Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shrimp in Angel Hair Pasta

My friend, Lydia, keeps asking me when I'm going to put this recipe on the blog. It is a recipe that is elegant and yet so easy! A very fine dish for company that always yields compliments. So, Lydia, this one's for YOU!
What I serve with this varies. . . good accompaniments would be: sugar snap peas, fresh spinach salad and crusty sour dough bread and for dessert how about Lemonade Party Cake.

2 Eggs
1 Cup half-and-half
1 Cup plain yogurt
½ Cup grated swiss cheese
1/3 Cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 Cup chopped parsley
1/4 Cup chopped fresh basil OR 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1 pkg.(9 ozs) Uncooked FRESH angel hair pasta (dried does not work in this recipe)
1 jar (16 ozs) mild, thick and chunky salsa
1 lb small to medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ Cup grated monterey jack cheese
Butter a 12 x 8 inch pan. Combine eggs, half-and-half, yogurt, swiss cheese, feta cheese, parsley, basil and oregano in medium bowl; mix well. Spread ½ of the pasta on bottom of prepared pan. Cover with salsa. Add ½ of the shrimp. Cover with remaining pasta. Spread egg mixture over pasta and top with remaining shrimp. Sprinkle jack cheese over top. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 30 min. or until bubbly. Let stand 10 min.
Note: The combination of yogurt, the variety of cheeses, and salsa does not sound good! But this is a fantastic recipe and a great combination of flavors. I’ve tried it with cooked white chicken and it is good, but not quite as good as the shrimp.

1 pkg Lemon cake mix (yellow cake mix works okay)
1 ¼ cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 can (6 ozs) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (¾ cup)
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tub lemon frosting or fluffy white frosting
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 13 x 9 can pan. Make cake mix as directed on package, using water, oil and eggs. Pour into pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Mix lemonade concentrate and powdered sugar. Pierce cake every ½ inches or so with a long-tined fork. Drizzle lemonade mixture evenly over top of cake. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours. Spread frosting over top of cake. Store cake, covered, in refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mexican Food Appetizers

It's not JUST chips and salsa. . . How about Layered Bean Dip with chips or Chili-Cheese Dip with chips? Everytime I make chili-cheese dip I am reminded of a time (back in the 80s) when my kids were young and we'd get together with friends for evenings of Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary. There were several families that got together frequently and as "the women folk" would start discussing whose house we were going to gather at and what we were going to fix for munchies, the question would come up "who's bringing the chili cheese dip?" It was such a standard dish that the question was never "should we have chili cheese dip?" Then as the kids grew, it was one of the "standard" fare when they would have pool parties. Many, many times I would have to run to the store to get the ingredients to make yet another batch! It still remains my son's favorite dip. I still make it in my original, avacado green crock pot (yes, it DOES date back to the year that crock pots first hit the market -- sometime in the early 70s) Do I have your interest yet?

Chili-Cheese Dip
In a crock pot or slow cooker, place 2 cans of chili beans (whatever brand you like--I use Dennisons usually) and 1 lb of Velveeta cheese, cubed. Heat, stirring frequently until cheese is melted and mixture is heated through. Ladle into a bowl and serve as a dip with tortilla chips and/or corn chips OR spread the chips on a plate and ladle the chili-cheese over as you would for nachos. If served as nachos, you can top with salsa, olives, chopped green onions, sour cream or whatever else you like on nachos.

1 - 32 oz can refried beans
1 - 4oz can diced green chilies (do not drain)
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 ½ cups sour cream
1 - 16 oz bottle taco sauce
4 to 6 green onions, sliced
3 cups lettuce, shredded fine
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 can black olives, sliced
Tortilla chips
In a bowl, mix refried beans, green chilies and taco seasoning mix. Spread mixture onto a 12 inch round serving platter. Spread the sour cream over the beans and then pour the taco sauce over the sour cream. Arrange the green onions evenly over the sour cream, spread lettuce over green onions, and then top with the cheddar cheese and black olives. Serve with tortilla chips.

