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Chicken Fajita Enchiladas with Creamy Ranchero Sauce

I’ve been traveling on business for the past week. I couldn’t believe how much I missed cooking dinner with Mike each night. To celebrate, today we tried something new and it turned out wonderful!

Chicken Fajita Enchiladas:

(Prep time, 1 hour. Cook time, 30 minutes)

Ingredients:

Baked Chicken:

  • 1 Package Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Tenders
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Fajita Mix:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Green Bell Peppers, Sliced
  • 2 Large Onions, Sliced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced

Creamy Ranchero Sauce:

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 2 Cups Hot Salsa

Enchiladas:

  • 8-10 Tortilla Shells, Burrito Size, slightly warm
  • 3 Cups Shredded Cheese (Mexican or Taco Blend)

Directions:

First you will need to cook the chicken:

Chicken ready for the oven, just cover with tin foil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 9″ x 13″ baking dish with tin foil. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray, Put chicken tenders in single layer in dish,

Drizzle olive oil and hot sauce over top of tenders. Dust with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Set aside to cool. Do not drain drippings, these will be used later. While chicken is baking, prepare fajita mix.

Next prepare the fajita mix:

Clean and remove seeds from two green peppers and slice into thin strips. Peel and slice onion into thin strips. Peel and mince garlic.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to skillet, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute over medium high heat, covered, until peppers are just barely tender. Set aside to cool.

Now for the creamy ranchero sauce:

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add flour and whisk to create a roux. Let simmer for a minute.

Add drippings from baked chicken and chicken broth slowly, whisking constantly.

Once all the chicken broth is incorporated, remove from heat and add sour cream and salsa, stirring until sauce is smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Assemble the enchiladas:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray lasagna pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Shred cooled chicken into small pieces.

Warm each tortilla shell in the microwave for 15 seconds (or until warm and pliable).

Out of the oven, ready to nom.

Add a handful of shredded chicken to tortilla shell. Add fajita mix and shredded cheese to taste. Roll tortilla shell tightly, tucking in ends to prevent leakage, and place seam side down in prepared lasagna pan.

Repeat 8 to 10 times. If any chicken or fajita mix is left over, spread over enchiladas in pan.

Pour 3/4 of the creamy ranchero sauce over the enchiladas, reserving remaining sauce. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over top.

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until cheese begins to brown and sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and drizzle with reserved ranchero sauce sauce to taste. Serve hot and try not to burn your mouth. So delicious!

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Triple B – Beyond Belief Beef

The wooden spoon helps keep it from boiling over.

Do you like melt-in-your-mouth roast beef? Wouldn’t you love to have that warm, savory piece of heaven on a soft tasty roll? This is one of my favorite recipes, Beyond Belief Beef. It takes all day to cook and it will heat the house up. I can only make it in the fall and winter because it is just too hot in the summer. We made our first batch of the season this past Saturday and it was like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all rolled into one awesome day. Eat it on a soft roll with your favorite sandwich condiments or eat it naked on a plate. Either way, it’s fantastic!

Beyond Belief Beef

(Prep time, 15 minutes. Cook time, 5 hours. Yes, hours.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Packages of Stew Beef, trimmed lean (or sirloin strips)
  • 2 Large Onions, chopped
  • 5 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 Cups Worcestershire Sauce, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon “Better Than Bouillon” Beef Base
  • Lots of Water (about 2 gallons total, added as needed)

Directions:

Peel and chop onions and garlic. Add to large stew pot or dutch oven with heavy base. This pot will be on the stovetop for five hours, it needs to take the heat and not scorch your meat.

Trim stew beef until only small bits of fat remain. Add to stew pot along with 1 cup of worcestershire sauce and beef base. Add enough water to completely cover beef.

I use tap water. If your water has a lot of iron or sulpher (it tastes yucky), you might want to use bottled water. Have at least 2 gallons on hand if you are using bottled water.

Spoon this yucky foam off

Place on stove top and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Do NOT walk away from your stove. If this boils over, it will cause a mess that will take hours to clean up. Stand there and watch it carefully. As it begins to boil, a yucky foam will form on top. Spoon this foam off into a bowl and discard.

Once the foam is spooned off and beef is boiling in a gentle, rolling boil, cover with lid ajar to let steam escape. Set a kitchen timer and check your beef every thirty minutes. Stir and add more water (until beef is covered) every thirty minutes for the next four hours.

After four hours, add the second cup of worcestershire sauce. Your beef will start to fall apart when you stir it around the 4 1/2 to 5 hour mark. When it starts to fall apart on its own, let the water begin to boil off.

Do NOT let it boil dry. If it does, it will be ruined. You want your beef soft and juicy so make sure you don’t boil the juice completely off. Leave at least one cup of juice in the bottom of your pan. Mike has me scoop out an extra cup of the broth for him to dump over his bread.

Serve on a soft roll with your favorite condiments. I use mustard and sharp cheddar cheese. Mike eats it naked with lots of juice. Some of our friends put horseradish on it. I sometimes use roasted garlic hummus on my roll (that recipe is coming up next). ┬áServed warm, it’s beyond belief, melt-in-your-mouth beef.

It tastes even better than it looks!

French Onion Soup

There is nothing better on a cold fall evening than a warm, yummy bowl of French Onion soup. This batch was pretty much perfect!

French Onion Soup

(Prep time, 15 minutes. Cook time, 1 hour)

Ingredients:

  • 10 Large Onions (Really, you can’t have too many)
  • 2 Large Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 8 Cups Beef Stock (2 – 32 oz boxes)
  • 2 Cups Dry White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 Tablespoons “Better Than Bouillon” Beef Base
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • Croutons
  • Shredded Gruyere Cheese

Directions:

Melt butter in a medium stock pot. Peel and slice onions into 1/2 inch strips. Peel and mince garlic. Add to melted butter, along with bay leaves, thyme and basil. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do NOT cover.

Stir occasionally and allow to cook down until onions caramelize (turn a medium brown – about 40 minutes). Once onions are brown, add white wine and cook 10 minutes. Add beef stock, beef base, along with salt and pepper. Stir to dissolve beef base. Bring to a boil and cook at a gently rolling boil for ten to fifteen minutes.

Ladle soup into bowl, add croutons and shredded cheese. Cover with a saucer and let sit five minutes until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Kielbasa Fajitas

Sounds weird, right? But, I promise you, it’s delicious!

Kielbasa Fajitas

(Prep, 10 minutes. Cook time 15-20 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Onions, Julienne
  • 2 Green Peppers, Julienne
  • 1 package Kielbasa (Franks)
  • 5 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • Shredded cheese
  • Burrito size tortilla shells
  • Sour cream
  • Mustard

Directions:

Slice onions and green peppers into long strips. Mince garlic.

Put olive oil, onions, peppers, and garlic into skillet over medium high heat. Cover. Once onions and peppers start to sweat, add Worcester sauce, Sriracha hot sauce, lime juice and water. Cover and let simmer about two minutes.

Add kielbasa franks, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until peppers are soft and kielbasa starts to split, about 15 minutes.

Once kielbasa is done, remove from heat. Warm tortilla shell in microwave, add mustard, kielbasa, onions & peppers with sauce, shredded cheese of your choice and sour cream to taste. Wrap up and enjoy. Yum!

You can substitute sweet or hot Italian sausage or even hot dogs if you prefer. I love the kielbasa so that’s what I suggest.

Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Mac & CheeseMy mom taught me this basic recipe when I was about ten years old. I’ve been making it ever since.

Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese

(Prep time 30-45 min. Bake time 45 min.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 8 oz bricks Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (16 oz total), shredded
  • 1 – 8 oz brick Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 Cup shredded cheese blend (I use Mexican but 4 or 6 cheese blend will work)
  • 4 1/2 Cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 5 Tablespoons flour
  • 5 Cups milk
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 sleeve of Saltine Crackers, crushed (10-15 crackers)

Prep:

Shred all cheeses, place near your stove-top

Chop half of a small onion until it is finely diced

Crush saltines into uneven rough crumbs and chunks, set aside

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Directions:

Boil macaroni until almost done (it should be plumped up but just shy of al-dente). It will finish cooking in the oven. Drain water and put cooked macaroni in a large oven-safe casserole dish or dutch oven and set aside. You can put a small amount of butter in it to keep it from sticking together, or just boil your macaroni as you make the cheese sauce.

In a large saucepan (I think mine is 8 quarts) melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the flour and whisk together to form a roux. Add one cup of milk and keep whisking until it thickens. Add rest of milk slowly, stirring constantly.

Oven Baked Goodness

Once milk is added, add diced onion, salt and pepper. Let cook for two to three minutes until mixture is warm enough to melt the cheese. Add shredded cheeses one handful at a time, stirring constantly to avoid sticking and scorching on the bottom of your saucepan. When all the cheese is added and melted, pour cheese sauce over cooked macaroni and stir. It should be loose, you may think you have too much cheese sauce. You don’t! It will cook down and be perfect once it bakes.

Take the crushed saltine crackers and spread evenly over the top of the mac and cheese. Do NOT stir. This becomes a crunchy cheesy crust that is nom-tastic.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool for ten minutes before serving. It will still be steaming hot, so be careful. Enjoy!

Sunday Football Chili

Mike and I are football fanatics. I start this chili at half-time during the first game on Sunday and it’s ready to eat by the end of the second game. This is a low to medium hot (spicy) chili because I don’t enjoy chili that is nothing but hot spice. It’s perfect in front of the television with a beer and a side of crunchy garlic toast for dipping!

Sunday Football Chili

(Prep time, 30 minutes. Cooking time, approximately two hours)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 2 Onions, chopped and divided into two piles
  • 1 Green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with zesty green chilis
  • 2 Cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes with roasted garlic
  • 1 Can (40.5 oz) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Can (15.5 oz) light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons hot pepper spread
  • 1/2 Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons salt
  • 1 Teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Cup water

Directions:

In a heavy stockpot, put 2 Tbsps olive oil and one chopped onion (the second chopped onion is added with the beans and tomatoes later). Turn burner on medium high and let onion start to sweat. When the onion starts to get soft, put the ground beef into the pan and cook over medium high heat until beef is cooked through. Make sure to chop beef up with your spoon or spatula until you have small chunks.

Once the beef is completely cooked, add the rest of the ingredients to your stock pot. Make sure beans are drained and rinsed before adding them to the pot.

Stir well. The chili will be thick, but it will loosen up once the tomatoes cook down a little. Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar to let steam escape and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for one and half to two hours (until beans and peppers are soft). Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. About an hour in, I will pull a small spoonful to test the spice mix. Adjust as needed to get the spicy heat you like for chili.

Serve with crackers, fresh bread, or toasted garlic bread. You can garnish with shredded cheese and/or diced raw onion, but I’m a purist and enjoy it naked. It tastes even better on the second day. Yum!

Bacon Egg & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

I originally found this recipe on Food.com. The original is quite good, but I made some changes. Here’s my version.

Bacon Egg Breakfast Casserole

(prep time, 30 minutes – cooking time, 50 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf Italian or French bread, cubed
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup cheddar jack cheese (or Mexican blend), shredded
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 32 oz carton of low-fat egg substitute
  • 1 1/3 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper spread (hot)
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Mexican blend cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rather than fry my bacon, I bake it. Line a jelly roll pan (or any cookie sheet with a raised edge) with parchment paper and spread the bacon in a single layer, then bake it in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. The parchment paper means there’s almost no clean-up, that’s my kind of cooking!

You’ll need a large casserole or lasagna dish. Don’t use a standard 9 x 13 cake pan, it may overflow. Use something with a little more room in it. I have a 9 x 13 Paula Deen lasagna pan and it works perfectly.

Spray your dish with non-stick cooking spray, then spread the cubed bread over the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped bacon, the Gruyere and cheddar jack cheeses, and the chopped onions. You can substitute green onions if you them, they taste fantastic in this.

Next mix all the other ingredients (other than the last cup of cheese) in a bowl and whisk until well mixed and mixture is foamy. Pour over the bread, bacon, & cheese mixture.

Cover with tin foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Take the tin foil off, spread the last cup of cheese over the top and return to the oven to bake another 30 minutes uncovered.

Bacon Cheese Casserole

Fresh out of the oven, so yummy!

Let cool at least 10 minutes, then devour!

If you want, you can layer some grilled or fried potatoes in the bottom for more of a frittata-type dish. If you like breakfast sausage or ham steak, feel free to chop it up into small chunks and throw it in with the bacon. If you don’t want to use egg substitute, you can use 8 to 12 eggs, well beaten. I have a hard time with measurements. I’m more of a “shake the canister until you have enough” cook, so feel free to adjust the spices to your own taste.

Mike and I love to make this casserole on Saturday morning for brunch and enjoy the leftovers on Sunday. A happy beginning rather than an ending, I guess.

Enjoy!

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