Monday, April 29, 2013

Taco Pot Pies

Nate is still talking about this dinner! He loved it! This is definitely a different twist on taco night and one we'll definitely make again. I saw the idea over at Plain Chicken. Nate can't wait to have these again.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning plus the water it requires
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
shredded cheddar jack cheese
1 can refrigerated pizza dough (we used Pillsbury)
4 large ramekins
shredded lettuce
hot sauce
sliced olives
sour cream

In a large skillet brown the ground beef. Halfway through cooking add the diced onion and bell pepper. Once browned add the taco seasoning and the water it requires, reduce heat and finish cooking according to packet instructions. Once beef is all finished mix in the black beans and salsa. Keep burner on medium low heat and continue to cook until mixture is nice and hot. Spray ramekins with non-stick spray including the outside rim. Roll out pizza dough and cut out 4 circle of dough that are about an inch larger than the ramekin. Sprinkle some shredded cheese into the bottom of each ramekin. Next scoop in taco meat (we had just a little leftover). Top each one off with a little more shredded cheese. Place a dough circle on each ramekin and let it drape over the edge. Bake at 425 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Flip each pot pie upside down on a place and carefully lift off ramekin. Top your taco pot pies with some shredded lettuce, sliced olives, taco sauce, etc. and enjoy!

Garlic Herb Potato Wedges

This was a great side dish to the pulled pork Nate made on Saturday. He did such a great job and it was his very first time using that smoker! When Nate makes up his mind to try something new, he puts 110% into it. I lucked out, Nate did the main part of the meal and I had to do was side dishes. We had these potato wedges and a green salad with the pork. I saw this idea here, and I just used herbs that Nathan and I like. They had a nice crisp exterior and were soft on the inside, so good!

4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried chives
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt (I used Lawry's seasoning salt)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the olive oil and all the seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Cut each half, lengthwise, into 4 equally sized wedges. Add the potatoes to the mixing bowl and toss really really well so that everything gets well coated. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Arrange the potato wedges skin side down on the sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown with crisp exterior and soft interior. Serve hot and enjoy!

Here's a pic of the awesome pulled pork Nate made.

Ruby Lemonade Punch

Anything having to do with lemonade reminds me of picnics and summertime. Since Nate was smoking a pork shoulder outside most of the day I decided to round out the barbecue with some fun summery punch. I saw this idea over at Meals with the Muirs. It has a great color and has a bit of tartness to it which I loved. Enjoy!

1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
8 cups cranberry juice cocktail
4 cups (1 liter) sprite (I used diet sprite)
lemon slices for garnish, optional

Pour everything into your punch bowl and gently stir. Serve over ice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups

Yep, more Mexican food! What can I say? I make Mexican food at least once a week and so I'm always looking for new ideas. I saw the basic idea over at Six Sisters' Stuff but used different ingredients and made it suit Nate's and my taste. One of Nate's favorite meals is ham and cheese roll ups so I knew this Mexican variation would be a hit with him.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 flour tortillas
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1/4 cup salsa
shredded cheese (I used cheddar jack)
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
olive oil
salt and pepper
taco sauce or enchilada sauce or zesty Mexican tomato sauce

Mexican Chicken Rub:
2 tsp. chile powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

First prep the chicken. Mix together the rub ingredients. Drizzle some olive oil on both sides of the chicken breasts and then season with some of the rub. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-33 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes and then shred. Set aside.
Dice bell pepper and onion. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Once hot add veggies with a pinch of salt and pepper and saute until tender-crisp. Set asaide.
Next make the refried beans. In a small pot heat the refried beans, 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning, and 1/4 cup of salsa over medium-low heat. Once heated through, set aside.
Okay, now it's time to assemble the roll ups. Lay out a tortilla and then spread some refried beans all over. Top that with some shredded cheese. Next is a sprinkling of the sauteed veggies and then the chicken. I made mine nice and hearty, so don't be afraid to skimp on the chicken. Now you'll roll up the tortilla. Start at the bottom and carefully roll it up then secure with toothpicks. Space the toothpicks evenly apart. Now cut the rolled tortilla in between each toothpick. Set the cut roll ups on a tin foil lined baking sheet. You can make the roll ups as big or small as you like. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Now pour a small amount of sauce over the top of each roll up and then top with a bit of shredded cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until tortillas get a nice little crisp on the outside and the cheese is all melted. Pull out all the toothpicks before serving and enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bean and Cheese Burrito Bites

These were so much fun! We really enjoyed these for dinner last night. We never get tired of trying new Mexican dishes and we'll definitely be making these again and again. These totally work for a vegetarian meal or for a fun appetizer. Nate told me he'd even enjoy this dish as a full size burrito. I saw this idea over at Sweet Treats and More. Enjoy!

