Tuesday, February 26, 2013

EASY Homemade Enchilada or Red Chile Sauce

You are going to fall in love with this simple recipe for making your own Enchilada Sauce. No more cans, packages or even soaking dried chilies (Sorry Grandma and all my Aunties).

This sauce has body, it has a little heat, but most of all it tastes like you just made an authentic Red Chile Sauce.

Cause, guess what......you did!!

And you did it all using a blender or food processor and a sauce pan. That's it!!!

We love it with Enchiladas, to simmer meat in (Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Meat anyone?), casseroles, Huevos Rancheros, Chilaquiles.......the list goes on and on.

This is a great recipe to have in your back-pocket if you love Mexican food. Your friends will be asking you for the recipe!!

  • 2-3 cups chicken broth (Start with about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste (optional)
  1. Combine and blend chicken broth, tomatoes, chili powder, flour, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, and cayenne pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Pour into a medium sauce pan and heat over medium low 8-10 minutes or until thickened as desired. May be thinned by adding small amounts of water or chicken broth. 
This sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or even frozen. Thaw before heating. 
 **This can be made Vegetarian by subbing Vegetable broth or just water. And it can easily be Gluten Free by using a Corn or Rice Flour.

**This recipe is shared on :Taste and Tell Thursdays   and on Mommy Time-Weekend Potluck
Also shared on Melt In Your Mouth Monday #106

Friday, February 22, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles

Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles 
Yesterday the weather reports indicated a massive snow storm coming our way. Living in the upper Midwest, that's really not so daunting, but we have been spoiled the last 5 or so years and haven't really had to worry about big totals of snow fall.
This storm though, was predicted to dump anywhere from 5-9". Which combined with a blowing wind makes for not so nice weather. 
As it was, we received about 12" where I live. (Yikes!!)
I decided to make a delicious comfort food, one that warms your tummy and your soul and I did it in the slow cooker. 

For everyone's Nana or aunt or whomever used to make this recipe, and is rolling over in their grave, please forgive me. 
But this is truly so good, and well....EASY.

  • 3-4 FBSCB-frozen boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 2 10.75 oz cans Cream of Chicken Soup 
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning (opt.)
  • 2 cups frozen Mixed Vegetables, thawed (I used peas and carrots)
  • 16 oz. pkg. Frozen Noodles
  1.  Place FBSCB in the slow cooker. 
  2. Mix the soup and water with pepper and poultry seasoning and pour over FBSCB. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8. 
  3. Remove chicken pieces and shred or cut into bite size. Return to slow cooker along with vegetables and noodles. Stir to combine. 
  4. Cook on high for another 50-60 minutes. Enjoy. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Cheese-iest Enchiladas

Almost anywhere in America on Tuesday resonates with the meal of the day being "Taco Tuesday". Meaning Mexican Fiesta food day of the week. 

Well at least here in my little corner of the world, it is. We have 2-3 restaurants in town (does the local gas station and Casey's count?) and on Tuesday they always feature a Mexican dish or two. 

Anticipating that I sorted, rinsed and put dry pinto beans in my slow cooker Monday night. Covered with water and left to sit until the morning. 

Before I left for work that morning I added a tbsp of chile powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes with green chili's and for good measure a whole jalapeno and a handful of diced onion. Stirred, covered and cooked on low for 8 hours. 

Easy Peasy Ranch Beans. 

When I got home that night, I planned on making one of my family's favorites. The Cheese-iest Enchiladas. 

They are super simple, prep is quick and easy and they are done in a flash.  

And they photograph beautifully. Who wouldn't want a bite of all that ooey, gooey cheesey-ness?

12 6-7" flour tortillas
4 cups shredded cheese, divided-I used sharp cheddar and colby/jack mixed
2 1/2 cups Enchilada sauce-2 sm cans or 1 large can (I make my own)   

Optional Toppings-Olives, Avocados, Diced green onions, Tomatoes.....

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 2- 11 x 7 glass baking dishes or one  large 11 x 15 baking dish with non-stick spray. Pour 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of each dish and swirl to coat.
  2. In a large bowl , place 3 cups of the cheese and set 1 cup aside. Pour 3/4 cup of enchilada sauce on the 3 cups of cheese and toss lightly to combine. 
  3. Place a tortilla in front of you and put approx. 1/4 cup of cheese across the edge nearest you and roll up tightly. Place seam side down in a dish. Continue with the 11 other tortillas.  
  4. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over each dish. Sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese. 
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes and sprinkle with the other remaining cheese and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes. 
  6. Remove and let rest for about 5-10 minutes, they serve easier then. Garnish as you desire. We like green onions and avocado.  Enjoy! 
*This recipe if featured on Taste and Tell Thursdays
 and on The Country Cook Weekend Potluck #55
 also on Tidy Mom I'm Lovin' It Party
AND...Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms-Melt In Your Mouth Blog-Hop #105
Spicy Thursday@DC In Style

Mix it up Monday @ Flour Me with Love
Mealtime Monday @ Couponing and Cooking

My Sweet and Savory@Meatless Monday

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked Spaghetti Pastitsio

Sometimes as a mom, we have those collective moments when time just seems to have gotten away from us.
I had that happen recently. It gives you pause and I recall actually shaking my head and wondering out loud-where had the time gone. 

Last Saturday we celebrated my third child, McKinley Paige, turning 17. It seems like yesterday, and I know that's cliche, that we were laughing hysterically while watching her older brother push her down the backyard grassy hill in a little peddle car, with her little head bobbing because of all the grassy bumps. She wanted to go again, and again and again. We laughed every time, and to this day, 15 years later that memory still brings a smile to my face.

No one said though, when I was having babies how hard it would be to watch them grow up. Oh sure, they told us how hard it was to "raise" them, guide them, control them and reprimand them, but not how heart-breakingly hard it was to just have them grow up....

Maybe I'm just too sentimental.

So, I went ahead and prepared her favorite meal for her birthday, and for this child that is Spaghetti. Not so tough, I can make a mean Sauce any day. Of course making enough for 9 people meant that I knew I was going to have some leftover. What I didn't plan on was having a big bowl of spaghetti noodles left. I guess making 3 boxes was a little overboard. I mean we did have garlic bread and a big salad.

Anyway, 2 days later I was still trying to figure out what to do with all these noodles and it came to me. I love Greek Pastitsio, but that is normally made with Penne. I made it with the Spaghetti and I think I like it that way better, it's not so densely pasta-ly.

Pastitsio consists of luscious layers of seasoned ground beef, pasta, and a creamy bechamel sauce baked to perfection. This is Greek comfort food at its finest. So my riff on it made it an easy weeknight meal. I used cooked spaghetti noodles, Meat sauce I had made, cheese and topped it with a Creamy Bechamel (basic white) sauce

The family loved it as well. It comes out beautifully creamy because of the Bechamel topping it (I added some Parmesan to that as well-upping it's creaminess).



12 oz. of cooked Spaghetti noodles
2 eggs
1 cup of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese or even sour cream
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
3 cups of prepared meat sauce or a jar of your favorite sauce (woo-even easier)
2 cups of shredded cheese, I used a mix of Mozzarella and cheddar
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of flour
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of Parmesan
Pinch of Nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Spray a 9 x 11 deep casserole dish with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. In a large bowl whisk eggs, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese until blended. Toss pasta with it and spread in the casserole dish. 
  3. Sprinkle pasta with one cup of the shredded cheese. 
  4. Spread the meat sauce over, covering the pasta evenly. Sprinkle the meat sauce with the remaining cup of shredded cheese. 
  5. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter and whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and heat, stirring, until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining Parmesan cheese. Stir in Nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  6. Pour this white sauce evenly over the meat sauce and cheese. 
  7. Bake in the preheated oven about 40 minutes, until bubbly around the edges and heated through. 
  8. Let set 5-10 minutes before serving, it's easier to cut and serve. Enjoy!


Bzzz Agent

I don't know if you have ever tried a "peel", but I have not. Oh, wait other than those kind that you bought years ago and you would slather it on and "peel" it off. No, come to think of it, those were a type of mask.

Anyway, since I participate in trying new products as a Bzz Agent, I was given the chance to try this new product from Garnier.

Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot Peel
Created with Garnier’s innovative Glycolic Vitamin C Complex, the leave-on peel gently speeds exfoliation to fade spots and reveal smoother, brighter and remarkably more even-toned skin. 

I am actually kind of jazzed to be trying this. I grew up as a California girl. Spent almost all year-round outside. Swimming, hiking, waterskiing, backpacking, snow skiing, horse back-riding, walking on the beach and on top of mountains. And back when I was doing all of this, the big movement towards wearing a sunscreen had not even been reported yet. So, I saw alot of sun, had lots of freckles and had my share of sunburns. 
All of this left me with some dark spots on my face as I got older. I of course, wear the proper spf coverage all the time now, even though I no longer live in CA. 

Needless to say, after only 3 nights of use; yes, you put this on at night and forget about it, I have noticed that my face is smoother, softer and actually seems more hydrated.  I'll keep reporting my progress as I finish this product and I'm hoping for some really positive results. 

So give it a try! And, please let me know how it worked for you!! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Classic Patty Melt

I can't imagine anyone not having one of these babies at least once in a lifetime. Unless you did not grow up in the US, then maybe not.

These are the ultimate "diner" food and found in almost any restaurant in small town America. They are also one of my youngest child's top 5 foods of all time( at 15 she still has plenty of time to broaden the experience of her palate).

Back here in the Midwest though, a classic Patty Melt, is one of the main food groups dinner (meaning lunch to anyone not from middle America) staple.

I mean, it's a seasoned beef patty, seared on both sides, put between 2 slices of Rye (our preference), kissed on one side with carmelized onions and snuggled between 2 sides of cheesy goodness, then it's grilled on both sides......YUM-ME!!

Behold the mighty.....

This baby is the bomb!! It takes a few steps but it's worth it!

1 1/2 lbs. Ground beef, separated into 4 6oz patties
3-4 Onions, ends removed, peeled, halved and sliced 1/4"
2 tbsp oil 
8 slices of good cheese, I used Swiss and Muenster
8 slices of Rye or Sourdough bread

  1. Begin by heating the oil in a skillet on medium and put all the onions in and toss. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Lower heat to Low, cover and stir occasionally until softened and slightly browned, about another 20-30 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, season patties with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  3. About 10 minutes before the onions are done, heat a large pan on medium and cook the patties 4-5 minutes on each (without disturbing!!-you want that crust!). When done place on a paper towel lined plate and tent with foil. 
  4. Prepare the bread by putting cheese on one side and some of the onions. 
  5. Place the patty on the onions and cover with another slice of cheese and the other side of bread. Lightly butter both sides and cook until browned and cheese is melted. 
  6. Slice and enjoy!!!

See, pretty simple. But man are they good!!

I served them with roasted Pesto Potato Wedges!! But that's a recipe for another day...

*This recipe is featured on Sunflower Supper Club-Weekend Potluck #54
*This recipe is also featured on Melt in Your Mouth Monday (Recipe Blog Hop #104)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sausage & Pepper Hoagies

Feeling the need to use up some gorgeous peppers that I bought. All of a  sudden at the store there were these beautiful red, yellow and green bell peppers and they were so reasonable I just had to purchase them.

One of our favorite dishes to use them in is a sausage and pepper saute, that can be served over rice, pasta, potatoes.....but our fav, fav way is to wrap it in a toasty sourdough roll and melt gooey cheese over the top!!

I mean SERIOUSLY!!!! Wouldn't you want to eat this? It is so darn good, and actually pretty easy.

Come on, you know you want to make this....
  • 1 pkg. of your favorite cooked Sausage, I used an Italian Chicken Sausage that we love. 
  • 2- Multi-colored Bell peppers, cored, and sliced in thin strips
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced across thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder or one clove pressed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. In a large skillet, on medium -medium high heat, saute the onions and peppers in the oil for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add in the sausage that you have sliced into 1/4" slices, and the garlic. Mix to combine, saute for another 5-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Add in the tomato sauce and cover and cook another 10 minutes on medium low heat. 
This is what it will look like at this step........

Meanwhile prepare your side, pasta, rice, potatoes or like us toasted buns. I preheat the oven to 400F and split open a sourdough loaf  and spread a small amount of butter on each side and "toast them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. then pile one side with the sausage and pepper mixture and cover with your favorite cheese ( I used Provolone), pop it back into the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting the bubble. Enjoy!!!

Yes....come to momma--

Friday, February 8, 2013

Taco Bowls With Lime Cilantro Rice

We had the most amazing meal at one of the best "fast food" places in America.


