Tag Archives: Mexican

Meatless Monday: Southwestern Pierogi Bake

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

I’m aware that the title of this blog post may seem a bit confusing; pierogies are typically Polish… so how could I use them in a Southwestern dish?! Well, I’m completely obsessed with Southwestern and Mexican food, so I’ll make it any chance I can. When I was selected to participate in this Mrs. T’s Pierogies campaign, I knew I wanted to do more with them than just serve them as-is with dipping sauce, or with sautéed cabbage. And with 11 different varieties, there’s something for (almost) everyone. Being that I love bakes (who doesn’t like to throw everything into a dish and put it in the oven?) and Southwestern flavors are my favorite, I decided to run with it.

I had visions of this meal the entire time I was running my 15 miler on Saturday, and couldn’t wait to put it all together. It was easy to prepare, and really hit the spot for dinner. Of course I was pretty wiped out after my long run, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on the couch; though I may have even taken a pancake induced nap in the early afternoon. Conveniently, Mean Girls was on (can you believe the 10 year anniversary is coming up?!), so I enjoyed my pierogi bake while watching one of the greatest movies of all time (yes, I said it).

This Southwestern Pierogi Bake is perfect for any night of the week, and can easily be transported for a potluck dinner or party. Plus, it can be made with real chorizo or soy chorizo, so it’s easily adaptable to everyone’s meat preference. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to think outside of the box when it comes to pierogi meals. While I love a good pierogi and cabbage mix, this may be my new favorite way to enjoy Mrs. T’s Pierogies!

Southwestern Pierogi Bake | FoodosaurusRex.com

Southwestern Pierogi Bake
– Serves 4 – 

Ingredients: 
1 box Mrs. T’s Pierogies, any variety [I used potato + cheddar]
1 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, diced [you can use less/de-seed it if you don’t like spice]
6 oz. (soy) chorizo [I used soy chorizo to make it vegetarian, but you can use the real-deal, too]
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup of chunky salsa
1 cup shredded cheese blend
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt + pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, and cook the pierogies for 10 minutes
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion and peppers for 10 minutes until they begin to soften. 
4. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until combined and fragrant.
5. Turn the heat down to medium, add the chorizo and beans, and cook for another 5 minutes.
6. In a 9×11 baking dish, pour the salsa and layer the cooked pierogies, followed by the sautéed mixture. Top with shredded cheese.
7. Bake an additional 12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Feel free to check out Mrs. T’s WebsiteFacebook, or Twitter for more information and to see all the different kinds of pierogies they offer!

Tell me…
Are you a pierogi fan? What’s your favorite combination? 

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Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Meatless Monday: Personal Mexican Pizza

Last week while on Twitter, I jumped into a conversation with Ashley and Dori about pizza. The next thing I knew we had plans to grab pizza the following week (tomorrow!), and all I could think about was having pizza for dinner. I toyed with the idea of ordering some, but then figured it’d be nice to save a few extra bucks (and calories), and so I made  beeline for my refrigerator. I didn’t think I had all of the ingredients to make pizza, but with a few creative adjustments wound up with probably one of the best homemade pizzas I’ve made to date.

There’s nothing traditional about this pizza, but it combines some of my absolute favorite flavors and is easily customizable. I don’t know why I waited this long to use a burrito sized tortilla as pizza crust. I guess it’s better late than never, because this “pizza” is going to become a regular on my weekly menus, that’s for sure. This is hardly a complex meal and comes together in a matter of minutes, so I feel silly labeling it as a “recipe.” But I thought it would be helpful to include the measurements and cooking temperature/time as a guideline.

Personal Mexican Pizza | FoodosaurusRex.com

Personal Mexican Pizza
– makes one personal pizza –

Ingredients:
1 burrito sized tortilla
2 Tbsp your favorite salsa
1 tsp oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup pepper, chopped (any will do – red, green, yellow, orange)
1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Directions: 
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan. Once the oil is warm, add the chopped onion and pepper, sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to become translucent. 
3. Add the black beans and chili powder, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. 
4. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, and lay the tortilla flat. Spread the 2 tablespoons of salsa evenly across the tortilla. Top with 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, followed by the sauté mixture. Finish off with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the tortilla is beginning to crisp. 

