Warm Seven-Layer Skillet Dip

I planned our Super Bowl menu around this dip. Thankfully, it was very well received! I served it in the skillet and we scooped it out onto individual plates to gobble up with tortilla chips. Some chips may have also been dipped directly into the pan. 😉

The recipe was adapted from a Bon AppĂ©tit “healthyish” recipe, contributed by Shilpa Uskokovic. The original recipe convinced me to use American cheese slices in the queso layer to help it emulsify and to keep the cheese layer from solidifying.

We ate it as our Super Bowl appetizer followed by Poblano, Black Bean & Cheese Enchiladas with rice and refried beans, Trader Joe’s Elote chopped salad, followed by Churro Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting for dessert. Great.

Yield: 8 Servings

For the Beans:

  • 4 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 T Diamond Crystal or 1 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar

For the Queso & Assembly:

  • 2 tsp adobo from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or Morton kosher salt, plus more
  • 4 oz yellow American cheese, coarsely grated or chopped or torn if using singles (about 1 cup) (I used 6 Trader Joe’s singles)
  • 3 oz Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese, coarsely grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 ripe avocados, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • freshly squeezed juice from half a lime
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup good-quality salsa, drained if watery (I used Trader Joe’s Garlic Chipotle salsa)
  • 1 (4 oz) can fire-roasted, diced green chilies or 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeños
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (packed) coarsely chopped cilantro
  • tortilla chips, for serving

To Make the Beans:

  1. Melt the butter, cut into pieces, in a medium deep skillet over medium heat. (I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet.)
  2. Add the chopped onion, stirring often, until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes. Monitor the heaat, and continue to cook, stirring often, until onion is pale golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.
  3. With the pan over medium heat, and add the chopped garlic cloves and cumin. Cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add chopped chipotle chiles, pinto beans, rinsed, and salt. Pour in 1 cup water and bring to a simmer, mashing beans with a potato masher until mostly smooth.
  5. Cook, stirring often, until most of liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. (Beans should be risotto-like in consistency, loose enough to fall off a spoon.)
  6. Remove from heat and stir in apple cider vinegar. Cover and keep warm.

To Make the Queso & To Assemble the Dip:

  1. Whisk adobo, cumin, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped/grated American cheese and cook, whisking vigorously, just until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and add grated Monterey Jack; whisk until cheese is melted and queso is smooth (return to low heat briefly if needed). (I cooked it over low for about 2 minutes to melt the additional cheese.)
  4. Using your hands to avoid bruising, toss the avocados pieces with lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl.
  5. Uncover beans and pour queso over.
  6. Top with dollops of sour cream, followed by salsa, diced chilies, and then avocados.
  7. Scatter sliced scallions and chopped cilantro over the top.
  8. Serve dip warm in skillet with tortilla chips.

Do ahead: Beans can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat over medium-low, thinning with water and seasoning with salt as needed.

Tacos with Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce (Camerones Enchipotlados)

These tacos were quite spicy, but the heat was easily counteracted by the mild toppings. The smoky heat from chipotle chilies is one of my absolute favorite flavors.

This dish was very quick to prepare. The recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. (my last one to share… for now 🙂 ) I increased the amount of garlic and incorporated my CSA garlic scapes. We ate the shrimp filling in warm, soft corn tortillas topped with avocado, fresh cilantro, and sour cream. Perfect with refried beans on the side.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds), quartered
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, with sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed and patted dry
  • 4 T lime juice, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, plus 2 garlic scapes, sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more to serve
  • 8 to 10 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
  • diced or sliced avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges, for serving
  1. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes, chiles, and any sauce coating the chiles, with 3/4 tsp salt until mostly smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 T of the oil until beginning to smoke. Add half of the shrimp and cook, stirring, until golden, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Repeat with the remaining shrimp, adding them to the bowl.
  4. Toss shrimp with 2 T of the lime juice. Set aside.
  5. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the remaining 2 T of oil. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until just beginning to brown, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the wine and any accumulated shrimp juice from the bowl. Cook until liquid is nearly evaporated.
  8. Add the chipotle mixture and simmer, stirring, until thick enough to coat a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the shrimp, cover and let sit until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  10. Stir in the cilantro and remaining lime juice. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
  11. Serve with warmed tortillas, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges.

