Friday, April 10, 2015

Steak Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

TGIF, friends! Because it's Friday, and because I've been enjoying some delicious Mexican food this week, I thought it only right that I share this yummy enchilada recipe with you today!

Steak Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

This has been an exciting week as far as wedding things go. I sent out our wedding invitations on Monday and when I heard that people had started receiving them mid-week, I was just a little too excited. I mean, when the invitations go out, that sort of makes it more...official, no? Being under the 2 month marker is exciting in itself, then there are the invitations, but then...then I get to pick my dress up from alterations this afternoon and have my final fitting. Now that is going to be exciting. 

And as if that weren't enough, I have two bridal showers this weekend!! One tonight with J's family...a lingerie shower, at that! And one tomorrow with my frieeends! That one is at the Deep Eddy, yeah. Fun times will be had by all!

But what you really want to hear about is the food, right? Well, these enchiladas right here were miiiiighty good. I'm typically prone to sticking with "basic" enchiladas...chicken, ground beef, etc. but there's just something enticing about the title "Steak Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce" don'tcha think? So I had to try them. And I'm glad I did. They were pretty easy to make, and more than a little bit delicious. I think we ate them all that night. No leftovers this round. 

So, since the weather is warming up, what better time to indulge in some tasty Mexican food. And margaritas. Definitely margaritas.

Steak Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce
As seen on Will Cook for Smiles

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 lb sirloin steak
  • Salt & white pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • salt & white pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp minced cilantro
  • 8-10 tortillas (I use a corn and whole wheat blend)
  • 4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • Jalapeno slices and cilantro for topping, if preferred

  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add jalapeno and garlic and saute for about 30 seconds until fragrant. 
  2. Stir in the heavy cream and Greek yogurt and whisk until smooth. Bring to a low boil and add cheese, salt, white pepper, chili powder and cumin. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the steak into thin strips. Heat a little bit of oil in a skillet, add the steak and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Slice steaks as thin as you can. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until steak is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  4. Preheat oven to 350. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. 
  5. To assemble the enchiladas, place a sprinkle of cheese on the part of the tortilla closest to you, then tope with several slices of steak. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the tortilla up. Place into the baking dish, seam side down and repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. 
  6. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 17-19 minutes.
  7. Serve with jalapeno slices and cilantro, if you'd like. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Taco Tuesday: Salmon Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

As the days count down, my stress level seems to be steadily climbing and I'm not even really sure why. I mean, there isn't much to stress about. I'm marrying the love of my life, almost everything is booked and paid for, and other than the last minute things that can't be done any sooner, everything is pretty much done. Yet I stress anyway. Invitations were mailed out yesterday, making it sort of "more official" and then someone tells me to add 10% to my guest count for people who don't RSVP.

Um...who doesn't RSVP to a wedding and shows up anyway?? people do that?? I know people sometimes RSVP yes and then don't show up, but to not RSVP at all and then actually show up? I just can't even fathom that. Don't people know that food, alcohol, favors, seating, etc. are all planned around the people who say they are going to BE THERE?? Maybe this is a small source of my current stress?? Perhaps? For cryin' out loud people, just RSVP!! /rant

So, for the next two months I'm going to be dreaming of tropical breezes and adventures in Costa Rica, not stressing about RSVPs. And tropical paradise means tropical paradise-y food. Like salmon tacos, perhaps. Like these salmon tacos.

Salmon Tacos

I would say that J and I eat salmon either once a week or once every two weeks, at the longest, so I'm always looking for new ways to make it. Salmon tacos could be a hit or a miss, depending on what accompanies them. But, with this slaw and Sriracha aioli, there was no way for this one to be a miss. 

Sriracha is becoming one of those ingredients that is making an appearance more and more often in our kitchen these days and that spicy kick it gives one that we love! It goes great with the cool, creamy slaw and crispy, grilled salmon. Make these tonight and pretend you're in tropical paradise with us!

Salmon Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw
As seen on Willow Bird Baking


Cilantro-Lime Slaw Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mayo, miracle whip, or plain Greek yogurt
  • fresh lime juice from half a lime
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 4 tsp sugar (or honey - I used honey)
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • about 4 cups slaw mix (bagged cabbage and carrot shreds)
Sriracha Aioli Ingredients
  • ½ cup mayo, miracle whip, or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  • fresh lime juice from half a lime
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • pinch salt
Taco Ingredients
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb salmon 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 tortillas (I use a corn and whole wheat blend)
  • cilantro and sliced jalapeƱos, for topping

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together mayo, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, Sriracha, and sugar or honey until well combined. In another bowl, combine the cilantro and slaw mix. Stir the mayo mixture into the slaw mixture, a little at a time, tossing to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve. The farther in advance you can do this, the better the flavors will meld. 
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the mayo, Sriracha, lime juice, cumin, sugar or honey, and salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  3. In yet another bowl, combine the cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, and salt. Rub the spice mix on the salmon (on both sides if it's skinless, but on just the exposed side if it's skin-on.) 
  4. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place the fish in skin side down and cook without disturbing for 4-5 minutes before turning over and cooking for 4 minutes on the other side. While the other side is cooking, use tongs to remove the skin and discard. Flip the salmon one last time and cook the skin-removed side for a couple of minutes. Then, use a spatula to break the salmon up into smaller pieces for the tacos. 
  5. To assemble the tacos, warm your tortillas and top with a couple of spoonfuls of the slaw, a good bit of salmon, some cilantro and jalapeno slices, and finally a good drizzle of the Sriracha aioli. Get your tastebuds ready for some heat and dig in!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sweet Musings

Today we have officially reached the 2 month countdown. Is this the point where I start counting in days, versus months? I mean, our wedding website has shown days for....well, since the day I created it. So I guess I will get on board...60 days. Sixty days, y'all. I spent several hours sitting at our dining room table on Saturday folding, stuffing, stamping, stuffing, more stamping and writing out addresses on our wedding invitations. I'm currently staring at the box full of them, ready to be mailed out today. 

I'm not sure how we know so. many. people. But, I do know that what matters most is sharing the biggest day in both of our lives thus far with those we are closest to. We are both blessed with fairly big families, and some good friends, and some family that are also good friends!

J and I were at one of his sisters' houses yesterday for Easter and as one of his nieces introduced me to her neighbor, I heard a few of his (grown, with kids of their own) nieces say that I would be their...aunt. It was so weird to hear. Why, you ask? Because these nieces are all of 5-10 years younger than me. It cracks me up. J's sisters are all a good bit older than him, so most of his nieces and his nephew are in their mid- to late-twenties. One may be thirty. I will be 35 in August. But, whatever the "title" is, I love these girls, and this family, and I'm very fortunate that I have a good relationship with them all. I know not a lot of people are so blessed. 

So, as we count down the last 60 days before the big day, I know just how lucky I am. Not only for the man that I'm about to marry, but for the family that I am also inheriting. And on the flip side, my family adores him as well. And, how could they not?? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Balsamic Honey Pork Chops

Wahoo! It's Wednesday!! Yes, it's April Fool's Day, but I don't participate in that mess. There are some funny pranks out there, don't get me wrong, but I don't have the time, forethought, or creativity to come up with anything worthwhile's just another day for me. Well, it's sort of a special day as it's also J's mother's birthday (Mother-in-law is much easier to say, no? Ha!)

So, here's a blog shout out to a very special lady...Happy, happy birthday Frannie! And because she loves pork chops, that's the recipe you're all going to get today. In honor of Frannie's birthday.

Balsamic Honey Pork Chops

And these aren't just any ol' pork chops, either. These are pork chops with a balsamic and honey glaze. So, you know, just the most perfect thing ever. If you're me, that is. Because...balsamic. And honey. I mean, just look at those chops up there...seared a nice golden brown and drizzled with  a sauce of perfection. It doesn't get much better!!

I'm not typically a fan of meat with bones in it...I'd prefer a boneless chop on most occasions, but in this case...well, the bone-in chops are just the best choice. Not that you couldn't use a boneless chop, but the thickness of this particular cut keeps the moistness a bit better, I do believe.

So, give it a try. In honor of Frannie. And your taste buds will thank you. I promise!

Balsamic Honey Pork Chops
As seen on Damn Delicious

  • 4 (8 oz) bone-in pork chops, 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Season pork chops with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Melt butter in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add pork chops and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook about 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through (internal temp 140.)
  5. Meanwhile, make the balsamic honey glaze by combining the balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  7. Serve pork chops with the glaze. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Taco Tuesday: Creamy Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Chicken Taquitos

I'm usually sort of a lone cook in the kitchen. Not that no one else can be in the kitchen, but I just sort of have a system of how I do things and that system happens to have no particular rhyme or reason, or stated order. Which then means that when someone asks if there is anything they can do to help, I have to say no because...well, I'm already in a groove and have no idea what part of the process I could pass off. And I'm perfectly fine with this system, generally.

At the same time, as deer season has come and gone, and J and I spent time together in the kitchen processing deer sausage and making deer jerky, I found that I really enjoy spending time with him in the kitchen. It's fun and it's good quality time.

Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Chicken Taquitos

Recently J was at home one day and I realized that I had a crock-pot recipe on the menu, and there was no way I would be able to make it after work and be able to eat at a decent time. So, I enlisted his help. With a few texts, the sauce was blended and the creamy, delicious chicken was in slow cooker heaven. By the time I got home from work, all that needed to be done, was to wrap up the shredded chicken in the tortillas with some cheese and bake those babies up. And it. was. good. 

Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Chicken Taquitos 2

Not just kinda good. Like amazeballs good. And we did it together so, that made it even better. Teamwork, y'all. And as J always says that the things I cook are cooked with love, I told him that this particular meal was cooked with double the love. 

Now before you run away from the mush overload, don't forget to take these amazing taquitos with you!! For reals, yo. You need these in your life.

Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Chicken Taquitos 3

Creamy Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Chicken Taquitos
As seen on Carlsbad Cravings

  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken breasts 
  • 1 cup sweet BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (I used this one - found at my local grocery store)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2-2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, or more to taste
  • 14-16 tortillas (I used corn and whole wheat blend)

  1. Trim the chicken of any fat, and place in the crock pot.  
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the bbq sauce, roasted raspberry chipotle sauce, cream cheese, garlic and onion powders, paprika, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and then pour over the top of the chicken in the crock pot.  Cook on high 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. 
  3. When done, shred the chicken with two forks, or remove to a stand mixer and shred with the paddle attachment. Stir it with remaining sauce in the crock pot and allow to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with cooking spray and set aside. 
  5. Add approximately 1/4 cup chicken filling to the top 1/3 of each tortilla (the side closest to you) and sprinkle some cheese on top. Roll the tortilla tightly, starting with the end closest to you, and place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. You can give them a little spritz of cooking spray to help them brown, if you like.
  6. Bake 10-15 minutes or until tortillas begin to brown and get slightly crisp. You can cook longer or turn your broiler on if you like them more crispy. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sweet Musings

How is it already the last week of March?? It seems like it was just January, and winter was beating down our doors, and spring is upon us, the days are gloriously longer, and our wedding is fast approaching. Just over 2 months away now. 68 days. I'm looking at my calendar now and the bridal shower extravaganza begins begins next Friday. It seems unreal. It all just seems so unreal to me. In a good way, of course! I'm so very blessed and thankful, not only for the amazing man that I get to marry in 68 days, but for the friends and family who are going above and beyond to throw showers and parties and such for us.

I keep thinking how I want our day to hurry up and get here. How I can't wait to be his wife, and how much fun our adventure honeymoon in Costa Rica is going to be. Then I blink and we're another week closer. I remember when we set the wedding date I thought that eight months was going to be forever and I just couldn't stand the thought of waiting that long. People told me the time would fly by, and I just didn't believe them. And now here we are, 6 months later, and it really has flown by. Of course there were times when it still felt like forever. And every day I still wish it was already June 6th. But it hasn't been quite as torturous a wait as I dreaded it to be.

I spent part of the day yesterday going through the boxes of wedding "stuff" that has overtaken our office and guest room, and consolidated it into one room at least. Invitations, favors, wedding party gifts, groomsmen ties, table cloths, vases, etc. Each item that I pulled out made it seem more and more real. This is really happening. This girl is living her fairy tale and finally getting her happy ending. I've waited a long time, been through a lot of wrong turns, and endured a lot of heart break...but I would do it all over again if it led me to where I am right now. I used to feel so sorry for myself, and wonder why. Why did all these bad and hurtful things have to happen to me? But, as I've gotten older I've realized...God had a plan. Not to make me suffer out of meanness or malice, but for me to go through the trials that I have in my life in order to learn from them and to be prepared for the time when my happiness would finally arrive.

So true, real love likes you as you are. You shouldn't have to change yourself. Because someone will LOVE the person you hide.

And arrive it did. March 1st, 2013 my whole world changed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying a person is the single source of happiness for someone else, but when you find the right person, it makes life in general a happier experience. It makes those mundane, everyday tasks of life a little easier to deal with, because you know there is something better waiting for you at the end of the day. Someone that loves you, that makes you smile, and that makes all those little moments mean so much more. Does that mean that life is perfect or that there are never unhappy moments? Of course not. I don't think anyone has that here on Earth. But it means that there are more of those happy days than there were before. And that even when the days aren't so great, you have someone by your side to help you through them. To hug you tight and hold you close and tell you that it will all be ok. And it will be.

Comparing your marriage to a love story written in Hollywood will ROB you of the joy that you should find in your relationship. Recognize that your love story was written by God himself.

I've witnessed a lot of relationships and marriages, both good and bad. I've seen people hold onto the wrong ones and stay in the bad ones. And my heart hurt for them. But I've also seen the good ones. The couples that are so in love and so in sync and so...right. And those are the ones who gave me hope for all the years that I was going through the wrong ones. They gave me hope that one day I would find the guy that would love me for just being me, with all my faults and imperfections. And that, my friends, is exactly who I've found. Do we agree on everything? Heck no!! But the important things, yes. Now, my love for sugary treats will likely be one of those things we agree to disagree on, because try as he might, he just can't sway me on that one. But I love him for trying, because he just wants me healthy and around for a long time. Moderation, I tell him. It's all about moderation! He'll roll his eyes when he reads this and probably shake his head in mock-disgust. But he loves me anyway. And being able to say that, without a doubt in my mind, is a wonderful thing. Unconditional love is something not everyone is blessed to find. It's a choice we make with our hearts, our minds, and our souls. It's a love given from God to his children, that we can only strive to emulate.

Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.  To love somebody isn’t just a strong feeling.  It is a decision, a judgement and a promise.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Venison Chili

TGIF! TGIF!! Do ya feel me?? It's been one of those loooong, crazy weeks and I am so glad it's Friday!! This weekend, like most, I have some fun things going on, including a fun ranch/horse riding outing with my Little tomorrow. We are both looking forward to that, and the weather is going to be absolutely amazing for it. I don't think I've been on a horse since I was about 4 so...that should be interesting. Contrary to what many believe, most Texans do not ride horses every day. Or to school.

But, if I were one of the cowboy types, living and working on the range, I'd sure like some of this venison chili. By the fire. Under starry, country sky. Just sayin'.

Venison Chili Bowl

I've been working on perfecting my beef chili recipe for a couple of years, but this recipe...doesn't need any more perfecting. It has a great blend of seasonings, two kinds of beans, and the jalapenos really add a good flavor and kick of heat. Operation chili perfection: complete. And while the original recipe says to cook for 3 hours, I only cooked about an hour and a half. J was hungry, what can I say? And it was still perfectly delicious. So...cook longer if you have the time, but it's not required to achieve a great flavor. 

Venison Chili

I originally planned to make 1/2 a batch because it makes so much and I didn't want any to go to waste, but we ate every last bite of it. It was good, yo. 

Venison Chili
As seen on Solid Gold Eats

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp diced jalapenos
  • 2 lbs ground venison 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 32-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • Shredded cheese (I used Monterrey Jack)
  • Chopped green onions and cilantro

  1. In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the jalapenos and garlic and cook for about two minutes, until fragrant.
  2. And the venison, salt, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Stir and cook until the meat is browned. 
  3. Add & stir in the crushed tomatoes, undrained cans of beans, and beef broth. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for at least an hour, up to 3 hours. The longer you are able to cook it, the better it will taste. Serve with cheese, chopped green onions, and cilantro.
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