Chili Rellenos with Tomato-Pepper Sauce and Refried Beans

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One of our favorite vacation destinations is Santa Fe New Mexico. We love all of the arts, the people, the beautiful scenery and the food. Chili Rellenos are one of our favorites. We first had really good rellenos at the La Fonda, a hotel restaurant on the square in Santa Fe, and we loved them. I have tried a few different ingredient combinations and this one has become my make at home favorite. I’d rather go to Santa Fe and order them but mine are the next best thing. It’s a fairly time consuming process so I don’t make them very often.

The first thing I made today were the refried beans.

Ingredients:

1 48-oz jar pre-cooked Randall’s pinto beans

1 large onion, rough chopped

2 T bacon fat or crisco shortening

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 jalapeño seeded and in a small dice

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped

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Heat the grease or shortening in a large heavy skillet and add the onion.

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Cook the onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized. About 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. You want them to be golden and sweet.

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Drain and rinse the beans. Add the beans and broth to the caramelized onions and cook about 10 minutes over low heat.

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My bean smashing implement of choice is an old fashioned potato masher. Smash the beans and onions together. Add a little extra broth if the beans seem too dry. Dice the jalapeño and chop the cilantro.

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Stir the pepper and cilantro into the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the beans to an oven safe dish and cover with Saran Wrap until you’re ready to heat them in the oven.

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I sprinkle a little cheese on top of the beans before pitting them in the oven. (Queso fresco, queso Oaxaca, goat cheese or Monterey Jack.). When you’re ready heat in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the beans are heated through.  If you want the beans to be vegetarian use crisco and vegetable broth.

Next I roast my peppers and prepare the Tomato-Pepper Sauce.

I line a large baking sheet with foil, preheat my oven to 425, spread the peppers out and roast them until they have a nice char on each side.

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Turn the peppers at least once. It takes about 30 minutes total. Once the peppers are done put them in a covered bowl to steam and cool before peeling.

Sauce Ingredients:

2 or 3 large red or yellow bell peppers roasted or a jar of roasted peppers

1 large onion rough chopped

5-6 cloves of garlic rough chopped

2 T canola or olive oil

1 pint tomatoes in their juices

1/4 cup cilantro

2 T honey

salt and pepper to taste

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Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions, roasted and diced peppers, and garlic together. Cook until tender, 15 minutes or so.

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Stir in the tomatoes and cook until thickened and reduced by half.

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Once the sauce is thickened and reduced transfer it to your food processor. Add the cilantro and honey and pulse until smooth.

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Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you’re ready to serve the Rellenos. The sauce is served at room temperature.

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Last, but not least, we prepare the peppers and the filling.

Poblano Peppers and Filling Ingredients:

4 poblano peppers roasted and peeled

3/4 to 1 cup goat cheese

1 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

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Peel the roasted peppers and, using a sharp knife make a slit the length of the pepper and remove the seeds and membranes. Lay the peppers on paper towel until you’re ready to stuff them. Put the chickpeas, cheeses, and cilantro in the food processor and pulse until well blended.

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Divide the filling into 4 equal parts and shape into ovals.

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Put one of the ovals into each of the poblano peppers and, using your hands, gently close the pepper around the filling.

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Heat peanut oil in a deep fryer or a heavy Dutch oven to 385 degrees.

Coating Ingredients:

2 large eggs whisked

1 cup beer

flour

cornmeal

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Whisk the egg and beer together. Roll the pepper in flour, dip it into the egg mixture, and roll in the cornmeal.

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Gently lower a couple peppers into the hot oil.

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Fry until the peppers are golden brown turning once while they are frying. Remove peppers to paper towel to drain. Fry the remaining two peppers.

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Serve hot with the refried beans and a generous serving of the tomato-pepper sauce.

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Mexican rice and chips and guacamole are both excellent sides with this dish. Garnish with lime wedges if you’d like. Excellent with a nice cold beer or a tequila drink. You might feel transported to Santa Fe.

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Vegetable and Shrimp Stir Fry

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If you love vegetables, stir fry is the perfect meal. You can use almost  any combination of vegetables you have on hand. I more often than not make stir fry without meat but tonight I added some pre-cooked shrimp. You can also use left over chicken, beef or pork. But the stars of this dish, for me, are the vegetables. There really is no right or wrong combination of ingredients but this is what I used tonight.

