Life-Changing Burritos

Life-Changing Burritos

I know.  We just had a burrito post recently.  But when we were in Portland, and I was busy doing wedding related things with Doodle and the other bridesmaids, the Pie was often left to his own devices.  Luckily, Portland is a very walkable city, and there was a good Street Fighter tournament on the web for him to watch when he got bored with walking about.  One afternoon, he happened upon a place called the Burrito Bar.  The burrito he had there, according to him, changed his life forever.  So last week, he recreated what he had eaten there and I got to enjoy it as well. Plus, we had to do something about our raging onion population.

Life-Changing Burritos

First, he started by making up a batch of his famous Mexican rice.

Life-Changing Burritos

While he was doing that he gently poached 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then he put me to work as his sous-chef.  I had to make the “salad” component.  First, I opened up an avocado.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then I cubed it.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then I found a tomato.

Life-Changing Burritos

And cubed that as well.

Life-Changing Burritos

Chopped up a handful of cilantro and added that in, as well as some salt and pepper and lime juice.

Life-Changing Burritos

Toss that and set it aside.

Life-Changing Burritos

Open up a can of black beans and drain and rinse them well.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then he had me finely chop a jalapeno pepper, to go in his cheese sauce.

Life-Changing Burritos

Life-Changing Burritos

The cheese sauce is made by melting a tablespoon butter with a tablespoon flour to form a paste, then adding a half cup of milk.  When that is well-mixed you can add your grated cheese, about 1 1/2 cups.  The Pie used a mixture of old cheddar and spicy Monterey jack.

Life-Changing Burritos

Once the cheese was melted he dropped in the jalapenos and let that sit for a bit.

Life-Changing Burritos

At this point the chicken was ready to be shredded. Just pull it apart with some forks. It’s pretty fun.

Life-Changing Burritos

We added a few tablespoons salsa to the chicken.

Life-Changing Burritos

So now we are ready to make these burritos, baby.  We have Mexican rice, salad, salsa-y chicken, black beans, cheese sauce, and some sour cream as well.

Life-Changing Burritos

You’re going to need the biggest flour tortillas you can find.  These ones are ten inches, though the Pie says the one he had in Portland was THIRTEEN inches.  Set your tortillas on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Life-Changing Burritos

Start piling on your ingredients in the centre of your tortilla.  Be generous.

Life-Changing Burritos

To properly fold a burrito, we looked to the internet.  If you’re not sure, try YouTube.

Life-Changing Burritos

Take the opposite side of your tortilla and bring it towards you, so the ingredients get all jumbled together and pushed to one side. This also leaves a bit of food sauce on the empty side of the tortilla, which provides a bit of friction to keep things stuck together.

Life-Changing Burritos

Unfold the tortilla and lift up the sides, to sort of hold everything in. Take the side of the tortilla closest to you, with all the ingredients, and flip it up and over on itself.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then, tucking in the top of the tortilla, start rolling towards the end.  Try to get it as tight as possible.

Life-Changing Burritos

Make sure your ends are tucked in and slide the rolled tortilla to one side of your aluminum foil.

Life-Changing Burritos

Tightly roll the burrito up in the foil, and twist off the ends when you are finished, to hold everything together.  That is your burrito, all wrapped up.  We had enough ingredients to make seven of these puppies, and we tossed a few in the fridge for a later meal, and a few in the oven for about ten minutes to heat up a bit.

Life-Changing Burritos

To eat, just peel off some of the foil and you are all set. Take a bite.

Life-Changing Burritos

This is one of the burritos the next day, cut in half.  Look at that lovely combination of ingredients!

