Thursday, March 31, 2016

Crispy Shrimp Tacos (Encamaronadas)

Melted cheese, chopped shrimp, and salsa are folded into a corn tortilla and fried until crispy. These tacos are quick to make (just 15 minutes!), done in just 1 pan, and will disappear before you know it!

Tacos are sorta a big deal in Texas. You can buy them just about anywhere - though the best are usually found at a taco stands set up in parking lots. Don't worry - it's not as shady as it sounds. And while I've found a few solid taco options, I do miss some of the variety found in Texas.

Thankfully, I found a great recipe to make at home! These tacos are heads above most of the restaurant tacos I've ordered. The crispy shell you achieve through frying automatically makes them fantastic but the stuffing is also amazing! I took a Rick Bayless recipe (he's the best!) and streamlined it a bit to make it more weeknight friendly. Honestly, these don't even need to be for dinner - they would be amazing at a Super Bowl party or the like. I refuse to admit how many we plowed through the night I made them. They are addictive!

Don't be discouraged if you don't master the taco flip the first time. I tore my first tortilla and lost my stuffing but thanks to the cheese holding it all together, it still fried up okay and tasted great - it just wasn't pretty. The key is to not over-stuff them or you'll lose half the shrimp in your pan.

Shrimp cooks up super fast so have everything ready to go - you should be able to make this in 15 minutes, start to finish. You could dunk them in sour cream or guacamole if you feel so inclined but they certainly don't need it!

Crispy Shrimp Tacos
8-10 corn tortillas
3/4 cup store-bought refrigerated salsa
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
vegetable oil, for frying

In a deep skillet over medium heat, add a swirl of oil. Once hot, add the salsa. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the diced shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are just about cooked through (they will finish cooking in the taco). Transfer the shrimp/salsa mixture to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

Add a heavy film of oil to the skillet and heat to medium-high. Once hot, place a tortilla in the oil and cook a few seconds. Using tongs, gently flip and then add a couple tablespoons cheese and, using a slotted spoon, about 1 tablespoon shrimp/salsa filling. Using tongs, carefully fold half the tortilla over to make a taco. Gently press flat. Cook until both sides are crispy, about 2-3 minutes a side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Source: adapted from Rick Bayless

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maggiano's Copycat Rigatoni "D"

Balsamic mushrooms, chicken, caramelized onions, and rigatoni all tossed in a Marsala cream sauce. This copycat recipe is easy to make at home! There is no wonder why it's one of Maggiano's most popular dishes!

I hope that you and yours had a lovely Easter. You may have noticed the blog was dark all Holy Week; it's a super busy time at work for me and my blog got pushed to the back burner. Spring has sprung and the longer daylight hours have me tricked into thinking I can get a lot more done in a day :) I have some great recipes coming your way!

Maggiano's may be a chain restaurant but it's one of our favorites! I especially love their on the house classic pastas. Perhaps one of the most popular dishes they serve is Rigatoni "D" - the "D" is for it's creator, David DiGregorio. The Marsala cream sauce is the star in this dish but don't discount those balsamic mushrooms! You may find yourself eating them straight off the baking sheet :)

Rigatoni "D"
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb rigatoni pasta
2 cups cold chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Grated Parmesan, if desired
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450. On a baking sheet, toss together the balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, onion, and garlic until well combined. Spread into an even layer and bake for 15 minutes or until all liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

Cook the rigatoni according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the cornstarch and cold chicken broth. Set aside.

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high.Add the sliced chicken to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly golden in color. Add the white wine and cook until evaporated. Add the Marsala wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the reserved chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the heavy cream, salt, pepper, and reserved mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken. 

Add the drained pasta and cook another 2 minutes, carefully combining the sauce with the pasta. 

Top with chopped basil and grated Parmesan, if desired.

