mmmm mexican food at home!


My Chicken Enchiladas:

Two full boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small chunks.

(Two full boneless breasts weigh about a pound – I buy the family packs at the grocery store and plunk them two at a time in quart freezer bags)

Goya Tomato Sofrito

El Pato Mexican hot style tomato sauce (7 3/4 oz can)

La Morena sliced red jalapeños in Morena sauce (7 oz can)

Can of refried beans- either red pinto or black beans

Soft fajita sized white flour tortillas

Crema Mexicano ( Mexican sour cream)

One bunch fresh cilantro

One lime

Goya adobo spice mix

New Mexico Style Chili Powder

Smoked Spanish paprika

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano

Shredded Quesos La Ricura

La Costena Taquiera Salsa Hot

La Costena Green Mexican Salsa Verde

One Vidalia or sweet onion cut into thin slices, then cut slices in half

Olive oil

Cut the raw chicken into small chunks. Place in a large sauté pan that has had some olive oil in the bottom warming. Just a few tablespoons of olive oil. Dust the chicken with Goya Adobo seasoning to taste, a few dashes of garlic powder, a few dashes of oregano, and about a teaspoon and a half of smoked paprika.

Add in your onion slices and about a third of a cup of Goya Tomato Softito. Add a couple of dashes of New Mexico style chili powder. (you can order that from Whole Spice in California on Amazon).

Cook the onion and chicken down on a medium to low heat until you can basically shred the chicken and the onion is starting to almost dissolve it’s so soft. Turn off the heat and to that at the zest of one lime and the juice of one lime and as much fresh chopped cilantro as you want. Adjust with salt and pepper if needed.

Set aside and let the flavors meld together for about 45 minutes on the stove with no heat under it.

Heat up your can of refried beans over low heat in a small sauce pan with a little of olive oil in the bottom to keep the beans from sticking. To the beans add a little dash of the Goya Adobo Seasoning (I buy the real Mexican refried beans from my local Latino market), and add about 1/3 of a can of the pickled red jalapeños mentioned in the ingredients minced up and the Morena sauce it came in. Stir it up well, add a little fresh cilantro, and once the beans are heated through turn the stove off under this pot as well.

Go do something else for 45 minutes total for both. Set the table, clean up your prep with the chicken, empty the dishwasher, whatever.

After you have let the sauté pan and the sauce pan and the various contents set, come back to your kitchen and preheat your oven to 345°.

Line a baking pan that you would use for a sheet cake or brownies with aluminum foil. The pan I use is actually a vintage aluminum rectangular pan came from the kitchen supply house.

Take out six flour tortillas and one at a time first on the bottom of the tortilla layer refried bean mixture, and then put the chicken and onion mixture on top of that. Add a little shredded queso and roll your tortilla into a tube.

Repeat this six times. I made six enchiladas from this recipe.

When you have the tortillas now enchiladas with all their stuffing rolled up like little tubes and lined up next to each other in the foil lined pan like neat little soldiers you’re almost ready to put in the oven.

Take your can of spicy Mexican tomato sauce and pour evenly over your enchiladas. Generously layer shredded Queso to taste over the sauce and enchiladas. Cover your pan tightly with aluminum foil and put in your preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Everything is already cooked, so it truly just needs to heat through and melt. But you must do this with a pan that is covered with aluminum foil or the enchiladas will dry out.

When you bring them out of the oven let them sit for a couple of minutes before you take the foil top off.

Serve the enchiladas with Mexican sour cream,chopped fresh cilantro, a salsa Verde, and a spicy red salsa. I suggest the brand I list above specifically in the ingredients.

There are no leftovers when I make this. Ever.

And FYI if you are in Chester County and reading this recipe, I use the little Mexican market at the bottom of where Route 352 meets Route 30 in Frazer. They have a small Taquiera attached called El Jalapeño .

This little market has several kinds of Latin American sour cream, Quesos and so on. They basically so all the supplies the grocery store should if you want to do a Latin inspired meal but don’t.

I was told I had to write down this recipe, so I have. It is something that started in my head as I scanned the shelves of this little market. I also do this with leftover pork roast instead of chicken.


hello pumpkin…bread

4Cold days are meant for baking, so today I whipped up a couple of loaves of my pumpkin bread – I had a container of Pacific Natural Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree left in the cupboard from Thanksgiving (it really IS the best pumpkin to cook with).

There is just something so homey about the smell of something wonderful baking in the oven, isn’t there? And by the way, one of my secret 3ingredients is Jayshree Spices’ Tea Masala spice blend.  It works well when making chai spiced tea, and you can bake with it too. I wanted something fun to accompany tonight’s dinner which is my hybrid cross between black bean and lentil soup and a spinach salad with a tangy apple cider-mustard vinaigrette salad dressing.  (And no, I have not written down my soup recipe it is a dash of this, a pinch of that, but I can tell you it is quasi pureed, made with tomatoes and my secret to its smokey fabulous flavor is good ham and minced orange peel.)

