Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mexican Chicken Phyllo Rolls (Homemade Hot Pocket)

I'm not sure what my inspiration was for this recipe.  Justin had chicken thighs thawed and we had most of the items on hand.  It sounded like a delicious mix of Mexican, Greek, and American influences.  I imagine most food critics or trained chefs would be appalled by this combination, but it came out to be a delicious, soul-warming homemade Hot Pocket!  I was a little leery about making and using the gravy in this, but after tasting it, I have no regrets!  Imagine crossing a chicken pot pie with chicken enchiladas and wrapping it all up in some crispy, Greek phyllo dough!  Play list while cooking consisted of the Operation Ivy Pandora station - Some Op Ivy, Rancid, Goldfinger, Descendents, The Slackers.  -Jen

Makes about 6 phyllo rolls
  • frozen phyllo dough, thawed (requires appx 8 hours thawing, follow instructions on box)
  • 1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
  • 5 chicken thighs, with skin and bone
  • 3 teaspoons seasoning mix, divided (see recipe below)
  • 1 can (4oz) chopped green chiles
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  •  2 teaspoons garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon, plus extra green Tabasco hot sauce
  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth, as needed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 egg (and 1 tablespoon water)
Seasoning Mix   
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pasilla chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground New Mexico chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground California chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Mix spices together.

Place a small strainer over a bowl and empty can of tomatoes into strainer.  Toss with 1 teaspoon of salt and set aside to drain.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly grease the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.  Place chicken thighs in baking dish and sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of seasoning mix.  Bake at 450 for 25-30 minutes, until juices run clear.  Remove from oven and using tongs, place chicken thighs on a plate to cool and set aside.  Carefully pour the remaining chicken juice and fat from the baking pan into a bowl and refrigerate.

When chicken is cooled, remove skin and discard.  Pull the meat from the bone and place into a bowl.  Using two forks, shred chicken meat.  Add green chiles, green onions, cilantro, garlic, oregano, cheese, and 2 dashes of Tabasco.  Mix together and set aside.

Remove chicken drippings from refrigerator.  The fat should have solidified on top.  Scoop all the fat solids off the top of the chicken broth, saving 2 tablespoons of fat.  Measure out the chicken broth saved from baking and use canned chicken broth to make a total of 1 cup of liquid.  Place the 2 tablespoons of chicken fat in a small sauce pan (use olive oil to make up the difference if you didn't have 2 tablespoons worth of fat).  Heat on medium and add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Stir constantly until a paste is formed, making a roux.  Quickly add the 1 cup of broth to the roux, turn heat to high, and begin whisking constantly.  While whisking, add 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mix.  Once the liquid begins to boil, the gravy will begin to thicken.  Continue whisking until it's a gravy consistency and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Since phyllo dough can be a pain to work with because it dries out quickly, it's best to arrange your work station like an assembly line.  You'll need your chicken filling and gravy near by, enough room for two working areas for phyllo dough, and a well greased cookie sheet.  Make sure your butter is melted and egg wash prepared (by whisking egg and 1 tablespoon of water together) before opening your phyllo dough.  Remove one sheet of phyllo dough and keep the rest covered with a clean, damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap.  Brush melted butter over the first sheet of phyllo and cover buttered dough with a second sheet of phyllo dough.  Brush second sheet with melted butter.  Gently place about 1/2 a cup of filling near the bottom of your phyllo sheets.  Top with 2 tablespoons of the gravy.  Carefully begin to roll the filled phyllo like a burrito, tucking the sides in as you roll.

Place rolled pouches seam-side down on well greased cookie sheet.  Brush tops with egg wash.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes before serving.

Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Barbecue Sauce; Roasted Garlic Creamed Cauliflower

These were recipes Justin came up with for dinner the other night.  They're really simple and easy dishes that seem a little more decadent than just "meat and potatoes".  His play list consisted of the Descendents' compilation album, "Somery".   -jen


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare roasted garlic by cutting off stem end, about 1/4" into the garlic cloves.  Place garlic, cut side up, in the center of a square of aluminum foil that's about 8"x8". Drizzle the exposed garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Salt and pepper it with a pinch of each.  Fold ends of foil to make a pouch that won't leak and roast garlic in 375 oven for 60 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

  • 3 pound pork loin roast
  • 1.5 teaspoons Sate seasoning (Indonesian spice found at
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all spices in a small dish.  Rub outside of entire roast with seasoning mixture.  

