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Thursday

Beef Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce




Beef Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

1 lb. ground beef chuck
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes if desired
1/4-1/3 c. tomatillo sauce (recipe below)
1 c. shredded monterey jack & 1 c. cheddar cheese
flour or corn tortillas

Brown ground beef in a skillet over med. to med-high heat breaking up meat often. When almost brown drain any unwanted liquid and add onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper & red pepper flakes if using. Cook until onion has softened and meat is cooked through. Stir in 1/4-1/3 cup of the tomatillo sauce reserving remainder for top and simmer 2 more minutes.

Wrap shells in a kitchen towel and heat for 20 seconds in the microwave just to warm so they won't tear. Fill shells with a couple of tablespoons of meat and sprinkle with some of both cheeses reserving remainder of cheese for the top of the dish. Place seam side down in an oil-sprayed 9x13 baking dish. Pour remaining tomatillo sauce over the top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover and cook on 375* for 15 to 20 min. Remove cover and cook and additional 5 minutes.

Serve with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and sliced avocado.


Tomatillo Sauce:

1 jalapeno
7-8 tomatillos
1 med. onion, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. chicken stock

Mix jalapeno, tomatillos, onion & garlic with 2-3 tsp. of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet in 400* oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Put all ingredients into a blender (seed jalapeno for less heat if desired) and blend until smooth. (Make sure your roasted veggies have cooled sufficiently before you try to blend them so the top of your blender doesn't go sailing across the room and hot liquid explode in you face. Not a lot of fun). Simmer sauce on the stove top until reduced slightly.

This recipe will make 6-8 enchiladas depending on the shell used.

Tuesday

Girls Day at Blumenau

I had the most fabulous time at my sister Leah's house yesterday. She planned a girl's day for us to get together, have brunch, do our nails and watch a movie. It was so much fun and everything turned out delicious. I have more photos of her christmas decorations (I have already posted some in the post Christmas at Blumenau) and a bunch of our brunch.

When I got there we made ourselves a cup of chai while the "Baked French Toast" cooked.

 Love the lined basket for our cups. The hot beverage server for our hot water is a piece from Willow House. It can be purchased at my web site http://www.andream2.willowhouse.com/. Just click on "shop online".

All the food for our brunch turned out great. We had:


Spinach Quiche

Baked French Toast


Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries


Shaved Frozen Fruit Punch Nectar with Chilled Sparkling Cider

I made a cranberry ice bucket to keep the sparkling cider chilled. It's super easy to make. For directions go to Cranberry Ice Bucket.                                 .


After eating we sat around a watched an old christmas movie and even found time to do our nails.



I wanted to get all the recipes on here already but I have run short on time this holiday season so I will post them as soon as I can. Here are some of Leah's Christmas decorations.......Beautiful!






Eggs Benedict

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

This was my first challenge with "The Daring Cooks" and I quite enjoyed it. I don't think this is something I would have made on my own and am really looking forward to future challenges.

I used the recipe provided, which is listed below. I've got to say, I was a little intimidated to make it at first, I think just because of the stigma that has surrounded eggs benedict, (poaching eggs and the sauce). It really wasn't that hard and turned out very well if I do say so myself. My pictures didn't turn out as well or as many, as I would have liked due, I think, to the fact that I felt "needlessly" rushed to make sure everything turned out well. The canadian bacon on this is rather well hidden, tucked away out of sight. Oops
Before I started I made sure I had all my ingredients out and prepped, which as you probably know, makes a huge difference. My sauce came together without a hitch. I followed the directions as instructed and it was smooth sailing. Whisk whisk whisk.


