Baked Chicken Taquitos

baked-chicken-taquitos

This is a recipe I posted on my other blog last night. I’m on a low iodine diet for 2 1/2 weeks to prepare my body for a tracer dose of radioactive iodine and a nuclear whole body scan to check for possible recurrence of thyroid cancer. I’m looking forward to a clear scan.

The thyroid is gland that absorbs iodine from one’s diet and uses it to make hormones that are used by the rest of the body. Certain types of thyroid cancers mimic healthy thyroid tissue and also absorb iodine. Because of that characteristic, certain thyroid cancers can be treated successfully with radioactive iodine. By eating a low iodine diet, the thyroid and  certain thyroid cancers are starved of iodine. When the radioactive iodine is ingested, the thyroid/thyroid cancer tissues gobble up the iodine with radiation attached. In a large, therapeutic dose the thyroid/thyroid cancer tissue is killed. In lower, tracer doses it allows for a scan that shows where the radioactive iodine was taken up. They are able to see if there is a recurrence of thyroid cancer (or regrowth of healthy thyroid tissue).

On the low iodine diet (LID), you can not eat iodized salt, sea salt, dairy, egg yolks, soy (soy oil and soy lecithin are fine), seafood, sea products (seaweed, carrageenan), certain dough conditioners, and red dye #3 or any foods that contain these ingredients. You can only have 5 – 6 ounces of meat per day. This diet is a challenge, but each time I have to do it, it gets easier. Only 12 more days to go.

When I am on LID, I eat these Baked Chicken Taquitos with LID-safe salsa and avocado “cream” (avocado blended with lime juice and kosher salt until smooth).

If you are not on LID, you can add cheese to the chicken mixture. You can also add other ingredients such as roasted chile peppers, kale, spinach, etc…

These taquitos freeze really well, but they have to be reheated in the oven (or toaster oven) to maintain crispiness. They get soft and chewy when reheated in the microwave.

Baked Chicken Taquitos

1 whole chicken
kosher salt
black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup salsa
corn tortillas
cooking spray

Season the chicken with kosher salt and black pepper. Place in the crockpot and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 -4 hour until the meat is tender and falling off the bones. Remove the chicken from the crockpot and let cool. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones (unless you plan to make chicken stock.…in that case, reserve). Shred the chicken. You should have about 6 cups of shredded chicken meat.

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Add the ground cumin, garlic powder, and salsa to the shredded chicken. Season with more kosher salt and black pepper, if needed. Mix to combine.

Place 4 corn tortillas on a large microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds to soften tortillas. Place about 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture on  bottom third of the warmed corn tortilla. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Don’t roll too tight. Place the taquito on a baking sheet. Repeat until all of the chicken mixture is used. You will have approximately 18 taquitos. Use two baking sheets if you need to. Spray the taquitos with cooking spray and place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, turning after the 10 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Remove the toothpick before serving.


Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili

chicken-and-white-bean-chili2

This is a nice change from a heavier, spicier beef chili. I like this dish a little more on the soupy side. If you like a thicker chili, add less chicken broth and definitely add the masa harina to help thicken. Serve the Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili with cornbread or fresh tortillas.

I think this could easily be made into a crockpot freezer meal. Add all of the ingredients except for the canned beans and masa harina to a gallon-sized freezer bag. Freeze flat. You could make several at one time and have them on hand for easy crockpot meals. The day before cooking, place the frozen bag in the refrigerator to defrost. Place the defrosted contents of the bag in the crockpot with the drained canned white beans and cook 6 – 8 hours on low or 3 – 4 hours on high. Stir in the masa harina/water slurry 30 minutes before serving.

chicken-and-white-bean-chili

Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large breasts)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed and finely chopped
1 4 ounce can roasted chopped green chiles, drained (or the equivalent of chiles you roasted yourself)
2 15.5 ounce cans white beans (Great Northern, Cannellini, Navy), drained
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons Masa Harina mixed with enough water to make a slurry

Possible toppings:
fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, shredded (Monterrey jack, pepper jack are great options)
avocado, sliced
lime wedges
serranos, sliced

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot. Sprinkle the cumin, coriander, paprika, Mexican oregano, cayenne, and salt over the chicken. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, jalapenos, roasted chiles, white beans, corn, and chicken broth. Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high 3 -4 hours.

30 minutes before serving, remove the chicken breasts and shred with a fork. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot. Stir in the masa harina/water slurry and continue to cook 30 minutes until the chili is thickened.

