Saturday, June 25, 2011

Machelle's Easy Enchilada's

Fast, Easy and oh, so good!!
I have had several ladies ask about making enchilada's after trying the "Make Ahead Mexican Meat" and "10 Minute Enchilada Sauce" I posted last time. So I thought I'd send a little follow up to that post and let you know how I make Enchilada's that are moist, yummy and loved by the entire family! Enjoy!

Machelle's Easy Enchilada's

Assemble all ingredients before beginning: plenty of shredded cheese (I like mexican blend), tortillas, enchilada sauce and shredded beef or chicken if you are using any.

Pour about 1-1/2-2 cups of enchilada sauce (store bought or homemade) in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. You can use more or less depending on your preferences, but we like it "saucy". I always double the recipe to the "10 Minute Enchilada Sauce" because we use so much! Next take flour tortillas (I have never had good luck with corn) and coat both sides of tortilla with the sauce from the bottom of the pan. Next, place a few TBS shredded cheese OR meat in tortilla, with a few TBS sauce on top, roll up tortilla, and place in pan. Add more sauce to bottom of pan if you run out as you go.

**I have found that placing the sauce in the bottom of the pan AND coating the tortillas is the KEY to moist, restaraunt style tortillas.**

When the pan is full, pour rest of sauce over top making sure to leave no exposed tortilla, and sprinkle liberally with cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.  I think it looks nice with a dollop of sour cream, sliced olives, diced tomatoes and diced green onions as a garnish, but alas, the kids would have a coronary if I did that, so it's usually just served with sour cream at our house!

Have a perfectly wonderful day,


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Make Ahead Mexican Meat" and "10 Minute Enchilada Sauce"...Ole!

This Make Ahead Mexican Meat recipe is super fasy, super easy, and definately yum-o ! What I love about it most is that I can make a big batch with hardly any work, feed my starving family til they're stuffed, and still have tons left over to freeze for later!

First off, I have only made this with beef (not pork or a combination of both as called for in the recipe) so I can only vouch for the results with beef. Also, it tells you to cook the roast in a 200 degree oven Now, that's too much work for me. I like the "pull a rock hard frozen roast out of the freezer in the morning and throw it in the crockpot" method. So that's exactly what I do: I throw a frozen beef roast in the crockpot first thing in the morning, with no water or seasonings. Let it cook on high all day until it shreds easily with a fork. Then remove meat, save drippings and follow rest of directions as stated in the recipe.

As an extra bonus, I've included my homeade enchilada sauce recipe. Every time I went to the store to buy enchilada sauce, I just about freaked at the price. It is so stinkin' expensive. I make my own kids prefer the homemade stuff because I can control the heat by adjusting the cumin and chili powder. The homeade sauce is pretty darn easy too, and tastes just like the store stuff (only better!)


Make-Ahead Mexican Meat
(original recipe from Jenette Burr)

This has become a staple at our house!

5 lbs. beef roast or combination of Beef and pork roasts
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 teaspoons salt
3 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies
Juices from beef roasts
2 (7oz) cans green chili salsa

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place roasts in large roasting pan or Dutch Oven. Do not add salt or water. Cover with a tight lid and roast about 12 hours, until well done. Drain meat, reserving juices. Cool meat, then remove bones and shred meat, set aside. Melt shortening in large skillet. Add onions and green chilies. Saute` 1 minute. Add green chili salsa, garlic powder, flour, salt, and cumin. Cook 1 minute over medium-low heat. Stir in reserved meat juices and shredded meat. Cook 5 minutes until thick. Cool. Put about 3 cups mix into three 1-quart freezer containers, leaving ½-inch space at top. Seal and label containers. Freeze. Use within 6 months. Makes about 9 cups of Mexican Meat Mix. Use Mix to make, Enchiladas, Chalupas, Chimichangas, Tacos, Etc.

10 Minute Enchilada Sauce
(from Brandi at
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons self-rising flour
1/4 cup New Mexico or California chili powder *I just use regular old Chili powder. I have no idea whether it's New Mexico or California or whatever! ....It's the cheap stuff I had in my cupboard! (use less for milder sauce)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (use less for milder sauce)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
salt to taste
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and chili powder, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning flour.
Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, and onion salt into the flour and chili powder until smooth, and continue cooking over medium heat approximately 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt.

