pulled pork enchiladas

Remember a few weeks ago when I revealed my secrets on how we eat well on the cheap? Well, this dish totally falls into that category. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s delicious. Plus, it’s perfect for double batches. Double the recipe, freeze the second pan and save for a rainy day. Or, you know, a tuesday.

I love making enchiladas because they are so adaptable for every season. In the summer I love stuffing them with fresh corn and herbs. In the fall, they’re fun to make with roasted pumpkin. In the winter, sweet potatoes make them scrumptious. Switch up the meat, cheese, and seasonings to make whatever flavor you want, whenever you want.

This particular batch—one of my favorites—uses slow-cooked pulled pork, jack cheese, sweet corn and fresh basil. They’re so summery but warm and comforting at the same time.

Begin with a pork shoulder. They usually range anywhere from 2 1/2 to 4 pounds (boneless), and that’s too much meat for 8 enchiladas. So either plan on making a double batch or using half of the pulled pork for something else.

I would say slice the roast in half and freeze the remainder, or just buy a really small roast, but I’ve never had good luck cooking small amounts of meat in the Crock.

Marinate overnight in enchilada sauce. A word to the wise: the kind of enchilada sauce you use is important. Make sure it’s a brand you know and like since it’s such a dominant flavor in this dish.

After marinating, place in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low.

To assemble the enchiladas you’ll need basil, tortillas (handmade will make all the difference—trust me), corn, sour cream, enchilada sauce, jack cheese, one sweet onion, and a few cloves of garlic.

Begin by mincing the garlic…

…and slicing the onion. I like wedges myself since it’s more fajita-style.

Saute the garlic in a little vegetable oil, then add the onion and saute for a few minutes until the onion just begins to become tender. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl shred half the pork…

…then add the corn (carefully sliced from the cob), chopped basil, and onion mixture.

Toss together.

Now here’s a trick that will perk up any enchilada recipe: mix sour cream into the enchilada sauce. It will make it creamier. And dreamier.

Next, shred an unholy amount of cheese. A hill of cheese. Heck, a mountain of cheese. If you like the pre-shredded stuff you obviously don’t like cheese should really consider taking 5 more minutes and shredding a real brick of cheese yourself. I don’t know what they put in those plastic baggies, but I don’t think it’s actually cheese.

Pour one cup of the the enchilada sauce/sour cream mixture into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan, then fill each tortilla with a sprinkle of cheese…

…and a few spoonfuls of the pork filling.

Roll up each tortilla as you go and place in the pan.

Pour the rest of the sauce mixture over the enchiladas…

…and top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake. Bask in the heavenly aromas that are wafting from your oven.

Serve topped with sour cream and pico de gallo, if you wish. Or just inhale them right out of the pan. Up to you—no judgment here.

For me, the contrast of the sweet corn and basil against the spicy pork and creamy sauce is just about as good as it gets. I have died and gone to summer enchilada heaven.

Pulled Pork Enchiladas    printable pulled pork heaven

Using quality pork, handmade tortillas and good enchilada sauce makes all the difference in this dish. Plan on either doubling the recipe or finding another use for the other half of the pulled pork. Serves 4-6.

Inactive Prep Time: 1 day                 Active Prep Time: 30 minutes          Cook Time: 35 minutes 

  • 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast (sometimes called “pork butt”)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 28 oz can red enchilada sauce, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 ears sweet corn, shucked
  • 1 c lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 16oz container sour cream
  • 8 handmade 9″-10″ flour tortillas
  • 4 c shredded monterey jack cheese
  • pico de gallo, for serving (optional)
1. Rinse pork and pat dry. Place in a large freezer bag with 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce and the kosher salt. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Place pork and marinade in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350F. Mince garlic. Slice onion. Heat vegetable oil on medium-high in a large saute pan. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add onion and cook 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion just becomes tender. Remove from heat.
4. Place half of the cooked pork roast in a large bowl and shred with a fork (reserve remaining half of pork for another use). Add the onion mixture. Slice corn kernels from the husk and chop the basil. Add corn and basil to bowl, stir and season filling mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
5. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sour cream (reserve some for serving, if desired), and the remaining enchilada sauce. Pour 1 c of the mixture into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.
6. Divide the filling equally among the 8 tortillas. Top with 2-3 tbsp shredded cheese, roll, and place in pan. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, removing foil for last 10 minutes of baking, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and pico de gallo if desired.

