Chile, Chicken and Cheese Tamales

Why I got the urge to make tamales, I’m really not sure.  A few weeks ago I made some pork tamales, and they were good, but I wanted some with chicken.  I scoured recipes, but nothing really jumped out at me, so I took ideas from several recipes added some Real Housewife touches and came up with the recipe below.  The first batch were pretty good, but I knew I could do better, so I made a second batch using what I had learned from the first.  Aida, the woman that watches my children who is also from Mexico, said they were delicious and that I did a great job.  That made me feel wonderful about my efforts.  I hope you try and enjoy them too!!

For the Recipe:

1 lb. fresh tomatillos, if it’s not exact not a big deal, husk peeled and rinsed

1 large onion, cut into large pieces

4 garlic cloves

2 serrano chili peppers,

1 tbsp. salt

2 tsp. pepper

3 c. chicken stock, or enough to cover everything

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles

2 whole chicken breasts, cut into four halves For the masa:

3/4 c. lard or vegetable shortening

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

3 1/4 c. masa

2 1/2 c. chicken stock, if you must, you can substitute water

20, or so corn husks, softened in hot water

1 1/2 c. Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded

In a large pan add the tomatillos, onion, garlic, serrano chilies, salt, pepper and chicken stock.  Cook for about ten minutes, or until the tomatillos start to soften and have changed color.  Transfer all of the ingredients from the pan plus the cilantro to a blender and blend until fairly chunk free.  You will need to do this in batches, also be careful when putting hot liquid into a blender as it will explode if you completely close it in.  I like to take the center part out of the blender lid and use a cloth to cover the hole and still let steam escape.  Return this sauce to the pan, add the cumin, can of chiles and the chicken breast. DSC_0511[1] Cook over medium heat until the chicken is fully cooked, about 25 minutes.  Take the chicken out of the pan but continue to cook the sauce until it has thickened.  Now would be a good time to test for seasoning, add more if needed.  When you are able to work with the chicken, shred it and set aside while the sauce thickens. DSC_0515[1] Once the sauce has thickened and reduced about a quarter remove from the heat and add the shredded chicken. To make the masa, in mixer, whip the shortening/lard until fluffy.  Add the salt, water and baking powder and mix in well.  Add the masa and the chicken stock one cup at a time, alternating each until done. DSC_0514[1] Mix for another few minutes to make sure the masa is nice and fluffy.  *Note: some people like a firmer masa, if this is you, don’t mix it so much. DSC_0513[1] Now time to assemble. I like to make an assembly line of the ingredients to make for easy access of everything.  Lay a corn husk, wide end away from you, down. DSC_0518[1]*I would actually put more filling than this picture… Place a couple spoonful’s of the masa on the husk and spread into a 3″ square, 1/4″ thick, make sure you leave room at both ends, pointy end will need to be folded under..  Do note that the size of the square can vary depending on the size of the husk, however, in the packages of husks you will inevitably get ones that seem like half a husk, those I use to line the bottom of the steamer and also to place on top of the tamales while they cook.  Once you have the masa spread top with a couple spoonful’s of the chicken/chile mix, down the center, next top with the cheese.  You don’t want to be too frugal with this but you need to remember it needs to be able to be closed to cook.  Next, pull up both long sides of the husk so the two sides of the masa meet, overlap the husk to close the tamale in.  You might need to use your finger a bit to get a good seam.  Then continue to roll the husk around the now closed tamale, fold up the pointed end, use kitchen twine to keep this in place and also I bit of twine at the 3/4 of the way up to keep that part wrapped around the tamale, but the top open.  Of course the use of twine is optional, I just found it kept the tamales tucked nice and tightly in the husks with it. DSC_0519[1] Place the tamales as you finish them open side up in a steamer lined with corn husks.  If you still have a lot of room left in your steamer after finishing all the tamales fill in the gap with rolled husks.  Place steamer over boiling water, but do not let the water touch the steamer.  I like to cover the tamales with a layer of corn husks before I place the lid, again, optional.  Cook for 50-60 minutes. DSC_0523[1] The masa should easily come away from the husk when they are cooked. DSC_0522[1] I love having tamales with eggs, but you can also serve them with rice and a nice sauce over the top.  Do whatever sounds good to you!! Any leftovers will freeze nicely for several months. Enjoy!!!


Meyer Lemon Scones

Meyer lemons are high on my list of things I love, so much so I’ve got three trees growing in my indoor room.  When Meyer lemon season starts I do a little happy dance in my head while wearing a grin from ear to ear.  Yes, I love some Meyer lemons.

Since today is Valentine’s Day I was going to shape the scones into heart shapes, but then settled on a more rustic look, which I like.  These were fairly easy and man oh man did my kitchen smell nice and lemony.


For the recipe:

3 c. all purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

3/4 c.  sugar

2 tbsp. lemon zest

3/4 c. cold butter, cubed

3/4 c. cold heavy cream

1 cold egg

seeds from 2 vanilla beans


In a food processor add the flour, baking powder, sugar, lemon zest and butter.  Pulse until it comes together in what looks like small peas.


In a small bowl, mix together the cream, egg, and vanilla bean seeds.  Pour the flour mixture into a bowl, using a wooden spoon add in the cream, egg and vanilla bean seeds.  Mix until it forms a crumbly dough.  For the next part I like to run my hands under cold water so they are not so warm.  Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle/square about 3/4- 1 inch thick.

