Saturday, June 30, 2012

{ jalapeño cream cheese enchiladas :: caliente! }

If you prefer some kick to your comida, do I have the recipe for you!

There's added heat to just about every step of making this dish -- obviously, it can be tweaked for less spice. Originally, the recipe called for chicken; however, being the shrimp-loving gal that I am, I opted for prawns (frozen, of course) over poultry, but just about any protein would work.

So, how do you beat the summer heat? Make it hotter, y'all!

Jalapeño Cream Cheese Enchiladas with Shrimp
(adapted from

  • 1-2 pounds of shrimp, sliced in half, vertically
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 large red onion, minced
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced              
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (I used low-fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder                  
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (28 ounce) can green enchilada sauce (I didn't use entire can)
  • approximately 7 flour tortillas
  • 3-4 cups shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese mix, divided
  • sour cream and chopped cilantro, to garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Defrost frozen shrimp in a collander under running cold water; pat dry and season with 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.               
  3. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; cook the onion, jalapeños and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes; stir in the cream cheese in chunks, and allow cream cheese to melt and soften.
  4. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional), 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and cumin. Mix in the shrimp; remove from heat.
  5. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour enough green enchilada sauce into the dish to coat the bottom.
  6. Lay tortillas out onto a work surface and place a few spoonfuls of the shrimp mixture in a line down the center of each tortilla; sprinkle (or pile!) with cheese.
  7. Roll up the tortillas and place onto the sauce in the dish, seam sides down; when finished, pour enough of the remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas to cover each.
  8. Pile the remaining cheese over the top.
  9. Bake until the filling is hot and bubbling and the cheese has melted, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  10. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Friday, June 29, 2012

{ the sugar [tooth] fairy }

With all the cookie baking and decorating that goes on for others in this house, Aidan often feels slighted, claiming that I "never" make him any cookies.

An opportunity recently arose to remedy that situation -- he lost his second tooth on the same day when I happened to have some extra cookie dough.

So together, Aidan and I baked some teeth in honor of his recent "loss." Silly little guys, but they did the trick, nonetheless.

Cookies are so much more fun when they're made for the ones you love.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

{ shoyu chicken }

Over 20 years ago, Ty's first assignment in the Coast Guard was at USCG Station Maui -- tough one, right? As a young, single guy, he lived large on a small budget. He still talks about his Maui days as if they occurred last week, rather than decades ago. Some of his favorite recollections seem to revolve around the food he ate and the friends with whom he shared it.

Ty loves pretty much any type of Asian food, but Shoyu chicken (Hawaii's answer to teriyaki chicken) remains one of his favorites. Chicken thigh meat is marinated in a sweet, spicy soy sauce marinade, then grilled and served with rice (shoyu is Japanese for soy sauce). Last night, I finally got around to diving in and making it for him ... and it didn't disappoint. According to Ty, it was some of the best he's ever had.

We'll be making it again. And again. It's a simple, healthy dish that packs a ton of flavor with just the right amount of kick and that perfect grilled chicken char that's so good.

Add a glass of cold white wine, and it's the perfect meal.

Shoyu Chicken
(adapted from

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  •  6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion (or 1/2 large), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 5 pounds skinless chicken thighs

  1. Whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic, onion, ginger, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and paprika in a large glass bowl.
  2. Trim any extra fat off the chicken, and add chicken to the soy sauce mixture. Use tongs to maneuver chicken around the bowl to evenly coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (the longer, the better!). I marinated mine for about 4 hours. 
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat.              
  4. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and discard the remaining marinade. Grill the chicken thighs on the preheated grill until cooked through, about 15 minutes per side.
  5. Serve with a white rice.

Friday, June 15, 2012

{ dulce de leche }

One of my favorite sweets in the world is leche quemada (burned milk) candy, available at the checkout counter at most mom & pop Tex Mex restaurants where I grew up. It's made from dulce de leche, or "candy of milk." It has such a sweet, distinctly creamy taste that so much reminds me of Friday nights in the summertime and being a bit tipsy on margaritas.

