Monday, July 25, 2011

Honey Lime Enchiladas

Let me start out by saying that we are true Texans - we eat lots (and lots!) of Tex Mex on a regular basis. Jason, especially, is a huge fan of Mexican food. Enchiladas are, of course, a mainstay of Mexican food. I've tried my hand at various kinds of enchiladas several times and while a few recipes were good, none of them were droolworthy.

Until these.

And really, that's saying a lot for us to claim an enchilada recipe to be truly delicious and droolworthy.

It's the combination of flavors that make this dish stand out. You have the sticky sweet and limey chicken inside, along with loads of gooey cheese, and soaked into the tortillas is a creamy green sauce instead of a traditional red or sour cream sauce. The green sauce is mild but just has a tinge of spice that works well with the cheese and sweetness of the meat.

Most of all, this recipe is super easy to throw together, unlike many other enchilada recipes, because it uses canned sauce. If you have a favorite homemade green sauce recipe, feel free to use it but I went for easy and did the canned sauce. Since it's quick to prepare, this is great for a weeknight meal.

I found the recipe originally on Stephanie Cooks and tweaked it just slightly.

Honey Lime Enchiladas
6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice (1 large lime)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded (I used rotisserie chicken)
8-10 flour tortillas
1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded
16 ounces green enchilada sauce
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Mix the first four ingredients and toss with shredded chicken. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Pour about 1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.

Fill flour tortillas with chicken and shredded cheese, saving about 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle on top of enchiladas.

Mix the remaining enchilada sauce with the cream. Pour sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until brown and crispy on top.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Honey Sesame Chicken (from Nine Dragons at Epcot)

As I've mentioned before, Disney World is a favorite spot for us and Epcot is definitely my favorite park there. We've only dined at Nine Dragons (the table service restaurant in China, a part of the World Showcase) years ago, but I'd guess that we probably ordered this dish since it's a classic Americanized Chinese dish. It's fried, crispy, sweet, and sticky all in one. What's not to like?

I tweaked their recipe some, which I found at AllEarsNet. The only time consuming part is frying the chicken pieces - if I had a deep fryer, that step would be much easier! This is the first time I can remember using a wet batter, instead of a two step batter method, and I really found it faster and easier to coat the chicken. The sauce is very simple and easy to throw together using basic staple items. I know this would be a huge hit with the kids in your life - it's very similar to the Honey Seared Chicken at Pei Wei.

We both loved this - give it a try!

Honey Sesame Chicken
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into cubes

Marinade:
Glug of sesame oil
Glug of rice wine vinegar
Dash of salt
Dash of sugar

Garnish:
Toasted white sesame seeds

Batter:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 heaping tsp baking powder
½ of a beaten egg
2 tbsp oil
2/3 cup water
Pinch of salt

Honey Sauce:
1/8 cup, plus 1 tbsp honey
¼ cup sugar
1/8 cup ketchup
1 tbsp white vinegar

Soak the cubed chicken in the marinade for about 30 minutes.
Combine batter ingredients in a shallow pan and set aside.

Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat cooking oil for frying, about 320º F. Using tongs, dip marinated chicken into batter and deep fry.

Heat honey sauce in a large wok. Turn off heat. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat. Sprinkle chicken with toasted sesame seeds and serve with hot rice.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo (the way it's intended to be made)

If you're counting calories, I highly suggest you click out of this post and don't read any further...

Years ago, we were planning (another) visit to Walt Disney World and I learned that L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Restaurant in Epcot serves their trademark dish, fettuccine alfredo, the way it was originally created by Alfredo Di Lelio in 1914. The dish that is often found at Americanized Italian restaurants include heavy cream, which neither one of us tolerate well. So, once I learned that this dish was cream free - and the way it was intended to be made - I had to try it. We made a reservation and absolutely loved the richness of the alfredo sauce, sans cream.

Bet you didn't think you'd get a history lesson, too?

This dish is incredibly decadent. My first words after taking a bite were "Oh my God that's good." And it is. When a meal is comprised of butter, cheese, and pasta, how can it not be?

There is nothing remotely healthy about it but I think splurging is okay sometimes. If you're worried about the calories, maybe serve it as a side dish to grilled fish or chicken. This is so satisying but yet doesn't leave you with that blah feeling like many of the really heavy pasta dishes out there.

This recipe is incredibly simple and fast. Three ingredients! Start to finish it was about 15 minutes and that includes grating all the cheese while the water boiled. I used the refrigerated noodles that take 3 minutes to cook. Also, be sure and buy a quality butter and cheese for this and grate your own cheese so it melts well. I got this from my Delicious Disney cookbook.

Fettuccine Alfredo
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (I used Kerrygold Irish butter)
1/2 pound Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for garnish)
1 pound fettuccine (preferably fresh)

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and cheese until creamy.

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Return fettuccine to pot. Toss with cheese mixture and 1/4 cup of the reserved water until all strands are coated (add more reserved water as needed to make a smooth creamy sauce).

Garnish with fresh Parmesan.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Vegetable Crepes

What you see is my first attempt at making crepes - I didn't succeed the first time... okay, it took about four tries but I think I finally mastered it. Maybe? The recipe calls for premade crepes but I'm way too cheap for that. It's only flour, milk, and egg - which I already had - so I tried my own. If you don't want to even mess with it, see if you can find the pre-made kind at your store to make this dish even easier.

I found this recipe on Pinterest; it's originally from EatingWell and it sounded light, tasty and perfect for a super hot summer day. I thought it was absolutely delicious, though Jason did not like it. No problem with me; that meant I got the leftovers! I did switch out black beans for the green beans simply because I really only like roasted green beans. Next time, I might even add some diced asparagus to it. Since I used the beans, they mushed a bit into the cheese and turned the mixture a slightly unappealing color but worry not; it was still delicious (I put a picture of it cut open at the end of the post).

These are cheesy, creamy, and light - plus fairly healthy!

Don't worry if you taste the sauce and think it's too tangy; I did too until I tried it with the slightly eggy crepe, the creamy cheese, and vegetables and it really goes well together. This is a great way to use up vegetables you have on hand, too!

I'll also include the very basic crepe recipe I found on AllRecipes. My only suggestion would be to take the 1/4 cup batter portion with a grain of salt; part of my issue was that I really needed twice that to fit my pan and make a decent sized crepe. Just eyeball it.

Summer Vegetable Crepes
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives, divided, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons low-fat milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 1/4 cups chopped green beans (I subbed black beans)
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used swiss - I had it on hand)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 9-inch “ready-to-use” crêpes, or make your own

Stir sour cream, 1/4 cup chives, milk, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, green beans and corn and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; stir in ricotta, Monterey Jack, the remaining 1/4 cup chives, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring gently, until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To roll crêpes, place one on a piece of parchment or wax paper (or leave it on the piece of plastic separating the crêpes in the package). Spoon one-fourth of the vegetable-cheese mixture (about 3/4 cup) down the center of the crêpe. Use the paper (or plastic) to help you gently roll the crêpe around the filling. Place the crêpe seam-side down on a dinner plate. Repeat with the remaining crêpes and filling. Serve each crêpe topped with 2 tablespoons of the reserved sauce and more chives, if desired.

Crepes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (add a bit more if the batter is not runny enough)
1 egg
1 pinch salt

In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, egg and salt.

Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium high heat. When the pan is hot add a teaspoon of butter and lightly coat the surface of the pan with the melted butter.

Pour one quarter cup of the batter into the pan and tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface in a smooth and even layer. (I ended up using more on each one due to my pan size)

After two minutes, lift up an edge of the crepe with a spatula to see if it is browning. When the underside has begun to brown, flip the crepe and cook the other side until it is also brown; about 2 minutes.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 to cook the remaining crepes. Serve hot.

Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats

We all know that rice crispy treats are super easy and quick to make. The prepackaged ones just aren't as gooey and fresh as the homemade kind but I seem to rarely make them. Anything colorful, or with sprinkles, immediately catches my eye (I *love* a sprinkled donut!) so these went on the "must try" list last week when I saw them posted on The Cooking Nurse.

Since she mentioned there wasn't much of a cake batter taste, I doubled her amount (included below) but might even add more the next time. Just eyeball it and make sure the marshmellow is still gooey enough to coat the rice crispy cereal when you pour it in.

You can use any kind of sprinkles you want - even changing it with the seasons. I happened to have these in my pantry so I used them. They added a distinct crunch that we really liked! And they're fun! And colorful! My dad thought they tasted just like a "crunchy birthday cake" and they got rave reviews from a few others that tried them after I posted this entry. Try them and let me know what you think!

Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats
3 tablespoons butter
1 (10 oz) bag of mini marshmallows
1/2 cup yellow cake mix (or more)
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Sprinkles (just eyeball it)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until they begin to melt. Add one spoonful of dry cake mix to marshmallows at a time, until all is incorporated. After the marshmallow mixture is completely melted, add Rice Krispies. Stir until cereal is completely coated with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle in sprinkles and mix well. Press into a greased 9×13 in pan, and top with more sprinkles. Let sit for about 30 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grilled Polenta with Corn and Parmesan

I love polenta so when I saw this recipe on Pinterest (originally from Bon Appetit) I knew I had to try it this summer. This recipe is a two step process but it wasn't a big deal to make and was very tasty.

I changed it slightly when I couldn't find stone ground cornmeal - just regular. This actually worked out well since we were hungry and the regular ground polenta only takes about 5 minutes while this recipe said it needed 30 minutes to thicken. I threw the pan into the freezer for just a few minutes so it would cool quickly. I also ended up using a slightly smaller pan than the recipe calls for so my squares wouldn't be so thin.

Be sure and spray down your grill well or your polenta will stick (I lost one in the process!). I also didn't have the grill hot enough to get good grill marks on mine but they were still crunchy on the outside.

This would be great alongside some grilled meat and veggies.

