Chicken and Sweet Potato Tortilla Pie with Real California Mexican Cheese Blend

In need of a Fall casserole? Look no further than this cheesy tortilla pie, with the tastiest mixture of sweet and spicy, all in one!

Tortilla pies, also known as Pastel Azteca, Budìn Azteca, and Mexican Lasagna – are made by alternating layers of corn tortillas with a protein, like chicken or pork, salsa, vegetables, and most importantly – cheese!

Since I’m using corn tortilla instead of pasta to make this lasagna, this dish isn’t as heavy. And with the cheese in this recipe, I get a great source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, all of which are essential nutrients the body needs at every stage of life. Because Real California Mexican cheeses make for some of my favorite cheeses, it was difficult for me to choose which one I wanted on this hearty casserole – so I chose a blend! The Monterey Jack, queso blanco, asadero, and cheddar cheese melted beautifully by the time everything was said and done.

Did you know that California is the leading producer of Hispanic-style cheese and dairy products? When you look for the Real California Milk seal, you’ll know the products are made with milk from California dairy families, who responsibly produce nutritious dairy foods.

For more nutrition information and healthy recipe ideas, visit

Chicken and Sweet Potato Tortilla Pie with Real California Mexican Cheese Blend

Time: 2 Hours
Serves 6

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, roughly chopped
2 tbsp adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers
6 birdseye chilies, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 lb sweet potato, peeled, chopped into 1 ½ -inch pieces
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lb sweet potato, peeled, sliced with a mandolin into ¼-inch thick slices
15 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded Real California Mexican Cheese Blend
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 birdseye chilies, sliced

Season chicken on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, birdseye chilies, Worcestershire sauce, Mexican oregano, and 1 tsp salt.

Add ½ lb chopped sweet potato, onion, and garlic to the bottom of a large pressure cooker. Place chicken on top of the vegetables and pour over the tomato mixture. Seal pressure cooker and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.

Release the pressure and transfer the chicken to a platter to cool. Add the vegetable mixture to a blender and puree into smooth sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired.

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the sliced sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain sweet potatoes and cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Cover the sauce with 5 tortillas, followed by half of the chicken and half of the sweet potatoes. Pour two cups of tomato sauce over the casserole, and top with 1 cup of cheese. Cover with 5 additional tortillas, the remaining chicken and sweet potatoes. Pour over two cups of the tomato sauce and cover with 1 cup of cheese. Finish the casserole by covering with the 5 remaining tortillas, two cups of sauce, and 1 cup of cheese. Top with sliced jalapeno and birdseye chili slices.

Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the cheese has browned and the casserole is cooked through. Allow to cool slightly before serving.



Playa del Carmen or Bust!

Adrian and I went to Playa del Carmen for Christmas, so I figured it's about time to share the pictures from our trip. Here's part 1 of 3: Tacos, huaraches, and posole, oh my!

In Playa, we feasted on al pastor tacos at El Fogon. The style is so different from what I've eaten in the US. The marinated meat is literally cut off of a vertical spit like gyros in Greece and served simply over a tortilla with melted cheese, yum!

One of the cooks at El Fogon added to the taco excitement by doing a little dance after he sliced off a piece of meat and catching it mid-air. What a pro.

We also tried the chorizo tacos, which were equally simple, and again, very different from the Mexican food I’m used to in California.

Between swimming at the beach and lounging at our pool at HM Playa del Carmen….

We managed to save room in our bellies for huaraches and posole at El Jurado!

I've only ever tried huaraches once and I knew that if the Yucatan'a tacos were so different from San Francisco's, the huaraches would be too. In case you don't know, "huarache" means sandal in a two Mayan languages (Purépecha and Nahuatl) because the dish is shaped like a shoe.

But that's where the similarities end, because these huaraches' ingredients were served on heavenly pillows of masa with refried beans. So incredible.

Last but not least, Adrian and I made friends with a lot of iguanas. This guy, I'll call him Fred, lives outside the parking lot at HM Playa del Carmen and is fed daily by staff. What a lucky guy!

Stay tuned next time for Tulum! I have so many great pictures to share 😃

If you enjoyed this post, check out my IG posts on my trips! Portugal Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Panama Part 1, Part 2, Part 3!



