Vegetarian and Beef Enchiladas

We had company. Usually when we have a few people over I make enchiladas with beef or chicken especially in the winter when we can’t grill. This time one of our guests was a vegetarian. Never let it be said that a southern girl’s hospitality is lacking. Even if she lives in NY now. So I made both beef enchiladas and lentil enchiladas. Here are a few pictures. I didn’t get a completed vegetarian picture before they were all consumed. Sorry. The beef looked pretty though. Both recipes are in this post. Also, I premade the beef enchiladas the night before and sat it out on the counter to warm up a bit while I made the lentil enchiladas and baked both together.

Vegetarian Lentil Enchiladas

(This recipe takes some forethought.  The lentils need to be cooked overnight or during the work day.)

1.5 cups Lentils (I do not know the difference between them and our bag just said lentils.)

1/4 cup chopped Onion

Garlic (to taste)

1 tbsp Chili powder

2 tsp Cumin powder

3 tbsp Veggie broth

3 cups Water


Combine well in the crock pot and cook overnight or all day on low (8 hours or so). Mine almost burned because I overslept so if you are going to be late….Note to self: add more water. Turn off the crock pot. Next stir it up good. Did you know it really slows down crock pot cooking when we remove the lid to repeatedly stir. I had no idea until I read it in an article. Get out the tortillas. This time I used flour but I really love the corn. If you are using corn I suggest heating up a small pit of oil (couple of drops) and then frying them on each side for a bit. They should bubble a little and will  be super hot to handle. However, no breakage when rolling an enchilada. I wonder if steaming them in the microwave would work too? Something to try. Any type of canned sauce (red or green works). I chose green this time since my beef got red sauce. Once the tortillas are ready, dredge them through the sauce and fill them up with lentils. Place in a 13X9 baking dish until the dish is full pouring the remaining sauce over all the enchiladas. Smother with cheeses (grated Colby jack and crumbled Queso fresco), diced black olives and green onions.

Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes. If your cheese doesn’t look melted remove the foil and keep an eye on it. The first picture shown has some of the ingredients I used in the Vegetarian recipe like the rice blend. My lentil enchiladas had cilantro, lime rice and sauteed spinach and mushrooms in them. Even the carnivores loved ’em.


Beef Enchilada Recipe

2 lbs of ground Beef

1 packet Taco seasoning (I like reduced sodium.)

1 can Rotel with lime and cilantro

1 Onion diced


1 tsp Hot Paprika or cayenne

2 tsp ground Cumin

Brown beef and onion in a large skillet and drain away fat. Add spices and Rotel. Simmer. Next prepare the tortillas. See recipe above for this. Dredge tortillas in the red sauce then fill with meat and cheese. Place in the pan and repeat until nothing else will fit in the pan. (I had a little meat left over so I placed it on top of the enchiladas.)  Cover with sauce, cheese, olives, and green onion. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes covered. Uncover for a few minutes and continue to bake if your cheese isn’t melted enough.

Serve with black beans, refried beans, cilantro lime rice, or a fresh corn salsa. Enjoy!


Turkey the Multiple Meal Bird: Recipe 2

Next up for my little baked birdie is Turkey Tetrazzini. I loaded it up with veggies too. Now this recipe is everywhere so I will only tell you how I made it. There are beaucoup tetrazzine recipes to choose from. I chose a few and combined them. No links in this post. As always recipes are a guideline so if anything isn’t already in the kitchen you don’t HAVE to have it to make this recipe tasty. Except the turkey, noodles, and gravy.


Turkey Tetrazzini

2 cups cooked turkey, chopped (mine was leftover from recipe 1)

8 oz mushrooms sliced

1/2 an onion

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 carrot diced

2 celery ribs diced

1/4 cup diced frozen peppers (off season I keep a bag of frozen sliced bell peppers in the freezer to grab when I need)


(This pic is before the gravy and breadcrumbs. Don’t those veggies look pretty?)

1 cup Parmesan

1 can condensed milk

1 cup milk (skim or whatever)

2 tbsp chicken granuals

pepper to taste

Italian seasoning

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 tbsp butter

olive oil

1/2 cup or so of flour

Garlic powder to taste

1/2 box of spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350. Dice vegetables. Saute onions and mushrooms in olive oil. Once tender add celery, carrot, and peas. We like our veggies a little crunchy so I removed them from heat after a minute or two and placed them in a bowl with the chopped turkey. Next up, I poured the condensed milk and milk in the skillet with the chicken granuals, garlic powder, and some flour. I use a plastic coated whisk to combine the flour. That way it doesn’t scratch my cookware. On medium low heat I made a gravy. Not too thick though. You want to pour it over everything in the end. In a 9X13 baking dish (lightly greased) layer the drained noodles, turkey veggie mix, and then gravy. Melt butter in a dish then add Italian seasoning, garlic, and pepper. Mix. Add breadcrumbs and cheese. Mix. Top the casserole with it and bake for 25 minutes. The tetrazzini should be bubbling visibly. That’s how you know it’s done.

The dish is simple but filling and it uses leftover turkey. Any other turkey dish as a substitution is fine. Part of what I am trying to show with these three posts is that being thrifty doesn’t mean compromising on taste. Turkey sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. Then recipe 3 to complete the Turkey Trilogy. One 6 1/2 lb bird can go a long way. Remember, turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving!

Turkey the Multiple Meal Bird: Recipe 1

After the holidays Jake and I stock up on sale priced ham and turkey to eat throughout the year. Needless to say we try to be thrifty, we buy in bulk when it’s a good deal and we have a BIG freezer. Right now we have 1 turkey and 5 hams in there. Not to mention all the other stuff. Home made baby food is taking up a lot of real estate these days. It’s a good thing that kid is cute.
So turkey was on sale and I bought a few smaller 6 or 7 lb birds. Jake buys stuff and gets the big boys but I am wise to the game now. We (girls and I) do not like to eat the same thing for 5 weeks or until it turns moldy. Jake will. Ditto with the leftovers. I can eat something once or twice after the initial meal then I am done like the dishes.
Anyway…this one little bird is going to feed my family several times without making us (girls and I) gag. Recipe 1: Roasting  The turkey. Here is the recipe I altered to fit my needs from the Barefoot Contessa:

Oven Roasted Herbed Turkey
(I brined this one. Don’t think I’m going to do that again. Totally going the browning bag method next time.)

1 whole turkey 6 or 7 lbs cleaned up
8 garlic cloves
3 celery ribs roughly chopped
1 large onion roughly chopped
2 oranges quartered
1/2 tbsp dried sage
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 325.

Wash and clean the turkey taking out and discarding the packet inside (unless you use it for something else). Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. In a separate bowl mix olive oil, spices, salt and pepper, and the juice of half an orange. Stir it up good and slather on the turkey. I should note that I loosened the skin and put some under it as well. Use it until it’s gone. At this point you should have your baking pan out with the baking bag resting in it.
Open your baking bag and insert the turkey and roughly gut veggies, garlic, and oranges. Now take that dry white wine and fill the bottom of the bag. You might want to hold the bag so it doesn’t run out. Slit a few holes in the top of the bag to vent. Then bake. My turkey was done in about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Please check your turkey with a thermometer. Temp at thickest part of the bird should read 165.
Rest the turkey for at least 15 minutes. Resting ensures a juicier bird. I rested mine for about 30 minutes.

We enjoyed this recipe. I served it with spaghetti squash gratin. The reason I am not brining again is because it turned out kinda salty. I thought I thoroughly washed that bird but saltiness was a bit of an issue. Not in that ewww I am not eating this issue but just enough of one to make me try the brown bag method next time. Jake is not into salt. If you can brine like a champ then go for it. I did this one in a roasting pan and filled the bottom of the pan with the wine. My bird was foiled on top half way through to stop the skin from over browning.
After this dinner Jake carved the bird. We saved the drippings and such left in the pan along with the carcass. Each was stored separately in the fridge for future uses. Turkey sandwiches were eaten the next day. I have 2 more recipes I will make from this one bird.

Easter Hot Cross Bun Alternative

Today I was poking through my pantry looking for something sweet to eat because let’s face it, I would need more than a 12 step program to even consider backing away from refined sugar. My sweet tooth is legend. Donuts should be a food group! But I digress…
Easter is around the corner. I am already working on Easter baskets for the girls. Last year we were in Denver and my Mother in law made Hot Cross Buns. In all of my years I can’t remember ever eating one. Sure I have heard about them but my family never made them. I really liked them so I was thinking I could make them this year. Or something like them. I had raisin but my Mother in Law used currants. I created my own concoction.

Iced Fruitcake Buns

Candied fruit bun

Iced Fruit Cake Bun


or maybe Candied Fruit Rolls?

Before you gag, hear me out. Candied fruit is pretty good and it lasts for up to 2 years in the pantry but how often do we actually use it? Exactly! Either I am in the dark about more recipes made with candied fruit or it’s all cookies and cake. I looked around the net and found a hot cross buns recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s site-does she make anything that tastes bad?! That woman is talented and responsible for a bit of the extra baggage on my hips. But yum! Anyway, she has a dough recipe for hot cross buns and cinnamon rolls. You can find it here:
As always I took liberties with it to suit my purposes. Here is my version of the recipe. I checked around the net and did not see this recipe anywhere. I even used different name combinations.

Iced Fruitcake Buns

2 cups Skim Milk
2 tbsp real butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 oil
-Scald milk, oil, sugar, and butter. Do not boil. Remove from heat and rest it for 30 minutes.
4 cups all purpose flour
1 package of active dry yeast
-Pour milk mixture into a mixing bowl and add yeast first then flour. Mix well. The dough will be sticky. Cover bowl of dough for 1 hour to rise.
1/2 tsp of baking soda (leveled)
1/2 tsp of baking powder plus 1/8 tsp
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
-Add soda, powder, salt, and flour to dough and mix well.
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of cloves
1/4 cup sugar
– mix in a separate bowl
1 cup candied fruit
1/2 cup walnuts finely chopped
-On a floured surface flatten out dough. It will be sticky so add flour as needed. Sprinkle a couple of spoon fulls of the cinnamon mixture over the dough. Then 1/3 of the nuts and candied fruit. Just eyeball it. Fold the dough over itself and repeat this step until everything is gone. Knead the dough to combine.
-Spray some cooking spray on two cookie sheets. Ball the dough into golf ball sized pieces and place on the cookie sheets until gone. It makes approximately 32.
-Cover with towels and rest for 30 minutes.
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
1 egg white
Splash of skim milk
-Whisk together and brush on top of buns.
-Bake on middle rack one cookie sheet at a time. (My oven wouldn’t fit both.)
-Check buns at 10 minutes. Mine took about 15 minutes to achieve a nice golden brown but they could have come out before then. So check at 10 and leave them in longer if needed. All oven temps vary a bit.
-Cool on a wire rack.
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp water
powdered sugar to thicken
-Melt the butter completely and add the vanilla and water. Mix well. Slowly add powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency. Thick enough to drizzle and glaze a la cinnamon roll.

Done! I thought they turned out pretty well. Next time I am thickening my icing more but other than that I am happy with the outcome. Oh, and I am freezing half of the buns because the recipe made so many. We shall see how that turns out too! Now I’m all set for Easter just because I wanted something sweet.

Creamy Tomato Pesto Chicken with Penne

One day I was perusing Pinterest as usual when I came across this recipe from the Southern Girl Cooking blog. It looked good and I had most of the ingredients (recipes are a guideline). So I made it with some changes including more garlic (we love garlic) and  fat free Greek yogurt. I love Greek yogurt too! The fridge usually has a large container of it not just to eat with fruit but to cook with. I even make biscuits with the stuff. So here is where I found the original recipe: and here is my recipe. I should note that the chicken should marinate overnight in the garlic pesto mixture but I have made it after marinating for a couple of hours and it was still good.

1/2 bottle of Lawry’s Herb and Garlic Marinade
2 large spoonfuls of Pesto
2 boneless chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks

Marinate overnight or whatever in the fridge. Then cook in a skillet with 2 tablespoons chicken stock granules (or more if you like) until done. I occasionally add a little water if it looks to thick. Use your best judgement. This makes the base for your cream sauce which should end up thick enough to coat the pasta good.

8 ounces of Penne pasta (could be whole wheat or plain) Cooked in a large pot and drained. I then put the pasta back in the large pot after I combine the sauce ingredients in it to mix everything together.


Chicken with base sauce
8 ounces or so of Greek Yogurt (6 works too)
3 or more cloves of garlic minced
2 spoonfuls or more of pesto
1 can tomato paste
Black pepper to taste

My picky kid eats this. Who knew? Pesto? I thought she was going to hate it but she doesn’t complain. Serve it with garlic bread and a caprice salad. Or whatever you have. Sometimes we have plain old bread toasted with butter and garlic salt old school style.

Great Northern Bean Soup…a family favorite.

Today is a soup day. Jake is sick and snow is on the ground. My household loves this easy to make healthy soup. I found the recipe on Pinterest then “lost” it. So I am posting it here with my adjustments. My philosophy on recipes is that they are a basic guideline that does not alway need to strict adhesion. This is the link to the original

My recipe additions and swaps go like this:

1/2 pound dried great northern beans, soaked overnight
10 cups water
4 tsp. chicken bouillon granuals or to taste
3/4 cup celery or more diced
1 cup onion or more diced
1 cup carrot diced
1 cup smoked ham diced
1 large can of diced tomato
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme

Secret Ingredient: 4 cloves of garlic minced. We are a garlic lovin’ family so this goes in everything.
Soak beans, in enough water to cover, overnight. Drain; rinse and place in large soup pot with 10 cups fresh water and bouillon cubes. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer. Cook 1 hr until tender but firm on the inside. Add garlic, celery, onions, and carrots; cook 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add ham, tomato, salt, pepper, and thyme; mix well. Cook 10 minutes.