Veggie Enchiladas

A few weeks ago, I was coming to the end of all of my

IMG_1573fresh vegetables but didn’t really have a whole lot of ideas on what to make. I had the end of a butternut squash, some spinach about to go bad, mushrooms, and an open and half used can of black beans. I wanted to try and use it all up in one meal. Of course when I, “get creative” I am just going to make a variation of tacos.

 

I chopped and mixed all of those ingredients together with a can of rotel, which is crucial to always keep on hand. I grabbed a few corn tortillas, rolled them up into a 9×9 pan and baked them for about 30 minutes. You can leave them plain, or top them with cheese. Either way they are a very filling enchilada that is quick and healthy. All of the fu of Mexican food without feeling too heavy.

 

What is your go to meal to make with leftovers from the fridge?

 

Recipe:

1/2 can black beans

1 can rotel

1 cup diced butternut squash

1 handful of spinach, chopped

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped

6 corn tortillas

1 cup salsa

(optional) 1/2 cup shredded cheese

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the beans, rotel, squash, spinach and mushrooms into a bowl until combined. Pour 1/3 of the salsa into the bottom of a 9×9 pan, or until the bottom is covered. Take each tortilla, fill with the veggie mixture, roll, and place seam side down in the pan until each tortilla has been filled. Feel free to use more tortillas to make more enchiladas, but I just dumped the remaining veggies at the side of the pan and threw them on top of the finished enchiladas on my plate. Then top with remaining salsa, and cheese if desired. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until cheese is golden brown. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Chili

When I posted a photo of my sweet potato chili on Instagram last week, several people commented and asked for the recipe. At first, I was embarrassed because it is the easiest recipe ever, since most of it comes from a can. However, it’s just too good not to share, so here it is! 


Recipe: 

1 large sweet potato, skinned, and cut into small cubes 

3 cans of beans, drained and washed (I used red kidney beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans) 

1 can of low sodium petite diced tomatoes 

1 can of V8 juice 

1 cup or more of diced veggies (I used green pepper, onion, and mushrooms) 

1 McCormicks gluten free chili spice packet 
Pour all of the ingredients into the crockpot. Take the V8 cab and fill it with water and pour that in. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours. 

You can top it with guacamole, plain Greek yogurt, or just eat with a few plantain chips. Any way you have it, this soup is easy to make and works really well as leftovers! 

Hostess Gifts

Besides cooking, one of my other favorite hobbies is gift giving! I absolutely love curating the perfect gift for friends and family! I like being able to think what they like and run with that to create a gift that is fun but useful.

The holidays are always a great opportunity to not just give gifts for Christmas, but also all of your friends who take the time to host you, cook for you, let you stay at their houses, and are just all around nice people.

These are the baskets I made for those hosting and treating me this Thanksgiving: img_1278Items include: Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix, leaf cookie cutter, Trader Joe’s Maple Leaf Cookies, a mild almond hand soap, cookie straws, World Market pumpkin soup mix, jam, a candle, and pumpkin chai tea. I really liked the addition of the hand towel because I thought it added some color and tied it all together.
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Items include: Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix, butter knives, jam, pumpkin chai tea.

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Items include: two chocolate bars, 4 jerky sticks, a box of crackers, 3 types of cheese, and jam. I also, post photo, got two little individual sized bottles of whiskey to go in there too!

Here are some practical tips when thinking about creating a basket:

  1. Create a theme. It doesn’t have to be huge or even that noticeable, but it will keep you on track so you don’t end up with too much going on. My themes for the above baskets were date night, breakfast, and fall flavors.
  2. Pick a basket or box that isn’t too large. This concept seems simple, the larger the basket, the more you have to get to put in it, but I screw this up every time. While you are in the store think about what you have or need to get and how that compares to the basket. You may even walk around the store a bit and get similarly sized items to see how they will fit.
  3. Buy practical and useful items. If you wouldn’t use it, please don’t get it for your friend. Buy something to put in the basket that you know they will actually use. I can’t tell you how many perfumey lotions I have gotten. Unless your friends love those, please don’t put them in.

