Food, Faith, and Other Fabulous Finds

Recipes, devotional thoughts, and other cool things I come across.

Dinner and a Hot Mess October 23, 2012

Lest you think that all I eat are sweets, today I’m going to share some yummy new dinner ideas that we recently tried out.  Now, I do love my baked goods, but a girl can’t live on cookies alone.  As you may have noticed, my hubby and I are huge fans of Mexican food, especially enchiladas.  Last week we tried another great recipe that I had to share with you.  The filling for these enchiladas is a tangy mix of ranch dressing, sour cream, cheddar, green chiles, and shredded chicken.  Then you roll the enchiladas up and top them with some enchilada sauce (your favorite brand or recipe).  What we both enjoyed about these was the tanginess from the ranch in the filling.  I’d like to try it again with a green enchilada sauce to top it instead of the red.  I think the tang of tomatillos would really complement the ranch.

Green Chile ChickenEnchiladas (adapted from Hidden Valley)

1/2 c. ranch dressing (I’m a die-hard Hidden Valley fan, but use your favorite.)

1/4 c. sour cream

1 19 oz. can enchilada sauce (Like I said, I think a green, tomatillo sauce would be super tasty, but the red was great too.)

1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar

2 c. shredded chicken

2 tbsp. diced green chiles (I just threw in the whole 4 oz. can.)

4 warmed 10 in. flour tortillas (We always use red corn tortillas.  I think flour tortillas are just too thick to soak up the sauce, and the red is because that’s what my husband wants.  The corn tortillas are smaller so we ended up eating this twice using 6 tortillas per time.  To soften the corn tortillas so they don’t crack, just put them on a small plate, cover them in cling wrap, and microwave for about 30 seconds.)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine the ranch, sour cream, 3/4 c. cheese, chicken, and chiles til well blended.  Divide the mix evenly between the tortillas and roll up. (If you’re only serving 2, don’t forget to set half of the filling aside for your next meal.)

2. Place the filled tortillas seam side down in a greased 9 in. pan.  Spoon the sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese.

3. Bake 20 min. or til the cheese melted and the sauce is bubbly.

Another of my favorite foods is pesto.  I am a HUGE fan of pesto in its various permutations and flavor combinations, but it’s not always easy to sway others to my point of view.   The basic pesto made with basil smells particularly pungent and can easily turn people off.  (By the way, the smell is stronger than the taste.)  A nice starter pesto is this next one made with spinach (good for you!) and chives (my favorite herb!).  My husband is even a huge fan of this one, and we like to enjoy it as a filling along with a melting cheese (Muenster, mozzarella, etc.) in a butterflied chicken breast. (SOO delicious, especially with roasted asparagus alongside!)  I recently made  a teeny amount of this to put to use some chives from my garden.  It wasn’t enough for our favorite chicken dish, but it did make a great sauce (mixed with sour cream) to use on some extra cooked pasta that was hanging out in my fridge.  Oh, and did I mention that it takes one minute to make and your food processor does all the work for you.  Have I convinced you yet?  Please try this as soon as you reasonably can.  Maybe the next time I make it I’ll be able to keep myself from eating it long enough to snap a couple of pictures.  Didn’t work this time.

Spinach-Chive Pesto (very minorly tweaked from Cooking Light)

1 c. baby spinach leaves

1/4 c. toasted pine nuts (I use walnuts because they’re cheaper.  Also, toasting would inevitably make this taste better, but it will still taste great if you don’t have the time.)

1/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Yes, it would taste better with better cheese, but it’s still good with the powdered Parmesan.)

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (With this amount, it’s very chunky.  You could certainly add more to reach whatever consistency you prefer.)

2 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1 clove chopped garlic (I always just run mine over my microplane.)

3/4 c. chopped chives (Isn’t the point of putting it in the food processor to chop it?  I cut mine just short enough to fit in the processor.)

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process til finely chopped.  (That’s it!  You’re done already, so go enjoy it on something fabulous.)

Spinach-Chive Pesto  (I finally got to take some pictures.  The pesto starts like this, but then becomes…)

Spinach-Chive Pesto 2Spinach-Chive Pesto 3 (This tiny, but potent amount of bright green pesto.)


