Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas

>> Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When it comes to enchiladas, nine times out of ten I will order Queso Enchiladas, beef enchiladas topped with chili con queso.  Be still my heart.  Sadly, now that we're a (mostly) dairy free household, I can no longer indulge in such delicacies.  So in order to feed my enchilada craving, I came up with these delicious, and much healthier, Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas.  Serve a plate of these with a green salad or Spanish rice and you've got a fantastic Mexican meal that you don't have to feel guilty about!

In order to save time, I used canned enchilada sauce, but these would be even better with a homemade sauce.  If we could eat dairy, then I think this Poblano Cream Sauce would pair beautifully with these yummy enchiladas.  Also, I like my enchiladas on the drier side, so I only used one can of enchilada sauce, but if you like them wetter, use two cans.

Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup water or broth
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 large ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
12 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheddar, pepper jack cheese, or Daiya cheddar cheese substitute
1 10-oz can red enchilada sauce
optional garnishes: sour cream, extra cheese, chopped tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and/or black olives

In a small saucepan over medium heat, saute onions, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent.  Stir in beans, water, chili powder, oregano and cumin.  Let beans mixture simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is almost all gone, about 10-15 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a casserole pan with nonstick spray.  Spread a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan.

In a small bowl, toss avocado slices with lime juice.  Season to taste with salt and a little pepper.  Set aside.

In a saute pan, add 1/2-inch depth of vegetable oil and heat it on medium.  Test the oil by dropping a few water droplets into the oil.  If they sizzle and bubble, the oil is ready.  If they don't, then let the oil continue heating and test again.  Using tongs, carefully drop one tortilla into the hot oil for 5-10 seconds. Remove to your work surface.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of bean mixture down the center of the tortilla and top with 1-2 slices of avocado.  Roll up enchilada and place seam side down in baking dish.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Sprinkle cheese over enchiladas.  Pour enchilada sauce over the cheese.  Bake 25-30 minutes in preheated oven.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with sour cream, more cheese, chopped tomatoes, fresh cilantro and/or sliced black olives.


Weekly Meal Plan

This Week's Menu:

Avocado and Black Bean Enchilada; Spanish Rice

Tomato Basil Cream Sauce; Rosemary Baguette

Cobb Salad; Homemade Bread

Pulled Pork Sandwiches; Potato Salad; Kale Chips

Turkey Lettuce Wraps; Brown Rice; Edamame


Weekly Menu

>> Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This Week's Menu:

Tacos al Pastor; Black Beans; Sliced Avocado

Barefoot Contessa's Steak Sandwich; Roasted Potato Wedges; Fresh Fruit Salad

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto; Rosemary Baguette

Spanish Roasted Chicken with Chorizo, Potatoes and Asparagus; Green Salad

Last Week's Menu Reviews:

Key West Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Skewers; Cilantro Lime Rice - a wonderful, and easy, dish to with which to welcome the beautiful spring weather!

Chorizo, Mushroom and Potato Tacos - this recipe is quick to prepare and a delicious alternative to the traditional ground beef taco filling.  Yum!  Look for a full recap of the recipe on the blog soon.

Artichoke Chicken; Caramelized Brussels Sprouts - This chicken dish was really tasty, even using the fake, non-dairy cheese!  Unfortunately, I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table that evening so I completely forgot to take a picture.

Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce - I love this one-dish meal.  Whenever I'm in the mood for spaghetti, this is the recipe that I use.

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps - always a family favorite. And healthy to boot!


Roasted Tomato Basil "Cream" Sauce

>> Friday, March 9, 2012

This whole 'dairy free' thing has turned out to be a wonderful change of pace for the family.  Finley is actually eating more (and hopefully gaining weight since she's a skinny minnie), Andrew has already lost two pounds and while I haven't lost any weight (but I'm crossing my fingers I do!), I feel great because we're eating so much healthier than we did before.  I'm also enjoying that going dairy free has pushed me out of my cooking comfort zone and forced me to try new recipes, like this one!

This sauce truly felt decadent while we were eating it, but I loved not feeling guilty about it since there wasn't actually any cream or butter in it!  The sauce is so flavorful from the roasted tomatoes, garlic and loads of fresh basil.  Really, how could you go wrong with those ingredients?!?  Even my carnivorous husband happily ate every bite without any comments/complaints about the lack of meat.  Finley and I happily ate our dinner and then we had leftovers for lunch the next day.  While the leftovers still had a wonderful flavor, the sauce had disappeared (i.e. absorbed by the noodles), so these noodles are definitely best served immediately.  Or just serve the sauce on the side rather than tossing them together.

Roasted Tomato Basil "Cream" Sauce 
adapted from Oh She Glows

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6-7 oz whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place tomatoes on baking sheet and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Roast for about 25-30 minutes, or until tomatoes are slightly charred and bursting.  Let cool.

