Katie: When I first heard about mole, I was curious. Chocolate for dinner?? I knew I had to give it a try! I made a mole sauce using this recipe from Closet Cooking. It’s a fairly traditional recipe, using dried chiles, nuts, dried fruit, a banana, spices, and tomatoes. I’m not sure if the chiles I bought at the farmer’s market were the extra-spicy variety, but I’m really glad I added a bit at a time, since I ended up using much less than called for. Next time, I would probably use chili paste from a jar to save some time. I substituted 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder for the chocolate and increased the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon. The chile and cocoa flavors were pretty strong, so I increased the amount of tomatoes (I used a total of three 14 oz. cans of drained diced tomatoes) before simmering the sauce. I then followed the instructions for Chicken Enchiladas in Mole Sauce, using 8 tortillas and 1 1/2 pound of shredded chicken. They turned out really well! I still had some sauce left over, so I decided to freeze it to use later.
I served the enchiladas with homemade refried beans and a salad. For the salad, I roasted about 2 cups of corn with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and salt and pepper for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I then mixed the corn with chopped grape tomatoes, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, and chopped fresh basil. It was also really delicious!
Katie: I wanted to take advantage of the abundance of zucchinis in season, but I knew I would have to make something attractive enough to convince Flori to eat them too. I decided to make zucchini quesadillas, based on this recipe and this recipe. Here’s how I made them:
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1-2 large garlic cloves
- Zucchini – I used 3 small ones
- Salt and Pepper
- Shredded Cheese
- Kidney Beans
Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sauté the zucchini and garlic with the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Remove the zucchini from the pan and clean it. Add a tortilla and top it with cheese, zucchini and beans, and top it with a second tortilla. Cook it until the cheese begins to melt. Flip it and continue cooking until the tortillas are light brown and crispy.
I served the quesadillas with Roasted Corn and Garlic Salsa, Refried Beans, and plain yogurt. They were really good! The salsa was little too garlicy, so next time I would use less. I made 2 quesadillas and used the rest of the fillings to make burritos.
Katie: With flowers blooming and the snow gone, I decided to make something to celebrate spring. I saw some zucchinis on sale at our grocery store and decided to take a risk. I found this recipe for Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas from Cooking Light. I couldn’t find any black beans, so I decided to use kidney beans. I cut the amount of beans in half and added a couple of carrots, sliced, along with the zucchini to add some crunchiness. They tasted really good! Although it’s Mexican cuisine, they weren’t very spicy. Flori liked them a lot too, despite the zucchini, so I’ll definitely have to make this recipe again!
Matthew: I traveled to Chicago last weekend to visit my good friend Anna. I wasn’t exactly sure what she had in store for us, but I was delighted to find out that our plans were centered around eating really great food. We started on Friday by meeting Bridget at Sultan’s Market, where we all had the falafel. It was one of the best falafel I’ve had and it was really inexpensive.
The next morning for brunch, we ventured to Anne Sathers, a Swedish-themed restaurant known for their cinnamon rolls. I had the Swedish waffles, which were good, although paled in comparison to the cinnamon roll which was perfectly tender and sweet, just out of the oven.
The highlight meal of the trip was definitely our dinner at XOCO, Rick Bayless’ new restaurant that features Mexican street food. Anna and I shared a salad with carnitas, crispy tortilla strips, and an avocado-lime dressing, and then a torta called ahodaga which was a sandwich with carnitas in a spicy tomato chile sauce. Both were delicious and we were happy with our decision to get carnitas twice. The meal was finished with churros and homemade soft serve. They were light on the inside, nicely crispy on the outside, and deliciously covered in cinnamon and sugar. The combination of fried dough and soft serve was perfect. To top off the whole experience, we saw Rick Bayless behind the counter, tasting the soups and just checking to make sure all of the food was up to his standards. This will be remembered as one of the top meals of my life so far!
To end my weekend, we visited Lula Cafe, one of Anna’s favorite brunch spots. I decided to try their strata with tapenade, roasted peppers, leeks, and french feta. This was from their rotating brunch special menu. I had never had a strata before, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was blown away by the combinations of textures and flavors. The egg layers were perfectly light and fluffy and contrasted by the various fillings inbetween and the slightly charred edges to the strata slice. I think I’m going to have to try and attempt a strata after discovering how delicious they can be!
So all-in-all, it was a great weekend of eating with exciting new dishes to try and reinventions of more familiar food.