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.
I like to hedge my bets, so am planning on eating as many “lucky” foods as possible New Years Eve and New Years day.
And wearing red undies. Red lingerie brings giddiness, passion, love and luck. Right?
But, as for food that brings good fortune, here’s a short list, that I’m picking up at the grocery store for these next two days. Just in case. Oh…skip the lobster and chicken. They don’t have good New Year’s vibes. But these foods do.
Pork Sauerkraut with Sour Cream
Makes 8 servings
Despite my German heritage (sauerkraut is served at EVERY family holiday), I’m not a big fan of sauerkraut. Except for this version. The sour cream mellows the kraut. I sometimes cut down on the pork and add some Polish sausage.
2 pounds pork (I like pork butt), cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
3 large onions, chopped
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 pound jar sauerkraut (drained and squeezed dry)
1/2 cup water (or low-sodium chicken broth)
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream
1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook and stir until brown. Remove pork from pan and set aside. Add onions and cook until soft. Drain excess fat. Stir in paprika; cook for 1 minute.
2. Stir in browned pork, sauerkraut and water. Cover and cook gently for 60 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream and flour. Stir into sauerkraut mixture. Simmer gently until heated through.
Was hungry NOW. Usually when I’m hungry NOW, I end up filling up on cheese and crackers while I figure out what to cook for dinner. Then I start cooking. Then I eat more cheese and crackers or maybe a brownie or more than likely a couple of gigantic garlic-stuffed olives that I keep in my fridge for emergencies.
But I’ve been watching my weight, so I figured if I could fix dinner fast, I’d avoid the extra pre-dinner calorie gorge. Skinless, boneless chicken thighs were awaiting. (Thighs cook quickly when untucked and opened flat, butterfly style.) So, I narrowed it down to either lemon chicken or, hmmm, Parmesan chicken.
Parm chicken won because I just happened to have a chunk of Wisconsin’s own Sartori SarVecchio Parmesan in my refrigerator. It’s rather awesome. It has big sharpish taste and that same crystalline-crunch of Parmigiano-Reggiano. (I buy local not to just buy local, but because it tastes remarkable).
I also had a little bit of grated Parmesan in the fridge, too. You know. Green can o’ Parmesan. Couldn’t resist combining the two. But you can use one or the other if you don’t want to use both.
I served the chicken with pasta tossed in pesto. And a salad. And now I’m happy.
Here’s my recipe. It serves 6. Guess what I’m bringing for lunch tomorrow?
1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs (I used a fine grater to make my own crumbs with a piece—the heel—of a loaf of multigrain bread. You can use Panko or purchased bread crumbs, too.)
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan (green can)
2 Tbsp. freshly shredded Parmesan
Coupla shakes Italian seasoning
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 lb. skinless, boneless, chicken thighs (6 thighs)
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine butter and garlic in a small skillet. Heat (low) until butter melts. In a bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and pepper.
2. Dip chicken in garlic butter (both sides), then into crumb mixture to coat. Put chicken in a 9×13 baking pan. Drizzle with remaining garlic butter. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes or so, or until chicken is cooked through (165° F).
Just barely tweaked this recipe from a couple of years back that was originally developed by food writer/editor/creator extraordinaire, Renee Schettler, for a magazine I was editing at the time. The grapes in this one-dish dinner roast to a mellow mushy jam-ish delight. And they take on a happy sweet-tang after getting a finishing drizzle of balsamic glaze. Of course, you can skip the glaze and just splash with 1 or 2 tablespoons of balsamaic vinegar…or nothing. Trader Joe’s has a pretty good balsamic glaze, too.
Yes, the recipe calls for purchased polenta. (Of course you can make your own. I used Melissa’s Organic tube o’ polenta. Kinda good, especially when the sausage juices melt into it. It’s got onions and rosemary too. That’s it. Pop it in the oven and do a good deed for your neighbor while it’s sizzling. Or pour a glass of red wine and sink into another chapter of “50 Shades of Gray.”
What’s your favorite fall comfort food … or book to snuggle up with?
Sausages, Polenta and Grapes
4-6 smoked chicken sausage links, about 1 1/2 lb. total (I’m partial to Aidell’s. I usually use their Artichoke and Garlic version here.)
1 1/2 pounds seedless red grapes
1 tube (1 lb.) refrigerated cooked polenta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large red onion, cut into thin wedges
It was a Sunday afternoon. Kinda cloudy weatherwise, but sunny in my head. Time for a quick run to the neighborhood co-op grocery store. Me and my list. I needed a few ingredients for Over-the-Rainbow Chard Pasta from our cookbook.
He was standing in front of the store, just to the right of the door. I glanced over, then quicky glanced away. I could see him coming toward me.
I suspected he was a panhandler. He was going to ask for money. And he did. In a big way.
“Gurmey yup poos,” he said. Very quietly.
“Gimme your purse.” He was louder this time. And he nodded his head toward his jacket pocket. I followed his eyes to the handgun he held at his hip. It was big. Black. Menacing. Heart-stopping, breathtaking big. I remember being surprised at the size of that thing. I thought handguns were smaller.
This was a big bleep-bleeper.
I looked back up at his face. It was young. Chubby. Almost cherubic. His eyes big, brown and anxious. On his head a black knit stocking cap. In the center of the cap a big round hot-pink logo or circle. Hot pink.
Can I just give you some money?
Seriously. Those were the first words that popped out of my mouth when I was being held up at gunpoint. At gunpoint. Maybe it was the hot pink decor on his hat. Maybe it was his baby face. Maybe it was because the gun was held at his hip. He wasn’t really aiming it at any major organs, was he?
Umm, I hate to put you out, but would you mind if we negotiated a little before you shoot me and take my purse?
He quietly mutters again: “OK. Twin tree.”
“Twenty,” he says.
And then it hits me. Not a bullet, but the fact that I had hardly any money. I contemplated stopping at the ATM on my way to the store, but decided I’d just charge it.
I don’t think I have that much, but I’ll give you what I have.
“OK,” he says.
I start digging in my purse. By now, despite the fact that I had convinced myself that he was a pretty mellow bad guy, my heart was well beyond its target zone. I find a 5-dollar bill and two ones. I hand it to him. His hand is shaking more than mine.
You really shouldn’t be doing this.
(Seriously? Now I’m scolding the guy with a gun?)
“I’m sorry,” he says. Then turns and sprints across the parking lot.
Storm clouds appeared. I didn’t fix pasta that night, but here’s the recipe I had planned to make.Photo by Sandra Gerdes
Over-the-Rainbow Chard Pasta
8 oz. fusilli or linguine, broken in half
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 medium summer squash or zucchini, halved and cut in 1/2-inch slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 to 5 cups roughly chopped rainbow chard
2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven cook tomatoes, squash, garlic and chile pepper flakes in hot butter and olive oil over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add rainbow chard and rosemary, tossing, stirring and cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, or until chard wilts. (The bigger the pot, the quicker the chard will wilt.) Pile veggie mixture all over pasta. Shower it with cheese.