an island, some enchiladas, cocktails, & a dessert.

The title of this post is a tad overwhelming, and I think that’s just as it should be. Our trip involved a dance class called Booty Poppin’, bald eagles, endless oceans, and a movie starring Matthew Goode. In other words, it was BIG, and I just don’t think I can contain my excitement.

Without further adieu, here are some photos and recipes from Janna’s and my little weekday getaway. There’s more about our trip in this post, so I’ll try not repeat myself because I already did that in the previous paragraph (oops!). You’ll just have to bear a few photos of a beach, a crane, and Janna and me attempting yoga after a cocktail. (Snooze, I know.)

Enjoy the avocado enchiladas, sangria, and pecan squares. They don’t go together, but damn, they were good. Have a good week, friends! Cook these things; your friends will thank you. lv, molly

Puget Sound

J. practicing some yoga skills on the beach while wearing Tevas. Yep, I just mocked you a little. In fairness, walking barefoot was less wise...

Cranes are one of my favorite kinds of birds. They have an amazing wingspan! I think they're the greyhounds of birds. Don't ask me to explain that analogy.

Me showing off my newly acquired yogi skills. Apparently balancing on barnacles is a skill I have yet to learn.

Clay and those fairy shrubs that always remind me of Ireland.

Avocado Enchiladas

Serves 12-14 (don’t worry; we quartered the recipe…)

2 dried ancho chiles
4 cups plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
5 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 cups dry white wine
1 can crushed plum tomatoes, 28 ounces
2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
8 Hass avocados
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
25 corn tortillas
1 1/2 pounds Monterey jack cheese, grated

Place chiles in saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly, remove stems, and puree chiles and liquid in food processor.
[Alternatively, roast peppers over an open flame as Janna did. Be careful! Don’t light your house on fire!]

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, brown sugar, cumin, and oregano; saute until onion is soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add wine, chile puree, tomatoes, and stock; simmer about 20 minutes, until thickened to stew consistency.
Peel, pit, and roughly chop avocados. Toss with cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat remaining 4 cups oil in a wide, heavy saucepan over medium heat until very hot but not smoking, 7 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, fry 6 tortillas, one at a time, for 2 to 3 seconds. Drain on paper towel-lined sheet. [Note: we didn’t fry our tortillas! Do whatever you want!]
Dip fried tortillas in chile sauce to lightly coat both sides. Spoon 2 tablespoons avocado filling on each tortilla; roll up. Spread 1/2 cup chile sauce into large, deep casserole. Arrange rolled tortillas seam-side down in casserole so they fit snugly; repeat entire process, covering bottom of casserole; pour 1 cup sauce over tortillas; sprinkle with half the cheese. Make a second layer using remaining ingredients. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
Bake enchiladas until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Delicious Pecan Squares

Makes 20 large squares (We halved this; pecans are expensive little buggers)
Note: These are really good. Really, really good. I felt like I was on drugs when I ate them good. If you halve the recipe, pay heed to the number of eggs. I didn’t, and our crust tasted a little eggy. Oops!

Crust:
1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:
3/4 lb. butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed (We used about 3/4 less than calved for. You could safely halve it.)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.


For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Thai-Basil Sangria

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
8 Thai basil sprigs
Zest of 1 lemon, peeled in 3-inch strips
Zest of 1 orange, peeled in 3-inch strips
2 bottles chilled Pinot Grigio
3/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup fresh orange juice, strained
Ice
Chilled club soda

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the basil sprigs and lemon and orange zests. Let the syrup stand, stirring often, until cooled to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Discard the basil sprigs and zest strips.
In a large pitcher, combine the basil syrup with the wine, brandy and orange juice. Pour the sangria into ice-filled glasses, top with club soda

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