A Catch-Up Post: Baked Chicken Chimichangas

Several months ago (March 2015), chimichangas were on the menu.  I actually made them then, but didn’t blog about them.  Awful of me, I know.  As the school year gets ready to begin (I’m writing this in mid-July 2015), I figured that it would be best to have a post or two (or ten) ready to go in case life (and work) happens.

This is the first post I have planned for that eventuality.

Can you tell that I love Tex-Mex food?  I literally ate it breakfast, lunch, and supper throughout the last trimester of my pregnancy with Muffin.  For months after Muffin was born, Josh put his foot down…no tacos, enchiladas, etc.  (Note:  I would eat leftovers for breakfast and lunch.)

I’m always looking for recipes to expand my repertoire of Tex-Mex recipes.  As a child, some of my happiest (food) memories were when my mom would make “Mexican” (tacos…and sometimes tostadas).  I’ve discovered, as I’m sure my mom discovered then, that tacos and the like are easy entry points on getting kids to try normally-not-kid-friendly veggies.

In Muffin’s case, he will have everything on his taco except onion (and he is okay with cooked onion in the taco meat).  Literally everything.  I still have nightmares about the pretzel taco…not to mention the blueberry taco.  Shudder.

When I found this recipe on Culinary Couture, I was very excited because the chimis are baked, rather than fried.  I have nothing against frying anything, but sometimes when I fry things like pies, egg rolls, wontons, or chimis, they burst open and the filling leaks out.

Totally not Muffin Approved.

They do crisp up nicely; however, if you plan on having leftovers, expect them to be kinda more like a soft chicken burrito.

I do plan on trying different fillings (to be more various and versatile) in the future, but the method (and the filling) work perfectly.

Baked Chicken Chimichangas

Adapted from Culinary Couture

2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (I used some cooked with taco seasoning in the slow cooker)

1 cup chunky salsa (not runny picante sauce or restaurant-style blended salsa)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon oregano (The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon, but I think more oregano is better in Tex-Mex recipes)

1 cup shredded cheese (The original recipe calls for cheddar; we used colby jack or a taco/nacho blend)

1/4 cup chopped green onions

2 tablespoons melted butter

flour tortillas (We used the medium ones, but I always tend to have more left over filling than the recipe calls for, so have more ready than the 6 the recipe calls for)

Warm tortillas wrapped in aluminum foil 5-10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  The original recipe suggests that this will make them more pliable and easier to fold, and I have to agree.

In a bowl, mix together the filling ingredients:  chicken, salsa, seasonings, cheese, and onion.  Spoon 1/3 cup filling on the middle of each tortilla and roll up burrito-style:  lift the bottom up, fold in the sides, and roll up to make a covered cylinder (this is also the process for egg rolls).  Place seam-side down on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Brush tops and sides with melted butter.  Make sure to have a bit of space between the tortillas so they don’t stick together and they crisp up properly.  Bake 25 minutes, checking often the last ten minutes to ensure that the tortillas don’t burn.  The goal, as the original recipe recommends, is for the tortillas to be crispy and golden brown.

Garnish with appropriate toppings (We ate ours with salsa and sour cream).

These were Muffin Approved because he didn’t realize green onion was present.

Muffin Approved

We Plan Wednesday: Canadian Thanksgiving Sunday 2015!

We Plan Wednesday

I know.  I usually post well in advance of late afternoon day of a post.  And I’ve meant to post this post for a while now.

Canadian Thanksgiving is Monday.  Yikes!  I still have so much to do, and, until last week (late last week), I had not fully decided on a menu.

That’s scary, folks.  I usually have the rest of the year’s celebrations (plus holiday “goodie” cooking planned by this time).

I blame Muffin being in kindergarten.  Anyone who is around me all the time has heard that lament lately.