Pork Black and Bean Stew (Frijol Con Puerco)

If you’re looking for something different from the usual, try this Pork Black and Bean Stew! It’s spicy, comforting, and definitely hits the spot when it’s cold outside.

Not only is the stew pretty easy to make - the pork almost does the braising itself, but it’s a great way to get in your serving of beans for the week! Beans pack in tons of folate and have a bunch of fiber to boot! Not a bad way to balance out a meat stew.

I like my Mexican food spicy - so I used Spiceology’s sweet and spicy habanero blend. It’s super yummy and builds flavor that is different, and in my opinion, more rich than just using cayenne. You can make this stew as spicy or as mild as you like it. It’s going to turn out good no matter what.

Pork Black and Bean Stew (Frijol Con Puerco)

Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Saveur

2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2" cubes
1⁄2 cup canola oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp Spiceology habanero powder, or more to taste
2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
1 lb. dried black beans, soaked overnight
4 sprigs epazote or cilantro
1 lb. plum tomatoes, cored
1 medium jalapeño
2 baby radishes, very thinly sliced, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, to garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

Season pork on all sides salt and pepper.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add pork to the pan, and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a plate. Cover and set aside.

Add two-thirds of the garlic, the habanero powder, and one-quarter of the onions to pan, and cook, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes.

Return pork to pot along with beans, epazote, and 8 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans and pork are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and jalapeño, and cook, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 12 minutes. Allow jalapeño to cool. Stem and remove seeds if desired.

Transfer tomatoes and jalapeño to a blender along with remaining garlic and onions, and purée until sauce is smooth.

Return skillet to heat and add remaining oil; when the oil is hot, add sauce, and fry, stirring constantly, until sauce is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and keep tomato sauce warm.

To serve, transfer beans and pork to a large, deep serving platter and drizzle with tomato sauce. Top with radishes and cilantro leaves, and serve with rice and lime wedges.



Real California Cheese Mushroom & Pesto Quesadillas

What better way to support strong bones & a healthy body than to get calcium and protein into your diet with...CHEESE! Check out my “Real California Cheese” Mushroom & Pesto Quesadillas for a sophisticated spin on quesadillas!  

If you’re a cheese lover like myself, you’d know that the key to the perfect quesadilla is the cheese! Instead of using just one kind of cheese for quesadillas, I like to use a Real California Milk shredded Mexican cheese blend for the filling. This blend typically combines the tart flavor of Monterey Jack, the rich flavor of sharp cheddar, and the mild flavor of Colby Jack. Getting to experience a blend of cheeses really adds flavor and variety, not to mention extra cheesy goodness!

As a Californian, I buy products with the Real California Milk seal because I know our state’s dairy products are produced the right away and are of the highest quality. When you buy cheese with a Real California Milk seal, you’re assured that you’re purchasing cheese made exclusively with Real California Milk by real cheese makers.   
Lucky for me (and you), I developed the perfect combination of quesadilla ingredients to knock your socks off AND to highlight Real California Cheese. The icing on the cake? Real California Fromage blanc! I had some extra in the fridge and thought, why not? It totally made this dish special.

Although the Real California cheeses have my heart, the epazote pesto also makes this quesadilla pop.  If you can’t find epazote, you can exclusively use fresh basil instead.

Pro Tip: before using adding the basil to the food processor: remove the stems and make sure it’s completely dry!     

Real California Cheese, Mushroom & Pesto Quesadillas

Time: 40 Minutes
Serves 4


1 cup fresh epazote leaves
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup pine nuts
3 medium fresh birdseye chilies, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mushroom Quesadillas
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
5 small dried birdseye chilies, sliced thin
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, finely sliced
10 epazote leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups spinach leaves
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
12 oz Real California Milk shredded Mexican cheese blend

To Serve
Lime wedges
Sliced radishes
¼ cup Real California Milk fromage blanc

In a small food processor, prepare the pesto by combining the epazote, basil, extra-virgin olive oil, pine nuts, birdseye chilies, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Blend until well combined. Set the pesto aside.