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You can either just cut the dough into eight pieces or you can get all fancy and cut out round shapes.  I chose the former.  Place the scones on a lined baking sheet and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 F.


Once the scones have chilled cook in the oven for 13-15 minutes, or until just starting to brown.  Cool completely on a cooling rack before glazing.

Meyer Lemon Glaze:

3 c. powdered sugar

1/2 c. Meyer lemon juice

Put the powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl.  Slowly add the lemon juice in increments.  You might not need all of it, so stop when the glaze can be poured over the scones and drip down the sides.  If you add too much juice just add more sugar.



Corn Chowder

For the past few days I’ve been craving some corn chowder, like really craving, so today I decided to finally make some.  Normally when I make soup I start with an idea and just go with it, no recipe.  One of the most difficult parts of this blog is writing the recipes.

Asking around about what other people put in their corn chowders, cheddar cheese kept popping up.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cheddar cheese, but it just didn’t sound appealing in a corn chowder.  When I started I had the mindset that there would be no cheese at all, but I changed my mind late in the game.  I hope you try and enjoy what I came up with.


The Recipe:

5 slices of bacon, cut into strips

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 of one large red pepper, chopped

4 c. chicken stock

4 potatoes, cubed

1 tbsp. salt

2 tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. garlic powder (you can definitely use fresh, just add with the red pepper)

3 c. corn kernels (I used frozen that I defrosted)

1/4 c. flour

1/2 c. half-n-half (can substitute milk)

3/4 c. heavy cream or half-n-half

4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

In a heavy bottom pot start frying the bacon strips, about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and the onions, stir well.  When the onions become translucent add the red pepper, cook another 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, potatoes and seasonings.  Let cook until your potatoes start to get tender.  Add the corn, let cook another 5 or so minutes.  While this is cooking, in a small bowl mix (very well) the flour and 1/2 c. half-n-half, add to the pot, mixing well.  It should start to thicken.  Next add the cream and the cheese.  Mix well.


Beef and Barley Soup

Cold weather = soup.  Period.  Considering snow has been slowly making it’s way up the state to me, it was the perfect day for yet another bowl.  I had some of the roast that I made when I did my little roast experiment that I didn’t want to go to waste and some vegetables so it was a no brainer to make some kind of beef soup.  Not sure why the barley popped in my head, but it did, and that’s how we ended up with the beef and barley soup.

Soups are one of those things you really don’t need a recipe, they just seem to magically turn out as long as you have some liquid, solid tasty things like meat and/or vegetables and seasonings.  That being said, here’s what I used for my soup, since I was making it to really suit the tastes of the twinadoes mine is not as brothy as some like, add/delete to suit your taste.


For the Recipe:

Approximately 1 pound cooked beef (you can always use raw I just had cooked that I needed to use)

7 c. beef stock

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

5 ribs of celery, chopped

3 roma tomatoes, skinned and chopped

1/2 c. parsley, chopped small

1 tbsp. salt

2 tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

2 tsp. coriander

1/2 tsp. fennel seed, ground

1 c. barley

If you are in a hurry, you can put everything in a large pot, bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the barley is tender.  If you have a few extra minutes, in a large pot add a little olive oil, and onions and sauté until translucent.  Add the rest of the vegetables and seasonings, continue to sauté for another 3-5 minutes, then add the stock.  Bring to a simmer and add barley.  Cook for about 30 minutes, until the barley is tender.

**I tend to add more vegetables to soups these days since it’s one of the ways I can get the twinadoes to eat them.  If the amounts I have listed seem a bit much for you then decrease to suit your taste.


Easy Roast

A few years ago I had seen someone cook a roast by putting it in a hot oven for a short amount of time, then reducing the heat to very low and finishing it off.  Not sure why, but I decided I wanted to try and do this.  Now keep in mind it had been a few years since I had seen this and when I did I wasn’t exactly paying a lot of attention so I was going to kind of wing it.


In my freezer was a 3 1/2 pound new york roast that would be perfect for my little experiment.


I cut off a large piece of aluminum foil, placed the roast on top, drizzled some olive oil and seasoned the heck out of it with my house seasoning (use whatever seasoning you like to put on meat).  I enclosed the roast in a nice foil bubble (not too tight around the roast, give it a little wiggle room) and put it in a preheated 500 F degree oven, no that wasn’t a typo, 500 F for 35 minutes.  After the 35 minutes I lowered the heat to 325 F for another 1 1/2 hours.  Because I was worried about having an overcooked piece of meat on my hands I decided to check the roast.  Though it was well on it’s way to perfection, it needed more time, so I left the foil open on the top and put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes.


I was very happy with the results of my little experiment.  Next time I think I will leave it enclosed in the lower heat for a little longer, but definitely give it some time in the oven uncovered to brown up the top.


I used this roast for sandwiches by slicing it thin and letting it rest in its own juices.

WP_20140206_004(bad picture, but regular camera battery died, used cell phone…)

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Then I layered swiss cheese and onions and red peppers that I caramelized on top of a toasted hoagie roll.


To melt the cheese I put it in the oven for about 5 minutes.  Delicious!!!