Baked Chicken Verde Chimichanga

Good Lord do I ever love a chimichanga. I think I may have first had one back in my high school days at a local American-Mex joint called Chi-Chi’s. You know this was the type of place where all of us gringos thought we were having real Mexican food, only to realize years later that it was totally not, but only catered to us gringos, and the place would pack it in. Regardless, that’s where my love for the chimichanga was born. It’s essentially a deep fried burrito, loaded with goodness.

Instead of deep frying, I decided I would load these large flour tortillas up with some awesome chicken verde I made, along with rice and beans, and bake them, you know… to be a bit healthier than deep frying.

The result was awesome. Still crisp as you may expect from deep frying with way less the hassle.

Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe
Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the salsa verde:

  • 5 whole tomatillos, husks removed
  • small handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, skin on
  • generous pinch of salt, to taste
  • 3 serrano chilies, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 cup (or more of water)

Ingredients for the chicken chimichanga:

  • 3 whole chicken breasts
  • 5 large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup of Mexican or Spanish rice, per chimichanga
  • 1/2 cup of cooked refried beans, per chimichanga
  • 8 oz bag of Mexican Chihuahua cheese
  • 8 oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese
  • hot sauce, optional
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil

Start by making your salsa verde. Add the tomatillos, garlic, and chilies to a roasting sheet. Place in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until they are nicely charred. Once cooked, remove them from the oven, let cool, then remove the skin from the garlic cloves. They should pretty much just slide on out.

During this time, add the chicken breasts to a large pot of water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the chicken is fully cooked through, about 25 minutes or longer. Once cooked through, remove the chicken breasts to a plate to let cool.

Place all of the salsa ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a fine salsa. Taste and adjust any salt.

Clean out that chicken pot. Next, remove the skins from the chicken breasts and discard. Shred all of the chicken and return the shredded chicken back to the pot. Pour in the salsa verde, bring to a medium heat, stirring along the way, and cook for about 20 more minutes. TRUST ME, THIS CHICKEN BY ITSELF IS AWESOME.

Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe
Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Take a flour tortilla and warm it on a skillet or in a microwave just until it softens. Once it is softened and more pliable, then it is time for the chimichanga making.

Lay the tortilla onto a plate, spread on the refried beans, add about a cup of chicken mixture (I use a slotted spoon to remove any excess salsa) onto the tortilla, closest to you, then add on the rice. Roll over a bit tightly, fold in the sides, and continue to roll until you have it seam side down. Lightly brush on some canola oil, and then repeat with any remaining tortillas. I made five for the family, but there is still plenty of chicken to be used for any leftovers, and as in my case enchiladas.

Take a baking sheet, add the chimichangas, and cook for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven. The goal is to get them nice and crisp. After about 15 minutes, remove, top with as much Chihuahua and cheddar cheese as you would like, and if you want, a bit more chicken mixture on top, and place back into the oven until the cheese is nicely melted.

Remove and serve. I topped mine with some nice habanero hot sauce for some kick.

The end result is everything I love about a chimichanga, and my entire family would agree. I don’t think anyone spoke at dinner time that evening as they devoured these things. If you are looking for a great meal, loaded with great flavor and texture, then give these baked chicken verde chimichangas a try. I’m certain you will love them!

 

Squash Lasagna

At the season’s end of our last farmer’s market, I decided to load up on a variety of squash. I’ll admit that I am not too big of a squash lover, but I did it for my wife, as she is the one that likes them. But as I stared at the delicata and butternut squash, I decided I would roast both of them. That’s when the idea came into play, probably because I was searching for ideas for dinner and something everyone would love and agree on, and that’s when I thought of lasagna. Lasagna with a twist that is. Who doesn’t love a great dish of lasagna? What no one knew is that I had a good couple of cups of that delish, roasted squash, and ever better I did not tell them until after they devoured a couple of slices. Yep, that’s where my kids are now, two slices, and eating me out of the house.

Squash Lasagna Recipe
Squash Lasagna Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 1 small butternut squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, rubbed onto sliced squashes
  • 9 sheets of lasagna, oven ready, or par boiled
  • 1 lb ground chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 2 mild Italian sausage links, casing removed, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/12 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of red chili flakes
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add the squashes to a baking sheet, and cook flesh side up for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Once the squash is cooked, scrape out, and mix into a bowl. You will only need about two cups, but feel free to use more or less based on your preference.

