Category Archives: Mexican

cheese + crunch

When I first moved to Chicago, I created my gmail account under “Whitney in Chicago” because it was just felt like such a change for a Texan like me moving up to the cold Midwest.  It was only logical that I would name my blog the same thing.  Although I will forever remain a Texan at heart (Texas Pride is indoctrinated early on in elementary education-Yellow Rose anyone?), I have enjoyed making Chicago my new home.  However, this means that I must make my own Tex-Mex favorites at home (and fill suitcases to the weight maximum with good salsa).  Tortilla Soup might not be strictly “Tex-Mex” per se, but it was always one of my favorite things to order at Pappasitos when I wanted a light lunch and I can’t remember the last time that I had a satisfying bowl. Continue reading

Chicken Enchiladas

As you may or may not know, even through I write a blog called “Whitney in Chicago”, I am really a Texan through and through (except for my politics). One of the biggest adjustments to Chicago actually wasn’t the long, harsh winter, but the lack of true “Tex-Mex.” Sure you can get plenty of decent mexican and salsa all across Chicago, but really good Tex-Mex can only be found at the source, Texas. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Anyways, anytime that I do go back to Texas for any length of time, I always pack light so that I can bring back lots of Texas things (if only I could figure out how to get some Blue Bell Homestyle Vanilla back), most importantly…SALSA. Continue reading

A Super Dip

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I have one of my best friends to thank for this dip (Hey Ashley!!). During college when we were both living in the sorority house, we spent a Friday night in, chopping and stirring away, making a big bowl of this dip. Then sitting on her floor (she was President at the time so she got her own room), with tortilla chips or even a fork and eating away.

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Since moving to Chicago, I have made this dip for every Superbowl party and it has not disappointed. The beans, avocado and corn is a nice change from all the other greasy, fried goodness on the table.

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Last night my friends Brian and Julia had us over to watch the game and prepare WAY too much food that could be reasonably consumed by 4-6 people. I brought the Dip (recipe below) and made Bakerella’s famous Cake Balls by request (had to use yellow cake mix because red velvet was unavailable at two stores and I was too busy this weekend to make it from scratch). I also tried to class up queso by using Homesick Texan’s method. It was tasty but I wish I could have found “Longhorn Cheddar” because I think I used a little too much Monterrey Jack. It was reminiscent of PW’s Spicy Mac and Cheese, which of course is not a bad thing.

But the Dip is really something special. I wish I could have gotten this posted before the Super Bowl but it really is great for any party, picnic or potluck. It is sure to impress.

Ashley’s Famous Dip

1 can black beans-drained (rinse and drain well-you don’t want to turn the whole dip black)
2 cans of shoepeg white corn-drained (or yellow if that is all that you can find)
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chiles) drained
1/4 to 1/2 purple onion-diced
1 bunch cilantro-chopped
3-4 Avocadoes-chopped
Juice of 2-3 limes
Fajita seasoning to taste
Kosher salt to taste.

Mix everything together. Don’t stir too hard so that the avocado stays somewhat in pieces.

Serve chilled with tortilla chips. Or even just a fork.

A Bread Success

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This weekend was wonderful. Even though it was (really) cold, it was bright and sunny, not dreary and gray. School isn’t too busy yet (and probably wont be..3Litis much?) so the weekends are actually something to enjoy. My toe is almost healed so I was able to workout on both Saturday and Sunday (and I went for a run OUTSIDE tonight and FROZE but it felt great). I also cooked and baked up a storm. On Saturday, Julia suggested that we take the boys to a FREE wine tasting and then they came over while I made Mexican Meatball Soup. Wonderful recipe but I didn’t take any pictures (whoops!). I am excited because I have two portions frozen for a quick weeknight dinner, one of which we heated up tonight. YUM! Then I baked up some Snickerdoodles really quick to take to an apartment warming party. I don’t like to show up empty handed ;-) But the real accomplishment this weekend was baking bread. Real sandwich bread.

I can’t believe how easy it was to make a real homemade loaf of sandwich bread and how few ingredients are involved.

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Mix 2/3 bread flour with 1/3 wheat. Don’t you love my flour canisters? I really do. I have 4 of them and kinda wish I had a few more.

