Really Good Burritos + Too Many Options

Most days, I have a very clear plan between baby naps and errands and stuff that has to be done by the end of that day no matter what.  Today is not like that.

Today, I have a million projects that I could do, but there isn’t a single project that I really have to get done.  And thus, Peanut and I are feeling kind of the same.  Like this:

FullSizeRender

Like maybe the best thing to do is lie down in the middle of the floor and hope no one steps too close while you’re napping.  I get that this is an awesome problem, by the way.  I’m trying to fully enjoy the dilemma and the fact that it gives me time to blog today.

Before I join Peanut, I’m going to share a great recipe that I tried out last week.  It’s from The Kitchn, and it is officially called Baked Black Bean and Avocado Burritos.  Why is this recipe awesome?  Well, it tastes really good.  That’s the most important thing.  The second most important thing is that the prep is easy, and it can be mostly made ahead of time.

2015-04-13-Marge-Perry-2

Photo by Kimberley Hasselbrink

That means I made dinner during noon baby nap, then it was magically ready at 7 the second Tuck’s head hit his crib mattress for bedtime.  Seriously, it was like magic.  Not everything is delicious when you put it together 7 hours early.

One more note.  I added meat.  I do that a lot–pick good vegetarian recipes and throw in some meat.  It means there’s a focus on non-meat elements of the meal, but my meat-hungry family is happy.  It’s a winning strategy lots of times.  With no further ado, enjoy!

Baked Black Bean and Avocado Burritos

Makes 8-10 burritos

  • 1 lb. ground chicken, turkey, or beef (I used beef, but I think I’ll branch out next time)
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely minced (more if you want heat, not just flavor… I used 4 and it had some decent bite)
  • 1 cup light or regular sour cream
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 medium avocados, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 8-10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack
  • Optional: cumin, salt, and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Brown the meat in a pan until cooked through, crumbling with a wooden spoon along the way.  I threw in some cumin, salt, and pepper at this point.  I would guess it was about 1 teaspoon of cumin.  Do what feels right.  I like cumin a lot, so I might have used more than that.

Combine chipotle and sour cream in a bowl. Add the beans and corn to the sour cream mixture and stir until well combined.  Stir in the browned meat, then gently stir in the avocado.

Working one at a time, spoon the bean mixture down the center of each tortilla.  Roll the tortillas closed and place seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. You might find that your baking dish is too small (I did).  If that’s true, grab an 8×8″ pan, spray it with cooking spray, and finish the folding in that dish.  Spoon the salsa over the tortillas and top with the shredded cheese. Cover and bake 20 minutes until cheese is melted and burritos are warmed through.

If you’re making these ahead of time, just stop before you get to the salsa and add salsa and cheese later.  Presto.  We loved the leftovers from these, too.

And now, I will consider reorganizing our desperately messy cabinets or maybe the also desperately messy pantry.  Or I could actually join Peanut.

Asian Beef with Cabbage Slaw and Pretty Pretty Snow

Sometimes we take loads and loads of time to make our meals.  It’s nice to make the process part of the evening activities sometimes.

Other times, I just want to eat something tasty in as little time as possible.  With the 2-minute Huevos Rancheros recently and the 2-minute pumpkin chocolate chip goodies (okay, so they both take longer than that, but  not a lot), you can tell which way I’m leaning right now.  Quick is good.

Last night, our quick dinner option was Asian Beef and Cabbage Slaw.  We found ourselves with some spare cabbage from last week, and that seemed like a solid way to get rid of it.  Turns out we were right.  Yay for recipe-picking success!

The meat had tons of flavor (more on that below the picture), the slaw had just enough flavor, and the combination of crisp slaw and hot beef was very nice.

It looked just like the professional picture for a change, but I couldn’t find my camera to prove that.  You’ll have to take my word for it.

photo by David Prince (and from realsimple.com)

photo by David Prince (and from realsimple.com)

Our only tweak to this excellent and simple recipe?  We didn’t have plum sauce, and we didn’t want to buy plum sauce.  Instead, Scott threw in some hoisin sauce.  I know that plum sauce is not the same thing as hoisin sauce, but we thought the flavors with the substitution were just fine.