Believe it or not it was our first experience....I know, I know, it probably seems like we live under a rock. We don't but, because of where we are, North Central Iowa, it is considered "rural". Meaning corn and soy bean fields as far as you can see, Windmill farms (yes-they're back here also), and livestock. The Heart of America.

It also means, I can totally relate to Ree Drummonds, The Pioneer Woman. Our community consists of about 2100 people, with a 2 block Downtown on Main St. Quaint....I know.

But, we are only 120 miles from Minneapolis/St. Paul or Des Moines, IA. And we are also only 90 miles away from Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic. So we happened to be in Rochester for our youngest daughter's sporting event and afterwards we went to Chipotle with some other parents and players.

Blown away!!! What have we been doing all these years driving by these establishments (they're in all of the cities mentioned above)?

Really fresh, tasty good food. Kind of like a Subway on Fresh Mex steroids.....haha.

Anyway, having been so impressed, I decided to create a riff on their burrito bowls and so I made....


1 1/2 cups long grain Rice-cooked according to the directions
1 Lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup Cilantro, minced
2 tbsp Veg. or Canola Oil
1 tsp salt

1 lb. Ground Beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning, (or 1 tsp Cumin, Garlic and Onion powder and 1 tbsp Chile Powder)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce ( I used Rotel brand)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained. 
1 cup frozen corn kernels or 1 can drained. 

Various Toppings:
Shredded Lettuce
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Green Onion

  1. Cook rice and set aside to cool slightly. 
  2. Meanwhile, brown and crumble ground beef in a large skillet. Add in seasoning and tomato sauce (you may need about half a can of water), and simmer for 5-10 minutes. 
  3. Add in black beans and corn and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for another 5-8 minutes. 
  4. Mix lime zest, juice, oil, cilantro and salt in a large bowl. Mix in cooked rice and toss to combine, cover and set aside. 
  5. In large shallow bowls, serve a bed of rice, layer over the meat mixture and cover with cheese. Now pile on the toppings!!! Serve with tortilla chips and you have a winner, winner Taco Dinner!!!
*Oh and by the way, I could have eaten the whole bowl of rice myself....so good.

Shared on Make Ahead Meals For Busy Mom's, Melt in Your Mouth Monday's
Shared on Taste and Tell Thursdays

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Parmesan and Garlic Roasted Broccoli

My youngest two are convinced, anytime they see me make broccoli, that I am trying to torture them.


They ask to cover it up with Ranch dressing or mayonnaise (yes, mayo, it's actually sometimes a "sauce" in our house) and if available a cheese sauce. I mean, come on...

I personally like broccoli any way I can get it; raw, steamed, sauteed, or deep-fried. 

But I recently came across a method that makes Broccoli get eaten like it's candy. Not just figuratively, literally....I had to make my youngest stop grabbing them off the baking sheet so that I could portion out DH and my dishes or we wouldn't have gotten any!!

I can't even imagine why I haven't thought of this before, I mean I use this same method with hard winter squash, cauliflower and certain meats. 

Okay, I'm done walking around the kitchen, kicking myself. Instead I'll share some of this magic with you and it's so easy and simple, it's divine.
As you can see by the photo, the broccoli gets cooked, and slightly crispy, it is tender but still has a nice "chew". The slightly browned bits are the Parmesan cheese that crisped up, mmmm some real goodness there.  It should be called.....

KG This Is Not Goodbye
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, florets cut off and stalks discarded (I save them for compost or veg. broth)
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 cup shredded or flaked Parmesan cheese (don't used the powdered kind here)
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oil, salt, garlic, and cheese. 
  3. Add in broccoli and toss until all the florets are coated with oil and cheese.
  4. Spread them evenly on the baking sheet and add pepper. 
  5. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until slightly browned and tender. Shake the pan once in the middle of roasting time. 
We enjoyed ours as a side to a a delicious slow cooker Pork Stew over couscous. Yum-me!!
**This recipe is featured on Taste and Tell Thursdays

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sausage, Cabbage and Pierogi Haluski


Behold another delicious addition to the Winter Comfort Food Series.....
For this one we're tapping the Slavic Nations for their version of a "ravioli". 
No wonder I love Gyoza, Potstickers, dumplings or any other type of Savory pie thingy
And tell me, who doesn't think cheesy mashed potatoes wrapped in a tender pastry, boiled and then browned in butter sound good?
If you seriously don't think that sounds tempting, I am going to include you in my prayers tonight
Praying that you will be saved from the Bland Food Movement (BFM) that is sweeping parts of our Nation!! 

