Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Quinoa and White Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and while that means I'll spend many hours in the kitchen lovingly preparing that meal, it also means that I don't have as much time for my regular eats in the days leading up to the big event. With crusts to be rolled, cranberries to be sauced, and birds to be brined, it's godsend to have a meal that spends much of its time unattended in the oven. Requiring little hands-on time without sacrificing flavor, this nutritional powerhouse is precisely what I needed to keep me on point rushing around house tackling chores.

Whenever I prepare dried beans or grains, I make big batches, portion them out, and store them in the freezer. This preparation leaves me without an excuse to skip a home-cooked meal and is what allowed me to put dinner on the table with a scant 20 minutes of effort on hectic weeknight. But even if I had to cook quinoa and drain a can of beans, it would be worth the effort. Those hearty ingredients blend with seamlessly with sweet squash, savory Parmesan, and fresh lemon, so though quite simple, it hits all the taste buds quite nicely and in lovely balance. For me this was fueling up for pre-Thanksgiving preparations, but if you're hosting someone who won't be partaking in the turkey, there's no reason not to break this out for the big event as well.

Quinoa and White Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash
adapted from HGTV
serves 2

1 acorn or festival squash
1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup prepared white beans
1 ounce baby spinach (optional)
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Slice the acorn squash in half, from the tip to the bottom. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the two pieces of squash on a baking sheet.

3. Divide the butter in half and place each pat of butter in the center of the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the baking dish to ensure that the bottom of the squash doesn't burn.

4. Place the squash in the oven and let it roast for 60-70 minutes until the insides of the squash are fork tender.

5. In a large skillet, add the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until they are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the beans, quinoa, and spinach, if adding, and cook until greens are wilted and quinoa and beans are warmed through. Remove the skillet from heat, mix in half of the Parmesan cheese, and adjust seasoning as needed.

6. Place half of the quinoa mixture in each of the squash cavities. Sprinkle half of the remaining Parmesan on each squash half.

7. Place the squash back into the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, just until Parmesan cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Baked Potato Chips

I'm not sure if I love it or hate it that I get a five pound bag of amazing potatoes with every CSA delivery. While I love every bite of their starchy goodness, there's no denying that the arrival of such a bounty definitely increases my uptake of these delicious tubers to levels much higher than normal.
My red potatoes made first for a pretty fine soup and a few batches of fries, but then my thoughts turned to chips. I don't often buy them because I'll end up treating a bag of Kettle Chips as a single serving, but I'm certainly willing to put in a little effort if it gets me to salty snack nirvana at a more reasonable serving size. With just a little oil and generous dash of salt, the oven can produce some wonderfully satisfying chips.

Texture varies quite significantly with the thickness of the slices. Despite my best efforts, no oven baked chips will turn out exactly like the deep-fried variety, but these are amazingly satisfying. 1/4-inch-thick slices are roasted potatoes than actual chips, but the 1/8- to 3/16-inch-thick slices become quite light and crispy. This recipe is very basic, great for any potato you'd like to experiment with, but you'll want to check in periodically before you become familiar with how a particular type of potato cooks. The chips are delicious with just salt, but you should also try tossing them with any kind of spice blend or seasoning salt you like or adding cheesy flavor with freshly grated Parmesan or nutritional yeast (for vegans). They're not a health food by any means, but perhaps a bit more special than the store-bought variety, at least because of the effort that went into them. And if you feel so inclined, they make a pretty spectacular batch of Irish Nachos too.

Baked Potato Chips
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4

Olive oil cooking spray
2 pounds potatoes, cut into 1/8 to 3/16-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Seasoning blend, to taste (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray; set aside. Put potatoes, oil, and salt in a large bowl; season with pepper, i. Toss to combine.

