Enchiladas revisited

its one of my favorite times of the year.  We’re getting the garden ready.  I’ve got plants sprouting in my sunroom, ready to be relocated, and the thunderstorms bring all that wonderful rain.  I just finished assembling a modified enchilada dish, and I’m sitting in my sunroom with my windows open, listening to the birds In the forest, and smelling the rain.  I just heard a frog a little while ago, and that is such a wonderful feeling, that I was grinning the whole time he was calling.  

When it rains, I get contemplative, and it never hurts to sit for a bit and not do anything.  Of course, my cat, Chester, views this as a monumental waste of time, when I could be doing important things, like petting him.

  
Between being told I have Carpal Tunnel by my doctor and having a bad situation happening in my husbands family, it has just been a little crazy here lately.  

Tax season has ended, and the husband is now home for dinner, so I’ve started trying the stuff I either haven’t made in a while, or wanted to fiddle with.

We had grilled chicken breasts earlier this week, keeping in mind we’d be using them for dinner later on.

I followed the guidelines from a recipe I linked to a while ago, that’s in my archives.  It was a good base, but I decided to just use what I had in the fridge and go from there.

I cubed the chicken after taking it of the bone.  I had one large chicken breast.  

I chopped about 1/2 a green pepper and about 1/4 cup of Vidalia onion and threw them all into a nonstick pot with olive oil.  After everything was warm, I sprinkled about 1 teaspoon each of chili powder and taco seasoning over the mixture.  

I stirred that for a minute and added about 1/2 cup of medium peach salsa, and about 1/3 cup of taco sauce, along with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, and  a sizeabe dollop of cheesy quest sauce.   Stir like made when everything starts melting, and I ended up with this lovely smelling mess.

I also threw I. Some random sweet corn my husband had cooked with some Mexican spices and sliced garlic for an earlier meal.

 
Spray a sizable glass baking dish (9×13?), and spooned this mixture into tortillas, rolling and placing seam side down as I went.  Ended up with 6 fitting in there.  Drizzled with taco sauce, covered with more peach salsa, and then spooned some homemade jalapeño salsa on for my husband.  I threw on some leftover Asiago cheese, and then covered the whole mess with about 1/2 a lb of shredded cheddar and sprinkled with taco seasoning.

  
Bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes, until cheese is golden.  I like mine with crunchy bits but husband likes it more stringy.

 

Sweet, tangy, a little spicy, and really good! 

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Garlic Butter

One of the things I always have in my fridge is a batch of homemade garlic butter. My husband asked me to make a batch while we were cooking at his parents, and his mother asked “what would you even put it on?” I answered “we put it on everything!” Responses like this are why I tend to get “looks” from my mother-in-law sometimes. I know I am a little crazy/weird, but my husband assures me repeatedly he does not mind.

I have a confession to make…

WE ARE A GARLIC HOUSEHOLD!

There I said it. We don’t shy from garlic. We embrace it (figuratively, or I would need stronger deodorant) and lavish it upon our food with great enthusiasm.

The possibilities are only what you can imagine. My mother would put it on her bake potatoes, rolls, rice, mashed potatoes, throw a dollop in with cooking veggies or in soup. I once encountered a packet of Ramen Noodles sold in New Zealand where a packet of garlic butter was included with the noodles and seasoning. So now, I throw in a dollop if I am making Ramen.

The biggest use for garlic butter is garlic bread!

We have a pizzeria nearby with great bread, and you can by the big loaves for a dollar. My dad will get me 4 or 5 and I do one of three things.
1) Freeze them. I love having bread I can defrost in the microwave for 30 seconds. It does get soggy, but this is not a problem as I bake the bread.

2) Dry the bread for making homemade seasoned bread crumbs

3) Make garlic croutons. I cube the bread, toss it with some melted garlic butter and bake it. Amusingly enough, the croutons never make it onto salads, because my family will eat them out of the container like chex mix.

Garlic butter is entirely customizable. About the only thing that is a requirement is butter, and of course, garlic, but then again, maybe not!