Have a perfectly wonderful day,


Friday, April 22, 2011

(Fast and Easy) Lazy Mom "Almost" Lasagna

Last night at 5 o'clock I found myself standing in the middle of my kitchen, staring blankly at my stove, wondering what I on earth I was going to make for dinner. My kids had to be out the door for a movie date with Grandma by 6:15, and I had nothin'. I knew I had a pound of ground beef defrosted in the fridge, and that was about it. In such a case, I usually go to our old standy, spaghetti, but I'd already made spaghetti this week, so that wasn't going to work. The next thing that came to mind was lasagna, but that just takes too darn long. If only I could make something like lasagna that was fast and easy: no messing with the long noodles and making all those layers and mixing up all the cheeses. I do have a recipe for lasagna that uses uncooked noodles, but at that moment, even that seemed like too much work. I needed EASY!  So I came up with this fast and easy lasagna bake. I call it:

Lazy Mom " Almost" Lasagna
by Machelle Littlefield

makes 6-8 servings

1 lb ground beef
2 jars spaghetti sauce
2 c. cottage cheese
parmesan cheese
2 eggs
shredded cheese
16 oz. noddles (macaroni, shells, penne, whatever)

     Put your noodles onto boil. I used Penne Rigate. Don't let the fancy name fool you...It was a $1.00 box of noodles from Walmart. Anything would really work here...macaroni, shells, whatever. Brown 1 lb of ground beef. Pour the 2 jars of sauce in with the cooked beef. We like it pretty saucy, so two may be too much for you.
     In a separate bowel, put about 2 cups cottage cheese and blend until smooth. I use a stick blender for this. Throw in 2 eggs, and about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, and blend well. I added some italian seasoning blend, onion salt, and parsley flakes. Grate some cheese. I used colby jack, because that's what was in the fridge. Something with mozzerella or jack melts best, but whatever you have on hand will be perfect.
     Once your noodles are done, drain them, and pour half of them in a 9x13 pan. Top with half of the meat sauce, and all of the cottage cheese mixture. Add the rest of the noodles, meat sauce, and top with the shredded cheese. Throw it in to the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
     The kids loved it and my picky hubby had about 4 helpings.  He actually said he better not have more because "his stomach felt like it was going to explode."

Now, as I'm typing this recipe, I realize that in this version I DID make a cheese mixture and create layers (so I don't know what all my complaining was about earlier. ) All I know is that I avoid making regular lasagna because it just feels like too much work, but this recipes really felt like I threw it together in a jif. So give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Okay, This isn't a "quick and easy" recipe your family will love...But it is a screamin' deal that I wanted to share!

I have been waiting all year for this sale! Flirty Aprons 60% off...$9.60-$10.38 with code!
Ever since I saw Flirty Aprons on the Bonnie Hunt show, I knew I wanted to get a few for birthdays and especially for Mothers Day.  They are so stinkin' cute! With most of the aprons priced between $25-$30, I never got around to ordering. I heard that once a year they go on sale for a screaming deal, and I have been watching and waiting to see what sort of deal I could get. I just found out the once-a-year-blowout-sale has started!!! I am so excited..I wanted to share this with you in case you were looking for something fun and different to give for Mothers Day. The prices are so good I think I will stock up and order several extra to cover some Christmas gifts as well. So here is the deal:

60% off  Marilyn Style Aprons with code MARILYN60 through 5/10/2011  ONCE A YEAR CLEARANCE SALE

20% off all aprons with code 20M2011 through 5/10/2011  Mothers Day Special

Women's Marilyn Apron Mint-a-liscious

Was $27.95
Now $23.99
*$9.60 after code


Women's Marilyn Apron Sugar n' Spice

Was $27.95
Now $25.95
*$10.38 after code

Womens' Marilyn Apron Strawberry Shortcake

Was $27.95
Now $23.99
*$9.60 after code

60% off Marilyn Style Aprons MARILYN60 - exp 5/10/11: Use code in checkout
All other aprons, 20% off 20M2011 - exp 5/10/11: Use code in checkout

*Shipping was about $4.75 (for up to 3 aprons)

LINK to Flirty Aprons 60% off Marilyn Aprons with code MARILYN60 through 5/10/2011 

LINK to Flirty Aprons: 20% off All Aprons with Code 20M2011 through 5/10/2011 


I've been getting lots of feedback from people trying to order these aprons, and I am hearing that some people are being told they are sold out. I contacted the company and was told they are selling like crazy at these amazing prices, but they are making more aprons as fast as they can. If you want to get in on this deal, just keep checking back to see when they are back in stock. Of course, if I hear anything, I'll pass it on!

Quick and Easy Curry Chicken and Rice

This is super easy Curry Chicken and Rice is truly a favorite, "go-to" recipe in our busy home!
I found this fabulously easy and oh, so yummy recipe in the cookbook put together by our local elementary school. Once I tried this fast, easy recipe, the whole family was hooked! I have found that the very best recipe books are put together by local school or church groups. They are ususally done as fundraisers, and people seem to really step up with their best family recipes...The best thing is that the recipes included in these local books seem to be the fast and easy, "real" food that "real" families eat. So many nationally produced cookbooks are full of fancy pictures and ingredient lists as long as my arm...they are interesting to look at, but does anybody really make that stuff? So as a general rule, whenever my local school or church group comes out with a new cookbook, I'm the first in line to buy one!

We are a big fan of chicken and rice dishes at our house, and it took me several years to learn the secret of making really good rice. I always used regular 'ol Uncle Bens or whatever rice I could find on sale. I love the fabulous, slightly sticky, moist, perfectly steamed rice from our local chinese restaurant, but never really gave a second thought as to whether I could make that kind of rice at home. I began to notice that whenever we had rice at my mother-in-laws house, her rice was the perfect, moist, steamed rice like the restaurants would serve. I finally asked her about it, and she taught me a secret that changed my rice cooking life forever!

If you want perfect, chinese restaurant style moist, "sticky" rice, Uncle Bens just won't cut it.

You need to buy Calrose rice, often found in the asian section of the grocery store. It is sometimes labeled as Jasmine rice. This is rice with the outer coating of starch left intact, which makes a wonderful, moist, slightly sticky rice perfect for serving with meals that contain a sauce of any kind. I serve "sticky" rice with all sorts of dishes: beef, chicken, pork...anything with a sauce, such as No Leftovers Curry Chicken, for example! You don't even need special equipment to get perfect rice every time. More on that in a bit.

I recently made this chicken recipe when I had a house full of people for one of my daughters birthday parties. As I took it out of the oven and walked through the kitchen to place it on the table, everyone I passed took a whiff of the deliciousness and commented "What is THAT?????? It lookes so good!" And of course, it WAS! Enjoy!

Super Easy, No Leftovers Curry Chicken
serves 6-8

6 uncooked chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes
1 cup mayo (fat free works great. I often use regular but it's a little "heavy". )
1 c. parmesan cheese (I use the stuff in the can)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 tsp curry powder (I use less for the kids)
1/2 c. herb seasoned breadcrumbs

Mix soup, mayo and curry powder. Pour over chicken in 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with cheese and top with breadcrumbs. Drizzle with melted butter. I often double the sauce so there will be extra to serve over the rice.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Perfect Easy Rice

I use my 4 qt. pyrex casserole dish with a lid for this. I just take 2 cups Calrose or Jasmine rice, and place in casserole dish. Add 3 cups water and place lid on dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 or until water is absorbed and rice is tender. This serves 6-8 people

Friday, April 8, 2011

8 Foods Not to Cook Naked

This was too fun not to share.

8 Foods Not to Cook Naked

Cooking naked could be said to be a freeing act: one where you let go of your inhibitions to connect with your body and the food you eat. You become enraptured in the art of cooking and begin to appreciate your food with a new profound sense of self-awareness — smells, sounds, and tastes are more pronounced. Or, it could be a silly experiment where you only inflict pain on yourself.
In case some of you soul-searchers, freethinkers, or adventurous eaters are looking to try this out, we drew up a quick list of foods that you should definitely not make when cooking naked.

Tastes so good, but is the spitting oil worth it? Maybe these little piggy parts wait until you have some clothes on. (Photo courtesy of Istock/MentalArt)

JalapeƱos or Other Hot Peppers
Hot seeds. Unprotected areas. Burning. Ouch. Not the best move. Even if you envision mashing ripe avocadoes between your fingertips to be the ultimate sensual experience, you might want to leave the jalapeƱos out of the guacamole if you’re doing this in the nude. Just a thought.

