Monday, October 29, 2012

Cheesy Beef Enchiladas and Rapido Sauce

My family loves Mexican food! I make something Mexican related at least 3 times a week. This is one of my family's favorites, Cheesy Beef Enchiladas. It can be on your table in 30 minutes. My only note is for the sauce to gradually add the chili powder and taste the sauce. Adjust the amount according to your taste.

Another great thing about this recipe is you can choose what kind of tortillas you want to use, either flour or corn. If you are using the corn, you need to warm them up so they don't crack. You can also choose what type of beans you would like to add. I happened to make a huge batch of kidney beans a few weeks ago and added a bag of them I had in the freezer. You are also able to choose the meat you would like to use. I have made these with turkey in the past but am using ground beef today. Cheese you can choose an authentic cheese or opt for the cheddar as I did.

Cheesy Beef Enchiladas with Mexican Rice

1 package flour tortillas
1 lb ground beef browned
1 cup beans of your choice
1 cup taco cheese shredded
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 can of water
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Start the sauce in a large sauce pan adding all the ingredients from the crushed tomatoes to salt. I gradually added the chili powder according to taste.  I didn't have to use a roux or flour thickener as I used crushed tomatoes and not tomato sauce. Simmer on low. Brown the ground beef and drain off fat. Season with salt and stir. Add the beans and a ladle full of the simmering sauce. Let the flavors meld for about 2-3 minutes.
The sauce should be ready in about 10 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a ladle, add the sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish. (I know mine has seen better days)
Add a tortilla and then a few spoons full of the meat mixture. Roll into a cigar shape with the seam side down.. Repeat the process adding more sauce to the bottom of the cooking dish as you go. Someone always eats tortillas out of the package so I never have 12! I used to make 2 cheese and onion enchiladas specifically for my vegetarian daughter. I would lay them a different way in the dish so I would know.

Next ladle the rest of the sauce and any remaining meat and beans over the entire rolled tortillas in the dish.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the cheese has melted. Serve with the Mexican rice below and sour cream. Sometimes I also serve with avocado.

Mexican Rice

1 1/2 cups long grain rice
2 1/2 cups water
3 TBSP achiote seeds
1 TBSP Knorr tomato/chicken flavoring

I use a 3 cup rice cooker which makes life so much easier. I also use the achiote seeds when making my famous Arroz con Pollo. The achiote seeds add a nutty flavor to the rice. You can also make this stove top by following your rice package instructions.

They are very easy to use. You just need a non stick small frying pan and about 2 TBSP oil. Add about 3 TBSP of the achiote seeds to the pan and bring up to temperature until a red color begins to release from the seeds. Do not burn. Use a spoon to remove the seeds.

Add directly to the rice in the rice cooker as well as the chicken flavoring. Once the rice cooker is finished cooking mix the rice to incorporate the oil and bullion. Check for flavor and add more bullion if necessary. Serve with the enchiladas.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Easy As Chicken Pot Pie

There are several easy ways to make chicken pot pie. This recipe is one of the easier ones. I use store bought pie crust and bake this before I leave to school. My hubby can then reheat individual slices for our family. I used the remnants of a store bought rotissire chicken but you can also use cooked boneless skinless chicken breast that has either been shredded or cubed.

Chicken Pot Pie Part Deux

8-10 baby carrots cut into coins
1 small onion diced
2 medium potatoes microwaved with holes poked in it for about 5 minutes
1/2 c frozen peas thawed
remnants of your rotissire chicken or 1-2 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 TBSP flour
2 TBSP butter or oil
1 Knorr Homestyle stock packet
salt and pepper
1 package of 2 store brand pie crust
a pie pan

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a frying pan add 2 TBSP oil to a pan and add the carrot coins and onions. Brown for 2-3 minutes or until the carrots begin to soften. Add the the flour over the carrots and stir. Brown for an additional 2 minutes and add the water and the stock packet. You can also use a cup of chicken stock in this step. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and lastly the peas. Let the sauce thicken for a few minutes and pour into a pie crust. Cover with another pie crust and use a fork to seal the edges. Also prick holes in the top to to let the steam escape.  Cut away any additional dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Makes 8 slices.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Apple Pie Filling

