Wednesday, August 18, 2010


A "lasagna" with a Mexican twist is an "enchilagna!" I layer the ingredients for enchiladas into a lasagna-like dish to save a few minutes of rolling time. :) I make enchiladas often so I can roll 'em up pretty fast, but I was cooking for a group of eight and wanted to whip together a quick casserole dish. The "enchilagnas" were perfect and my friends ate it up! :)

I got this recipe six years ago when my friend brought me a meal after having Son #2. I was active in MOMS Club and received meals every other day for two weeks. That was AWESOME because I was exhausted from caring for my 3 yr old and newborn son and the last thing I wanted to do was make dinner at the end of a busy day. I asked DP for her recipe because the dinner she brought was tasty. My boys and I made GREAT friends through MOMS Club and we have wonderful memories from our park days, outings and holiday activities. Look into a local chapter if you have little ones. You'll love it!  

Ok, so this is an easy recipe and one that comes together quickly. I'm all about quick and easy as those are the best meals for busy people. Check it out!

Layers of goodness.

The whole "enchilagna" with guacamole, black bean/corn dip, cilantro lime ricechipotle salsa and chips. YUH-UH-UMMMMM!


Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (or ground beef)
  • 1 med. green pepper, chopped
  • 1 med. red pepper, chopped
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 16 oz chunky salsa
  • 1 can- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can- 15 oz corn (I omit if I'm serving my black bean/corn dip.)
  • 6 soft taco size flour tortillas (You can use 12 corn tortillas if you prefer.)
  • 1-2 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
optional toppings:
  • black olives, sliced
  • jalapenos, sliced
  • onions, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • hot sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Cook turkey in large skillet. Drain when almost cooked through. Add peppers and onions to meat and cook another 5-6 mins or till veggies have softened.
  3. Stir in salsa, tomatoes and corn and bring to boil.
  4. In 13x9" dish, spoon 1 c meat mixture onto bottom of dish. Top with 3 flour tortillas to cover top of meat mixture. If using corn tortillas, you will cover meat with 6 corn tortillas across the top.
  5. Spoon half remaining meat mixture over tortillas. Sprinkle cheese across mixture. I do a thin layer.
  6. Top with remaining 3 flour tortillas (or 6 corn tortillas) and meat mixture. Cover with foil.
  7. Bake 25-30 mins. Remove from oven, uncover, sprinkle with some more cheese (more or less to taste) and put back in oven for add'l 5 mins or till cheese has melted. Let stand 5 mins before serving.
Source: Adapted from friend, DP.

TIP: You can make this dish a day in advance of serving. Prepare everything above to Step #6 then cover and refrigerate. To serve, bake covered at 375F for 45-50 mins or till heated through. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese (I like a thin layer but lay on the cheese if you like it cheesy.) Put back in oven for add'l 5 mins or till cheese has melted. Let stand 5 mins before serving.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yaki Nasu: Chilled Roasted Eggplant

I wanted to start cooking more Japanese food so I recently joined a Japanese cooking group called Washoku Warriors. We're cooking our way through Elizabeth Andoh's cookbook, Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen. I'm looking forward to trying new dishes!

This month's challenge was open so I chose an eggplant dish. The only time I buy eggplant is when I make it for get-togethers so I can share it with friends. It's the one veggie that my fam doesn't care for so I hardly ever buy it. I love roasted Japanese eggplant so I decided to make yaki nasu, a chilled roasted eggplant dish for Challenge #12. My Obaa-Chan (Grandma) and my Mom made this dish often so I was looking forward to trying my hands at this as well. It was delicious and I even got Son #2 who has a total aversion to eggplant to eat a few bites. Eggplant obviously isn't an "egg" product, but the name alone makes him cringe due to his egg allergy. I'm glad he tried it and liked it. :) 

This was perfect served alongside Challenge #11's Hiyashi Chuka. It's great over a bowl of rice, too.

Yaki Nasu: Chilled Roasted Eggplant

Yield: 4 servings

  • 4 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 3/4 c basic sea stock (p 92- kombu, water, katsuo-bushi)
  • 3 tbs seasoned soy concentrate, divided (I used garlic and kombu infused soy sauce.)
  1. Preheat broiler or prepare a hot grill.
  2. Wash eggplants and make 3-4 shallow slits in each eggplant. Broil/grill for 5-8 mins or till tender, turning occasionally. 
  3. Remove eggplants from heat. When cool enough to handle, cut off stem and remove skin. Slice into lengthwise strips.
  4. Make marinade using 1 1/2 tbs soy concentrate (reserve the rest till serving time). I didn't make the sea stock as I was given a tea bag-like packet from my Mom that I added to water to make "instant" sea stock. So easy!
  5. Add eggplant to shallow glass pan so the eggplant strips are completely covered by the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hr or overnight for best flavor.
  6. When ready to serve, remove eggplants from marinade and place on serving dish. Drizzle reserved/remaining soy concentrate over eggplant and garnish with sliced green onions. ENJOY!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce

I've put together barbecue sauce ingredients in a crockpot when making a barbecued meat dish of some sort but I've never actually made barbecue sauce. This Kansas City-style BBQ sauce is FANTASTIC! It's exactly what I love in a bbq sauce. Tangy and sweet yet spicy, too...gooooooood stuffffff!!! It's the pepper that gives this sauce a bit of a kick which was surprising to me because I don't think black pepper is spicy. I absolutely LOVE all foods spicy and wanted to add chili powder or cayenne pepper but held off with just the black pepper to see how much heat black pepper could bring. It was perfect! It was spicy but not so much that my kids couldn't eat it. This is a great sauce for my fam. YAY!

I used the last of my store-bought bbq sauce when making the sauce for pulled pork but wanted more bbq sauce for pulled pork sandwiches. I already had a rough day running errands with the kidlets so I was NOT about to drag them to the store for a bottle of sauce. This sauce was fab and I most likely will NEVER buy another bottle of barbecue sauce. Ok, maybe when in a pinch...

I didn't can the sauce...just thought it looked nicer in a jar than the old bbq sauce bottle. :)

Yummy bbq sauce on a tasty pulled pork and coleslaw sandwich. 

Kansas City-Style BBQ Sauce

Yield: 3 cups

  • 2 c ketchup
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tbs onion powder
  • 6 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbs ground black pepper (Use less if you don't like the heat.)
  1. Combine all ingredients in med saucepan. 
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
  3. Simmer gently till sauce is thick and smooth about 2+ hrs. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Enjoy on just about everything! I LOVE SAUCE!!!
Source: Adapted from Tiny Test Kitchen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is so easy to make and it tastes delicious, too. You can throw it in a crockpot or stockpot and literally forget about it. I've made chicken, pork and beef in the crockpot/stockpot and everything turns out fantastic. I don't think that one is necessarily better than the other. From my experience, it's the amount of meat you're cooking that determines which product to use.

Because I had a small pork loin, I used a medium-sized saucepan. The pork was juicy, moist and tender. Yummy stuff for sure! I made coleslaw and a tangy-yet-spicy barbecue sauce to make it a fantabulous pulled pork sandwich. It was SOOOOO tasty! The coleslaw and barbecue sauce REALLY made this a delicious sandwich. DEEEELISH!!!

My boys ate this up and were disappointed that I didn't make my usual double batch of pork. They would've eaten pulled pork sandwiches for the next three meals if I let them. :) Cooking in bulk Costco-style is great because having cooked pork in the fridge allows me to make quick meals: salads, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, soups and more! If you know you'll burn out on eating pork for several meals, freeze small portions in ziploc baggies. When you're ready for more pork, throw a frozen pork baggie in the fridge and it'll thaw within a day or two. Then you can make fast and easy meals and use up the remaining pork. Easy and a lot healthier than going through a fast food drive thru!

The coleslaw in the sandwich really makes it yummy!