Serve and let each person customize their toppings.


Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

This soup is incredibly good!  Plus, it’s fast to make. Perfect for a weeknight dinner. If you are in a rush, you can just skip baking the tortilla strips and just crumble some purchased tortilla chips over the top.

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

corn tortillas, about 12
cooking spray

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, chipped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes (with juices)
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

avocado, diced
fresh cilantro, chopped
lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Stack the fresh corn tortillas and cut in half. Re-stack and then cut into then strips. Arrange the corn tortilla strips on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake in the oven until golden (about 8 – 10 minutes), stirring occasionally to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a soup pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and jalapeno and continue to cook for another minute or two. Stir in the ground cumin. Next, add the petite diced tomatoes and juices, broth, cayenne, Mexican oregano, and tomato paste. Stir well and bring to a boil. Once the soup has come to a boil, add the peeled and deveined shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done, about 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup into a bowl. Top with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and a handful of the baked tortilla strips. Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze over the soup before eating.


Creamy Chile con Queso

Creamy Chile con Queso

A processed cheese product (like Velveta) is often used in making Queso because it melts more smoothly. Using evaporated milk in this recipe helps the “real” cheese melt smoother and makes for a creamier consistency. The results are pretty fantastic. You can use your favorite milder, harder cheese (like Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, or a Mexican cheese blend) in this recipe, but don’t use cheeses like Mozzarella, Brie, Swiss, or Goat Cheese (or obviously, Bleu Cheese).

This Queso keeps well for several days in the fridge. It reheats very well too. You can just zap it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until warmed through.

A simple dish of Chile con Queso with tortilla chips is wonderful, but you can take it to greater heights with the addition of toppings. Queso can be serious business. One of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Texas is Magnolia Café. They have the best Queso ever. Their Mag Queso is topped with avocado and Pico de Gallo. It’s amazing! The Kerbey Queso at Kerbey Lane Cafe in Austin is great too. I have also had Queso with shredded BBQ brisket, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and Pico that was delicious. There are no limits.

Chile con Queso

Creamy Chile con Queso

2 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 -2 jalapenos, to taste, seeds removed, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (mild Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mexican cheese blend, etc…)
1/2 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
salt, to taste
dash garlic powder
1 – 4 tablespoons milk, if necessary

tortilla chips

Possible Toppings:
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh onion, chopped
fresh avocado, diced (or guacamole)
fresh tomatoes, diced
pickled jalapeno slices
Pico de Gallo
sour cream
black beans, warmed
refried beans
shredded brisket, chicken, pork
cooked ground beef or sausage

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the evaporated milk a little at a time, whisking well to dissolve flour lumps. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the shredded cheese, a little at a time. Continue to whisk until all of the cheese is added and the Queso is smooth. Add the drained diced tomatoes, salt, and garlic powder. If the Queso is too thick, you can add a little milk, about a tablespoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency. Serve the Queso warm, topped with desired toppings (I like fresh avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and chopped tomatoes) alongside tortilla chips.

 

 

 


Beef Fajitas

Sliced Beef Fajitas

A quick and simple marinade and the use of a cast iron skillet makes beef fajitas an easy weekday meal.

Fajitas are a quintessential Tex-Mex food. Initially, skirt steak was the meat used for fajitas, but now fajitas made with a variety of cuts of beef, as well as, chicken, pork, or shrimp (or a combination of meats) are totally acceptable. The grilled meat is usually accompanied by onions and bell peppers and served with tortillas and a variety of condiments.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

Beef Fajitas

Beef Fajitas

1 pound skirt steak (or flank steak)
2 fresh limes (get ones with thin, smooth rind so they are extra juicy)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

1 large onion, ends removed, peeled, halved and cut into slivers
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips (or do a combination of different colored peppers)

flour and/or corn tortillas, warmed

Condiments of your choice:
shredded cheese
sour cream
salsa or pico de gallo
guacamole
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh jalapenos, sliced (or throw whole jalapenos in with the onions and bell peppers and then slice)

Combine the juice from the two limes with the cumin and salt. Add the skirt steak, turning once or twice to coat the meat. Let sit 10 minutes.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Once hot, remove the skirt steak from the cumin-lime juice marinade and add to the pan. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Remove from the skillet and let rest on a cutting board.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the hot skillet (no need to clean out the skillet, the veggies will pick up the flavors from the steak). Cook, stirring often, until the veggies are slightly tender and browned in areas. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

Fajita Veggies

Cut the skirt steak against the grain into somewhat thick (about 1/2-inch) slices. At this point, I like to throw the steak back into the pan with the veggies and toss to combine, but you don’t have to.

