Casserole-Style Burritos: Everything.

The primary components of these burritos are: chicken and onions, Spanish rice, cheese, tortillas (using yesterday’s recipe and method), spicy sauce, and cheese sauce (covered in another post).

Burrito Filling (adapted from Don Miguel’s “Black Bean Chicken Burrito Recipe“)
1 T oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
10 oz pulled chicken in bite-sized pieces
1 C diced tomato or canned tomato
salt and pepper to taste
1 C jack cheese, shredded

1.    Lightly saute the onion in the oil until it is translucent and add the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes. 
2.    Add the chicken and cook until heated through.
3.    Add the tomatoes and season, then heat through again.
4.    Use the chicken and cheese when assembling the burritos.

Spanish Rice (my personal recipe)
2 C white rice
1/2 diced sweet onion
2 T olive oil
1-2 t each dried oregano, dried basil, chili powder, paprika, cumin, optional red pepper flakes
1/2 C canned crushed tomatoes
2 C water

1.    Place the oil and spices in a deep saucepan or rice pot.
2.    Saute the onions in the oil and spices.
3.    Place one cup of rice in the water and add the other cup to the pot.
4.    After the rice has been heated through in the oil, add the rice, water, and tomatoes. Cook until most, but not all, of the water has boiled off, then cover and simmer over very low heat for 10-15 minutes.
5.    Use when assembling the burritos.

Note: this is a lot of rice and you will probably have some left over.

Spicy Sauce (adapted from Cooks.Com “BAKED BURRITOS WITH SPICY SAUCE“)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 C water
1/3 C canned green chilies
2 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 C water

1.    Cook the onion and garlic in the 1/2 C water for about 5 minutes and add the spices.
2.    Add the chilies, tomato, and water, then simmer for about 15 minutes.
3.    Use when assembling the burritos and over top of the burritos before baking.

Final Casserole Assembly
Chicken filling and cheese
Spanish rice
Spicy and/or cheese sauce
8+ tortillas, depending on size

1.    Oil one or two pans big enough to hold all the burritos. You will want separate pans for each sauce.
2.    Place a tortilla on a large plate, then fill with chicken, cheese, rice, and a little sauce.
3.    Roll the burrito and place in a pan, then repeat for all the burritos.


4.    Top the burritos with their respective sauces, adding more cheese to the top, if desired.


5.    Bake the casserole(s) until they are heated through, then serve.

After getting fresh basil from the cafeteria because everything in the greenhouse had been picked, we ran into our first major problem. Since our knife choices were butter, steak, and 10-inch chef’s, cutting the bone out of chicken thighs was very difficult. So, rather than continuing to fight the raw chicken, Alex suggested that we bake the chicken. Baking the chicken reminded me that making the burrito filling works very well with any leftover cooked chicken; you don’t need to cook your chicken specifically for this meal.

For our sauces, we used canned tomato sauce and canned diced tomatoes. I blended the diced tomatoes a little to remove the large lumps of tomatoes and we used them in just about everything. To avoid opening more cans, I improvised some on the spicy sauce. I’m not sure how the sauce would turn out if I used the exact ingredients specified, but I think it would be good. I think both casseroles would have turned out better if they had both had the correct amount of sauce and spare space in the pan. While there was a good amount of cheese sauce, there was too much space in the pan and the spicy casserole was lacking both sauce and space.

Cheesy Sauce

Spicy Sauce

Personally, I prefer plain wrapped burritos to a casserole, but there are reasons to make one instead of the other. In significant support of the casserole is the awkward shapes of the tortillas. Since we weren’t cutting the dough after rolling it, no two tortillas were the same size or shape. Since the burrito only needs to hold together long enough to be put in the pan for a casserole, the tortilla only has to be strong, not carefully shaped. However, the casserole took a long time to bake in comparison to assembling burritos from hot ingredients and serving immediately.

Overall, both burrito casseroles were successful. Everyone in our class and other classes who came in to eat some of the burritos appeared to like them. However, in addition to getting the amount of sauce correct, Alex thought the burritos could use more chicken and I thought the burritos could use more rice. When we make more burritos, we can see how we want to do the filling ratios.

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Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Today we are making a class meal. Each group has chosen a side dish to accompany the store bought and home-bred chickens we will be examining and cooking. After two days of complications in the kitchen, we are simplifying things. Garlic Mashed Potatoes is an easy yet delicious recipe that we have previous knowledge of making, so our goal is to have them turn out perfectly.

We are trying two different things today, adjusting the recipe and focusing on timing to fit our needs. Our goal is to have every group’s side dish out of the oven simultaneously. While our recipe says the time should be approximately 50 minutes, we are allotting extra time given our cooking record. We are also adjusting the recipe slightly, by replacing parmesan with 1 package of scallions we hope to improve the quality of the recipe and add diversity to the meal.

Original Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
  • 2 T kosher salt
  • 2 c half-and-half
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 6 oz grated Parmesan
  1. Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size.
  2. Place in a large saucepan, add the salt, and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil
  4. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.
  5.  While the potatoes are cooking, heat the half-and-half and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside
  7. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water.
  8. Mash and add the garlic-cream mixture and Parmesan, stir to combine.
  9. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.

Our Recipe for Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
  • 2 T kosher salt
  • 2 c half-and-half
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 package scallions
  1. Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size.
  2. Crush the garlic and set aside
  3. Place in a large saucepan, add the salt, and cover with water.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil
  5. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.
  6. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the half-and-half and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering.
  7. Also while the potatoes are cooking wash and cut the scallions into 1/2 inch pieces. Then saute them over medium-low heat until tender.
  8. Remove from heat and set aside.
  9. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water.
  10. Mash and add the garlic-cream mixture and scallions; stir to combine.
  11. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.

After two days of mistakes, and dishes gone wrong, we  finally have a success. The mashed potatoes came out wonderfully! Everything went smoothly, the instructions were followed exactly, and we had absolutely no problems.  And on top of no problems while cooking, they tasted delicious. By far, some of best potatoes we’ve eaten. Not only were they a big hit at the meal, but we had no problem getting rid of the leftovers. Overall, today was a wonderful day. All of the groups came together as one, and we enjoyed a very tasty meal.

Twice Baked Potatoes (and that last bit of panic while cooking a whole meal)

Twice Baked Potatoes (adapted from Simply Recipes)

4 large potatoes
1/2 C milk
2 T butter

Additions to mashed potatoes (optional)
1/2 C sour cream
1 T cream
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings (optional)
grated cheese
green onion
ham or bacon
chives
sour cream

Baking Potatoes (oven at 400°F)
1.    Wash the potatoes and pierce the skins with a fork.
2.    Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until they are cooked through. You can prepare additional toppings during this time, if desired.
3.    When the potatoes are finished, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.

Making the Filling and Twice-Baking (oven at 350°F)
1.    After the potatoes are cooled, there are two options for cutting them open. For large and well stuffed potatoes, cut the top third of the potato off. For more individual servings, cut each potato in half.
2.    Spoon out the inside of each potato piece for the mashed potato filling, being sure to leave a layer of potato inside the pieces that will be used as the base later.
3.    Mix the potatoes, milk, butter, and other mashed potato additions. You can use an electric mixer if you want fluffier potatoes.
4.    Spoon the mashed potatoes into the potato bases on a baking sheet and layer the toppings on the mashed potatoes.
5.    Bake the potatoes for 15-20 minutes until warmed through and the tops or toppings are lightly browned.

The potatoes turned out excellently. We didn’t follow this recipe exactly, substituting more smaller potatoes (which I forgot to oil before baking) and opting for Greek yoghurt in place of sour cream. Alex and Luke got everything nicely topped in a variety of combinations using cheese, green onion, and ham. The second baking took about 25 minutes and produced nice potatoes covered in browned cheese and more.

Impromptu Gravy
Pan drippings from two chickens
1-3 T flour
1/2 C milk

1.    Place pan drippings in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
2.    Add the flour and whisk like crazy.
3.    Slowly add milk, whisking continuously.
4.    Bring back to a simmer and serve.

This was the very last thing to get cooked for our meal because I realized the potential for gravy only after the chickens came out of their ovens. My method was rather ineffective and required a massive amount of whisking (with help from a spatula) to get rid of flour lumps. The gravy came together very nicely as I added the milk to the strange combination of roux and the water component of pan drippings as the remaining flour lumps quickly vanished. Despite whipping it up at the last moment, the gravy came out very well without the need for additional salt or pepper.

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Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

     Glazed carrots are a classic side dish which we happen to be making for a chicken lunch. Along with potato dishes that the other groups are making and the french bread that our group is baking, the glazed carrots nicely compliment the other side dishes and the main course. Boiling the carrots in butter and brown sugar take them away from the normal, everyday recipe for simple boiled carrots, and not that we have anything against them, but we prefer to add a twist to basic vegetables. When we’re older and if we have kids, this might come in handy.
Brown Sugar Carrots
Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz chopped carrots
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 c water
  1. Gently mix the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Allow the sugar to dissolve.
2.  Bring to a boil over high heat
3.  Reduce to medium heat and boil uncovered until water has evaporated (20-25 min)

Upon finishing the carrots, they turned out okay. We wished they could have boiled a little longer in the brown sugar and butter and been cut a little thinner, but they turned out soft and still quite yummy.

Fried Eggs and Home Fries

What started as simple home fries and fried eggs, soon took us on a potato adventure like no other. We began by following this family recipe, seemingly simple, easy, and fool proof.

Zeb and Jenna preparing the potatoes

Diced Potatoes

Home Fries

Ingredients:
4 medium  potatoes
1 medium onion
1 T olive oil

Directions
1. Wash the potatoes, dry them, and then cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes.
2. Put potatoes into a 3 qt. saucepan, and add enough water to cover them.
3. Allow the water to boil, and cook the potatoes until firm.
4. While the potatoes are boiling, wash, dry, and cut the onion into a 1/4 inch dice and add into a medium sized frying pan after adding the olive oil in to the pan. Turn on stove to low heat.
5. Once the potatoes are firm, drain them from the saucepan using a colander, and then add them into the frying pan with the onions and olive oil
6. Turn the burner to medium heat and cook until browned and crispy

After cutting onions and potatoes into the appropriate size,  we boiled the potatoes and

our problems began. We let the potatoes boil too long and get soft rather than keeping them firm.

After transferring the potatoes and onions into the frying pan, and adding oil, we could tell something was wrong. Instead of browning, the potatoes turned to mush. We now had a pan full of mashed potatoes. This happened because we allowed the potatoes to boil too long and become soft, and when added to the fry pan, they just completely fell apart and became a mash.

In our attempts to save breakfast, we formed the mess of potatoes into round pancakes and fried them in more olive oil. In the end, the potatoes tasted great. Complimented with the fried eggs, breakfast was salvaged and we had the confidence to cook another day.

Final Product

To replicate our surprise variation, scoop potatoes into separate balls and create small pancakes similar to latkes.

Along with our potatoes, we made fried eggs by following these simple steps.

  1. Add olive oil, butter, or any other non-stick substance into a medium frying pan.
  2. Gently crack your egg into the pan from about 4 inches above the surface of the pan.
  3. Allow the egg to cook until the egg white is opaque white.
  4. Gently flip the egg and cook for roughly the same amount of time.
  5.  Serve.

The Fried Egg


The First Day of Class: Safety Lessons & Homemade Pizza

Today, we began J-Term with a great introduction to kitchen safety by our own Chef Jeff.  Students learned about food safety and how to protect themselves in the kitchen.

Chef Jeff Addressing the Students

We also did our first bit of cooking: homemade pizza.  We started with a very basic flour, water, salt and yeast crust, topping it with a simple homemade sauce and a variety of toppings (including basil from our very own greenhouse).  Below, you can find our recipe, which we doubled (with plenty of leftovers for later cooking experiments).

Kathryn, Amory and Anna Experimenting with Pizza Toppings

Basic Tomato Sauce

Time Commitment: 2 Hours

2 T Olive Oil

Fresh Sauce, Bubbling Away

1 T Salt
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 28 oz. Cans Crushed Tomatoes
1/8 c. Basil, Shredded

  1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a stock pot.
  2. Add salt and garlic and saute until fragrant.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes and basil.
  4. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until thick (about 2 hours).

Homemade Pizza

Pizza, Ready for the Oven!

After shaping the crust into rounds, we blind baked them on a pizza stone at 500 degrees for three minutes to set the bottom and prevent sticking.  We then covered them with a thick layer of sauce and topped them with a mixture of mozzarella cheese, basil, vegetables, ham and sausage.  After baking them for ten minutes, the students couldn’t wait to slice them and dig in!

One of Many Successful Pizzas!

While our pizzas were cooking, students began to plan what they are going to make for the rest of the week.

Ryan, Jenna and Zeb Brainstorm Ideas

Come back tomorrow for adventures in eggs and our first student posts!