Friday, July 24, 2009

Viva La Mexico!

Ow. Owie. Mommy, that hurts. No, not the typing. The head turning. Yesterday, I was sitting at this very computer, working, and all of a sudden, my neck and shoulders go into a weird spasm of some sort, and the muscles just seize up - since then, I can barely move my neck. There are possibly several reasons why this happened. The first one that comes to mind is that I'm getting old (most likely) and it's definitely a fact that my fitness level competes with that of an 70 year old (no offense to 70 year olds). Secondly, my body is rebelling against work (known to happen). Thirdly, I've been jinxed - don't laugh. It may be a joint jinx, where both Ozzy and DH have conspired to prevent me from blogging - needy males that they are! Well, I'll show them!

Perhaps it would be best if I kept this post short-ish. I've noticed that I've been ranting and rambling on quite a bit in my most recent posts, and that's just not fair to you, dear readers. You, who so graciously visit my blog, are here for the food (let's face it!). We are foodies, you and I, and we have our priorities. So today, I'll just get straight to it. My reason to make this dish was very basic - I was in pain, and I needed comfort. Found this recipe on Jesse's blog, and she got it from her mom. I trust most moms in the kitchen - their food generally oozes comfort. This easy recipe spoke to me because of its liberal use of melted cheese. I caved. Join me, won't you? The siren call of melted cheese beckons! (or are those my painkillers talking?)

Enchanting Enchiladas (original recipe courtesy of Jesse's blog What's Cooking In The Orange Kitchen)
Serves 4

Click here for printable recipe

Ingredients for filling:
1-2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red/green bell pepper, chopped, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ancho chile in adobo sauce, chopped (optional, but I liked it)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese (colby jack preferably)
Salt to taste

Ingredients for sauce:
1 tbsp oil
Half of the chopped red/green bell pepper
1 15oz can tomato sauce
2/3 cup water
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp dry parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For assembly:
7-8 tortillas, 8 inches in diameter, corn or flour
1/2 - 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.

2. In a pan heat the oil over med-high heat, and then cook the onion and bell pepper for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Next, add the meat to the pan, along with the ancho chile, and brown. If the meat is too greasy then drain and return to the pan. Finally, stir in the sour cream, salt and cheese.

3. In a small saucepan heat the oil and cook the bell pepper until tender. Then add the rest of the sauce ingredients from tomato sauce to salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Then pour into a pie plate.

4. Dip each tortilla into the sauce and coat on both sides. Spoon 1/4 cup of the meat mixture onto each tortilla and then roll the tortilla around the filling. Place in an ungreased baking dish. Repeat until you've used all of the filling.

5. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and then top with the cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the cheese and sauce is bubbly. Take it out of the oven and let rest for 10 mins before serving - that melty cheese may be tempting, but it's also scorching hot!
Verdict: Ooo, hot, gooey, melty cheese, it hurts so good! Yes, this is what I needed to get my mind off my aching back and neck. Serve it with your favorite green salad. I just had broccoli on hand, so roasted the florets in the oven and sprinkled with some salt and pepper - that's it. The enchiladas were beautiful. Maybe not to look at - I doubt out friends at Tastespotting will be accepting any of these pics anytime soon - but one rich, luscious bite is all you need to be transported to comfort food heaven!
If you don't believe me, gaze into the heart of this enchilada - you know it's calling your name!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pucker Up And Celebrate Something!

In a minute you're going to tell me that I'm being silly. And maybe you're right. But there's no harm in celebrating a minor event, because really, it's all part of my outlook on life - that we need to find the joy in the all small things life throws our way. Maybe circumstances are a little tough these days, what with the recession and all the nasty realities that go along with it, but we can't let that derail us completely folks. I'm a natural-born worrier, and even I understand that! We've simply got to keep our minds and hearts open, have a sense of humor, and not let those moments of laughter and happiness slip by unnoticed. For instance, yesterday, my Ozzy took his very first steps in the big, bad world of outside - all by himself! And it was hilarious! We got Ozzy when we were living in the NY apartment, and he was always an indoor cat. The most exposure he got to the outside world was through our big windows, or on the way to the vet once a year. Now, in our new CT apartment on the second floor, we have a sizable balcony. So after much debate between DH and I, we finally let Ozzy take his first tentative steps onto the balcony, while his proud Papa and nervous-nelly Mama watched from the sidelines. Ozzy's adventure lasted all of 10 mins, during which he had a close encounter with a bee, and scared me shitless by leaning over the balcony rails.
Ozzy: "WTF is going on?! The place outside my window is REAL? Am I in the freakin' Twilight Zone?!"

But I'm happy that he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. I know because now he cries to be let out once a day - big baby! So yes, I'll take this small event and drink to it. Since it's summer, I thought I could try some home-made pink lemonade? Why pink? Because it's pretty, and I know that DH is secretly fascinated with colorful drinks as much as I am. So pucker up with a glass of this citrusy delight, dear readers, and toast to making lemonade out of whatever lemons life has handed to you recently. Cheers!
Me thinks I'll submit this shot to Jugalband's "Click: Bi-Color" event - it's not my favorite, but I like the event!

Pink Raspberry Lemonade (got this recipe from Joy The Baker - genius woman!)
Serves 6-8

Click here for printable recipe

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
4-5 cups cold water
2 tbsp or more of raspberry sauce

Raspberry Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 of a 12oz bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water

1. To make the raspberry sauce: Puree the raspberries with the sugar and water in a food processor till smooth. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the seeds. Keep smooth raspberry sauce aside. Can be refrigerated for a few days.

2. Make a simple syrup by heating together the 1 cup sugar and 1 cup of water, till the sugar dissolves.

3. Add the lemon juice, sugar syrup and cold water to a pitcher. Add 2 tbsp of the prepared raspberry sauce. Stir around and taste. You can add more sauce if you want. Then refrigerate for about an hour before serving. Garnish with whatever strikes your fancy!

Verdict: An easy recipe that's perfect for a scorcher of day. DH thought that it was too lemony, so maybe next time I'll cut the lemon juice down to 3/4 cup or add more sugar syrup. I liked it just fine though - and it was so darn pretty! Better than any of the bottled lemonades from the grocery store, and budget friendly to boot.

I had half the bag of frozen raspberries left over after this recipe, so to give myself the satisfaction of using up something completely (nothing bugs me more than seeing a half or quarter of something lying forlornly in my fridge - I make it my mission to use it up as soon as I can!), I thought I'd use them to make a quick Raspberry Crumble. You see, I also happened to have some extra crumble topping left over from a Strawberry Crumble I had made recently.

Raspberry Crumble

Frozen raspberries, thawed
Crumble Topping

The half bag of raspberries I had, was enough for about 2-3 small ramekins. I added a 1/4 tsp of cornstarch and 1 tsp of sugar to each ramekin, and mixed it in with the raspberries.
Top each ramekin with a 1/4 cup or so of the crumble mixture. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15-20 mins, or till the crumbled are bubbly from the sides and golden on top. The enjoy on a rainy day (which have been pretty common this summer) with a scoop of your favorite ice-cream.