Easy Arroz con Pollo

My mom doesn’t cook very much these days, so when my family and I visit, she and I cook together. When we recently stayed with her over spring break, I forwarded a couple of new recipe emails to try. More fun that way!

As a loyal Good Morning America fan I am not sure why I receive Today show recipe emails, but some of them do catch my eye. This recipe was adapted from Kitchen Gypsy: Recipes and Stories from a Lifelong Romance with Food by Joanne Weir, via today.com. I adjusted the cooking times, used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken, doubled the garlic and peas, incorporated chicken stock, and omitted the olives (I’m not a fan.). My mom added the olives to her leftovers!

This is a delicious one-pot dish with a lovely, colorful presentation. I made it again when we came home.:)

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 10
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 28 oz can peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes (or 2 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 cups Spanish Bomba or other short-grain white rice (I used white Basmati rice)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives, sliced, optional
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen shelled English peas
  1. Rub the chicken pieces all over with 1 teaspoon salt, lots of black pepper and the oregano. Place in a large bowl, cover, and set aside in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  3. In an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot (I used enameled cast iron.), heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the chicken pieces in a single layer and cook, turning as needed, until golden on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  5. Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, saffron, chile flakes, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes, 2½ cups water or stock, the wine, and the chicken, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the pot from the oven, add the rice, olives (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon salt (if using water instead of stock), and stir well.
  8. Re-cover the pot, return it to the oven, and cook for another 30 minutes.
  9. Retrieve the pot again, add the peas and fluff the rice with a fork. Re-cover the pot and return it to the oven for a final 5 to 10 minutes. At this point, the rice and the chicken will be tender and the liquid will be absorbed.
  10. Remove from the oven and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before serving. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and serve.

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Cinco de Mayo Chicken-Chipotle Tacos

Move over creamy chicken-chard-roasted poblano tacos… we have a new favorite in our house! These tacos are amazing. Thanks to the chipotle chiles, the filling tastes like it has been slow-cooked for hours. The finished full-flavored filling is loaded into a warm tortilla and smothered in toppings- incredible. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in and substituted scallions for white onion as a garnish. It could easily be modified to use rotisserie chicken meat as well.

Perfect for your Cinco de Mayo feast… or Seis de Mayo if I’m too late. Fabulous any day!:)

Yield: 4 servings

Time: about 1 hour

For the Tacos:

  • 5 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 scallions, left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thyme branch
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1 allspice berry
  • 2 cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 or 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from the can
  • ½ cup chicken broth (*use broth from simmered chicken*)
  • 8 fresh corn tortillas

For the Garnish:

  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped, soaked in ice water for 10 minutes and drained (I substituted unsoaked scallions.)
  • thinly sliced serrano chile
  • thinly sliced radishes
  • sliced avocado
  • crumbled queso fresco or mild feta cheese
  • crème fraîche or Mexican crema
  • cilantro sprigs
  • dried oregano
  • lime wedges
  1. Put chicken thighs in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups water. Add scallions, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove chicken and cool.
  2. Shred chicken with your fingers. Strain broth and reserve. You should have about 2 cups shredded chicken.
  3. Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced yellow onion, season with salt and cook until softened and a bit browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Add chopped chipotle chile and adobo sauce and stir to combine.
  6. Add shredded chicken, salt lightly and stir to coat.
  7. Add chicken broth and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, until sauce has thickened somewhat. Keep warm.
  8. Heat the tortillas over steam or by your favorite method, keeping them soft and pliable. (I placed them in a tortilla warmer, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 1 minute.)
  9. Build the tacos quickly: Put a spoonful of the saucy chicken in the center of each tortilla. Top with a teaspoon of chopped white onion or scallion, a few slivers of serrano chile, some radish and avocado slices, a teaspoon of queso fresco or feta and a teaspoon of crème fraîche. Add a few cilantro springs and a small pinch of oregano.
  10. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

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Chocolate-Avocado Pudding

This pudding gets its creaminess from avocados- and you would never know. It’s also made in minutes using a blender- fabulous! I love that it incorporated a vanilla bean and freshly squeezed orange juice too.