Pulled Pork

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb pork loin
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 c BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 6 oz beer
  1. Mix sauce ingredients in med bowl.
  2. Heat oil in stockpot over med high heat. Place pork loin in stockpot and sear all sides. Do not move the pork as it cooks 2-3 mins per side so it browns nicely.
  3. When pork is seared, lift out of stockpot and add sliced onions on bottom. Place pork on top of onions. 
  4. Pour sauce over pork and turn down heat to low. Simmer for 3+ hrs or till pork is cooked through.
  5. Remove pork from sauce and shred using two forks. When shredded, add back to sauce and mix well to coat pork. ENJOY!
Serving suggestions: Pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, nachos, soups, salads.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


My fam really liked this coleslaw. Son #2 couldn't eat this due to his egg allergy (there's egg in mayonnaise) but I set aside some of the coleslaw mix and served his portion with Italian dressing instead. I don't like to exclude him from food I make so I made a special coleslaw for him. He ate it up just like we did our "regular" coleslaw. :)

This coleslaw was similar to Kentucky Fried Chicken's coleslaw but not as sweet. The last time we had KFC was nine years ago when I was pregnant and craved their two piece meal with coleslaw, mashed potatoes and a biscuit. From what I remember, their coleslaw was pretty sweet.

When I decided to make pulled pork sandwiches, I knew coleslaw would be great served with the sandwiches. I looked up coleslaw recipes, ran to the store and gathered up the ingredients. This coleslaw was the perfect complement. I topped my pulled pork with coleslaw and the combination in my sandwich was fantastic! 

I'm not a coleslaw fan but this was good!


Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 14-16 oz package coleslaw mix
  • 2 tbs onion, minced (I used dehydrated onion)
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/2 c Miracle Whip (or mayonnaise)
  • 1/4 c buttermilk (I set aside 1/4 c milk and added 1 tbs red wine vinegar in lieu of buttermilk.)
  • 1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  1. In large bowl, combine coleslaw and onion.
  2. If you don't have buttermilk, measure out 1/4 c milk and add 1 tbs red wine vinegar and let it "curdle."
  3. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix until smooth consistency is reached.
  4. Pour dressing over coleslaw mix. Stir well and chill for 1+ hrs. ENJOY!

Source: Adapted from Sugar Cooking

Monday, August 9, 2010

Curt's Spicy Chicken

We enjoyed a lovely dinner with great friends a couple weekends ago. As we indulged in our wine and cheese, Curt whipped together the most awesome chicken. It was the best chicken I've had in quite some time. It was tender chicken breasts simmered in a super spicy tomato sauce with onions and green bell peppers. The sauce kept the chicken juicy and the jalapenos added a nice kick to the dish. It was a unique dish, one I'd never tasted before. It was like chicken cacciatore but with a Mexican twist. I love saucey dishes and this was perfect for me!

I couldn't stop thinking about the spicy chicken as I love ALL foods spicy. I just HAD to try to duplicate Curt's dish. As Hubby was eating his dinner, he mentioned that I forgot to add the cumin. Cumin schmumin. The chicken was still tasty but I'll definitely make this dish again WITH the cumin.

Curt's chicken was REALLY good but I think ALL meals made by others taste better. :)
My version turned out pretty darn good!

Curt's Spicy Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 4 chicken breasts cut into fourths

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped (Green or red peppers are great in this dish, too.)

  • 1/2 tbs garlic, minced

  • jalapenos, chopped (remove seeds if you want less heat)

  • 1- 15 oz can tomato sauce (I had 6 roasted Roma tomatoes so I pureed those with 

  • the jalapenos in my food processor.)

  • 3 oz tomato paste (Add if you want a thicker sauce.)

  • cumin (forgot to add but will add 1/2 tsp next time)

  • garlic salt and pepper to taste (green onions, optional)

  1. In large skillet over med. heat, add a little oil and saute onions, peppers and garlic for 3-5 mins then set aside.
  2. If making your own tomato sauce, add roasted tomatoes and jalapenos to food processor and pulse till smooth texture is achieved.
  3. In same skillet, sear chicken breasts over med. heat 3-4 mins per side or till browned on both sides.
  4. When chicken is browned, add onion mixture, tomato sauce (add tomato paste to chicken sauce if desired), garlic salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and simmer 30-40 mins. The longer you simmer, the better the flavor. 
  5. Serve over rice, pasta or eat with tortillas. :) ENJOY!
Source: Adapted from CMG.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Egg-Free Blueberry Pancakes

New Year's Day 2009, my parents took us to the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort for brunch. I don't like taking him to out to breakfast due to his egg allergy (the mere smell of egg makes him nauseous), but when making the reservation, my Mom was assured by the St. Regis staff member that the Chef would take my son's allergies into consideration and make something for him. I was skeptical that the chef would have time to provide a special egg-free breakfast on such a busy morning but I figured there'd be something we could choose from as a back-up plan since we were at a buffet brunch.

I was surprised and most definitely grateful when the Chef made my sweet son pancakes from scratch. From scratch! We've never had a chef go out of their way to make something special so I was thankful for the special attention that was given my son. The look on my son's face when he was served a platter o' pancakes was priceless. He was grinning from ear-to-ear! We went to the pancake/waffle area and he loaded up his pancakes with chocolate chips, marshmallows, sprinkles and M&Ms. This was a special treat so I let him go to town! 

A BIG THANK YOU to the St. Regis Chef who made my special son a special treat!

When I make pancakes, I use Bisquick because all the other mixes have egg in the dry mix. I follow the Bisquick directions but leave out the egg and they turn out fine. They're a little flatter than "regular" pancakes but Son #2 thinks they're great. The boys wanted pancakes but I was out of Bisquick mix so I poked around online and reviewed several pancake recipes. If the St. Regis Chef could make egg-free pancakes, I was determined to do the same. ;)  

These pancakes were delicious. SOOOO delicious!

Fluffy like "real" pancakes. I don't think I'll ever buy Bisquick again!

Egg-Free Blueberry Pancakes

Yield: 10 4" pancakes

  • 1 c flour
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c milk (Use soy milk for vegan pancakes.)
  • 2 tbs Canola oil (I'm trying with 1 tbs next time.)
  • 1 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  1. In med. bowl, mix dry ingredients.
  2. Add milk and oil and mix until smooth.
  3. Gently fold in blueberries.
  4. Spray non-stick pan or griddle with oil and heat over med. heat. 
  5. When pan/griddle is hot, pour batter and cook ~2 mins. or till batter looks bubbly on top. Mine didn't bubble so much so I lifted a pancake and checked for browning. When browned, flip over and cook another minute or till browned on bottom side.
  6. Stack on a plate, cover with aluminum foil to keep warm and continue making pancakes with remaining batter. Best when served immediately. :) ENJOY!
Source: Adapted from The Gluttonous Vegan

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thick & Hearty Meat Sauce

I love a fantastic thick and chunky meat sauce. I love when sauce has TONS of meat AND veggies and it's more "stuff" than sauce. MMMMMM...that's THE BEST! Thick and chunky sauce is great for my boys because it's not messy like a runny saucy-sauce and they fill up on protein and veggies. :) Good stuff for sure!

I don't make spaghetti often, but when I do, my boys are STOKED! They LOVE spaghetti and meat sauce and think it's such a treat when I make it for them. The sauce is great over breaded chicken for a quick chicken parmesan, on a piece of bread with toppings for an easy "pizza bread" snack or over sauteed veggies. I could eat the chunky sauce on its own. YUM YUM! 

I've made sauce a few times and I made this version with canned tomatoes this time around to make things easier. This sauce is fast, easy and delicious! No photo opp for this spectacular sauce as it was so good it got eaten up before I could take a pic. :)

Thick & Hearty Meat Sauce

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1- 28 oz can peeled crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbs garlic, minced (We LOVE garlic so I use 2 tbs.) 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tbs sugar (counteracts acidity from canned tomatoes)
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 1 c beef stock if you like a saucier-sauce.
  • 1 lb ground mild Italian sausage (if using links, remove casing and then cook like ground beef)
  • add sauteed veggies if desired (I added a zucchini, squash, onion and garlic mixture.)
  • parsley for garnish
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over med heat. Add garlic, bay leaf, onions and saute for 3-4 mins.
  2. Add tomatoes and herbs to garlic mixture. Stir occasionally until sauce thickens slightly. 
  3. Add sugar and wine, stir well and simmer 1-12 hrs. Simmer as long as possible for best flavor. I usually make a 2 hr sauce and it tastes great. 
  4. In separate pan, cook sausage thoroughly. To remove excess oil when sausage is fully cooked, place wire rack on plate, cover rack with paper towels and then scoop cooked sausage onto paper towels. Bring up sides of paper towels over sausage and press sausage to squeeze out oil. Add to sauce and simmer some more.
  5. If adding veggies, saute veggies first and then add to sauce. Let it simmer some more. ENJOY!
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