Source: adapted from Recipelink and Maggiano's
David DiGregorio
David DiGregorio

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mexican Lasagna

A twist on a classic lasagna! Seasoned ground turkey, beans, corn, and cheese are layered between tortillas and served up like a classic lasagna. This easy dinner is on the table in just 30 minutes!

My husband is all about anything Mexican or TexMex so I'm always on the hunt for new ways to serve up some of the same ingredients :) I came across this (relatively old) recipe on Food Network and, after reading all the rave reviews, had to give it a shot. I wasn't expecting to like it!

Well, needless to say, it was a huge hit! Yes, the ingredients are some of the same ones I use in other favorite dishes but the lasagna format was new - and made it so easy to portion control and serve! It also makes a healthy portion in just 30 minutes - meaning you may even get two meals out of it. It's not fancy food but it's tasty, easy, and not straight from a to-go container. I call that a winner!

To save on calories (I had to justify all that cheese somehow!), I used ground turkey but you can sub in ground beef or ground chicken. Just make sure it's lean or drain it very well before adding the taco sauce.

Psst - taco sauce is not the same as salsa! You'll find it near the salsa or in the international food aisle. Typically it comes in mild and hot and either will work.

Mexican Lasagna
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground turkey (lean)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8-ounce) jar taco sauce (either mild or hot, your preference)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
12 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 425 and lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish. Set it aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, and diced onion. Stir, breaking up the meat, until browned and evenly seasoned. Add the taco sauce and stir to combine. Add the black beans and corn and heat through, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Spread 4 corn tortillas in the bottom of the prepared baking dish, overlapping if needed. Spoon a layer of meat/bean mixture on top followed by about 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat twice more, resulting in 3 layers, with cheese finishing on top. Sprinkle any remaining cheese on top. 

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Rachael Ray

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spicy Sausage, Spinach, and Mushroom Gnocchi

This 15 minute meal is not only easy to get on the table, it's also delicious! Bonus? It uses one of my favorite foods - gnocchi!

I rarely have an issue finding time to cook (ie, eat!) but I do struggle with getting recipes on the blog. I combed through my files over the weekend and I have a ton waiting to get posted! Since it's quickly becoming spring here - and many other places - I knew I had to hurry and get my cold weather dishes out there before it's too late!

There is something comforting about a big bowl of gnocchi, so this dish lends itself perfectly for a cooler day. That certainly doesn't mean it's too heavy for a warm day - it's not - but it doesn't scream spring like lots of other dishes. It was such a hit at our house (and done in 15 minutes!!) that I had to get it out there for you to enjoy.

Gnocchi can be made at home but in order to pull off a 15 minute meal, store-bought is necessary (and still delicious!). I usually find it near the dried pasta at the grocery store. You can also choose any sausage you love, really, as long as it crumbles. I used Italian for this!

Spicy Sausage, Spinach, and Mushroom Gnocchi
1 (16-ounce) package potato gnocchi
3/4 lb spicy ground sausage
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 (10 ounce) box chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage, breaking it into smaller pieces. Once most of the sausage is browned, add the onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the drained spinach and gnocchi to the skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Top each serving with grated Parmesan and serve hot.

Source: Table for Two

Monday, March 7, 2016

White Chili with Avocado Cream

Diced chicken, ground pork, corn, beans, a punch of lime, and a big dollop of avocado cream make this one flavorful white chili! Perfect for chilly late winter nights!

Ah, chili. A source of argument and competition among both regions and friends. I love a good old fashioned chili cook-off just so I can taste the numerous takes on a basic dish. Not to mention the playful bantering and competition! In Texas, a true chili does not contain beans and is typically pretty darn spicy. In Cincinnati, of course, it's a tad sweet (man, I love Cincinnati chili and spaghetti)! Most chili's, it seems, are tomato based in some way. While tasty, they sure seem heavy - though they are perfect for brutal winter nights!

A white chili, in my opinion, is a tad lighter. I can easily nosh on white chili into the spring months. The flavors tend to be a bit brighter - especially in this version! The avocado cream, lime juice, and white corn make this nearly a spring dish.