This recipe is from Gjusta in Venice, California, via Bon Appetit. Fresh and great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 2 large avocados, pits removed
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup (or more) fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups heavy cream, optional
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs and/or chopped hazelnuts, optional
  1. Scoop avocado flesh into a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Scrape in vanilla bean seeds; reserve pod for another use.
  3. Add cocoa powder, maple syrup, agave nectar, orange juice, and salt and blend to a coarse purée.
  4. With motor running, gradually stream in ¾ cup hot (but not boiling) water; blend, adding more orange juice as needed, until smooth and creamy.
  5. Divide pudding among eight 4–6 oz. ramekins or small bowls and chill (uncovered) at least 2 hours.
  6. Just before serving, whip cream in a medium bowl to soft peaks and spoon over pudding, if desired; top with cocoa nibs and/or hazelnuts.

Note: Pudding can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

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Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins With Orange Streusel

I love a good, hearty muffin for a special breakfast. Especially if it’s warm from the oven.:) These muffins were moist, earthy, and wholesome. The recipe made 24 muffins- so I was able to freeze a dozen of them for a busy day. Woo hoo! Nice.:)

This recipe was adapted from the The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I weighed the dry ingredients, omitted the nuts, baked the muffins in one large oven in a single batch, and modified the baking time for a convection oven.

Yield: 24 standard muffins

For the Muffins:

  • 2 cups/240 g all-purpose flour, more as needed
  • ⅔ cup/75 g whole wheat flour or wheat germ, preferably toasted
  • ⅔ cup/92 g fine-ground yellow cornmeal
  • ⅔ cup/66 g rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • ⅔ cup/142 g packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp cinnamon (or 2 tsp cinnamon & 2 tsp nutmeg or allspice)
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • 1 ¾ cups/414 ml buttermilk, more as needed
  • 1 ⅓ cup/315 ml coconut oil, or neutral oil like safflower or canola
  • ⅔ cup/158 ml maple syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups/198 g grated carrots or tart apple (I grated the carrots in a food processor.)
  • 1 ½ cups/255 g blueberries (I used frozen wild blueberries.)
  • 1 cup/113 g chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

For the Streusel:

  • ⅓ cup/71 grams packed light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup/59 ml coconut oil or cold unsalted butter
  • ½ cup/60 g all-purpose flour
  • finely grated zest from 1 large orange (about 1 1/2 T)
  1. Make the muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, mix the wet ingredients: buttermilk, oil, maple syrup and eggs.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently mix just until blended. Don’t worry about a few lumps or streaks of flour.
  4. Stir in the carrots, blueberries and nuts if using. (If you’d like, reserve a handful of blueberries for sprinkling on top of the muffins just before baking.)
  5. Set batter aside at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes to allow flours to absorb the liquid. Check batter after 15 minutes by giving it a light stir. It should be thick, not runny (this will help the muffins rise). Thin with a little more buttermilk or thicken by adding 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Set aside for 5 minutes more, check and adjust texture again, and repeat until batter is thick and fluffy.
  6. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection, and place rack in top third of oven.
  7. Butter or spray two muffin tins (regular or jumbo), or line the cups with paper liners. Make sure to also butter or spray the top surface of the tin to help the muffins release.
  8. Make the streusel if using: In a small bowl, mix and pinch all the ingredients together until blended and crumbly. (If using butter, cut into small pieces first.)
  9. Using an ice-cream scoop or small ladle, divide thick batter among muffin cups, filling almost to the top. Mound the batter slightly in the center of each cup; this will help make a domed muffin top. If you reserved blueberries for topping, press them lightly into the muffins. Top with streusel, using your fingers to divide streusel over batter and press lightly onto the surface.
  10. Place one muffin tin in oven (or both tins if using a large oven) and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Bake for 17 minutes on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a standard oven, until a tester inserted into center of muffin comes out moist but clean. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.
  11. Cool muffins in pan on rack, then remove from tin.
  12. If baking one batch at a time, repeat with remaining batter. (If there is not enough batter remaining to fill all the cups, fill every other cup with batter. Pour water into the empty cups to protect the pan in the oven.)

