Serve with plenty of napkins.

Chili Con Carne

One of the most comforting scents of winter is the smell of chili cooking on the stove – you just know your very soul is about to get warmed up.

I usually use a food processor to speed up the prep work – chop the onions and garlic, chop the meat, chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Unfortunately, the food processor was one of things destroyed when my parent’s house flooded in Hurricane Sally, so I went the old fashioned way with a large knife and murder in my heart.

This is a good, hearty meal without much heat. The sun dried tomatoes add a lovely brightness and using the oil they were packed in to sauté the onions and meat adds another flavorful layer.

I eat mine with saltine crackers and my folks like eating theirs with flour tortillas and grated cheddar cheese. Other options include Fritos corn chips, sliced jalapeño, sliced green onions, sour cream, guacamole, diced white onion, French fried onions, etc, etc. The sky’s the limit!

Chili Con Carne

1 large white onion
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.5 lbs chuck roast, cut into hunks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
7 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 (14 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
1 can Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1/2 stick cinnamon
1 cup water or beer
2 (14 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained

Drain the olive oil from the tomatoes.

Chop up the onions and garlic into a small dice and sauté in the tomato olive oil until softened and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and a little pepper.

Roughly chop the meat into bite sized pieces and sprinkle with salt. Add to the pan, cooking until slightly browned on all sides.

Chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Add to the beef with the tomatoes, Ro-tel, cinnamon stick and the water or beer.

Bring to the boil, cover, then turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the kidney beans and cook for 30 minutes more with the lid off.

Serve with your favorite sides/toppings.

Fudgy Nutella Sourdough Brownies

I was looking for alternatives to bread making to use some of my sourdough starter discard when I rediscovered a sourdough brownie recipe in my files. As I wanted to take it a step further, I decided to add some Nutella hazelnut spread to the batter.

It was a delicious idea. The hazelnut spread adds fudgy, nutty richness. The sourdough starter makes sure it isn’t too sweet.

Be sure and let the pan cool completely before cutting or you’ll be spooning out brownies (which isn’t a bad idea either).

Fudgy Nutella Sourdough Brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate baking bars (I use Ghirardelli), broken into pieces
½ cup Nutella hazelnut spread

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup sourdough starter discard
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and butter a square (8×8 or 9×9) baking pan.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate pieces and hazelnut spread. Stir the ingredients until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool down.

Stir the vanilla extract with the sourdough starter.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until well blended, at least 5 minutes. Add the sourdough starter and beat on low. Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and beat on low until mixed. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan after they come out of the oven.  Cut into squares.
Store in an airtight container or bag.