Slow Cooker Chocolate Chicken Mole

Slow Cooker Chocolate Chicken Mole

Inspiration: I have been wanting to try out a mole at home for so long now, but I’m always a little leery of the laundry list of ingredients. I’m ambitious with my cooking a lot, but somehow I just never got around to driving to a million markets to find all of the right peppers and then devoting an entire day to whipping up the meal. And now that we have Ben, that’s pretty much an idea that will be put on the back burner for the foreseeable future. When I ran across this recipe a few weeks ago, though, I knew that I had found a simpler, more manageable mole that could work for us right now.

What We Loved: This dish was fantastic. It was the best new recipe that we’ve tried in quite some time, and I immediately filed it away in my “awesome Mexican recipes” file for plenty of use in the future. The sauce is truly incredible, both in texture and in taste. Texture-wise, it is incredibly velvety and creamy, which is quite surprising considering the fact that it wasn’t even pureed. A bunch of ingredients thrown into a pot magically melted down into velvet after six hours of cooking, and the chicken just fell apart. And taste-wise, the flavor was rich and complex with notes of dark chocolate, earthy peppers, and bright tomatoes. Plus, it wasn’t bitter at all, which is something that I usually dislike about a lot of moles. As this was cooking away, the aroma in the house was divine. Brandon came home and asked if there was chocolate in what I was making, because he could smell it, which was awesome. The mole really had a rich chocolate scent without tasting too much like chocolate. Perfect.

Tips: If you’re looking for a really authentic, time consuming, involved mole, I’d recommend turning to Rick Bayless. He’s got several mole recipes in his cookbooks (and probably online) that seem to be the real thing. Also – the one recommendation that I’d make for improvement in this recipe would be to either rehydrate the peppers first so that they can be very finely diced, or throw them into a food processor. I chopped them into big chunks, and I wasn’t overly thrilled with the texture of those big chunks in the finally dish. They were the only thing that didn’t (and couldn’t) melt down.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Chicken Mole
Source: Rubies and Radishes

Butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs chicken (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 28 oz can whole fire-roasted tomatoes
5 dried New Mexico chiles, stems and seeds removed and chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup almond butter
2.5 oz dark chocolate (I used Endangered Species brand 88%)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Avocado, cilantro, and jalapeno, for garnish

1. Add a pat of butter to a saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onions until softened, and then add the garlic. Stir to combine, and transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the saute pan, and brown on all sides. Place the chicken in the slow cooker.

3. Add the tomatoes, chiles, almond butter, chocolate, cumin, salt, cinnamon, and chili powder to the slow cooker. Mix everything together well, making sure that the chicken is nestled down under the sauce.

4. Cook for 4-6 hours on low.

5. Serve garnished with avocado, cilantro, and jalapeno.

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Anaheim Peppers stuffed with Beef, Salsa, and Cheddar

Anaheim Peppers stuffed with Beef, Salsa, and Cheddar

Inspiration: While I love drawing recipes from all sources – all over the internet, cookbooks, TV chefs, my head – sometimes one of the best places to go to for recipes is our childhoods or our families. There’s just nothing like a recipe that my Mom made for me when I was a kid or that Brandon can remember eating for as long as he can remember. Food with memories attached is just the best. This recipe comes from Brandon’s Mom, and for me, it speaks of warm summer evenings at their cabin in the mountains and the time in my life when I was first dating Brandon nearly a dozen years ago, learning the ins and outs of his family. This was actually one of the first recipes that I posted on the blog, and needless to say, it needed a serious revamp.

What We Loved: Spicy peppers and salsa, ground beef flavored with taco seasoning, and gooey cheddar cheese are simply a fantastic combination. Those ingredients are the stuff of tacos and enchiladas and quesadillas – everything that I think of when I want something Mexican and cheesy for dinner. The salsa that we use for these is Brandon’s Mom’s homemade salsa, and it is spicy, so we really love the great spicy bite that comes from both that salsa and the peppers themselves. A cooling dollop of sour cream and/or guacamole to go along is the perfect complement. And really, I don’t think that you can ever go wrong with seasoned beef and cheese. Rich, gooey, cheesy, delicious.

Tips: Ground turkey is also great with these if you prefer that over ground beef. And the accompaniments that you can use are endless. I like sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro, but in the past we’ve used chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, Mexican rice, etc.

Stuffed Hot Peppers
Source: Brandon’s Mom
Serves: About 4

10 Anaheim peppers
1 lb ground beef
Chili powder
Paprika
Oregano
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Garlic powder
Kosher salt
About 1 cup of tomato-based salsa
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro, to garnish

1. Slice each pepper in half, and remove the ribs and seeds. Place the peppers cut-side up in two baking dishes.

2. Saute the ground beef until cooked through. Add a splash of water and season generously with chili powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and salt.

3. Fill each pepper with a scoop of the ground beef mixture, and then top each with a scoop of salsa.

4. Cover the dishes with foil, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

5. Remove the foil from the dishes. Sprinkle the peppers with the cheddar cheese and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

6. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro.

Cheesy Pesto Spaghetti Squash Bake with Chicken and Tomatoes

Cheesy Pesto Spaghetti Squash Bake with Chicken and Tomatoes

Inspiration: While I was pregnant with Ben, I whipped up a bunch of meals to throw in the freezer, and one of the items that I made was a big batch of pesto. I thought that a casserole like this – so perfect and comforting in the winter time – would be a great way to use up the last of it.

What We Loved: I always find that spaghetti squash is something that needs a lot of add-ins to make it really flavorful, and the good thing about this dish is that it really has a lot going on. It’s cheesy (cream cheese is just the best in casserole-type dishes like this); it has plenty of rich, garlicky pesto; and the chunks of nicely browned chicken add great texture and protein. Brandon remarked that he always loves casserole-type dishes that contain diced chicken, and I have to agree with him – there’s just something about chicken in a dish like this that really turns it into a comfort food meal. And to finish it off, the roasted tomatoes add a nice pop of sweet flavor.

Tips: As is usually the case, I don’t think that more cheese would be a bad thing. Next time, I might up the cream cheese to about 6 ounces for an even creamier texture.

Cheesy Pesto Spaghetti Squash Bake with Chicken and Tomatoes
Source: Original Recipe

1 small spaghetti squash, cooked and seeded
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
4 oz cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons pesto
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, each sliced in half
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Scoop out the spaghetti squash strands into a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the chicken, cream cheese, and pesto to the bowl. Mix well to combine.

3. Season well with Kosher salt and black pepper. Be liberal with the salt – spaghetti squash needs it. Taste test until you’re happy with the seasoning.

4. Pour the mixture into a baking dish. Top with the grape tomatoes and the Parmesan cheese.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F until the casserole is heated through and the cheese on top is melted and beginning to brown.

Creamy Pinto Beans with Bacon and Zucchini

Inspiration: I can always get behind a good pinto bean or black bean side dish when it comes to Mexican food. And lately, I’ve been loving to throw a bunch of ingredients into a sauce pan and see what happens. It’s awesome when a great recipe results, and as always, one-pot dishes are truly the best (especially with a new baby in the house!).

What We Loved: You can’t quite tell from the photo since the sauce seeps down into the dish, but these beans have an awesome creamy texture that we just loved. This is definitely a dish to eat with a spoon! And there are a lot of great flavors going on, too – zucchini and onion sauteed in bacon fat is always a good thing, especially when combined with crispy bacon pieces, fresh cilantro, and gooey, spicy cheese. That’s not a bad list of flavors to add to the already creamy and rich pinto beans. And everything is tied together with a simple seasoning blend of chili powder and cumin, which really adds a nice Mexican flair.

Tips: In order to get that great, creamy consistency with these beans, don’t drain the can before adding them to the pan. I also like to make sure to chop the zucchini very finely. That way, it doesn’t get mushy as might happen with large chunks.

Creamy Pinto Beans with Bacon and Zucchini
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: 2-3 as a side dish

3 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 small zucchini, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can pinto beans, undrained
chili powder, to taste
cumin, to taste
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 oz pepper jack cheese, cut into small cubes
Cilantro, chopped

1. Saute the bacon in a sauce pan over medium low heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2.Add the onion and zucchini to the bacon fat in the pan, and cook until softened and beginning to get nice and browned. Add the garlic, stirring to combine.

3. Add the pinto beans to the pan (undrained). Season to taste with chili powder, cumin, and plenty of salt and pepper.

4. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.

5.  Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the reserved bacon.

6. Serve topped with pepper jack cheese cubes and cilantro.

Cod with Salsa Verde

Cod with Salsa Verde

Inspiration: This was one of the first recipes that we had on the blog way back in 2008. I figured it was time for an update, right? And besides, with little Ben around, dinners like this that are easy peasy are getting thrown onto our menu left and right.

What We Loved: This recipe is dead simple to make and it’s plenty flavorful, which is always a great combination. Cod is really light and fresh, and the Mexican seasonings in this recipe really add a nice spicy punch. I just love the tangy, almost sweet flavor of salsa verde in any application, and here it adds a particularly nice contrast to the spicy seasonings.  This meal is a great way to get some Mexican flavors on your table if you’re looking for something a little bit lighter.

Tips: I really like taking some help every once in a while from something like a jarred salsa. We love Rick Bayless’ Frontera brand salsa because it’s full of whole ingredients, plus we like to support one of our favorite chefs. But you could certainly make your own salsa verde for this recipe if you’re not looking for a fast recipe or concerned about time constraints.

Cod with Salsa Verde
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: 2

12-16 oz cod filets
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper
Butter
Salsa verde, either homemade or your favorite jarred variety (I used Frontera brand)
Cilantro, chopped

1. Season the cod filets well with chili powder, cumin, Kosher salt, and black pepper.

2. Add a good couple of pats of butter to a saute pan over medium heat. Add the cod, and saute until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

3. Serve the cod topped with salsa verde and chopped cilantro.

Pecan Parmesan Salmon

Pecan Parmesan Salmon

Inspiration: I didn’t really have any cravings while I was pregnant. Aversions – oh, yes – but no cravings. Since we had Ben and I have been nursing, though, I’ve been getting some weird, out of left field cravings. One of those cravings has been pecans. I thought of them the other day, and I just had to have a meal with pecans in it. And I am just dreaming about a nice salted can of them right now. Mmm.

What We Loved: Salmon is a rich fish that really paired particularly well with the rich flavors in the topping – delicious nutty Parmesan and the lovely maple/caramel flavors that are inherent to pecans. Aside from that awesome maple flavor, my favorite thing about the topping was how nice and crispy it got. I was worried that the  nuts might soften in the oven, but they got super crispy and crunchy and delicious. This recipe is very simple but also elegant in a way – always a nice combination.

Tips: As you may be able to tell from the photo, I overcooked our salmon. Don’t do this – it is a sad thing indeed. I cooked ours at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, which would probably have been okay if my filets were thicker, as they normally are. I had thin filets this time, though, so I definitely should have cooked them a shorter amount of time. Keep an eye on your filets – they might need anywhere from about 12 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness.

Pecan Parmesan Salmon
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: 2

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 tablespooms olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 6 oz salmon filets

1. Combine the pecans, Parmesan, thyme, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Place the salmon filets in a baking dish. Top each one with half of the pecan mixture.

3. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 12-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Zucchini and Green Chile Breakfast Casserole

Inspiration: Happy 2013, everyone! I thought that this breakfast casserole would be a great start to the new year here on the blog. I’ve been making this recipe for years, so it’s about time that I shared it. It’s my favorite breakfast casserole, and it has been the inspiration for pretty much every other breakfast casserole that I’ve thrown together. This one is a great nutrient-packed breakfast and a wonderful way to sneak some Mexican-style foods into breakfast.

What We Loved: Zucchini and eggs is a favorite combination of mine, so I really love that this casserole has plenty of zucchini thrown in. There is something about the combination that is just so nice and buttery yet vegetable fresh at the same time. I love the spicy Mexican-style aroma and flavors that the green chiles lend the casserole, and mixing sharp cheddar cheese and cottage cheese into the dish makes for a creamy texture and a great cheesy background flavor. This breakfast is really just packed full off all kinds of great flavors and nutrients.

Tips: Salsa and cilantro are the perfect toppings to give this dish a truly Mexican-style feel, but I also adore thinly sliced avocado alongside this casserole to make for a great rounded breakfast. A nice dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt on top is fabulous as well.

Zucchini and Green Chile Breakfast Casserole
Source: Closet Cooking

10 eggs
1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
1 4 oz can green chiles
1 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Whisk the eggs together in a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir well to incorporate.

2. Pour into a greased baking dish, and bake at 400 degrees until the eggs are completely set, about 40-45 minutes.