Monday, September 27, 2010

Laura and Leslie's Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

We LOVE enchiladas! I have at least three versions of enchiladas on HWM already with my favorite being my Chicken Verde Sour Cream Enchiladas.  These are the enchiladas that Jim lovingly refers to as my "Almost Engaged Enchiladas" because he nearly popped the question when I made these just a few short months after we started dating.

Okay, switching gears briefly to explain how this NEW recipe for Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas came into my life. My unexpected gallbladder surgery early this month left me on bed rest for longer than I would have imagined and my sweet friends from church, work and neighbors all pitched in to help provide meals for Jim and I. I cannot stress what a relief this small act of kindness has brought to us during this stressful month. We have dinner delivered every other night and eat on the leftovers for lunch and for dinner on off-nights. If you know someone recovering from surgery, or who recently had a baby, or who needs a little help for a short amount of time, I highly recommend you check out the free web site where a community can easily rally around a family in need. Find out how it works here.

Lucky for Jim and I, our friend Leslie delivered this awesome dinner to us last week. She packaged the enchiladas in a disposable container (VERY helpful when you are delivered food to someone so they don't have to worry about getting the dishes back to you) and the sauce separately so the tortillas didn't get soggy sitting in the sauce, and she was even thoughtful enough to bring rice and beans to round out our dinner.

Love the directions! Easy enough!!

This recipe from Leslie (right) originally comes from her sister Laura (left). Aren't they beautiful sisters? I'm so happy to know these girls. Laura is also the one who gave me the recipe for the addicting Toffee Apple Dip. Anytime either one of you want to guest blog, let me know - I'm a fan of your recipes and love featuring them on HWM!

I have seen this brand of Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce in the grocery store, but had never tried it before. I actually had just a few leftover Hatch Chiles in my fridge, so I decided to dice them up and add them to the enchilada sauce.

Leslie rolled these beautifully in flour tortillas!

I just had to unroll one before I put them in the oven to see what they were stuffed with. Leslie shredded 3 cups cooked chicken and added 8 oz (2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (she used the Mexican blend), 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles, 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro and 1/2 tsp cumin.
I had a block of cheddar cheese in the fridge, so while the oven heated up I shredded a 1/2 cup of cheese on top of the enchiladas and put these in the oven while I assembled the sauce.

To use up the hatch chiles I had in the fridge, I poured the can of hatch green chile enchilada sauce in a small saucepan and added the chopped hatch chiles to warm the entire mixture through.

When I tasted the sauce, wow was it HOT. So I tried to cut the spiciness a little by adding 3 tablespoons of fat free plain yogurt. This helped a lot and also added a nice thickness to the sauce.

When the oven had reached 350 degrees I pulled the enchiladas out, the cheese had melted and my enchilada sauce was warmed through.

So I topped the enchiladas with all the sauce.

Yum! Then I added a little bit more shredded cheddar cheese on top.

When I pulled them out of the oven after 35 minutes, I topped with fresh cilantro!

We loved the rice that Leslie brought with our dinner, and she shared that it was Mahatma spanish rice. Her secret ingredient... she adds salsa to the rice instead of ketchup. Brilliant!

Here was our delicious meal, thanks Leslie for sharing with us! Your generosity is very much appreciated.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spicy Sausage over Rice

FINALLY, all my cooking by the book has paid off! I needed a quick and easy lunch so I took a look in the fridge and created something out of nothing based on a previous recipe I made here on HWM. I'm calling this dish Spicy Sausage over Rice, and it was brilliant (if I do say so myself.) Remember the Shrimp and Grits from last year? I took what I learned from that recipe and pulled out the following ingredients.

I used leftover spanish rice as my base which was great because it was already seasoned, but if I didn't have this in the fridge ready to go I could have used another starch like grits, mashed potatoes, white rice, egg noodles or other pasta. We had three brats, butter, diced ham, tomatoes, a carrot, some chives and not pictures are white wine and some seasoning I added while cooking.

I started with a tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter melted I added one chopped carrot and 1/4 cup of diced ham. Other veggies that would work great here are celery, garlic (not sure why I didn't think to add garlic to this, I know I had it on hand.)

After a few minutes, I added about a cup of white wine and the chopped tomatoes and let this simmer down until almost all the liquid was gone.

I took the sausage out of the casings and dropped them into a small skillet to brown the sausage balls.

Once browned, but not fully cooked through I added the sausage balls to the tomato sauce.

I tasted and adjusted seasoning by adding a dash of ground mustard, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.

I added a lid and let this cook down until the sauce was thick and the sausage was cooked through.


And the other two brats? Jim grilled them and ate them on a bun. (boring)

I liked my version of these brats much better. Spoon the sausage and tomatoes on top of the leftover spanish rice and finish off with a sprinkling of green onions and voila, a delish meal made from odds and ends. I love cooking!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chef's Table with Josh Watkins

I absolutely loved being invited to a Chef's Table at the beautiful ATT Hotel and Conference Center on the south edge of The University of Texas campus.  I've been a long time admirer of Executive Chef Josh Watkins and followed his move from the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. I'm not the only one who notices his creativity and talent, Watkins has been on Iron Chef America and to the James Beard House in New York City, where only the country’s most innovative and talented chefs are invited to cook and share their love of food.
Our private lunch was set up in the bright Gabriel's Cafe at the hotel. I knew I was in for a treat because last time I was treated to Chef Watkins cooking I was completely blown away.

