Cold Front

Fall has settled in.  The leaves have changed colors and falling off the trees, the air has gotten crisp and I have just gone crazy in the kitchen cooking up comfort foods.  After getting knocked on my butt with a flu/cold for the better part of a week and being suck inside while hurricane sandy passed by, I’ve cooked up a storm.  The two dishes I’ll share with you today, while not the healthiest of dishes I’ve ever made, are cozy and sure to warm your belly on these cool fall evenings.

The first dish is an enchilada casserole– a dish that incorporates all the Mexican flavors you love with the  added convenience and richness of a casserole.

The second is tomato soup–a versatile dish that can either shine as a main dish if topped with chunks of fresh chicken breast and a dollop of sour cream, maybe even some cheesy croutons or served as a a complimentary side to the classic grilled cheese.

If you are making either of these dishes to feed one person instead of an entire family, I would recommend putting half of the yield from both of these dishes in the freezer–save them for when you just don’t feel like cooking but want to eat something homemade–these two dishes can easily be enough food for a week’s worth of meals. Let’s get started.

Now the inspiration for this enchilada casserole stemmed from one ingredient that I’ve been holding onto for months now but have yet to make good use of it–celebrity chef Rick Bayless’s red chile enchilada sauce which I picked up at the grocery store.


What I did was create 3 different layers of flavors and textures.  The first layer is a mixture of sauteed onions, green peppers and white beans.

The second layer is a mixture of diced or shredded chicken, the red chile enchilada sauce I bought, canned green chilies, and if you like–a little sour cream.

The third layer is spicy shredded cheese.  You can you pepper jack, but I only had shredded Mexican cheese blend on hand.

Now I was bad and forgot to put down a soft corn tortilla between these layers, but you’ll be smarter than I was and remember.  Put a tortilla down on the bottom of the pan then again between the chicken and the cheese layers.

The result is a gooey, cheesy and saucy Mexican casserole.  You can also omit the tortillas altogether and layer these flavors over a bed of tortilla chips to create the meanest nachos of all time (maybe for football watch party??).

This casserole is the ultimate comfort dish.

If instead you want to eat something that reminds you of your childhood, what’s better than a grilled cheese with tomato soup.  This tomato soup recipe could not be more simple–takes about 5 minutes to make.  This recipe is also good, but the one I made produces an absolute classic soup.  All you do is blend some garlic, shallot, canned whole stewed tomatoes and cream (or you can substitute almond or coconut milk).  Add some seasonings, maybe a little white wine, heat over the stove and boom you’re done-it is that easy.

I put a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of thyme to garnish; you can also top the soup with cheesy croutons and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.  Your friends will be so impressed–no longer are you a ten year old kid with skinned knees and a couple of loose baby teeth.

Below you’ll find recipes for both these cozy dishes, I hope they keep you warm this fall.

Enchilada casserole
Yields 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 15oz. can of white beans
  • 1 4oz. can diced green chilies
  • 8 oz. green or red enchilada sauce
  • one yellow onion, diced
  • one green pepper, diced
  • 2 cups chopped chicken
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheese (Pepper jack or otherwise)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional) plus more for garnish
  • medium-sized soft corn tortillas
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • nonstick spray
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat a medium-sized saucepan to medium-high heat.  Add the vegetable oil and saute onion and pepper until onion is translucent in color.  Take off the heat and add thoroughly rinsed beans to vegetables.  Set aside.
  3. In a bowl combine chopped or shredded chicken with green chilies, enchilada sauce and sour cream. Mix and set aside.
  4. Spray some nonstick spray in the bottom of a casserole dish.
  5. First put down a layer of corn tortillas.  Then a layer of the bean and sauteed veggies.  Next put down a layer of the chicken mixture.  Place another tortilla layer and sprinkle with cheese.  Repeat  the veggie, chicken, tortilla and cheese layers.  Finish with the cheese on top.
  6. Place on the middle rack of the oven and cook for about 40 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.
  7. Remove, let cool.  Garnish with sour cream and your favorite hot sauce.

Tomato Soup
yields 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large shallot
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 28oz. cans stewed whole tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can of stewed whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup coconut milk, almond milk or cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh or dried thyme plus a little extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparations:

  1. Slice up the shallot and garlic.
  2. Either with a blender or a mix stick blend whole tomatoes with juice, sliced garlic and shallot.
  3. Place all ingredients in a large pot and place on medium heat until thoroughly heated.
  4. Serve. enjoy.
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2 thoughts on “Cold Front

  1. The Enchilada Casserole sounds perfect for a cold day. Can’t wait to try it.
    If you put a half of a raw potato in the bottom of the pot of the tomato soup, it will absorb some of the acid of the tomatoes or add a little sugar to the soup.

    • That is so fascinating! I’ll try that next time I make tomato soup. For the rest of my readers–let me know if you tried this trick and whether you found it made a significant difference.

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