salsa de chile ancho.

Salsas are so easy to make, yet except for the occasional pico de gallo, I pretty much always purchase them. How about you?

A few years ago, my dad and I made a whole bunch of salsa during our epic canning/preserving weekend. I loved it, but my dad thought it left something to be desired. I’ve always been intrigued by the varieties of dried chiles you can find in those little plastic boxes at the grocery store, but they always seemed like they would be such a chore.

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Oh, how wrong I was! I bought anchos for a four-pepper chili recipe, and was pleasantly surprised at how simple they were to prepare. Although they are dried, they still maintain some flexibility and pliability, and although I softened them in some stock for that recipe, this salsa recipe has you toast them and then prepare them dried, and I promise it is a breeze! This salsa will take you less than 10 minutes start to finish, and it is so completely worth it.

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Anchos are the dried version of a poblano chile, and they have a deep, complex flavor that is often described as having a similar flavor to a spicy raisin. Sounds weird, I know. But trust me, you’ll love it. Removing the seeds allows for the finished salsa to be warm with a mellow heat that will appeal to a wide variety of palates.

I used some crushed tomatoes that I had hanging out in the fridge, but you could certainly swap in a fresh tomato or two (I would use plum/roma tomatoes). Where I live, fresh tomatoes are amazing for 3 months out of the year, other than that, I always turn to canned, as out of season fresh ones tend to be mealy and bland. Yuck.

Note that this recipe is flexible and adaptable, as salsas can be customized in pretty much any way your heart and stomach desire! Eat with chips, add to tacos/quesadillas/burrito bowls, or my favorite way, mixed in with homemade tortilla chips for chilaquiles, topped with a fried egg. Mmmm. I know what I’m having for brunch!

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salsa de chile ancho.
adapted from https://kathleeniscookinginmexico.wordpress.com. 

ingredients
4-5 dried ancho chiles
3/4 cup tomatoes (I used canned diced)
1/2 small white onion
4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
pinch of sea salt
1/2-1 cup hot water

directions
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the ancho chiles, and toast for 30 seconds on each side. Make sure not to blacken them, as it will impart a very bitter flavor. Remove from heat, cut the stems off, and scrap out seeds. Keep the skillet on medium low heat.

In a blender, add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, ancho chiles, oregano and salt. Process in a blender. The mixture may “get stuck”, this is when you’ll add the water. Process for 10-15 seconds longer, making sure not to process the salsa too smooth/runny. You should be able to scoop it with a spoon without it running right off.

Add one teaspoon of oil to the skillet. Add the salsa and cook for 2-3 minutes, allowing the salsa to cook, lightly bubbling. Taste and add additional salt if desired.

Store in a small glass container for up to 10 days. Makes 1.5 cups.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats.

I know this is my second zucchini recipe in a row, but if you’re anything like me, you are positively overflowing with zucchini right now. I tell you, every summer! My grandmother gifted me with a few from her garden, and while most of them were of normal size, there was one gigantic squash. I stuck it in the refrigerator while I waited for inspiration to strike. I had just made cookies, so I didn’t want to use it for another baked good. I wanted to use the whole thing in one dish, so I decided on stuffed zucchini, or zucchini ‘boats’! I decided to play around with the flavors for this recipe, and went with Mexican flavors.

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Stuffed with Tex-Mex spiced ground chicken, hearty healthy black beans, and rounded out with some extra vegetables, and we have a very healthy take on tacos!

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Naturally gluten free, the filling is chock full of protein, thanks to the black beans and lean ground chicken. If you’re avoiding dairy, just omit the jack cheese and the cotija.

Now I had a huge squash, so a quarter of the squash would serve on person. If you have normal sized zucchinis, you can plan on one half per person for a medium sized one, or two halves for a small squash. This comes together quickly and is so incredibly filling!

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats. 

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ingredients
2 large or 4 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise with seeds scooped out
1/2 pound ground chicken
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup of zucchini, diced
1.5 tablespoons of taco seasoning (homemade or purchased)
1 10 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes with chiles
1/4 cup of salsa, plus extra for serving
monterey jack cheese, for serving
cotija cheese, for serving
cilantro, for serving
sea salt
black pepper

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly spray each zucchini half. Place skin side up and bake for 10-15 minutes, until just slightly softened. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of grapeseed oil. Once the oil is shimmery and hot, add the chicken. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add the onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the onions are translucent and beginning to soften. Add your taco seasoning blend, salt and pepper. Add in bell pepper and zucchini and cook for 1-2 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add in fire roasted tomatoes with chiles and salsa. Stir well to combine and allow to simmer softly until everything is heated through and the flavors combine (about 5 additional minutes).

To assemble: Divide the chicken mixture evenly amongst the zucchini boats, top with desired melting cheese (NOT cotija) and put into the oven. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve, topping with cotija and cilantro. Serve with additional salsa if desired.

Serves 4.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

mole-style turkey chili.

I love chili. It is one of my go to dishes for a meal that is easy, filling, inexpensive and oh so simple to make. Although I love a traditional chili recipe, and this amazing sweet potato turkey chili, I’m always looking for a new take on a beloved recipe. I came across this recipe for turkey chili, which included traditional mole ingredients such as cocoa powder and cinnamon. If you’ve never heard of mole, it is a very traditional Mexican sauce that can be prepared in tons of different ways. Moles can be yellow, green, orange, red and the classic dark red and brown sauces. They almost always start with chiles, maybe some sour ingredients like tomatillos, spices, nuts/seeds and/or dried fruit, thickeners like day old bread, and chocolate. If chocolate is used, it is added at the end of the cooking process, as moles typically cook for long periods of time.

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But this post is about chili, not mole! I call it “mole style” because of  the unsweetened cocoa powder and cinnamon that is added the recipe, along with chipotle chile in adobo sauce. Chipotles in adobo are super spicy, but delightfully smoky and best of all, a little goes a long way!

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I highly recommend this spin on a beloved, classic dish such as chili. Feel free to serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and shavings of bittersweet chocolate atop the bowl. Trust me!

mole-style turkey chili.
adapted from myrecipes.com

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ingredients

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz. can tomatoes, diced or petite diced with juices
1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced (seeds removed if desired), plus 1 teaspoon of the sauce
2.5 teaspoons chili powder (NOT cayenne)
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened raw cocoa powder (I really love the Nativa Naturals cacao)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
3 scallions, sliced, for garnish
tortilla chips, for serving

directions

Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon oil, until slightly shimmering and hot. Add turkey and cook for 5 minutes, breaking apart as it cooks until cooked through. If desired, drain turkey in a colander and return to pan.

Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to turkey and add onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Cook for 3 minutes and add carrots. Cook for additional 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and soft and garlic is fragrant. Stir spices frequently, and allow them to bloom and become fragrant. Add a tablespoon or two of water and scrape gently with a wooden spoon if needed to release spices on the bottom of the pan.

Add tomatoes, chipotle chili and adobo sauce, chicken broth, water and cocoa powder and stir to combine. Increase heat and allow pot to come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Top with cilantro and scallions prior to serving. Serve with baked tortilla chips if desired.

Serves 6. Freezes beautifully!

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

 

southwestern stuffed peppers.

Funny story: remember when I said that I liked lighter dishes once the thermostat finally rises? Well, in true WNY fashion, one day of high 80s can quickly turn into a high of low 60s the very next day! Unpredictable to say the very least. One upside to the cooler weather is I get to go back to nice, warming dishes! And boy is this one that will make it into my regular recipe rotation. When most people think of stuffed peppers, they think of italian seasonings, soft green bell peppers, tomato sauce, and a very, very long cooking time. In fact, I usually make an “unstuffed” pepper casserole, as my normal stuffed pepper recipe is too time consuming on a week night. Much to my delight, this Mexican take on stuffed peppers is much quicker! I like them spicy, so I used spicy homemade salsa that my dad and I made last summer, but you can use your favorite salsa and alter the recipe to suit your spice preferences. The original recipe called for corn, but I used diced zucchini instead as a way to get a serving of green veggies into this dish. You can also use any grain of your choice, or add any veggies you like!

This recipe has you roast the pepper halves while you make the filling; a great time saving trick! You stuff the roasted pepper halves with the spicy beef and bean mixture, top with salsa (and cheese if you like!), and bake for another 15ish minutes until completely softened and voila! Spicy, hearty, healthy and totally satisfying. As an added bonus, these freeze beautifully! Add a margarita (or two.. no judgment!), and enjoy the taste of Mexico from your kitchen!

southwestern stuffed peppers.
inspired by simply love food.

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ingredients
olive oil
3/4 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 cup onions, chopped
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)
3-4 bell peppers, halved and seeded removed (I used yellow, orange, red)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 cups salsa, plus additional for topping
shredded cheddar or jack cheese to top (optional, I didn’t have any, so I skipped it)
1 heaping tablespoon homemade taco seasoning (blend of cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, paprika).

Toppings:
cilantro, sour cream, avocado

directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil and roast in baking dish for 15-20 minutes, or until just barely tender. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool.

While peppers are roasting, cook ground beef in medium skillet until no longer pink; drain off any excess fat. About halfway through cooking, add onion and cook until lightly softened.

In a large bowl, add the taco seasoning, cooked ground beef, onions, drained black beans, zucchini and rice. Add in salsa and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into each pepper half and place back into the baking dish. Top with any additional salsa if desired. Cook the peppers for another 15-20 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked through. If desired, remove from oven, top with cheese, and return to oven until cheese is melted.

Remove, top with cilantro, avocado or sour cream before serving (optional). Serves six.