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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shrimp and Vegetable Enchiladas with a Creamy Poblano Sauce

I have a confession to make. I have a cooking blog and the truth is, there are so many things that I have never even attempted to make in the kitchen. When I made these shrimp enchiladas for the first time about a month ago, I realized that I had actually never made enchiladas before! I seriously couldn't believe that I had never made something as easy and delicious as enchiladas. I loved these shrimp enchiladas so much that I made them for the third time last night. The first time I made them they took a while to prepare, but last night they only took 1 hour 25 minutes from start to finish (and by finish I mean served on a plate and ready to eat). The nice thing about these enchiladas is that they are loaded with a lot of vegetables and they taste absolutely scrumptious. All the flavors in the recipe come together so well. Sometimes you just really have to trust a recipe, and I am so glad that I went with this one. Greg, Wendy, and I loved eating leftovers tonight. I hope you enjoy these enchiladas as much as we do, and please do not skimp on the amazing poblano sauce!

Recipe for Shrimp and Vegetable Enchiladas with a Creamy Poblano Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
For the roasted poblano pepper sauce
2 large poblano peppers
2 1/2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

For the filling
1 1/2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
1 very small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp. of oregano
1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper
2 cups of shredded green cabbage (I used a packaged coleslaw mix)
2 cups of shredded carrots (I used packaged shredded carrots for this - you can also peel and shred regular carrots)
3 cups of baby spinach leaves
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped and seeds removed (seeds have a lot of heat
1 pound of large Easy Peel and deveined Frozen Shrimp, thawed and coarsely chopped

For assembling
10 8-inch flour tortillas
8 ounces of grated Monterey Jack cheese

DIRECTIONS:
Roast the poblano peppers first. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and put into the hot oven. Cook, for about 7 minutes, then use tongs to flip the peppers over. Continue cooking, flipping as needed and checking frequently, until the peppers are mostly blistered (about 20 minutes) Remove from oven and allow them to cool before handling. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

While the peppers are roasting, chop up the onion and chiplotle peppers and set aside. Grate the cheese and set aside. You can also thaw the shrimp if you haven't already done so and peel and chop the shrimp and set aside.

Once peppers are cool enough to handle, make the sauce. Put the butter into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. While you are waiting for the butter to melt, carefully peel off the skin of the pepper and discard. Remove the seeds and stem and diiscard. Then coarsely chop the remaining pepper or use your hands to tear into pieces. Once the butter is melted, stir the peppers into the butter. Then add in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture is golden, about 1 minute or so. Add in the broth and garlic powder and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened and bubbles up. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the sour cream and cilantro. Set aside.

Put a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil is hot, stir in the onions, garlic, oregano, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes, or until onions are tender. Then add in the cabbage, carrots, and spinach. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach wilted, about 3 minutes. Add in the chipotle pepper pieces and the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes. Remember the shrimp doesn't need to be fully cooked because it will continue to cook once in the oven. Remove skillet from heat.

Assemble your enchiladas. Choose an oven-safe 9 x 13 baking dish to arrange the enchiladas in. To make them easier to roll up, I recommend putting the tortillas between a paper towel and heating in the microwave for about 30 seconds first. Then use a workspace and spread about 1/3 cup or so of the shrimp mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Top with 2 - 3 tablespoons of the grated cheese. Then tightly roll up the tortilla around the filling and place on one side of the baking dish, seam side down. Continue doing this until you can no longer fit any enchiladas in your pan. Evenly pour the poblano sauce over the enchiladas. Place enchiladas in the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a bit browned and sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool for just a couple minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: Annie's Eats

Recipe Makes Approximately 4 - 6 servings. They taste great leftover! Cover the baking dish you used for the enchiladas tightly with foil and store in the fridge. To reheat, cook at a low temperature (275 degrees) in the oven for about 20 minutes. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Best Banana Pudding

My little girl turned 1-year old last Tuesday! This past year just flew right by, and a lot of it is kind of a blur to me. Wendy is a total sweetie, and she brings such joy into our lives. We celebrated her birthday on Easter with family. Greg made North Carolina-style barbecue, and I made coleslaw, hush puppies, and this banana pudding for dessert. It was quite fun experimenting with deep frying hush puppies, and they were delicious, but my favorite part of the meal was definitely the banana pudding. Greg's father, who has had a lot of banana pudding in his lifetime, said it was the best banana pudding he has ever had. Wendy has been eating bananas since she started eating solid foods, and she went crazy over the banana pudding. I couldn't resist posting a picture of her eating the banana pudding. We had decided to do the pudding in place of cake for her celebration, but on her actual birthday, we let her have a chocolate cupcake. She loved that too and definitely has my chocolate-loving gene! If you are looking for an easy dessert to make for a big crowd, this banana pudding is perfect. Enjoy!

Recipe for The Best Banana Pudding

INGREDIENTS:
1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups of ice cold water
1 package of Jello Brand instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 ounce)
3 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 - 2 boxes of Nabisco Nilla Wafer cookies
4 cups of sliced ripe bananas, cut into 1/4-inch slices

DIRECTIONS:
Put the sweetened condensed milk and ice cold water into a small bowl. Use an electric hand mixer set on medium speed to mix until they are well combined, about 1 minute. Then add the instant pudding mix into the bowl and beat for about 2 minutes, or until well incorporated. Cover the bowl and put into the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Put the heavy cream into a large bowl and use the electric hand mixer set on medium speed to beat until stiff peaks form. Then gently fold in the pudding mix and blend until you no longer see any streaks of the pudding mix.

Assemble the banana pudding. In a large and wide glass bowl, arrange the wafers on the bottom and then add one-third of the banana slices on top of the wafers. Cover with 1/3 of the pudding mixture. Then repeat with the wafers, bananas, and pudding two more times, finishing with a layer of pudding on top. Garnish the top layer of pudding with wafers and banana slices. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but no more than 8 hours, before serving.

 *This recipe requires a lot of time to set, so make sure you start it well in advance to when you want to serve it. I started it at 9 AM in order to serve it for dessert by 6:00 PM.

She loved celebrating her first birthday, and she was crazy about the banana pudding!
Recipe from: Eclectic Touch, originally from Magnolia's Bakery Cookbook

Monday, April 6, 2015

Baby Arugula Salad with a Lemon Honey Dressing

Spring is finally here! I no longer crave soups or other hearty foods. I am happy eating salads, fruits, and lots of veggies. My favorite snack the past few days has been toasted bread with homemade truffle butter (butter is so easy to make - put heavy cream in the food processor for several minutes and you have your own butter) topped with sliced radishes and fresh thyme. So yummy! I paired the open-faced sandwich with this tasty salad. This salad taste like spring time. It is crisp, sweet, and refreshing. I truly felt feelings of euphoria come over me as I ate it. Is that weird? Maybe it is, but it is true. Greg was pretty impressed with this salad too. I originally was going to use dried figs on it, but since I could find them, I chose to use a little bit of chopped radish instead. It was the perfect amount of crisp and the flavor paired nicely with the arugula. I also topped the salad with the yummy cinnamon spiced almonds (that are made without any egg white) and goat cheese. I was going to use blue cheese but Greg seriously despises blue cheese, so I went with the goat. I think it worked well. If you are looking for a pretty good brand of goat cheese that doesn't cost too much money, I'd recommend the Vermont Creamery brand. I used radishes from Wegman's that were already washed and prepared, which made things much easier. For the dressing, I just mixed up some lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. So simple and so delicious.

If you want a yummy salad for lunch or just looking for a tasty salad to compliment a meal, try this baby arugula salad with lemon honey dressing. Enjoy!

Recipe for Baby Arugula Salad with a Lemon Honey Dressing

INGREDIENTS: 
3 cups of baby arugula leaves
About 20 cinnamon spiced almonds
Thinly sliced radishes cut into quarters (about one radish)
2 ounces of crumbled goat cheese (I used the Vermont Creamery brand)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. of honey
A couple grinds of sea salt
Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Divide the baby arugula leaves amongst two plates. Then top each with the almonds, radishes, and goat cheese.

Prepare the dressing. Put the lemon juice, olive oil, and honey into a smallish bowl. Stir well until the honey is no longer thick and well incorporated. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust as desired. Spoon half the dressing over one salad and half over the other.

-Original Recipe-
Recipe makes 2 salads.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cinnamon Spiced Nuts (No Egg White)!

A couple weeks ago, I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Annapolis, Vin 909. Usually I only order the pizza when I eat there, but this time I decided to start with a salad so that maybe I would eat less pizza (that kind of happened - I ate one or two less slices than usual). The salad that I had was topped with dried figs, blue cheese, and cinnamon spiced nuts. The best part of the salad was definitely the nuts. A couple days after eating out, I googled recipes for cinnamon spiced nuts, and I was disappointed that almost all the recipes I came across recipes called for egg whites, because sometimes I just don't feel like dealing with egg whites! After awhile, I finally came across a recipe that only used water, sugar, and cinnamon. I read the reviews and learned that most people said that the recipe was a success, so I gave it a try. Oh, they were so good! Greg said they tasted better than the nuts that people buy at sporting events for $5 a handful. Greg and I loved snacking on the cinnamon nuts throughout the week, and yesterday I made a salad with them, and it was absolutely delicious. The picture you see of the cinnamon spiced nuts is actually from the salad I made, and I will share that recipe soon. Today I am sharing the recipe for these amazing sweet cinnamon spiced nuts that are made without any egg white! Enjoy.

Recipe for Cinnamon Spiced Nuts (No Egg White)!

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of almonds (you can try other nuts, but I think almonds probably work best)
1 1/2 Tbsp. of water
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
A couple grinds of sea salt
A pinch or two of ground cayenne pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Put the almonds, water, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper (if using) into a large nonstick skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat and stir, constantly, for about 10 - 15 minutes. At first the mixture will be watery, then a little syrupy, and then the almonds will have a sugar coating on them. Once they are coated with the sugar, carefully pour them onto parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and spread them out a bit with a spatula. Allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They do taste good warm though so feel free to snack on them while they are cooling! These nuts are great for snacking or topping on salads. 

Recipe Adapted from: One Charming Party