What'cha Cookin' Challenge recipe: Pesto Mexicano and Oh My Pie



Posted on November 17, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 4:22 PM

Tammy Dionne / What'cha Cookin' Challenge Winner

Although, this dish looks like a lot of work, it's not. You'll most likely have many of the ingredients on hand. I broke each step down for better understanding.

This dish has been a winner each time I've made it. You can substitute chicken for shrimp. Or, if you prefer all veggie, you can add sliced zucchini and omit the chicken. There is so much you can do with this recipe by following some of the basic steps, such as the bechamel sauce. I promise, if you make this for a gathering, you will have a lot of happy fans:)

Watch Tammy Dionne's entry video.

See Behind-the-Scenes photos on the WWL TV Morning Show Facebook page.


Pesto Mexicano

2 lbs chicken breasts

16 oz sliced mushrooms

6-8 Poblano peppers

1 - 1 1/2 lbs Tomatillos

1 box (16oz) Lasagna noodles - No Boil recipe

16 oz Sour Cream

5 oz 3 Cheese Italian Blend (Parmesan, Asiago & Romano)

2 8 oz packages Mozzarella cheese

2 8 oz packages Monterey Jack cheese

1 stick plus 2 tbls Unsalted Butter (2 tbls is to brown chicken in)

1/2 cup All Purpose Flour

3 1/2 cups Milk (can be whole or 2%)

1/4 cup Olive Oil

2 Limes

2 bunches Cilantro

1 Medium Onion (any variety)

4 Cloves Garlic

1 tsp Dried Thyme

1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

2 tsp Black pepper

2 - 3 tsp Kosher Salt


Step 1: Marinated Chicken Breasts

Cut up chicken breasts and place in large freezer bag.

Squeeze the juice of 2 limes in the bag.

Add olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp black pepper.

Massage closed bag and place in fridge. Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight for more intense flavor.

Step 2: Browned Chicken

Once chicken has marinated, melt 2 tbls butter in a non stick skillet.

Turn heat on high, once skillet is hot, add chicken and brown.

You can cover to keep some moisture in.

Cool, chop, set aside. Don't worry if the chicken is not completely cooked, because it will finish cooking in the oven once the lasagna is prepared.

Step 3: Roasted Pablano Peppers and Tomatillos

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place rinsed poblano peppers and tomatillos on sheet of tin foil (one less dish).

Sprinkle with salt and roast in oven for about 30 minutes.

Once cooled, open peppers and remove seeds and stems. You can remove the skin if you'd like, but it's not necessary.

Remove cores from tomatillos.

** The poblano pepper is a mild Mexican pepper. It's not nearly as spicy as a jalapeno pepper.

Step 4: Mexican Pesto

You will need a food processor for this step.

Place all of the following in your food processor and blend until it's finely chopped (looks like Pesto!):

  • Roasted poblano peppers
  • Tomatillos
  • Chopped onion
  • Garlic
  • 1 big bunch of cilantro
  • A sprinkle of salt.

Step 5: Cheesy Bechamel Sauce

On medium heat, melt 1 stick unsalted butter in dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet.

Add flour and whisk until smooth.

After about 6-8 minutes, add the milk one cup at a time and continue whisking.

Once all the milk has been incorporated, add the sour cream, three cheese Italian Blend, thyme, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.

Add the Mexican Pesto mixture and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Step 6: Lasagna Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

When layering, leave some room at the top of pan for extra cheese and mushrooms at the end of baking.

In a deep lasagna pan, put a generous portion of the bechamel sauce at the bottom of pan.

Then to that, prepare the following in order and repeat:

  • Lasagna noodles
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Chopped chicken
  • Bechamel sauce
  • Cheese blend (Mozzarella and Monterey Jack)

Make the bechamel the top layer.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hr and 15 min.

Remove foil, add extra cheese and mushrooms.

Turn broiler on high and broil until cheese is bubbly.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.


Oh My Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust

1 pint pecan praline ice cream

1 8 oz. tub cool whip

1/2 cup caramel topping (I used Hershey's brand)

2 packages of pralines


Set the ice cream on counter to soften.

Once softened, spoon into large bowl.

Add the entire tub of cool whip, caramel and broken pieces of 1 package of the pralines.

Mix well and pour into graham cracker crust.

Put lid on and freeze.

Once frozen, break up pieces of the other package of pralines and put on top of pie.

Drizzle more caramel on top. Enjoy!