Monday, May 31, 2010

To Die For Onion Rings with Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Happy Memorial Day. I really meant to post these onion rings before today, so you could actually make them today, but alas. They will taste just as good tomorrow, and the next day, and for the rest of your life. We had company all weekend and we were just too busy cooking, eating, hiking, swimming, and laughing. My brother Roy and his wife were here with their family of five children, plus Roy's Korean mother in law. Her name is Mamasan-I think-or else it is Harmony, or Omanay. I just call her whatever everyone is calling her, so I might be calling her mother, or grandma, or hey little old lady. She never seemed to mind. Or maybe she did, but since she speaks only Korean, I'll never know. It turns out that she loves onion rings. (Roasted tomato salsa, not so much.) But who doesn't love onion rings? And this recipe, as it turns out, is absolutely irresistible. So if your name is Marigold or Marvin or Mamasan, give them a try. And have a happy Memorial Day.
Onion Rings
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for 8-10 servings
2 large onions, thinly sliced into rings
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon paprika
vegetable oil, for frying
Soak onions in buttermilk with salt and pepper for at least a half an hour. Preheat oil to 350 degrees in large pot over medium heat. (Oil should be at least 2 inches deep.)In a pie plate, mix flour, cornmeal, and paprika. Add 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. A few at a time, remove onions from buttermilk and dredge in flour mixture. Fry onion rings until golden brown. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Keep warm in oven at 250 degrees till serving. Serve with cherry barbecue sauce (scroll down for recipe) or with your favorite barbecue sauce.
Next Up:
White Chocolate Brownies are my assignment for Tuesdays with Dorie, but they don't sound too great to me. Anybody want to convince me otherwise?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sticky Cherry Barbecue Ribs

We've got guests for Memorial Day! We had a lonely two days without out of town company, but now we are back in business. Thus begins our busy summer season. When you live somewhere gorgeous and warm, with the added benefit of my parent's resort style backyard just a couple of doors down, we soak more company than we do summer sun. And we absolutely love it. Would you like to come for a visit? Our door is always open. But call ahead since the rooms fill fast. So with all this company, I'm rolling up my sleeves and heading to my lovely kitchen. The Quiet Man bought a few nice racks or ribs and I thought I'd tinker around with a sweet cherry barbecue sauce. I'm mighty glad that I did, because we've got a new overwhelming favorite. Even the non-meat eaters lapped up the cherry barbecue sauce on homemade onion rings (onion ring recipe coming soon). The carnivores ruled the day with these sticky-sweet-smoky and slightly spicy ribs, so tender they could fall right off the bone. I made a variation on my homemade barbecue sauce with a bit of reduced cherry cola, ketchup, mustard, oh, and a bit of this and that. After boiling, I added in some cherry snow cone syrup to give it a fresh pop of cherry flavor. You could also use cherry grenadine, or some pureed cherry preserves. It's the perfect way to say hello to summer days. And if you've got Memorial Day company, they may never want to leave. So plan accordingly.

Cherry Barbecue Sauce (Makes about 3 cups)
Estimated Cost: $4.00
1 12 ounce can cherry cola
2 cups ketchup
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup mustard
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup chili powder
1/3 cup cherry snow cone syrup, cherry grenadine syrup, or pureed cherry preserves thinned with water
Boil cherry cola in medium saucepan to reduce by half, about 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cherry snow cone syrup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Boil sauce for twenty minutes. Add syrup and boil one minute.

For the Ribs (8 servings)
Estimated Cost: (You should be able to get ribs for about $3.00 a lb over the holiday weekend. Shop the sales! I got mine for $1.99/lb) $8.00 -$12.00 for 4 lbs.
4 lbs country style ribs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
THE NIGHT BEFORE. Pat ribs dry and place ribs in large roasting pan. Rub ribs all over with garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and refrigerate over night. THE MORNING OF: Bake ribs at 300, covered in foil, for 3 hours, turning once. (Store in fridge if you aren't going to be eating right away.) 30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING: Grill ribs on medium hot grill, basting with plenty of cherry barbecue sauce. The ribs are already cooked through, so you will only grill them to give them the smoky flavor and to allow the sauce to carmelize on the ribs.

Next Up:
Onion Rings with the same Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bad Idea Ice Cream Pie-(And some Good Idea Ice Cream, too)

Warning: This pie only looks good. Do not attempt to make.I had a really great idea for an ice cream pie. Or so I thought. A cookie crust, brushed with chocolate, and filled with cookie dough ice cream, and topped with toasted walnuts, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I scoured the Internet for a good homemade crust recipe for ice cream pies that didn't call for Oreo or graham crumbs. I found only one. That should have been my tip off that it doesn't really work. I baked the crust, then smeared the inside with melted chocolate. Everything was going beautifully, until it was time to cut the pie. I dug in with my knife, and my wrist crumpled over. Cutting this pie is more dangerous than rollerskating, I think. That's how my sister Michelle broke her wrist. My pie was just as perilous. I chiseled, I excavated, I scraped and begged, but that crust was frozen solid. Ouch. I know it looks yummy, but it'll break your teeth, sistah.
The only way to get it out was to wait for everything to melt. But what, my friends, is the good of an ice cream pie if you have to wait for the ice cream to melt? It was a bad idea. So don't follow my example. If you want a crust on your ice cream pie, stick with the cookie crumbs. Ice cream pies are only good if they're crumby. It's one of life's pardoxes that can save your wrist and your pearly whites. Here are a few of my better ice cream ideas, all of which would be perfect for a Memorial Day dessert.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rhubarb Strawberry Jam

Once a year, the boys head out for a Father-Son's campout with the other gents from our church. You'd think they would revel in roughing it, but instead they stay at a cabin, project sporting events on to a sheet, and eat prime rib, shrimp, dutch oven potatoes, and chocolate cream puffs. I'm not making this up. Cream puffs, people, cream puffs. It sounds so cush, I'm tempted to throw on a baseball cap, draw in a sharpie handlebar mustache and sneak in. Except that I always have a wonderful time at home with my little girl having our Mother Daughter weekend. I'm sorry to be so 1870's, but we made jam this year. OK-that isn't all we did-we also went out to dinner and spent hours and hours in Barnes and Noble. We didn't wear bonnets or churn butter, but we did make jam while the men folk were away. Truthfully, we would have made it if they were here, too. They would have helped us, since we are a liberated modern family, daggum it. Besides, this jam's a huge family favorite. The recipe hails from the Quiet Man's South Dakota Grandma Darland. I never cared much about jam, until we stopped on our cross country honeymoon road trip for a day or two on the farm. Grandma set out a jar of the bright red sticky stuff with breakfast. One smear later I was hooked. It shouldn't really be called jam-no, it's more like candy. I've made Grandma Darland's jam for many people with the same addictive results. It's got three ingredients-just rhubarb, sugar, and strawberry jello. The chopped rhubarb stands all night, soaking in syrup. After a quick boil, the strawberry jello thickens the jam without having to use pectin or Sure-Jell. You don't have to heat process it if you don't want to. Simply freeze it in pint jars until ready to use. But don't count on it lasting too long. Hurry up now, before spring rhubarb gets replaced with summer veggies.
Rhubarb Strawberry Jam
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for 3 pints
Tips: Look for rhubarb at the Farmer's Market for the best prices. I'm buying a rhubarb plant to make it even cheaper for next year.
3 cups sugar
5 cups chopped rhubarb
1 (3 ounce) box strawberry jello
Combine sugar and rhubarb in medium pot. Let stand overnight. Bring rhubarb mixture to a boil. Boil 12 minutes. Stir in jello. Process in jam jars, or freeze. Try a little stirred into plain Greek yogurt. Yum!
Up Next:
Ice Cream Tart

Friday, May 21, 2010

Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Raspberry Bars

School is almost out around these parts and even we obsessive homeschoolers snap the whip just a little bit less often in the summer. Those last few weeks of school are hard-going. I think it's because human beings have a tendency to psychologically prepare ourselves for only the designated amount of time required, and no more. If we know school gets out on June 1st, then we start dreading school around the end of April. If we know a marathon is 26 miles long, then we start feeling wiped out around mile 20. If we know that a pregnancy is nine months long, we start to gripe and swell around month seven. Well, I usually complain my way through the whole thing, but still. So here's what I propose: tell the kids that school gets out in August. Then on June 1st, surprise them by yelling "School's Out!" and promptly squirt them with a bottle of silly string. I think it might just cure end of school year burn out. And if that doesn't work, you could always try these oatmeal peanut butter- raspberry bars. They seem like the perfect afterschool snack, especially when you've got a passel of hungry little mouths around 3:30 PM. When I was babysitting a million and one babies last week, I got the idea for these bar cookies. I never actually made them, because I was babysitting a million and one babies. See how cute they are. This is just a sample section, since they couldn't all fit in one picture. Aren't they sweet? They're hungry too, and sick of school, so you better get mixing. My family found them to be the perfect afternoon snack. They were hearty and delicious, and the perfect cure for May's sick-of-school blues. Hang in there, kiddos. You're almost there.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars with Raspberry Preserves
Estimated Cost: $2.50 for 12
Notes: These would be delicious with just about any flavor of jam or preserves, so be creative.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter (don't use natural style)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour (I used half whole wheat)
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, cream butter and peanut butter with brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Stir in powder and salt. Gently mix in flour, then oats. Pat half of mixture into prepared pan. Spread with preserves. Crumble remaining mixture over the top of the preserves. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown and set. If you want them to slice perfectly, let them cool and then chill for 30 minutes. If you don't care, dig into them warm with a tall, frosty glass of milk.
Next Up:
Rhubarb Strawberry Jam

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Carrot Ginger Dressing for Asian Steak Salad

While I was busy with babies last week, the garden wasn't exactly resting on the couch, eating potato chips. My garden has good old-fashioned integrity, so it stayed home and put in an honest's weeks work. I was met with an overgrown welcoming of spinach, radishes, and green peas. Winter was soft and braised, but spring is fresh, crunchy and inviting. Who can resist working outside under blue skies, gentle breezes and smiling sunshine? West and I cut spinach this morning and gently washed the leaves. We picked and shelled the peas, then rinsed and trimmed the radishes. Sailor was sick in bed, missing some of spring, but we promised to save her some of the garden for when she is feeling better. When it comes to math papers and violin practice, my charges are perfectly happy miss out due to illness. But work in the garden is different, especially harvest work, since the fruits of your labors are figuratively and literally drooping from the vine. So sleep soundly Sailor; the spinach, and peas, and radishes-and yes, even the spring- will wait for you to get better.
Before I left to babysit, I used some of our garden produce and a piece of soy-marinated grilled steak underneath one of my most favorite salad dressings. This one is a copycat version of the Benihana Japanese Steak House ginger spiked carrot dressing. It's ridiculously low in fat yet absolutely thick and dreamy. The ingredient list is long, but you just throw everything in the blender and give it a whirl, so it's actually fairly quick. The flavors are amazing and completely addictive. Try it on a brown rice salad, or as a dip for edamame. And have a wonderful, beautiful spring day.
Carrot Ginger Dressing
From Joy of Cooking
Estimated Cost for dressing: $2.00 for 1 and 1/2 cups
1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped onions
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons catsup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon jjuice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and thick.
Next Up:
Oatmeal and Peanut Butter Raspberry Bars

