Thursday, October 28, 2010

Easy Entertaining: Mexican Lasagna

I love, love, love, Mexican food.  But I haven't really ventured into making anything but tacos and quesadillas at home.  Now, I don't know whether Mexican lasagna really counts as true Mexican food, but in my Yankee mind, it must come close since the flavors are all there.  This is a great dish that I've made several times in several different ways -- a few times I added a can of refried beans to the layers (good but a little difficult to spread), and sometimes I don't add cilantro or the jalapenos.  The good thing about this recipe is that it's delicious and makes enough for company, a large family, or simply for seconds (and thirds).

Mexican Lasagna
(Adapted by Kelly Oliver from Robin Miller's "Quick Fix Meals")

Cooking spray
12 ounces cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 cup sour cream (regular or low-fat)
1 can black beans, drained (optional)
(NOTE: I usually use a bag of the Mexican blended shredded cheese for the cheese in this recipe, rather than using these two different kinds of cheeses.)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (regular or low-fat), divided
1 cup shredded Cheddar (regular or low-fat), divided
½ cup mild, medium or hot salsa
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 6 wedges (I usually use about 10 tortillas.)
Salt, to taste (I like to use at least 1/4 tsp.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 11 by 7-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, sour cream, black beans, 3/4 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese, 3/4 cup of the Cheddar, salsa, chiles, cilantro, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange half of the tortilla pieces in the bottom of prepared pan, overlapping pieces slightly to cover the surface. Top with half of the chicken mixture and smooth over with the back of a spoon to even the top. Layer remaining tortillas over top, and spoon over remaining chicken mixture. Top with remaining 1/4 cup each of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. 

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 more minutes, until top is golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

To reheat, bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Elegant Entree: Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce

I've been experimenting with some different recipes, some of which have turned out well, some of which haven't, like a Rogan Josh recipe I tried -- it was good for my first Indian food but it could've been better.  I'd rather not post so-so recipes here.  I've also been solidifying and trying to perfect some of my go-to recipes, like a Mexican Lasagna which I'll add to this blog soon.  I've been looking for a good pork tenderloin recipe and found this one that incorporates cranberries and onions.  Sounded like a perfect fall recipe to me!  And it was.  Not only is this a delicious combination of ingredients for fall, but it's an easy, elegant dish.  If you serve this for dinner, your guests will certainly be impressed.  I served this the other night for dinner with acorn squash, which I simply cut in half and steamed in the microwave for about 5-7 minutes, adding some butter when it was done.  You could also add a side of rice and/or even a nice sweet cornbread (here's my go-to cornbread recipe:  This is one dish I'm definitely making again soon.

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce
(Courtesy of Bon App├ętit, November 1998)

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 8- to 10-ounce pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (I used about 2 tsp. dried rosemary.)
1/2 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes.  Place skillet with pork in oven.  Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 155 degrees, about 10 minutes.  (Mine took about 25 minutes to roast.)

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and rosemary; saute until onion softens, about 3 minutes.  Add broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes.

Transfer pork to work surface.  Scrape any juices from large skillet into cranberry mixture.  Boil until sauce has reduced enough to coat spoon thickly, about 6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Slice pork and serve with sauce.