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Late last year I tried a modified version of a Texas Chili Con Carne recipe that used dried chiles. It was my first time working with dried chiles. I had seen them in the grocery store, but had not known what to do with them. The chili turned out really, REALLY good. The flavor was deep, smoky, and rich. Early this year I bought a couple more packages of dried chiles and yesterday thought I’d make a sauce to bind my pulled pork in the stuffing for Stuffed Poblanos. I make pulled pork quite often, but with only two of us, always have a lot left over. I confess that I do not have a crockpot. Nowhere to store it. I’ve got a big Dutch-oven style cooking pot so I use that at a low heat to make pulled pork in the oven.

Various ways I’ve used my pulled pork is to add sauce and make sandwiches, top baked sweet potatoes, fill sopes or enchiladas, and to stuff poblanos. The poblanos are a real low-carb option. If you’re unfamiliar with poblanos, they’re a large chile with a very mild flavor once they’re stemmed and seeded. Once in awhile I’ve had one that’s got a kick at the stem end. I use gloves to stem and seed them.

The basis for the enchilada sauce is from foodiecrush.com. Heidi at foodiecrush.com called for 2 oz. of dried guajillo chiles and 1 oz. of New Mexico chiles. I just happened to have a 6 oz. package of guajillos and a 3 oz. package of New Mexicos. Hmmm. Do the math. Because I find stemming and seeding dried chiles quite tedious, I decided to make a triple batch and freeze the unused sauce, so I wouldn’t have to do it again anytime soon.

I wore gloves to stem and seed the chiles. It took me about 50 minutes hunched over my garbage can to stem and seed them. Like I said, tedious.

I’m a lazy cook when it comes to presentation, so I don’t strain my sauce. I really don’t see what difference it makes since enchilada sauce is usually added over, under, or with stuffed tortillas. Who cares if it’s not smooth?

  • GF Enchilada Sauce
  • 6 oz. dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 oz. dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 9 cups water
  • Olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomato (I used grape tomatoes)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin

In a very large cooking pot, place the dried chiles and water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, covered, for thirty minutes. Remove from heat and strain the chiles out of the cooking water. SAVE THE COOKING WATER! Set aside the chiles and the water.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, swazz the olive oil and then add the onions. Let them cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Let it cook down until it’s thick and pasty.

Scrape the onion-tomato mixture into a very large food processor and add the chiles and a bit of the chile-cooking water. Let it process, adding chile-water as necessary to get a sauce consistency that is to your liking. I tried to get my consistency as smooth as possible in the processor because I didn’t want to strain it afterward. Don’t throw out the remaining chile water! More to come.

Pour the processed mixture back into the large cooking pot. I rinsed my skillet out with a little chile-water and added that to the cooking pot, too. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, uncovered, for ten or fifteen minutes. Add more chile-water as necessary. Don’t skip the cooking step, it really creates the flavor.

My yield was about 6-1/2 cups. I stirred 1/2 cup into my pulled pork at that time and then saved the sauce and the leftover chile-water in the refrigerator until the next morning. The next morning, the sauce had thickened a bit, so I stirred in more of the chilled chile-water. In the end I froze three 2-cup portions in vacuum-sealed bags. I discarded about 2 cups of remaining chile-water. Another note on this recipe: I’ve read that the flavor REALLY comes out if you roast your dried chiles on a skillet first, but that’s a step too far for me.

  • Stuffed Poblanos
  • 4 fresh poblano chiles
  • 2-1/2 cups spiced shredded pork or chicken
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the stem-end out of the poblano chiles and cut a slit down one side. Remove the seeds carefully. Place the chiles onto the baking sheet, slit side up.

Stir enchilada sauce into the meat and then stir in about 2/3 cup of the shredded cheese. All these quantities are approximate. I eyeballed the amount of shredded pork, sauce, and cheese that I would need. No worries, it’s a forgiving recipe, hard to go wrong.

Stuff the chiles. I use a fork and my hands to try to get filling all the way into the tips of the chiles.

Bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle shredded cheese over each chile. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

Just so you know, I’ve made stuffed poblanos with all kinds of filling: ground turkey, ground beef, beans, shredded chicken, etc. It doesn’t really matter as long as it holds together. You can use tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, refried beans, whatever you want as a binder. There are several recipes on Pinterest that give good ideas of various fillings you can use. There is no reason to pre-cook the chiles, just stuff and bake!

