monterey jack & goat cheese queso fundido with hatch green chile vinaigrette

monterey jack & goat cheese queso fundido with hatch green chile vinaigrette | via she likes to eat

these days, life is a little crazy.
we have two little ones and a very busy schedule. somehow we, well i, got away from one of my dearest loves: entertaining/taking care of people in our home. the house is often a mess and  i get stressed over the day and sometimes it’s just too much to handle making dinner and trying to clean the place. all that said, i am working on it. we are making plans and inviting people over to watch basketball games, tidying up as best we can while still knowing a little mess IS OKAY – a daily reminder of one of my favorite mantras, present over perfect (thanks to my friend shauna, who encourages so many with this quote + chapter from the lovely bread & wine).
and it sure makes it easy when i have something yummy ready in the kitchen that i am dying to share with someone.

this recipe is one of those things. although i could have easily taken it out of the oven, grabbed a bag of tortilla chips, walked back to my bedroom, locked the door, and eaten the entire thing all by mineself. and then licked the bowl wholeheartedly.

monterey jack & goat cheese queso fundido with hatch green chile vinaigrette
adapted from bobby flay

ingredients

for the vinaigrette:

one 4 oz can hatch green chiles, drained & chopped

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 tsp agave nectar

1/4 cup sunflower seed or grapeseed oil (or an oil with mild flavor)

for the queso:

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp all purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

4 cups grated monterey jack cheese (about 1 1/2 eight ounce blocks)

5 oz goat cheese, crumbled

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

blue corn tortilla chips, for serving

directions

1. to make the vinaigrette, combine the chiles, vinegar, garlic, agave, and oil, plus a good sized pinch of the cilantro in a blender and puree until smooth. season with salt & pepper.

2. to make the queso: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. add the flour and cook, constantly whisking, about 1 minute. add the milk and cook, constantly whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. remove from heat and whisk in monterey jack, one handful at a time (don’t add the next handful until cheese has completely melted). add a scant 1/4 tsp salt, and a bit of pepper to taste.

3. turn on the broiler. scrape the melted cheese mixture into an 8 inch baking dish. scatter the crumbled goat cheese over the top, covering evenly. broil until golden brown in spots, about 5-7 minutes. remove from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, to allow the cheese to set. drizzle the vinaigrette over the top* and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. serve warm with tortilla chips.

*i drizzled about 1/2 of the vinaigrette just after it came out of the oven. as we ate, i drizzled more on top.

enjoy!

buttermilk cinnamon chip scones with cinnamon glaze

buttermilk cinnamon chip scones

this past week was A WEEK. you know?
it feels like we had been snowed in for ages and i had some crazy cabin fever kickin’.
so we have been baking a lot. the little she and me. and it’s so good for me: i have been slowly working through my stress over the mess in the kitchen while working with a preciously clumsy three-year-old tornado.

there is always a stack of recipes i am wanting to try, sitting in a drawer in my kitchen, and we whittled down that stack quite a bit last week.
i ended up making 3 batches of these, messing with them here and there, adding my own ideas to the original scone recipe (from how sweet it is). the final product, i do have to say, is awesome. (they are also delicious without the glaze, so that part is totally optional.)

i have finally given away the last of the RIDICULOUS amount of these that i had in my house, thank goodness. i truly was going to be good this january and lay off so many sweets after some crazy holiday eating, but well… i blame the snow.

*updated march 2016*

buttermilk cinnamon chip scones
makes roughly 25-30 scones

ingredients

3 1/4 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon extract

3/4 cup cinnamon chips

about 1/8 cup milk, for brushing

for the (optional) glaze:
1 heaping cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp half and half

1 tsp cinnamon extract

directions

1. preheat the oven to 425. in a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, brown sugar, and cinnamon extract. whisk until well incorporated. set to the side. in a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. whisk to combine. cut in butter with a pastry cutter or a large fork (or your fingers) until coarse crumbs are formed. pour liquid ingredients and cinnamon chips into dry ingredients and stir to combine.

2. lightly flour a work surface and turn out dough onto it. roll out until about 1/2 inch thick. using a 2″ round or square cookie cutter, cut into scones. place about 1 inch apart on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet (you’ll need about 2 large sheets).

3. brush the tops of the scones with milk. bake for 10-12 minutes, until the scones have just begun to golden on top.

4. while scones are baking, make the glaze: put all glaze ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until smooth. once scones have cooled about 5 minutes or so, drizzle glaze over the tops.

enjoy!

asian chicken lettuce cups

asian chicken lettuce cups

during the winter, there is a lot of chili-and-cornbread-eating, curl-up-with-a-hot-bowl-of-soup nights around here. i love the warmth and the fullness of my belly after a big bowl.
but after a few months of this loveliness, i do crave a fresh, crisp, even crunchy dinner. and recently, it was these chicken lettuce cups.

if you’re like me, you first fell in love with this concept after discovering the chicken lettuce cup at p.f. chang’s. i’ve always loved their version of the dish, but this recipe is by leaps and bounds the best i have ever made myself and the best i have ever eaten. i might even like them better than p.f. chang’s.
sorry, p.

(you can also serve this dish sans the lettuce cups and with rice instead. i used a white jasmine rice as the bed for the chicken filling a few times and it is delicious, and a little heartier.)

*to make this recipe whole30 friendly: for the dipping sauce, sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce, sub pure date syrup for the brown sugar, omit the cornstarch, and make sure there is no added sugar in your OJ.

asian chicken lettuce cups
adapted from the family chef cookbook by jewels & jill elmore

ingredients

the filling:
2 lbs ground chicken (you could also use turkey)

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 large carrots, peeled and shredded or finely chopped

4 green onions, finely chopped

2 tsp ground ginger

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 small can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped

the sauce:
1 cup soy sauce

4 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar

4 tbsp orange juice

4 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp water

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp chili flakes

for serving: 2 heads of iceberg lettuce, washed & leaves peeled into cups

directions

1. for the sauce, mix all sauce ingredients together with a whisk and set aside.

2. heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. when the pan is hot, add the peanut & sesame oils. saute the carrots, green onions, ginger, and garlic for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables have softened. add chicken and cook, stirring constantly to break up the meat.

3. when the chicken is almost cooked, add the sauce. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking 5 or 6 minutes.

4. remove pan from heat, stir in water chestnuts. spoon the mixture into lettuce cups and serve while warm.

enjoy!

(photo above is from the family chef cookbook. because, let’s be honest.. i could NOT for the life of me get the lettuce cups to cooperate.)