Baconmoto with Parmesan hash browns
Today is yet another busy Sunday. For "Special Breakfast Day" we had two gift certificates for Melthouse Bistro on Milwaukee's East side. It's our new favorite go to place. Not only do they have the best grilled cheese, they also have a kids eat free Sunday brunch. (You're welcome for the free advertising)

They have such a creative sandwich menu. I love to have lunch there with a nice bowl of tomato soup.

 Next, my oldest daughter and I took a tour of one of the high schools she's interested in attending. It's a private school. I am hoping she will be able to either get a scholarship or some funding from our local public school choice program.

Then back home for the two of us. I have been putting off studying all day lol I decided to make apple pie filling. I have been on a canning kick for the last few months. First I made sweet and kosher pickles, then plum strawberry jam, then jalapeno strawberry jam, and now the apple pie filing.

Be sure to sterilize your jars and lids. Since you will be putting warm sauce into the apples, it's a good idea to keep the jars simmering in the water bath.

Alas I used up most of my white sugar last weekend making the strawberry jalapeno jam. (we shall eat like kings in the zombie apocalypse)  I opted to use brown sugar in this recipe. It gives the sauce a caramel flavor. Feel free to do the reverse and add 4 cups white sugar and 1/2 c. brown sugar. To that I also added 1 cup corn starch, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, and two tsp. of salt. Simmer that on low heat with 10 cups of water. I stirred throughout the process until it became thick and bubbly.

While that was simmering, I cut the apples up. I had a variety of apples because they were on clearance. I put them in a huge bowl filled with water and a few tablespoons of lemon juice.  Hearty apples work best for this like Granny Smith, I also had some Empires, and Pink Ladies. I had enough for 3 quarts of apples. I probably had around 12-15 apples. I ended up with one jar of just sauce.
a larger pot is a better choice
Once the sauce came to a boil and thickened, I added 2 TBSP lemon juice and incorporated it into the sauce. I used a ladle to fill the jars with sauce just below the bottom of the neck. The apples will settle and you may need to go back and top off. I used a knife to try to get most of the air bubbles out. Some say the jar will break if you use a metal knife but I had no problem.  I tightened the sterile lids and processed them in enough boiling water to cover the tops of the jars. I also placed a lid over the pot and processed them for 20 minutes. The jars will be left on the counter overnight until they seal. I plan on using one of the jars tonight. The sauce would also be great for bananas Foster.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy 7th Birthday To My Baby!

It's hard to believe my youngest daughter is 7 today! We have to watch every penny since my hubby took such a pay cut. That didn't mean we couldn't have a fabulous birthday. I made a delicious Funfetti cake with cream cheese frosting. Total cost around $5.00 with the plates, candle, and metal throw away pan. It tasted just as good as a $25.00 half a sheet cake from our local grocer.
Next I went to the local dollar store. I love that Claire's birthday is in October. It allows us to incorporate Halloween into her Birthday. Each girl got a bag with eyeball bubbles, a bat headband, and candy. A few years back we had a costume party. We only had room for three in our car so it was a smaller celebration this time.

We took the girls to Chuck E. Cheeses. There is one near our house but it's really run down. We chose to go to one a bit further out. We had a coupon for tokens 100 for $20.00. Surprisingly, this lasted the girls for 2 whole hours! I couldn't imagine having an actual party there. I looked at one of the cakes they were offering and mine was twice the size for a third of the price.

Our next decision was to get pizzas from Little Caesar's. What a great value their pizzas are! $5.00/each for a sausage and one pepperoni. The cost of this birthday was around $45.00. We had a blast!

