Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All-In-One Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I am not a big fan of pulled pork. Recently, however my taste buds have been quite intrigued watching Man vs Food and seeing Adam eat all those pulled pork sandwiches! My husband said that Chicago has some of the best pulled pork places ever .. and therefore is inspiring us to make a weekend trip soon. Well based on a previous recipe I have made (oh please ignore the awful picture) and some new inspiration from the TV show, I have decided to make my own version of a one-sandwich meal that is sure to please any hungry husband. How did I come up with it? I just figured that instead of having the fries on the side we could stuff them onto the sandwiches. Saves time right?! ;) Also, I threw on some mayo and tomato for good measure. Well, this is by far the best pulled pork sandwich I have ever tasted and is 110% better than my first attempt because there are so many new flavors that it just absolutely does not compare!

Also please note that a lot of the ingredients are "as needed" which is because we tend to do a lot of leftovers. I am not sure how many sandwiches this recipe yields; it depends on the size of the pork tenderloin you get. Ours are pretty small since it's just the two of us so we don't use the entire bottles of BBQ or root beer.

All-In-One Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Adapted from: Kelly's Kitch Original

2-4lb pork tenderloin (if it has a bone you can cut out before or after cooking, after is easiest)
2 liters root beer, as needed
1 bottle BBQ sauce, as needed
tomato slices, as needed
hamburger buns, as needed
mayonnaise, to taste
frozen, seasoned french fries (just enough to layer one cookie sheet)

Immerse the pork tenderloin in root beer and cook in crock pot on low heat for 6-8 hours. When completely cooked, remove pork and allow to cool slightly on a plate. Dump contents of the crock pot out and wipe with a paper towel (doesn't have to be perfectly clean). Shred the pork with a fork and return to empty crock pot and add enough BBQ sauce for preferred texture/taste. We probably added about 3-4 oz for a 2lb bone-in pork tenderloin. Keep crockpot on warm.

Cook frozen french fries according to package directions (usually turning halfway) and during last minute of cooking, place hamburger buns on top of fries to warm. Meanwhile, slice enough tomatoes for each sandwich. Once fries are cooked, remove from oven and make your sandwich: pulled pork, fries, tomato, mayo. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chicken Empanadas

I had no idea what an empanada was until I found this recipe. It looked good and the ingredients were all things I enjoy so why not give it a try!? Well, I am so glad I did. This is really something different that I have never eaten before but the taste combination was so flavorful! I actually made some salsa for dipping but we didn't even use it because these were so tasty and filling. I could only really eat three and my husband stopped at five. We absolutely loved them and they will go on our must-make-again list. These would be perfect for a game night or small get-together with friends or family, too.

Chicken Empanadas
Adapted from: Sing for your Supper, originally Paula Deen

2-3 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed small
8 oz Monterey Jack Cheese blend
4-6 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts, 15 oz)

I cooked the chicken ahead of time by boiling 2 parts water, 1 part beef broth (because I forgot the chicken broth). Normally I would use chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except water and pie crust. Mix well. Unroll one pie crust onto lightly floured surface and roll into a 15-inch circle (a bit thinner than what the package comes in). Cut rounds using a large cookie cutter (or I used the rim of a can from a 28-ounce jar of diced tomatoes). I am all about reycling! ;) As the rounds are cut, place a generous 1 tbsp of the mixture in the middle. With a clean fingertip, lightly brush the edges of the crust with the water. Fold dough over and seal gently with a fork.

Repeat and re-roll all dough until all empanadas are made and placed on baking sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before serving. They will be hot!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Homemade Salsa

If you are a fan of Annie's Eats (and I highly suggest that you become one if you already are not), then you will know this salsa as My Favorite Salsa. I always love going out to Mexican restaurants because of the chips and salsa. Now there is no need because this is so comparable to restaurant quality, but without all of the preservatives and salt. If you haven't guessed already, I don't really like much salt in anything. Well, anyways I went to the grocery store hoping to find big, beautiful jalapeno's like I normally do but this time they were all wrinkly and soft so I opted for getting a pepper that was a bit hotter and using one less. It's okay, I figured, since Brad loves spicy foods. This was great and I will most likely keep some on hand for guests and/or ourselves for snacking from now on! No more store-bought salsa!! If I can just find the perfect queso dip, we probably will never leave home again.

