Preston's Birthday Menu

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I knew I wanted to serve up some Mexican style food for Preston's family party, but I couldn't decide which kinds of enchiladas to make. I have tried so many good ones recently that I want everyone to try, sooo I decided to just make them all! We'll be having an enchilada bar :-).

Here's the menu...
Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Perfect Enchiladas
Southwestern Enchiladas
Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Along with...
Tortilla Chips
Cilantro Lime Rice
Garlic Black Beans
Restaurant Style Salsa
Fancy Guacamole
Cubed Watermelon

And for dessert...
Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
Chocolate Cupcakes (from the box) w/ Cream Cheese Frosting (from the tub)
Strawberry Shortcakecake (not a typo :-)
and varieties of M&M's

Latin Baked Chicken

This is another recipe from the June 2010 of Cooking Light and I LOVED this chicken! It was sweet, but still had some kick to it and the sauce formed a yummy, almost crispy glaze over the chicken. I only used 2 chicken breasts and I was really, really, wishing I had made more so I would have leftovers today...it would be SO good sliced on top of a crisp green salad! (Oh, and did I mention, only 5 ingredients!)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 T less-sodium soy sauce
2 T honey
2 T minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
8 (4-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (I used 2 chicken breasts)

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400°.
-Combine lime juice, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, and chipotle in a large bowl.
-Add chicken, and toss well to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature.
-Arrange the chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray, reserving marinade.
-Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Place reserved marinade in a blender, and process until smooth.
-Place pureed marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook 3 minutes.
-Brush chicken with half of cooked sauce; return to oven and bake an additional for 10 minutes. Brush chicken with remaining sauce; bake an additional 10 minutes.

Zucchini Croquettes

This recipe in the most recent Cooking Light magazine was actually called Summer Squash Croquettes, but I like Zucchini better, so that's what I used instead. These were a bit messy to make, but tasty little guys. Ella especially loved them, but she is my zucchini lover :-). Addie on the other hand told me she does not like things with green in them...we can't win them all over I guess. I really liked them and next time want to come up with a zesty ranch sort of dip to serve them with.

Ingredients:
4 2/3 cups coarsely chopped yellow squash (I used zucchini)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup crushed saltine crackers, about 30 crackers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided (I used quite a bit more oil than this)
Sliced green onions (optional)

Directions:
1. Steam squash and 1/2 cup onions, covered, 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well.
(I don't have a steamer and ended up boiling them after an unsuccessful attempt at rigging up my own steamer :-)
Mash mixture with a fork. Stir in crackers and next 3 ingredients (through eggs). Cover and chill for 3 hours (I put in freezer for 45 minutes); drain well in a fine mesh strainer (I didn't do this).
2. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish. Divide squash mixture into 12 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Dip in cornmeal mixture. Lightly coat each patty with cooking spray.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Place 4 patties in pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove patties from pan. Repeat procedure 2 times with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and 8 patties. Garnish with onions, if desired. Serve immediately.

Puerto Rican Chicken and Potatoes

This is another recipe I saw in a Rachel Ray magazine (I'm working through my stack of ripped out recipes) and I LOVED this! The flavors were great and reminded me of dishes I ate in Uganda actually. Although the girls weren't big fans, Mike and I both thought it was really, really good. I made a little rice to go with it too and the extra sauce on the rice was DELISH! The chicken shreds apart like it has been cooked in the crock pot and I love potatoes with any meal...definitely a keeper :-)!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (I used 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
Salt and pepper
1 onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound small red potatoes, halved (I used 1 lb)
One 8-ounce can Spanish-style tomato sauce, such as Goya (I found a jar of Goya sofrito sauce, 12 oz, and used the whole thing)
Chopped cilantro, for sprinkling

Directions:
1.In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons oil in the pan.
2.Using a food processor, puree the onion. Add to the reserved skillet along with the garlic, scraping up any browned bits. Puree the red pepper and add to the skillet along with the cumin and bay leaf. (I don't have a food processor, so I put the onion and red pepper in my blender with some of the tomato sauce to puree it)Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the potatoes, tomato sauce and 1 cup water. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
3.Add the chicken, skin side up; cover and simmer, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Top with the cilantro.

