Southern Hospitality (Chicken Enchiladas)

My friend Brooke invited me to guest post today on her blog A Life in Need of Change. Visit me at Brooke’s for an easy and delicious enchilada recipe. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to double the recipe and share.

Join us!


Dos Equis Chicken: The Most Interesting Bird in the World

Beer can chicken is hands down (and bottoms up!) our favorite way to grill a bird. Like most of America, we’ll fire up the coals on the 4th of July and I thought I’d share our Dos Equis Chicken recipe.

Beer can chicken has been around for ages and is more of a method than a recipe. Simply put, you pop a top on your favorite beer, take a few good swigs to empty the can a bit, nestle a whole chicken (giblets removed) on the beer can and grill ’til done.

Not to get all highbrow on you, but I purchased a vertical chicken roaster from Williams-Sonoma. Actually I purchased two, because everyone knows two beer can chickens are better than one.

Here’s the roaster(s) I purchased.

My roasters are so well loved they wouldn’t recognize this photo! Like a beer can, the roaster holds liquid and keeps the chicken in a vertical position allowing for a tender perfect roast every time.

Beer Can Chicken

1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs), giblets removed

1/2 cup olive oil + more for vegetables

Seasoning or rub of choice – I like hot Spanish paprika

4-5 cloves garlic, slightly crushed but intact

coarse sea salt


Mixed vegetables – this time I used mixed bell peppers, green onions, red onions, and garlic. But corn, squash and jalapenos are favorites too.

Beer – Dos Equis, of course *

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Mix Spanish paprika, or your chosen seasoning/rub, into olive oil.

Place the roaster on a baking sheet (for transporting and collecting spills only).  Pour beer into the center container of the roaster. Add the garlic cloves. Gently nestle the chicken, legs pointing down, onto the roaster. Brush the seasoning & oil mixture generously over the chicken. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt & pepper.

Set the roaster on the grill away from direct heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is roasting chop the veggies and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat the vegetables and toss with salt & pepper.

After 30 minutes, add the vegetables to the base of the roaster. Continue cooking, brushing the chicken with the seasoning and olive oil mixture every 15 minutes for a total of 1 1/2 hours. Cooking times will vary depending on your grill, so check with a meat thermometer. Chicken will be done when the thermometer registers 170 degrees fahrenheit.

Transfer to a carving board or serving platter. Cover the chicken loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

* For my gluten-free friends, I realize Dos Equis is NOT a good choice of beverages no matter how thirsty you are. My friend Jess @ATXglutenfree was kind to inform me of gluten-free beer options, specifically Green’s which I spied with my little eye at Whole Foods. Truthfully, you don’t have to use beer at all. Wine, chicken stock, even water would work. Just don’t go callin’ it Beer Can Chicken if it ain’t.

Happy 4th!

Yogurt Tarragon Grilled Chicken

Today’s recipe is a perfect example of mistakes made better!  Maybe not so perfect as the one where the guy inadvertently dipped a piece of chocolate into peanut butter and gave us Reese’s, but it is a good lesson in kitchen improvisation. And, I’m sharing this one with you because, well, it worked.

I was chatting with Sam the Butcher (not his real name, but it brings out the Alice in me to call him that) at Central Market a couple of  weekends ago.  I asked if they had any pre-made chicken kabobs to toss on the grill.  Of course not, who wants to grill out when the temps are hovering around freezing? Husband.  But Sam tells me he can easily cut up anything I want, so I ask him to cube some chicken meat for kabobs.  About eight pieces he asks? Sure, that’ll be fine.

Later, back in the kitchen, I pull out the wooden skewers to soak before we grill the kabobs.  I thought I’d go ahead and rinse and season the chicken, too.  Instead of finding eight pieces of cubed chicken breast, I had an entire skin-on, bone-in chicken cut into eight parts – breasts, thighs, wings and legs.  Hmmm…not quite what I was expecting.

I shifted gears, pulled some ingredients out of the fridge, and voila Yogurt Tarragon Grilled Chicken was born!  I’ve made this recipe three times in the last two weeks.  It definitely gets six (out of six) thumbs up at The Cafe.  Here’s what I had on hand:

Yogurt Tarragon Grilled Chicken

2 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, wings, and drumsticks bone-in, skin-on

1/3 cup Fage Yogurt 0%

1 TBS red onion, finely minced

juice from 1 lemon

1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBS brown sugar

1 TBS tarragon, dried

Salt & Pepper to taste

Rinse and pat dry chicken pieces.  Set aside.  Add the rest of the ingredients to a zip lock bag and mix well.

Add chicken pieces to bag, gently shake and mix marinade to coat.  Let marinade in fridge for at least 2 hours.  Toss on grill and cook until chicken is done.

Husband likes the wings best, and the Littles grab up all the drumsticks.  I’m happy with whatever is left, but I always save a wing for good measure!