EGGS BENEDICT

Ingredients:

4 eggs (size is your choice)
2 English muffins*
4 slices of Canadian bacon/back bacon (or plain bacon if you prefer)
Chives, for garnish
Splash of vinegar (for poaching)
For the hollandaise (makes 1.5 cups):
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. (5 ml) water
¼ tsp. (1 ¼ ml/1½ g) sugar
12 Tbl. (170 g/6 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces º
½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3 g) kosher salt
2 tsp. (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
* for gluten free, use gluten free English muffins or bread of your choice
º for dairy free, use a dairy free margarine

Directions:
1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.
3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.
4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.
6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).
7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.
8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.
9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.
10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.
11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian/back bacon and toast your English muffin.
12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!





The sauce thickened in the 3 minutes indicated in the instructions. Once it was completely done, butter whisked in and melted, I just turned off the flame under the double boiler and put the lid on to keep the sauce warm. It worked out perfectly.

I used a medium size saucepan to poach the eggs adding about 2 tbsp of cider vinegar and a pinch of salt. My eggs were perfectly done at just over 3 minutes. Yumm. I didn't have any chives so I substituted with fresh parsley.

Eggs Benedict is something I wouldn't eat often because of the richness but it is delicious for a special occasion. I actually ran across an eggs benedict casserole recipe that has a quick hollandaise sauce that uses 1/2 the butter. You make the casserole then chill it for 8 hours before cooking so it would be great for Christmas morning. All you would have to do that morning is cook it and make the sauce. You could probably even make that the day before too. I believe I'll probably try this soon and I'll let you know if it stands up to the real thing.

Sunday

Cranberry Ice Bucket


This ice bucket is such a clever way to keep your wine or sparkling ciders chilled. 
It has such a wow factor and is very easy to make. I saw the idea on a great blog I follow called "Between Naps On The Porch".


I think someone actually sells the containers to make this in, but I just found a plastic tupperware container and placed a glass vase that I had inside, then placed some coins inside the vase to weigh it down. It was the perfect size for a wine bottle. (Yes, I used glass. I considered the fact that it may break due to the pressure of the ice expanding while it froze but it was cheap and I didn't care, plastic would probably be better)


Just pour water between the two containers to almost full and then your cranberries. Finish filling with water to the top if necessary. I let it freeze over night.
.
To get it out....after removing the money, I filled the inside with first cool water and let it sit a few minutes, poured that out then filled again with luke warm water. 
I used a paper towel to help with holding on to the glass and just started 
turning it around and pulling up.

It took a little work but I got it out, and in one piece. Once I ran some warm water on the outside of it, the ice came out of the plastic bucket easily.

 I placed it in a pretty bowl with some greenery and a few silver ornaments and  used it to keep some sparkling apple cider chilled for our drinks we served at Girls Day Out.


This bucket looked just as cool once it started melting and the cranberries started falling off.

Tuesday

Spinach Tortellini Salad


This is a very simple recipe to make and is packed with big flavor. 

It was requested time and again from lunch clients when I was catering, 
and has become one of my favorites.


Spinach Tortellini Salad

Spinach and Cheese Tortellini
Fresh Mixed Greens
Peppered Bacon, thick sliced
Red Pepper, chopped
Red Onion, thin sliced
Cherry Tomatoes, halved
Cucumber, chopped
Fresh Parmesan
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Italian Vinaigrette

Several hours or even the night before, cook tortellini just until al dente, drain. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp. celery seed, salt and pepper to taste, and 1-2 tsp of olive oil. Add tortellini and mix well. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, stirring when you think about it. Letting the tortellini marinate in the vinegar mixture is a very important step, it really makes a difference.

Cook bacon until crisp and break into small pieces.



To assemble: Place mixed greens onto a plate or bowl. Top with tortellini, red pepper, onion, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Shave parmesan on top then cracked black pepper. Top with bacon. Serve with any italian vinaigrette you like.

I don't have measurements listed because it is really to taste and how many salads you want to make.

Wednesday

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Kale


Spaghetti Squash is a great alternative to pasta and really easy to cook. I thought this turned out great but was thinking next time I am going to go with some type of creamy sauce. Not sure what yet.

