Supper in a Flash: Chilaquiles

If you’ve fallen into a quesadilla rut, switch things up one of these nights with chilaquiles. Think of chilaquiles as the world’s best nachos or a sort of deconstructed enchilada, but way, way easier to make. This is one of my husband’s favorites and is a fantastic way to transform a bit of leftover roast chicken or that lingering bag of stale tortilla chips into something special — some real deal comfort food. Did I mention it’s super easy?

The only downside for us and chilaquiles these days is that Luca has entered his “suspicious of anything soupy-saucy” phase and this is just the kind of meal he just picks around. The food moves from one side of the plate to the other, he chokes down a few nibbles that look the dryest with a look in his eyes that just screams “UGH…I can’t believe my mom is making me eat this”.  On a positive note, it’s on these saucier nights nights, that he goes for his green vegetables first and, on occasion goes for seconds and thirds of them before dealing with his dreaded nemesis. I find it all a little humorous because my husband is what I like to call an  “extreme saucer”. Triple what I consider to be an appropriate amount of sauce and he’s generally happy. My genius solution to achieving family harmony when it comes to sauce? Just to make things how I like them and call it a day.

Chilaquiles for Four

  • 6-8 tortillas (about 1-2 tortillas per person) or equal amount of tortilla chips
  • ~28 oz of red chile sauce (I love this recipe for charred dried California chile and tomatillo sauce for this but you can use your favorite canned red enchilada sauce in a pinch)
  • Optional: leftover shredded meat (scrambled or fried eggs work great too)
  • Your favorite garnishes such as cotija cheese, avocado, lime edges, cilantro, sour cream, sliced radishes (fresh or pickled). In addition to the more traditional garnishes, I often sprinkle on some finely chopped spinach leaves just for a little extra nutritional boost.
  1. Cut tortillas into strips about 1/2″ wide. Lightly oil a baking sheet then crisp them in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes (check them mid way and give them a toss). You can crisp your tortillas ahead of time and keep them for a day or 2 in an airtight container. I had purchased some low fat tortillas with flax which on their own were kind of terrible, but they were actually fine in this recipe. The point being, this is a very forgiving dish. You can substitute an equal quantity of tortilla chips if you like, we like Casa Sanchez brand.
  2. Heat your favorite red chile sauce in a large pan that can contain all the tortilla strips/chips. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. If it’s too watery cook it down a bit, if it’s too thick you can thin it with chicken stock. The deliciousness of your chile sauce is what makes or breaks this dish. I can heartily recommend Rick Bayless’s charred guajillo and tomatillo salsa because it’s easy on the spice which is great for kids but big on tangy, rich flavor. If you think there’s a chance you might be making chilaquiles in the next week or so, make this sauce over the weekend and keep it in the fridge. You could substitute a 28oz can of prepared red enchilada sauce in a pinch.
  3. Once your sauce reaches a nice simmer, pour in the tortillas. Stir them well to coat and let them soften for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Place the tortillas and sauce onto a serving platter and garnish. Serve right away with a side of black beans and your favorite vegetable. For sauce lovers like my husband, reserve some chile sauce and bring it to the table.

I feel you on this one Luca, Love JL

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You might also like: Our Favorite Quick and Easy Recipes; Salsa for Beginners: Charred Guajillo and Tomatillo Sauce; Cooking with Louisa: Taquitos; Effortless Enchiladas; Three Bears: Grilled Salmon Tacos; Cooking with Louisa: Sopa de Tortilla

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Mission Street Food’s Sesame-Avocado Brown Rice

A recent brown rice bowl with green beans, tomatoes, roasted eggplant, cilantro, a poached egg and... of course avocado and toasted sesame seeds.

Before I get get to the awesomely easy and extra delicious Sesame-Avocado Brown Rice, I’ve got to give a shout out to one of the new favorites on my bookshelf, “Mission Street Food: Recipes and ideas from an Improbable Restaurant“, which chronicles the creation of a San Francisco dining hot spot that broke the mold. In it’s all-too-brief run, Mission Street Food provided a showcase for up and coming guest chefs and presented innovative menus around themes such as “homage to Auguste Escoffier”, “new school tapas”, “super bowl party”, “breakfast for dinner”, and “ottoman cuisine” — all served out of a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant, with proceeds benefiting local nonprofits. Mission Street Food evolved into Mission Chinese Food which serves up a menu of tasty “Americanized” takes on dishes like Hainam Chicken Rice, Sizzling Cumin Lamb and Ma Po Tofu. [If you want to check out our visit to Mission Chinese Food earlier this year, click here.] Interwoven into the story of Mission Street Food are recipes, techniques and a whole lot of inspiration. You cannot browse this book without coming away with at least a dozen ideas to incorporate in your own cooking.

