Tikka Masala Enchiladas with Cilantro Jalapeno Crema

I have a problem? An enchilada problem? No. No, no, no, no- you’re the one with a problem. I won’t hear anything else. The problem- your problem, mind you, is that you don’t have a forkful of these crammed in your mouth right now. That’s the story and I’m sticking to it.
These all started when Miss Love, weary of my enchilada fixation, casually suggested we eat something different for dinner outside of the six versions of faux-Mexican we’ve eaten in the last month. As if. Something with a little less corn tortilla and tomatillo. Something with curry, with grapes, with bread, with anything but chicken and hot sauce. Unfortunately, I’d just finished the last of our previous batch of enchiladas and really wanted more. She, in all her wily form, went straight for the heart and suggested chicken tikka masala, one of my favorite dishes.
What I countered with may have changed our eating patterns forever. “How about chicken tikka enchiladas?” And so it began. It wasn’t like we planned on layering charred pieces of chicken marinated in a revamped Russian dressing on corn tortillas with cheese, tikka masala sauce, and topping them with a cilantro jalapeno crema. It wasn’t like we anticipated nearly inhaling the whole pan all the while discussing how good tomorrow’s lunch would be. It wasn’t like we predicted that during all of this, the kitten would teach herself to adhere to the screen door, grapple her way up to the door frame, and balance atop it yelling until we took her down.
And yet, it all came together beautifully. Two stubborn women were momentarily quiet as they ate their dinner, two cats cried for chicken, and the lemony, spicy, sweet, meaty goodness of these enchiladas proved to me that arguing with your lady can sometimes bring wonderful things. Namely, more enchiladas.
Chicken Tikka Enchiladas with Cilantro Jalapeno Crema
Ingredients (serves 4)
3 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/3 cup of spicy ketchup
1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of hot sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
Dash of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar of tikka masala sauce
12 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
Cilantro jalapeno crema on top
Cilantro Jalapeno Crema
Ingredients (makes about 1 cup)
1 cup of chopped cilantro
2 jalapenos, deseeded and cored
1/3 cup of sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
1. Set your oven on broil and prepare your sour cream marinade. Salt and pepper your chicken breasts. Mix together sour cream, the garlic, the spices, and spicy ketchup. Taste and adjust as needed and spread over chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet.
2. Depending on how thick the breasts are, they will need to broil for 12-14 minutes on each side or until cooked and crispy. While they are broiling, prepare the crema by placing all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blending until combined and chopped. Grate the cheddar cheese and set it aside.
3. When the chicken is cool and easy to handle, chop it into bite sized chunks. Heat half of the tikka sauce on the stovetop and dip the tortillas in, one at a time, letting them sit for a few seconds until they are soft. Place the chicken in a bowl and pour more sauce into the bottom of the saucepan, enough to cover the bottom.
4. To assemble the enchiladas, place a few tablespoons of chicken in the tortilla and top with cheese. Roll them up and set them in the pan, lined up until the pan is full.
5. Pour the remaining tikka masala sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Heat on low until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with crema and hot sauce to taste.
And we never argued again.

