Saturday, November 12, 2016

Biscuits and Gravy

One of the few Southern foods I love is biscuits and gravy. While I spent a few years in the South I'm a California girl through and through so it was a totally novel food the first time I tried it. 

I love Alton Browns biscuit recipe. They always come up fluffy and are absolutely delicious. 
Because I hardly ever have buttermilk on hand I cheat and add about a tablespoon of lemon juice to the cup of milk. 
You just stir it in and let it sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  Because biscuits work best when the milk is super cold let it sit in the fridge. 
The other thing I don't have is a biscuit cutter.  I just use a drinking glass.   Even with these accommodations the recipe works great and is delicious! 
I usually don't end up with a full dozen probably because my glass isn't exactly the right size to play a biscuit cutter.  But 11 biscuits are more than enough for the two of us.

While these are delicious with butter, honey or just by themselves let's be real in this post the biscuits are a gravy delivery device.  So because there are just two of us on the house and I do not need to eat biscuits and gravy for a week here's where the recipe goes a little off the rails with tradition.
  I started with 3 Farmer John sausage links in a medium skillet.  I broke them up into small pieces like you would when browning ground beef.  Since there was not much grease in the pan I did not drain. 
I added about a half tablespoon of butter and let it melt.  Then I added 2 tablespoons of flour and stirred it in well.  I then added a cup of milk. 
Because we use low-fat milk I pour about 3/4 cup of milk and then add 1/4 cup of half and half when making white sauces to bring up the fat content a little bit for better thickening and flavor but keep it reasonable so that I don't feel sick later.
  I stirred the mixture constantly over medium heat until it began to thicken and then added a dash of onion powder (apx 1/8 tsp), a pinch of salt (apx 1/16 tsp) and about a tablespoon of ground pepper. 
Then I sliced a biscuit in half warmed it up in the toaster oven for a few min and spooned that marvelous gravy over the top.  So good.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Tower of Terror Inspired Mouse Ears - Disneyland!

So I was at the Tower of Terror the other day and on my way home I just had to stop at JoAnn's and begin making these Tower Ears! I'm so excited I'm posting before they are even totally finished.  As my more Disney obsessed readers may know the Tower is closing at the beginning of the year to become Guardians of the Galaxy and that is so very sad.  There's a huge final send off and I just had to add my little token of tribute to one of my favorite attractions. :sniff:

We have the black felt at home, but I needed some burgundy fabric, some gold ribbon, gold puffy paint and some (affiliate link) Heat and Bond.

I began with my ear base and then marked out and cut the burgundy fabric for the bellhop hat portion of the ears.  I just started with a corner of the fabric and pinned and cut around the ears so that they were perfectly sized.  I wanted each segment to be roughly 1/3 of the height of the ear.

Once I had the pieces sized and cut out I unpinned them and laid them out on the edge of the fabric to create a matching set the same size.  With the ear folded in half I pinned them back on one side of the fabric only.  I folded the bottom edge of the material under to create a straight line across the edge of the bottom side of the bellhop hat, while the top portion of the ear went all the way up and rounded.  I wanted it to sit at a jaunty angle so the pieces are cut on a diagonal.  I then pinned pieces matching to the other side again on just one side of the fabric so that when I pinned them together and turned them it would look like one piece.
I then sewed each piece in place on the ear with a straight stitch along the edge the top of the hat is only sewn along the bottom edge but the bottom of the hat is sewn along top and bottom keeping that turned under edge in place.  I then cut and pinned pieces of ribbon in place. I pinned the ribbon so that the black portion of the hat is slightly smaller than the burgundy portions.

I then sewed the ribbons in place being very careful to stay just inside the wire edged portion of the ribbon.  If you catch the wire with your machine it can rip it out of the ribbon and pull it in to the bobbin making a horrible noise and a royal pain to remove.  (Can you tell it happened to me and I've totally been there?) Then being very careful to match ribbons and edges I pinned right sides together and prepared to sew the ears closed.  You want to leave both a hole to turn the ear and mark a portion along the bottom edge that is wide enough for your headband to be inserted.  I sewed these with a 4/8 seam allowance.  It ended up making the ears a bit smaller than I'd like I'll definitely cut them a bit larger and use a 3/8 allowance the next time.  (Yes that is a rubber band around the seam allowance marking that I intend to use it is an amazing tip that I learned recently and am so excited about.)

