Southwest Skillet Ragu

Hello friends! One of these days my goal is to get back to regular posting. I swear just when I think things will get back to normal, something else comes up that keeps me incredibly busy. This time it’s a move!! My boyfriend and I have lived in the same apartment for over 6 years now, and while we love a lot of things about it, when we got word of another place opening up, we jumped on the chance to take it. This time we will be renting the 2nd floor of a two-family house which has a lot more character than the generic apartment we live in now, and I think has a lot more potential for customization… also, I’ll be getting my own office/study/craftroom space which I am super excited about, and there’s space for a decent sized garden!!!! Anywho, our move out/move in date is January 1st, and that is rapidly approaching. With work keeping me busy much of the week, I’m using most of my spare time packing and getting ready for the move. It’s amazing how much we’ve accumulated in the 6+ years we’ve lived together.

With all the craziness around here, I’m searching for quick and easy meals that require few pans, and minimal cleanup. Okay, that’s what I’m always searching for, but even more so these days. This meal fits the bill perfectly. Two dishes, few ingredients, and all around comfort, this dish is a winner. Goulash is such a comforting food to me (it’s one of the first I started making on my own when Ron and I moved into our apartment), and this take on it with the southwest flavors of chili powder and cumin is really yummy. Definitely recommended.

Southwest Skillet Ragu

Southwest Skillet Ragu

Serves 4-6


1 cup elbow macaroni

1-1.5 lbs ground beef or turkey

1 large onion, diced

1 red (orange, yellow or green) bell pepper, chopped

8-12 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, plus more for serving

Salt and pepper


1. Place a pot of water to boil, salt the water, and cook pasta according to directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water when done. Drain pasta and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, place a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 1 tsp of olive oil, and add the ground meat. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes, remove the meat from the pan and set aside, and drain off most of the grease. Leave a small amount just to coat the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the onions, and 1/2 tsp of salt, and cook about 5-6 minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Add peppers, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook 30-60 seconds until fragrant.

4. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Add back browned meat, and simmer for about 5 minutes more until the sauce has thickened.

5. Add the pasta and cheese, and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the pasta cooking water until the sauce is to your desired consistency. Serve, topping each serving with more cheese if desired.

Source: The Kitchn




Tex-Mex Chicken Pizza

Hello friends!! Long time no see! I’m sorry for my absence lately. Things have been so busy in my neck of the woods- my best friend got married this weekend, and me being the maid of honor I have been super busy with that! The wedding was beautiful and I was so excited to be a part of all the festivities.  In a couple of weeks I have another bachelorette party to attend as my brother is getting married in a couple of months… and the holidays are drawing closer and closer too! Luckily all this stuff is fun, but it’s been busy nonetheless. That is why I figured I’d bring you and nice and simple dinner tonight for those busy times in your own lives.

As you all know, I am a fan of easy dinners. These Tex-Mex “pizzas” fit that description to a tee! Toast some tortillas, top with deliciousness, and devour. If you buy a rotisserie chicken, this meal is even easier! I made this a few weeks ago on a super busy night, and had it for the next few days because it was so delicious. This is one of those meals that I wish I always had the ingredients on the ready because they are the perfect lazy person’s dinner.

Tex-Mex Chicken Pizza

Tex-Mex Chicken Pizza

Makes 4


1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, divided

2 Tbsp lime juice, divided

Salt and pepper

1 (16-oz) can refried beans

1 tsp chili powder

4 (8-inch) flour tortillas

8 tsp vegetable oil

2 cups shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken, or you can cook and shred a couple chicken breasts)

1 cup pepper jack, Monterey jack or cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped (or sliced)


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a small bowl, add the sour cream, 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 Tbsp lime juice, and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a seperate bowl, stir together the refried beans, remaining lime juice, and chili powder.

2. Line  two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Brush each tortilla with vegetable oil- use about 1 tsp per each side of a tortilla. Lay on the baking sheets, and bake about 5 minutes until golden, flipping halfway through. Check frequently, as the tortillas can go from golden to brown fairly quickly.