McDonald’s Strawberry and Creme Pie

“Hi, uh, what kind of pies do you have?”
“We have apple and cherry, but I really don’t like cherry.”
“Okay, do you have the strawberry pie?”
“The strawberry creme pie? Yeah, we have that.”
“I’ll take one of those.”
It was like walking into a speakeasy. No advertisements, no branded packaging, and no overt mentioning of the new strawberry creme pie existed at this McDonald’s. While I’d been told in advance that it was being sold in my area, proving that we are yet again another awesome pie test market, it was still awfully strange that none of the employees seemed to want to tout its springy goodness.
However, after opening the box, I began to formulate an idea as to why that was. This particular pie was crushed and battered beyond all belief, leaking its red, gelatinous contents out of the box. The underside appeared to have been broken and restitched together with a hasty application of pie glue and the filling sank to the bottom, the top crust bowed and fractured. What was advertised as a sugar-dusted coating was a glaze-drowned layer on this one. However, as I know from many fast food forays before this one, sometimes the ugliest ducklings yield the tastiest meat.
In this case, the pie crust was chewy, but appropriately sweet and heavily improved with the glaze on top. While the strawberry manifested chiefly in the form of pie filling goo with no discernible texture or fruit to speak of, it had a fresh, tangy flavor perfectly complimenting the sunny weather outside. The creme was where I ran into some issues. It wasn’t creamy in the way that I expected it to be, with a pudding-like, runny texture, and instead was crumbly, dry, and baked like a custard. This definitely leeched away some of the more summery implications of the dessert and relegated it more toward day-old baked good central. However, the flavor was fresh and vanilla heavy, so the texture felt like less of an issue in comparison.
Overall, I’m very impressed that McDonald’s is offering seasonal pie flavors for our vacillating New England weather. Color me jaded, but apple just doesn’t reek of spring or summer to me. I liked seeing s’mores in the summer and pumpkin in the winter, and having strawberry creme in the spring is a pleasant way to welcome in the season. While this sort of missed the mark in the texture department, I was pleased enough with it to eat the entire thing and share a little with Miss Love.

Korean BBQ Cheetos

Pffft, while the rest of you were eating your salsa con asshat Cheetos, I was eating meat Cheetos. Meetos. And it was Korean beef, too. Squares. J-List sent over Korean BBQ flavored Cheetos and who am I to ignore the sultry obese siren’s call of two of my favorite foods inside of one of my favorite chips? As far as the packaging goes, I would be looking you straight in the eye and lying if I said that I did not value the bag art on this more than a live human infant. Although I desperately wish that it featured the antics of our beloved Chester Cheetah a little more, perhaps wailing on a sweet guitar or chewing Kim Jong-il’s arm off or something, the image of sizzling meat warms the cockles of my heart and the acid of my stomach.
A cross between Japanese yakiniku and Korean bulgogi, these chips feature a garlic and soy heavy scent mixed with the generic grilled meat nose that often accompanies things that are neither grilled nor meat. Imagine a slightly more pungent ramen noodle seasoning packet and you’ll have a good idea of how these things smell. If not entirely appetizing, nostalgic at least, and immediately conjuring up the image of things that might taste like meat. Again, kind of like ramen. Unlike their sauce-drenched inspiration, the Cheetos are primarily yellow with a fine dusting of brown flavor powder. I find that in the past, I’ve preferred Japanese Cheetos to American ones because they lack the rough, corrugated texture that comes with the American’s cornmeal base. They have a softer, more delicate crunch and a finer chew, which leads me to wonder if these are some sort of rice flour and cornmeal based snack to better suit the Japanese palate.
In either scenario, I really enjoyed these. While I can’t honestly say they reminded me precisely of the flavor of meat sizzling on a grill, they certainly nailed the sauce flavor down pat, with a sweet flavor profile consisting primarily of ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and soy. With a little research and kanji translation, I found out that this flavor collaborated with the Ebara Foods company, a maker of popular sauces and marinades in Asia, and based it heavily on their yakiniku no tare sauce for barbecued meat. Absolutely delicious and neither overly salted nor bland. I can see these going really well with a cold beer.
LinkCheck these snacks and many other awesome treats out at J-List!

Haagen-Dazs Limited Edition Spiced Caramel Biscuit Ice Cream

Ahhhh, another speculoos product makes me happy. I’m the kind of girl who, among other things, enjoys ingesting my Biscoff in liquid form. Ain’t no thang, it’s just a good product. I’ve tasted many a Biscoff spread and ensuing knock-off in my day, though, and one uniting characteristic of them all is a greasiness not unlike peanut butter, but with a terrible filminess like you’re eating straight up margarine. However, the new spiced caramel biscuit from Haagen-Dazs presents a new way to eat your Biscoff without feeling like you’ve just made out with a sweaty Pamela Anderson. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Once again playing off the delicious Danish cookie, this version offers a caramel ice cream crammed with crumbs and pieces of biscuit to delight the tongue and teeth. There’s certainly plenty of these little guys throughout the ice cream, too. While the caramel ice cream base offers a buttery, milk-dominant flavor reminiscent of the aftertaste of Brach’s caramel cubes, a very nostalgic flavor, it’s the cookies that are the real treat in this ice cream. The flavor gets progressively more intense with the size of the chunks and with the grainy, salty flavor and texture, my mind inevitably strays to wondering what this ice cream would be like with chunks of speculoos dough inside.
The caramel’s flavor compliments the cookie pieces quite a lot and with it, the spices come out quite vibrantly. While I didn’t taste the range of spices that seem to come out best in Biscoff cookies, I certainly got a heavy dose of cinnamon and sea salt, three things that I wouldn’t kick out of my ice cream bowl. Kind of made them taste like Teddy Grahams. Overall, it had a clean, satisfying flavor perfect to chase a hearty dinner with. Thanks again to Haagen-Dazs for providing me with the ice cream to sample!

Lotte “Pie no mi” Strawberry Cheesecake Mini Pies

I feel like an oversized pimp right now. I am sitting here eating miniature pies that would make a grown dinosaur break down sobbing, they’re so adorable. I know that the Lotte “Pi no me” miniature snack pies have been around long enough that they’re no longer a surprise to many people, but to me, eating anything in miniature makes it way more fun. I can finally pretend I’m eighty feet tall and eating whole pies. My fetish checklist is nearing to completion.
J-List sent over this springy pastry over, and from the look of the box Lotte has spared no effort in making this the most flamboyant package with the most adorable squirrels garnishing it. Beatrix Potter clearly designed this on a well-timed acid trip, because there are clothed animals and frantic photos of stylized pie everywhere.
The pies are strawberry cheesecake flavored and on the inside of the box, we’re presented with a suggestion to put six or seven of them in a bowl and cover them with ice cream, strawberry sauce, strawberry halves, and whipped cream. The squirrel in the chef’s hat told me to! And they say Japan is one of the healthiest countries. This almost puts the Windows 7 Whopper to shame.
Without the sundae part, though, the little pies are delightful to eat and almost too easy to enjoy. Each octagonal treat has a buttery, egg-brushed crust and a grainy filling similar to Oreo creme. The filling has a floral scent and lightly creamy flavor that isn’t too sweet, but adds the perfect amount of sugar to the crust. Each one is light and airy. My only complaint about the flavor is that the cheesecake inspiration was not very well executed. It was left to the wayside as a generically creamy flavor and didn’t impart the tanginess I expect from cheesecake.
LinkI love how puffy and crisp the pies are, but their flakiness and tender texture, combined with a 9,800 mile journey around the world, caused them to crumble easily and shed all over the bottom of the package. That makes quite the ice cream topping, but it did make some of the miniature pies a little bald and sad-looking. Still, they beat hand pies and blow regular pies out of the oven. These reminded Miss Love of raspberry cream cheese danishes.

You can snag these and other awesome treats at J-List!