This is my new favorite way to make polenta. It is so simple and versatile. I found the basic recipe at dinnerthendessert.com. I’ve only ever made half Sabrina’s recipe because it makes too much for us. Even so, I’d say half her recipe still serves six people. I think we could get away with halving it again, but I’ve been pretty happy using up the leftovers (think eggs over polenta-yummy!). I think any kind of cheese would do, it just depends upon what you’re going to serve with it. I’ve used Parmesan. I’d like to see a slightly firmer product, but I’m working on it. I buy polenta, but Sabrina says you can use corn meal. Lastly, she also says you can stir in a lot of different things, like shallots or garlic or lemon. I haven’t yet tried that.

Since there are no wheat products in this, I think we can safely say it is gluten-free. I use polenta in the same way I use mashed potatoes.

Mushroom Steak Tips over Creamy Cheesy Baked Polenta
  • Ingredients
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together water, polenta, salt, pepper, and butter in a 2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream and cheese. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes, uncovered. Serves 6.

I improvised a bit on Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cake to come up with this broccoli cake. It’s very simple to make and tastes delicious.

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 large crown broccoli, sliced into florets
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup sliced or thinly chopped onion
  • 5 extra-large eggs (or 6 large)
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I used Namaste Perfect Blend)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9″ round cake pan by spraying or greasing.

Cook the broccoli by simmering in salted water until tender. Remove from heat. While the broccoli cooks, saute the onion in butter until translucent. Remove from heat. Let broccoli and onion cool a little bit. Mix together. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in gluten-free flour, baking powder, salt, and sharp cheddar cheese.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until top springs back when pressed lightly. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and then remove from pan onto cooling rack. Slice and serve while warm.

Gueritos6

I had something approximating this at a Mexican restaurant in Palm Springs a few years ago. I came up with my own way to make them, without using rice as a filler. There is no set recipe, just a description. They are a super-delicious snack.

On this day I used six yellow chiles, (these are no longer than your index finger and very mild), 3/4 lb. of raw shrimp (any size), grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar). That’s it for ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the “core” of the chiles, then cut a slit down each chile, and remove the seeds. This is the most tricky part of the whole process.

Gueritos

Make a shrimp paste using about 2/3 of the shrimp. I use a small food processor. Hand-chop a few more of the shrimp into pieces and stir the pieces into the shrimp paste. Then stir in grated cheese.

Gueritos1

Use a teaspoon as a tool to stuff each chile.

Gueritos3

Place stuffed chiles on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

Gueritos5I don’t add any dips when serving mine, but I’ve heard that soy sauce or mayonnaise can be used to dip your gueritos in.

BeanSalad

This is extremely simple, but really yummy. The lemon juice and tomatoes are a nice tart contrast to the earthy bean flavor. You will need small white beans, grape tomatoes, green onions (scallions), lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. There are no set measurements, just use your eyes and your taste buds.

I start with one can of small white beans, drained. Rinse and drain again. While it’s draining, cut grape tomatoes in half. Slice green onions. Stir the beans, tomatoes, and green onion together gently. Sprinkle with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, then stir gently again. Boom! Done. If not serving right away, keep it refrigerated and then give it a stir when you’re ready to serve.

CauliflowerCake13So, I made this deliciousness last night for dinner. And I mean DELICIOUS! I had to search Pecorino Romano vs Parmigiano Reggiano in order to find out what the difference is. Apparently, it’s an important difference in this instance. Yes, of course, you can use parmesan, but I tell you this was flat out tasty and I think the Pecorino Romano was the reason. The recipe is found at Ciao Chow Bambina. I changed the recipe by using gluten-free flour (Namaste Perfect Blend) and was VERY pleased with the result. The recipe is a bit complicated, but I learned some things along the way and I can say I’ll be making this again.

Ingredients:

1 medium cauliflower, broken into florets (NOT mashed)
1 tsp. salt
1 medium red onion
Olive oil
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (I used dried)
2-3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
6 eggs
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 cup gluten-free flour (I used Namaste Perfect Flour Blend)
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt and pepper

Place the cauliflower florets and 1 tsp. salt into a saucepan with an inch or so of water in the bottom. Cover and bring to a boil. Let simmer, checking the florets every few minutes, until they are quite soft. Drain and set aside in a colander.

Cut 3 round slices, each 1/4-inch thick, off one end of the red onion and set aside. Chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with a little olive oil and the rosemary. Saute until the onion is tender, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line the base and the sides of a 8-1/2 inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. I found how to do this on YouTube. Place your pan on top of parchment paper and draw a circle around the outside. Cut out the circle — that’s the bottom piece. Roll your cake pan on its side to measure out how long/wide a piece of parchment paper you need for the sides. Cut it. Butter the bottom and sides of the cake pan and place the parchment paper onto it. It sticks! Voila! Then brush the sides only with melted butter. Mix the sesame seeds together and sprinkle them onto the sides. I rolled the pan slowly while sprinkling. Voila again! They stick. It worked really well.