Later that night my mother came over and we had home made chicken flautas and Spanish rice. I will post those pics tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review of Sanfords' Shrimp and Orzo

Sanford D'Amato is a culinary genius around these parts. He has cooked for the likes of Julia Child and has several restaurants here around Milwaukee. One of them I have a Yelp coupon for and can't wait to have lunch there! Anywhoo! In the Milwaukee Journal Sunday Food Section, there was a recipe by Sanford for Shrimp and Orzo.

I love shrimp even though I get itchy:) This recipe was my first time making a shrimp stock. It took a bit longer but the end result was magnifico! The complete recipe can be found on This is how I made it. I had to make a few substitutions because I really didn't check my shopping list that well this week. But all went well.
shrimp stock

First I peeled the shrimp and reserved their shells. The peeled shrimp were added to a bowl that had  marinade of lemon juice, oil, garlic, and mint.  I then added the shrimp shells to a pot with 2 TBSP oil. I didn't have shallots but added onion and let the onions cook down for a minute. Next I added about 1 tsp. Paprika. I only had the Hungarian, about 1 tsp. of oregano, and then 2 Bay leaves. I also added a cup of white wine and let that reduce until the pan was almost dry. Then to that a cup of water was added and brought up to a boil.

Once the stock was brought to a boil it was turned off and covered. It steeped for about 15 minutes and then was drained through a fine mesh strainer.

Next I started the orzo by sauteing some onions (supposed to be shallots) I used about 2 cups of orzo which I then browned for a few minutes in the onions and oil.  I had to increase my liquid by about a cup in addition to the shrimp stock.  The pasta took about 15 minutes to get to the right consistency. It reminded me of making risotto. I finished it off with salt, pepper, and butter.  My hubby grilled the shrimp on skewers outside for 3 minutes per side. This recipe was well worth all the steps and I would make it again. Except, I may have a glass of wine myself.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More Jam: Strawberry-Jalapeno

My first 6 jars of strawberry-plum jam were gone in a matter of days. I found myself on the hunt for something new and found this recipe for strawberry-jalapeno jam. I held back the number of peppers I used.  I used 5 with the seeds removed and deveined.  My children are used to spicy food but I also wasn't sure how much would be too much in this recipe. I probably could have gotten away with two peppers. Instead of the 8 8 ounce jars I ended up having enough for 10.

I used two lbs. of strawberries and 5 large jalapenos diced. I washed the jars out in hot and soapy water and then boiled them until I was ready to use as well as the lids. I hulled and diced the strawberries and then diced the jalapeno. The important thing to remember is to dice the jalapeno small enough so your consumer won't get a huge chunk of hotness and pepper. My pics are a little blurry today. My Kodak is on it's last leg.

 Once I added the jalapeno to the strawberries. I added the pectin. I used Mrs. Wages and gave it a stir. I turned the heat on high and with a hand held potato masher smashed the strawberries down. I began to add the 6 1/2 cups sugar gradually and mixing it in with the fruit and 2 TBSP lemon juice.   I let it come up to a boil and made sure the sugar was dissolved by stirring and stirring. This took a few minutes.

Finally, it was time to jar. It's important to keep your jars hot when adding hot liquids. I pulled out 3 jars at a time and used a ladle to fill them just below the lip. I ended up with 9 jars. I then applied the lids being careful not to get jam on the lip of the glass container. Once all the containers were filled, I dropped them into the water bath with my hand dandy grip.

The jars were processed for 10 minutes in boiling water covering the jar tops with the lid on the pot. I then removed them and let them sit on a towel to rest for about 8 hours. In that time the lids usually seal. If they don't you have to refrigerate the jam right away.

This jam is great over cream cheese and served at parties with crackers. I also had it this morning for breakfast.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review of Rachel Rays' Patty Melts

This one was another keeper from Rachel Ray. It's the best of both worlds, a grilled cheese, and a hamburger smothered with caramelized onions. My only complaint about this recipe is the length of time it took me to get all the ingredients ready. The thing that takes the most time is caramelizing the onions. (around  30 minutes)  The payoff is well worth it though with the happy marriage of both worlds.
Firstly I started caramelizing the onions in some butter and oil. I knew this would be the longest part of the process. I had them on low and kept turning them every few minutes. Next I added some white wine and beef consume' and let it reduce.

