Despite the title, I actually only have one baking recipe in this post, which is slightly outnumbered by the two savory dishes we’ll discuss. But I think you’ll understand the reasoning when we get to it.
If you’re like me, you’re constantly on the lookout for quick, easy, and delicious meals to serve yourself and your family. Sundays are particularly busy for us, so I like to prep something on Saturday night that can be tossed into the crockpot on Sunday morning. Then when we get home from church, we can just finish preparing the chosen dish and have an easy lunch. This week I modified a recipe for Turkey Ranchero. We had a couple of friends over, and this was a perfect meal. We even had leftovers that are going to be lunch for the hubby. This is very similar to my favorite salsa chicken recipe, but I think it might be a little cheaper to make. (Happy Dance!) By the way, I’m still getting used to this, photograph before you eat thing. It didn’t happen this time.
Turkey Ranchero (widely adapted from Epicurious)
4 turkey thighs (Just use whatever you have; I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.)
1 packet enchilada sauce mix
6 oz. tomato paste
1/4 c. water
1 15 oz. can of drained, rinsed black beans
1 15 oz. can of corn
4 oz. shredded Monterey Jack
1/3 c. sour cream
1/3 c. sliced green onions
1/2 c. crushed fritos
1. Cut each thigh in half; remove the bone and skin. Place the thighs in the crockpot. (Mine were already boneless and skinless, but I did cut them in bite-size pieces so that they would cook faster.)
2. In a bowl, combine the enchilada sauce mix with the tomato paste and water. Spread the mix on the thighs.
Note: For whatever reason, I couldn’t find the enchilada sauce mix packet at my Walmart. (Why can you never find what you need when you need it?) Since I already had a 10 oz. can of enchilada sauce, I figured that it would be an adequate substitute. I mixed the enchilada sauce and the chicken in a container the night before. In the morning, I put it in the slow cooker, then I added the beans and corn to make everything go farther.
3. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours or til tender. (Mine usually only gets to cook about 5 hours, which is why I always cut my protein into smaller pieces. That way I don’t have to worry about having partially raw meat in my food.)
4. Turn on high. Add cheese and stir til melted. Spoon into a casserole dish and top with the sour cream, onions, and chip crumbs. Note: Why dirty another dish? I made a pot of rice, divided it between four plates, spooned the ranchero on top, and topped that with sour cream and cheese. I did think that it needed a little salt, but that was no problem to add. (The sauce mix probably wouldn’t, so taste before seasoning.) I think this would also be delicious served over polenta or scooped up with tortilla or corn chips.
Another dish that I made recently came together in just minutes and was oddly good. We were both a little skeptical about eating a cold noodle dish, but this one is really tasty. It’s unassuming to look at, but something in the flavors kept us wanting to keep eating it. I had made the sauce up beforehand, so after that everything went quickly. I was using an angel hair pasta which only takes 3 minutes to cook; if you’ve made your sauce ahead of time your dinner should come together in under 10 minutes. Since my hubby’s a big carnivore, I also cooked some pork with spices similar to what was in the sauce. We both really enjoyed it, and I plan on looking for other recipes that are similar. I’m not sure where this recipe comes from, but I would love to attribute it, so give me a heads up if you recognize it.
Noodles with Peanut Sauce
1 tbsp. peeled, diced ginger
1 clove coarsely chopped garlic
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. chili paste or Sriracha
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar (P.S. If you have a nearby friend that enjoys many of the same foods that you do, you might want to consider taking turns purchase some of the more exotic condiments. Then you can pass them back and forth. You’ll use them up twice as fast, save yourself a little money, and not have so many bottles cluttering up your pantry and fridge.)
2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil (I used regular, but the sesame flavor would be more pronounced with toasted.)
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
3/4 lb. udon, spaghetti, or linguine
1 tbsp. veggie oil
1 bunch chopped scallions (green parts only) (And yes, I omitted this.)
1 peeled, seeded, julienned cucumber (I omitted this too, but just because I didn’t have it.)
