Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Posted by Becca On July - 31 - 20101 COMMENT

The original for this dish came from a recipe I found in a cookbook published by a group of women in my hometown.  After making it a few times, I decided to start playing with it & adding some of my own ideas.  Through a great deal of experimentation and alterations, I finally arrived at this recipe.  It is a major favorite in my home but I can only make it when I really have plenty of time because it takes a few hours, primarily in the prep time.  Once everything is prepared, it takes almost no time to actually cook.  Time aside, this is a delicious dish that is completely worth it.


  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (keep a few seeds for added heat)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
  • 1 (10 oz) can green chili enchilada sauce
  • 1 (5 fl oz) can evaporated milk
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray



Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes.

Mix chicken, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper in a large sauce pan.  Fill sauce pan with just enough water to cover all ingredients.  Cover.  Boil over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked (about 10-15 minutes).

Drain water and remove chicken pieces, reserving about 1 cup of vegetable mix.

Chop or shred chicken pieces.

In a medium bowl, combine the can of chopped green chilies, vegetable mix, chicken, and remaining 1 tsp. of salt.


In a shallow dish, combine the green chili enchilada sauce and evaporated milk.  Gently stir together until the heavier enchilada sauce fully mixes with the evaporated milk.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Dip each tortilla in the enchilada sauce mixture.  Fill with a handful (roughly 1/3 cup) of the filling mixture.  *Note: if you use your hands for this process, wash your hands frequently or wear rubber gloves in order to avoid the oil from the jalapenos soaking into your skin.*  Sprinkle the mixture with the shredded cheese (about 1/4 cup).  Roll enchiladas and place seam-side down in a sprayed 13×9 inch baking dish.

Pour remaining sauce mixture over the top of the enchiladas.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes.


A Mexican meal requires a Mexican beverage.  As with an earlier dish, I really like to pair this meal with a good Mexican beer.  My favorite for this alternates between the Dos Equis Lager and a nice, cold Corona with a splash of lime.  Once the meal is in the oven, I sometimes like to switch over to my husband’s amazing home-made margarita, which I have lovingly named the “Not Your Mama’s Margarita.”  It uses only the most basic ingredients for a margarita: fresh squeezed lime juice, simple syrup, and high quality silver tequila (full recipe will be posted at some point in the future).  I reserve the margarita until after the cooking is completed because there is a strict two drink limit….seriously.


A dish that takes this long to prepare needs a very long album to listen to while cooking.  No, I’m not going with the obligatory Led Zepplin Four which features “Stairway to Heaven,” which is a really good album but still isn’t long enough to hold up to this recipe.  For this, I always like to put on the 2005 live album Freak & Roll into the Fog by my #2 favorite band of all time: The Black Crowes.

Baked Ziti

Posted by Becca On July - 28 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Baked ziti is a dish that fits several of my requirements for a good meal: it it simple to make, doesn’t take very long, is delicious and hearty, and it makes wonderful leftovers.  It is a very flexible recipe that can use ingredients made from scratch (the marinara), and fresh chopped vegetables if you have the time.  You can also shorten the prep time significantly by using pre-cooked pasta and store purchased marinara (I really like Classico’s Triple Mushroom sauce) if you are in a time crunch.  I usually make this dish with Italian sausage but it is just as tasty as a vegetarian meal.


  • 6 oz ziti
  • 2 cups marinara or 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
  • 6 oz ground Italian sausage (optional)
  • Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil pasta until tender and drain.  Brown sausage.

Coat and 8 1/2 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Combine pasta, pasta sauce, 1 cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, salt, pepper sauce, and browned sausage in  baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cup of mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


The Tabasco and Italian sausage in this dish give it just a little bit of a kick so it is best when paired with a red wine that is a little more on the mellow side.  I recently discovered just such a wine when I purchased La Vieille Ferme‘s 2008 red.  It’s a bit fruity, which complements the ziti beautifully.


This meal is, on the surface, very simple and hearty.  However, it has that little hint of spice because of the Tabasco and Italian sausage.  You can also have some variety in the way in which it is prepared, depending on your mood.  It can have meat or can go vegetarian.  You can alter a lot of the flavor depending on what type of pasta sauce you decide to use.  Because of this, I like music that, on the surface may come across as simple but really holds a great deal of variety and complexity.  There is no better band than Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, particularly their first album Burn to Shine.  It is incredibly varied stylistically, yet is often rooted in blues and folk.


Posted by Becca On July - 19 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

This is a perfect meal for the summer because it is light, healthy, and grilled (which is great when it’s too hot to turn on the oven).  It is simple to make but is full of flavor and incredibly filling.  The fresh vegetables used in this recipe add a crispness that never fails to satisfy.  I typically use pork loin as the protein in this dish but it could easily be switched out with chicken, lamb, or beef and be equally tasty.  It also makes great leftovers.  I serve this dish on warmed flat bread (which can done on the grill or in the oven), tzatziki, and hummus (recipes for both are posted separately).


  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound boneless pork tenderloin
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, halved (I use baby portobellas because they are larger than standard mushrooms)


In a large plastic or glass bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, oregano, and garlic.  Add pork, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms; stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat grill to medium high heat (about 350-400 degrees).  Slide pork, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms onto skewers and place on skewers on grill.  Cook about 10 to 15 minutes total turning the skewers frequently.

Serve on pita or flat bread with tzatziki spooned on top.


This dish works well with both red & white wine, as long as they are mellow; I don’t like wines that overpower the delicious flavors of this dish.  Rene Barbier’s Mediterranean Red is an excellent compliment to the sweetness of the peppers, the bite of the garlic, and the mellowness of the pork and mushrooms.  I also really like Messina Hof’s (an awesome Texas vineyard located in Bryan) Muscat Canelli or Riesling.


This is a dish for mellow, yet slightly funky, music because of its combination of ease in preparation with slightly exotic flavors.  I think my all time favorite band to turn on and jam out to while making this meal is Portishead.  I’m particularly a massive fan of their live album, Roseland NYC Live in which they pair up with the string section of the New York Philharmonic orchestra.  I also really enjoy putting on just about any album ever released by Dave Matthews Band, especially if it is a live album.


Posted by Becca On July - 19 - 20102 COMMENTS

I found this recipe when I first made Souvlaki because they are meant to be served together.  However, I have since discovered that it goes well along side other Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern dishes, as well as on its own as a dip with pita bread or flat bread.  The shredded cucumber in the dish makes it incredibly refreshing, the crushed garlic gives it a hint of spicy bite, and the yogurt smooths all the flavors out.  This dish is a little more involved and takes a bit of planning ahead.  However, it can be kept refrigerated for up to a week and makes a nice afternoon snack when you are looking for something a little different.


  • 1 cup plain low or no fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon course salt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated on large holes of grater
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


Drain yogurt for 1 hour in a cheesecloth-lined strainer to remove some of its water.

Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over the grated cucumber and drain, 10-15 minutes, to extract excess water.

In a bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Add drained cucumber to yogurt, along with pepper, and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Drizzle with olive oil.


Posted by Becca On July - 15 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Hummus is made by blending chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with other various ingredients.  Traditionally, it uses tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds).  However, when I decided to learn how to make hummus I couldn’t find tahini anywhere.  So, I started searching for a way to make hummus without tahini and found this incredibly quick recipe.  It became a staple in my household and, anytime there is a party, I bring my hummus.  It requires almost no time to make, there is very little clean-up after, it travels well, and can be eaten with pita bread as an appetizer or as a side dish with other meals (see Moroccan Chicken and Souvlaki).


  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


Drain water from chickpeas, reserving 2-4 tablespoons.

In a food processor, blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.  Add chickpea water to hummus slowly (tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency is reached.

Serve with pita bread, flat bread, pita chips, or bagel chips.

Keep refrigerated.

Tagliatelle Bolognese

Posted by Becca On July - 12 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

I got this recipe from an old friend.  It has been in my repertoire for quite some time now and it is a HUGE favorite in my household for a number of reasons.  It’s fairly quick and simple to make, uses inexpensive ingredients,  and it is wonderful as left-overs.  I like to make it early in the week or over a weekend so I can take a hearty home cooked meal with me to work, reheat it in the microwave, and it still tastes great.  If you don’t have the time to chop all the vegetables, you can easily use pre-chopped or canned items.


  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1 pkg rotini pasta, cooked
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 pt. half & half
  • ground pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper, dash
  • course salt to taste


In a large skillet, brown the sausage, crumble and set aside.

In the same skillet (needs to be large enough to hold remainder of ingredients, sausage, and pasta when everything is cooked), saute the onion in olive oil for 2 minutes.  Add garlic for 1 minute; add the mushrooms for 2 minutes; add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, ground pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt.  Cook for 2 minutes more.

Add half & half and cheese; stir together until the sauce is smooth

Add sausage and cooked noodles.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

Artichoke hearts or sliced black olives may be added to this dish.


Because I got this recipe from a friend, I like to pair it with one of her favorite wines: Fat Bastard Shiraz.  It is a full bodied, sweeter red and it goes perfectly with the density of the sausage, cream, and Parmesan cheese in the dish.  This wine also adds a layer to this wonderful “comfort food” meal with its hint of peppery sweetness.


As I’ve already stated, this dish is comfort food.  It is simple, understated, hearty, and very, very delicious.  A meal such as this one is complemented most by music that matches its simplicity.  And because it has become a household staple, it must be paired with music which is also a favorite.  The two albums that meet all these requirements are Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s Deja Vu and Eric Clapton Unplugged.  The simplicity of the acoustic guitar paired with the musical genius of these artists never fails to hit the spot.

Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage with Veg

Posted by Becca On July - 2 - 20102 COMMENTS

My family lives on a ranch in West Texas, as does my husband’s.  My family raises beef cattle & his runs a hunting lease where there are trophy white-tail deer, elk, and buffalo.  Needless to say, I am very fortunate that I never have to buy beef or game meat from a store.  The venison sausage I use for this dish comes from my in-law’s meat processor (Stephens Processing in Abilene) but you can get this type of sausage at stores like Central Market or Whole Foods.  I have even seen it at my local farmer’s market.  If you cannot find venison sausage, substituting with a pork sausage will work (just know that the fat content will be higher).  A great thing about this dish is it is prepared all in the same skillet so there is very little clean-up afterwords.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-2 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1-2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (I like the rich flavor of baby portabellas)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 pound jalapeno cheddar venison sausage


In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute garlic in warm oil until fragrant (about 2 minutes).

Add the squash, zucchini, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  Saute until the squash & zucchini just begin to cook (about 3 minutes).

Reduce heat to medium, add the mushrooms.  Cover and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Add the sausage and cilantro and cook uncovered for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.


Because this dish has Mexican overtones, it lends itself easily to Mexican beverages.  If I’m feeling a bit more festive, a good margarita is an excellent compliment to the spices in the sausage and vegetables.  However, most of the time, my beverage of choice with this one is a nice cold Dos Equis Lager with a splash of fresh lime.   I’m also a fan of Cervesa Sol.  Both beers are crisp and refreshing and offer a great balance to the heat of this meal.


This is Texas soul food at it’s best so why not pair it with music that speaks to the local Texan.  I’m not a fan of most country music but I certainly enjoy what I call “Texas rock,” which is rock music heavily rooted in country and blues.  One of my all time favorite musicians of this genre is Ian Moore.  I particularly love Ian Moore’s Got the Green Grass, which is a slightly more experimental album.  When I’m in the mood for something a little more obscure, Susan Gibson’s New Dog, Old Tricks or the self-titled album, porterdavis, never fail to deliver that true Texas rock sound.

Angel Hair with Balsamic Tomatoes

Posted by Becca On July - 1 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

This is a great dish to serve on days when you want something light and easy.  The really cool thing about this one is that it can either be a vegetarian dish or served with Italian sausage, depending on your mood or preferences.  I have used both sausage links and ground sausage; both are great, but I generally like the links better.


  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 5 to 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta
  • optional: mild Italian sausage links, sliced or ground Italian sausage, browned


Place tomatoes, salt & pepper, basil and balsamic vinegar in a non-reactive bowl and set aside for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Boil pasta until tender

Saute the garlic in olive oil until lightly browned (make sure you use a skillet large enough to hold the tomatoes later).  Drain the tomatoes and discard the remaining juice.  Toss the drained tomatoes in the skillet briefly just to heat them; they should retain their shape.

Toss the pasta and tomato mixture together.

Note: if you are including the sausage in the dish, lightly brown the sausage in the skillet before sauteing the garlic.  Remove and keep warm.  Toss with the pasta and tomato mixture.


Even though this is a lighter dish, the robustness of the Roma tomatoes combined with the balsamic vinegar is enough to stand up to a bolder red wine, especially if the sausage is included.  A few of my favorites are Bodega Norton’s Malbec or Il Bastardo’s Sangiovese di Toscana.


This dish requires bands that are more on the fun and funky side of the spectrum.  I absolutely love Blind Melon’s self titled album or even Paul Simon’s Negotiations and Love Songs.  If I’m really feeling funky, When I Woke by Rusted Root always delivers great tracks for dancing with abandon (just be careful when chopping the veg).

Moroccan Chicken

Posted by Becca On July - 1 - 20101 COMMENT

This is a really simple, quick recipe that brings the exotic flavors of the Middle East into your home.  It is a favorite in my household because we love “weird” food and it takes almost no time to make.  It is also one of the only ways I can get my husband to eat chicken because of how juicy it is.


  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 pounds chicken legs and thighs skin on
  • 1 lemon, quartered


Preheat oven to 450°

Mix spices, 2 teaspoons salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and the oil in a small bowl.

Rub the spice paste all over the chicken pieces.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a roasting pan, and arrange the lemon wedges around chicken.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Serve with hummus, couscous (I like Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil), and warm flat bread.


This dish is perfect for a lighter, slightly fruity white wine.  Some of my favorites are Cupcake Vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay or Schmitt Sohne’s Blue Riesling Kabinett.  Both of these wines are very reasonably prices (I am a teacher, after all).


A meal such as this one requires music influenced by other cultures.  What better than any Led Zeppelin album every recorded?  I personally really enjoy turning on Houses of the Holy or Physical Graffiti (because it has “Kashmir” on it.  Duh.) very loudly.  When I want something really different, I like to turn on the “Dublin to Dakar” album released by Putumayo World Music.