Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

If you’re like me (and most non-Hispanic Americans), then Cinco de Mayo is probably just an excuse to get out of the house, shake off the winter funk, drink some cervezas, and eat some Americanized Mexican food at your local “On The Border”.  Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrated primarily within Mexican-American communities, and while it is not Mexican Independence Day as many assume, it is still a day rich in meaning and tradition.

Sadly, Cinco de Mayo has become the Mexican St. Patrick’s Day here in many parts of the good ol’ USA.

I’m mostly Dutch and Swedish, so I really don’t have a generational reason to enjoy Cinco de Mayo… I just do.  It holds special meaning for Mr. Dish and me, and I quite enjoy good Mexican food.  And tequila.

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday for which I have no valid reason to celebrate, I give you the easiest enchilada recipe you’ve ever made.

Enchiladas Americana

6 twelve-inch flour tortillas (unless you can get your paws on some fresh corn tortillas, in which case, go for it!)

1 16oz package of shredded cheddar/monterey jack/mexican blend cheese

2 small cans of enchilada sauce

1 small can of refried beans

1 container of shredded taco-style chicken (I like the Chi-Chi’s brand in the bright yellow tub… But if you’re a glutton for punishment, 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, shredded, and mixed with a packet of taco seasoning and a bit of water will do.)

sour cream, tomatoes and diced green onions to garnish

cooking spray

Spray a glass or ceramic (metal just won’t do for this recipe…it reacts poorly with tomato products) 9″x13″ casserole dish or lasagna pan with cooking spray.  Be sure to coat the corners and sides well.  Pour half of one can of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the dish.  Preheat oven to 350°.

Place tortillas on a plate under a damp paper towel and heat in the microwave for 15 seconds or just until they’re flexible.  Lay them out on your prep surface and spread 2 tbsp refried beans onto each.  Top the beans with 3-4 tbsp of chicken mixture and a very generous pinch of cheese.

I like to fold the ends of my tortillas in burrito-style before rolling them up for a less-messy serving process, but it’s not a necessity.  Place the rolled enchilada in the casserole pan.  Repeat with the remaining 5 tortillas.  Pour the remaining can and a half of sauce on top of the enchiladas, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Cover with foil (tenting with toothpicks if necessary to keep the foil from sticking to the cheese), and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

*Tip:  spray the inside of the foil with a bit of cooking spray before the pan goes in the oven… Foil removal will be easier!

Remove enchiladas from oven and allow to stand at least 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with sour cream, green onions, or tomatoes, and serve with rice.




Read Full Post »

My husband really loves iced tea.

I really don’t.

He buys cans and cans and cans of it at the market (and the gas station, and the party store…).  The packaging says things like “home-brewed!” and “with natural flavorings!” and every can has a picture of some ancient golfer holding a lemon.  I really don’t get it.  I do get the feeling, however, that this is not what the British had in mind when they brought their national beverage of choice to the New World, but in some places more than others, tea has really caught on.

It is my understanding that in the Deep South, tea is always sweet, and is served over ice with nearly every meal.  Here in the Great Lakes region, however, tea is either served in a tiny gauze bag next to a hot cup of water and a limp lemon wedge, or artificial-raspberry-and-high-fructose-corn-syrup-flavored and straight out of spigot number three on the Coke© dispenser.

Perhaps one day global warming will bring some tropical temperatures up to the Mitten, but I think the likelihood of the southern tea tradition making its way north is a little more realistic  …Sorry, Al Gore.

Me?  Like I said, I’m not much of an iced tea drinker.

Okay, so I love a good book and a hot cup of black tea on a cold afternoon, or a chilled bottle of green tea with honey for a refreshing alternative to boring old water, and nothing is better than a steaming chai latte on a crisp fall morning, but iced tea just doesn’t really do it for me, especially with all the other bolder beverage options out there.

Sorry, Iced Tea… You’re the boring, sweet-but-not-so-special, plain-looking middle child that doesn’t really command my attention in a room full of stronger drinks.

Don’t be mad, you’re just not my type.

Mr. Dish loves you, however, and I can’t just let the man blow our childrens’ college funds on cans of processed sugar-with-artificial-tea-flavoring all the time.  I worked hard last summer to come up with an iced tea recipe that suited his fancy, both to protect his waistline and our budget.  This one makes about a week’s worth of summery tea goodness… not too sweet, not too citrusy, and no need to be left resting in the sun to breed bacteria.

I’ll even venture as far as to say that I gave it a chance, and while it won’t be upstaging my chai latte habit any time soon… it wasn’t half bad.

Home-Brewed Iced Tea

12 cups of water

1.5 cups of sugar

8 Luzianne teabags

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Bring the water to boil in a large stock pot.  Add sugar and stir till completely dissolved; bring back to a boil.  Add lemon juice and teabags, give a quick stir, cover and remove from heat.  Steep for 30-40 minutes.  Remove teabags and allow to cool.

Pour mixture into a clean gallon jug and add cold water to fill.  Shake, refrigerate, and serve over ice.



Read Full Post »

You’ve gotta love Michigan in the spring.  The birds are singing, the trees are blossoming, the road construction is humming along at the speed of molasses…  My favorite part is having to scrape my windows and turn the heat on in my car in the morning, and then cranking the air conditioning on the way home.  I don’t know why Michigan is called “The Wolverine State” when “The Bipolar-Weather State” is so much more accurate.  I mean, have any of you ever actually seen a wolverine?  …Outside of Ann Arbor or the local zoo, I mean.

Anyway, in honor of the unexpected cold snap we’re currently going through, I figured I’d give the oven some exercise and do a little baking.  Now, I love to cook, but I’m not much of a baker, so when I attempt to apply heat to flour and sugar, I try to stick to the basics.

Banana bread is a people-pleaser.  You can whip it up quickly, take it to family gatherings, bring it to work and treat your coworkers, or wrap it up in some foil and ribbon and give it as an inexpensive and delicious housewarming/get-well-soon/congrats-on-the-baby/new job/negative paternity test gift.  Kids love it because kids love bananas, and adults love it because it reminds them of being a kid.  It’s also a great way to use up those over-ripe bananas that you know no one’s going to eat, but you’re too stubborn to just throw out.  My favorite application for banana bread, however, is its use as a vehicle for butter consumption… mmm… butter.

It’s a versatile, simple recipe that everyone should have in their repertoire.

Mom’s Banana Bread

2 cups of sugar

1 cup of margarine, room-temperature

6 very ripe bananas

4 well-beaten eggs

2.5 cups of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of baking soda

(Optional add-ins:  1 cup of walnuts for the traditionalist, or 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips if you want to be the coolest aunt ever next Thanksgiving.)

Cream the sugar and margarine together, and then slowly add the eggs and bananas.  Combine the dry ingredients separately and sift or whisk to incorporate (if you’re adding walnuts or chocolate chips, add them now to coat them with flour so they don’t sink to the bottom of your loaves); add the dry ingredients to the wet slowly, folding together till completely combined. 

Do not over-mix!

Divide mixture between two greased loaf pans, or four greased mini-loaf pans.  Bake at 350° for 55 minutes.  Remove loaves from pans and cool on a baking rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.



Read Full Post »