Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Year in Food: Mexican Chicken Macaroni & Cheese, Chipotle Chopped Salad, Apple Raisin Carrot Salad, Tortilla Chips with Garlic Breath Salsa and Guacamole

I just finished browsing my way through Rachael Ray's "My Year in Meals" cookbook and thought it might be fun to try to get more disciplined about sharing at least dinner notes every single day. The cookbook is a fun read, if a smidge repetitive, and includes a cocktail section, as well. Knowing myself, I will not do it every day, but let's see what happens when I try. Since my study year (a year of reading on a chosen subject) goes from November 1 to November 1, I'll do Novembers with this idea, as well, except I will start where I am. Here goes!

Last night, my honey, who has been suffering with a bad cold, got bored of doing nothing all day and decided to get up and make dinner---or, at least, assemble it. She had no idea what she was going to make and kept warning me that she had no idea what she was doing. I trust her noodling around in the kitchen, pretty completely, to be tasty, if not necessarily healthy. The biggest problem with her impromptu cooking sprees is that she can never re-create dishes if they turn out great, which they frequently do. I am trusting that she did not impart her cold into the dinner and give it back to me!

She found leftover rotini in the fridge, from chicken noodle soup she made me when I had the same cold, as well as a package of chicken breasts I'd bought for use this coming Sunday & had not remembered to tuck in the freezer. I can only attest to the debris I saw on the counters---cheese wrappers, cardboard from a box of bouillon cubes, a fine dusting of cumin on the stovetop, seeds and stem from a jalapeño (I went on to use the rest in my salsa). What came out of the oven, all bubbling and orange, was yummy and would have done any 1970s housewife proud. Jeannene dubbed it Mexican chicken macaroni & cheese. She'd started with parmesan and white wine, she said as we ate, but when she realized I was making salsa and guacamole, she decided to veer in another direction. It was my lunch today, too.

She's a huge fan of those bagged chopped salads that seem to be all over grocery shelves right now. Her favorite right now is the Dole Chipotle & Cheddar Salad Kit. I am not much of a fan of any of the bagged salads and this is the least favorite of all, I think. The texture is not one I appreciate. So, she buys them for herself and takes them for lunch. Last night, though, she and my mom really enjoyed it (as much as you can enjoy any food when you can't smell it properly!). I went for leftover apple raisin carrot salad from the night before, instead, and it was great! Here's the (very simple) recipe:

Apple Raisin Carrot Salad
1/2 c. golden raisins
2 smaller-size Honeycrisp apples, peeled & diced
About 1 c. matchstick carrots (if I were not a lazy cook, I would do this myself, but I bought them already cut that way)
A handful of chopped pecans
2 tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise (I would normally use canola mayo, instead, but I was trying to keep it as light as possible for my mom---however, I really think this needs no mayo at all, even though it's traditional)

Cover raisins with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Let sit in hot water, off heat, for another 15 minutes, then drain. Mix with apples, carrots, and pecans. Gently fold in mayonnaise, stirring to coat everything entirely. Serves 4-6. 

The garlic breath salsa recipe comes from my friend, Maggie King, who says it is not only good for colds, but also for warding off vampires. Not only that, it's delish! Here's my preparation of it, which is not exactly as Maggie would make it, but allows the cilantro-phobic to eat it with pleasure, as well! I would have added her 4 oz. can of chopped green chiles, but the can I thought I had in the pantry was not there, after all. A pity. 

Garlic Breath Salsa
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
Most of a jalapeño, seeds removed, minced
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
6 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp. cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
Salt & pepper, to taste

Mix together & eat with tortilla chips! Serves 8-10. 

I make my guacamole by feel, just mashing the avocados with some garlic powder, salt, and lime juice in my molcajete. 

Since my mom doesn't eat cheese (except very low fat versions) or chicken, she had leftovers for her main course, Jeannene's version of Mollie Katzen's broccoli & tofu in spicy peanut sauce from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. If you're not familiar with it, this is a wonderful (and prettily illustrated) cookbook from the early 1980s, a vegetarian classic and a companion to the Moosewood Cookbook. Jeannene had done Cornish game hens for our Sunday Dinner with the kids this week, so she made that dish for my mom, whom I cannot begin to imagine eating a teeny little chicken (which Jeannene & Bubbles kept referring to as "cute" even as they tucked into it!), to enjoy while we ate teeny little chickens. 

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