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March 29, 2012

Fast and Easy Enchiladas


I threw together some scrumptious enchiladas in about 10 minutes last night. 

Love me some leftover taco meat. 


This recipe is a great way to make it stretch and feed the entire family another delicious meal.

They were really creamy with great flavor.


I used a combination of 1/3 less fat and fat free cream cheese.


I also used cheddar and queso fresco, but very little of each. 


Not so pretty, but here's the way I like to eat mine. Smothered!
And don't forget a squeeze of fresh lime.



Fast and Easy Enchiladas
Makes 6-8 enchiladas depending on shell size

1 1/2 cups taco meat
1 16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz. 1/3 less fat or fat free cream cheese, divided use
1 10 oz can green enchilada sauce
1/3 cup green taco sauce
1 oz cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp Queso Fresco, crumbled
Garlic powder
Red pepper flakes
Flour or corn tortillas

Heat oven to 375*.

Heat up taco meat in a skillet; add beans and 3 oz. of cream cheese, stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat.

Wrap tortillas in a kitchen towel and warm in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Fill the shells down the middle with bean mixture, fold in sides and roll. Place in a 9x11 inch greased baking dish.

Using the same skillet over medium heat, stir together enchilada sauce, taco sauce and remaining 3 oz. of cream cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

Pour over enchiladas and top with cheddar and queso cheese. Lightly shake on garlic powder and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serve with toppings of your choice.

NOTE:  If you don’t have leftover taco meat you can either use this one (leaving out tomatillo sauce), follow your favorite taco recipe or just add seasonings like cumin, adobo, chili powder, garlic or garlic powder (I sometimes use both), oregano, salt and pepper.

March 28, 2012

Baked Talapia Fish Tacos


These Fish Tacos are super simple. 

They aren't breaded so they're low in fat, with huge flavor. 
Especially served with my lightly dressed Coleslaw and Creamy Chipotle Spread.



I don't have measurements for the spices but it's really more to taste. 
Just sprinkle on what you think you would like.

I make them all the time because, not only are they fast and easy, 
they are definitely a family favorite.



Prepare coleslaw and set aside (recipe below).

Lay your talapia, or white fish of choice, out on a baking sheet with a greased wire rack. 

Season fish on both sides with a drizzle of lime juice, cumin, chili powder, 
smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. 

Cook in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on size of filets, 
or until they flake nicely with a fork. Don't overcook, they don't take very long. 
(I've also cooked them in a skillet with a little olive oil.)


Once the filets are cooked, place them on top of a warmed corn tortilla spread with Creamy Chipotle Spread and Coleslaw, add a squirt of lime juice and some avocado.

That's it! Super simple and super delicious!



Coleslaw

2 cups slaw mix
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp celery seed
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and Black Pepper

Whisk all ingredients but slaw mix in a medium size bowl. Add slaw mix and toss to coat. Let sit for 5 minutes or so before using.


March 26, 2012

We're not in Kansas anymore


We just got back from Kansas City.

My hubby works from home as a "Freight Agent" and did so well last year, that we got invited to the awards weekend. 

This is our second time in the last couple of years, and both times have been a lot of fun.

They set us up at the Hilton Doubletree and pretty much supplied whatever we needed.

 On our down time, we ended up going out to lunch here.


It's a place called Grinders.

When ever we go out of town, we always search for places that Guy Fieri has visited doing his 
"Diners, Drive-inns and Dives" tv show. This is the first time we have actually been able to find one. I was excited.

I had seen this pizza on the show and thought "man I want to try that".

So I did, and it was AMAZING.


It's called the "Bengal Tiger" and was inspired by the flavors of Northwest India. 
This pie starts with a rich green sauce topped with tandori chicken, real crab meat, and the unique flavor of hearts of palm and cilantro. 
I ate it with sliced pepperoncinis which only added to this pizza's "deliciousness" perfectly.
Definitely a "must try" if you ever get the chance. 


They were having a special on Bloody Mary's at the time so that was a given. 
They were really good.



I tried to get some good pictures of the place, but my camera wasn't cooperating and it had nothing to do with the Bloody Mary.


Would definitely go back again.  If you have kids with you, they have a "Grinders West" that is right beside this one and is more family friendly.


We also checked out the River Market downtown.


It was more like a drive by, but it looked like it would be fun to investigate.

We were on a mission to somewhere else.


Guess which way we turned.


It was too close not to check it out.


Didn't stay very long. Luck was not our friend that day.


Look what we returned to when we got home. 


Azaleas in full bloom. Gorgeous!