Anyway, I thought I thought I would share my recipe, which is a constant evolution. Pardon the haphazard way I list ingredients, but when something comes out of my head sometimes the whole codifying a recipe isn’t perfect…

Pumpkin Bread 1

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two loaf pans and set aside.

1 15 or 16 oz container of pumpkin puree (I have seen both sizes – just pumpkin, no sugar or spice added)

3 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup milled bran (yes that again – love it in baked goods- makes chocolate chip cookies extra yummy too!)

1 cup Smart Balance oil

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups organic white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup of orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons buttermilk powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (regular not sea salt)

3 tablespoons Jayshree Tea Masala Spice Blend

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon green cardamom

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon allspice5

shredded coconut, quick oats, and turbinado sugar for dusting tops of batter in pans before it goes in the oven.

1. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, vanilla, orange juice, sugars, spices

2. Mix in all dry ingredients except milled bran.  Mix well.

3. Add bran.  Stir again

4. Pour batter into prepared pans and dust top with plain quick cooking oats, turbinado sugar, shredded coconut.

Bake at 350 for at least 60 minutes (my oven went 70 minutes on this recipe today).  If a wood or stainless steel small skewer comes out of center clean, pumpkin bread is baked.

Cool in pans on baking rack about 20 minutes.  Carefully remove loaves from pan and cool completely.  This bread does need to sit at least an hour after coming out of over before slicing. (just my opinion)




what is summer without a cherry pie?

When I started this blog, I didn’t think I would be sharing so much of my home cooking.  But when I am pleased with recipes, I love to share, so here we go again.  (If this keeps up, I might have to self-publish a small cookbook!)

Anyway, I purchased a big container of cherries from Frecon Farms this past Thursday at The East Goshen Farmers Market .  They were more tart than sweet, so today I thought “pie”.  Pie is an all-American part of summer, isn’t it?

I also had some leftover fresh cranberries in the freezer, so a combo pie idea was born. I also have other summer cherry memories….

The summer between 9th and 10th grade my friend Lizzy and I went to Alsace (Strasbourg) courtesy of a trip sponsored by the Valley Forge Historical Society.  I stayed with a family who owned a large working farm on the edge of a village called Stutzheim.  One of the days I was there, I went with my host family’s daughter Marie-Claude to either a friend or relative’s home.  We picked cherries right out of the trees, and they were so sweet.  That was also where I saw pear trees with bottles in the trees and the pears growing inside the bottles for Poire William, an eau de vie distilled from pears.  I also remember Marie Claude’s mother making these incredible tarts.

O.k., now that I am back from my trip down memory lane, back to the pie of it all.  It ended up being a Cran-Cherry Pie with a Lattice-Crumble Topping.  Would you like the recipe?  It is out of my head today, so I had better write it down so I can do it again!

I also made the crust, and I made a sweet crust.  In between I made a dry rub for the big thick steak for grilling this evening.  I will serve that with the leftover pasta from last evening , and another salad.  (And we decided no more pre-marinated Smithfield pork products as they are waaaaaaayyyyyy toooo ungodly salty.)  But I will get to the dry rub later – and that is never an exact science, depends what herbs and spices leap off the spice rack at me.  And a tip as we begin– do not wear a light-colored T-shirt when pitting cherries!

First the filling:

2 cups of white sugar

grated fresh ginger to taste

2 TB Calvados

2 TB Orange Juice

4 tablespoons corn starch

2 cups pitted fresh cherries

1 1/2 – 2 cups fresh cranberries (I thawed them, they were frozen)

 Toss the fruit into a mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the sugar and cornstarch.  Grate some fresh ginger into it.  Fold together.  Add the Orange Juice and Calvados and set aside.

Second the crust:

1 1/2 cups maybe a bit more of flour

6 Tablespoons cold butter (unsalted)

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 -4 tablespoons ice water (you might use more as today I think I actually used 5 to get the dough to the consistency I wanted)

3 Tablespoons of sugar (white)

Dash of cinnamon, some more grated fresh ginger (I love fresh ginger, so I will and do incorporate it where I can.)

Take a big mixing bowl.  Toss in the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and ginger.  Mix together with a fork until blended.

Cut the butter into little pieces and toss in to flour mixture.  Use 2 forks or a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter into the flour until it is all crumbly small together.

Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time.  The dough should come together nicely and then form a ball, put it in a small bag, tie off the bag so the dough doesn’t dry out and then put the dough in the fridge for at LEAST one hour.  Today my dough hung out and chilled for two hours as I had other things to do like make beds, etc.

Third the crumble topping

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup quick cooking but not instant oatmeal (plain, not flavored)

1/4 cup flour

cinnamon and ginger to taste

Dead simple – cut the butter up into tiny pieces and toss with other ingredients into a bowl and get out your trusty pastry cutter (they call it a “pastry blender” too) and mix it all together until you have nice, uniform crumbs.

