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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas de Erico

We love us some enchiladas around here!  I have made these numerous times and they always turn out delicious! The best thing is it's flexibility. I can always change something up whether it's a different part of the chicken, homemade sauce or store bought or an added veggie.  Bottom line is they are always a crowd pleaser and are wonderful on the reheat.  Another great thing about this dish is you can make ahead of time, freeing up valuable time for appetizers and the necessary margarita.  Ladies and gentleman, hang on tight as we make yet another trip to the exotic land of Erico. 

What you should pack for this trip:
Chicken - breasts or thighs
little can of verde salsa
green pepper
red pepper
flour tortillas
enchilada sauce - big can
green onion
cheeses - i use jack and cheddar
cilantro - for garnish

The day before (or at least a couple hours) before cook time, season your chicken with paprika, cumin, salt and pepper and let it bathe in the salsa verde. When you're ready to cook, get your pan hot and cook the chicken until it easily pulls apart for shredding.

While it's cooking, chop your onion, green pepper, red pepper and garlic.  When the bird is fully cooked, pull it out and set aside to cool. This will make the shredding much easier.  Add the chopped onion and garlic to the pan and sweat for a few.  Toss in the remaining veggies (red and green peppers) and saute for 10 mins or so.  Shred the chicken and add to the pan along with 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce and simmer allowing all the flavors to come together as one.  If seems runny, add a tsp of flour to reach your desired thickness. I typically test ours by picking some of the mixture up with a slotted spoon to see if anything falls through the slots. 

Heat the enchilada sauce in a soup pan and get your 9x11 or other baking dish ready.  Nuke the tortillas to soften and get ready to roll.  Dredge the tortillas in the sauce, spoon the mixture in and roll them up like a doobie.  It's a good idea to put some of the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to prevent stickage.  Place the rolled tortilla in the dish and continue till full.  Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas sprinkle with chopped green onion and cover with cheese.

Home stretch my friends.  Bake in preheated oven at 350* F for 30-45 mins.


We like to serve our enchiladas with some homestyle Mexican pinto beans and rice!

And that there is Chicken enchiladas De Erico.  Stay hungry, my friends!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Meatballs of Mexicans

My beautiful wife loves Mexican food so much that I have created, in our kitchen, a world we call Erico.  For those of you who don't understand, it's my spin on food from south of the border.

When she sent me a recipe for Mexican meatball soup, I was a little hesitant. I'd never had Mexican soup--it's always chips and salsa to lead any Mexican meal!

After looking at several recipes on the enternet, my nerves settled and a journey began.  Some of my favorite journeys are those short ones that go by so quickly so you don't even remember it - you are just there!  After going back and looking at the recipes, I couldn't find where it said to start with 3 shots of tequila, but it was a great start to the evening... 

Recipe, adapted from Real Simple magazine

What one will need to gather:
Ground turkey 1 lb. - or any other ground meat
Tortilla chips
Green onions
Bread crumbs
Vegetable stock
Egg - not pictured
Salt and pepper

Ok, I really didn't have 3 shots of tequila but this soup is so easy that you could!  We start by making some mini meatballs.  Get a large bowl and toss in the meat, chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, egg, bread crumbs and season with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika.  Mix it all up and make little meatballs.

Get your large soup pan and pour in the salsa along with two to three cups of the broth.  I blend this up a bit with my handheld blender because I can.  I really like that blender!  Get it going over med-high heat and add some cilantro.  While that is cooking, heat some oil in a skillet and brown the mini balls.  Might have to do a couple batches, but just don't overcrowd the pan. 

After browning, add the meatballs and pan drippings.  I really think that the drippings from the skillet add some depth to this soup.  Continue to cook until heated, garnish and dive in.  We like to top with sour cream, green onions, avocado and a couple chips.

My wife loved this soup, but then again she loves anything with cilantro in it!  Really, it is a very simple soup that you can make yours.  Personally, that's the reason I like to cook - you can make whatever you like however you like it! Real Simple is real nice, Clark, real nice.

Eat - Drink - Love

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Meatless Monday Presents: Eggplant Parmesan

This is my first attempt at eggplant parmesan.  I had one word for my lovely Wifey when she presented the idea of "Meatless Monday," WHY?  I quickly understood as she explained to me the benefits of this idea.  The health benefits of doing this is easy for me to wrap my head around, but the environmental benefits were a little more confusing...  Think about it for a minute and it makes sense. By eating less meat, we are eating lower on the food chain, ultimately reducing the amount of energy consumed in the process of manufacturing food. I would explain it in more detail, but I don't have all day here people!  Back to the kitchen and eggplant environment-saving parm.  What one will need for this adventure:

eggplant - one big fella
mozzarella - fresh
diced tomatoes - 2 cans
tomato sauce - 1 can
bread crumbs
eggs - 2
olive oil

First, we have to get the sauce going because the longer it cooks the better!  Melt about a half a stick of butter and some chopped garlic and mushrooms.  I let it saute for about 10 mins then added some chopped onion, basil and oregano.

