Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crockpot Barbacoa Beef Tacos

I've been on a bit of a crockpot trend lately!  Its so nice to know you have dinner cooking away while you are at work.  Even though this day I was home sick from work, I felt good enough to get up and throw this together in the am since it was so easy (and I knew the beef needed to be cooked before it went bad).  Oh my gosh were these tacos so good.  The beef had so much flavor and was perfectly tender.  You can use whatever toppings on your tacos & we even used leftovers for nachos another night.  I think I used a 2 1/2 pound roast and ended up freezing a ziplock baggie with the leftovers for another time since it made so much.

Barbacoa Beef Tacos
via the Kitchn
yields over 8 tacos

2-3 pound beef roast (you can use whatever kind you wish, mine was around $13 I believe)
5-6 chipotle peppers (from a can) plus half the adobo sauce it sits in (use less if you don't want spicy, but it wasn't too bad)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 head garlic, peeled and cloves smashed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 can beef broth + 1/2 can water

Fixings as desired (we used):
shredded cheese
sour cream
lime wedges
diced red onion

Stir together chipotle peppers and sauce, cilantro, red onion, garlic, clove, salt, lime juice, and cider vinegar in the insert of a slow cooker.  Place the beef on top of this mixture.  Add broth & water and put the lid on.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Once finished, turn crock pot to WARM and let sit until ready to eat.  Shred beef with two forks in the sauce.  Serve with tortillas and other toppings as desired.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Green Chili Burgers w/ Carmelized Onions, Pepperjack, & Avocado

Whew!  Quite the long title, but sometimes I feel like its necesary for you to know what's all in there!  These were absolutely the best burgers I've made, but it wasn't all do to the toppings.  I know many people know of this secret, but in case you don't I'm here to share it with you since I just found out!  Onion Soup Mix!  All you have to do is mix it into your ground beef and you will have the most flavorful burgers.  I don't know where I ran across this idea of Green Chili Burgers.  I know I've seen it somewhere, but I can't remember.  The combo was so good though.  A little bit of a kick from the chilis (but not too spicy) and the pepper jack and the sweetness of the onions & the avocado. 

I also made these pretzel rolls which were great buns, but I'm not sure if they were worth the trouble.  I just don't think mine turned out right, so I probably won't post the recipe, but feel free to follow the link if you would like!

Green Chili Burgers w/ Caramelized Onions, Pepper jack & Avocado

1 pound ground beef
1/2 packet onion soup mix
4 slices pepper jack cheese
4 buns of choice
1 7 oz can diced green chilis
1 or 2 onions (I used both white & red)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 avocado
mayo (optional)

Preheat grill.  Slice onions and cook them over medium low heat with butter & sugar until caramelized (usually about 20 minutes.)  Mix onion soup mix into ground beef and form into 4 patties.  Grill burgers until medium.  A few minutes before burgers are done top with cheese so it has time to melt.  At this point I also place buns cut side down on the grill to toast them a bit.

Once burgers are done remove from grill and place on buns.  Top with green chilis & onions.  Cut avocado in half and get rid of the pit.  Carefully slice each half long ways then spoon out to get slices.  Spread mayo on top half of bun and layer with avocado slices.  Serve!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Creamy Roasted Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup

I pinned this soup and loved the idea!  It sounded so creamy and delicious.  Then I looked at the recipe and realized it was made with campbells tomato soup.  I thought if I was going to make a soup I wanted to really make it myself!  Then I remembered seeing this Roasted Tomato Basil soup and decided to go this direction!  I switched out 2 cups of the veggie broth for skim milk to make it creamy and kept the rest the same.  Be prepared, the tomatoes take about 45 minutes to roast.  If you don't have time you can skip that step, but it really deepens the flavor!  It was so indulgent while still being healthy!  We loved it!

Creamy Roasted Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup
adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

2 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste, for seasoning tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 cup freshly chopped basil
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth)
2 cups skim milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
9 oz frozen cheese tortellini

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes.

