Monthly Archives: July 2015

Dulce de Leche Pecan Bars 

Naughty is the word that sums these up!   It’s like a sweet & crunchy candy bar amped up times a million.  Best of all it’s easy, I’d hardly even call it baking!   

Why your family thinks you slaved away in the kitchen for this treat, you’ll know the easy truth and can relish in theirs “oohs & aahs”. 😉👌

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted, cold & cubed 
  • 1 can dulce de leche 
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • 1/3 cup of confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tsps pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips    

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8×8″ square pan with foil (allowing foil to overhang the pan) and lightly spray with non-stick.

In a food processor combing the flour, cold butter, confectioners sugar, salt and 2 tsps of the vanilla extract.  Pulse for about one minute until it’s combined and looks almost ‘clumpy’….<-for lack of better word. 😉 

  
Pour the crumb mixture straight into your foil lined pan and press with your fingertips to even out and bring it about 1-2″ up the sides.   Place this into your preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

While that crust is par baking, will mix up the good stuff!!

In a medium size bowl, combine the can of dulce de leche with the heavy cream, egg yolks and the remaining 2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 Tbsp flour.  Whisk till creamy. 

  
When the crust has finished, let sit for a few minutes and then pour the creamy mixture straight in.  Shake the pan gently to level it out. 

  

 

Finally, top with the chocolate chips and the chopped pecan pieces.  Return this to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes. 

 Once finished, and just slightly jiggly, cool completely on a baking rack.  I even like to pop this is the fridge for a good hour or two to firm up.

Remove the goodies by lifting up the foil, cut into bars and enjoy!!! 

  

   

One Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

Here is a hit for all ages!  Whether you’re a sophisticated grown up or a crazy toddler, who doesn’t love a juicy bacon cheeseburger?!  …However, those fat burgers can be a bit hard for little hands to handle and the meal doesn’t spread quite as far for a large family.   So here’s the trick, put it into a casserole form and you have a winner!

As odd as it many seem to some, this really does replicate the exact taste of one of them delux burgers!  Plus, like I said, this recipe makes PLENTY.  So if you’re feeding a hungry crowd or trying to stretch your dollar, this is a fantastic family-friendly meal!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 1 lb rotini pasta
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 15oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp mustard (classic yellow or dijon)
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tomato, diced
  •  1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup green onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup dill pickles, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • EVOO 

We’ll start this pasta dish by first prepping our veggies!  The red onion & pickles will be incorporated into the pasta, where the green onion & tomatoes will be used for garnish.

 In a large skillet (remember this will ALL fit into one pot) add in your bacon slices and cook till crisp.  Set aside on a paper towel lined plate and drain almost all the bacon grease out.

Next add in a tbsp of EVOO along with the red onion & hamburger meat, cook all the way through while adding salt & pepper to taste and the Worcestershire sauce.  Drain the grease from the beef.

    Once the excess grease has been removed from the beef, add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, chicken broth & pasta noodles.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes (stir once or twice).

  
  

After the 20’ish minutes have passed, your pasta will be perfectly tender.  Here is when you’ll fold in the chopped dill pickles and your cooked (crumbled) bacon *assuming you didn’t eat it all by now. 

Top this with all of the shredded cheddar and recover the skillet for about 5 more minutes, till the cheese has melted. 

Once the cheddar cheese is nice and gooey, top with the diced tomato and green onion because it is done!!  Enjoy! 

  

Gringo Crockpot Chilé Colorado

Hey, I don’t always make everything from scratch…Yes, I am guilty of making my own red & green sauces more often than not,  but sometimes I actually have a life too.  At least for that day.

I order Chilé Colorado almost every time I go to a certain Mexican restaurant when I visit home.  It’s just delicious between the beef (my fave) and the spicy aspect (my other fave), I cannot get enough.

So without breaking my back or bank, I stretched this into a real filling meal by making smothered burritos with the Chilé.  I imagine that they’d also stretch a bit further if I didn’t get into them at midnight, and breakfast, and lunch, and snack time….ok, we just may not have any for leftovers tonight.  Oops! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs of beef stew meat
  • 1 can of red enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup (8oz) of beef stock
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 1 Jalapeño, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp each salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp+ cumin

To make them Smothered Burritos

  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • Burrito size flour tortillas
  • Sour cream/Guac/Green onions (garnish) 

We’ll start off by spraying your crockpot with a bit of nonstick spray and then add in the quartered onions, garlic and jalapeño.  *If you don’t want it too spicy, please remove the seeds and pith of the jalapeño or just omit completely.  ..we just like it hot!!

Next, add in all of the cubed beef and your 3 seasonings.  Follow that with the beef stock (stock gives a richer flavor than broth) and 1 can of red enchilada sauce (*again with the spice, use a can with a heat level you prefer.  We use a medium or hot, but you may like it mild…and that’s just fine!)

  

Now just cover your crockpot and set to low.  Walk away, go to work, lounge by the pool, what have you…in 8 hours it will be fork tender.🍴

Once it has finished and your home smells too good to stand, you can eat this as you please.  Whether that’s out of a bowl with a tortilla to dip or make tacos with it.

Another easy option is to make Smothered Burritos with the filling.  If you chose that route, here we go..

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a 9×13 dish with nonstick spray.  Fill each burrito size tortilla up with a good size spoonful of this meat.  Make sure to let some of the juices in there too and roll them into perfect burrito form.

Place one by one into your casserole dish, I typically can fit about 6 per dish.


Next, pour another can of red enchilada sauce overtop the burritos.  You can also mix a bit of the leftover Chilé Colorado broth in with the canned enchilada sauce, just don’t make it too thin.  (I could slurp that broth with a straw..and I may have done just that..) 

Sprinkle your shredded cheese ALL over these bad boys.  This is definitely the ‘smothered’ part of the name!

  
Pop these into the oven for about 20 minutes until that cheese is perfectly melted and gooey overtop.  Serve each with a dallop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onions.  👌
 

Easy Escabeche (pickled jalapeños)

We eat A LOT of Mexican food around here and frequent quite a few taqueria’s  (taco, burrito, etc shop for my English only speaking friends) for authentic grub, where we also load up on their escabeche.

Since I do make spicy dinners so very often I thought I’d try my hand at making my own pickled jalapeños.  Dang, it’s so simple!  I also realize I’m not actually “canning” the escabeche here, but these will last a LONG time in your fridge, if you don’t munch them all up first!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 jalapeños
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled  

First we’ll peel and cut our carrots into thick slices a bit on the diagonal, peel the 5 cloves of garlic, cut the white onion into wedges and thickly slice the jalapeños.  *you’re more than welcome to leave them whole too.  

I like our jalapeño escabeche to be pretty dang spicy, so I do NOT remove the seeds or pith.  However, if you want a more mild version, than do just that!  They’ll still be flavorful, but a tad less burn-your-face-off hot. 😉 *if you have sensitive hands, wear gloves! 

 

In a large pot, combine every single ingredient listed above and bring to a low boil/simmer for about 10 minutes.  The jalapeños will turn from a bright green shade to almost a drab army green.  Remove pot from heat and set aside to cool. 

  

Careful of enhaling the steam off of this…trust me. 😉

  

Once this has cooled a bit, transfer to a clean jar.  Seal tightly and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.  *I took ours out to sample at the exact 24 hour mark and they were perfect! 

  

The Sonoran Hot Dog

Arizona.  Besides the heat, my memories of the desert often pertain to the delish Sonoran delicacies that you can only get there.  I’ve yet to find the Mexican food of home in my years long search (sob), which is why you can frequently find me recreating them in my own kitchen.

A hot dog staple in Arizona is The Sonoran Dog (Sonora, Mexico)…it’s as popular in AZ as the Chicago Dog is…well..everywhere else.  It’s even listed on the Food Networks top ten hotdogs to try!

It’s crazy easy to recreate and you can cook them on the stove top, your broiler or even make a fiesta out of it and grill them up!  Just don’t forget the cerveza!!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package of bun-length hotdogs
  • 6-8 strips bacon (one strip per hotdog)
  • 1 package Bolillo rolls (bakery)
  • 1 can pinto beans (borracho style if possible)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced
  • Mayonnaise 
  • Mustard  

First off, let’s wrap each one of those hotdogs with a strip of bacon.  If needed, you can use a toothpick to secure the bacon while cooking. 

 Heat a skillet up to almost medium and place in the bacon wrapped dogs.  Cook on all sides till crisp.  When finished, transfer to a paper towl lined plate to absorb any extra grease. 

  

That bottom dog was a real jerk…was not helping me out whatsoever!

While the bacon dogs are frying away, you have time to prep your veggies!  Slices and dice the tomatoes, onion and jalapeño.  *you could even use a premade jalapeño flavored sauce here instead. 

Also, bring your borracho (pinto) beans to a simmer on the stove.

Now that every thing is about complete (super simple recipe right?), take a sharp serrated knife and make a slit through the middle of each roll.  Do NOT cut all the way through.  You’re making more of a ‘pocket’ with the rolls.   *I like to take just a bit of the bread out of each roll(slit) so that you can really fill with a bunch of goodies! 
 

Assembly time is the best time!!  First, ladle a good amount of beans into each pocket of the Bolillo rolls. 

I forgot to grab a pic of the beans earlier, so youll have to make do with my friends plate 😉

Next, place the bacon-wrapped hot dog on top of the beans.  Then garnish with a good amount of tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and a drizzle each of the mayo & mustard.  Make sure to grab a few napkins because these things are dangerously messy and delicious! 

 

*I dislike mayo, but it’s good on here.  My friend hates tomatoes, but likes it on here…so just make it as directed…you’ll love it! 😉

Italian Stuffed Meatloaf Florentine

I’m giving away a secret…my famous Italian meatloaf recipe!  Ok, well maybe it’s only famous between my sister and I, but it’s ridiculous!!  It’s almost like a ginormous meatball or maybe a deconstructed lasagna..call it what you want, but we call it delicioso!

It’s a fun twist on your traditional American meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  There’s nothing wrong with old fashioned comfort food,  but this spin will keep your week nights a little less boring.. ☺️ You can also prepare the meat mixture the night before and then just sauté the spinach and assemble the next evening if you’re crunched for time after a busy day at work.

I hope you enjoy this family favorite recipe as much as me…and my sister. 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • 15oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen spinach, slighty thawed
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO 

Side Dish

  • 1 pckg noodles (I.e. Penne, spaghetti)
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

We’re going to first rinse and chop & dice our vegetables (onion, garlic, bell pepper & parsley).  You’ll also seperate the minced garlic.  2 cloves for the spinach and 3 cloves for the meat mixture. 

 

Heat the EVOO to med-low in a skillet and add in the 2 cloves minced garlic.  Cook till fragrant, about 1 minute.   

 

Next, you’ll add in the spinach.  *dont worry if it’s still a bit frozen, it will work.  You can also use fresh spinach if you have that available.  

Stir the garlic spinach mix occasionally till warm.  Transfer the cooked spinach to a dish and set aside while keeping the leftover liquid in the skillet. *I like to place my cooked spinach in a paper towel lined bowl to soak up the extra juices. 

 

While you’re finishing up cooking the spinach (aka the florentine) portion of this masterpiece, we’ll start the meat mixture.  Super simple!

In a very large bowl, combine almost everything else.  The beef, pork, veggies, garlic, bread crumbs, seasonings, the beaten eggs and the milk.  Remember to take off your jewelry because you’re about to get your hands dirty!  Get in there and thoroughly mix this up. 

  


Now, in a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick, you’re going to start the fun part! 

Take about 2/3 of the meat mixture and make a firmly packed rectangle while pressing down the middle to create an almost 1″ thick by 2″ tall “walls”.  You’re going to be filling this area with some good stuff! 

 

Spread your container of ricotta cheese in the base 1st. 


Next, you’re going to spread the garlic-spinach mix overtop that.  

Then sprinkle about 1 cup of mozzarella cheese over your spinach. 


Finally, we’ll top this off with the remaining 1/3 meat mixture.  I like to almost make ‘hamburger patties’ out of it and place over top while pinching it all together to make a seal.  It’s really easier than it seems.  Then I just press and pack it tight to keep that perfect rectangular shape.

 

Pop this in your preheated oven.  It will cook for one hour.

After about 30 minutes of you’re stuffed meatloaf cooking, start your noodles and sauce.  I like to pour my sauce right into the skillet we sautéed our spinach in.  That flavor from the remaining EVOO, garlic and spinach will only enhance the flavor of the jarred sauce.  *cook your noodles about 2 minutes less than the package directions.  Once time is up ladle straight into the marinara sauce, along with about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. 

   

While your side is coming together, that 1 hour should be up.  Sprinkle the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese over your cooked meatloaf and cook for about 10 more minutes, till cheese is bubbly and melted.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. 

   

Cut into thick slices and place over your marinara dressed noodles alongside a glass of good vino.  Enjoy!! 

 

*If you do not care for ricotta, you can substitute with all mozzarella cheese.  The thick slices of mozzarella in you’re grocers deli section would be ideal, nice and gooey!

*I chose a lean ground beef, because there’s enough fat in the ground pork to keep it juicy.

  

Savory Pork & Apple Butter Biscuits

What goes better than “pork chops and applesauce”??  *In your finest Peter Brady impersonating Humphrey Bogart voice. ..

Well, I have one for ya!  This is a fun one!  Savory, sweet, inexpensive and comforting!  I like to make these for brunch alongside a fruit salad or even for dinner with some roasted sweet potatoes.

If you’ve never tried Apple Butter, don’t let the name fool you in any way.  It’s inexplainable, but kind of similar to a rich applesauce..fantastic on toast!! (Or any leftover biscuits 😉

…And what goes better than ‘pork chops & applesauce’! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 8-12 (tenderized) pork loin cutlets 
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 jar Apple Butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp each black pepper, kosher salt & cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 recipe Buttermilk Biscuits | Railroad Wife, or any store bought biscuits  

With your biscuits finished (or in oven baking if you’re a multitasker..just don’t forget about them!), heat a skillet to medium with your two tbsp of butter. 

 

Next, add in your entire sliced onion.  Drop heat down to low or med-low and occasionally stir these onions until they’re soft and a beautiful brown shade.  This can take a bit of time, but it’s so worth it!!  All the sugars come out and they take on a great ‘sweet’ taste!  *Once these onion slices have started to soften, add in a Tbsp of the Apple Butter..continue cooking till it’s that soft, golden color I spoke of. 

     

While the onions are doing their thing, we’ll coat the cutlets.  In a shallow dish, add together the flour along with the salt, pepper and cayenne.  Mix to combine.  Take each pork loin cutlet and dredge each side in this mix, shake off excess and set aside. 

   
Onions are finally done!  Set them aside in a covered dish to keep warm.  In that same skillet (do not wipe out) add in the vegetable oil.  Heat to medium high.

Place the cutlets into the hot sweet onion flavored/butter/oil bath and cook for about 1-2 minutes each side.  *Remember, mine are tenderized and thin cut, so they cook FAST!  If you chose a thicker cut, please cook accordingly. 

   Woohoo!!  Assembly time!  Halve each one of your glorious biscuits and slather on some of that Apple Butter on each side.  Next, place on your fried pork loin topped with some of those caramelized onions.  Cap off with the top of your biscuit and devour..you can’t eat just one! 
 

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