Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

I belong to a message board where I chat with others who share my love (obsession?) of cooking, baking, and all things food. In fact, lots of those ladies also like to make food, photograph it, and write about it on the internet. For a long time now, many of them have participated in recipe swaps. I’ve really wanted to join in the fun, but with moving, living in a hotel, and traveling, I didn’t think it would be fair to commit to participating and then not being able to hold up my end of the deal. Now that we (finally!) are starting to settle in and things feel normal (well, as normal as they can feel when you live in a country and culture very different from your own!) I can finally play along!

Each recipe swap has a different theme, and usually the blogger submits a specific recipe that fits within the theme. This time, however, it’s Blogger’s Choice style! So we each are assigned a blog and get to choose any recipe. I was assigned Kate’s Recipe Box. I am not super familiar with Kate’s blog, so I spent a good amount of time going through the archives and bookmarking things. In the end, I kept going back to this casserole. Something about it was just calling my name.

Jesse and I were both really happy with my decision. Later in the evening I overheard him talking to his dad on Skype and telling him about the delicious “Mexicanish” dinner I made. Then he said something about chicken which really made me laugh, there is definitely no chicken in this meal. Haha.

I made only a few minor changes to the recipe, using my own Enchilada sauce recipe, and a couple small adjustments to ingredient amounts. I also made Mexicorn (recipe to come) as a side dish and wouldn’t you know, we both just mixed it right in to the casserole. Next time I might consider adding corn right to the dish. All in all, a big win for us!

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients
8 oz. dry pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used red and yellow)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix*
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Enchilada sauce, divided (recipe below)
1 cup cheese, divided (Cheddar, Mexican blend, or Monterey Jack)
1/2 cup chopped green onions, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish
2 Tbsp cilantro, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish
Salt & pepper, to taste
20 tortilla chips (about 2 handfuls), crushed
Sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado, for serving

*The enchilada sauce I use was pretty heavily seasoned, so I only added 1 tablespoon worth of additional seasoning (1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta to al dente, according to directions on box, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion, jalapeno, bell peppers, and garlic, saute for 6-7 minutes., or until vegetables start to become tender. Stir in seasonings, black beans, and 1 cup of enchilada sauce, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the pasta, 1/2 cup of cheese, green onion, and cilantro. Stir until the cheese has melted and the pasta is evenly coated with sauce.

In the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce. Pour the pasta into the dish, using a spoon to evenly distribute in pan. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce over the pasta, top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips, green onions, and cilantro. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado.

Slightly adapted from Kate’s Recipe Box, originally from Oh She Glows

Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup bell pepper, very finely chopped
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp dry parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste

Directions
In a small sauce pan heat the vegetable oil and cook the bell pepper until tender. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients from tomato sauce to salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

*I made this sauce the day before I needed (and stored in the fridge until I was ready to use it) making the pasta that much easier to throw together. Bonus, the added day in the fridge gave the flavors lots of time to meld together and enhance.

Source: My mom, as posted previously for Beef Enchiladas

Foil Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn

I’ve been so inconsistent about posting food lately that I’m almost lost about how to even write this post! I really need to get myself back into the swing of things…

In the weeks leading up to “the big move” I pretty much gave up on trying to make and photograph food at dinner time. I was usually too tired after work to put the proper amount of effort into it, the lighting was terrible, and I just couldn’t get into it. It’s also kind of hard to get motivated to make a whole meal when it’s just you you’re cooking for.

On my own, I could happily eat noddles with a little olive oil, garlic, squeeze of lemon and boat load of cheese almost every night for dinner. But during the day (I had a break while the girls were in school) I had much more energy and of course was always looking for an excuse to do anything other than pack my apartment. So I found myself making a lot of my big meals for lunch.

This fish was one of those mid-day meals. I’ve got to tell you, it was one of the best lunches I’ve had in ages. It’s been over a month since I made it and I can still taste it when I think about it.

The chipotle adds a deep smokey flavor that balances out perfectly with the lightness from the citrus in the orange juice. Then there is the punch of cilantro and the little bit of butter makes everything melt together. It’s also great because it’s basically a one dish meal with easy preparation and clean up. Definitely something you should try. I used Tilapia because it was on sale at the grocery store, but pretty much any mild white fish will work. If you’re worried about it being too fishy, try using a fish like mahi mahi since it’s flavor is even milder.

Also, I found this recipe on Pink Parlsey and this week Josie shared a spin-off recipe using chick peas instead of black beans. Sounds interesting!

Foil Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn
Ingredients
4 skinless white fish fillets (6 to 8 oz each), 1-inch thick
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce or 1 tsp dry Chipotle chili powder
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups corn kernels, I used half frozen sweet corn and half frozen roasted corn (from Trader Joes)
1/2 red onion, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and adjust rack to lower middle position.

Pat the fish fillets dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the softened butter, 1/2 of the chipotle pepper (or chili powder), orange zest, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and half of the garlic. Spread the butter mixture over the fish.

In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, corn, red onion, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, orange juice, remaining chipotle pepper (or chili powder), remaining garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Lay out 4 squares of aluminum foil and divide the bean mixture evenly between them. Place one fish fillet on top of the bean mixture on each sheet of foil. Fold the foil in half over the fish and then seal all of the open edges by folding the foil edges up and in.

Carefully move the foil packets to a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. Carefully open the packets, sprinkle with remaining cilantro and serve.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, The Best Simple Recipes as seen on Pink Parsley

The 3 Ingredient Pasta Sauce

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This may or may not be groundbreaking news for you. If you read a lot of food blogs, it probably won’t be because it’s gone around like wild fire. If you don’t, or if you haven’t already seen this, it will be because this sauce is one of the easiest things I’ve ever made but it’s also simply delicious.

A 3 ingredient sauce is perfect for weeknights or weekends when you have lots of running around to do or a laundry pile that is waist high. You can get this sauce started (ie. throw 3 things in a saucepan) in less than 5 minutes and then you’re basically free to do anything that needs to be done for at least the next 45 minutes.

As for the flavor, it’s simple, smooth, and mellow. The tomatoes are the star player in this sauce so it’s important to go with a good brand of canned tomatoes. I’ve had luck with Trader Joe’s brand as well as San Marzano. Once I tried it with Von’s store brand and I wasn’t as happy with the results, so keep that in mind. Also something to note, almost every time I see this online people include salt on the ingredient list (as will I) but they all say they didn’t need it. This was true with me too, no extra salt, hence the title 3 Ingredient and not 4 Ingredient. I did however top mine with lots of fresh Parmesan before eating (not pictured) because that’s how I roll. Some may disagree that this sauce needs the cheese, but to me all sauce needs it.

3 Ingredient Pasta Sauce

Ingredients
28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can *
5 Tbsp butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste, though I have never needed it

* Once I accidentally bought a can of whole tomatoes with basil, and it also did well. Some would say the basil takes away from the simplicity of the sauce but it tasted good, so it can’t be “wrong”.

Directions
Place the tomatoes, onion, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 45 minutes, occasionally stirring and using the spoon to begin to break down tomatoes. At the end of the simmer remove the pan from the heat, discard the onion, and use a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes on the side of the pan. Season with salt only if needed.

Serve with pasta shape of your choice and grated Parmesan cheese for topping. I also served with a side of broccoli.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Easy Turtle Brownies

 

It’s Sweet Friday again and today I bring you Easy Turtle Brownies. I wanted to title this post “Crazy Easy One Bowl Turtle Brownies” but I thought that might be a little long. These are however crazy easy to make, and they do only require one bowl. Perfect for a weeknight chocolate craving.

I do have a go-to recipe that I have dubbed my favorite but in my opinion a girl can never have too many ways to make a brownie. If you haven’t noticed, there is a salted caramel craze across the foodie world. So I drew some inspiration from that – and a bottle of Hershey’s caramel sauce that I found hidden on my refrigerator door shelf. I also had a bag of pecan pieces in the cabinet. That’s how the wheels starting turning.

I thought these brownies were fabulous. The bit of brown sugar I subbed in the brownies gave the chocolate an extra caramely and chewy kick. And every so often I would get a nice bite of kosher salt. They also had my ideal brownie texture, chewy, fudgelike, and moist. Jesse on the other hand liked them but still thought they were too “wet.” He prefers a much more cake like brownie so I wasn’t at all surprised. Just keep that in mind, if you prefer drier cake like brownies, these aren’t it.

Crazy Easy One Bowl Turtle Brownies
(Brownie adapted from Hershey’s, idea inspired by The Novice Chef)

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder*
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Hershey’s Caramel Syrup (or another brand of caramel, or make you’re own if you’re up to it)
Pecan pieces, optionally toasted
*I used half Hershey’s special dark and half regular cocoa powder, you can use a combination or whichever you have on hand.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish (or if you’re like me and resisting this purchase, just use a 9 inch pie pan).

Melt the butter in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugars into the melted butter. Add the vanilla and eggs and stir until well combined. Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and kosher salt to the bowl. Without breaking into the liquid ingredients below, give the dry ingredients a few stirs with a fork, then use your wooden spoon to incorporate into the liquid ingredients. Stir until you no longer see the flour.

Pour half of the batter into the greased pan and spread with a spatula (or save dishes and just use the wooden spoon). Drizzle the batter with the caramel syrup, being careful to keep it a 1/4 inch away from the edges. Pour in the rest of the batter. Drizzle with a little more caramel syrup then swirl with the spatula (or wooden spoon). Drop a small handful of pecans on top.

Bake for 20 minutes**, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool then slice into even squares or wedges and serve with a LARGE glass of milk.

**Because of the caramel syrup these were a little bubbly when baking, probably not the prettiest brownies I’ve ever made, but that’s OK. Don’t be scared when they don’t have box-perfect shiny crispy crust on top.