Sunday, October 17, 2010

Green Chile Cheeseburgers

I've been intrigued by green chile cheeseburgers for quite awhile. I saw an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he made a version, and they looked SO GOOD! Then I got a Cook's Illustrated special edition that had a recipe for them, and ever since I saw that I knew I wanted to make them. I had originally planned to make these for a Friday date night dinner, but then I needed to reorder my meal plan a couple weeks ago and decided to have them during the week but just make regular burgers for my kiddos. I didn't know how spicy these would be, and the boy doesn't like spicy.

Green Chile Cheeseburgers
From Cook's Illustrated

3 Anaheim chiles, stemmed, halved lengthwise, and seeded
3 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, halved lengthwise, and seeded
1 onion, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
table salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
4 slices deli American cheese

Using a charcoal grill, gas grill or indoor grill pan, grill chiles and onion until vegetables are lightly charred and tender. Transfer vegetables to bowl, cover, and let cool 5 minutes. Remove skins from chiles and discard; separate onion rounds into rings.

Transfer chiles, onion, and garlic to food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer all but 1/4 cup chopped chile mixture to empty bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside. Process remaining mixture until smooth.

Combine beef, pureed chile mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl and knead gently until well incorporated. Form mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties and make shallow indentation in center of each.

Grill burgers, covered, over hot fire until well browned on first side, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip burgers, top with chopped chile mixture and cheese, and continue to grill, covered, until cheese is melted and burgers are cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve.


Our grill was out of commission when I made these, so I roasted the peppers under the broiler and skipped the onion. I added some onion powder to the chiles in the food processor to make up for it a bit. Ours were probably a little more on the hot side because I did the whole chile mixture between two burgers, plus I was only using a pound of ground beef. My only complaint was that I thought the burgers could have used two slices of cheese instead of just one, but if the chile mixture were reduced (or the amount it's supposed to be) one slice would probably be okay. These were definitely tasty and definitely a burger that will grace our table again at some point.

Chicken "Pot Pie" with Crunchy Brown Rice Crust

I know I've mentioned before that I heart the Whole Foods iPhone app. Often when I'm bored or just messing around on my phone I'll open it up and do various recipe searches to see what I find. I came across this one by searching for "low sugar" recipes to accomodate the South Beach Diet. This recipe would be Phase Two friendly because of the rice, but you'd want to avoid it during Phase One when you can't have carbs. This sounded like an interesting twist on pot pie, and I love pot pie, so I figured it was worth a go.

Chicken "Pot Pie" with Crunchy Brown Rice Crust
From the Whole Foods iPhone app, also available on the Whole Foods website

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 pound sliced button mushrooms
2 teaspoons chopped thyme, divided
1 large carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium gluten-free chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1 cup cooked brown rice or brown and wild rice blend
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 cup frozen peas

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie dish with oil; set aside.

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, carrots, celery, onions, salt and pepper and cook until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add broth and milk, stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until very thick, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine rice, cheese, paprika, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Stir peas into chicken mixture then season with salt and pepper and transfer to prepared dish. Scatter rice mixture evenly over the top then arrange dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until bubbly and crust is crisp, about 30 minutes.

Per serving (about 9oz/256g-wt.): 240 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 55mg cholesterol, 370mg sodium, 20g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 21g protein


For some reason I kept putting off making this. I think it was on my meal plan for a couple weeks, but I'd continually bump it to the next week. I finally broke down and made it, and I was so glad I did. This was nothing like a tradtional pot pie, it reminded me more of a chicken, veggie, and rice casserole, which was great. I found a package of Uncle Ben's brown and wild rice blend at the store, and you just had to microwave it for 90 seconds. And surprisingly, the ingredients weren't a bunch of nasty, unpronounceable junk! I was very surprised.

We all really liked this. The husband is not a fan of pot pies, and he thought this was a good twist on it. I loved the casserole aspect of it; it reminded me a lot of a recipe I used to make often, Chicken Spectacular. This is definitely something I'd make again. There weren't a whole lot of leftovers either!