McDonald’s New Bakery Fresh Vanilla Bean Mini Scones

If you’re in the mood for a pastry and live in an area where all the coffee shops are overrun by hipsters, McDonald’s has something special for you. Recently they’ve introduced their new bakery pastries as part of their McCafe line. And thank god for that, because just last week another cafe was shut down by the health inspector due to its hipster infestation. I’m pleased to report that McDonald’s may just have a winner on its hands here.
The Fresh Bakery Tastes have been around in my area for over a year but have recently been introduced to other test markets across the country. Yes, once again, humble Amherst has been home to a test market and I had no idea. Luckily, I was sent a few coupons to try some of the new sweet treats. I thought the most interesting item, as well as the item most likely to be either amazing or horrible, were the vanilla bean scones. A set of three golf-ball sized scones runs you $1.89 and they come in a McCafe bag, doused in vanilla icing and speckled with vanilla bean. A strong aroma of vanilla and surprisingly, buttermilk, wafts from the bag.
The scones, as they are presented in a bag rather than a box, are none too worse for the wear and do not appear to get scuffed while bouncing around. Each has nooks and crannies for the glaze to settle in and they have a homemade lopsidedness which makes them charmingly idiosyncratic. The glaze is sweet but in my case, was applied conservatively and enhanced the base flavor of the scone without making it too sweet, like a more substantial glazed Munchkin. They absorb coffee without falling apart and have a dense, but fluffy texture, making them perfect for popping in the car without worrying about spraying crumbs all over the dashboard.
The flavor is a little mysterious to me. The base is very restrained in terms of sweetness and carries a pungent buttermilk flavor and scent, immediately tasting like a repurposed, albeit delicious moist biscuit without the powdery outer texture. If this is the case, it’s tasty and I honestly didn’t mind it, but it definitely doesn’t remind me of a scone, which has a a much more crumbly texture. However, it’s still a delicious breakfast treat and has more to it than the standard one-noted sweetness of the majority of fast food breakfast items. I’m holding out for a bacon and vanilla scone.

Pop Tarts Limited Edition Festival Fun Frosted Vanilla I-Scream Cone

I both simultaneously love and loathe fairs. I reserve a special place in my heart for fairs that center around one hyperspecific theme, like corn or apple dumplings. In fact, it’s the very same place I house my adoration for foil-wrapped chocolates with delicate designs, wet cats, and grainy footage of true crime caught on tape. When I encounter one of these themed fairs there’s only one goal in mind for me: eat everything. Potato Fair? Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick them in a stew while reciting terrible memes. Hot sauce fair? You can guarantee I’ve signed up for a donor tongue six months in advance. STD Fair? I’ll get them all.
And then there are those dinky fairs. These are the fairs that have a just-released ex-con making cotton candy with free embedded sugar cubes and rides on half-dead ponies if you’re lucky and don’t score the full-dead one. The best thing at these fairs is typically soft-serve ice cream or if all else fails, eating the entry ticket you came in with a scoop of pilfered nacho cheese. Recently I came across the latest limited edition Festival Fun Frosted Vanilla I-Scream Cone Pop Tarts, a fair-riffed lineup whose product line disappointingly does not include anything inspired by deep-fried/powdered sugared/cheese-stuffed/vomit-smeared anything.
This is apparently so limited edition that it doesn’t even exist on the Pop Tarts website. What does exist on their brilliantly insulting website is one bored web designer who apparently flunked Grammar 110. “Joylicious” still makes me want to bury my head in a Flannery O’Conner novel so I can remember that yes, I do no how 2 red @nd spel. I was originally going to review this for Nostalgia Week until I remembered that Pop Tarts were never really a part of my childhood. I both envied and pitied the kids who wound up with those in their lunchbox. So, here they are, along with the rest of the loveable rag-tag team of rebels that make up this site. The I-Scream Cone ‘Tarts consist of vanilla ice cream flavored filling, chocolate frosting with sprinkles, and a waffle cone base.
Cold, these taste rancid. All the flavors meld together into something that I imagine diabetes tastes like and the sprinkles leave a bitter aftertaste. Crumbly, flavorless crust, and the filling looks like something Krusty the Clown would leave behind in a bathroom stall. Strangely spongy and airy. It feels less substantial than most Pop Tarts I’ve had, and even I can’t believe I typed that phrase with a stone-cold straight face.
Toasted, these offer a little more in the ice cream flavor department. The outer shell is crispy, and it has a light, caramel-tinged toastiness that actually did a fairly good imitation of a waffle cone. Unfortunately, the icing burnt very easily and had a dry, crackly texture aided in no part by the mid-section, which had disappeared. So basically, your 190 calories buys you a burnt waffle cone flavor. Pop Tarts, I am disappoint.

