Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

I made this last night, and it was easy and super yummy.  Tested and approved by many.  I did not have reduced fat dressing or sour cream, but I am sure it would be super yummy either way.  An easy dinner for these cold winter nights.  Enjoy!  The only adaption I made, was to add a few more tortillas - I just tore them up and layered a few rather than just one per layer.  I used flour tortillas, but am going to try a healthier version next time with whole wheat or baked corn tortillas.

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole
1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 large onion, chopped or season with Onion powder or minced onion
2 1/2 cups salsa
1 can (15 ounces) black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 flour tortillas or corn tortillas (8 inches)
1 small can of drained corn, or about 1 1/4 cups of frozen corn (optional)
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream *Note: I used 1/2 cup
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, sour cream, corn (optional), taco seasoning and cumin.
Spoon a generous layer of meat mixture on bottom of 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Place a flour or corn tortilla on top of meat mixture. Layer with half of the meat mixture, and cheese. Repeat as many layers as you like.
The last & final layer should be a healthy dose of grated cheese.
Cover with foil that has been sprayed with pam or other and bake at 400° for 25 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.
Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce, tomato and cilantro. Yield: 8 servings.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sin Cake

I am sure many of you know this recipe. Some people call it Better Than Whatever or Better Than Sex Cake. My mom always used to say that it is so good it must be a Sin to eat it. And so we have always called it Sin Cake. We have made this recipe for many years, but recently I decided to try it out in Cupcake form for a friends baby shower and it was a huge hit. I also took them to a church activity last night, and everyone kept asking who brought the gourmet cupcakes. :)

The best part is that this is a pretty simple recipe. No weird ingredients and you probably have most of it already in your pantry. So find a time to make these and you will not regret it!

Sin Cake
Serves: 24 cupcakes or a 9x13 pan

1 Chocolate Cake Mix (prepared and baked according to package directions)
1 recipe Homemade Caramel (see below)
2/3 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (leftover from caramel)
Crushed Heath of Skor Bars or just use the Heath Bits in the baking section
1 tub Cool Whip or Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

Prepare your cake mix and bake it. Use either a 9x13 pan or make cupcakes. After your cake is finished baking let it cool for a just a few minutes. Make your homemade caramel. Then poke holes in the cake with a skewer while it is still warm. (My favorite is to use the end of a wooden spoon). Pour the remainder of the Sweetened Condensed Milk all over the cake, especially in the holes to allow it to soak into the cake. Then pour the caramel over the cake just like you did the condensed milk. At this point it is best to refrigerate for an hour or so, or however long you need to. Once the cake has chilled spread the Cool Whip over the top of the cake, and the sprinkle on the crushed Heath of Skor Bar. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!
This what it should look like after the condensed milk and caramel.
Cupcake Directions:
After baking the cupcakes and placing on a cooling rack with aluminum foil underneath, and making the caramel. Poke holes in each individual cupcake, about 10 holes or so. Then, while the cupcakes are still warm, spoon the sweetened condensed milk over the cupcakes and into the holes so that it soaks into the cake. Then do the same with your homemade caramel. Refrigerate until chilled. While it is refrigerating make your Cream Cheese Frosting. (I choose to use the Cream Cheese Frosting on the cupcakes because I feel it holds up better than the Cool whip would. But you could certainly use Cool Whip on the cupcakes too). Then pipe your frosting on the cupcakes and top with the crushed Heath or Skor Bar. Now take them to a party or share with your neighbors and all will be impressed.

Homemade Microwave Caramel
1/3 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 C Butter
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C White Sugar
1/2 C Light Corn Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir and cook another 2-3 minutes.
This a soft set caramel and it will not harden or set up to cut into squares so keep that in mind.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 C Butter (softened)
8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
4 cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Add vanilla. And you're done!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and it becomes a favorite to your family. Refrigerate leftovers (if you have any!).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pineapple Mango Salsa

This is a delicious summer fruit salsa that I love. It is great served with tortilla chips or served on grilled chicken or fish. I often substitute whatever I have reg onion, mandarin oranges (not as good as fresh oranges), or green bell pepper, it's all good.
Picture from Taste of Home
Mango Salsa:

1 Mango, cut into small pieces
1/2 minced Red Onion
1-2 Tbl. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 Orange, chopped into small pieces
1 can Pineapple Chunks   
1 Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, minced

  • Combine all ingredients in bowl and serve with salmon (or crackers or tortilla chips)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mock Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salads

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad - photo from
While Chelsea was visiting I volunteered to serve lunch to the elementary staff I have been working at the past year (with her help of course).  Both Chelsea and Melanie spent time helping with food and especially cookies while I was working.  The staff enjoyed it and several asked for a recipe, so here it is.  I combined from a few different sites, for what I liked best.

For an authentic Mock Cafe Rio Salad layer as follows:
Large Tortillas with melted shredded cheese
Black Beans
Sweet Pork
Romaine Lettuce
Pico de gallo (just combine diced tomato, onion, and cilantro)
Sour Cream
Tortilla Strips (deep fry strips of corn tortillas) or crushed chips
Creamy Tomatillo Ranch

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad - photo from

Shredded Sweet Pork  Salad with Rice and Beans


(Sometimes when I don't want to take the trouble to do this first part, I just slow cook the roast, shred and then add the sauce for the sweetness - it's not as marinated, but it still tastes good.  We often use it for Sweet Pork Quesadillas (see note below).