Quick Chile Relleno Casserole

I kind of have a thing for chile rellenos. My mom LOVES them and would always order them at Mexican restaurants when I was growing up. I never really understood them and thought they sounded gross. Then I tried one and was hooked. Since they're ridiculously unhealthy (filled with cheese, battered, and fried), and I assume not super easy to make at home, I generally don't eat them very often anymore. I was at Walmart on Friday picking up a few things for the husband's birthday yesterday and saw they had Anaheim chiles for $0.10 per pound. I had originally slated us to have steak for our Friday date night dinner, but I hadn't bought any steak yet. I saw the chiles and figured I'd scrap the steak plan and do some kind of chile relleno casserole instead.

At one point several years ago I made a chile relleno casserole in the crockpot, but I had no idea where that recipe was, so I turned to Google. Because isn't that what you do when you need to find something? One of the results that came up was from, and since I've generally had good luck with recipes from there, I figured it was worth a shot. The first recipe I came across sounded good and had good reviews, but it took almost an hour to bake. Conveniently for me, at the bottom of that page was a link to another recipe for Quick Chile Relleno Casserole. That one sounded much better because it only needed 30 minutes in the oven. It called for canned green chiles, so I modified it since I had fresh chiles I was using. The recipe below is my amended version.

Quick Chile Relleno Casserole
Adapted from Quick Chile Relleno Casserole on

4 Anaheim chiles
1/2 lb monterey jack cheese, sliced
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Roast chiles under the broiler or over gas flame until skin is charred. Place chiles in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at least 10 minutes. Remove skins from chiles while trying to keep chiles intact. Cut a slit in each chile, remove seeds, and stuff with sliced cheese.

Coat an 11x7 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place chiles in prepared dish.

Beat eggs with whisk or electric mixer until thick and foamy. Add milk, flour, and baking powder and beat until smooth. Pour mixture over chiles. Top with cheddar cheese.

Bake, uncovered, in a 375F oven for about 30 minutes or until casserole is puffed and appears set when gently shaken.


The only thing I would change about this would be to use more chiles next time. The husband and I ate the entire dish of this. There was enough of the batter in the dish to accomodate a few more chiles, but since I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them when I bought them, I didn't know how many to get. If I was making this for the whole family I'd definitely up the number of chiles. I used Egg Beaters in my batter as I was saving the eggs we had on hand for a birthday breakfast for the husband, so Egg Beaters were my only choice. Plus I figured it made the recipe that much healthier.

This is something I'll definitely make again. We both loved it. The husband ate his in record time.

Roasted chile stuffed with cheese:

Stuffed chiles swimming in the batter:

Finished product! Oh man...I wish I could have somehow captured the smell of this because it was AMAZING!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: East Hampton Clam Chowder

I love clam chowder. LOVE IT. I'm sure part of it stems from growing up in Seattle which is home to some of the world's best clam chowder. Or at least I think it's some of the best. I'm sure there are a few cities in the Northeast that claim to have the best, and I'm sure there are some there that are quite good, but I'm biased. I'm okay with that.

As much as I love clam chowder, I don't think I've ever tried to make my own. I was pretty excited when I saw that Laura from Family Spice Home had chosen Ina's East Hampton Clam Chowder as the Barefoot Blogger's first recipe for October. Technically if I stick to my diet it's not something I'm supposed to have because of the potatoes, milk, and flour, but it's not like I'm going to eat the whole pot of it.

East Hampton Clam Chowder
From Barefoot Contessa Family Style, 2002, All Rights Reserved

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups medium-diced celery (4 stalks)
2 cups medium-diced carrots (6 carrots)
4 cups peeled medium-diced boiling potatoes (8 potatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 quart (4 cups) clam juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 cups chopped fresh chowder clams (1 1/2 pounds shucked clams)

Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a small pot, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in a cup of the hot broth and then pour this mixture back into the cooked vegetables. Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.

Add the milk and clams and heat gently for a few minutes to cook the clams. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.


