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    Entries in what's for dinner (2)

    Thursday
    Aug212014

    Crispy Crunchy Beef and Bean Burritos

    It’s amazing what a difference a short stay in the oven can make.  Feed your family regular beef and bean burritos and you’ll get, “Meh.”  But make the burritos crispy on the outside and, “OMG these are good!  Can I have another?”  You’ll definitely want to add this to your easy dinner repertoire.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • ½ lb. ground beef
    • ½ onion, minced
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 can (16 oz.) refried beans
    • ¼ cup taco sauce
    • 1 cup grated cheese
    • Tortillas
    • Canola oil 

    In a pan over medium heat, combine the beef, onion, salt, pepper, and chili powder.  I actually substituted dried minced onion for the fresh because I was feeling lazy. Either will work fine. 

    When the meat is chopped up and mixed with the spices and onion, put a lid on for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.  While it’s cooking, put the beans into a bowl and add the taco sauce.  I like La Victoria, but use whatever brand and heat level is your favorite. 

    Stir those together. 

    After 10 minutes, return to the meat.  Make sure it’s in fairly small pieces. 

    Add the beef to the bean mixture. 

    Stir that in.  (I know, this isn’t the most photogenic food ever.)

    Add the cheese.

    Stir. 

    And now for the fun part.  Wait, first you need to preheat your oven to 375°.  Then, line a sheet pan with parchment and lay out a tortilla.  Mine were quite pliable, but if you’re worried yours might crack, just heat them for a few seconds in the microwave. 

    Spoon on a bit of the meat/bean mixture.  It depends on the size of your tortillas, but I used probably about ⅓ cup in each one.  Don’t get too carried away or you’ll have oozing burritos before you’re done. 

    Wrap the edge around and fold it under itself. 

    Fold in the ends.

    Then just roll it over and gently flatten.  Voilá! Err… ¡Ahí está! Beautifully rolled burrito.

    This is easily enough filling for 8 burritos.  I only made 4 and saved the rest of the filling to use in a day or two.  This is also a small sheet pan, so you should be able to fill 8 burritos and fit them all on one regular sized sheet pan. 

    Now here's the secret for making them crispy.  Drizzle on a tiny bit of canola oil.  Think ¼ teaspoon or less per burrito. 

    Rub it around with your fingers to cover the entire surface of the burrito.  I prefer using my fingers over a pastry brush for this because it’s easier to get a very light coating, which is what we’re shooting for. 

    See?  Nice and shiny, but just barely coated. 

    Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.  They’ll be just starting to brown on top. 

    Flip them over. 

    Then back into the oven for another 10 minutes.  They should be nice and brown now. 

    Crispy burrito goodness.  I’m pretty sure ovens are magic. 

    What easy weeknight meal would you like to see have a facelift? 

     

    Friday
    Jul262013

    Chicken Divine

    You’ve probably heard of a dish called chicken divan.  Unfortunately, like so many other casserole type dishes, it is almost inevitably made with canned, condensed, cream of crap soup.  Why?  Let me show you how easy it is to make a fabulous version, with no scary, jiggly, canned stuff. 

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 2 chicken breasts
    • 1 head of broccoli
    • 4 oz. cream cheese
    • ¼ cup green onion
    • 1 teaspoons fresh thyme
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    • 2 Tablespoons flour
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 1 cup grated cheese
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • 15 crackers
    • 1 ½ teaspoons poppy seeds

    First up, you need to cut the broccoli into florets.  Although I’m not using the stem in this dish, if your broccoli has a long stem on it like mine did, don’t waste it.  Clean it up, peeling off any rough or fibrous bits from the outside, then cut it into chunks.  Drop them into a freezer bag, and freeze them to use later for soup.

    Then just cut the top of the broccoli into roughly bite size pieces. 

    Dice your chicken breasts.  Add 1 Tablespoon of oil to a pan over medium heat and add the chicken.  Sprinkle it with the salt and pepper. 

    Cook briefly on all sides. 

    Then put a lid on and allow it to continue to cook for 7 minutes, moving it about once or twice so it doesn't burn. 

    Remove the cooked chicken and pour in 1 ½ cups chicken stock. 

    Add the broccoli and cover it, allowing it to cook for 5 minutes. 

    While you’re waiting for things to cook, go ahead and chop your green onions. 

    I happen to have fresh thyme on hand, so that’s what I used.   If you only have dried, cut it back to ¼ teaspoon or so. 

    If you’re using fresh, give it a good rinse, then remove the leaves and chop them. 

    When the broccoli has cooked for 5 minutes, it should still be green but starting to soften.  Go ahead and remove it from the pan. 

    To the remaining ½ cup chicken stock add 2 Tablespoons flour. 

    Stir that together until there are no lumps, and pour it into the pan. 

    Stir over medium heat until the mixture becomes nice and thick.

    Turn off the heat, then cut the cream cheese into pieces and add them to the pan. 

    Stir until the cream cheese is mostly incorporated.  It’s ok if you still have some small lumps. 


    Add the green onion and thyme. 

    Stir that together and add the chicken and broccoli, along with any liquid from them, back to the pan.     

    Gently stir until everything is evenly coated. 

    Pour the whole thing into a buttered casserole dish. 

    Give the pan a quick wash (or get a clean one out… your choice).  Place your crackers into a plastic bag. 

    And crush them until you all of the pieces are fairly little.  I just used my hand. 

    Melt 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat and sprinkle in the poppy seeds. 

    Add the cracker crumbs. 

    Stir until everything is combined. 

    Spread the cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar) over the top of the chicken mixture. 

    Then sprinkle on the cracker crumb mixture. 

    Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.  It should be nice and bubbly around the edges. 

    See?  Delicious, beautiful, and not difficult, even without the cans. 

    What recipe that usually calls for canned soup would you like to see upgraded?