Winter Squash & Red Bean Mole

This is an another amazing vegetarian chili variation. Hearty too. It was especially wonderful for me as well because it incorporated a lot of flavors typically used in a traditional Mexican mole, one of my absolute loves.

This recipe was adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Table: 250 Brand-New Recipes from the Natural Foods Restaurant that Revolutionized Eating in America from the Moosewood Collective. I doubled the recipe, increased the garlic, and omitted the ground fennel. We ate it with corn muffins and a green salad. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves 8 to 12

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (I used 2 large onions)
  • 10-12 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ground fennel seeds, optional
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 T chopped fresh thyme of 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped poblano peppers (can substitute cubanelle peppers)
  • 3 cups seeded and chopped red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (I used 2 red, 1 yellow, & 1 orange)
  • 6 cups diced butternut squash (bite-size cubes), from 1 medium butternut squash
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 6 T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 2 15-oz cans red kidney beans, drained
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped, or to taste
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish
  • thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat, warm the oil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add the onions, garlic, fennel, cinnamon, thyme, salt, and black pepper and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions soften, stirring often to prevent sticking.
  3. Add the celery, poblano peppers, and bell peppers and cook for another 5 minutes until the peppers brighten and become fragrant.
  4. Stir in the squash and cook for a minute or two more.
  5. Add the tomatoes and water to the pot, cover, bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  7. Using a spice grinder, mini food processor, or a mortar and pestle, finely grind the pepitas and sesame seeds.
  8. When the squash is tender, stir the ground seeds, kidney beans, chipotles to taste, and chocolate into the stew. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Stir in the cilantro.
  10. Garnish with more cilantro, sliced scallions, and/or sour cream, as desired.

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Mexican Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic & Chilies

It’s been a while. :/ Belated Happy New Year! 🙂 Although I haven’t been posting, I have been cooking, of course.

It has been absolutely freezing here. Freezing. My husband requests some sort of chili or stew for dinner in cold weather. Needless to say, I have a handful of wonderful new cold weather soups to share.

This vegetarian “chili” incorporated both ancho and chipotle chiles as well as roasted garlic. My favorites! 🙂 I also loved the pop of flavor from all of the fresh herbs. It was flavorful and fabulous. An added bonus was that the flavors developed over time and the soup was even better the following day.

This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant by Annie Somerville. I doubled the recipe, increased the lentils and tomatoes, used whole San Marzano tomatoes, substituted fresh thyme for oregano, and increased the heat by using additional chipotle chile puree.  I also modified the technique to roast the garlic.

Yield: Serves 10

  • 1 pound of brown lentils
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 fresh oregano or thyme sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28 oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 red onions, diced, about 4 cups
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 carrots, diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 small red and/or yellow bell peppers, diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 T Ancho Chile PurĂ©e (from 1 large or 2 small chiles, see below)
  • 1 tsp Chipotle PurĂ©e, (from 1 chile in adobo sauce) plus more, to taste (I added an additional 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 T chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish, as desired
  • 2 T chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
  1. Sort and rinse the lentils and place them in a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, sage, and oregano/thyme sprig.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the herbs.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Rub the whole garlic heads with a little olive oil, wrap them together in a packet of aluminum foil, and seal it closed. Place directly on the oven rack and roast for about 30 minutes, until soft.
  4. When the garlic has cooled, slice off the top of each head and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Purée with the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and set aside.
  5. Make the Ancho Chile Purée: Pull the chile(s) apart at the stem end and remove the seeds. Place in a small bowl and cover with hot water, allowing to soak for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened. Place in a blender or food processor; add a small amount of the soaking liquid and process to a smooth purée, adding more liquid if needed.
  6. Make the Chipotle Chile Purée: Using a blender or food processor, purée one whole chile with additional adobo sauce until smooth. Unused purée can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. (I used a 4 quart pot.) Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, and the dried oregano; sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Add the carrot and peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the chile purées, the puréed tomatoes and garlic, and 2 teaspoons of salt; simmer for 10 minutes.
  10. Combine the beans and their broth with the vegetables, partially cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  11. Adjust heat, as desired, by adding additional ancho or chipotle purée. (I added an additional 1/2 tsp chipotle.)
  12. Sprinkle in fresh herbs (cilantro and/or oregano), as desired, just before serving.

