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gluten-free

Apps, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Meat-Stuffed Grape Leaves

September 21, 2017
These meat-stuffed grape leaves make a tasty appetizer or the spotlight to a special dinner with warm pita bread, lemony cucumber salad, and creamy hummus.

I’m always on the lookout for something different to switch up the dinner doldrums. Similar to I’m sure many of you I fall into weeknight ruts of either picking up something or making the same old things over and over again. So when the lovely Liz Della Croce asked if I would want to take a peek at the newest edition to her Food From Our Ancestors series: The Ultimate Syrian Sunday Dinner I jumped at the chance. This beautiful compilation of family recipes drive home why they are favorites; comfort food, full of flavor, the dishes our mothers have been making forever, for good reason.

I’ve a weakness for stuffed grape leaves so as soon as I saw Liz’s recipe I knew that those would most certainly make the cut. I’m the gal who buys the Trader Joe’s grape leaves for just about every summer picnic but have never actually made them myself. The recipe looked simple enough and culinary challenges are pretty much my jam so in I dove.

I’ve only ever eaten rice-stuffed grape leaves and was excited that I could actually rationalize these meat-stuffed grape leaves as dinner. Add a salad (I made Liz’s Syrian salad from the book) and a side (again Liz to the rescue with Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions—I told you this book was good!) and now, man I’m getting excited about dinner!

These meat-stuffed grape leaves weren’t even all that hard to pull off. The jar of grape leaves I found at Whole Foods and they easily unfurl to create perfect little wrappers for the meat and rice mixture. One jar was plenty and I even has some leftover, so you know whose going to be making stuffed grape leaves again. Yay, yes, ME!

As far as stuffing and rolling I fell right into rhythm. They were like rolling up tiny little burritos: two sides in, bottom over filling, roll, roll, roll.

Then you pile them in a pot, cover with water, and weigh them down with a plate. Simmer until the rice is cooked—they only take about 15 minutes! They are excellent hot, room temperature, or cold. It’s the lemon that I love, no the mint, no the lemon. Either way, so good.

Liz’s Food From Our Ancestors series are real treasures. You can get the Syrian ebook or buy a bundle of all four: Mexican, Jewish Shabbat, Italian, and Syrian for basically a steal.

Meat-Stuffed Grape Leaves
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 (2-pound) jar of grape leaves (roughly 50 leaves)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • ½ cup lon-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into thirds, optional
  • 5 cabbage leaves, optional
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint
Instructions
  1. Line a large pot with celery stalks and loose cabbage leaves (I used extra grape leaves).
  2. Place grape leaves on a plate and trim any large, thick stems off bottom.
  3. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, rice, juice of 1 lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Working one grape leaf at a time, place the leaf flat on a plate and add 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture near stem.
  5. Form meat into thin cigar shapes, then roll the grape leaf starting at the stem all the way to the top. No need to fold in sides but they'll look nicer if you do.
  6. Line stuffed grape leaves in pot, alternating direction with each layer, until the pot is filled ¾ of the way or you've used all your leaves.
  7. Cover the grape leaves with water, making sure there's at least one inch of liquid above the grape leaves. Pour in remaining lemon juice and add dried mint.
  8. Cover grape leaves with a small plate turned upside down to keep them from moving and to weigh them down.
  9. Cover pot with lid and bring to a simmer.
  10. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Serve with pita bread and cucumber laban.
Notes
Liz suggests lining the cooking pot with celery stalks and cabbage leaves. I didn't have either, so I used a few of the torn and tiny grape leaves instead

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Condiments and Salsas, Dairy Free, Recipes, Salads, Side Dishes

Red Lentil Picnic Salad with Sweet Cider Dressing

June 27, 2017
This Red Lentil Picnic Salad is a no-cook salad that won't wilt and is hearty enough to eat on it's own but also an excellent side for picnics or barbecues.

Summer is the time for picnics and barbecues. It is not the time for standing over a hot stove, sweat beading on your brow. This is where the magic of ultra-tender split red lentils come in. Did you know you don’t even have to cook them?!!

I got this idea when I was experimenting with lentils back in April. It was my first attempts at sprouting lentils that lead to the discovery that the red ones didn’t really need to be cooked at all! When I tried to sprout them they instantly became soft and mushy, just a good soaking in water was all it took to turn them from hard seeds to beans so soft you could smash them between your fingers.

Then I thought what if I soaked them briefly, in boiling water. I bet they would be the perfect consistency for a nice crunchy salad, with just enough give to add great texture while still maintaining all their peppery flavor. Not to mention, eating them virtually raw like this keeps their nutrient level high, making them a powerhouse of a meal without the calories or fat of meat or other foods with similar amounts of protein.