Life-Changing Burritos

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Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

I got this recipe from Canadian Living, but I would say it’s more of a cross between an enchilada and a burrito than it is a full-on burrito, especially after my modifications.  You tend not to bake burritos and there are lots of refried beans involved.  In any case, it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s hella tasty.  It makes about 10 6″ wraps.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Start with 3 large chicken breasts, still on the bone, and poach them in gently simmering water until cooked, about 15-25 minutes.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Then shred the meat with forks, in good southern style.  Set that aside.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Dice a large onion and plop that in a wide frying pan with some olive oil and minced garlic and sauté those suckers until they are tender and translucent.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Chop up as well a red pepper and a jalapeño pepper.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Drain and rinse a can of black beans.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Wrangle yourself 1 cup salsa.  I say “wrangle” because that’s what I did with this — it was in three different jars as I was cleaning out the fridge.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Toss the peppers, beans, and salsa into the pan with the onions, and add the chicken as well.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Stir everything around to coat with salsa — I found I needed to add a little bit extra to get it all covered.  Season with salt and pepper.

Grate up about 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese and set that aside for a bit.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

In a greased dish or on a sheet of aluminum foil, lay out a flour tortilla.  You can use any kind you want, but I used the small whole wheat ones, just to make this a bit healthier.  Spoon in a generous amount of filling (you will likely have a bit left over so don’t be afraid to go overboard).

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Sprinkle the filling with a bit of cheddar cheese.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Roll the wrap into a cylinder and place it in your dish or on the foil with the open side down.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Repeat with the other wraps until you run out.  Sprinkle the remainder of the cheddar across the tops of the burritos.

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the wraps turn golden brown.  Or wrap tightly in foil and freeze.  You can bake these from frozen, just increase the cooking time to 25 minutes.

Serve them with sour cream and chopped green onions.

The Chicken Salad Sandwich to Convert the Non-Believers

When the Pie and I first started dating, we both had a lot more money than we do now (read: we have NO money now, and then we HAD money).  So we used to go on these elaborate dates, which were so much fun.

On this one in particular, it was my turn to plan.  We started out picking raspberries from a local farm (where I got bitten by a dog and I still have the scar, seven years later, but that’s another story), followed by a picnic lunch in a village park, a game of mini-golf (where I soundly beat the pants off the Pie), a nap, and then a late dinner at a fancy restaurant downtown.  A good time was had by all.

But this story is about the picnic.  As I said, we had only been dating a few months, and I wasn’t yet fully versed on the Pie’s various food likes and dislikes (he insists he’s not a picky eater, but the rest of us look at each other and shake our heads).

To impress my new man, I had prepared a sumptuous picnic feast, featuring as a main course my signature chicken salad sandwiches with moist, tender chicken, crisp celery, and just a hint of spice.

It turns out that the Pie didn’t like chicken salad.  Note that I said “didn’t.”  He gallantly took a bite of the sandwich, to be polite (after all, I had made him two sandwiches in anticipation of his appetite).  Instantly, he was converted.  Now he gets chicken salad all the time when he buys sandwiches.

So here is that recipe for you.  Go forth and proselytize!

We had 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that we’d poached the day before.  The trick with chicken salad is to mince your chicken.  Most chicken salads have these huge chunks of chicken in them, which, while tasty, tend to fall out of your sandwich all over the place.

So MINCE those suckers.

Also mince up a few stalks of celery.

I like the bottom of celery bits.  It’s like a green flower.

Mix the celery into the chicken.

Now add about a teaspoon of paprika, and 2 teaspoons chili powder.  You can add more if you like the taste.

Glop on about 2/3 cup mayonnaise (don’t skimp here, people, and use real mayo).

Mix that stuff up.  Garnish with a festive sprig of basil and you have yourself some salad.

Which you can then put into sammiches.  Which you can then eat.

Have you ever converted anyone to a food?

Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Happy Birthday in advance to Kristopf — this one is for you!

The Pie and I had Rene over at I Love Leftovers in mind when we thought this up.  I’ve been fighting off some form of the plague for the past couple of weeks and we’ve been getting pretty lazy when it comes to our meals.  We were also trying to clear out our fridge in preparation for the influx of our houseguests, so we were combining a lot of our leftovers and running out of ideas.

On this particular night, the Pie was inspired, however.  We had some leftover poached, shredded chicken and tortillas from some wraps we’d made the day before.

