Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe comes from my mom, and it is always a hit in my household. Sometimes I will just make the Jalapeno Chicken in my crockpot, and we will eat it in tacos instead - a little lighter, and also equally delicious!

Chicken Enchiladas

Jalapeno Chicken (recipe below)
Enchilada Sauce (recipe below)
1 package Mexican cheese (I use a three-cheese blend)
6 - 8 flour tortillas

Jalapeno Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small can chopped jalapeno chiles
1 can chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon cilantro
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin

Put all ingredients with chicken breasts in crockpot; cook for 4-5 hours. Shred chicken once cooked; set aside.

Enchilada Sauce
1 small can tomato paste
water (as needed)
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cilantro

1 teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste (I usually end up using about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

In a medium saucepan, heat tomato paste over medium. Add water, as needed, to thin paste to consistency you like. Stir in garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and cilantro. Gradually season with red pepper, until you reach desired level of spiciness. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°. Spoon ¼ cup sauce in bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Set aside. Make enchiladas - fill each tortilla with a heaping ¼ cup shredded chicken and about 2 tablespoons cheese; tightly roll up. Arrange enchiladas, seam side down, in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce; sprinkle with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil; bake until hot and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

(They may not be the prettiest enchiladas, but believe me, they taste fantastic! And luckily my husband takes amazing pictures of my food for me. Thanks sweetie!)

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography


Peanut Butter Dog Bones

I have been in the kitchen a lot lately, and have been baking so many different treats for my husband and myself. I thought it was only fair to make some dog treats for our pup, Taos. This recipe was super easy, with only four ingredients, and Taos gobbled two of them up as soon as they had cooled. A nice treat for your pet!

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Peanut Butter Dog Bones
From All Recipes

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk
Butter (I just used cooking spray)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. Stir together the flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter and milk. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Yields about 18 cookies.

Butterscotch-Chocolate Chip Bars

I have seen many recipes lately that I want to try, and these were on my list for today. I was craving chocolate, though, so I used only half as many butterscotch chips and added in some chocolate chips. With the Splenda I used in place of the sugar, these are just barely over 100 calories each - just enough to satisfy that craving for sweets (and chocolate, of course.) I think next time I would add the butterscotch & chocolate chips into the mix, rather than sprinkling them on top - it got a little messy while I was cutting them to serve.

Butterscotch Bars
Cooking Light

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
2 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels (I used 1/4 cup butterscotch chips & 1/4 cup chocolate chips instead)

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat sugars and butter at medium speed with mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add egg whites and vanilla; beat well. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.

Spread batter evenly into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with morsels. Bake at 350 for 28 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Yields 16 servings.


French-Style Country Bread

After last weekend's success with the honey wheat bread, as well as the Easter sweet bread, I decided to find a recipe for some really delicious French bread. I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website, and it was everything I was looking for. Crusty on the outside, light and airy on the inside. I was a little worried about how it would turn out, but it came out amazing. I will definitely be making this one again...and soon!

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

French-Style Country Bread
King Arthur Flour

This bread uses the sponge, or poolish, method: sort of a poor man's or woman's sourdough starter -- no feedings, little pre-planning, lots of flexibility and superb bread. I usually make this dough, sponge starter and all, in the bread machine, but you can do it by hand, processor, or stand mixer. After barbecue season, bake this bread in the conventional oven but atomize it with water to get that crisp crust. If you've always wanted crusty, hole-ridden, French-style bread, this is the ticket.

Sponge Starter (Begin 2 to 16 hours ahead)
1 cup (8 ounces) cool to lukewarm water, preferably spring water (90 to 100°F)
1/2 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
1 1/4 cups (6 3/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) King Arthur White Whole Wheat or Traditional Whole Wheat Flour


All of the sponge starter (above)
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water, preferably spring water (l00 to 115°F)
3/4 teaspoon active dry or 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3 3/4 to 4 cups (1 pound to 1 pound 1 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

To Make The Sponge: Stir all of the sponge ingredients together to make a thick, pudding-like mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on a counter overnight or for at least 2 to 4 hours. If you're making this in a bread machine, place the sponge ingredients inside, and turn the machine on for just a few seconds to mix the ingredients together. Turn the machine off and close the cover. Let the sponge rest for 4 hours or overnight (anywhere between 2 and 16 hours is fine, the longer the better).

To Make The Dough: Stir down the sponge with a spoon and add the water, yeast, sugar, most of the flour (hold back about 1/2 cup to use if required), and salt. Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary, to make a soft dough, 10 to 12 minutes.

Note: You may also do this in your bread machine, using the Dough or Manual setting. After the dough has finished kneading, place it in a lightly greased bowl, and continue as directed below.

Big Tip: Mix ingredients together using up to 80% of the flour called for: it will be a loose, messy mass. Let the dough rest for 12 minutes, and you'll see it change in texture, to be come much smoother. Continue, kneading and adding additional flour as required. Overall, the dough handles better once its had time for the flour to absorb the water while resting and relaxing. By using this method, you'll tend to add less flour, and have much bigger holes in your finished bread.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or plastic container, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and a damp towel, and let it rise until almost doubled (depending on the weather, this could be l to 2 hours). If you're going out, or if you prefer, let the dough rise slowly in the fridge. If your dough has been refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature; it'll warm up and rise at the same time. After its first rise, deflate the dough gently, b
ut don't knock out all the air; this will create those "holes" so important to French bread. Form the dough into a round ball. Place two cookie sheets atop one another, and place a semolina- or cornmeal-dusted piece of parchment paper on top. Gently place the ball of dough on the cookie sheets, seam-side down. Cover it lightly with a tea towel, and let it rise the second time until it's puffy and about 40% to 50% larger, anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes (depending on the weather, luck, and magic). Slash or cross-hatch the bread with a sharp knife or lame. Dust it with a little flour.

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Slash the bread, spritz water into the oven with a clean plant mister, and place the bread in the oven. Reduce the heat to 425°F and spritz with water every few minutes for the first 15 minutes of baking. Bake the bread for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until it tests done.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Yield: 1 large round bread or two medium breads, 10 to 12 servings.


Crumb-topped Banana Muffins

I had a bunch of bananas that were going bad, so I figured banana-nut muffins were the way to go to use them up. I found this recipe on Recipezaar, with a ton of rave reviews. They did not disappoint! The topping is sweet and crunchy, and the muffins are so light and moist. Very, very good - I doubt they will last long in our house!
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Crumb-topped Banana Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
1 tablespoon cold butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional) - I used chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients; set aside. Mix bananas, sugar, egg, and butter. Stir into dry mixture just until moistened. Pour mixture into muffin cups, about 3/4 full.

Combine first three topping ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the muffins. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until muffins test done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.


Lemon Squares

I wanted to prepare a light dessert to serve after our Easter dinner. I found this quick and easy recipe for lemon bars on Cooking Light, and they were the perfect finish to our feast. I changed the crust up a little, using graham crackers instead - very tasty.

Easy Lemon Squares
adapted from Cooking Light

1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, softened
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare the crust, beat 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the butter at medium speed of a mixer until creamy. Add 1 cup graham cracker crumbs to sugar mixture, beating at low speed until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Gently press mixture into bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

To prepare topping, beat eggs at medium speed until foamy. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients (3/4 cup granulated sugar through salt), and beat until well-blended. Pour mixture over partially baked crust. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar evenly over top.

Yields 16 servings


Tulips & Easter Bread

My mom sent us some tulips for Easter; they were so beautiful I thought they deserved a post of their own. They were the perfect spring addition to our brunch on Sunday. Thanks Mom!

So I decided to go all out for Easter this year. (So I was a little overambitious.) We had a really yummy brunch on Sunday morning with coffee-nut scones, fresh berries, coffee & o.j. (and mimosas for Nick.) We rarely get time to sit down to breakfast together, so it was a really nice departure from our normal coffee-&-cereal-bars grab & go breakfast.

Then came the Easter Bread.

After my success with the honey wheat bread, I decided to try my hand at this recipe for Greek Easter Bread that I found on Cooking Light. The photo of the buttery, golden, braided bread on the website was a bit intimidating, but I was confident I could pull it off. And I did! It was slightly sweet, with a little spice...delicious with a little honey and butter.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Greek Easter Bread
from Cooking Light

1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 cup warm water (100 - 110 degrees)
Dash of salt
Dash of sugar
2 packages dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons each)
4 3/4 cups bread flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg yolk

Place allspice and cinnamon in a spice or coffee grinder, and process until finely ground. Set aside.

Combine water, dash of salt, dash of sugar, and yeast in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour to yeast mixture, stirring until well combined. Let stand 20 minutes.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in allspice mixture. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture; stir with a whisk until well combined. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Add 3 1/2 cups flour, about 1 cup at a time, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky.)