3-5 lb pork roast
1 c brown sugar
1 c Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tb dried minced onions
Cook all ingredients in a crock pot on low all day (abt 8 hours). One hour before serving, remove roast and shred it. Dump out all cooking juices and place shredded pork back into crockpot and add...

 1 c brown sugar
1 c red enchilada sauce
Serve in Salad, burritos, or quesadillas.

Here's an alternative recipe that I tried, but didn't think it was as flavorful -

  • 2-3 lbs. boneless pork (carnitas, shoulder etc)
  • 1 12 ox. can Coke
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small can diced green chilis
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • Marinade pork for at least 2 hours or overnight in can of coke and 1/4 C brown sugar.
  • Pour pork and liquid into crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • Remove meat and shred. Discard liquid
  • Put meat back in crock pot and add enchilada sauce, garlic, green chilies and brown sugar.
  • Cook for 30-60 more minutes. If there is excess liquid drain some off.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

1 package of Hidden Valley buttermilk Ranch Dressing. (prepare according to directions)
2 tomatillos (they look like green tomatoes, but they are NOT!  You may substitute 3 Tbsp of prepared salsa verde)
cilantro (1/4 bunch)
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/8 tsp. Tabasco
Combine all together in blender and let thicken.

 Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.


Cilantro Lime Rice

2 c water
1 c. uncooked rice (long-grain, white rice)
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tb canola oil
2 Tb fresh lime juice
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/2 onion
1/2 can green chilies
2 tsp. sugar
3 Tbl fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine oil, garlic, 1 Tbl. lime, chicken bouillon and water. Blend cilantro, onion, and chilies in food processor. Combine all with rice and Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. (I combine with rice and put in my rice cooker.) When rice is cooked;iIn a small bowl combine 1 Tbl. lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Garlic Black Beans

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 c tomato juice
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1 tsp cumin
2 Tb canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb chopped cilantro
 Heat oil then add cumin and garlic until garlic begins to pop. Add rest of ingredients and serve warm.

** Sweet Pork Quesadilla from Costa Vida is actually what convinced me to search for and make my own sweet pork recipe.  My boys are not big on salads, so we often make quesadillas instead.  I cook a pork roast for sunday dinner and then with the leftover roast I add equal amounts of red enchilada sauce and brown sugar.  Broil a tortilla topped with cheddar cheese.  Top with warm meet, fold in half, and top with sour cream and pico de gallo.  Delicious!
Sweet Pork Quesadilla - photo from

**The meat freezes well.   Make a large roast and divide into smaller portions and freeze.  Makes dinner easy. 

Cookies for Dessert - Chocolate Toffee Sugar Cookies
 Recipe can be found at Our Best Bites.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

This is Chelsea's recipe, but I'm posting in case she doesn't get around to it.  It was originally found on Recipe Snobs from a link on Pinterest. When she came to visit last week, she made this several times and found the secret for smooth, easy to swirl, cinnamon mixture was in the unsalted butter.  These seem much healthier than a cinnamon roll for breakfast, and not to mention much faster and easier.  Try them they might be your new favorite.

I chose to mix the cinnamon and sugar mixture right in the bag in the microwave.  You want a thin stream so be sure and cut a small tip off the bag.

 I thought this stream was a little heavy so I changed to a new bag with a smaller tip.

 Add a little icing (I thought it was good with maple syrup as well).


Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Cinnamon Filling
     4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, just melted (not boiling)
     1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
     1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Glaze
     4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
     2-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
     3/4 cup powdered sugar
     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

     1 cup all-purpose flour
     2 teaspoons baking powder
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1 cup milk
     1 large egg, lightly beaten
     1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the butter (needs to be unsalted), brown sugar, and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a quart-sized heavy zip baggie and set it aside.

Prepare the glaze: In a small pan, heat the butter over low heat until melted. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until it is almost smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the pan, stir and add in vanilla extract. Set the pan aside while you make the pancakes.

Prepare the pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the milk, egg and oil, just until the batter is moistened (a few small lumps are fine).

Cook the pancakes: Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-heat and spray with nonstick spray. Use an ice cream scoop (or I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup) to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or cup to spread the batter into a circle about 4-inches in diameter (I did not have to do this because my batter was thin enough to spread out by itself). Reduce the heat to medium low. Snip the corner of your baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner (you may need to knead the cinnamon filling before clipping the bag, as the filling tends to separate a little). When your pancake begins to form bubbles, add the filling. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl, just as you see in a regular cinnamon roll (be careful not to get the filling to close to the side. You want to keep it about a 1/4 of an inch away from the edge or it will bleed over). Cook the pancake 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it's golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin, wide metal spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. Re-warm the glaze briefly, if needed. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze.

Yields: Eight 4-inch pancakes
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