 The burgers came together pretty easily. I have an indoor Hamilton Beach grill that I love. I can make hamburgers in about 7 minutes. I mixed together about a pound and a half of hamburger, 2 TBSP of minced parsley, 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce, and two tablespoons of Dijon mustard together with salt and pepper.

Next I threw them on the grill and also started my sweet potato fries in the oven. The last part to this sandwich was to use a really good bread and make a grilled cheese out of it. I used Texas toast and Swiss Cheese. Once the onions reduced I added them and a patty to the buttered Texas toast and fried them. I let the family choose what they wanted for toppings. I made mine with the onions and Dijon mustard on top.

I loved this recipe and was able to eat it for lunch again today. Check out Rachael' website for the complete recipe.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shrimp Fried Rice

Have left over pork chops, shrimp, or veggies and have no idea to make a meal? Why not make some fried rice? I made rice in my rice cooker the day before and cooled it down overnight in the fridge. Break the rice apart with your hands. I used about 3 cups of cooked rice. You can use frozen mixed veggies for this or cut your own veggies. I used baby carrots and onion and added a cup of frozen peas at the end. This literally comes together in a blink of an eye.

First I stir fried the veggies in about 2 TBSP oil until fork tender for about 5 minutes. I then removed the veggies to a paper plate, added about a TBSP more oil and fried the diced shrimp. Remove from frying pan. They turn from opaque to a nice pink. Next I added the rice and frozen peas and the rice. Also I added a few dashes of soy sauce. Fry the rice for 3 minutes or so. Next add the veggies and shrimp back in. Push the rice to one side and add a beaten egg. Fry until scrambled and fold into the rice. Add more soy sauce if you like.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Special Breakfast Day: Pumpkin Pancakes

Sunday in our house is reserved for "special breakfast day." It's the one day we are all required to sit at the same table for breakfast. Three out of the four of us made it to the table. I will take it! I am always looking for new pancake recipes and got this one in my inbox from My only criticism is that it was hard to tell when to flip because it didn't make the tell tale bubbles throughout the pancake. As a result they came out really brown. Another thing I might add next time is some pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Wet ingredients:
1 cup pumpkin puree' without spice
1 egg
2 TBSP oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice grated
1 1/2 c. milk
2 TBSP lemon juice

Dry Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl from the dry. One each is mixed combine the two. If the batter is too thick you may need to add a TBSP or so more of milk to thin it out until you get the right consistency. Heat a large griddle or non-stick pan with about 1-2TBSP oil. Heat until shimmering. Add batter with a ladle onto the pan. Cook about 3 minutes per side. you will have to sneak peak to see if the pancake is ready to flip as you won't see all the bubbles. Serve with your favorite syrup.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cajun Red Beans in the Crock Pot

For the next 13 weeks my weekends are pretty much shot with studying and then I have school 1-8PM Mondays and Tuesdays. I am always trying to find meals I can make in the crock pot. Now the cooler weather is setting in and I find myself gravitating toward more hearty meals. I went grocery shopping today and priced canned red beans over dry. Dry beat them out by a landslide both price and volume wise. A bag of dried beans are only a dollar. Canned beans can run from .80 to $1.50.

 Previously I have made a huge batch of black beans in the crock pot and froze them. I did the same thing with the red beans. This time I used a new method of putting the dried beans in boiling water for two minutes and then letting them sit for a hour with the lid closed. They are not cooked all the way through but enough where they won't take long to cook. I divided them up using two cups for this dish and froze the rest in one cup portions for chili and stew.

