Don’t tell anyone, but I was once madly in love with the Mexican Pizzas at Taco Bell. Haven’t been to Taco Bell in forever, but I still have that craving now and then. So I created a Mexican pizza recipe. My version is a lot plumper than Taco Bell’s…because I’ve loaded it up with chicken, black beans, and Hatch chiles.
Fresh Hatch chiles are typically available only in the fall, but that’s when I stock up, roast ‘em (or buy them freshly roasted) and freeze them. But if you don’t have a stash in your freezer, you can easily substitute the chile peppers of your choice.
At the Des Moines, Iowa Farmer’s Market—Juan O’Sullivan—roasts them before your very eyes in the fall. And he makes an amazing salsa. He also shares some of his Mexican recipes here.
Or try my Mexican pizza recipe. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo.
Mexican Pizza with Chicken and Hatch Chile Peppers
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
2 cups green enchilada sauce
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used 2 chicken breasts from a deli roast chicken)
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, chopped, or a handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 hatch or Anaheim chile peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Three 8-inch flour tortillas
2 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
Optional toppings: chopped tomatoes, sour cream, fresh cilantro
Lime wedges (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook onion in hot olive oil over medium heat about 4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and tandoori seasoning; cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the enchilada sauce, the chicken, black beans, tomato, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for about 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
3. To assemble, spread 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Arrange one of the tortillas on sauce. Top with half of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese.
4. Top with another tortilla and remaining half of chicken mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Top with last tortilla. Spread remaining 1/4 cup green enchilada sauce over tortilla.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through, topping with remaining 1/2 cup cheese during the last 10 minutes of baking. Let stand on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. If desired top with chopped tomatoes, sour cream, and/or cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
The Boston Marathon tragedy touched so many lives and hearts. The ripple of anguish and anger spread across the country, but the stories of humble heroes who helped saved lives grounded most of us with a sense of the true American spirit.
As I’ve reminded others—and myself—there are so many more good, kind, loving people in this country and in this world than there are bad guys. So let’s make sure to recognize the good guys. My hope is that kindness will prevail.
My baking beauty friend, Michelle Medley, suggested baking Boston Cream Pies to deliver to my local first responders. And so I baked last night. Thank you to the Milwaukee Police Dept., District 6, for doing your job day after day after day.
Boston Cream Pie is actually a cake, but it is believed that it is called “pie” because early bakers used pie tins to bake cakes in before cake pans were created.
My Boston Cream Pie recipe was a combo of a homemade buttery sponge cake and a “cheater” quickie filling and an amazing chocolate ganache. The cake was published in Cook’s Illustrated several years ago and called Wicked Good Boston Cream Pie. I used the semi-homemade filling from Kraft’s Boston Cream Pie (instant vanilla pudding mix plus, dare I say it, Cool Whip).
Didn’t quite nail the ganache. I poured it on a little too soon. So I’ll try againt this weekend and make sure the ganache is a little cooler and thicker before I pour it on.
I highly recommend sharing with first responders. Make sure you get to know them first since they may not be excited about accepting homemade packages from strangers.
It’s that time of year. Deviled eggs. All over the place. I concocted this deviled egg recipe a couple of years ago. I love smoked salmon. And capers. And deviled eggs. Almost ate all of them before company arrived. They are that good.
Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
6 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped smoked salmon (lox), divided
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons drained capers, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic scapes, green onions, or fresh chives, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
1. Cut the eggs in half. Put the yolks in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in the yogurt, 2 tablespoons of the smoked salmon, the mayonnaise, the mustard, 2 teaspoons of the capers, and 2 teaspoons of the garlic scapes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Spoon the yolk mixture into the egg white halves. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
3. Garnish before serving with remaining smoked salmon, capers, and scapes.
Makes 6 to 12 servings
St. Patrick would be proud. It’s easy to dive face first into these chocolate cupcakes flavored up with Irish stout. (And you know there will be some in your fridge this weekend.) Save 1/2 cup or so to make this Double Chocolate Stout Cupcake recipe. We like to use chocolate stout, but any old stout will do.
Double Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate stout (Pour about 1/3 cup chocolate stout plus foam, let settle for 1 to 2 minutes, scoop off the foam, and you should have about ½ cup)
1/2 cup butter (unsalted, please. If you’re using salted butter, ditch the salt, above)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 ounces dark unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped, or semisweet dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 slightly beaten eggs
Dark Chocolate Frosting (next page)
Coarse sea salt
12 bite-size pretzels
1. Preheat the oven to 350* F. Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Set aside. Stir together flour, soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring stout, butter, and cocoa just to simmer; stirring frequently. Add dark chocolate, stirring until melted. Remove from heat. Add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Whisk in eggs until combined. Add flour mixture, beating until smooth.
3. Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full. Bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Or just tap the top of the cupcake with your finger. It should bounce back.) Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove cupcakes from muffin pan and cool completely on rack.
4. Pipe or frost with Dark Chocolate Frosting (below). Sprinkle coarse salt over each cupcake. Top with a pretzel. (Or skip the salt and crush the pretzels and sprinkle on top.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
Makes enough to cover 12 cupcakes
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup milk (or cream as long as we’re being decadent)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or 8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped)
2 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar
1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and milk over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is bubbly, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and stir in dark chocolate until melted.
2. Remove pan from heat and add powdered sugar. Beat by hand until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Stir well before frosting cupcakes. Add additional milk if frosting is too thick.
I rolled out of bed this morning, pulled on my shoes (and a few other items of clothing) with the goal of tackling my upper body at the gym. I want guns like Michelle Obama. It’s free-weight day, baby.
Holey moley. Got to the gym and the weight area was mobbed with burly, scowling and grunting muscle-bound men with can’t-look-away tattoos. Was it he-man day at the fitness center? Yup, it appeared so. They all had those cliched meaty paws that could easily double as snow shovels. One guy was pummeling the heavy bag with his bare fists.
What could I do but extend my warmup on the elliptical, thinking they’d leave soon.
After 30 minutes they were still there.
I was kinda hungry by then, so thought about skipping my upper body workout and heading home for bacon and eggs. But, hey. It’s MY gym too.
So I MUSCLED my way in and grabbed a couple of impressive 8-lb. weights and grunted along with the body builders. When I increased my poundage while flat on my back on the bench, I struggled a little to pick up the hand weights from the floor next to the bench. Embarrassing!
Suddenly the burliest of the tatted-up, intimidating guys came over and bared his teeth. (I thought he was about to let out a mwahahahaha laugh.) But, nooooo. He offered a shy smile. And offered to spot me.
Lesson for the day: Intimidation is all in the mind. The book cover does not always reveal what’s inside. Keep an open mind and an open heart.
By Lindsey Ambrose is the daughter of Jeanne Ambrose. She is a small-space gardener extraordinaire with a penchant for cooking fresh and local. She goes for full-flavored, somewhat-spicy cuisine with a flair for ethnic-fusion feasts.
It’s no secret that I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. While I do love most holidays (mainly for the excuse to overindulge in food and fancy cocktails) this one has always stuck in my craw. Shouldn’t we appreciate our loved ones year round? It’s simple really: if you love someone treat them well.
Raised by an amazing and independent working lady—my strong single mom—I always planned to make it on my own. If I found love on the side, well so be it. Marriage? That’s a sucker’s game.
But then I found someone that I loved very deeply—and more importantly didn’t bore me—even after four years of cohabitation. I was happy and didn’t mind the idea of marriage anymore. Valentine’s Day became more exciting than depressing and I began to concoct fun, non-cliche ways to celebrate. Maybe Valentine’s Day was more romantic than I thought. Maybe it really was just an excuse to dedicate your time, or money, to show someone that you truly cared about them.
Imagine my surprise when my Valentine had other plans. Things had become rocky since discovering he had been back in touch with an ex-girlfriend and hiding it from me. We started to bicker a lot. So I wasn’t incredibly surprised when he broke up with me on Valentine’s Day, saying he just couldn’t see spending the rest of his life with me. Not surprised, just a little pissed at the timing—and heartbroken. Just when I thought I could maybe get behind the whole V-day hoopla.
