Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cheater Enchiladas

Isn't it kind of fun to cheat when you know you don't have to feel guilty? Some of you may know that spaghetti is keeping my children alive. They may eat a few other things, but if it weren't for this, they would all starve. We eat spaghetti about once a week (plus leftovers). Dustin requests it nearly as much as the children. I, on the other hand, have started to dread the stuff. I'm SO sick of spaghetti. But wait. Isn't the title of this post "Cheater Enchiladas"? Let's get on with it then! In order to not want to vomit every time someone says they want spaghetti for dinner (every day), I have started buying and making different brands and kinds of sauces, in the hopes that it will make this meal a little more exciting for my poor, worn out, pasta taste buds. I bought this the other day:

And when I opened it up and smelled it, all I could think of was a happy little waiter in Mexico, wearing a very large sombrero. I couldn't even imagine drenching my noodles in it. So, I saved it and instead, used it as the secret (and main) ingredient in my next batch of enchiladas. And because of it, these were the easiest enchiladas I have ever made! And they tasted great! And now you can all be cheaters (guilt free), too!

Cheater Enchiladas
by: Carolyn

3/4-1 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
1 jar of Classico Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 c. chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
8-10 tortillas
1/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, stir together the milk, sour cream and Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce. Take out 1 1/4 c. of this mixture, put it in a little bowl and set it aside for later. To the rest of the sauce (in your big bowl) add your cheese and shredded chicken and stir it well. In the bottom of a 9X13 pan, spread 2 spoonfuls of the sauce that you withheld (in your little bowl). Is this getting confusing? Hopefully not. Heat your tortillas in the microwave for 1 minute so that they don't stick together (is this because I buy cheap tortillas that this happens?). Now take the big bowl of sauce/chicken/cheese and fill your tortillas with this sauce, roll them up and place them close together in the pan. Repeat this until all the tortillas are filled and your pan is full. Pour the little bowl of sauce (that you kept out) over the top of the tortillas and then sprinkle it all with the 1/3 c. cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve with sour cream, spanish rice and a sombrero.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Ah, Fall is in the air (at least it was 2 weeks ago when I made these cookies. Today it is summer again and 81 degrees in my house!). The smell of pumpkin anything makes me so ready for crisp evenings and leaves changing colors. I love this time of year! This is a great recipe for those big pumpkin cookies you can buy in the store (for way too much). I know that you can also make a pumpkin cookie using a spice cake mix and the canned pumpkin, but I don't often have a spice cake mix in my cupboard. Plus, I found this recipe a few years ago, and I love it. It smells so good while they are baking. And you can also roll extra dough in wax paper and freeze it for later. Then you can enjoy that yummy fall smell a few weeks later without the work.
Soft Pumpkin Cookies
1 16 oz. can pumpkin
4 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar (do I need to say it again? I always add less sugar than it calls for. I probably did about 3/4 c. brown and 1+ white)
1 c. butter, softened
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. maple extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the chocolate chips.
Beat on low speed until blended, scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat it on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spoon a big spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet, two inches apart (into nice little mounds). Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coconut Almond Bars

Here is it again, that ingredient that I just can't seem to get enough of lately: coconut. I ate these at my book club and they were so good that I made them a few days later for a little get together at my house. They are really easy and really yummy. My kids loved helping sprinkle all the different ingredients on. If you are not a huge coconut fan, you will probably still like these. There are enough other flavors going on that the coconut is actually not super strong.

Coconut Almond Bars
adapted from: Shannon Wright
1 cube margarine, softened
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 c. coconut
3/4 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. butterscotch chips
1 c. chopped almonds
1 1/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
Mix together the margarine and graham cracker crumbs until it resembles cornmeal. Press into the bottom of a greased 9X13 pan (like a crust-and so it is). On top of that, sprinkle on in layers your coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and then chopped almonds. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk (I could hardly stop my children-and myself-from licking this right out of the can. Mmmm.) over the top. The recipe I was given actually says to add a half a package of both chocolate and butterscotch chips, but I misread it and thought it said 1/2 c. And I thought I was being naughty by adding a little more chocolate yumminess! I put it on here as 3/4 c. because I thought they came out great with what I had put on, but if you want to add a little more, it can never hurt to add more chocolate. Bake it at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. I did mine for 30 minutes, and the almonds and coconut were well toasted. It actually still tasted great, but I would check yours after 25 minutes and see what it is doing. Cut it in squares after it has cooled and enjoy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pasteria, Pasto or Sundried Tomato Rigatoni

As has been mentioned, my garden is not too hot this year, but a neighbor gave me a whole bunch of tomatoes from her garden and because we are not huge tomato eaters, I dried them in my dehydrator. I am so excited to use yummy sundried tomatoes in my recipes! FYI, you can freeze your sundried tomatoes for up to a year, so they won't go to waste. For this pasta bake, I used ingredients that I had around the house and it was a hit with the kids. I let my girls help me think of a name for it, and this is what we came up with:
Pasteria, Pasto or Sundried Tomato Rigatoni
by: Carolyn

1 16 oz. package Rigatoni noodles
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1/4-1/2 c. sundried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook the Rigatoni noodles according to the package directions. Soften your cream cheese. In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, tomato sauce, milk, garlic powder, basil, onion powder and salt and pepper, and stir it well. Add the 1 c. mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese and mix it until it is combined. Stir in the chicken chunks. Pour the noodles into a 9X13 pan and pour the sauce over your cooked rigatoni noodles. Sprinkle the 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cafe Rio Pork and Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

I'm sure that most of you already have a tried and true Cafe Rio Pork and Salad Dressing recipe that you already use. I had never made it myself and I looked at many online and found that most of them were very similar. I ended up using those that I had the ingredients for and both the pork and the dressing came out great. Actually, I doctored up the dressing recipe until it tasted mostly how I remembered Cafe Rio's tasting, but when it was paired with the pork in a Cafe Rio style salad (tortilla on bottom, tons of lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, etc.) it was awesome! The pork recipe called for 1 can of coke (some called for Dr. Pepper), which I didn't have and didn't want to make a trip to the store for. I happened to have some root beer in the fridge leftover from a work party of Dustin's so I added that instead. It tasted authentic, so it must not make that big of a difference. I don't know why it took me so long to make this myself. I definitely won't be waiting so long to make it again. And sorry that you have to view my half eaten salad. It was so good that I forgot to take a picture until it was almost too late!

Pork Barbacoa

3 lb. pork roast
16 oz. salsa
1 c. root beer
2 c. brown sugar

Put the roast in your crock pot and fill it halfway with water. Cook on high for 5 hours. Drain the liquid from the crock pot and cut the roast into 4 sections. Mix the root beer and brown sugar and pour it over the roast. Add the salsa and cook for 3 more hours. Shred with a fork and serve it in your favorite Cafe Rio way.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
2 Ranch packets
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. chopped cilantro
4 tomatillos, cut into fourths
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 limes

In a food processor, chop the cilantro until it is finely chopped. Add the tomatillos and garlic. Squeeze the juice from both limes into the mixture. Here is a tip for getting the most out of your limes: beat them first on a counter top. My kids love to help me with this. Then just cut them in half and squeeze.

In a separate bowl combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk and ranch packets. If you don't have buttermilk, you can add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to 1 c. of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the ranch mixture to the food processor and process it until well combined. Serve over the pork, and enjoy!