I adapted this from a few recipes I saw once into the following:

1 cup of soft spread butter or margarine
1/4 cup shredded cheese (Parmesan works)
3 Tablespoons minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 Teaspoon Oregano

Now, I don’t always have shaker cheese around, so I use what I have on hand. Sometimes I have added parsley, rosemary, asiago cheese, and anything I feel like adding at the time. Paprika is also a good choice or if you want your butter a little spicier, cayenne pepper works too.

I can’t post a picture because my husband just used the last of the garlic butter on some homemade dough for garlic bread to go with our pizza. I will post a picture of the garlic bread though here shortly!

Bleu Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

So once again, I was left to my own devices nearing towards dinner time as my hubby went out to inspect a tractor he was debating on purchasing from a friend’s father. I was hoping to relax tonight through cooking, since I have off tomorrow and today (this whole week rather. Heck, lets call it the whole month) has been a bit stressful. As I have mentioned before, the more I stress, the more I tend to stress cook. Sure I stress eat with the best of them, but I tend to cook more elaborately when I am trying to relieve pressure. Unfortunately, I also can get frustrated easily if a recipe doesn’t go right.

Drink!

Tonight, I decided to take it easy. I mixed up 1 of the small shots (hubby says maybe 3/4 oz) of Whipped Cream Vodka from Pinnacle, and two of the smaller shots of Peach Schnapps, and then added a whole can of coke and stirred. This tends to be my favorite drink, and it helps me relax when I am cooking to relax. (Note, I don’t do this on a regular basis, please don’t think I am a lush!)

I decided to make my comfort food plate. This is the standard fall-back whenever I am feeling a little blue.

Basically, fried green beans, crunchy onion chicken, and some other side, along with some baked tomato spread bread.

Fried Green beans I will post next with the Crunchy onion chicken. I decided to do tonights side as Bleu Cheese stuffed mushrooms after realizing that my mushrooms would go bad within the next two days. I didn’t start with a recipe, so this is my first attempt and I rather just threw many things into a bowl.

I picked out 6 of my biggest mushrooms, and chopped about 3 of their stems into little pieces and threw them into the bowl. To this I added about 4 oz. of cream cheese and about 1/8-1/4 cup of bleu cheese, mostly some of the bigger chunks in the bowl I had from the store salad aisle. I added also about 1/4 cup seasoned italian bread crumbs, and then threw in some beef broth that I had that needed used up until it was moist. Then I started to stir. If I do this again, I am using my mixture. Since I hadn’t let the cream cheese warm, it was a little harder to mix with a fork. I seasoned the mixture with sea salt, pepper, minced garlic (about 1/2 teaspoon) and a dash of some of my favorite spices. Mostly only a bit of Emeril’s (sp?) and a dash of Oregano. As I was mixing, I would toss in more broth if the mixture got dry.

I stuffed as much as I could into each mushroom, popped them in a high-sided greased baking dish and tossed them in the 375 F oven with the chicken. I hadn’t defrosted my chicken as much as I should have and I wanted it crunch, so everything was in there for about 40 mins. I took the mushrooms out a little before when the cheese got bubbly.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before my husband started devouring them, but he assured me that the mushrooms were really good. I take this in good faith as he usually doesn’t like bleu cheese on his salad or much of anything. They had the lovely bleu flavor without being overwhelming.

Roasted Tomato Mushroom Bruschetta

It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m feeling rather antsy as I putter around the house by myself.  My husband went on a bike ride as he has been feeling antsy in his own way as well.  I’m alone, I’m bored, and I’m hungry.  Some of the best (and worst) things have come out of my kitchen when I’m in a mood such as this.  I hate to say it, but being alone tends to contribute as well.  My husband hates fresh tomatoes *gasp, shock outrage* and I adore tomatoes in almost every form.  When I was little, I was famous for eating them green off the plant and not getting sick.

Tonight I decided to try something similar to something I had seen out of the corner of my eye on some random cooking show.  Random, isn’t it?

I decided to make roasted bruschetta.  I first took mushrooms and chopped them somewhere between fine and sliced.  To this, I added sliced tomatoes, and then sliced garlic cloves.  Now the garlic was sliced so that it wouldn’t burn such as smaller pieces would.  I then covered them with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil.  I moved them around a bit to make sure they were evenly coated.

My oven has this lovely convection roasting setting, so I popped that on and cooked them at 10 minute intervals, as I was unsure of timing.  Ended up being about 35 minutes in the oven. Everything came out looking scrumptious, now I just needed some bread!

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I had some leftover dinner rolls from a previous post- I sliced them in half and treated them with a recent purchase from a vineyard store in San Diego: Garlic Olive oil.  IMG_0208

This is very much one of my favorite cooking oils.  I brushed this over the bread and broiled it for about 2 minutes (watch this carefully two minutes is near burnt (I like mine crunchy).  Towards the end, I sprinkled each slice with about ½ teaspoon shredded parmesan because, seriously, you gotta have cheese.

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While I was doing this, the tomatoes had a chance to cool.  I them dumped them on my über chopping board and sliced them into chunks.  I then poured this into a serving bowl along with the drippings from the bowl- (garlic essence anyone?) I then went to my garden and grabbed some herbs I thought would add some good flavor.  I favor Italian Parsley for things such as this, and for some reason, I grabbed a stalk from my lemon grass.

Both were chopped and mixed with the tomato mixture.  Bread came out of the oven and I arranged the slices on a platter around the tomato mixture after they had a chance to cool.  I ended up eating this with a modified Shirley Temple (meaning there was a tiny bit of Whipped Cream Vodka in it) and my husband found me by following the moans as I was eating in my office when he got home.

So scrumdiddlyumptious!

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Cornbread Casserole

When I hear the word “casserole” in a recipe title, I am always a bit hesitant. It always draws up images of leftovers longing to be included in one final culinary adventure before they are either biffed or eaten forever. I usually only make a taco casserole I lifted off a Campbell Tomato Soup can years ago. Years ago, I saw a picture where someone had used a corn bread mix in a crock pot. I know others still have used them in casserole dishes. I looked at a recipe I found on Allrecipes  for about three seconds and decided to make my own with a few tips from the above link.

First, I discussed with my mum what we would put in it. She made the marvelous suggestion of corn. I then promptly forgot it while I was making the dish, but I vow it will make it into the next round!
Usually, when my husband or I try something new, we ask the other what they would change. I got a resounding “nothing” out of my hubby on this one.
I wanted to make it semi healthy- so here is what happened.

I cooked a cup of brown rice according to directions. I opened and rinsed a can of black beans and mixed the two together. To this mixture gastronomic delight I added about ½ cup salsa and 1/ 4 cup taco sauce to make sure it was moist. I used a mixture of mild & medium salsa, do what you like for taste. I spread this over the bottom of a 9×13 greased dish.

Next, I fried some onions and a few canned banana pepper slices in some olive oil and threw in the leftover ½ pound of taco meat I had in the fridge. Once everything was heated I spread this over the rice and bean mixture. I dished a little more salsa on top and threw on a handful of cheese for fun.
The kicker here is the one thing I borrowed from the recipe link above- I mixed about a cup of cheese into a boxed cornbread mix. It was phenomenal! I will add more cheese next time (the original recipe said a bag of a Kraft mix from the store). Spread this mixture on top. I baked 425F for ten minutes, then dropped the temp down to 400F for another ten. I’d say you could do the whole thing for an even 375 to 00F for about 20 to 25 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick in the cornbread comes out clean. I waited until mine had a golden tinge to the top.

The casserole had a tinge of spice without overdoing it, and the sweetness of the cornbread brought it together!
While I was so busy stuffing my face, I forgot to take a picture of the casserole. What follows is when I was packing it away for tomorrow. Since the picture of the leftovers looks so awesome, I figure that the actual picture of the casserole would have been too epic to post here. I have to say that this is one of the best recipes I have ever made, let alone pulled out of (insert term for dark place here), especially for a first try. I followed my gut.

Corn Bread Casserole

(Forget tooting the horn, I think I blew it up)
My hubby preferred it without, but I thought that a dab of fat free sour cream finished the casserole perfectly. We had it with a salad.
Change it to the level of spiciness you like for a tasty and somewhat healthy casserole!

Chicken Enchiladas Remade!