Place your sautéed and cooled onions into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and chopped basil. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, 1-1/4 cups Pecorino Romano, 1 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Mix until smooth. Add the cauliflower florets and stir gently until well combined.

Carefully spoon the thick batter into the prepared springform pan, spreading evenly and smoothing the top. Arrange the reserved onion rings on top. I pressed mine into the batter a little bit. Place into the preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and set. It took mine about 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Unlock the pan and remove the parchment paper. Serve warm with Pecorino Romano sprinkled over the top. Heavenly.

 

I’m going to quickly jot down how I did this so I don’t forget. It was a really special meal. So delicious! I served it with roasted Italian sausage links and eggplant au gratin. Yummy!

IMG_3310

Cut about a dozen small roma tomatoes in half lengthwise. Prepare a large baking sheet by covering it with foil and sprinkling with a little bit of olive oil. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and a little sea salt or kosher salt. Take 5 cloves of garlic and wrap in a foil bundle with a few Tbsp. water. Place the foil bundle on the baking sheet with the tomatoes. Roast the tomatoes (and the garlic bundle) for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees F, or until the bottoms of the tomatoes are brown. Remove from heat and let cool. (I saved the leftover tomato-flavored olive oil to use in a salad dressing some day.)

While the tomatoes are roasting, swazz olive oil in a large skillet, sprinkle in about a tsp. of dried thyme. Heat the oil and then add 5 cups sliced red onion and a tsp. salt. Saute until the onions are brownish and soft. Remove from heat and let cool.

Open the foil bundle and remove the garlic from the skins. Mash.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a single pie crust on parchment paper, or a silpat, on a baking sheet. Heap the onions in the center of the pie crust, then dab the garlic over the top. Place the tomatoes on top of that. Remember to leave an edge around the pie crust. Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles. Fold the edge up, it will be haphazard, but it’s a “rustic” pie so haphazard is good. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center bubbles and the crust is nicely browned.

Ingredients:
1 dozen small roma tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt
5 cloves garlic
Few tablespoons water
1 tsp. dried thyme
5 cups sliced red onion (about two medium)
1 single-crust pie crust, unbaked
Crumbled goat cheese

 

 

Spaghetti-Squash with TomatoThis has become a favorite. It’s based upon the recipe found at Simplex. The recipe requires cooked spaghetti squash. I prepare mine by cutting the squash in half (or in quarters if it’s very large), sprinkling it with olive oil, salt, and pepper and then laying it cut-side down in a greased baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 40-50 minutes.

Once you have cooked spaghetti squash, scoop out about 3 cups. In a 8″ square baking dish layer a cup of the squash, then a layer of sliced tomatoes, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, a pinch of dried basil and oregano. Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese. Cover with another layer of squash, tomatoes, spices, and cheese. End with a layer of squash and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

This is a very forgiving recipe. You can use any kind of cheese, any kind of spices.

Layer of spaghetti squash.

Layer of spaghetti squash.

Layer of tomatoes.

Layer of tomatoes.

Layer of cheese.

Layer of cheese.

Stuffed Tomatoes1

I hosted a Realtor luncheon last week and laid out sandwich fixins. In the process of shopping I bought a box of big tomatoes at Costco. What was I thinking? I sliced a couple for people to put on their sandwiches, but really they only ate one. I had about a dozen leftover. Thus I was on the hunt for tomato recipes. Tomatoes where I live are very expensive and it’s not often I have to search for ways to use them up. I like this recipe because it doesn’t have the kind of carbs I’m trying to avoid. I served these with grilled lamb chops and salad. Yummy combo!

Ingredients

Four beefsteak tomatoes

Salt

Olive oil

½ cup finely chopped onion

1 yellow squash or zucchini

Fresh or dried parsley

Oregano

Basil

Baby spinach

Feta cheese crumbles

Grated or shredded Parmesan

Scoop out the pulp from the tomatoes. I used the pulp to make tomato soup the next day. You won't need the pulp anymore for this dish.

Scoop out the pulp from the tomatoes and then sprinkle the inside with salt. I used the pulp to make tomato soup the next day. You won’t need the pulp anymore for this dish.

Lay the tomatoes upside down on several layers of paper towel. Set aside while you make the filling.