I gave the onions about 7 to 10 mins to cook, then added the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and sugar.  If you had some red wine layin' around you could toss some of that in too.   Let everything get nice and hot then reduce heat and simmer for as long as you can.  I continue to stir, tasting as I go.  I think tasting the sauce is one of the most important parts of this journey.  Now on to the eggplant.


You can see above that the eggplant has been sliced and is awaiting its pilgrimage to the hot oil in that skillet.  First, it gets dredged in flour then a nice dip in the battered egg on to the breadcrumbs and finally the pan!  The pan should be hot, allowing the eggplant to get nice and crispy.

Next, you will want to get a baking pan ready.  Also, slice some mozzarella and grate some parm.  Take some sauce and cover the bottom of the pan.  Add the crispy eggplant, top with the mozz, add some more sauce and top with the parm!

Preheat the oven to 350 and slide that pan in.   Set the timer for 30 mins or so and get movin' on the pasta.  We enjoy angle hair pasta but any will work. Also, I believe that one should celebrate the close of a Monday.  A good bottle of Chianti is a wonderful match. 

When everything is done, put it on a plate and eat it!  Meatless Mondays - saving the environment one meal at a time...  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jambalaya Curry Style, but without the Curry...

The seasons are changing and the evidence is everywhere.  Jackets--not "The Mt.Vernon High Jackets" but the ones that shelter you from the wind--have resurfaced.  The days are getting shorter and flip flops are migrating to the closet. 

The end of summer also marks the beginning of flu season, and it's likely common cold will visit you or someone close within the next few months. But being sick does have benefits. Look at it this way, the summer is going, so you might as well let it take that beach body with it.  Let's feed the cold, drown it in comfort food.  Sometimes that pesky cold can dull the taste buds so we are upping the flavor battle.  Jambalaya to the rescue my friends.  Yum yum yum.

What will y'all need?
Chicken - thighs on this day cut into 1 inch cubes
Andouille sausage- 2 links precooked works great
Shrimp - 10 or so
rice - 1 to 2 cups
Celery - 2 stalks
Onion - chopped
Green Pepper - chopped
chicken broth
Crushed red pepper
smoked paprika
olive oil
salt and pepper
Green onion - garnish
Bread - rolls work well

Put chopped chicken in a large zip lock type bag and add the spice mixture (salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper and paprika).  Place in the fridge for an hour or more.  Heat oil in large pan (med high) and cook the chicken cubes.

Remove the chicken and place on paper towels.  Add onion, celery, green pepper and garlic sweat for 7 -10 mins.   Add chicken, andouille, broth and rice.  I usually precook the rice to reduce the cooking time.   Increase the heat and bring to a boil for a few mins.  Reduce heat to low cover and cook for 20 - 30 mins. Occasionally stir and add additional broth as needed.  Add shrimp for the final 5 mins by now your house should be smelling real nice.

 And that there is jambalaya Curry style!  Scoop in a bowl top with sliced green onion and eat that cold away. 

BTW also really nice if you don't have a cold.  Eat - Drink - Love.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Roasted Poblano and "Sweetness" Corn Soup

It is football season, which in our world means it's getting colder.  You can do one of two things...  Bitch about how winter is right around the corner or you can embrace the positives!  This includes but is not limited to: sweatshirts, football, basketball, good TV and FOOD. 

Where does one begin with all the winter fare options?  We will start with SOUP. In particular, the roasted poblano and "sweetness" corn soup.  The "sweetness" (shout out here to Walter Payton) corn only comes around once a year and how amazing it is.  My wonderful wifey sent me a message the other day about this soup she had for lunch.  It was a poblano and corn soup and, Mr. Downtown Chitown Soup Dude, she said my version was mucho bettero!  Yeah, it takes a little time, but overall it's SO EASY.  

