Enchirritos

What is your first thought when you hear the word Enchirritos??  GO!!  For me it is Taco Bell.  I had never even heard of them before Taco Bell.  Unfortunately, like most fast food, Taco Bell left a horrible taste in my mouth.  Luckily, over time, my palette and budget has drastically improved.  And thanks to my Mexican husband, so has my understanding of Mexican food.  Now  a pet peeve of mine is when someone calls a burrito with sauce an enchilada.  If it’s a flour tortilla, it’s not an enchilada.  And that is what I love about this enchirrito.  It’s not pretending to be something it’s not. This enchirrito is no resting on the hard work of its parent to define it as either a burrito or an enchilada.  This enchirrito is standing proud, telling everyone it is of a mixed “race”.  Part enchilada, part buritto.  Embracing both of its cultures.  All hale the Enchirrito!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups water
3 Tbs Mexican Blend Seasoning (Morton & Bassett)
1 tsp garlic salt
1 lb ground beef (I always buy the lowest fat; but you can also sub chicken or turkey)
1 lb ground sausage
1/4 cup chopped onion (Look at the pre-chopped in the produce aisle.  It looks expensive until you calculate the value of your time chopping it.)
1 cup refried beans (I used Rosarita Traditional)
8 flour tortillas (8 inches) warmed (the best way to warm tortillas, no matter what anyone says, is with a skillet. Warm the first one on medium high and as you fill it, warn the next one, be sure to turn over at least once)
3 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend from the dairy aisle)
Optional toppings: shredded lettuce; diced tomatoes, sour cream

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Melt butter in a large sauce pan.  Sir in flour until smooth.  Slowly add water.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring until thickened (about 1 minute).  Stir in Mexican Blend Seasoning and garlic salt. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef, sausage, and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in beans; heat through.

Spread 1/4 cup of the in a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Spread 1 Tbs sauce in the center of a tortilla and spread around  Place 2/3 cup meat mixture down center of tortilla.  Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese.  Roll up and place seam side down  Once all tortillas are complete, pour remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese (add a handful if you need to, no one will judge.)  Bake uncovered 18-22 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Franc
Gamay
Grenache
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves: 6 big servings

Total time: 50 minutes

*Derived from Mandy’s Recipe Box
Enchirritos

Enchirritos


Another Weeknight Pasta

I know, I can hear everyone now, “Another weeknight pasta?!  How many weeknight pastas does one needs?  Aren’t they really all the same??”  Like Sugar Skulls, I can never have to many weeknight pasta recipes.  Somehow, there is always a little twist.  And quite frankly, everyone has those, “Oh man, I don’t want to make dinner, nor do I know what to make for dinner” moments.  Weeknight pasta is the perfect solution and it’s simple!  I don’t like simple – said no one ever.

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked pasta (any small shape that you’d like, I used a mix of what I had on hand)
1 Tbs olive oil (such as my new fave, garlic extra virgin olive oil by Sciabica’s)
1 lb lean ground beef (I use 90%, but 80% is great, too.  Or sub with chicken)
1/2 onion, minced
2 tsp dried oregano (if you haven’t tried LiteHouse freeze-dried herbs, I urge you to.  Run, don’t walk, to your local market and check out all of the options they have)
1 tsp minced garlic (as always, pre-minced, such as Spice Island)
28 oz crushed tomatoes (I love Cento)
2 cups beef broth (helps boost that meaty flavor)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste (yes, you finally get to use the WHOLE can!!)
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Parmesan cheese for topping.

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium high.  Add beef, onion, and garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add crushed tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and sugar.  Stir well.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 – 25 minutes.  Drain pasta and add back to the pot.  When sauce is done, slowly add sauce to pasta, stirring to mix thoroughly.  Top with pasta and serve with warm, crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Total time:  About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Another Weeknight Pasta

Another Weeknight Pasta

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Quick Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Pasta is a staple in my house.  For the most part, you can make it fast.  But, there are also some amazing dishes that take a while (lasagna, baked ziti anyone?).  I kind of have to admit, too, that one of the reasons I love pasta has to do with the control freak in me.  It’s also the same reason I prefer texting and email.  It’s all on my time. I get to decide, do I want/need a quick pasta tonight?  Do I need/want to respond to this text right now? Basically, whether a text or pasta, it comes down to me.  And no one knows the elements that brought me to the decision.  This dish, however, I’ll share with you the behind the scenes thought process.  I already had defrosted the extra lean ground beef.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it simply because my family is just coming back from a quick little vacation to Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe (one of our fave places and I encourage everyone to go) and anyone that knows me understands that I spent the week leading up to Tahoe planning, cooking, and packing for our trip (those recipes to follow).  By the time we got back home I was 1) exhausted from a wonderful trip, 2) really tired of planning and cooking, and 3) completely out of groceries save for the staples I had on hand.  I can tell you, quite confidently, this was a huge hit!

Ingredients:

1 lb extra lean ground beef (can sub ground chicken or turkey)
1 (14.5) oz diced tomatoes
1 (14.5) oz tomato sauce
1/2 of (6.5) garlic & herb spreadable cheese (such as Alouette)
1 Tbs dried basil (such as Morton & Bassett) (I prefer fresh, but since my GSD puppy ate my plant, I had to go with dried)
Handful of dried spaghetti
Parmesan grated, shredded, shaved (your preference) for serving

Preparation:

Boil pasta according to your doneness preference.

While pasta cooks, brown meat. Once browned, drain off any excess fat. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduced heat to medium low and heat through. Add the garlic and herb spreadable cheese. Stir to completely incorporate through. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 5 – 10 minutes. Add basil the last few minutes and stir (if using fresh basil, wait until ready to serve.

Mix pasta with sauce, in batches, stirring to combine with each batch. Top with favorite Parmesan. Serve with crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 8
Total time: 40 minutes

photo (5)

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Korean Beef

I have been on an Asian themed rice kick lately.  I have no idea where it comes from.  Oh wait, yes I do, I’ve been dyeing for Chinese food for at least a month, but just haven’t gotten around to making my way there.  Well, I did that one time, but it was so horribly bad I hardly think that counts.  So, since I’m hitting the gym at lunch instead of eating, I might as well make Asian food for dinner! 

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef (or any other ground meat prefered)
¼ cup brown sugar (if you like it sweet, you can add up to ½ a cup)
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs sesame oil
3 Cloves garlic minced (Time saving tip: Use jarred minced garlic, such as Spice Island)
½ tsp minced ginger (Time saving tip:  Use Gourmet Garden’s Ginger Paste)
½ tsp crushed red pepper (if you like it spicier, you can add up to 1 tsp)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch green onions, diced

Preparation:

Add sesame oil to large skillet and heat to medium. Brown ground meat with garlic.  Drain almost all fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper, and red pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes to blend flavors.  Serve over steamed riced with green onions sprinkled over the top.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Beaujolais
Cabernet Franc
Chenin Blanc
Grenache
Merlot

Serves 4

Total time: 30 minutes

Korean Beef

Korean Beef

*Derived from Izzy Writes

Mexican Stuffed Shells

I decided to try something a little different for Taco Tuesday, combining my love for Mexican and Italian food. Seriously, what is not to love about this concept? Rich spicy flavor in the meat and sauce. Stuffed into pasta. Let me say that again for affect, stuffed INTO pasta. The spicy gooyness of the meat, stuffed into the delicate pasta shell. This truly seems like a dish that was invented for me! And I welcomed it with open arms!

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (or any meat of your choosing, can even go with something similar to soyrizo for vegetarians)
4 Tbs Morton & Basset Mexican Blend seasoning (this is truly my Go-To Mexican flavor. Do not waste your time with taco seasoning packets.)
1/2 cup cream cheese (I used plain, but you could play around with this and use flavored cream cheese, such as sun-dried tomato, garlic and herb, maybe even a garden vegetable)
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 cup salsa (I always use fresh whenever I can and the deli section of my local market helps me achieve that)
1 cup taco sauce (this will be a smooth, tomato based sauce with varying degrees of heat, found in the Mexican section)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
*Additional toppings such as sliced green onions, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, and / or sour cream (this is the chance to get creative, even add jalapeños!)

Preparation:

Start large pot of water to boil.  In frying pan, brown meat, add the Mexican Blend seasoning and 1 ¹⁄³ cups of water.  Let the water cook down by about half.  Add cream cheese and simmer until cheese has melted, stirring occasionally.  Set aside to cool.  While meat is cooking, add pasta shells to water and cook according to package directions.  Drain pasta shells and set out individually on flat surface so they don’t stick together.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour salsa on bottom of dish.  Stuff each shell with the meat mixture and place open side up in baking dish.  Cover shells with taco sauce.  Cover dish with foil and back for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and add shredded cheese; bake for 10-15 more minutes until cheese is golden brown.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Beaujolais
Malbec
Merlot
Syrah / Shiraz
Zinfandel

Serves 4

Total time: About an hour

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Mexican Stuffed Shells

*Derived from The Way to His Heart