Enchilada Sauce & Mexican Egg Bake (Low Carb!)

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Alright… so it’s been forever. I have a backlog of recipes and a camera full of food pictures. This particular recipe we cooked like three months ago. 🙂 But that doesn’t make it any less tasty!

So here you go!

Enchilada Sauce

  • Dice an onion, celery, and an Anaheim pepper, and sauté them in butter.
  • Mix your spices together in a separate bowl (cumin, chipotle powder, oregano, paprika, onion powder, salt).
  • Add in some diced tomatoes to the sauté pan (I only had cherry tomatoes, so I made it work).
  • Add in some minced garlic into the sauté pan.
  • Add in the spices and a liiittle bit of chicken broth.
  • Thicken with tomato paste.
  • Throw it all in the food processor to make it super smooth, then add more salt to taste.

Mexican Egg Bake

Because we were doing low-carb diet at the time, instead of actually making enchiladas, we made a sort of Mexican baked eggs dish, which is basically the enchilada sauce and an egg topped with cheese in a muffin pan. We had to eat it with a spoon out of the muffin pan so as to not break our runny yolks in transit to a plate (because that’s blasphemy!) but these are not too bad!!

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Savoring San Diego

A few months ago (in April…I know…this is far from timely), I went to San Diego for a work conference, and Jonathan tagged along so we could make a vacation out of it. We had a blast! We rented a car (named her Carmen) and gallivanted around the town like a couple of energetic teenagers. The weather was incredible, the zoo was amazing, the people were so chill, and the beaches were absolutely beautiful. But, as always with our vacations, our favorite part was the food.

OH MY GOSH, the food.

Between the crazy-fresh seafood and the mouth-watering Cali-Mex, San Diego food knocked our socks off.

We never imagined it was possible to out-do Tex-Mex, but there’s something special about the border flavors of SoCal cuisine that truly blew Tex-Mex out of the water. I mean, can we talk about the enchiladas for a second!? They use a variety of cheeses, that enchilada sauce is like nothing I’ve ever tasted – fresh, tomato-y, just the right amount of seasoning and spice – and the corn tortillas are super fresh and soft. And the California burrito … whoever thought of putting French fries inside a carne-asada-and-shrimp-stuffed burrito is a genius in our book.

Also, let me just say. I am now officially a spoiled brat when it comes to seafood. Did you know that something as beautiful as a LOBSTER ROLL exists? Toasted buttery bread filled with chunks of lobster. I’ll just let the pictures do the rest of the explaining.

The best thing Audrey ate:

  • Fisherman’s torta & shrimp ceviche from Oscars Mexican Seafood
  • Lobster roll & lobster bisque from Bite of Boston
  • Parmesan Truffle fries from the Devilicious food truck

The best thing Jonathan ate:

  • California burrito from Roberto’s
  • Cheese enchiladas and carne asada fries
  • Tortillas and fried quesadilla from El Indio

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Beer Cheese Soup & Cheddar Apple Soup

Winter = Creamy cheesy soups galore!

I love soup, and Jonathan loves cheese. Even though he’s not a big fan of soup, he loves cheese more than most things in life, so these cheesy chowders were winners for both of us.

There’s really nothing better than a steaming bowl of creamy soup when it’s chilly outside. Except maybe blankets, cozy pajamas, coffee, a fireplace, and cuddling. But hot soup (served with an always-comforting loaf of crusty French bread) gives all of that a run for its money.

Soup is a funny thing. You can add so many ingredients and not really keep track of what all you threw in the pot. Maybe it’s just because I’m an amateur cook, but I find it so hard to write an accurate recipe for soup because the key to making it well is TASTING it constantly and adding layers of flavor over time according to how it’s turning out. (Yay — a good excuse to nibble and sample!!)

I’m not writing out entire recipes for these soups because I definitely wung it when I made them. Winged it? Wung it? You get the idea!

