Meatless “Enchiladas”

Ok, I put enchiladas in quotes because these really aren’t enchiladas. They are burritos with sauce. A true enchilada is made with corn tortillas. (Aren’t pet peeves weird?) Now that we’ve got that out of the way,this dish needs to be renamed “I’m SO good I should be an Enchilada!” The way I stuffed them, though, make them more of a burrito. While I was crushed for time and didn’t do it, these would go well with some Spanish rice and a Cesar salad. I’d love to mix up the filling, too. Add shrimp. Maybe some grilled steak. Or, add some sweet red bell pepper. Grab a margarita, get comfortable, and let’s go do this!

Ingredients

Sauce:

1 Tbs olive oil
1 6-oz can tomato paste
2 cups (up to 3) vegetable stock (you want a soup consistency)
¼ cup flour
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp chili powder (optional, I omit)
2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Enchiladas:

1 Tbs olive oil
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
¼ cup cilantro (optional, I omit)
2 tsp ground cumin
12+/- fresh tortillas
3 cups Colby-Jack cheese (or cheddar)
Sour Cream for topping

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Preparation

Sauce:

In a saucepan, heat oil on medium. Add tomato paste, spices, and flour. Stir and cook 1 minute. Whisk in broth / stock and cook 8 minutes.

Enchiladas:

Preheat oven to 350°. Warm olive oil in pan. Sautee spinach& onions until spinach wilts slightly. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, beans, corn, cumin, and spinach mixture. Add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of 9×13 pan. Cook tortillas. Dividing evenly, add mixture to tortillas and roll up. Pour sauce over enchiladas, and finish with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Top with sour cream, olives, tomatoes, lettuce. Whatever sounds good to you!

Serves: 10 – 12
Total time: 45 minutes

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*Derived from ButterWithAStickOfBread

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

Rustic Italian Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

I know, I was just going on and on about grilled steak and not wanting to give up summer.  Then what do I do?  Mix it up with a rich, hearty comfort food that would be perfect for winter.  I can’t explain it, I just goes with what speaks to me as I’m coming up with the weekly menu, then factor in time and schedules.  The beauty of this is that the braised ribs were done in a slow cooker. Believe me, I’m shocked too.  And, I was able to do the major prep work the night before. This is an incredible meal for sitting down with your family, and it would be equally appealing for guests.  I’m already planning my next dinner party!  (PS – Cheesy Polenta to follow in another post)  Update my friends – The short ribs reheated fabulously for lunch!  Polenta, not so much.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped onion
10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I’m sorry, as a working mom. I just don’t have time for this.  I subbed minced garlic [by Spice Island] and no one ran from the table covering their mouths)
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional, especially if you have a 6 & 7-year-old that will act as if you are trying to perform some ancient ritualistic punishment)
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
4 (10 oz) boneless beef short ribs (definitely go boneless.  The meat is fall off the bone, so the bones, well, just become a problem)
Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered fresh basil, to taste

Preparation:

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and pepper flakes.  Stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes.  Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Add to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until beef is tender, 8-9 hours.  Less time?  5-6 hours on high is just as good.

Transfer short ribs to serving dish and tent with foil.  Strain sauce into fat separator, reserving  tomatoes, and let stand 5 minutes.  Add reserved tomatoes back to empty slow cooker and break into large chunks with a wooden spoon (I used a square face potato masher and it worked just fine!). Stir in defatted sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over short ribs and sprinkle with basil.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Bordeaux
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves: 6
Active time: 10 minutes; Inactive time: 9 hours

Braised Short Ribs

*From America’s Test Kitchen – Slow Cooker Revolution

Quick and Easy Enchilada Sauce

This has got to be one of the easiest and tastiest enchilada sauces I have made.  Not to mention so authentic the hubs gave it a thumbs up!    He even asked that I make some more so he can make huevos rancheros for breakfast.  This will make a regular rotation in my kitchen, and there is plenty with this recipe to freeze.  (I promise to include a picture next time!)