Thus this picnic salad was born. I love make-ahead salads to bring to barbecues or picnics that don’t require any last-minute fussiness. Because all the components of this salad are hardy enough to handle a long marinade in the sweet ginger and cider vinegar dressing you don’t need to worry about them wilting or getting water logged by the time you get to where you’re going. That being said, the baby arugula will wilt a bit on especially long road trips so if this is a bother to you, you can always add it right before serving.


Red Lentil Picnic Salad with Sweet Cider Dressing
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup red lentils
  • ¼ cup minced scallions or spring onions
  • 1 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ small head red cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 large radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Instructions
  1. Pour lentils into a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad, or at least 30-40 minutes until they are tender but still maintain a slight bite.
  2. Combine scallions, ginger, salt, sugar, and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking continuously until incorporated.
  3. Combine broccoli, cabbage, arugula, radishes, cherries, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Drain lentils and add to the vegetables. Pour dressing over the top and toss to combine. Taste and add more salt if needed.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Lentils.org. The opinions and text are all mine. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! Follow the hashtag #LetsLentil for great recipes all summer long!

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Apps, Condiments and Salsas, Recipes, Snacks

Spring Asparagus and New Potatoes with Harissa Goat Cheese Dip

June 5, 2017
Learn how to make homemade harissa then use it in this creamy Harissa Goat Cheese Dip; perfect for tender asparagus spears and summer's first new potatoes.

** Click here to enter THE ULTIMATE BRIDAL SHOWER GIVEAWAY worth over $1000!!**

It always intrigues me how cuisines from one culture can be worlds apart physically yet be exact replicas in almost every other way. The Tunisian spice paste harissa and the mole pastes of Mexico are a perfect example.

I hadn’t really thought too much about their similarities until last week when I decided to make harissa from scratch for the first time. Dried chiles got toasted and soaked, whole spices were warmed filling the entire house with their fragrance, vegetables were charred under an open flame until their skins crackled and blackened. The entire process felt like second nature, incredibly familiar to one I’ve done many times making homemade mole sauces and ground chile salsas.

My inclinations probably gave my harissa more of a Mexican flavor than is traditional—smoked morita chiles and charred tomatoes I don’t think are authentic. But it made a lovely dip on it’s own and when mixed with soft chèvre goat cheese and a little bit of cream cheese to ensure lusciousness in a harissa goat cheese dip.

I made this creepingly spicy dip for gently blanched asparagus and new potatoes; a very special seasonal crudite-style platter I brought to the Friends Who Fete Bridal Shower Meg and I threw for Aida over Memorial Day weekend.  Any leftover harissa goat cheese dip was quickly consumed with tortilla chips and as a drizzle over a big plate of carne asada, grilled vegetables, and rice.

All the party details will be coming out this week so make sure you follow along the #FriendsWhoFete hashtag for lots of effortlessly elegant party tips!


Spring Asparagus and New Potatoes with Harissa Goat Cheese Dip
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
For the Harissa:
  • 4 dried morita chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 dried arbol chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, halved, and seeded
  • 1 serrano chile
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1½ teaspoons coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ⅓ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Dip:
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese (chèvre)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Juice of 1 lemon
For the Veggies:
  • 1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
Instructions
To Make the Harissa:
  1. Heat broiler to high. Place dried chiles, red bell pepper, serrano chile, and cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet.
  2. Place baking sheet directly under the broiler and char the vegetables. Watch the dried chiles carefully as they will toast first, turn them occasionally until they are darkened on all sides, then remove and let the remaining vegetables broil.
  3. Remove the vegetables from the baking sheet as their skins char on all sides, the cherry tomatoes will be done next followed by the serrano and red bell pepper which could take up to 10 minutes.
  4. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the toasted dried chiles and let soak at least 15 minutes.
  5. Combine cumin, coriander, and caraway in a small frying pan and toast, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until fragrant and starting to brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, let cool, then grind into a powder. This can also be done in a clean coffee grinder.
  6. Once the charred veggies are cool enough to handle, remove all charred skin and the stem of the serrano chile. Remove the serrano seeds too if you don't want it very spicy.
  7. Drain the dried chiles and combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until very smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt if needed. Harissa can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Makes 1½ cups of sauce.
To Make the Dip:
  1. Combine harissa, goat cheese, cream cheese, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend until smooth and well combined. Taste and add salt as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl. Dip can be made up to a day in advance, covered in the refrigerator.
To prepare the Veggies:
  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, whole and cook at a gentle boil until just tender when poked with the tip of a knife. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.
  2. Add asparagus to the boiling water and cook until vibrant green and just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and submerge in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
  3. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half or quarters if they are big.
  4. Arrange the vegetables on a tray with the dip and serve.
Notes
Substitute store-bought harissa for the homemade if you'd like; you will need 1½ cups for this recipe but don't add it all at once. Because the flavor of store-bought will be different you might need more or less depending on the brand and how spicy it is.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

A big thanks goes out to Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours for the beautiful photography and to Melissa’s for supplying the fresh produce!

Apps, Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Spicy Papaya Lime Shrimp Skewers

June 2, 2017
These spicy papaya lime shrimp skewers are the perfect summertime grilled skewer. Small bites of lime and chili marinated shrimp with juicy papaya.

** Click here to enter THE ULTIMATE BRIDAL SHOWER GIVEAWAY worth over $1000!!**

The girls and I got together again. You know how we do every few months. Throw a fabulous party, take a bunch of pictures, tell you all about it. Follow #friendswhofete for all the details.

This time it was to celebrate Aida’s elopement and future wedded bliss in an effortlessly elegant bridal shower. We got together at my friend Moana’s studio, drank champagne cocktails, and nibbled on finger foods. It was all kinds of fancy and I’ll be sharing lots of photos and recipes and party tips with you over the next week or so because I know there are at least one or two of you who will be hosting a bridal or baby shower this summer.

One of my contributions were these shrimp and papaya skewers that I had marinated, and skewered in advance and then grilled right before we ate. Which p.s. means they can absolutely be made in advance and are excellent party food.

Let’s talk shrimp

I am a gal who prefers super fresh local shrimp with the heads and shells left on. I was able to get some at the local fish market on the harbor in Santa Barbara. That being said (knowing full well you are probably in mid eye roll right now) this recipe will work perfectly perfect with headless, peeled and deveined shrimp. But if you have access to local shrimp and can get those bad boys with the head on–do it!

The shrimp gets marinated in loads of lime zest, fresh squeeze lime juice, ground California chili powder (or whichever chili powder you prefer) and sugar. In this instance it is a marinade but there is no reason this would not make an amazing dip for spring rolls or pot stickers, so keep that in mind next time you want to doctor up a bag of Trader Joe’s gyoza.

Because these are supposed to be dainty bites I skewered one shrimp between two papaya wedges but if you are serving them as more of a main course situation you can add as many to the skewer as you’d like.

Let’s talk papaya

For this recipe you want a ripe, sweet papaya…but not too ripe. If the papaya is like super duper, kinda starting to mold on the outside ripe, it will fall apart the second you try to skewer it. Look for one that is almost to that stage, but not quite.

Peeling a papaya is best done with a y-peeler. If you don’t have one—what the heck are you waiting for?!! They cost like two cents and perform miracles. Peel it, cut it in half and scoop out the creepy looking black seeds–eat them if you want, they taste like pepper.

The final touch for these skewers was a sprinkle of Jacobsen Salt Company’s habanero salt, just to add a touch of heat. By the way, they are not paying me to say this, but I really do love their salts, and honeys, and oh my god their salty candies which basically taste like the best salt water taffy you’ve ever had. But for these skewers the habanero salt is where its at. If you are not that into spicy, just leave it off but it does give the skewers that perfect je ne sais quoi.

Spicy Papaya Lime Shrimp Skewers
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 24 bamboo or metal skewers
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground California chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound shrimp, preferably head-on with shells
  • 2 pounds ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
  • Habanero salt, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. If using bamboo or wooden skewers, cover with water and let soak for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Combine lime zest, lime juice, sugar, oil, chili powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to dissolve sugar.
  3. I like to use head-on shrimp as I find they have more flavor. I leave the heads and shells on and rinse them well in cold water. If you'd rather get headless shrimp that's fine too. Peel and devein the shrimp if you'd like, either way works. Toss shrimp in marinade, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. Start the grill and let it heat to medium-high.
  5. Drain the skewers if soaking and thread papaya and shrimp (1 shrimp and 2 papaya pieces per skewer for appetizer bites and more for meal-sized portions) on the skewers. Saving any leftover marinade for brushing.
  6. Grill skewers, brushing with marinade occasionally until shrimp are pink, firm, and cooked through. The timing on these will depend on how hot your grill is. Mine was pretty cool, so they took about 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle skewers with a little habanero salt if you'd like and serve with lime wedges.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

A big thanks goes out to Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours for the beautiful photography and to Melissa’s for supplying the fresh produce!

Apps, Dairy Free, Recipes

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Dukkah

May 30, 2017
These irresistible avocado deviled eggs are use fresh, ripe avocado instead of mayonnaise. The Egyptian spice blend, dukkah gives them a nutty finish.

** Click here to enter THE ULTIMATE BRIDAL SHOWER GIVEAWAY worth over $1000!!**

If you are going to have one thing on your summer rotation these deviled eggs should be it. I say this with complete confidence because I made them for last weekend’s Friends Who Fete Bridal Shower (lots more on that to come) and they were a huge hit.

They are like Mexican deviled eggs with an Egyptian twist. What does that even mean? I don’t know. All I know is they are damn good and you’re about to eat a dozen by yourself in one sitting. Trust.

First things first: What the heck is dukkah?

Okay, so dukkah is kind of like sprinkling heaven on your food. If you are a nut-enthusiast like I am than you will be putting this Egyptian spice blend on just about errrything. You can buy dukkah already made, Trader Joe’s used to sell a good mix but they have since discontinued selling it–err.  But you can find plenty of options online or in the spice section of your grocery store.

I, however, like to make my own because this allows me to control the flavor profile and salt level. For example, dukkah’s main ingredient is typically hazelnuts but I wanted to go with something less assertive to let the flavor of the deviled eggs shine through so I used almonds in this recipe instead.

Any leftover dukkah can be used to coat fish before roasting, mixed with olive oil for a quick dip for flatbread or, how I use it most often: For lunch, sprinkled over a bowl of quickly fried rice and sliced avocado.

Second things First: What the heck are avocado deviled eggs?

A while back I made these guacamole deviled eggs where I substituted ripe avocado for the mayonnaise. They were so good I decided to go with that little maneuver from now on. The avocado makes the deviled eggs just creamy enough without being heavy and if you hate mayonnaise (which I don’t, but a lot of people do) than you can have your deviled egg and eat it too!

On a kind of related, kind of completely unrelated note; the results from our first ever ¡Hola! Jalapeño Reader Survey are coming in (if you haven’t taken it yet, please take a few minutes to give your feedback). I am pleasantly surprised to see you guys want more entertaining ideas! Which is YAY!! Because Meg (from This Mess Is Ours) and Aida (from Salt and Wind) and I got together last weekend to celebrate Aida’s recent elopement with a Friends Who Fete Bridal Shower. I’ll be sharing all the details with you over the next couple weeks but it was an effortlessly elegant party and I know one you are going to want to recreate this time of year with all the weddings and baby showers and such going on so I’ve got all the details from the recipes down to the decorations to make your next party absolutely perfect!

So there you go, your wish is my command. Now go make yourself some deviled eggs!

 

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Dukkah
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These irresistible avocado deviled eggs are use fresh, ripe avocado instead of mayonnaise. The Egyptian spice blend, dukkah gives them a nutty finish.
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
For the Dukkah:
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
For the Deviled Eggs:
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh dill
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Thinly sliced scallion for garnish, optional
Instructions
To make the Dukkah:
  1. Place almonds in a medium frying pan and place over medium heat. Toast until fragrant and golden, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate to let cool.
  2. Toast pumpkin seeds in the same pan over medium heat until starting to brown and pop, about 2 minutes. Remove to the plate with the almonds.
  3. Toast sesame seeds in the same pan over medium heat, stirring continuously until golden, about a minute or two. Remove to a separate plate to cool.
  4. Add fennel seeds, peppercorns, caraway, cumin, and coriander to the pan to toast until they are fragrant, stirring frequently, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the almonds and let cool.
  5. Once all the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and spices are cool, grind them in a mortar and pestle or food processor until finely chopped, but not a paste.
  6. Place in a medium bowl and add sesame seeds, salt, and marjoram and stir to combine. Dukkah can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month or up to 6 months in the freezer. Makes 1 cup.
For the Deviled Eggs:
  1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Pour a generous amount of salt into the water (about a handful) and place over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring the water to a boil then cover and remove from heat. Let eggs sit covered for 8 minutes. Drain and chill with ice water.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place in a food processor.
  4. Add the flesh of the avocado, cilantro, dill, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Blend until smooth. Taste to see if it needs more salt or lemon juice.
  5. Spoon filling back into the eggs and sprinkle a pinch of dukkah over each egg and a few slices of scallion if you'd like. Enjoy!
Notes
Eggs can be made and filled up to 3-4 hours in advance. Sprinkle with dukkah just before serving.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

A big thanks goes out to Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours for the beautiful photography and to Melissa’s for supplying the fresh produce!

Comida Latina, Mains, Recipes

Stacked Enchiladas Suizas with Chicken

May 17, 2017
These Stacked Enchiladas Suizas combine creamy layers of green chile-coated tortillas, poached chicken, and two kinds of cheese into the best comfort food!

For the most part I like to keep things healthy around here. Armando can’t eat dairy, therefore most of my recipes have no cheese, sour cream, or anything of the sort. Because we never eat cheese my kids don’t even like it (what kind of insane beasts am I raising I ask you?!!!) But sometimes I get cravings. Like real. bad. And Enchiladas Suizas have been high on the cravings list for a while now.