Beer Cheese Soup & Homemade Bread
(aka “The best cheese soup I’ve ever tasted!” – Jonathan)

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In a large soup pot, saute a few diced onions in butter. Make a roux, then add chicken broth, beer, and milk. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add grated cheese to the soup, whisking it in with each handful. Add a tiny bit of the Worcestershire and Dijon, tasting along the way. Add a couple dollops of sour cream and all the spices (go easy on the nutmeg). Add a bit of heavy cream to your liking, and blend the soup if you want it super smooth (it still tastes great it you don’t!) Add salt as necessary.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own homemade bread! But I shouldn’t have any authority over bread advice because I’m definitely not so great at bread-making yet! My loaf turned out very dense, which we actually liked, but you can probably do a better job with a Googled recipe!

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Cheddar Apple Soup
(“Whoa, it’s sweet and savory at the same time!” – Jonathan)

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In a skillet, saute a diced sweet onion and diced apples in butter.
I have potatoes in my picture above, but I never used them. It just didn’t feel right! If you wanted to use them, you’d probably throw them in at this point.

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In a large soup pot, make a roux (with the ground mustard too), then add chicken broth and apple juice. Add the sauteed onions and apples to the soup pot. Let it simmer until the apples are tender. Add grated cheese to the soup, whisking it in with each handful.

It doesn’t look appetizing at this point, but just wait.

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Add heavy cream and all the spices (go easy on the cayenne). Taste it and add whatever your taste buds tell you to (I added more apple juice and ground mustard at this point). Blend the soup if you don’t want it chunky. Add salt as necessary.

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I toasted up a $1 loaf of French bread from WalMart. It was better than my homemade bread, in my opinion!

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Garnish with green onions or fresh mint (I know that sounds weird, but it tasted great!)

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Poutine. A Delicious Delicacy from the North!

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During your late night binges of Food-Network-watching or surfing the internet for new things to cook (or are we the only ones who do this??), you might’ve run across a delightful treat called poutine (pronounced poo-teen).

A common Canadian dish originating in Quebec, these French fries topped with cheese curds and a light brown gravy are rich and delicious.

What!? Brown gravy on fries!? … Don’t turn your nose up. Just trust us!

I (Jonathan) have always been curious to try poutine. Those who put in the effort to make it always say it’s incredible, and it’s just such a fun, party-style dish. After finally making some, I can safely say that poutine is definitely worthy of all the hype. It’s a dish I’d love to try again and again until I master it.

Think of it as the cheese fries of the great white North! You won’t be disappointed.

What You Need

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • Cheese curds
    Tip: If you can’t find cheese curds (we couldn’t at the time), you can use fresh mozzarella pearls.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Beef bouillon
  • Vegetable oil (if you want to fry the fries instead of bake them)

What You Do

  1. Prepare your fries.
    A. Wash the potatoes well
    B. Slice them up, fry-style.
    C. Soak them in a bath of ice-water for an hour (or for as long as you can while you prepare the rest of the dish).
    Tip: If you choose to BAKE the fries, get them in the oven on like 450 degrees as soon as you can instead of soaking them so they can be cooking while you make gravy.
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  2. Make a light brown roux:
    A. Melt a stick of butter in a skillet or sauce pan.
    B. When the butter is bubbly, add flour to it.
    C. Whisk it, A LOT, over medium heat until a thick paste forms. Keep whisking it until it’s smoother. Whisk whisk whisk for like 10+ minutes. You want it to turn light brown.
    Tip: If you don’t whisk it enough over the heat, your brown gravy will be grainy.
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  3. Add beef broth to the roux and whisk it in.4. Add small amounts of bouillon and TASTE IT each time.
    Tip: Be CAREFUL because it’s easy to make it too salty fast. Taste it OFTEN.
  4. Dry the fries by putting them on paper towels and removing the excess moisture.
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  5. Cook the fries. You can either fry or bake them.
    Tip: We fried them in vegetable oil, but in hindsight, we would bake them. RESIST the urge to salt the fries. I made this mistake; just don’t do it. The beef gravy will be salty enough.
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  6. Put it all together!
    A. Place the fries on a large platter.
    B. Distribute the cheese curds evenly over the fries.
    C. Cover with gravy.DSC01201
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  7. EAT (and appreciate Canada a little more than you did before).
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PS. I sauteed some baby portobello mushrooms with butter and salt to have with our poutine. There aren’t a whole lot of things better in this world than buttery sauteed mushrooms. The trick is to give them a lot of room in the skillet (even if you have to cook them in several batches) and not keep a lot of moisture in the pan while they cook.

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Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese. The Way to a Man’s Heart.