Grilled Polenta with Corn and Parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup corn kernels
3 cups water, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
Additional olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add corn; sauté until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Bring 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk cornmeal and 1 cup water in medium bowl to blend. Whisk cornmeal-water mixture into boiling water; return to boil. Cook until polenta is smooth and thick, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Stir in corn mixture.

Brush 11x7x2-inch dish with oil. Spread polenta in dish. Cool completely. (This can be made 1 day ahead- just cover and chill).

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill with oil. Cut polenta into 12 squares. Brush both sides with oil. Place on grill; cover grill. Grill until polenta is golden brown, about 3 minutes per side, sprinkling with cheese during last minute. Serve hot.

Honey-Ginger Pork Tenderloin

This is, hand's down, the best pork tenderloin I've ever tasted. Well, at least that I can remember. It's so good that I wish I had doubled the recipe since there was nothing left after Jason and I had dinner.

Not only is it delicious, it's also super easy! I should have let mine marinate all day but only got about four hours in - still flavorful and tasty. Throw the pork and marinade in the fridge before you leave for work and throw it on the grill when you get home.

I found the recipe on The Way the Cookie Crumbles.

Try it soon!

Honey-Ginger Pork Tenderloin
¼ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ketchup
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
two ¾-pound pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the pork. Add the pork and the marinade to a gallon-size zipper-top bag and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Prepare a medium-hot grill. (You should be able to hold your hands 5 inches above the grate for 3 to 4 seconds.) Remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the marinade.

Grill the pork, basting with the reserved marinade, for 12 minutes, turning a quarter turn every 3 minutes. Discard marinade. Continue to cook pork, turning every minute or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin measures 145 degrees or the meat is slightly pink at the center. Let the pork rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Kuwaiti Cinnamon-Orange Iced Tea

Because of my Crohns disease, I gave up anything carbonated years ago so iced tea is now my favorite cold beverage (I used to love Cherry Coke and Dr Pepper!). Flavored iced teas are my weakness... I don't drink sweet tea but do like flavored teas even if slightly sweet. Matter of fact, it's pretty well known that I will eat at restaurants more often if they have flavored tea - whether their food is good or not doesn't matter much (I can quickly rattle off the names of restaurants that have "good tea").

When I came across this recipe from Aarti on FoodNetwork.com, I knew I had to try it. Not only does it have an ethnic spin to it (always intriguing for me!) but it combines flavors that I haven't found in a local restaurant flavored tea.

I've almost finished off the first pitcher and wish I had doubled the recipe. You add the simple syrup to your liking so mine is not overly sweet though you could dump the entire pot of syrup into yours if you like really sweet tea. The flavor is very complex; you get a bit of the spice from the black tea and ginger but this sweet mint and orange flavor, too. It's a very unique and delicious combination.

It's super easy so give it a try! This would be a great addition to your cookout or just to have on hand.

Kuwaiti Cinnamon-Orange Iced Tea
For the Tea:
2 large pieces orange peel, plus orange slices for garnish (optional)
1 cinnamon stick, plus more for garnish (optional)
8 black tea bags

For the Syrup:
1 cup sugar
6 quarter-size coins peeled ginger, chopped
6 sprigs fresh mint

Make the tea: Combine 8 cups water, the orange peel and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over low heat and bring to a boil. Add the tea bags and turn off the heat. Let the tea steep for about 5 minutes (no more or else it will be bitter), then remove the tea bags and chill the tea; don't remove the cinnamon stick or the orange peel yet.

Meanwhile, make the syrup: Combine 1 cup water, the sugar and ginger in a small saucepan over low heat and bring to a boil without stirring. Once boiling, turn off the heat. Rip the mint leaves and stalks into pieces and drop into the syrup. Let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Strain the syrup, discarding the mint and ginger.

Strain the tea into a pitcher. Add the mint syrup according to your taste and stir. Serve in tall glasses over ice and garnish with orange slices and cinnamon sticks, if you like.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Homemade Italian Dressing (used for Pasta Salad)

Today, after church, we had a church-wide potluck meal. I know there are many food snobs out there who turn their nose up to a potluck but I love them. I love trying new dishes, seeing what others make, and eating a plateful of bitesized portions of as many dishes as possible.

When I was deciding what to make, I took a look in my fridge to see what I already had on hand. This pasta dish is what came of that search. I found three almost empty bags of dried pasta that I could throw in one pot together; a zucchini; a yellow squash; a can of black olives; some grated parmesan; and some sliced pepperoni.

I knew I wanted to throw together a dressing to go with it, instead of spending money on a bottled dressing, so I Googled and found this great recipe on AllRecipes.com and just removed the salt, per the reviews. This dressing is SO EASY and literally uses stuff you already have in your spice drawer. No need to spend money on a premixed dressing! This took about 5 minutes to whip up and was very flavorful.

Homemade Italian Dressing
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic salt, onion powder, sugar, oregano, pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, celery salt and regular salt. Store in a tightly sealed container.

To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix.


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