Anyway, here is the much vaunted menu.  Long-time readers will recognize some of the offerings from holidays past:



Pioneer Woman Make-Ahead mashed potatoes with gravy

Stuffing (White-Bread, Josh’s Mom’s recipe)

Cranberry sauce (yes, the jiggly kind in the can…gloop!)

Cranberry Relish

Ligonberry preserves (yay, Ikea!)

broccoli/cauliflower with cheese sauce (Josh’s mom’s recipe)

Pumpkin pie with whipping cream (The only part of this I’m doing anything to is the whipped cream.  I refuse to make pumpkin pie.)

Relish tray and dip

Green Bean Casserole

Yams Richard

Spinach Madeleine

Brown and Serve Rolls and Artisan Bread

Pioneer Woman’s Red Velvet Sheet Cake with Ermine Frosting


I decided to divide the workload up.  I plan to shop tomorrow evening, and do some cooking Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.


Cranberry Relish (because it has to sit and mellow for fun)

Green Bean Casserole (I’m cheating and doing the chinzy cream of mushroom soup one)

green bean casserole

Spinach Madeleine


Yams Richard



Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes


Relish Tray prep

Red Velvet Sheet Cake

Tea (Josh will make Saturday night)


Turkey (der!)


Broccoli/cauliflower with cheese sauce

whipped cream for pumpkin pie

Artisan Bread

A Catch-Up Post: Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves

In our family, we like meatloaf.  We love barbecue sauce.  And we adore cheddar cheese.

When I came across the Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves recipe on Life in the Lofthouse, I was super jazzed…for a number of reasons.

Reasons #s 1-3 are listed above (meatloaf, bbq sauce, and cheese).

Reason #4 is that I have not had a fail on any of the recipes from Life in the Lofthouse.

Reason #5 is that mini as equates to food means portion-controlled and fast cooking.  Meatloaf takes over an hour if we make a full sized one, so the second half of that reason is super great!

This recipe, needless to say, is Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves

Adapted from Life in the Lofthouse

1/2 pound each ground turkey and ground pork (This is the main deviation from the original recipe)

1 beaten egg

1/4 cup barbecue sauce, plus another 1/4 cup barbecue sauce for brushing on the loaves (1/2 cup total)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

salt and pepper (pepper must be freshly ground)

2 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed into tiny cubes

Set your oven to preheat at 400 degrees.  Line a half-sheet pan with foil.

Mix until just combined all ingredients except 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce in a medium bowl. Divide and shape into four loaves.  Place each on the baking pan.  Spread barbecue sauce on the top of the loaves.

Bake for 20 minutes until done.

Enjoy the sweet, cheesy, slightly spicy, meaty goodness!  Note:  We served ours with seasoned-battered fries (from frozen) and pickle stalks.

Meal Plan Monday: A Change to the Meal Plan Before I Could Post It

Meal Plan Monday

You know how there are some weeks you plan and plan and plan some more, and no matter what by about Wednesday the meal plan is gone to heck?

Yeah, this isn’t one of those weeks.

Originally Sunday’s meal was going to be “a roast of some kind.”  But I didn’t have a roast anything in the fridge.  There were none on sale at the grocery store.  And I REFUSE to pay $5 a pound for meat when that means that the meal will be over $20 just on the meat alone.

So, the meal plan had to change.

Also, through some confusion, Muffin thought he was supposed to get a burger on Saturday.  And, you don’t have to ask me twice of I want a Monterey Melt from Whataburger, so I asked Josh to pick up supper on the way home from work.

Everyone was happy.

So, that pushed Saturday’s meal, chili (which didn’t get made because I was exhausted from working the game Friday plus the build up of no sleep), to Sunday.

