Friday, June 28, 2013

cooking light, cooking right - 20-minute chicken enchiladas

I promised you I would share the recipe in which I used the homemade corn tortillas I posted about earlier this week, and here it is, folks...

...20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas!

No joke.  They come together ever-so-fast, but only if you have the tortillas pre-made.  The original recipe called for just 6-inch tortillas, so obviously the 20 minutes doesn't include the prep time for the tortillas, should you try to go the homemade route.  And please try.  If not now, the next time.


In wonderful Cooking Light fashion, this delightful recipe is lightened up considerably without forfeiting an ounce of flavor.  In fact, the sauce will most certainly be my go-to enchilada sauce from now on.  It lacks nothing.

The biggest thing I changed from the original recipe was the amount of cheese I used.  I have no idea whether or not the 3/4 cup is enough or not, because when it comes to cheese, I say, "Why not round up?"

So, I did. 

A cup it was.  And that was wonderful!  But for those wanting to stick close to the proclaimed 374 calories and 100 mg cholesterol, per serving - which is considered two enchiladas and a tablespoon of sour cream, according to the recipe - then keep the cheese to about 3 ounces shredded.  I'm sure it's fine.

I guess.  

I mean, if that's what you r-e-e-ally want to do and all.

John and I put away this entire dish in two days.  I don't know about you, but nothing does my early morning mood-state better than opening up the fridge and remembering at least two lunches are already prepped to go.  

This made the best leftovers!

We're having a friend stay with us for the next week.  Mix that in with several youth group events we're heading up and a holiday, I'm not sure how much blogging will take place.  I will do my best to post a thing or two before the week's over, but in the meantime, have a wonderful weekend and happy tortilla-making!

You promised, right?

20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas
makes one 9x13 pan
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsalted tomato sauce
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1 (15-ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 tbsp sour cream, optional
~ Preheat broiler to high.
~ Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium saucepan; stir with a whisk.
~ Bring to a boil over high heat; cook 2 minutes or until thickened.
~ Reserve 1 1/2 cups sauce mixture.
~ Add chicken and beans to pan; cook 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated.
~ Stack tortillas; wrap stack in damp paper towels and microwave at HIGH for 25 seconds.
~ Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up.  
~ Arranged tortillas, seam sides down, in bottom of 9x13 glass or ceramic baking dish
    coated with cooking spray. 
~ Top with reserved sauce and cheese.
~ Broil 3 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbly.
~ Top with tomato and cilantro; serve with sour cream, if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light - July 2013 Issue

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

homemade corn tortillas

Homemade is always better.

"Always" is a strong word.  It's definitive and leaves no room for flexibility.  And there's something about saying that phrase that can make those who choose not to do homemade feel less than or not as good as the next cook.  

Therefore I'm not sure I can really make that statement in 100% good conscience.

Except if I'm talking about today's feature.

Maybe these are an ol' standby for you.  A regular addition to your weekly menu line-up.  Not that big of a deal.  But, wow.  I had absolutely no idea what I was missing.

Homemade corn tortillas.

Three easy, cheap ingredients, one incredible staple for your favorite Mexican dish.  And if you haven't given this a try before, go ahead and set aside some time to practice.  The bag of corn masa is very inexpensive, and you'll be glad you spent a little while getting the right ratio/"feel" of ingredients.  Too wet, and they don't press without sticking.  Too dry, and they crack too easily.  Once you get the correct amounts, it's a breeze.  

I've been doing them by hand lately, but with as much as we've enjoyed having them at the ready, a tortilla press is on my short list of future buys.  I'll definitely share about my find when the time comes!

I'll post a wonderful casserole using the tortillas in my next "Cooking Light, Cooking Right" spot.  John was sold on the first bite, as was I.  I know you'll love it too!

