Monthly Archives: October 2016

Mexican Tater Tot Casserole

Some parts call this a casserole, others call it a hot-dish..but I simply call it goodness!  Growing up we ate many a meal where you would add meat, a cream of something soup, cheese and vegetables mixed in and it was always good.  However, it was always the same.  Same, same, same.  So now that we live in a more foodie inspired world (I know, the word “foodie” would gasp to hear her name in regards to a casserole), I thought we could take the standard, cream of mushroom tater tot casserole, up a notch or 5!

Like always, feel free to tweak to your likeness.  Swap out the beef for ground turkey or chicken, the pinto beans for black beans and corn, or change up the cheese a bit!  Just don’t change it too much or you will no longer have that comforting classic we all grew up with and loved!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb ground beef, lean
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 pckg Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 1 pckg tater tots, enough to cover evenly

Spices (You can also easily use a taco seasoning packet)

  • I used a mix of cumin, chili powder, coriander, mexican oregano, salt, chipotle chili powder and whisked together.

Garnish (optional)

  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeños
  • Black olives
  • Green onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Salsa



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking dish (9×13 or similar) with non-stick spray.  Place on top of a baking sheet to catch any sauce drippings or melty cheese!
Next, bring a large skillet to medium/medium-high heat and add in the ground beef, chopped onion and the seasoning packet/spices, followed by the minced garlic for the last minute.  If necessary drain the grease from here.  I, however, used a very lean beef to avoid this one extra step. 😉  Cook through.

To that same skillet with the now cooked ground beef, add in the pinto beans, green chiles, half of the cheese and half of the enchilada sauce.  Stir to combine and then carefully pour into the casserole dish. Top with them taters!

Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce overtop the taters and place in the oven (uncovered to get crispy) for 40-45 minutes.

Time is up, so sprinkle on that last bit of cheese overtop and allow to melt in the oven, about 3-5 minutes.  You can even broil it if you like that extra crispness!  

Once to your liking remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes…this thing is HOT!!!

Finally top with the garnishes of your choice and serve up!  Enjoy!  **I recommend the sour cream once served as it’s quite hot and will melt quick! 😉 

BBQ Pulled Pork Enchiladas

Being creative has its perks!  Like when you can’t decide between spicy Mexican food or a warm bbq sandwich for dinner..decisions, decisions!

Now one my think this sounds crazy, but it’s oh so not!  The slightly spicy pulled-pork mimics south of the border carnitas and instead of the flavor of a cornbread side, you’re replacing it with corn tortillas.  Finally, the marriage of enchilada sauce with a slightly tangy and spicy bbq sauce is a winner!  Hell, I know in the near future I’ll be re-concocting this sauce for some barbecue sandwiches!  It has a great flavor that I know no one will be able to pinpoint..unless they read this of course. 😉

*You can use left over pulled pork or even shredded chicken if so inclined. 

*I prefer a thinner, spicy and tangy BBQ sauce here.  Leave the Sweet Baby Rays for your ribs, as these enchiladas need a bit of a kick..NOT sweetness.  My opinion..but believe me!

*When I was planning on preparing  this meal, I knew that I had a busy weekend ahead.  So on Saturday, before we ventured out for a full day of baseball, I slowcooked the pork.  When returning home that evening, I shredded it and placed the meat and the juices in an airtight container in the refridgerator.  The next day for dinner, I simply had to assemble and bake the enchiladas (as pork was cooked) and it took less than an hour to hit the dinner table!

*If you’re not into making your own pulled pork, you can pick up a tub from your favorite restaurant.

The Starting Lineup

Simple Pulled Pork (Slowcooker)

  • 3lb Pork butt/shoulder
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (your choice)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 rounded tsp of chicken bullion 
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Enchiladas 

  • Corn tortillas
  • Pulled Pork (cooked)
  • 1 red onion, chopped (3/4 for filling/1/4 for garnish)
  • 1 can green chiles
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 3/4 cup bbq sauce (I prefer a thinner, spicy one..not too sweet here folks!)
  • 2-3 cups Mexican-blend cheese
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Garnish (Optional)

  • Red onion, chopped
  • Jalapeños, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream 

Alright!  Now, again, you can pre-cook the pulled pork the day before (like I did) so that this is an easy, quickly assembled homemade dinner OR you can just as easily start the slow cooked pork on a Sunday morning and have this on the table by dinner time no problem!

So either way you choose, you’ll always start with the pulled pork..and its simple!  In your non-stick sprayed crockpot, place in the quartered onions followed by that pork butt!  Next, add all of the seasonings and the cup of bbq sauce.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours! (*Once finished, continue on to assemble the enchiladas OR shred and store in an airtight container, remember to ladle in a bit of those juices too!

Enchilada time!!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a large pan over medium heat, add in the vege oil.  Follow that with the 3/4 cup of chopped red onions, green chiles, cumin and smoked paprika.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.  Then in goes the cooked and shredded pulled pork, cook till mixed throughly together.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the can of enchilada sauce and the bbq sauce.  Make sure to taste as you can add more BBQ sauce if desired..I think I did add a bit more?? Haha. 

Warm the corn tortillas (in a tortilla warmer OR on a plate with a damp paper towel over top for a few seconds.)
One by one, spoon a good amount of the spiced pulled pork onto the middle of each tortilla and roll up.  Place seam side down into your baking dish.  Repeat until full.  *One or two may slightly crack..dont you worry!  They’ll be covered by sauce and cheese and will taste the EXACT same..no one will be the wiser! 😉

Pour the BBQ enchilada sauce evenly over the filled tortillas and top with all that glorious cheese!

 

Place (uncovered) in the oven for 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and edges are browned.  Remove and let sit for a few minutes as the cheese will be molten hot!!

Serve up with the garnishes of your choice and unlike the normal Mexican cerveza you’d enjoy with enchiladas..we’re actually tasting BBQ flavors here!  So we like ours with a cold good ol Texas beer and a shot of bourbon!  Enjoy!!  

YUMMMMMMMM……..

Morel and Asparagus Parmesan Penne

Hello to my ‘fancy friends’!  This grown-up, earthy, flavorful, umami recipe is SURE to satisfy your significant others tastebuds come date night!  *Well it better as morels are not cheap, nor is asparagus and darn it, this is just good eats!

We had a good friend recently return here to Texas from a trip to his home state of Montana.  Well… when he returned, I was delighted with the gift of real deal morel mushrooms (and huckleberries!!) so I hope he gets to revisit soon!  Thank you Dennis!

Now that I had aquired such a highly sought after ingredient, I could NOT let them go to waste.  Pity the thought!  So to get ALL the flavor I simply cooked the pasta IN the rehydrating liquid and boom…magic was served!  

*I should of charged $47 a plate though! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • About 8 dried morel mushrooms
  • 1pckg/lb penne pasta
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch Asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  •  1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
  • Pinch of dried tarragon
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus the zest 
  • Kosher Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flake, to taste (optional)

Boil 8 cups of water (I simply did so in a microwave safe bowl), and then add in the dried morel mushrooms to the hot water.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit/rehydrate for about 25-30 minutes.  ***Do NOT discard this water

Transfer the now rehydrated mushrooms to a cutting board and quarter each, set aside.

Next, pour the morel-flavored water into a large stockpot (add more water if needed).  Bring this to a boil, salt and then add the pasta noodles.  Cook 1-2 minutes less than package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium high heat.  Toss in the shallots, cook for 3 minutes, followed by the garlic for one minute. 

Next, to the same skillet, add in the asparagus, morels and the chicken stock.  Bring to a low boil, cover, and let cook for 4-5 minutes.  Remove the lid and pour in the heavy cream. Let cook down and reduce for about 3-4 minutes. 

Finally!!  Remove the skillet from heat source and add in the al dente pasta noodles, lemon juice and zest, tarragon, salt and pepper and the parmesan cheese!  Toss together and top with more parmesan (and red pepper flake) if desired!  Enjoy love birds!! 

Autumn Chopped Salad w/ Roasted Pork Tenderloin & Maple Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Yesterday we had quite the breeze..which resulted in a few (ok, many) of leaves falling onto our back porch and yard, much to my husbands dismay..ugh yard work .  Meanwhile, I happily watched it from my kitchen window while wondering what to cook up for dinner.  If nothing else, the view makes doing the dishes that much better. 

Now since the weather wasn’t really chilly but in the mid-80’s, and it was indeed Fall, what could I come up with??  Well below you will find a crisp flavorFALL (<< see what I did there) salad and a ridiculously juicy and warm pork tenderloin.  Oh and lets not forget that Vinaigrette!!  This will now be a staple in our home come Fall..May we also suggest serving with a nice cider?!  Apple cider for the lil’s of course.

*If you have a cast-iron pan, you can transfer the seared pork directly to the oven in this vesssel.  I did not only because my cast iron wasn’t large enough for both my tenderloins.

**Make sure to taste your vinaigrette as you go.  Remember, this is YOURS and if you like it sweeter then add more maple.  Thicker?  Then more pumpkin.  How about tangier?  Well, then you simply add more cider vinegar or dijon!  It’s up to YOU! 🙂 

The Starting Lineup
Maple Pumpkin Vinaigrette

  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup (real maple..no fake stuff here!)
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (non sweetened)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp thyme, fresh
  • 1 Tbsp water

Autumn Chopped Salad

  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 2 apples, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped (candied optional)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 pckg pork tenderloin, usually comes with two
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp rosemary (sounds weird with chili powder..just go with it)
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable/ or canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Maple Pumpkin Vinaigrette…yes, I totally forgot to grab the dijon for the picture, oops! Make sure to use it though, it’s a great emulsifier.


Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Autumn Chopped Salad


Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees and lining a sheet tray with foil.  Place the lined sheet tray into the oven while it preheats.  You’ll also want to start heating up a skillet(medium/medium-high heat) *I prefer my cast iron here, which is why I start to heat it up now, takes a few minutes..and then remove the pork tenderloins from the refridgerator to come to temp.

Next, in a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, pumpkin puree, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic and the salt and pepper.  Then slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil into the mix *slowly as not to “seperate” the dressing.  Finally stir in the fresh thyme (and 1 Tbsp water if you’d like it a bit thinner).  Cover and store in the refridgerator.

Open the package of pork, pat dry with paper towels, and rub on the seasoning blend.  In the now hot pan, add in the oil and the butter.  Then place in the pork (I had to do 1 at a time) and sear all sides till a deep golden brown.  That brown sugar will caramelize and create a ‘crust’, so dont worry as it’s not burnt.  This should take you about 10 minutes for both. 

Once the pork has been seared, place onto the lined sheet pan in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through (till internal temperature reaches 140 degrees).  Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

While the tenderloins are roasting, start chopping up the rinsed lettuce and pat dry.  On a large (and of course pretty) serving platter lay out the chopped lettuce.  Then follow with the apple slices, pecans, dried cranberries and bleu cheese crumbles.  

Once the pork is rested (so the juices do not run out) slice it up!  Lay the slices (pretty again) across the prepared salad and drizzle a good amount of your homemade Maple Pumpkin Vinaigrette…oh lordy, enjoy!! 

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