March 22, 2012

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I'm getting ready to head out of town for an awards ceremony for my hubby's job (yea him), 
but wanted to get this recipe out to you. 

There are lots of good versions out there and this is one of them.



I fixed it for lunch the other day and it was so very tasty. 
Great flavors and textures,,,,and low in fat. What's not to like!

Linked-up with Rattlebridge Farm: Foodie Friday and Jennifer Cooks: Fusion Friday.


Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

4 chicken breast fillets
4 green onions
1/2 cup minced water chestnuts 
1 head butter lettuce

Stir Fry Sauce
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup tamari sauce
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp dried chives
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp finely minced ginger

Garnish
Fried bean threads
Shredded carrots

Directions

To prepare the stir fry sauce dissolve cornstarch in the water. Place in a small saucepan along with remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, or until thickened.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts and cook until done, 3-5 minutes on each side. (Don’t overcook, the chicken will have additional cook time after you chop it.)  

Remove the cooked chicken breast to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Add the chicken back into the same pan over medium heat, and add the water chestnuts. Heat through.

Add 5 tablespoons of the stir fry sauce to the chicken and cook for 2-4 minutes, stirring often. Add the sliced green onions and stir.

To serve: Place a small layer of bean threads on the lettuce leaf then spoon on chicken. Top with shredded carrot and parsley. Use remainder of stir fry sauce for dipping, if desired.

Note:  Bean threads can be found in the Asian food section of your supermarket.
Before using as a garnish, the threads must be flash-fried in a skillet in 2 inches of hot vegetable oil. Follow directions on package.


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March 19, 2012

Baked Beans

Kathryn, one of my grandbabies, turned 1 year old on St. Patrick's Day, so we had us a little get together.


Here she is with her momma, Chelsea. Chelsea is my baby girl.


This is all my girls together. 
Kathryn is in awe of her older sister, Kasidee.


We kept the food super simple by just throwing some hot dogs on the grill, some chips and baked beans.



This post is actually to tell you about the baked beans (I couldn't resist showing off my girls). 
They were absolutely DELICIOUS! Seriously, some of best I've ever tasted. 
I think the chili powder and the chili beans in sauce, blended great with the sweetness of the bbq sauce and  added a great depth of flavor.


Isn't she beautiful, dirty mouth and all.


Kathryn got her very own cake. We didn't let her eat a lot of it, which is a good thing, 
because what she did eat gave her quite the sugar high for a while.


She's such a sweety.


I made a Strawberry Cake for everyone else.
It had a wonderful fresh strawberry flavor, but it was a little too dense, almost more bread like.
This will be one that I'm going to keep working on to get a lighter texture because it sure was delicious.





Baked Beans

1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp molasses
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 (16 ounce) pork and beans, undrained
1 (16 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans in sauce, drained (do not rinse)

Directions
Heat oven to 350*.

In a large skillet cook bacon, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

In the same skillet, drain part of the grease and cook the onion with a pinch of salt until it gets some color and is tender. Add the garlic and continue to cook 2-3 minutes. Place onion mixture into a large bowl and mix with all other ingredients, except beans and bacon, mixing well, then stir in beans and bacon.

Place in a greased 2-1/2-qt. casserole and bake covered for 40 minutes, uncover and cook an additional 25-30 minutes.

NOTE:  Make sure you pay attention to the cans of beans. To drain or not to drain,,,,,that's the question.


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March 17, 2012

Cherry Tomato, Artichoke and Bacon Pasta

Have you ever thrown together a pasta dish that turned out "jaw dropping" delicious.




This is one of those. It took a lot of will power to stop when I was full, (ok, soon after I was full).

Super simple and irresistible!

We ate it with leftover Spicy Garlic Bread drizzled with olive oil and toasted under the broiler for a few minutes. Yum. Could tell the rest of this bread is going to make amazing croutons.


I actually cooked the bacon first, removed it to a plate and reserved some of the bacon grease. 
Add some olive oil and saute the onions, red peppers, 
red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper.


Next, add the cherry tomatoes. Once they start to soften and color add the artichokes.


Give them a good stir and heat through.


I could eat this on toast,, or as is.


Add the cooked pasta, cheese, bacon and parsley. Give it a good toss and add some pasta water to loosen sauce.


Perfection!!





Cherry Tomato, Artichoke and Bacon Pasta

1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti
3 slices of thick bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente.

Cook bacon in a large skillet; remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Remove all but 2 tsp of bacon grease and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Saute onion, red pepper, garlic,  pepper flakes, salt and pepper over medium heat until onions and peppers start to soften and color. Add cherry tomatoes and continue cooking until tomatoes start to color and soften. And artichoke hearts and warm through.

