Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spanish Rice

 Not to brag in any way, but I do think I can make some pretty good rice. Just stating a fact. Its one of my favorite things to make, so I'm always trying out new recipes or perfecting my old standbys. Spanish rice is at the heart of my rice love affair, and we have some version of it quite often in our house.

But, as many times as I have made it and with as many different varieties and ingredients, I've never once been able to achieve that authentic Spanish rice, you know, the kind you find in a hole-in-the-wall taco shop or a really good (not Americanized) Mexican restaurant. That rice has always alluded me...until now!

A blog I regularly read linked to this recipe, and I had to try it the moment I saw it, especially when I saw that the creator got the recipe from a neighbor who had a Mexican food stand. I was sold - definitely had to be authentic! I was both thrown off and intrigued by the use of the green pepper - particularly the seeds - but I was willing to go with it since it was something I'd never tried in my quest. And let me tell you, those green peppers make all the difference! This rice is fantastic, and just that "taco shop" version I've been trying for for so long.

I think my problem has been I've tried to go too fancy, too unusual in my ingredients, when the perfect recipe is really just oh-so-simple. Simple ingredients, simple flavors, and here we have that rice I've been trying to make at home for years! I will probably still continue making my own versions because I love experimenting so much, but when I want authentic I'll definitely be turning to this recipe.

Oh, and the only thing I would do differently to this is add some finely chopped carrot to the mix, because I love when taco shops add that to their rice :)

Spanish Rice 
Recipe from Dish Baby


1 cup white rice
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 green bell pepper, sliced and seeds reserved
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 bouillon cube (I use vegetable but chicken is fine, too), chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
Pinch red pepper flakes
Pinch black pepper


Heat up olive oil in a pan on medium/high. Add in rice and bell pepper seeds. Stir frequently and cook until rice starts to lightly brown; about 5 minutes.

Add in tomato sauce, and 2 cans of water. Stir. Add in salt, garlic salt, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, black pepper and chopped bullion cube. Stir. Add in bell pepper slices. Bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 40 minutes (mine only took 30 minutes). Remove bell pepper slices prior to serving.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spicy Avocado Chicken Enchiladas

I found these on Pinterest a while back, and finally got around to making them after a friend raved about how good they were. I feel like enchilada recipes are a dime a dozen, but these did not disappoint. I really like the sauce (especially how light it is!)) and the little spicy kick it has - I would eat it on its own! I wasn't sure how spicy they would turn out in the end, so just in case I made my 2 year-old a chicken quesadilla with no sauce, but I don't think these were so spicy where she couldn't have had one too.

But, even though I LOVE avocado I'm actually not a big fan of it when its cooked and warm, so when I make these again I will probably leave those out of the filling and just enjoy them as chicken enchiladas with some fresh mashed avocado or guacamole on top. Just a personal preference :)

Here is the recipe from The Novice Chef, with my changes noted.


for the sauce: 
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Serrano pepper, minced (remove the seeds first if you want it more mild)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup salsa verde
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

Note: After these were done I wished I had more sauce on the enchiladas. Doubling would probably be too much, so next time I'll probably try doing an extra 1/2 batch

for the enchiladas: 
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts (about 4 breasts)
8 oz Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded and divided (I was forced to use cheddar after my husband secretly ate the MJ I had reserved for this recipe)
1 small yellow onion, chopped (I used much less, maybe about 1/4 cup chopped)
3 avocados, peeled and chopped
8-10 flour tortillas (I used corn, and I softened by placing them one-by-one in a pan with a little hot oil for about 30 seconds, then drained on paper towels)


Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute serrano pepper and garlic, for 1 minute. Stir in flour, constantly stirring, and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil. Once boiling, whisk in the sour cream, salsa verde and cilantro. Remove from heat. 

Spray/grease a 9×13 baking dish. Add 3/4 cup sauce to the bottom of the pan. Add chicken, cheese, onion and avocado to the center of each tortilla and roll, placing seam-side down in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. Top with leftover cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbling. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos

* Photo and recipe from

I didn't get my own photo of these because we made them while on vacation, visiting family in Iowa, but I definitely had to add them here because they were so good! We were looking for an appetizer for a BBQ night, and these fit in perfectly and everyone enjoyed them - they definitely didn't last! These are for sure going to be on future BBQ menus.

A lot of the grilled pepper recipes I find calls for wrapping them in bacon, which always sounds delish but in the end it always seems like the bacon cooks unevenly that way. So one of the main things I liked about these was that you get great bacon flavor (in the filling) but in a much messy and more enjoyable way.

My only complaint is that some of the jalapenos weren't hot at all, but there were a couple that set my mouth on fire, and you can never tell how how spicy they are going to watch out for that!


2 slices center-cut bacon
8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 small garlic clove, minced
14 jalapeƱo peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
Cooking spray
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro*
2 Tbsp. chopped seeded tomato*

*We just topped with some homemade salsa we had already prepped


1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon. Combine crumbled bacon, cheeses, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a bowl, stirring to combine. Divide cheese evenly and fill the pepper halves.

3. Place peppers, cheese side up, on grill rack or grill grate coated with cooking spray. Cover and grill peppers 8 minutes or until bottoms of peppers are charred and cheese mixture is lightly browned. Place the peppers on a serving platter. Sprinkle with cilantro and tomato.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fire Roasted Chile Relleno Rice

I found this recipe a while ago and I instantly knew it would be something we would like, so I'm not sure why I put off so long making it! A creamy, cheesy rice is taken up a notch with the addition of roasted chiles, and the flavor from those was fantastic. This is definitely not a healthy dish, but if I'm going to splurge once in a while I think this is something worth the calories :)

I believe the original recipe (from Tyler Florence) calls for canned green chiles, but the site where I got this substituted fresh roasted assorted chiles, and I followed along with that because I don't think the boring canned kind would make this nearly as good. You can use any variety you like...the site mentioned that it came out pretty spicy, so I stuck with milder peppers. My result had a great chile flavor but amazingly almost no "heat", so it really was perfect.

The only other changes I made were to add some additional seasoning - some garlic powder and cumin. Next time I make this I think I'll add some cooked chicken and make it a complete meal!

Fire Roasted Chile Relleno Rice
adapted from Nibble Me This


2 cups cooked rice (I used long grain white, but I think basmati would be great)
8 oz. monterey jack cheese, shredded (yes, a whole 8 oz block)
1 cup fire roasted chiles (I used 2 poblanos, 3 Anaheim, and 1 red chile pepper - broil until blackened all over and then remove skin and seeds and chop)
2 cups sour cream
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp smoked paprika


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (Original recipe is "baked" on a grill, but I just did mine in the oven)

2. Mix rice, cheese, chiles, sour cream, condensed soup, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a greased casserole dish (or greased ramekins) and top with the bread crumbs and paprika.

3. Bake until the top crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Last night I jumped on a recipe bandwagon - thanks to Pinterest! - and made this "pizza" that seems to be all over that website. Even though I have no real need for a gluten-free, low-carb pizza crust in my life, its nice to have options right? I was intrigued by the concept and just how this was all going to turn out, and like the many, many people who have "pinned" this and the many people who have commented about it on the recipe blog I got it from - we loved it!

You really would never know its cauliflower, but I really don't know how to describe it. It comes out kind of like thin, soft should know its definitely NOT a crispy, crunchy crust. It gets a little crispy around the edges but the majority of it stays soft. And you'll probably be better off eating it with a fork. But we enjoyed it all the same, and you could definitely add any combination of toppings you like, the possibilities are endless, just like on any other pizza. I used pizza sauce, caramelized onions, garlic, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and sweet Italian turkey sausage.

The only reason I probably won't be making this more often was because it was kind of a pain for me since I don't have a food processor, and the little Magic Bullet wasn't up for the ricing task, which meant I had to grate the cauliflower by hand which wasn't very fun. Other than that it was definitely easy to create.

I also read that you can make this same method but with zucchini - definitely going to try that too!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
from Eat.Drink.Smile (also Your Lighter Side)...I got some good tips from both of these sites


1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower (directions below)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
A small handful Parmesan cheese (my addition)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic salt
olive oil (optional)

Pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your choice of toppings (which will need to be precooked since you only broil for a few minutes)

Directions (my notes are in Italics)

To "Rice" the Cauliflower:
Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it. *If you don't have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese grater*. Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes (some microwaves are more powerful than others, so you may need to reduce this cooking time). There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself. One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower. The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Note: You'll want to squeeze out any excess moisture from the cauliflower, even if doesn't look like it has any after cooking. I did this by putting it in a thick paper towel then pressing into a fine mesh strainer. Cheesecloth would also work.

To Make the Pizza Crust:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray (I used parchment paper, go this route if you have it). In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg, mozzarella and Parmesan. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt; stir. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9" round (make sure to get it really thin!). Optional: Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese. Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes). Enjoy!

Note: Some reviewers reported a soggy crust, it will definitely be soft but should not be soggy. I therefore followed the suggestion of flipping the crust over with about 3 minutes left in the baking time, this was easy for me to do using parchment paper since it didn't stick at all, and I was able to kind of roll up one side and flip it. I did this with the first crust I made but not the second, there wasn't a huge difference but the first was a little better.

Monday, June 4, 2012

This Week's Menu

Blackened Chicken and Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Cauliflower-crust Pizza

Taco Cornbread Casserole

BBQ Pork Quinoa Salad


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