Homemade Corn Tortillas 
makes approx. 12 6-inch rounds
  • 2 cups Instant Corn Masa Flour
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
~ Mix water with flour and salt for about 2 minutes.  If dough seems dry, add water, about
    1 tablespoon at a time.  
~ Remove dough from mixing bowl and roll into a cylinder to make for easier, even 
    dividing.  Cut into three equal parts, dividing each of those in half, and those in half again
    to make twelve.

~ Roll the twelve pieces into balls.

~ Cut a large Ziploc so you can open it like a book.  Open.
~ Place one rolled piece of dough on the inside of the plastic "book" and fold the other half 
    over the top of the dough.  
~ Roll dough with a rolling pin, or flatten with the palm of your hand, rotating the plastic a
    quarter of a turn with each press.  If it sticks, try lightly spraying with non-stick oil or 
    very lightly flouring the surfaces.

~ Meanwhile, heat griddle to 450 degrees.  
~ Place flattened tortilla on griddle until bubbles form, about 20-30 seconds, depending on 
    how thin your tortilla is.  Flip and finish second side.  Additional flipping may be 
    necessary to fully cook.  
~ Cover your tortillas to keep from drying before serving, or let cool completely and store 
    in airtight container or Ziplock for up to one week in the refrigerator.   

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

love people; cook them tasty rosemary bread (a la macaroni grill)

Be still my beating heart.  My absolute favorite thing about Macaroni Grill can be made in my very own kitchen?!?

I really didn't think it was possible.  I read over several recipes claiming to have the "perfect version," but how could I know the one I chose would work so well?  

Pulling the loaves from the oven, smelling the Rosemary, I had my fingers crossed.  Painting a thin finish coat of olive oil and sprinkling a pinch of salt atop, I was hopeful.  But I would have never imagined in this first attempt I would have been so pleased with the outcome.  A soft, chewy crumb on the inside, a crisp golden crust on the outside.  

My friends... I am smitten.

And I’m sure for every one of me, there are a hundred others who would feel the same about receiving their own homemade version of this bread.  That's why you must try your hand at this fast, and share one loaf with a dear friend, a new neighbor, anyone.  Simply wrapped in a towel and placed in a basket with small bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (my favorite bread-dipping combo), you have a perfect hostess treat or teacher thank you.

I'm serious.  Find a couple of hours to roll up your sleeves and follow the directions below.  In your generosity, you will fill a belly all while satisfying your own heart.  Go, now, and bless someone.

"Give, and it will be given to you.  
Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."  
Luke 6:38    

Rosemary Bread - makes 2 round loaves
  • 1 tbsp. yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups flour*
  • 1 tsp. salt (plus more for garnish)**
  • 2 tbsp. Rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 egg white (with splash of water)
~ Place yeast, sugar and water in large bowl of stand mixer and allow to become bubbly;
    about 5 minutes.
~ Mix in butter, 1 tsp. salt, and flour.
~ Add 1 tbsp. Rosemary.
~ With dough hook (or by hand), knead in the bowl for about 5 minutes (or 10, if by hand)
    until smooth and elastic.
~ Lightly oil a large bowl and put dough inside.  Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap and 
    cover bowl.
~ Let dough rise in warm place until doubled, about one hour.
~ Punch down dough and divide in half.
~ Let dough rest about 5 minutes.
~ Spray baking pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.
~ Shape dough into 2 small rounded loaves.
~ Let rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.  
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
~ Bake 10 minutes.
~ Meanwhile, make egg white wash by beating egg white with a splash of water.
~ Remove loaves after 10 minutes and brush surface with wash.
~ Sprinkle remaining Rosemary and course salt over wash; return to oven.
~ Continue baking another 10 minutes until golden.
~ If desired, brush lightly with olive oil and finish with one more pinch of salt.   

Tips and Tricks

* I used King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour for this recipe.  The 2 1/2 cups worked perfectly and only required I lightly flour my hands and the surface before hand-kneading.  Depending on humidity and your measure of the water, more flour may be needed to prevent extensive "sticking," although I didn't find it necessary.

** I used regular salt for the 1 tsp. called for and Kosher salt for the finishing touches.  

Recipe adapted from

Monday, June 10, 2013

frozen sunshine cookie sandwiches

I was raised to not waste a thing.  Not a thing.  So it is not unusual at all to open up our fridge or freezer on any day of the week and find small containers or baggies of all kinds of things.  A couple of tablespoons of extra pesto that can be stirred into another sauce, a half a can of leftover pumpkin from Saturday's pancakes frozen in a Ziploc, the ends of various veggies stuffed in an even bigger baggie to use for stock later.  I keep it all, thinking I can surely find a good use for it somewhere.  Such was the case with the filling for these.  

A while back, I made a Pig Lickin' cake for an event and did it in a 9x13 pan rather than three round layers.  It doesn't take near as much icing for the 9x13, so the leftover quickly found its way into... you guessed it... a container in my fridge.  Goodness knows I'm not throwing away one ounce of that stuff.  

So after thinking on it for a couple of days, I decided it might make a really great frozen filling between two cookies.  The icing has such a creamy, light and citrusy feel with the pineapple and such, I thought a good lemon cookie might set it off beautifully.  Pineapple.  Mandarin.  Lemon. All together, I think, "sun."  Hence the name.

I really enjoy Summer and all it brings.  Here in Middle Tennessee, each day we get further into it, the warmer and more humid it becomes.  This recipe is a perfect mid-day treat on days like these, I can assure you.  Spread a little sunshine - and cool relief - by whipping up a batch.  You'll love 'em!

Frozen Sunshine Cookie Sandwiches -
makes about one dozen
  • leftover frosting from Pig Lickin' Cake
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • zest of one lemon, minced fine
  • 4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar for rolling
~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
~ Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
~ Stir together flour, soda, powder, and salt.
~ In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.
~ Beat in eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest and juice.
~ Gradually add the dry ingredients and blend.
~ Roll balls in sugar and place on the sheet 1 1/2 - 2 inches apart.
~ Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown.
~ Cool completely.
~ Place about 2-3 tbsp. icing between two cookies and place on cookie sheet.
~ Continue with all the cookies.
~ Place sheet in freezer for 30 minutes. 
~ Remove cookie sandwiches from the freezer and place in a sealable container.

Cookie recipe from My Baking Addiction

Saturday, June 8, 2013

saturday morning love - word pancakes

I don't think breakfast can get any more fun, do you?  I had a couple of happy kiddos!  You will too.  Enjoy your Saturday! 

Word Pancakes

  • 1 batch of your favorite pancake batter 
  • 1 plastic squeeze bottle
  • 1 griddle
  • 1 family to share in the fun
~ Preheat griddle until water drops "dance" on top.  Mine is perfect at 375 degrees.
~ Pour batter into the squeeze bottle; tip needs to be cut to about 1/8 inch opening to 
    allow for steady flow.
~ Shake batter towards the tip side, so that no air bubbles disrupt the flow.  
~ Squirt away.  It's SO FUN!

Tips and Tricks
Do a small test run.  If needed, add a bit more water to thin or batter to thicken.  But as with any pancake batter recipe, over stirring will toughen the results.

Friday, June 7, 2013

on the side - grilled romaine lettuce

Last summer our stove went out, and I shared several grill recipes as a result.  If you've read any of those posts, you know we believe a little char and smoke makes most everything better. 

Even lettuce.

I'm sure some of you are questioning such a method, but I am here to tell you it's wonderful.  If you like lettuce, and you appreciate smoky overtones, you will really enjoy this.  Plus it's a fun and tasty way to get your greens; no pre-chopping required.  

On another note, I'm dying to get our fridge (and dishwasher and washing machine).  Only one more day; it's being delivered tomorrow.  I'm feeling slightly "pioneer-ish" having to fetch my ice and other things from the shed, but a longtime Laura Ingalls wannabe, I would have never made it.  As much as I want to think I would have loved to have lived back then, I'm nearly positive I would have failed miserably in Half Pint's eyes.  I'm hoping this minor setback will re-remind me to be thankful for those little daily blessings that - in all reality - are huge.  

Enjoy God's love this weekend!

Grilled Romaine Lettuce - serves 2 to 4
~ Heat grill to medium.
~ Wash and dry lettuce; slice in half, length-wise.
~ Drizzle oil over cut sides of lettuce.
~ Lay lettuce halves, cut side down, on grill grates.  Char to desired doneness, or 2-3 
~ Turn lettuce over and grill 1-2 minutes longer.
~ Remove lettuce from grill, sprinkle with salt, and serve with dressing.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

wednesday wisdom - go green!

Today's wisdom tidbit?  You need this pan.  Now.  That's it.  That's all I have to say. 


Just kidding.  

By now, you have to know I don't have that little to say about anything... but, seriously.  You really need this.  I would have never imagined what a work-horse it is.  


I received this "As Seen on TV" gift for Christmas.  I am such a sucker for those things.  Not really while I'm walking through the aisle and looking at the item for the first time, but if I sit long enough in front of the TV and watch the info-mercials, I can totally convince myself I need whatever it is they're selling.  Thankfully, John can be somewhat of a sceptic, which balances me perfectly (and saves us all kinds of money).

This is different, though. 

I purposefully whisked and cooked two eggs with a splash of water for too long (notice the browned edges, the bottom is even more-so) to show you how well this thing works.  There is no non-stick spray on the pan, no oil of any kind, no bits of teflon to get scraped off into the food, just a dry, heated, perfect surface.  I mean, look, folks.  Eggs.  Eggs, of all things, come out without thinking twice.  This is my omelet go-to, and I can't wait to show you the crepes. Everything turns out beautifully every time. 

So buy the 10-inch OrGreenic saute' pan in the next ten minutes and receive a set of Ginsu knives for just ... 

Sorry.  I couldn't pass up doing that.  Don't ya'll remember those?  Wow.  That just really took me back. 

At any rate, if you're interested, you can learn more about this favorite here.

It's SO easy being green! 

*These thoughts are only my opinion.  I was not compensated for this review.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

monday reflections - does He care?

I have realized one thing, for sure, when it comes to having a blog.  The blogger has to plan.  It's really hard to just wing it and still have things useful for others to enjoy or read.

But despite all my planning for this weekend's cooking trials to share with you in upcoming posts, no amount of planning can overcome a dead refrigerator.  

It can really put a kink in things.  

"And why do you worry...  Consider the flowers.  They do not toil or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed as one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith?"  Matthew 6:28-30

Add that to the washer, and the dishwasher that conked out a few weeks ago (we're still rigging the clothes washer to get it to change cycles and hand-washing all dishes), among a couple of other things, and I would chalk the month of May up to a can-we-please-forget-about-this-month? kind of month.  

Yesterday at our sweet church, I was refreshed and rejuvenated as I listened to God speak through our minister, Will.  The big question of the day... Does God Care?  Had you been sitting in the audience, you would have felt and heard the resounding and emphatic, "Yes!"  

I am a worrier.  It's just in me.  And when things begin to go wrong, that is when the worry seeps in even more deeply.  And I feel guilty so much of the time worrying about what I do... like the afore-mentioned dead appliances and other current matters of our household, because at this very moment we have family suffering from chronic illness and friends who are grieving lost loved ones and others who are dying from terminal cancer.  

Do I seriously care about my fridge that much?  

But, do you know what?  God does.  He cares about every last thing that has to do with us.  He loves us.  He wants only good for us.  He cares.

Last night, we walked in the house after eating a great Mexican meal with wonderful church friends, where a terrific spiritual discussion ensued over the best tortilla chips and salsa in that part of Nashville.  I commented to the boys how thankful I am our family loves Jesus.  Daniel replied, "I know.  What would we do without Him?"

Out of the mouths of babes, I think they say.

This week, no matter what you're going through, don't question God's love and commitment for and to you.  Consider the flowers, my friends.  He. Cares.