Everything at the AT&T Conference Center is "stamped" with the UT Longhorn and subtly decorated in the burnt orange that UT fans love and adore.

Here Executive Chef Josh Watkins explains each course as it comes to the table.

I kind of feel guilty for sharing this menu.... the entire meal was perfectly orchestrated and wow-ed all the luncheon guests from start to finish. I wish I also had recipes to share with you guys so you could make these amazing courses and try them yourself. Here we go:
First Course

24 Hour Tomato Salad
Jonah Crab, Petite Arugula, Basil Seeds, Black Olive Oil

Isn't this a piece of art? Executive Chef Josh Watkins brings a new dimension to simplified elegance through a blend of contemporary and classical cooking techniques.

Since the tomato had been cooked for 24 hours, its flavors were intensified and worked so nicely with the light flavors of the crab salad and arugula. My favorite parts of this plate were the black olive oil and the basil seeds.

Second Course

Cured Striped Marlin
Beet Ceviche, Pure Luck Goat Cheese, Citrus Vinaigrette

My favorite part of this dish was the VERY fresh fish and the use of Pure Luck Goat Cheese. I sincerely appreciate Chef Watkins passion for farm fresh, ingredient-driven food. Pure Luck Goat Cheese from Dripping Springs, TX is one of my favorite local cheeses. 
When I thought I couldn't eat any more, THIS masterpiece was delivered to our table.

Third Course

Summer Braised Short Ribs & Hawaiian Red Snapper
Smoked Tomato, Fried Shallots, Heirloom Tomatoes, Malt Vinegar Glaze, Popcorn

Not sure I can choose a favorite part of this dish. I think the popcorn set in a thick malt vinegar reduction was odd, but it surprisingly complimented the buttery sauce on the snapper. I don't know HOW Chef Watkins put these flavors together - but it WORKED! The short ribs completely fell apart with the touch of a fork, no knife needed. This was my favorite course!


Strawberry Shortcake
Coconut Ice Cream, Lemon Zest, Fried Mint

The coconut ice cream was my favorite part of this, it was the fried mint... no, the ice cream.... It's a toss up. The Pastry Chef did a phenomenal job assembling this beautiful dessert.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tempura Veggies

This isn't a new recipe on HWM, but I did expand on a previous post from 2008. I first saw the recipe for tempura asparagus in a Rachel Ray magazine. See my original post here with step by step photos.

I thought that the breading was so perfect for the asparagus, what about other veggies?
So I went for it. I made tempura red bell pepper, tempura broccoli, tempura zucchini chips and of course tempura asparagus (the veggie that started it all!)

My favorite were the red bell pepper, which I cut into strips. I would also like to try the bell pepper cut into rings, I think that would be a great contrast to all the other "sticks" on the plate. Onion would be great in rings too! I cut the zucchini into chips, and those were SO tasty! I whipped up the dipping sauce from the original recipe made with yogurt, honey and dijon...but I think a homemade ranch would be excellent here. Maybe Chipotle Ranch or Creamy Jalapeno Ranch recipe?!?! Both are excellent choices. In the South we don't shy away from frying...anything. Fried butter anyone? I don't think so. I wouldn't make a habit of frying your veggies, but once in a while you should make an exception.

When you splurge, what is your favorite fried food?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hot and Spicy Artichoke Dip

I was reading one of my favorite food blogs, Aggie's Kitchen and she showcased a Hot and Spicy Artichoke Dip made by her friend Colleen. The recipe comes from the cookbook, Culinary Journey to the Mediterranean. It looked easy enough to make for our draft day so I looked in the pantry and actually had all the ingredients. It comes together fast and cooks in the oven for less than 30 minutes.

1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, chopped, drained
1 cup mayo
1 cup (4oz) grated parmesan cheese
1 can (4oz) chopped green chiles, drained
2-3 cloves of garlic minced

Mix all ingredients in a shallow, ovenproof dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Top with 2 Tbsp each of chopped tomatoes and olives.

This was fantastic as is or you could customize it to fit your tastes as well. I could see the addition of shredded chicken, making this a heartier dip. Green olives on top would bring a wonderful briny flavor to the dip. Add red pepper flakes or some form of jalapenos to make this a spicy dish. The green chiles I used were from the can and were very mild. Next time I would probably buy the HOT variety. Ohhh, if you by chance still have some hatch chiles in your fridge/freezer, they would be GREAT in this dip. Thanks Aggie for the recommendation!!!

I took the leftovers and topped baked chicken and roasted asparagus in the oven. The artichoke dip automatically elevated a simple chicken dish to something you would find in a restaurant. I pulled this dinner together in less than 30 minutes - delish!

