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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

 

 

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Chicken Tostada Salads

When I saw these Chicken Tostada Salads posted on Shutterbean back in May, they screamed for me to make them immediately… actually, that happens with pretty much everything Tracy makes… I mean, have you seen her photography? It just makes everything look glorious, even the mundane. These salads are anything but mundane though. Super quick, fresh and flavorful, they are everything I look for in a meal, especially a summer meal. The crispy, cheesy tortillas make a perfect base for the “salad” that goes on top. The chicken topping is really yummy, and would also make a great filling for tacos.  This is a great recipe for the summer months to beat the heat. Just a short amount of cooking time (even quicker if you use a rotisserie chicken), and super-speedy assembly, and you have an awesome dinner!

Chicken Tostada Salads

Chicken Tostada Salads

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 corn tortillas

3 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 oz Monterey Jack cheese (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 small red onion, finely diced

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (If you want to use a rotisserie chicken, use the breast meat)

1/2 cup water

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lime juice

1/2 head romaine lettuce (6 oz), shredded

1 tomato, seeded and chopped

1 avocado, diced

Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving

Sour cream, for serving

Hot sauce, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Brush each side of the tortillas lightly, with 2 tsp of the olive oil. Place on baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Sprinkle the cheese evenly among the tortillas and pop back in the oven for about 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.

2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil. Add half the onion and cook  about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the chili powder and garlic, and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken, 1/2 cup water, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 2 minutes, until the water is evaporated and the chicken is warm. Add 1 tsp lime juice. Remove pan from heat.

3. In a large bowl, toss the shredded lettuce with the remaining lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. To assemble tostada salads, split the lettuce among the tortillas, and top with the chicken mixture, tomato, avocado, remaining red onion and cilantro. Top with sour cream and hot sauce if desired.

Source: Shutterbean, who adapted it from Everyday Food

Sauteed Cajun Shrimp

Happy happy Friday! I’m always excited for the weekend… I’m especially excited about not having to set my alarm at night, and being able to stay up late and read or watch “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” if I want to… two things that are on my agenda for the weekend. My best friend is also coming over tomorrow for another installation of our Horror D’ouevres, and I’m really excited for that too 🙂 Can you believe that this weekend also signals the end of June? I certainly can’t! This week also brings the 4th of July, and while I don’t have any plans to watch fireworks, I’m still looking forward to the holiday, and a day off of work. As a kid, we always used to go visit my family out in Missouri for a week in the summer, and we were always there for the 4th. The laws there are not as strict regarding fireworks there as there are in Connecticut, and so it was always our tradition to buy a bunch of fireworks, and take turns setting them off in my Grandparent’s backyard. It was so much fun to actually set off our own fireworks, rather than just watch them…. although a good fireworks show can be fun as well.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite series of cookbooks, the Everyday Food series. The magazine (which unfortunately is now defunct), was one of my favorite food magazines, and I am still mourning the loss of it. The recipes were simple, but excellent, and were perfect for quick and delicious weeknight meals, which are the type of meal I am most drawn to, as that is the type of meal I cook most frequently. This meal fits the bill perfectly. Just a few ingredients,  super quick and simple, but still so flavorful, and not boring at all. I used turkey kielbasa in this dish to make it healthier, but I think that andouille sausage (pork, turkey or chicken) would be even tastier, if you can find it.

Sauteed Cajun Shrimp

Sauteed Cajun Shrimp

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 can (14.5 oz) low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup long-grain white rice

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 red bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, sliced lengthwise into thin strips

8 oz precooked andouille or kielbasa sausage (I used turkey kielbasa), halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions:

1. Heat 1 1/2 tsp of oil in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook about 3-5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

2. Meanwhile, place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add remaining 1 1/2 tsp of oil. Add the bell peppers, and cook about 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are crisp-tender. Add the sausage and shrimp, and cook about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is cooked through, and the sausage is heated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Serve shrimp and sausage mixture over the rice.

Source: Everyday Food: Light

BBQ Chicken Meatball Sliders

BBQ Chicken Meatball Sliders

A couple weeks ago my best friend and I got together for a little horror movie watching and cooking (a couple of our favorite activities). We made a few treats for the horror-themed blog we write together, check it out here! We decided to watch Friday the 13th, and made a few delicious recipes to go along with the movie. While perusing recipe ideas for our dinner and a movie night, I came across these BBQ chicken meatball sliders and while we ultimately decided on making some awesome chicken parm sliders instead, I still wanted to try out this recipe, especially since we had just been gifted some Texas barbecue sauce and smoked cheddar cheese by Ron’s grandparents. These sliders turned out wonderfully! The smokiness of the barbecue sauce was especially good with the smoked cheddar cheese. They were great for a dinner, but would be an awesome appetizer to serve as well. Wouldn’t a make-your-own slider bar be a fun idea for a party? After making a couple recipes for these little sandwiches, I’ve gotta say I’m hooked.

BBQ Chicken Meatball Sliders

BBQ Chicken Meatball Sliders

Makes about 16 meatballs

Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 large egg

1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp chili powder or chipotle chile powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 small onion, minced

1/4 cup vegetable oil

To assemble:

Slider rolls, toasted

Shredded cabbage or lettuce

Grated cheese (I used smoked cheddar)

Tomato slices (optional)

Pickles (optional)

Directions:

1. Mix together the ground chicken, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper in a large bowl, until combined.

2. Form meatballs, by rolling 1-2 tbsp of the chicken mixture into balls.

3. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is heated, add the meatballs and brown on all sides. This will take about 5 minutes total.

4. Remove the meatballs to a plate, and set aside.

5. With the skillet still on medium-high heat, add the onion, and saute a few minutes until translucent. Add the meatballs back to the pan, and then add the barbecue sauce. You can add about 1/2 cup water if the sauce is too thick.

6. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.

7. Assemble sliders by placing on a slider roll and adding toppings of your choice.

Source:chickenrecipebox.com

Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf

Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf

I served this rice pilaf on the side of the red chile enchiladas and it went perfectly. Usually I just cook rice very plainly because it is something I don’t have to follow a recipe for and  sometimes I really like simplicity, but I wanted something more exciting to go alongside the enchiladas. This was still a very simple recipe with just a few more steps than basic white rice, but it was so much more flavorful. I loved the garlickyness of it as garlic is one of my favorite flavors, and while I really love tomato-based Mexican rice, this was a nice alternative to accompany a Mexican-themed meal.

Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf

Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tbsps vegetable or olive oil

1 1/2 cups white rice

1 small white onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 3/4 cup chicken broth

Salt

3 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (for garnish)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put rack in center position.

2. Add oil, rice and onion to a medium oven-proof saucepan, over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice turns to a milky-white color. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add chicken broth and 1 tsp salt. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil.

3. Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and add chopped parsley.

Source: Mexican Everyday

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

Ingredients:

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

Salt

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

Directions:

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Guacamole

Sour cream

red onion slices

lettuce

tomato

Salsa

Directions:

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