I'm not gonna lie - this chili isn't a quick weeknight meal. I will promise you that it's worth it and not near as complicated as it seems. It'd be a great Sunday night meal - and you'll have leftovers for lunch the next day!

White Chili with Avocado Cream
1 serrano chili
1 jalapeno pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
4 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 chipotle in adobo sauce (just 1 pepper - not the whole can)
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided

8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 lb ground pork
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
16 ounce bag frozen white corn
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons lime juice
1 medium avocado
1/3 cup sour cream
Olive oil
Cooking spray
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat broiler to high.

Place the serrano, jalapeno, and onion halves on a foil lined baking sheet. Coat the vegetables with cooking spray and place the baking sheet in the oven. Broil for 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides. Remove from oven and wrap the serrano and jalapeno in foil; let stand 5 minutes. Peel the peppers then halve them, discarding the stems and seeds. 

Place the peppers, onion, 1/2 cup stock, flour, chipotle pepper, and 1 can cannellini beans in a food processor. Process until smooth.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a couple tablespoons olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add the cumin, oregano, and coriander; saute 30 seconds. Add the ground pork and cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add the pureed onion mixture and remaining 3.5 cups stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water until smooth; gradually pour into pot. Add the diced chicken and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining can of cannellini beans, frozen corn, and chickpeas; cook 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low then stir in half-and-half, cilantro, and 1/2 cup lime juice; cook 3 minutes. Add salt to taste.

In a small bowl, mash the avocado. Stir in sour cream, remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice, and salt to taste.

Top each serving with avocado cream.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf

Incredibly moist and bursting with lemon flavor, this easy lemon loaf is whipped up in just 1 bowl!

Cliche as it may be, I'm a Starbucks addict. I'm one of those people who know the staff and they always start my order when they see me walk in. I'm not a $7 drink person; I'm an iced coffee addict and theirs is pretty reasonably priced. Their food, however, is pretty overpriced so I rarely order it. My husband does not do coffee (or really, any drink that Starbucks offers) but he loves their lemon loaf! Occasionally, if he's with me on one of my iced coffee runs, he asks for a slice to go.

Their lemon loaf really is fantastic, but it's pricey! I can make this entire loaf for probably half of a single slice at Starbucks. The ingredient list has nothing weird, you don't need to use every mixing bowl in your cabinet (just 1!), and you don't even need a hand mixer. That's my kind of baking!

The verdict was two thumbs up in this house. It's moist and really loaded with lemon flavor! I think it may even be better than Starbucks... but don't tell my favorite baristas!

Do make sure your extract isn't old (ie: not alcohol-y); I actually had to replace mine before making this recipe because mine was more alcohol than lemon in flavor. The glaze can be thickened to your liking. I like mine thin, drizzly, and really soaked into the loaf so I sliced my cake and then drizzled the glaze so each layer really absorbs the lemon flavor.  

Don't make this right before going to bed. You might find yourself eating a few slices alone in a dark kitchen. Not that that happened to me.

Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf
For the loaf:
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2.5 tablespoons lemon extract, or to taste
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as needed for consistency

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and yogurt or sour cream. Whisk vigorously until smooth and well combined. Drizzle in the oil and continue whisking until combined. Add the lemon zest and lemon extract; whisk to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir to combine but don't overmix. It's okay if there are some lumps present.

Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40 minutes. Carefully pull the pan out and loosely drape a sheet of foil over top to help prevent over browning. Place back in the oven and cook another 10-12 minutes or until the top is domed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before glazing.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl add the confectioners' sugar and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice, whisking as you go. Add juice until it's your desired consistency.

Drizzle the glaze over the loaf before serving. As noted above, I like slicing mine before drizzling so that glaze gets in between the slices.

Store airtight at room temp.

Source: Recipe slightly adapted from Averie Cooks

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