September 22, 2010

Green Chile Season

Roasting chiles in my grill pan
Fall in southern New Mexico means green chile.  There's chile roasting going on everywhere, which is an amazing smell that is hard to even describe.  If you drive around town with your windows down the smell is almost constant.  There is also the Hatch Chile Festival Labor Day weekend.  Me, Carrie, and a few other friends went to take part in the festivities.  They had all the typical fair food such as turkey legs and curly fries but they also had green chile ice cream which was amazing.  I entered a chile eating contest and got fourth place out ten or so people.  There's a video and more chile talk after the bump.

September 19, 2010

Lazy Weeknight Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole-ish Dinner

I created this recipe when I got home from class the other night. I knew I had some aging tortillas I wanted to use up, and I had just bought a rotisserie chicken, so I kinda threw this together and it turned out awesome! Less than 20 minutes from start to finish, full of protein, and delicious. Not the healthiest dinner ever, but it would be nicely complimented by a simple salad for a good lazy weeknight dinner.

I called it chicken chilaquiles because chilaquiles are traditionally eaten over/made with tortillas. This dinner really isn't that close to chilaquiles, though; I probably should have called it tortilla casserole or something like that. Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole-ish Dinner is alliterative though, so I had to keep it. Regardless, this dish is actually really good if you eat it over tortilla chips, so I guess the chilaquile name can stay.

I lost my camera, and this is the only pitiful picture I took on my phone. Sorry dudes.

Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole-ish Dinner

serves 2-3
total hands-on time: 7 minutes
total time: less than 20 minutes 

3 (ish) cups of shredded chicken
1 can black beans
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp garlic
8 or 9 corn tortillas, torn
most of a jar of salsa (I actually used green chile sauce, but salsa will work just as well)
sprinkle of Mexican seasoning

1. Put the garlic and the broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. I also put in a few sprinkles of a Mexican seasoning I have, but you can add salt, cumin, and chili powder if you don't have a pre-mixed seasoning.
2. Toss in the chicken and let simmer for a minute, then black beans, let cook for 5 minutes or so.
3. While the chicken and bean mixture is cooking, tear the tortillas into halves and cover the bottom of an 11 by 7 (greased!) pan.
4. When the mixture is finished cooking, spoon about half of it onto the torn tortillas. Spread salsa on top.
5. Add another layer of corn tortillas, then another layer of chicken & beans, then another layer of salsa. Sprinkle Mexican cheese on top.
6. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

September 15, 2010

Cooking for Workshop

All of the workshops here at NMSU are at night, usually from 5-7:30pm or occasionally 5:30-8 pm. Prime dinner hour. It's hard to sit for 2 1/2 hours and be critical and smart when you're starving, so for the last two years, our poetry workshop has had a tradition of asking each person to bring food for the class once each semester.

We've had quite the range of meals since I've been at NMSU. Pizza ordered ten minutes before class began (cough cough Robbie), cold gazpacho, banana pudding, PB&Js, enchiladas, zucchini bread, eggrolls, veggie platters from Albertson's, chips and salsa, candy; pretty much everything on the spectrum. It's always interesting to me to see what my classmates bring to share. I'm clearly into food, but I'm also really (creepily? is this abnormal?) interested in other people's eating habits: what other people like to eat, the effort they put into food, and what they might deem appropriate food for certain settings. I also think that class feels just a little bit more festive when you can pass cookies around the table.

It's important, of course, to not bring something too involved; you don't want people concentrating more on your food than on the work in front of them. Messiness is also kind of out; having to pass back comments with melted ice cream or something like that on them is not ideal.

Last night, it was my turn to provide food for my fellow poets. In the past I've made cornbread, spinach-bean dip, and pasta salad. I didn't have much time to actually make anything too involved, but I always want to bring something good and a little unusual, more than a bag of pretzels and a box of gingersnaps, you know? I find that finger-foods usually work well, so I brought sliced french bread, crackers, sharp cheddar cheese, apples, and hummus. I had also seen this recipe for Mint-Pea Dip and was looking for a chance to make it.  Mint-Pea dip sounds borderline gross, I think, but I promise you it's refreshing, delicious, and wonderful on bread. It consists of frozen peas, fresh mint, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese; that's all.

Photo courtesy of

Everything seemed to be a hit, including the dip, which I was a little wary about. What would you make if you were cooking for a group in a classroom setting?

