Well, this has been an incredibly busy but wonderful week for my family. One of my husband’s brothers got married this past weekend to a wonderful girl who I am so excited to now be able to call my sister-in-law. The wedding was beautiful, but all the preparations (my husband and I were both attendants) meant that I had less time than usual to try out new dishes. Still, you have to eat, and I did manage to cook a few new recipes.
J and I have started a quest to find a great, thick caramel sauce. We decided to just pick some recipes, make them, and decide if they were what we were looking for. We started this past week, and this first one is definitely a winner. It was listed as being easy and it really lived up to that. It took less than 10 minutes and just a few ingredients to create a delicious, buttery caramel that we were eating by the spoonful. I don’t think we’ll end our quest just yet, but this is definitely a great starter recipe. There’s almost no chance that you’ll burn the caramel (and therefore have to throw it out and start over) and it seems easy to customize to your tastes.
Easy Caramel Sauce (from Smashed Peas & Carrots)
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sugar til the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cream, salt, and vanilla and heat, stirring, til gently bubbling. Remove from the heat and let cool; the sauce will thicken as it cools. (We let ours cool til it was barely warm, then transferred it to a glass jar. We let that cool til room temp, then popped it in the fridge because we wanted it to thicken fast so we could schmear it on some apples and pears.)
When I got home with the sauce the next day, I decided that it would be a perfect filler in between the last 2 Apple Spice Drop Cookies from last week. I sprinkled a little extra salt on and had a delicious treat.
Since last week’s cookies disappeared so fast, I had to get an early start on this week’s recipe. Because I was busy with the wedding, I knew that I needed something quick, easy, and delicious. The dough for these cookies needs to be chilled, but to me that’s a bonus. I whipped up the dough in just a couple of minutes (no mixer necessary) one morning, stuck them in the fridge while I went grocery shopping, and baked them off after I got home. These are deliciously fudgy with a hint of salty and some sweet to balance it out. I think they’re a great addition to a holiday cookie platter, but they’re also good enough to enjoy all year round.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (from All Recipes)
1 c. cocoa (I always use Hershey’s special dark for extra fudgy goodness.)
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. veggie oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. 10x sugar (also known as powdered, confectioner’s, or icing sugar)
1. In a med. bowl, mix together the cocoa, sugar, and oil. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then stir in the vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir this into the cocoa mix. Cover and chill for 4 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment (or silicone mats). With lightly oiled palms, roll the dough into 1 in. balls. Roll each ball in the 10x sugar and place on the cookie sheet. (Since I was doing other chores while these cooked, I wanted to keep my hands clean. I used my cookie scoop to shape these and spoons to help me roll them in the sugar. I also used a pastry brush to brush off excess sugar so they wouldn’t let off puffs of white dust whenever they were bitten into.)
3. Bake 10-12 min. Let cool 1 min. on the sheet and cool completely on wire racks.
Last night, I jumped back into my regular routine by making another new enchilada recipe. (Can you tell yet that we’re big fans?) This one is certainly going to be a new favorite. It was easy and quick to pull together. The filling could easily be made ahead of time and refrigerated til you need it. (Right now, there’s leftover filling in my fridge for another batch later this week.) And, of course the most important factor, they were amazingly delicious. We had friends over, so I made a tweaked double batch. Even with my little adjustments, they were SOOO tasty. Feel free to modify them according to your tastes or what you have on hand.
Chili-Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas (from Cooking Light)
1 lb. ground beef (Since I didn’t know ahead of time that I’d be doubling the recipe in one night, I had only thawed 1 lb. of ground turkey. I went with it, and nobody complained.)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 cloves minced garlic
1 15 oz. can rinsed, drained black beans
3/4 c. salsa
1 3 oz. pkg. softened cream cheese (I’d bought an 8 oz block since I expected to make the recipe a few times during the week. Rather than cut off a sad little 2 oz. to languish in my fridge, I just tossed the whole thing in. Yum!)
1 c. shredded cheddar
12 6 in. corn tortillas
1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a greased, large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and beef and cook til browned; drain well. Stir in the spices, garlic, and beans and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the salsa and cook 1 min. Remove from the heat and add the cream cheese and 1/2 c. of cheddar; stir til melted.
2. Soften the tortillas in the microwave. (I do 6 at a time, covered in plastic wrap, for about 30-45 seconds.) Spread 1/3 c. of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Spoon 1/3 c. of filling down the center of each tortilla and roll up. Arrange the enchiladas, seam side down, in the pan. Top with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheddar. Bake 20 min. or til thoroughly heated.
Before I go, I just wanted to remind you that today you have the opportunity to cast your vote for the leaders of our country. It’s not just our civic duty, it’s our privilege as Americans to let our voice be heard. If you haven’t already voted (we early voted), then I hope you get a chance to hit the polls. I would just want to say that you should pray about who the Lord would want you to vote for and then cast your vote. Have a great day!