Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

Have I professed my love for Mexican food? Well I love it. Love it. Love it. Love it. And I love this recipe for chicken enchiladas. (Don't let the bad picture throw you off.) It's cheesy, saucy, not too spicy, Mexican deliciousness! I crave it. It's always a hit and always delicious. I haven't met one person who didn't love this recipe. Plus it's easy, which is great for a busy editor such as myself. I found the salsa chicken recipe when I first started lurking on the nestie cooking boards and I don't know if there is a source. So dust off that crock pot and get your Mexican on!

Start with Salsa Chicken.

Salsa Chicken:
3 - 4 Chicken breasts
1/2 package taco seasoning
1 - 2 teaspoons Ancho chili powder (optional)
1 jar of your favorite salsa
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can back beans (drained)
1 bag of frozen corn (optional)

Place chicken in bottom of crock pot.
Sprinkle with taco seasoning and Ancho chili powder.
Mix together salsa and cream of chicken soup.
Cover chicken with salsa mixture.
Cook on low 4 - 6 hours until chicken is fully cooked.
Remove chicken from liquid.
Shred chicken with two forks and return to crock pot.
Add corn and black beans and cook an additional 30 minutes.

Chicken Enchiladas:
Salsa chicken
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheese
1 - 2 cans enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon chicken into tortillas.
Top with shredded cheese and roll up.
Place rolled up tortillas in lightly greased pan.
Repeat with the rest of tortillas.
Cover rolled up tortillas with enchilada sauce.
Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.
Serve with salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, and rice on the side.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Pot Clam Bake a.k.a. Best Dinner Ever!

This was the best dinner I ever made. Seriously, it was that good. My mother-in-law first made a variation of this dish a few years back and I filed it in my mind under "dinners to try" and then forgot all about it. My wonderful husband reminded me about it when we found some Spanish chorizo at the grocery store. (Why is chorizo so hard to find in the Northeast?) This is super easy and versatile. I don't really measure anything when I cook, so this recipe is mostly by eye. You can add whatever you want. We kept it simple with clams and shrimp (without the shells, deveined, and cleaned). You can add kielbasa, sausage, mussels, scallops, lobster tails, crawfish, crab legs. Just be sure to add the ingredients that take longest to cook first and the ones take the least amount of time last. Get your bib on, cause this is very messy to eat! This is a perfect summer dinner, so hurry up and try this before the summer is over. Don't forget to pair this with an ice cold bottle of beer (we had Mexican beer to go with the chorizo) and crusty bread to soak up the broth. Enjoy!

1 pound of shrimp (with or without the shells)
50 clams
1 pound Spanish style chorizo, sliced into chunks
3 ears of corn, broken in half
1 - 2 pounds of red skinned potatoes (10 - 12)
1/4 - 1/2 bottle white wine (I used a Chardonnay that had hints of citrus)
1 and 1/2 - 2 cans chicken broth
3 - 4 tablespoons minced garlic
canola or olive oil (I used canola)
red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, Old Bay seasoning
lemon wedges
melted butter

Saute garlic, red pepper flakes, and oil in stock pot over high heat.
Add salt, pepper, and wine.
Reduce wine.
Add chicken broth, potatoes, and chorizo.
Cook about 10 - 15 minutes.
Add corn, clams, and Old Bay seasoning.
Cook 10 - 15 more minutes or until most of the clams open up.
Add shrimp and cook an additional 5 minutes. (depending on the type of shrimp used)
Serve with crusty bread, melted butter, and lemon wedges.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Banana Coconut "Muffins"

I saw these a few weeks ago on a fellow nestie's blog. They combined two of my favorite flavors, so I knew right away I had to make these. The perfect opportunity arose when my husband's friend, Matt, who loves coconut, came over swimming. These were summer in a cupcake, plus so easy to whip together. I will be making these again very soon. Matt along with my coconut hating husband gave me rave reviews. The only problem was that these baked up fast and I ended up burning a few. Next time, I will bake these at a lower temperature and for less time. I think baking these in cupcake pans was the problem, but I don't have muffin pans.

Banana Coconut Muffins
source: Epicurious via Joelen's Culinary Adventures

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (3/4 cup)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Put oven rack in middle position.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (Next time I will bake at 350 degrees)
Line muffin cups with liners. (I used cupcake pans. Recipe yielded 14 cupcakes.)
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and 1/2 cup coconut in a large bowl until combined well.
Fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.
Fill muffin liners two-thirds of the way full and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut.
Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. (I only baked these for 15 minutes.)
Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chicken Scampi

Scampi is one of my favorite dinners. How can you go wrong with garlic and butter? I love it so much I forgot to take a picture before we dug in. This is a quick and easy recipe, and shrimp can be substituted for the chicken. This recipe is mostly by eye, but I've done my best to approximate measurements.

