White Chicken Chili Bar, Palomas, And Mazola Corn Oil
We had been trying for about a month to have a couple of friends over to see our new house. They had just bought a house and were spending their weekends doing renovations and we were running around with various house errands every weekend ourselves, so we finally realized a weekday, after-work get-together would be best. We went back and forth over whether to just pick up a pizza or some other takeout for dinner or to cook, and finally I decided I'd find an easy one-pot dish that I could prepare after work.
After thumbing through cookbooks and flipping through magazines, I finally decided to make the white chicken chili from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook. The recipe requires chopping peppers and onions, browning chicken, throwing some ingredients in the food processor, simmering everything together in a Dutch oven, and shredding the chicken and reincorporating it with the rest of the chili. And the cooking time was short enough that I knew I could have dinner on the table by about 7:30.
But as much as I was looking for something simple to make, I also wanted dinner to be fun, so I made a sort of white chicken chili bar. I set out lime wedges, diced tomatoes, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado, and homemade tortilla strips (more on those below).
When we sat down to eat, I encouraged everyone to get creative and use whatever toppings they wanted on their chili. (Some were more creative than others.) The tortilla strips were clearly the most popular.
We all thought the chili had good flavor (it has three different kinds of peppers in it), and the toppings made it even better.
To go along with dinner, I also wanted to make a fun cocktail and opted to mix up one of my favorite tequila drinks: the paloma. The drink combines tequila with grapefruit juice and offers bright, citrusy flavors. It's incredibly refreshing and definitely a welcome flavor combination during the dreary winter months. I modeled my version after one I saw in Food & Wine. The version there was meant to make one drink, and I quadrupled it and wound up with enough for three drinks. (Maybe I just like a larger serving size!)
Palomas (adapted from Food & Wine)
8 ounces (1 cup) Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila Silver
4 ounces (1/2 cup) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
4 ounces (1/2 cup) club soda
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces (1/4 cup) simple syrup*
Combine tequila, grapefruit juice, club soda, lime juice, and simple syrup in pitcher. Add about 1 cup ice, and stir well.
Dip rims of three glasses in water or rub with lime and dip in kosher salt. Fill glasses with ice and divide cocktail among glasses. Garnish each glass with a lime wedge (and a colorful paper straw if you like). Serve.
*To make simple syrup, heat equal parts water and sugar until sugar dissolves and let cool. Chill before using.
Now, about those tortilla strips. Mazola sent me a bottle of corn oil to try in place of my regular cooking oil, and I thought it would be the perfect thing to use to make some homemade corn tortilla strips.
According to Mazola's website: "Corn oils, such as Mazola Corn Oil, contain more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than any other cooking oil -- four times more than olive oil and 40 percent more than canola oil."
"Plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, are plant-based micro-nutrients naturally present in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals, legumes and vegetable oils. Clinical studies indicate that, when consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, plant sterols can help reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, which, in turn, can lower LDL blood cholesterol."
Corn Tortilla Strips
5 corn tortillas, sliced into strips, strips halved
2 tablespoons Mazola Corn Oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Brush 1 tablespoon oil over foil. Distribute tortilla strips evenly on baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt.
Bake tortillas for 5 to 7 minutes, then flip them with spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until brown and crisp. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil. Serve.
While February may have been heart-healthy month, you can make heart-healthy decisions any time. Be sure to check out Mazola's website and Facebook page for recipe ideas!
What would you make with corn oil?