Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here's to 2012!

I remember growing up one of my favorite meals was Mom's enchiladas. I also remember we didn't have them often because they were so time consuming to make. Preparing the meat, cooking each corn tortilla in oil, rolling the enchiladas while trying to make sure the corn tortillas didn't tear. One day I really wanted Mom's enchiladas and anyone who knows me, knows I love short cuts in the kitchen. I decided to take the same ingredients of Mom's enchiladas, minus all the oil, and make it casserole style. I served it to the family and they all said it had the same great flavor as Mom's but it was better because it wasn't bogged down with all that oil. So here's how I do it:

I start by preparing aprx 3 lbs of ground beef
To season the meat, I use dried onion flakes (or fresh onion if I have it), garlic salt, seasoned salt, pepper, one can of Macayo's diced green chilies and one small can of chopped black olives.
I add all my seasonings as the meat is cooking, but remember, if you buy fatty ground beef you want to wait to season it because you will have to drain all the grease and you will drain the seasonings with it.
After the meat is browned, I add 2 large cans of Macayo's Red Enchilada Sauce (mild as no one in my family really likes it too spicy but you can get Hot if you prefer) and let it heat through.
Next, layer a casserole dish with corn tortillas so it covers the bottom, add a layer of your meat sauce, a layer of cheese and repeat. I normally make it three layers and any left over sauce and cheese goes all over the top.
Bake in an oven at 350 for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
Let the casserole sit for 15 minutes or so. If it's too hot, it will all fall apart when you try to cut into it.
I am telling you, it is delicious! It's not as fattening as the old way, since you aren't cooking every tortilla in oil.
I hope you try it out and let me know what you think! Happy cooking!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Green beans=YUMMY!

There are holiday dishes in my family that you just don't do without, but I am trying to introduce NEW dishes to see if I can make some NEW traditions. I love green beans and anything I can throw in the crock pot at anytime is a big seller for me but especially during holiday cooking. The less on the stove and in the oven, the better. It just gets too chaotic. So here we go:

Place 4-5 strips of bacon on a microwave safe dish and cook on high for aprx 6 min.
Open and drain 4 cans of Green Giant Green Beans (regular cut or french cut, depending on your preference), dump them into the crock pot
Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to the crock pot along with 2 tablespoons of butter
Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
Add 4-5 bacon (cooked and finely chopped or crumbled)
Add 1/4 cup of chopped yellow onion
Set it on low and let it cook away for about 2 hours
It is delicious!! The measurements may be a little rough as I never measure. Feel free to add whatever you like to make it your own.

Monday, December 19, 2011

SOUP! IT'S What's for Dinner

It's "winter" here in the desert and it actually has been quite cold, and there is almost nothing better than warm soup on a cold night. I bought a package of Bear Creek Cheddar Broccoli because it was on sale AND because I had a coupon of course.

I used the soup as a base and just built on it but it was simple enough. The directions say to bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil and whisk in the soup mix which is in a powder form. You then turn the stove to low heat and cook for ten minutes. Well, instead of 8 cups of water, I substituted 1cup for milk. I also added a teaspoon of real butter and 1 teaspoon of Shamrock Farms sour cream to make it extra creamy. I added an additional cup and a half of frozen broccoli and about a 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. I like my broccoli soft so prior to adding it to the soup, I placed it in a microwave safe dish with the tiniest bit of water (to encourage it to steam), lightly cover and cook for about 3 minutes. The directions say to let it cook uncovered for 10 minutes but I found that the broccoli that was in the soup mix was not cooked enough, so I cooked it for an additional 5, covered. Add some salt and pepper to taste and it was perfection!

I also got a great deal on Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea. With the sale and the coupon it was $1 for 20 tea bags. What better time than winter to have Cinnamon Apple Spice! I am not a hot tea drinker so here's what I did:
Place 1 Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea Bag in a microwave safe mug and cover the tea bag with water (fill the mug about half way) and microwave for 2 minutes and then let it sit for a minute or so to steep.
Pour the concentrate into a tea jar (we use a gallon sized pitcher) and fill with cold water
Add 2 family size LIPTON Cold Brew Tea Bags to your pitcher and place it in the refrigerator for aprx 20 minutes
(adding ice will speed up the "cold brew" process)
Once the tea is done, remove the two cold brew bags and stir. Add sugar if you like. The smell and taste is wonderful and oddly enough it goes perfectly with a warm bowl of cheddar broccoli soup.

Don't be afraid to try new things and definitely don't shy away from adding your own touch to these already prepared meals. After all, that's what will make them unique, delicious and undoubtedly a family fav!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where does the time go?

I've always said that we live in a "drive-thru" world. We want what we want when we want it and that is usually right NOW. No patience for anyone or anything. Think about how irritating it is when you are in the express line at the grocery store and the elderly woman in front of you is writing a check or someone has more than their 15 items. I have learned (and it has taken me a long time) to slow down. Take a deep breath and try not to be so rushed all the time. This was part of the message in church this morning and it couldn't have been more fitting.

Nick (my fiance) and I try to make sure we spend quality time together as often as we can but we haven't escaped the hardships of this economy and going to dinner and a movie just isn't always feasible, especially when it will set us back $100. More often than not, we find ourselves renting a dollar movie and snuggling at home. Our favorite thing to do is to get in the car and drive. We live in an area with a lot of spectacular homes and it takes us away from our reality and lets us dream of a "fancier" future. We talk and laugh and sing and discuss and dream. Since gas prices are lower we get to do this more and it's something I look forward to. He is good company and I am blessed to have someone by my side who thinks I'm hysterical and is pretty darn comical himself.

So in saying all of this, I hope that you too will take time to slow it down a bit and enjoy the company of those you love. I hope you take time to enjoy doing the things you love to do, whatever that may be.

Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow but a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow, a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day~Sanskrit Proverb

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kitchen Essentials!

There are a few items one must have in the kitchen at ALL times, and I thought this would be something really great to blog about. I wanted to start with spices first. It seems when we eat out or go to a friend's for dinner, the first thing we are looking for is the salt shaker. Why don't people season their food?? Especially ground beef. I think it's a common misconception that if you are adding ground beef to something, it doesn't need to be seasoned. I am here to tell you.....IT DOES!!!

First kitchen essential: SEASONED SALT

A combination of several different spices, it is a must have! Most seasoned salts contain salt (of course), garlic, onion, sugar, turmeric and paprika. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to brands and prefer Lawry's but I am sure they are all basically the same. If you are not a person who likes to season or is afraid to season your food, grab a bottle of seasoned salt on your next trip to the grocery store and try it. It's everything you need in one bottle.
I never measure when it comes to seasoning food because it really is about the taste, but if you are a person who likes to measure, then I would try a quarter of a teaspoon (aka "a dash") for every pound of meat. If this is not enough, just add more. It's always easier to add then to try and "un-season".

Want to make your own? (without all the additives and MSG)

Simply blend it all together and put it in a spice jar to store, in a warm dry place of course.
(Recipe courtesy of

Check out for more products and recipies.

Friday, December 16, 2011

He has my heart!

Watching Anderson Cooper today and it's all about saving money!!! AND he has a guest on his show that's an extreme couponer! I don't consider myself "extreme" but I am definitely a couponer. I just started cutting coupons and paying attention to ads about 90 days ago. On average, I have saved 52% on my shopping trips. Specifically on my last trip, I had $30 in paper coupons alone.

I have never spent more than an hour cutting coupons and realize if I dedicate more time it will equate to more savings. After all, time is money....and in this case, it's money that stays in my pocket! People tend to get overwhelmed when you talk about coupons, so here is my challenge to you: Start with ONE item. Pick a product such as laundry soap, search for coupons for this item and use them on your next shopping trip. Don't forget to check your local grocer ads to see what is on sale and match them up with the coupons you've found. This way you get the hang of it and know what to look for without getting overwhelmed. Once you save your first dollar, you will never go back!

A few sites mentioned on Anderson: