Spice it Up with Chicken Tostadas with Spicy Mashed Black Beans

If you have been following along on my blog with me, you know that I like to use a lot of recipes from Cook’s Country. It is perhaps my favorite cooking magazine and I like to use the recipes because most of them are pretty easy, use basic ingredients, and taste great. the magazine only comes out every other month, and since their website is a pay website if you want to access the recipes, I don’t mind sharing the ones that I try out so you can see just how good they are. Such is the case with this chicken tostada recipe I made this week, which was in the latest issue of Cook’s Country. I have made tostadas before, and they are pretty easy to put together, and this one incorporated some nice spicy black beans into the recipe and since I love black beans personally, I knew I wanted to give this recipe a try.

Chicken Tostadas with Spicy Mashed Black Beans

2 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

8 (5-inch) corn tostadas, warmed

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

2 radishes, trimmed, halved, and sliced thin

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and toss it with the ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat until it is just smoking. Cook the chicken until it is browned and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent it loosely with foil to keep it warm.

Return the now-empty skillet to medium-high heat and add the black beans, tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro. Cook, mashing the beans with a potato masher, until the mixture is thickened and the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the tostadas on a serving platter. Spoon 1/2 cup of the bean mixture onto each tostada. Evenly distribute the chicken, feta cheese, radishes and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cilantro over the bean mixture. Serve with sour cream and lime wedges on the side.

A couple of quick notes about the recipe. The original recipe calls for a can of diced tomatoes and green chiles, which I did not have, so I just used diced tomatoes and diced up half of a jalapeno pepper and included it in the mix. It tasted nice and fresh to me this way. I did not use corn tostadas, again because I did not have any on hand, but instead used small flour tortillas I had on hand and fried them in oil for a minute to crisp them up nicely. These worked fine for me as well and everyone seemed to like them. I also did not use feta since we aren’t much for feta in this house and instead I offered up some Mexican cheese blend for Michelle and Sean since they are the cheese eaters in the house. The tostadas were delicious and the bean mixture on the tostadas was perfect, giving just a little bit of spice and a nice refried beans texture to the dish. We gobbled up every last bit of them and I did make some easy Mexican rice to go alongside the dish, which I will post the recipe for tomorrow. The lime wedges and sour cream topped it all off, and even some fresh avocado would be nice along with these also. It’s a very easy meal for any night of the week.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Posted by on April 17, 2015 in Beans, Cooking, Dinner, Poultry


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How About Stew Day Two? Seafood and Chorizo Stew

I know it seems silly that I have been clamoring for warmer weather for months and now that it is finally here what recipes do I offer up but stew recipes? Well, there are a couple of reasons for the stew recipes. First, I have been so busy with work lately that making a stew gives me a chance to put together a dinner rather easily and have it all in one pot, making things even better for all of us. Second, both of the stews I have made, this one today and the chicken stew yesterday, I kind of spring-like in their ingredients so they fit pretty well into the weather that we have been having lately anyway. lastly, this recipe today came in the last issue of Cook’s Country magazine and I just love to make their recipes, so I couldn’t resist it. This one is for a simple seafood and chorizo stew, making use of shrimp, cod and chorizo so you get the great flavors of the seafood combined with the heat and spiciness of the chorizo.

Seafood and Chorizo Stew

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

6 ounces chorizo sausage, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 onion, chopped fine

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined and tails removed

2 (6-ounce) skinless cod fillets, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the chorizo and the onion and cook until both are lightly browned, about 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the garlic and 1 teaspoon of the oregano and cook until both are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes and their juice and the clam juice, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Pat the shrimp and the cod dry with paper towels and season each with salt and pepper. Gently stir the seafood into the stew and cook until the seafood is opaque and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of oregano and season the stew with salt and pepper to taste. Portion the stew into individual bowls and drizzle with a little bit of extra olive oil and serve.