Remove pasta from water and add to skillet (bringing a little water with it is good). Reserve 1 cup pasta water for later use.

Add bacon, parmesan cheese and parsley, tossing to mix. Add reserved pasta water to loosen sauce if desired. I used apprx. 2/3 cup.

Serve with additional parmesan and parsley for garnish.


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March 15, 2012

Spicy Garlic Bread in a Pot


I came across this bread browsing Pinterest. The fact that it is baked in a pot intrigued me. 
That and the variety of delicious flavors you can add to it. 
Also liked the idea of a little spice from the red pepper flakes. 
Definitely had to give it a try.

It turned out full of flavor with very little hands-on time. 

I ended up using fresh rosemary, because I have a plant in the backyard that's good year around. 
I also added chives, because when I was out back getting the rosemary, I saw about a dozen chives stems that had come up out of a pot I had planted last year. SCORE! 
The red pepper flakes were a given...and the garlic.


Cooking the bread in a heavy pot with olive oil gives it a thick crispy
 crust with great texture on the inside.


I made it to serve up with some leftover Chicken Breasts in Poblano Sauce 
I made for supper the other night. Really good!

Spicy Garlic Bread in a Pot

1 cup of warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
Pinch of granulated sugar
4 ounces butter, (1 stick) melted
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh Rosemary
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
3/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil, coarse sea salt, and chili flakes for topping

Add a pinch of sugar to the warm water and stir; sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.  If yeast does not foam and froth after 5 minutes, toss it and start over again with new yeast.

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Remove from the heat and add herbs, chili flake, and garlic.  Set aside.

Place flour in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a bread hook.  Add salt and pepper.  Pour in activated yeast mixture, and butter mixture.  Stir on low speed, with the dough hook, for about 10 minutes.  The dough ball should clean the sides of the bowl and not stick to the bottom of the mixing bowl.  The dough will be relatively smooth and supple, with some firmness from the bread flour.

Place dough in a large greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

When dough has doubled in size, place on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 2 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, add about 2 tablespoons olive oil, to coat the bottom of the pot.  Place dough in pot and use a large knife to slice a fairly deep cross into the dough.  Drizzle about 3 more tablespoons of olive oil atop the bread.  Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and red pepper flakes.

Cover with tight fitting lid and bake for 30 minutes.  Reduce oven heat to 400 degrees F, remove lid, and allow to bake for about 15-20 minutes more.

Remove from oven and allow to cool until easily removed from the pan.  Bread will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 3 days.

Adapted slightly from Joy the Baker via  Pioneer Woman Cooks.  


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March 14, 2012

Chicken Breasts in Poblano Sauce




I made this for supper last night and ,oh my my did the family enjoy it. 
Everything about it was good. 
Easy to prepare, great flavorful and fast. Oh, and BONUS!!! Did I mention it's low fat.


I served it along side these noodles.

Hubby and I went to Branson, Mo. this past weekend to attend the annual 
Victory Campaign which is held at Keith Moore's "Faith Life Church". 
Kenneth and Gloria Copeland teach, and it is amazing!!!

Anyway, we ended up going to this Amish Country Store that was so cool. They carried all kinds of foods, spices, syrups and even furniture. It was great. 

We didn't get a ton of stuff, but we did get these 2 packages of noodles, along with some fantastic honey and blueberry syrup. I thought this dish would go great with the 
Garlic-Parsley noodles. It did!



I made this Spicy Garlic Bread too. Went great with the poblano sauce.

 I even actually splurged for the Manchego cheese, which was great, but you could easily substitute a good Parmesan or Ramano. 


The Poblano sauce was scrumptious and could be used about a 1000 other ways. After it's pureed, just throw it in a saucepan to cook and thicken up.


Once the chicken breasts are browned on both sides, place them in a baking dish, cover with the sauce and sprinkle on the cheese. Then bake and,,,,,,


Waaa-Laaa! Great meal prepared in minutes.


Chicken Breasts in Poblano Sauce

2 to 3 medium poblano peppers, seeded and stemmed, chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
A small handful parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tsp honey
Squirt of lime juice
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons flour, rounded
1 cup milk
1/2 cup fat free half and half (cream if desired)
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 oz shredded Manchego cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine peppers with stock, onions, garlic, parsley, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper, purée. In a saucepot over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. Whisk in flour; add milk and half and half (cream can be used if desired), and raise heat a bit. Add poblano purée and simmer to thicken and cook sauce, 20-25 minutes. Taste for seasoning but remember, the cheese with add some saltiness.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 remaining tablespoon butter and melt. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper; brown 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer to casserole dish, spread poblano sauce over the top and cover with cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on size of chicken pieces – it should be brown and bubbly on top. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Great served with noodles or rice and charred flat bread or tortillas. 