Since it's still in the 90-degree range here for the daily high temperature I decided to cut the recipe in half. Who wants to be eating a steaming bowl of chowder when it's still hot outside? Plus I didn't think the boys would really eat it, and I can't eat a ton of it so I can keep getting skinny. I mention this so you can avoid a potentially very big mistake that I made. Make sure you cut all the ingredients in half. Like...don't put in the full amount of flour when you're only supposed to do half of what is listed. Of course I realized this after I had the roux going and couldn't figure out why it wasn't melting down more once I added in the broth. D'oh! I ended up pulling out some of it, adding more butter, and I used canned clams so I put the juice from their cans in with the roux. I think that managed to salvage it.

Having never bought canned clams before (although I should do it more because my uncle makes an awesome clam dip, and I bet since I'm his favorite niece he'd give me the recipe), I didn't realize how absolutely tiny chopped clams would be. Yikes. They were minced as fine as garlic. I'd much prefer chunks of clams in my chowder, but that's my own mistake.

The recipe itself is really tasty. Not as good as some of the chowder restaurants in Seattle, but given that this was my first attempt at making it on my own, I was pretty pleased. The husband sampled it as well and rated it highly. It was relatively easy to put together, too. I gave myself an hour for it, and that's about how long it took, but I was also working on something else in the kitchen, so I wasn't completely focused on the chowder.

This is definitely better than any canned chowder I've tasted, and really it's better than most chowders I get here in Phoenix. If I get them, which is rare since the quality is generally subpar. When I get a hankering for chowder and flying to Seattle for chowder from Totem House or Ivar's is out of the question, this will definitely be my go-to recipe.

Clam juice. Interestingly enough, my mom was asking recently where to buy clam juice. Mom, it's with the canned meats. Safeway and Fresh & Easy both carried it, but it was about half the price at F&E!

Mmmmm...bowl of chowder. Normally I like it with extra pepper and oyster crackers mixed in, but this time I just had it plain.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GG's Carrot Cake

Isn't it funny how once you have kids you start referring to people how your kids do? I rarely refer to my mom as mom's usually Gaga. My grandmas have become GG and Granny. I guess it's just easier and avoids confusion as to whom you are discussing or trying to talk to. My mom? Your mom? Me? My grandma? My mom as grandma? Yeah, it's a lot simpler using whatever term my kids use.

My grandma, whom my kids call GG, makes a fantastic carrot cake. It's always been my dad's favorite and always what he chooses for his birthday. At some point the boy became obsessed with carrot cake. I'm not sure how or why as I don't think it's a favorite of most four year olds, but who knows. My mom's birthday was earlier this month, and the boy wanted to make her a carrot cake. I said why didn't we make carrot cake cupcakes instead. He went for it, which was good because I knew I could easily sit and eat a plethora of pieces of GG's carrot cake. Several years ago I took my scanner over to my grandparents' house for a day so I could scan my grandma's recipes. Not to be morbid, but I figured when she passes away there would be an annoying fight over who got her recipe cards, plus this way I could have copies of them in her handwriting. This was one that I scanned.

GG's Carrot Cake

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 cups grated carrots
1 can (8-1/4 oz) crushed pineapple
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1-1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients. Do not mix a whole lot. Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes or until cake is done. Makes 3 8" layers or large flat pan.


1 cup margarine or butter
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 package powdered sugar (I assumed 1 pound)
1 cup nuts
2 tsp vanilla

Cream margarine and cream cheese together. Add sugar, vanilla, and nuts. Spread on cake when cool.


I was really good and stuck to my diet and only had one cupcake. Well, one at my mom's party. I had one the day before sans frosting to make sure they tasted okay. And I have to say...I'm not entirely sure how a carrot muffin is all that different from a carrot cake cupcake. This is definitely one of my most favorite cakes ever. I heart my grandma so much!!