Vegetables:

Baby bok choy

Celery

Carrots

Mushrooms

Onion

Red bell pepper

Snow peas

Canola oil and toasted sesame oil

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Sauce Ingredients:

6 T water

3 T catsup

2 T soy sauce

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp grated garlic

2 tsp honey

1 T cider or rice vinegar

1 T cornstarch

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Cut up all of the vegetables into bite size pieces.

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Heat a tablespoon of canola oil in your wok until it’s very hot. Add the vegetables and drizzle with a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil.

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Cook the vegetables until tender crisp stirring frequently. Be careful not to overcook them.

Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. With a microplane grate the ginger and garlic.

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Whisk in the water, catsup, soy sauce, honey, and corn starch.

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Add the shrimp to the wok with the vegetables. They’re already cooked so they just need to be heated.

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Add the sauce, stir and cook over high heat until it thickens a bit. Serve over rice and enjoy!

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Stir fry. It’s what was for dinner tonight.

NOTE:  Shredded green cabbage, summer squash, broccoli, green onions, green beans, baby corn, water chestnuts. Any of these vegetables are great for stir fry.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

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It’s that time of year. Saint Patty’s Day. The day many of us enjoy the ultimate boiled dinner. For years a very good friend hosted a Saint Patty’s Day party and she cooked a lot of corned beef for the occasion. I had made corned beef brisket myself for years before her party but hers was the best I had ever tasted. No mustard required!

Ingredients:

Corned beef (of course)

1 large onion quartered

6-7 whole garlic cloves

1 T red pepper flakes

1 T crushed bay leaves

1 T oregano

1 T basil

1 T coriander seeds

salt and black pepper

…and that little seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef

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Put your corned beef in a large Dutch oven or heavy kettle. Pour boiling water to completely cover the meat and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

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Once the pot starts to boil, skim the white foam off with a slotted spoon. I know, it looks a little gross. Once you’ve removed and discarded the foam turn the heat down and add the onion and the garlic to the pot.

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In a mortar and pestle combine and crush all of the dried herbs and spices and add them to the pot.

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I add these after skimming the foam so that I don’t lose a lot of my seasoning in the process.

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Add a generous T of salt, cover and simmer over low heat for 5-6 hours. Near the end of the cooking time prepare the vegetables.

Cabbage

Carrots

Red potatoes

Onion

Green Beans

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Cut the cabbage into wedges removing the core. Scrub the carrots and cut into thirds. Cut the onion into quarters.

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Cut the potatoes, rinse well and trim the green beans.

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Remove the meat to a foil lined pan, along with a generous amount of the jus. Seal the foil and keep warm in the oven while the veggies cook.

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Add the vegetables to the pot with the broth. Potatoes, carrots, onion, beans and cabbage on top. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat. Cook until the vegetables are all fork tender. About 45 minutes to an hour.  The vegetables pick up the great spicy flavors from the broth.

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Remove the meat about 10 minutes before serving. Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes and slice against the grain.  Put all the vegetables in a large serving bowl or on a platter and top with the slices of corned beef. Fill up your plate and enjoy!

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Serve with a good rye bread and a nice cold Irish beer like Guinness or O’hara’s Irish Wheat. This boiled dinner is a meal in itself and doesn’t need any other side dishes.

Leftovers are great as, well, leftovers. This is one of the meals I think tastes as good or better the next day. Or you can make a corned beef or Ruben sandwich. Maybe some corned beef hash for breakfast.  It’s all good!  Enjoy. Happy Saint Patty’s Day.

 

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

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This is is one of my favorites salads; it’s a recipe I got from a dear friend and I make it frequently. The fresh lemon and herbs always taste like summer to me so I especially enjoy this salad in the winter!

Ingredients:

1 bunch green onions, green and white parts sliced thin

1 lb ripe tomatoes diced

1 cucumber peeled, seeded and diced

1/2 cup chopped mint leaves

1/2 cup chopped basil

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 can garbanzo beans aka chick peas

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1 T minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz fresh feta crumbled

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Get out a large salad bowl and start chopping. Slice the green onion.

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Dice the tomatoes and seed and dice the cucumbers.

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I like to put all of my fresh herbs in the salad spinner to wash and dry them well. Then I remove all of the stems and put the herbs in my food processor and give them a few pulses.

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Place the green onions, tomato, cucumber, and herbs in a salad bowl. Rinse and drain the chick peas and add them to the vegetables. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and minced garlic in a small bowl and whisk.

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Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss with a spatula to coat the vegetables. Add the feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

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This salad is great on its own served with fresh or toasted pita bread. The cheese and beans provide plenty of protein for a good lunch. I think this salad pairs especially well with fish and pork. I served it for dinner with trout and smashed garlic cauliflower.

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Enjoy!

 

 

Lasagna Soup

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Nearly eight years ago I traded my cigarettes in for knitting needles and became part of a phenomenal group of women.  We refer to ourselves as the Knit Wits. We meet weekly for lunch and knitting and road trips and we share recipes for some of the best food ever.  Our pot lucks are ridiculous. Seriously ridiculous!

This recipe, for lasagna soup, was contributed by a very special Knit Wit who passed away two years ago at age 85. We all miss her so much but every time I make one of her recipes I know she’s smiling. She loved to cook and feed people and she was an expert at it. She’d be proud that all of us continue to make and enjoy her food. I know that this soup will easily become one of your favorites as well.

Ingredients:

1 lb Italian sausage (hot or sweet or 50/50)

2 cups onion rough chopped

1 cup carrots sliced

2 cups mushrooms sliced

1 red pepper rough chopped

2 T garlic minced

4 cups chicken broth

1 14-oz can stewed tomatoes

10 oz can tomato sauce

2 cups fresh spinach

1 cup uncooked pasta (penne, mufaloa or your favorite)

4 tsp fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp oregano

2 cups fresh spinach

salt and pepper to taste

sliced provolone or fresh mozzarella

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

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In a Dutch oven or heavy kettle brown the sausage over medium heat. If you have sausages vs bulk sausage remove the casings.

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Add the onion and carrots.

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Sauté for about 3 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, pepper, garlic, basil and oregano.

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Sauté until garlic becomes fragrant. 1-2 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil.

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Drop in the pasta and simmer over low heat until the pasta is cooked.

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Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted.

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Slice the provolone or fresh mozzarella (I prefer the mozzarella) and put some in the bottom of the soup bowl. Grate some fresh pram to top the soup.

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Ladle the hot soup over the cheese and top with the parm.

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This is a very hearty, filling soup. Enjoy with some crusty Italian bread or a slice of warm garlic bread. This dish will make you wish you were a Knit Wit!

Smoked Trout Pate on Old Country Trenary Rye

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I just returned from a week in the Upper Peninsula spending time with family and friends. It’s absolutely beautiful but it’s also the land that time and the internets forgot. So no blog posts while I was away.

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One of the highlights of this trip was the annual Outhouse Classic held in the wee town of Trenary. Where they race outhouses built on skis on a rough, snow covered track. The festivities also include beer tents, coolers full of turkey legs for your gnawing pleasure, and, of course, pasties.

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Trenary also has a somewhat famous bakery whose specialties are Trenary Toast (a dry cinnamon sugared sweet bread perfect for dunking or making milk toast) and an old country rye bread that’s very hearty. The bakery also had an outhouse entry.

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On to my pate.

The UP is known for all kinds of freshwater fish from inland lakes as well as the Great Lakes. My dad used to make the best smoked fish I’ve ever eaten. He no longer makes it but it’s available at several small specialty groceries on the sweet side of the Mackinac Bridge. For my return home I bought smoked trout and whitefish, old country rye bread, ternary toast and lots of pasties. For lunch today I decided to make a real simple pate served on the rye.

Ingredients:

8 oz smoked trout, skin and bones removed

4 oz cream cheese

1 tsp prepared horseradish

1 tsp dill

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 T grated onion

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Because I haven’t been home for awhile I had no fresh lemons but I always keep extra lemon juice in mini zip locks in my freezer. Fresh dill would also be preferable but improvise, improvise.

Combine the cream cheese and trout in a food processor. Make sure you’ve gotten all the bones out. Getting a bone in the pate might even be worse than egg shells in your deviled egg.

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Grate the onion and add the onion, dill, horseradish and lemon juice to the fish/cream cheese.

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Pulse until its a nice, creamy consistency. It’s as easy as that!

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I served up our smoked trout pate with rye bread, beets my daughter did in her pressure cooker, and home canned dilly beans.  I added some balsamic reduction to the beets to brighten up their flavor. It would also be good with sliced, hard boiled eggs, tomato slices, green onions, or crisp apple slices.

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Enjoy.

NOTE:  If you’d like to order bread or toast from the Trenary Bakery you can email trenarytoast@tds.net Or call them at 1-800-TOAST-01. That was unsolicited but I do like promoting the UP.

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