Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Good Mexican cuisine has been hard find on Okinawa. Since hubby and I both love Mexican and refuse to go two years without it, I have resolved to make it at home. One of my favorite Mexican dishes is Enchiladas Verdes. I love the tanginess of the verdes sauce, the creamy filling with tender chicken and bursts of cilantro, and of course the melted cheese. 
This recipe is wonderfully easy and great for a weeknight meal. With a dollop of sour cream and homemade guacamole on the side, hubby and I happily got our Mexican fix!
Chicken Enchiladas Verdes
From Yummly
Printable Version
Makes 6 enchiladas
2 cups rotisserie cooked chicken, shredded
2 cups verdes (green chile) enchiladas sauce
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used the Mexican blend)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
6 flour tortillas
4 jalapenos, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread 1/4 cup of the enchiladas verdes sauce in the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish. In a large bowl combine the shredded chicken, 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese, cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, onion, chili powder and chicken stock. Taste and season with salt and pepper. 
Place tortillas on a plate with a moist paper towel over the top and microwave for 45 seconds. Working one tortilla at a time, spoon about 1/4 cup of the chicken filling onto the middle of the tortilla and place seam side down in the baking dish. Continue until all of the filling is gone. 
Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce on the top of the tortillas and then cover with the rest of the cheese. 
Bake about 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped jalapenos. Serve with additional sour cream and guacamole if desired.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cake Batter Cake Balls

This recipe is my first attempt at the wildly popular phenomenon that is Cake Balls. Cake Balls are a beautiful thing because they are just a small taste of cake that you can pop in your mouth. They are also extremely cute and these Cake Balls, with sprinkles and yellow cake batter are addicting! I made them for a get together with new friends and they were a hit with the kids. I had to give them away to my neighbors to  ensure hubby and I would not consume the leftover dozen or so cake balls! 

Cake Batter Cake Balls
Makes 24-30 Cake Balls
For the cake balls:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup yellow cake mix
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons sprinkles
For the coating:
12 ounces almond bark or white candy melts
4 tablespoons yellow cake mix
1 teaspoon almond extract

Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined. Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix throughly. Add the 4 tablespoons of milk and add 1 more tablespoon if needed to make a dough consistency. Mix in sprinkles by hand. 
Roll dough into one inch balls and place on parchment paper or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up. 
While cake balls are chilling melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir in between intervals. Once melted, quickly stir in cake mix until combined completely. 
Using a fork, dip cake balls into melted chocolate and shake off excess by tapping the bottom of the fork on the sides of your bowl. Place the cake balls back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles immediately after coating. 
Repeat with remaining balls until finished. Chill cake batter balls in the refrigerator until serving. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cowboy Caviar

My dear friend Beth brought this yummy chunky dip to a going away party we had before moving to Okinawa. I loved the fresh flavors and the mix of black eyed peas, avocado, corn, cilantro, and green onions.
About two months after first trying Beth's, I made it for our neighborhood Labor Day picnic because it's a perfect side dish for large gatherings. Even better, it takes less than ten minutes to make!
Cowboy Caviar
From Beth - thanks sweet friend!
Printable Version
2 cans of black-eyed peas, washed and drained
1 can white corn, drained
2/3 cup green onions, chopped
2/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix black-eyed peas, corn, green onions, cilantro, and avocado in a large bowl. 
Whisk together red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Pour on the olive oil/vinegar combination. Allow to marinate about ten minutes before serving with tortilla chips. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Skinny Baked Mac and Cheese

When we had our neighbor friends over for dinner a couple of weeks ago I made this lightened version of macaroni and cheese to accompany my Carolina Style pulled pork. This recipe replaces cream with skim milk and chicken broth and includes spinach.
It's not your Grandma's mac and cheese (and my Gram made the BEST mac and cheese in the world) but it is delicious and cheesy and still tastes like classic comfort food without the guilt. It was well received by kids and adults alike. 
Skinny Baked Mac and Cheese
From Skinny Taste
Serves 8
Printable Version
12 ounces high fiber elbow pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon light butter (I used yogurt butter)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth
8 ounces reduced fat cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
4 cups spinach
1/8 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
Cooking spray

Cook pasta in salted water according to directions. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large heavy skillet melt the butter. Add flour and cook over low heat stirring with a whisk. Add onion and cook another two minutes. Add milk and chicken broth and continue whisking, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil and mixture is smooth and thick. 
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add in cheese and spinach. 
Mix well until cheese is melted. Taste again for salt and pepper. Add cooked macaroni. 
Mix to throughly combine. Pour into baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs then spay a little more with cooking spray. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes then broil for three minutes to make the breadcrumbs golden. Serve warm. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pumpkin Oatmeal

The cooking blog world is being inundated with pumpkin recipes right now, so I thought I'd add one more. If you're feeling fall-ish and want a little pumpkin in your life try this clean eating pumpkin oatmeal. 
I'm going to save you the disappointment I experienced and come right out with the truth: this does not taste like pumpkin pie.  It tastes likes pumpkin oatmeal, thus I changed the title to reflect this. It is however very pumpkiny and filling and healthy. It's also a beautiful orange color and will help you get into the fall spirit. 
Pumpkin Oatmeal
Serves 1
From The Gracious Pantry
Printable Version
1/4 cup dry oats, cooked (I used steel cut oats)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I created my own with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger)
1 tablespoon flax seeds (I used ground)
1/4 cup pecans
Maple syrup to taste
Cook oats according to package directions. In the last five minutes of cooking stir in the pumpkin puree, flax, and pumpkin spice.
Scoop mixture into a serving bowl and top with pecans and maple syrup. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Brie Soup

While most of you are enjoying cooler weather the temperature here on Okinawa remains a balmy average of 86 degrees. Irregardless, I've been wanting fall type foods lately and soup is the quintessentail fall food to me. I had bookmarked this recipe from How Sweet It Is months ago, waiting for the next time I was craving soup. I knew this would be a winner because hubby and I are cheese fanatics and Brie is among our favorites. With sauteed peppers, onion, spinach, chunks of chicken and swirls of melted Brie this soup was comforting, filling, and perfect with crusty bread. If I enjoyed it on a tropical island I know you will enjoy it too!
Creamy Chicken and Brie Soup
From How Sweet It Is
Printable Version
Makes 4-6 bowls
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
3 cups raw spinach, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1/2 cup half and half
8 ounces brie chopped into small pieces
Heat a large pot to medium and add olive oil. Add in onions and peppers with a sprinkle of salt and saute until soft about 7 minutes.
 Stir in spinach and garlic. Add butter and once it melts whisk in flour to create a roux. 
Continue whisking until all ingredients are combined. 
Add chicken to the pot along with milk and chicken stock. 
Allow soup to come to a simmer then add Brie. 
Stir until it melts for about 5 minutes. Stir in half and half. Turn heat up to high and let soup come to a boil, stirring every few minutes. Once soup boils turn it down to a simmer and allow to cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nutella Brownies

Last week I teased on facebook that I was baking something delicious with Nutella. Here they are - Nutella brownies aka my new favorite way to use Nutella. These brownies are little bites of heaven. Soft, chewy, moist and flavored with Nutella. I think they'd be even better with chocolate chips mixed in, but I used chocolate sprinkles to jazz these up a bit. I made them for dessert last week when we had friends over for dinner. They didn't last long and they won't in your house either!
Nutella Brownies
From Photo A Day
Printable Version
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (didn't use salt as I used salted butter)
2 eggs 
1 1/2 cup Nutella
1/2  cup brown sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled slightly (used salted butter)
With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Line the bottom of an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper, letting the paper extend over two opposite sides. Butter the two other sides.
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, hazelnut spread, brown sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. 
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture, alternating with the melted butter.
Scrape the batter into the cake pan. 
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached (not completely clean) about 40 minutes (Baked them about 10 more minutes as they didn't seem firm enough).
Cool in the pan for about 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.


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