Friday, March 25, 2011

Greasy, Cheesy, Enchiladas

For some people comfort food consists of things like Mac' n Cheese or Chicken & Dumplings.  For those of us in South Texas, that's all well and good, but a good many of us would just as soon have a plate of Mexican food.  And, we're not just talking any Mexican food.  We're talking about just a hop from the border, good 'ol greasy Tex-Mex.  It's a bit different that your New Mexico variety of Mexican fare, for sure, and well, nobody does Tex-Mex better than Texans.  Of course, the closer you get to the border, the better you get, I think : )

Last night I made up a batch of enchiladas and thought I'd share the recipe.

1/4 cup Vegetable oil plus more for frying tortillas
1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 a small can of tomato paste, save the rest for Spanish rice
3 cans of water (fill tomato paste can 3 X's) 
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. salt
Black & Red Pepper to taste
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1 (20 count) pkg. Corn Tortillas
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. Shredded Cheddar
1 lb. ground meat (I used beef, but pork or chicken would do)

To begin, I add 1/4 oil and 1/4 flour at the same time to create a roux.  Once you've got a blond roux, and mixture doesn't smell like flour anymore, I add tomato paste and stir until combined with little or no lumps.  Then I start to add in my seasonings, and finally water.  I use a whisk to get this to all mix well.  You may want to taste at this point and add more of whatever seasoning you feel is lacking.  I'm more of an "eyeing it" kind of cook when it comes to things like this so I'm "guesstimating" my spices for y'all.  You can leave this on low or turn off while you start to prepare the rest of your fixings.

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and get out your casserole dish.  In another skillet heat a few lugs of oil.  In a separate skillet, brown ground meat and season with salt and pepper.  Now that your oil has heated, start to add one corn tortilla at a time, only cooking on each side for a minute (this is just to soften the corn tortilla so that you can roll them).  If you don't oil the tortillas, you corn tortilla will likely split when you try to roll it.  Yes, they're going to be greasy.  Hence, the name.  As you remove one, place it in your casserole dish and get another tortilla heating in the skillet.  Place a handful of shredded cheese at one end and roll up the tortilla.  Place seam side down.  Continue this process until all tortillas are rolled. 

Spoon a layer of enchilada sauce over rolled enchiladas.  Top with ground meat and then remaining sauce.  Finally, top with remaining shredded cheese.  *You may add diced onion, if you like, or stuff with meat, shredded chicken, etc. instead of just cheese filling.  This is strictly a preference.  Use your imagination and get creative.

Bake for 25 minutes.  Serve with Spanish rice and Black, Pinto, or Refried Beans, if you want to "keep it real" : )  Here are some pics of me going thru the steps...

By the way, I'm sharing over @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday!  Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Growing like a Weed!

Bebe says that you have to check your garden regularly
... inspect the soil

...and pull any weeds!
Check back regularly to see our growth!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


View from a fah
Things are really warming up in South Texas and so salads have been on my mind.  The other night I made a sort of antipasto salad...not difficult to make.

Here 'tis:

Lettuce, any variety will do, but I like Romaine for it's crunch (use as much as you need for feeding a few or a crew)
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
2 Roma tomatoes, diced or sliced whichever suites you
1-2 green onions (I use only the green ends, snipped in and saved the whites for other things)
A few spoonfuls of small capers
1/4 cup banana pepper rings
a handful of green olives stuffed with pimentos
a handful of black olives (I used Kalamata)
a handful of whole milk Mozzarella, cubed
small handful of Feta, cut into small cubes
5-6 slices Genoa Salami, cut into bite size pieces
5-6 slices ham cut into bite size pieces, any variety (I had brown sugar ham on hand and liked the contrast of the sweetness, you can get any ham cut thick or thin for this)
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut on a bias
2 celery stalks diced, greens and all into the salad bowl
a few good lugs of your favorite Italian dressing, really just dress to taste
salt and black pepper to taste (I season the salad after every few additions to the bowl to make sure that everything is seasoned, but don't over do it.  You can always add more salt, but you can't take it out if you've added too much!)

up close and personal view

Well, everything into the bowl and give a good toss.  My whole family loves this salad and it eats like a meal because there's just so much in it.  It's nice for when you don't want to crank up the heat in the kitchen on a hot day.  I like to make this on a Friday and then have to pick on throughout the weekend, BUT when I do this I leave the lettuce out because it will go soggy in the fridge.  Everything else does just fine overnight so I just add lettuce to my bowl last minute.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


The Kitchen Witch

Monday, March 14, 2011

That's All She Wrote

You may recall that I mentioned baking a cake the other day.  Well, I finally got around to it tonight and it's been interesting.  I realized that I forgot to add the icing recipe on my original post in which I talk about testing my skills on a Caramel cake.  The recipe for the cake turned out great, by the way.  Take a gander...

The icing recipe was found on author, Kathryn Stockett's website, and it was a labor of love, let me tell you!  Here's the recipe:

Never Fail Creamy Caramel Icing
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 slightly beaten egg
1 stick of butter
3/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Melt 1/2 cup of sugar in iron skillet slowly, until brown and runny. Mix egg, butter, remaining sugar, and milk in a saucepan and cook over a low flame until butter melts. Turn the heat up to medium and add the browned sugar. Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage or until mixture leaves sides of pan. This takes about 10 minutes. Remove from fire, let cool slightly, and add vanilla. Beat until right consistency to spread. If it gets too thick add a little cream. This will ice a 2 layer cake.

"Reprinted by permission from The Junior League of Memphis, Inc. from “The Memphis Cookbook” © 1952; recipe submitted by Mrs. Phil Thornton, Jr."

You can tell that both the cake recipe and the icing were oldies.  I mean, how many cake recipes require that you cream butter and sugar for 20 minutes?!  I'm thinking Mrs. Phil Thornton, Jr. definitely needed a Kitchen Aide mixer or at least her "help" did ; )  Too, standing over a cast iron skillet to boil down the sugar and stirring it with butter, milk, and egg 'til softball stage is not my cup of tea (especially in South Texas heat).  BUT I'm glad I've tried it just for the sake of saying that I have.

Oh, and let me warn because the recipe didn't...once you've beat the icing, you better get it on the cakes, cooled or not, because as the icing cools it becomes nearly unspreadable, and that happens fast!

 Here are some pics of the icing along the way...
browning the sugar
stirring for way too long over a hot stove

See how the caramel icing cooled and I couldn't spread it out to the sides quick enough : (

Well, that's all I got so goodnight.

The Kitchen Witch

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cherry Cream Dessert

Standing in line at the grocery today flipping through magazines, I noticed a dessert in the Family Circle magazine that seemed simple enough to recall later to make.  Well, I didn't exactly remember everything that was in it so I googled and came upon a recipe that seemed close enough.  I followed that recipe and quickly realized that it would need some tweaking.  Here is my version of this simple recipe:

2 cans Crescent Dinner Rolls
2  (8 oz. pkgs.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Egg Yolk
1 can Cherry Pie Filling (can try other pie-filling flavors)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar just until mixed; add egg yolk & vanilla and beat until fluffy. Lay one package of crescent rolls in bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or so so that bottom layer is cooked through.  Spread cream cheese mixture over pastry and top with pie filling.  Place the second can of crescent rolls on top of pie filling layer.  Bake until golden brown for about 30 minutes.   You may want to lift a corner of the top crust to see if still doughy underneath...bake longer if necessary.  Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Optional:  May dust with powdered sugar or a toasted nut topping (I browned sliced Almonds and granulated sugar for the topping).

This was really simple and pretty good.  Have a sweet week

Ta ta,

The Kitchen Witch

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm heating things up in the kitchen...

Today is the kind of peaceful afternoon that demands a cake baking in the oven.  And not just any cake,  a sinfully sweet southern cake.  Is there any other kind?  Lately, I've had three cakes on my mind- yellow cake with choc. frosting, pineapple upside down, and caramel.

I've never made a caramel cake before, but was inspired to after reading The Help.  I'll share a recipe that the book's author used and I'll post pics on how it turned out in a little while.  I'm off to the store to get buttermilk in the mean time.

Makes one 9" 2-layer cake

1 cup finely chopped pecans, plus extra for garnish
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups unsifted cake flour
1/8 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

For the cake:
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed for about 20 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix until blended. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Slowly alternate adding buttermilk and flour mixture to butter mixture, Begin and end with flour mixture and make sure to scrape down sides of bowl frequently until all is combined. Mix batter until well blended and smooth.
Prepare 2 9-inch pans by lining the bottoms with parchment paper, buttering the side then dusting with flour. Divide the batter evenly among the 2 pans. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cake is lightly browned and springs back and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove cakes from pans after cooling for 10 minutes and then cool completely on wire racks.

I'm sharing at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday, by the way :)

Ta ta for now,

The Kitchen Witch

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bebe's got a new snack

It seems, like most babies, our little girl loves Cheerios.  Doctors recommend that infants avoid honey and nuts among other things so we stick to the plain variety.  Today, I was thinking of ways to jazz up her snack sans honey and/or nuts.  I got to thinking about Chex Mix and came up with this:

Cajun Crunchy-O's
2 cups or so of Toasted Oats cereal (Cheerios or similar type O cereal)
1 tsp. Sweet Paprika
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
A dusting of Chili powder
2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In a large bowl, mix cereal with spices and salt.  Melt butter and combine with Worcestershire sauce.  Pour butter mixture over cereal and toss to combine butter, cereal, and flavoring

Pour onto a jelly roll pan and spread out in an even layer.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring once in between baking time to toast cereal evenly on both sides.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Gardening We Will Go

This past weekend, the whole family got in gear to do a little yard clean up and gardening.  The weather has been so pleasant we couldn't waste another day indoors so we mulched and mowed and pruned and planted.  Mrs BC had recently blogged about her gardening successes and I told her how we were just starting ours so y'all will have to stay tuned to see if I'll have bragging rights as the season progresses. 

Gardening has not been my forte.  Let's just say I'm better at sauting than growing, for sure.  Last season, I had this to share about my gardening endeavors.  Oh, and let's not forget this post

Well, I'll let bygones be bygones. Mmmkay?

This year, I'm hopeful that I'll have better luck.  We've planted five tomato plants of various varieties.  We've got Big Boy Tomatoes, Yellow Pear, Patio, and Beef Steak (I think).  Too, we planted Strawberry plants, Dill Weed, Italian Parsley, Cilantro, and Basil.  I'm hoping to buy another Bell Pepper plant despite the mini peppers that I got last year and possibly cabbage.  I'd like to add a bag of manure, also, as my mom says this does well for her.  Of course, she lives on a ranch and so gets hers right from the source and since her cows are of the organic grass-fed variety, I'm thinking no harm some fowl (odor, that is).  She'd laugh thinking that I'm paying for crap, literally, but I'd do just about anything to get this garden to produce.  I've already Miracle-Gro'd every living thing in the yard.  Fingers crossed and here we go...

Rows of Tomatoes

Getting up close and personal with the herbs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

So Here I Am

... at 10:15 p.m. picking at cookie dough whilst waiting for batches upon batches of chocolate chip cookies to bake off.  Today has been a horrible day.  Not horrible in that any particular horrible thing happened, in fact nothing really bad did happen, but today definitely was the kind of day that called for a chocolate chip ending.  Have you ever had one of those kind of days? 

As the Bayer commercials used to say, I've got a headache AND IT'S THIS BIG!"  But hope is not lost, for today happens to be Woman's Day in a certain part of the world.  The hubs even brought flowers home : )Yes, I'm feeling better just knowing that such a day exists.  I think the U.S. should adopt Woman's Day and make it as big a marketable holiday as Mother's Day and Valentine's Day.  Sure, why not?!  Women deserve it.  On a similar note, after reading thru some blogs, I discovered one that said March was Woman's History Month.  Whaaa?  Woman's History Month?  How have I never heard of this? ~Don't answer, I know that I live under a rock~

Sooo in honor of women today and for all the memorable women throughout the years, thanks for all that you do: dinners, diapers, homework, groceries, cleaning, making sure the bills get paid on time and that the accounts don't bounce, for voting rights, for teaching children, for volunteering, for car-pooling, for helping make lemonade stands, for laundry, for creating businesses, for creating books, for saving lives, for creating lives, for knitting, for sewing, and for making chocolate chip cookies.