This was a nice thick stew with lots of great flavor to it. love the combination of the shrimp and chorizo and I think if you wanted to leave the cod out altogether and just go with those two this would be a fine dish as well, though the cod adds a nice bit of contrast and some extra meatiness to the dish. I had bought some fresh made chorizo from the butcher and it was perfect, with just the right amount of heat to it. This stew goes great with some nice crusty bread to sop up the juices and I really enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day when the stew was even a little bit hotter because the chorizo had really melded into the dish by then. This is another great one pot meal you can have done in under 30 minutes so it is great for any weeknight when you need something easy to put together.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, One Pot Meals, Sausage, Seafood


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Spring Into Spring with Spring Stew with Chicken, Asparagus and Mushroom with Herb Dumplings

It looks like spring has finally arrived in my corner of New York here, at least over the last few days anyway where the temperature has been warmer and all of the snow has finally melted away! I even went to Opening Day at Citi Field yesterday to celebrate the warmer weather and the baseball season coming, so I know that everything is getting better around here. Now if the rest of life could just slow down a bit so I had some more time to do some fun writing, things would be even better! Oh well, it is better to be busy working than not and I’ll just have to learn to fit in blogging where I can and when I have time to do it. That being said, I decided to usher in spring weather for us by making a nice spring stew for dinner the other night. I got this recipe from Calphalon and it is a great one dish meal of spring stew with chicken, asparagus and mushrooms and some herb dumplings to top it off. it is very nourishing and hearty and sure hit the spot and made use of the spring favorite of asparagus along the way.

Spring Stew with Chicken, Asparagus and Mushrooms with Herb Dumplings

For the Stew:

1 whole, boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch cubes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice

3-4 carrots, trimmed and peeled, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3 cups)

1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths on an angle

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 red pepper, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

48 ounces chicken broth

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

For the Dumplings:

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

2 teaspoons vegetable shortening

3/4 cup boiling chicken broth

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl. Dredge the cubed chicken pieces in the flour mixture to coat them well. Preheat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for several minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to the hot pan and allow the oil to heat for about 1 minute. Add the chicken pieces to the pan (in batches if necessary so you do not crowd the pan) and brown the chicken on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and set them aside and repeat the process with any remaining chicken.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil back into the Dutch oven and allow the oil to heat until shimmering. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pan and saute the vegetables until the onions are translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, asparagus and red pepper to the pan with the other vegetables and continue to cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the pan along with the chicken broth, sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf. Give the mixture a stir and turn the heat down to medium-low to bring the stew to a simmer. Allow the stew to cook for 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Combine the cornmeal, four, baking powder, salt, chives, parsley and thyme together in a medium bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture using your fingers until it is incorporated. Add the boiling chicken broth and stir the mixture with a spoon until the mixture is just combined and holds together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape the dumpling dough into a 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut the rectangle into approximately 1 1/2-inch squares. Place the squares on a plate and keep them chilled until you are ready to cook them.

After the stew has cooked for 30 to 45 minutes, add the dumplings. Scatter the dumplings over the top of the stew. Cover the pan and cook the stew for an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until the dumplings have a light sheen to them. Ladle the stew into bowls and serve.

This is a delicious stew that makes good use of the chicken and vegetables. I think you could do this with a rotisserie chicken as well and perhaps not coat the chicken in flour, but you would not get as thick of a broth in the end so it depends on what you like the best. The dumplings, to me, were more like polenta dumplings from the cornmeal than an herb dumpling, put they tasted quite nice with the broth, chicken and vegetables and this made a great one pot meal.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

chickenstew1 chickenstew

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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, One Pot Meals, Soups & Stews


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Bake Up Some Salt and Pepper Biscuits

Biscuits are great to go with just about any type of meal at any time. I like to make a big batch of biscuits so that we have them around to have with various dinners or to go with breakfast with an egg and some bacon or just warmed with some butter for a nice snack now and then. The great thing about biscuits is that there seems to be an endless number of biscuit recipes and most of them are really easy to make any time you might like one. It is usually just a matter of having a few ingredients on hand to get started and you can have them for any meal you like. I liked this recipe from Bon Appetit for salt and pepper biscuits for a little bit of a different flavor.