Ingredients:

2 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs Morton & Bassett Mexican Spice Blend (my “go to” Mexican seasoning)
Kosher salt to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbs canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced

Preparation:

In mixing bowl, combine cornstarch, Mexican Spice Blend, salt and pepper.  Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, broth, spice mixture, whisk to combine.  Set aside.

In a medium skillet, over medium-low heat, add canola oil and sauté garlic until fragrant, being careful not to burn.  Gradually stir in tomato sauce mixture.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.  Serve in and over your favorite Mexican dishes.

Serves: 6

Total time: 40 minutes

*Derived from Skinnyms.com

 


Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

Just because Old Man Winter has turned his nose up at Sunny California and left us with spring-like weather, doesn’t mean that we don’t still crave winter food.  You know what I’m talking about; thick stews and rich meals to warm the body (even if the body isn’t particularly cold).  It must be an internal time clock, kind of like bears hibernating or salmon knowing where to spawn.  If only I had a little more time, I would have added a thick slab of my buttery cornbread.  Something to look forward to, for sure. 😀

Ingredients:

12 oz boneless beef check, trimmed and thinly sliced (tip – for easier slicing, pop the meat in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
5 tsp olive oil, divided
2 cups finely chopped onion (time saver – buy already chopped onions, found in the produce or freezer section)
1½ cups diagonally cut carrot (time saver – buy pre-sliced carrot chips in the produce section)
2 cups pre-sliced cremini mushrooms
3 thyme sprigs
1 Tbs tomato paste (tip – freeze remaining paste in a sandwich bag for later use. Freeze flat and just break off the amount you need)
2 tsp minced garlic (time saver – jarred minced garlic such as Spice World)
3/4 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
1½ cups unsalted beef stock
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1½ tsp lower-sodium soy sauce

Preparation:

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tbs olive oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add beef to pan, cook for 3 minutes, browning on all sides.  Remove beef from pan.  Add remaining 2 tsp oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add chopped onion, carrot, mushrooms, and thyme sprigs; sauté for 4 minutes.  Add tomato paste and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute.  Add beer; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Combine beef stock and flour in small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add to pan.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Stir in beef, and cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in soy sauce.  Discard Thyme.  Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Hermitage
Petite Sirah
Syrah / Shiraz
Zinfandel

Serves 4

Total time: 40 minutes

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

*From Cooking Light

Easy Peasy Linguine

Tonight was the first night, as my family snuffled quietly in their beds and I retreated downstairs to make sure all of the windows were closed (or to pour another glass of wine, maybe?) that I smelled fall. I leaned over the kids’ tub to close the window and stopped short. That unmistakable smell, even here in Cali, was fall. How can that be? It seems like just yesterday I was filled with the excitement of all summer had to offer. Finally one drop off as Berto heads into the first grade and D into kindergarten. A summer filled with swimming; catching our first lizard; saying goodbye to my sweet, sweet German shepherd Lobo; growing tomatoes and basil in our first attempts at a garden; surfing for the first time; losing 2 bottom teeth (resulting in feeling oh so big now); day trips; a vacation; and, the return of summer hours at my office. But all of that is coming to a close, with a shiver in the early evening air. Makes me glad there is always comfort food. And, what is better comfort food than pasta?

Ingredients:

The wonderful thing about this dish is all of the possible meat options. Feeling healthier than extra lean ground beef? Sub ground turkey or chicken. For something different try pork or sausage (be sure to removed the casings first!). How about going even meatier? Use ground sirloin. Or, you can make it vegetarian like I did tonight by subbing the meat with mushrooms.

1 (9 oz) pkg fresh linguine
1/2 lb extra lean ground beef / or the item you are subbing
1/2 cup pre chopped onion (I use prepared veggies as often as possible, such a time saver)
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (whatever you have on hand; shaved, grated, shredded)
Handful of basil leaves, sliced thinly (nothing like walking into the backyard and picking your own basil!)

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Omit oil and salt. Drain and return pasta to pot.

While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, garlic, oregano, and salt; cook 5 minutes, or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 3 minutes or until thickened. Serve over pasta and top with cheese and basil.

Serves 4

Total time: 30 minutes

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*Derived from Cooking Light