Once you're done sewing trim seam allowance and clip curves, I like to use pinking shears so that I trim and clip at the same time.  Then using that access hole you left in the side turn your ear inside out.  Use a pencil or tiny scissors to help push out the curves and turn the ear perfectly.  TaDa! One ear mostly done!

For the second ear I wanted the Hollywood Tower Hotel logo. I found a nice clear image of the logo and then pinned it to a piece of scrap old-fashioned looking fabric I had laying around and cut it out.  I took a small piece of the burgundy fabric and followed the directions on the (affiliate link) Heat and Bond to adhere it to the fabric.  If you aren't familiar with Heat and Bond it is essentially iron-on fabric adhesive.  What you do is cut a piece of fabric and then match a similar sized piece of this material to the fabric iron on the sticky side and then draw, trace or cut your image, shape, whatever on the paper side.  When you peel off the paper and then iron it to the fabric you want it to stick to it seals it in place lickety split.  There's a red and a purple the purple can be sewn after sticking the red can not.  I just kind of hand cut some pieces to make the letters for the Hollywood Tower Hotel logo.  (If you don't know Tower lore, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror building is actually called the Hollywood Tower Hotel hence the HTH which throws some newer guests off) I then sewed the patch onto the ear single sided I wasn't sure if I had to do any sewing after or what all I was doing but in the future I think I'll just use the Heat and Bond to seal that on too and save myself the trouble.  as you can tell I missed a few places while sewing and kinda slipped a little piece of the adhesive in there anyway.  I then lined the logo with some gold puffy paint and went to bed.  The next day I sewed and turned that ear the same way as the other.

I fed the ear onto my headband and then marked where the line would need to be to sew it closed with a pin.  I sewed that line on both ears and then stuffed them with fluff (poly-fill).  After they were filled I sewed my turning hole closed by stitching in the seam by hand.  I then attached the ears to the headband.  If you want Mickey style ears then you are done.  WHOO!

But alas I wanted Minnie style ears so I had to make a bow. :(

To make the bow I cut out a piece of burgundy fabric about 3 inches by 5 inches.  (I ended up needing two pieces this size cause I totally messed things up and ended up making them differently than originally planned.) If you want the front and back of your bow to look the same one piece about 3 by 10 inches if you want to have the black and gold on the front and just plain burgundy on the back two separate pieces each 3x5 inches.  Then I cut out a piece of black fabric that was about 2x5 inches.  I turned the edges of the black fabric under and stitched them to make a clean edge.  I cut pieces of ribbon 5 inches long and then sewed the ribbon and the black fabric to the burgundy fabric.  with right sides together sew the two pieces together leaving a small hole at the bottom to turn.  Press.  Then using an accordion fold in the center hand stitch the bow.  Finish with a small piece of gold ribbon.  Hot glue everything in place.

Minnie Ears!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

I love enchiladas! I prefer either green sauce or ranchera sauce to red sauce on mine.  Today I decided to make a pan of enchiladas for dinner.  Because I am working hard to clear out and clean up my over stocked, hot mess of a pantry I used canned chicken for these so they really can't be easier.  I like my enchiladas made with flour tortillas but really any part of this can be adapted to your tastes. Like corn tortillas? Use that. prefer red sauce? Go for it.  Want cheese or beef or carnitas instead? Knock it out.  Enchiladas are simple, easy and infinitely adaptable.  

You'll need your filling, canned chicken and cheese in this case, your tortillas I used 8 soft taco sized flour tortillas, sauce I used a can of Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada sauce (I wanted a big can but the small size was all they had so I added some green chiles and water to stretch it, a skillet big enough for the tortilla to lay flat in, 2 8x8in pans or  a 9x11 if you are making a single batch of 8, and a small sauce pan. 

First I worked on stretching the can of enchilada sauce this step is totally unnecessary if you can just buy a larger can but Target was totally over shopped so I took a can of green chiles that I had in the cabinet tossed it in the Ninja and filled that same can with water and pureed it then mixed it in the saucepan with the enchilada sauce.  I am now thinking that I'm going to be making my enchilada sauce from scratch cause its literally just chiles and water.

Next I opened the chicken and mushed it up with my hands so that it was shredded I added a tablespoon or two of enchilada sauce and some Mexican seasoning mix (garlic, onion, salt, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and black pepper) to get rid of that fresh out of the can flavor.  We always have grated cheese in the fridge so I just used what I needed and didn't really measure.  Its about a cup, cup and a half worth of cheese.

Now that your sauce and fillings are prepped, turn the oven to 350 and get ready to make the enchiladas.  Coat the bottom of your baking pan with a thin layer of enchilada sauce and place next to your stove.  Wherever you have enough room line up the cheese and chicken fillings with a fork in them.  Make sure only the tortillas you are using are out of the bag and ready to use.  Pour a small portion of enchilada sauce into the large skillet and turn it on very low heat.

Lay a single tortilla in the skillet, let sit for a few seconds and flip, if you can see tortilla through the sauce you need to let it sit a little longer until it is totally coated in a film of sauce.

Move your sauced tortilla to your baking pan.  Add 1 to 2 fork fulls of chicken and one fork full of both cheeses.  Since your hands are totally coated in sauce you'll get a total chicken and cheese claw hand if you don't use the forks.  Its up to you but if you are using the cheese again later I recommend the forks.  Roll the enchilada up and place it so that the opening faces down in the pan.  Repeat.

You should be able to fit about 4 enchiladas in the 8x8 pan.  Repeat with the second pan.  Why two pans? So you can freeze one for later. Top with cheese.  I also had some cotija cheese that I was looking to use up so I added it to my topping and some cilantro and black olives cause olives are delicious and that's how my dad does it. Pour a thin layer of sauce over the top of the enchiladas.  How saucy you like them is up to you, if you are running low on sauce add a little water and stir,  I don't like them super wet cause they just start to dissolve.
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until brown along the edges and cheese is melted and they are hot through.

So what about that second pan? Wrap it up in saran wrap and foil and then label and date.  Later you just take that out of the freezer one afternoon let it defrost and pop in the oven for a super duper easy dinner.  If you have many folks doing dinner prep or are sharing food or are just forgetful write the temp and cook time on the foil as well.
Since there are just two of us in the house this will give us two dinners and two lunches.  Not too bad.  I always do better actually taking the leftovers for lunch if I immediately put it away in lunch box sized containers.


cooked chicken (I used canned today)
1 cup cheese cheddar/jack blend
8 soft taco sized tortillas
1 large can green enchilada sauce (there was only a small can at the store so I stretched mine)
cotija cheese, olives, cilantro for topping (optional)

 Whip It Up Wednesday Handmade Linky Party

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Quick Mexican Style Rice

This is a great way to use up leftover rice! I tend to never eat the rice that is leftover in the fridge cause rice doesn't always warm up that well for the next day so I tend to try to turn it into a new dish.  We eat a lot of Mexican, Spanish, Red, whatever you want to call it rice.  I love it in bean burritos or as a side with quesadillas or any other Mexican style dishes which tend to be our go to for many meals.


Cooked white rice (apx 1.5 cups)
sm can V8 or tomato sauce or salsa (in a pinch)
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
tapito (or hot sauce of choice)
Mexican seasoning (I love premixes!)
Caldo de Pollo (Chicken Bouillon) optional

First I mince the garlic and chop the onion.  I love my (affiliate link) Ninja Express Chopper for this as I always cry when chopping onion and hate how it makes my hands smell but a knife and a little time will work just as well.  To remove the garlic from its skin I whack it with the flat of a large chef knife and it just pops out easily.  To easily remove the onion skin I cut the top and bottom off, then half the onion.  If using a chopper just cut the onion in to smallish pieces then toss the onion and the garlic in and give it a few pulses.  Otherwise dice finely.

Add a little oil to the pan and then add in the chopped onion and garlic mix, saute over medium low heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions start to become a little translucent.  Add about a 1/2 tsp of salt.

Take the left over rice and break it up into small pieces with your hands then add to the pan and stir to combine.   Sprinkle a thin layer of caldo de pollo (chicken bouillon) over the rice, and a layer of Mexican seasoning.  Since we eat a lot of Mexican food I mix up a pre-mix of seasoning that has salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper in it.  I do almost equal portions of everything except the cayenne.  Shake a layer of Tapatio (or hot sauce of choice over) we like things spicy so I tend to go heavy but flavor to your preference.  Then stir in your can of tomato.  I usually use tomato sauce but didn't have any so I used V8 today.  The V8 is a little thinner.

Cook covered over very low heat for 5-10 minutes stirring once to check that it isn't sticking in between.  (I wasn't able to find a large skillet with a lid that I liked so I always just toss a pizza pan on the top when I need to cook in a covered skillet)  Squeeze some lime over when it is finished cooking.  Since this rice is re-cooked its not as nice and fluffy as it would be if you made it fresh, but you don't really notice the texture in a burrito.