Lay the tomatoes upside down on several layers of paper towel. Set aside while you make the filling.

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent and then add the squash. Saute for a few minutes and then sprinkle in a little parsley, oregano, and basil. Continue sauteing until the squash is soft.

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent and then add the squash.

P1040732

Saute for a few minutes and then sprinkle in a little parsley, oregano, and basil. Continue sauteing until the squash is soft.

Stir in a couple large handfuls of baby spinach.

Stir in a couple large handfuls of baby spinach.

Continue sauteing until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Continue sauteing until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Prepare a baking dish with spray or olive oil. I sprayed mine. I used an 8" square dish, but a smaller one would have worked, probably better.

Prepare a baking dish with spray or olive oil. I sprayed mine. I used an 8″ square dish, but a smaller one would have worked, probably better.

Sprinkle feta crumbles into the bottom of each tomato, then add a layer of filling, more crumbles, and then more filling.

Sprinkle feta crumbles into the bottom of each tomato, then add a layer of filling, more crumbles, and then more filling.

Sprinkle the tops with shredded or grated Parmesan cheese.

Sprinkle the tops with shredded or grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Ratatouille

I have prepared and eaten Ratatouille many times. Of course, why not, because I like eggplant . . . a lot. Usually my ratatouille is a delicious, but rather unappetizing-looking, mess. This recipe is something completely different. Not only is it delicious, it’s beautiful!

I used the recipe https://realfoodnuts.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/ratatouille-casserole/ at Real Food Nuts, with a few modifications. It was so tasty that I tried it again so I could take pictures and show you how I did it. This is what happens when you don’t have a round casserole dish and you’re married to a wine-maker. Recipes morph.

Here goes . . .

IMG_1404

Slice two small eggplants (each one is about 7” long) crosswise into ¼” slices. I had bought a package of these small eggplants at Costco the other day, there were five of them in the bag.

Set the slices on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Turn the slices over and salt the other side. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes.

Set the slices on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Turn the slices over and salt the other side. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes. (I’m only picturing part of them. You will have  more.)

In the meantime, saute onion and garlic in olive oil. When translucent, stir in a 6-oz. can tomato paste, ¾ cup red wine, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Set aside. Rub a 9” square baking dish with olive oil. Empty the red sauce into the baking dish and smooth it evenly across the bottom.

In the meantime, saute onion and garlic in olive oil. When translucent, stir in a 6-oz. can tomato paste, ¾ cup red wine, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
Rub a 9” square baking dish with olive oil. Empty the red sauce into the baking dish and smooth it evenly across the bottom.

Slice summer squash (yellow obviously is what I used, but zucchini would work just the same) into ¼” slices crosswise. I had a bag of sweet mini-peppers from Costco and I used what was left of those, a dozen should do it. I was a little shy on the peppers, but it turned out fine. I cut the tops off and made sure there weren’t any seeds, then sliced each pepper in half lengthwise.

Slice summer squash (yellow obviously is what I used, but zucchini would work just the same) into ¼” slices crosswise. I had a bag of sweet mini-peppers from Costco and I used what was left of those, a dozen should do it. I was a little shy on the peppers, but it turned out fine. I cut the tops off and made sure there weren’t any seeds, then sliced each pepper in half lengthwise. Of course, the usual thing to use would be sliced bell pepper. Use whatever you have.

Blot the eggplants with paper towels and put them, with the squash and peppers, into a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and stir around with your hands so that all the vegis are coated.

Blot the eggplants with paper towels and put them, with the squash and peppers, into a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and stir around with your hands so that all the vegis are coated.

Alternate rows of vegetables onto the sauce as pictured.

Alternate rows of vegetables onto the sauce as pictured.

I started with the peppers upright, but when I realized I’d be short at the end, I turned the remaining ones sideways. I filled in some of the gaps with the smaller slices of squash. Sprinkle the top with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sliced fresh basil.

I started with the peppers upright, but when I realized I’d be short at the end, I turned the remaining ones sideways. I filled in some of the gaps with the smaller slices of squash. Sprinkle the top with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sliced fresh basil.

Cover with parchment paper, tucked into the inside, and bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Cover with parchment paper, tucked into the inside, and bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

IMG_1423

Voila, so beautiful!

Voila, so beautiful!

And delicious!

Ingredients:

Eggplant (2 small, about 7”)

Summer squash (2 small, about 7”)

Mini sweet peppers (12)

½ onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 6-oz. can tomato paste

¾ cup red wine (or water)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper