Oven Baked Egg Rolls

Please don’t judge me.

I have an obsession.

When it comes to all things salty I have absolutely no self control. If it is salty and fried I am decidedly toast. (Speaking of which I have been known to salt my buttered toast. In my defense it is unsalted butter.)

Baked Egg Rolls

Popcorn (particularly with homemade butter), chips of any and all kind but particularly kettle type ones, delicious crackers, pretzels, salted caramel, you name it. As long as it is salty I am a FAN.

Consequently I have a small love for soy sauce. Just a smidge. Or alot. Don’t judge, remember?

I am totally on the fence about sushi but will still go out and eat it because you get to dip food in soy sauce. Again and again. My kind of party.

Chinese food is also where it is at. Most of it has soy sauce in the recipe at some point. Remember baby bok choi and mushrooms and beef with broccoli. Yeah. There is a reason I enjoyed those so much.

Baked Egg Rolls

Now there is a certain smugness that does come out in recreating Chinese take out at home. Food I would otherwise entrust someone else to make in a rather mediocre manner (at least in this town) I can make pretty decently here at home.

I have an inexplicable aversion to refined oils these days. I know some are ok ish and some are to be avoided at all costs but I just can’t muster the energy to do the research. So… when I stumbled on Chinese take out, no frying eggrolls in vats of oil, AND the chance to dip deliciousness into soy sauce I was sold.

Lordy these did not disappoint. Sweet and sour sauce is not on my list of favorite things but this recipe is easy and actually pretty good. Nathan’s response to the question of how he liked it was “mmmmmmhmmmm.” Sounds like a winner to me.

Baked Egg Rolls

It should be noted that the crispier you want your rolls the more oil you should brush on them. I was very stingy with the oil I was using and only the parts with generous amounts of oil crisped up.

Still. Delicious. The filling is absolutely spot on. I can’t wait to try these again with chicken or pork added. Maybe nooddles? Who knows….

Baked Egg Rolls

One year ago today: Juniper brined roasted turkey

Oven Baked Egg Rolls (makes about 14)
From Use Real Butter

For the filling:

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup green onions, julienned
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups bean sprouts
1 cup carrots, julienned or shredded
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp soy sauce
dash cooking sherry
1 tsp salt
dash sesame oil
12-15 egg roll shells
1 egg, beaten
olive oil for brushing

For the sweet and sour dipping sauce:

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
4 tbsps brown sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsps cornstarch
4 tbsps water

Make the sweet and sour sauce: Combine the rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl or cup and stir into the boiling sauce. Stir until thickened (should take 10 seconds) and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

Make the filling: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat and add the green onions, ginger, and garlic. Stir until fragrant. Add the cabbage, bean sprouts, and carrots to the pan and sauté until the cabbage begins to wilt. Stir in the mushrooms and stir fry for a minute. Combine the soy sauce, cooking sherry, salt, and sesame oil in a small bowl or cup and mix together until uniform. Pour the liquid mixture into the vegetables and stir together until the vegetables are evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with more salt or soy sauce as needed. Turn off the heat and drain off any excess liquid from the vegetable filling.

Assemble the egg rolls: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment and brush some olive oil over the lining.

Place an egg roll wrapper on your work surface with one corner pointing at you. Pile 2-3 tablespoons of filling into a 2×4-inch rectangle just below the horizontal diagonal line that connects the right and left corners. Take the corner nearest you and fold it over the filling, rolling it away from you so that the filling is completely encased in wrapper. Fold the right and left corners in toward the center, keeping it snug, but not so tight that the wrapper breaks, and continue rolling until you have  two inches of the last corner left. Dip your finger or a brush into the egg wash and paint the edges of the last corner, then quickly roll up the egg roll.

Arrange the egg rolls on the lined sheet, leaving a little room between each one. Brush the tops of each egg roll with a little more oil. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the egg rolls over and bake another 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with sweet and sour sauce, hot mustard, or whatever you like. Makes 12-15

 Baked Egg Rolls

 

Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

Shut the front door.

I can make curry paste.

Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

I guess I have made curry from scratch before (as in not from a purchased paste or powder). Nathan pointed out you don’t know that though because all the curries on here are yellow curries. I have this delicious green coconut curry I make…. yum.

Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

But to make an honest to goodness curry paste was something else. I still have enough left over in my fridge to whip up another batch of these delicious spicy lentils.

Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

And I know I don’t have to tell you this but lentils are SO good for you. Chocked full of vitamins and fiber and so terribly cheap. If they aren’t part of your diet you should seriously add them. And this recipe is any easy way to do it.

Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

Sure the making the paste is a whole extra step but the flavor is unmatched. Plus you get the satisfaction of enjoying a delicious dish you made. I am contemplating making this paste just to gift to friends and family. Wouldn’t you love to get that as a Christmas present?

Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

One year ago today: Brownie cookies with a salted caramel frosting

Lentils and Spinach in a Masala Sauce (serves 8)
Adapted from Naturally Ella

3 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 teaspoon coriander seeds
2″ piece ginger, peeled and cut into pieces
1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons garam marsala
2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons peanut or other nut oil
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2/3 cup packed cilantro leaves

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup masala paste
1 28 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 cup red lentils
4-6 cups spinach

To make paste, toast cumin and coriander seeds in skillet until fragrant. Use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind spices. In a small food processor, add ginger and pulse until broken into small pieces. Add red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, garam marsala, and salt. Give a couple pulse to incorporate. Next, add nut oil, tomato paste, and cilantro leaves. Pulse until paste forms and everything is well incorporated. Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and add diced onion, cooking until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add in minced garlic and cook for one more minute. Stir in masala paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in stewed tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil. Add in lentils and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring often, until lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in spinach. Serve with your favorite grain, extra cilantro, and a dollop of greek yogurt.

Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

Fudge date balls

I love chocolate. Some may say I have a chocolate problem. I don’t think it is a problem as I have no issue with it.

If pressed I wouldn’t say I have sweet tooth. I have a weakness for chocolate, and apparently snickerdoodle cookies, but otherwise I can take or leave candy.

When I worked outside the home and had an office I had a designated drawer in my desk just for chocolate. At any given point in time I had at least 4 different kinds of chocolate but more often than not I had 10-15. You read that right. Ten to fifteen chocolate bars.  Mid-afternoon I would paw through the drawer to find just a bite or two of the chocolate that would fit my mood that day.

Once I became a stay at home mama I transferred all that chocolate to a cabinet in the kitchen (my new office). Little quickly learned when I snuck off to the kitchen around 3 in the afternoon that it was chocolate time. I have given him tastes of chocolate from very early on. And only good chocolate mind you. None of this Hershey’s crap.

 Fudge date balls- they taste like chocolate truffles but are sugar free and good for you!

The child is a chocolate fiend. What can I say? He takes after his mama. Like his mama though he doesn’t eat much at a time. This probably has to do more with his access to said chocolate rather than his self control. Just sayin.

One of my dear friends made this last week for a playdate we attended. Holy cow a bite of chocolate without a lick of sugar? Yes we can have the conversation of not eating too much dried fruit and that dried fruit has lots of sugar but I don’t care. At the end of the day it is still just fruit. And it is stupid good.

So here you go. My new obsession- chocolate I don’t feel the least bit bad about eating or feeding to the little.

Two things. First let these set in the fridge for a bit. I dare you to bite in to a cold one and compare it to a real chocolate truffle. So stinking close in flavor and texture. Second double the batch. Or triple it. There are never enough.

Fudge date balls- they taste like chocolate truffles but are sugar free and good for you!

Fudge Date Balls (makes 6)
adapted from The Happy Raw Kitchen

8 pitted  dates
1  tablespoon cocoa powder, or carob
1  tablespoon hulled hemp seeds (any nut or seed really will do)
1  teaspoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon dried coconut (not sweetened)

For decoration:
1-2 tablespoons hemp seeds or coconut for rolling

Process the ingredients ingredients in food processor until mixture starts sticking together. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in extra hemp seeds or coconut. Balls can be refrigerated about 1 hour to firm up (DO THIS). These are very soft and chewy if eaten right away.

Fudge date balls- they taste like chocolate truffles but are sugar free and good for you!

