NATCHITOCHES MEAT PIES aka CAJUN EMPANADAS

I found a recipe for Natchitoches Meat Pies, a savory dish that sounded really interesting.  I did a little research and found that Natchitoches Meat Pies are an official state food and that Natchitoches is a city in northern Louisiana.  I didn’t like that it was fried though and converted it to a baked version.  For lack of a better definition this is a Cajun empanada 😀

NATCHITOCHES MEAT PIES

FILLING
4 slices bacon, diced
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons WONDRA flour
1 LARGE onion, FINELY chopped
1 LARGE bunch green onions, FINELY diced
1 cup red, yellow and orange mini peppers, FINELY chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped FRESH flat leaf parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup chicken broth

  • Brown ground beef and pork until cooked through. Drain.
  • In the same pan brown bacon over medium heat until crisp.
  • Remove bacon to drain on paper toweling.
  • Whisk in flour to bacon grease making a roux.
  • Whisk in chicken broth, seasonings, garlic, onions, parsley and peppers.
  • Add beef and pork in. Simmer 5-10 minutes to meld flavors.
  • Refrigerate the meat mixture for an hour while you are making the dough and before assembling pies.

PASTRY
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons crisco
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chicken broth

  • Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder together in food processor.
  • Add shortening and pulse to a cornmeal texture.
  • Add eggs and broth JUST until dough comes together.
  • Transfer dough to a floured counter and knead 30 seconds until creates a smooth ball.
  • Divide dough into equal pieces, about 8-16 depending on how large you want your pies.
  • Roll out each piece to a thin circle.
  • Fill each about half full.
  • Fold over and crimp edges with fork tines to seal.
  • Place on a silicone lined baking sheet.
  • Bake at 425° for 30-45 minutes, turning baking dish as needed to avoid burning the edges.
    Serve with Salsa, sour cream, chopped olives and chopped green onions.

NOTE:

  • I sometimes make them “Mexican” by adding a Taco Bell original spice packet to the mix.
  • I also like to add a sprinkly of shredded cheese to the inside and garnish.

CHEESY TACO PASTA

CHEESY TACO PASTA serves 6-8
1/2 pound large shells pasta
1 pound ground beef
1 package Taco Bell ORIGINAL seasoning packet
3/4 cup water
1 cup jarred salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Cook the shelled pasta according to the directions on the box and drain WELL.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and brown well.
  • Drain the fat.
  • Add the taco seasoning and water, stirring and cooking until water is evaporated.
  • Add the pasta, salsa and cheese.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions, chopped olives and/or peppers.
  • Serve immediately, with crunchy tortilla chips or Fritos.   I also like to use taco shell bowls.

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN CHILE VERDE

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN CHILE VERDE
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 white onion, chopped small
1 tablespoon cumin
10 LARGE tomatillos, chopped
3 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped*
3 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped*
1 LARGE jalapeno, seeded and chopped*
2 LARGE cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water

  • Add peppers, garlic, oil and 2/3 of cilantro to food processor. Pulse until smooth with only small chunks.
  • Quickly sear the chicken and then chop into large pieces.
  • Spray slow cooker insert with non-stick spray.
  • Add food processor contents and chicken broth to the slow cooker, whisking to combine.
  • Stir in cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Fold in chicken pieces and onions.
  • Cook on LOW for 4-5 hours until chicken is tender and pulls apart.
  • Whisk cornstarch and water together until smooth.
  • Stir into slow cooker, cooking for another 10-15 minutes until desired thickness.
  • Fold in remaining cilantro just before serving.
  • Serve with warmed tortillas, shredded cheese and sour cream.

NOTES: For extra flavor char peppers before chopping.

SALTED WATERMELON SALSA SALAD

SALTED WATERMELON SALSA SALAD
4 cups diced watermelon
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 SMALL jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup small diced red onion
1+ teaspoon sea salt, to taste

  • Combine everything but the watermelon and toss to mix well.
  • Gently fold in watermelon.
  • Chill and enjoy!

FIESTA DROWNED EGG SOUP

This is one of those recipes that became COMPLETELY altered by the Corona virus pandemic because I had to work with what I had on hand.  And I am so glad!!!!  This turned out fantastic and NOTHING like the original. 

FIESTA DROWNED EGG SOUP serves 4
14.5 ounce can Hunt’s fire roasted tomatoes with garlic
1 small can chopped green chiles
10 ounce can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
2 cups chicken broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
4 LARGE egg yolks
Bread bowls (optional)
Grated Cheddar Cheese (optional)
Chopped green onions (optional)

  • Combine fire roasted tomatoes, green chiles, chicken broth and enchilada sauce in slow cooker.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend until the bigger chunks are reduced to amanageable size.
  • Set slow cooker to low and cover for 4 hours.