Salt and Pepper Biscuits

3/4 cup sour cream

4 tablespoons heavy cream, divided

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper plus more

2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Whisk the sour cream and 3 tablespoons of the heavy cream in a small bowl. Pulse the baking powder, kosher salt, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and 2 cups of flour together in the food processor until they are combined. Add the butter and pulse the mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Using a spoon, mix in the sour cream mixture, then gently knead the mixture a few times just until a shaggy dough comes together. Use a light hand with this part so you get tender biscuits; be careful not to overmix the dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until the dough is about 3/4-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits, re-rolling the scraps as needed so you can use all of the dough. Place the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and brush the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Sprinkle the biscuits with the sea salt and more black pepper. Bake until the biscuits are golden brown on the tops and the bottoms, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the biscuits warm with butter, if desired.

You could make this dough about 6 hours ahead of time if you want and just chill it until you are ready to use it. You get a really nice tangy flavor from the sour cream in the biscuits and I liked the mix of the salt and pepper with each one. I cut smaller biscuits than the typical 2 inches of biscuits so I got more from my batch. The recipe indicates you can get 8 2 1/4-inch biscuits if you use the larger cutter. they were perfect to go with our meal and are great to have with soups, stew, chili or just to have on the side of any beef or poultry meal that you have. As I said, they are also great for breakfast with some egg, bacon or sausage or just by themselves with a cup of coffee or tea. You do want to be careful with the kneading and overmixing so you do not get tough biscuits, which has happened to me before. A light touch seems to work best here.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Biscuits, Breads, Cooking, Dinner


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Perhaps the Best Lamb Recipe I Ever Tried – Slow-Roasted Andalusian-Style Lamb and Potatoes

This is one of those times of the year where you can actually get a leg of lamb or a portion of a leg of lamb at a reasonable price so I usually try to get one to do something with it for a special weekend meal. If you are intimidated by trying to cook a leg of lamb since it can be quite large and seem like it would be tough to cook, there are smaller portions you can get or even boneless legs that have been butterflied that may cost a little bit more but are easier to work with. this particular recipe that I cam across from Bon Appetit makes all of that difficulty go away for you. This slow-roasted leg of lamb leaves you with the easiest leg of lamb you will ever have to carve as it simply falls off the bone for you. it is easy to make and provides you with a really succulent meal.

Slow-Roasted Andalusian-Style Lamb and Potatoes

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

4 bay leaves, divided

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 to 8), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices, divided

7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

1 3 1/2 – 4 pound bone-in leg of lamb

2 pounds tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 onions, cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 cups dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the garlic, thyme, and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt together in a small bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the mixture together until it resembles the texture of wet sand. Larger pieces of garlic will still remain. Set the mixture aside. Crush the bay leaves.

Combine half of the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 crushed bay leaf in a large roasting pan. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and toss them well to coat them. Spread out the potatoes in a single layer in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Place the leg of lamb on top of the potatoes and rub the lamb with the garlic mixture. Layer the tomatoes, onions, the remaining 3 crushed bay leaves and the remaining potatoes around and up the sides of the leg of lamb, seasoning them with salt and pepper and drizzling the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil as you go along. The lamb will be nearly covered. Add the white wine to the pan and cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Roast until the lamb is very tender, about 3 to 4 hours. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Roast, turning the lamb halfway through, until the lamb is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes longer. Let the lamb rest in the roasting pan for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Pull the meat from the bones in large chunks. Discard the bones and any fat. Place the meat and the vegetables together on a large platter. Skim fat from the surface of the cooking juices in the pan. Spoon some of the cooking juices over the lamb and the vegetables and serve the remained alongside the lamb.

I have to say that this may be the best lamb recipe I ever tried. The lamb easily fell off the bones and was almost like a pot roast or a pulled pork after it had been slow cooked. The braising it goes through in the oven is fantastic and the whole house smelled great while it was cooking, but the lamb itself had fantastic flavor even with just the simplest spice mixture of garlic, salt and thyme. The potatoes were fantastic as well and really added nicely to the dish. You certainly don’t have to worry about any carving of the lamb since it falls right apart for you and every agreed it was a great way to cook the lamb and one I will certainly try again.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

andalusianlamb andalusianlamb1

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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Lamb, Potatoes


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Steak in a Snap – Cook’s Country Strip Steaks with Sauteed Onion and Mushrooms

Now that the Easter holiday is over and a couple of really big work projects are out of the way for me, hopefully I can get back to doing some more regular posts here on my cooking blog. I have made a few different things recently, with a number of them coming out of the last issue of Cook’s Country magazine. They was have some good choices and therefore meals that have recipes that are easy to follow and make use of some basic ingredients. I particularly like their recipe card dinners that can be done in under 30 minutes or so. That is the case with this particular recipe for a strip steaks with sautéed onion and mushrooms. I had just happened to get some New York strip steaks on sale last week and saw it was a great opportunity to give this easy recipe a try. It makes use of just a few ingredients and makes a really nice and flavorful sauce to go along with the steak, mushrooms and onions.