For this recipe I cut the squash in half and cooked it at 375* for about 40 minutes. Let cool then shred out of skin onto a plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Keep warm.


While squash cooks brown some turkey sausage in some olive oil and set aside.



To the same pan, adding more olive oil if necessary,  saute 1/2 onion, 1/2 red pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, salt and pepper until softened.



Deglaze with about a half cup of white wine then add 1 cup of chicken broth. Add back in sausage and simmer until sauce reduces some.



Add a couple cups of kale and simmer until tender.



Serve over squash with grated parmesan cheese. Delicious!!







Spaghetti Squash on FoodistaSpaghetti Squash

Monday

Christmas at Blumenau

Every year my family celebrates Christmas eve at my sister Leah's house.  She has a great eye for decorating and everything always looks so gorgeous and festive. Yesterday she invited Kasidee, my granddaughter, and I to lunch. We had such fun, and also got a sneak peak of her decorating ideas this year.



For lunch she made a "Raggedy Ann" salad and a cute little ham and cheese sandwich in the shape of a heart.



Then we all went out to feed the chickens, pulling some grapevine to take home with me on the way back to the house. Hopefully I'll make something somewhat resembling a wreath out of it.




I thought I would post a few of the pictures I took for you to see. I didn't get alot because her decorating is a work in progress but I'll go ahead and get up the ones I have.


Her colors this year are lime, blue, and copper with some silver and black thrown in.



These urns are super easy to make, she layed a wire wreath on top and filled it with several different fresh greens from around her place and stuck straight sticks out of the top. Gorgeous!




Grapevine was swirled above her double doors with a few hanging ornaments and a wreath hung in the middle. "Simply Elegant".


Oh how I love Christmas and all the creative decorating that goes on. I would love to see your decorations or hear your creative ideas. If you would like to share them with the rest of us just leave a note below with any pictures and I will get them up.

The Holidays are upon us. Yea!!!!

Tuesday

Praline Apple Bread




This Praline Apple Bread may be called a bread but can just as easily 
be served as a dessert. The batter doesn't have any oil or butter in it but does call 
for sour cream which is the secret to the moistness. 

I actually had some sitting on my counter "somewhat" covered for 3 days 
and it was still moist and awesome. 


The praline topping puts it over the top.



Praline Apple Bread

1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled Granny Smith apples (about 3/4 lb.)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

This recipes makes 1 loaf.

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Bake 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 4 minutes. Set aside.  

Beat sour cream and next 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until blended.

Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to sour cream mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9- x 5-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.

Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a 1-qt. heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, and spoon over top of bread; let cool completely (about 1 hour).

Note: To freeze, cool bread completely; wrap in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.

Monday

Creamy Pumpkin Risotto

This has to be one of the best risottos I've tasted.
Perfect for this cooler weather.


If your not a pumpkin fan, don't let that stop you from giving this a try. 
The pumpkin flavor is very faint, if at all. 
The marriage of it with all the other ingredients, turns it into 
one harmonious plate of awesomeness! 

Linked with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday.


Creamy Pumpkin Risotto
Serves 4

1 1/2 cup of arborio rice
4 cups of chicken stock
3 shallots, diced finely
1 teaspoon of dried sage
1 glass of good quality white wine
A large handful of cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan, and extra for serving



In a pot, bring the stock to a boil, reduce to a low simmer.
In a saucepan, add a good drizzle of olive oil on medium low heat. Add the shallots, and the dried sage. Once the shallots have softened (about 2 minutes), add the rice and and mix, stirring until the rice looks lightly toasted. Add the wine and gently stir. Once the wine has almost evaporated, add the stock one ladle at a time. Keep adding stock once it has almost evaporated in the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper (the stock will reduce and is salty so make sure not to add too much salt while you're cooking the risotto).

In the meantime, heat some olive oil on medium high heat in a separate pan. Add the sliced mushrooms. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked through. Set aside.

