Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Creamy Shrimp Enchiladas

These shrimp enchiladas are rich, creamy and delicious. I was happy to find a good shrimp enchilada recipe because while chicken enchiladas are always great, I will usually choose seafood when given the choice of that or chicken. I would pair these enchiladas with some chips and guacamole or some Mexican rice.

Creamy Shrimp Enchiladas
Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Makes 6-8 Enchiladas

6-8 flour tortillas (mine were 10-inch so they made 6; you'll make more with 6-inch)

Shrimp Mixture:
1 tablespoon butter
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
juice of 1 lime

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup salsa (or salsa verde)
1 cup light sour cream
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

For the shrimp mixture, in a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Saute the bell pepper and onion until slightly soft. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just starting to turn pink (add shrimp and remove from heat if shrimp is precooked). You do not want to overcook the shrimp, as you will still be baking it.

Remove from heat and add the salt, chili powder and lime juice.

For the sauce, in a large skillet melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth and continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken up as it cooks.

Once the mixture has thickened, add the Monterey Jack cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat and add the salsa and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add one cup of the sauce to the reserved shrimp mixture and stir.

Fill a tortilla with 1/3-1/2 cup of the shrimp mixture, roll the tortilla tightly and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Pour the sauce over the tortillas and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let the enchiladas sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Creamy Shrimp Enchiladas
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Caprese Pasta Salad

I'm back after taking a hiatus from cooking and blogging for the past few months. My return not-so-coincidentally coincides with the beginning of the second trimester of my pregnancy. I'm sure this news comes as no surprise as most of you are probably family or close friends (or just my mom) reading this, but if you didn't already know, David and I are having a baby! I didn't really have any morning sickness in the first trimester, but our meals consisted pretty much of eating out, eating cereal or eating pasta with olive oil and Parmesan if I was feeling especially energetic that day. My energy has recently returned, though, and I'm back to cooking dinner somewhat regularly again. 

For Mother's Day this year we had a wonderful day celebrating with the amazing mothers and grandmother in our lives. I made this caprese pasta salad to bring to dinner at my parents' house. This pasta salad is a great simple side dish to bring to any barbecue or summer get together. 

Caprese Pasta Salad
Makes 8 Servings

1 pound pasta, such as rotini, penne or fusilli
6  tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
5-6 medium tomatoes or 1 pound cherry tomatoes, diced
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 green onions, chopped
10 basil leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add the pasta to a large bowl. 

Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and garlic together. Pour over cooled pasta. Add tomatoes, mozzarella, green onion, basil and salt and pepper, to taste. Toss until evenly combined. Taste and add additional olive oil, balsamic, salt and/or pepper as needed. Serve cold or at room temperature. 
Caprese Pasta Salad
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicken Fried Rice

I had tons of rice leftover recently after making one of the easiest, fastest dinners that I make. All that's in it is cooked brown rice, black beans, canned or frozen corn, salsa, cream cheese, sliced avocado and a little shredded cheddar. Mix it all together and heat over medium heat. So simple, but very tasty.
Anyway, I made a lot of extra rice, so I decided to attempt chicken fried rice with the leftovers. I thought that the homemade version was very good, especially considering how much healthier it must be than the stuff you'd get from a Chinese restaurant. The recipe is incredibly versatile, so add whatever veggies or meat you have on hand.

Chicken Fried Rice
Makes 5-6 Servings
Recipe adapted from Rachel

4 cups rice, prepared (I used brown rice)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked
2 tablespoons sesame or olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped (or 1/2 cup frozen carrots)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup shelled edamame
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 eggs
3 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons sriracha.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots and onion and stir fry until tender. Add frozen peas, edamame and garlic. Crack eggs into pan and scramble, mixing throughout veggies. Stir occasionally, until eggs are cooked through, 2-4 minutes.  Add green onions.

Turn up heat to medium-high and add cooked rice, cooked chicken, soy sauce and sriracha, stirring to coat the rice and veggies. You want the rice to get almost crispy, so let it cook for awhile without stirring, then stir to let a new layer cook on the bottom. Taste and add additional soy sauce and/or sriracha as needed.
Chicken Fried Rice
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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cajun Shrimp Quiche

When David is working nights, it's nice to have food that he can eat when he gets home from work in the morning or that he can heat up to eat before he goes to work in the early evening. This quiche is great for that because it works well as either breakfast or dinner. The quiche is really easy to put together and has a nice slightly spicy Cajun flavor. I had mushrooms that needed to be used, so I went ahead and threw those in too.

Cajun Shrimp Quiche
Recipe adapted from Eat, Live, Run
Makes 8 servings

1 frozen deep-dish pie crust (unbaked)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup half n' half
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 green onions, sliced
1 jalepeno, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails off
1 tomato, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half n' half, flour, Old Bay, cayenne, salt and pepper, Stir in the green onions, jalepeno, green pepper and cheese. Chop shrimp and add to mixture.

Pour mixture into pie crust. Top with 3 tomato slices.

Put put pie pan on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 60-65 minutes, until top is golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting.
Cajun Shrimp Quiche
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Friday, March 1, 2013

Beef Stew

Beef stew is the ultimate comfort food to make on a cold day, and this stew is very hearty. The beef gets wonderful flavor from simmering in beer for hours, but feel free to substitute a cup of red wine for the beer if you prefer.

Beef Stew
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Makes 6 servings

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 pounds stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 12-ounce bottle beer
4 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
4-5 red potatoes, washed and diced (skin on)

Whisk flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper together in a bowl. Place the meat in the flour mixture and toss to coat.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Shake off the excess flour from the meat. Add the meat to the pot in two batches, if needed, and cook until browned on all sides. Set aside.

Add diced onions to the pot. Stir and cook for two to three minutes, until softened, then add the garlic for another minute. Pour in the beer and beef stock, then add the Worcestershire, tomato paste, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and sugar. Add beef back to the pot. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high and boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add carrots and potatoes, then cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. If you want to thicken the stew, stir 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour into 1/3 cup water. Add the flour mixture to the stew, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low to simmer until sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Serve stew over egg noodles or with crusty French bread. Sprinkle with minced parsley, if desired.
Beef Stew
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

To celebrate my birthday last week, David continued his tradition of planning and making dinner while I sit and drink wine. I can always count on him to make something from one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen, and it is always wonderful. I had been eyeing these brioche pretzels from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for awhile, so I was very happy when he decided to give them a try. I was a little concerned about their level of difficulty, but I promise that they were not complicated; even David agreed. They were actually a lot easier than the pretzel bites that I have made before because they don't have the extra step of boiling the dough before baking. We were both huge fans of these chocolaty brioche pretzels.  I'm already considering making them again this week.

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels
Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook via Cook Like a Champion
Makes 8 pretzels

For the dough:
1/3 cup milk (the recipe called for whole but we used 1%)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup miniature chocolate chips or well-chopped chocolate

For the glaze:
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
Coarse or pearl sugar, for finishing (we used granulated because we didn't have any)

To make brioche, whisk the milk and yeast together in a small dish until the yeast has dissolved. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs and yeast mixture, mixing until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 10 minutes. My mixer did not like this part. Add the butter, a third at a time, mixing well between each addition. Swap to the dough hook and let the mixer knead the dough on low speed until it's silky and smooth, about 5 minutes. I ended up kneading by hand after adding the butter because my mixer was not happy about the kneading. Add the chocolate and continue mixing until it's spread evenly throughout the dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours, until almost doubled. You can rest the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before proceeding. Just make sure to bring it back to room temperature and let it rise before moving on.

To make the pretzels, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll each ball into an 18-inch long rope about 1/2-inch thick. This dough is very buttery and you likely won't need to flour your surface. My dough was pretty warm, so the chocolate chips got really melty. It's not a problem, but it is messy. Draw the ends of the rope together to make a circle. Grab each end of the rope about 2 inches from the ends and twist the ends together- a full twist, so that so that the right end of the rope ends up back on the right side- to close the circle. Press the loose ends of the rope on each side of the center (5 and 7 o'clock). Repeat with the remaining dough and space pretzels out evenly on baking sheet.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg, salt and water. Brush dough with glaze and let pretzels rest for about 15 minutes. They'll rise slightly during this time.

To finish, brush pretzels once more with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 12-15 minutes, until puffed and slightly bronzed (mine needed about 15 minutes). Cool slightly on a cooling rack before serving.
Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Creamy Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I was looking for a comforting soup to make for a friend recently and I thought that this loaded baked potato soup sounded perfect. I like that this soup cooks in the slow cooker long enough to make while I'm at work because so many slow cooker recipes only cook for 4-6 hours. The original recipe actually called for cooking on low for 4-6 hours, but it took me 8-9 hours to get the potatoes tender enough. I would do the prep work on the stove the night before and have it all ready to just take out of the fridge and turn on the slow cooker in the morning if you're going to make this soup on a workday. This recipe makes a lot of soup, so there's enough to give half away and still have plenty for a meal or two. The soup was delicious and tasted just like a loaded baked potato in soup form. It is a great meal to come home to on a freezing cold day.

Creamy Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley
Makes about 8-9 cups

8 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (mine were a little large than 1/2-inch)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
Salt and pepper
Green onions, sliced

Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and refrigerate until serving. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat.

Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, an additional minute or so. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the chicken broth, scraping up the browned bits. Cook until the mixture is starting to thicken, then transfer to the slow cooker.

Stir the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth, potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper into the slow cooker. Cover and cook until the potatoes tender. This took me about 9 hours on low, but the time will vary depending on the size of your potato chunks (mine were on the bigger side).

Transfer 3-4 cups of cooked potatoes to a medium bowl with the cream and mash until smooth using a potato masher. Return the potatoes to the slow cooker, along with the shredded cheese and sour cream. Stir to combine and let the soup sit until heated through, about ten minutes.

When ready to serve, microwave the bacon on the plate until hot and crispy, about 30 seconds. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with bacon, green onions and additional cheese.
Creamy Loaded Baked Potato Soup
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