Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Mexican Fiesta

It’s been a fiesta at Casa de Havens!

It’s no secret my family loves Mexican. Baileigh only eats a handful of things, but she loves quesadillas. That may or may not be from the copious amount of Pancheros I ate while pregnant with her. My mom loves Mexican food too. Every time her and my dad come up to Dubuque to visit us, we will go to Los Aztecas or Salsas. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...

We make some sort of Mexican food on a weekly basis. Enchiladas, fajitas, quesadillas, etc. Lately I have also been pretty obsessed with avocados, which feeds into my obsession with making Mexican food. 

The last 2 weeks we have made 3 new Mexican meals. Two for dinner and one for breakfast.  I already posted the Chicken + Black Bean Enchiladas recipe, so here are the other two!

The real reason I keep up with the blog is to post recipes we loved, so I can remember them, and go back to them in the future. My Pinterest boards are overflowing with recipes, as are my recipes books at home. I need a place to throw all my favorites so I can come back and search for them. (I do need to work on “tagging” my posts more if I want to make this easier!)

 First off, a recipe I developed myself!

Southwest Chorizo Breakfast Hash

Serves 2
1 small russet potato
1 small sweet potato
1-2 cloves of garlic
Montreal Seasoning
salt + pepper
1 ½ tbsp olive or canola oil
¼ c chopped onion
½ small jalapeno (seeds removed)
5 oz ground pork chorizo (Hy-Vee sells it in a 10oz roll. We used half and froze the rest)
4 eggs
2-3 oz pepper jack cheese (shredded)
Optional toppings: salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream + avocado

Using my new favorite skillet from Pampered Chef. Amazing! Look how delicious those potatoes look!

  1. Wash and dice up the potatoes (with skin) Heat up a large skillet to medium. Saute the onions and jalapeno in the oil for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the fresh garlic and the potatoes. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes (until soft and crispy), stirring every so often. Season with salt, pepper and Montreal seasoning.
  2. In a small skillet, brown the chorizo on med-high heat until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. Once the potatoes and chorizo are done, cook the eggs, two at a time, to your preference. (We like our eggs cooked over easy)
  4. Assemble the hash! Place the potatoes down first, then half of the chorizo, top with shredded cheese and finish with the eggs on top! I like to throw it all in the microwave for a couple minutes to melt the cheese, but the hot eggs may do that too!
  5. Finish with your toppings!

Doesn't it look delicious!?

ThoughtsThis was DELICIOUS! The potatoes were a little crispy, the chorizo was flavorful and the eggs made it breakfast-y! (Ha!) It was delicious and easy to make.  We will certainly make it again!

The next recipe was a pinterest find, from the blog Peas and Crayons. Something about the recipe completely intrigued me. I don’t cook vegetarian meals very often. My husband loves meat and it takes the right vegetarian meal for him to “feel full.” Personally, I think it’s all in his head! (I’m pretty sure he doesn't read this, so I’m in the clear!) Nonetheless, this recipes lived up to what I thought it could be. Delicious, full of flavor + texture, and filling! I wonder how often I can sneak in more vegetarian meals like this?

Black Bean + Sweet Potato FlautasSlightly adapted from Peas and Crayons

​11-12 corn tortillas

1 can black beans
1 can jalapeno-corn 
1 small/medium sweet potato
1 small red pepper, diced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried or fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2oz  cream cheese
4-6 ounces of pepper jack cheese (grated)
3 tbsp of enchilada sauce
olive oil

Optional toppings: 
cilantro, salsa, guacamole avocado, jalapenos + sour cream

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425F.  
  2. Poke a few holes in your sweet potato, wrap it in a slightly damp paper towel, and microwave on high for about 6-8 minutes.
  3. While the potato is cooking, mix together the veggies, black beans and garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, cayenne, and enchilada sauce
  4. Scoop out the inside of the potato and add it to your veggies. Mix in the cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Next wrap your corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave on high for 30 seconds. I usually do about 4-5 at a time.This softens the tortilla so it's easier to roll.
  6. Spray or rub one side of the tortilla with oil and add veggie filling to the center of the "dry side" of the tortilla.
  7. Top it off with a layer of cheese and roll the tortilla. 
  8. Place on a wire baking/cooling rack and seal with a toothpick. Place the baking rack on top of a cookie sheet lined with foil. (This helps the fautas crisp up on both sides.)
  9. Repeat these steps until you have used all of the filling. Use a silicone brush to brush just a little more oil onto the rolled flauta.
  10. Bake on the middle rack, at 425F, for 15-20 minutes.
  11. Finish with your optional toppings!
This is the only photo I took. I was too anxious to EAT! Check out Peas and Crayons post for much better photos!

Thoughts: These were incredible! So flavor and SO filling! I ate leftovers the next day for lunch too. They didn't stay crispy because I microwaved them, but then were still tasty! Make these today!

I have one more Mexican recipe but I'll save it for another post. This post is already getting pretty long!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shamrock Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I have a small collection of cookie cutters. They are cute and hang under a shelf in our kitchen. However, I’ll admit, I rarely bake sugar cookies. I never wanted to make up a bunch of colored frosting  pipe designs on them and have a cookie with way too much frosting. Recently I read a post at one of my favorite blogs, Annie’s Eats, that had a tutorial on royal icing. It looked pretty simple. You whip up the frosting in the mixer, pour some into a piping bag, pipe around the edges of the cookie and let it harden. Then, you water down some of the icing, pour it onto the cookie, and use a tooth pick to help it spread out.  It looked easy enough, but you never know! I tested it out back in February when I made the heart sugar cookies. Surprisingly enough, they were pretty easy! The end result was a pretty cookie with a thin layer of royal frosting that hardened as it cooled. It is nice because you can stack or wrap up the cookies without the frosting getting all messy. 

Since the first attempt went pretty well, I decided to try again. This time, with cookie cutters that celebrate my heritage and my husband’s name-sake, St. Patrick’s Day. Shamrock cookies! I couldn’t find my shamrock cookie cutter, so I took Baileigh and headed to my favorite local baking shop,The Calico Bean Market. They have an entire room in the back dedicated to baking! Cookie cutters, food coloring, flours, misc. baking ingredients and an ENTIRE wall dedicated to sprinkles. If you ever need baking ingredients, check it out! It’s on Bluff Street, by the 4th street elevator. The owner is super friendly and helpful, too! While at Calico Bean I picked up meringue powder (for the icing), shamrock and butterfly cookie cutters, green food coloring and green and purple sprinkles. I baked the cookies on Saturday night, let them cool and then Baileigh and I got to work Sunday frosting the cookies! I baked shamrocks for me to decorate and the butterflies for her. She did an excellent job frosting using my new decorator bottles (via Pampered Chef) and enjoyed using lots of sprinkles!

My Shamrock cookies!

Baileigh's butterfly cookies!

Hard at work!

Cookie Recipe:
(The only thing I changed was using Almond extract for the vanilla. I like almond flavoring better in sugar cookies for some reason!)

The cookies looked and tasted delicious! I made way too much frosting, so I have plenty to use when I made Easter cookies in a couple weeks!

Here are two blogs that have beautiful sugar cookies! Both have tutorials too which help beginners like me!