Coney Island Chili Dogs

This is a Rachel Ray recipe that I knew our family would be excited about...and they were a big hit! I put my chili on my fries since I can't eat the hot dog on a bun and it was really good too :-). Sometimes it's fun to make something that seems like a treat for everyone and this fit the bill!

Ingredients:
8 hot dog buns
1 pound ground beef (I used 1/2 lb)
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
One 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon yellow mustard, plus more for topping
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
8 beef hot dogs in natural casings (I made sure to get good quality dogs, but they weren't in casings)

Directions:
1.Preheat the oven to 300°. Wrap the hot dog rolls in foil. Place the rolls in the oven and heat through. (I toasted ours in the toaster)
In a large skillet, cook the beef, half of the onions and the garlic over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat, until the onions are softened and the meat is cooked though, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup water, the tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes.
2.Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the hot dogs with water and bring to a boil. Cook until heated through, about 8 minutes. Place the hot dogs in the rolls and top with the chili, the remaining onions and extra mustard.

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

After not eating Mexican food for a whole week, I really needed some :-)! I saw these new enchiladas posted on My Kitchen Cafe and couldn't wait to try them. Enchiladas with sour cream sauce are one of my favorite things to order at Mexican restaurants so I was really excited that these had one. They were very, very good! Although the beans were really good in them, I think next time I'll leave them out so they have a more restaurant flavor to them. We'll definitely be making these ones again!!!
Filling:
3 cups cooked, chopped chicken (I used 1 can chicken)
2 (4 oz.) cans of green chiles, lightly drained
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, cubed (I used 1/3 the fat)
1 can white or black beans, rinsed and drained (I used black)
Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
2 tablespoons flour (I used cornstarch)
1/3 cup chicken broth
¼ cup milk (I used whole milk)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 can (7 ounce) green chile enchilada sauce
½ cup sour cream (I used light)
Other:
8 ounces (about 2 cups) Monterey jack cheese, shredded
8 medium (soft taco size) flour tortillas (I used 15 corn)
Handful of chopped fresh cilantro (totally forgot this...and I know I would have loved it!)

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and green chiles. Mix well. Add the chicken and black beans. Mix to combine. Set aside.
-In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. As you whisk and the mixture cooks, the flour will get less lumpy around the onions and the mixture will become smooth. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the enchilada sauce and sour cream.
-Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish. Spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the dish. Fill each tortilla with about ½ cup of the chicken/cream cheese filling. Top with a small handful of shredded cheese, a couple tablespoonfuls for each enchilada. Save at least 1/2 cup cheese for the top of the enchiladas. Roll the tortillas up and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Continue filling enchiladas until the dish is full.
-Pour the white sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the enchiladas are bubbling, hot and lightly browned. Sprinkle fresh cilantro over the top and serve.

Fancy Guacamole (and Ella's favorite dinner)

After some trial and error I started making my guacamole like this and it has worked for us. When I saw this version on The Sister's Cafe though, I had to try it because, although similar to my own, this one looked like the real deal that I love at restaurants. It's amazing the difference some red onion and tomato can make! LOVE it.
The guacamole also went perfectly with our dinner last night...this is Ella's favorite meal currently. She gets a little tired of me always trying new recipes and was thrilled to have "taco bell" tacos for dinner last night. Store bought shells, ground beef cooked with taco seasoning and one of her other favorites (refried beans) as a side :-).
Guacamole Ingredients:
4 ripe Haas avocados
3 Tbs squeezed lemon juice
8 dashes Tabasco sauce
½ cup small-diced red onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 to 1½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, Tabasco, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of the shells. Dice the avocados into pieces and add into the bowl. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

Baked Leek, Potato, and Parmesan Frittata

We are home again and I'm finally starting to catch up and get life back on track. I saw this recipe in Martha Stewart's magazine and thought it looked and sounded great. It was easy and filling, despite being meatless. The flavors are subtle and as Martha describes, "comforting." Definitely a keeper!

Ingredients:
1/2 t extra-virgin olive oil
1 c water
4 leeks (about 1 lb), white and pale-green parts only, rinsed well and sliced into 1/4 in rounds
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cute into 1/2 in cubes
coarse salt
8 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites
1/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 c part-skim ricotta cheese, drained
1/3 c finely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 9 in square baking dish with oil. Bring water to a simmer in a medium skillet over high heat. Add leeks, garlic, and potatoes; season with 1/2 salt. Reduce heat to med-low, and cook, covered, until potatoes are just tender, 8-10 min. Let cool.
-Whisk together eggs, whites, 1/2 t salt, and the cayenne. Fold in potato mixture and ricotta. Mix in 1/4 c Parmesan cheese. Pour mixture into dish, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Bake until edges are set, about 12 min. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, and bake until set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. let cool for 10 minutes.