Next I added the beans to the crock pot with 1/2 diced onion, a Knorr chicken flavor base, 16 oz of water, a few dashes of hot sauce, three chopped andoullie sausages, and some green pepper. Lastly I made up some Cajun seasoning. (see recipe below) The beans are sitting in the crock pot on high and I will be serving them over rice. Lastly, about a hour before serving take a potato masher and mash down some of the whole beans. This will serve two purposes: it will thicken the broth, and will make the broth creamy. If the sauce becomes too thick just add about 1/4 cup water. You can also add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

This Cajun seasoning can be made and kept in a zip loc bag. It will last as long as moisture doesn't get to it. I found that 1 tsp. of Cayenne might be too much. In that case you may use 1/4 tsp. Add all the ingredients to a bag and seal. Mix all the ingredients inside the bag thoroughly.

1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Cayenne (see note above)
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chili powder

Cajun Red Beans over Rice

16 oz. kidney beans (from dry)
3 andoullie sausage links cut into rounds
1/2 green pepper diced
1/2 onion diced
2 bay leafs
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (see recipe)
16 oz. chicken stock
white rice for serving

Add the partially cooked kidney beans to the crock pot with one cup of water or chicken broth. I used a Knorr flavor pack. Add the onion, green pepper, broth, and sausage to a crock pot. Next add the seasoning and bay leafs. Set on low for 8 hours or 4 hours on high. Kidney beans are pretty hearty. Check for doneness if on high around the 3 hour mark. Serve over white rice with your favorite hot sauce.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dulce De Leche Cake

"Mom can we have dessert?" That's the question that usually follows from my youngest daughter right after dinner. While we had dinner yesterday (crock pot BBQ ribs) I had a box cake baking in the oven. By the time we were done with dinner,  the cake was baked. I used a basic yellow cake for this recipe. I originally intended to frost the cake but there was no need to. After the cake cooled. I used a can of Dulce de Leche (if this is too sweet you can use sweetened condensed milk and then frost)  I found in the Hispanic section of our grocery store. To that I added about 1/4-1/2 cup milk and used a whisk to get the lumps out. I used the handle side of a butter knife to poke holes all over the cake and then poured the warm dulce de leche all over the cake. I also made it in a disposable pan so there was no clean up!

It was a sugar rush for sure!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Taffy Apple Salad

I got this recipe from a girlfriend a few years back and it's something that I have to have every fall! I There are recipes out there that use eggs but I prefer this method. I got a huge bag of apples at Woodmans for .79! I am making a Dulce de leche cake today but will be making this and posting pics tomorrow.

Taffy Apple Salad

1 container cool whip 
1 small butterscotch pudding pack
3 lbs apples diced
1 tsp lemon juice (to keep apples from browning)
1 can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup marsh mellows
1 cup roasted peanuts 

In a huge bowl add the apples and  toss in lemon juice. Add the pudding, crushed pineapple, and marshmallows. Stir and fold in the Cool whip. I used the fat free Cool whip and it still tastes great!  Cover and let sit for a few hours if you can in the fridge! Give a stir. Add the peanuts right before serving. 

Jam, Tamales, and Quiche. A Busy Weekend

Not only did I have a ton of homework this weekend, but I decided to make jam for the first time, make tamales, and quiche. The tamales count towards my Spanish grade and they fill our bellies. I started out on Saturday by boiling a whole chicken for two hours until it was fork tender. And I made a pork roast in the crock pot. After they were shredded I mixed in the spices and we used some of the meat for tacos that night.

Sunday morning is our "Special Breakfast" morning and I woke up and made Trisha Yearwoods' Quiche except I added browned chorizo. It turned the quiche a pretty red!

On Sunday I prepared the MAseca and soaked the husks for about 2 hours. I warmed the chicken broth I had reserved from the chicken I boiled the night before. I added the spices to the MAseca and before I knew it I was ready to start making tamales. It did go a bit faster this time. My hubby helped me for about 5 minutes and within a hour or so I had about 7 dozen tamales. (I am taking half of those to school so it looks like I will be spending another weekend to make tamales!) It was off to the stove where I added some water for steaming. Two and a half hours later. They were finished! I did have to check 3 for doneness. Poor me! Here is the recipe in my blog here: