Here's My Answer

Tag Archives: Cheese

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Merry (very) Late Christmas!  Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past week.  The holidays just get a little crazy for us.  They usually consist of a lot of food, a lot of driving, a lot of presents and a lot of family time.  None of which I am complaining about, of course (expect for the driving thing, if that went away, I wouldn’t cry about it)!  We had a busy, yet much less stressful holiday than Thanksgiving.  There’s less people and less of a rush for Christmas and that’s why I love it so much.  I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday!

I debated posting this recipe because it’s really nothing special, but I left my camera at my parents’ house and so therefore can’t post about anything else until I go get it.  And because of that, I decided this recipe was worth posting!  It’s so easy that it almost seems silly to write about it, so I don’t really have a whole lot to say.  I thought maybe people would appreciate an appetizer post since there are many parties coming up for New Years (dang, I should have posted this sooner so you guys could bring this to all those damn ugly sweater parties!).  Currently, we are still debating on what to do for our New Years.  For some reason we have terrible luck with New Years so I’m really not going to bother putting pressure on it.  Honestly, with how much we have had going on lately, I wouldn’t hate being at home with the pups and cuddling (and falling asleep) with my hubby on the couch.  We’ll see what happens…

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Ok, so this dip requires 6 ingredients… I know, I know, it says FIVE Layer Taco Dip, but forgive me, you need SIX ingredients.  You need a can of refried beans, sour cream, taco seasoning, cheese, tomatoes and scallions.  Yep!  That’s it!  And it’s as simple as spreading the beans on a platter, mixing the sour cream and taco seasoning and spreading that over the beans and then topping with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and chopped scallions.  So simple, yet SO.FREAKING.GOOD.  You can add as little or as much sour cream/taco seasoning as you want (I went light as Brad isn’t a sour cream man) and you can even add mashed avocados as well (never tried it but thought I’d share the idea).  You can add salsa too!  Oh the options are endless.  Well, maybe not endless, but sort of endless.

So bring this dip (don’t forget the chips!) to any party, whether it’s for New Years, for a birthday or really… for a party in your own house on a Sunday that involves sitting and watching football in your pajamas and falling asleep on a couch under a blanket with a dog.  Wait… you guys don’t call that a party??  Oh… nevermind then.  Whatever, you get the idea.  Just make this and eat it and you’ll be very happy!

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Oh and two things to end on:  1) The world didn’t end so that is super exciting and 2) We got a blizzard here in Indy and it was pretty much awesome… except for the roads, the roads were not awesome.  But it was pretty fun and really hilarious getting to watch Cash see and play in snow for the first time!  Gosh I love having dogs!  Ok… I just wanted to talk about that stuff.  I’m done now.

photoSomehow this is the only photo I have of the blizzard.  I have about 5 videos of Cash playing in the snow, but no photos of the hour long driveway clearing or Etta running around or our trip to Lowe’s to get supplies for a project or anything fun like that.  Oh well.  You get the idea that there’s a lot of snow!

 

Wait.  I forgot… Happy New Year!!!

5 Layer Taco Dip
My mom has made this for years, so it comes from her
I have no idea how much this serves, it lasted for 2 days for Brad and I though!

1 can of refried beans of your choice (I always use the vegetarian ones)
1-2 cups of sour cream (depending on how much you want to use)
1 packet of low sodium taco seasoning
2-4oz shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 finely diced tomatoes
2-3 scallions, finely chopped

Serve with tortilla chips

Ok… so this is really something that you have to use the amounts based on your preferences.  Spread the refried beans on the bottom of a pie plate, serving platter or any kind of dish you want.  Mix your sour cream and taco seasoning (I used about 1 cup of sour cream and half a packet of taco seasoning.  Taste test as you add the seasoning and be sure to do a little bit at a time!).  Spread that over the beans.  Sprinkle the cheese over that (again, as much or as little as you want) and top with the diced tomatoes and chopped scallions!  Adjust quantities as you wish, it won’t hurt my feelings, I promise!  Enjoy!


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Well, I figured that since the world is going to end on Friday, I might as well squeeze in some posts so that everyone has some quality options for what to make for their last meal.  I kid, I kid… the world isn’t ACTUALLY going to end… I hope not anyway, I have a lot of stuff that I still want to do!

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Now that we have established my stance on the Maya calendar apocalypse the world is ending on Friday stuff… Let’s talk CHILI!  Yay!!!  I have shared with you an excellent vegan chili recipe, but while this one still doesn’t have meat, it isn’t quite vegan.  Only because there is beef broth in it (you could sub vegetable broth or water to make it vegan though!).  Yea, I got really creative on this one.

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Anywho… this is a spicy chili.  That will happen when you add 2 jalapenos, a green pepper and a poblano pepper to it.  Oh and two packets of chili seasoning.  However, it has incredible flavor.  Roasting the vegetables brought out this wonderful smoky charred flavor and it really brought out the spiciness of the peppers, but also some of the sweetness.  Mmm it was just really good.

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I also added a fair share of beans to this chili.  Which shouldn’t be that surprising considering I absolutely LOVE beans.  You can use as many or as little as you want (but keep in mind, the beans are the main part of this chili, so use at the bare minimum 2 cans).  You can use black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, red beans, cannelini beans… the list goes on!  I had black, red and pintos in the pantry, so that’s what I used.  If you wanted to, you could add a pound of ground beef to this to sub out some of the beans… I actually just thought of that.  As always, this is definitely a recipe you can easily adapt to your liking!

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Well, you could make this as your last meal for sure!  It’d be a good one to end on.  Better than what we will have.  I forgot the world was ending on Friday when I made my meal plans and grocery list for the week, so we’ll be eating black bean and rice burritos.  Obviously, not a bad choice… steak and lobster might have been a better way to out though!  Haha!

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Ok… I’m done talking about the world ending.  I promise.

Spicy Roasted Vegetable and Bean Chili
Adapted straight from my head. 
Makes 6-8 servings depending on how big your servings are

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos
1 large green pepper
1 large poblano pepper
1-1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1- 8oz can of tomato sauce
1- 14oz can of petite diced tomatoes
2-3 cups of beef broth (depending on how thick or soupy you like your chili)
3 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (again, I used black, pinto and red beans)
2 packets of chili seasoning (I use the reduced sodium ones)

Ok… Move one of your racks in your oven to the top and turn your broiler on high.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place your peppers (I cut my green pepper in half so it would be easier to broil) on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler until the peppers get really charred, turning them a couple times to get all sides nice and black.  Once the are charred and they are soft, pull them out of the oven and place in a plastic ziploc bag and set aside.  Put your corn on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler for a few minutes, tossing the corn so it chars evenly.  Once that is done, pull it out and just set the pan aside.

While the peppers are in the ziploc bag (hopefully not melting the bag like mine almost did since I bought the store brand of bags rather than the actual quality ziploc brand), put a large pot on the stove on medium heat.  Pour the olive oil in there and once that is hot, add the onion and celery.  Cook, stirring frequently until they are tender. Add the corn.

At this point, remove the peppers from the bag and rub off the skins.  Chop the peppers (removing the stems and seeds) and add to the pot.  Toss in the chili seasoning, the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes and some of the beef broth.  Don’t add all of it in case you want your chili on the thicker side.  Stir that all together and then add your beans.

Simmer, covered, for a good thirty minutes.  Add a pinch of salt, if needed, as well as more beef broth, also if needed.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Top with mounds of cheese, a lot of saltines and maybe even a dollop of sour cream.  And ENJOY it!!!


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Woah.  Prepare to be amazed.  These chicken tacos are crazy good and even crazier easy.  I promise.

Usually when we eat chicken tacos, they end up being more like chicken fajitas because we grill the chicken and a bunch of vegetables.  But last week, I really had a craving for chicken tacos, like what you get from Mexican restaurants.  However, I had been feeling creative and decided to try to make my own recipe.

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And these were the finished product.  I kid you not, all you need is chicken, salsa and taco seasoning… and of course your taco toppings.  You simply throw the chicken, salsa and seasoning in the Crock-Pot with a little water, set it on low and cook it all day (or if you are like me and start this at 2 in the afternoon, I would suggest you crank it to High).

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The chicken comes out juicy and tender and full of flavor.  You can make them as spicy (use hot salsa or add some hot sauce) or as mild as you want them (use mild salsa and mild taco seasoning).  You can also really jazz them up by adding peppers, onion, maybe some canned green chiles… but I opted for the basic stuff first.  When I make these next (which I 110% will), I might add some sliced green peppers and sliced yellow onion just for a little something extra.

These tacos are perfect for a busy day or evening or for a day that you don’t really feel like going crazy in the kitchen.  They are also fantastic left over and make great leftover nachos too!  Enjoy!

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Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos
Makes about 4 servings

For the Chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa (I find that Pace Picante sauce is the best salsa when cooking!)
1 package of taco seasoning ( I use the reduced sodium ones)
Couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce (say… Cholula)
1/2 cup water

For the Tacos:
Taco shells (Soft or Crunchy)
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Diced tomatoes
Shredded lettuce
Sour Cream
Hot Sauce
Any other toppings you like!

Spray the inside of your Crock-Pot with cooking spray (this makes it easier to wash dishes!).  Place chicken breasts in the Crock-Pot along with the salsa, taco seasoning, hot sauce (if you are using it), and water.  Stir everything together.  Turn Crock-Pot on either Low (if you are doing this in the morning) or High (if you are doing this in the afternoon).

About 1 hour before you are ready to eat, shred the chicken with 2 forks and stir together with the sauce.  Note: I removed some of the sauce before I shredded the chicken because it was easier to shred the chicken without a bunch of sauce flying everywhere.  Also, that way I could control how much sauce was in my chicken in the end.  You definitely don’t have to do this though.

Once the chicken is shredded, stir everything together and turn Crock-Pot to Low (if not already) and let it cook until you are ready to eat!  Assemble your tacos and eat away!!


Have you ever eaten something and didn’t know what to do with yourself because it was so good.  So good that you realized half an hour later that you ate a good 4 extra helpings just because it tasted that good.  So good that you were sickeningly full but didn’t regret a single bite because… well… it was that good.

This dish is a prime example of that situation.  I was so full, but I still ate 2 servings (ok, I lied earlier about eating 4) just because I wanted to keep enjoying it.

I’ve never had chicken n’ biscuits before.  Never.  I don’t think so anyway.  But this is pretty similar to chicken pot pie, only with biscuits on it.  And I have definitely had chicken pot pie.  But this is chicken pot pie times 100.  It’s incredible.  It’s chicken and veggies in a deliciously creamy sauce with hints of sage and parsley.  And the biscuits.  Oh god the biscuits.  The biscuits, my friends, have cheese in them.  CHEESE.  And they are flaky and layer-y and fluffy and gooey on the bottom because they bake in the chicken wonderfulness.  This dish is heaven in a bowl.  Seriously.

Warning though.  This isn’t just magically tasty without any work.  You have to devote a good afternoon to working on this dish.  I opted to separate everything out, doing one thing at a time, but you could do a good amount of multitasking and get it done in slightly less time.  However, I had a whole Saturday afternoon to myself so I was in no rush.  But I do think you need to know that it’s just not a “this cooks in 30 mins or less” meal.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it.  By all means, make this dish.  I mean in.  It’s an incredibly delicious meal that will leave you feeling amazing.  It’s a perfect meal for a cool, fall day.  Oh!  It’d also be perfect for Halloween night!  Oh, I have to remember that!  This is 100% on my must make a million times list!

Chicken n’ Biscuits
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run (instructions are pretty much word for word from her)
Makes 6 servings (from our experience.)

1 quart chicken stock (I used broth and it was just fine)
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 medium sized red potatoes (I used like 5 small ones because I wanted it potato-y)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you could technically cheat and use a rotisserie chicken I think, but I would suggest following the recipe)
6 tablespoons butter (yea, it’s a lot, but you do need all of it)
6 tablespoons flour
3 cloves of garlic, peeled smashed with a knife
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper
*Original recipe calls for 2 cups of chopped mushrooms, but I hate mushrooms so I just added an extra carrot and an extra stalk of celery.  If you choose to add the mushrooms, only use 3 carrots and 2 stalks of celery.

For the biscuits:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons COLD butter
2 tablespoons COLD shortening
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk (this is what the recipe called for.  I only had half & half on hand, but it worked just fine!)

In a large pot filled with water and the garlic cloves, poach the chicken breasts until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool.  Once cool, chop into cubes.

In another large pot (I used the one I cooked the chicken breasts in, just emptied the pan and did a quick rinse.  Less dishes this way), bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the carrots, celery and potatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until veggies are done. Remove veggies with a slotted spoon and reserve broth. Combine chicken and veggies and set aside.

In a dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the onions and saute for about seven minutes, or until they are soft. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Keep cooking for about five minutes, making sure to scrape the flour from the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t burn. Now, slowly pour in the remaining stock, whisking as you pour. Crank up the heat to high and whisk your heart out for about five minutes as the sauce thickens and boils. Add the thyme, parsley,  salt and pepper. Pour the chicken and veggies into the dutch over (or a casserole dish) and set aside while you make the biscuits. You could also make the sauce earlier in the day and stick it in the fridge until later….just be sure to make the biscuits right before you serve it!

Preheat the oven to 450. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter and shortening and use your fingers to mix until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir in the cheese. Break the egg into a measuring cup and add the buttermilk to the egg. Whisk and then pour the mixture into the flour mixture and mix so that you have a relatively smooth ball of dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough four times (FOUR TIMES) and then roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut biscuits to desired size (I made 6 biscuits because I didn’t want a massive biscuit per serving).  Place biscuits on top of the filling and brush the tops with egg wash (just one yolk mixed with a little warm water—this gives the biscuits shine) and prick with a fork.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and the chicken mixture is bubbling. Serve hot.  And eat till you can’t stand anymore.


Holy balls.  I’ve been wanting to write about this dish for a little less than a week now and I am so happy to say that I finally have a minute to sit down and write about it!

I’m actually off of work today because Brad and I went to Cincinnati yesterday to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play the Cincinnati Reds!!  Pittsburgh is one of our favorite teams because players from our minor league team here in Indy go straight to the Pirates!  So a lot of the players were saw yesterday, we have seen throughout the past few years.  We had a great time in Cinci.  We’ve gone before but never into the city like we did yesterday.  We left about an hour after I got home from work and drove the two hours (well, I slept part of the way) down there.  We made our first stop at Arnold’s which is Cinci’s oldest restaurant, it opened in 1861.   We had a couple beers there then made our way to Moerlein Lager House which is literally across the street from the Reds’ stadium.  Here we drank some beer and were blown away by some amazing food.  Calamari tossed in a red chili aioli and then we split half a bbq chicken with green beans and some of the best smoked cheddar mashed potatoes I have ever tasted.  We couldn’t even believe how good the food was.  Eventually, after stuffing ourselves with food and beer, we made it to the game.  We got an autograph from one of the Pirates’ players, had amazing seats and played with 8 week old basset hounds more than I should have been allowed.  It was Bark In The Park last night, which means if you bought the special tickets, you got to bring your dog.  Unfortunately, the tickets were sold out by the time we got ours, so we couldn’t bring our pups (and it freaking killed me) but I suppose I got enough dog love from those damn puppies.  The game ended up going into extra innings (they played a total of 14 I believe) however, we left after the top of the 10th inning.  Having to drive 2 hours home put a damper on the end of our night because, well, sometimes you just don’t want to go!  But all in all it was an amazing day that I am suuuuper glad we got to do!

And so now it’s Tuesday!  Luckily, I was smart and took today off of work because we didn’t get home until about 1:15 this morning and I’m pretty sure I would be a useless baker if I got less than 2 hours of sleep.  Wise decision on my part!  So here I am, enjoying some extra free time and writing about this delicious dish… I promise, I will actually write about it!

I happened to find this recipe while browsing through Eat, Live, Run’s website.  I happened to see it and thought it looked worth checking out.  While it’s something right up our alley and is something we have definitely had before, it’s also something like we have never had before.  I have never made a dish, especially a Mexican style dish, using cauliflower and sweet potatoes.  I was genuinely concerned that this was not going to turn out.  I was thinking in the back of my mind, while cooking, some places we would be able to eat at if it didn’t turn out.  I wanted to be prepared with a backup plan.

Luckily, and shockingly, I didn’t need a backup plan!  Because this dish is in-cred-i-ble.  When you make this, because you will make this, it will completely blow your mind.  Along with the sweet potato and cauliflower, there are green peppers, red peppers, poblano peppers, corn and onion that really fool you.  You honestly don’t even realize you’re eating such healthy food because it is that good.  You also layer the veggies with spinach!  I mean, let’s face it, this is a power meal!  I think a lot of the greatness comes from the salsa and cheese layered in there as well.  A little salsa and cheese can go a looooong way!

Anyway, I supposed this is long enough.  Trust me when I tell you, you really need to make this dish.  It’s the perfect way to trick yourself, or others, into eat a lot of healthy veggies.  I think even if you went heavy on the cheese it’d still be healthy.  But don’t add too much or you’ll lose the flavors of everything!

Ok… I’m going to go now.  I just accidentally started the MasterChef season finale and so now I have to watch the whole thing without stopping and I just can’t be distracted!!

Layered Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run
Makes 6-8 servings

1 poblano pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/4-1/2 head of cauliflower, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups of your favorite salsa
2 huge handfuls of fresh spinach, rinsed and stems removed
4-6 flour tortillas (or whole wheat) torn into large pieces
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Toss the chopped poblano, green pepper, red pepper, onion, sweet potato and cauliflower with olive oil and cumin, garlic powder and salt and pepper.  Roast for 40 minutes until veggies are tender and being to brown.  Toss your veggies every 10 minutes.  Remove pan and reduce heat 350.

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, combine the salsa and cilantro.  Spread 1/4 of that mixture on the bottom of the pan.  Cover with one layer of the torn tortillas.  Top with 1/3 of the roasted vegetables and then a handful of the fresh spinach.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on top of that.  Cover with another layer of tortillas, then spoon over some salsa, then top with roasted veggies and lastly, the cheese.  Repeat this one more time until all the ingredients are used up and ending with cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and then bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes.

You can serve this with sour cream and chopped scallions, but I don’t think it’s necessary.  It’s amazing without it!


Oh god.  Stop what you are doing, NOW.  You need to read this, then go to the grocery store and then immediately go home and make these freaking things because they are THAT good.  Yes, just trust me.

I have made enchiladas many times before and I might even go as far as saying that they could be one of my specialties because every time I make them, they are all I want to eat for.ever.  I have always made them with chicken, though and since it had been awhile since I had made them and I decided I wanted to do something different this time.  Plus, we needed a meatless meal for the week and, let’s face it, Mexican food is the easiest to make meatless.  When in doubt, sub beans for meat!

Anyway, so I basically used the same recipe that I have used before for my chicken enchiladas, only instead of the chicken I used black beans and pinto beans.  To be honest, you don’t even notice that there is no chicken.  They are still equally filling and filled with equally amazing deliciousness.

These are pretty easy to make, but they do take a little bit of time to chop, saute, assemble and bake, sooo… fair warning.  It can all be done in about an hour, but you need to be pretty focused and… let’s face it… a seasoned professional like me.  No, it’s really not anything complicated, there are just some things you need to do.

Anyway, so I would make this right away if I were you.  It’s cheesy, beany, spicy, corny, Mexicany, vegetabley, and just all around wonderful.  It’s even great on a hot day!  Which seems crazy to turn the oven on, on a hot day, but this dish is so worth heating up the house a few extra degrees!  The best part is that it makes a TON so you’ll have plenty for 2 dinners and at least one lunch, maybe even 2 lunches since they are so filling!  I just love these enchiladas.  You’ll leave the table feeling so great after eating them!

Now go make them!!

Two Bean and Corn Enchiladas
Makes 10 enchiladas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
2 jalapenos, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2-2 cups frozen corn
1 can Rotel Original
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans enchilada sauce of your choice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
10 whole wheat tortillas
Shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese (we used about 1/2 an 8oz block of each)

Start off with sauteing the peppers in the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the peppers start to soften.  Add the red onion and corn and saute for another few minutes.  Toss in the garlic and saute for just a minute.  Then add the beans and Rotel and stir to combine everything.  Add the seasonings and just 1/2 of one can of the enchilada sauce.  Don’t use anymore than that because you’ll need it for other stuff!  Ok, so mix that all together and cook for a few minutes until everything is hot.  I like to add a handful of cheese to the filling just for a little something extra.  If you choose to do this as well (which I highly recommend, go ahead and do that at this point.  It won’t take long to melt)

Time for assembly!!  Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.  Pour the rest of the 1/2 can of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan and spread out.  Heat up your tortillas in the microwave for about 20 seconds until the tortillas are soft and pliable.  Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling in the middle of the tortilla.  I’m not exactly sure on this measurement, as I just use a large cooking spoon, but I think about 1/2 cup is close.  Fold one side of the tortilla over the filling and then fold the other side over.  Place folded side down in the pan.  Repeat with all remaining 9 tortillas.  I have found that sometimes I make less than 10 and sometimes I make more than 10.  It just depends on how much filling you use!  Once all your enchiladas are in the pan, pour the other whole can of enchilada sauce over all of them.  Then top with the shredded cheese.

Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.  It doesn’t have to be in there long because you already cooked everything else.  You just need it in there long enough for the cheese to get gooey and melty.  Remove from the oven and let it sit for a couple minutes, as it’s hard to dish up straight out of the oven.  So, let it sit for about 5 minutes and then serve!!


I’m tired.  Like, it’s not even 8 and I am ready to go to bed.  However, because I love everyone so much and, well, mostly because I love this pizza so much, I am staying up to write this post.  So if I start rambling and then switch to something else completely unrelated (which I actually do more often than not), don’t panic.  It’s because I’m lost in my many thoughts and probably half sleeping and dreaming.          

Anyway… the story behind this pizza is the following:  A couple Friday’s ago, we went the First Friday Food Truck Festival downtown Indy.  We hadn’t been before, but I heard great things about it and the cupcake truck from the bakery I work at was going to be there.  Plus, I got free admission passes, so it was pretty much a done deal that we were going.  I was craving pizza that night and was planning on getting a certain slice of New York style pizza, however, the truck wasn’t there!  So as we walked past all of the 20 some food trucks, I saw a grilled pizza one!  And even though they only had 3 or 4 options to choose from, I was sold when I saw the “specialty pizza”.  It had everything I could have ever wanted on pizza.  And it was grilled.  Pesto, artichokes, tomato, ricotta, mozzarella, and spinach.  Rack em up!  If only I bought an entire pizza.  That would have been nice.  However, I had to save room for the nachos and bites of Brad’s tacos and his no-bake cookies and the banana pudding… yea, an entire pizza wouldn’t have made sense.

Ok, so come Sunday, I was trying to come up with dinner ideas and I knew pretty much instantly that I was going to recreate that delicious slice of pizza.  It actually almost didn’t happen though.  I had forgotten that I had to make both pizza dough and pesto.  How I forgot that, I do not know, but I started all of this a little late, but that’s ok.  As long as I was going to get to eat my pizza, I was going to survive.          

Now, let me tell you… this pizza is just incredible.  It’s so delicious and so different.  It has so much going on that you might think there’s too much, but somehow it all works so well together that you don’t even realize there are 6 toppings.  For me, the pesto is what brings the whole thing together.  I like pesto, but I don’t entirely love pesto.  So I tried to go a little light on it.  I accidentally added a little too much basil when I made the pesto and I forgot to add garlic (I guess I was really struggling that day), but overall, it did what it was supposed to do and when it was on the pizza, I couldn’t really tell that I messed it up.

This pizza is perfect for the summer.  You could grill it outside on your grill, or just bake it in the oven on a pizza stone (our choice, we never have good luck cooking directly on the grill).  It’s great for all those extra tomatoes you have growing in your garden that you can’t use for salsa anymore because you already have 3 containers of it.  You can use store bought pesto and it will work perfectly.  I made mine because my mom had given me a ton of basil from her garden and she gave me some pine nuts too.  I skipped the ricotta cheese when I made my pizza only because last time I tried putting ricotta pizza, it didn’t work very well.  I think that’s just one of those things that only works when other people do it… for me anyway.  This is a really fresh pizza and it’s even fresher if you use… well… fresh veggies.  I’m not sure what else to say, I feel like all I’m doing is telling you how awesome this pizza is but really, you just have to make it to fully understand.

Ok… it’s bedtime now!

GARDEN VEGGIE PIZZA
Idea taken from Bryne’s Grilled Pizza Food Truck in Indy!

For the Pizza Dough: (word for word from Eat, Live, Run)
Makes 2 pizzas
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 package of yeast (1/4th ounce)
2 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, combine the warm water and yeast.

Stir in the salt and flour and mix on medium high speed on your KitchenAid for 5 minutes. While the mixer is going, drizzle in the olive oil.

When the dough is soft and elastic, take out of the bowl, rub with olive oil and then place back in the bowl, cover with a dish towel and let rise for one hour.

After the dough has doubled in size, cut in half to make two large pizza doughs or make mini doughs. You could also do what I like to do and freeze the dough in a plastic baggie for another time! When you are ready for your pizza, roll out the dough, cover with your toppings and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes.

For the Pesto: (again, word for word from Eat, Live, Run I actually didn’t use a recipe I just threw a bunch of stuff in the food processor, but I think this looks like one of the better recipes I researched)
3 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves

Combine the basil, garlic and two tablespoons of the oil in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend on high until everything is smooth and combined. Then, with the blender on low speed, slowly stream in the remaining oil, along with the lemon juice and the cheese. Taste and then season with the salt and pepper.

To Make the Actual Pizza:
Makes 1 pizza

1/2 of the pizza dough recipe above
2-3 tablespoons of pesto, either homemade or store bought
1 tomato, thinly sliced
Handful of spinach leaves, stems removed and rinsed
1/2 can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 red pepper, roasted in the oven for a few minutes
1/2 green pepper, roasted in the oven for a few minutes (I thought there were peppers on the original pizza, but their menu doesn’t mention it.  I thought they were good on the pizza)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 Fresh mozzarella balls, sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Ok… Now that the list is complete… assemble!  Roll out your pizza dough, or mash it down with your fingertips to get a thicker crust.  Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes until the crust is cooked enough to handle ( I like to do this because then the crust is crispier).  When the crust is out of the oven, spread the pesto over the whole thing and sprinkle with just a little of garlic powder.  Then top with tomatoes, artichokes, spinach, peppers, mozzarella and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Pop back in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is browned and then cheese is melted.

Warning: this can get soggy with the tomatoes being so juicy and the fresh mozzarella.  It definitely is soggy when it’s leftover.  So just be aware of that.  Other than that, it’s quite a yummy pizza!!


I’m an Alfredo sauce lover.  I have used the same sauce recipe forever that came from my mom.  It’s dependable and always delicious.  However, last week, when I decided I wanted to make Alfredo sauce, I had waited till the last minute to find the recipe, only to realize I didn’t have it written down.  Crap.  It was right around dinner time and I didn’t want to bother my parents because they were probably eating, so I jumped on the internet and searched “Alfredo Sauce” in all of the food blogs I follow.  I stumbled upon this recipe that came from Annie’s Eats.  And… woah… was it good!

I did make some changes because I didn’t want to use all heavy cream like the recipe calls for.  I can’t justify being that unhealthy when we are pairing it with spinach pasta and plain grilled chicken.  It was too much for me to bear.  I hate eating meals that lead me to feel guilty for at least the rest of the night, if not the whole next day.  So I used Half & Half and skim milk!  And threw in a little flour to help thicken it.  And it worked!!  It was super creamy, super delicious and super NOT horribly fattening!!  I was so excited!

I love Alfredo sauce because it’s such a simple sauce that you can pair it with a lot of different things!  For instance- spinach pasta!  I love spinach pasta and we were lucky to have gotten this giant bag from my mom for a random treat that she does quite frequently. My new favorite thing is getting fresh pasta from the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, and I think any one of the pastas would go great with this Alfredo sauce.  You don’t have to be boring and use just plain pasta!  I swear!

Anyway… this is, as I always say, a fantastic, quick meal.  You could make the pasta and sauce as a side dish to any meat, but I liked throwing the grilled chicken on top.  Let’s face it, anything covered in this Alfredo sauce will be wonderful.  It’s a really quick sauce to make too.  I actually finished it way before the chicken was done grilling, that’s how quick it is!  Anyway, you could make this for a Meatless Monday (without the chicken of course), that could be good too!  This is a great meal to add any of the meat of veggies you like to make it your own!

Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken
Adapted with healthier changes from Annie’s Eats.
Makes about 4 servings if you are like me and don’t cook enough pasta.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons flour
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup Half & Half
1/2 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to directions on the package, when done drain and set aside.  Grill the chicken while waiting.  Add any seasoning, salt, pepper and grill until cooked through.  When done, slice and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, making sure to not burn it!  Add the flour and whisk for a minute until you basically cook the flour flavor out of it.  Add the Half & Half and milk.  Simmer while stirring frequently to avoid burning the milk on the bottom of the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens.  Add the Parmesan cheese.  Mix until melted.  Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss.  Serve on a plate with the grilled chicken on top!

Yum!


I’ve been getting into Pinterest a little bit lately.  I know- I’m about 6 months late.  I started using it when there was all the excitement, but I just didn’t really get why everyone thought it was so cool.  As of the last few weeks though, I’ve gotten on a few times, mainly to find some new recipe ideas.  I’m still not obsessed with it like everyone else seems to be, but it wastes time pretty well.

I decided last week that I was going to make a bunch of Pinterest meals, but then it failed because we had a really busy week and I wasn’t home some nights and it just didn’t work.  So we made this meal earlier this week instead.  And it pretty much lasted us half the week because it made so much!

The funny part about finding this meal on Pinterest was that it’s originally from a food blog that I follow religiously (and they’re from Indy!).  I’ve posted about them quite a few times before, A Couple Cooks, has a lot of great recipes that I like to try.  Some are different, they are all pretty healthy and overall, we’ve had excellent luck with their recipes.  So when I realized where this tamale pie recipe was from, I was pretty certain that it was going to be awesome.

This recipe calls for polenta, which I have never made before.  About a year or so ago I found a recipe from a different blog for something that was very similar to this, only it used store bought polenta that comes in the tube and you slice.  Uhhh yuck.  I found out real quick that I was not a fan of store bought polenta.  When I saw this recipe called for homemade polenta I was a little reluctant, but I figured it was time to give it a try again.  I never knew homemade polenta was so simple to make and so good!!  It’s water and cornmeal!  That’s it!  Just add some salt and butter for flavor and you in business.  I was really surprised at how tasty it was straight out of the pan.  And I am sure that if I added a little grated cheese, it’d be even tastier.  It was so creamy and soft and just really good.  Far better than our last experience.  However, I made the polenta the day before because I messed up the order of our meals for that weekend so I had to throw it in the fridge overnight.  The texture definitely changes, but if you cook it in the microwave for a bit, it softens a good amount.  I’m sure I could have added milk to it, but I wasn’t too concerned with the texture since it was going on the bottom of this dish.

These tamale pies are super good.  And really easy.  The filling it really similar to the filling I made for the Mexican Lasagna.  It has beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes and Mexican seasoning.  You can make it as spicy as you want or as, well, not spicy as you want.  And you could definitely add some more of your own ideas.  Like more beans, or green peppers, or canned green chiles, or jalapenos, or enchilada sauce… I mean the options are endless.  This is a great base recipe that you can always build on whenever you are in the mood for getting creative or just eat it the way it is whenever you don’t feel like getting creative!

Now, like I said, this creates a lot of food.  It filled a whole 9 x 13 pan for me.  The original recipe said I would need a 9 x 9 pan.  The only way I think that would work is if you either didn’t use all of the polenta or all of the filling, or if you had a 9 x 9 pan that was 9 inches tall.  Just keep that in mind.  It also said to bake them in au gratin dishes, but I don’t have any.  Wah!  I only have teeny little ramekins that would really just not do the trick.  I guess I should put that on my Christmas list!  Anyway… like I said, this dish is really really great and it’s super simple and I think anyone would really enjoy eating it!

 

Tamale Pie
Adapted from A Couple Cooks, polenta recipe from here
Makes a good 8-10 servings

Polenta:
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups of water
Salt and Pepper
1-2 tablespoons butter

2 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups salsa
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
About 2 cups of shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese

Ok- to make the polenta:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Slowly whisk in the cormeal, stirring constantly to help reduce clumps.  Continue whisking for a couple minutes until the mixture starts to thicken.  Add about 1 teaspoon of salt.  Reduce the heat and allow the polenta to bubble a little.  You’ll cook this for about 15 minutes, you basically want to get rid of the raw cornmeal flavor.  Once it’s cooked, remove from heat and stir in the butter.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.  You can use this immediately or store overnight like I did.  When it comes time to use it though, just reheat it in the microwave for a couple minutes to soften it again.

To make the pie:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the polenta on the bottom of the baking dish (or dishes).

In a large bowl, add the beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes, and seasonings.  Mix together well.  Pour over the polenta.  Top with the shredded cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes until heated through.  Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes before eating.  Top with fresh cilantro, sour cream or in our case, raw jalapenos from our garden!

 


Ok, so here’s the deal.  I had one of the busiest weeks ever this past week.  And I hate to even admit it, but I really didn’t even do that much cooking.  Tragic, I know.  Here’s what happened:

Monday we had to take Cash to get neutered in a town that’s about 45 minutes away from our house.  So rather than driving out there twice and coming home twice, Brad and I decided to make a little bit of a day of it and hung out at a local coffee shop for a few hours, drove to REI, wandered the aisles and then went rock climbing!  It was awesome!  Lucky for us (and Cash), the clinic called us early to pick him up.  Tuesday was hot has balls so we went to a local water park/public pool thing for a few hours and then came home and passed out and then I went and saw Magic Mike with Brad’s mom and one of my friends (it was surprisingly better than I thought it would be.  Made me quite a bit uncomfortable still!).  Wednesday I worked from 4am-12pm for my new job (oh yea… did I say anything about that?  I got a job at a local cupcake bakery and it’s pretty much the most awesome thing ever, even if it’s so early in the morning), came home and slept for a bit and then, well, didn’t do a whole lot as Brad had 2 softball games that I didn’t go to because I had to work the next morning at 4 again.  We did make chicken salads that night, but they just weren’t anything special to tell you guys about.  Thursday, I worked from 4-12 again, and then stopped by my parents house to hang out with my mom for an hour, then went home, took a nap, took a shower and went to the Indiana State Museum to help our wedding photographer (who is the best wedding photographer ever!) with a bridal show till about 10:30!  Then Friday I worked at the shoe store from 11-6 and went straight to my parents house for my brother’s birthday!  Oh and yesterday we ran some errands, went out on Brad’s parents’ boat, got some coal oven pizza and PF Changs and watched Fight Club at a theater at midnight that we damn near slept through.

Wow.  Did you think I would tell you all of that?  I didn’t think it would take that long to tell you guys about my week.  Whatever.  Now you know.  Sometimes I hate being busy like that, but every time I sit at home with nothing to do, I complain.  I just don’t handle being bored very well.  But this past week was actually really fun so I was ok with all of it!

Anywho… allow me to tell you about this buffalo chicken dip that I made and have posted all these photos of for you.  Someone I know once made this for a girl’s night out evening and I fell in love with it, made it at home twice and then instantly forgot about it.  Until I was wasting time on Pinterest (my name is eislerevans on there, you can follow me but I forget about Pinterest often and so I don’t have a whole lot pinned) and came across someone’s pin for buffalo chicken dip.  And I thought to myself “well son of a … I completely forgot about that!  I’m making that for lunch this week!”  I was pretty excited about it.

It’s very easy to make and you can eat it hot or cold.  Personally, though, I eat it cold because whenever I’m ready to eat it, I’m too impatient to heat it up.  The recipe that I found via Pinterest was unnecessarily complicated and time consuming.  You want to know what I did?  Threw everything in a bowl and mixed it.  Believe me, it’ll be just fine that way.  I also like to just go by taste with the ingredients.  Sometimes I want it a little bit more buffalo-y, sometimes I don’t.  It just depends on what I’m in the mood for.  So be sure to do some taste testing while mixing all of this together. Also, I skip the shredded cheese from time to time.  I’ve made this dip a total of three times and two of the three I have left the shredded cheese out… and I couldn’t tell a difference.  Add it if you want, but in my opinion, if I can’t tell it’s missing, then I don’t need it, especially the added fat and calories.

This dip would be suuuper perfect for Sunday football games when all you want to do is snack.  It’d be perfect for (obviously) the Super Bowl, but it’s also really great for a gathering, or, in my case, whenever you have a craving for it (because once you try this, you will find yourself craving it randomly).  Most people serve it with tortilla chips.  It’s great that way, but try it with some Tricuits too.  It’ll surprise you who well they go together.  I hope you consider this the next time you have friends over for something.  It’s just such a great dip.  And like I said, you can still have it in the summer by serving it cold… or hot.  However you like it!

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Dumbed down from The Girl Who Ate Everything (I found this on Pinterest)

1- 12 oz can of chunk chicken
1- 8 oz package of lower fat cream cheese
1/4-1/2 cup of ranch dressing (go by taste on this one)
1/2 cup of your favorite buffalo sauce (again, go by taste)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

The easiest way to do this (when all the ingredients are cold) is to mix the cream cheese and chicken together first.  Then add the ranch and buffalo sauce, mixing as you add those in.  You can then add the shredded cheese if you choose.

I’ve heated this up in the microwave before and it’s worked just fine.

Serve with tortilla chips or reduced fat Triscuits.



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