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When we were dating, I remember when Jonathan said, “Audrey, if you ever made a gourmet macaroni and cheese for me, I would fall even more in love with you.” I think my response back then was, “K. Or… you could just make it yourself and love me more anyway!”

But my ole heart got to thumpin’ one day recently, and I decided to make him the most creamy, silky, decadent batch of cheesy noodles he’d ever tasted.

What You Need

((Remember that this isn’t exact and is more like an outline that’s meant to encourage your creativity…. I’m helping you embrace your inner chef!))

  • Cheeses of your choice.
    Tip: I was going for a mild cheese combo, so I used medium cheddar, Swiss, provolone, some random, soft white cheese from Central Market, and a little bit of crumbled blue cheese. If you want a deeper more potent flavor, go with a combination of cheeses like Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, Gruyere, sharp white cheddar, etc., but mix them in with milder cheeses too.
  • 1 box elbow macaroni
    Tip: Get the kind with ridges because they hold onto the cheese better!
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Parsley

What You Do

  1. Cook and drain your pasta.
    Tip: Remember to add salt to the pot while the pasta is cooking.
  2. Dice the onion, sauté it in butter, then transfer it to a large pot.
    Tip: I skipped a step and kept the onions in the skillet while making roux. Probably not Emeril-approved, but it worked great for me!
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  3. In the same skillet (unwashed after cooking onions), make a blonde roux:
    A. Melt a stick of butter.
    B. When the butter is bubbly, add flour to it.
    C. Whisk it, A LOT, over medium heat until a thick paste forms. Keep whisking it until it’s smoother and thinner. Whisk whisk whisk it over the heat for like 5-10 minutes. You want it to turn just slightly blonde colored.
    Tip: If you don’t whisk it enough over the heat, your whole dish will be grainy.
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  4. Transfer the roux to the large pot with the onions.
  5. Add milk, and whisk it all together.
  6. Over medium heat, slowly add the cheeses and stir them in with a spoon.
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  7. Add salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder to taste.
  8. Add the pasta to the large pot.
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  9. Chop the parsley.
    Tip: I usually always hand-chop fresh herbs, but parsley is a more resilient one that can really take some processing without losing its integrity!
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  10. Prepare the breadcrumbs.
    Tip: You can just buy store-bought if you want, but I put some French bread in the food processor and then toasted the crumbs in a skillet. I added a tad of dry Ranch seasoning to the breadcrumbs for an extra pop of flavor on top.
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  11. Distribute the macaroni and cheese to serving dish(es).
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  12. Cover it with breadcrumbs and chopped parsley.
    Tip: I prefer un-baked mac and cheese because it doesn’t dry out. If you like yours a little less saucy, bake it!
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BTW. Macaroni and cheese pizza … to die for! You can throw some on a tortilla with some alfredo sauce and bake it, but if you happen to have some leftover cheese pizza (with alfredo sauce instead of marinara), jazz it up with some of this magical macaroni and pop it in the oven. Best. Idea. Ever.

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Honey-Roasted Peaches with Mascarpone & Walnuts

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This light, summery dessert is quick and delicious. It may be the simplest recipe we ever post.

Neither of us really has a sweet tooth, so desserts just don’t happen in our home very often. I’m actually a sucker for some juicy peaches mixed with cottage cheese, so it took me a while to devote some of our peaches to this dessert idea, but once we finally did it, it was so tasty we ended up making it twice within a couple weeks.

What You Need

  • Peaches
  • Honey
  • Butter
  • Chopped walnuts (or almonds, if you prefer)
  • Mascarpone
    Tip: The first time we made these, we used BlueBell homemade vanilla ice cream instead. As much as we love us some BlueBell, the mascarpone just complemented the peaches so much better.

What You Do

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the peaches in half and pick out the pits.
  3. Line them on a baking tray or in a big casserole dish.
    Tip: The first time, we put the peaches in a muffin tin and it didn’t turn out like we wanted it to… I don’t recommend it.
  4. Fill each half-peach with honey, letting it overflow a little.
  5. Put a pat of butter on top of each half-peach.
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  6. Roast them for about 30 minutes.
  7. Let them cool off just a little bit and plate them one at a time.
    DSC01251Tip: The pink “syrup” that collects at the bottom of the pan is like the nectar of the gods. Spoon some of that goodness on your plate.
  8. Put a heaping spoon of mascarpone on each half-peach.
  9. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top.
  10. Enjoy!