Anyway, here is the menu:

Saturday:  Whataburger

Sunday:  chili

Monday:  hoagies (meat/cheese/veg) and chips

Tuesday:  frito pie

Wednesday:  chili dogs

Thursday:  leftovers or breakfast

Friday:  pizza and corn

Saturday:  Josh grill

Sunday:  Canadian Thanksgiving (one day early)

And Muffin’s lunches:

Monday:  Halloween nacho Lunchable, fruit

Tuesday:  hoagie slider with cheese, tomato, olives, and sweet pickles; orange, chips, apple juice, “tree” cookie

Wednesday:  taco with sour cream, cheese, tomato, lettuce; fruit cup; tortilla chips (cool ranch doritos), pudding, Propel water

Thursday:  tuna sliders, bag freeze dried fruit, sweet pickles and tomatoes, cheetos, chocolate milk, fruit snack

Friday:  no school–Fall Break!

What’s on the plan for you this week?

A Catch-Up Post: Sour Cream Noodle Bake

That picture really doesn’t do it justice.  This recipe is a godsend in egg-noodle form.

(And I’m usually not a fan of egg noodles.)

A few things went wrong with this picture.  I had obviously already started eating.  Sometimes this happens before I can take a glamour shot of the dish.  To me, that makes it more authentic.  I can gussy it up (and I have before), but it shows me that I actually liked the dish enough to take a picture of it after having a bite.  Meaning that it was blog worthy.

The second problem is that this was during my time of using filters in Camu, so it really doesn’t look like that.  A bit more red and a bit less yellow, in fact.

I first saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman’s Food Network show.  She sets it up as a freezer meal, and the next time I make it I’m going to make two and freeze one.  It’s easy cheesy and peasy.  Well, not peasy, but peas of all kinds would go well with it.

She stresses the need to make it in separate layers, almost like a lasagna.  I have since seen it other places where they mix it all up in a big hodgepodge.

Even though it makes the process a bit more difficult, I have to agree with the layered, strata method.  So that you don’t ruin the effect, make sure to let your baked casserole sit for 10-15 minutes to “re-solidify” and be cut-able.  Otherwise, you end up with hodgepodge (see the picture above).

One aspect I love about this casserole (that Muffin, of course, does not) is the green onion.  The lovely little bits of green and white confetti really brighten up the flavor and make it not just another casserole.

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Adapted from Pioneer Woman via Food Network

1 1/4 pounds ground meat (The chief deviation from her recipe:  I used ground turkey)

15-ounce can tomato sauce (or two 8-ounce cans if you can’t find it or already have the 8 ouncers in the pantry)

1/2 teaspoon salt

pepper, freshly ground, of course

8 ounces egg noodles (half of a 16-ounce bag…see how it’s made for doubling and freezing one?)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cups small curd cottage cheese

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for topping

1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded

*Note:  Ree Drummond recommends grating your own cheese.  It really gives a much better melting result (other than the negative effect of fingernail breaking).

Now, that I’ve grossed everyone out, I’ll continue with the directions.

If cooking immediately (AKA not freezing), preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the meat in a large skillet and drain meat.  (I’ve been known to forget this step and end up with an oil slick in some dishes…sorry.)  Add tomato sauce and stir.  Add salt and pepper and stir, leaving the skillet contents to simmer while you prepare the rest.

Boil noodles in salted water until al dente.  Don’t overcook or you will have mushy noodles in the casserole.  Drain and set aside (but don’t rinse).

Now for the white ingredients:  combine the dairy ingredients (sour cream and cottage cheese) in a large bowl.  Stir in green onions, pepper and pepper flakes.  Stir the noodles into the mixture.

Spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray.  (You will need a deep 9×13 dish or larger.)  Make a bed of half of the noodle mixture on the bottom.  Then layer on half of the mixture of meat and top with half of the cheese.  Repeat the layers.  Top with extra green onions.  (This makes it totally delish!)

Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, approximately 20 minutes if your other ingredients were warm (meat sauce, noodles).

WAIT at least 10 minutes before cutting into the dish.

Serve with warmed crusty French bread.