Homemade Salsa
Adapted from: Annie's Eats

1 jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 marzano pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large vine-ripe tomatoes, cubed (large)
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz), drained for chunky salsa
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 red onion, chopped
dash salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
juice of one lime

In a large food processor, combine the peppers and garlic. Process until finely chopped. You might have to scrape the sides of the bowl to get the excess. Add remaining ingredients and pulse on low speed until salsa is at desired consistency. Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate 2 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Note: I have a very small food processor and combined the first half of the ingredients in the first batch and then pulsed the canned tomatoes and sesasonings in the second batch. Then I mixed everything in a large bowl together.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick Skillet Lasagna

It's really not often that I venture away from my traditional lasagna that is so delicious and has wonderful layers of pasta, cheese and beef. This week, however I had asked my husband to find recipes and cook them for me. It was somewhat out of frustration of my always cooking (and he rarely does the dishes to help out) and partially because I wanted to see what he would come up with. I need more ideas of things he might like. On a side note, I very much love my husband and even though he might not do the dishes, he does a lot around the house in terms of fixing it up/construction and what I like to call 'manly duties'.

This was one of the recipes that he had picked out for the week. I knew he liked lasagna but this was a quick and easy recipe with only a few ingredients. I'm sure he thought to himself, "Why doesn't Kelly make this lasagna recipe instead of the one she slaves for hours over?" Well .. the traditional lasagna is an impressive culinary dish for large get-togethers of our friends and family. This dish is something I can whip together in 30 minutes or less just for the two of us and there isn't too many leftovers that will get wasted. PERFECT for us!

Quick Skillet Lasagna

6 oz dried mafalda noodles (mini lasagna)
1.5 lb ground beef
1 jar marinara/pasta sauce (24-26 ounces)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large 10-inch deep-dish skillet cook ground beef until browned. Strain the ground beef and wipe skillet out with paper towel.

Layer half of the cooked pasta in the skillet. Cover with half the pasta sauce and meat. Cover with cheese. Repeat layer with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until cheese on top has melted. Remove from skillet and let stand for 3 minutes and serve.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sausage Jumbalaya

I have always been a huge fan of anything cajun. It is really hard for me to recreate it at home but this is so easy and is so declicious it's really almost impossible to mess up. That is my kind of dish! The spices don't overpower the vegetables and sausage; it's just right. It has taken me a few trials until I found one that I really felt was blog-worthy and that was just .. perfection. Here it is!!! Enjoy.

Sausage Jumbalaya
Adapted from: Easy Slowcooker Cookbook

1 lb cooked, smoked sausage links, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 lg can diced tomatoes (28 oz), undrained
1 tbsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

Spray slow cooker and combine all ingredients except rice. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Add the rice, mix well, and cook an additional 1 hour on low. Serve warm.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This was another dish I have to give my husband credit for making. I didn't feel well this past week so I asked him to cook for me. Who knew he could find something so satisfying and amazingly delicious!? This was a very easy, quick weeknight dinner. I really wasn't sure how this would all come together in 30 minutes or less but it really did and I was actually craving more when my plate was clear! This dish also looked surprisingly like something you would order at a restaurant. That is not something we can often make in our household.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

white rice (as desired)
1 can pineapple chunks (8 oz)
1/2 cup sweet and sour sauce
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp cooking oil
1 medium red pepper, sliced
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced

Make white rice per box instructions. Meanwhile, drain pineapple, reserving 2 tbsp juice and set chunks aside. In small bowl, stir together pineapple juice and sweet and sour sauce and set aside. In medium bowl, toss chicken with soy sauce and set aside.

In medium skillet, heat 3 tbsp oil on medium-high heat. Add peppers and carrots and cook for 4 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to skillet and using a slotted spoon, add chicken to pan. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add sweet and sour mixture, vegetables and pineapple chunks. Heat thoroughly and serve over white rice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken, Pepper, and Green Bean Salad

I made this quite some time ago but have not been feeling well enough to roll myself out of bed, much less sit at a computer for a while to blog. My apologies!! This was a salad that I made with a main course and a side dish but this was so filling I think it really stands well on it's own. I have never been fond of oil or vinegar based dressings but this was just out of this world amazing! I love the combination of all the different flavors of peppers, lettuce, chicken, celery, onion, etc. The dressing really pulls everything together. The only modification that really sticks in my mind is that the directions originally called for setting the beans in cold water and adding them cold like that (I think to keep them nice and crisp), but they just didn't go well with the rest of the warmed salad. I have accounted for that change below but feel free to try the cold beans for yourself.