With football season underway, I highly recommend this dip for your next pig skin gathering!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What's up with Home with Mandy

What a week this has been ya’ll. I will tell you what is up with HWM - I haven’t posted any recipes lately because I was hospitalized last week and had my gallbladder removed. The good news is that I’m home again and have begun the healing process. I am so appreciative of my family, friends and co-workers who were there for me this last hard week and who continue to be supportive and helpful. Special kisses go to my darling husband who turned out to be a wonderful caregiver, how did I get so lucky?

Although I haven’t been able to post on my own blog, I previously sent a post to a blogger buddy while she was on vacation. I encourage you to pop over to The Life of Ann James and check out my guest post about being brave in the kitchen. While you are there you can also read some of the other fun guest posts she provided while out of town.

There are lots to look forward to here.
Coming up on Home with Mandy:

Hot and Spicy Artichoke Dip

Tempura Vegetables

Caprese Chicken with Balsamic Drizzle

Chef's Table with Executive Chef Josh Watkins

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Candied Bacon Wrapped Dates

Bacon wrapped goodness! I bet on this salty and sweet combo and hit a home run with these Bacon Wrapped and Stuffed Dates. My friend was hosting a wine pairing party and each guests was asked to bring an Hors d'oeuvre and a bottle of wine to pair with it. I was looking for something easy enough to put together so I would not have to spend all day Saturday prepping and cooking and I also wanted something that could be served warm or at room temperature since I was taking these with me to a party.

I was inspired by a recent happy hour to Mulberry, a wine bar in downtown Austin, where I ordered the Devil on Horseback which is a mission fig stuffed with gorgonzola cheese and wrapped in candied bacon. They were heavenly, and I wanted to create something similar but Jim doesn't like blue cheese so I started an internet search to gain more ideas.

I read all sorts of recipes about stuffing figs and dates with blue cheese, almonds, ricotta, parmesan. I went in my own direction and purchased the meaty Medjool dates from the bulk food section of Whole Foods and stuffed them with cream cheese and a smoked and salted almond.

Let's talk about the date itself. Dates are a type of fruit grown on date palm trees. Today, many types of dates are essential parts of Middle Eastern cuisine, but perhaps none are as prized as medjool dates. 

Medjool dates have been called the “king of dates” and the “crown jewel of dates.” Like most dates, the fruit is dried prior to being eaten. What really makes these dried wonders so special is that they are exceptionally large, contain a large amount of “fruit meat,” and are extremely sweet. Each center of the date has an elongated pit, which is easy to remove.

My first step was to slice the date down one side (not all the way through) and remove the pit.

Next I spooned a small amount of softened cream cheese in each date. Stuffing options are endless. I thought gorgonzola was excellent paired with figs, and I can imagine that ricotta would be a wonderful creamy stuffing also.

For an element of surprise, I pushed one smoked and salted almond into the middle of the cream cheese to add crunch.

If you follow this blog regularly, then you probably know how much Jim loves my Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos. He loooooooves them. One thing that bothered me about the the bacon wrapped jalapenos was that they had to stay in the oven a LONG time for the bacon to crisp, and sometimes the food it's wrapped around gets overcooked. I have a "thing" with fatty soft bacon - yuck, I want it crispy all over.

I read a suggestion online to par-cook the bacon prior to wrapping it around food and putting them in the oven. Bingo, that solves my delima! I also decided to make these bacon extra special by spooning brown sugar over the bacon as it fries up in my skillet. As you can see in the picture above, the brown sugar dissolves with the heat and into the bacon grease in the pan and coats each piece with a delicious sticky syrup - candied bacon, resembling the ones I ate at Mulberry.

I removed these from the pan to a plate nearby so the bacon could cool off a little before handling.

The last step was to wrap each of my stuffed Medjool dates with a sticky par-cooked piece of bacon, secure with a toothpick and place them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

I arranged all the dates on a wire rack set above a jelly roll pan in the oven, that way the dates wouldn't be sitting in bacon grease, anything that dripped off these dates fell below to the jelly roll pan so these babies could cook up nice and crispy.

These turned out to be delicious. I particularly liked the sweetness of the date with the salty bacon and then the creaminess of the cream cheese - it was sensory overload, the trifecta! I was disappointed in the way the almond in the middle didn't retain it's crunch after being stuck in the cream cheese. I thought the almond would have a much bigger impact on the Hors d'oeuvre but it was truly the combination of sticky and smokey candied bacon with the sweet date that was so great.

Looking for other easy appetizer recipes? Check out these Foie Gras Stuffed Dates I made last December from a recipe I found on These are so fancy and special! Another super easy but really tasty recipe I would recommend for a party appetizer are these Prosciutto and Fontina Pinwheels which Jim requests over and over again.

If you have more time on your hands and want to impress with a more difficult appetizer, then read about these full flavored Pork Dumplings with Ginger Dipping Sauce. There is actually nothing difficult in the recipe, it's just a time consuming preparation that is well worth it in the end.