Categories
Main Dish

I’ll take all the Tex-Mex you can ‘chimi’

Chicken Chimichangas with White Sauce
Chicken chimichangas with white sauce are a scrumptious weekday dinner that tastes like it took a lot longer to make than it really did.

The debate about “authentic” food always fascinates me. 

I recently listened to an episode of NPR’s “The Splendid Table,” where the host and guest were discussing the different ways people make sauce in Italy, and some of the recipes sounded very different than what I’d always thought was uniquely Italian.

The same debate seems to happen with Mexican food, too. People turn up their nose at “Tex-Mex,” claiming only the real thing is worth eating.

But I would argue that a lot of the amazing dishes in the States have benefitted from being tampered with a little—creating something new and delicious.

The recipe I tried this week for chimichangas is an example of that. A chimichanga, according to “What’s Cooking, America,” originated in Arizona, a creation by Mexican immigrants, where a traditional burrito received a deep-fried treatment.

This recipe is another step away from the original because it is baked, but despite its departure from the “authentic” version, it is absolutely delicious.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Munchkin Time.” You can find the original post at https://www.munchkintime.com/easy-30-minute-chicken-chimichanga-recipe/. I’m combining two of her recipes together for you, and I doubled the cumin in my version.

Chicken Chimichangas with White Sauce
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Chicken Chimichangas with White Sauce

Chicken chimichangas with white sauce are a scrumptious weekday dinner that tastes like it took a lot longer to make than it really did.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword baked, cheese, cheese sauce, chimichangas, Tex-Mex, tortillas, white sauce

Ingredients

Chimichanga Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack shredded cheese
  • 4 ounces diced chiles
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 soft-taco-size flour tortillas
  • melted butter to brush tops

White Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sour cream I used fat free
  • 4 ounces cream cheese I used fat free
  • 4 ounces green chiles drained
  • 1 to 4 teaspoons hot sauce I used chipotle Tabasco
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In an oven-safe skillet, heat a tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken breasts and cook for about four minutes (or until you get a nice sear). Flip the breasts over and slide the skillet into the oven. Check the chicken after about 10 minutes, and remove it from the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for a couple minutes.
  • Whisk in the broth slowly, making sure to break up clumps as you do. Once the mixture is smooth, add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let the mixture come up to a slow boil, stirring regularly to incorporate everything. Once the mixture starts to bubble, remove it from the heat.
  • For the chimichangas, shred the chicken and add in the shredded cheese, chiles, cumin, salt and pepper and one cup of the white sauce and stir until well combined.
  • Warm the tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Spoon about 2/3 cup of the chicken mixture into the center of each tortilla, and wrap them by folding in the sides and then the ends to seal them.
  • Place them seam side down on a baking sheet.
  • Brush each chimichanga with the melted butter and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  • Serve them with a ladle of the white sauce over top.

These were amazing. I think Joey told me at least four times during dinner how much he liked them, so I will be making these again, I’m sure.

The cheese sauce was absolute perfection, and honestly, even if you don’t want to make the chimichangas, make the white sauce and use it as a dip for chips. It’s fantastic.

This probably wouldn’t meet the approval of those who look only for “authentic” Mexican food, but I can tell you without a doubt that my stomach didn’t mind the lack of authenticity even a little.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 24, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Uncategorized

It’s ‘butter’ to double check ingredients

Coffeecake donuts come together quickly and bake in only about 10 minutes. They’re perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee or a big glass of milk.

One of the habits my mom taught me when I was first learning to bake is to go back through a recipe before popping something into the oven.

Giving each ingredient a once-over to make sure nothing was left out is a good idea, since you inevitably realize you forgot something when the mixture has already been in the oven for several minutes.

Normally, I follow her advice. I skim through the ingredients, creating a mental checklist to make sure I didn’t mess anything up. Of course, I also tend to get in a hurry and forget from time to time.

Such was the case this weekend when I went to quickly bake a batch of donuts for some house guests before they headed out of town.

The donuts were out of the oven, cooling in the pan, when my friend opened the microwave to reveal a little bowl of melted butter that should have been mixed into the donut batter.

The good news: they were still delicious, so I’m going to share this recipe with you even though I didn’t completely follow it correctly.

This recipe comes from the blog “Baker by Nature.” You can find the original at https://bakerbynature.com/coffee-cake-donuts-with-vanilla-glaze/. I added a ton more cinnamon to the recipe and left off the vanilla glaze, because I didn’t think the donuts needed even more sugar and calories.

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Coffeecake Donuts

Coffeecake donuts come together quickly and bake in only about 10 minutes. They're perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee or a big glass of milk.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword baked, cinnamon, coffeecake, donuts

Ingredients

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Donut Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream I substituted non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a six-well donut baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray and set it aside.
  • In a small bowl, cut together the topping ingredients until it’s well combined into small crumbs.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together the flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, sour cream, butter and egg until just combined.
  • Spoon the batter into the donut pan, distributing it evenly between the wells. Now evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the the tops of each donut.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes or until the donuts spring back when you touch them lightly (mine ended up taking 12 minutes).
  • Let the donuts cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then gently remove them and serve.

These were really, really good, and I was glad I decided to skip the extra glaze. They were perfect without it.

And even though I left out the butter, they were still tasty. I’m guessing they would have been a bit moister if I would have put it in, but you could probably get away with leaving it out, too, if you wanted.

I learned yet again that it’s important to go over my ingredients list before popping something into the oven. As ever, my mom is always right, even if I did end up with some delicious donuts.

This piece first appeared in print on July 30, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Orange chicken for dinner makes for happy ‘peelings’

Baked orange chicken can be made from scratch at home to create the same awesome flavors as the classic takeout dish.

My normal mode for making dinner is to keep it simple. If I find a recipe that takes too many steps or too much waiting in between steps, I skip right over it.

What I do tend to do to myself on a regular basis, though, is to make dinner more complicated than it should have been by having way too many ideas to execute at once.

Such was the case a few nights ago, when I started with wanting to make a recipe for orange chicken, which my sister sent over, ranting and raving about how good it was, and finished by also making from-scratch fried rice and a Japanese clear onion soup.

I began making dinner at around 5 p.m., and Joey didn’t have a plate in front of him until after 7. At least he’s used to my idiosyncrasies, and since the meal was amazing, there were no complaints on his end.

The orange chicken recipe comes from the blog “Dinner, then Dessert,” written by Sabrina Snyder. You can find the original post at https://dinnerthendessert.com/baked-orange-chicken/. I added extra garlic in my version, substituted dried ginger for fresh, and updated the directions a bit for clarity.

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Baked Orange Chicken

Baked orange chicken can be made from scratch at home to create the same awesome flavors as the classic takeout dish.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword baked, orange chicken, take out

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
  • cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried ginger
  • 6 to 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or rice wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 10 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 tablespoons white vinegar
  • zest of one orange

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a large, rimmed baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.
  • Cut the chicken thighs into one-inch, bite-sized pieces.
  • Set up three bowls. In the first bowl, add the flour. (I ended up needing a lot more than the 1/2 cup, so be prepared to add more if necessary.) In the second bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. (I also had to add an additional egg by the end of my preparation.) In the third bowl, add the breadcrumbs. (If you’re using panko, run it through a food processor to get it into smaller bits, and again, be prepared to add some extra if necessary.)
  • Dip the chicken into the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs and then place on the baking sheet. Try to keep the pieces from touching each other, but don’t worry about crowding the pan.
  • Spray the coated chicken with cooking spray and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown.
  • For the sauce, heat one tablespoon vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red peppers and stir, sauteing for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, and bring the mixture up to a slow boil, stirring continuously. Once the mixture starts to thicken, remove the sauce from the heat.
  • Once the chicken is finished, toss it in the sauce to coat it and serve.

This was amazing. It tasted just like takeout orange chicken from our favorite Chinese restaurant, so we were really happy with it. It does have a nice, spicy kick to it, so if you’re spice adverse, I’d recommend leaving out the red pepper flakes just to be safe.

We also really enjoyed this as leftovers later in the week, just like real Chinese takeout.

I’m planning on giving you the side dishes the next two weeks if you want to recreate my meal. It was all awesome and paired together nicely.

Really, it all should have come together more quickly if I would have planned ahead, but despite my best efforts, it seems like every recipe ends up taking longer than it should have.

At least I tend to enjoy my time in the kitchen, and especially, the fruits of my labor.

This piece first appeared in print on May 7, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert Snack

You ‘donut’ want to miss out on this recipe

Baked sugar donuts are a simple recipe with uncomplicated flavors. They pair well with a good cup of coffee or tea for breakfast.

I’m forever looking online for new recipes to try, and it seems like there aren’t a lot of foods I haven’t given a go over the years of writing this column.

I keep a spreadsheet of the recipes that have appeared in this space to keep track of what I’ve done and also when they came out, since I sometimes receive e-mails asking me for recipes that appeared pretty far back.

I started my 2018 spreadsheet and decided to do some counting. This column is my 288th recipe. I don’t even want to consider how many tablespoons of butter that probably represents.

That being said, I’m constantly amazed by the types of foods I haven’t tried making yet, and this week is another one to mark in the books as a new experience: donuts.

Years ago, I wrote about making fried donuts from biscuits—a childhood favorite—but until this week, I haven’t tried baking them.

I received a donut pan for Christmas, so I decided on New Year’s Eve that it was time to try out a baked donut recipe.

I started very simply with just a sugar donut recipe, and they were a great treat to accompany our game night with friends.

The recipe I used came from the blog “Brooklyn Farm Girl.” You can read it at http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/2017/02/06/homemade-baked-sugar-donuts/. I doubled the vanilla in my version.

If you don’t own a donut pan, by the way, you can make these as muffins or create your own donut pan out of a muffin tin with aluminum foil. I found a good tutorial to do that at http://tiphero.com/diy-doughnut-pan-and-recipe/.

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Baked Sugar Donuts

Baked sugar donuts are a simple recipe with uncomplicated flavors. They pair well with a good cup of coffee or tea for breakfast.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword baked, donuts, sugar

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil I used canola
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk I used skim milk with a touch of vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus more for coating the donuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray your donut pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  • With a fork, beat the eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar, salt, baking powder and vanilla together.
  • Mix in the flour.
  • Pour the batter into the donut pan, filling each well about 3/4 of the way up.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the donuts comes out clean.
  • Remove and let cool for a few minutes before removing the donuts from the pan.
  • Put a scoop of sugar into a Ziploc bag or a bowl and coat your warm donuts in sugar on all sides one at a time.
  • Store in an airtight container.

I actually halved this recipe, since my donut pan only makes six donuts at a time, and there were only four of us playing games, and it was super easy to do.

These aren’t fancy by any means, but I really liked how simple the flavors were. You could also coat these in a cinnamon-sugar mixture if you wanted to add a little more zip to them.

It was also such a quick recipe that I already had my pan filled with batter before my oven was finished preheating.

And now I can cross baked donuts off the list of foods I haven’t tried making yet. Who knows what culinary roads 2018 will lead me down? I’m excited to see (and so are my taste buds). I’m glad you’ll be joining me for the journey.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 4, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.