Heat 1 ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add half the mushrooms to the pan with ½ the garlic, ½ the chilies, ½ the green onions, and ½ the epazote leaves. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Sauté mushrooms until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate. Repeat with remaining mushrooms.

Return all mushrooms to the sauté pan over medium heat with additional olive oil if needed. Add spinach and stir until spinach wilts, remove from heat. 

Lay out tortillas on a large plate or work surface. Spread about 1 tbsp pesto over each tortilla, followed by 1/3 cup shredded cheese and ¼ cup of the mushroom mixture. 

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add open-faced tortillas, one at a time to the skillet and allow cheese to melt slightly. Fold tortilla over with a spatula to form a quesadilla and press down lightly. When the bottom of the tortilla is lightly browned, carefully flip the tortilla over on the other side. Press down lightly and continue cooking for about 1 minute, until the tortilla is browned on the opposite side. 

Transfer quesadillas to a platter and keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding additional olive oil if necessary.

Serve quesadillas on plates and garnish with remaining mushroom mixture, small spoonfuls of fromage blanc, pesto, and radishes. Squeeze over lime wedges if desired. 

If you loved this recipe, you will love my recipes for Chicken Mole Verde Tacos, Mushroom Tacos with Fried Eggs, and Health(ier) Chicken Enchiladas!



Chicken Mole Verde Tacos

Green mole, a.k.a salsa verde, is a quick and easy mole that is light, yet flavorful. Similar to other moles, such as roja and negro, mole verde has a diverse amount of ingredients ranging from several dried spices and aromatics, to tomatillos, epazote, and fresh chilies. 

Depending on the traditional recipe, the list of ingredients varies. One of those varying ingredients is one that I am very excited to share with you today: hoja santa! 

Hoja santa is a Mexican herb that looks like a large leafy green with a taste similar to root beer. Funky, but it’s able to add amazing and certainly unique flavor to anything. 
I found out about hoja santa watching the Travel Channel years ago. It was featured in a Brazilian stew and sounded super exotic. I saved several recipes that utilized the herb, but never got around to trying one because I couldn't find hoja santa in any Mexican or South American markets in the Bay Area.

Funny enough, I remember reading message boards at Chowhound about this problem and found out that hoja santa grows on the side of the Interstate 280 between San Francisco and San Jose.

You can trust me that the freeway is not where I grabbed these greens! Looking for seeds on Amazon, I instead found a live plant. So I ordered it, planted it, and it is now thriving in my own garden! 

I am proud to say that I can make mole verde with hoja santa, epazote, chiles, tomatillos, and corn (turned into masa) from my garden! 

If you live in California or the Southwest, why not grow your own Mexican and South American ingredients that you can't find in store??

So what are you waiting for? Get this stuff growing in your garden if you can (otherwise use the dried leaves), and check out the recipe below for Chicken Mole Verde with Homemade Corn Tortillas. It's scrumptious and will cure any craving for authentic Mexican or South American food!
P.S. These corn tortillas were made with corn that was grown in my own garden :) 

Chicken Mole Verde Tacos

Adapted from Epicurious and Saveur

Time: 45 Minutes
Serves 6 


1 (3–4-lb.) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro stems
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf

8 whole cloves or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 jalapeño chiles, tops removed
6 large tomatillos, husks removed
1 small onion, cut into chunks
4 sprigs fresh thyme
5 garlic cloves
1 cup (8 ounces) masa, either fresh or reconstituted by mixing 6 tablespoons masa harina to a smooth paste with 1 cup of water
1 medium bunch Italian parsley
8 (6-inch) sprigs fresh epazote or 1/4 cup dried, crumbled
3 large or 5 medium-size fresh hoja santa leaves or 6 dried leaves
2 cups cooked Great Northern or other white beans
1/2 handful cilantro, roughly chopped, to garnish
1 red jalapeno, finely sliced, to garnish
Mexican crema, to garnish

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Place chicken, cilantro, salt, peppercorns, garlic, onion, bay leaf, and 12 cups water in a 6-qt. saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken from saucepan and strain liquid through a fine strainer; reserve 6 cups and save remaining liquid for another use. Set chicken and liquid aside.

Meanwhile, grind the cloves and cumin together in an electric coffee or spice grinder, or with a mortar and pestle. Place the ground spices in a blender with the jalapenos, tomatillos, onion, thyme, garlic, and 1/2 cup of the strained stock. Process until smoothly puréed, about 2 minutes on high.

Return the remaining strained stock to the pan; bring back to a boil, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Add the puréed mixture to the hot stock and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes.

Thin the masa by mixing with 1 cup water. Whisk the thinned masa into the stock mixture; whisking constantly, let the sauce return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. If lumps form, pass the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve (pushing with a spoon to force through the lumpy bits) and return to the heat. The mixture should thicken to the consistency of whipping cream; if necessary, increase the heat slightly to reduce and thicken it.

Place the parsley, epazote, and hoja santa in a blender or food processor. If using a blender, add a few tablespoons water to facilitate blending. Process to a smooth purée. Add the cooked beans to the masa-thickened sauce and let return to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pot along with the puréed herbs. Taste and add more salt if desired. Cook until just heated through, 4 to 5 minutes.  Serve pieces of chicken over tortillas and drizzle over mole. Garnish with cilantro, red jalapeños, and Mexican crema.

If you love this recipe, you will love my recipes for Chipotle-Spiced Bean TacosHealth(ier) Chicken Enchiladas, and Mushroom Tacos with Fried Eggs!  



Chipotle-Spiced Bean Tacos

I don't always make tacos for Taco Tuesday, but when I do, I make sure they're absolutely this tasty!

I came up with this recipe about a year ago when I was nearly starving and thought I was out of food in the kitchen. Luckily I was able to appease my hunger after finding a couple tortillas, eggs, and a wedge of queso fresco in the refrigerator as well as some beans and canned chipotle chilies in the pantry. The result was fantastic.

I've since revised the recipe to be even more pleasing to the palate! Before I microwaved the filling in a bowl and then fried the eggs to make for a quick 7-minute meal. That recipe was awesome - and you could easily do the same with these ingredients with a terrific result. But if you want to spruce things up a little more, just spend just a few more minutes building flavors over the stove and fry your tortillas instead. Soooo good!

The recipe is still as quick as ever! In fact, it's so easy, it makes for a perfect outdoor recipe as well! Check out the step-by-step pictures that I took of the Chipotle Tacos on my outdoor excursion for Alite's Outdoor 101. 

Chipotle-Spiced Vegetarian Tacos

Time: 15 Minutes
Serves 4

Extra Virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans
2 whole canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced, reserving 1 tbsp adobo sauce
1/3 cup queso fresco, crumbled
1/3 cup cilantro, stemmed, roughly chopped
2 tsp Chipotle Tabasco
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 corn tortillas
8 large eggs
1 spring onion, whites and greens finely chopped
1 lime cut into wedges

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add kidney beans, chipotles chilies, reserved adobo sauce, and stir occasionally until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in queso fresco, 1/3 cup cilantro, and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.

In a medium skillet, add enough olive oil to liberally coat the bottom of the pan. Heat oil to medium-high heat and add tortillas, one at a time, cooking for 30-60 seconds on each side until crisp. Blot tortillas on paper towels and keep warm.

To the same skillet or a small egg pan, crack 1-2 eggs into the pan at a time, spooning oil over the whites. Fry until the whites are firm, but the yolks are still runny. Transfer eggs to a large plate and keep warm.

Serve tortillas on plates, topping with kidney bean mixture followed by spring onions and additional cilantro and queso fresco if desired. Squeeze over with lime wedges and top each taco with a fried egg!



Mushroom Tacos with Fried Eggs

Mushroom tacos are here to save my Friday and yours too!

It's been a hectic week. Between my cat Zoe visiting the veterinarian three times for pneumonia, including 6 hours at the emergency vet (let's not talk about that bill!), running tons of errands, going to work, and trying to squeeze in a bit of blogging, I'm beat!

I decided to make tacos because I'm always craving them (!), but wanted to make some that were light because I haven't been working out as much as I like. My goal of running 28 miles per week hasn't been met in a while and my love for al pastor tacos will have to wait until I get back into my routine. Well, maybe...