Note: To freeze extra muffins, wrap them individually in aluminum foil. Reheat, still wrapped, in a 300-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Or unwrap and reheat in a microwave.

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Stuffed Poblano Casserole

I used to love receiving my monthly issue of Everyday Food. Page after page of tasty and quick dishes. So sad it no longer exists.😦 Thankfully, I have my old issues! (of course😉 )

This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I increased the garlic and onions, decreased the water, and added corn. We ate it with green salad and brown Basmati rice. Mildly spicy and light… well, for a casserole!

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole San Marzano tomatoes in puree
  • 1 jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), minced
  • 1 1/2  to 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves (3 whole, 2 minced)
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (19 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup shredded jalapeño Jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 large poblano chiles, halved lengthwise (stems left intact), ribs and seeds removed
  1. Preheat oven to 425, preferably on convection.
  2. In a blender or Vitamix, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeño, half the onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves; puree. Season with salt.
  3. Pour sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine beans, corn, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onions, minced garlic (I used a garlic press), cumin, and 1/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Dividing evenly, stuff poblano halves with bean mixture; place on top of sauce in baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle poblanos with remaining 1/2 cup cheese; cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.
  7. Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes.
  8. Uncover, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened slightly and cheese is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes.

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Linguine with Asparagus & Egg

Oh my. It has been a long time since I’ve devoted time to blogging. Spring yard work and cleaning always consumes my schedule this time of year. (and I am so exhausted from doing all of it… I can’t muster up any energy in my spare time to do anything else.:/ ) I have been cooking though! TONS of tasty and quick dishes… I plan to start sharing some of them with you!:)

I love the combination of asparagus and eggs. It screams springtime to me. This vegetarian main dish is simple and delicious. The recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I doubled the asparagus and used Parmigiano Reggiano and linguine fini noodles. We ate the leftovers with sliced and diced hardboiled eggs over the top. Great.

Yield: Serves 4, generously

  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound linguine fini (I used Barilla), linguine, fettuccine
  • 2 1/4 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (1/2 ounce), plus more for serving
  • 4 large eggs
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, adding the asparagus in the last two minutes of cooking (if large) and last minute of cooking (if thin).
  2. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta and asparagus and return to pot along with butter and Parmesan. Toss until butter is melted, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta.
  3. While pasta is cooking, in a large straight-sided skillet, heat 2 inches water over medium until a few bubbles rise to the top.
  4. Crack each egg into a small bowl and gently pour into skillet. Partially cover, and cook until whites are set and yolks are runny, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
  5. To serve, divide pasta among 4 bowls, top each serving with an egg, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with additional cheese, as desired.

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Cheesy Pasta Casserole with Wild Mushrooms

This is high-class macaroni and cheese.😉 Fancy comfort food. A delicious vegetarian main course. What’s not to love? My favorite pasta shape- orecchiette- with earthy mushrooms, salty Parmigiano Reggiano, and fabulous melted fontina cheese. Prior to incorporating the mushrooms with the pasta, they are roasted with rosemary which infuses them with amazing flavor. Delicious.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used two cloves of garlic and a combination of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. I also decreased the baking temperature to 475 degrees (because I was worried about damaging my special casserole dish). No worries- it was still brown and bubbly.:)

Now that spring has sprung, I thought that I may have missed my chance to post this cozy dish, but it may snow here tonight! So I suppose I’m safe.:/

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 pound mixed wild or cultivated mushrooms, such as oyster, maitake and shiitake (I used 12 oz cremini mushrooms and 4 oz shiitake mushrooms.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus a few grinds
  • 2 fresh rosemary branches
  • ½ pound orecchiette, farfalle or other short pasta
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta
  • 5 ounces fontina cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated (I used a garlic press.)
  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Trim the mushrooms and cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss with the olive oil, the salt, a few grinds of pepper and the rosemary. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast, tossing once or twice, until golden brown and crisped around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes. Discard rosemary.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for at least a few minutes less than the package directs. (You want the pasta very al dente; it will finish softening in the sauce.) Drain well.
  4. Turn oven up to 475 degrees.
  5. In a large bowl, stir together the cream, ricotta, fontina, Parmesan, sage, pepper, garlic and a pinch of salt
  6. Stir in the pasta and mushrooms.
  7. Arrange in a shallow 2-quart gratin dish or 9- by 13-inch pan.
  8. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly and browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.

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Pear Clafoutis

My mom and brother were in France last week, so I made a clafoutis. It makes perfect sense… I was pretending that we were there too!😉 Clafoutis was always one of my mom’s favorite desserts to make for dinner parties. It is simple, elegant, and delicious. Absolutely wonderful with pears too!

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten, via Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Food Network.com. I used Cuarenta y Tres (a Spanish citrus and vanilla liqueur) instead of Poire William. I substituted large for extra-large eggs, omitted the creme fraiche garnish, and used the zest of one lemon. I also modified the baking time to fit my deeper pan. Next time I would bake it in a wider, more shallow pan so that the pears were visible in the finished product. Lovely!

Yield: Serves 8

Total Time: about 1 hour

  • 1 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, separated
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 T pear brandy (such as Poire William) or citrus-vanilla liqueur (such as Cuarenta y Tres)
  • 2 to 3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
  • creme fraiche, for garnish, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 10 x 3-inch round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. (I used a 9 x 3-inch pan.)
  3. Beat the eggs and the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and liqueur. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the pears.
  6. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish.
  7. Pour the batter over the pears and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, and creme fraiche, if desired.

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Chicken Meunière

Did I mention that I was feeling the need to transport myself to France? My mom and brother were just there on a special trip. Those of us left behind were trying to feel better by eating some French food.:)

I actually made this dish as an afterthought… I knew that I wanted to make Pear Clafoutis for dessert and wanted a suitable main dish! Like Clafoutis, (post to follow…), this is an elegant weeknight dish. They were a perfect match.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. We ate it with roasted asparagus, lemon slices, and brown Basmati rice. Lovely.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins (about 12)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 to 1 cup (approximately) all-purpose flour, panko, or cornmeal for dredging
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  1. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. (I used cast iron.) While it is heating, sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, and place the flour, panic, or cornmeal in a 8×8-inch baking pan or pie dish.
  2. Place the oil and 2 T butter in the skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot and the butter has melted, dredge the cutlets in the coating, turning them a few times and pressing them down so they are well covered. After you dredge each, add it to the pan.
  3. Cook until the chicken is nicely brown, 3 to 4 minutes, then turn. Cook 2 to 4 minutes until the chicken is firm to the touch (lower the heat if the coating begins to scorch).
  4. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 T butter over medium heat until it is nut-brown; set aside.
  5. When the chicken is done, drain it briefly on a paper towel, then transfer to a warm platter.
  6. Drizzle with lemon juice, and top with half the parsley. At the last-minute, pour the browned butter over the chicken, add the remaining parsley and serve.

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If you like this you may also like:

Classic Shrimp & Grits

This is a simple, classic, and perfect version of this fabulous southern dish. As a tradition in our house, we eat Shrimp and Grits over Easter weekend. It is absolutely delicious and can be served for any meal of the day. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Crook’s Corner of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, via Saveur. I used large shrimp and increased the amount of garlic and mushrooms. I also omitted the oil and used Sriracha instead of Tabasco. The shrimp tasted incredible after being sautéed in the bacon fat. Mmmmm.:)