2. Arrange potato slices on prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1/4 inch apart. Bake, flipping periodically and rotating sheets halfway through, until potatoes are crisp and golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Spread out potatoes on parchment paper; let dry 5 minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt and/or seasoning mix, if desired.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chicken Spiedies

Packer snacks are a proud tradition in my household. Ever since I was a tiny girl, Sunday afternoons from September to January were dedicated to football with Dad. This afternoon was always accompanied by a special snack, the first bite of which must be taken exactly as the kicker's foot makes contact with the ball at kickoff (my rule, not his). I've continued this tradition as an adult and this year choosing signature foods from the opposing team's city/region to pair with each game. I love how this theme has allowed me to cook up some familiar specialties, but the Giants opponent brought me to the first completely new regional food I came across in my football cookery.

It's strange that marinated and grilled chunks of meat on bread isn't a recipe that has myriad regional versions, but it seems that the Southern Tier of New York (more specifically, the greater Binghamton area) is the only place to fervently embrace it. Chicken is the most common protein, and though many marinade recipes exist, I chose to make my own of the fairly classic olive oil + lemon + herb variety. Unsurprisingly, grilled meat on bread is delicious! The marinade keeps the chicken moist and deeply infuses it with flavor, so little more is required than a starchy canvas to serve it on, but the creamy sauce is the perfect finishing touch.

Chicken Spiedies
adapted from Cook's Country
serves 6

1/2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed)
6 (6-inch) French, Italian, or sub rolls

1. Mix the oil, garlic, basil, oregano, lemon zest, salt, pepper and pepper flakes in a large bowl. Place 2 tablespoons of the oil mixture in another bowl and set aside.

2. Prick the chicken breasts with a fork all over on each side. Cut into 1 1/4 inch chunks and add to the marinade. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 30 minutes and no longer than 3 hours.

3. Whisk together mayo, vinegar and lemon juice with the 2 tablespoons of reserved oil mixture and refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Prepare grill over high heat. Remove the chicken from marinade and thread onto metal skewers. Place the skewers on the grill, turning frequently. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove from grill and allow chicken to rest for a few minutes

5. Place chicken on rolls and drizzle with mayonnaise mixture. Serve promptly.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

Potato and leek soup is way more delicious than it deserves to be. Even at its most basic, the simple combination of leeks, potatoes, salt, and water, is amazingly delicious. But that being said, there's no reason not to experiment with the basic recipe, particularly when it uses up even more of my CSA vegetables.

I tend to go for a mixture of chunky and smooth in my potato-leek soup, but with cabbage playing an important role, the immersion blender stayed in the drawer. The leeks melt into the broth and the potatoes just begin to fall apart, blending with tangles of tender cabbage in each bite. Salt and pepper would be enough to season this dynamic combination, but the hint of herbaceous thyme and savory Parmesan really bring it all together. Thyme can be a polarizing ingredient, so use a light hand and swap it out for another herb if it's not to your liking. Hearty greens like spinach, kale, or chard, could be substituted for the cabbage, if necessary, but should be added at the end of the cooking process.

There have been a few schizophrenic weather turns, but these darker days and cool temperatures leave no doubt than winter's on its way. Even if I miss most of the daylight hours at work and have to bundle up each time I step outside, hearty bowls like this one are one the best reasons to embrace the season. Soup's on!

Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup
adapted from the New York Times
serves 4

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
8 cups shredded cabbage
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium russet, Yukon Gold, or red potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve (optional)
1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat, add the leeks and cook until soft and golden around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cabbage and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in potatoes, stock, 4 cups water, salt and thyme. Bring soup to a simmer and cook, partly covered, until potatoes begin to fall apart, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Add more water, as needed, to reach the desired consistency. Season with additional salt and black pepper and serve, topped with cheese.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Crunchy Vietnamese Cabbage Salad

Though too-often ignored, cabbage is a very versatile vegetable. You can slowly braise it until it's meltingly tender, stir-fry it to crisp-tender, or serve it raw and crunchy. The first part of my gigantic head of cabbage was dedicated to warm and comforting caramelized deliciousness, but my second foray is of a cool and refreshing variety. Cabbage slaws and salads themselves have almost the range of cabbage cookery in general, from rich and creamy to fresh and crisp, and my recipe being of the latter variety.

The bulk of the salad is composed of a typical cast of characters - cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro - but the dressing is what truly makes it wonderful. A perfect balance of salty, sweet, savory, and spicy, it makes all of the fresh ingredients pop, accented by bits of rich and crunchy bits of peanuts in every bite. To complete the meal I topped with chicken for dinner and edamame for lunch, but I can see this happily coexisting with pork, shrimp, or tofu as well. With diest moving towards heartier cold-weather fare, this is a nice change of pace that doesn't leave you starving for additional sustenance or flavor.

Crunchy Vietnamese Cabbage Salad
adapted from the New York Times
serves 4

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño, mince, seeds and ribs removed to desired level of heat
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
4 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
6 cups shredded cabbage
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts, plus more to serve
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more to serve

1. To make vinaigrette, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, lime zest and juice, jalapeño and garlic. Whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. 

2. In a large bowl, toss together tofu, cabbage, carrot, scallions, half of the peanuts, cilantro and vinaigrette. Garnish with the remaining peanuts and additional cilantro.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pasta With Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs

Until a few years ago, I didn't think of cabbage as much more than sauerkraut, coleslaw, and a bed for sausage. But there's only so much slaw a girl can eat, and with 3+ pound heads arriving on a regular basis in my CSA boxes, I have to get a little more creative. There's certainly no lack of inspiration from cuisines all around the world, but I decided to start with something homey and comforting as I looked out on the first snowfall of the season.

Cabbage is delicious from raw and crunchy to slow-cooked and meltingly tender, absorbing flavors differently at each point on the spectrum. Cooking the cabbage in a generous amount of olive oil at a high temperature gives the cabbage a deep caramelized flavor while maintaining a bit of texture, a nice balance of the benefits of leisurely and quick cooking. The seasoned bread crumbs happily cling to every available surface, adding crunch, flavor, and savoriness to every bite. A generous helping of Parmesan ups the umami factor and adds a finishing richness that really brings this all together. Though certainly filling enough on its own, this dinner can be fortified for heartier appetites with the addition of grilled salmon or chicken and a salad on the side.

Pasta With Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs
adapted from the New York Times
serves 4

5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat panko
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
8 ounces small whole wheat pasta (rotini, penne, etc.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
8 cups shredded cabbage
2/3 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan

1. Mince one garlic clove. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook, mashing with a spatula, until they dissolve into the butter. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the bread crumbs and sage and cook until bread is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Season with black pepper. 

2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until barely al dente. Drain. 

3. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the chile and cook until fragrant. Stir in the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Toss in the pasta and bread-crumb mixture and heat through, then quickly toss in the cheese and remove from heat. Season with salt and more pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stuffed Acorn Squash for Two

Without fail, my winter CSA means many meals of stuffed squash. I would make it occasionally in the years before I started getting a winter CSA share, but now it has become a staple fall/winter meal. I am constantly in search of new recipes and flavor combinations and this basic template allows me to easily experiment with myriad combinations of beans, grains, greens, and nuts. The amounts listed for the main ingredients here are all ranges because the size of the squash you're stuffing (and appetite) can vary quite a bit, but I typically lean towards the higher end so I can pack my squash to the absolute limit.

Sometimes I'll buy specific ingredients for combinations I think will be delicious, but more often than not I'm improvising with is in my pretty well-stocked pantry and fridge. To give you a little inspiration, I'll offer the tasty combination pictured above - quinoa, kale, cannellini beans, and walnuts - a meal equally appropriate for a weeknight dinner as a vegetarian main on Thanksgiving. (You can also keep it gluten-free by using quinoa or rice.) Flexible, delicious, nutritious, and easy, this recipe surely deserves a regular place in your winter meal rotation.