Luckily, mushroom tacos are extremely delicious! They're also chalk full of important nutrients like B vitamins and potassium, but serve as a lower calorie filling than meat. At 22 calories per 100g of raw mushrooms vs. 114 calories for uncooked chicken breast (skinless even!), mushrooms are the perfect filling for a light taco that is packed with flavor!

That's right! While meat often has to marinate or cook for long periods of time, mushrooms absorb flavor in no-time, which means that this recipe is one tasty piece of cake to make! Topped with fried eggs, these tacos are just what I needed to save my week and finish off Friday right. 

Mushroom Tacos with Fried Eggs

Time: 35 Minutes
Serves 4
Adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mushroom Tacos with Onions and Garlic

1 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeds and pith removed, finely chopped
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil or bacon fat if available
3/4 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp epazote, roughly chopped (or 1 tbsp thyme leaves)

To Serve
Olive oil, for frying
8 large eggs
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Queso fresco, crumbled

In a large skillet, add oil, mushrooms, onion, jalapeño, chicken broth, and lime juice, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the broth is absorbed by the mushrooms. Stir in tomatoes and epazote and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated from the pan and the mushrooms are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Keep warm.

Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large frying pan and heat oil over medium-low heat. Crack about 4 eggs into the pan at a time, spooning oil over the whites. Fry until the whites are firm, but the yolks are still runny. Remove from heat. 

Warm tortillas in the microwave, covered with a damp paper towel for 30 seconds, or until warmed through. Serve mushroom mixture over tortillas, and garnish with cilantro and queso fresco. Top with a fried egg! Enjoy!



Rainy Day Black Bean Quesadillas

It’s been raining so much in the San Francisco Bay Area that I think a lot of us are getting souped out! Okay, maybe that’s not possible. I actually snacked on some delicious Filipino-style noodle soup that a friend made while I was working yesterday, even though I thought I’d had my fill. I finished the entire cup and wanted to go back for seconds, but luckily I was able to contain myself.

Anyway, it’s still not that realistic to make soup every night when it’s raining [or snowing] for weeks on end, so we have to look to other foods that are warm and comforting, like these delicious black bean quesadillas. They’re super simple, done in a flash, and you'll feel the same warm hug that you feel every time you eat soup. Trust me!

Rainy Day Black Bean Quesadillas

Time: 20 Minutes
Serves 8

1 (15 oz) can refried black beans
1 cup frozen corn
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2 cups Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded  
1 oz taco seasoning
8 (8-inch) sized tortillas
4 tbsp butter, divided

To Garnish
Sour cream
Sliced jalapeños
Roughly chopped cilantro

Place the beans and corn in a bowl. Add jalapeños garlic, red onion, cilantro, cheese, and taco seasoning. Stir to combine.

To prepare quesadillas, spoon half of the filling over each tortilla and fold. Heat 1/2 tbsp butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add quesadilla and cook on each side until the cheese browned and the cheese has melted. Serve quesadillas immediately and garnish with sour cream, sliced jalapeños, and cilantro. 



Spicy Quickfire Chicken Enchiladas

I’m a huge fan of Top Chef, and this year, Katsuji is on again! For those who watch the show, you know he’s an expert with Mexican Cuisine, and somehow, he pulls off amazing dishes in 20-30 minute Quickfire Challenges. 

While this delicious enchilada recipe is my own, I was inspired in a recent episode by Katsuji’s crazy blending skills. It’s like he throws everything into a blender and the judges (usually) love it. So I gave his method a go, throwing in New Mexico, pasilla, and  hipotle Chilies with Mexican chocolate, toasted spices, tomato paste, and chicken stock, and it worked wonderfully. Then I threw some of the sauce over tortillas stuffed with rotisserie chicken and baked it all in the oven for 20 minutes. Perfect.

The recipe isn’t exactly as quick as a Quickfire, but I’d say it’s still pretty quick for baked Enchiladas, right?

