Folks in Hatch, New Mexico, home of the famous Hatch green chile peppers and the annual festival that celebrates them, might not give first prize to my New Englander's version of a green chile cheeseburger, but the rest of you will swoon. For my husband Ted, and for Chelsea, my summer intern, and for me, it was love at first bite -- love at every juicy bite. I mix two pantry staples, canned fire-roasted chiles (from the supermarket) and shredded cheese, in with the beef, which keeps it moist. Then, I kick things up with a slightly-spicy slather on the bun, and a slice of melted pepper jack cheese on top. If any of my friends who've recently moved to New Mexico are reading this, how about a trade: this amazing recipe for a few cans of Hatch chiles? You know where I live.
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I know what you're thinking: a BLT is a BLT is a BLT, so what makes this the world's best bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich? Homemade basil mayonnaise, that's what. I used my immersion blender and an easy mayo-in-a-jar method from Pille at nami-nami (video recipe) to spin my pungent garden basil into gold. When that mayo met bacon and a farm-fresh, juicy tomato... well, it was magic, pure and simple. I made the mayo in a canning jar with a plastic lid, and it lasted in the refrigerator for three days, by which time I'd used up every bit of bacon and lettuce and tomato in the house, making one BLT after another.
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I never thought I'd say this, or even think it, but I am a disco queen. When I saw a four-pack of Goya discos -- 40 rounds of ready-to-bake empanada wrappers -- at BJ's, I did the happy dance right there in the freezer aisle. Almost anything can be turned into empanada filling: leftover cooked chicken, meatballs, chocolate. I've made traditional empanadas filled with cheese, but these take a more Asian turn, with ground turkey, Napa cabbage, and condiments from the Chinese shelf of my pantry. Take a simple filling, dress it up in a piece of flaky dough, and you can create something special in minutes. These freeze well, so make them ahead for a party, or pull two or three from the freezer and reheat for a quick lunch.
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Before my husband Ted and I visited New Mexico, I'd never heard of a breakfast burrito. The first meal at Chez Pasqual's, a popular Santa Fe cafe, opened our eyes to breakfast Southwest style, and we've been wrapping eggs in tortillas at home ever since. Scrambled eggs happily accommodate almost any mix-in you can find in your kitchen -- think chile peppers, sausage, vegetables, or shredded rotisserie chicken. Flour tortillas are the traditional wrap for breakfast burritos. These days, every supermarket, including the one in our small town, sells spinach or sun-dried tomato or whole wheat tortillas. And, if you're lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's nearby, spice up your eggs with some canned green chiles or chorizo and wrap all of that spicy goodness in TJ's jalapeño-lime tortillas. Now, that's a wake-up call!
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