1 (16 oz.) can of refried beans (we used fat free)
1 1/2 Tbsp. of taco seasoning
1/4 cup salsa
1 cup shredded cheese (you could do cheddar, pepper jack, monterey jack etc.)
4 uncooked flour tortillas
toppings/dips of choice - salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, etc.

In a small pot combine and heat refried beans and taco seasoning over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once hot, stir in salsa and shredded cheese. Continue to cook and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Cut each tortilla into four triangles. Place a heaping tablespoon (I used a cookie scooper) of the bean mixture on the tortilla triangle near the point. Roll the tip up, then fold in the sides, and finish rolling (like you would a burrito). Place the burrito bite seam side down on a tin foil lined baking sheet that's been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Repeat with remaining tortilla triangles, you may have a little bit of leftover bean mixture, I did. Bake the burrito bites at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until a light golden brown, flipping burrito bites halfway through. They may ooze a bit, but you've lined your baking sheet, so it's all good! Serve hot with your favorite dipping stuff/toppings. Have fun!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Simple Focaccia Bread

Focaccia bread has to be one of my most favorite versions of bread. I love it! I can't believe it's taken me this long to make it. Bread making is not my forte my any means, but this recipe really is easy. I found this idea over at Semi Homemade Mom and just adjusted a couple things. It's definitely a keeper for us. I served it with this Island Chicken, so good. Enjoy!

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you may need to adjust flour amounts slightly depending on your climate)
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) rapid rise yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cup warm water
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2-3 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
shredded Parmesan cheese (I omitted this just to save a few calories)

In the bowl of a mixer combine flour, sugar, and yeast. Mix well. Add salt, water, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Use dough hook attachment and mix for a few minutes or until well combined. Dough will be just a bit on the sticky side. Grease a glass 9x13" baking dish and stretch out dough to fit bottom of dish. Cover with saran wrap or a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes until dough had doubled in size. After rising, uncover and use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke some holes in the top of the dough. Brush top with remaining olive oil and then sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Recover and let rise an additional 30 minutes. Bake focaccia bread in a 375 degree F oven for about 25 minutes or until it has a nice light golden brown coloring on top. I think it is best served warm.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chicken Bundles

So good! I can't wait to have this again. Both Nate and I really enjoyed this main course and loved how flavorful and healthy it was. I saw this idea over at Caramel Potatoes. This is definitely easy enough to make on a weeknight, but nice enough to serve company. You can also make a quick pan sauce to ladle over if you'd like. Make this soon, you'll love it!

4 chicken cutlets cut in half or thin sliced chicken breasts *(can use 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts prepared as below)
2 carrots
1 large red bell pepper (the green ones looked better at the store so that's what I bought)
1 bunch thin asparagus
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup Italian dressing
McCormick's rotisserie chicken seasoning

Marinate chicken in Italian dressing for 1-2 hours. Peel carrots and julienne carrots and bell pepper into strips about 3-4" long. Wash and then cut asparagus to the same length. Steam vegetables for a few minutes (3-4) or until tender/crisp. Immediately run under cold water stop cooking. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper and set aside. Lay out chicken strips and both sides with a little bit of rotisserie chicken seasoning. Place a small handful of veggies on one end of chicken and then roll up. Seal with a toothpick. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat (well, just past medium). Once hot, all the chicken bundles seam side down and cook until browned. Rotate chicken on all sides until evenly browned and chicken is cooked through. It should take about 15-20 minutes depending on how thin your chicken is. Once cooked remove chicken from pan and take out all the toothpicks. Serve hot and enjoy!

*If you are using 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, you will need to slice each in half horizontally to make 4 cutlets. With a meat tenderizer, gently pound out each cutlet in between some saran wrap until it is thin and as even as possible. Cut each cutlet into 2 strips.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Zesty Mexican Tomato Sauce

So last night I made Taco Stuffed Shells and I decided I wanted a really flavorful sauce to top them. I am not a fan of canned red enchilada sauce, it always tastes bitter to me. So feeling adventurous, I decided to wing it. This is what I came up with and both Nate and I really enjoyed it. I'll definitely make this again and again. You can use this sauce as a replacement for enchilada sauce in lots of dishes. Enjoy!

1 (16 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup salsa
2 Tbsp. zesty Italian dressing (I used fat free)
2 Tbsp. taco sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat add the tomato sauce, salsa, Italian dressing, taco sauce, cumin, and garlic powder. Stir well to combine. Bring sauce to a simmer and let simmer, stirring often, for 5-10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Use sauce in your favorite Mexican dishes. Enjoy!

This is how I used the sauce last night.