Monday, February 29, 2016

Quick Change


My husband is a real quick-change artist.  And what I mean by that is I plan out a week's worth of meals and make my shopping list for those meals.  But, if the weather is nice on Sundays, he wants to grill.  So last night we were supposed to have a baked pasta for dinner, but the weather was nice. So we went to the store and got the stuff to make these Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos.  And I'm glad we did since they were so good!  And I don't mind the menu changes.  He's a great husband and treats me so well, so he gets to do what he wants.

A lot of places around the country serve tacos in a lot of different ways.  But, here in Texas, especially West Texas, tacos are served on corn tortillas.  Don't get me wrong, I will eat anything on a flour tortilla too.  But generally flour tortillas are used for breakfast burritos, quesadillas, or just eaten with some frijoles.  But there's something about the texture and taste of a corn tortilla taco that makes it special.  And these shrimp tacos?  Fantastic!  Enjoy!

CHIPOTLE LIME SHRIMP TACOS
FOR THE SHRIMP:
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1-2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 C vegetable oil
Juice of 2 limes (about 1 1/2 T)

FOR THE CILANTRO LIME SAUCE:
1/4 C sour cream
1/4 C mayonnaise
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 T lime juice
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR THE TACOS:
Corn tortillas
Avocado slices
Cotija cheese or Queso Fresco, crumbled
Purple cabbage, chopped
Wooden skewers

For the shrimp, mix together all of the marinade ingredients and put them in a large zipper bag.  Add in the shrimp. Marinate the shrimp for about 30 minutes in the fridge.  

Soak the skewers in water for about 15 minutes.  Whisk together the sauce ingredients and store it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

Preheat the grill to medium high heat.  Put the shrimp on the skewers.  Grill the shrimp on direct heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on how big they are.  They will cook fast.  

To serve the tacos, microwave the tortillas in a damp towel for about 1 minute.  Serve the tacos with the cabbage, crumbled cheese, avocado slices, and the sauce.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Simplifying



Lately I've found a need to simplify life a bit.  Some of you know that I underwent emergency abdominal surgery right before Christmas.  I had been taking prescription Ibuprofen for a neck injury, and apparently for some people that's really bad stuff.  It blew a hole out in my intestine and I had to have surgery to repair it.  I was in the hospital for eight days and was lucky enough to be released on Christmas Eve.  It was a terrible time, but I survived.  I have had two C-sections, and the pain of a hole in your intestine is much worse.  I only took off three weeks from work, and I'm doing fine now.  I have an occasional muscle pain every now and then, but I'm a trooper.  I keep on going.

Anywho, no whining here.  But I have decided that I need to maybe not take on so much and do things a little easier. Cooking is one thing I really love, and I could spend all day in the kitchen.  But I have a family and a job and three dogs.  I have other things to do.  So I've been trying to make easier recipes that make everyone happy and taste great.  Like this Ham & Pea Tortellini.  This seriously took less than 30 minutes from start to fork in my bowl.  And it's so yummy! Cheese-filled tortellini gets kicked up with ham and peas and a creamy, cheesy, slightly spicy sauce.  I thought it made kind of a lot, but when I got home today almost all of the leftovers were gone.  Teenagers.  Oh, well.  At least I didn't have to pawn leftovers off on people at work, who, by the way, are always asking for my leftovers.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

HAM & PEA TORTELLINI
One 20-ounce package cheese tortellini
1 small onion, chopped
3 T butter
1 C frozen peas
2 1/2 C diced cooked ham (see note)
2 C chicken stock
1 pint heavy cream
1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
Black pepper, to taste
1 C shredded Pepper Jack cheese (or other white cheese)

NOTE:  I bought a Cook's ham steak and just cut it into cubes.  It didn't have a weight on it, but I estimated it to be 2 1/2 C.  You could use other leftover ham or chopped deli ham or even cooked, shredded chicken.

Melt the butter in a dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat.  Cook the onion in the butter until it's tender.  Add in the ham and cook for a couple of minutes to heat it through and slightly brown it.  Add in the heavy cream, peas, chicken stock, garlic powder to taste, and black pepper.  Stir in the tortellini.  Bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cover the pot.  Simmer the pot for about 20 minutes or so or until the tortellini is done and the sauce is reduced.  Remove it from the heat and stir in the cheese until it's melted.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Crazy Weather



If you live in Texas like we do, you know how crazy the weather can be.  Last week it was in the upper 80s and we were wearing shorts and flip-flops.  Today, not so much.  It's in the 40s and we have a chance of snow tonight.  It can change as much as 50 degrees in a day.  Really, I'd rather skip any weather below 80 degrees.  I'm not a winter person, and I really dislike snow.  My husband loves cold weather, and he has been known to wear his shorts and flip-flops with snow on the ground.  Not me.  I'll stand inside and wave at him and the kids outside playing in the snow.

I made this really easy dish for Chicken Lasagna Rolls the other night.  I had some cooked shredded chicken already, so that made the dish a snap.  The filling has cream cheese, more cheese, and spinach.  And the sauce on top is homemade Alfredo sauce.  It's great for cold nights since it's filling.  And it's darn tasty!  Enjoy!

CHICKEN LASAGNA ROLLS
1 1/2 c cooked, shredded chicken
16 ounces cream cheese, very soft
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 C shredded Mozzarella (plus more for the top of the rolls)
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb lasagna noodles (see note)
2 teaspoons dried parsley
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR THE SAUCE:
1 pint heavy cream
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
5 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper, to taste

NOTE:  I boiled the whole pound of lasagna noodles, but I only got 14 rolls.  There were about 4 or 5 noodles leftover, so you can cook less if you like.  However, depending on how much filling you use on each one, you may have more or less than 14.

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions.  Rinse them in cold water so you can handle them and drain them well.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepot.  Stir in the heavy cream, garlic, salt and pepper.  Bring the pot to a boil. Turn the heat either to low or off.  Whisk the Parmesan cheese into the sauce in small handfuls, being sure to whisk it until the sauce is completely smooth before adding more. Continue whisking in more cheese until it is all incorporated and the sauce is smooth.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together the chicken, cream cheese, spinach, Mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic powder, and parsley together until combined.  Lay the lasagna noodles out on a flat surface.  Spread about 2-3 T of the chicken mixture down the length of each noodle and roll the noodles up.  

Pour half of the sauce mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole pan. Lay the rolls into the sauce.  Pour the remaining sauce over the tops of the rolls.  Top with additional Mozzarella, if desired.  Cook the rolls about 20 minutes or until the filling is hot.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Food Wars


Sometimes I feel like I'm living out my own TV show called Food Wars.  I know some of you can relate to this.  You buy an ingredient only to find that someone swiped it when you went to use it.  The other three people in my house are really REALLY bad about this.  I'll go in the kitchen only to find that my son has eaten all of the Cheddar cheese that I needed for dinner.  Or he ate all of the hamburger buns.  If I happen to bring cookies or sweets home from the restaurant/bakery where I work, my daughter immediately removes the portion she wants and puts it in a baggie and puts her name on it.  If I buy cottage cheese, I have to buy three and put names on it so that I will get some.  I've gone to cook pasta, only to find out that my husband, who is a night owl, has cooked and eaten half of the pasta I needed for a recipe.  I try to hide things so they won't take it, but they always seem to find it.

When I bought the Doritos for this Dorito Chicken, I practically had to take the bag to work and hide it until I could cook it.  And, after it was cooked, my daughter "called" the leftover Doritos and put her name on it.  Her brother won't care, though.  He'll eat them anyway.

So...Dorito Chicken.  If you've ever had King Ranch Chicken, this is really almost the same thing, only with Doritos instead of corn tortillas.  It's quick and easy and darn tasty!   And it disappears really fast, especially with teenagers.  Enjoy!

DORITO CHICKEN
3 1/2 C crushed nacho cheese flavored Doritos
1 1/2 C cooked, shredded chicken
1 can RoTel
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 T dried minced onion
1 T chili powder
1/2 T cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together the chicken, RoTel, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, minced onion, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.  Layer half of the crushed Doritos in a 2 quart casserole pan.  Layer the chicken mixture over the Doritos.  Layer the other half of the Doritos over the chicken.  Top the casserole with the cheese.  Bake the casserole for about 20-25 minutes or until it's heated through.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cowboy Caviar


Not to be confused with Texas Caviar which is an entirely different dip, this Cowboy Caviar is so yummy!  It tastes better after it sits in the fridge for a while, but it sure does disappear quick!  Enjoy!

COWBOY CAVIAR
One 15.25 ounce can Southwestern corn with poblanos and red peppers, drained (or Mexicorn)
1 can RoTel, drained
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
6 green onions, sliced
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C sour cream
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
Salt & pepper, to taste

Whisk together the sour cream and mayo and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Chill for about 2 hours before serving.  Serve with your favorite corn chips or tortilla chips.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cinnamon Palmiers


These Cinnamon Palmiers are beautiful little pastries or "cookies" that look so impressive and hard to make.  But the truth is they only take three ingredients and they are simple! Enjoy!

CINNAMON PALMIERS
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 C sugar
1 T cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 large sheet pans with either parchment paper or foil sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle about 1/4 C sugar on a board and some of the cinnamon.  Lay one puff pastry sheet on top of the sugar. Sprinkle about 1/4 C sugar and more cinnamon on top of the pastry sheet, being sure to fully cover the pastry with sugar. Roll the pastry into about a 13 x 11 rectangle.  Next roll the two shorter sides to the middle of the pastry.  It will look like this.


Repeat that entire process with the second sheet of puff pastry.  Cut the rolls into about 1/4 inch slices.  Lay the slices on the sheet trays being sure to leave room for them to grow and puff out.  Bake them for 12 minutes.  Remove them from the oven, flip each pastry over, and return them to the oven. Bake them for another 6 to 8 minutes or until they are browned and crispy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Yo-Yo Education


Our son has lately developed a fascination with yo-yos.  He's been ordering fancy yo-yos with his Christmas money.  He's learning all kinds of cool tricks.  Did you know that there are certain kinds of string made for certain tricks?  I didn't.  Did you know a yo-yo could be unresponsive?  Me either.  He's getting pretty good and it's rather entertaining.

I don't often buy frozen foods or prepackaged stuff, but my family loves tater tots.  If I buy them for a recipe, I have to practically lock them in a safe to keep them all out of it. When I found a recipe for this Beef & Tater Tot Casserole, I knew they would love it, even the picky teenage boy who still won't drink soft drinks.  I know, that's a good thing.  Anywho, this has a creamy ground beef layer, a shredded cheese layer, and tater tots on top.  And it's fantastic!  We all loved it and I will absolutely make it again!  Enjoy!

BEEF & TATER TOT CASSEROLE
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C sour cream
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 C frozen peas
1 C shredded Cheddar cheese
About 55 frozen tater tots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the ground beef, onion, and garlic in a skillet until the beef is done and the onion is tender.  Stir in the cream of mushroom, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, and salt & pepper, if desired.  Stir in the peas and cook a minute to warm them.

Spread the beef mixture in a 7 x 11 pan (9 x 13 will be too big).  Spread the cheese evenly over the beef mixture.  Line the tater tots in rows over the top.  Bake the casserole for 20-25 minutes or until the tater tots are completely cooked and crispy on top.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Better Than the Restaurant


So I made these Chicken Tinga tostadas soon after I got home from my surgery last month.  It was fantastic!  I wasn't up to taking pictures and blogging the recipe, so we skipped it.  A few weeks later, my husband was out of town and ordered Chicken Tinga Enchiladas at one of his favorite restaurants since he liked my version so much.  He said it was dry and wasn't nearly as good as mine.  We made it again yesterday, and it was still fantastic!  It's a really easy crockpot recipe.  You can serve it in corn or flour tortillas, on tostadas, or even in enchiladas, which is what I'm going to do with the leftovers.  Enjoy!

CHICKEN TINGA
1 onion, chopped
8 Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 large tomatillos, husks removed, washed and chopped
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 lb boneless chicken thighs
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
1/4 C chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
Sour cream
Queso Fresco or Cotilla cheese
Avocado slices
Refried beans
Shredded Cheddar cheese

NOTE:  If you have a mixer with a paddle attachment, you can put the whole contents of the crockpot into the bowl of the mixer and shred it very quickly with the paddle attachment.  

Put all of the ingredients into a crockpot.  Cook it on low for about 8 hours or until the chicken is fall-apart tender.  Shred the chicken in the sauce.  Serve it in tortillas, on tostadas, or in enchiladas.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Huevos Rancheros Bake


Here is a great easy way to make a favorite breakfast!

HUEVOS RANCHEROS BAKE
5 corn tortillas
1 1/2 C cooked pinto beans
1 C shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 T chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
Salt & pepper, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 to 3/4 C Red enchilada sauce (I like La Victoria brand)
Sour cream
Queso Fresco or Cotija cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cut four of the 5 tortillas in half to make half moons.  Fry the corn tortillas in some vegetable or peanut oil until crisp.  Drain them on a paper towel.  

Mix together the chopped tomatoes, serrano or jalapeno pepper, garlic, onion, cilantro, juice of the lime and season it with salt and pepper.  

Put the whole tortilla in the center of a cast iron skillet. Line the remaining tortilla halves around the center tortilla, overlapping slightly.  Spread the pinto beans over the tortillas.  Next add the bacon and the Cheddar cheese all over the beans.  Spread the tomato mixture over the cheese. Crack the six eggs over the top (see picture above).  Pour some enchilada sauce over the top, as much or as little as you like.  Put the skillet into the oven.  Cook the bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the eggs are set and the yolks are at your desired consistency.  Serve the bake in wedges with sour cream and Queso Fresco, if desired.