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It is true that you can only buy powdered milk in massive quantities (at least this was true at Treasure Island) but I hear there are other good recipes (granola at Homesick Texan to name one) to use some of it up. Anyone in Chicago need some powdered milk? I can hook ya up ;-P

After Ethel (my KitchenAid) did the mixing and kneading, you let it rest for and hour or so until it doubles. Then comes the fun part of stretching it out into a rectangle…

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…then shaping it and rolling it to the proper loaf shape.
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After a 2nd rise and 45 mins in the oven…out came a loaf of bread!
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I was a little concerned because it felt rock hard on the outside, but really the “crust” layer was perfect. It made a wonderful sandwich yesterday and I enjoyed a slice tonight with a little melted sharp cheader to go along with the leftover soup.

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And the best part about it? I know EXACTLY what went into it. No partially hydrogenated this or xanthan gum that. Just flour, yeast, salt, sugar, powdered milk, water and a little time. Amazing.

Give it a try for yourself. It really does give you a feeling of triumph and accomplishment.

The recipe can be found here. Now I have another cook book to add to the endless wish list :)

13 Beans

Over the past few months I have wanted to place an order with Rancho Gordo (and buy his book) for some interesting heirloom beans. I did appreciate the quality of the fresh black beans that I was able to purchase this summer at GreenCity, so I have been wondering if they are worth the premium (and the shipping cost). I think I will decide on a few varieties to try in the next few weeks. Anyone try them out or have an suggestions on which of the many tempting varieties I should try? For now, I was just tempted by a bag of 13 Bean Soup that I found at my trusty Treasure Island. Aren’t all the colors wonderful?

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The beans do take a little planning because they need to be soaked over night but the result is wonderful. Warm, hearty, soothing. Perfect for a cold winter weekend. I didn’t get a good picture of the final product, but believe me, it is worth trying. Mine turned out a little thick, so I would not really call it soup, it was more like a thicker stew or veggie chili.

13 Bean Veggie Chili
Recipe adapted from the Bob’s Red Mill Bag

2 Cups of 13 Bean Soup Mix
1 Ham Hock
1 Medium onion; chopped
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used Hunt’s Fire Roasted diced w/Garlic)
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Aleppo Chili Peppers (optional, I thew some in since I have them; crushed red pepper flakes would also work for some spice)
2-3 Cloves of garlic; minced

Wash and soak the 2 cups of beans overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse and bring 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water to boil in a large dutch oven or pot. Add the beans and ham hock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours.

Add chopped onion, tomatoes, spices and garlic. Simmer for 30 mins. (Be careful towards the end because it will thicken and I did burn a little of the bottom of mine).

Serve in a bowl with a hunk of crusty bread. Would also be good over white rice.

Turkey Leftovers: Two Wonderful Ways

One of the perks of being in charge of the turkey this year, is all the leftover meat! On Friday night, I was browsing Tastespotting as a break from my advanced tax transactions take home and found a recipe for some yummy Creamy Mexican Turkey Soup.
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It was easy to make and allowed me to use up some leftover broth and whole milk from other Thanksgiving recipes (I mixed in skim to make the “1% milk” the recipe calls for). I also doubled the amount of corn because I love corn. It was mellow with a hint of spice. Throw in some more peppers if you can handle it.

Since I still had a TON of turkey left after making (and finishing all the leftovers) of the Creamy soup, I thought I should make some turkey chili. I had tagged a recipe in Nov’s Gourmet that just looked perfect for leftovers. Indeed it was. The recipe calls for two kinds of chili powder, including chipotle chile power which lends a hit of smokiness.
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I added a jalapeno since I had one on hand and chopped up a few cloves of garlic to saute with the onions and the peppers.
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It was perfect for this snowy/sleety Sunday night. This will be a keeper since it could be easily made with leftover chicken. I ate mine with a dollop of creamy sour cream to mellow a little of the spice.

