in the kitchen: easiest enchiladas ever

I can't remember where I found this recipe.  Somewhere online, I think.

But it's turned into one of our favorite meals around here.  I mean, how can you go wrong with meat, rice, and beans all smothered with cheese??

Please note that the enchiladas in the picture were made with soft-taco-sized tortillas because that's all I had on hand at the time.  I normally use burrito-sized, but I think any size will work if you want to go smaller.  Okay, here goes.

The Ingredients.

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 box black beans and rice mix (such as Zatarain's)
1 10-oz. can enchilada sauce
1 package burrito-sized tortillas
1 8-oz. bag Mexican-blend cheese

The Method.

Prepare the black beans and rice according to the directions on the package, leaving out the fat if desired (I don't add the oil that the directions call for, and it turns out fine).  Meanwhile, brown the ground beef or turkey and then drain.  Once the black beans and rice are done, stir in the cooked meat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9X13 pan with nonstick spray.  Drizzle half the enchilada sauce along the bottom of the pan, and tilt the pan from side to side to get the whole bottom covered.

Take a tortilla and fill a line down the middle with the meat mixture.  Roll it up (be sure to tuck in the ends halfway through to prevent the filling from leaking out!) and place in the prepared pan, seam-side down.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and meat mixture.  Depending on how big your tortillas are and how thick they end up being, you can probably fit six to eight enchiladas in the pan.  There's usually leftover tortillas with mine, and I always have some filling left, which I save to give to my toddler or maybe just make a quesadilla with it for tomorrow's lunch.  There's usually not enough leftover to make an additional smaller pan of enchiladas, in my experience anyway.  Maybe it's just the way I fill them!

Anyway, once all your rolled-up enchiladas are in the pan, drizzle the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top, and top with the cheese.  And though the original recipe calls for it, I don't use the entire bag of cheese.  I think it's overkill.  But do what you want. :o)

Cover the pan with foil and bake covered for 15 minutes, then uncovered for 10 additional minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Linked up to Creations by Kara!


argyle pumpkin

A long time ago, I saw some pumpkin-painting project ideas on Jo-Ann's website.  I really loved the argyle one, but wasn't crazy about the fact that they painted the entire pumpkin and made it look really glossy.  I decided to try it without base-coating the pumpkin first.

I found a "funkin" for half-price at Jo-Ann last week.  These are those fake pumpkins that you can carve and decorate just like real pumpkins.  Mine was about 16 inches in diameter and cost around $3.50.

Since I don't have much expertise in painting details with skinny brushes, I decided to try colored permanent markers instead.  First I made a VERY crude pattern to get an idea of how big the diamond shapes in the argyle should be.  I used some argyle fabric as my guide.

Told you it was crude.  :o)  Next, I used a pencil to draw the outlines of the pattern on the pumpkin.  Pencil marks rub off the surface very easily, so it's easy to erase just with your fingers if you make a mistake.

Then I just went crazy with the sharpies.

I had to pause a few times to give my markers a rest, but they worked very well.

And yes, it looks handmade since some of my lines are a little crooked, but that's what I like about it.  It looks way cute up on my mantel.

So for $3.50 and thirty minutes, I got a cute fall decoration.  Score.

This would be a fun project for kids.  Just give them a little funkin and some markers and let them go to town.  Not sure if washable markers work as well as the permanent markers did, though; you may want to test a spot on the bottom of the funkin first!  :o)

Linked up to Creations by Kara and A Little Tipsy!


pink and purple

This afternoon I finished up a set of burpcloths for a friend of mine is going to have a precious baby girl any day now.  I figured she still needed some girly stuff, even if this particular kind of "girly stuff" happens to be for catching spit-up and drool!

These are peanut-shaped burpcloths made with soft flannel with a layer of batting in between.  I found both of these prints at Jo-Ann on the clearance rack some time ago.  I really like the elephants-and-flowers print especially!  I hope my friend likes them too.  :o)


eat your veggies: zucchini oven chips

These things rock.  You really don't need to know anything else.  Just look at the picture.  YUM.

I found this recipe through Cooking Light's website, and only modified it a little based on the ingredients I had on hand and the baking temperature.  This is enough for four people, but when I make them I scale the recipe way down since I'm the only one who eats them.  Here goes!

Zucchini Oven Chips
(adapted from Cooking Light)

The Ingredients.

1/4 cup dry Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the stuff in the can is fine)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tablespoons milk
1 large or 2 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch slices

The Method.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and then place an ovenproof wire rack on top of that.  Spray the wire rack with nonstick spray.

Now, this is the amount of zucchini I use since I usually only want to make enough for one person.

Use however much you want to, just adjust the other ingredients as necessary.

Combine the first five ingredients in a medium bowl.  Place the milk in a another bowl.  Set up an "assembly line" that looks like this.

{That bowl to the left has milk in it...I know it looks empty but it's not.  :o) }  Dip the zucchini slices in milk, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.  Place the coated pieces on the prepared wire rack.

Spray the zucchini with more nonstick spray to help the browning process along.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and crisp.  The original recipe says 30 minutes at 425 degrees, but I'm always afraid of burning mine so I opt for the slightly lower oven temperature.  My oven must be good and hot because after 22 minutes or so, my zucchini look like this.

Yeah they look better in person.  Anyway, serve these guys immediately while they're hot and crispy.  The thinner you slice them, the crispier they get (and also the easier they burn, so watch them!).  I like mine with warmed-up marinara or pizza sauce.


Linked up to Creations by Kara!


and so it begins...my first quilt.

Um okay, so technically I made my "first" quilt in my ninth grade sewing class.  I was the very last student in the class to finish, and that was even with the teacher telling me what to do at every step.  Kinda embarrassing.

Lately I've been wanting to try another quilt, but all the blocks and piecing seem a little daunting to me.  And I have a toddler, so other than naptime I didn't see a way to get a lot of it done with him running around. 

My husband and I recently upgraded to a queen-sized mattress, and since I couldn't find a comforter set for it that I liked (except one that is apparently "back ordered" at JCPenney's website and not available at this time...grrrr), I googled "queen quilt tutorial" on a whim.  And discovered that there was a way to make a nice, modern quilt for our bed without it taking a year to complete (as well as taking an additional year off my life due to stress).

So I've decided to do this tutorial since it involves using big panels of fabric rather than a lot of little pieces.  Awesome.  Here are the fabrics I'm going to use!

Our bedroom already has a green and brown theme going, so I wanted to stick with that.  Just enough prettiness while mixing in some masculine tones for the hubby.  Remember these valances I made to hang up in there?  Well I had the hardest time finding that fabric again.  Probably because I got it on clearance to begin with.  I thought about going in a different direction for the quilt and then just making new window treatments later on (because really, it's smarter to do it that way anyway), but I really liked the damask pattern on the valances and wanted something similar for the quilt. 

So after searching a few stores, I finally decided to try Ebay, and lo and behold there was something very similar to the fabric I had used for the valances.  Not an exact replica, but close enough to coordinate and not be too "match-y."  I usually don't buy fabric online, but the price wasn't too bad so I went for it.  So that bottom fabric is for the main panel.

I knew I wanted to use solid dark brown for the bigger panels off to the side (see that fabric in the middle?), but I had a heck of a time finding any kind of green fabric for the skinnier panels.  Turns out it's very hard to match that shade of green.  But finally I found it at Hobby Lobby, and it's that last fabric in the picture.

I also have the batting already too since it was on sale this week, and as for the back of the quilt, my sister clued me in on how to save time, money, and your sanity.  Use a flat sheet.  Wow, why didn't I think of that?  So I'm just going to get a brown queen-sized flat sheet at Target or something and use that for the back.  As for the binding, still thinking on that one.  That's where my mom comes in.  :o)  Guess I should get started before she visits again....


perpetual calendar

You may remember me saying that I have a hard time resisting fabric when it's on clearance.  Well, before I got back into sewing, I was even worse about scrapbook paper on clearance.  Hobby Lobby certainly didn't help things; they used to put a huge rack of single sheets in the clearance section and price them ten for a dollar.  Enable much??

Anyway, I had this cool double frame I got at Target a few years ago.  And it was clearance-priced.  But you already guessed that.  Sigh.

And it was a really cool frame.  The individual frames flipped around so you could put another photo on the back.  But I got bored with it.  So when I saw this perpetual calendar idea on {Pressed Down, Shaken Together}, I decided to give it a go and maybe put a dent in my scrapbook paper stash while I was at it.

First, I popped the smaller frames out of the big frame.  This of course left holes in the larger frame, but they weren't that noticeable.  Maybe if I had had some kind of filler or wood putty on hand, I would have done something about it, but I honestly didn't mind.  I figured once I was done, those holes would be hidden or at least not glaringly obvious (spoiler alert...I was right!).

I decided that since I was using a rectangular frame, I would make two sets of cards; one for the days of the week, and one for the actual number dates.  And since my frame was pretty thick, I didn't worry about making the cards double-sided like in the original tutorial since I knew there would be enough room.  The author of the tutorial also had the great idea to use snapshots and cool embellishments to make the calendar really meaningful and personal, but in order to keep this project as cheap as possible, I decided to rely on the pretty, eye-catching patterns of my paper instead.

So last Friday night I got to work.  What Women Want was on TV, and by the time the movie was over, I had this to show for my night:

Really I just found a cute font in Word that I liked, increased the size to about 300, and then printed out the outlines of the numbers 0 to 9.  I cut them out and used them as stencils for each card.  This is the creativity you have to resort to when you don't have a fancy cutting machine.  But I digress.

Then yesterday I did the days of the week set.

There you go.  Not one card is the same paper.  Really.  I checked!  Anyway, I already had some neutral colored cardstock from another project so I just cut squares that were a little bigger than the scrapbook paper squares.  That way the cards wouldn't be as flimsy and would flip better.  I mounted the scrapbook paper squares onto the cardstock squares with scrapbook adhesive squares (best stuff EVER), punched two holes in all of them, and then got ready to put everything on the frame.