 

  • At the 4 hour mark, generously season the chicken breasts with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Melt butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Add chicken breasts and sear each side 4 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Shred chicken and add to slow cooker.
  • Gently drop egg yolks evenly into soup.
  • Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Serve in bread bowls with shredded cheese and green onions.  I added a dollop of Daisy too 😀

TAMALE BUNDT PIE with SALSA VERDE CREMA

TAMALE BUNDT PIE
FILLING
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
16 ounces thick and chunky salsa
1 small can chopped green chiles, drained WELL

  • Brown ground beef and drain off fat.
  • Add seasonings and salsa, stirring to blend. Cook 5 minutes over medium-high heat.

CORN BREAD
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cups WHOLE milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup avocado oil
1 cup SHARP cheddar cheese

  • Sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk together the milk, oil and eggs.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients whisking JUST until dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Stir in cheese.

ASSEMBLY

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • GENEROUSLY spray bundt pan with non-stick spray.
  • Sprinkle green chiles on bottom of pan.
  • Spread half the batter over the green chiles.
  • Top evenly with filling.
  • Add remaining batter and spread smooth.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes until top is lightly browned.
  • Cool 5 minutes on rack.
  • Loosen edges with a knife.
  • Invert onto serving plate.
  • Garnish with crema and chopped tomatoes.

SALSA VERDE CREMA
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa verde
handful chopped cilantro
1 lime juiced
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper

  • Pulse all the ingredients together to desired color and consistency. The more you blend the lighter the color will become.

CREAMY CHICKEN & SPINACH ENCHILADAS

CREAMY CHICKEN & SPINACH ENCHILADAS
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons salsa verde
8 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained WELL
3 tablespoons milk
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
scant 1/4 cup FRESH chopped cilantro
2 green onions, FINELY chopped
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper
flour tortillas

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Stir together the cream cheese and salsa verde until smooth.
  • Add spinach and blend well.
  • Transfer half the mixture to a separate bowl.
  • Stir in milk and set aside.
  • Fold in chicken, cilantro, green onions, 1/2 cup of cheese, salt and pepper to the first bowl.
  • Heat skillet over medium heat.
  • Add tortillas, one at a time, turning and cooking 1-2 minutes until blistered.
  • Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas.
  • Roll up and place in baking dish in a single layer.
  • Spread reserved spinach mixture over top of enchiladas.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake uncovered, 20-25 minutes.
  • Brown under broiler 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted and browned.

IRISH TACOS for ST. PADDY’S DAY

I was recently chatting with a bartender friend of mine and it occurred to us that not only did Cinco de Mayo fall on Taco Tuesday this year, something this bar is well known for in the area, but so does St. Patrick’s Day. We were throwing about ideas for Corned Beef Tacos, but it just didn’t feel right. So, I started playing around to come up with a taco recipe for St. Patrick’s Day and we have a winner!!

IRISH TACOS

RUB
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 tablespoon FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper

  • Combine all the seasonings until well blended.
  • Rub pork shoulder ALL over and set aside 5-10 minutes while you heat the oil.

PORK
2 tablespoons avocado oil
3 pound pork shoulder
1 onion, sliced thin
2 Guiness 12 ounce beers *
6 cloves garlic, minced

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Heat oil over medium high heat.
  • Sear Pork on ALL sides.
  • Add onion pieces.
  • Add garlic.
  • Add Guinness.
  • Cover and move to oven for 3 1/2-4 hours.
  • Shred meat from bone and discard bone.
  • Return meat to juice.

SALSA VERDE CREMA
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa verde
handful chopped cilantro
1 lime juiced\
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper

  • Pulse all the ingredients together to desired color and consistency. The more you blend the lighter the color will become.

ASSEMBLY
Tortillas (regular or spinach) (hot oil dipped or soft)
shredded cabbage or coleslaw
chopped cilantro
Queso Fresca

  • Spread a layer of cream over the tortilla.
  • Top with a forkful of shredded pork.
  • Top with a forkful of slaw or cabbage.
  • Add a dollop more of cream.
  • Sprinkle with cilantro.

NOTE: I am not fond of beer so I also have a version where the beer is substituted with ginger ale. Canada Dry has a new version that is paired with Orangeade that makes this dish out of this world!!

TEX MEX CHICKEN STEW ala SLOW COOKER

TEX MEX CHICKEN STEW ala SLOW COOKER serves 4
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon QUALITY honey
1 can ROTEL tomatoes, undrained
15 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 ounces pickled jalapenos or pepperoncinis
½ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons WONDRA flour
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1 can white shoepeg corn
1-3 ounces cream cheese
1 bunch green onions, sliced for garnish

  • Spray slow cooker insert with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Blend together the onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, pepperoncinis or pickled jalapenos.
  • Whisk together the chicken broth, honey, garlic, tomato paste and chili powder. Blend the mixture into the slow cooker.
  • Whisk together the avocado oil and flour into a paste. Blend the paste into the slow cooker mixture.
  • Fold in chicken pieces so they are submerged.
  • Cook on low for 6 hours.
  • Add corn and cook another hour on HIGH.
  • Whisk cream cheese with ½ cup of broth from slow cooker.
  • Stir cream cheese mixture into slow cooker, cooking for 15 minutes more.
  • Serve with warm tortillas.
  • Garnish with green onions.