 

 

chicken teriyaki

We don’t have a heck of a lot of fast food in Seattle. Most folks around here snub their noses at McDonald’s, Burger King and Arby’s (all for good reason, although I admit I occasionally indulge in the King’s chicken sangwich from time to time when I’m traveling). If we do have a signature “fast food” though, it’s surely teriyaki. Teriyaki joints in the Big Rainy are almost as frequent as coffee shops. I’ve yet to find one that’s spectacular, but most are passable and can provide you with a quick, somewhat healthy lunch. It’s cheap, filling, and satisfying.

But as is the case with most takeout, you can make it better at home. In fact, you can make great chicken teriyaki, and it’s easier than you think.

Start with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You’ll get the best flavor from the organic, free-range variety. Since this is a very simple dish, the quality of chicken you buy really matters. Grab your favorite teriyaki sauce (I like Yoshida’s Original Gourmet Sauce—stay far away from Kikkoman), and a few cloves of garlic.

Mince the garlic. I like my handy dandy garlic twist. All you do is stick the naked cloves in…

…give it a twirl and your garlic is perfectly minced. Plus, no smelly garlic hands.

Stir the garlic in with the teriyaki sauce.

Rinse and pat dry your chicken thighs, then place them in a large Ziploc bag. Pour in the teriyaki marinade. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24.

When you’re ready to eat, grill the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat. I always use thighs when I’m going to grill chicken—the higher fat content means they won’t dry out like breasts do.

Slice. Serve. Savor.

It’s your favorite takeout, but at home. With much more flavor. And probably cheaper. No need to visit that Teriyaki joint at the strip mall again.

-RDG

Chicken Teriyaki  printable yaki

The key to this simple dish is quality chicken and good teriyaki sauce. Buy organic, free-range chicken if you can. Serves 3-4 as a main course. 

Prep Time: 5 minutes       Marinating Time: at least 6 hours     Cook Time: 8 minutes

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 c teriyaki sauce
1. Rinse the chicken thighs. Pat dry and place in a large Ziploc bag.
2. Mince the garlic. Stir into the teriyaki sauce. Pour sauce over chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24 hours.
3. Preheat grill to medium. Grill chicken thighs for 3-4 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with rice and vegetables.

 

 

pasta salad with greek chicken and whipped feta

One evening while sailing the Mediterranean, a glass of ouzo in hand and the setting sun on our faces, we were asked an important question: what would you like for dinner? The boat’s chef Stavros was eager to please, making us anything from poached sea bass to Nutella with yogurt. We felt like something light and fresh but also traditionally Greek, since we could spy the coastline rich with olive trees not a mile away. Stavros nodded and disappeared back into the cabin, only to emerge 30 minutes later with two plates of pasta. Tender noodles were dressed with tomatoes, cucumber and olives, topped with the most heavenly grilled chicken I have ever smelled and a creamy feta sauce. We ate on the bow perched on a blanket, each bite washed down with a crisp white wine.

After dinner we dove into the water for a midnight swim. The moonlight bounced along each small wave and we bobbed along happily with full tummies, pleasantly drunk, our skin still warm from the sun.

And then I woke up. The baby was crying. I got tangled in a cloud of balloon strings on the way to the bathroom. Crap. It was a dream. Greece seemed maddeningly far away.

On the bright side, I had dream-invented a recipe. I had been reading this recipe from Saveur right before bed, and naturally my subconscious put my own twist on it. It also invented the perfect vacation that I won’t be able to take for several years, but at this point I’ll just have to settle for this pasta salad. This fresh, light pasta salad topped with juicy herbed chicken and a cool, creamy feta sauce.

 

To make it, you’ll first need to marinate some chicken thighs. Breasts work too, although I find chicken thighs with their fattier, darker meat grill better and stay more moist. For the marinade, grab some olive oil, oregano, lemon, garlic, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Use fresh herbs whenever possible.

Place the ingredients in a small food processor or blender.

Whip it on up.

Rinse the chicken, place in a large freezer bag and coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably 24.

For the pasta and sauce you’ll need noodles (tube-shaped work best; I like mostaccioli), kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, sour cream, grape or cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, lemon, and cucumber.

To make the whipped feta sauce, toss the feta, sour cream, lemon juice, and olive oil in the food processor.

Blend until smooth.

Cook the pasta and let drain.

Chop up the tomatoes and cucumber into whatever shape and size you like.

