Tag Archives: fast dinner recipes

Beefy Cheesy Enchiladas

 

You know how some days you just don’t want to cook?  Well, I’ve had more than my usual share of those lately.  I usually have a whole list of simple “throw it together” meals just for this reason.  You know, like pasta.  Or cereal.

But the other day, even those seemed like far too much work.  I just… couldn’t.  So I figure, we can order something to go and pick it up, no problem.  Well, did I ever find a keeper.  My fiancee says, no worries, I will cook tonight!  I’m immediately intrigued.  I figure there’s now a 98% chance I’ll be eating burritos.  (Trust me, that’s maybe an under estimation).

What are you going to make?  I ask, as he starts poking around in the refrigerator.  Oh, you’ll see… is the only answer I get.  He’s a man of many mysteries.

With a glass of wine, I settled in to watch the meal unfold.  I could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he pulled out one ingredient after another.  Ground beef… frozen peppers… shredded cheddar cheese… Do we have corn tortillas?

I’m 100% sure it’s burritos now, and ask him as much.  No… not exactly. And your one guess is gone now.  Hmmm…

Ingredients:

  • 20 small corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • Jar of jalapenos
  • 2-4 tbsp butter
  • Chili powder
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • Optional: refried beans & rice

Corn tortilla for enchilada in pan

Step 1: First he browned the beef in the pan, adding in some chili powder.  After removing that and setting it aside, he diced the peppers finely, and added it to the pan with the butter and a healthy splash of juice from the jarred jalapenos (which I made last spring).

Enchiladas being prepared

Step 2: One by one, over medium-low heat, each tortilla was placed in the pan until softened (to add flavor, he said) and then moved to an aluminum pan.

Putting cheese in the enchiladas

Step 3: Each soft tortilla had a healthy handful of beef added, and a big pinch of cheese.  AHA!  You’re making enchiladas!  He smiled, you got it!  Awesome! … but I was basically right, because enchiladas are just baked burritos.

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(Sneak peek of the gorgeous finished product!)

You can use other fillings here too, I didn’t even have to ask but he made a few veggie burritos for me, with black beans, spinach, and mushrooms!  Try more peppers, onions, or different types of beans.

Enchiladas in pan ready for oven

Step 4: For the sauce, he simply added a few tbsp flour to the juices still left in the pan to thicken it up.  With the pepper chunks in it, he poured that over everything, and sprinkled on more cheese (of course).

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Step 5: Put into an oven preheated to 350 degrees, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melty and bubbly.

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This is the lovely finished product!

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Top as you like.  We had some cilantro left from a previous Mexican night, as well as salsa, sour cream, and of course more jalapenos!

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Throughout the process, rice had been cooking in the rice cooker, and it went off just as the enchiladas were about done.  With a can of refried beans, the meal was complete.

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A fiancee-approved meal!

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I also had some lime wedges, which I think are just about required with Mexican food.  The tartness helps cut the spice a little.  Plus it looks nice.  🙂

I’ll need to not want to cook more often…

Simple soy sauce chicken

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This is a super simple recipe that I’ve used time and time again. It is great on its own, or as the base of a more complex sauce. Feel free to experiment with adding new ingredients as you become more sure of your own tastes and what flavors go well together. Ideas include: slices of lemon or orange, zest from citrus, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, fish sauce, thyme, parsley, oregano, tomato paste, pureed anchovies, olives, crushed nuts…
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Chicken is also a great meat for those on a budget. Especially if you buy dark meat like drumsticks or thighs, these are often on sale for 0.99/pound or less. You can also use chicken leg quarters, which includes both drumsticks & thigh meat. My sister, who is in college now, also loves this quick, easy, always-delicious chicken. Pair with a veggie or two & a carb for a filling, frugal meal in under 20 minutes.
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Ingredients:
  • 2-4 pieces of chicken (thighs, drumsticks, or breasts all work)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp diced garlic (or 3-4 cloves, chopped)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
  • Sprinkle of garlic salt or S&P
Step 1: In a frying pan, lay the chicken in a single layer. If using breasts, spray the pan or spread around 1 tbsp oil first. If using drumsticks or thighs, the chicken should release some of its own fat while it cooks so it won’t stick.
Step 2: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, garlic, and lemon juice. Mix well, and pour over the chicken.
Step 3: Bring the heat to medium, and cook, covered, for 10-12 minutes. Flip, and cook the other side for 5-7 minutes.
Step 4: Poke with a fork or cut a small slice in the thickest part. Once you’re sure there is no pink inside, your chicken is ready!
This chicken is especially good when paired with fried rice, but it works well with any grain (white/brown rice, quinoa, barley, couscous) or potato (mashed, baked, boiled). I love fresh asparagus & boil-in-bag edamame was on sale, which rounded out this meal nicely.

Pistachio-crusted baked salmon

 

You may have heard that nuts of all kinds are good for you, in small amounts. They all contain healthy protein, and some level of good fats. A personal favorite since I was a kid, pistachios are a great choice. Grown in bunches on bushy trees, pistachios are available year round.

Regular consumption of pistachios in the diet helps to lower total as well as bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol levels within the blood. They are a part of the Mediterranean diet, which is high in heart-healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado, as well as vegetable-heavy and fish friendly.

Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in dietary-fiber, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile. Pistachios also contain many antioxidants, carotenes, multiple minerals, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

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Though a good thing, you can get too much. They contain about 550 calories per 100 grams, so as with most good things you need to exercise restraint. A tough task indeed when you have a bowl for shells and a bag of nuts. I know I’ve looked down to see a pile of shells much larger than I thought possible many a time.

While I love pistachios plain in the shell, I also love combining multiple heart-healthy options into a tasty health bonanza. What could be more heart-healthy than a salmon fillet?! With tons of omega-3 fatty acids and protein of its own, salmon is one of my favorite types of fish to cook and eat. Since I also already had pistachios lying about, they seemed a natural match.

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And since I have just done a post about sweet Brown Sugar & Maple Apple Glazed Salmon, this recipe will take the fish in the savory direction.

Ingredients:

  • 2 4-oz salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup crushed pistachios
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt (or mayo)
  • Cooking oil

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Step 1: Shell and crush the pistachios. I put them in a plastic bag and slammed them with my rolling pin. Put on a flat plate with the bread crumbs. You could use crushed crackers or flour here too.

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Step 2: Smear 1 tbsp yogurt onto each fillet. Don’t be afraid to get messy and use your hands.

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Step 3: Place the yogurt-smeared side down on the nut and bread mixture and press. This creates the crunchy coating on the fish. The yogurt helps keep the moisture in while the nuts give it texture and great flavor.

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Step 4: Spray an oven-safe baking pan with cooking oil, and place the fillets inside. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until fish is light pink and flakes easily with a fork.

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The fish cooks up nice and juicy, with just a hint of nutty flavor and a crisp outer coating. You can use a beaten egg or milk or mayonnaise in place of yogurt, and other types of nuts, or none at all if you have allergies.

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As you can see, I served mine with a baked potato and sweetly addictive and stunningly easy Mexican street corn.

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So do your heart and your taste buds a favor, and cook this up for dinner soon!

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