This next recipe is one that I’ve been drooling over since I first found it, and I’m so glad to finally try it.  The basic premise is a chicken and bacon pizza that’s been stuffed into a little roll and served with ranch.   While these definitely delivered on flavor, they were a little bit too much work for a regular weeknight dinner for me and the hubby.  They would however be perfect for kids or party food.  I do love that they could be assembled ahead of time and just baked when you need them.  I made my own pizza dough (Okay, the bread machine made it.), and my recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas.  Instead of making the rolls again, I’m going to make a chicken, bacon, and ranch pizza.  Yum!

Chicken-Bacon Stuffed Pizza Rolls (From Our Best Bites)

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough (Or make your own in a bread maker or with your favorite recipe.)

1 packet ranch dressing mix

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan

1 tbsp. olive oil or melted butter

1/2 c. – 1 c. cubed cheddar (I had shredded cheddar on hand, so I used 1 c. of that.)

8 slices cooked, crumbled bacon

1 c. shredded, cooked chicken

3/4 c. sour cream

3/4 c. milk (I thought the ranch was a little too loose.  Next time I’ll try just 1/2 c. of milk.)

1.  Mix 1 tsp. ranch mix with the Parmesan and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining ranch mix with the sour cream and milk.  Chill at least 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven as directed on your dough’s package.  (I preheated mine to 350 degrees.)

2. Unroll the dough into a 12×8 in. rectangle.  Cut it into 24 squares.  (I miscalculated and only cut mine into 18.  They still worked great, but took a bit longer to cook.)  Place a little bit of cheese, chicken, and bacon on each square.  (To simplify, I just mixed them all together.)  Pinch together all 4 corners of a square and squeeze the seams shut.  Place the rolls seam side down in a greased pie pan or mini muffin pan, brush the tops with butter or olive oil, and top with the parmesan/ranch mix.  (I prefer the mini muffin pan because I don’t like my rolls to touch and stay doughy.  Just do whatever you like best.)

3. Place the pan in the oven and bake 10-20 min. til lightly golden.  (Mine took the full 20 min.)  Serve with the ranch.  (If you want to cancel a few steps, just use store-bought ranch and top the rolls with plain parmesan.)

And now we’ve arrived at our hot mess.  This week’s Christmas cookie was a half fail: they taste delicious, but they don’t look good at all.  When the first pan came out looking like such a mess, I tried to go online and find the recipe to see if I was doing something wrong.  No luck!  I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere.  Regardless of how they look, they taste so delicious.  My husband described it as a buttery macaroon, and I think he was spot on.  It’s also reminiscent of the filling to a Mounds bar.  Either way, they are tasty enough that I’ll forgive their appearance.  I think they’re worth it, but you can decide for yourself.

Lacy Coconut Crisps

1/3 c. all-purpose flour (If you’re gluten-free, you could sub in the same amount of cornstarch.  I made a half batch that way to test my theory, and I can NOT tell the difference between the two.)

1 3/4 c. 10x sugar (AKA confectioner’s sugar)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 c. unsweetened coconut milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut (I found mine at my local organic/health food store, Sprouts.  I do not suggest subbing in the sweetened version since it would probably make the cookies overly sweet.)

5 tbsp. melted butter

1. Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the coconut milk and stir til well combined.  Stir in the vanilla and coconut.  Add the butter and stir til combined; refrigerate for 30 min.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drop the batter by tspfuls onto a greased baking sheet (or silicone mat) about 3 1/2 in. apart.  Using a moistened finger, gently flatten the batter to the size of quarters.

3. Bake, rotating halfway through, til the cookies are flat and edges are golden 8-10 min.  Let cool on the sheet 5 min.  Cool completely on wire racks.  Cool the sheet between batches.

Now for the evidence of the hot mess.

As you can see, they all merged together into a congealed mess.  As disappointed as I was, I still wanted to taste them.  Imagine my surprise at how delicious they were!  I decided that I would finish cooking all the batter.  Then when they were all dry, I broke them into pieces like brittle.

Now they’re a delicious, lacy coconut “brittle” that I will be enjoying over the next few days.

To me, this is a wonderful example of  turning a mistake or flawed recipe into a yummy dish.  I hope you’re inspired to transform your kitchen fails into something great.  I’ve got some yummy new treats in the works; talk to you soon!


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