This recipe (once Muffin removed the green onions) was Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

A Catch-Up Post: Bourbon Street Chicken

If there were ever another “genre” of ethnic food that comes close to overtaking Tex-Mex in Muffin’s heart or mine, it would be “Chinese.”  Notice that “Chinese” is in quotes.  A lot of what Muffin (and I) adore about Chinese food is more Americanized Chinese.

Yes, I mean that we like it more than Italian (although Josh’s lasagna does challenge it a bit).

It’s one form of cooking where you can virtuously chomp on crunchy veggies and pretend you are eating really unhealthy food.

Think Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce.  Or fried (in our case, not-so-fried) rice.  Or stir-fried veggies.

The combinations of all are endless.

Of course, today’s catch-up post has (cough cough) no veggies, although I did stir fry some frozen broccoli (pretty much the only way to save frozen broccoli from becoming scary, limp, gray mush) with garlic and pepper flakes.

Today, I present you to that quasi-Chinese dish of mall “Chinese restaurants”:  Bourbon Street Chicken.  Our school district serves a version of this dish sometimes, but because they don’t want the students to associate it with alcohol, the district nutritionists have changed the name to “New Orleans Chicken.”

In reading the menus for weeks to my students, it took a VERY long time to figure out that they really meant Bourbon Chicken.

I found this recipe, well, this version, because it seems that many blogs have this recipe somewhere, on Life in the Lofthouse.

Bourbon Street Chicken

Adapted very closely from Life in the Lofthouse

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes (LitL calls for 4 chicken breasts, which to Albertson’s meat packers way of thinking, equates to 4 pounds instead of the pound I’m sure she intended)

2 tablespoons veg oil

2 minced garlic cloves

1/4 cup apple juice (She says apple or pineapple, but we always seem to have apple in the house and rarely seem to have pineapple)

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup soy sauce

pinch red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon cornstarch

In a large skillet containing medium-high heated oil, cook chicken pieces until no longer pink (stir-fry style).  Remove chicken and pour out any juices.  Return skillet to the heat.  Add chicken back to pan.

Mix together remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  Whisk until cornstarch is completely combined.

When chicken is golden, pour sauce into pan. Stir to coat chicken.  Reduce heat to low and cover with the lid at an angle to allow steam to escape.

Simmer 20 minutes, stirring a few times.

Serve over rice with choice of veg.

Since this was served with “trees” (broccoli), this entire meal was Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

Meal Plan Monday: What I’ve Learned

Meal Plan Monday

Good morning, meal planners!

In response to the title of the post, I’m going to share something I’ve learned about meal planning since returning to work and Muffin starting school.  1)  Kindergarten gives homework.  2) After working all day, you really are already tired when you pick up a Muffin and cajole him into completing homework.  3) You are too exhausted to assemble dinner if it involves more than the oven or the microwave.

So, I’m taking a new (well, really, a return to the old) meal approach.  If it isn’t done on the weekend, it ain’t happening.  Seriously.  That means for the three main dishes I’m making this week, the two casseroles have to be prepared in advance, and the Mexican pizzas (which didn’t get made last weekend) has to have everything pretty much ready to go.

This is the wave of the future folks (planning OAMC stuff to fill in on weeks that we go away for the weekend, etc.).

So, here we go:

Saturday:  hot dogs and marshmallows cooked in the fire pit, chips

Sunday:  grilled chicken with grilled mushrooms and onions, grilled sugar snap peas with raspberry chipotle sauce

Monday:  Mexican pizzas from Life in the Lofthouse, chips and salsa

Tuesday:  chicken spaghetti from Six Sisters’ Stuff, bread

Wednesday:  Ranch Chicken Enchiladas from Life in the Lofthouse, chips, beans, salsa

Thursday:  leftovers, baby!

Friday:  Guys are on their own; I will be probably bringing leftovers.  I have to work a football game.

Saturday:  Chili with cheese and crackers

Sunday:  Roast of some kind with veg.

I will post Muffin’s lunches in a special WPW post this week.