Mexican Manicotti Dinner

This is quite possibly my MOST favorite Mexican food dinner. I like the idea that my other favorite ethnic foods (Italian -- the manicotti) is made Mexican! It's a dish that I usually prepare ahead of time, in fact I usually prepare two so I can put one in the freezer for another time. My family loves apples. . . so the Apple Enchiladas are a perfect ending to our favorite Mexican food dinner! The menu:

Mexican Manicotti
Green Salad, topped with salsa and ranch dressing (it's a WONDERFUL combination)
Apple Enchiladas (served warm with vanilla ice cream)

1 1/4 lbs ground beef
4 oz. cream cheese
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
14 manicotti-cooked just to al dente
1 ½ C prepared taco sauce
1 C grated cheddar cheese
1 C grated monterey jack cheese
1 ½ C crushed tortilla chips
1 C sour cream
3 green onion, sliced
Optional: sliced ripe olives
Cook beef in large skillet over medium-high heat until brown, stirring to separate meat; drain fat. Reduce heat to medium-low, add cream cheese and taco seasoning mix. Simmer 5 minutes. Fill manicotti with meat mixture and place in a buttered 13 x 9 pan. Pour taco sauce over each shell. Cover with foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Uncover; top with cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese and chips. Bake 15 minutes more or until bubbly. Top with sour cream and onions. Garnish with olives if desired.
Tip: Place chips in 1 gal food storage bag, seal bag and mash the chips with your hand or with a rolling pin. Quick, no mess way to crush the chips!
Casserole freezes well. I usually double this recipe and make two casseroles, one for “right now” and one to go in the freezer. Prepare it up to the first bake step. Freezer to oven, adjust first baking time to 45 min, check to see if center is hot before proceeding to second bake time. If thawed to room temperature, bake for 20 to 30 min. (depends on how cool it is, just check the center before adding cheese and chips and second baking time).

1 - 21 oz can apple pie filling
6 - 8 inch flour tortillas
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Spoon about one quarter cup of pie filling evenly down the center of each tortilla, roll up and place seam side down in prepared dish. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, sugars and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Pour sauce over enchiladas and let stand 30 minutes. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm, vanilla ice cream is optional.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Mmmm, Mmmm good! This dish is one I made up by combining two different recipes. It is FAST to make -- no kidding, after the chicken is cooked, it takes about 15 minutes! Of course, the dessert finale is one that is made several hours ahead of time and it is SO WORTH IT! This soup is very hearty. The dessert is one that I had for the first time just about 5 years ago and then searched and searched for the recipe. It's another one where I took several (I think it was three) recipes and mixed them up and through trial and error came up with my version. The menu is Chicken Enchilada Soup and Tres Leches Cake, and here's the recipes

4 chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
3 cups chicken broth
20 - 6 inch corn tortillas cut into 1 x 1 inch squares
2 - 15 oz cans black beans, drained
2 - 15 oz cans cut corn, drained
1 - 28 oz can mild green enchilada sauce
1 - 28 oz can mild red enchilada sauce
3 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional and can be increased)
Sour cream
Grated cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips
In large stock pot, bring the chicken broth to a slow boil; add the tortillas and cook over medium heat until strips soften. Stir in the chicken, black beans, corn, enchilada sauces, cumin and cayenne pepper. Continue cooking until heated through. When serving, top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and grated cheese. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
½ cup whipping cream
5 oz can evaporated milk
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 quart Fresh berries
(raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc. It‘s okay to use a variety of mixed berries)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or cake pan. Beat cake mix, water, oil and eggs in large bowl on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Pour into pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes. Pierce completely through hot cake every ½ inch with long-tined fork. Mix ½ cup whipping cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl. Slowly pour milk mixture evenly over top of cake. Cover and refrigerate about 3 hours or until chilled. Arrange berries on top of cake, reserving a few for garnishing. Beat 1 cup whipping cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over berries and then garnish with the reserved berries. Store cake in refrigerator.

NOTE: I experimented with this recipe and made a COCOA TRES LECHES CAKE by using:
Chocolate cake mix instead of yellow
Adding 2 envelopes of Mexican chocolate milk mix in with the “tres leches” that was poured over the cake.
Mixing 2 envelopes of Mexican chocolate milk mix with the whipped cream. I eliminated the berries, and garnished with chocolate curls.
If you can’t find the Mexican chocolate milk mix (usually in the Mexican food section of the grocery store), you can make your own by adding ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon to each pack of regular chocolate milk mix.

Quesadillas Supreme and Taco Salad

This quesadilla recipe is the best I've ever tasted. I got it from a co-worker about 30 years ago and it has been a family favorite ever since. It's vegetarian, so I usually fix a taco salad to go with it for those family members who like meat with dinner (ahem. . . that would be my husband). The taco salad recipe is from Sunset Magazine and it, too, dates back actually longer than the quesadilla--probably a good 35 years. There are many really good taco salad recipes, but this one remains our favorite. Since this menu requires much assembly and cooking JUST before dining, the sequence of steps I usually follow are: 1) mix up the quesadilla filling and set aside 2) cut up the tomatoes, slice the avocado and grate the cheese for the salad 3) cook the meat for the taco salad 4) spread the filling onto the tortillas for the quesadilla (put any leftover filling in the refrigerator) 5) Heat the oil for cooking the quesadillas and cook them (unless you have a HUGE skillet, you can only do one or two of these at a time) and while these are cooking, 6) start assembling the salad plates with the chips, and lettuce. If I'm making several quesadillas, I put the cooked ones on a platter and place in a warm oven (200 degrees will do it) and 7) finish assembly of the salad - SERVE! and ENJOY! - whew!!!

Oh - the menu! Well, that's really all it is, except for dessert. Any of the previous Mexican Food desserts will do, or take a look at the next one!

1 can (4 oz) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 can (4 ½ oz) diced olives
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilis
1 small tomato, diced
1 small, soft avocado, mashed
½ lb cheddar cheese, grated
½ lb monterey jack cheese, grated
Flour tortillas
Oil for frying
Combine first 7 ingredients. Spread, no more than ¼ inch thick and no closer than ½ inch from edge, onto one half of a flour tortilla. Fold tortilla over. Repeat with as many tortillas as you need for the meal. Leftover filling keeps very well in a covered, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Leftover quesadillas don’t reheat very well because they lose their crispness. Fry in approx ½ inch of oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned, turn and brown other side. Pat with paper towels. Serve warm with sour cream and salsa.

1 lb lean ground beef
¼ cup chopped onion
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 medium-sized head iceberg lettuce
½ cup cheedar cheese, grated
2 medium sized tomatoes, cubed
1 avocado, peeled and sliced (optional)
Tortilla chips
Place beef and onion into a frying pan over medium-high heat; stir until meat is crumbly and has lost its pinkness and the onion is tender (about 7 minutes). Discard any fat. Stir in salt, chili powder, and tomato sauce; reduce to low heat and keep hot. Shred lettuce and arrange on individual salad plates, top each with a scoop of hot meat mixture and sprinkle evenly with cheese, Garnish each salad with tomato cubes and avocado slices. Place tortilla chips around edges of salads and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Acapulco Enchilada Dinner

Here's another dish that can be assembled ahead of time and put in the oven before time to dine. Have you figured out that I really love ethnic foods; I'm always searching for authentic recipes, and sometimes change them! This is a "not so heavy" Mexican dinner that finishes with a delightful chocolate pudding with a twist. The menu:

Acapulco Enchiladas

Tossed Green Salad with dressing of choice

Mexican Cinnamon-Chocolate Pudding

2 cups diced cooked chicken
½ cup chopped ripe olives
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
3 cups red enchilada sauce
12 corn tortillas
Salad oil
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups sour cream
4 Tablespoons minced green onions
Combine chicken, olives, almonds and ½ cup of enchilada sauce. Lightly fry tortillas in hot oil (just until soft, not crisp), drain. Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of chicken mixture along the center of each tortilla. Roll and place, flap side down, in a shallow ungreased baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through. Mix sour cream with onions and spoon over enchiladas. (4 to 6 servings)

½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cans (12 fluid ozs each) evaporated milk
1 ¼ cups (6 ozs) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
½ cup flaked coconut, toasted
Combine sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in medium saucepan; gradually stir in evaporated milk. Stir in morsels and egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.
Pour chocolate mixture into dessert cups. Chill, covered, for at least 1 hour, sprinkle with toasted coconut just before serving. (8 servings)