Chicken, Pepper and Green Bean Salad

2 large red bell peppers
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar w/a dash of sugar (or you can sub sherry vinegar)
1 tbsp chopped thyme
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips
1 small red onion, sliced thin
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
10 oz mixed baby salad greens (or your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cut bell peppers lengthwise into strips. Remove seeds and ribs. Arrange peppers on a cookie sheet lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast turning once, until the edges are blistered (about 40 minutes). Removed from oven and allow to cool then peel away loosened skins and set aside. This is pretty messy so you can buy raosted red pepper in the store .. but this was really worth the effort as it tasted fantastic!

Bring a sauce pan 3/4 full of water to a boil and add the green beans. Boil 5-7 minutes (timing depends on size) and drain. Set aside and keep warm. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and a grind of pepper for the dressing.

Brush a large, non-stick frying pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the chicken a few pieces at a time, turning to cook until no longer opaque and cooked thoroughly. Add 2 tbsp of dressing mixture into skillet, mix well and continue to cook another 2 minutes. Let chicken stand in pan.

In a large bowl combine salad greens, 1 tbsp vinaigrette and toss to coat well. Add chicken, red peppers, pan juices and greens. Toss to coat well. For a nicer presentation you can place the greens on a large serving platter first, then toss the latter ingredients in the bowl with juices. Then, top the greens with that mixture.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Classic Fettucini Alfredo II

I love pasta. I can't emphaasize that enough. I am so grateful to have good genes (in some areas) and that my parents have very high metabolisms and don't gain weight very easily. I am probably not doing myself any favors by eating pasta all the time though. Well I tried this recipe a while back and it was pretty good. The sauce was amazing since I had never made home made fettucini sauce before. I have always loved my fettucini with tomatoes. I put tomatoes on everything: pizza, pasta, doesn't matter. I thought this would be a wonderful addition to the recipe. I also used fettucini noodles instead of spaghetti this time (I forgot last time) and it was just fantastic.

Classic Fettucini Alfredo II
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Brown Eyed Baker
For chicken breasts: (OMIT for vegetarian entree)
1-2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, butterflied
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper, to taste

For fettucini sauce:
3 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1.5 cups heavy cream
1.5 cups parmesan cheese
salt & pepper, to taste
3/4 cup chopped roma tomato pieces

First, boil water stove top and cook noodles to preferred consistency. Meanwhile, cook chicken breasts with oil in a small skillet on mediut heat 3-5 minutes on each side until no longer pink. Slice and set aside. Keep warm.

Then, melt butter in medium saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and cream, simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook an additional 5-7 minutes until thickened. Mix in cheese until melted and salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss in the tomatoes and serve warm with chicken on top.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

Words cannot describe just how ashamed I am of myself for eating canned chicken noodle soup all these years. All that sodium!?!? Now I know that fresh, home made chicken noodle soup is not supposed to taste like that .. flu or no flu. My oh my was this so fresh and tasty though! My husband only likes salty soups (can we say 'Ramen Noodles') and he loved this and even said, "It tastes like the stuff in the can but a lot less salty. I like it." It's true it's less salty but I have to disagree .. it tastes much better than the stuff in a can. I could never eat Campbell's version of  "chicken" because it never really looked all that kosher to me.

Also I wanted to mention that in the original recipe it called for kale and although I am not a big fan of greens in my chicken noodle soup, I was willing to give it a try. Much to my disappointment my husband convinced me that these leeks he bought were in fact kale until we got home from the store and he looked up a picture online. I'm sure neither of us really missed the kale.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, Originally Cooks Illustrated December/January 2009 

For the stock:
1 tbsp canola oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped carrot
½ cup chopped celery
4 cups water
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
salt, to taste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the soup:
3 tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 cup onion, diced
½ cup celery, diced
1 cup carrot, peeled and sliced
2 cups egg noodles (8 oz)
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
To make the stock, heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken, onion, carrot and celery to the pot and cook for 5-10 minutes untile meat is no longer pink. Stir frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add water, broth, bay leaves, salt and chicken breasts. Cover and cook for 25-30 minutes.

Remove the lid, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. (If the liquid is already boiling as it was for me, remove the chicken breasts immediately and continue.) Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate and set aside. Continue to cook the stock for 20 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle boil. While stock is cooking, shred the chicken into desired eatible sized chunks.

Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Allow the stock to settle for about 5 minutes. Skim fat off the surface. Return the stock to the large pot and return to medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water; whisk together well. Stir the mixture into the stock and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook 10-15 minutes. Add the egg noodles and continue to cook until vegetables are tender and the noodles are cooked, about 5 minutes. Be sure to not over-cook the noodles! Add the chicken to the soup and cook just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

French-Style Potato Salad

When I think of traditional potato salad I have to admit that I begin to salivate a little and think of my mom's wonderful version with russet potatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, etc. It makes me think of summer and I really yearn for that sunny warmth right now. We are just itching for a reason to grill outside right now! Well if you are like me and winter weather has got you down, here is something to cheer you up!

This is a very light, cholesterol-free, high-fiber version of potato salad. Now per the usual I always try to make new things I haven't tried before to see what my husband will and will not eat. I made these as a side dish and found out that my husband usually doesn't like red potatoes. OKAY .. hold the phones .. who doesn't like red potatoes!?!? I couldn't believe my ears! Well he loved these so thank goodness for this recipe. I loved that these weren't so heavy with all the mayo and mustard either. My cholesterol doesn't need any help going in the wrong direction.

French-Style Russet Potato Salad

2lb small, round red-skinned potatoes
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cervil leaves, chopped (I substituted Parsley)

Place the potatoes in large saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife (about 15-20 minutes). Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste until blended well.

When potatoes are ready, drain them and allow to cool. Once cooled enough to handle, quarter them and add them to the dressing. Add celery and chervil (or parsley) tossing gently to combine. Serve salad warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spicy Scallops with Vegetable-Rice Pilaf

I was really scared to make this. Scallops used to scare me, but not anymore. I thought this would be a perfect recipe to introduce myself to them. I used Bay Scallops isntead of Sea Scallops because they were a bit smaller and what I was going for with regards to size. I really loved them and they were really interesting to make, very quick. I had no idea but they have little white muscles on the sides of them that you pull off. They come off very easily and I am glad that I noticed that in the directions. The scallops were so tasty and easy to make. I absolutely loved how the rice complemented them well.

Speaking of the rice... oh my gosh! This is the absolute best rice I have ever made in my entire life! ENTIRE LIFE! Seriously if I ever have to make another rice dish on the side .. this will be it. I never have made long-grain rice before or put other things in my rice. Boy oh boy was it worth it! The rice was so soft!!! I actually substituted corn for the suggested peas in the recipe because if you didn't already know (from my pot pie recipe) I cannot stand peas .. at all. The corn brought a wonderful flavor and it was absolutely delicious! It also has some bacon and my husband came downstairs while I was cooking it and was very excited that some part of the meal (he didn't care which part) incorporated bacon. He said he could smell the bacon from a mile away.

Spicy Scallops with Vegetable-Rice Pilaf

kosher salt
1 cup long-grain rice
3/4 cup frozen corn (or peas if you prefer)
2 slices bacon
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion, whites only
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground or finely crushed dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 lb sea or bay scallops (bay scallops are smaller, pictured above)
2 tsp canola oil
lemon wedges, optional

In a heavy saucepan, bring 2 cups water and pinch of salt to a boil. slowly add in the long-grain rice, stir and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover and make sure rice is tender and all the water has been absorbed. If not, continue to cook on low covered a few minutes at a time.

During the last 5-10 minutes of the rice cooking, fry the bacon in a small skillet on medium heat and set aside on a paper towel and plate. When cooled, chop into tiny bits. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the red onoin and green onion to the bacon grease reamaining in the pan. Saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary. Stir in the frozen corn (or peas) and continue to cook a few extra minutes.

Transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl along with bacon pieces and vegetable mixture from skillet. Toss gently with a fork to combine and cover with saran wrap to keep warm.

To make the spice mixture, in a small bowl stir together paprika, garlic and onion powders, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper. Measure out 1.5 tbsp to season scallops with and save the rest in airtight container for next time (may be stored for up to 4 weeks). Remove the small, white muscle on the side of the scallops. They come of very easily so this can be done with no utensils. spread scallops on plate or cutting board evenly in a single layer and sprinkle with half of the seasoning. Turn over and season the other side of scallops.

In a large frying pan on medium heat, warm the canola oil. Add scallops in a single layer. Cook until seared and slightly blackened, about 2-3 minutes. Using tongs turn the scallops and cook and sear the other side an additional 2 minutes.

Scoop 1/4 of the rice mixture onto a serving dish and top with warm scallops. Accompany with lemon wedges if desired. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spinach and Sausage Stuffed Shells

Sometimes I wish I had excellent photography skills. This is one of those times. My picture does absolutely nothing for this fantastic recipe. This is surely a household favorite now! The original recipe was only stuffed spinach shells but I now know better from when I attempted to feed my husband spinach lasagna. If there is no meat, he won't eat it. End of story. So I decided to add some spicy Italian Sausage and my oh my was it a wonderful addition! It was also wonderful that I got to use my new 5 quart casserole dish that I haven't been able to yet. I was so excited it could have been a complete flop and I wouldn't have cared since I got to use my new dish. Since it was a complete success it made it just that much more worth it!

Spinach and Sausage Stuffed Shells

1 lb Italian Sausage (I used Hot)
20-25 dried jumbo shell macaroni
3/4 lb package frozen spinach, thawed (about 7 oz)
2 eggs, beaten
8 oz shredded cheese (I used mexican blend)
1-1.5 cup ricotta cheese
26-28 oz pasta/marinara sauce

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again and set aside. Meanwhile cook the Italian Sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat crumbling as it cooks until completely browned. Once browned, place into a large mixing bowl with drained spinach 1.5 cups of cheese, ricotta and eggs. Spoon about 2-3 tbsp (or enough to fill pasta) into shells and place into large baking dish. I used a 5 quart and completely filled it up.

Then pour the marinara sauce over the shells. Bake, covered at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until heated through. Sprink with remaining shredded cheese before serving.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

I will find any excuse to make Mexican food. Having some friends over for game night this past weekend was one of them. In the time it took to make them (a LOT of time) was well worth it in the end. If you are making this for a group of hungry people whether family or friends, I would suggest having some appetizers ready ahead of time or beginning this 2 hours before you want to eat it. Yeah, it takes me that long from start of prep to finish. That includes having all of the vegetables chopped ahead of time too. But please trust when I say that it is well worth the time to make these!! They taste even better than restaurant enchiladas! They are so authentic and delicious. I think the picture speaks for itself. That red sauce is the best and I am so glad I found a fellow blogger who shared a recipe to make it!

Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally America's Test Kitchen

1 medium onion, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1 tsp canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp sugar
1 can tomato sauce (14 oz)
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups shredded mexican cheese blend (or your favorite), divided
1/2 cup minced, fresh cilantro
10-12 soft corn tortillas (6-inch)
cooking spray

Combine the onion, jalapenos and oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add in the garlic cloves, seasonings and sugar. Mix well and cook until just fragrant (about 30-45 seconds). Pour in the tomato sauce, water and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce temperature to medium-low. Gently place the chicken breasts into the sauce mixture and cover with a lid for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Thicker chicken takes longer. Transfer chicken to plate to cool.

Place a strainer inside of a large mixing bowl and pour saucepan mixture into it. Press into the vegetables to extract as much excess liquid as possible. Leave the sauce in the mixing bowl and pour vegetables in a separate large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the liquid mixture to the vegetables immediately.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9x13 glass baking dish. Shred the chicken with a fork and add to the vegetable mixture. Mix in 1 cup of the cheese and the cilantro and combine well.

Stack tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the microwave for 40-50 seconds to soften them and make them manageable to roll without tearing. Then, spoon in 1/3 cup (or adequate amount) of chicken mixture evenly down the center of each shell one at a time. Roll it up tightly and place into the glass baking dish side by side. Lightly spray the tortillas and place in oven for 7 minutes.