Steak with Mixed Peppercorns & Pomegranate Glaze

The November 2009 issue of Bon Appetit presents Steak with Mixed Peppercorns & Pomegranate Glaze (on page 56 if you want to follow along) as Fast, Easy & Fresh.  As a side bar the magazine hints that it’s a quick dinner party dish too.  I can tell you it’s true.  Delish. And deceptively easy.

I don’t usually gravitate to steak recipes.  I mean, how hard can fixin’ steak be, right? And when you have the world’s best Cowboy Steak rub, there tends to be little reason to stray.  But, I was intrigued by the pepper and pomegranate, so I gave Bon Appetit’s recipe a whirl.

The trick to pulling this recipe off is to NOT make the blunder I did.


If you buy really expensive, organic mixed peppercorns with a special grinder, please don’t let the bottle slip out of your hand and spill half its contents all over the floor.  It’s just not a good way to kick off your cooking.


If you were my children this is when I would say something pithy like, “Do as I say, not as I do”.

Let’s start over, shall we? Here’s Bon Appetit’s recipe:

Steak with Mixed Peppercorns & Pomegranate Glaze

1 (1/4 lb) sirloin steak

Peppercorn mix, coarsely ground

1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided

1 cup pomegranate juice

4 tsp (packed) brown sugar

2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar, divided

4 cups arugula

And here’s how I followed:

I poured a glass of red wine which helped restore that peaceful, easy feeling I had before I lost my peppercorns. I also cranked up iTunes (the Eagles must have been playing).


I love rosemary so I’m sure I used more than called for in the recipe.


I seasoned a slightly larger steak (1 1/2 lb) with peppercorns, rosemary, and salt.  In a hot skillet with olive oil, I seared the seasoned steak.


We like steak medium-well around the Cafe, so I seared the meat about 6 minutes per side.


While the meat was resting (after all that hard work), I made the quick and easy glaze. I used a Pomegranate-Blueberry Juice because it was 1/2 the cost as pure pom.  Plus, I love blueberries. This actually proved to be a really good call and the flavor of the blueberry was a distinct bonus.


I added the juice, brown sugar, 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar to the skillet and stirred the mixture into the juices from the steak.


Boil the juice, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to a thick glaze, about 5 minutes.

In a bowl, toss remaining 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar and salad.  I think straight up arugula is too strong, so I used a mix of baby spinach and arugula.

Slice the steak and arrange on mixed salad. Enjoy!


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Italian Sausage & Sea Scallops

I love to send email photo updates to my friends while their children are playing at our house.  Friday night we were lucky to have one of our nearest and dearest here for a sleep over.  What follows is the exact email (names removed to protect the innocent) I sent to her mother.  Oh, and the recipe for the Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Italian Sausage & Sea Scallops is, of course, available upon request.
To my good friend (and your husband to the extent that he is interested),
Please do not hate me for the blue eye shadow on your seven year old daughter.  It’s not like the girls are going anywhere and our only son is at a friend’s house.  Actually they got into my Bobbie Brown while I was making dinner.  Which is fine as I haven’t worn make up since child number three arrived on the scene.
Your daughter loved the pasta.  And the sausage.  The sea scallops not so much.  I tried my best to hide the blanched broccoli rabe because as we all know greens, especially those of the hand picked, organic variety are hardly appreciated by the under 40 crowd. Her gracious manners reflected those of her mother’s.  But truth be told, she could have spit every last bite out and I would have loved her all the same.  She took her Benadryl ***  and had dessert — a little chablis, I mean popsicle and a fake Oreo aka Newman O’s.
As I write this the girls are painting with non-toxic, semi-washable paints.  Hopefully not on my walls (Benjamin-Moore 0C-7).  There has been plenty of discourse as to whether or not Because of Winn-Dixie is an acceptable movie.  And by acceptable I mean likable.  If they do not agree that a movie is a perfectly reasonable Friday night entertainment option, I will let them wash the dishes and do 12 loads of laundry as an alternative.  Then I will be able to plop my advanced-maternal-aged ass down on the sofa and watch it for them.   For the record, I do not believe ironing is appropriate until children are at least 10 years old.  So rest assured all activities at our home are age appropriate.
Finally, I leave you with a photo of the man of our house.  Clearly he isn’t afforded the opportunity to eat very often so when a humble plate of pasta is placed before him he greets it with the enthusiasm of a child.  Well, not the enthusiasm of the children in this home as I’ve already expressed that the pasta was greeted with only  mediocre disdain.
In closing, I promise there have been shrills, laughter, and only a few tears.  No worries as there was nothing truly insurance worthy.  Each of the four girls has shed a tear, I would be remiss not to admit this.  My own #3 was the first to cry.  Hearing a shrill that was Oscar worthy I dropped everything to race to her side only to find a spiral binder from the art room shelf had fallen upon her big toe.  Very soon after my #2 cried with a bellow that summoned a neighbor (two streets over who was also in search of wine) and alerted us to the fact that a marker top had busted her upper lip in two.  Gallons of blood and several transfusions later, she finished the butterfly and flower masterpiece she started.  Just as I thought the drama was limited to the daughters of The Schell Family, a tiny, barely audible, but clearly panicked cried came forth from the art room.  Your darling daughter suffered a scratch that only 5 choices of band-aids could cure.  Please believe me when I promise there is absolutely no chance of a staphylococcus (type) infection. ***
Alas, it is time to move on from my synopsis.  The girls have settled on a Disney movie and are happy as clams.  Littlest, however, has a poopy diaper that none of the older girls have volunteered to change.  I guess I have to draw the line somewhere on age appropriateness chores.  After all we are not the Duggars.
I hope you are having fun with the fifth grade boys at your house and I wonder how our experiences compare.  I wish you patience and fortitude of the red wine varietal.
Good night dearest of friends and thank you for trusting your littlest blessing with me.
*** Regarding the Benadryl — it has been approximately 2 hours since your daughter ingested the tiny grape pill and she is showing absolutely no signs of side-affects (sleepiness).  In regard to the scratch that required a choice of five band-aids, I cannot be responsible for any airborne or Oreo-type cookie induced infection that may or may-not occur.