Rye Caraway Scones

This is the last recipe in my scone making blitz. Most scones I have had in life have been sweet (like the orange poppy seed scones I made) but some reason I have much preferred the savory versions of late (like this recipe or the roasted red pepper and feta ones).

I hold a very special place in my heart for rye. I know it is a love/hate thing for most people and I am decidedly in the love camp. Hands down the best sandwich bread out there has to be dill rye bread. Yum.

Rye Caraway Scones

While perusing other scones recipes I stumbled on this one. The small paragraph at the top of the page suggested filling these scones with ham, cheese, and spicy mustard for mini sandwiches. Sold.

While the scones themselves are incredibly tasty, as mini sandwiches they are superb. Please, please, please do NOT put plain yellow mustard on these though. Either find a big flavored robust mustard or make your own. Because that’s what we do around here.

Rye Caraway Scones

Can we all just take a second and look at how incredible the above picture is? I didn’t even take it! My sweet friend Kristen did on that fun Friday morning food photo shoot.

And now I need another sandwich.

Rye Caraway Scones

On another note….

We are quickly approaching one year on this little blog. I have learned so much and come so far this past year. All I really want it to hang out with YOU. If I promise to make these sandwiches (and some other sweet treats) and serve up a classic style tea will you come over?

Mark your calendars. May 18th. Details to follow.

Don’t worry. I’ll remind you as we get closer but I am ridiculously excited about it and can’t wait to see you!

(now I need to go dress shopping….)

Rye Caraway Scones

Rye Caraway Scones (makes 8)
Adapted from Simply Scones cookbook

1 cup flour
3/4 rye flour
2 Tbs granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. In a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, caraway seeds, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives cut the cold butter in till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk till just combined. Dump the mixture out on to the floured counter and kneed briefly to bring it all together. Pat in to a 8-10 inch wide circle and cut in to eights. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 17 minutes. They will brown slightly. Remove from the baking sheet to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Rye Caraway Scones

Spicy whole grain brown mustard

It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that I made my own mustard.

I cannot believe how incredibly easy it was to make my own mustard. It is as easy as throw things in a jar, let sit for a day or two, and blend. That’s it.

Spicy whole grain brown mustard

Add this to the long list of things that is ridiculously easy to make. Although I need to try making another batch with yellow mustard seeds. Perhaps they will be a little less spicy.

When I first made this batch of mustard it was tongue numbing spicy. Seriously. Tasting it so I could adjust the seasoning was painful. I had to enlist Nathan’s help with the tasting.  After two tastes he surrendered and abandoned the kitchen. However, given a few days to mellow it was incredible. Still spicy and tangy but in a really really good way.

Spicy whole grain brown mustard

I can’t wait to put it on straight off the grill sausages. Yum.

Homemade mustard I feel would also make a really lovely gift. Especially tucked into a gift basked full of other lovely homemade treats. Or just take some as a hostess gift to the next cookout you are invited to.

Spicy whole grain brown mustard

Spicy Whole Grain Brown Mustard (makes about a pint)
Adapted from Two Tarts

6-oz. stout beer of your choice
3/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1⁄8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves
1⁄8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄8 tsp. ground allspice

Combine ingredients in a glass mason jar. Cover with a lid and let sit at room temperature for 1–2 days till the mustard seeds have absorbed most of the liquid. Transfer the mixture to another container and blend with your immersion blender. Alternatively you could use your  food processor and process. Process till most of the seeds are ground and the mixture has thickened. It takes about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a clean jar and cover. Refrigerate and use immediately (if you are brave). Keeps for up to 6 months.

Spicy whole grain brown mustard

(So last week when we had our fun morning of shooting recipes we made sandwiches with this mustard and some incredible rye caraway scone. That recipe is coming next week but here is a teaser. Yeah. Betcha you can’t wait huh?)

Spicy whole grain brown mustard on rye caraway scones

 

Apple Cupcakes (dairy free) with Vegan Buttercream Frosting

I was so honored last week when a sweet friend asked me to make a cake for her tiny’s first birthday.

Sure, I made Little’s last September but the pressure of making a first birthday cake for someone other than my kiddo was incredible. Thankfully, she is super laid back and loved the sweet little basketball cake with green and yellow cupcakes.

Yummy apple cupcakes (dairy free) with a vegan buttercream frosting.

Yes, I know the Ducks lost yesterday, but you know what? I don’t care. We are huge Duck fans around here as is this sweet friend and her husband. Not to mention they are raising a tiny Duck fan just like we are.

It is the only kind and proper way to raise children. I’m just saying.

And if you are a Duck you are always a winner regardless of the final score.

Her tiny Duck fan apparently also loves apples so apple cake it had to be. Many of his tiny friends are sensative to dairy so I set out to find and make dairy free cake and frosting.

Yummy apple cupcakes (dairy free) with a vegan buttercream frosting.

I was surprised how easy it was. Yes, the cake does contain eggs so it is not vegan but the frosting is! I used Earth Balance in the place of butter and coconut milk in place of regular milk. Everything turned out super tasty in my opinion.

Happy birthday sweet Ven. The world is so blessed to have you!

Yummy apple cupcakes (dairy free) with a vegan buttercream frosting.

Apple Cupcakes with Vegan Buttercream Frosting (makes 12 cupcakes and enough frosting for them)
Cake adapted from Hoosier Homemade, frosting is an original creation

Cake:

1  apple peeled and cored (I used large Fujis)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4  teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl mix the sugar and oil till combined. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk well. Dump in the flour, baking powder, cinnamo, salt and baking soda and mix till just combined. Either over the bowl of batter or in another bowl grated the apple. Mix all the grated apple and juices into the batter. Spoon about 1/4 cup in to lined muffin tins (about 1/2 full). Bake for 23-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:

1 cup Earth Balance
2-3 tbs coconut milk (full fat from the can)
6 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In the bowl of your mixer all the Earth Balance and start mixing. Slowly and carefully add the powdered sugar cup by cup. Once combined add the vanilla then the coconut milk one tablespoon at a time till you like the consistency. Color if desired.

Yummy apple cupcakes (dairy free) with a vegan buttercream frosting.

Granola Clusters

Since becoming a stay at home mama I have slowly been making many of our family’s every day items. Bread is the most recent adventure. I also make my own ricotta, cheeze-its, tamales, ice cream, graham crackers, and granola. I have tackled and perfected homemade tortillas this past week and will be sharing that with you soon.

Granola clusters

I used to think homemade meant cheap and not as good as store bought. Over the past few months I have discovered this is most certainly not the case. I can control what is in my food (meaning no artificial crap) and it is always so much better than anything I can get in the store. This was true for the granola I made but I wanted more. Finally I stumbled on a wonderful granola CLUSTER recipe. The same control over whats in my granola but now with the delicious clusters like the granola from the store.

Granola clusters

We made this for the first time weeks ago and were unimpressed. I don’t throw out food so it went in to a tupperware and in to the pantry. Something magical happened- it got so much better after a couple of days. And when sprinkled over yogurt and peaches I had to pace myself before I inhaled the whole bowl.

This is now my official go to granola recipe. Little loves it too. We go through a batch once every two weeks. Absurd pace I know but it is such a great “I need a quick sweets fix.” A handful of granola is infinitely better for you than a handful of chocolate chips I am sure.

Granola clusters

Granola Clusters (makes about 7 cups)
Adapted from An Oregon Cottage (yes I get alot of my recipes from her lately. What can I say? She’s good.)

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbs vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil
5 c. rolled oats (not quick)
1 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. flax meal
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees and line a large rimmed baking sheet with silicone or parchment. Place the first four ingredients in a glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute- just long enough to melt the coconut oil. Add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl, pour the oil/honey/syrup mixture over it and mix everything really well. Press the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet, using the back of the spoon, or a spatula. The harder you press the tighter your finished clusters will be.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, for about 35 minutes and do not stir.  Remove to a cooling rack for 1 hour before breaking the granola into chunks.

Granola clusters

Black Bean and Brown Rice Burgers on Homemade Buns

I’m not a vegetarian. I’m sure you have gathered that by now. Particularly with posts like this incredible pork roast, our amazing juniper brined turkey we had for thanksgiving or the very best BBQ chicken I use as our staple “how to fix a whole chicken” recipe (best shredded chicken EVER).