September 6, 2010

Things To Do With Summer Tomatoes aka I Hope You Like Basil

Tomatoes have been my favorite food since I was a little girl; I never go more than a few days without eating them in one form or another, and I always have them in my kitchen. To me, they're a staple (just look back at my previous recipes). Late summer is basically heaven for my tastebuds, as tomatoes are at the peak of their growing season, abundant in number and with the best flavor they'll have all year.

Tomato Salad: pretty much my favorite food in the world

Sunday Summer Tomato & Bread Soup
serves 4
This is a perfect soup to make on a Sunday afternoon. I meant to write this post yesterday and call it "Sunday Soup & Other Stuff," but I had way too good of a time at the Hatch Chile Festival and went to bed super early. Labor Day is really like Sunday take two, though, so I'm going to pretend "Sunday Soup" still applies. I went to the Farmer's Market (the one here in Las Cruces is really awesome) and bought 1.5 lbs of cherry tomatoes for $2.  I was wondering what to do with them when I remembered this recipe, which I adapted. I think you could easily make this recipe using regular tomatoes, as long as you seed them first.

1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp garlic
1 cup broth (vegetable or chicken, your choice)
2 tbsps olive oil
2 handfuls of stale bread
a bunch of fresh basil
Italian seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prick each of the cherry tomatoes (I used both red and yellow) with a toothpick once or twice. In a roasting pan, add the tomatoes. Glug on some olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and strategically place basil leaves.

I lost my camera, so this picture was taken on my phone

3. Roast for 20 minutes or so, or until tomatoes are slightly shrunken.
4. While cherry tomatoes are roasting, saute the garlic in 1 tbsp of olive olive in a soup pot, then add the canned tomatoes.
5. Add 1/2 a can (14 oz) of water, plus 1 cup broth. Bring to a boil.
6. Stir in some salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
7. Turn down heat and let simmer for 15 minutes or so.
8. When tomatoes are done roasting, add to pot. Then gently stir in the bread and some chopped basil.
9. The soup may need a bit more salt or Italian seasoning, but you should definitely serve it with fresh parmesan on top.

About to stir the bread in
I didn't have any stale bread, so I toasted some pre-sliced whole-wheat to put in the soup. This was not the best choice; baguette or Italian bread would work better here. I actually overdid it with the bread and my soup ended up pretty thick, so watch yourself with the bread handfuls. You'll want to make sure you still have some broth left by the end of the recipe.

This is an ideal summer soup, because it cooks up fast (not a lot of time sweating over a hot stove) and it's fairly light. According to Cheap Healthy Good, it has 402 calories per serving.

Tomato Salad
serves 1-2 as a side dish
If tomatoes are my favorite food, this is probably my favorite way to eat them. This simple salad is always part of my go-to meal, sometimes as a side dish, sometimes as the actual main dish. My grandmother would always make it for me when I came to visit as a child, and I continue to love it fiercely. I eat it year-round, but it is particularly wonderful during the summer, when fresh basil and tomatoes are both in season.


2-3 tomatoes, diced (works well with tomatoes of all sizes except cherry or grape)
glug of good-quality olive oil
glug of balsamic vinegar
5 or so leaves of fresh basil, chopped

1. Dice the tomatoes and put into a bowl, being sure to get all the good juice in there too.
2. Glug some olive oil over them--enough to make them oily, but not so they're swimming in it.
3. Glug some balsamic vinegar over that--not too much, but to your liking.
4. Stir, then taste to see if the oil-vinegar ratio is correct; if not, add more of either one.
5. Add the salt and pepper and basil, stir again.
6. Let sit for a few minutes so the flavors can combine.

It's also quite possible to make this with dried or dehydrated basil, which I frequently do in the winter. Substituting garlic salt is delicious, as is adding in some chopped mozzarella. It's the best over bread (if you've ever eaten bruschetta, this is basically the way to make it), which you can then use to sop up the salty-vinegary-basily tomato juice when you've eaten all the actual tomatoes. Tomato Salad is also pretty healthful, as the main ingredient is your average 50-calorie tomato. Fast, simple, cheap, and flavorful.

September 2, 2010

Representation Of Food And Eating On Television

I love cooking shows or shows about food.  I don't really care what it is, I can stare at it for hours as long as I have potato chips and something to drink.  Anthony Bordain, Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, The-One-Guy-That-Eats-Crazy-Food, Alton Brown and Giada De Laurentiis are my favorites, but all for very different reasons.


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