Friday Night Steak Night

We do a lot of chillin’ out on Friday nights at The Schell Cafe.  After a week of coming and going in a thousand different directions it’s so nice to reconnect as a family and just hang out.  For the Littles this means staying up late and skippin’ baths.  Friday nights for the grown-ups usually involves a bottle of red wine and tossing something on the grill.  Tonight we are having our favorite Cowboy Coffee Steak.

I’ve shared this steak rub with you before, but it’s so good I thought it would be selfish not to urge you to make it your Friday night ritual too.  And if you happen to be near an HEB rib-eyes are on sale!

Cowboy Coffee Steak Rub

1/2 cup ground coffee (I use a dark roast from Costa Rica)

1/2 cup coarse black pepper (I use slightly less)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup salt

Mix all ingredients in a plastic bag and store in fridge.  When you are ready to rub the steak, pour out desired amount of coffee mixture and generously rub steak until the meat is completely coated.


Grill and enjoy.



Wine Braised Short Ribs

We had a crummy Valentine’s weekend.  Littlest Middlest has been sick and she spent her sixth birthday/Valentine’s Day curled up in bed watching Brady Bunch reruns.  So we are celebrating a few days late.  Because when you are six and its your birthday you MUST have cake.  And when you are Husband and its Valentine’s Day you MUST have ribs.  It’s a rule.

I have several variations for short ribs, but these simple wine braised treats will knock your socks off.  And the pulled beef sandwiches the next day are even better!

These ribs can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge right in the pot you cooked them in.  Skim the fat and reheat when you are ready to serve.  Once ribs are cooking in our house, they don’t stand a chance of chillin’ for 24 hours.

I use a mix of bone-in and boneless beef ribs for this recipe.  I like having some bones left over to make stock and think they add a rich flavor, but I find that the boneless cuts are larger and yield more meat.  Also I have issues making decisions. On important things like which cut of meat to buy.

Wine Braised Short Ribs

5 lbs short ribs (mix of bone-in and boneless)

salt & pepper

6-8 garlic cloves, minced

3 celery ribs, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 (14.5 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes

2 cups red wine (use GOOD wine, something you would  drink while cooking serve to guests)

1 cup chicken broth

1 sprig of rosemary

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper. Allow them to sit at room temp in the salt and pepper while you cut up the veggies.  The ribs will brown better if they are already  room temperature.  See the bone-in and boneless mix?


Brown the ribs in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  This will have to be done in two batches — it’s a lot of beef.  Brown on each side about 4-5 minutes until the ribs get nice and golden.


Once all the ribs are browned, remove them to a platter and drain off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat.  Send a photo of the browned ribs to someone you love and tell them dinner will be ready in a few short hours.  Torture I tell you!

Add all the veggies to the pot and saute until golden brown and very tender.  Depending on your heat this will take about 6-7 minutes.


Once the veggies are all soft and golden, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot.  Start with the wine.  Be careful it will sizzle something fierce, but it will deglaze all the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Nestle the ribs back into the pot and squeal in anticipation…


Bring all this goodness back to a boil.  Then cover your pot and bake at 350 degrees for about 3 1/2 hours.  You’ll know the ribs are done when they are so tender they literally fall off the bone or pull apart with a fork.

Once the ribs are done, remove them to a platter and keep warm in oven or warming drawer.  Strain the veggie mixture into a bowl.  Go ahead and taste a veggie or two while you are straining all the liquid out.  Pour the liquid into a small sauce pan and let sit for about 30 minutes or so.  The fat will rise to the top.  Skim off as much fat from the liquid as you can and discard.  Add the veggies back to the liquid and bring to a slow boil to make the gravy.  It usually takes about 15 – 20 minutes for the gravy to reduce to a nice thick sauce.

Plate up and enjoy!