3. When the tortillas are done, spread each with about 1/4 cup of the refried bean mixture. Leave about 1/2-inch border around the edge. Top the refried beans with about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture per tortilla, then 1/4 cheese, and then 2 Tbsp jalapenos. Transfer to the oven, and bake about 6-8 minutes until the cheese is melted and the toppings are heated through. Serve with sour cream mixture, cilantro and salsa if desired.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen: 30 Minute Suppers

Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Melted Cheese

Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Cheese


Out of all the foods in the world, Mexican is definitely at or near the top of my favorites (I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to it if you want to check it out!). It’s one of those types of food that I could never see myself not craving, and I could totally eat constantly without tiring of it. Enchiladas are one of my favorite types of Mexican food to eat- stuffed tortillas topped with a flavorful chile-spiked sauce sauce and cheese… what’s not to love? There are many variations of enchiladas out there and soooo many I want to try like this and this and this, but I’m pretty sure that the classic red chile enchiladas stuffed with chicken, and topped with cheese, will always be my favorite. This variation from Rick Bayless is awesome- it uses dried chiles which really imparts great flavor to the sauce, and seriously, if you’ve never made your own enchilada sauce, it’s wonderful, and so easy- there is nothing to be intimidated by. Dried chiles, tomato sauce, chicken broth, garlic, and some spices are all it encompassed. Give it a try and you’ll see!

Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Cheese

Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Cheese

Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Melted Cheese

Serves 4-6


4 medium (about 1 oz total) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into flat pieces

2 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil, plus extra for tortillas

2 cups chicken broth

12 corn tortillas


1/2 tsp sugar

2 generous cups (about 8 oz) cooked chicken, coarsely shredded

1 cup (about 4 oz) shredded cheese (Monterey jack, mild cheddar, chihuahua, quesadilla or asadero)

1 small white onion, cut into rings, for garnish

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the guajillo chiles in a medium skillet over medium heat- place a few pieces in the skillet, press down on them with a spatula, and toast for about 10 seconds per side- the color on the underside will have lightened a bit. Transfer the toasted chiles to a blender or food processor and add the garlic, tomatoes with their juice, cumin and black pepper. Blend until smooth.

2. Place a large saucepan over medium high heat and add oil. Set a mesh strainer over the saucepan, and pour the sauce into the strainer, pressing on it until the all the sauce is strained into the saucepan. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken broth and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile prepare the tortillas. Brush the tortillas front and back, with oil, and place in stacks of twos on a baking sheet. Bake for about 3 minutes, until warm and flexible. Remove from oven, stack in a single stack, and cover with a kitchen towel (this will keep them warm).

4. Taste the sauce, and season to taste with salt- I used about 1 1/2 tsp as Bayless suggested, but use more or less to your taste, and add the sugar as well.

5. In a 9×13 baking dish, spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce. Add another 1/2 cup of the sauce to the shredded chicken and mix to combine. To assemble, lay a corn tortilla on your work surface, add some shredded chicken, and roll up. Place in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. (It will look like a lot of sauce, but don’t worry- this is what it is supposed to look like and when it bakes it will be perfect!)

6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted. Sprinkle the top with the sliced rings of onions and cilantro sprigs.

Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Ultimate Nachos

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! I did, although I swear this weekend went by in the blink of an eye…. and isn’t the first day back to work after a long weekend the worst?!?! I felt like I was tired and just dragging all day long. Hopefully tomorrow my brain will be working better 🙂

I made these nachos for Cinco de Mayo this year. They are one of our favorite appetizers (and I will admit that we sometimes make a meal of them). I’ve made them for Super Bowl Sunday, and Ron has requested them for his birthday. They are my most favorite nacho recipe, and while they are pretty minimal, they are fantastic. The method of making them may seem a little fussy, but this guarantees even coverage of all the toppings on every chip. I love the spiciness of the jalapenos, but if you’d like to tone it down a bit you can remove the seeds and place a jalapeno on every other nacho instead of all of them. I really love loaded nachos too (and should really make some soon- maybe this recipe or this one), but I think this particular recipe will always be my favorite.

Ultimate Nachos

Ultimate Nachos

Ultimate Nachos

Ultimate Nachos

Makes about 6 servings (or less if you are like me!)


80 tortilla chips

3-4 jalapenos, thinly sliced (you can remove the seeds if you’d like these milder)

4 1/2 ounces (about 1 cup) red onion, diced

6 oz (about 2 1/4 cups) cheddar cheese, finely grated

6 oz (about 2 1/4 cups) Monterey Jack cheese, finely grated (you can substitute Oaxaca cheese if you can find it)

2 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped

Optional for serving:



Sour Cream


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and set one oven rack on the lowest setting, and the other on the highest.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Make 8 balls of tinfoil. Take 3 cooling racks, and spray them with nonstick cooking spray. Place one of the racks on the prepared baking sheet, and place a ball of aluminum foil in each corner (this will support the next cooling rack as you will be laying it on top of the aluminum foil balls.

3. Place 1/3 of the chips in a single layer on the cooling rack. Place a jalapeno slice on each chip. (Or every other chip to decrease spice level). Sprinkle 1/3 of the red onions over the chips,1/3 of the cheddar cheese, and 1/3 of the Monterey jack cheese. Place the second cooling rack on top of the aluminum foil balls, place the remaining balls in the corners, and repeat with the next third of the chips, jalapenos, and toppings. Lay the remaining cooling rack on top, and finish with the remaining chips and toppings.

4. Place in oven, and bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle nachos evenly with oregano. Serve with desired condiments.

Source: Alton Brown

Cheddar-Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

Cheddar-Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

I really love a good burger recipe, and I love experimenting with new combinations of toppings/flavor profiles. I am a big fan of classic burgers (Five Guys makes one of my favorite burgers), but when I come across an interesting-looking burger recipe it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll try it at some point. So far on this blog I have recipes for turkey burgers with cheddar and smokey aioli, jalapeno popper sliders, chipotle turkey burgers, Good Stuff melts, and taco pockets… and I can only see more recipes for burgers appearing here in the future. It’s just one of those foods that’s endlessly adaptable, and soooo delicious! I really would love to try making some vegetarian/vegan burgers as well! (Actually- the black bean-brown rice patties could be classified as a burger- those were awesome!) When I came across this recipe on What’s Gaby Cooking, I knew I would be making it soon- it has some of my favorite things right in the title- cheddar, jalapenos and guacamole. These made a very flavorful burger, with all the spices, and the cheddar, onion and jalapeno being added to the patty itself. This helps keep the burgers from drying out, as chicken is a very lean meat. The toppings that are added (all customizable of course), just make it that much better!

Cheddar-Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

Cheddar-Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

Cheddar-Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

Cheddar-Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

Serves 4


1 lb ground chicken

1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tsp jalapeno, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 hamburger buns

Optional Toppings


Sour cream

red onion slices





1. Add the chicken to a large bowl. Add the onion, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, paprika, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Combine gently with hands. Form 4 patties.

2. Heat a grill pan, or large skillet on medium heat. Spray with a nonstick cooking spray, or add a little bit of oil and swirl so it coats the pan. Add the patties, and cook about 5-7 minutes per side.

3. Serve on a bun with any desired toppings.

Source: What’s Gaby Cooking

Good Stuff Melts

Last winter, Ron and I visited my brother and his fiancee (Jeremy and Michelle) down in the Washington, D.C. area. We were able to fit in a lot in the two days we were there, including seeing a lot of the amazing monuments around the city, visiting the National Cathedral, and visiting the Museum of American History. We also were able to eat at some great restaurants, including Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery. Despite being extremely crowded, and having to eat standing up at a small counter, it was well worth the visit. Our burgers were awesome, the toasted marshmallow shake was incredible, and the village fries (fries tossed with rosemary, thyme and sea salt) sold there were some of the best I’ve ever had.

Several months later I received The Good Stuff Cookbook from Jeremy and Michelle. It is one of those cookbooks where I seriously want to make pretty much every recipe in the cookbook. There are recipes for the amazing salads, burgers, fries, and shakes sold at the restaurant, among other things. I really want to make the village fries at some point, but I have to gear myself up for actually frying something in my kitchen. The burgers seemed a little more approachable, and while there are some additional steps for the burgers, such as making homemade sauce, toppings, and then the technique of wrapping the burger is wax paper before eating, they really are not hard to make at all. These are definitely the best burgers I’ve made myself, in my kitchen, and I can’t wait to try the other recipes as well.

Good Stuff Melts

Good Stuff Melts

Makes 4 burgers


20 oz. (1.25 lbs) ground sirloin

4 potato buns

1/4 cup canola oil

2 cups Spanish onions, thinly sliced

4 slices Muenster cheese

4 slices Cheddar cheese

Perfectly Roasted Wild Mushrooms (recipe follows)

About 1/2 cup Good Stuff Sauce (recipe follows)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Make patties by rolling 5 oz. ground sirloin into a ball, and then flattening it into a patty. Place the patties on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add oil. Add the onions, and stir around so that they are coated with the oil. Cook about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have browned and caramelized. Remove the onions from the pan, and place them in a bowl.

3. Season the patties with salt and pepper, and place the patties in the now empty skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes* on one side, and then flip and cook for 3 minutes. Then place a slice of each cheese, some mushrooms, and some caramelized onions on each patty, and cook for about 2 minutes more. Cover with the lid, and cook for 30 seconds more, until the cheese melts.

4. While the burgers are cooking, toast your potato buns. Heat the broiler, butter the buns, and place them face up on a cookie sheet. Place under the broiler for just a few seconds. Check every few seconds as they go from perfect to burnt quickly.

5. To assemble the patty melts, place a patty on a bun bottom, put on some of the good stuff sauce, place the top on the bun on, and wrap in a square of wax paper. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. This will allow the bun to absorb some flavor from the patty and the toppings. Eat and enjoy!

*The amount of time you cook it depends on how well-done you like your burger.

Perfectly Roasted Wild Mushrooms


1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

12 oz mixed wild mushrooms (i.e. shiitake, oyster, and chanterelle)

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter

3/4 bunch fresh thyme, chopped

1 garlic clove, sliced


1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes, until the liquid is released. Add 3/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium, and cook about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are browned.

2. Add the butter, thyme, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes more. Add remaining salt and pepper.

*The directions here are a bit different than what the cookbook says to do as it has you cook the mushrooms over high heat the entire time. I did that, and my mushrooms burned, even cutting down the cooking time. That said, maybe it was my stove misbehaving and not the directions. In either case, I don’t think cooking the mushrooms on a lower temperature will do any damage, it might just take a little longer.

Good Stuff Sauce

Makes about 1 cup


1 large egg*

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup grapeseed oil

1 Tbsp ketchup

1 Tbsp molasses

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 tsp salt


1. Add the egg, mustard, vinegar, and salt to a blender or food processor. Blend for 30 seconds in a food processor, or 10 seconds in a blender.  With the motor running, slowly add the oil, in a thin, steady stream, until the mixture is smooth. Stop to taste and adjust thickness if needed. If too thick, add a little hot water, and blend. If too thin, blend for a bit longer. Stop here and you have a basic mayonnaise!!

2. Now add the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, and salt. Blend until combined. You can refrigerate this in an airtight container up to a week.

*This does contain raw egg. If you are skeeved out by this, or have a weak immune system, you can skip making the homemade mayonnaise portion and just use pre-made (I recommend Hellman’s). To do this, just mix 1 cup mayonnaise with the ketchup, molasses, rice vinegar and salt until combined.

Source: barely adapted from The Good Stuff Cookbook