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The Shooter Sandwich. A Sandwich of Epic Proportions.

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Ok y’all, prepare yourselves. This is more than just a sandwich. It’s a meaty, bread-y, cheesy MONSTER meal. Intimidating, yes. Delicious, yes. Easy to make, no. Easy to bite into, no. But worth all the trouble, YES.

Essentially a bowl of carbohydrates packed to the brim with protein, this sandwich was originally made for high-class people out on long hunting trips. It was known to travel well because its fillings are totally encased by the crusty bread. And after being squished in a saddle bag for hours, the flavors would meld together and make that signature “shooter sandwich”.

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When Jonathan first discovered this king of all sandwiches, he knew it would one day grace our kitchen and our stomachs. He researched his options, planned the details, and was all smiles when he talked about this culinary project for weeks.

He even drew a diagram of the various layers and discussed assembly techniques. (It was confirmation that I’d married the right man!)

Then, shooter sandwich weekend finally arrived. We grocery shopped, cleaned and prepped the food, weaved a mighty-fine bacon blanket, cooked, assembled layers, smashed the sandwich under 60 pounds of weight for 12+ hours, toasted it, and FEASTED.

The whole process is pretty time-consuming, but it was absolutely worth it, if for no other reason than for the experience of making it together. On top of that, it was actually pretty decent tasting.

What You Need

  • 1 big bowl-shaped crusty bread loaf
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 package of mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil or butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • Whole-grain mustard
  • Horseradish
  • Sliced provolone and Swiss cheese
  • 2 NY Strip steaks
  • 2 Rib eye steaks
  • 1 pack of bacon
  • Steak seasoning
    Tip: Be careful about the amount of salt you use during prep of each sandwich layer. Ours was a tad too salty because we salted the mushrooms AND the steak.

What You Do

  1. Hollow out the bread: 
    Slice off the top of the loaf, scrape out the guts, and then put the hollow bread bowl on a big piece of foil. Lay the top of the bread bowl aside.
    Tip: Be sure to leave enough bread on the bottom to the juices don’t soak through it.
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  2. Prep the bacon weave: 
    Weave the bacon together into a solid sheet of bacon and bake it in the oven.
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  3. Prep the veggies: 
    Chop the onions and mushrooms and sauté them in olive oil. Add some minced garlic at the end, if you want to.
    Tip: Use a paper towel to soak up any extra moisture from the mushrooms in the pan after they’re done cooking. It will make your sandwich soggier if you don’t!
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  4. Mix up the condiments: 
    Stir the mayonnaise, mustard, and horseradish together in a bowl and set aside.
  5. Cook the steaks:
    Sear the steaks and cook them to barely medium rare (they’ll cook more in the oven later).
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  6. Put it all together: 
    Assemble the fillings inside the hollow bread bowl.
    Tip: Our layers, from bottom to top, were: Bread bowl, mayo mixture, rib eyes, provolone cheese, bacon weave, mushrooms & onions, Swiss cheese, NY strips, mayo mixture, bread top.
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  7. Wrap it up in a lot of foil.
  8. Smash It:
    Balance as much weight as you can figure out how to on top of the sandwich for 5+ hours.
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  9. Bake it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  10. Slice it like a pie and eat it.
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Our Final Reviews:

Jonathan: “It was like a Godzilla of culinary greatness. Its sheer massiveness and creation is a spectacle, and it’s exciting and grandiose, but then as you eat it, it is so large and lumbering that it can be pretty awkward to eat. I’d like to try it again except maybe a muffalata version!”

Audrey: “I was skeptical about it from the beginning because I prefer to eat my steak juicy, fresh, and with a knife and fork. But I actually wasn’t totally disappointed with it. It was full of flavor and just really unique. I’m excited to try a different version of it, though, like an Italian shooter sandwich with marinara, Italian sausage, eggplant, and mozzarella!”

♪♬♫♩ “Shot through the heart, and hunger’s to blame.
You give the sandwich… a bad name!” ♫♩♪♬
(Jonathan’s ode to the shooter sandwich)

 

 

 

 

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