Meanwhile, put water on to boil for the noodles.  When boiling, add noodles and cook according to package directions.  Drain.

In a blender or food processor, add tomatoes, cashews, chicken broth and tomato paste.  Blend until fairly smooth.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  When hot, add garlic and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Add tomato mixture and stir to combine.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to the sauce if it is too thick.   Let sauce simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and stir in most of the basil (reserving some for garnish).

Toss sauce with hot pasta.  Garnish with reserved basil.


Key West Chicken and Veggie Skewers

>> Thursday, March 8, 2012

This past weekend we had glorious spring weather and that put us in the mood to bust out the grill for the first time in 2012.  I love grilling, mostly because it means I don't have to do all the cooking myself since my husband is the Grill Master!  This marinade was so simple (as in I had everything I needed for it already) and delicious.  And I love that I got the main dish and a side dish all in one - that makes this mama very happy.  You know what else makes this mama happy?  The fact that any food on a skewer will automatically be consumed by my child.

Key West Chicken and Veggie Skewers
adapted from Grocery Budget 101

for the marinade:
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 limes, juice and zest
1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons cilantro, minced

for the skewers:
2 large chicken breasts, cubed
1 zucchini, cut into thick slices
1 yellow squash, cut into thick slices
8 oz fresh whole mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
wooden or metal skewers (if using wooden, soak in water for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling)

In a small bowl, stir together all the marinade ingredients.  Pour marinade into a large ziplock bag.  Add chicken and cut vegetables.  Close bag and shake well to evenly distribute marinade.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, flipping bag over once.

Preheat grill.  Drain marinade and discard.  Threat chicken and veggies onto skewers.  Grill over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, flip and move the skewers to indirect heat for another 4 minutes, or until juices run clear.


Freezer Friendly Berry and Banana Smoothies

>> Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Okay so the recipe title is a bit misleading.  Really, I just froze the "innards" per se of the smoothie rather than the actual smoothie as a whole.

You see, I am not a morning person (not in the least), but my sweet munchkin seems to enjoy waking up around 6:00 every morning.  For some odd reason, she wakes up hungry, whereas I just wake up grumpy.  Once I'm out of bed, I move at a snail's pace until I've consumed my first cup of coffee (after which, the world is a much happier place).  So to combat the exhaustion in the morning, I first made the freezer friendly breakfast tacos.  While they're totally awesome, they could be more nutritious.  So I decided to also make fruit smoothies.  In combination they are the perfect breakfast trifecta...you know, if you only needed two things to make a trifecta.

FYI - I bought whatever berries were available and on sale, so feel free to mix things up a bit.

And if you need any more convincing to try these, here is Finley's review: "Yummy foothie, Mama!"

Freezer Friendly Berry and Banana Smoothies

to freeze:
1 pint strawberries
1 pint blueberries
2 pints raspberries
1 pint blackberries
4 bananas, sliced

for smoothie:
1 bag frozen fruit medley
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk

Wash and dry (dry them well! or else they will freeze together in big icy clumps) the berries.  Cut strawberries in half.  Spread fruit (berries and bananas) on foil lined baking sheet and freeze for a few hours.  Package 1 cup of fruit in ziplock snack-sized baggies.  Return fruit baggies to freezer until ready to use.

To make smoothies, combine the contents of 1 fruit baggie with orange juice and milk of choice in a blender.  Blend away and serve immediately.  Makes 1-2 servings (1 serving if you're serving the smoothie by itself or 2 servings if you're serving it with another dish, like the breakfast taco).


Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce

>> Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When I hear people say that if you prepare vegetables well enough and often enough, then your child will eat them and love them, I automatically think one of two things.  First, they are incredibly lucky to have a child who apparently isn't a picky eater.  Or secondly, they don't have kids.  These naysayers also judge those parents who choose to 'hide' vegetables in the food they prepare their children.  "I mean, by hiding vegetables in food, how will the poor child ever learn to eat and appreciate vegetables on their own?!?"

I used to be one of these people.  Being somewhat of a foodie, I naively believed that by offering Finley the same foods I prepared for Andrew and myself, she would naturally develop a sophisticated palate.  And compared to most kids her age, maybe she has.  But she's still only two and a half and will choose a (veggie, organic) chicken nugget over broccolini any day of the week.

But here's what I've learned through my short years of motherhood.  Most kids are fickle eaters and they go through phases (usually fairly quickly!) of what they like and don't like.  For instance, one night Finley ate 10 spears of asparagus with her dinner.  I was so proud, pretty much ecstatic really, that I had a toddler who loved a green veggie besides canned green beans!  I marched to Costco the next day and bought the 6-lb bag of asparagus only to come home to a toddler who adamantly refused to eat. a. single. bite. of. asparagus. ever. again.

And this is why I am a firm believer of offering tasty, fresh vegetables at every meal (because sometimes Fin surprises me and eats her carrots or broccoli) BUT also hiding vegetables in meals wherever I can.  I mean, really what is the harm in packing more vegetables into a meal?  It's healthier all the way around!  This is a spaghetti sauce recipe I created when Fin was going through her 'I-only-want-to-eat-pasta-and-ice-cream' phase.  We enjoy the sauce so much, it's now the only meat sauce I ever make anymore.  It's jam packed with vegetables (onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, celery, zucchini and squash) so it's healthy and tasty.  When I make this spaghetti, I can rest easy because if Finley refuses to eat any of her vegetable side dishes that night, I don't have to worry since she ate some of the dreaded veggies without even knowing it.  And that makes me happy :-)

This recipe makes enough for about 10-12 servings.  I always make the full recipe - I serve it for dinner and then divide the leftovers into two or three large ziplock bags and throw them in the freezer for another night. Also, if you need to clean out your veggie drawer, feel free to throw in any other vegetables too!

Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce
a Baking and Eggs original

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 white onion, chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
4-8 oz fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, shredded
1 yellow squash, shredded
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 cup red wine (or substitute with more beef stock)
1/2 beef stock
1 lb Italian sausage or Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 lb ground beef or ground bison
2 29-oz cans tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce)
1 14.5-oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes with garlic, drained
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving (omit if you're dairy free)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
1 small can tomato paste
cooked spaghetti noodles, for serving

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add bell pepper, onion, carrots, and celery.  Cook, stirring often, until onion becomes translucent.  Add mushrooms, garlic, zucchini, squash, basil, fennel seed, oregano and rosemary and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Stir in wine and beef stock and let simmer while the meat cooks.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan cook Italian sausage and ground beef over medium heat, breaking up any big lumps, until meat is browned.  Drain fat.  Add meat to vegetable mixture.

Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Stir well to combine.  Cover and lower heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for at least one hour.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  About 20 minutes before serving, stir in tomato paste if the sauce is too watery.  Continue to cook sauce over medium-low heat until ready to eat.  Serve over cooked noodles and sprinkle with extra parmesan.


Weekly Meal Plan

>> Monday, March 5, 2012

This Week's Menu:

Key West Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs; Cilantro-Lime Rice

Chorizo, Mushroom and Potato Tacos; Roasted Tomatillo Salsa; Black Bean, Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad

Artichoke Chicken; Caramelized Brussels Sprouts; Creamy Chive Pasta

Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce; Roasted Lemon Broccoli

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps; Edamame

Last Week's Reviews:

Arroz con Pollo - great comfort food!  I loved how well all the different flavors married together.  A company worthy dish!

Best Meatloaf; Caramelized Brussels Sprouts - While the meatloaf was good, it wasn't the "best" to me.  The meatloaf was fairly crumbly and didn't stay together well and I think I just prefer traditional flavors in my meatloaf rather than Asian-ish flavors found in this meatloaf recipe.  But enough about meatloaf because the brussels sprouts totally stole the show.  They were fantasticly delicious!

Wonton Soup - It was good but it was also a lot of work to make all those homemade wontons.  Not sure if the end result was worth all the time and effort...

Chicken and Veggie Quinoa Stir-Fry - When it came time to make this dinner, I just wasn't feeling it.  So I opted to improvise and I made homemade chicken nuggets, quinoa and roasted veggies.  Good food but nothing to write home about.

Spinach Stuffed Shells - I didn't ever make it to the health food grocery store for nutritional yeast so I postponed this recipe for another week.


Seared Scallops with Cauliflower-Corn Puree

>> Saturday, March 3, 2012

Even though I'm not a huge seafood lover, I was really looking forward to this fun, classy, little-bit-more-gourmet-than-usual meal.  I love to get in the kitchen and make dinner when I'm really excited about a new recipe.  I decided to serve this as our Valentine's meal at home.  I love to celebrate Valentine's at a fancy restaurant...just not actually on the day because I hate the crowds.  So I usually make a nice dinner at home (like last year's Filet Oscar) and then we got out to dinner on another night.

This meal really isn't hard to put together, even though it has several different components.  This is a pretty healthy, low carbohydrate meal.  Sure it has some butter in it, but not too much.  And it was a celebratory dinner after all.  (Of course it was before our household was dairy free!)  The scallops were fantastic and I was really surprised at how good the cauliflower puree was.  So if you're looking for a fancy-schmancy, but easy-peasy, meal, look no further!

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower-Corn Puree
recipe adapted slightly from So Forking Good

Olive oil
6 thin slices pancetta, chopped
8 large scallops
1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted completely
salt and pepper, to taste
arugula or watercress, for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet.  When hot, add pancetta.  Cook, stirring often, until pancetta is crispy and has rendered its fat.  With a slotted spoon, remove pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate.  Leave pancetta fat in the pan and set aside.

Clean scallops by rinsing in cold water.  Gently slice an X-pattern on the top of each scallop.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat a pot of water to a boil.  Add cauliflower and cook until fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Drain and return cauliflower back to pot.  Add cream, butter and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix with a hand mixer until smooth.  Stir in corn kernels.

Meanwhile, heat the pan with the pancetta fat on medium-high heat.  If needed, add a little more olive oil until the surface of the pan is coated.  Once hot, place scallops in the pan.  Pan fry for about 2-3 minutes and then flip, browning the other side for an additional 1-2 minutes.

To serve, spoon a good helping of the cauliflower mixture on a plate.  Top with scallops.  Garnish with pancetta and arugula (or watercress).  Serve immediately.


Chorizo Chile con Queso

>> Friday, March 2, 2012

So this recipe isn't dairy free, but it was too good not to post!  I apologize for the crap-tacular picture, but it's hard to get a photo in which queso looks pretty!

To celebrate the Super Bowl, I made several appetizers on which to munch.  For me, the Super Bowl is about food, not football.  Sad, I know.  Anyway, one of the dishes I made was Chorizo Chile con Queso and it was fabulous.  Why have I never thought to add chorizo before?  The chorizo adds a great savory and spicy depth to the queso.  Even my mom, who told me ahead of time that she didn't care for chorizo, really liked this queso!

Chorizo Chile con Queso
a Baking and Eggs original

12 oz chorizo sausage, casings removed
1 small white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 lbs Velveeta, cut into cubes
2 14.5-oz cans Rotel (or diced tomatoes with green peppers)
Chopped jalapenos, optional
Milk or chicken broth, if needed
Tortilla chips, for serving

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chorizo, onion and bell pepper, making sure to break up any large clumps of chorizo.  Continue cooking 10-15 minutes, or until chorizo is cooked through and vegetables are translucent and soft.  Drain off the red grease.

In the bowl of a slow cooker, place cubed Velveeta.  Pour chorizo mixture over top of cheese.  Drain 1 can of Rotel and add to slow cooker.  Do not drain the second can and add entire contents to slow cooker.  If you want to dial up the heat, add jalapenos.  Stir to combine ingredients.

Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.  If the queso is too thick for your liking, add a little milk or chicken broth to thin it to your desired consistency.  (I didn't have to do this.) Lower heat to low or keep warm (this allows the queso to stay at the perfect dipping consistency/temperature) and serve with tortilla chips.


Arroz con Pollo

>> Thursday, March 1, 2012

While Arroz con Pollo simply means chicken with rice, this dish is much, much more than that.  This is a wonderful, comforting and hearty dish that helps me fill the comfort food category in my new dairy free cooking adventures.

What really elevates this Arroz con Pollo recipe is the added step of roasting your own tomatoes, which adds a wonderful sweetness that you simply can't replicate by only using canned tomatoes.  Seriously, a perfect bite from this dish is a piece of tender chicken, fluffy rice, sweet tomatoes that burst in your mouth, salty olive slices and the bright fresh flavor of cilantro.  Yummy to my tummy!

This recipe makes A LOT of food, so I'd suggest inviting friends over for dinner or be prepared to eat the leftovers for a few days...which is not a bad thing!

Arroz con Pollo
adapted slightly from Eat, Live, Run

for the marinade
1 orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
1 Meyer lemon, juiced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 4-lb whole chicken, cut into pieces

for the dish
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 white onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons roasted cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 14.5-oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 2/3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups white rice, uncooked
1/2 cup frozen green peas, defrosted
1/2 cup Spanish pimento stuffed green olives, sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
hot sauce (optional)

For the marinade: In a large ziplock bag, mix together the orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add chicken pieces.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, flipping bag over once.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Spread cherry or grape tomatoes on the cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Roast tomatoes for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are slightly charred and have started to burst.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Turn oven temperature down to 350 degrees.

After the chicken is finished marinating, remove chicken from the bag and discard marinade.  Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil over high heat in a heavy 5 1/2 quart ovenproof pot.  Once the oil is hot, add half the chicken pieces and brown on both sides.  (Just brown the chicken, don't cook it through!)  Remove chicken pieces, and brown the rest of the pieces.  Set chicken aside.

In the same pot, add onions, bell pepper and garlic to the hot oil, scraping up any browned bit left from the chicken (flava flav!).  Saute veggies for about 5 minutes.

Add cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and crushed saffron to the veggies and mix well.  Add roasted cherry tomatoes and diced tomatoes (with their liquid) and mix.  Add bay leaf.  Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add rice, stirring well to combine.

Lay chicken pieces in the pot, cover with lid, and place in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.  Stir in the peas and olives.  Cover with lid and let rest for 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaf.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with hot sauce on the side.

serves 6-8


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