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1. Pulse the ginger, garlic, and sugar in a food processor til the mix resembles a paste. Add the chili paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, Worcestershire, rice vinegar, and sesame oil to the ginger mix and process til smooth. Add 1/3 c. water and pulse to combine. Taste the sauce and add salt if necessary. Set the sauce aside for at least 1 hour. (If necessary, you can thin the sauce with a few tablespoons of boiling water.)
2. When you’re ready to make the dish, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain them, rinse them with cold water til cool, and toss them with the veggie oil.
3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the noodles with the peanut sauce and top them with the scallions, cucumber, and sesame seeds. The scallions and cucumber would add some lovely color and crunch. I did want some crunch, so we added mung bean sprouts to ours. Delicious!
And now we come to the reasoning behind today’s title. The movie for this week was Shall We Dance?. In this movie, John Clark (Richard Gere) finds himself somewhat restless. He’s happy with his life, but wishes there was something more. On his way home from work one day, he sees a lovely young lady (Jennifer Lopez) gazing forlornly from the window of a dancing school. On a whim, he stops by and signs up for beginner’s ballroom dancing lessons. To his surprise, he really enjoys dancing and even enters a local competition. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell his wife (Susan Sarandon) about taking dancing lessons, so some mild family drama ensues. (See some here.) (Semi-spoiler alert: He does NOT have an affair.) Part of why I love this movie is the happiness that John Clark finds and inspires in others. As you would expect, the music and dancing are really wonderful. I also really enjoyed the camaraderie between the guys and the many hilarious characters (Like Link, Bobbie, and the detective). I enjoy the whole movie, so I couldn’t even begin to pick out the best scenes. I was able to pick out some of my favorite lines, and I think they might help you realize why you should watch the movie. Here are some of my favorite: “And stop looking at my ‘butt’.” ” I’ll try.“, “We’re not gonna play with these sticks anymore if you boys won’t behave.”, “If there’s something obnoxious about me that you don’t think I’m aware of, y’all should feel free to say something about it to me.” *awkward pause* “Like shooting fish in a barrel.“, “I never understood, live cows get dirty all the time, they don’t get stained. All that leather stands in the mud, nothing happens. Go figure.”, “Right. You need to hang out and flirt with the shy guy with the nice-smelling sweat.” *Turns to John with a smile.* “She told me all about you.”, “Bobbie, a new costume.” “Yeah, I got it from this mermaid dream I had in the hospital. Just floated up from my subconscious.” “Where, tragically, it did not stay.”, “Come on, partner. What are you waiting for?” “Divine intervention?“, and “No, no. I cry too when I’m hungry. For french fries, usually.”
One of the things that makes me really happy is baking (especially for my friends and family). This week we had a church fellowship with the theme of death by chocolate. I figured (correctly, as it turned out) that most people would be making some form of chocolate cake, I -of course- had to be different. I finally decided on a dark chocolate tart with a gingersnap crust that truly is death by chocolate. It’s incredibly rich and fudgy, so I would definitely recommend starting with a very small slice. I loved the gingersnap crust, but I didn’t think there was enough to stand up to the intense chocolate flavor of the tart. Maybe next time I’ll double up on the crust for more contrast.
Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust (from Smitten Kitchen)
8 oz. coarsely broken gingersnap cookies (I put them in my food processor whole and just ground them a little longer.)
1/4 c. melted butter
12 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips for convenience.)
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Finely grind the gingersnaps in a food processor. Add the melted butter and process til moistened. Press firmly on the bottom and up the sides of a removable bottom 9 in. tart pan. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Combine the chocolate and cream in a heavy saucepan and whisk them over low heat til the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, egg, sugar, flour, pepper, salt, and cinnamon. Very gradually, whisk the chocolate into the egg mix til smooth and blended. Pour the chocolate filling into the crust.
3. Bake til the filling puffs slightly at the edges and the center is softly set, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 20 min. Remove the sides and cool completely.
I hope you have a great rest of the week. If you get a minute, stop on by and let me know what makes you happy.