The original tutorial uses twine to loop everything together, but I decided to try cable ties first.  I found some in black to match my frame, and made sure they were long enough to go through everything.  I probably would have used twine or something else if I hadn't kept my frame black, since it's hard to make cable ties look attractive unless they match your frame!  I tried to make everything as even as possible, so if it's a little crooked hopefully it's not that noticeable!

Not too bad, huh?  I did have a panicky moment when the cards got hung up on the end of the cable tie when I tried to flip them, but after I worked the whole loop around a little, everything laid flat (kind of like when your paper gets hung up in a spiral notebook but once you mess with the spiral a little it's fine....or maybe that just happens to me).  So now I have a calendar that works for any month of the year.

Ta-da!  I like how it looks on top of our desk.

And each new day, you just flip to the next card!  Here's another outside shot, since my house and camera both make for insanely dark photos.

And the grand total for this project is.....88 cents for the cable ties.  And it was a pack of 20 so I have most of them left for...oh I don't know, maybe actually tying cords and cables together as nature intended?  I had the frame, paper, markers, and scrapbook adhesive squares on hand already so there was nothing else out of pocket.  LOVE IT.

Linked up to Creations by Kara and A Little Tipsy!


ridiculously easy door decor

 That wreath I made last spring was starting to look a bit faded, so I decided to switch it out with something more fall-ish.  I was at Hobby Lobby this morning and noticed that a lot of the wreath-making items were on sale, so I got the wreath for around two bucks, and the fall "welcome" plaque for around six bucks using my 40% off coupon.  I hung them both up on my ginormous suction cup wreath holder, and that was it.

I may go back and wrap some coordinating ribbon around the wreath, but I didn't really see any I liked this morning so we'll see.  I like how the wreath gives some dimension to the plaque without making it look too busy or gaudy.

So I didn't bust out the glue gun or sewing machine for this one.  And the step that took the longest was cutting off price tags.  Who cares?  Not every project needs to be time-consuming to be pretty in the end.  And yes, this is currently hanging on our front door.  I haven't seen any other fall decor on any of our neighbor's doors, so maybe I'll be the one who officially kicks this season off.  :o)


eat your veggies: pumpkin parmesan soup

Yes, you read right.  Pumpkin soup.  Trust me on this one.

Back when my son was just a few months old, I saw someone on the Food Network making pumpkin soup.  After I got over the initial "um, YUCK" reaction, I have to say it started looking pretty good.  Plus the woman making it actually used canned pumpkin.  I can't stand it when TV chefs tell you to buy a pumpkin and roast and puree it yourself.  I'm just lazy that way. 

Anyway, I printed out the recipe and tried it a few weeks later.  I've made it a few more times since then and each time it's SO GOOD.  I've tweaked this recipe quite a bit, mainly because the original called for some kind of hazelnut-cheese decoration on top (which is apparently called a "frico." That's right.  A freak-o).  I liked the idea of cheese since I knew it paired well with squash and other veggies similar to pumpkin, but the hazelnuts didn't appeal to me.  Though the frico did look quite sheek-o on the TV.  :o)  Also, I left out the celery because my husband and I both don't like it, as well as the sage, mostly because I usually don't have fresh herbs on hand.  In my opinion, it tastes great without it, but feel free to view the original recipe and use the different ingredients as you wish.

Pumpkin Parmesan Soup
(adapted from Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown)

The Ingredients.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 cups chicken broth
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

The Method.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat until it starts to brown and foam, about two to three minutes.  Don't let it burn!  Stir in the onion, carrot, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and cook until tender, stirring frequently.  Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Stir together the half-and-half and cornstarch in a separate bowl and then pour the mixture into the pot.  {Make sure the cornstarch has fully dissolved in the half-and-half before adding it to the pot, since cornstarch often clumps up if added straight to hot mixtures.  Don't ask me how I know that.}  Add the chicken broth, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  When the soup starts to thicken, reduce the heat to low.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to a smooth consistency (or else just puree it in the blender in small batches).  Simmer until ready to serve.  Ladle the soup into bowls and then top with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

For me, the last minute addition of the cheese on top totally makes this soup.  It kind of breaks up the pumpkin-cinnamon flavor so you taste a little saltiness as well.  I'm also a fan of the fact that this soup gets its creamy texture by using half-and-half and cornstarch rather than lots of heavy cream.  I even use fat free half-and-half and it comes out yummy every time.  Plus I love any excuse to use my immersion blender, which is a testament to the fact that it's possible to receive a wedding gift that you didn't register for but still adore.  How often does that happen?  :o)


Linking up with Creations by Kara!


props for my pillow!

Remember this scrappy fall pillow cover I made?

It was featured on DIY Under $5 on A Little Tipsy!  I feel so big-time.  Though apparently not big-time enough to know how to make the featured button on my blog not look so crooked.  Any ideas?  It's over there on the right. :o)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...