The boy helped me put this all together and was really pleased with himself for helping make Gaga's (see...there I go again!) birthday cupcakes. They were a huge hit. Oh, and I used chopped walnuts as my nut of choice for this...mostly because it's what my mom said my grandma uses when she makes it (GG was at lunch when I needed to know what kind of nut to get). I wasn't sure how long to bake them, so I did some Googling and found 15 to 20 minutes would be the ideal cupcake baking time. Changing this into cupcakes I got 24 cupcakes and an 8x8 square dish single layer cake out of it. I was pretty pleased with my creativity and cut the square cake into fourths and made a little layer cake out of it for my dad (I mean Baba since that's what my kiddos call him).

And I should probably admit that I'm completely frosting inept. I cannot frost a cake to save my life. Well, maybe if I really needed to save my life I could do a decent job frosting one, but normally they look pretty horrible. Or like my almost two year old did the job for me. Sadly I'm not exaggerating that much. Maybe that's a subconscious reason why I chose cupcakes instead of a regular layer cake...

I'm fairly certain my baby is going to be a ninja. Or a football player...but a very stealthy one. Somehow he managed to sneak three cupcakes down from the counter, take them to the table, sit down, and start eating them without the husband or me noticing. I didn't know whether to laugh or be mad when I saw him. He was very methodical about it all, too. He lined them up, then he'd take a bite from one and put it down, move to the next and take a bite and put it down, move to the next and take a bite and put it down, then start the cycle over again. What a goof!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Steph's Mom's Chicken Marsala

I'm so mad at myself right now! I do all my menu planning on an Excel spreadsheet. Each week when I do my new plan I make a copy of the previous week's worksheet, delete that week's plan, and then make my new one. Apparently this week I forgot the step where I put the copy on a new worksheet. Sigh. And now because my two kids have somehow sucked away any sort of memory (and intelligence) I used to have, I can't remember what we even had to know if there was anything worthy of posting. I don't think there was...I got in a cooking funk at the end of last week and was just burned out on making dinner.

Anyway, on to this week I suppose. We had some friends over last night for dinner, and I had originally planned on making Baked Pesto Chicken, but then I realized yesterday afternoon that making that would require a trip to the store with both kids after nap/quiet time. So instead of having to deal with that potential catastrophe (no, my kids are both good at the grocery store, I just hate having to take them both for only one item) I went looking for something else I could make. I pulled out my cookbook compiled by members of a parenting message board I belong to because I knew my friend Benah had a balsamic chicken recipe in there that I'd wanted to try. Unfortunately it required overnight marinating which wasn't going to work since this was roughly three hours prior to our friends' arrival. I kept flipping through the chicken section and finally arrived on this chicken marsala recipe submitted by my friend Steph. Her caption under the recipe (which is titled Stolen Chicken Marsala in the cookbook) says, "Shh! Don't tell my mother! I had to steal it--it's SO GOOD!!" Worked for me, and I had everything on hand and figured it would come together quickly.

Steph's Mom's Chicken Marsala

2 pounds chicken, pounded even
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1 cup marsala wine

Mix all ingredients (except chicken and marsala). Dredge chicken. Heat 2 Tbsp oil and 2 Tbsp butter in frying pan. Saute meat and chicken about 1 minute until brown. Place chicken pieces in a baking dish. Add 1 cup marsala wine to frying pan remains and deglaze the pan. Pour over the chicken, and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.


See, totally easy! I made my own breadcrumbs by throwing a couple pieces of whole grain sandwich bread into my food processor with some Italian seasoning. For the flour I used whole wheat. I wasn't sure how that was going to turn out as I've never used whole wheat flour for dredging, but I didn't think you could even tell it was whole wheat in the finished dish.

This chicken was amazing and fantastic and yummy and amazing and fantasic. Everyone really liked it, even the kiddos ate all of their portions. These are generally all ingredients I have on hand, so this will definitely go into my repertoire of "Akkk!! What am I going to make for dinner?!" recipes. There was one piece of chicken left last night, and after our guests left I was so tempted to eat it because I loved it so much. I was glad I had some self control because it made for a tasty lunch today!

I had to take a picture of the only piece left in the pan.