I hope this helps you surprise all of the sweet people hosting you during this holiday season.

Roasted Vegetable Skillet

On my continuing journey for quick comfort foods, I have stopped at the intersection of brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes for the last two weeks. I just can’t seem to eat anything else, which is perfectly fine because they are delicious! What have been your fall cravings? I am just trying to use all of the great finds from the farmer’s market!

 

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I chopped them up this past week, pan fried them for a bit in a cast iron skillet and then roasted them in the oven with a cut up chicken sausage. It was fantastic! This is the pre oven photo where everything has been slightly sauteed with a little bit of butter to soften the veggies.

If you want to hurry the softening process of the sweet potatoes, after chopping them, pop them in the microwave in a bowl for 1-2 minutes.

 

After roasting in the oven for about 20 minutes, they had a great flavor and bit of crispiness from the baking that made it perfect! The extra 20 minutes before eating was the perfect timing to get my bag packed and ready to go for the next day, so I definitely didn’t mind waiting! This was a quick and easy meal that was definitely filling!

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I am excited to make more meals in my cast iron skillet! The crispy taste that food gets after being in the oven always just makes the meal so much better, and you don’t have to dirty another dish!

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Recipe:

1/2 tbsp butter

6 brussel sprouts, cleaned and sliced

1/4- 1/2 of a sweet potato, chopped

1 chicken sausage, chopped

Seasonings as preferred

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put a small sliver of butter into the bottom of your cast iron skillet and turn the burner on high. When warm, place the brussel sprouts into an even layer in the bottom of the skillet and allow for it to brown. Make sure to toss them around every minute or two to make sure all sides are browning.

Next, add in another bit of the butter with the sweet potato chunks and continue to allow the veggies to warm until softened. Add in the chopped sausage and mix one more time. Sprinkle seasonings on top. I used salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic. Then top with remaining bit of butter.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until browned. Then enjoy!

Peanut Butter Popcorn

I have been so lazy and unimaginative with cooking here lately. All I seem to crave is good ole comfort foods that are simple to make. I have really been struggling with ideas for lunch. img_1205

I was home for lunch a few times this past week/weekend and tried out some new combinations with popcorn in an attempt to spice things up. After the ones that I tried, I have to say this combination was my favorite: peanut butter and marshmallow popcorn!

I know right… it’s amazing! It is the perfect amount of salty and sweet and I am a little upset that I am all out of popcorn and was only able to make it twice. Thankfully popcorn is on my list for the grocery store this weekend. It’s a sticky treat, but so satisfying! It’s like a rice crispy treat with peanut butter added in!

Do you have any favorite popcorn combinations? Or any fun lunch ideas? I would love to hear what others are eating!

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Recipe:

1 small bag of popcorn

2 tbsps peanut butter (I used crunchy)

1/2 tbsp butter

a handful of marshmallows

Pop the popcorn according to maker’s instructions. While popping, place the remaining ingredients in a microwavable bowl. After the popcorn is finished, dump it into the bowl, and put the other ingredients into the microwave for 30 seconds on high. It may need another 10-30 seconds in the microwave depending on how high the settings are. Once the peanut butter is melted, stir the ingredients together and fold into the popcorn. Then enjoy!

 

Chicken Enchiladas Lite

Now that I am in Texas, I can go crazy with my love of Mexican food! I started by making this recipe from Budget Bytes! The chicken was amazing! I made a few adjustments to the recipe by only using 2 chicken breasts and half of a bottle of salsa verde, a whole green and red pepper, and then only about half of a yellow onion. 


I shredded the chicken and used one of the chicken breasts to make the verde chicken bowls. To the chicken, I added some rice, guacamole, the veggies in the crock pot, and more salsa verde. 
I shredded the other chicken breast and put it in a Tupperware in the freezer. A week or so later, I pulled out the chicken and decided to make enchiladas!  


I wanted to lighten these up a bit, so it wasn’t too heavy of a meal. I used a plain Greek yogurt instead of the regular sour cream or cream cheese that is included in my classic enchilada recipe. 


I baked these real quick in the oven. While it was baking, I made a quick guacamole to add to it. 


Recipe: 

For the chicken: 

2 chicken breasts

1 sliced green pepper

1 sliced red pepper

1/2 yellow onion, sliced 

8oz. salsa verde 
For the bowls: 

A big spoonful of shredded chicken

1/2 minute man brown rice bowl

Some of the green peppers, red peppers, and yellow onion from the crock pot chicken

Guacamole

Tortilla chips

Top with a spoonful of the salsa juice in the crock pot or extra salsa verde and then add as much shredded cheese as you want! 

For the Enchiladas:

8 corn tortillas 

1 chicken breast, shredded

1/3 cup shredded cheese

1 6oz plain Greek yogurt 

1 -2 cups chopped or sliced, fresh or frozen green peppers, red peppers, onions, or veggies of your choice 

8oz. Salsa verde 

More shredded cheese to top 

I’m (finally) BAAACCKK!

It’s official! I have passed training, moved to my first duty station, and have started work. The best part of that process is that I can now get back to normal, which means cooking and baking in my giant new kitchen! Okay, maybe it isn’t giant. But it is definitely a lot bigger than the one I had in D.C. I guess what they say is true, everything is bigger in Texas!

For my kick off to baking in my new kitchen, I knew I had to start with a bang. So I made a cookie cake! Not just any cookie cake though, one modeled off of hummingbird cake. I don’t know if any of you have had hummingbird cake, but if not you have to check out these recipes by Southern Living. I have made it and modified it by using C4C flour instead. However, for the cookie cake, I used a cookie recipe, but added the hummingbird add ins instead of chocolate chips!

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I decided to go big with this cake and do a layered cake too, because why not? So this recipe ended up making enough for 2 round 9×9 pans, as well as 4 extra cookies. I mean technically I could have added that dough into the round pans… but I had to taste test the cookies before I could cut into the whole cake. No judgement please!

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I also whipped up a quick icing to put in the middle of the layers and on top. It was definitely plenty sweet, so I made sure it was kind of thin and a little runny so it wouldn’t be too thick.

Sorry there aren’t more photos of the individual pieces…. It was too good to spend time taking pictures of!

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Recipe:

for the cookie:

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 large egg

1/2 of a large, or one whole small banana, mashed

2 tbsp almond milk

2 tsp coconut extract

3 cups gluten free flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray pans, or oil. Whisk together, brown sugar, sugar, and butter. Then add in the egg, banana, milk, and coconut extract until combined.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and stir into wet mixture until fully combined.

Add the mix ins: white chocolate chips, flaked coconut, dried pineapple, and pecans, and pour into pans. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand on a completely flat surface until hardened and completely cool. Then flip out onto serving plate, then frost (see recipe below), add more pecans, or serve with ice cream. I sliced mine like you would a normal cake, but in smaller pieces so there wouldn’t be a sugar overdose. So it ended up being in 16 pieces overall.

for the frosting:

One box of powdered sugar

1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened

1 tsp coconut extract

1/4 tsp kosher salt

4 tbsp almond milk

Combine until mixed and amazing!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Okay, I can hear everyone already…. another chocolate chip cookie recipe? Really? Is it needed? BUT IT SO IS! These are so amazing that I made one batch and then a week later I made them again! I mean come on, look at the amazingly creamy texture of this cookie dough:

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Needless to say, I definitely had to steal just a pinch of this cookie dough before I baked it into cookies!

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The end product was just as amazing though! The cookies spread out quite a bit, so make sure to space them out! But they come out very thin! This makes them ideal for a lot of things: ice cream sandwiches, plain by themselves, layered with greek yogurt as a parfait… you get the idea! Check them out and let me know your thoughts, but I think they are great for this time of year and making the perfect gluten free, and dairy free, ice cream sandwich. I sadly haven’t gotten any photos of those because they tend to go pretty quickly….

Recipe:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup stick butter, softened (I used earth balance)

1 egg

1 cup millet flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1/4 cup corn starch

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until dough forms. Scoop spoon sized cookies onto a baking sheet, ensuring that they are spaced far apart as they will spread.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until golden brown, and enjoy!

Stuffed French Toast

One of my dear friends was planning to come over for brunch after church one Sunday. I thought about what I could make and wanted to take the opportunity to cook something simple, because I knew we would be hungry, but something more fun that I would normally cook. I started with waffles, then moved to french toast. And then I thought, why stop there? Let’s make it stuffed french toast!

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Thus, I looked what I had in my cabinets and came up with this creation which was delicious and decadent! I used cream cheese filling for the middle and then corn chex to create a crunchy outside.

Next, you get to make little cream cheese sandwiches and then cook them like regular french toast.

The best part was of course topping them with syrup and tons of fruit! We had blueberries, strawberries, and bananas! It was a delicious brunch. My favorite part was that it was simple to put together so we were able to have a great conversation while I was cooking and then get to enjoying the food quickly! We both had a great time!

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Recipe:

4 slices gluten free bread (I used Rudi’s)

1 egg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp almond milk (I used Silk)

2 oz. light cream cheese

8 walnuts, chopped

1/2 tbsp powdered sugar

1/3 cup corn chex, crushed

extra: butter for the pan

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, cinnamon, and almond milk. Next, in another small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, walnuts, and powdered sugar. In yet another small bowl, crush the corn chex.

Set out the 4 slices of bread. On two of the slices, evenly distribute and spread on the cream cheese mixture then add the other slice of bread to the top like a sandwich.

Prepare your skillet by turning on the heat to medium low and melting a half tablespoon of butter in the bottom.

Dip the cream cheese sandwiches in the egg mixture, making sure to coat both sides, then into the corn chex flipping to get the cereal on both sides, and transfer into the pan. Do the same with the other sandwich. Then cook the french toast sandwiches until they are golden brown on one side, flipping to the other side, and then cooking to golden brown on the other.

When cooked, transfer to a plate, slice in half, and serve! You can add syrup and fruit or just enjoy it plain!

Scones

I love perfecting new recipes and starting from a really simple base recipe. That’s what I did with these scones. I took a generic scone recipe I found from an old 1980’s cookbook at the library and altered it to make it gluten free, dairy free, and delicious!

I have tried making scones several times, but I think the addition of applesauce to this batch really is what sealed the deal! My previous batches have come out dry and flaky, which while still tasty was just not the texture I wanted. It wasn’t until I started trying the applesauce that I found the right texture to my scones.

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Of course, in keeping with the cabinet clean out, I used dates and walnuts because that’s what I had on hand. However, feel free to use about a half cup of whatever mix ins you prefer! If you try something else, definitely comment below and let me know what you enjoyed! I think in my next round I want to try chocolate chips and orange or even lemon and dried apricots! I can’t wait to try them out!

Recipe:

1/4 cup almond milk (I used silk), + 1 tbsp lemon juice

2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Cup4Cup)

1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

6 tbsps cold stick butter, chopped (I used earth balance vegan spread)

1/4 cup honey or agave nectar (I have used both on this recipe and they both work great!)

1/3 cup applesauce

optional:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

8 large dates, chopped

1 tbsp turbinado sugar

Prep: Whisk together the almond milk and lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle a little bit of flour on the parchment paper.

Mix the flour, baking powder, kosher salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and sugar in a large bowl. Add in the chopped butter and mix with a fork until combined. Add in the honey, applesauce, and milk mixture until doughy. Next, gently fold in the mix ins if desired. Feel free to experiment!

Spoon the dough out on to the parchment paper and pat the dough into a round pizza shape that is about 2 inches thick. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired. With a floured sharp knife, slice the dough into 8 triangles, similar to what you would do with a pizza.

Spread out the triangles on the baking sheet and pop in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Cool on the pan or wire rack to cool completely.