Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yumm! Enchiladas: Part Two

I had lots of leftover corn tortillas from the taquitos I made for the Super Bowl, so I decided to do a variation on my original Yumm! Enchiladas I made back in April of last year.  I used Garlic Yumm! sauce instead of Original, shredded leftover chicken (thigh meat) instead of kidney beans, and homemade enchilada sauce!

The enchilada sauce recipe from America's Test Kitchen is almost as fast as heating up a can of sauce on the stove. Seriously. And it has so much flavor, you'll never use canned again. It packs quite a punch on it's own, but not so much that it drowns out the delicious zip of Yumm! sauce. We quickly helped ourselves to seconds, and could barely restrain ourselves from having thirds.

Find my original recipe for Yumm! enchiladas here. Recipe for enchilada sauce follows.

Fast Enchilada Sauce
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
makes 2 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, minced (I didn't really mince it - that's just way too tedious)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce (I used 1-15 ounce can, because that's what I had)
1/2 cup water

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened (if you didn't really mince it, like me, you might want to let the onion cook a little longer). Stir in the chili powder, garlic, cumin, and sugar. Cook for about 15 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and water, stir to combine. Let the mixture come to a simmer and cook for about 5 more minutes, until it thickens slightly. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

If you want your sauce to be smooth and authentic, you can strain it. For my purposes I didn't see the need.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shredded Beef Taquitos

I wasn't really all that excited about the Superbowl this year. Unlike the majority of my extended family on my mom's side, I am not a Steeler's fan (my grandpa joked that he's still crying over their loss). My apathy about the game did not stop me from getting excited about the food, however. For some reason I really had a craving for taquitos, and I wanted to make them from scratch, for the first time, ever.

For the filling, I decided I wanted to do shredded beef, an obvious choice for us, seeing as we have so much on hand these days. A quick google search for a good taquito recipe introduced me to one of my new favorite food blogs: Life's Ambrosia. She had it all figured out: directions on how to make the taquitos and a recipe for cooking a beef roast in a slow cooker to get the shredded beef. Perfect! I compared her recipe to a few others and decided I liked her method the best.

Some recipes want you to roll the taquitos and then fry them in oil - tasty, for sure, but not the healthiest method. Others have you simply microwave the tortillas, roll, then bake. From what I read, however, microwaving did not make them pliable enough - so the tortillas tore as you tried to roll them.

It seems that this recipe had the best of both worlds: first, you lightly fry the tortillas in a small amount of oil (just like my grandma does when she makes shells for tacos!) making them perfectly pliable, then you roll them up with the meat, and bake for a bit in the oven. The taquitos were nice and crispy, and not too oily.

The meat filling was great. I cooked a 5-pound roast the day before the game in the slow cooker and shredded it with two forks. I realize this seems like a lot of meat, but since I was going to all this trouble, I wanted to make it worth my while and make a big batch of taquitos, plus this way we would have leftover meat. Once I assembled all the taquitos (I made about 30), I baked a small tray of them to eat that night, and froze the rest, unbaked, for future meals. We used the rest of the meat for sandwiches later on in the week.

Shredded Beef Taquitos
adapted from Life's Ambrosia
makes about 30 taquitos

Notes: These would be just as good filled with cooked chicken or pork.

Canola or vegetable oil (as needed, should have at least 1/2 cup on hand)
30, 6-inch corn tortillas (yellow or white)
4 cups cooked beef, shredded (recipe follows)

Optional toppings:
Cheddar cheese, shredded

If baking the taquitos right away, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Heat a couple tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, carefully fry the tortillas, one at a time, about 30 seconds per side. Drain on paper bags, like my grandma does, or paper towels. You just want to fry them enough to get them really soft and pliable, not crisp.

Once you've fried about half of the tortillas, you can turn off the heat for now, and start filling and rolling them. I had to do batches because I ran out of room on the counter to drain my tortillas.

To fill the taquitos, place about 2 tablespoons of the meat onto the tortilla and roll tightly closed. Be careful not to overfill or it might not close very well. Lay them side-by-side, tightly together on a baking sheet so they stay rolled up while you assemble the rest.

Finish frying, filling, and rolling the rest of the tortillas.

If baking all or some of the taquitos right away, arrange them on a baking sheet with a little space between each one. If any threaten to unroll, secure with a toothpick. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. The ends will get browned and the meat sticking out of the ends will look a little crispy.  

Optional: Remove baking sheet from the oven, and sprinkle taquitos with cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, then remove from the oven and serve with guacamole.  

To freeze: Arrange rolled, unbaked taquitos on a baking sheet with some space between them. Freeze for about an hour, then pile them into freezer bags and freeze. Bake, straight from frozen, at 350 F for about 20 minutes. Add shredded cheese and broil if desired. 

Roast Beef in the Slow Cooker
adapted from Life's Ambrosia
makes all the shredded beef you could ever want, and then some

Notes: Since I used a larger roast than she did, I increased all the spice measurements. Other than that, I did not really change anything.

1 (5 lb.) beef roast, trim fat if desired
1 1/2 tablespoons salt (I used Kosher)
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups beef broth
2 cups water (or more as needed to cover)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled

Mix together the salt, pepper, chili powder, granulated garlic, cumin, and oregano. Rub onto all surfaces of the roast.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the roast on all sides, 4-5 minutes per side. Put the roast into the slow cooker. Add the onions, garlic cloves, broth and water. The roast should be almost all the way covered, if not completely covered with liquid. Put the lid on and cook on high for about 8 hours.

Remove roast from slow cooker and shred with two forks.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sausage and Bean Ragu on Quinoa Macaroni

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) pasta is made from a combination of the quinoa grain and corn, hence the yellow color of the pasta. You can find it with the gluten-free and other "alternative" pastas at most grocery stores.

I bought the turkey Italian sausage at Market of Choice, who got the meat from Shelton's, but I believe Market of Choice makes their sausages in-house. Don't quote me on that though. Anyway, they were good!

After making this recipe, I'm pretty sure there is a misprint in the amount of pasta called for. I checked online, and lots of other people think the same thing. My magazine cut-out called for 16 ounces of pasta, which was two boxes. It seemed like a lot, but who am I to question Cooking Light? So I cooked all the pasta and set it aside while I made the rest of the meal, and then at the end you are supposed to add the pasta back to the skillet and stir it all together. Heh. That was not going to happen. I ended up tossing it together in a super huge bowl and the pasta soaked up every bit of sauce there was left (it ended up simmering longer than it was supposed to because I was running around the house trying to find my camera to take the picture!). Therefore, my end result was a big bowl of mostly pasta and not much ragu to speak of whatsoever. It was still really tasty, but I can't wait to make it again with the right amount of pasta and see what that's like. For your benefit, I will write up the recipe with half the amount of pasta, as it should be.

Sausage and Bean Ragu on Quinoa Macaroni
adapted from Cooking Light - March 2006 Issue
Serves 8

Notes: If you can't find quinoa macaroni, use whole wheat macaroni. I couldn't find bulk turkey Italian sausage, so I bought links, removed the casings, and broke them into pieces as I added them to the pan.

1 (8-ounce) package quinoa macaroni
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound turkey Italian sausage, bulk or links (remove from casings if links)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Romano cheese (I just used Parmesan)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, but leave out the salt and oil.

In a large nonstick skillet, add the oil and heat to medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Then add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you stir. Stir in the wine.  There won't really be much to deglaze, since you are using a non-stick skillet, but scrap the bottom with the wooden spoon anyway, just for kicks. Add the broth, fennel seeds, pepper, beans, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.  It will still look kind of thin and liquidy, but the pasta will soak a lot of that up.

Add the pasta to the skillet, and toss gently to combine.  Alternatively, if you don't think the pasta will fit in your skillet, you can put the pasta into a large bowl, pour the contents of the skillet over it, and stir to combine.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top, or put a little cheese on top of each individual serving as you dish it up.

Serving size: 1 1/2 cups pasta and 1 tablespoon of cheese.
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