Making life a little bit easier for Paula

I flew to New York today to visit my sisters as well as attend a baseball research convention. Paula will be working while I am away. Before I left, I made an enchilada casserole that she can enjoy a few times while I am gone.  She will just have to heat up the casserole whenever she wants to enjoy it and she will have an easy meal. She can eat the enchiladas every couple of days, depending on her schedule. I hope that this will take a bit of a burden of her shoulders and allow her to get a little bit more sleep if necessary. It seems like the least that I can do since she is now the sole breadwinner in the family. This enchilada casserole is quite tasty and relatively easy to make. Here is the recipe in case you want to try it with your family.

Filling:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes, cut up

Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 flour or corn tortillas (6-inch diameter)
  • 2 cups shredded Mexcian blend cheese

Directions:

Start by preheating the oven to 350°.

In a large skillet, cook the beef and the onion over medium heat, crumbling meat, until beef is no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Drain all fat from the pan. Stir in the flour and the seasonings. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

Next, in a saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute or until tender. Stir in the flour until blended. Gradually whisk in the broth. Bring to a boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the tomato sauce and seasonings. Cook until the sauce is thoroughly heated.

Finally it is time to make the enchiladas. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the sauce into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place about 1/4 cup beef mixture off center on each tortilla and then top with 1-2 tablespoons cheese. Roll up and place over sauce, seam side down. Top with remaining sauce.

Bake, covered, until heated through, about 30-35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, until the cheese is melted, another 10-15 minutes longer. Serve with toppings such as sour cream, avocado / guacamole, salsa, chopped tomatoes or onions, if desired.

Delicious Pulled Chicken Soft Tacos


We had a few pounds of rotisserie chicken in the freezer so I decided to make this recipe for Pulled Chicken Tostadas for Paula and myself tonight. There was leftovers so Paula can enjoy them over the next week when I am away in New York. It will allow her to have access to an easy m

 

  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 14-ounce can diced or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups of chopped or shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped (as well as 1-2 teaspoons of the sauce if more heat is desired)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cole slaw mix
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Flour or corn tostadas
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 cup of chopped grape tomatoes

Directions:

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon from pan and add the onions and cook, stirring often and scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes in a blender or chopper. Add to the saucepan along with the chicken, chipotle, adobo sauce (if used) and cumin. Cook until warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes, adding up to 1/4 cup water if the sauce is too thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the coleslaw mix with the lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium bowl. Warm the tostadas as the label directs.

Top the corn tostadas or flour tacos with the chicken and coleslaw. Thin the sour cream with 1 to 2 tablespoons water and drizzle over the tostadas. Top with the avocado and grape tomatoes.

 

Pizza and a movie…

Paula had a difficult night at the hospital last evening. She was in the mood to relax so we opened up a bottle of wine when she woke up. We had some of my special pizza dough and toppings (marinated artichokes, olives, mushrooms) in the refrigerator so I made a pizza for the two of us. As we enjoyed the pizza, we watched the latest arrival from Netflix, The Comedian. It was quite good. Afterwards, we even played a game of Farkle. All in all, it was a most pleasant evening.

Burritos for dinner…a great way to get rid of some leftover food!


We had some leftover fajita chicken in the refrigerator and so I decided to use it for our dinner tonight. I heated the chicken along with a can of black beans in the skillet. We also had a few flour tortillas in the refrigerator and it was time to use them as well. After I heated up the chicken-bean mixture, we put some cheese on the flour tortilla, added the chicken and beans, wrapped everything up inside the tortilla and then heated it a little in the skillet. We had salsa and sour cream in the refrigerator so Paula and I topped the burritos with a little of each. We also had some leftover grilled squash and broccoli in the refrigerator. Since we wanted a vegetable with the meal, I heated the two vegetables in the skillet for a minute or two and then served them up with each burrito.

It was a tasty meal and a great way to use up the leftovers that were in the refrigerator. Paula and I hate to see food go to waste but sometimes you just don’t want the same food again. It is better to try to make something new with what you find.

A Treat of a Meal…for Paula’s day off


Paula didn’t have to work tonight so we made a delicious meal together. I found this recipe for Pork Medallions with Red Wine-Cherry Sauce in the current issue of Cooking Light. We had a pork tenderloin in the freezer. I bought some potatoes and broccoli to go on the side. Paula made mashed potatoes while I cooked the meat. We also enjoyed a bottle of wine with dinner and then played a game. The meal was a treat.

Ingredients (for two of us…)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1-lb.) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 12 slices
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup of chicken stock or broth
  • 1/3 cup of cherry preserves

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the pork slices and cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove pork from pan and keep warm.

Increase heat to high. Add 2 teaspoons of the chopped thyme to drippings in pan. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add the stock / broth and preserves. Cook 8 minutes or until reduced to about 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally. Spoon the cherry mixture evenly over pork and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon thyme.

The sauce complimented the pork quite well. We also had enough to drizzle over the mashed potatoes. All in all, it was a delicious meal and quite a treat for a Monday evening!

Simple meal tonight

Paula was working so I just made a simple meal for the two of us tonight. We had some items in the refrigerator that needed to be eaten and so I just used them. I cooked a package of frozen ravioli and added it to some homemade tomato sauce that we had leftover from a previous dinner. I also made a simple spinach salad. It had baby spinach, sliced almonds and craisins. We had a simple vinaigrette in the refrigerator and I added that to the salad. All in all, it was a simple meal but still a tasty one for the two of us. Afterwards, I sent Paula off to work for the evening and cleaned up all the dishes.

Delicious Meal – A Celebration of sorts…

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Last night Paula and I made a delicious chicken dish. We were celebrating the fact that she had gotten a clean bill of health from the radiation oncologist earlier that day. We had gone to Duke Hospital for an MRI and it showed that the tumor had not grown back in any way. The doctor was extremely pleased with the result and so were the two of us. Anyway, after arriving home we made a lovely dinner together. It was a recipe that I found in the latest Rachael Ray magazine called Lemony Pan-Roasted Chicken and Sage with Green Vegetable Medley. I tweaked the recipe a little based on what we had at  home as well as our tastes. I also made just enough for the two of us. It was really quite tasty. If you want a simple dish that is on the lighter side for the summer, I would recommend it.

Ingredients (for two people):

 

  • 1/2 bunch of thin asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/4 lb. of green beans)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, butterflied
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 leaves of fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped

Directions:

Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the vegetables. Cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water to cool, then drain again. Cut the asparagus and green beans on an angle into thirds.

Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add the chicken and cook until browned and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, another 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the sage and cook until crispy, about 2 minutes. Transfer the sage to a paper towel and let cool.

Add the wine, garlic and mustard to the skillet and cook, swirling often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and baste with the pan juices. Pour the lemon over the chicken. Remove chicken from skillet and top with the sage.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vegetables to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to get the vegetables coated with the sauce.

Serve the chicken with the vegetable medley alongside. This was a delicious meal. We enjoyed it with a pink wine from Bonny Doon and then played some Farkle and watched a great movie, Hidden Figures. All in all, it was a most relaxing and enjoyable evening!

 

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