Searing Meat
A hot, oiled cast-iron pan making contact with raw meat is a beautiful thing — when you’re not standing next to it naked. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/naotakem)
Potato Latkes
We are talking about some serious hot oil here people, especially if you want to get that crisp exterior; this is a dish best left to those who are clothed.
Deep Fried Turkey
The allure of standing in the outdoors, getting in touch with nature, and working with your hands to deep-fry a turkey to create crispy, flavorful skin might sound appealing (if you live in a warm climate), but if that big bird falls in that oil just a little too quickly or flies off the handle, you are in some deep-fried trouble of your own my friend.
Trying to capitalize on your make-your-own sushi class, you figure working with brown rice and raw fish could be a healthy, revitalizing experience. But what happens when that finger grazes some wasabi and then happens to scratch an unnamed orifice… ? Think about it.
Tomato Sauce
Yes, crushing tomatoes with your hands and smelling that intoxicating scent of sauce at a heightened sense of awareness must be nice, but sputtering flecks of tomato flying out at you as you bring it to a simmer might not be so nice.
Making Caramel
Sweet seduction and a silky, buttery mouthfeel all come to mind at the mention of caramel, but cooking with sugar is not a smart move. There is going to be some serious splattering going on and that’s not something you want to expose yourself to.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lil' Cheddar Meatloaves and O'Henry bars...Fast, easy, and sure to please!

Finally, I'm worth my beans!!

Pretty much as soon as I started collecting recipes, I started looking for a really yumalicious meatloaf recipe, because, after all, every self respecting Mom worth her beans can make a decent meatloaf, right? Over the years I've tested many different combinations of breadcrumbs, beef and spices...some called for oatmeal, others used cracker crumbs, even cornflakes. Some were slathered in a carpet of ketchup, others were stuffed with things that gave my picky children heart even called for "wheat berries" and flaxseed, but that's a story for another time. When I found this recipe for Lil' Cheddar Meatloaves, I knew my quest was complete. This fast and easy recipe is a keeper, the kids love it,  and they are moist and flavorful every time (the meatloaves, not the kids....)! So with this fast and easy meatloaf recipe in my collection,  I am even closer to my goal of being a "self respecting Mom who is worth her beans!". Pair this with an easy dessert like Fast and Easy O'Henry Bars, and all you need to do is throw together a green salad and maybe cut up some fruit or something, and dinner's on!

Lil' Cheddar Meatloaves
original recipe by Marina Crowther, revised by Machelle Littlefield

makes 8 servings

1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 c. chopped onions (or 1 tsp. onion powder for kids prone to freaking out over actual onions)
1 tsp salt
1 lb ground beef
2/3 c. ketchup
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp prepared mustard

In bowel, beat eggs and milk. Stir in cheese, oats, onion and salt. Add beef and mix well. Shape into 8 mini loaves. Place in 13x9 pan. Combine ketchup, brown sugar and mustard, and spoon over loaves. Bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes or until meat is cooked through.

Fast and Easy O'Henry Bars
recipe by Carolyn Rowley

4 c. quick oats
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 stick melted butter
6 oz. chocolate chips
1 TB vanilla
1/2 c. peanut butter

Mix together oats and brown sugar. In separate bowel, combine butter, syrup and vanilla. Stir these 2 mixtures together. The longer you mix it, the better it will be. This is a great job for little hands! Pat into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 about 15 minutes, just until it firms up and is golden. Do not over cook! When cooled, top with peanut butter and chocolate chips that have been melted together. YUM-O with a capital YUM!

Have a perfectly wonderful day,


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Easy Sloppy Joe Pizza....being "too tired to cook" never tasted so good!

Here's a super easy recipe. My Sloppy Joe Pizza won't win any nutritional awards but the kids absolutely beg for it. My family inhales this, and it is my stand-by "no nutritional content" weeknight dinner when I am too pooped to make anything else!