What will one need:
poblano peppers - 8 or so
sweet corn - 6 ears or so
one big onion - white was used
milk - 1 cup
chicken broth - 1 cup
salt and pepper
blender - immersion (hand held type)-- you really should have one!!!!
sour cream - for garnish

First, you need to roast the peppers and corn.  I use the grill for this and do it the night before.  Wash the peppers and dry.  Strip the corn and place both on a hot grill.  Keep an eye on them and turn when you have a nice char.  For those who like pictures, here is what we want:

After they are cool, trim off the corn and peel the skin off the peppers.  This should be fairly easy--don't forget to discard the stems and seeds.  If you can get to this stage, you are almost done!  Melt some butter in a large soup pan and sweat some chopped onion and garlic over medium heat.  Toss the peppers and half the corn in and continue to cook for a few (maybe 5) minutes.  I usually add salt, pepper and cumin at this point.  Pour in your milk and chicken broth, stirring until heated.  If all you have is a traditional blender, move the hot soup from the pan to the blender.  That's a pain in the butt and very time consuming.  The handheld allows you to blend while hot right there in the pan to your exact liking.  We got one for Xmas last year and I don't know what I would do without it.  Once you get it to the texture you like, add remaining corn, taste and season accordingly. 

A dollop of sour cream never hurts!  It's a good idea to have some bread on hand for dipping.  Look, this really is easy. Make this soup, you will thank me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tacos with Fish in Them and "Picodaguyo" Topping

I remember when Taco Bell first moved to our town...  Pre intown TB it was nearly impossible to score some real deal Mexican food in our neck of the woods (Amish country). The first time I tasted that hot greasy, cheesy mess, it was love at first crunchy taco! Then they opened a spot in my town and we had a wonderful relationship for the next decade or so.  This day finds me almost completely weened off the Bell, I rarely make a run for the border. 

Now I enjoy making my own Mexican fare.  Around my house, we call it taking a trip to Erico!  On this trip we will be enjoy fish tacos topped with fresh picodaguyo (or pico de gallo for those of you who don't understand the language here in Erico).

Here is what we use:
Onion (red or white) - chopped
some tomatoes - deseeded and chopped
jalapeno - deseeded and chopped
lime - squeezed
cilantro - chopped
green onion - sliced
touch of salt and pepper

After your knife work is done, toss everything in a bowl and cover for a bit.  Let everything come together like hippie folk at a phish show.

Now onto what fueled this post.  Da fish tacos.  I have to sprinkle some sort of Chicago Bear reference in here as tomorrow is their first game of the season.  What one will need for these:

fish - we like cod - cut into one inch cubes
flour seasoned with crushed red pepper, salt and pepper
canola oil

I like to set up an assembly line so once we get started we can keep on rolling. 

Get the oil hot, dredge the fish in the flour mix and give them a nice light fry.

When the fish is done I let them rest on some paper towels.  They will soak up some of the oil keeping the fish nice and crispy.  Next, heat your tortillas.  You can place them in the microwave which works or you could heat them over a flame (grill or gas range) which I suggest you try! 

Now it's time to put these tacos together. 

That there is an authentic fish taco one could find in the country of Erico.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Crispy Bacon Meatloaf cupcakes over Blue Cheese Smashed Yukons

What a beautiful day it has been.  I have made something this evening that is kind of a big deal...  Not really but it was damn good.  Started messing around with cupcake pans a few years ago.  They are wonderful vessels as Alton Brown would say.  The cupcake pan allows you to have a high crunch to bite ratio.  What will one need for this journey?

For the meatloaf!  I used ground turkey thigh, carrot, celery, onion, parsley, chopped crispy bacon, egg, pepper, salt, mustard, Worcester, smoked paprika, basil and cayenne.  Side note: use whatever you like.  Think buffalo chicken meatballs with a ranch dressing placed on a pretzel bun. Options are numerous.  BTW left out of the pic, breadcrumbs, ketchup and hot sauce.

Put some oil in a pan and chop the veges.  In this case carrot, celery and onion.  I believe they call this the trinity...  Sweat them out in the pan.  Throw in some salt, pepper or any seasoning you like.  Cool and place in large bowl.  Add turkey, bacon, egg, breadcrumbs, Worcester, mustard, cayenne and smoked paprika.  Mix up and place in a cupcake pan. 

350 oven for 25-30 mins.  Da Bears!

Mid-cook look!

Looks good right?  How did them potatoes get there?  Here's what you need.

Yukon potatoes, blue cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.  Chop potatoes and garlic and add to boiling salted water, cook till they are almost done.  Remove from heat and drain.  Add a few chunks of blue cheese to potatoes along with some milk and butter.  Smash them!  Next steps are optional.  One could just place potatoes on a plate and top with the cupcakes.  I like to take a few extra steps.  I slop some potatoes in a small ceramic dish (picked up @ target) then layer with blue cheese.  Place the cupcake in the middle and layer more potatoes around to cover the blue cheese.  Take some ketchup and hot sauce mix and paint on the top the the cupcake.  Broil on top rack till it looks good to you.

Eat, Drink and be Merry!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


It had been several months since the CODFATHER had joined us for dinner.  Didn't even realize how much he had been missed!  I can read your mind right now.  Who is this Codfather and how can I meet him?  He is a baked cod dish that is dye-no-mite and very easy to make.  Toss in super easy clean up and we have a winner weeknight meal here!  If you don't give this recipe a try you are just foolish!  I am not kidding you HAVE to try this.  What will one need:
Cod Fish -  8 oz a person or more
Mayo -  we use canola, it's good for you
lemons - 2
crackers - hand full
Parmesan - freshly grated
parsley - half a hand full chopped
crushed red pepper - cayenne

That there is a baking dish lined with foil.  The key to easy clean up!  Give it a quick spray with some cooking oil and place the fish skin side down.  Get yourself a bowl and throw a couple big globs of mayo in it.  Juice half a lemon in the mayo and give it a quick mix.  Next season the mayo mix with salt, pepper and cayenne.  We like it with a bit of heat at the end so I look for a nice red tint to the mix.  See pic below.  I tend to go by look and taste over measurements...

I then use my basting brush to coat the Cod with the spicy lemon mayo mix.

Now we take them crackers and crush them in a bowl.  Add some grated parmesan and chopped parsley then top the Cod.

Your oven needs to be preheated to 425.  I cook the Codfather for about 20 mins.  Cooking time will depend on how thick your cod is.  I sometimes use the ole fork test to see if the fish is done.  When a fork easily drops through the fillet its done in my book! 
Introducing for the first time here on the enternet....  The CODFATHER!!!!!

We went really light for this dinner and just served with a salad but we often have broccoli and rice as sides.  Also, not yo mammas brussel sprouts are a nice sidekick to the CodFather.  I will have to show the how-to on the sprouts soon...  One more look at the CodFather!

  FYI, wine and beer pair really really well with this dish!  Enjoy

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Smoked Wings of a Chicken

Good evening - What a wonderful summer it has been.  My first fathers day will always be one to remember.  That little girl is so amazing.  On top of that she and her mom are wonderful gift givers!  Welcome to the family Mr. Smoke Hollow...
Before I get started with the wings I wanted to share a link that shows just how simple it is to turn your gas grill into a smoker. 
If you are as lucky as I am to have a awesome wife and daughter then you may already have a smoker.  If not and you like smoked foods do yourself a favor and go buy one!  They make them for just about every budget. 
On to the main event!  The very first thing you need to do is get a beverage.  Don't skip this step because smoking foods can take a long time and we need to stay hydrated.  I grabbed a beer this particular day because well I like beer.  Gather some chicken wings and give them a quick rinse.  After the shower I put them between some paper towels to dry them a bit.  The next step is key.  Poke holes in the wings.  I use a kabob stick but a fork should work too.  The holes will allow your seasoning and smoke to penetrate the skin!
Next we season.  We used a jerk rub this time and I have to say that they have been my favorite so far.  Toss the wings in a large zip lock bag and add whatever rub you like and shake baby shake.  Throw them in the fridge so you can get the smoker ready.  I soak my wood chips for an hour or so then add them to the smoker and start the fire.  I usually smoke with hickory but use what you want.  Once we hit 220 or so add them to the smoker and grab another beverage.  Here is a look before they enter the smoker. 

Two hours later when we open the door what should we see??

Here is a close up of what I am looking for!

One could stop here and start slamming some wings but I like to blast them on a hot grill for a few mins to finish them off!

That's it.  Quick recap:  Chicken wings rinsed, poked, rubbed, smoked then grilled!  I know it sounds like a lot for wings but give it a try I promise they will be some of the best you have ever had.  If not, you messed something up! :)  Serve with blue cheese and celery or whatever you like... 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The greekball sandwich and the not-so-greek salad

This is a "C-O" Curry Original.

The salad might not be too original or the sandwich for that matter, but I could be the first to coin the term "greekball sandwich."  I was gonna google it but thought that I might find evidence that could take the wind out of my sails. Forward I march. Meatballs are nothing new in my kitchen.  Then one day my wife had a cravin' for Mediterranean and an idea was born...  Take the Italian meatball sandwich and put a Greek spin on it.  Throw the "not-so-Greek" salad on the plate and we have a fun little weeknight meal. 

Let's start with the sauce cause it needs to chill in the fridge for a lil while.

8 oz greek yogurt
olive oil - just pour a touch in
cucumber - peeled, seeded then cubed
garlic - depends on how much you like garlic...
onion - i grate mine into the yogurt, no pieces just flavor
one lemon juiced
dill if ya got it.

Mix it up - let it chill for an hour or so.

Now for the greekball...

So there is your greekball cooking away.  Here's whats in 'em.

1 lb ground turkey - or ground beef, whatever you want
diced red onion - small one
egg - chicken works best
dash of Worcestershire
dash of franks red hot
dry mustard - wet works too
smoked paprika - don't have it? go buy it!
tomato - diced for topping
lettuce - topping
black olives - topping
note : also makes a darn good burger with green olives added

Mix all this together and form the meatballs.  I don't pay much attention to specific quantities of things.  I like to keep them smaller than a golf ball so you have that nice crispy outer shell in every bite.  Put some olive oil in your pan and cook it up!  When cooked to your likin', build that sandwich!  Here's mine.

BTW toast the bun, it's kind of a big deal!

The not-so-greek salad

1 head lettuce or other green leafy stuff
olive oil

Clean the leafy stuff and dry after tearin' or choppin'.  Take a bowl and our some olive oil in it - couple glugs.  Then a few dashes of balsamic.  Press a couple garlic cloves and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix the snot out of it then add to the greens along with the feta and tomatoes.

The salad pairs nicely with the greekball sandwich - bon appetit!

Stay tuned, I'll be introducing an addition to the family in my next post.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Grilled Pizza... It is very nice to meet you!

Good Day - I find myself this summer Saturday in Chicago looking back at my first meeting with a grilled pizza.  It happened last night and it was awesome!  We made a BBQ grilled chicken grilled pizza.  This is so simple and on a hot summer day it's great to keep all that heat outside.  You start off by grilling some BBQ chicken.  I used breasts this time but also really enjoy the thigh.  Using a dry BBQ rub then addin' sauce as you cook creates a nice char and moist chicken. 

The chicken was then chopped up and 1/2 inch cubes, tossed in some more sauce and placed in the cold box for later.  Next step is your dough...  You could go out and buy it pre-made or you can make it from scratch.  I chose the latter of the two!  Here is a very simple recipe (found on the enternet) that I use:
1 pack dry yeast.  the little ones!
1 TeaS sugar
1 Cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
2 TBS olive oil
1 TeaS salt
Dissolve yeast, sugar in the water till creamy - 10 mins.  Stir in flour, salt and oil.  Beat till smooth.  Let it rest for 1/2 hour to an hour.  I have also used after a 5 min rest and it still tasted good!  Normally I would roll it out to fit a large pizza dish but we are grilling these so I make the dough into two balls.  This will make it easier to move around on the grill.  Roll the dough out to your liking.  We like it super thin.

Preheat the grill and ready the toppings.  In this case we are using grilled bbq chicken, chopped red onions and shredded mild cheddar cheese.  The possibilities are endless using this vessel.  When the grill is HOT give the dough a nice spray with some cooking oil.  Keep the grill closed till you have nice crispy side and it starts to harden.  Could take as little as 4 mins so keep an eye on it.  When it's ready remove from grill and top that pie!
A little thanks to Sweet Baby Rays!  The Boss is the Sauce. 
You can see in the pics that we have topped the grilled side of the dough.   This is the easiest and fastest pizza that I have ever made and the grill adds some great flavors.  Back on the grill for 5 mins or so and that's it.
The pic doesn't do this pizza justice!  This is a great way to enjoy pizza.  Give it a try and grill your pie. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cool Whips!

I find you this day Sunday the 15th of May thinkin about cool whips! (fyi whip is slang for car)  While driving around town I have been able to capture some of these cool whips.  This series has a theme: The PT Cruiser...  I can't tell you when this fascination started but it may have been when one of my good buds told me he might buy one.  That's when I first thought of what it might be like to Cruise around in one.  I still to this day chuckle to myself when I see one and understand that this cool whip is the only car that I love but would never ever own!  It takes a special kind of driver to handle all those horses.  Check the pics and pick your favorite.
 Is that pine or plastic?  Who cares its gangsta!

Lucky find here candy paint job...
Look at that backside!!!
One hell of a sandwich via one hell of a whip! atta boy Al!
Another company another beauty...
Look close!  I just stopped to snap the sport bra on this lady and caught another one cruising by...  Very rare double PT shot!! 

It makes me sad thinkin that they don't make these whips anymore!  You will still see them on the streets but for how long??  Thank you PT Cruiser for bringing a little joy to my life.  Keep on cruzing...

Got cool pics of cool whips?