This dish is so hearty, yet good that you'll be spanking yourself while you eat it! 
No, seriously, refrain from spanking, that's really passe and you just might get in trouble. I surely don't want to provide an instrument for that. 
What I will do though, is give you another weapon for your Good Food Arsenal.
CLACK, CLACK!!  That's your cookbook, ratcheting up a notch!
This also could easily be adapted to a Vegetarian dish for ones so inclined. Just omit the absolutely delicious sausage and proceed.  (But secretly you will wish you still ate meat occasionally, just for this dish) 

  • 20 oz. (1 bag) of your favorite frozen Pierogies
  • 2 tbsp butter or oil
  • Cabbage, half a head, cored, chopped or sliced
  • 1 Onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 12-16 oz of Polish or other cured Sausage, sliced into coins
  • Salt and Pepper to taste-we like lots of pepper
  • 1/2 -1 cup Beer or Broth (opt.) 
  • 1 cup baby carrots or carrot slices (opt.)   
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Once water is boiling, drop in Pierogies and cook until they float to the top, remove with a spider or slotted spoon to drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile heat a large skillet to med. high. Add butter or oil. Add in onions and cabbage (and carrots if using-I don't always add carrots). Salt and pepper to taste, and saute until cabbage is wilted and onions are slightly golden, add in sausage and saute for 5 minutes. 
  3. Slide in Pierogies and saute for another 8-10 minutes until they brown slightly and puff up. Pour in broth or liquid, if using and reduce heat to med. low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until heated through and everything is bubbly and most of the liquid evaporates. 
  4. Can be served with sour cream and or applesauce (I actually prefer a dollop of good mustard!) and a side salad. 
 *The carrots are a nice touch, they add a sweetness to the dish and amp up the vegatable intake-wink, wink!
**Some people don;t think the beer or broth is necessary, but I find it adds a certain unctuousness to the dish. So try it with and then try it without, you decide!

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    Slow Cooker Pork Fricassee

    OMG....you are going to absolutely love this recipe. It can easily be adapted for Chicken or Beef as well. 
    Photo by sourdoughnative

    Now, for those of you who don't really know what a Fricassee is, it's just a fancy term for meat that is in pieces and braised in a gravy.
    Now, who doesn't like gravy, raise your hand. If your hand is raised stop reading right now and go see your doctor. 
    If your hand is not raised....lucky you, you are going to find one of the best, simple, family clamoring for more, more, more, dishes that you can add to your cooking arsenal.
    This uses some readily available ingredients and that awesome piece of equipment, the...  SLOW COOKER.
    In the picture above, I used what the local butcher refers to as Tenderized Pork Cutlets. Which basically are pork pieces that have been tenderized and they are from many different cuts of pork. They are perfect for braising. You could easily use chops, country ribs, skinless chicken, or many of the cheaper cuts of beef. 
    I chose to put this over buttered egg noodles and it was perfect, but you could sub your favorite gravy vehicle; rice, potatoes or even bread. Whatever powers your carb-car.
    I didn't even brown the meat first, just "dumped" everything in the pot, put the lid on and walked away. *Sigh*, why couldn't all recipes be like that?

    • 2 ibs. Tenderized Pork Cutlets (or your favorite cut of meat, make sure the chicken has the skin removed)
    • 1 can Cream of Chicken condensed soup-I used a reduced fat and sodium version
    • 1 Envelope of Onion soup mix
    • 1 Envelope of a Gravy mix, any variety, I used Turkey cause that's what I had
    • 2 cups of water-you could sub about 1/4 cup of the water with Marsala or White wine-that would be yummy!
    • 1-2 tsp dried Parsley
    • Fresh black pepper to taste

    1. Place the Pork (or other meat) into the bottom of a slow cooker. 
    2. In a bowl mix all of the remaining ingredients and pour over the meat, coating all the pieces. Give it a stir to make sure everything is coated and cover.
    3. Cook on high for 4-6 hrs or on low for 8-10. 
    That's it!!! Prepare noodles or rice, and serve. I also prepared buttered peas an a fresh green salad, it was a scrumptious dinner. And....this made 6 portions!!!