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Apr 29, 2016
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Baked: Enchiladas Verdes

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

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For years, I had only tried tomato-based enchiladas, and they were never my favorite Mexican dish. Then my friend made green enchiladas for a party, and I couldn’t stop eating them. They were tangy, juicy and cheesy. My friend was sweet enough to share the recipe, passed down to her from family friends. I adjusted it only slightly to my own preference. This comes together quickly and makes a large batch that will last all week. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Enchiladas Verdes
6 to 8 servings

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken, boiled and shredded
½ medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
10 oz. sour cream
1 7.6-oz. can media crema*
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles
¼ cup salsa verde
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
Juice of 1 lime
1 handful chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
20 to 30 corn or flour tortillas
1 28-oz. can tomatillo sauce (green enchilada sauce)

• Place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover and let sit 30 minutes, until cool to the touch. Shred with forks and set aside.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• In a medium nonstick skillet over low heat, gently cook the onion in the vegetable oil until browned, 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and set aside.
• Add the sour cream, media crema, green chiles, salsa verde, garlic, cumin, lime juice and cilantro to the onions and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add 1 cup cheese.
• Add half of the sour cream sauce to the shredded chicken and mix until the chicken is well coated. Set both bowls aside.
• Return the nonstick skillet to the stove over medium heat. Toast a tortilla 30 seconds on each side. Transfer tortillas to a plate and stack to keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
• Coat the bottom of an 11-by-14-inch casserole dish with a thin layer of tomatillo sauce to keep the tortillas from sticking to the pan.
• Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture down the center of 1 tortilla, then wrap the tortilla around the filling and place seam side-down in the pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, lining them up side by side until the pan is full. Pour the remaining tomatillo sauce evenly over the enchiladas, then evenly cover with the remaining sour cream sauce and remaining 1 cup cheese.
• Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until light brown and bubbling around the edges. Garnish with chopped cilantro and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

*Find media crema, also called Mexican table cream, in the international aisle of most grocery stores.

Baked: Taco Torte

Friday, April 8th, 2016

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Homemade tortillas are so much easier than I ever imagined. You can use them for a variety of Mexican-inspired dishes, but this taco torte was absolutely delicious. It’s a savory cake, like a stacked Mexican pizza. Each bite has all the flavors of a taco with crispy edged tortillas in between. Prepare the tortillas ahead of time (or opt for store-bought) then quickly customize the torte to you preferences for a quick weeknight meal. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Taco Torte
Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe
6 to 8 servings

Nonstick cooking spray
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp. cumin or taco seasoning
1 15-oz. can chopped tomatoes
¼ cup tomato paste
2 15-oz. cans black, pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ cup frozen corn kernels
3 cups kale or spinach leaves
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, sliced avocados and/or salsa for serving
6 flour tortillas (Recipe follows.)

• Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
• In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil, then add the onion, garlic, jalapeno (if using) and cumin, and saute until the onion is softened until the cumin is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
• Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, then the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer until everything is hot, about 3 minutes.
• Add the corn and kale and stir until the leaves are wilted and everything is well combined. Season to taste.
• Place 1 tortilla in the prepared cake pan. Spread one-sixth of the bean mixture evenly over the tortilla, then sprinkle ¼ cup cheese evenly over the top. Repeat with 5 more layers, ending with the last of the bean mixture and shredded cheese.
• Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before removing it from the pan by carefully lifting the foil. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
• Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream, salsa or avocado.

 

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Flour Tortillas
Adapted from a recipe at Cooks.com
Makes 8 tortillas

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1/6 cup vegetable oil
½ cup warm water

• In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the oil and water and knead until the dough comes together until the dough is smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes.
• Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and divide into 8 equal portions. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten with your hands, adding more flour as needed to keep from sticking. Place on a large plate, cover with a clean towel and let rest 15 minutes.
• Roll each piece of dough into a rough circle about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Set aside in a single layer.
• Place a large pan over medium-high heat. When the surface is very hot, add 1 tortilla and toast 1 minute, until the bottom has a few pale brown spots. Flip and toast another 30 seconds, until both sides have a few light brown blisters.
• Remove from the pan with tongs and stack in a covered container or zip-top bag. Repeat with remaining tortillas, wiping out the pan between each to collect any excess flour. Serve warm or let cool for later use. Tortillas will keep, frozen and separated with parchment paper and stored in a zip-top bag.

 

Baked: Greek Yogurt-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

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I can seriously binge on chocolate chip cookies, so I’m often looking for slightly healthier alternatives. These Greek yogurt cookies are cake-like with a chewy edge. They taste very close to your standard chocolate chip cookies without the butter. The dough is very sticky, so be sure to set aside time for it to chill. These are incredibly satisfying for being on the healthier side, but you’ll still have trouble eating just one. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Greek Yogurt-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from a recipe at Baker by Nature
1 dozen cookies

¼ cup solid coconut oil
½ cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup 2-percent or full-fat Greek yogurt
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup chocolate chips or chunks
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

• In a medium-sized bowl using a hand mixer, beat the coconut oil with the brown sugar and granulated sugars on high speed until combined, about 5 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract and yogurt and beat to combine.
• Use a spatula to fold in the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt until mixed, then fold in the chocolate chips. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
• Wet palms and fingertips with water, then scoop 12 even-sized dollops on the baking sheet a few inches apart. Sprinkle the sea salt flakes over the tops of the cookies.
• Bake 9 to 12 minutes, until cookies begin to brown around the edges.
• Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

 

Baked: Italian Bread

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

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This is one of my favorite recipes. I’ve always been a little fearful of yeast recipes, as yeast can be so fickle, but I’ve made this Italian bread countless times, and it’s turned out wonderfully.

Use caution when working with yeast. It’s easy to kill with hot water, but if it’s not warm enough, it won’t dissolve properly. The water should be warm but not scalding, around 110 degrees is ideal. Follow the instructions carefully and you can start in the morning and have an amazing warm and crusty loaf with your dinner.

The bread can be adapted many ways; we have made grilled cheese sandwiches, folded olives into the dough, dipped it in olive oil and vinegar, or eaten it with fondue. It’s wonderfully crusty with a soft texture inside, and it’s easy to sub in whole-wheat flour alternatives if you want to make it denser and healthier. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Italian Bread
Adapted from a recipe at Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal
1 loaf

1½ cups warm (not scalding) water
¾ tsp. instant yeast
¾ Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
5½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1½ cups bread flour
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing, divided
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried parsley
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced

• Pour the water into a mixing bowl and stir in the yeast and ½ teaspoon salt until combined. Add the all-purpose flower and bread flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
•Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. (If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook to knead on medium speed about 5 minutes.)
• Lightly grease a large, clean mixing bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to lightly coat it in oil. Cover with oiled plastic wrap, then place a paper towel or kitchen towel on top and let rise 1 to 1½ hours in a cool dark place, until doubled in size.
• Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead 2 to 3 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, recover and let rise again 1 hour, until doubled in size.
• Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
• Oil a standard loaf pan. Place the dough into the pan, cover with the plastic warp and let rise 30 minutes.
• Meanwhile, mix together the olive oil, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic and remaining ¼ salt in a small bowl.
• Uncover the loaf and brush 1 tablespoon olive oil mixture on top of the dough. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 slashes evenly across the top of the bread.
• Place the loaf pan in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and let cool.
• Slice and serve with the remaining olive oil mixture for dipping.

 

Baked: Chocolate Cherry Pistachio Loaf

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

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Freezers are a fantastic invention. They allow me to preserve fruit at its peak so I can savor them in the dead of winter. Recently I found some dark cherries in my freezer and thought they’d be a perfect match for some pistachios and chocolate. The rich chocolate loaf is nutty with an unmistakable presence of pistachios, followed by chunks of melting chocolate and surprise spots of tangy, dark cherries, all topped with a silky smooth ganache. The loaf itself isn’t very sweet, letting the cherries, chocolate, and pistachio speak for themselves. Enjoy and happy baking!
Chocolate Cherry Pistachio Loaf
Adapted from a recipe at Honest Cooking 
1 loaf

5 oz. butter, softened
5 oz. sugar
3 large eggs
5 oz. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2½ oz. pistachios, shelled and finely ground
8 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup frozen pitted cherries, thawed
4 oz. heavy cream

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running, add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well until mixed.
• Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and sift in the flour and baking powder. Use a rubber spatula, fold them in, along with the ground pistachios, until combined. Fold in 4 ounces dark chocolate.
• Pour the batter into a standard loaf pan. Evenly distribute the cherries across the surface and gently press them into the batter.
• Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let cool slightly, then carefully remove it from the loaf pan and place it on a cooling rack placed atop a parchment-lined baking sheet.
• Meanwhile, make a ganache by bringing the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining 4 ounces chocolate and remove from heat. Cover and let rest 1 minute, then whisk until combined.
• Pour the ganache evenly over the loaf, letting it drip down the sides. Let cool, then slice and serve.

 

Baked: Lemon-Pepper Chicken Wings

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

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Growing up in Atlanta, an order of lemon-pepper chicken wings was one of my favorite meals. I could usually find these citrusy, pepper-spiked drummies on almost any menu. But since I moved to St Louis, I can’t seem to find the perfect lemon-pepper wing in town, so I set out to make my own.

I tried different variations using lemon juice or lemon zest with black pepper, but none captured the original flavor I craved until I found Penzeys lemon pepper seasoning. This blend uses dried and ground lemon peel that provides a tart citrus zing. Check your label; you may need to add salt if not listed among the ingredients. These baked wings crisp up just as well any deep-fried counterpart and make a bright addition to a Super Bowl spread. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Lemon-Pepper Chicken Wings
1 to 2 servings

1 lb. skin-on chicken wings and drumettes
4 Tbsp. Penzeys lemon-pepper seasoning
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt as needed

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
• In a large mixing bowl, toss the chicken wings with the lemon-pepper seasoning, olive oil and salt until evenly coated. Spread the wings in a single layer on the baking sheet.
• Bake 50 minutes, until the skin is crisp. Serve hot.

 

Amrita Song is the owner and baker at Mila Sweets and blogs at Chai & Dumplings

 

Baked: Fudgy Banana Muffins

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

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When you have ripe bananas, you can toss them in your next smoothie, or you can make a sweet dessert. Baked goods made with bananas are a great compromise. The fruit’s moisture means you don’t need oil or butter, and its natural sweetness means you can reduce the sugar. The double-dose of cocoa powder and chocolate chips creates a fudgy texture with a strong banana flavor. It’s a great way to use up ripe fruit and indulge in a dessert that won’t break a healthy diet. Enjoy and happy baking!

 
Fudgy Banana Muffins
Adapted from a recipe at Our Best Bites
1 dozen

3 large, extra-ripe bananas
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup chopped pecans or other nuts

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
• In a large mixing bowl, smash the bananas. Stir in the sugar, yogurt, egg and vanilla extract until combined.
• Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the dry ingredients until combined, then add the chocolate chips and pecans.
• Fill the cupcake liners evenly with the batter. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining chocolate chips and bake 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
• Let cool a few minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Amrita Song is the owner and baker at Mila Sweets and blogs at Chai & Dumplings

 

Baked: Eggs en Cocotte

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

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I first tried eggs in cocotte during brunch at Brasserie. A piping hot cast-iron skilled arrived at my table filled with bacon and creamy spinach topped with fresh eggs and served with crisp smashed potatoes. (Want to try your hand at Brasserie’s version? Click here for the recipe.)

