Maria’s Chilaquiles

Maria strikes again.

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First, let me say: I’m pretty sure I was Mexican in a past life. Or Italian. Or at least something equally as exotic. And then Maria goes and teaches me to make things like chicken mole and chilaquiles, and I’m a lost cause. You guys. I LOVE chilaquiles. I must eat these a few times a month — a perfect weekend in my house involves chicken mole for dinner, followed by chilaquiles the next morning for breakfast to use up any leftovers. You can serve them with salsa verde, red salsa, mole…anything you want. Get creative!

They are also the perfect hangover food.

Not that I ever drink so much alcohol as to be hungover. I’m far too classy for that.

Ingredients:

  • Tortilla chips — alternatively, you can deep-fry stale tortillas. However, if you’re doing this while hungover, then you’re an overachiever. And I don’t like you.
  • 2 cups salsa verde, or 1 cup of green and 1 cup of red salsa — I prefer to use 2 7-ounce cans of Embasa
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 or so cups leftover pinto beans
  • crema (Mexican-style sour cream) or regular sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese
  • sliced avocado
  • Sauteed chorizo (optional)
  • Leftover mole (optional)

Instructions:

Add your salsa verde to a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until hot. You may need to add a couple tablespoons of water to the salsa to even out the saltiness. In the meantime, fry or scramble the eggs until cooked to your liking. Re-heat the beans either on the stove or in the microwave and then divide eggs and beans between two plates.

To assemble the chilaquiles, spread your tortilla chips out on the same plate as the beans and eggs. Top with the hot salsa, cheese, crema, chorizo (if you made it), and sliced avocado. Traditionally, the chips should be slightly soggy, so don’t worry if they seem to be wilting under the hot salsa.

Serve with fresh orange juice and then go back to bed to nurse your hangover.

Yields: 2 servings — if you want to feed more people, just double or triple the recipe

Recipe from: the ever-talented Maria

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Sunday Cooking: Chicken Mole with Rice + Beans

One of my favorite things about the cold weather and rain showing up just in time for fall is being able to cook a big Sunday meal. Nothing beats cozying up in the house with football on, a fire going, and something warm cooking on the stove or in the oven.

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And this meal totally fits the bill. I know I’ve raved about my favorite Mexican family before, but I really do adore them…and the food they’ve introduced me to. About a year and a half ago, Maria invited me over to her house for a full afternoon of learning how to make authentic, Mexican food and ever since, I CANNOT GET ENOUGH. Mostly of the mole. I’d make it every week if it were socially acceptable. However, between the beans, chicken, rice, tortillas, and salsa, it’s not a quick and easy meal to throw together.

So here’s the deal — it’s best when you have true, authentic mole concentrate, but since that’s not the easiest thing in the world to come by, you can use store-bought. I used Dona Maria last time, and it turned out pretty well (I’m slowly working my way through all the store-bought brands to see which one I like best). You can make this meal as involved or not as you want it. When I’m feeling ambitious, I make everything from scratch — all the way down to the tortillas. And when I’m not, I do the essentials (chicken, mole, rice, beans) and buy everything else from the store. Either way, it’s an awesome meal and I can’t wait until I get to make it again.

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Ingredients:

For the Beans:

  • 2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 1/4 of an onion
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tbs. dry parsley
  • 1 tbs. Better Than Bouillon chicken base

For the Rice:

  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • dash of salt

For the Chicken Mole:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken breast
  • 1 jar of mole concentrate, preferably Dona Maria
  • 2-4 cups of chicken broth

For Serving:

  • Tortillas – I prefer flour
  • Crema or sour cream
  • Cotija cheese
  • Salsa

Instructions:

Prepare the beans 24 hours ahead of time by dumping them into a large pot and soaking them 6 cups of water. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and let soak for a minimum of 6 hours, up to 24 hours.

The next day, you’ll need to simmer the beans for approximately 2 hours, on low heat, being careful when you stir them to avoid them getting mushy. If the water is getting absorbed too quickly, you can always add more, a half cup at a time. You’ll know when the beans are done by taste-testing them to make sure they’re soft but not mushy.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the mole sauce by following the directions on the jar — depending which concentrate you use, it should be anywhere from 2-4 cups of chicken broth combined with the mole in a large saucepan. Let simmer on low heat while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Next, you can start the rice. Add 2 tbs. evoo to a large frying pan along with the 2 cups of rice. Fry for a few minutes until just golden brown. Add your 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water, along with a dash of salt. Over medium heat, bring the rice to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover with lid, and let the rice continue to cook until all the water is absorbed.

Finally, you’re ready to grill the chicken. Season liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, then throw on the grill until cooked through. Remove from the grill and slice into strips.

To serve, I usually arrange the sliced chicken on a plate, cover with mole sauce, crema and cheese, and then everything else (rice, beans, tortilla, salsa) on the side. You can eat it like a fajita, or an enchilada, or really any way you like. It’s delicious no matter what…enjoy!

Yields: 6 servings

Recipe from: The one and only Maria

{Easy} Kid-Friendly Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Do you have those certain meals? The ones that, no matter what experiments you try in your kitchen, you know you can always come back to? I have ’em. Most of them are comfort meals…ones I know like the back of my hand, that I can throw together anytime I’m feelin’ a little down. True comfort foods.

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This spaghetti is one of those meals. It’s funny…as a kid, I hated spaghetti. It was the only thing my dad knew how to cook (or chose to cook) whenever my mom was gone. Side note: his cooking skills have improved tremendously. This recipe I actually got from my bestie back in our college days. It’s warm, very hearty, and comes together in no time flat. I’ve been counting down the days to cold weather, when this dish sounds most appealing, and I always serve it with a glass (or bottle) of red wine, some steamed broccoli, and warm garlic bread. Yup. Comfort food at its finest.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1 28-oz. can of tomato sauce — plain
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 packet of McCormick’s “Thick N’ Zesty” spaghetti sauce flavoring — you can use other brands if you can’t find this one
  • 1 package of spaghetti noodles — I use whole wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh basil for garnish (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

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Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Brown ground meat and drain any excess liquid. Add meat back to pan along with mushrooms and minced garlic. Saute for a couple minutes, and then add in: tomato sauce and seasoning packet. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then season with salt and pepper as needed. If sauce is too thick for your preference, feel free to add a little water (a few tablespoons at a time) but keep in mind that you’ll need to add some extra seasoning so that it doesn’t taste watered down.
  3. Serve over spaghetti noodles with cheese and bail. Enjoy!

Yields: 6 servings