In a large stockpot, heat the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, fresh basil, vegetable broth, & milk. Stir in the oven roasted tomatoes. Cook for about 30 minutes over medium-low heat.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the stockpot, or transfer soup to a blender to blend (took me 2 batches). The soup should be smooth, with a few tomato chunks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add frozen tortellini and cook 3-5 minutes (per package directions).  Serve warm.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spinach & Feta Friatta (Crustless Quiche)

Sorry I've been sick this week, but I'm back!  This quiche was really good, not as good as this one of course, but very good, and healthier I'm sure with no crust!  It was so simple to throw together.  I would definitely recommend it for breakfast, not as much so for dinner.  Mine turned out a little watery, so make sure that you squeeze absolutely as much water out of your spinach as possible.

Spinach Feta Crustless Quiche
via Budget Bites

10 fresh spinach (or 1 box frozen)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wilt your spinach either by placing it in a microwavable safe bowl and microwaving slowly and stirring until wilted (or same concept in a sauce pan).  Or thaw your frozen spinach in the microwave. Empty spinach into a colander and let it drain while you begin to prepare the rest.  Squeeze out the excess water with a paper towel if needed.

Spray a pie dish with non-stick spray. Spread spinach out on the bottom of the pie dish. Next add the crumbled feta.  In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs until fairly smooth. Add the milk, parmesan, and salt & pepper. Whisk to combine.  Pour this mixture into the pie dish over the spinach and feta.

Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over top. Place the pie dish on a baking sheet for easy transfer into the oven. Place the quiche into the preheated oven and bake until it is golden brown on top and the center is solid. Every oven is different but this should take between 45 minutes and an hour. Slice and serve!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lemon Cake w/ Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Yet another amazing Pinterest dessert find!  I had a small group of girl friends over a couple nights after we found out baby was a girl to have some pizza and surprise them with the news of boy or girl.  I wanted to make some type of cake so I could cut into it and the surprise would be hidden inside.  This lemon cake was so easy to throw together (hint: it starts with a boxed cake mix) but it does take time so I would make sure and make it the night before you need it.  It was really good and the frosting was so rich and lemony.  Perfect light spring cake!

don't mind my slapping the icing on at the last minute.  next time i would do one layer, let it semi harden in the fridge, then do another.

pretty pink girly center!
Lemon Cake w/ Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
via Cookies & Cups

1 Lemon boxed cake mix
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz block 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 cup room temp butter (1 stick)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I think I used around 4 maybe?)

Preheat oven to 350°  Spray 2 8" round cake pans generously with cooking/baking spray.  In mixer beat all your cake ingredients on low for 30 seconds and then on medium for 2 minutes.  Pour into cake pans evenly and bake according to package directions (I baked for approx 30 minutes) until cake is set and toothpick comes outclean.  Let the cakes cool in pan...about an hour. Do not remove.

When cool, poke holes in cake using a fork.  Next make your glaze: in a medium bowl combine powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Stir until smooth.  Pour equally over the top of the cakes..still in the cake pans.  Cover and let sit for at least an hour, but overnight is best in refrigerator.

For frosting cream butter and cream cheese together until combined.  With mixer on low add your lemon juice and vanilla.  Slowly add in your powdered sugar and then beat on medium for 1-2 minutes until smooth.  When ready to frost remove your cakes from the refrigerator.  Loosen cake around the edges with a butter knife so they will release easily.  Frost one cake, top with second cake and frost the entire outside. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mexican Chicken Pasta Dinner

To tell you the truth, I wasn't super crazy about this meal at all.  I just didn't love the flavor and if I'm going to eat a pasta dish with cream in it I want really love it!  Corey on the other hand LOVED it.  So I say make it if it looks good to you and let you be the judge! 

veggies cooking


baked with cheese over the top

Mexican Chicken Pasta Dinner
adapted from Picky Palate
yields 9x13 baking dish

1 lb pasta of your choice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3-4 chicken breasts
olive oil
1 onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped sweet peppers (I used 1 orange bell pepper)
1 1/2 cups Salsa Verde, mild
1 cup petite diced tomatoes from can
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half & half)
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, place spices in a small bowl, stirring to combine.  Sprinkle over both sides of chicken, then rub.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat.  Add chicken cooking until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 6 minutes each side.  Place chicken on a plate to the side.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in same pan over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic and sweet peppers, cooking and stirring until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add salsa, tomatoes, cream and cilantro, stirring to combine. 

Add cooled pasta back to original large pot and pour sauce over top, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to low, stirring often.

Cut chicken into slices and mix into pasta.  Pour pasta into 9x13 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle cheese over the top and broil in the oven until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

OK, I originally thought these Chocolate Lover's might have been the best, but these strawberry ones might take the cake on the best cupcakes I've ever made.  Corey said they were and I'm leaning that way.  They were complete opposites than the ones I made the week before which were so rich and chocolaty.  These were light and fresh and sweet, but not too sweet.  I made these for my bible study girls since we had BS the night we found out we were having a girl.  The weekend before I bought both strawberries & blueberries and planned to make whichever type according to whether baby was a boy or girl.  Pink it was!!!

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes
via How Sweet Eats
yields 14-16 cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt with the mixer on low speed, then gradually increase speed. Add in chopped strawberries and beat on medium speed until the strawberries break down – about 1-2 minutes. At this point, the strawberries most likely have enough liquid that you don’t need to add any milk to the batter. If you batter seems dry and is not like typical cake batter, then add milk 1-2 tablespoons at a time, beating until incorporated.

Pour into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake is set. Let cool, then frost.

Fresh Strawberry Frosting
my recipe

1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed

Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. If frosting is too thick, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached If it’s too thin, add powdered sugar gradually until it thickens. Add strawberries and mix on low until broken down and combined.   

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grilled Steak Fajitas

I ran across this recipe recently and had to make it!  It was something different and I was really in the mood to grill with all this beautiful weather!  We loved the smokiness that the adobo chipotle peppers gave the steak.  Corey keeps asking if we can make these steaks again just as steaks! 

The recipe calls for marinating the steak for an hour at least, but unfortunately I only had about 15 minutes.  It still had plenty of flavor but I'm sure the flavor would be even deeper if it had longer to sit.  Delicious flavor and not too spicy at all.  I ended up mixing all ingredients in the bowl I was using for marinade, but you can also use a food processor to combine.

marinading my steak

Grilled Steak Fajitas
via Guilty Kitchen
yields 6-8 small fajitas 

1 skirt steak (approximately 3/4 – 1 lb) (I used a strip steak, you could also use flank, etc.)
1 chipotle pepper (canned in adobo sauce), diced
1 Tbsp adobo sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp Chili powder
1 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 red, orange, or yellow peppers
1 large onion
fajita sized tortillas
sour cream
cilantro for garnish

Mix all marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl.  Add steak, turning to coat both sides.  Marinade for an hour to overnight (15 minutes worked ok for me!)  Preheat your grill.  Slice veggies while steak is marinading.

When done marinating, start grilling steak and add veggies to a grill basket to grill as well. The steak is a quick grill, no more than 5 minutes per side. You want the steak to be medium rare for optimal taste and tenderness.  Grill veggies until tender tossing in the basket as needed.

Let steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing and slice thinly across the grain.You may need to cut the steak into smaller pieces and then slice in the opposite direction.

Serve family style with accompaniments.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

S'mores Bites

These were the perfect little treat to bring to a cookout when I knew everyone would be full after dinner, but couldn't pass up something sweet!  They were so easy to make and so quick and tasted just like a bite-sized s'more!  Make sure you make the full 24, they went quickly and most people will want at least 2!

Baked Bite Size S'mores
yields 24

7  whole graham crackers (1 cup finely crushed)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
4 bars (1.55 oz each) milk chocolate candy, divided
12 large marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag.  Finely crush into crumbs (I used a rolling pin).  Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and butter in a small bowl.  Place 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture in each cup of a mini muffin pan.  Press crumbs to form shallow cups.  Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling. 
Meanwhile, break two of the candy bars into rectangles.  Remove pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.  Cut marshmallows in half crosswise using shears dipped in cold water.  Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup.  Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly softened.
Remove pans from oven to cooling rack; cool 15 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan. Cool completely.

Break remaining candy bars and place in small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 30 seconds to 1 minute or until melted and smooth, stirring every 15 seconds.  Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate.  Turn top-side up and let stand 40 to 60 minutes or until set.