Strip Steaks with Sautéed Onion and Mushrooms

2 (one-pound) boneless strip or rib-eye steaks, 12 1 1/2 inches thick

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin

one onion, halved and sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 Tablespoons Butter

Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and season each steak well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is just smoking. Cook the steaks until they are well browned and the meat registers 125° on an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the steak (for medium rare), about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to a carving board and tent it loosely with aluminum foil and allow the steaks to rest for about 5 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the now empty skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is just smoking. Add the mushrooms, onion 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and cook until the vegetables are well browned, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir the balsamic vinegar and any accumulated beef juices into the skillet and simmer, scraping up any browned bits in the pan, until the sauce has thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the chives and the 2 tablespoons of butter. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the steaks and transfer them to a platter. Top the steaks with the sauce and sprinkle the steaks with the remaining 1 tablespoon of chives and serve.

It might be hard for you to get a recipe that is much easier than that and supplies you with such great flavor. The mix of the balsamic vinegar with the mushrooms, onions and garlic really provide great flavor for the steaks. I made some mashed potatoes to go along with it and the sauce was just as great on the potatoes as it was on the steak. The steak was cooked perfectly to medium rare (that is the way we prefer it anyway) but if you like it cooked a little more well you could always cook it for an extra minute or 2 to get the doneness that you prefer. You get a great sear on the steaks and a nice sauce to go with them and mushrooms and onions go with steak so well that it seemed perfect together.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Sauce


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A Perfect Play on a One Pot Meal – Cook’s Country One-Pan Pork Chop Dinner

One pot meals are the dream of any busy home cook. You love to have a meal that tastes great, gets everything together in one dish and has easy clean up and cooking time. it may not always be as easy as it sounds and I am always on the lookout for different variations on the one pot meal. It is not often you see one involving pork that doesn’t involve a stir fry, so when I saw this recipe listed in the latest issue of Cook’s Country I was intrigued. It roasts the vegetables and the pork chops together, not something you often see because pork chops, even really think ones, do not take the same amount of time to roast as most of your vegetables do. I was wondering just how the chops would get nicely browned without doing them on the stovetop and still have everything roasted together in one pan.

One-Pan Pork Chop Dinner

4 (10-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops, 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick, trimmed

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths, thick ends quartered lengthwise

1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges

10 garlic cloves, peeled

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 small shallot, minced

4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon sugar

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and rub each chop with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Combine 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, the paprika and the coriander together in a small bowl. Season the pork chops all over with the spice mixture and set the pork chops aside.

Toss the potatoes, carrots, fennel, garlic cloves, rosemary, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper together in a large bowl until the vegetables are well coated. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables until they are just tender, about 25 minutes.

Carefully place the pork chop on top of the vegetables and return the baking sheet to the oven. Roast the pork chops until they register 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork chops and the vegetables are fully tender, about 10 to 15 minutes longer, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the roasting process.

Meanwhile, combine the parsley, shallot, red wine vinegar, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil together in a bowl.Transfer the vegetables and the pork chops to a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette before serving.

The chops and the vegetables both were nicely browned and had great flavor. the spice run on the chops really helped them to brown nicely and provide just the flavor they needed for the dish and roasting the pork chops on top of the vegetables added some extra flavor to the veggies as well. Since the vegetables were nice and hot when I added the pork they helped to cook the pork nicely as well. The vinaigrette was a nice finish to the dish but I think it tasted great without it as well and we just passed the vinaigrette on the side for those that might want it on their meal. I love roasted carrots and throw in the potatoes, garlic and fennel (I added an onion too to the dish; who doesn’t love roasted onion?)and the flavors were phenomenal. Best of all, of course is that there was only one pan to clean up when dinner was done. It makes for a great weeknight meal in one dish that you can do in under 45 minutes.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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