One of my first jobs was waiting tables at this Mexican restaurant in Des Moines where I grew up. What I really wanted to do was work in the kitchen but no one wanted to hire me for that job. Probably because I was 16 and more likely because I was a girl. Girl’s waited tables or looked pretty at the hostess stand so that’s what I did. I was not a good waitress. One time a swinging door slammed against a fully loaded tray I was carrying and all the plates of bubbling enchiladas and smoking fajitas went flying everywhere. It was an awkward time.

One thing I did like about that restaurant were the Enchiladas Suizas. Tender chicken and cheese rolled up and coated in a creamy green chile sauce then covered with more cheese and broiled until bubbling, golden perfection. I never even used silverware to eat that dish, just scooped up all the rich, delicious bites with a chip. At least I could eat my feelings.

As mentioned, I don’t make this kind of food very often but bit the bullet and did last Monday because I knew we had dinner guests coming and I wouldn’t embarrassingly eat the whole thing myself. Besides this is the perfect thing to feed a crowd. If you have a graduation or any family celebration coming up I recommend making one or two of these. Initially I thought making them stacked would be remarkably easier than rolling and filling each tortilla but turns out it took me just as long. I loved how each layer revealed hidden pockets of cheese or chicken or sauce so in the end I’m going with that it was a good idea.


Stacked Enchiladas Suizas with Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These Stacked Enchiladas Suizas combine creamy layers of green chile-coated tortillas, poached chicken, and two kinds of cheese into the best comfort food!
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 pieces chicken (about 2 pounds--I used legs and thighs)
  • 1 large onion, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 pound tomatillos, papery husks removed and washed
  • 3 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeds removed if you'd like it less spicy
  • ½ cup cilantro (about ¼ bunch)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 12 large corn tortillas (6-inches or as big as you can find)
  • 1¼ cups queso fresco, crumbled
  • 2½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • Crumbled cotija cheese, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Place chicken pieces, ½ of the onion cut into slices, 2 cloves of the garlic, the bay leaf, black peppercorns and 2 teaspoons of the salt in a large saucepan.
  2. Cover with water by 2 inches and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove chicken from broth (strain and save broth for another use) and let cool. Shred into bite-sized pieces discarding any skin or bone and set aside. You can do this step the day before or use store-bought rotisserie chicken.
  4. Combine tomatillos, remaining onion half, sliced, remaining garlic cloves and, serrano chiles in a large saucepan. Cover with water by an inch and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Drain and transfer to a blender with the cilantro, 2 teaspoons salt, and sour cream. Blend on high until smooth. Be careful when blending hot liquid, cover the blender with a thick paper towel instead of the lid to prevent explosions. Pour sauce into a large pie plate or shallow baking dish.
  6. Heat oven to 400°F and grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  7. Heat ½ cup of the vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Once shimmering, place 1 tortilla into the oil and fry until golden on both sides, about a minute. Transfer to a baking sheet and repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more oil ¼ cup at a time as needed.
  8. Dip a tortilla in the green chile sauce until coated on both sides and place in the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Continue with three more tortillas spreading them out in the bottom of the pan to cover as much surface area as possible.
  9. Top with half of the chicken and a third of each cheese. Repeat with another layer of sauce-coated tortillas, remaining half of the chicken and another third of the cheese. Coat the remaining tortillas in the sauce and place on top and scrape any remaining sauce over the enchiladas spreading to coat evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the tortillas.
  10. Place the enchiladas in the oven and bake until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Sprinkle with crumbled cotija cheese if you'd like.
  11. Slice into wedges and serve. Enchiladas can also be cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw completely, then remove plastic wrap, cover with foil and bake at 400°F until heated through, about 20 minutes.

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Apps, Comida Latina, Condiments and Salsas, Dairy Free, Recipes, Snacks

Salsa de Cacahuate {Creamy Peanut and Chile Salsa}

May 5, 2017
Salsa de Cacahuate is a creamy, spicy salsa made from ground peanuts, arbol chiles, charred tomatoes, garlic, & onions. Goes amazing with margaritas!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

I couldn’t leave you with nothing to nibble on! This peanut salsa is exactly what you want to go with your Pineapple Hibiscus Margarita.

Pineapple Hibiscus Margarita

It is a spicy little number, full of dried arbol chiles but creamy with ground peanuts to calm the heat.  I like to add a couple of charred tomatoes to add some smoke and make it just thick enough to coat a salty tortilla chip but not so gloppy it just runs right off.

The sweet margarita calms the spice from the salsa de cacahuate and it is an incredible pairing with blanco tequila bringing out the darker, earthier flavors in the spirit.

Salsa de Cacahuate

Have a fun and safe Cinco de Mayo and be sure to check out the over 60 Margarita-inspired recipes we have on the Margarita Week page!!

