Chicken-Chili Tamale Pie

This dish would seem to be a good fit for a cold or stormy day…warm and comforting..and it sure smelled good while cooking! We unfortunately had it on an unseasonably warm 90 degree day here in California…that is hot for the end of April 😳. All good though, my guys never complain about having Mexican food…that is always a good choice.

This tamale pie is basically a chicken chili topped with cornbread, but a more adult and grown up version. The textures and flavors are elevated from the usual “throw together and top with a box of cornbread mix” casserole.

The chili has a combination of chicken, black beans, sweet potato, tomato, red bell pepper and onion flavored with jalapeño, cumin, chipotle, honey and chili powder. (I omitted the cilantro).

Rather than use a box mix of cornbread we make our own adding some elements to that as well…chili powder, honey, bell pepper, and jalapeño.

The chili is placed in a dish and topped with the cornbread…cooked for about half and hour. I think our consensus was the ratio was off a bit…way too much cornbread and maybe not even necessary. I think if I was to make this again I would use half the cornbread recipe so there was a thinner topping and you could taste more of the chili.

All in all, good…but maybe not a favorite.

Chocolate Chip Not-Quite Mandelbrot

Long name for a delicious cookie! We will be calling them “the soft biscotti” from now on in my family haha.

Seems like the best place to start is with, what is “Mandelbrot”?

Dorie tells us,

“The literal translation of Mandelbrot is “almond bread”, a name that gives no hint that it defines a twice-baked cookie. Popular among Ashkenazi Jews, the cookie has all the characteristics of a biscotti- it’s baked in a log, sliced and baked again. That these Mandelbrot are made without mandel, or almonds, is a technicality to be glossed over.”

What makes this “biscotti” different than the usual ones you eat, is that they are more like cake and not hard and dry. This particular recipe is speckled with mini chocolate chips and then what takes it to another level, is that the cookies are dusted with cinnamon sugar on both bakes…once on top and then again on the cut side during the second bake. I am not sure we had an appreciation of the chocolate and cinnamon combo before, but that is a really good match!

These were loved by all who I was able to share them with…which was a lot. I didn’t quite get the 60 it states but a good 30 anyway and that made way for some good sharing. 😍 I can definitely see myself making these again…easy, with ingredients usually found on hand AND everyone loved them…this one is a keeper!

Fennel-Orange Shortbread Wedges

These shortbread cookies are easy to make and are flavored with orange zest and chopped fennel seeds. Interesting combination that is suppose to go well with a glass of wine.

The cookies are fragile, have a slight crunch and are melt in your mouth goodness which comes from baking with all that butter haha. I baked mine in an 8in cake pan rather than the free form method…adding the spoke pattern with a fork to separate the slices. I was leery when cutting the pieces after baking that they would fall apart…but no problem

I think we all would say these were interesting and good to try but I am not sure we loved them…although…we are not wine drinkers so maybe that would have made a difference haha.

Western Frittata

Ironically, I made my first frittata about a month ago. We loved it. I think it was a function of not having a cast iron skillet, but now I have one and it has opened up a whole new world.

Frittatas are quick, easy, delicious…and versatile. You can add anything you like to the base, much in the same way you can to an omelet. The best part is that there is no flipping or folding so there is no worry on how it will hold together.

This frittata is a take on the Denver or Western omelet…this one has onions, bell pepper, jalapeño, chili powder, and hot sauce. Then it is topped with tomato, thyme, and cheddar cheese. Really anything goes here…you can add bacon or ham but this time I went with the recipe as stated…although we did top ours with avocado!

This really couldn’t have been easier…in fact it was easier than the first one I made just recently. This one, after adding the eggs and giving it a quick stir, you leave the egg mixture alone for two minutes and then pop it in the oven for another 8 minutes. Seriously easy…and seriously delicious.

This was a keeper with us…and had us discussing possible new combinations to try out. What a game changer for an easy, throw together dinner in a pinch!

Matcha-White Chocolate Mini Mads

My “mini mads” became full mads haha since I only had a regular size madeleine pan. I figured it wouldn’t matter except for the amount of cookies I was able to get…and it was substantially less. The other thing that was interesting was I cooked them for the lowest amount of time suggested, and they turned out a little too brown I think…but surprisingly, it didn’t seem to affect the taste.

We are told that while these cookies don’t have the traditional flavor composition, their shell shape and sponge texture are models of the genre…and I would agree.

Matcha green tea is among the most prized and expensive of Japanese’s teas…it is powdered rather than a leaf tea and apparently has a culinary grade, rather than ceremonial, that we are to use with these cookies. Even at that, the matcha was quite pricey…even for the smallest pouch. The hidden ingredient though, that shines in these cookies isn’t really the matcha or the white chocolate…it is the lime zest. That is the flavor that seemed to come through to all of us.

I wasn’t sure my investment in the matcha would be worth it if we didn’t enjoy these cookies enough to make them again, but you know what, we really did like and enjoy these. I would certainly make them again…probably doubling the recipe next time, and using up the rest of my tea.

When I started this journey many years ago, I had decided within reason I would get what I needed to participate if I didn’t have the right tools or ingredients just so I could fully appreciate the experience…score on the madeleine pan from way in the beginning, and now the matcha tea 😄