Stuffed Acorn Squash for Two
adapted from Whole Living
serves 2

1 halved and seeded acorn, festival, or delicata squash
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 diced large onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs
1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked beans (white, black, pinto, garbanzo, etc.)
1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked grains (quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, couscous, etc.)
1 to 2 cups chopped hearty greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard, etc.)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
2 Tbsp chopped toasted nuts or seeds, divided (hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)
Lemon or balsamic (or other) vinegar

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush squash with 1 teaspoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cut side down until tender, about 30 minutes. Flip and set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add herbs, beans, grains, and greens. Cook, stirring, until greens wilt, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Divide stuffing between squash halves, top with Parmesan, and roast until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. For each serving, sprinkle with 1 tablespoons nuts or seeds and squeeze with lemon or vinegar.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blue Cheese and Bacon Dog with Sriracha Mayo

This football season I've been choosing the snacks I make for the Packer game based on the rival city/region and through that process I've learned of many a special regional hot dog. Detroit has the Coney Dog, Cleveland has the Polish Boy, and Chicago (obviously) has the Chicago dog, and I've made and devoured each one with aplomb. But never one to leave well-enough alone, I've been inspired to get creative on my own.

Blue cheese and bacon are a tried-and-true delicious combination, so it's no surprise that they'll make an all-natural, natural casing hot dog even more delicious. But with all that richness, there needs to be distinct elements to cut through it, and that contrast is perfectly achieved by the sharp scallions and spicy Sriracha mayo. Blue cheese can be a very polarizing ingredient, and although I think its funk is an important flavor component, sharp cheddar could be substituted for a version with wider appeal.

There's still a few of my Pecatonica Valley Farm hot dogs left in the freezer, so I doubt this is the last you've seen of my hot dog creations. I've got a fridge packed with winter CSA vegetables and a mind racing with ideas, so it can't be long until some of them come together with my latest favorite culinary canvas.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Dog with Sriracha Mayo
serves 1, easily multipliable

1 hot dog, preferably natural casing and nitrite- and nitrate-free
1 tablespoon mayo
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha, or to taste
1 hot dog bun, preferably whole grain

1 slice thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

1. Cook hot dog via method of choice (grilling is best, but in a pinch even the microwave will do).

2. Meanwhile, combine mayo and Sriracha in a small bowl and and stir until well-combined. Spread on one side of the hot dog bun.

3. Place cooked hot dog on bun and top with crumbled bacon, scallions, and blue cheese. Serve promptly.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Parsley Tabbouleh with Chickpeas

Have I convinced you to pick up some bulgur yet? If not, this recipe may provide some additional inspiration. Everyone who has been to a Mediterranean restaurant is surely familiar with tabbouleh, a light and fresh combination of bulgur and parsley that is a staple of the cuisine. Though a grain-heavy version may be encountered much more frequently these days, the traditional recipe is more of a parsley dish than a bulgur dish, bursting with copious amounts of fresh herbs. Tabbouleh typically appears as part of a meze, one of many tastes in a generous spread, but I've turned it into a light main dish with the addition of chickpeas and feta. Traditional ingredients still form the backbone of this salad, so you won't be missing any of the classic flavors with the transition from side to main dish. Fresh and light flavors dominate with generous amounts of fresh veggies and herbs, but the chewy bites of bulgur, salty tastes of feta, and hearty nibbles of chickpeas keep each bite interesting and varied.

I kept all the elements fairly classic, but using quinoa in lieu of the bulgur is great way to start experimenting with the traditional recipe. This is most obviously served in the summer when steamy temperatures demand light meals, but also a nice way to break out of the cold weather meat and potatoes rut it's all too easy to get stuck in.

Parsley Tabbouleh with Chickpeas
adapted from Eating Well
serves 4

2 cup water
1 cup bulgur
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, (about 2 bunches)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 ounces crumbled feta (optional)

1. Combine water and bulgur in a small saucepan and cook according to package directions. If any water remains, drain bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.

2. Combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, and chickpeas to the bulgur. Add the dressing and feta, if using, and toss ingredients together. Serve at room temperature or chill for at least 1 hour to serve cold.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Roasted Peppers, and Feta

Ideally, I have a good supply of prepared and portioned cooked whole grains in my freezer at all times. In reality, this doesn't always happen, so I make sure to always have plenty of quick-cooking whole grains in my pantry like couscous, quinoa, and bulgur. Bulgur takes less than half an hour to cook and is an eager sponge for flavors, making it a perfect choice for quick lunch or dinner. Whole grains + veggies + beans + cheese is one of my favorite meal templates, and while it can accommodate any odds and ends you happen to have, this combination is delightful enough to be worth repeating. Bulgur is delightfully nutty, and the roasted peppers and salty feta complement it well. The parsley adds freshness, red onion a sharp accent, and the chickpeas substance, with a smoky, spicy vinaigrette blending it seamlessly together.

I can't complain about this recipe as written, but there is a certainly a world of variations to be explored. Don't have bulgur? Swap it out for quinoa or brown rice. Not a fan of chickpeas? Try black, pinto, or navy beans. Cilantro can stand in for parsley, goat cheese can replace feta...the list of substitutions goes on and on. Carnivores can add grilled meat (I especially recommend steak) and vegans can substitute extra beans for the cheese, making this recipe universal, even if trying to avoid meat, dairy, or gluten. I made this for one when making a quick lunch, but it can certainly be scaled up to feed a crowd.

Whether prepared verbatim, or merely used as inspiration, this is the kind of recipe that every busy person should keep in their back pocket.

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Roasted Peppers, and Feta
adapted from Epicurious
serves 1

3/4 cup prepared bulgur (from 1/4 cup uncooked)
1/4 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup roasted red and/or yellow peppers
2 tablespoons chopped or thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped parley
2 tablespoons/0.5 ounce crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine bulgur, chickpeas, roasted peppers, red onion, parsley, and feta cheese in a bowl and toss to combine. 

2. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, honey, cumin, cayenne, together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add dressing to salad and stir gently. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chicken Nachos Blanco with Tomatillo Salsa

While I am a fan of authentic Mexican cuisine, particularly Oaxacan, I also indulge in foods that many Mexicans wouldn't even recognize. Nachos are a prime example. Rick Bayless has provided me with an ample supply of genuine recipes that combine cheese, tortillas, and salsa, but sometimes a Friday night just calls for some homemade bar snacks.

My winter CSA starts on Wednesday, so I've been steadily working through all the spoils of my summer garden that I've preserved in my freezer in order to make room for the bounty of the new season. My tomatillo plants were more than generous this year and though I've turned all my tomatillo sauces into chilaquiles and smothered burritos, I decided to make a little more room by digging into my cache of tomatillo salsas. Because nachos already lack authenticity, anything goes in terms of toppings, but sometimes you can't beat a simple combination of salsa, cheese, and chips, especially when made better with homemade and high-quality ingredients. Using a cheese sauce ensures that the maximum amount of surface area is coated with dairy goodness, and the spicy tomatillo salsa is just the right accent to cut through the richness. Layering the ingredients packs every bite with salsa, cheese, and chicken, and giving the finished dish a quick toast in the oven melds every flavor together.

It may take a little longer than melting some salsa and Velveeta together, but it's exactly the reward you deserve after a long day. And don't forget to whip up a fresh margarita while the nachos are in the oven.

Chicken Nachos Blanco with Tomatillo Salsa
serves 1

1/2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/2 tablespoon flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 ounces tortilla chips
1/2 cup shredded or chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup tomatillo salsa

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch each of salt and pepper and saute until the onions are tender, just a couple of minutes. Add the flour, stir to form a paste, and cook until any foaming stops, the raw flour flavor is gone, but the roux is not brown, about 2 minutes. Add milk, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook over low to medium-low heat until the mixture is thick, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add cheese, stir until melted and keep warm.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place half the chips on an oven-safe dish and top with half of the cheese sauce, chicken, and salsa. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Bake until all ingredients are warmed through and cheese sauce is beginning to bubble, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve promptly.