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March 22, 2015

Lighter chicken and black bean enchiladas

Lighter chicken and black bean enchiladas, fun to make with the kids!

In the house where I grew up, nary an enchilada graced our dinner table. In fact, we never ate any Tex-Mex or Mexican food at all. (A deprived childhood. I know that now.) In my own kitchen, I love to create pans of enchiladas with leftover bits from the Thanksgiving table, and sometimes I make the classic combos, too. This version of the popular creamy chicken and black bean enchiladas is a little bit healthier without losing any of the gooey goodness that makes them crave-worthy. Use whole wheat low-carb tortillas, low-fat cheese, and nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in the filling; you won't miss a few calories and carbs. I love my own crazy mixed-up red enchilada sauce, which gets its light, bright flavor from sofrito; a good-quality canned sauce will be fine if you don't have time to make your own. The small amount of green chiles doesn't make these very spicy, but you can leave them out if you wish. Let your kids help you fill and roll the enchiladas for some family fun in the kitchen.

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March 11, 2015

Crazy mixed-up red enchilada sauce

There's nothing traditional about this easy homemade enchilada sauce!

As I organized the pantry shelves in my new kitchen, grouping all of the tomato-related products together -- canned chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, Ro*Tel -- I realized I didn't have any cans of enchilada sauce, which is pretty much a fixture in my perfect pantry (and which isn't usually made with tomato, but that's where I'd look for it). However, I did discover a bunch of ingredients I thought would make a perfect, if not perfectly traditional, sauce for enchiladas, and I tossed them a pot. The result was this rich sauce with just a hint of cilantro from a jar of storebought sofrito (you'll find it in the Latino foods aisle). Depending on the filling I use in my enchiladas, I might stir in a teaspoon of adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers with adobo), to add some smokiness to the sauce. If you like your enchilada sauce thinner, just add a few teaspoons of water. I prefer mine with a bit of body. It's an easy recipe to double, and you'll want to stash some sauce in the freezer for burritos, flautas, soup, beans, pasta, meatloaf, or just about any type of enchilada you can dream up. A jar of homemade enchilada sauce makes a great hostess gift, too.

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January 21, 2015

Slow cooker shredded beef chili with beans

Slow cooker shredded beef chili, topped with guacamole and lime. Sublime!

On a cold day a few weeks ago, my husband Ted and I had pre-theater dinner with our friends Mary and Mike at our favorite across-the-street-from-the-house restaurant. We shared an appetizer-sized portion of short rib chili, just a few heavenly rich and sweet bites for each of us. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I wanted something a bit leaner; after all, some of the amazingness of the chili came from the fatty short ribs. So, instead, I used my stand-by, brisket. Coffee and cocoa give this chili a deep Mexican mole undertone. A hit of fresh lime juice at the very end is an absolute must, and a blob of guacamole on top makes the dish just about perfect. The chili freezes well, so make the full recipe and you'll be all set for weeknight dinners or that upcoming big football game.

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November 23, 2014

Turkey soup with black beans, corn, and green chiles {gluten-free}

Turkey soup with black beans, corn and green chiles: great way to use leftovers. #Thanksgiving

Of all the many soups I've made (and after all, I'm still known as the Soup Chick, so you know I've made a few), I believe this is the best-tasting, weirdest-colored leftover turkey soup I've ever shared with you. Most of the time I make recipes like this one with tomato or chipotle peppers, which lend a gorgeous red tint to the base. In this tomato-free version, green chiles and green Tabasco turn the soup a color akin to dishwater. Do not be deterred! Trust me, and give your leftover turkey (or shredded rotisserie chicken or turkey, if you're not making it during the holiday season) a bit of Tex-Mex flair. If you've had time to make your own turkey stock, great. If not, store-bought low-sodium chicken stock will be fine. Proportions aren't very important, so use more or less of the ingredients, to your taste. The soup freezes well, for easy worknight dinners or a soup swap. I toasted some habañero-lime tortilla wedges to serve on the side. You can crack open a bag of tortilla chips, too.

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November 9, 2014

40 fabulous recipes for Thanksgiving side dishes

40 fabulous Thanksgiving side dishes: some classic, some new.

Turkey. I can take it or leave it. For me, Thanksgiving is all about the side dishes, the must-haves (mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, stuffing) and the new recipes we grant an audition each year. Some will make the cut, and become permanent fixtures on the holiday table. Others will pass into family lore (remember the year she made that weird whatever-it-was?). The story of the jellied cranberry sauce I unmolded over the sink, only to watch the entire thing slide off the platter and down the drain, continues to amuse my family; that was my one and only experiment with molded cranberry sauce. Still, those of us who prepare the meal keep exploring new possibilities to bring diversity to the menu. If you are one of those explorers, this list of classic and not-yet-classic Thanksgiving side dishes is for you. I'd love to try all of them. There are so many possibilities, and I haven't even tackled cranberry sauce, salads or soups. For many more ideas, check out The Perfect Pantry's Thanksgiving recipes, an eclectic and fun recipe collection.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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