Versatility is eggs en cocotte’s greatest strength. For my home version, I added smoked salmon, broccolini and creme fraiche – all because they were at hand in my refrigerator. For perfect baked eggs, pull the dish from the oven just before the whites are set. They will continue cooking a few minutes after removing from the oven. This dish makes a wonderful brunch addition or a decadent weekday breakfast all for yourself. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Eggs en Cocotte
6 servings

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch broccolini, woody ends removed
½ cup chopped mixed mushrooms
12 oz. smoked salmon
6 Tbsp. creme fraiche, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 eggs
Handful chopped green onions

• Coat 6 ramekins with nonstick spray and place in a large deep baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
• In a saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat and saute the broccolini and mushrooms about 5 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Set aside.
• Evenly divide the smoked salmon and place the slices in the bottom of the ramekins, then top each with ½ tablespoon creme fraiche. Season with salt and pepper.
• Evenly divide the broccolini and mushroom mixture among the ramekins, then top each with 2 eggs and ½ tablespoon creme fraiche.
• Fill the baking dish with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully slide the baking dish into the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the egg whites are almost cooked through.
• Garnish with chopped green onions and let cool slightly before serving.

 

Baked: Butternut Squash Pizza

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

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This is an easy, quick weeknight meal. Mildly sweet squash is perfectly paired with a tangy onion jam and a hint of spice from crushed red pepper flakes. Served as a pizza topping with my favorite garlic and herbs cheese (feel free to substitute goat cheese, feta or ricotta), it’s tasty and addictive. You won’t miss the classic tomato sauce. Enjoy and happy baking!

 
Butternut Squash Pizza
Adapted from a Food 52 recipe
2 to 3 servings

4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
¾ lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Coarse sea salt to taste
1 12- to 16 oz.-container of pizza dough
1½ ounces Boursin cheese
¼ cup fully cooked ground turkey (optional)
Handful of arugula
Balsamic vinegar

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the squash and saute until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the squash and set aside.
• Return the saucepan to the stove over medium heat and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and saute 15 minutes, until light brown. Add the vinegar and maple syrup and stir every few minutes until thick and reduced, 15 to 30 minutes.
• Add the onion mixture to the squash and mash lightly, leaving some chunks. Add the red pepper flakes and season to taste with salt. Set aside.
• Roll the pizza dough out onto a pizza stone or baking sheet in an even layer. Spread the butternut squash mixture evenly across the dough, then sprinkle with Boursin cheese. Add the ground turkey, if desired.
• Bake 15 minutes, until the crust is cooked through. Dress with arugula and let wilt, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar before slicing and serving.

Baked: Tres Leches Cake

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

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To prepare for a recent Mexican-themed dinner party, I hit the Internet seeking a classic tres leches cake recipe. My exhaustive search inspired me to create my own, an amalgam of techniques and ingredients that yielded a sweet, thick slab of milky cake topped with bourbon whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon. The best part of the recipe is that the cake can be made days in advance, leaving you plenty of time to plan the rest of your fiesta.

 

Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from a recipe at Sweet Pea’s Kitchen 
6 to 8 servings

7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
½ cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1½ Tbsp. corn syrup
1 Tbsp. bourbon

• Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
• Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a microwave-safe medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on low about 3 to 5 minutes, then stir, cover and microwave another 3 to 5 minutes, until the milk darkens and thickens. Slowly whisk in the evaporated milk, ½ cup heavy cream and vanilla. Set aside to cool.
• Meanwhile, butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan and dust with flour. Set aside.
• In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the butter and milk until the butter melts. Remove from heat and set aside.
• In a large bowl, use a mixer on medium speed to beat the eggs 30 seconds, then slowly add the sugar. Increase the speed to high and beat 5 to 7 minutes, until thick and glossy. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the butter mixture and vanilla.
• Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into the egg-butter mixture. With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture just until combined, but do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on wire rack at least 10 minutes.
• Using a chopstick or skewer, poke holes on top of the cake at ½-inch intervals. Slowly pour the milk mixture over cake. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes, then refrigerate, uncovered, at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
• In a medium bowl, use a mixer on medium speed to beat the remaining ½ cup heavy cream, corn syrup and bourbon about 2 minutes, until soft peaks form. Turn the cake out onto a serving plate and spread the whipped cream over the top of the cake.
• The cake can be assembled and refrigerated up to 3 days. Dust the cake with ground cinnamon and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

 

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