Robert Rothschild Thai Plum Garlic Dipping Sauce

Today brought sunny skies, a productive afternoon, and an enormous package of Robert Rothschild sauces and snacks from Buyer’s Best Friend, quickly turning into Foodette’s Best Friend with the selection of goodies they tossed my way. Most of the package consisted of some awesome looking simmar sauces, one of which I immediately eyed as my conquest for tonight’s dinner. Thai Plum Garlic, you sultry devil. Once again, due to my inability to eke out more than three pages of dry academia in more than one sitting, I turned to cooking to ease the drudgery.
Tonight’s selection was a hodge-podge. I flirted with using a few other Asian ingredients to accentuate the sauce along with my cornmeal potstickers, but a brief tryst with sake-infused onions yielded no more than an awesome, creepy sci-fi photo and an overly sweet end product. Basil-infused garlic just seemed stupid. So, a few caramelized pearl onions and slices of pickled ginger later, I had my potsticker mixture in record time.
The sauce was really the highlight of the filling- it brought a sweet, yet pungent flavor to the chicken and really enhanced the ginger with a zippy chili flavor. Its texture was thick and bound everything together without the need for additional binder or liquid.
It wasn’t too sweet or salty, though, and had a quick lick of heat that inspired dipping the dumplings into the sauce even after using them in the mixture! A sign of a great condiment, for sure. While the dumplings weren’t perfect- I still have a ways to go with my wrapper recipe, the sauce definitely gave them that deliciously glutenous texture and flavor without having to order take-out.
Do you have any good tips for dumplings or best go-to grilling recipes? I have a ton of condiments to use now and I need all the tips I can get!

Grilled Queso Blanco and Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos

It’s Thursday. I’m at the tail end of Spring Break. And the only better thing I have to do tonight is watch Kramer vs. Kramer and write part of a term paper. Huzzuh! So, let’s be honest. Regular readers must be kind of annoyed that I’ve been lax on the reviews. New readers are all, “I’m looking for MiO and what is this” but I just can’t afford to give a damn or even half a damn. Not when there’s homemade salsa verde and 84 degree afternoons on the horizon.
So, once again, another faux-Mexican’t recipe from a girl who eats a lot of hot sauce. This time I’m hawking salsa verde that’s almost, kind of like the one your favorite- er, my favorite restaurant has in abundance and refuses to share the recipe for. It’s delicious. And I made tacos and topped them with grilled triangles of queso blanco and the tinny quintessential flavor of Texas Pete. Unofficially and illegally endorsed by Foodette Reviews!
Grilled Queso Blanco and Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
Ingredients (serves 2, three tacos apiece)
1/2 cup of salsa verde (recipe below)
2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
6 slices of queso fresco, cut into triangles
6 corn tortillas
Hot sauce to taste
1. Cut the chicken into small one-inch cubes and marinate in the salsa for thirty to sixty minutes.
2. Heat a medium grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high heat. Place the corn tortillas and cheese wedges on them for two minutes on each side, enough to get char marks on each side.

3. Grill the chicken until cooked and blackened slightly on each side and serve atop the tortillas, garnished with a little fresh salsa and hot sauce.
Salsa Verde
Ingredients (makes 4 cups)
1 avocado
1/2 large yellow onion
1 cup cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
1 lb of husked and quartered tomatillos
3 jalapeno peppers
1 squeezed lime’s worth of juice
1. Chop the onion and tomatillos and deseed the pepper.

2. Throw everything in a blender, pulse until smooth. Season to taste.
Try these and then you’ll believe me when I tell you that none of the three iterations of fresh salsa, chicken, and tortillas I’ve made in the last week along have had photo documentation due to gorging. You’ll see. You’ll all see.