Marsala Chicken and Mushroom Casserole

This Rachael Ray recipe is my new favorite. I am in love with it and couldn't stop eating it :-)! I wish we had leftovers, because it is sounding awfully good again right about now. I made an extra dish for a friend, I didn't double the mushrooms and chicken (just divided the 10 oz between the 2 dishes and used 3 cups of chicken divided between the 2) but doubled everything else.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
10 ounces sliced mushrooms
(I added 1 t minced garlic and 1/2 white onion, chopped)
1 1/2 tablespoons flour (or cornstarch)
1/2 cup marsala wine or white wine (I used marsala cooking wine)
1/2 cup heavy cream (next time I'll try using a FF version instead)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
1 cup long-grain rice
2 packed cups coarsely chopped rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
1.Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat until just melted. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on top and stir in for 1 minute. Stir in the marsala and cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water, the parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
2.In a greased 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole, spread the rice in an even layer; top with the chicken. Pour the mushroom gravy on top. Cover snugly with foil and bake until bubbly, about 35 minutes. Discard the foil, sprinkle the parmesan on top and bake for 5 minutes more.

Zucchini, Cherry Tomato, and Fresh Ricotta Pasta

This recipe comes from teh May 2010 issue of Cooking Light. It is a perfect summer dish...nice and light and easy and cool. And can I just say that making my own Ricotta cheese was SO easy and I felt like quite the cook, or pioneer, but either way very accomplished :-). The girls weren't fans of the tomatoes but both wanted seconds of the pasta and zucchini. It would be great with some grilled chicken thrown in the mix too!
Ingredients:
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
6 quarts water
8 ounces uncooked fettuccine (I used gluten-free spirals)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons small mint leaves (I didn't use)

Directions:
1. Combine milk and buttermilk in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; drain. Place milk solids in a small bowl; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Toss gently to combine.
2. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook 7 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add zucchini; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently; stir in tomatoes. Combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta, and tomato mixture in a large bowl; toss. Top with ricotta and mint. (and lots of freshly ground pepper and sea salt!)

Italian Meatball Subs

When I saw this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe I knew Mike would LOVE it, so I decided to give it a try. The meatballs are sooo good! And of course, in combination with the melted cheese and homemade bread, it makes for one delicious sandwich. She advises using the recipe for french bread rolls and shaping them into more sub-like rolls (which I need some practice on :-). The only problem I had was there were WAY more meatballs than rolls, so double the roll recipe, and you have enough meatballs to make about 10 sandwiches.

Meatball Ingredients:
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs or crushed saltines
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese (I used Parmesan)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional (I put them in and think they added SO much to the flavor!)
2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
To dredge the meatballs:
1 1/2 cups flour in a shallow baking dish
For the Sauce:
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the sandwiches:
1 recipe French Bread Rolls, shaped into sub rolls and baked according to the recipe
Sliced mozzarella or provolone cheese (we used mozzarella)

Directions:
(if you are baking the rolls the same day, start them first)
*In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients together EXCEPT the meat. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes so the breadcrumbs/crackers can soak up the liquid a little bit. Add the meat and mix well with your hands until all the ingredients are combined.
*Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. Form golf ball-sized meatballs and dredge them in the flour until lightly coated. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet about one inch apart. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked through.
*Combine the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes on low. Keep warm until the meatballs are finished baking.
*When the meatballs come out of the oven, let them sit for about 15 minutes. Gently scrape off any fat and place the meatballs in a 9X13-inch baking dish, or similar size. Pour the hot tomato sauce over the meatballs. (I just added the meatballs to the large saucepan I cooked the sauce in)
*To assemble the sandwiches, slice the buns in half. (If desired, lay the buns flat open on a baking sheet and top one side with cheese – toast in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 400 degrees until the buns are toasted and cheese is melted.) Place 3-4 meatballs on each bun and top with desired amount of sauce. Serve immediately with lots of napkins.