Place pork in roasting pan, fat-side facing up.  Cook in 350 degree oven uncovered for approximately 45 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 148 degrees using a meat thermometer.  Remove roast from oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with warmed or chilled Blackberry Barbecue Sauce.

  • 1 head of roasted garlic 
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, parsley, or any herb of choice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Steam cauliflower in a large pot by placing 1" of water in the bottom of the pan.  Put cauliflower in pan, cover and bring to a boil.  When water begins boiling, turn heat down to a simmer and keep covered until tender, about 25 minutes.  Test cauliflower by poking with a fork.  If fork slides in easily, cauliflower is done.  Remove from heat and drain thoroughly.

Using a food processor or immersion stick blender, combine drained cauliflower with all other ingredients and blend until smooth.  Garnish with chopped green onions. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blackberry Barbecue Sauce

We'd had some blackberries in the freezer that we picked last summer.  We didn't have enough to make a crumble or a pie, so Justin decided to make a barbecue sauce out of them. Came out great!  Playlist: Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards on Pandora. -Jen

  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced ginger
  • 5-6 dashes hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth.  Pour into saucepan and simmer for 20-30 minutes until reduced. 

Some simple variations on this recipe would be to substitute chipotles in adobo sauce for the ginger in order to give it more of a smokey, chili flavor.  Agave syrup could be substituted for the honey or a little molasses could be added to give it more depth of flavor.  Limes or other citrus zest could be added; cloves, cinnamon, or a myriad of other spices to give it more of a range of flavors.  The variations are limited only by your imagination at this point. -Justin

Serving suggestions: served as a warm sauce for chicken, pork, or egg rolls. (Haven't baked or grilled with it yet, so not sure if it'd burn too easily or not with the sugars that are in it - you've been warned!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

White Fish Tacos, Avocado Sauce, Black Bean & Olive Spanish Rice

Fish is a food that I didn't like until I was about 27 years old and Justin made me my first fish hash tacos.  This sealed the deal for me and fish and I have had a love affair ever since.  Since it's surely due to California that I love fish (it's much less "fishy" here than it is in Chicago), it was only natural that our play list consist of some of our favourite California bands - Rancid, NOFX, and Sublime.  Sublime's "Bad Fish" came on, and seemed incredibly appropriate in its juxtaposition to our excellent fish recipe below. -jen


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped green or Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1.5 cups of long-grain white rice
  • 2.5-3 cups water **see instructions
  • 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained (keep juice and set aside)
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons Caldo de Pollo (or chicken boullon)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Heat olive oil in large skillet or sauce pan.  Sautee onions and carrots until tender and onions are transparent.  Add chopped olives and minced garlic and sautee another 3 minutes.

Add rice to vegetables and mix in.  Measure the drained tomato juice into a measuring cup, and use water to make up 3 cups of liquid total.  (If you have 1/2 a cup juice, you'll use 2.5 cups of water).  Carefully add liquid to hot pan.  Stir in tomatoes, beans, Caldo de Pollo, cumin, coriander, chili powder, smoked paprika and cilantro.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and turn heat to low.  Simmer for 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Don't lift the lid during cooking!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (yellow, white, spring, or combination)
  • 1 pound of boneless, light fish (sole, snapper, catfish, cod, etc), patted dry and cut into large chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed or ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if desired)
  • 1 lime (1 tsp of zest, and then juice the entire lime)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • corn tortillas
  • Avocado Sauce (see recipe below)
  • cilantro and chopped green onions for garnish
  • Queso Fresco (if desired) 
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add  onion and cook until onion is tender and translucent, 1-2 minutes.  Add fish, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, lime zest, and cayenne.  Cook for 2-3 minutes; fish will begin to turn an opaque white.  Add lime juice, garlic, and cilantro.  Continue cooking another 3 minutes, using the spatula to break up the fish into a hash.  Remove from heat.

Heat tortillas over the open flame of a gas burner until lightly browned (or use a dry skillet if you have electric burners).  Serve fish in warmed tortilla, top with Avocado Sauce, green onions, and cilantro.  We like to add a little crumbled Queso Fresco to ours.

This is a light, avocado and citrus sauce that goes well with fish, chicken, or as a vegetable dip.
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon green Tabasco sauce
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
In a small food processor, combine all ingredients, blend well.