Southwestern Egg Rolls

With Super Bowl upon us tomorrow, I thought it was only prudent to share a great appetizer recipe with you before the big game! I’ve wanted to make these guys for a couple years now, but just never managed to get around to it. Traditional homemade egg rolls are one of our very favorite things ever, and we love Mexican food – so it was totally no surprise when we all loved them!

Corn, red pepper, black beans, red onion, spinach, garlic, and cilantro are given a quick saute to soften. Then they’re mixed with a blend of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, rolled into an egg roll wrapper, and quickly fried. I suspect that they would also be great baked, if you’re looking for a healthier route. But it’s Super Bowl, and I’m not.

I served with an avocado ranch dipping sauce, which couldn’t have been any easier. I just mashed up an avocado well and mixed it with ranch dressing. I think salsa would also be another great option for dipping, which is again- much healthier! I hope everyone enjoys the big game tomorrow – we’ll be rooting for the Patriots (anyone BUT the Seahawks!). Stay safe and warm, everyone!

Chipotle Chicken Skewers with Creamy Dipping Sauce

Guys. I think this just might be our new favorite dinner. Now, I know it’s not really grilling season anymore, technically…but, I think that the fall is one of the best time to fire up your grill! Not to mention tailgating parties and whatnot – which, these would be just perfect for. They’re so good, and so easy!

Sliced chicken breasts are marinaded in a brown sugar-chipotle concoction, that has a few other of my favorite flavors thrown in as well – like garlic, lime, and cilantro. Then threaded onto skewers and grilled. You certainly could cook them under the broiler or on a grill pan as well to get the same charred flavor without having to fire up the grill.

And, lest we not forget the delicious dipping sauce that accompanies them. Creamy, delicious, and studded with finely chopped herbs and scallions – it’s a perfect contrast to the spicy, sweet heat from the chicken.

I served them with cilantro lime rice and steamed broccoli for a healthy dinner that we all enjoyed. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Source: adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Pasta Bake

Even when the weather is warm, sometimes I still find myself craving a big bowl of comforting baked pasta. But, it’s nice to switch it up from the standard red sauce and ricotta cheese variety. When I came across a recipe a couple of months ago in a recent issue of Taste of Home, I thought I’d give it a try.

I did end up changing it a bit, mainly by adding chicken as well as a dose of homemade Alfredo sauce to the pasta bake. I loved all the flavors together, almost reminiscent of a spinach-artichoke dip. It was pretty easy to bring together too, as it doesn’t require all the layering that something like a traditional lasagna would.

I had leftover roasted chicken from the night before, so I just used that – but a store-bought rotisserie chicken would be ideal for this application. Or you could certainly use boneless skinless chicken breasts that you roasted or sauteed as well. Whatever works best for you!

I kept it simple and just served it with a salad topped with a light lemon vinaigrette. Everyone really enjoyed it, and with most baked pastas the leftovers were even better the next day for lunch.

Source: adapted from Taste of Home Magazine, February/March 2014

Bean & Cheese Enchiladas

If I had to choose a favorite cuisine, it would be Mexican. It’s something that I really came around to during my first pregnancy, and it definitely stuck with me. Sadly, our only local Mexican restaurant closed it’s doors a few months ago – which means we have to drive 40 minutes north or south to go out…and that’s really sucked this time around as far as pregnancy cravings are concerned.

I already have a few really good enchilada recipes up my sleeve, but sometimes you just need something super-quick and easy. That’s where these bean and cheese enchiladas come in. I almost always have all the ingredients on hand to make them, they come together quickly, and they’re filling and delicious.

If you’re worried about spice, don’t be – they aren’t spicy. The green chilies are very mild, but add a nice bite of flavor. I wrote the recipe using canned pinto beans, but I’ve been soaking my own beans lately and doing it the “old-fashioned” way. If you’re down with that – you’ll need about 3 cups of dried beans. I’ll cook them with a smoked ham hock, ham base, or some bacon for a little extra flavor. But,  rest assured they’re great with canned beans too! Also, take a few minutes and make your own enchilada sauce. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to throw together, and the results are so much more delicious (and economical!) than the stuff from the can. Just saying…

They’re gooey and delicious with the use of flour tortillas and plenty of cheese. We all really loved them, Andrew declaring that they’re his second favorite enchiladas – right behind the beef. Which is really saying something considering that my chicken version was the favorite meal in the house for quite a few years!