Smoky Potatoes

These potatoes are pretty simple, and have been a big hit with everyone who has tried them.  Don’t be scared of the pepper — rather than making the dish hot, it adds an interesting smoky flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2 pounds yellow or white potatoes (Yukon Golds, for example)
  • 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounce block of  mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 4 ounces olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and scrub your potatoes, then cut them into small dice.  Cut the cheeses into dice as well, then place cheese and potatoes into a large bowl.  Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Now spread the mix out into a 9×13 baking dish and pour in the 1/2 cup of milk or cream.

Here comes the one part that can be a pain.  Cut one end off of the Serrano and scrape out the core and all the seeds.  I used a baby spoon, but if you don’t have one, a butter knife will probably do the trick.  You want to keep the rest of the pepper intact, as it has to hold liquid during the baking process.  Once you have the pepper cleaned out (and make sure you get all the seeds — that’s where the heat lives!), snug it down in the middle of the potato dish, using the potatoes to keep it upright.  Now fill it with olive oil, about 3 Tablespoons.

Bake for about 1 hour, until the potatoes start to brown.  Once you pull it out of the oven, use a pair of tongs to gently grab the pepper and drizzle the oil from it as evenly as possible over the potatoes.  Now you’re ready to eat!

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Enchilada Casserole

I grew up in the Southwest, eating a lot of Mexican food. As a result, I’m very picky about my Mexican food. However, while I grew up eating a lot of enchiladas, I’m not very good at cooking them! They are time consuming and difficult to get right. This casserole gives you the enchilada-y goodness without the hassle. It’s very simple and very tasty! Thanks to my mom for passing it along to me!

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can nacho cheese soup
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • 1/2 cup chicken bullion or chicken broth
  • corn tortillas

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cube and cook the chicken breasts on the stove top. In a bowl, mix the chicken, enchilada sauce, nacho cheese soup, onion, olives, and chicken broth.

Now you’re going to layer your enchilada casserole like a lasagna. Pour 1/3 of your enchilada mixture into an 8×8 casserole dish, then top with corn tortillas that you’ve torn into bite-sized pieces. Cover that with cheese, then spread another 1/3 of your mixture on top of that. Add a layer of torn-up corn tortillas, the last of the enchi mixture, and lots of cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. YUM. Enchilada-y goodness without the hassle!

TIPS:
When I’m doing a layered casserole like this, I often find it helpful to pour the liquidy portion of the dish into a large Pyrex measuring cup. That way, I know exactly how much I have, and how much I should use for each layer. I usually use less for the first layer, so I can use more for the last layer, since the liquid will seep down from the top to the bottom. You don’t want to get to the top layer and realize you don’t have enough liquidy stuff left, so err on the side of caution, and use a measuring cup. If you have 3 layers, and 3 cups of liquid, use slightly less than 1 cup for the first two layers, and the rest for the top layer.

Mom says you can use lots of different kinds of meat in this, besides chicken — leftover pulled pork, for example.  Experiment to see what you like best.

You could also add a small can of diced green chilies for a little extra flavor and a hint of heat.