When your dough is chilled, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. [YOU WILL TURN THE OVEN DOWN TO 375 DEGREES WHEN YOU BAKE]

Take your dough, flatten it somewhat into a flat, round disk in your hands and put between two pieces of saran wrap you have lightly floured.  This makes rolling out the dough a snap.

When your dough is thin enough, lay in pie plate – today mine was a nine or ten inch one.  I prefer the vintage glass pie plates that are over safe.  This is one I picked up at a church sale a few years ago, and I guess I should measure it, but I haven’t.

Trim the crust – it doesn’t have to hang over that much.  Set scraps aside, do not throw away. Crimp or flute or whatever your pie crust edge.  Take a tiny smidge of soft butter and coat the bottom of the crust – I saw it on a show with Chef Robert Irvine when he was making over a restaurant.  Some people also paint egg white on the bottom of the crust.  It is an anti-soggy thing.

Toss in your cran-cherry filling.

Cover the filling neatly with the crumble topping.

Now….the anal Martha Stewart in me surfaces….take your pie crust scraps  I told you to set aside and make a new pastry ball and toss them back between two lightly floured pieces of saran wrap.  Roll it out as thin and all that good stuff as you can get it.  Take a small kitchen knife and cut 8 uniform “ribbons”.  Weave the “ribbons” four on a side OVER the crumble topping and gently attach to pie crust edge. I even had a little extra left over after that and cut out some free form leaves and fashioned a little flower.  I did not egg wash the top today, but you can.  I cover the edge of my pie crust lightly with a tin foil ring so the edges do not singe.

After you make sure you have turned down your pre-heated oven to 375 degrees, place your pie on a baking sheet lined with a piece of that half parchment half foil paper, foil side up.  Bake 45 to 50 minutes. 

Trust me, this pie makes your whole kitchen smell awesome!

A tip is buy the Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Pan Lining Paper NOT Martha Stewart’s version called Martha Wrap.  Martha’s cost more and isn’t as good.

So, I told you we were grilling and I did a dry rub this morning, right?  Today’s rub was salt, sugar, chipolte chili powder, sweet paprika, roast paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, rosemary, basil, oregano, cumin, a dash of Roopak’s Rajma Masala.

Bon apetit all!

what’s cookin’ good lookin’? (valentine’s dinner at home)

Yes it’s Valentine’s Day, but it is a school night in my house. So I am cooking. Call it family date night.  Believe it or not it is already in the crock pot and will burble happily while I get on with my day.  I will serve over Carolina Gold rice and a salad will accompany.  Dessert is a cinnamon-maple kissed cheese cake.

This chicken recipe is all me and not an exact science. I am a pinch here, to taste there kind of gal.  Sort of Nigella Lawson meets Ina Garten with a dash of Carla Hall – I use recipes as guides and create and tweak from there.  This recipe was born out of reading and being bored by most chicken paprika, chicken rosa, and chicken cacciatore recipes. But it is still quite tasty, my Valentine’s Chicken (it got a name today – after all it is a very yummy thing and deserves a better name than “chicken in the crock pot.”)

Valentine’s Chicken

1 cut up chicken

1 can Italian Crushed tomatoes (28 oz)

1 small can tomato paste

1 bunch of leeks cleaned and cut into thin circles

As many Crimini/Baby Bello mushrooms as you would like

1 small to medium onion, rough chopped

3-4 stalks of celery cleaned and chopped

2-3 cloves fresh garlic MINCED

fresh rosemary

fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

2 red bell peppers chopped

Regular Paprika

Smoked Paprika

Hot Paprika

Tumeric (just a dash)

Salt to taste

Regular Pepper



White wine

Flour to dredge mixed with Paprikas, salt, garlic and a small bowl of milk

Olive oil to brown and sear chicken

BIG crock pot

6 hours to do nothing after

Turn your crock pot on low.  Into the bottom layer part of the onion, leeks, red peppers, garlic, mushrooms.

Warm a pan with a thin layer of olive oil in the bottom.  Set up your dredging station for the chicken: chicken ready to go, small bowl of milk, flour with herbs and spices.  Dunk chicken pieces in milk then dredge in flour, then brown and sear in pan, a couple of minutes a side.

Layer chicken into crock pot with more of the veggies (as above), until done.

Open the tomatoes, pour over top of all evenly.  Open can of paste and dollop on.  Add the herbs, spices, salt, pepper, etc.

Cook on low crock pot setting approximately 6-7 hours.  With my crock pot, six should do it.  At the 3 hour point, carefully remove lid and toss your dish gently in the crock pot to mix, not mush.  Toss in 1/3 cup (or more, depending on your taste and how much room you have in your crock pot) white wine and minced fresh parsley, or red wine and ignore another 3 -4 hours.

Serve over rice.  I am thinking Carolina Gold from Charleston.

This recipe is not an exact science.  It is sort of paprika chicken meets chicken cacciatore.  I do it in the crock pot to give myself a break.

Serves a small army or a family and then leftovers…