Friday, October 12, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Bake

My mom adapted this recipe from one she found in a magazine years and years ago.  This dish is like a chicken pot pie with tortilla shells as lasagna layers.  It's creamy and cheesy and really yummy.  It was a little chilly today and this was a nice fall meal to warm you up and satisfy.
The nice thing about this recipe is that you can adapt it however you like.  My mom used to make it with broccoli, but now we make it with peas.  Put anything you like in here to make it your own.

I learned something about myself recently: I have a compulsion for buying tortillas every time I'm at the grocery store.  This is what is currently in my fridge.  Notice I buy a different kind each time.  I think I need some kind of therapy...

I also learned that I'm not very good at keeping up with this blog.  Hopefully I can improve on that in the near future.

Boneless Chicken
Flour Tortillas
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 small onion
1-2 cups cheddar cheese
1 cup peas/broccoli or any other frozen or canned veggie

Here's how it all comes together:

Cut chicken into small chunks and brown in some olive oil (and splatter it all over you stove).  Use whatever seasoning you like.  I used seasoning salt, but you can just use salt and pepper or anything you like.  Towards the end of the chicken browning, add the 1/2 onion diced to soften it and mellow the flavor a bit.

Combine the cooked chicken/onions, soup, broth, and peas in a bowl.

 Ignore the blurriness of this photo.  Line the bottom of a pan with tortillas (cut to fit).  Spread 1/2 of the chicken/soup mixture over the tortillas.

Top the layer of chicken/soup mixture with 1/2 the cheese.  You can make this as cheesy as you'd like.  

 Add another layer of tortillas over the cheese.

 Repeat the layers again, ending with cheese on top.

 Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 The result is a delicious, creamy, cheesy, hearty dish.

The Verdict:

Mr. Picky Pants didn't remember having this before, but he ate it willingly and enjoyed it.  He wasn't the biggest fan of the tortillas, but he never is.  He said it would taste better over biscuits so we may give that a try next time.  Overall, this was a hit and he agreed it was good and he would eat it again.  That's a win in my book.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

Mr. Picky Pants and I are trying to eat better and lose weight.  So far he's lost 22 lbs and I've lost 15 lbs.  Our main focus is eating a lot of veggies and lean meats.  This is a recipe I came up with to use ground turkey and incorporate some veggies without a lot of fat.


1 lb. ground turkey
Chopped Mushrooms
Chopped/Diced Onion
Creole Seasoning (I used Tony Chacheres)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Cooking spray
Here's how to make it:

Saute the onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil to soften.  Add about 1/2 tsp. of the Creole Seasoning to help draw out the liquids and continue to brown them.

Make sure to thoroughly spray your muffin tin.  You will never get them out if you don't do this!

Combine the ground turkey, onion and mushrooms, additional Creole Seasoning (to taste), and 1/2 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese.  Mix it with your hands to make sure it's well combined.

Form into balls and press into the muffin tin.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

This is what they look like when they are done.

Serve with veggies to complete the meal.  We're not doing separate starches with dinner (like potatoes or rice), so we had cauliflower and corn on the cob.

The Verdict:

Mr. Picky Pants enjoyed this.  He put ketchup on his muffins, which is fine.  We both thought there was a bit too much seasoning in them, so I'll dial it back a bit next time.  Overall, this meal left us feeling satisfied and full and provided plenty of flavor.  The Tony Chacheres that I used has a fair amount of sodium, but they do make a salt-free version so I'll be looking for that soon.  Overall, this is a great way to use ground turkey and add lots of flavor to make a satisfying meal.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Stir-Fry Incident

Last night I made a simple chicken stir-fry in an attempt to have a healthy dinner made relatively quickly.  I used a bagged stir-fry with the sauce packet (yes, I cheated) but I used my own chicken so that stands for something, right?  So, I make this lovely stir-fry with all sorts of veggies and chicken in a sweet teryaki sauce and serve it over white rice.  Mr. Picky Pants first asked me if it smelled good or like feet?  What?!?  I assured him it did NOT smell like feet.  We sit down to eat and he picks at it and eats the chicken out leaving all the veggies and rice in the bowl and disappears into the kitchen.  A few minutes later he comes back with a plate of hot dogs and tater tots.  Needless to say, I think this sums up my taste in food versus Mr. Picky Pants' taste in food.  I prefer to eat a flavorful, healthy stir-fry, and he prefers to eat a kids meal off the Denny's menu.  I can't win!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Taco Night!

Growing up it was always fun when we had tacos for dinner.  My Aunt Penny made up the name "burros" for soft tacos since they were kind of a cross between tacos and burritos.  Everyone has their own "recipe" for homemade tacos and my family is no different.  We always had vegetarian refried beans, taco seasoned beef, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, and sour cream wrapped up in a flour tortilla.  Since this is how I grew up eating tacos, this is how I make them now only I try to use ground turkey instead of beef and I make my own taco seasoning when I have time and ambition.

Come to find out, Mr. Picky Pants never had tacos of any kind growing up - at home or at a restaurant.  In fact he told me he didn't even go to a Taco Bell for the first time until he was in high school.  Apparently his family didn't enjoy the Mexican food.  Needless to say, there was a definite learning curve for assembling and eating homemade tacos.  Being the four-year-old that he is, Mr. Picky Pants insists that I assemble his taco for him since I "do it best".

I don't really have a recipe to share, but I will share how I make my homemade taco seasoning.  If I was smart, I would make a large batch and store it like my pot roast rub, but I haven't done it yet.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the seasonings together.  To use for taco meat, mix into browned and drained beef or turkey with 2/3 c water and let it simmer until most of the water is absorbed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oven Baked Ribs

The title of this post is actually a little deceiving.  As evidenced by this article, country-style ribs are not actually ribs, but rather rib-like meat cut from the shoulder of the pig.  Regardless, I prefer country-style ribs to baby-back ribs since they provide more meat, fewer bones, and great flavor.  The beauty of this recipe is that it uses very few ingredients, is fairly inexpensive, and tastes better than any ribs I've ever had in a restaurant.  This recipe was adapted from my Mother-in-law's recipe, which was more spicy and tangy, while this is more sweet and less spicy.  It just all depends on how you like your ribs.  You can substitute any BBQ sauce for the one I used, but we really loved the flavor in this sauce.

1 pack of pork country-style ribs (I usually use around 3-4 lbs)
Chicken Broth
1 28 oz bottle of Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ Sauce
1/4 - 1/3 cup of dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Here's how to make them:

This is the MOST important step in this whole process:  Double-line your pan with foil.  You will be very sad if you do not and you have to scrub baked-on, sticky, caramelized BBQ sauce off your pan.

Lay the ribs in the foil-lined  pan (it doesn't matter which side is up, but I try to put the fat side down).  They should fit snugly as they will shrink when they cook.

Pour enough chicken broth in the pan around the ribs so it comes about 1/4 inch up the ribs.  This will flavor the ribs and provide moisture as they cook.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees tightly covered with foil.

Remove the ribs from the oven and drain all the liquid out of the bottom.  The ribs should look cooked and the liquid in the bottom of the pan will look gross.  Just drain it and move on.

Combine the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice well.

Pour over the ribs and use a basting brush to coat every inch of the ribs.  Use tongs to lift them up to get the sauce underneath them as well.

Cover again with foil (I used the same piece) and back for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.

Pull them out and remove the foil (you won't need it again).  Use the basting brush again to cover the ribs with the sauce from the bottom of the pan and move the ribs around in the sauce to make sure they are fully coated.  At this point, the ribs should be so tender that they are falling apart.

Put the ribs back in the oven, uncovered for anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  I cranked up my oven to 450 degrees to cook some tater crowns so I only left the ribs in for about 10 minutes to avoid burning.  Remember there is a lot of sugar in these so they can burn easily.  Keep an eye on them.  It's better to pull them out too early than to overcook them.

The tops of the ribs should look dark (not burned) and caramelized.

I just throw the pan on the table with some tongs and a spoon for the sauce and have at it.  The ribs will fall apart as you try to grab them with the tongs so you'll have to fish the meat out of the sauce.  Serve with baked beans and tater crowns for a meal even a four-year-old will love.

The Verdict:

This has become a favorite of Mr. Picky Pants.  We've had ribs twice in the last two weeks and both times we could not stop talking about how good they were.  It cost me only $6.50 for all the ribs, $2 for the BBQ sauce on sale, and nothing for the other ingredients I already had.  So we made enough ribs to feed two adults (with leftovers) for around $8.50 plus the cost of sides which was probably around $10.  That sure beats paying $19.99 a person for ribs that wouldn't taste nearly as good at a restaurant.  Mr. Picky Pants had baked potatoes with homemade ribs growing up, but I"m just too lazy to deal with that, so I resorted to tater crowns.  They are yummy with the sauce from the ribs on them.  These ribs are so good and so easy to make, you have to try them!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Roasted Ranch Potatoes

I first started making this side dish using Pioneer Woman's recipe a few years ago, and ultimately tweaked it into this recipe.  The awesome thing about this is that it's cheap and goes with everything.  I like to make these when we grill or when I make something like Herbed Cheese and Chicken Pockets.


Potatoes (I like Yukon Gold)
Wegman's Basting Oil (or any other oil)
Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning

Here are the simple directions:

 Dice the potatoes into large chunks leaving the skins on (that's where the nutrients are).

 Coat the potatoes with the basting oil.

 Coat with the ranch seasoning using more or less depending on your tastes.

Roast at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  The time will depend on the type of potato, the size of the chunks, and will inevitably take longer if you are crunched for time.

The Verdict:

Mr. Picky Pants always says he doesn't like these, but when I make them he eats them all and usually comments on how good they are.  He douses them in ketchup so I'm not sure he's actually tasting the potatoes, but I'll take it.  The basting oil is grapeseed oil with herbs so it's a healthy alternative to some of the other oils out there and the ranch seasoning provides a punch of flavor that would take tons of herbs to obtain.  They end up just tasting like well seasoned potatoes rather than really ranchy.  Try these out next time you need a side and are tired of the same old stuff.

Herbed Cheese & Chicken Pockets

I've determined that Mr. Picky Pants will do just about anything for crescent rolls.  I have to keep them on the other side of the table when I make them and only allow him to have one when he eats some of the protein or vegetable on his plate.  He can eat an entire tube of crescent rounds all by himself.  It's frightening.  His love of crescents got me thinking about putting the "healthy" food inside the crescents so I don't have to be the crescent roll gatekeeper.  This idea was so simple and obvious I was surprised I didn't make it sooner.

Ingredients (just 3):

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (mine were frozen and thawed in the fridge) or 1 large breast butterflied                                                  
  • Crescent Rolls (any variety works, but the crescent sheets work the best since there are no seams)                                                   
  • Any kind of garlic or herbed cheese (Rondele and Aloutte are the ones I've used) or you can season up your own cream cheese to use   
Here's how it all comes together:

Trim all the fat off the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper or seasoned salt (whatever you like).

Pan cook the breasts in oil or butter (I chose butter for flavor).  You could use grilled chicken also.  As long as it's fully cooked before it goes in the crescent dough, it doesn't matter how it's prepared.

Roll out the crescent dough.  The crescent sheets work best because there are no seams, but if you use regular crescents, just press the seams together to make sure they don't come apart.  Spread the garlic cheese on the dough leaving about a 1/2 inch border.

Place the cooked chicken breast in the middle of the dough.  I found it's easier if you let the chicken cool a little so it doesn't melt the cheese and the crescent dough.  Things get very sticky if they get too hot.

Put another sheet of crescent dough over the top, or roll the edges over to cover the chicken.  I'm still working on the technique here so they aren't the prettiest.

Bake for about 10-14 minutes (or whatever the package says).  Check to make sure the tops aren't getting too brown.  You're just cooking the dough since everything else is cooked, so don't go overboard.

Serve with some side dishes and you have a fun homemade hot pocket.  I served them with Roasted Ranch Potatoes and the flavors tied together beautifully.

The Verdict:

Mr. Picky Pants thought these were delicious.  Pan cooking the chicken made it really moist so there were no complaints about dryness.  A couple weeks later I made bite-sized versions for us to snack on and these were awesome also.  They were slightly time-consuming to make, but not overly.  I was just happy that Mr. Picky Pants will eat this with little complaint and without me having to cut him off from the rolls.  He requests this often and as long as I have chicken thawed, I'm happy to make it.  You can wrap anything you want in these crescents - sloppy joes, ham and cheese, turkey and swiss, the possibilities are endless.  Why buy Hot Pockets at the grocery store when you can make your own using ingredients you trust for not a lot of money?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chili Mac

Chili Mac was a meal we had often growing up.  My grandmother used to make it when my dad was little and then my mom started making it after she and my dad were married.  I think one of the reasons why we had it so often was because it uses ingredients that are usually on hand and are fairly inexpensive.  I added the diced tomatoes and mixed cheese into the dish rather than just having it as a garnish.  To me, this is comfort food that makes my tummy very happy.

1 lb. ground beef
1-1 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni or other short pasta
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can light kidney beans
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Here's how it all comes together:

Begin cooking the pasta per the package instructions and brown the ground beef and drain.

Add the diced tomatoes (I usually drain them so it's not too soupy).

Add the can of kidney beans (you can drain or not, I drain a little of the liquid but don't rinse).

Add the cooked and drained macaroni or other pasta.

Mix it all together to combine and cook over medium-low heat.

Add enough ketchup to coat the entire mixture.  The amount will depend on how much you like and how the other ingredients absorb it.

Add in a handful (or more) of the shredded cheddar cheese.

Mix the cheese in to melt throughout the mixture.

This part is optional.  Place into a baking dish and top with some additional cheddar cheese and back at 350 degrees until melty.

Growing up we just served it right out of the skillet and topped it with additional ketchup and shredded cheese.  It's up to you how you want to serve it.

The Verdict:

Mr. Picky Pants tolerates this dish because I love it, but it's not his favorite.  He claims to not like the beans (even though I don't think you can really taste them).  This recipe is also a little like a recipe he ate growing up so I think he resents the fact that I won't make that and instead insist on making this one.  In an attempt to trick him I baked it in the casserole topped with cheese, but he said it didn't taste any different than usual.  either way, this is an easy recipe that is great as leftovers and provides a lot of protein without a ton of fat.  Even though it's not his favorite, Mr. Picky Pants will probably be eating this for years to come.