Dulce de leche couldn't be easier to make, especially when made in the crockpot (yes, the crockpot). The most difficult part of the entire process was finding which aisle stocked the mason jars at my local grocery store.

Countless recipes call for dulce de leche, and each is likely worth the time. So having a jar or two on hand is a great plan. An even better plan is sticking a spoon into the dulce de leche jar at 11:30 p.m. when you can't fall asleep ... and are craving something sweet.

Just sayin'.

Dulce de Leche
  • 3 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk.
(yep! that's it!)

Open cans of condensed milk and pour each into a pint-sized glass mason jar.

Secure the lid of each jar and place in the crockpot.

Fill the crockpot with water to just above the point at the jars where the cream is topped. Place the lid on the crockpot.

Heat milk jars on low for 8-10 hours (the longer the cooking process, the more solid the dulce de leche) -- I actually cooked mine overnight.

Once process is complete, the consistency will be thick. In order to thin the dulce de leche to use as a dip or sauce, spoon into a dish and add milk or cream. Slowly heat (the microwave works just fine) and whisk until desired consistency is reached.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

{ pizza rolls ... aka, my favorite college food }

Pretty much every college kid in Texas (especially in College Station, TX) has memories of gorging on DoubleDave's Peproni Rolls (yes, that's how it's spelled) at one point or another. They were (and still are) the quintessential college grub, meeting all requirements -- cheap, portable, delicious, and easy to dunk in ranch dressing.
I can't even fathom a guess as to how many late nights spent "studying" were accompanied by cold [usually cheap] beer and a delivery of a dozen Peproni Rolls. And the most prized pages in the little coupon books that the bookstores would stuff in your textbook bags were always the pizza roll coupons from DoubleDave's.

Then I graduated (sniff, sniff) and moved away from my beloved Texas A&M. But fortunately for me, there was a DoubleDave's near our home in the Houston area, providing me with the necessary greasy fix at least once a week when I was pregnant with Aidan (and seriously craving DoubleDave's on a regular basis).

Since moving away from the Lone Star State, it's much more difficult to find some of my favorite meals -- and pizza rolls are no different. I've pretty much had to fend for myself and learn to cook our faves at home.

So here's the copycat version of DoubleDave's Peproni Rolls. Honestly, although smaller in size, they're a pretty dead ringer for the real thing (Ty says this version is actually better). And by using turkey pepperoni, you don't get that traditional DD's orange oil-slick on your plate from the dripping grease. And substituting light ranch for the real thing cuts even more calories and fat from the recipe. I mean, we're not in college anymore, right? ;) 
There are two non-negotiables when it comes to a good pizza roll experience: the first is the cheese -- it has to be provolone. The second is having a bowl of ranch dressing in which to dip the crusty, cheesy goodness.

Beyond that, you can pretty much get as creative as you'd like. Although, my personal preference never strays from the tried and true original of pepperoni and cheese ... nothing fancy on my rolls, please. This is not the time for artichokes or feta. Oh, I also like to put a sprinkling of dried red pepper flakes on my plate for an extra kick -- dip the roll in the ranch and then the pepper flakes. Yummo.

Pizza/Pepperoni Rolls with Ranch Dressing
  • 1 bag enriched dinner roll dough (located in the frozen food case)
  • provolone cheese slices
  • turkey pepperoni
  • ranch dressing (for dipping)
  • dried red pepper flakes, optional (for dipping)

Remove rolls from the freezer 1-2 hours before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil.

Using your thumb, press the roll dough into a flat mound, continuing to pull and knead at the circle until it reaches the maximum stretching point, without ripping.

Cover the round dough disc with a slice of provolone (I use a round cookie cutter to get the correct size). Top cheese with 4 slices of turkey pepperoni.

Continue process with the remaining rolls.

Bake rolls 15-20 minutes, or until dough is golden in appearance. Some oozing of cheese will appear -- not a bad thing! It's all part of the experience when you get to peel the crusty warm cheese off the pan and nibble on it before anyone else does!

Serve hot with a side of ranch dressing for dipping sauce.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

{ crowns & dragons }

For an end-of-the-year kindergarten celebration! Happy birthday, Grace!

(dragon sketch by JW Illustrations)