Keep a constant eye on the rice, adding stock as it gets incorporated into the rice. The risotto should gently simmer for about 16-17 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, add the mushrooms and pumpkin puree. Gently mix them in making sure the pumpkin puree is well stirred through. Fold in the Parmesan. Serve immediately, adding a little more Parmesan if desired. Enjoy!

Grilled Apple Salad with Brown Sugar Vinaigrette


This salad is fabulous. 

I made it tonight for the first time and was impressed. 
It was easy to make and had a full range of flavors that worked wonderful together. 

Grilling the apple brought the sweetness out and added that hint of smokiness, which went well with the bite and creaminess of the white cheddar cheese. The viniagrette has a sweet and sour thing going on with a hint of heat that softly hits the back of your throat. 

Top it off with the toasted pecans and you have a salad that's far from ordinary.

I served this salad along side Grilled Pork Chops and Creamy Pumpkin Risotto.

GRILLED APPLE SALAD with 
BROWN SUGAR VINAIGRETTE

Salad

Mixed greens and spinach
Gala apples (slice across, drizzle with olive oil and grill over medium heat, 3-5 minutes on each side)
Shaved x-sharp white cheddar cheese
Toasted whole pecans or walnuts


Toss together mixed greens  & spinach, top with grilled apple slices, shaved white cheddar cheese and toasted pecans. Drizzle with Brown Sugar Viniagrette.

Brown Sugar Vinaigrette

2/3 c. olive oil
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 grn onion, minced
1 1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp basil
1 tbsp Dijon
½ tsp red pepper
¼ tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake.


Shrimp, Sausage and Grits


Yea for shrimp and grits!!!!!


And......you would never know it, but this is a lightened up version. 

Shrimp Sausage & Grits

1 cup of Quick Grits
5 cups chicken broth, divided use
1 cup fat free 1/2 and 1/2
2 oz sharp white cheddar cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 slices of turkey bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large stock of celery, chopped
1/3 cup red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
red pepper flakes, if desired
1 package of turkey sausage, cut into bite size pieces
2 tbsp flour
1 bay leaf
14 oz. Jumbo Raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
Frank's Hot Sauce
parsley and green onion

GRITS:
Bring 3 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of fat free 1/2 and 1/2 to a boil. Slowly add 1 cup of grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 oz of shredded white cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and Frank's hot sauce to taste. Keep warm.

SHRIMP and SAUSAGE:
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Saute onion, celery, red pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes (if desired) until softened. Add sausage and cook 3-5 minutes. Stir in 2 tbsp of flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups of chicken broth and bay leaf stirring until it simmers then add shrimp and cooked bacon. Cook 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 Serve over grits. Top with parsley, green onion and Frank's hot sauce.

Saturday

Chicken Tacos

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes. My family just loves them!


 Saute 1 small chopped onion, 1 minced & seeded jalapeno, salt and
pepper in 2-3 tsp. of olive oil, 4-5 minutes or until they
start turning translucent, then add 2 cloves of minced garlic.
Continue to saute until softened.




Add 2 cups of cooked chicken, chopped and the following spices:
1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp adobo powder, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp southwest seasoning, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp coriander, salt and pepper. 



Stir together well, breaking up chicken with the tip of your spoon. Cook 2-3 minutes then add juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. 


Let simmer 5-10 minutes.



I like to heat my softshell on a gas burner over very low heat, turning often, until it just begins to bubble. If you don't have a gas burner wrap shells in a clean kitchen towel and heat in the microwave 15-20 seconds.



Serve with your favorite toppings such as: fresh tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onion, pickled jalapenos, salsa, sour cream and definitely a squirt of lime or lemon (I actually prefer lime).




I had some Spicy Tomatillo Sauce that was made several days before,
which I added to my taco. It was exactly what was needed to put it 
over the top. I eat it on lots of stuff, like fajitas, grilled hot dogs, 
hamburgers and of course tacos. Fabulous!!