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Filed under Home Cooking, Pizza, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Veggie Packed Enchiladas

Just the other day I was counting how long I’ve been vegetarian, and it’s been 10 months! Sometimes it seems like it’s been much longer than that, and other times I’m so impressed with myself for still going strong. When I first made the switch to being a full-on vegetarian (I hadn’t been eating meat often for a year or two prior, but still had it once in awhile), people would often ask “why” and I never really had a good reason. While I still don’t enjoy people asking me “why,” as though I need to validate my choices, I’ve come to realize that it is definitely more of an ethical thing for me than not – I just hate the idea of seeing animals suffer or be hurt. I realize it’s the “circle of life” and how things go, but I’m not going to participate in something if I’m not comfortable with it! And don’t get me wrong, hamburgers are delicious so I understand and have no problem with you eating one, I just won’t eat one myself.

So why the blabbering about my vegetarian lifestyle choices? Well, I’ve found that there are so many dishes that seem to have meat in them “just because.” There are plenty of dishes where meat is the centerpiece and main focus, but there are also a lot of dishes that seem to include meat more as an accessory. I love the versatility of Southwestern food, because even though it can be very meat-centric, there is also plenty of wiggle room for vegetables (and beans)! I love Southwestern food for the flavors, too, but it’s great that it is something I can continue to enjoy as a vegetarian.

So with a hankering for enchiladas, I took a look at the CSA box ingredients I had for the week, and put together a pretty tasty, meat (and fake meat) free enchilada! I suppose you could say I cut corners by not using homemade tortillas or enchilada sauce, but the time and effort required for those two things in addition to the rest of the cooking just isn’t realistic for your average working, marathon training, zonked from the heat wave person. If you have the time, by all means, go for it… but if you don’t, I promise your dish will be just as tasty!

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Enchiladas | FoodosaurusRex.com

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Enchiladas
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 scallions, diced
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup corn
1/2 bunch of kale, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp Adobo
1/4 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
6 fajita size flour tortillas
1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the begin to become translucent. 
3. Add the cubed sweet potatoes, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften. 
4. Add the black beans and corn, followed by all of the spices (chili powder, cumin, adobo, and paprika). 
5. Begin to add the kale, a little bit at a time to allow it to wilt a bit and make room in the pan. As it’s wilting, add the 2 tablespoons of water to help deglaze the pan of the spices and aid in the wilting. Sauté until everything is combined and kale is slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat. 
6. Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 11 dish. 
7. Take a tortilla and add three spoonfuls of the mixture to the center of the tortilla, and roll. You don’t need to roll it like a burrito (but you can); just roll it more like a taquito – it’s okay if some of the “guts” are coming out of the sides. Place it in the dish. Repeat for the remaining 5 tortillas, layering them next to each other, slightly overlapping. 
8. Top with the remaining sauce, the shredded cheese, and the scallions. 
9. Bake for 18 minutes. Serve with avocado or guacamole, and sour cream or Greek yogurt. 

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Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Recipe, Spanish Food, Vegetarian/Vegan

Tex-Mex Obsession

I hope that everyone in the Mid-Atlantic enjoyed the gorgeous weather we had all week! I am lucky enough to have the flexibility to work from home a few times a week so I made sure to take advantage of it; especially on Tuesday when it was 80 degrees! Unfortunately the weather isn’t sticking around, but I’m okay with it – I don’t think I’m ready for summer temperatures just yet. So even though I’ve been grilling and enjoying beers outside, I’m still doing a fair amount of indoor cooking… I’ll resort to grill-only foods come July, I’m sure.

The majority of recipes you’ll find on the blog are Tex-Mex, so it never comes as a surprise to someone when I proclaim “I love Tex-Mex food!” More specifically I love Mexican food, and Tex-Mex is a byproduct of living in the USA. Thankfully I don’t live too far from New Brunswick, where 49.93% of the population is Hispanic or Latino (2010 Census results) and as a result has a lot of really delicious and authentic Mexican restaurants (my favorite is Costa Chica on Handy St., for the locals!). So when I was thinking about more ways to incorporate some of my favorite flavors into a dish, I immediately thought of macaroni and cheese.

KickAss5k-001

After my run!

After completing Abby’s Kick Ass 5k, I got to work in the kitchen. But before we get into the recipe, I have to give a little plug for Abby. Even though the 5k is over, you can still head to her Team Challenge page and donate. Long story short, Abby is an incredibly strong woman who has ulcerative colitis and is running a half marathon in June with Team Challenge (in conjunction with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation) to help raise money for the foundation. As a fellow IBD sufferer, of course I had to donate to the cause, and I hope you’ll consider it, too!

The recipe uses veggie sausage, but you can either leave it out completely or use real sausage, ground beef, or ground turkey. And the recipe can be turned vegan if you use non-dairy cream cheese, shredded cheese, and milk. Since I’m slightly sensitive to dairy, this definitely isn’t a meal I would eat often… but it’s fun to indulge every once in awhile (though suffering the consequences isn’t fun)!

Tex-Mex Pasta Bake | Foodosaurusrex.com

Tex-Mex Pasta Bake
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. pasta (I used rotini, but small shells, elbow, etc. will work)
4 oz. veggie sausage or ground beef substitute (or ground turkey or beef if you aren’t vegetarian)
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp chipotle taco seasoning
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp adobo
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese blend
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil and add the diced onion and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Then set aside.
4. Add your meat of choice to the skillet and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until it begins to brown.
5. Add black beans followed by spices, and allow to cook 2-3 minutes. Add in cooked pasta.
6. Once well combined, add in the cream cheese, shredded cheese blend, and milk, stirring to combine until all the cheese is melted. Stir in the Panko bread crumbs.
7. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray and spread the pasta mixture evenly. Feel free to sprinkle a little extra shredded cheese on top for good measure.
8. Bake for 15 minutes until top begins to brown.

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Filed under Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Leftovers: Crunchy Turkey Quesadilla

With the massive amounts of turkey left over (three Tupperware containers full, to be exact), I knew getting creative was necessary. Originally I was planning to make a simple turkey and cheese quesadilla on Sunday night, but decided to take it a step further. For anyone that’s ever been to Taco Bell, you know about the “Crunch Wrap Supreme,” which is folded over into itself in the middle, and has a nice crunch in addition to your typical quesadilla/burrito ingredients. I actually came across the original recipe from Hungry Girl awhile back, and decided to make it my own this time around.

In addition to the turkey and shredded pepper jack cheese (yum!) I sautéed some yellow onion with a chipotle in adobo. Once the onion was sautéed and the turkey was warm enough, I piled it into the middle of the tortilla, topping it with cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream, and a few pieces of corn tortilla chips. You then have to get your fold-on, folding from the outside in, making about 4-5 folds. You then just throw it on a pan (that you’ve already sprayed, of course) so the tortilla becomes golden brown, and each of the sides you’ve folded stick to one another. The entire meal took about 15 minutes to prepare, and when paired with a salad was perfect for dinner!

Prior to our lovely Sunday night dinner, after our 8 mile run, fiancé and I each devoured an ice cream float. During the entire second half of the run, all I could think about was food. Jamba Juice, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milkshakes, etc. So on the very last leg of our run I announced my plan (albeit out of breath) – “I’m making an ice cream float!” to which my fiancé loudly responded “Oh $*%! Yes!” and immediately followed it with a “That was kind of loud… SORRY!” to anyone listening. As soon as we got inside I scooped some leftover ice cream into plastic cups, and topped it off with some soda left over from Thanksgiving. Oh it was heaven. My stomach didn’t appreciate it much later, and would have rather enjoyed a piece of bread and water, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Maybe next Saturday’s 10 miler will be followed up similarly.

Crunchy Turkey Quesadilla
– Serves 1 –
[Adapted from HungryGirl]

Ingredients:
1 flour tortilla (warmed about 10 seconds in the microwave)
½ cup shredded cheese
½ cup shredded cooked turkey
¼ onion
¼ cup shredded lettuce (iceberg works nicely for crunch)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 chipotle in adobo
1 Tbsp sour cream
2-3 corn tortilla chips

Directions:
1. Sautee onion in oil until almost translucent, add chipotle and turkey when almost done just to warm.
2. Once cooked, add onion and turkey mixture to middle of tortilla, topping with cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and tortilla chips.
3. Fold tortilla inwards towards the middle, in about 4-5 sections.
4. Spray and re-heat skillet on medium heat, and add the quesadilla folded side down, cooking until slightly golden brown (about 2 minutes), flip and cook other side until also golden brown. Serve immediately.

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Filed under Recipe, Running, Spanish Food

An Early November Fiesta

Similar to Tuesday’s dinner, Thursday was another long prep meal. It actually required to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours, so I prepared everything on Wednesday post-run then threw it in the oven after work on Thursday. Thankfully I read the directions way before I planned to make it, giving me enough time to figure out which day of the week would be best to have it.

I’ve somehow been subscribed to Betty Crocker’s weekly e-mails that come Sunday nights. Often times I don’t really find anything I’m interested in (they’re your typical family styled meal), but every so often I find a gem. Enter the Fiesta Taco Chicken Lasagna (that’s a mouthful!). I decided to omit the chicken just to make things a little easier on myself as well as the black olives because the fiancé isn’t a big fan, and instead of taco sauce I used salsa to give it more texture.

These big bakes with a fiesta, Mexican, or Southwestern label seem to be some of my favorite meals (like this one, or this one). They take some time to prepare because of all the ingredients, but in the end it’s so worth it. I imagine you could throw some eggs into this bad boy to make it a great brunch item. Of course the mention of brunch brings up thoughts of booze (is that normal?), and this would probably go quite nicely with a giant margarita… yes please!

While it wasn’t the most photogenic meal I’ve made, it was delicious. The fiancé was extremely impressed at how great it was, despite it being “a big bunch of mush.”

Since the recipe makes enough to feed a family, I’ll be enjoying this for days.

Taco Fiesta Chicken Lasagna
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
2 (14 1/2-oz.) cans diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chiles, undrained
1/4 cup taco sauce
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 (16-oz.) can Old El Paso® Refried Beans
1/2 cup sour cream
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
12 oz. (3 cups) shredded colby-Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives, if desired
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
1. Spray 15×12-inch sheet of foil and 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine tomatoes and taco sauce; mix well. Stir in chicken. In medium bowl, combine refried beans and sour cream; mix well.
Spread about 1 cup chicken mixture in bottom of sprayed baking dish. Top with 4 uncooked noodles, breaking to fit if necessary. Spread with half of bean mixture and 1 1/2 cups chicken mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese, half of the onions and half of the olives.
2. Layer 4 more noodles, remaining bean mixture, 1 1/2 cups chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese. Top with remaining 4 noodles, chicken mixture, onions, olives and cheese. (Be sure top noodles are covered.) Cover with foil, sprayed side down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
3. Heat oven to 350°F. Bake covered lasagna for 50 minutes. Uncover baking dish; bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cilantro. If desired, garnish each serving with dollop of sour cream, chopped tomato and shredded lettuce.

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Filed under Recipe, Spanish Food

Homemade tortilla salad

Mexican flavors are one of my favorites – the beans, sauteed veggies, spice, and of course massive amounts of cheese put it at the top of my list. While I’m always ready for a burrito (breakfast, lunch, or dinner), sometimes you need to switch it up. Enter the baked tortilla bowl!

While I love Mexican food, I also almost equally love fried food, which we all know can be dangerous. So, despite the veggie costume, most tortilla shell salads are definitely not good for you, as the tortilla is more often than not deep fried. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, but it will sky rocket your healthy salad a few hundred calories! A splurge here and there is okay, but I decided to go the baked route Monday night.

Being able to make this at home without any fancy equipment is awesome. All you need is an oven, Pyrex dish, cooking spray, and a tortilla! Once you spray the inside of the dish, you can just lay the tortilla inside, trying to have it form to the bowl. While the oven pre-heats (425 degrees) you can actually put a glass or plastic cup inside the bowl to help press the tortilla against it. From there, all you need to do is bake the badboy for 10-12 minutes (depending on how crispy you’d like it), and let it cool!

Aside from some lettuce, I filled my tortilla bowl with leftover black bean and corn salad from this past weekend’s BBQ, some salsa, cheese, and pickled jalapenos. YUM! It reminded me of a fellow blogger’s “B.A.S” – big ass salad, because it was just the right size to be filling and had some fun fixin’s! Speaking of fellow blogger… the creator of the B.A.S is actually doing a really awesome giveaway on her blog today! As a fellow runner, she knows the feeling of tight legs all too well, and is actually doing the giveway out of the kidness of her own heart (and pocket)! I really could have used a pair of those socks after Monday night’s run, too. A solid 6 miles at a just over 8 minute/mile pace was definitely the fastest run I’ve done so far – I think I’m finally becoming a runner! So I of course have entered, and you should too! So head over to Eat, Drink, Run, and follow her on Twitter. While you’re there, you can follow me too!

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Filed under Spanish Food

Simple Vegetarian: Polenta and Pinto Bean Pie

After searching for which vegetarian cookbook I got this recipe from, I was able to find it! This bad boy comes from Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson, and it’s delicious! I’ve actually never had polenta before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. To me, it tasted a lot like a Matzo ball, which I love. So I’ll definitely be adding polenta into our diet a little more regularly; it’s a nice alternative to pasta and rice.

The recipe itself is straight forward and easy. Aside from the 30 minute cooking time, it took a whopping 5 minutes to prepare. It uses pre-cooked polenta which adds to the convenience factor, but I’m sure you could cook-up your own if you have the time. Just a side note, it took my fiancé and I a solid 30 minutes to find the polenta in the grocery store on Sunday. We looked everywhere; pasta section, international section, rice section, refrigerated section. Finally we called our friend that happens to work at that particular Wegmans, and he directed us to it’s proper location (all the way in the corner of the pasta aisle).

It’s also really filling. I made the entire recipe, and there was enough for another large meal (as in TWO dinners!). We added some home-made poor man’s guacamole and a little sour cream and paired it with a salad. I decided to heat up what was left over still from the two dinners for breakfast, and paired it with an egg – not bad! Of course being the failure that I am, I didn’t take a picture of the deliciousness. To be fair though, it’s quite a messy dish once you cut it up and put it on a plate, so I don’t think a picture would have done it justice anyway. You’re just going to have to make it to find out!

I have quite a bit of polenta left over, so I’m going to attempt a polenta-crust pizza. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, but with some onions and peppers on top, I can’t imagine it being horrible. We’ll see!

Polenta & Pinto Bean Pie
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
16 oz. package cooked polenta
16 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
16 oz. of salsa or picante sauce (mild, medium, or hot)
4 oz. can mild green chiles, drained (one small can)
1 Tbsp chili powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the polenta into 1/2-inch thick slices and arrange in the bottom of a lightly oiled 9- or 10-inch square baking dish. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine the pinto beans, salsa, chiles, and chili powder, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and spread over the polenta.
3. Top with shredded cheese and tortilla chips. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer to lightly brown the top.

Happy quick & easy veggie nomzing!

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Filed under Food Review, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

A Foodie Birthday!

Ahh yes, birthday time. Monday (6/28) I celebrated the big 24 (boooooring!), and received a lot of foodie (specifically baking) prizes. Yes, you read that correctly. I do not call gifts presents, rather prizes – it sounds more fun!

Most of the food related gifts actually came from my co-workers, and they’re smart; hopefully their prizes will get me in the kitchen, and therefore bringing in left over goodies to share with them. Good thinking! Anyway, in addition to the amazing MacBook from my fiancé that I’m currently using to type this up, an awesome new Coach bag, Forever21 gift card, shirt and earrings from my parents and sister, I got the following foodie items:


– A sweet set of baking dishes, and a Pyrex measuring cup, which we somehow don’t have. This is going to come in handy!


– I’ve been eyeing this cupcake recipe book for awhile. Everything is SO cute. I hope my lack of artistic ability will some how not transfer over to these cupcake decorations


– I’ll be making these cupcakes this weekend to bring to a 4th of July BBQ. Hopefully they are yummy!


– How can you go wrong with this?! Now I have an extra cupcake pan (having only one is annoying), a mini cupcake/muffin pan, AND a carrying case? SCORE!

So as you can see, I was spoiled with my foodie (and non-foodie) prizes! By the end of the week I’ll hopefully have used the pie dish, cupcake mix, and cupcake carrier. I’ll definitely be reporting back on those!

As for the eating aspect of my birthday, that was equally delicious. It started off before work with some Dunkin Donuts (iced coffee and a jalapeno bagel twist to be exact). It was later followed up with a junior homewrecker with tofu burrito from Moe’s Southwest Grill. Then, going for a double-dose of Mexican (how could I resist?!) the family took us to Jose Tejas, one of my favorite Cajun Creole/Mexican joints (you can read about the restaurant here)! After that we had some cake – a chocolatey moussey ganachey coconutty slice of heaven. Needless to say I had to roll myself into bed after eating all that!

Stay tuned for the results of all my awesome prizes, and happy nomzing! Oh, and thanks to everyone that made my birthday special!!

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Filed under Baking, Cupcakes, Food Review, Restaurant, Spanish Food

A Mexican Fiesta: Ole!

Late Saturday night after coming home from a delicious BBQ and relaxing for a bit while watching She’s the Man (hello Channing Tatum boy-crush and Amanda Bynes girl-crush!), my fiancé and I sat down to try and organize the coming week’s meals. Since I’m a big planner, I always have the next week’s meals decided about mid-week but decided to wait till the last minute this time.

While scouring the millions of e-mails I’ve forwarded my fiancé with recipes attached, our recipe books, and folder collection, after about an hour of being frantic we settled on this week’s menu. After our weekly Sunday trip to the grocery store, (which we’ve decided needs to be done on Saturdays because all the crazies go shopping on Sunday) I got to work on tonight’s recipe.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Mexican and Spanish food (as you’re well aware) so tonight’s dinner was right up my alley. I found a recipe for chicken empanadas on the Food Network’s site, courtesy of Ms. Paula Dean. Knowing that her recipes are usually full of fat and grease, I was pleasantly surprised that aside from the copious amounts of cheese involved, it wasn’t that bad. I’ve never made empanadas before since I don’t have a deep fryer, but these bad boys were baked so I was up for the challenge. I actually got a lot of help from my fiancé which I really appreciated!

I didn’t realize until this recipe, but I don’t own a rolling pin! So, in order to get the 12 to 15 3-inch circles of dough required for the recipe, we spread out the pie crust on two floured cutting boards, and rolled it with a shot glass. Innovative, I know. Since we also don’t have any cookie cutters, we just used the rim of a plastic cup, which we gaged to be about 3-inches.  It’s amazing how difficult a recipe can be when you don’t have the proper tools.

But, the filling for the empanadas was super easy. The chicken didn’t call for any seasoning, so I added some chili powder and taco seasoning just to add some pizazz. Other than that I stuck to the book, and am pleased with the results! It definitely made more filling than what went into the 15 circles I was able to cut from the one sheet of pie crust. So, I saved the leftovers and will be bringing it for lunch tomorrow. It’d probably also be great in  wrap.

Continuing the Mexican fiesta theme, I decided to pair the empanadas with a corn and black bean salad. This recipe is from The World’s Healthiest Foods, and I’ve made it a few times. It’s super simple and the longer it sits, the better it tastes. It makes about 4 servings, so I’m looking forward to and even more flavorful salad later this week!

I think the empanadas would be a great party style dish, maybe as an appetizer or something like that. It was definitely interesting to have them as our main dish, but I’m always up for new things. It was super cheesey which I always love, and the heat from the jalapeños was much appreciated, though my fingers are currently cursing me since they feel like they’re on fire. The corn and black bean salad has always been a favorite of mine, so now that I have the recipe back in my hands, I plan on making it over and over again!

Paula Dean’s Chicken Empanadas
– Makes 12 to 15 –

Ingredients:
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 (8-ounce) package shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
Water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the chicken and next 7 ingredients.
3. Unroll 1 piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15-inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining piecrusts, making 12 to 15 circles total.
4. Arrange 1 round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining rounds and chicken mixture. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month).
5. Arrange empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

15 Minute Black Bean Salad
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
½ cup minced onion
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ cup diced red bell pepper
2 TBS pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Mince onions, press garlic, cut tomatoes, chop red peppers
2. Mix all ingredients together and serve.
*This salad will keep for a couple of days and gets more flavorful if you let it marinate in the refrigerator for awhile.

¡Coma bien!

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Filed under Recipe, Spanish Food