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press 2 fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Divide dough into 3 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 14-inch-long rope. Place ropes lengthwise on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (do not stretch); pinch ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Lightly coat dough with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg yolk, stirring with a whisk. Brush half of yolk mixture over loaf. Let stand for 5 minutes. Repeat procedure with the remaining yolk mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Yields 20 servings.


Honey Wheat Bread

I have always been a tiny bit afraid of yeast breads. Quick breads, no problem. But I had never attempted a recipe for yeast bread. I am happy to say that after this weekend, I have conquered my fear of yeast and now have a whole slew of new recipes I want to try. I am a total carbaholic (and I suspect my husband is too), as we devoured an entire loaf of this in a day. It was a great recipe for my foray into bread-making, as the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. A great beginner bread, and the end result was delicious!

I used butter in place of the shortening, and it came out beautifully. I used my Kitchenaid mixer to help with the kneading, but I also found some great tips on kneading and shaping bread here.

Honey Wheat Bread
from All Recipes

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Ready in: 2 hours 30 minutes
Yields: 24 servings

1 (.25 ounce) package rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F - it took about 30 seconds in my microwave to reach this temperature)
1 (12 fluid oz.) can evaporated milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons butter

Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.

Combine milk, 1/4 cup water, butter, honey, salt, and wheat flour in food processor or bowl (I used my mixer with the dough hook attachment.) Mix in yeast mixture, and let rest 15 minutes. Add white flour, and process until dough forms a ball. Knead dough in mixer for an additional 80 seconds, or mix and knead by hand 10 minutes. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Punch down, and divide the dough in half. Roll out each half, and pound out the bubbles. Form into loaves (see site listed above for hints on shaping your bread), and place in buttered 9 x 5 inch bread pans. Butter the tops of the dough, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area* until doubled; second rise should take about 30 minutes.

Place a small pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tops are dark golden brown. Butter crusts while warm. Slice when cool.

*I searched for recommendations for places in my home where I could find a "warm area", or a place that is about 85 degrees and draft-free. One site recommends using an electric heating pad set on medium; to test the temperature of your heating pad, place the container you plan to let your dough rise in on the pad for 15 minutes with an oven thermometer in the bottom, and adjust heat levels accordingly. I also found a site that suggested turning on the oven for 30 seconds - mine is gas - and testing the temperature with an oven thermometer. This method worked best for me - a quick and easy way to control the environment for your bread to rise in.



This past week has been crazy, between my husband's Ireland documentary show openings, his birthday on the 12th, and visits from both of our families, so unfortunately I haven't found much time to myself lately. But I got home from work a little early tonight, and Nick is working late, so I thought I would make myself a little treat. I was not about to make another trip to the store, so I searched for a recipe that would work with the items I had on hand. I finally decided I would make some snickerdoodles. I am pretty sure I have never actually even had one of these, but I can't figure out why - they are awesome!


3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour because I ran out of AP flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar (again, I used Splenda)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar (Splenda), brown sugar, and butter in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat just until combined. Shape dough into 30 balls (I only was able to get 24 out of this recipe, despite making them somewhat small.)

Combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar (Splenda) and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small shallow dish. Roll balls in sugar mixture, and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 8 minutes or until tops crack. Cool on pans for 1 minute. Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.

This is just for you, Nick ;) Happy Birthday!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

So this was the first time I've ever made soup at home. Neither my husband nor I eat (drink?) soup very often, but this recipe caught my eye and I had to try it out. I made this soup in my crockpot and it turned out really well. I paired it with some freshly baked cornbread. This was a nice warm meal to come home to after a chilly, late-afternoon walk on the beach.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
adapted from Cooking Light

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeno pepper (I used 1 Tbsp. canned diced jalapeno)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 (14 1/4-ounce) cans no-salt-added chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced peeled tomatoes (such as Del Monte Fresh Cut), undrained
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat reduced-sodium tomato soup (such as Campbell's Healthy Request), undiluted
1 1/4 cups baked tortilla chips, crushed
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream (I omitted this and instead used 1/2 cup Mexican cheese)

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 2 minutes. Add chicken to crockpot; add sauteed onion & garlic, and next 9 ingredients (corn through tomato soup) and cook on high for 4 -5 hours. Ladle soup into bowls; top with tortilla chips and sour cream (cheese).

Trader Joe's Cornbread

1 package cornbread mix
1 egg
1/2 cup oil (I used applesauce instead, which made it deliciously sweet and moist, and as an added bonus, lowered the fat/calorie content.)
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 8 x 8 baking pan. Mix egg, applesauce, and milk until combined. Add cornbread mix and mix until combined - do not overmix. Pour mixture into baking pan and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.