Tag Archives: whole living

Chilaquiles With Homemade Tortilla Chips

Do you ever make something so delicious that you can’t wait to spread the news but wind up with lousy photos of the outcome?  That’s what happened with my chilaquiles.  But they were so enjoyable to eat and as much fun to say once I learned to pronounce the word (say it: chee/lah/KEE/lehs) that I just couldn’t keep it to myself forever, regardless of my poorly lit photo documentation.

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I made this dish for my brother and sister when they stopped in for a rest on their drive back home from a road trip to Texas.  My brother regaled us with stories of the interesting towns they visited and people they met including the Mexican songster who keeps a tin can on the US side of the border then sits across the river to serenade passersby, coaxing them to drop a coin in the tin.  Or the little girl who twisted colored wires into a peacock for my brother to bring to us as a souvenir. My sister mostly just enjoyed a little bit of space after being stuck in a van with my brother for two weeks.  Ah, siblings.

I don’t travel much these days but hearing my brother’s stories and seeing his photos helped me to see a glimpse into another world and made me long to travel.  It’s so easy to forget that we are all just such a tiny part of such a big world.  I listen to state and national news every day and feel like I know what’s going on but all I really hear are a finely curated selection of stories.  Traveling forces you out of your sliver of the world and into the lives of others.  It forces connection. I get so wrapped up in going through the motions to make sure I meet all of my responsibilities at home and at work that I forget that everyone else in the great beyond is doing the same thing…just trying to navigate this world, find happiness, and make sure their basic needs are met. We are all looking for connection, for similarities, for synergy.  We are all looking for someone to look inside and understand us and love us for who we are.  When I remind myself of that, I feel so much more connected, a whole lot more tolerant, and a little bit silly for being so focused on my teeny corner of this world.

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Back to chilaquiles…one thing that helps me to feel more connected is trying new dishes from places I’d like to visit.  While I couldn’t drop everything and go on a road trip to Texas, as much as I’d have liked to, I could try a new recipe that would transport me there in my imagination.

A few notes:  first, the sauce is a touch spicy so adjust accordingly.  Second, the sauce recipe makes a fair amount so plan on using the leftovers for round two of this great dish. Third, there are more chilaquile recipes than can be counted.  Different regions and even different families have their own recipes for chilaquiles.  If this recipe doesn’t do it for you, try with tomatillo sauce or a mole sauce instead or pour the sauce on at the end, keeping the tortillas crispy for a nacho-esque dish instead. This recipe is from Bon Appetit (apart from the method for the tortilla chips) and is an excellent choice for your first go-round with chilaquiles.

And finally, you may use bagged tortilla chips for this recipe but if you don’t have any on hand, making your own tortilla chips is easy, satisfying, and makes for a heartier dish with a little less salt (this is also an excellent way to use up stale tortillas).  We always have tortillas on hand but don’t often have snack foods so it’s nice to have the homemade tortilla trick up my sleeve when the need arises.  See below for a few photos of the process.  Very easy and very worth it!

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Chilaquiles With Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

Ingredients

  • 7 dried guajillo or New Mexico chiles
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, with seeds, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked or Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Olive or vegetable oil to brush tortillas.
  • 9 6-inch corn tortillas or 36 large tortilla chips
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled queso fresco or mild feta
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Finely chopped white onion
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Red Chile Sauce: Place chiles in a medium bowl; cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let chiles soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking liquid. Discard stems and seeds; place chiles in a blender. Add tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, and 1 cup reserved soaking liquid; purée until smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add purée (it will splatter) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes (add more reserved soaking liquid if too thick). Stir in honey and season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before using.
  3. Tortilla Chips: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a pastry brush, brush one side of each corn tortilla with a light layer of olive oil. Stack one on top of the other with oil side up - the un-oiled side will become oiled from the tortilla it is set upon. Cut the stacked tortillas into 8 wedges. Place tortilla pieces on a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Preheat broiler. Toss chips and 1 cup sauce in a large bowl. Transfer half of chips to a large ovenproof platter or skillet. Scatter half of cheeses over chips. Top with remaining chips and cheeses, along with 1/2 cup more sauce. Broil until cheese is golden and melted, 4–5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, pour oil into a nonstick skillet to lightly coat. Heat over medium heat. Add eggs and fry until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes.
  6. Top chilaquiles with chopped onion, radishes, cilantro, and lime wedges. Top with fried eggs and serve with remaining sauce alongside.
http://dinnerwithaura.com/chilaquiles-with-homemade-tortilla-chips/

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

DSC_0483 My husband makes our 16 month old son sweet potato fries regularly for an afternoon snack and he gobbles them up faster than you can say hot potato.  So when I was at the health food store the other day and saw Okinawan purple sweet potatoes and Japanese white sweet potatoes, I had to get them for an extra special, healthy, and colorful treat. Continue reading

Winter Squash-Walnut Pate

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I’m sorry to admit it but I fell deep into a cooking rut over the past several months.  I’ve been on autopilot and turning over and over again to my tried and true meals.  Enchiladas, huevos rancheros, chili, tamales, stir fry…same ol, same ol.  I was feeling pretty uninspired.  Until…a couple of months ago when I was given the opportunity to pilot a home delivery program for groceries.  Total game changer.  The act of sitting down to order my groceries online every weekend has led me to start meal planning more seriously and has inspired me to shake things up a bit.  And seriously…shopping for groceries in my jammies instead of shopping with a toddler in a busy store on the weekend?  Heck yes!

One of the fun new things I’ve been doing with my meal planning is picking a cookbook every week and choosing two or three recipes from it to try that week.  A couple of weeks ago we had Berbere red lentil stew (fantastic!), pad thai, and red flannel hash from Cooking Light’s Global Kitchen and Lighten Up, America! cookbooks.  Next week I’ll be moving onto Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen with BBQ tempeh and spicy smothered green cabbage on the menu.  But this week I’m having a wonderful time reading and cooking from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.  On Sunday I made Balsamic Glazed Beets and this flavor packed pate.  Tonight, my husband made the Three Sisters Stew with masa dumplings and spiced pumpkin seeds.  It was a delicious departure from my normal soup repertoire.

This pate, one of my favorite new recipes, is great smeared on top of crisp crackers, pita crisps, or used as a dip for your favorite crudites.  This is also a kid friendly recipe.  My 15-month old waddled back into the kitchen several times to tug on my leg for another taste.  Finally, it’s freezer friendly – perfect to pack away in little containers for snacks at work or on the go!

Winter Squash-Walnut Pate; Adapted From The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen By Peter Berley

Ingredients

  • 1 pound winter squash, such as pumpkin, acorn, butternut, or buttercup, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dry-pack sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 and 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly milled black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss squash chunks with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Evenly distribute squash onto a sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until you can easily pierce with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  3. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the tomatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes to soften.
  4. In a saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until it softens and begins to brown. Add the walnuts, garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes and saute gently for 5-7 minutes, until the walnuts are fragrant.
  5. Drain the plumped tomatoes but save the liquid. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the sauteed vegetables and winter squash. Puree until creamy, adding the reserved tomato water if needed, until the desired consistency is reached.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm.
http://dinnerwithaura.com/winter-squash-walnut-pate/

Homemade Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

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Your (soon to be) favorite granola bar.

When I was pregnant and shortly after I had my son fifteen months ago, I received a great deal of advice.  Some of the advice was game changing, like the advice to get an Ergobaby carrier so I could “wear him down” to sleep while still getting some things done.  Some of the advice clearly works for some babies but not mine…like the advice to put River in his crib and allow him to soothe himself to sleep.  Let me just say that after many, many, many attempts and variations, he wants nothing to do with that business (and who would, when they can fall asleep with their head on mama’s warm chest, listening to the thump thump of her heart?).  And some of the advice was just plain weird, like the time I was told by a well-meaning stranger at a concert that I should take a washcloth and rub vigorously to “toughen up my nipples” before I had my son.  Seriously.  A stranger told me that.  I can’t make this stuff up.

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Two pieces of advice that have been truly invaluable during this time have been 1) to take care of myself and 2) to embrace routine.  Both are often easier said than done but over time I have found some great ways to streamline my day and make sure my basic needs are met so I can be a good caregiver and worker.  As a food lover and still-nursing and pumping mom, that means making sure that I have snacks and lunches prepped and packed for the week every Sunday.  I’m all about making one big batch of snacks and lunches to last through the weekdays.  Freezable dishes?  Even better.  This recipe for granola bars provides me with a healthy snack that is easy to make ahead of time, easy to pack, provides a great boost of energy, and is freezable.  A super food.

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Roasted oats and nuts added to the dried fruit.

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Adding the brown rice syrup, honey, and peanut butter.

When I started out on my task of creating a granola bar recipe, several recipes I encountered online required baking the bars.  I found that it was very difficult to get a consistent end result that was not dry or too chewy.  After much tweaking and taste testing, this granola bar recipe is the result of my efforts.  It requires roasting the grains and nuts ahead of time to add flavor without drying or hardening the bar.  After the grains and nuts are roasted, it only takes a few moments to stir the dry and wet ingredients and to pat them in the pan to set.  Easy.  Delicious.  Cheaper than a Kind bar.  My favorite granola bar yet.  I hope you love it too.

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Combining the wet and dry ingredients until everything is evenly coated.

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Use a flat bottomed bowl or measuring cup to tamp down the mixture.

Have a sweet tooth?  These granola bars are naturally sweet from the brown rice syrup and touch of honey.  Still hankering?  To turn this into more of a dessert granola bar, add a handful of dark chocolate chips to the mix.  You won’t regret it!

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With dark chocolate chips added.

Homemade Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup puffed millet (optional – you can use another cup of rolled oats if you don’t have puffed millet)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2.5 cups dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, etc.
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I like to use crunchy)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice syrup (I buy at iHerb.com)

Instructions

  1. Put the oats, millet, almonds, and pumpkin seeds on a large sheet pan. Spread to distribute evenly. Roast at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes until crispy but not browned.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the honey, peanut butter, and brown rice syrup on low in a saucepan. Heat just enough to easily be able to mix the peanut butter with the sweetener.
  3. Put the dried fruit into a large bowl. Add the roasted grains and nuts and mix. Pour the liquid mixture onto the dry mixture and stir well to combine.
  4. Pour the mixture onto a sheet pan or a 9x13 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Press the mixture into the pan hard enough to ensure the mixture will adhere and be able to be cut into bars. I recommend using a flat bottomed measuring cup or bowl to press the mixture into the pan!
  5. Place the pan into the fridge to cool off for an hour.
  6. Cut the bars into squares or rectangles.
  7. These also freeze very well so you may freeze any extras you have.
  8. Makes about 24 bars.
http://dinnerwithaura.com/homemade-fruit-and-nut-granola-bars/

Winter Salad With Roasted Citrus and Avocado

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Happy New Year!  I just got done filing almost a year’s worth of paperwork (ahem…I sheepishly admit that last year’s resolution to stay on top of my filing didn’t stick for more than a couple of months….sigh…what do you do?).  I feel accomplished and proud for the moment.  That feeling will last only briefly, until the baby cries, , my hair stays wet, the laundry that needs folding piles up at the end of the bed, and I realize that I haven’t eaten in six hours.  As I stand over the counter scraping avocado out of the shell with a cracker while bouncing just so to quiet the little one, I’m sure the elation of my paperwork success will feel like a distant memory.  But hey, I’ll take it while I can get it. Continue reading

Collard Green Wrap With Carrot-Ginger Hummus and Rainbow Veggies

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I’ve been making collard burritos for some time now.  They have never made it to my blog.  Maybe it’s because I think of them as my go-to quick meal that I eat when I don’t have time to play around with making things pretty.  They are usually filled with a hodgepodge of quinoa, beans, and some random veggies.  Nothing fancy.  Maybe it’s because if I’m eating a collard burrito it means it is late and I don’t have daylight to photograph my creation for the blog.  Winters are hard for food bloggers.  There are nights that I prep my dish the night before, then race home, fly into the kitchen, and make a mess of everything, just so I can get the last ten minutes of daylight to capture my creation.

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Baked Oatmeal With Walnuts and Blueberries….AND an Announcement!!

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Hi!  Great news!  My sweetie and I are getting hitched!  Just thought I’d let you know.  I feel so fortunate.  Drew is a gentle, kind soul.  A hard worker.  A true friend.  An artist.  And he brought baked oatmeal into my life.  What more could you ask for?

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Tamales With Sweet Potato, Green Chili, and Cheese

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Fasten your seatbelts, folks.  It’s going to be a long post.  You can skip to the bottom for the recipe if you want, I won’t be offended.  But if you do, before you do, here are the Cliff’s Notes:  ramblings on Christmas fun, Happy New Year(!), shame, perfectionism, joy, life lessons, resolutions or goals, and how I came to make these sweet potato, green chili, cheese tamales with tomatillo salsa.  Okay–you are excused.  See ya at the bottom for the recipe!

Alright, diehards, here it goes.

I am getting back to reality after a week of relaxing, both at home in Grand Rapids and in the Upper Peninsula, where I grew up.  We spent the last week reading (Joseph Heywood’s Wood Cops series is awesome!), snowshoeing (new snowshoes for Christmas!), walking around historic downtown Marquette (we had a night at the historic Landmark Inn–what a treat!), and hiking to see some beautiful ice caves about twenty minutes from where I grew up.  I haven’t been to the ice caves as an adult and I feel truly blessed that I have someone who I can enjoy doing things with and that he digs checking out giant frozen icicles and other wonders of nature with his Yooper gal.  I’m still bewildered that someone could enjoy the same things I enjoy as much as I do myself.

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Six Bean Soup With Butternut Squash and Farro

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Soup season has arrived, folks.  You’ll be seeing many soups posted on this blog over the next several months, a testimony to my efforts to survive another cold and dark Michigan winter.  The leaves on the trees are nearly gone (please hang on while I wipe the tear that is rolling down my cheek…sniffle), the lawn furniture looks eerily out of place and begs to be put away, Halloween is over and talk of the holidays creeps into conversation.  We’ve already got a game plan for Thanksgiving dinner (my first time hosting!) and my mind is focused on developing recipes for healthy Thanksgiving sides for my next cooking class.  The sun sets at around five o’clock and I’m still considering bucking the trend and ignoring daylight savings time (who’s with me?).  The space heater is fully broken in and we are ready to hunker down under afghans for the next five months.  For those of you who do not live in a similar climate, this is serious stuff, folks.  A true test of resilience or sisu, as my mom would say.  Sisu is the Finnish word for strength in the face of adversity…my mom would say, “you’ve got sisu, girl!”

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Wild Rice and Winter Squash Salad and How To Harvest Wild Rice

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It is fall in my neck of the woods and I am so very happy about it!  I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible.  That means a walk in the woods at the Blandford Nature Center today.  Being outside in the woods with sunshine filtering through the orange and yellow leaves was so good for my soul. Continue reading