Get bent, Cupid.
For anyone who’s been jilted on Valentine’s Day, this song is for you.
Disclaimer: This song did not get the Mom seal of approval. She likes Bruno Mars these days.
Don’t forget the treats. Enjoy these Moon Drops for your solo Valentine’s Day can suck it party.
A small batch makes about 13 TB sized balls (heaping tablespoons, that is)
1/2 cup almond butter*
1/4 cup honey
3 TB coconut oil
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup chopped up nuts (walnuts are great)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 cup of dried cranberries, chopped dried figs, dates or any dried fruit, chocolate chips or cacao nibs for chocolate lovers. You can also dip/roll these in cocoa powder or add a few tablespoons of it to the mixture!
Heat the almond butter, honey, and coconut oil in a saucepan on low, stirring constantly, until melted. Once melted, remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients to mixture, stirring vigorously until fully incorporated.
Using a tablespoon, drop mixture onto waxed paper covered cookie. Place cookie sheets in the fridge for about an hour or so until the drops begin to harden.
Now you can leave them as blobs, or form them into nice balls, hearts or whatever you’re in the mood for.
Because I’ve had an exhausting week and it’s Cocktail Friday, I’m sharing my friend Chad Johnston’s latest concoction. Chad likes to play bartender. And all his friends are happy to be taste testers. Except for the time he attempted a drink that included an infusion of fresh plum and onion. But this ready-for-spring Darlin’ Clementine Cocktail is definitely a worth toasting.
Darlin’ Clementine Cocktail
ala Chad Johnston
Zest of 1 lemon
Fresh rosemary (1 sprig)
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 1/2 oz. orange liqueur (Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen is partial to Cointreau.)
3 oz. vodka
3 oz. fresh squeezed clementine juice
Splash orange bitters
1. Combine lemon zest with sugar. Moisten rim of martini glass with clementine juice. Dip rim in lemony sugar.
2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle rosemary sprig with simple sugar and orange liqueur. Fill the shaker with ice. Add vodka, clementine juice and orange bitters. Shake. Shake. Shake. Shake. Shake. Strain into the sugared martini glass. Add a fresh rosemary spring.
Yes it is. Time for a warm bowl of amazement to wrap your chilly little hands around. It’s salmon chowder time. Or you can call it a creamy, chunky seafood soup. But first:
Lesson #1: Fish should never taste or smell fishy. I always ask for a sniff when I’m buying fish. The request typically causes raised eyebrows. Don’t care. Just want good fish.
Lesson #2: Frozen fish is often best. Unless you live on the coasts, fish often is flash-frozen and shipped to markets across the country…which is thawed before being displayed on ice. So buy your own fresh-off-the-boat flash-frozen fish and thaw it when ready.
Lesson #3: There is a Seafood Watch list of fish to avoid. For alternatives, get the scoop from Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Lesson #4: Make this Salmon and Bacon Chowder.
Salmon and Bacon Chowder
Makes about 6 servings.
¼ lb. bacon, chopped (about ¾ cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped (1 cup)
½ cup chopped carrot
½ cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chopped coarsely chopped new red skin potatoes or Yukon gold
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Grey Sea Salt with Five Pepper Blend or The Chef’s Miracle Blend (or salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon thyme)
2 cups coarsely chunked fresh salmon (altho I suppose you could use canned salmon, but you’ll get a different result. Canned salmon is stronger flavored than fresh.)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 cup half and half
Chopped cooked bacon (optional)
1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven or big pot until crisp; remove and set aside. (I like to scoop it onto paper towel to soak up some of the grease.) To the same pot, add olive oil, onion, carrot and celery. Cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir for about 30 seconds, then add flour. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in potatoes and broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.
2. Stir in the bacon you’ve set aside, salmon, corn, half and half. Cook gently (do not boil) for 5 minutes or until salmon is cooked through. If desired, sprinkle individual servings with additional cooked bacon.