Archive for July, 2010

Fire-Roasted Chicken Enchiladas

I made this for the first time today.  I call it fire-roasted because I did just that, fire-roasted the chicken and the peppers on the grill.  The canned tomatoes for the sauce are also fire-roasted.

This can easily be a gluten-free meal by using corn tortillas.  Just make sure the package does say “Gluten-free.”

Let me say, this is a time-consuming recipe.  BUT, totally worth it.  It’s not difficult, just a lot to do.   A lot of prepping and chopping. But I know you’re up to the task.  Especially since it’s so good.  And that’s worth it, right?  Plus, it’s fun.

So sharpen up your best knives and get cooking.

For the enchilada filling:

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, grilled and shredded to yield 3 cups
  • 1/2 cup roasted green jalapenos, chopped or 4oz. can chopped jalapenos.
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
  • juice from one lime
  • cracked pepper
  • salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin

After cooking and shredding the chicken, mix in a bowl with the sour cream, peppers, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Begin to make the enchilada sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled, diced fine
  • 1 tsp. chili powder- mild or hot
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh minced cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat and saute the chopped onion with the spices. About five minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook for 20 minutes.


  • Enchilada filling
  • Enchilada sauce
  • 10 – 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar mix
  • Freshly chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil or spray a baking dish.  Spread about a ladle full (about 4 oz.) of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish.

Heat tortillas. You can either microwave them for about 40 seconds or heat them in a pan with a little oil.

Put a heaping spoonful of the filling on each tortilla and roll up. Roll around in sauce and place seam side down in the baking pan.

Cover with the remaining sauce and top with cheese and cilantro.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.

Serve with The Best Guacamole Ever and additional sour cream and maybe a black bean salad on the side. Oh….don’t forget the Margarita.


The Best Guacamole Ever

I had an amazing guacamole one time at El Vez over in Philadelphia. Good thing for me, it was made table side.  I was able to watch how they made it and then was able to make it for my family.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • half of a red onion, diced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped tomato
  • juice of half a lime
  • kosher salt to taste – about 1/2 tsp.

Prepare all of the ingredients and set aside.

To prepare the avocados:

Cut avocado lengthwise around into two halves.  Carefully, with the heel of your knife, remove the stone.  Or pop it out if it’s ripe enough.  Score the fruit into a checkerboard pattern and scoop or squeeze it into a bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Lightly stir.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Serve with chips or as an accompaniment to dishes such as Fire-Roasted Chicken Enchiladas.

Mare’s Kill Devil Hills Bloody Mary

You know that show The Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network?  Well, this is the best thing I ever drank. Or close enough to it, from what I remember.

Every year, or almost every year, we rent a huge beach house with about 25 family members and just relax on the beach, eat, drink and have fun.

One year, we stayed in Kill Devil Hills.  Some of the gals and I went to do some shopping and on the way home we stopped at this crab joint for something to drink. The bartender made us the best damn Bloody Mary we’ve ever had.  I remember watching her assemble it and the one thing that stuck out was her use of Old Bay in the drink and on the rim.

So, I messed around, gathered up some recipes from here and there and came up with my version.

Now most of these ingredients are to taste, so you can omit any if you don’t like them or play around until you get the right taste for you.  We’re all different.

  • 2 shots of good-quality vodka
  • 2-3 dashes of Tabasco
  • 4 – 6 dashes of Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of sea salt
  • slice of lemon or lime
  • small can of tomato or V-8 Juice
  • sea salt mixed with Old Bay for rimming

Get a tall glass and fill it up with lots of ice. The colder, the better, for a Bloody Mary.

Add vodka, Tabasco, Worcestershire, Old Bay, pepper and salt.  Fill remainder of glass with tomato juice.

Pour entire contents into a shaker and shake vigorously. Rinse out your glass then rub the rim of glass with lime or lemon and dip into the sea salt that you spiked with a little Old Bay for an extra kick and a pretty presentation.

Pour entire contents of shaker back into the glass.  Add a stalk of celery or olives or jalapeno peppers. Whatever you want.  Or nothing at all.


Jerk Fish Sandwiches with Remoulade Sauce

Ya, mon! This is a good fish sandwich.  The fish is spicy and the remoulade sauce kicks it up just a notch above a regular tartar sauce.  The sweet, grilled pineapple gives it a nice freshness and crunch.

And if you’re afraid of fish, you should stop being so.  Tilapia is a very mild fish.  Fish should never taste fishy. If it does, it’s not good. Throw it away.


  • 1/4 mayo
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp. diced hot pepper (optional)
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. pickle relish
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and Tabasco sauce to taste

For the sandwich

  • 2 Tbsp. Jamaican jerk seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 fresh fish fillets, such as tilapia or flounder (I use tilapia)
  • 1 long French baguette, cut in four sections on an angle and cut open
  • lettuce leaves
  • 8 pineapple rings (1/4″ thick)

In a bowl, mix ingredients for the remoulade and refrigerate.

Stir together jerk seasoning, Worcestershire and oil. Brush fish on both sides with mixture and set on non-stick sprayed aluminum foil or place in a fish cage for the grill.

Place on grill over medium-high heat.  Have one side of the grill set on low heat.

Grill until firm, about 8 – 10 minutes. Meanwhile, quickly grill pineapple slices just to make marks. Place baguettes, cut side down on grill for about 1 – 2 minutes.

Arrange sandwiches with lettuce, pineapple, fish and top with remoulade.

Baby Back Ribs with Tennessee Dry Rub

This is, by far, the best dry rub I’ve tried.  I, well actually, my husband, found it in the Philadelphia Daily News years ago.  I’ve been making and using it ever since.  We put it on baby back ribs. Ask anyone who has eaten here when Tom barbecues, they are the best.  Of course, barbecue technique is  a big player in the end result, but the rub is a good place to start.

  • 2 Tbsp. each of brown sugar, black pepper and paprika
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. each of white pepper, crushed hot red pepper and coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix all together and it can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

This is enough for 2 to 3 pounds racks of ribs.  Rub ribs vigorously with mixture, then wrap each rack in THREE layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Heat grill.  Keep one section on high, set the middle on low and the last turned off.  This is if you have three burners. A lot of this is trial and error, but this is what works best for me.

Place racks on the side of the grill without the heat. Cook, undisturbed for one hour. The grill’s temperature should be about 350 degrees. Turn over after one hour. Cook an additional one hour on the other side.   Remove from heat and carefully remove foil and cook an additional 20-30 minutes to crisp, turning once or twice. You will want to put the ribs on the side near the heat to do this and you will want to lower the heat to medium so they do not burn.


"It's Just Awesome" Balsamic Dressing

I love this dressing.  That’s all I can say about it.

  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp.  red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar (optional)

Combine vinegars and mustard in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously.  Add remaining ingredients and shake again.

Store in refrigerator.

Pasta alla Vodka

Normally, I use Penne for this, but I do have quite an affinity for Mezzi Rigatoni, so that works too.  Any tube-shaped pasta with ridges works quite well.  It’s those ridges that hold on to the delectable, creamy, spicy tomato sauce.

  • One can crushed tomato (about 35 ounces)
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (don’t worry, it gets removed) note: if they are very large cloves, use half the amount
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 grated cheese
  • 1 box or pound of ridged, short pasta,  such as penne or mezzi rigatoni

Fill a large pot with water. Turn heat to high to bring to a boil.  When boiling, toss in a good amount of salt and begin cooking pasta.

In the meantime:

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add crushed garlic and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Carefully add tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Season lightly with salt and generously with crushed red pepper.  Boil two minutes.  Pour in vodka and lower heat to simmer until pasta is ready.  Fish out garlic and stir in cream and add butter to incorporate.

Drain pasta and return to pot.  Pour sauce over and boil, stirring to coat. Check seasoning, add parsley and reduce until sauce clings to pasta.

Remove to serving bowl, sprinkle with cheese and serve.