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Chipotle Chicken & Greens

For years, this was my go-to dish for guests. I’m not sure why I decided to branch out… It is SO delicious! I’ve been making it since 1999! Crazy. I think that this dish started my love of creme fraiche. It is a good meal to serve for company because the chicken is prepared hours in advance and broiled just before serving.

This recipe was adapted from Rick Bayless, via Martha Stewart Living. I updated this version to use chicken thighs instead of breasts and to include an entire 1 1/2 pound bag of “power greens” (baby kale, chard, and spinach) or two bunches (or more!) of rainbow chard. It would be wonderful with any combination of greens. I serve it with Cilantro-Lime Brown Basmati rice to soak up the wonderful sauce.

I’m sharing these creamy greens at my favorite blog party, Angie’s Fiesta Friday #137, this week (I’m featured BTW!) co-hosted by Loretta @Safari of the Mind and Natalie @Kitchen, Uncorked. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 6

For the Chicken:

  • 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons) (see Note)
  • 7.5 oz (about 1 cup) creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 12 cups) fresh greens such as baby kale, chard or spinach, stems removed, well rinsed
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Cilantro-Lime Rice:

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup brown Basmati Rice
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2-3 T chopped cilantro leaves
  1. Two to Three Hours before cooking, make the marinade: Start by finely chopping the chipotle chiles in a mini food processor.
  2. Place the chopped chipotles and 2 tablespoons creme fraiche in a small bowl, and mix to combine.
  3. Lightly season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the seasoned chicken in a large bowl, and pour the chipotle mixture over it, making sure to coat the chicken well. Cover with plastic wrap, and transfer dish to the refrigerator. Marinate the chicken 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Prepare the rice: Bring the 2 cups of stock to a boil; add rice and cover. Turn heat to low and cook, undisturbed, for 30 to 35 minutes.
  6. Heat the broiler. Place the chicken on a rimmed sheet pan just large enough to accommodate them. Place the pan 6 inches away from the broiler, and broil chicken until deep brown in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from broiler. Turn chicken thighs, and drizzle remaining creme fraiche along with the 1/2 cup heavy cream around the chicken.
  8. Return the pan to the broiler, and broil until chicken is deep golden and no longer squishy when you lightly press it with your finger, 6 to 7 minutes more.
  9. Transfer the chicken to a warm plate, and place in a warm oven or warming drawer.
  10. Scrape the cream mixture from the pan into a 4-quart sauté pan.
  11. Add the chicken stock and half of the greens. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the greens have started to wilt and the cream has reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes, adding the rest of the greens as room is created in the pan.
  12. Season the creamy greens mixture with salt, to taste.
  13. Finish the Rice: After the rice has completely cooked, remove from heat. Add lime juice and cilantro. Mix to combine.
  14. Place rice over the surface of a serving platter. Top with the creamy greens and the broiled chicken. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Note: If you don’t care for very spicy dishes, you can reduce the heat by splitting the peppers in half and scraping out the seeds with the back of a knife before chopping.

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Braised Butternut Squash & Bacon Tacos with Arugula

I know that “Taco Tuesday” is a popular dinner plan… It is just a plan that doesn’t work with my kids’ after school schedule. 😩 We are trying to have “Soup Tuesday” because everyone has to eat at different times! So, the exciting new plan is to have “Taco Wednesday” – with enough time for my to execute my “Taco Tuesday” recipe from Rick Bayless. 😉 Great!

These are wonderful winter tacos featuring one of my favorite combinations- butternut squash and bacon. The tomatillo-chipotle sauce was an added bonus. (as was the arugula!) This recipe was adapted from RickBayless.com. I modified the plating, doubled the recipe, and increased the garlic. Yummy!

I’m sharing my “Taco Wednesday” dish at Fiesta Friday #105 this week! 😉 Hosted by Lily @ Little Sweet Baker and Julianna @ Foodie on Board. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 6 to 8 medium (about 1 pound) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half across the equator
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, stemmed
  • 1 small (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 6 cups of chunks)
  • 4 oz (5 thick strips) bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • Generous handful fresh watercress or wild arugula
  • 12 to 16 corn tortillas
  1. Set a large (12-inch) skillet (nonstick or lined with foil) over medium-high heat and lay in the garlic and tomatillos (cut side down). When the tomatillos are well browned and soft, 5 to 6 minutes, flip everything over and brown the other side. (The garlic should be soft.) Cool, then peel the garlic.
  2. In a blender, combine the peeled garlic, tomatillos, stemmed chipotles and 2 cups water. Blend to a coarse puree. (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Scoop the butternut pieces into a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the top and microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes. (I used a silicone steaming lid instead of plastic wrap.)
  4. Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) skillet set over medium, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add the butternut and tomatillo sauce to the pan, raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a brisk simmer.
  6. Cook until the butternut is fork-tender and the sauce has reduced by about half its volume, about 20 minutes.
  7. Taste and season with salt (it will need only about 1/2 teaspoon because of the bacon’s saltiness).
  8. Using a tortilla warmer, or a plate covered with plastic wrap, cover the tortillas with a damp paper towel. Warm the corn tortillas in a microwave for 1 minute.
  9. Top each tortilla with a generous sprinkling of arugula or watercress. Scoop the hot topping over the top and finish with a  sprinkling of the goat cheese.

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Slow Cooker Pork Tinga Tacos

Meat and potatoes… in a TACO!?!? This may have been my husband’s dream dinner. 🙂 The chipotles and slow cooker cooking were for me! This filling could also be served on its own as a chili. This recipe is from Rick Bayless’ Mexico- One Plate at a Time, Season 7, via rickbayless.com. Delicious!!!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 pound lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces chorizo sausage, about 1 link, removed from its casing
  • 5 to 6 medium (about 3/4 to 1 pound total) red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, sliced 1/4–inch thick
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 2 to 3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chipotle canning sauce (adobo)
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • coarse salt
  • About 1/2 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese like feta or salted pressed farmers cheese
  • 1 avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and diced
  • warm corn tortillas, for serving
  1. If your slow cooker has an insert that can go on the stovetop, heat the oil in it over medium-high heat. (If it cannot go on the stove or you do not have a removable insert heat the oil in a very large (12-inch) non-stick skillet.) Once the oil is very hot, add the pork and chorizo in a single layer and cook, stirring until the meat has browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and place the insert into your slow cooker (if you’re using a skillet, transfer the meat and its juices into the slow cooker).
  2. Add the potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes with their liquid, chipotles, chipotle sauce, Worcestershire, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to mix thoroughly. Cook at the highest temperature.
  3. The tinga will be finished after 6 hours at the highest temperature, though you can hold it for longer. (My slow-cooker can be programmed to switch from high after 6 hours to a keep-warm low temperature for up to another 6 hours. Some slow cookers click to keep-warm automatically; others need to be switched manually.)
  4. After six hours, gently stir the tinga. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a little water. Taste, and season with salt if you think the dish needs it. Scoop into a large bowl, sprinkle with the fresh cheese and diced avocado, and serve with warm tortillas.

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