Assemble the fajitas. Place some steak and veggies into a warmed tortilla of you choice. Top with the condiments of your choice. I like mine with sour cream and fresh pico de gallo.


Mexican Lentil Soup

Mexican Lentil Soup

I love this time of the year, when summer is changing over to fall. The days are starting to get cooler and the air is a little crisper. The air conditioner is not running non-stop and there is a little chill in the air when you wake up in the morning. It’s a perfect time for soup and this one is wonderful. It is a flavorful and filling soup that comes in at around 76 calories per 1 cup serving.

Mexican Lentil Soup

Mexican Lentil Soup

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (I like to use petite diced)
1/2 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
7 cups vegetable broth
1 medium zucchini, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the jalapeno, diced tomatoes and their juices, dried lentils, cumin, coriander, and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until the lentils are tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.


Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas with Hatch Green Chile Sauce

Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas with Hatch Green Chile Sauce

The Hatch green chile season is winding down. For those who don’t know, Hatch chiles are a type of mild New Mexico chiles grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. They have to be grown in that area to be considered Hatch chiles. That particular environment is responsible for their uniqueness. They are a big deal and they are fabulous.

When I lived in Texas, it was easy to find Hatch chiles. You just had to follow the smell of roasting chiles in mid to late August/early September to a local vendor. Outside of the southwestern part of the United States, it is harder to find Hatch chiles. I was lucky to find some here in South Carolina this week. I bought all they had (only about 5 pounds) and roasted them for future use. I skinned, seeded, and chopped the roasted chiles and froze them in 1 cup portions. If you can’t find Hatch chiles, Anaheim chiles or other long green New Mexico-type chiles can be used.

Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas with Hatch Green Chile Sauce

Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas with Hatch Green Chile Sauce

For the Hatch Green Chile Sauce:
8 Hatch green chiles, roasted, skinned, seeded, and chopped* (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 cups chicken broth

For the Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas:
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded (this is a great way to use leftover chicken)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 ounce package mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 cup, fresh spinach, chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste
4 ounces pepper jack cheese (or Monterrey jack cheese)
8 corn tortillas

To make the Hatch Green Chile Sauce:
In a skillet or large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.  Add the flour and continue cooking for another minute. Whisk in the chicken broth. Add the chopped green chiles, cumin, coriander, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Reduce the heat to a low and simmer for about 15 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thickened but still very pourable. If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can puree the mixture with a hand blender at this point. Keep the sauce warm until ready to use.

To make the Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas:
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to release their liquid. Stir in the shredded chicken and chopped spinach. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture until any liquid is gone.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spray a baking dish with Pam. Spread a thin layer of the Hatch Green Chile Sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.

Wet several paper towels and wring them out. Wrap the corn tortillas in the damp paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds or until warm and pliable.

Divide the chicken and mushroom filling evenly between the 8 corn tortillas. Add about 1 tablespoon of shredded pepper jack cheese to each enchilada and roll up (not too tight) to enclose the filling. Place the enchiladas seam side down in the baking dish. Top the enchiladas with the remaining Hatch Green Chile Sauce. Sprinkle a little more cheese over the enchiladas and bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly

*How To Roast Fresh Chile Peppers

Gas Stove
This method works well for roasting a small quantity of chile peppers. Use a long handled cooking fork with a handle made with a non heat-conducting material. Pierce the pepper with the fork and hold the pepper over a gas flame (or grill flame), about 4″ from the heat source. Or use tongs. Keep turning the pepper until it is evenly charred on all sides. The pepper skins should turn black when properly roasted.

Dry Grill
For a larger quantity of chiles you can use a stove-top grill that fits over a gas or electric burner. Sit the chiles on top and turn occasionally to allow even charring.

Oven Method
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Spread the peppers evenly on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. Roast the peppers on the top oven rack for about 4-5 minutes until he skins blister. Watch carefully so they do not burn.

Clean and Peel
Place the roasted peppers in a plastic or paper bag and seal the bag – or – in a large bowl and cover with foil or plastic wrap. Allow the chile peppers to sweat in the bag or bowl for about 10 to 15 minutes. When you remove them from the bag or bowl they will be easy to peel.  Do not peel them under running water.  Peel the chile, remove and discard the skin, seeds, and the veins.

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