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 cup white or yellow stone-ground grits
  • 3⁄4 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar
  • 1⁄4 cup parmesan
  • 2 T unsalted butter, divided
  • coarse salt
  • 2 T olive or canola oil
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 lb. medium or large shrimp, peeled with tails intact
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges or slices
  • 1⁄2 tsp. hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Tabasco
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. In a 2-qt. saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil over high heat. (I incorporated 1 cup of chicken stock.)
  2. Reduce heat to low and whisk in grits. Cook, whisking frequently, until grits are tender and creamy, 30–40 minutes. (Whisk in more water for thinner grits.)
  3. Whisk in cheddar, parmesan, and 1 tablespoon of butter and season with salt; cover and set aside.
  4. Heat a 12″ skillet over medium heat.
  5. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Reserve cooking fat in skillet.
  6. Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
  7. Over medium-high heat, add shrimp to skillet and cook, turning once, until bright pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  8. Lower heat to medium; add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 minutes.
  9. Add garlic and cook until golden, 1 minute.
  10. Raise heat to high, add chicken broth, and scrape bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon. Cook until broth reduces by half, 2 to 3 minutes.
  11. Return shrimp to skillet along with the lemon juice, remaining butter, and hot sauce and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
  12. Divide grits between 4 bowls; top each with shrimp and its sauce.
  13. Garnish each bowl with bacon, scallions, and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

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Carrot-Cake Thumbprint Cookies

My friend had the most beautiful Easter party yesterday. She served an exorbitant amount of delicious food and everyone gobbled it up. Her spread included asparagus-cream soup, tomato-goat cheese tarts, grilled lamb chops, baked ham, mustard chicken salad, leek-bacon-gruyere quiche, green salad, arugula-fennel-dill salad, fruit salad, penne a la vodka, and more. That doesn’t even include dessert!:) She also had an egg hunt and goodie bags for all of the kids- AND party favors. Amazing!

I brought one of my favorite appetizers, Leek and Gruyere Tart with Prosciutto, and these flavor-packed cookies to contribute. My kids made Peep kebabs too.:) (Some peeps ended up being roasted over a fire!)

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I rolled the dough in chopped raw pecans and used cream cheese instead of goat cheese in the filling. Using a large cookie scoop to ration the dough made the precise 18 cookies. They had a great consistency- chewy on the inside with a crunch from the pecans on the outside. Loved them.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 stick, room temperature, for frosting
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed finely grated carrots (from about 3)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • 3/4 cup raw pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apricot jam

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown and granulated sugars, and yolk.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture to combine.
  5. Mix in oats, carrots, and raisins.
  6. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, ration 18 scoops of dough. Roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll balls in pecans to coat.
  8. Space 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.
  9. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven; press an indentation into center of each cookie with the end of a wooden spoon.
  10. Bake until golden brown on bottoms, 10 to 12 minutes more. Re-press indentation into each cookie, as needed. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.
  11. In a bowl, beat remaining 1/2 stick butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium until smooth.
  12. Beat in cream cheese until just combined. Swirl in jam.
  13. Place filling in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe filling into the center of each cookie with cream cheese mixture.
  14. Chill until ready to serve.

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Oaxacan Pork Picadillo Tacos

This is an easy upgrade to the typical Taco Tuesday ground beef tacos. Rick Bayless uses tomatoes and sweet spices to flavor the meat (ground pork) as well as nuts and raisins to add contrasting texture. Delicious!

We ate the picadillo in warm hard-shell taco shells with avocado slices, refried beans, steamed greens, and brown Basmati rice. A little sprinkling of feta or queso fresco was a nice garnish too. This recipe was adapted from Rick Bayless.com.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean, coarse-ground pork
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns OR about 3/4 tsp ground
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick OR 1 teaspoon ground
  • 5 cloves OR about 1/8 teaspoon ground
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 4 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • coarse salt (about 1 teaspoon)

  1. Pour the tomatoes directly into a blender and blend until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Heat the oil in a large, 14-inch skillet over medium heat. (I used enameled cast iron.)
  3. When hot, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add the pork in a thin layer and fry, stirring frequently, until cooked and lightly brown. (If quite a bit of fat has rendered from the meat, drain it off.)
  5. If using whole spices, add the pepper, cinnamon and cloves in a mortar or spice grinder. Add the ground spices to the skillet along with the tomato puree, raisins and vinegar.
  6. Simmer until reduced to a thick, homogenous mass, 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. While the filling simmers, toast the almonds for about 8 to 10 minutes in a 325 degree oven.
  8. Stir toasted almonds into the filling; adjust seasoning as needed with salt. Serve.

Note: The finished picadillo can be covered and refrigerated for 3 or 4 days.

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