We also had some roasted sweet potato left from the day before that.  Add those together, plus cheese, and you have quesadillas!

So first, the Pie grated up a whole whack of cheese.  Gren decided he needed to help.  He’s a very helpful puppy.  And if a little cheese falls on the floor, he’s right there to clean it up.  Very helpful indeed.

Plop the leftover chicken (probably about a cup and a half) in a bowl.  It has already been seasoned with a Tex-Mex dried spice mix, but we thought we would add some more flavour.

My parents went to Avery Island, Louisiana, to visit the Tabasco factory (let’s not even begin to talk about how weird that is).  So for Christmas last year we all got lots of Tabasco-related gifts.  We even have Tabasco ice cream mix, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.  Anyway, the Pie and I got these wee bottles of flavoured Tabasco in our stockings, and we thought we would try the chipotle one.  Ask the Pie to say “chipotle.”  He can’t do it.

To give you an idea of the scale of the bottle, we wanted to place it next to Gren.

Actually, we had to try several times to get the shot.

He kept knocking the bottle over with his nose.  On purpose.

Finally.  Though I’m sure you’ve already figured out how small the bottle is.

So we emptied that sucker all over the chicken.

Then we added the cheese (about a cup and a half).

Then the roasted sweet potato (probably about one sweet-potato’s worth).  Mix that up.

Lightly brush the bottom of a flour tortilla with olive oil (for browning) and plop it in a hot skillet.

Plop half the chicken mixture on top. 

Add another oiled tortilla on top of that and carefully flip the whole thing once the cheese is partially melted.

When the cheese is fully melted, remove from the heat and slice it up like a pizza.  Then do the same thing all over again.  Makes two.  Serve them with sour cream and/or guacamole.  Mmm, lazy dinners …

Chicken Enchiladas

This is one of the Pie’s favourite things to make, and one of my favourite things to eat. Being the Pie, he got the recipe from the internet.  Being us, we’ve modified it a little.

It’s definitely a team effort to make, though.  There’s a lot of timing involved, especially if you’re waiting on other dishes.

First, you need to poach some chicken.  You can do this way ahead of time if you like — which I do.

Plop your chicken (you’ll need enough for about 3-4 cups cooked and chopped) in a saucepan with about half water, half chicken stock, and enough liquid to cover the chicken completely. Bring it to a point where it’s just barely bubbling and leave it like that for a while, until the chicken is cooked through.

Drain your chicken and leave it to cool.

Pull the chicken apart with two forks or your fingers so it looks all shredded.  Set it aside for a spell.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Grate 2 cups cheddar cheese.  We made the mistake of using low-fat cheese, which of course doesn’t melt that well.  Always go full fat when it comes to your dairy.

Mince up a large onion.

Coat a large skillet with oil and fry up the onion until it’s translucent, a few minutes.

Add about two tablespoons minced garlic and cook it for another minute or so.

Pour in a 24oz can of crushed or puréed tomatoes.  Then start adding chili powder to taste, probably about two tablespoons.

Let it simmer, but don’t let it get too thick.  Remove from the heat after a few minutes.

Now, mix about 1/4 of your sauce with the cooked chicken, as well as 1/4 of the cheese. 

Stir it up good and set it aside.

Now using the skillet you cooked your sauce in (now empty, but not cleaned), add a bit of oil and heat it up.

Spread a bit of the sauce in a plate and use it to coat both sides of 12 tortillas with sauce. 

Fry them up in the skillet by plopping them in.  Wait until air bubbles start coming up and flip it.  Repeat. 

Plop it on a plate and line the centre with some of your chicken mixture. 

Roll them up and line a pyrex baking dish with them.  You might find it helpful to spread the bottom of the dish with some sauce first, just to keep things from sticking.

Pour the remaining sauce on top of the rolled enchiladas.

Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

Bake for about ten minutes, until the cheese is all melty.  It’s handy to use a metal spatula to serve it.

We had ours with Mexican rice and Caesar salad.  YUM.