GREEN CHILE CHICKEN COBBLER

This is one of those recipes that I cut out of a magazine and then never got around too, but also kept changing it LOL 😀 before I ever even made it.  When I finally got around to making it EVERYONE loved it!!!

GREEN CHILE CHICKEN COBBLER
TOPPING
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup powdered Parmesan cheese
¼ cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons COLD butter, cut into small cubes
scant ½ cup heavy cream

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Line a cookie sheet with a sheet of foil and LIGHTLY spray with non-stick spray.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and powdered Parmesan cheese.
  • Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.
  • Cut in grated Parmesan cheese until well distributed.
  • Crumble mixture into a layer on the foil.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes until light golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and set aside.
  • Reduce heat to 350°.
  • Spray 9×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

CASSEROLE
3 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
½ cup Daisy sour cream
10 ounce can green enchilada sauce
1 can cream of Campbell’s chicken herb soup *
1 LARGE bunch green onions, chopped small
8 ounces chopped green chiles, only slightly drained
3 cups chopped or shredded rotisseries chicken pieces
2 cups grated Mexican cheese combo (pepper jack and cheddar), divided 1 ½ + ½

  • Whisk together the cream cheese and sour cream.
  • Add in enchilada sauce, soup and green chiles blending until well incorporated.
  • Fold in onions and chicken pieces until well distributed.
  • Transfer baking dish.
  • Top with 1 ½ cups of the cheese.
  • Toss the other ½ cup of cheese with the cooled topping mixture and sprinkle on top of baking dish.
  • Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes until heated through and bubbling.

NOTE: Soup Substitute recipe can be found here.

MEXICAN SOFRITO

I wanted to use what I had on hand so made a Mexican version of my Beef Ragu.  Naming it was an entirely different story! 

I found tons of words to replace ragu like goulash, pot-au-feu, gumbo, suey, cassoulet, chowder… You get the idea, but I couldn’t find a word in Spanish.  Finding a word for word translation of RAGU was challenging. 

Turns out there isn’t a DIRECT word for translation so I read until I found an acceptable translation for this Mexican version of my Beef Ragu recipe. The word soffritto is still Italian, but I found the same word with a single f and single t (sofrito) used for Puerto Rican and Latin American recipes.  Close enough for me! 

A Ragu is meat based with a little sauce added.

MEXICAN SOFRITO ala SLOW COOKER
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 ½ -3 pound chuck roast
1 tablespoon House Seasoning (see below)
28 ounces crushed tomatoes, with cumin and chili powder to taste
1 large can chopped green chiles
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 cup beef broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
Cotija cheese

  • Spray a large slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Arrange the onions, garlic, green chiles and bacon pieces in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Generously season roast with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper on both sides.
  • Arrange roast on top of the onion mixture.
  • Sprinkle the carrots on top of the roast.
  • In a medium bowl, blend together the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, red wine vinegar and cilantro.
  • Pour over the roast.
  • Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours until the beef is EXTREMELY tender and falls apart.
  • Skim any fat from the top.
  • Use 2 forks to shred the beef.
  • Stir beef into the sauce.
  • Adjust seasonings.
  • Re-cover and cook for another hour to allow the flavored to meld together.
  • Serve with corn tortillas and top with Cotija cheese sprinkles.

This is an adapted version of my Beef Ragu recipe.

CHICKEN TAMALE PIE

This is a great recipe that is a super easy casserole replacement for the time consuming task of stuffing tamale husks.

CHICKEN TAMALE PIE

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Place a 10 inch cast iron pan on a baking sheet and place in oven to warm.

FILLING
3 cups chopped FRESH tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced into a paste
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Wondra flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Pulse together 2 cups of the tomatoes, onions and garlic until ALMOST pureed.
  • Heat the avocado oil in a skillet.
  • Stir in the chili powder and flour.
  • Whisk in the broth and tomato puree mixture and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Cool.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of sauce.
  • Add in chicken and remaining tomatoes.

TOP CRUST
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon FRESH ground sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 LARGE egg
1 can SHOEPEG corn, drained
1 small can green chiles, drained
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 cups shredded cheese (combination of cheddar and jack)

  • Combine the cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  • Whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter and egg.
  • Fold in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients JUST until combined.
  • Gently fold in corn and green chiles.

ASSEMBLY

  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  • Add the butter to the cast iron pan.
  • Carefully pour the batter into the pan and bake 20 minutes.
  • Poke holes in cornbread.
  • Spread reserved sauce over the cornbread.
  • Top with chicken mixture.
  • Sprinkle cheese over chicken mixture.
  • Return baking sheet to oven and bake 10 minutes until cheese melts.