So I have been wanting to make enchiladas for some time now.  My hubby works long hours during tax season & I am always on the lookout for something that makes extras and either keeps or freezes well.   Hubby pillages the fridge for his lunch & dinner away from home, and the cycle continues.

I went searching for a chicken enchilada recipe with a few criteria:

1. I have all the ingredients.  I live 50 minutes away from the nearest grocery store, so I wasn’t planning on going shopping. 

2. It not be spicy.  My mother never spiced anything due to my father’s food preferences, so I was unable to even handle black pepper before meeting my husband.  Shocking, I know.  He has been slowly introducing me to new flavors and spices.  I have especially developed a taste for Old Bay seasoning on my fries and Indian food.  Keep in mind, I’m still on the mild setting but I am working my way up!  Kudos to Mary here for giving me straight wasabi to try.  I’m pretty sure I lost about 1/3 of my taste buds that day.  Glad it was entertaining.

Moving on!

I found a recipe that I liked and it didn’t use enchiladas sauce (gasp!) because I didn’t have any! 

I decided to ignore my instincts and follow the recipe.  I know, when you start cooking, they tell you to follow everything.  Well, I’ve never done that, & I’m told my stuff usually comes out better if I do what I think should be done to enhance a dish.  All in all, I really liked this recipe.  I got that lovely authentic flavor without having to buy the more enchilada specific ingredients.  Best of all, my husband adored it!  I got a special email message that day telling me he really liked the dish and that I should keep the recipe for later. 

What happened to the original recipe?  Did she follow it exactly?  Tune in after commercials to find out!

So I am following the recipe until I get to the part about the water.  At this point, with the addition of the tomato sauce, I’ve got a really loose sauce.  I was already wondering why we were using tomato sauce instead of salsa.  I believe salsa would add the required tomato flavor and help tighten.  However, I went ahead and added the water.  I ended up with chicken soup.  I brought it up to a boil to try and reduce some of the water.  In the end, I had to use a slotted spoon to scoop my chicken mixture into my taco shells and I had lots leftover.

However, there was a bright spot the leftover sauce was really yummy and it tightened as it cooled due to the sour cream.  I served it over the rice side (in reality, chicken Rice-a-Roni) and it turned out as that extra thing the rice needed to fit in.

Now, onto the changes!

What would I do differently next time? 

(1) I would perhaps substitute half of the tomato sauce for salsa, if not omit it entirely.

(2) I used fat-free sour cream, because I try to make things healthier anyway I can without sacrificing taste.

(3) I didn’t have chili powder!  I know, this might seem a sin to some, but my husband uses it so much that we were out, and I hadn’t had a chance to run to the Amish store to buy my spices in bulk.  So I ended up adding a bunch of taco seasoning!  Worked out great!  I think I got a better flavor.

(4)  I ended up adding about 1/4 cup salsa to the chicken tomato sauce mixture because I wanted that flavor in there.

Side Note:  I have  a pet peeve involving spices bought at supermarkets.  They are so expensive!  So, I happen to be fortunate to live in an area with a large Amish population, and have an Amish store not even a mile from where I live.   Many Amish populations tend to result in fruit stands and random stores selling treasures to behold!  I can’t buy fresh groceries much unless it is summer, but I can buy baking staples and spices for a really good price.  This is where I buy, for example, 2 pounds of Red Star Yeast for $6.50, 1 oz. of Bay Leaves for 35 cents, 4 oz of ginger for 1.95. etc.  You get the idea.  Some is not that good in price, but most of it seems to be good comparatively.  And 1 oz of Bay Leaves might not sound like much, but think something liked >30 dried leaves per container. 

Funny Note: One day, I was muttering about the prices while at the store, and this little old lady asked me if I knew of a cheaper place.  I told her I tend to get mine cheaper at the Amish store, and she asked me if that was a chain.  Okay, end of rant!

(5)  I also used a cheddar cheese mixture, all of which was low-fat.  I also used an a larger amount of cheese on top of the enchiladas than 3/4 cup.  Just seemed like it needed more.  Ended up being more like 1.5 cups of cheese.

 

In the end, do what you think tastes good!

The original recipe I found is as follows:

Chicken Enchiladas from AllRecipes