3 chicken breasts
1/2 can chicken stock
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 - 3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/8 - 1/4 cup olive oil
4 - 6 tablespoons butter
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, parsley

Clean chicken and cut into pieces.
Salt and pepper chicken.
Saute chicken in skillet over medium heat until no longer pink.
Add olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and parsley.
Saute 1 - 2 minutes.
Add lemon juice, butter, and chicken stock.
Saute 3 - 5 minutes.
Serve over pasta or rice with crusty bread to soak up the juice.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Baked Tilapia

Tilapia is an easy fish, you can bake it, grill it, broil it, or cook it in foil packs. You can bread it, encrust it, fry it, cover it in sauce or salsa, etc. There are so many different ways to make it. My favorite is baked. I know from the title of this dish, it doesn't sound too interesting, but I promise it's delicious. Plus it's easy, quick, and semi-healthy (well minus the butter). I don't measure anything for this dish, it's all by eye, so I guesstimated the measurements for you.

4 - 6 pieces Tilapia
1/4 - 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/8 - 1/4 Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 - 4 tablespoons butter
1/2 - 1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt, pepper, Old Bay seasoning to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Spray baking dish with cooking spray.
Place tilapia in single layer in dish.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, Old Bay seasoning.
Put butter, lemon juice, and garlic in small saucepan and heat until butter is melted.
Pour mixture over tilapia.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs on top.
Cover with foil and bake 8 - 10 minutes.
Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I mentioned previously, I love cookies. I love Christmas because of all the cookies. My husband was out golfing, so I decided to whip up a batch. I had some chocolate chips in the cupboard and toffee bits leftover from the snickerdoodles I made a few weeks ago. So I decided to combine the two. I got these delicious soft chocolate chip cookies with crunchy bits of toffee in them. They were a perfect salty/sweet snack. I opted to share them with my and Randy's co-workers. They were pleased.

My go-to chocolate chip cookie is NESTLE TOLL HOUSE (with my own adaptations in red)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use 3 cups for nice puffy cookies)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (I omitted)
1/2 (8-oz. pkg.) HEATH BITS ‘O BRICKLE Toffee Bits

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in morsels and Toffee Bits. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mexican Night!

We love Mexico. We went there on our honeymoon and would move there if we could. We love the culture and of course the food. I tried my hand at beef burritos and we were not disappointed. They were spicy, cheesy, and delicious. Everything we love about burritos.

Flour tortillas
1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef
Enchilada sauce (I used 1 can)
Taco seasoning (I used a 1/2 package)
Black beans, drained
Bell pepper (I used a red bell pepper)
Shredded cheese (I used monterey jack/cheddar)
Salsa, sour cream, hot sauce for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown ground beef with peppers and drain.
Add taco seasoning and a few shakes of hot sauce to ground beef. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Fill tortillas with ground beef, black beans, and shredded cheese.
Roll up and place in lightly greased pan.
Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Top burritos with enchilada sauce and and remaining shredded cheese.
Bake 15 minutes until warm and bubbly.
Top with salsa, sour cream, and hot sauce.
Serve with chips and salsa.

Wine Review: WISTERIA from Miles Wine Cellars

We recently attended the annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival. We went for the first time last year and had such a good time that we decided to return. The festival is held at the Watkins Glen International Racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York. It features over 80 New York wineries, food, music, crafts, and jewelry in a giant festival setting on the racetrack. We ended up buying 10 bottles of wine this year plus some additional goodies, such as cookies, cheesecake, a pair of earrings, and BBQ sauce. The food was also really good, we had crab cakes, crawfish rolls, and a sangria slushie. I can't wait until next year. For the next few months we'll have enough wine to hold us over, although we're every stingy with our Finger Lakes wine and only open bottles for special occasions. And no we don't share. Sorry!

The first bottle of wine we opened was Wisteria from Miles Wine Cellars in Himrod, N.Y.

Wisteria is a dark blush that is very sweet and fruity, unlike the white zinfandels you get around here in the state stores. I used to be a white zinfandel girl. It was all I would drink. In the past year, I have branched out to sweet reds and whites as well. Now I rarely drink a white zinfandel, I really don't even like many of them anymore. This wine has hints of pears and strawberries. It is a nice wine to sip on a hot evening relaxing outdoors. It pairs well with cheese and fruit (as done any other wine), anything BBQ, pizza, or hamburgers. We first tried this wine last year and really enjoyed it. So we headed back to the Miles table again this year and again we were very satisfied with this wine. We purchased two bottles. One for us and another as a gift. We hope the receiver enjoys this wine as much as we did.

Madalyn's first birthday

I can't believe our niece is 1 years old already. I was tasked with making the cakes. Yes, you heard me right, cakes! I made a layered half sheet cake, a butterfly cupcake cake, and a small flower cupcake cake for the birthday girl to smash. Again I spent way too much time agonizing over these cakes. I didn't have much to go on for inspiration other than a napkin. For the cake, I make a vanilla 2-layer cake with very vanilla buttercream filling and I iced it with very vanilla buttercream. I did everything freehand. I'm getting really good at butterflies and my writing has improved. This cake took me forever to decorate since I didn't have a plan. It came out OK, it could have been better.

The cupcake cake was something I never did before. It was very easy. I just pushed the cupcakes together to look like a butterfly and iced away. I really liked the way this one came out. I made chocolate and vanilla cupcake iced with very vanilla buttercream.