Salsa de Cacahuate {Creamy Peanut and Chile Salsa}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Salsa de Cacahuate is a creamy, spicy salsa made from ground peanuts, arbol chiles, charred tomatoes, garlic, & onions. Goes amazing with margaritas!
Author:
Serves: 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 small tomatoes, cored
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup raw peanuts, plus ¼ cup toasted and chopped, for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6 dried arbol chiles, stems removed
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves in a dry comal or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides. The garlic will cook sooner than the other vegetables, remove them as they are done cooking.
  2. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off the garlic and place in the blender with the other vegetables. Blend on high until smooth and keep in blender.
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the ½ cup peanuts, oregano, chiles, peppercorns, and cloves. Fry, stirring occasionally, until peanuts are toasted and chiles are fragrant. Let cool slightly.
  4. Add peanut mixture to blender with the tomato mixture and the lime juice and salt and blend on high until smooth. Taste and add more salt as needed. Top with remaining chopped peanuts.

One More Thing

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Apps, Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Recipes, Snacks

Mint and Sweet Pea Guacamole with Sweet Potato Chips

April 25, 2017
Mint and pea guacamole may seem odd at first but the two flavors are naturals with ripe avocado. Try it for Cinco de Mayo when fresh peas are at their peek!

We have a winner! CONGRATULATIONS to Daniela Cho!! And thank you to everyone who entered. We had over 700 entries!! Come right back here next Tuesday for a Mother’s Day giveaway with Wolf Gourmet! 

With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner (and knowing full well all I’ll talk about then are margaritas) is there any better time than now to talk about guacamole? Specifically mint and pea guacamole?

This is, by all means, a break from the norm, but we are officially in spring and I seem to be all about health-ing stuff up these days (much to Armando’s chagrin). Last week when I brought home the tortilla press, then promptly made lentil turmeric tortillas with it…well.

mint and pea guacamole

“Corn tortillas”, he asked, “why can’t you just make corn tortillas?”. I really shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up like that. He did not, not eat them though (because they were very tasty, thankyouverymuch) and we had no problem finishing off this guacamole and sweet potato chips last night over some margaritas.

These chips are really fun, initially I was going to make plantain chips to go with the guacamole but got the idea for using white sweet potatoes while browsing an old issue of Bon Appetit that talked about having thin strips of sweet potato they initially thought were pappardelle at Lord Stanley in San Francisco. I know it sounds complicated but they are super easy to make, you just peel the skin off a white sweet potato (I don’t know if it works with other kinds of sweet potatoes/yams but let me know if you try) and then keep peeling it into thin strips with the vegetable peeler. Crisp them up in just a drizzle of hot oil on a comal or griddle pan for a minute or two and then sprinkle with salt.

pea and mint guacamole

The guacamole is dreamy too, a bit sweeter than you might expect but if you use really fresh Farmer’s market peas you’ll be really surprised at how delicious the pea-avocado combo is. The mint is a nice touch—just screams spring—making this the perfect guacamole to make at your Cinco de Mayo party next week!

Oh, by the way, do you like the sizzle platter and bowl I used in the images? Because they could be yours!! To celebrate Cinco de Mayo I’ve partnered with Le Creuset to give one lucky winner a Le Creuset Sizzle Platter and Round Multi Bowl….enter below for a chance to win! One lucky winner will be picked, at random on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Open to US residents only. 1 winner total. Good Luck!

pea and mint guacamole

Mint and Sweet Pea Guacamole with Sweet Potato Chips
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Mint and pea guacamole may seem odd at first but the two flavors are naturals with ripe avocado. Try it for Cinco de Mayo when fresh peas are at their peak!
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
For the guacamole:
  • ¾ cup sweet peas, fresh or frozen
  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, stemmed and chopped (add more or less, depending on how spicy you like things. Remove the seeds if you'd like it less spicy)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped mint
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the chips:
  • 1 large white sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • salt
Instructions
To make the guacamole:
  1. If using fresh peas, remove them from the pod and blanch them in boiling water for 1 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath until cold, then drain. If using frozen peas, microwave them until thawed, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Place peas, avocado, scallions, serranos, cilantro, mint, lime juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until well combined, but not completely smooth.
  3. Scrape into a serving bowl, taste to see if it needs more lime juice or salt. If not serving right away, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole (touching it) and refrigerate until ready to eat.
For the chips:
  1. Peel sweet potatoes then using the peeler, peel the sweet potato into large strips until all of it has been used.
  2. Heat oil in a large griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Add sweet potato strips, a few at a time; don't crowd until starting to brown and get crispy, about 1 minute. Flip and cook the other side, about a minute more.
  3. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Chips are best eaten the day they are made.

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One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

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Breads, Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Recipes, Snacks

Sprouted Lentil Turmeric Tortillas

April 18, 2017
Super healthy homemade sprouted lentil turmeric tortillas are as beautiful as they are delicious made with 2 nutrient powerhouses + they make amazing tacos.

{This #SpringCleanse post is sponsored by Lentils.org}

Occasionally I’ll dip my toe into homemade tortilla making. I’ve generally gone with flour—for some reason those seem more forgiving—but after tons of inspiration all over Instagram I decided to finally bite the bullet, buy a tortilla press and make real, honest-to-goodness homemade corn tortillas.

These egg yolk-yellow tortillas get their color from the nutrient powerhouse turmeric and have sprouted lentils mixed into the dough. The combination is incredibly delicious (especially with these roasted sweet potato and sprouted lentil tacos) but also are amazingly good for you.

Sprouted lentil and turmeric tortillas recipe

Lentils are incredibly high in protein—like pound-for-pound as much as a steak—and sprouted lentils are full of antioxidants and are excellent for digestive health. Plus they fill you up without filling you out which is great if, like me, you’ll have to appear in public in a swimsuit in the near future.

Granted homemade tortillas aren’t something you’re going to make on a whim, but when the urge strikes aren’t you going to want a vibrant recipe to turn to?

I sprouted my own lentils for this recipe. They are a sintch to do, cost basically nothing, and you can use them in salads, sandwiches, mixed into rice bowls, basically anywhere you want to add amazing texture and an earthy sweet bite. I explained all the details about how to sprout them over on the taco post.

sweet potato and lentil tacos recipe

As for the tortillas, they’re not rocket science but they do take patience and time. The first couple may turn out disastrous, but don’t give up hope, pretty soon you’ll get into a rhythm and fly through the dough in no time.

sprouted lentil and turmeric tortillas recipe

The most important aspect is getting the moisture level right. Too wet and they will stick and tear, too dry and they will be well….dry, hard, yucky. It is something you have to feel to know. I think a ratio of about 1 part maseca to 1 part water is about right.

Sprouted lentil and turmeric tortillas recipe

Then roll the dough into balls about the size of a ping-pong ball.

Sprouted lentil and turmeric tortillas recipe

Flatten the dough ball with a tortilla press lined with plastic wrap. Peel the tortilla off the plastic wrap and cook in a hot, dry comal or cast iron skillet until both sides are toasted. Fill with your favorite taco filling (I love the sweet potato filling with these tortillas—grilled fish is also good).

Let Lentils.org inspire you to clean up your act this spring and enter the #SpringCleanse Canadian Lentil Sweepstakes! All the details are below.

Sprouted Lentil Turmeric Tortillas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Super healthy homemade sprouted lentil turmeric tortillas are as beautiful as they are delicious made with 2 nutrient powerhouses + they make amazing tacos. Tortilla Recipe adapted from Yes, More Please! Check out their beautiful sight for instructions on how to make all kinds of corn tortilla flavors.
Author:
Serves: 12-15 tortillas
Ingredients
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup maseca corn flour
  • ½ cup sprouted lentils
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric powder
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the salt into the warm water.
  2. Combine maseca, sprouted lentils, and turmeric in a large bowl. Add salt water and mix to incorporate. Knead dough with your hands 2-3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at least 20-30 minutes.
  3. Roll a ping pong-sized ball of dough in your hands and check the moisture. It shouldn't be sticky, but it shouldn't crack either. Adjust with more water or maseca as needed and let it rest another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a comal or cast iron skillet over medium heat. The pan should be hot to the touch but not smoking.
  5. Line a tortilla press with plastic wrap, place a ping pong-sized ball in the middle and press into a circle. Keep the remaining dough covered as you work so it doesn't dry out.
  6. Lift one hand under the plastic wrap and let the tortilla fall into the other hand. Flip onto the hot comal and leave it to cook until it is dry and toasted on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Don't try to move it beforehand.
  7. Flip the tortilla with a metal spatula or palette knife. Cook until toasted on the other side, about 2 more minutes. Then remove to a clean kitchen towel or tortilla warmer to keep warm.

#SpringCleanse Canadian Lentils Sweepstakes

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Lentils.org. The opinions and text are all mine.

Comida Latina, Condiments and Salsas, Mains, Popular, Recipes

Roasted Sweet Potato and Sprouted Lentil Tacos

April 18, 2017
Sweet potato and lentil tacos made with roasted sweet potatoes, DIY sprouted lentils, & jalapeño yogurt salsa wrapped in homemade sprouted lentil tortillas.

{This #SpringCleanse post is sponsored by Lentils.org}

If spring is all about renewal than spring cooking should reflect that in some ways too. There is a freshness and light in the air and that feeling has made its way into my kitchen.

sweet potato and lentil tacos recipe

I love lentils and traditionally have used them in heartier cooking—soups, stews, with sausage, and so forth but this time I wanted lentils to add lightness and a tender bite to what I was cooking. I’ve read a lot about making your own sprouts from beans and seeds and such but had never actually tried it at home. The added nutrient boost was reason enough to get me excited; lentils are naturally loaded with protein but sprouted lentils also have antioxidant benefits as well as being excellent for digestive health. But it really wasn’t until I realized how easy they are that I decided there was no excuse not to try.

How to Sprout Lentils

sweet potato and lentil tacos recipe

You can buy all sorts of fancy equipment to sprout with, which might be handy when sprouting smaller seeds, but sprouting lentils is so easy all I used was a colander. The lentils have to be soaked overnight then I strained them through a large colander, spreading the lentils out as much as possible and cover the colander with a kitchen towel. I left them on my counter and rinsed them a few times a day to keep them from drying out. After a couple of days, little sprouts emerged and they were tender enough to eat. You can keep going for up to five days to get the sprouts to grow bigger but I used mine after three. I’ve used the sprouted lentils in all kinds of things—tossed in salads, in sandwiches, I’ve even been topping my eggs in the morning with a handful of lentils. Their texture is just addictive and they have a subtle sweet, earthy flavor that is delicious with just about anything. It was these tacos though that got me really excited.

Sweet Potato and Lentil Tacos

sweet potato and lentil tacos recipe

Sweet potato and lentil tacos are one of my favorite veggie taco combinations. The lovely thing about these tacos however, are the sprouted lentils don’t need to be cooked, they add a wonderful crunch to the tender roasted sweet potatoes and soft tortilla. As for these homemade tortillas they really take the idea of spring cleanse to a whole other level. Corn tortillas are pretty good for you but a soft homemade corn tortilla spiced with turmeric and sprouted lentils are something you can feel good about eating two times over. I know homemade tortillas aren’t something you’re going to whip out after gymnastics practice on a Tuesday night but when you have the time, I encourage you to give them a try. Get the recipe and all the details on how to make them and just think about it.

Jalapeno Yogurt Salsa

sweet potato and lentil tacos recipe

This salsa is like a breath of fresh (if not pretty spicy) air. It pulls all the flavors of these tacos together; creamy but still very light, made with yogurt instead of the more traditional sour cream. With the leftovers I added a bit more olive oil and vinegar and made a fiery salad dressing that was great on a sprouted lentil, radish, apple, dried currant, and arugula salad—uses for these lentils are just sprouting up everywhere (pun fully intended)!

Let Lentils.org inspire you to clean up your act this spring and enter the #SpringCleanse Canadian Lentil Sweepstakes! Check out the details below.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Sprouted Lentil Tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Sweet potato and lentil tacos made with roasted sweet potatoes, DIY sprouted lentils, & jalapeño yogurt salsa wrapped in homemade sprouted lentil turmeric tortillas.
Author:
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
For the sprouted lentils:
  • ½ cup whole dried lentils
For the sweet potatoes:
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the salsa:
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the tacos:
Instructions
To sprout the lentils:
  1. Start at least 3 days in advance; cover lentils with about an inch of water and let sit overnight.
  2. The next day strain and spread lentils out in the strainer, giving them as much room as possible. Set the strainer over a plate and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Leave at room temperature.
  3. Rinse lentils at least 3 times a day for at least 2 days or until they start to sprout. Continue rinsing and leave them covered at room temperature for up to 5 days, depending on how large you'd like the sprouts to be.
  4. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate. Sprouted lentils will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
For the tacos:
  1. Heat oven to 425°F and arrange rack in the upper third.
  2. Combine sweet potatoes, olive oil, and spices in a large bowl. Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until just tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the salsa. Place jalapeños and unpeeled garlic cloves in a dry comal or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until charred on all sides (garlic will take less time so remove that first).
  4. Remove garlic peel and the stems from the jalapeños. Cut jalapeños in half and remove seeds if you'd like it less spicy.
  5. Place charred vegetables in a blender with yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and blend on high until smooth. Taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed.
  6. To serve, toss sweet potatoes with cilantro and sliced spring onions then divide between the warm tortillas and top with sprouted lentils. Drizzle with salsa and enjoy!
Notes
Sprouting your own lentils is super easy but it does take some planning. The lentils take at least 3 days to sprout so plan ahead.

Serving these tacos in homemade tortillas make them extra special but store-bought corn tortillas also work here.

 

#SpringCleanse Canadian Lentils Sweepstakes

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it. Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too! This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Lentils.org. The opinions and text are all mine.