Drain some olives…

…and give them a quick chop.

Drain some sun dried tomatoes, reserving the oil.

Run your knife through those as well.

Toss the pasta with the reserved sun dried tomato oil and throw in the veggies.

When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill to medium.

Grill the chicken thighs for roughly 6-7 minutes per side, or until juices run clear and the middles are no longer pink.

The marinade makes this chicken impossibly moist—it reminds me of the chicken you’ll find in most shawarmas at Greek restaurants. It will give you serious garlic breath, but it’s worth it.

Serve the chicken atop a helping of pasta with a dollop of feta sauce on top.

I’m so pissed at my subconscious for taunting me with the sunny Mediterranean and then yanking it away, but thankful that it left me with the idea for this recipe.

Would it have killed you, brain, to leave me with Stavros as well? He was pretty easy on the eyes, and a fantastic chef to boot.

-RDG

Pasta Salad With Greek Chicken & Whipped Feta, inspired by this recipe from Saveur Click for the handy dandy printable

Serves 8 as a main course.

Inactive Prep Time: at least 8 hours for marinating chicken. Active Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes

For the chicken:

  • 2 small lemons or 1 large
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • several sprigs fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
  • several sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
  • several leaves fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8-10 boneless skinless chicken thighs, rinsed

1) Juice lemons into small food processor. Add olive oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.

2) Place chicken in a large freezer bag. Pour in marinade. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.

For the whipped feta:

  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c sour cream or plain yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste

1) Place feta, olive oil and sour cream or yogurt in a small food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the pasta salad:

  • 1 lb tube-shaped pasta
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomato oil (from jar of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
  • 1/3 c chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/4 c chopped sun dried tomatoes

1) Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Toss with the sun dried tomato oil.

2) Toss pasta with the cucumber, tomatoes, olives and sun dried tomatoes. Top with one chicken thigh and a dollop of whipped feta. Serve.

mom’s flank steak

When I think of comfort foods, my mind usually drifts towards creamy, warm foods: mac ‘n’ cheese, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, pot roast. But one of the most comforting meals I’ve ever had was on a rainy night when I was in college, and involved, of all things, steak.

I had been through a rough week; final exams, a hectic work schedule, and had just broken up with my boyfriend. My parents, sensing that I was on the brink, invited me over for dinner and to spend the night in my old bed. I had never been so happy to go home.

I drove from my neighborhood to theirs in the pouring rain, my crappy windshield wipers in need of replacement and clouding the car into a blurry cocoon. I pulled into the driveway to the smell of the barbecue, a peculiar smell for a cold, wet December evening. Over red wine, my father’s Caesar salad and tender bites of my mother’s juicy medium-rare flank steak, I relayed the events of the week and cried my eyes out. That night, I curled up in the bed of my childhood and slept more soundly than I had in months.

My mother’s flank steak will always be a comfort food for me, and it has become a regular meal in our house. I’ll buy a pack of steaks when a good sale arises, marinate them and store in the freezer for whenever we feel like grilling. Her marinade is perfect: salty, the slightest bit sweet, chock-full of garlic and herbs, tangy with citrus. You must try it for yourself.

The ingredients are simple: soy sauce, vegetable oil (canola or olive oil work fine too), freshly ground pepper, garlic, lemon, garlic salt, and lots of fresh parsley.

Not only does the marinade tenderize the meat, but my mom doubles up and uses a meat tenderizer before placing the steak in the marinade. This insures that without a doubt, the steak will fall apart on your plate. We like the unseasoned variety, available for just a few dollars on the spice aisle.

Begin by chopping the parsley and mincing the garlic.

In a bowl stir together the soy sauce, parsley, minced garlic, garlic salt, oil, and pepper.

Squeeze in the lemon juice.

See that bracelet? Lucy got us matching ones for mother’s day. If I’m caught without it I face the wrath of a two year old.

After the meat has been tenderized, place it in a large Ziploc freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Squish it around to make sure the meat is evenly coated.

Marinate for at least 24 hours, and when you’re ready grill for 6-7 minutes per side over medium heat.

I like to throw some asparagus on the grill while I’m at it, lightly brushed with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

Let the steak rest under aluminum foil for 5 minutes before slicing. Eat. Savor. Repeat.

What’s your most memorable comforting meal?

xo

-RDG

Mom’s Flank Steak click here for the handy dandy printable

While you’re at it, marinate a few steaks and place in the freezer. Defrost whenever you feel like firing up the grill! Serves 3-4.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Marinade Time: at least 24 hours Cook Time: 14 minutes

  • 1 flank steak (1-1 1/2 lbs)
  • meat tenderizer
  • 1/3 c fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • several turns freshly ground pepper

1. Wet steak and sprinkle with meat tenderizer. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

2. Stir together parsley, garlic, oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper. Place steak and marinade in a large freezer bag. Refrigerate at least 24 hours* or up to 3 days, turning halfway through marination.

3. Preheat grill to medium. Grill steak for 6-7 minutes per side for medium-rare, longer for medium or medium-well. Let rest 5 minutes under aluminum foil before thinly slicing and serving.

*If freezing steak, let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 day first before placing in freezer.

 

creamy corn chowder with bacon

We arrived home from our haunted vacation (which I will tell you all about in a post to come later this week) yesterday afternoon to cool rain, a yard full of blooms, and an empty, empty refrigerator. Our dinners before we left consisted of this delicious corn chowder, which I meant to freeze some of for when we came home. It didn’t happen. We slurped bowl after bowl, and before we knew it, the whole batch was gone.

With corn in season, this is a perfectly sweet summer dish. It’s easy, flavorful, and (theoretically) freezes well if you can bear storing half for a later date.

First, you’ll need corn. Sweet yellow or white cobs are easy to come by in the summer months. For potatoes, I like to use half yukon golds and half sweet potatoes—the combination blends nicely with the sugary bursts of corn kernels. You’ll also need one yellow onion (any variety would do—I used vidalia), some garlic, flour, chicken broth, half and half (or heavy cream, if you’re feeling naughty), and bacon to add a little meatiness.

Slice the bacon strips into 1/4″ pieces with a sharp knife.

Mince the garlic…

…and give the onion a quick dice.

Wash the potatoes. Skin the sweet potatoes, and give both varieties about a 1″ dice.

And finally, carefully slice the corn kernels from the cobs.

Is there anything prettier than sweet summer corn? I think not.

Fry the bacon pieces over medium-high heat until they begin to crisp. We’re going to make the chowder in the same pot, so make it a large dutch oven or another large pot (just not non-stick, please).

Remove the bacon with a slotted spatula and let it drain on a paper towel. Shoo away the man of the house before he picks the plate clean.

Add the onion and garlic to the rendered bacon fat. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion becomes tender and lightly browned….

…like so.

Add the flour to the pan…

…and toss quickly to coat the onion. Be careful that the flour doesn’t begin to burn.

Immediately pour in the chicken broth and some water and stir quickly, scraping all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the potatoes, corn…

…and the bacon. Don’t forget the crispy, salty, lovely bacon! Give the pot a good stir and let simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Pour in the half and half and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for another 5 minutes to bring the whole thing up to serving temperature.

Serve with a warm, crusty bread for sopping up all that creamy broth.

I can’t decide what I like most about this dish. The sweet corn? The tender bites of potato? The hint of rich bacon flavor?

Eating it. Just eating it is what I like best. Someone kick me for not saving a bowl of this for dinner tonight. I’m no good at delayed gratification.

-RDG

Creamy Corn Chowder with Bacon

Makes 8-10 bowlfuls. Serve with a warm, crusty bread for dipping.

  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 4 yukon gold potatoes
  • 6 cobs of sweet yellow or white corn, removed from the husks and rid of the stringy bits
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pint (2 cups) half and half
  • salt and pepper to taste

Grab a large cutting board and a sharp knife to prep your ingredients. Slice the bacon into 1/4″ pieces, dice the onion, and mince the garlic. Wash all of the potatoes and peel the sweet potatoes. Chop both varieties into 1″ cubes. Carefully slice the corn kernels from the cobs.

Preheat a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat (any large pot that is not non-stick will do). Add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel using a slotted spatula. Reduce heat to medium and add the garlic and onion to the rendered bacon fat. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion becomes tender and slightly browned. Turn heat back up to medium-high. Toss in the flour and stir quickly to coat the onion. Be careful not to burn the flour. Immediately add the chicken broth and water, stirring to release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the potatoes, corn, and cooked bacon. Simmer for about 20 minutes over medium heat, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Stir in the half and half and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes more to bring up to serving temperature. Ladle into bowls and serve with a hunk of crusty bread.