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Now it is time for me to hunker down for finals since I will be done in 12 days!?!…and I have barely begun to outline-no joke :( I get my 2nd take home (yes-I have two this semester and I HATE them) on Tuesday, then I have two real finals to study for which come up the following Thursday and Friday and then I am DONE until 2009! Can you tell that I am a bit burned out from school? :-P

Try both of these recipes if you still are eating away at leftover turkey. I’m not sure which is my favorite! Head over to Recipe Girl to see Lori make her creamy style soup.

Turkey Chili
Adapted from Gourmet-Nov. 2008 p. 10
* 1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
* 2 bell peppers (any color**), cut into 1-inch pieces
* 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
* 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
* 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
* 1 (19-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 cups cooked turkey, cut into 1-inch pieces
Cook onion and peppers in oil in a heavy medium pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Add spices and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice, breaking them up with back of a spoon, then add beans, water, and 1 tsp salt and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Stir in turkey and let stand, covered, until heated through, 5 minutes.

**I used green because that was the only kind that Treasure Island had in stock that weren’t from Latin America and were actually grown in the US….I am going to miss farmer’s market season…

“Yea, I like Texas”

TCU Horned Frog!

TCU Horned Frog!

I spent last weekend in Fort Worth for my 3rd TCU Homecoming as an Alum (how has time gone so freakin’ fast?)  which is why I have been MIA for the week (and 10/28’s TWD)

I had a whole lot of fun.  My mom came up with my car (Civic!) and we spent the weekend having fun together.  Back in college, my Mom was still working and traveling for Immucor so I was able to see her on a pretty regular basis (every 4-6 weeks).  Now that I live in Chicago it has turned into seeing her a few times a year, so I really relish every minute that I get to spend with her.  When she picked me up at DFW, she asked if I wanted to grab some lunch and where I wanted to go and without hesitation I said Fuzzy’s

I have been craving Fuzzy’s chicken soft tacos and queso since the last time I was in Fort Worth back in January.  In fact I am craving it now. 

This stuff is seriously like crack.

This stuff is seriously like crack.

I don’t know what kind of cheese they use but it is a smooth white cheese, with a handful of spicy/tangy pico and shredded cheese thrown on top.  I add some of their “Butt Burning Sauce” to make it extra spicy.  I could seriously eat this stuff every day (and I pretty much did my last semester-hence the Senior 5 weight-gainage).  Complementing the queso and tacos, is a $2.50 (with tax) schooner of icy cold Shiner.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Frosty Goodness

Frosty Goodness

After we ate at Fuzzy’s we went and looked around all the new construction on Campus. Since I graduated in May 2006, TCU has built a new bookstore, 4 new super nice dorms, a new Student Union, demolished the old Student Center and refurbished and relocated Frog Fountain. It is all pretty amazing but it really doesn’t look like the school I attended for 4 years.

New and improved Frog Fountain

New and improved Frog Fountain

Then we went to the Kimball to see the Impressionist exhibit. It was really awesome because I got to see works that are usually at the Art Institute but are currently on loan while they finish the new Modern Wing. It was pretty amazing to see the 6 Haystacks all in a row in the Kimball (sadly you couldn’t take pictures inside so I can’t show you).

Chicago masterpieces in Fort Worth

Chicago masterpieces in Fort Worth


Afterwards, we went and had a beer at the Flying Saucer in Downtown and I got to buy an Obama pint glass (can’t wait for Tuesday!!!). It really was amazing to listen and see all the support for Obama. I was not expecting it at all down in TCU, especially after living through the 2004 election as a Dem at TCU. Then we went and had dinner at my favorite hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place right on the edge of the Fort Worth/Haltom line.
Smack dab in the middle of two payday lenders...

Smack dab in the middle of two payday lenders...


It was just as good (and cheap!) as I remembered. Hai Yen in Chicago is a good substitute but Tu Hai is truly tasty.
I actually bought a ticket like a good Alum

I actually bought a ticket like a good Alum


The next day I got to watch TCU dominate Wyoming, see many (but sadly not all!) of my favorite TCU friends, breathe in the smoky air at the Pub and remember how much I loved college. I always wonder if I should move back to Fort Worth but I am slowly realizing that while I love the city, I really wish I would relive Fort Worth circa 2002-2006.

Go Frogs!

Go Frogs!