Monday, October 20, 2014

Easy Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Helllooooo!!! Who's excited that it's Monday?!!

Not me. We just returned from an amazingly long road trip yesterday and I still can't get the theme song from The Backyardagians out of my head. We're backyard friends The Backyardigans.......holy Jesus I need new friends.

It is truly incredible how many times children can view the same video over and over and over again. I think my kids went for a world record yesterday. Is it bad that I let them watch non-stop videos whilst on road trips? Wait, don't answer that.

Who's excited about making dinner tonight?!!!!

Nope, not me either. But if it's going to be anything I want it warm, comforting and most of all, easy! So for you (and let's not kid ourselves, for me too) I made easy. The enchiladas are made with store-bought sauce, a can of black beans, and if you want it even easier, you can use the squash that is already, peeled and cut—simple right?

And because not a night goes by that I don't crave enchiladas, they fulfill the warm and comforting part too. I made a half a batch with cheese and half without for the Professor and both were good, so if you are doing the dairy-free and/or vegan thing these are for you! (Pretend I'm pointing).

You can use any winter squash here. I made them with my favorite buttercup squash but you could use butternut, kabocha, or like I said the peeled-and-cut-up kind, because peeling is kind of a pain in the rear. If you are going to peel yo' self (peel the squash I mean, don't peel your body that would hurt) use a Y peeler as seen in this video, trust me it will make your life soooo much easier.

Here's to a great dinner and an even better week!

Easy Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Makes 4 servings

6 cups peeled, cubed winter squash, such as butternut, buttercup, turban, or pumpkin
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces (about 2 cups) queso blanco
12 corn tortillas
1 (15 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

Heat oven to 425°F.

Combine squash, onion, garlic, olive oil, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Toss until well coated with oil and spice. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Roast vegetables until golden and tender, about 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through. While vegetables are roasting, wrap tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven, about 10 minutes.

Pour vegetables back into a large bowl, add black beans and coarsely mash with a potato masher. They don't need to be smooth, just broken up a little bit. Stir in half the cheese.

Pour enough enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish to cover. Lay one tortilla on a work surface and place about 3 tablespoons of filling in the middle. Roll the bottom up over the filling and continue rolling to close. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.

Cover enchiladas with remaining sauce and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Return dish to oven and bake until sauce is bubbly and cheese has melted, about 20 minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mango Cashew Coconut Granola

We are leaving this morning to visit my family in Des Moines.... I come bearing granola. 

My cousin just had her second baby and I'm dying to wrap my arms around that little bundle so we are making what should be an 8 hour drive (but takes 10 with the kids) to see that little guy and also share some granola with his adorable sister.

Whenever I visit family everyone makes their requests and I try to come through. This time around the car will be bearing a cooler packed with an apple pie for my dad, caramel apple butter for my aunt, and my cousin didn't request it but she has mentioned on several occasions that they plow through boxes of granola like nobody's business, so how could I not make her some homemade?

As far as I'm concerned granola is about the best thing for a nursing mom. It is a little sweet, crunchy, chewy, and easy to eat straight out of the bag with one arm. I added chia seeds because the internet tells us that they are really good for you and are high in Omega 3s, protein, and calcium which are all helpful for tired mothers of newborns and really anyone.

I also used my new, favorite dried fruit—this ultra-chewy dried young coconut that is lightly sweetened and comes snacktastic in long strips. If you are existing on a granola diet (which most new moms are) some really good dried coconut can add healthy fats and nutty flavor. If you can't find the larger strips, regular sweetened coconut will work just fine.

Check out my Instagram for updates on all our family fun. There will be lots of baby shots if your into that kind of thing. Happy Friday Party People! XO 

Mango, Cashew, Coconut Granola

Makes 8 Cups

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups roughy chopped lightly salted and roasted cashews
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sweetened coconut, chopped if large
1 cup chopped dried mango

Heat oven to 325°F.

Combine oats, cashews, chia seeds, salt, and ginger in a large bowl.

Combine honey, coconut oil, and vanilla in a separate medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and toss until evenly moistened.

Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until toasted and golden, about 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool, undisturbed, then mix in dried fruit.

Granola keeps in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mini Mexican Meatloaves

This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Hunt's Tomato Sauce and Latina Bloggers Connect. Thank you for supporting the companies that make this blog possible. 

Let's talk meatloaf guys. I know probably not the most exciting thing to discuss on a Wednesday, but I need to divulge my love of meatloaf once and for all. I mean, c'mon, I was raised in the Midwest people—ketchup runs through my veins.

I've been wanting to post a Mexican-style meatloaf for a long time, all spicy and such with a little bit of cheese thrown in, but The Professor (who was not raised in the Midwest) kept telling me not to. "No one eats meatloaf anymore," he says. I think what he meant was he doesn't eat meatloaf, because he's cray-cray.

When Hunt's contacted me about developing a recipe for National Tomato Month (which is right now, October, this is it) I knew exactly what I would make—Mini Mexican Meatloaves baby, all spicy and cheesy and such.

I'm all about fresh tomatoes for burgers and pico de gallo but when I'm making Chili or Mexican Rice or Meatloaf, I always, always, always use canned tomatoes. All Hunt's canned tomatoes are grown in  California and are canned within hours of being picked so you know the flavor is going to be outstanding and Hunt's makes several different flavored diced tomatoes to make dinner extra easy. I used the spicy red pepper diced tomatoes for this meatloaf but they also have tomatoes with rosemary and oregano, roasted garlic, or fennel and red pepper.

I adore these miniature meatloaves mainly because they're so stinkin' cute but also have the perfect ratio of crusty edges and soft interior, I need a little textural contrast in my meatloaf and this is it. Not to mention they take about half the time to bake as traditional meatloaf, which is awesome, because I don't know anyone who wishes dinner took longer to make. The kids love them too because their child-sized and perfect for little hands. So everyone's happy (except for the Professor......who still doesn't like meatloaf).

Looking for more tomato recipes to celebrate National Tomato Month? Check out Hunt's Signature Recipe Collection for more great dinner ideas.

Mini Mexican Meatloaves

Makes 12 Mini Meatloaves

Adapted from Hunt's Recipes

1 (14.5 ounce) can Hunt's Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
1 (14.5 ounce) can Hunt's Diced Tomatoes with Spicy Red Pepper , drained
1/2 large red onion, minced
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup queso fresco
1 large egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 400°F

Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, and chile powder in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce and combine gently with your hands until well incorporated.

Divide mixture evenly between 12 muffin cups (about 1/2 cup each) and place muffin tin on a baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes then remove meatloaves from the oven and top each with 1 tablespoon of the tomato sauce mixture. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes more.

Serve immediately with remaining tomato sauce on the side.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin-Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

With all the apple recipes I've been posting lately you wouldn't be remiss in thinking I done did forgot about fall's dessert sweetheart—the pumpkin.

I adore everything pumpkin so it comes as much of a surprise to me as it does to you that I have yet to post some delicious squashy treat. And speaking of missteps, why oh why has it taken me so long to embrace Dulce de Leche? It is a sin I wish to be forgiven for so I'm combining both in these incredible cheesecake bars.

I have a love/hate relationship with bars. It's pretty simple: I love them. But then there's the other part: cutting them. Me and straight lines don't really get along (see photo above for evidence).

I was infamous at CHOW for not being able to cut anything straight and was banned from food styling where bars were concerned. It would start out real good; one cut clean down the middle, but by the end I was always left with a piece half the size of the other pieces I just cut. Thank God I worked among friends because my guess is Martha wouldn't have stood for that nonsense.

I guess I'm mentally incapable (read: do not have the patience) for cutting same-sized squares. It requires calculations and eye-balling, two skills I do not possess. Point being I will happily make you a pan of brownies, lemon squares, whatever your heart desires, but don't be upset if the first square is roughly the size of a playing card and the last two a pair of dice.

But let's talk about the most important aspect of these bars for a second, the flavor. The base for these beauties are Marías cookies. I love using these cookies as a base because their flavor is milky and not overly sweet. If you can't find them you can substitute vanilla wafers or graham crackers.

The filling is as good as you would imagine, rich with pumpkin, creamy and smooth and loaded with big, fat dollops of caramel Dulce de Leche. This is the beginning of a very good autumn.

Pumpkin-Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 16

For the Crust:
1 (4.9 ounce) package Gamesa Marías Cookies
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (13.4 ounce) can Dulce de Leche

Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Spray a 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray then line the bottom and sides with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving a overhang on all sides.

Combine cookies and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until cookies are in fine crumbs (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Add melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moist.

Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and press gently to make an even layer of crust. Bake until lightly toasted and firm, about 12-15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Place cream cheese in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin, eggs, flour, spice, and salt and blend until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.

Pour Dulce de Leche into a medium bowl and add 1 cup of the pumping mixture. Whisk until smooth. Pour remaining pumpkin mixture over the crust. Drop spoonfuls of the Dulce de Leche onto the pumpkin mixture then use a skewer or butter knife to make decorative swirls in the filling.

Bake until cheesecake slightly wobbles in the middle and the edges are set, about 40-50 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan until firm. Using overhang, transfer bars to a cutting board and cut into 16 squares.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mole Verde Meatball Sandwiches

The air around here has been crisp. Whoa, I'd say....crisp with a little snow flurry mixed in. To which I respond by throwing myself to the ground crying in a toddler-like hissy fit. I am not ready. I have yet to stuff enough cotton in my ears so I may ignore my children's whining when I tell them they can't watch another show nor can they go outside to play or have a piece of candy. Winter makes me slightly more homicidal.

I've been watching this little bird out my window all morning getting battered by the wind. She keeps looking at me like, WTF lady! Let me in there! And I feel bad, I do. Maybe I should let her in. What's worse, a crazed bird flying around the house or two children screaming at the tops of their lungs "THAT'S MINE!" then "OW" then inevitably "MAMA....HIRO HIT ME!!!!"

Right about then is when I wish I could tuck myself inside of a hoagie bun, pull up a little mole blanket and fall asleep. Wouldn't it be so nice and soft in there? Snuggly and warm is how I imagine it. But instead let's make it edible, shall we? Or as Hiro likes to say..."Should I?" As in Mama let me climb to the top step then jump into your arms while you're carrying a fully-loaded laundry basket....."Should I?"

The sauce for this meaty, melty, fluffy/crispy sub combo seems complicated at the outset but is really my secret guerita ingredient—Doña Maria Mole Verde Paste. I've used it to make pozole as well as a super easy, super good marinade for grilled pork chops and is basically a lifesaver if you want that rich mole flavor without the day-and-a-half prep time.

The meatballs are just the right balance between chewy and tender, with enough breadcrumb to give them right resistance without being leaden. I used ground pork because pork and mole are meant for each other but I've also tried these with ground turkey and chicken and they were yummy too.

This sandwich might be good enough to make you pleased that there is a chill to the air. It is warm, and toasty, and saucy, and all the things you crave when you come in from the cold.

Mole Verde Meatball Sandwiches

Makes 4-6 Servings

1 pound ground pork
1/2 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced, plus one more sliced, for garnish
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup mole verde paste (green mole paste)
6 Hoagie rolls
1/2 cup queso fresco

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine ground pork, onion, garlic, minced jalapeño, egg, salt, panko, paprika, and cloves in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands until everything is incorporated.

Form into golf-ball-sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Roast until browned and firm, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine chicken broth and mole paste in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the paste dissolves. Add roasted meatballs and simmer, covered, over low heat for 30  minutes.

Heat broiler to high. Cut rolls in half and spoon meatballs (about 4-5 per roll) with a little bit of sauce into the rolls. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is golden and melted, about 1-2 minutes. Top with sliced jalapeños and serve.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oven Baked Avocado Fries with Harrisa Ranch

Avocados are pretty much perfect on their own. With a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lime, on a piece of toast. I think that idea has been extraordinarily well documented.

But dare I say that coated in a crunchy breading they might be even better?!! I mean, for crying out loud, what isn't better coated in a crunchy breading? Well, avocados, for one, do benefit from a little textural addition.

This right here be comfort food at its best. Sit back, crack a beer, and throw all restraint out the window kind of food. You know its okay to do that sometimes. It feels good, and good is good for you. Right?

Besides, these aren't the worst possible things you could gorge on. They aren't crispy fried steak fingers stuffed with cheese. They are über healthy avocados, breaded and baked into crunchy fries. Dip them in my version of spicy ranch made with that sultry North African condiment Harrisa. Tomorrow you can go back to your green kale kombucha. Tonight...avocados + spicy ranch is where its at.

Avocado Fries with Harrisa Ranch

Makes 4 servings

For the Avocados:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced into eighths
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Harissa Ranch:
1/2 cup plain full-fat yogurt
1/4 cup chopped scallions
juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons Harrisa
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 450°F and arrange rack in the upper third.

Combine flour, oregano, and paprika in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Crack eggs into another shallow dish. Add 1 tablespoon of water and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth.

Place panko in a third shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.

Dip the avocado slices in the flour mixture, turning to coat all sides. Then place in the egg mixture, turning to coat, then finally the panko, pressing gently to coat all sides. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Drizzle avocado slices with the olive oil then place on the top rack of the oven. Bake until golden and crispy, about 10-15 minutes turning halfway through.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the Harrisa Ranch in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as needed.

Serve avocado fries hot with ranch dip and lemon wedges for squeezing.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fried Green Tomato Burritos

Spontaneously last Saturday night the hubs and I called our babysitter and went out to a bar. 

I'll wait for you to pick yourself up off the floor before I continue.

You back? Okay, good.

Yes, it's true. For the second time in five years I went to a bar in our town. There are several here (this being a college town and all) but the attractiveness of my yoga pants and fluffy pillows almost always win out over putting on shoes and going outside. Last weekend, however one of The Professor's students was playing at a local bar and he wanted to support so out we went.

Let me ask you.....have you been around a bunch of drunk college students lately? If not, it goes a little something like this.....

Drunk guy: "Aaaarmaandoooo!!!!!" "Do you remember me? I was Adrianna's boyfriend."

To which The Professor replies, "Right, how's that going?"

"Not very good. She broke up with me cause she said I drink too much."

Then The Professor sarcastically says, "That's okay, it's probably cause she's Canadian"

"YES! That's what I thought!" then there were fist pumps and shouts of, "AMERICA!!!!"

Whaaaaat?!! Why don't I do this more often? This shit is funny! And ridiculous.....and funny.

There's nothing else to say about that night, the drunk dude was the best thing that happened. The bar was crowded, it took forever to get a drink, there was no place to sit and I'm an old lady, but, but, but, drinking late at night did arouse long forgotten cravings for burritos at 1am.

I never ate a fried green tomato burrito in college but I'm a grown ass woman now and deserve a little bit more than piece of shit frozen burrito from the gas station. These burritos are it man. Crunchy, sour tomato strips, spicy black beans, and red rice all wrapped in flour tortilla and toasted to a crispy perfection on the outside.

We left these burritos pretty straight-forward and dairy-free but you could add cheese to the filling if you'd like. And of course any number of salsas, guacamole, pickled jalapeños, or sour cream would be totally acceptable accompaniments.

What are your favorite burrito fillings? Do tell, I'd love to know. Have a great week everybody!

Fried Green Tomato Burritos

Serves 4-6

2 green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
2 large eggs
1 cup panko
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 large Burrito-size flour tortillas
1 cup Mexican Rice
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salsa, for serving

Core the tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1-inch-thick strips making finger-shaped matchsticks. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine flour, thyme, and chipotle powder in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.

Crack eggs into a separate shallow dish. Add 2 tablespoons water and season with salt and pepper. Beat until smooth.

Place panko in a third shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.

Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towel and set aside.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. While oil is heating place a few tomato strips in the flour mixture, tossing to coat on all sides. Knock off any excess flour and place in the egg, turning to coat on all sides. Finally transfer the strips to the panko and press to coat the tomato on all sides.

The oil is hot enough if a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. When the oil is ready, place a few tomato strips in the oil (don't crowd the pan). Brown on one side (about 2-3 minutes) then flip and brown on the other side. Keep turning the strips until they are brown all over.

Remove tomato with tongs or a spatula, letting any excess oil drip back into the pan. Place on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining strips. If the tomato pieces start browning too quickly, lower the heat.

To make the burritos, warm the tortillas over medium heat in a dry cast iron skillet or nonstick frying pan until they are lightly toasted on both sides. Place 1/4 cup of rice and 1/4 cup of beans in the lower third of the tortilla. Top with a few tomato strips and fold the sides over, fold the bottom up over the sides then roll the tortilla away from you to close.

Toast the burrito seam-side-down, in the dry skillet to crisp the bottom, then flip and crisp the top, about a minute more. Serve immediately with salsa.