Adapted from a recipe I saw on Rachel Ray


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March 12, 2012

Lightened-Up Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice Baked Potatoes are so good, but most the time, I can't justify all the extra fat and calories. That's why I came up with these.


I know these don't have a bunch of extra ingredients, in fact, I kept it very simple. 
They turned out delicious. Chives on top would have been good.

I used fat free half-n-half and fat free sour cream. The cheese is regular "sharp cheddar", 
because let's face it, reduced fat just does not compare, IMO. 
I also used some butter, but only a little.


Save the piece you cut from the top of the potato, sprinkle it with cheese and bake it with the other potatoes. It turns out crispy and cheesy. Kasidee, one of my grandbabies, chose to eat those instead of the potatoes.

Twice Baked Potatoes

5 large russet baking potatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/4-1/3 cup fat free half and half, depending on size of potatoes
2 tbsp of butter
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated and divided
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375*.

Clean and dry potatoes; brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Pierce 2-3 times with a fork on each side. Bake directly on oven rack for 50-60 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and cool.

Slice off one side of the potato. Don't throw it away. The slice will be the skin with a thin layer of potato covering. Think potato skin.

With a spoon, carefully remove the inside of the potato. Don't try to completely empty out the skin, leave about 1/4 inch layer of potato so they don't fall apart.

Using a potato masher, mash potato with sour cream, half and half, butter, 1/2 cup cheese, salt and pepper (taste for seasonings). Fill potato shells with the mixture and top both the potatoes and the reserved potato skins with additional cheese. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Top with chives if desired.

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March 7, 2012

Buffalo Ranch Turkey Burgers



These burgers were delicious. 

These have a great bold flavor and just a hint of heat. 
Will definitely keep this recipe around.


Buffalo Ranch Turkey Burgers

1 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tsp Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into 4 or 5 patties.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add olive oil and cook burgers about 4-6 minutes per side or until cooked through and no longer pink.

Serve on a toasted bun with Buffalo Mayonnaise:
1/3 c. mayo, 1 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce, 1-2 tsp honey, squirt of lime (optional) and a pinch of cayenne pepper. 

I like to add dill pickle slices, raw onion and lettuce. Oh, and a squirt of ketchup too, but that's just me.




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March 5, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

I know there are a lot of different versions of coconut cream pie out there, 
but this is my absolute favorite.


Back in 1965, we  moved from North Carolina to Gillette, Wyoming, where my dad 
opened up a sport shop with a sandwich bar. Long story short, it ended up 
becoming a restaurant and my mom cooked all the desserts (in the beginning anyway). 
She was and is a wonderful cook, and this was the coconut cream pie recipe she used.


Sometimes the tried and true old ones are the best!

Linked with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday.

Coconut Cream Pie

3/4 cup sugar, divided use
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, rounded
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flaked coconut
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked

In a medium saucepan, combine ½ cup sugar, flour and salt over a medium heat; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture is slightly thickened. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture into 3 egg yolks, (reserving egg whites for meringue); add the yolks into the saucepan and continue cooking until thick. Remove from heat and add coconut and vanilla. Pour into baked pie shell.

Meringue:
Beat egg whites until frothy. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar and continuing beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over pie filling and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. You can sprinkle the meringue with a little coconut before you cook it if desired. Let cool before serving. I like mine cold so I refrigerate it before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

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March 2, 2012

Blackberry Sauce

I saw a lovely box of blackberries the other day at Sams and had to have them.

I took them home, washed em, ate a few (commenting on how good they were), and put them in the fridge.

There they sat, for 4 days, until I discovered them this morning. They needed used up or they were going to end up in the trash.


That's why I made this super simple sauce. 
It's a great way to use up berries that have been mistreated, I mean overlooked.


Doesn't this look good,,,,,,and your right, it really is scrumptious.

You can easily adjust the recipe depending on how much you have, 
 how sweet the berries are or how sweet you like your sauce.

2 cups of berries
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water
pinch of salt
2 tbsp orange liqueur
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Simmer the berries, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan on low heat, until the berries break down. Taste to determine if it needs more sugar.

Blend the berry mixture and strain. Stir in the liqueur and lemon juice.

Enjoy as an ice cream topper or on waffles and pancakes. You could even reduce it with balsamic and use it as a sauce for pork or chicken.

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