Burger King’s New Chicken Strips and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ and Kung Pao Sauces

Now that the iconic fear-paralyzed face of the Burger King royalty is gone, who will usurp the noble throne? Built on ketchup slicks and nuggets seized from the crownius region of the chicken, the fast food restaurant has decreed a complete overhaul of its restaurants. My local BK, not a king, but not yet a lounge, has been partially remodeled but is stuck in a strange dead zone where the only recognizable theme is the leftover St. Patrick’s Day decorations from last week.
Aside from the new menu cards, BK has introduced a few new menu items, expanding to the cafe-style foods and coffee beverages to garner business from some of their obvious competition from Ronald the Court Jester. I guess if they play their cards right and assume that the law of gravity holds, it would be the most obvious and closest place for me to go for a mediocre frappe. But only if my Rascal stopped working and I had to…walk. Along with these, they’ve introduced a new chicken strip to go along with their new chicken tenders, released around this time next year. T’wasn’t the poultry that intrigued me, but rather, the debut of their two newest sauces, Kung Pao and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ, that carried me into my local establishment on this, the day of the newly released chicken strip.
Touting the strips in both a 3 and a 5 pack for $3.29 and $4.49, respectively, it works out to just over a dollar a strip if you’re going for the small pack. Not the most economical choice unless you’re just really, really into chicken strips. The strips are billed as being marinated and breaded in a seasoned coating, but eaten plain, salty, mediocre chicken was the only noticeable flavor. The breading was crisp, but lacked the crunchiness its counterparts have in abundance and clung closely to the chicken like a too-tight tube top on a girl making a duck face on Facebook. It was surprisingly devoid of oil, but left a very salty, onion-heavy aftertaste and had a bone-dry chewiness more appropriate on jerky than chicken. Only one of the strips was longer than a ballpoint pen and all were tough in texture. Hideously underwhelming, and they made me glad I’d anticipated the worst and bought a cheeseburger to eat instead.
I figured the sauces would be my saving grace for these strips, and let’s face it, they were really just a vehicle for them anyhow. Boasted as being “totally sweet” by my server, the new sauces don’t try to mimic anything I’ve seen from the competition. They blaze their own trail. The roasted jalapeno barbecue suffered from a lack of two things- enthusiasm and proper nomenclature. Assuming that titles as well as ingredients are listed in their order of amount from largest to smallest, I came into this carrying the expectation that “roasted jalapeno barbecue” would be peppers first and barbecue second. Not a chance, unfortunately. It was gummy and sweet when sampled on a spoon, with a heavy brown sugar assault and the clean, lingering bite of jalapeno peppers after. But eaten with the chicken strips or spread on a little bite of burger, the spiciness drowned in the rich ingredients that outnumbered it, leaving a generically sweet flavor with a touch of cayenne, like Sweet Baby Ray’s. I would have loved if there had been chunks of fresh pepper in this or even pickled rings.
The Kung Pao sauce, on the other hand, was perfectly executed and tasted like delicious, cheap Chinese takeout sauce with a more pronounced set of flavors. Hell, this even encompassed some of the cheaper takeout chicken sauces, at least around here. Wafting sharp, sweet pickled ginger aromas from the moment I opened the packet, I knew this would be a great addition to the sauce line. I’ll give it this- it completely blows McDonald’s Sweet Chili out of the water. This sauce had large pieces of ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes and brought an umami-laden depth to the traditional flavor profile of sweet and sour with an aggressive, lingering spice. Slightly tinny at first, but nothing repulsive. This was the only sauce we went back for seconds on.
I’m not typically crazy about fast food chicken as I’ve started making my own nuggets at home, but the new sauces are unique enough that I’d definitely consider getting the Kung Pao if I were ever at a loss for condiments around the house. Not that that will ever happen, but it’s a pleasant deviation from the standard ketchup ‘n’ mustard set.