Monday, May 17, 2010

Little Old Prudy Who Lived in a Shoe

I am home after my week of babysitting seven kids. Two were mine, the other five were my little sister's. I am a tired, frazzled survivor. I missed my husband. I missed my kitchen. I missed my blog, my telephone, my camera, my books, my readers, my sleep, my sanity. But now that I've been home for three minutes, I miss those five extra kids. I didn't get a chance to stop and really enjoy them, because I had so many children I didn't know what to do. I didn't give them any broth without bread, but I did give them McDonald's twice. And I didn't spank them all soundly, but I did send them to bed after a bowl of ice cream with Magic Shell every night. And now that I'm back to being just an Aunt, instead of Little Old Woman in the Shoe-Large and In Charge Babysitter, I'd like to see those kiddos again. I miss you Annaliese, Adam, Bella Kate, Jacob (maybe especially you Jacob-you naughty little cowboy) and baby Davy.
Just as soon as I get the suitcases unloaded, write two reference letters for two students, make a batch of something sweet, pick the garden peas, take a shower, rewrite my syllabus, and help the charges practice piano and violin, I'll be back to write a real post with a real recipe. See you then.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

10 things I have learned in 24 hours with 7 kids

This is Prudence Pennywise, reporting from the front lines, where seven children and one mildly deranged thirty something woman have survived a full day and night. Here's what I've learned about babysitting my sister's five children (plus my two), while she takes a well- deserved vacation with her husband in the Cayman Islands.
1. If you take the kids to the park, don't watch the baby. Watch the toddler. If you don't watch the toddler, he'll get off the slide and join in a tug of war with the junior high kids on a field trip. (Incidentally, his team won. )
2. Some children will not mind having orange Cheeto dust and pink frosting all over their shirts. But if you happened to brush by them with a damp hand, they will need to change IMMEDIATELY.
3. It's impossible to make an egg or a peanut butter sandwich, even with explicit instructions, the way your Mom does.
4. Boys forget they are hungry when they are playing, but suddenly remember that they are starving and have eaten nothing all day at bedtime.
5. The baby will not mind being babysat during the day, but he'll be mad as a hornet that you are not his mother at 3 AM.
6. Blue Raspberry snow cone syrup does come out of beige carpet. Phew.
7. Things like scout books, soccer cleats, ballet bags, school shoes, and homework have both tendencies to be lost whenever you need them, and to clutter up the house whenever you don't need them.
8. Every child on planet earth wants to buy lunch on pizza day.
9. Children are amazingly beautiful and flawless when sleeping. (But I already knew that.)
10. My sister really, really deserves a vacation. I don't know how she does it, but I better figure it out soon.
Next Up:
Asian Steak Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Simple Strawberry Tart

If I was wishing for my kids to stay babies in my last post, I just may have gotten my wish. In a round-about way. This week, I'm borrowing a ticket to Babyland. My sister Mary Kate and her husband are off to the Cayman Islands, and I'm watching their five children- their five children plus my two charges, so seven total. Here are the ages of my new brood: 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 3, .75. We will have great fun, I think. But the truth is, I'm a little bit scared. I don't know if I have what it takes to mother a big group of kids. I don't wake up in the middle of the night, change diapers, keep my eye on run away toddlers, or clean high chairs. I'm hoping it'll be just like riding a bike, and I"ll be able to hop right on and get into beach cruising mode. Or at least mountain biking mode, with few bumps but clear, majestic views. Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, here is my Tuesdays with Dorie assignment for a Simple Classic French Tart.
I couldn't find my tart pan (Do you have it, Mom?), so it isn't exactly a tart. If you haven't got tart pan, your pie plate will work splendidly.
I used only strawberries, since they are the cheapest berry for this time of year. The pie was positively scrumptious, a perfect combination of creamy pastry cream, shortbread crust, and jam-glazed berries. I can't wait to make it again.
But I'm not certain I can take that on while I'm babysitting. I'll keep you posted on all my (mis)adventures this week.
Scroll down to the right post.
Up Next:
Asian Steak Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

Monday, May 10, 2010

Simple Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Did you have a Happy Mother's Day? Mother's Day is a day that is happy but also a little bit sad. I love the charges, but without my permission they're getting bigger by the minute. They seem a little less mine and a little more independent every day. There are moments, like yesterday, when I watched Sailor putting on her socks, that I stop and remind myself that I used to do everything for her. And there were moments, like yesterday, when West decided that he no longer wears hats to church PERIOD, that I stop and remind myself that they are in charge of who they are more and more every day. They are mine forever, but they are ready to take over ownership of themselves, piece by piece, hour by hour, year by year. And that is why Mother's Day is a little bit sad. Sniff, sniff.
But it's also a happy day, because these adorable, naughty, independent, smart, sassy children are my greatest treasure and achievement. Still, I can't take any credit and I don't want any of the blame. I just love them. I stepped out of black and white and into technicolor the minute they arrived. I care about everything now, except what used to seem to matter. I care about the caterpillar on the sidewalk because I want to show it to them. I care about growing Bachelor Button flowers in the front planter, because they are intrigued by them. I care about Disney Princesses and Astro Boy, although I won't be sorry to say good-bye to them. I don't care that I didn't get my lipstick on this morning. I don't care that my lullabies are not sopranic arias. I don't care about the fact that my sunglasses have a lens that pop, because they don't care either. (Although, I suspect that'll change soon.) I'm doing my best to teach them to be kind, caring, educated, responsible little people. Most days I can see glimpses of those traits in embryo. I love them.. And I love being their mother.
Now, here's a recipe that the charges could just about do on their own for a quick Mother's Day dessert. The Quiet Man was going to post again, but I thought he had filled in for me enough over the course of the weekend. He's my best pinch hitter, no matter what it is I can't get to. So now, I'm pinch hitting for him, who was pinch hitting for me. It all works out somehow.
Melt some chocolate and clean and dry some strawberries. Holding by the stem, dip them in the chocolate one a time, swirling to coat. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and chill until set.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
$3-$4 for 12
a mug full of semi-sweet chocolate chips
clean, dry strawberries
Melt chocolate on low in microwave, stirring every 20-30 seconds. Dip strawberries and place on waxed paper until chocolate sets. Refrigerate until serving.
Up Next:
Simple Berry Tart

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day Chicken-Spinach Salad with Strawberry Dressing

This is the Quiet Man. My name is not really the Quiet Man. I'm called Shane, which starts with SH. Shhh! I've been hearing this all my life "Sh....ane" Perhaps this is why I have become so quiet. I doubt it though. My name is not really Shane either, but that is another story for another Mother's day.
Once a year I feel obligated to at least try to make a special Mother's Day meal. Not the breakfast in bed meal, but a Sunday afternoon sit down meal. Usually, I pass my ideas along to Prudence Pennywise and we get a revision or two. My meal ideas tend to be like a rusted out Pontiac station wagon, and then after a short discussion with Prudence Pennywise, we have a Cadillac version, at the same price. In recent Mother's Days, I have teamed up with Prudy's Father, who also feels obligated to make a marvelous meal for Mother's Day. Truthfully, despite our attempts to go it alone, there is always a kind word of encouragement or suggestion from Prudy and Prudy's mother. They say things like: "Well kid, you did your best." Anyway, the fathers end up doing a bang up job of cleaning the dishes, the kitchen and the mess. Here we have this year's attempt at a special Mother's Day meal. Isn't it the thought that counts? Not around here, it's more like making the attempt that counts. Here goes:
Popeye would be proud of our garden and we've got more spinach than I care to eat in a whole year. With that pleasant thought, I decided dinner had to be a salad. A lady kind of salad-the kind ladies think is a whole meal. (They do that with soup, too.)
I planned to grill the chicken, but it got a little windy, as it tends to do, so I moved it inside and broiled it in the oven, with just a little bit of S&P, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Yeah you heard me say it: "broiled it in the oven", where do you think I learned that?If you have some cornbread lying around, or if you feel inclined to make some, it makes very good croutons. By the way, cornbread has been on the mind recently. You can also use plain bread. In either case, cut them into cubes and put them in the oven to toast. I had the broiler on and I turned my back for a minute. Do you think Prudy will notice?
Well fellas, have a go at it. I'm going to have to take a brief hiatus from blog posting now, as I don't have anything left to say. That's why they call me the Quiet Man. I'll be back before long with dessert-chocolate covered strawberries.
Mother's Day Spring Chicken and Spinach Salad with Strawberry Dressing
For the dressing:
Equal parts strawberry jam
olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad:
sliced strawberries
sliced red onion
day old cornbread, cut into croutons and dried in the oven
grilled (or broiled) chicken strips
feta cheese
Next Up:
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for Mother's Day Dessert

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So-Easy "Un"Refried Beans in the Crock Pot

I wish everything in life were as easy as these "un"refried beans. (If any of my students are reading this, your final tomorrow night will not be-so be forewarned and study hard.) They are so simple, that I stumbled upon them quite by accident. I'd spent the last decade convinced that to make good Mexican style beans, I had to soak, boil, mash, fry. There was so much labor involved, I might as well have grown the beans myself and picked them on a sweltering hot day, dressed in a pioneer gown with a screaming baby pinned to my back. Sisters, it wouldn't have made things much harder. One night, feeling rebellious, I put the dried pintos into the crockpot, turned them on low and went to bed (in a pioneer nightgown, I bet; they don't call me Prudy for nothin'). I didn't know what would happen, but since beans don't cost much more than-well, beans-I thought I could afford to chance it. But nothing happened, except exactly what I'd hoped would happen. The beans retained their shape, but they were soft, cooked, and creamy, willing to surrender to the slightest mashing of the fork. I hadn't added anything for flavor-no onion, garlic, hot pepper, not even a sprinkle of salt. A blank canvas of legumes lay before me. I sauteed some aromatics and sprinkled in some chili powder. But then the next time, I poured in some tomatilla salsa and a can of green chilies. Once in desperation, I dumped in I mixed in some packets of taco sauce, leftover from midnight quesadilla run at Del Taco. Sometimes I'd mash them to creamy; other times I'd leave most of the beans whole. Each time they came out stupendous, or estupendo (which is much more fun to say), if you will. Estupendo! I'm giving you the recipe, but think of it as an outline. You can't fail. No matter what you will succeeed. (Now if only I could say the same about my students on tomorrow night's final.) Hay caramba! And Happy Cinco De Mayo!
So Easy "Un" Refried Beans in the Crock Pot
Estimated Cost: about $1.00 for 6-8 servings
2 cups dried pinto beans-no need to presoak
8 cups water
start with 1/4 teaspoon salt (or use granulated chicken bouillion)
1/2 -3/4 cup flavorful liquid-taco sauce, red or green salsa, enchilada sauce, tomato sauce (my favorite is El Pato spicy tomato sauce), or even a 14 ounce can of undrained Mexican style petite diced tomatoes
Optional Add ins: sauteed garlic-onions-jalapenos, bacon grease, chopped cooked bacon, roasted red peppers, diced green chilies, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro
Put beans and water in the crock pot. Cover and cook on low overnight, or about 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours. (Every crock pot is different, so give yourself plenty of time.) When the beans are very soft, remove all of the liquid that you can with a small ladle or measuring cup. You don't need to strain the beans. Just get out as much of the cooking water as possible. Mash the beans with a potato masher, getting them as creamy as you like, or leave them whole, if that floats your boat. Add salt and your flavorful liquid. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Up Next:
The Quiet Man's First Ever Guest Post for a Mother's Day Menu

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cinco De Mayo with Ay Mamacita Red Chile and Cheese Enchiladas

I love how Cinco de Mayo never sneaks up on you. You always know what day it will be because with even a cursory understanding of espanol (never have mastered the tilde over the n on the computer), you've got the date etched in your memory. When do I need to have the enchiladas ready? Why, on Cinco De Mayo, of course. Easy. Other holidays, like Easter for example, require constant flipping of the calendar. Easter-who knows if it will be in March or April? Sometimes it even gets squished so far into March that the Peter Cottontail and Lucky the Leprechaun have terretorial gang fights. Not so, Cinco de May-o. Cinco De Mayo (like Fourth of July) looks you straight in the eye and lets you know right when it's coming and how long it'll be staying. And isn't long, either. Put on your sombreros and get ready, mis amigos. This year, we're making cheese enchiladas just because they are so darn delicioso, that's why. Here's how you're going to make them:
Start with some homemade enchilada sauce. Don't be scared- it's muy sinchy. I like the sound of that. Muy sinchy. I'm getting a little carried away with this Spanglish thing, huh? I'll try to cut back, but I can't promise ninguna cosa.
Throw together some filling. I've got shredded sharp cheddar, green chilies, sour cream, and a bit of onion.
Lightly fry some tortillas.
Roll them around in the sauce.
Fill er' up, boys.
Stack them on top of each other while you're rolling them up, just to save some work space inside the pan. Spread them out in the pan with plenty of room to breathe. Cover with any extra sauce and just a sprinkle of cheese.
Bake it just an itty bit, just to get things bubbling. Tengo hambre all over again.Oh, don't eat them yet. You'll burn your mouth on hot melted cheese. I'm just guessing because I didn't do that. No senor, I always wait and let things cool. Tengo paciencia.
I serve them with some homemade refried beans and a little bit of shredded cabbage with a lime and sour cream dressing, and some chopped red tomatoes. But even all alone, they're worth every last bite. So what are you waiting for? Cinco De Mayo is just a few dias away. Hasta Manana.
Money Saving Tips:
Hey-you're already ahead of the game. You're going to feed four for less than the price of one plate at a restaurant. Making the sauce on your own saves you cash-especially if you use chicken bouillion cubes for the broth. Save even more buy stocking up on your favorite cheeses when they're on sale. Buy tortillas in bulk and freeze any extras or better yet-make a big bag of healthy baked tortilla chips.
Red Chile and Cheese Enchiladas
Estimated Cost: $8.00 for 12
For Enchiladas:
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 tortillas
1/2 cup shredded cheese, for top (I used cheddar and jack)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, or sliced green onions, for garnish
For Sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoon flour
4 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce (if you can find it, try El Pato spicy tomato sauce in the yellow can)
For Filling:
2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1 (7 ounce) can diced green chilies
1/3 cup finely minced onion or scallions
1/2 cup sour cream (I used Daisy light)
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add tortillas, one at a time, and lightly fry just until softened, adding more oil as needed. Stack tortillas atop one another on a paper towel. When finished, in same skillet heat oil for sauce. Whisk in flour; cook for one minute. Add chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and paprika. Stir for one minute. Whisk in chicken broth and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionaly. Prepare filling while sauce simmers, by combining shredded cheese, chilies, onion, and sour cream in medium bowl. Preheat oven to 425 if you are baking the enchiladas now. Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking pan and an 8 inch square baking dish. Pour about half of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the large pan. Pass the tortillas through the sauce, on both sides. Add about 1/4 cup filling and roll up. Stack rolled tortillas atop each other in pan, so that you still have workspace to dip tortillas in sauce. Repeat until all tortillas are rolled, then arrange tortillas between the two pans. Pour remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle lightly with cheese. (Can be prepared up to this point. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to two days.) Place tortillas in 425 degree preheated oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until just bubbly and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro and let cool for five minutes before serving. (If baking refrigerated enchiladas, increase baking time to 20-25 minutes. Keep covered with foil for first ten minutes of baking, to prevent drying.)
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So Easy Un-Refried Beans-in the SlowCooker