This is where it gets tricky: Remove and pour liquid mixture over to coat each tortilla and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Reduce heat in oven to 400 degrees, cover with foil and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Key Lime Chiffon Pie

I made this for myself on my birthday last weekend. My oh my was it worth it! I have tried this recipe before I had the Kitchen Aid stand mixer and it never turned out right. I think you just can't get the speed you need from a hand mixer to make the whipping. This was my all-time favorite key lime pie thus far! It is much lighter than most key limes I have tasted and less tangy too. Keep in mind, though, it is not a traditional pie, it is a chiffon pie. It is soft, low fat (oh yeah) and light enough to not make you feel over-full after dinner.


It was at this point I knew I had to control myself. I didn't realize that I was making basically my own whipped cream. I don't put together ingredients and think to myself "oh this is making a whipped cream" because I don't know these things yet. You experiment and you learn. Let's just say that attachment went to the sink pretty darn clean! ;) It was so good! I also had a store-bought crust because I wasn't sure if this would turn out the same as last time (liquidy) or correctly like it did. Thankfully I can rest assured that next time the crust will be just as home-made.

Key Lime Chiffon Pie

1/2 cup key lime juice
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin (one packet) *
3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks, beaten (keep the whites)
grated zest of 1 lime (about 1.5 tbsp)
1/4 cup nonfat condensed milk
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
kosher salt

Pour the lime juice into a small, nonreactive saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Set aside about 5 minutes until gelatin softens. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar, egg yolks, and 1 tbsp of the zest. Place pan on medium heat and constantly stir until mixture steams but does not boil. This will take about 5 minutes and you can test that its done by dipping a spoon into the mixture and pulling it out. Run your finger down the back of the middle of the spoon. Your finger should leave a clean path that the filling does not flow back onto. Remove from heat, pour into a small glass dish and cover. Place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes stirring with a spatula a few times to make sure it doesn't congeal to the sides.

Towards the last 5 minutes of the lime juice mixture being in the fridge, take the 4 egg whites and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (shown above). Beat the egg whites on medium speed until very frothy, about 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and continue beating until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Increase speed to high and gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar 1 tbsp at a time. Allow the sugar to completely incorporate each addition, waiting about 10 seconds in between. When all the sugar has been added continue to beat an additional 2 minutes longer to form stiff peaks (picture shown above).

Using a rubber spatula, gently stir 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the gelatin. Then pour that mixture back onto the remaining egg white mixture and continue to fold with the spatula until no white streaks remain. spread the filling into pie crust and level with the spatula. I had quite a bit extra filling so you might not need all of it. Refrigerate 1-2 hours until filling has set and serve the day of. The recipe book notes that chiffon pies are best served the day that they are made.

* Unflavored gelatin is found with the jello packets in the baking isle. IT IS NOT VANILLA GELATIN! It says on the package "unflavored gelatin" and it is a common mistake for those who have never used it before. Take some time and look around for it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Beef and Vegetable Linguine

I can't remember what magazine I got this from but it has been a huge family favorite in our house for a while. I just cut out the recipe and put it on an index card a while ago before blogging. I think it may have come from a Kraft magazine but I could be wrong. At any rate, this pasta dish has everything you could ever want: beef, veggies and not too much sauce. When cooking the suace it seems like it won't be enough to coat all the linguine but it will be. It comes out to be the perfect amount. I also am a HUGE fan of broccoli and carrots so this is a fantastic, easy, quick weeknight meal for just my husband and myself. Plus as an added bonus I rarely ever make steak so he really loves anything I cook with that in it.

Beef and Vegetable Linguine
Adapted from: source unknown (possibly a Kraft Food Magazine)

8 oz linguine
3 cups broccoli florets
2 cups carrot slices
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb beef sirloin steak, cut into strips
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tsp ground ginger

Cook pasta according to package directions in large pot. Add broccoli and carrots during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture and return to serving bowl. Meanwhile heat oil in large skillet. Add the meat and cook until browned, sitrring occasionally. Stir in dressing, teriyaki sauce and ginger. Cook until sauce thickens, about 5 additional minutes. Pour meat and sauce mixture on top of noodle mixture in serving bowl and toss to combine.