Sunday, February 18, 2018

It worked! (Chicken Green Burrito Casserole)

As a SoCal Expat, I LOVE a good burrito. Nothing fancy - beans, cheese, salsa and maybe some seasoned meat. A bit of rice is OK, but not requires. All wrapped up in a large warm flour tortilla.  Maybe dollop of sour cream and guac on the side. Or smothered in sauce and melted cheese. 
Hot and bubbly, right out of the oven


These were the memories that I had in mind as I came up with my new favorite make ahead dish -- a Chicken Green Burrito Casserole. Not overly saucy, but filled with all the flavors I love -- chicken, green salsa, cilantro lime rice, refried beans and cheese. All melty. Sublime.

I made one for dinner last night, and got a
Packed up for next
week's workday lunches
big thumbs up from Steve. Then, just to be certain that my recipe was spot on, I sent it to my BFF's daughter, Madison, and asked her to follow the directions and then give me the verdict. Four more thumbs up -- two each -- from Maddie and her husband Eric, who packed up individual servings for next week's workday lunches. 


And now, I share this little ditty with you. 

Enjoy!


Garnished and ready for dinner


Chicken Green Burrito Casserole
Everything we love in a green burrito in a quick and easy casserole. Perfect with a green salad.

Serves 4-6 

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (about 3/4 of a chicken, dark and white meat)
1 16 oz can refried beans heated with 1/4 cup of water
1 1/2 cups cilantro lime rice (see below)
2 cups cheddar jack cheese, shredded
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cups diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups salsa verde (green salsa)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
Sour cream and chopped green onions for garnish

Cilantro Lime Rice
1 cups water
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced and tested (about 1/4 cup juice)
1/2 tsp salt
Bring the water to to a boil in a medium sauce pan, add rice, cover and cook 15 minutes. When done stir in the lime zest, juice and cilantro.

Method
Preheat oven to 350
Spray a deep casserole dish with cooking spray - set aside

Heat a large sauce pan on medium high heat; add the olive oil and sauce the onions and peppers until soft. Add the cumin, coriander and chili powder, stir to combine. Then add the chicken, stir and heat through. Set aside.

Layer the ingredients in the casserole dish
1) Beans topped with 1/2 cup salsa and a layer of 1/3 of the cheese
2) Chicken mixture topped with 1/2 cup salsa and a layer of 1/3 of the cheese 
3) Cilantro Rice topped with 1/2 cup salsa and a layer of 1/3 of the cheese


Cover with foil without touching the cheese; bake 40 minutes in a 350 oven, then remove the foil and continue another 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions 


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Thinking about the holidays - Apple, Pear and Cranberry Crostata

Sweet meets tart in this free form pastry.
One of the fun things I’m doing these days is writing up recipes for a local magazine.  I know; like I need another commitment.  Not.  But this is a great creative outlet and I’m having a ball.

Today I needed to work on a recipe for a holiday dessert.  We are not big fans of super sweet anything. The dessert I came up with combines two freeform crostatas I made years ago - one pear and one apple, with tart dried cranberries. The results are pretty darn good.  

And won’t Steve be surprised when he comes in from the golf course today!




Apple, Pear & Cranberry Crostata
Serves 8
Sweet meets tart in this easy to make free form pastry.

Ingredients
  • 1 frozen pie crust, thawed (or your own favorite pie crust recipe, if you are so inclined)
  • 2 apples - I like a combination of Granny Smith and Honey Crisp, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 pears - I like Bosc, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 TBS orange juice
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 1/3 + cup 1 TBS  granulated sugar
  • 1 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg plus 1 TBS water whisked to make an egg wash
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking time! The house is
    going to smell amazing!
  • Powdered sugar for garnish

Method:
Preheat your oven to 450
  • Cut a piece of parchment paper to line a large baking sheet; put the paper on your workspace
  • Combine the lemon and orange juice and zest in a large bowl and toss with the diced fruit; set aside
  • Roll out the pie dough to an circle about 13 inch across. It does not have to be perfect. Transfer this to the parchment paper
  • Mix the cornstarch, 1/2 cup of sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a small bowl until well combined. Add this dry mixture to the fruit and toss to combine, then transfer the fruit to the center of the crust. Leave any extra liquid in the bowl. Pile the fruit high, trying not to expose too many of the the cranberries.
  • Pull the crust up over the edges of the fruit, pinching and folding as you go. Leave the center fruit exposed. Brush the top portion the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with 1 TBS of sugar. Slide the parchment paper, with the crostata onto a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Then cover the top of the crostata with aluminum foil, reduce the heat to 375 and bake an additional 10 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if the top of the crostata looks dry. This ends up being a very moist dessert after it rests.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes. Use the parchment paper to help you slide it onto a serving plate, and cut away the excess paper for a rustic presentation. 
  • Dust with powdered sugar before displaying and serving

Serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Enjoy.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Easy Breezy - Summertime Mexican Rice


It’s been unseasonably cool the past few days - high 70s and breezy. Perfect for tennis, golf and grilling on the deck. Between Steve and me we checked off all three boxes yesterday, and topping the day off with a fun cooking session with friends.  

Fresh uncooked corn and tomatoes plus defrosted
 frozen peas bring summertime freshness
to this Mexican Rice
While our respective Steves (seriously the most common name for guys our age!) played golf, my friend Amanda and I tested and updated a favorite recipe of mine — Some Like it Hot Fish Tacos, with Salsa Blanca.  You can find the updated version at this link.

I also tried out a new recipe for Mexican Rice.  This one has been on my mind for a while - traditional flavors, but freshen up with uncooked corn and tomatoes and a squeeze of fresh lime.

If I do say so myself, this one is a serious winner, so I’ll share the recipe with you here.  It goes great with the tacos, but would be a nice side dish for any summertime meal.


Summertime Mexican Rice
Serves 6-8 

Ingredients
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup  cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
  • 1/2 cup fresh uncooked corn cut off the cob, basically one ear’s worth (or frozen if you don’t have fresh corn)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet onion (Vidalia, Maui, or the like)
  • spice blend, see below
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 a lime


Spice blend
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt.



Method
  • Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium sized lidded sauce pan
  • Add the rice, stir gently as it comes back up to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat, fluff the rice with a fork.
  • Pour the cooked rice into a large bowl
  • Add the tomatoes, peas, corn, cilantro and rice, stir to combine
  • Add the spice blend, stir to combine
  • Right before serving add the lime juice and zest, stir to combine



Enjoy!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summertime Summertime (BLT Crostini and Summer Squash Crostini)

Ready for the dinner party: two summertime apps inspired
by two of our favorite local haunts, Merrit's and Picnic
Summer in North Carolina means two things:   Bacon Lettuce & Tomato sandwiches and Barbecue. So when I was asked to bring a appetizer to a Saturday evening dinner party this weekend, I decided to create a couple of crostini recipes using inspiration from two of our favorite local recipes — Merrit’s in Chapel Hill, home of the a simple and straightforward BLT that defines that iconic summertime sammy; and Picnic, an up and coming Durham BBQ restaurant that is co-owned by a local heritage pig farmer and raising the bar for succulent whole hog Q.

The Merrit’s BLT rift was pretty simple. Crusty bread, a touch of mayo, and bright red juicy tomato slices topped with crisp applewood smoked bacon and shredded lettuce.  I jazzed the mayo up a tad by adding chives from the garden and a touch of garlic, salt and pepper. The beauty of a Merrit’s BLT is its simplicity, no need to guild that lily too much.

The Picnic influenced crostini was a bit more of a challenge. I didn’t want go the smoked and pulled piggy route.  Way too filling for a pre-dinner app. Instead, I took inspiration from a refreshing squash side salad you often find on the Picnic menu when the prolific veggies are in season.

BLT Crostini
Following are the ingredients and methods for these tasty treats.  I hope they inspire you to come up your own new favorite start to a summertime meal.

BLT Crostini
(makes 8 pieces, two per person)

Ingredients
  • 8, 1/2 inch slices of a crusty baguette.  (I used ciabatta baguette from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup of Dukes or Best Foods Mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove of garlic, worked into a paste on a cutting board, with a bit of coarse salt and the side blade of a chef’s knife
  • 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped chives (optional)
  • 4 slices of thick sliced bacon (I used uncured applewood smoked bacon from Trader Joes), cooked crisp, blotted dry with a paper towel and broken into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 pieces of sliced tomato, about the same size as the bread, drained on a paper towel. Pick the best and brightest red tomatoes you can find. 
  • 1/2 cup of shredded romain lettuce - make it as thin as you can, and moisten slightly with a bit of oil and vinegar
  • Kosher salt and course ground pepper to taste
  • Olive oil spray, or a bit of olive oil and a brush


Method
  1. Spray or brush the bread slices with olive oil and grill on a grill pan until slightly crispy. 
  2. Mix the mayo, garlic and chives in a small bowl and set aside - it’s nice to do this a bit ahead of time so the flavors can come together 
  3. To assemble, use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread a bit of the mayo on each piece of bread, top with a slice of tomato, then dab two or three pieces of bacon with a dot of the mayo (like glue) and press them atop the tomato, then put a bit of the lettuce atop the bacon.
  4. Enjoy.

Summer Squash, Zucchini and Corn Crostini
(makes 8 pieces, two per person)
Summer Squash, Zucchini &
Fresh Corn Crostini

Ingredients:
  • 8, 1/2 inch slices of a crusty baguette.  (I used ciabatta baguette from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 zucchini, sliced into ribbons, using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 large summer squash, sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 corn cob, kernels removed with a chef’s knife
  • 1 Tablespoon walnut oil (you could substitute another mild oil, like canola or grape seed)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
  • 1/2 cup creamy goat cheese (I used a log of herbed goat cheese from Trader Joes)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons milk or half and half
  • 2 Tablespoons roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • Kosher salt and course ground pepper to taste
  • Olive oil spray, or a bit of olive oil and a brush


Method
  1. Spray or brush the bread slices with olive oil and grill on a grill pan until slightly crispy. 
  2. Use a fork to mix the goat cheese and milk / half & half until smooth and spreadable. 
  3. Combine the squash ribbons, corn, oil, vinegar, basil, tarragon, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. It’s nice to do this a bit early so the flavors can meld and the squash can soften
  4. To assemble, use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread a bit of the goat cheese on each piece of bread; then top each piece with a few kernel of corn, two to three squash ribbons and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, salt and pepper.
  5. Enjoy.






















Sunday, April 16, 2017

Indoor Easter Picnic (Cole Slaw and a lesson that we don't care for sweet tea brined fried chicken)

One of the things a SoCal Ex-Pat needs to learn when they move  to North Carolina is to remember to order your iced tea “unsweetened.” Unless you want something closer to a soda than the iced tea you grew up drinking, that is. 

Sweet tea brined fried chicken: Picture perfect, but
not blog-worthy.  Sweet potato biscuits don't rise
like normal ones but are amazing!
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not judging. But I’m not a sweet lover, so I learned this one quickly. 

Sugar aside, the iced tea in the South is the very best. Amber brown and clear as the Pasadena sky on New Year’s Day (which is when thousands of people freezing their tails off in the midwest and northeast watch the Rose Parade, pack their bags and add to the LA traffic just in time for the winds to shift and the smog to settle back into the valley).  Wow, I am full of rants today!
This crisp and refreshing Coleslaw
never fails me

Why the tea discussion?  Well, today is Easter and we are just the two of us for dinner.  So I thought I’d make a little indoor picnic complete with Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken (a first for me) served with my go to side, a crunchy cole slaw made with mayo, Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar and celery seeds. Oh.  And biscuits.  Sweet potato biscuits. Because we can.

But here's the deal.  The chicken was good, but you know, I really don't think the sweet tea brining is up my alley.  Not blog worthy.  So, I'll post the pretty pictures, but skip the recipe.  

I will share my cole slaw recipe and a link to  Bobby Flay’s sweet potato biscuits.  They are absolutely relish. So VERY tender.  They don't rise quite as high as a normal biscuit, because of the moisture in the sweet potatoes but, dang, they are good. 

Holly's Cole Slaw Method
I love love love to dice. And this 
method makes it super easy.
This is a staple in the Barnett household.  I change it up lots of ways - lemon or lime juice rather than the vinegar, chopped cilantro or parsley, green onions or chives in place of the diced onion. And often I go straight mayo rather than mayo and yogurt.  Any way you do it, it’s refreshing and a great accompaniment to meat, fish, poultry, burgers, lamb… or with canned tuna mixed in for lunch.

Make the dressing - to a large bowl add:
  • 1/4 diced onion - I like a sweet onion like the Visalia onions we get in here NC and the Maui onions we got in SoCal.  
  • 1/4 cup Best Foods/Helmans or Duke’s Mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 cup plain, fat free Fage Greek Yogurt
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • pinch salt 
  • a bunch of grinds of black pepper
  • Mix thoroughly and taste.  Adjust the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Quick & Easy Cole Slaw -
fresh makes it best
Add the crunchy stuff:
  • Toss in1/4 of a large head of cabbage, sliced thin and then cropped.  You can also use a bag of pre-shredded cabbage.
  • Stir and check the seasoning again, and add salt and pepper if needed.  If it is too dry, add some more mayo and/or yogurt.  
Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  Stir and serve. 

Enjoy!












Sunday, July 10, 2016

Comfort after a long short week (Tarragon Braised Chicken with Tarragon, served with spiralized zucchini, corn, mushrooms and tomatoes.)



Just before I added the sauce -
love the colors
The first week of July was a long short week.  At work and in the world in general.  After a day of running errands, all I wanted to do Saturday evening was stay in, watch a movie and cook up some comfort food.  

For many, comfort food means anything with cheese.  For me it’s a braise. Short ribs, lamb shanks, deep rich stews, and our family favorite, osso buco  — my list of comforting braises is long. They all have a few common elements:   fragrant aromatics - think rosemary, thyme, garlic, tarragon - good quality “dark meat” protein, just enough liquid and a relatively long trip to the oven in a sturdy dutch oven.

Last night I opted for a cut of chicken that many overlook, leg quarters.  This cut combines two dark meat favorites into one, the thigh and the drumstick.  I like to remove the skin and keep the joints intact. 

Prepped veg - and yes, those are
tarragon flowers in the mix...
This recipe also made use of my new favorite toy, the spiralizer, which turns a zucchini or other similar shaped vegetable into long strands that look like pasta.  In my opinion, the texture is much better than most ways of preparing squash, but any sauté of vegetables goes great with this dish.

Here’s how I pulled together the dish.

Tarragon Braised Chicken with Tarragon, served with spiralized zucchini, corn, mushrooms and tomatoes.
(Serves 4 hungry souls)


Ingredients

For the Braise

  • 4 chicken legs with thighs attached, skin removed
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Poultry Seasoning - a couple of Tablespoons
  • Olive oil to coat bottom of pan (about a Tablespoon)
  • 1/2 Valhalla onion (or other sweet onion)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and left hold
  • Enough water to reach the 1/2 way point of the chicken, about 1/2 cup of water (white wine would be great here, too)  The important thing is not to add so much liquid that you turn this into a stew rather than a braise.

For the Veg Sauté 

  • 2 cobs of corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 spiraled zucchini  
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 TBS fresh thyme chopped (you can use about a teaspoon of dried if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1/3 cup nonfat half & half (you can use regular half and half as well)
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees


  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper
  • Heat a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed, lidded pan with olive oil.  
  • Brown the chicken over a medium high heat, two pieces at a time
  • When the second batch is browned, remove the chicken from the pan and dust with the poultry seasoning.
  • Add the onion and garlic cloves to the pan and sauté until the onion is just softened
  • Now add the chicken back into the pan, pour in the water, heat to a boil, cover with a lid and pop into the oven for 45 minutes.

Pour yourself a nice glass of white wine, chill out for a while…. the house will soon smell amazing…


  • When the chicken is done, remove it and the onions and garlic from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm in a heat resistant disk like a glass pie pan. 
  • Then skim away any fat with a spoon.  I also like to lay a paper towel atop the liquid and lift away andy residual fat.

The recipe up to this stage can be completed up to an hour ahead of serving.


  • About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve,  crank up the heat to medium high and reduce the liquid to about half.
  • While the sauce is reducing, fire up the broiler, uncover chicken, garlic and onions, spoon a bit of the sauce on all surfaces, and place under the broiler until they are crispy and golden brown.  Keep an eye on this throughout to avoid burning.

As the chicken finishes up,  lets get those veggies ready….


  • Heat the dutch oven again and add in about a teaspoon of olive oil. Add in all of the veggies and half of the tarragon. Add a pinch of salt and about 6 grinds of pepper and sauté  for about 5 minutes or until everything is just getting soft.  
  • Now add in the half and half and remainder of the tarragon and the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. 

To serve:
I like to serve in a pasta bowl, placing the chicken down first, then a scoop of the veggies and a bit of the sauce along the bottom of the bowl, as opposed to over the top of the chicken. 

Enjoy.