Friday, October 15, 2010

Chimichangas and Chicken Almondine

Last Sunday, we went out for some Mexican grub and I got to thinking that it had been a good long while since I'd had Mexican and that's unusual. Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines, to be sure. My introduction to it is more of an Americanized version, beginning with the glory days of Don Emilios in Parkersburg. It was all about a bean burrito smothered in Queso or endless baskets of tortilla chips and salsa, usually accompanied by a Dos Equis or a Margarita on the rocks. I would later be introduced to the Chi-Chi's chain in college on a trip to Pittsburgh and would find great fulfillment with their chimichangas. In time, I would discover more authentic Mexican cuisine in the smaller taquerias wherever I lived. The latest incarnation I visited was the ever-popular Rancho Grande in Parkville. I have several friends who are big fans of their Taco Tuesdays. We were long overdue for a visit.

This strip-mall joint is nondescript and unassuming, decorated with sports banners and neon cerveza signs. What, no strolling Mariachi band? The food is the point and Man, do they make it....the point and the food. I made the typical mistake of overindulging in the tasty tortilla chips because the spicy, smoky salsa and the peppery Rancho Grande queso dip was so yummy, we couldn't resist. My entree was a crazy big Chimichanga with red sauce and sides of Mexican rice and refried beans. I took the majority of it home and ate on it for the next two about getting your money's worth. All in all, the grub was very good and clearly, the place is popular: it was packed with an interesting mix of post-church families and beer-swilling sports fans. We will be back, no doubt.

Dinner brought the latest episode of The Cookbook Challenge. I chose a very unique cookbook that my good friend and co-worker Kara Von Tersch gifted me. The cookbook is from The Ivy Bake Shoppe in the historic downtown of Fort Madison, Iowa, which is near Kara's hometown. Time magazine called the Ivy "sinfully addictive" and while I've not visited the locale in person, the cookbook is truly a delectable read....all of the recipes sound to die for. Kara made and brought to work both the Millennium toffee bars and the Fresh Apple Cake and both were excellent. I was looking for a recipe that would be enough for us eat on all week and that would also best utilize our plethora of KC Fresh Connect broccoli. I found it in the Chicken Almondine recipe. It also used a lot of ingredients we had on hand such as whole-wheat spaghetti noodles and sliced almonds. The dish turned out top-notch....filling and hearty and it made for excellent leftovers. The dish just needed a hit of salt and pepper and it was good to go. That's three for three tasted dishes and all were truly terrific. When ordering more of their cookbooks, I've been told that there's a showstopper in the book....but I'll save that for a later post. Check them out at This dish represents Cookbook Challenge #8. The recipe as follows:

Chicken Almondine (courtesy of The Ivy Bake Shoppe cookbook)


3/4 cup mayo
1/3 cup flour
2 tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 1/4 cups milk, warmed
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/3 cup dry white wine
12 oz spaghetti, cooked and drained (we used whole wheat but it's not required)
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
4 cups broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
4 oz sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup pimientos


In a medium saucepan, combine the mayonnaise, flour, onion and garlic salt. Gradually add the milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add cheese and wine and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the mayo mixture, spaghetti, chicken, broccoli, half of the almonds, the mushrooms and pimientos; toss lightly. Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch dish. Top with remaining almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. Makes 10 to 12 servings.


Kristy said...

Don Emilio's? The last time I was there was with you and Keith probably 2 years ago and as I recall it was quite frankly ICKY! Plus, I have been in their kitchen. VERY SCARY. It is true that once you've tasted more authentic Mexican cuisine it is hard to go back. I find the same holds true for me with Italian food. I can barely stomach the mere mention of Olive Garden anymore. I know this sounds elitist but it's true. God help me if I gain a Japanese friend who can make sushi. My last semi-local love in life will go by the same wayside. Great post as usual. YUMMY! P.S. Can't wait until you test out the roadkill recipe from the WV cookbook I got you LOL!!! (Just kiddin') And for the edification of the rest of your readers...opossum does NOT taste like chicken. Just trust me on this.

Confounded Cook said...

Oh....Ugh. No roadkill will be made in the writing of this blog. It's true that once you've had authentic, it's tough to go back. You're right about Don's, that's why I referred to the glory days....when we liked it.

Kristy said...

I was kidding. There are no roadkill recipes in that cookbook. But I can attest for opossum not tasting like chicken. I learned that in college...the hard way.

kris said...

Try the rhubarb cake from the Ivy cookbook. Every time I make it, I get raves.

Confounded Cook said...

I've looked at that I will definitely make it! Thanks, Kris!

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