Sesame-Avocado Brown Rice was an immediate “must make” and it’s been on our regular rotation for both lunch and dinner ever since. This one is so easy it’s hardly a recipe and the variations are endless. Make the rice, whisk together the 3-ingredient dressing and serve alongside your favorite toppings. Anthony Myint (of the duo behind Mission Street/Chinese Food) suggests sauteed beech mushrooms, blanched broccoli rabe, sliced avocado, bbq-ed unagi. We like everything from green beans to poached or scrambled eggs, chopped raw spinach, roasted chicken, scallions, pickled carrots and sliced radishes. I’ve even gone so far as to add toasted sliced almonds and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

This is a perfect weeknight family meal because you can make most or all of the components in advance, it’s a great canvas for leftovers, and you can serve it hot, room temp or straight from the refrigerator depending on your laziness level. This is also a fantastic recipe to teach to older kids who are starting to learn to cook on their own. Younger kids can get into the action too by designing and assembling their own custom rice bowls and even our bambino loves it because he can nibble along with the family on some of the softer items and try out the tangy-salty flavors of the dressing.

It’s as easy as this:

  • Cook 2 cups of your favorite brown rice
  • Whisk together the dressing: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 3 TBL sesame oil
  • Toss your cooked rice with the dressing, reserving a little of the dressing to serve at the table
  • Fold in some toasted sesame seeds
  • Serve the seasoned rice alongside your favorite toppings. Start with a sliced avocado and go from there.

We like these quick pickled carrots. They are great addition to any rice bowl, Banh Mi-type sandwich, or taco, you name it!

  • Mix 1 cup water, 1 TBL each of rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt.
  • Cut carrots into thin matchstick and let them stand in the pickling mixture for 1 hour or up to several days in the refrigerator.

Luca dreamed up this bacon and eggs version. I like your style, kid.

You'll find ideas and inspiration aplenty in the Mission Street Food cookbook.

If you liked this, you might also like: Japanese Comfort Food: Harumi’s Three Topping Rice, “There’s Nothing to Eat”: Bacon and Egg Rice, Cooking with Mom: Chicken Biryani

Pasta with Broccoli and Breadcrumbs

Here’s a recipe that has saved the day at Casa Stacie on more than a few occasions. Breadcrumbs on pasta may sound kind of weird, but trust me, it’s major yum. The breadcrumbs provide both crunch and a delectable toasty-ness, a nice change of pace from the usual sauced pasta. I also love this recipe because it’s quick and super frugal. You’ll feel like a hero when you throw it together on one of those days when you never managed to make it to the market and there’s nothing but a head of broccoli staring back at you in the refrigerator. The other ingredients are so basic, you’ll probably find them in your pantry: pasta, breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, a lemon and some parmegiano reggiano. [PS: here’s a good trick on keeping lemons fresh]

Pasta with Broccoli and Breadcrumbs

DIY Breadcrumbs — Homemade breadcrumbs really do make all the difference so if you can find the time to make them, it’s worth it. Just chuck leftover bread crusts and slightly stale pieces in a freezer bag. When the bag is full, let them thaw and blitz them in food processor until you have coarse crumbs. If you want a little extra nutritional boost, you can throw in some wheat germ or golden flax seed with the bread. Then toast the crumbs on a cookie sheet until they are crisp and dry. Approx 10 minutes at 350. Make a bunch and store them in an air tight container — your pantry will thank you!

  1. Toss breadcrumbs with good olive oil and a few pinches of salt to taste. Use at least 1 cup of crumbs per pound of pasta. I always like to make a little extra because they’re so, so yummy. Toss the olive oil-coated crumbs in a hot pan until they’re nice and toasty.
  2. Wash and trim broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Cook until tender crisp (steam, saute or even microwave with a a few tablespoons of water).
  3. Cook your pasta until al dente in well-salted water.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, mince several cloves of garlic and saute in olive oil until they just begin to turn golden.
  5. Immediately add the cooked pasta and broccoli and toss. Sprinkle with half the breadcrumbs and toss well again. Add a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a generous grating of parmegiano reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can add a few spoons of pasta water if you want a moister dish.
  6. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs (a little minced parsley would be good too, but it’s totally optional). You can reserve some crumbs for sprinkling at the table if you like along with some parmegiano, good olive oil and lemon wedges.