However, I am not a meat as an entree person. I prefer it with or in things- like topping a salad or in a soup. I love a good burger any day of the week, particularly the spectacular ones my husband makes. But meat can be pretty expensive.

Black Bean and Brown Rice Burgers on Homemade Buns

I don’t mean to harp on this tight budget bit. It seems to come up nearly every other post but, to be honest, it is something that is front of mind for me every day. I like budgeting, as irritating as it can be at times. I’m enjoying finding new and creative recipes that don’t call for $47 worth of ingredients. Nothing makes me crankier than a recipe with $47 worth of ingredients.

So when I saw a recipe touting $2 for the WHOLE RECIPE I was in. Also the idea of a burger that was made with ingredients I had in my pantry had me intrigued. Bonus for the fact that it is vegan. Not something we do super often around here but something I wish we did more of.

When I first tasted these finished burgers they were a bit… eh. I was unimpressed. The first set actually fell apart. I tweaked the leftover batter/dough/patty mixture and the next set came out great. Still I was unimpressed but dinner they were going to be regardless. As a burger, which cheese and all the usual toppings, they are spectacular.

Black Bean and Brown Rice Burgers on Homemade Buns

Back to the budget bit- When making these burgers I wasn’t about to make something on the cheap out of ingredients from my pantry just to turn about and spend $4 on hamburger buns. So I made my own. If you can actually believe this, it was my first time cooking with yeast. Ever. In my life. I have helped others do it or just drink beer while Nathan makes bread but I have never attempted to make my own bread. Thankfully they came out delicious. They are a bit dense but they are so tasty and cost a fraction of a package of buns from the store.

Black Bean and Brown Rice Burgers on Homemade Buns

So here you go. Literally a meal of rice and beans. Super cheap both for the patties and the buns. Deliciously vegetarian and good for you. Enjoy.

Black Bean and Brown Rice Burgers on Homemade Buns (makes 8 burgers and 12 buns)
from The Everyday Vegetarian and An Oregon Cottage

For burgers:
1 cup cooked brown rice
Olive oil
2 cups soaked and pre-cooked black beans
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 zucchini, diced
1-2 tbs flour
1-2 tbs water

Place a large pan over medium high heat. Sautee the onion and zucchini in a little oil until the onion is brown. Add in the black beans and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and place 2/3 of the mixture in a blender and blend for a few seconds- you are looking for mostly smooth with a few chunks. Place this back into the pan with the other mixture, add in the rice, and mix thoroughly. Allow the mixture to sit and cool for 10 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water and stir well. Then add a tablespoon of water to thicken it back up and stir well. This helps the burgers hold together. Divide into 8 portions and shape into patties. Heat a little oil in a pan, and when hot, place 2 burgers into it. Fry for about 4-5 minutes on both sides, then remove from the pan. Repeat with all the other burgers until they’re all cooked

For the buns:
2 c. warm water
1 1/2 tbs yeast
2 tbs honey
2 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
4 1/2 – 5 c. flour (use half whole wheat)

Mix water, yeast, and honey until yeast and honey are dissolved. Add the salt, oil, and 4-1/2 cups of flour to make a soft dough. Beat with a stand mixer for a minute or two (or knead a minute), adding the other 1/2 cup flour as needed to help dough be less sticky (you may not need all of it- and it will still be somewhat sticky). Let it rest 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove to a floured surface and knead by hand a few times. Press dough flat on floured surface and cut into 12 even pieces. Using floured hands, shape each into a ball. Shape and flatten the balls into buns and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Let rise 20-25 minutes (they will rise a bit, but not double). Bake for for 15 to 17 minutes until golden. They will sound hollow when thumped. Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Black Bean and Brown Rice Burgers on Homemade Buns

Tamales

Well we can now add tamales to the list of things that most people buy but I can now make. I am ridiculously proud. I would have never undertaken this on my own, I even highly doubt it would have ever occurred to me to try and makes them, but a wonderful fellow mama and friend got a craving and a crazy plan.

Homemade tamales- easier than you thought!

I am not one to turn down the chance to learn to make something new and a few weeks ago when I was asked if I wanted to make tamales I quickly replied yes! Despite the busyness of this time of year two lovely mamas got together and made a huge batch of these bad boys. Sharing the workload made it incredibly easy. I made the chicken filling, one of them made the pork filling, and another bought the lard and corn husks. Then we spent a child free afternoon (!) in the kitchen enjoying each others company and a delicious bottle of wine. It was some of the most fun I have had in a long time.

The tamales we made that day were delicious. However, since none of us had made tamales before, the recipe needed some tweaking to be perfect. Apparently I cannot leave a recipe alone if I can think I KNOW how to improve it. I lasted all of 48 hours before I whipped up a second batch of tamales in my kitchen while Little was napping. I had leftover filling from the first attempt so all I had to do was make the masa, assemble the tamales, and steam them. Easy peasy. And guess what? I was right- I knew how to fix the recipe. The second batch was perfect. You can’t even tell they were made by a gringa.

Homemade tamales- easier than you thought!

I learned many things in the process of making these two batches of tamales.

  1. You should make your own tamales. They are really easy. Time consuming but easy. A wonderful opportunity to drink some wine, chat, and make tasty food.
  2. Your masa needs to be the texture of thick peanut butter. We learned this wonderful description after the fact. The first batch was dry. The second batch was perfect.
  3. You should have about as much masa in your tamale as you should have filling. Your layer of masa should be as thin as you can get it. Keeping your hands wet make spreading the sticky masa much easier. Have a bowl of water next to you and dipping your hands in it frequently.
  4. This recipe calls for 4-6 serrano chiles. Serrano chiles are HOT. However your filling needs to have a fair bit of spice because the masa doesn’t have a ton of flavor. If it is so spicy it makes your eyes water (like it did to me) that’s ok. It WILL mellow and it will taste amazing later.
  5. Tamales take FOREVER to steam (1 hr 15 to 1 hr 45 depending on the size and moisture content of your tamales). This is a great time to sip aforementioned wine or clean up the kitchen.

I hope you make your own tamales. I plan on keeping this recipe handy and I’m sure I will be making them many more times in the not to distant future.

Homemade tamales- easier than you thought!

Green Chile Chicken Tamales (makes 24)

1 package (8 ounces) dried corn husks soaked in hot water for several hours before assembly
1 lb. (10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Fresh hot green chiles, to taste (roughly 4 to 6 serranos or 2 to 3 jalapeños), stemmed and roughly chopped
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1½ Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
3 to 3½ cups chicken broth
Salt
4 cups (about 1 pound) coarsely shredded cooked chicken, preferably grilled, roasted, or rotisserie chicken
2/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
10 oz. (1¼ cups) rich-tasting pork lard (or vegetable shortening if you wish), slightly softened but not at all runny
1½ tsp. baking powder
2 lb. (4 cups) fresh coarse-ground corn masa for tamales

First make the filling: On a baking sheet, roast the tomatillos about 4 inches below a very hot broiler until soft (they’ll blacken in spots), about 5 minutes; flip them over and roast the other side. Cool, then transfer to a food processor or blender along with all the delicious juice that has run onto the baking sheet. Add the chiles and garlic and process to a smooth purée. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the purée all at once and stir until noticeably thicker and darker, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of the broth and simmer over medium heat until thick enough to coat a spoon quite heavily, about 10 minutes. Taste and season generously with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons. Stir in the chicken and cilantro; cool completely.

Second prepare the batter: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the lard with 2 teaspoons salt and the baking powder until light in texture, about 1 minute. Continue beating as you add the masa in three additions. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup of the remaining broth. Continue beating for another minute or so, until a ½-teaspoon dollop of the batter floats in a cup of cold water (if it floats, you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light). Beat in enough of the remaining ½ cup broth to give the mixture the consistency of thick peanut butter; it should hold its shape in a spoon. Taste the batter and season with additional salt if you think it needs some.

Homemade tamales- easier than you thought!

Third assembly and steaming: One at a time, form the tamales: Lay out one of your chosen corn husks with the tapering end toward you. Spread about 2 tbs of the batter into about a 4-inch square on the top 2/3 of your husk leaving a border on all sides. Spoon about 1½ tablespoons of the filling down the center of the batter. Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (this will cause the batter to surround the filling). Roll the tamale together as best you can, wrapping the husk around the masa and filling. Finally, fold up the empty 1½-inch section of the husk (to form a tightly closed “bottom,” leaving the top open). Stand the tamales on their folded bottoms in the prepared steamer (you can use a vegetable steamer and steam in batches or use a large kettle style steamer). When all the tamales are in the steamer, cover them with a layer of more leftover corn husks. Set the lid in place and steam over a constant medium heat for about 1¼ hours. Watch carefully to make sure that all the water doesn’t boil away and, to keep the steam steady, pour boiling water into the pot when more is necessary.The tamales are done when the husks peel away from the masa easily. Let the tamales stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up. For the best-textured tamales, let them cool completely, then steam again for about 15 minutes to heat them through. Alternatively, microwave them for 45 seconds to a minute before eating. They will be steaming hot so be careful and enjoy!

Homemade tamales- easier than you thought!

Ps. I know the pictures show the pork filling too. I didn’t make that filling so I don’t have the recipe. Sorry for taunting you.

Chili relleno casserole

I have an incredible weakness for Mexican food. I love good authentic Mexican food. In fact, when I traveled to Mexico for work a few years ago, I ate at the street carts two blocks from my hotel instead of at a real restaurant. The food was unbelievably good and so cheap. It was fresh and hot and perfectly seasoned. The food vendors got such a kick out of the gringa, who could speak Spanish, patronizing their little stand day after day. It was some of the best food I have ever had.

Mexican restaurants around here tend to fall into two categories- tex mex fast food ish or we-serve-tasteless-rice-and-beans-and greasy-food type restaurant. While I will gladly eat at Chipotle five days a week it does little to satisfy the craving for good non-greasy hearty Mexican food. There was a teeny tiny hole in the wall taco stand that used to be amazing but as they bettered their restaurant they let their food standards slip.

roasted aneheim chilies for a chili relleno casserole

So I have been eating lots of Chipotle these days and wishing I could transplant one of those tiny taco stands from Mexico City into my backyard. And then I ran across the recipe I am sharing today. It was the perfect storm- I either knew immediately where to get all the ingredients or I already had them all in my fridge, I had time to cook, and I NEEDED good hearty food. Peppers are still plentiful at the market stands around here so I was even able to score some local Anaheim chilies.

The only down side to this recipe was it didn’t make enough. It made a tiny 8×11 pan, which I could have eaten all by myself. But nooooo…. I had three boys in my house, in addition to my sister and me, and this was devoured in 3.2 seconds flat. Does this happen to anyone else? You make something you feel ok about and it lasts for weeks. You make something you want to keep all to yourself and devour while watching Downton Abbey under a blanket and everyone else eats it up. Sigh.

I’m glad it was shared and enjoyed though. At least when I reminisce about it I will have four other witness who will agree that this is quite possibly the best dish I have ever made.

chili relleno casserole

 Chili Relleno Casserole (barely feeds 5 if you include hungry boys)
6 Anaheim chilies
3 eggs
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp sour cream
1 3 oz can of sliced black olives
12 oz Mexican blend cheese< 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (I used leftover bbq chicken)
1 can/packet green enchilada sauce (I used this sauce as it didn’t have artificial ingredients)

chili relleno casserole

Rinse chilies and place on a baking sheet covered in foil. Move oven rack to very top of oven and broil chilies for about 5 minutes on each side or until skin is blackened. Remove from oven and place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Remove chilies. Skin and remove veins and seeds. Cut into strips. Preheat oven to 350℉. Combine eggs, flour, sour cream, olives, salt and pepper to taste then mix thoroughly. Coat a baking dish with butter. Start layering the casserole using 1/2 of the ingredients- first chilies. then eggs mixture, then cheese, then beans, then meat. Repeat. Sprinkle the top with a bit more cheese then smother in the enchilada sauce. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (pop under the broiler for a minute or two if the top isn’t crispy enough). Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

chili relleno casserole