Spicy Quickfire Chicken Enchiladas

Time: 40 Minutes
Serves 4 

2 oz mixed dried chilies (e.g. 3 New Mexico, 2 pasilla, and 1 chipotle pepper) 
3 cups chicken stock
1 oz Mexican chocolate
2 tbsp tomato paste
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
Olive oil, for frying
8 corn tortillas
½ rotisserie chicken, shredded
8 oz queso fresco, crumbled, divided
½ avocado
1 tbsp sour cream
Juice of ½ Lime

To Garnish
1 small white onion, sliced into rings
Radishes, cut into thin rounds, halved
Cilantro, roughly chopped to garnish
Lime wedges, (for serving)

Preheat oven to 425F. 
In a small skillet, toast chilies over medium heat, until lightly toasted, about 2-3 minutes per side. 

Add chicken stock to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chilies and simmer, over medium-high heat, for 5-6 minutes, until soft. 

Add chilies to blender with chocolate, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, coriander, thyme, and oregano, sugar, and lime juice, and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add additional water by tablespoonfuls if dry. Season with salt to taste. Let cool, reserve 1 cup chili sauce, and transfer remaining sauce to a 13x9" baking dish.

In a small shallow skillet, add a thin layer of olive oil over medium-high heat. Using tongs, fry one tortilla at a time, until crisp on each side, but still pliable, about 20 seconds per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Lightly coat each tortilla in reserved chili sauce, adding about ¼ cup of chicken to the center of the tortilla. Wrap tortillas by folding over chicken and place in the baking dish, nestling in remaining enchiladas. Cover enchiladas with remaining sauce and 6 oz of cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and browned. 

While enchiladas cook, add 3 tbsp water to a blender with sour cream, avocado, and lime juice. Blend until smooth, and season with salt to taste. 

Serve enchiladas topped with cream, remaining queso fresco, onion slices, radishes, and cilantro, and lime wedges on the side. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup encompasses all of my favorite flavors: tomatoes, fresh and dried peppers, garlic, and cumin. If I were on a deserted island and could only choose specific ingredients in my own personal cuisine, these would be them! The flavors that came out of this creation are actually quite similar to an Indian curry (minus the garam masala), which we love! This soup was such a success that Adrian and I are going to have to adjust some of our Indian curry recipes in a similar fashion. I just knowwwww there are secrets no one has told me yet, and I’m starting to think dried chilis could be one of them. Tips anyone?

When we were drawing up the recipe, we realized we really wanted to try it out with some dried cascabel chilis we bought on a trip to Mexico last year. Holy yum (!) did they bring this dish to a new level. Other dried peppers work perfectly fine (pasilla, or even New Mexico, which are a little milder), but these cascabels have a nice spicy touch that we enjoyed immensely. 

To make the recipe a little quicker, you can always use chili powder and purchase your own tortilla chips. But keep in mind that it can be really fun to process your own chilis and fry your own tortilla chips. Haven’t done that yet? Give it a try this time and let me know how fun it was!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Time: 45 Minutes
Serves 4

2 dried chili peppers, such as pasilla or cascabel, broken into pieces
4 corn tortillas, halved, cut into ¼-inch thick strips
Canola oil, for frying
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
4 sage leaves
2 large jalapeños, finely chopped, divided
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh epazote, torn, or ½ tsp dried (optional)
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups (32 oz) chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3 large tomatoes (about 1 lb), roughly chopped
1 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
Juice of 2 limes 

To Garnish
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Sour cream
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 radishes, cut into rounds, halved
1 lime, cut into wedges

Slightly roast the peppers in a medium hot skillet, turning frequently, for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer peppers to a medium bowl and soak in 2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes, until soft. Drain and set aside. 

In a large skillet, heat half an inch of canola oil over medium heat. Fry tortilla strips in batches until crisp, about 1 minute. Drain strips on paper towels and set aside.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and sauté the sage until crisp, about 30 seconds. Remove sage leaves and reserve for garnish. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft. Add half of the diced jalapeno, bell pepper, garlic, epazote, and cumin, red chili powder, and salt, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth, chicken, bay leaf, corn, tomatoes, and chicken. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until chicken has fully cooked. Remove chicken from the pot and shred with a fork. 

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup in the pan until it reaches a pureed consistency. Add lime juice and reserved chicken and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove bay leaf, pour soup into bowls, and garnish with tortilla strips, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, green onions, radishes. Serve lime wedges on the side.