Start by cooking both of your meats. Feel free to combine these in a large skillet. Break apart the meat as it is cooking to prevent large clumps. Strain the meat mixture, removing the fat, then return the meat back on the stove on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt, some cracked black pepper, the red chili flakes, and the garlic powder. Give a good stir, cooking for a minute or two, then add in your sauce. Stir, and let this reduce down a bit, cooking for about 10 minutes.

To another mixing bowl, add the egg, ricotta cheese, the squash, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and half of the parmesan cheese. Give that a good mix so that the squash is fully incorporated into the cheeses.

Now let’s get to this lasagna. Take a good ladle of your meat sauce, and add to the bottom of your lasagna dish. Add the lasagna sheets. Mine fit three to the pan.

Squash Lasagna Ingredients
Squash Lasagna Ingredients

Next, be generous and add enough of the ricotta and squash mixture to cover the pasta sheets. Lightly sprinkle on mozzarella cheese, then more meat mixture, pasta cheese, more ricotta mixture, more cheese, more sauce, then remaining pasta sheets. Cover with meat sauce, the cover with cheese. Shower with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Spray the back of some aluminum foil with some cooking spray. I’ve found this to prevent all of that wonderful cheese from sticking onto the foil when removing from the oven.

Cover the baking dish, and place into a 375 degree oven, cooking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil, and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden.

Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into squares.

The end result was everything that is wonderful about a great lasagna, but there was that bit of hidden sweetness from the blended squash that made this one even better. After the kids were finished eating (as well as my wife), I said “So how did everyone like the squash?”. They had confused looks on their face, but all replied that they had no clue it was in there, and loved every bite. What’s not to love about that? Gotta get the good stuff in there somehow, I was successful on that front. Hope you enjoy!

Peanut M&M Bars

We recently joined Costco, and to say the least we love it. I priced things out all of the time as I do the grocery shopping, so you have to watch what you are buying. It’s easy to load things up in their massive carts, but there are items I know my kids are going to go through as they pack their lunches on a daily basis.  On a recent visit I bought a large bag of peanut M&Ms. I figured my wife and kids would go through those pretty quickly as someone is always in the hunt for chocolate, so what a better way to get some nuts into the mix as well.  So one afternoon I was staring at that large bag of M&Ms and decided I would come up with a recipe to surprise my wife and kids when they returned home for the day. That’s when I came up with the Peanut M&M bars, and whoa were these things delicious.

Peanut M&M Bars Recipe
Peanut M&M Bars Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups of Peanut M&Ms
  • 1 tbsp additional unsalted butter

Pretty simple ingredients for something so perfect.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

During this time, add the butter, egg, peanut butter, and brown sugar into a mixing bowl. Mix until you have a creamy consistency, then add in your vanilla and flour. Continue to mix so the flour is nicely incorporated. Next add in the 1 1/2 cups of the peanut M&Ms. Gently stir.

Lightly coat a baking dish, large enough to hold the mixture, and lightly butter the dish.

Peanut M&M Bars
Peanut M&M Bars

Scoop the batter into the dish, then top with the remaining M&Ms.

Place the dish into the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes. The batter should come out clean when inserting your knife.

Let the bars cool before slicing into squares.

These bars are everything you love about a peanut M&M, but they have this added creaminess from that smooth peanut butter. Get a nice cold glass of milk for these puppies. Hope you enjoy!

Garlic and Sage Fries

This past weekend, like most folks in my area, I was out in the yard pulling weeds and hacking down plants only to get ready for the winter. As I walked past one of our planting areas, I realized I had not used a lot of the sage I had planted in the Spring. Sure, I’ve made a couple batches of pasta with sage and brown butter for my kids, and thinking of how much I love sage, especially this time of year, I decided that I would pull a nice handful and come up with a side dish with some roasted chicken I was about to make for dinner. These garlic and sage fries were not only loaded with flavor, but they were baked until crisp and were a perfect side dish for that roasted chicken.

Garlic and Sage Fries Recipe
Garlic and Sage Fries Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 yukon gold potatoes, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup of fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • generous pinch of salt
  • grated parmesan cheese, optional

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.

Soak your sliced potatoes in cold water for about 5 minutes, then strain, and rinse them, and pat them dry.

Add them to a large bowl, add the garlic, sage, olive oil, and salt, and give a nice toss to make sure the potatoes are lightly coated.

Garlic and Sage Fries
Garlic and Sage Fries

Add the fries to a baking sheet (I like to add parchment paper for easier cleanup), and place into the oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until they are crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside.

Remove, plate, and shower with parmesan cheese.

Talk about a winner, these things didn’t last long on our dinner table, and if you are roasting that chicken along with it, make some grave, and drizzle some of that love all over those fries. Hope you enjoy!