The end.  Almost.  Speaking of almost, happy almost weekend!  I can’t get over how beautiful our snow has been lately, so I’ll be a happy camper this weekend.  This is the view from our front windows yesterday morning:

photo-10I love our line of trees.  They make me happy in every season, but especially when they’re covered in snow.

Huevos Rancheros in Minutes!

In case that title is ambiguous, I’m talking Huevos Rancheros in 10 minutes.  The original recipe says 15 minutes, but honestly, there’s can opening and egg cooking.  It’s pretty much the easiest thing I’ve made in months, and it’s delicious to boot.

photo-11That’s the “every man” version.  This is the professional version (obviously still in the pan):

photo by Quentin Bacon (via realsimple.com)

photo by Quentin Bacon (via realsimple.com)

I don’t know if I’ve actually had Huevos Rancheros at a restaurant, so this may or may not be exactly like the traditional recipe.  What I do know is that this was inexpensive, easy, healthy, and tasty.  I’m going to be making this a lot in the future.

We added some leftovers from another dinner into this, so it was a little bit of a time cheat.  Maybe it’s 15 minutes if you add meat-brownin’ time.  Anyway, it’s ridiculously easy and serves 4.  (Why yes, I did use twice the beans, extra salsa, meat, and 2 extra eggs while leaving the serving number the same as the original recipe.  Real Simple portion sizes might be correct from a dietician’s perspective, but we need a little bit of extra food.)

Skillet-Poached Huevos Rancheros+

Ingredients

  • 3 cups salsa
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 6 large eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 lb. ground venison or beef, browned (totally optional)

Directions

  1. If you want to use ground beef or venison in the recipe, brown the meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Combine the salsa and beans with the browned meat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Make 6 wells in the bean mixture. Crack each egg and slide it gently into one of the egg wells. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Cook, covered, over medium heat, 3 to 5 minutes for slightly runny yolks.
  4. Sprinkle with the scallions and cilantro. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt to each serving.

You might even have enough time after this to paint your nails:

photo-10I love that snow days mean clean dishes, folded laundry, and enough spare time to do my annual nail painting.  And thank goodness the roads were totally cleared today.  I almost got the house so put together that I would have to start filing old paperwork.  Whew.  It was close.

Butternut Squash Soup

Just in time, a fantastic recipe for butternut squash soup!  This is a great cool weather classic, and we’ve been making it once or twice a year from different recipes.  This time, I think I’ve found the winner.

The other recipes used lots of heavy cream, which is of course delicious.  This recipe opts for green apple and chicken broth instead of heavy cream, and it works.  It’s healthier than the competition and just as tasty (if different).  There’s a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon mixed with a very generous pinch of cayenne in this recipe, and those spices made the soup more complex and just more fun.  It wasn’t too spicy or too hot, but it definitely had special something.

butternut squash soupAs you can see, this is tasty with bacon crumbles and Parmesan cheesy bread.  If we had a fully stocked cheese drawer last night, I might have gone for a more traditional cheesy bread option like cheddar.

Cheesy bread or not, I hope you enjoy some butternut squash soup this season.  It just feels right to eat a giant bowl full of butternut squashy goodness at this time of year.

Miscellaneous Thursday

These are happy tidbits, nothing more.

First, Scott recently became the friend of a friend of the head of an equestrian program.  Which  means that he acquired horse manure for our garden this morning.

manureThat is a lot of manure!  That is an entire truck bed of manure, to be exact.  And in the background, you have the top of our garden fence, complete with drink can deer deterrents.  I like to think of the hanging drink cans as yard ornaments, not trash.  Some people have gnomes, we have cans.

Second, I successfully convinced Scott that old taters should be used as tater-o-lanterns sometime in the next few weeks.  The idea didn’t originate with me.  It came from Apartment Therapy, who got it from Apartment Therapy contributors.  I still like it, even if it wasn’t my idea first.  Look at those awesome spuds:

photo from ApartmentTherapy.com

photo from ApartmentTherapy.com

And lastly, I have a recipe for your tasting pleasure: Real Simple’s Southwestern Chicken Soup.  The magic of this soup is in its simplicity.  It isn’t necessarily designed for your fanciest dinner parties, but it is tasty, homemade, and ready in 15 minutes.  Sometimes that is all I could ever dream of getting from a recipe.

professional 15-minute soup from realsimple.com

professional 15-minute soup from realsimple.com

my 15-minute soup

my 15-minute soup

It’s also kind of fun, because you can change the taste of the recipe dramatically by using a different type of salsa.  We used a hot variety, so we had a spicy soup.  You could go with mild or mango salsa or whatever you want to try.  The world is your oyster (or soup bowl).

Decadent Strawberry Sammiches

Here’s something that I’ve learned by watching lots of Food Network shows.  If a chef describes a food item as “decadent,” what they mean is that it’s a wonderful combination of unhealthy and delicious. I’ve never heard Giada say that her favorite spinach salad is decadent (unless maybe it has three types of meat and/or cheese smothering all signs of the spinach).

These strawberry sandwiches, also known by the name of Strawberry Turkey Brie Panini, are therefore going to be called decadent.  They might just be grilled cheese sandwiches fancified for adults, but I don’t care.  Between the brie, turkey, strawberries, and the hint of spicy peppers, I’m a goner.  The cheese was melty, the bread was crusty, and there was an abundance of flavor.

photo by Jennifer Davick, styling by Leigh Anne Montgomery

photo by Jennifer Davick, styling by Leigh Anne Montgomery

I suddenly wish we had gone to the strawberry farm one more time this summer.  (Did you see the basil leaves in that sandwich?!)

Oh, and the only tweak I made to the excellent Southern Living recipe was in the pepper jelly department.  We didn’t have pepper jelly, but we did have some spicy Chow Chow (pickled relish), and it substituted really well.

Hummus Wraps and Golf Caddies

First things first, we made The Pioneer Woman’s Heavenly Hummus Wraps last night for dinner, and they lived up to their name.  Mmm.

Image

photo by Ree Drummond (from thepioneerwoman.com)

Just so that you can immediately understand the deliciousness, here’s what you’re looking at on top of the wrap: caramelized red onion slices, hummus, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, mixed greens (with dressing), and feta crumbles (or goat cheese or whatever cheese you like).  We did add some turkey to the mix for extra protein, but it would certainly be delicious either way.

These wraps are perfect for a hectic late-night dinner just like last night at our house.  I was able to caramelize the onions and get the other ingredients rounded up in just a few minutes, then I tossed everything together when Scott got home.  When you don’t know what time dinner might happen, five minutes of putting things together is a win.

The only negative for this recipe is that it doesn’t make leftovers.  I think sogginess would be a major issue if any of these were made in advance.  But really, if not having leftovers is the biggest negative for a recipe, I’m happy.

Now that the important business of food is all taken care of, I would like to discuss dog caddies.  Yes, dog caddies.

Scott sent me a BBC article about The Masters in Augusta.  We’ve been meaning to go play golf together for a while.  It’s a sport Scott is good at and I haven’t tried in years (like many other sports).  But we figured I would make a perfectly adequate amateur caddy if I turn out to be a terrible golfer.  I wouldn’t mind walking around a pretty golf course for a few hours.

Then I realized that we have an even better option sitting on the couch at home:

46853_orig_636_0

photo from ABC Open

Why isn’t this a normal thing?  Oh, sure, dogs like to dig holes in grass, and golf courses are known for their pristine grass.  I think it’s at least worth a shot to see how it works though.  Maybe dogs could be golf-course certified for good behavior or something.

I also want to see what would happen if Peanut saw a squirrel while he was caddying along.  I’m not sure if the golf clubs or the dog would win that battle.  With that mental image, I will leave you until tomorrow.