Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

I have a client that is on a very restricted diet, which means I have to make almost everything from scratch. All the canned enchilada sauces available have salt in them. I use no salt added tomatoes and tomato paste. It’s actually really easy to make your own and you can make it mild or spicy. Instead of making one big casserole, I made individual servings for the freezer.

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Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 6

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1½ Tbs onion, chopped
1½ Tbs cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
2 cups enchilada sauce, divided (see recipe below)
1½ cups (6 oz) shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup sliced ripe olives

Preheat oven to 350°

Place the tortillas in the microwave for about 1 minute to soften.Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, cilantro, and jalapeño; sauté until onion is tender. Add chicken, diced tomatoes and 1 cup enchilada sauce; cook 5 minutes.

Spoon chicken mixture evenly down centers of tortillas. Roll up tortillas; place, seam sides down, in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over enchiladas, and top with cheese. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until enchiladas are thoroughly heated and cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with tomato and olives.

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Makes 2 cups

2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs chili powder
2 cups water
3 oz tomato paste
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¾ tsp salt

Add the vegetable oil, flour, and chili powder to a medium pot. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk the ingredients together. Continue to whisk as the mixture begins to bubble. Whisk and cook the mixture for one minute once it begins bubbling.

After one minute, whisk in the water, tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper until smooth. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer it will begin to thicken slightly then add the salt. The sauce is now ready to use.

Pork Chile Verde

The tomatillo is a plant of the nightshade family, related to the Cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos originated in Mexico, and are a staple of that country’s cuisine.The fruit is surrounded by an inedible, paper-like husk.


Pork Chile Verde

Serves 6-8

4 lbs pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dredging
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 yellow onions
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Anaheim or Poblano chiles, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 -3 jalapeños, seeds removed, and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, roasted, peeled and chopped – see tips below
1 Tbs dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped
4 cups chicken stock

Season the pork meat generously with salt and pepper, lightly flour. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat and brown pork chunks well in small batches, on all sides. Lift pork out of pan and place in a wide soup pot. Discard fat and place the onions and peppers in the same skillet and sweat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until limp, about 5 minutes. Add all of the chiles and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.

Add the sautéed vegetables, chopped tomatillos, dried herbs and cilantro to the meat, cover with the chicken stock and bring up to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork is fork tender.

Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.

Preparing Tomatillos
Remove the husks before using, the husks are inedible. Tomatillos are very easy to cook with because they don’t need to be peeled or seeded. Their texture is firm when raw, but soften when cooked. When growing your own fresh tomatillos, they are ready to harvest when the husks burst.

Rinse before using as the tomatillo is covered by a sticky substance. Do not peel the green skin.

Cooking Tomatillos
Tomatillos can by very inconsistent in flavor, with some being sour and others tasting mild and sweet. If the tomatillos are to tart for your taste, try adding a little sugar to balance the taste.

Fire Roasting
Roast under the broiler, with a propane torch, or over an open flame such as a grill. Make sure the heat is quite hot before roasting. If the heat is not hot enough, the tomatillos wil turn mushy before being charred. The charred or slightly blackened skins will enrich your sauces with a smoky flavor.

Dry Roasting
This will produce an earthy, nutty flavor. Place the tomatillos in a heavy fry pan (preferably a cast iron pan). Turn heat to low and roast for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Honey Lime Sriracha Salmon Bites

Here’s a spicy salmon bite to add to your hors d’oeuvres repertoire.



Honey Lime Sriracha Salmon Bites

Serves 2

¼ cup sriracha sauce or other chili sauce
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 lb wild-caught salmon, skinned and cut into cubes
¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted

In a medium bowl, stir together sriracha sauce, honey, freshly squeezed lime juice, minced garlic, and chopped ginger.

Place salmon filets in a large resealable plastic bag and pour marinade over the top. Seal bag and place in fridge for about 2 hours or overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Take salmon from bag dip on side in sesame seeds. Put on a parchment or non-stick foiled baking sheet.

Bake salmon at 400 degrees for about 4-5 minutes.

Turkey Meatballs with a Chipotle Barbecue Cranberry Sauce

Recently, I have catered event after event. I have been developing some new hors d’oeuvres to add to my repertoire. Here is a new meatball recipe that got some rave reviews.


Turkey Meatballs with a Chipotle Barbecue Cranberry Sauce

Makes 16-20

1 lb ground turkey
1/3 cup oats
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbs Worchestershire sauce
2 Tbs sage, minced
1 Tbs rosemary, minced
1 Tbs thyme, minced
1 Tbs chives, minced
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbs thyme, minced
12 oz cranberries
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup molasses
3 Tbs honey
2 Tbs light brown sugar
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place all ingredients for the turkey meatballs in a large mixing bowl and mix together until just combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Take two tablespoons of the mixture and form into a meatball. Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet and repeat until all of the turkey mixture has been used.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and completely cooked through.

For the sauce:
Sauté the diced onion in a little olive oil, add the garlic and thyme in a saucepan and then add the cranberries, orange juice, molasses, honey, brown sugar and chipotle peppers.

Place first six ingredients into a saucepan and stir. Bring the mixture to a simmer, over medium to medium-low heat. Once the cranberries begin to macerate, about 10 minutes, stir in the remaining ingredients.

Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened and reduced by 1/3. Serve with meatballs.

Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

Being stuck at home all summer, I watched a lot of TV (which is dreadful – there is nothing on TV!), mainly cooking shows. I happened to see The Pioneer Woman make this pulled pork, which looked really good. It reminded me of Coca Cola basted ham (I guess that’s for another blog). I made it in a crockpot. Also, I put in about half of the chipotle chiles and it was very spicy, which I love. You can serve it with tortillas or rolls.





Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

Serves 18

1 large onion
1 pork shoulder (“pork butt”) – 5 To 7 lbs
Salt And Freshly ground black pepper
11 oz can chipotle peppers In adobo sauce
2 cans Dr. Pepper
2 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large dutch oven.

Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.

Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir in.

Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in the oven. Cook for at least six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it’s not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.

Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it’s cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.

Serve on warm flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, salsa, and whatever else you’d like.

Spicy Southwest BBQ Sauce

This BBQ sauce should spice up your 4th of July celebrations!

Spicy BBQ Sauce

Spicy Southwest BBQ Sauce

6 cloves garlic
2 cups ketchup
2 stalks celery
1 cup water
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Bake garlic in a small baking pan at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and peel.

Combine garlic and remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes. Cool.

Process mixture in a blender until smooth. Makes about 4 cups.

Turkey Gumbo Soup


Today’s post comes from Pat in Seattle, WA. She got the recipe from a Cajun cooking show on TV.



Turkey Gumbo Soup

1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup flour
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
¾ lb andouille sausage, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
2-3 heaping cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey meat
2 qts chicken stock
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp or more dried thyme
salt and pepper
gumbo file powder
2 green onions, sliced, or parsley for garnish.

Cook a roux of oil and flour until a dark caramel color, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add vegetables and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add sausage and cook another minute. Add the turkey, stock, Worcestershire and thyme and continue to cook on low for about an hour uncovered. Correct seasoning if necessary.

Serve over rice (long-grain white, boiled), sprinkle with file powder and green onions or parsley.

Hot Pepper Vinegar


Today’s blog comes from Sharon, Brisbane, Australia.


You know how they say if you get one recipe that is a keeper from a book, then it was worth buying.  Some time ago I purchased Bon Appetit, Y’All by Virginia Willis and highly recommend it, I have made many recipes from this, but the one that I always have in my pantry is Hot Pepper Vinegar.

This is what she says;

Almost every diner and “meat and three” establishment across the South has a jar of hot pepper vinegar on each and every table.  A dash or so of this potent liquid on greens is a revelation.  The longer the mixture sits the more potent it becomes. It also makes a great gift.  I prepare several batches with peppers from my garden and present them as hostess and Christmas gifts. Nothing says love like a little heat.

Hot Pepper Vinegar

6 to 8 hot chillies (such as jalapeño, cayenne or banana)
4 cups apple cider vinegar

Wearing rubber gloves, wash the chillies under cold running water.

Using a paring knife, make 2 or 3 small slits in each.

Pack the peppers in one or more sterilized jars.

Heat the vinegar in a saucepan over high heat until simmering.

Pour the hot vinegar over the peppers.

Secure tightly with the lid and refrigerate for three weeks before opening.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one year.

As you can see I use a mixture of cayenne and Birds Eye, and cut the big ones in half.  It doesn’t look glamorous but tastes good!

Tamale Pie

It’s me today. No guest bloggers. Last week, I went to Trader Joe’s and went straight to the “tasting station”, where they hand out samples for you to try. I almost always buy whatever they are demoing. It was this tamale pie. I am not a big fan of polenta (unless it’s crispy), but I have to say I really liked this dish. It’s something you could have in your pantry. It takes less then 5 minutes to throw it in a casserole dish. You could even make it vegetarian by using vegetarian chili instead of chicken or turkey. The original recipe calls for a jar of their Cowboy Caviar, but I actually used the corn salsa instead.




Tamale Pie

Serves 4 – 6

1 jar TJ’s Corn and Chile Tomato-Less Salsa
1 can TJ’s Chicken or Turkey Chili
1 can Black Beans
1/4 tsp TJ’s Cayenne Pepper
TJ’s Olive Oil Cooking Spray
1 package TJ’s Fully Cooked Polenta
1 bag TJ’s Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
TJ’s Fresh Green Onions, TJ’s Fresh Cilantro, TJ’s Sour Cream, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the corn salsa, chili, black beans, and cayenne pepper. Mix well and set aside. Grease an 8″ x 8″ casserole dish with olive oil spray. Set aside. Cut the polenta into 1/4-inch slices. Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with a layer of polenta rounds. Pour chili mixture over the polenta and top with half of the cheese. Top the chili & cheese with the remaining polenta slices. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top and place in oven to bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Serve and garnish with chopped onions, cilantro and/or sour cream, if desired.

Easy Ceviche

My friend’s son is doing a science project on ceviche and asked me if I would be willing to oversee the preparation of the dish.  Of course, I jumped at the chance.



Naturally, his “little” brother had to get in on the action!




Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America.

Ceviche is typically fresh raw fish (he used cod) marinated in a citrus-based mixture, with lemons and limes being the most commonly used. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid changes the structure of the proteins in the fish.  Thus “cooking” the fish.

Traditional-style ceviche was marinated for about three hours. Modern-style ceviche, usually has a very short marinating period. With the appropriate fish, it can marinate in the time it takes to mix the ingredients, serve, and carry the ceviche to the table.

Easy Ceviche
1 lb fresh sea bass, mahi-mahi, or other firm-fleshed white ocean fish, cut into cubes about 1 inch square
½ small onion, very thinly sliced
1–2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
Juice of 4 juicy limes
1 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and stir to mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for 1 hour, then serve with tortilla chips or saltine crackers.