So here's what you'll need:

2 cans refrigerator cresent rolls OR refrigerator biscuits
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (We love Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ)

1 can of corn
1-1/2 lbs ground beef
shredded cheese (I've used monterey jack, colby or cheddar)

If using cresent rolls, you unroll the triangles of dough onto a jelly roll pan and arrange the pieces to fit together so they create a "solid" crust and squeeze the seams together. If using biscuits, separate each biscuit and slice in half lengthwise so they are half as thick. Position biscuits on jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.  Go ahead and brown the beef (1-1/2 lbs) and when it's done add your favorite BBQ sauce (we use pretty much the whole bottle)and a little water (Maybe 1/4-1/2 cup) just so it's not too thick or dry. Then add a can of drained corn. Mix well and spread over unbaked crust or spoon onto each uncooked biscuit. . Top with shredded cheese and bake at 375 for 30 minutes or so, until the crust is golden and cooked through.  
You can also place each uncooked biscuit in the cups of a greased muffin tin, shaping to create a little cup and making sure the dough isn't too thick. Then fill the cup with the filling and top with cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes otr until the crust is done and golden.  My kids REALLY love the BBQ cups!

I have had people ask if this would work on regular pizza dough. It would work, but the cresent rolls or biscuits add a special flakey, buttery crust which makes this dish so wonderful.

I hope your family loves this as much as my family does!

Have a perfectly wonderful day,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The birth of the GIANT white our favorite Chicken Taquitos!

Hi There!  Finding easy recipes that my family will love is my passion! Over the years, my collection of "family tested, kid approved" recipes has grown to a GIANT white binder, overflowing with tried and true, "sure thing" recipes that I know I can count on to please.   I've been asked over and over to lend my binder out so people could make copies, and I've always had to say "no" because I just couldn't be without it that long (it would take FOREVER and cost a FORTUNE to copy the whole thing!) There's enough people that want recipes that I've decided to start sharing them!I can't wait to start sharing my families favorite easy much as cooking is my passion, what I REALLY love is sharing a good thing!The reason I started putting the best recipes in a binder in the first place is because I really needed a place I could go when I was short on time, short on patience (or both), and easily find a recipe I knew would pass the "kid" test. This was especially important because I try new recipes several nights a week, and we all know unpredicatable new recipes are. So some nights we discovered a new "hit" and other nights were just plain McNasty. Every week, after a few nights of having to throw away a whole batch of whatever and having the kids end up eating cold cereal, I would get my fill of trying new things, and just needed to give my family something I knew they would love. This led to the "giant white binder".

Every time I found an easy recipe and it passed the kid test (and the husband test), I would put it in the binder. A recipe couldn't be just "okay", it had to be a "definately make again, requestable, no leftovers" kind of dish. I also had a few other requirements:

1) NO KETCHUP allowed (and no growling): Often times, when faced with some unidentifiable dish, instead of saying "this is scary", my husband would quietly get up from the table and come back with the giant Industrial sized bottle of  ketchup, and drench the whole darn thing. I fairly quickly learned that this was code for: if I have to eat this ever again my head will explode. Occasionally, if a new recipe yielded particularly bad results, my husband would just growl at it. yes, sad I know. (The growling may or may not have been followed by a trip to fetch the ketchup bottle.) Needless to say, if a recipe was eaten with ketchup, or growled at, It was not binder worthy.

2)The leftover test: When deciding if a recipe was worth saving, I looked for dishes that either had no leftovers, or the leftovers were just as good when re-served. Occasionally something was really good the first night, but I ended up having to throw the leftovers away. If that was the case, I didn't save the recipe.

Even within the binder, I have a rating system where I mark the REALLY, REALLY good recipes with a foil star. I also mark the best recipes in other cookbooks I use with a foil star. So now I know that ANY recipe in my binder is a "safe bet" for my family, and when looking through other cookbooks I know at a glance which recipes are already "family tested, kid approved."

So that's why I started "the giant white binder", and why I think you should start one too. Every busy mom should have a go-to place to find sure-thing recipes that have already passed the "family" test.

So, on to this week's recipe!


This week's recipe is a definate kid pleaser, and adults love it too. I have to serve dinner for 26 people this weekend, and when I was deciding what to serve, this was at the top of the list. Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Taquitos
From Machelle Littlefield

makes approx. 10-12 taquitos

6 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup green salsa
1 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
3 tbs chopped cilantro
2 tbs chopped green onions
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken*
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese *
6-inch corn or flour tortillas (we like flour best!)
Nonstick cooking spray
Kosher salt

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it lightly with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave 20-30 sec. so it's soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro, green onions, chicken and pepper jack cheese.

Place 1/4-1/2 c.  of the chicken mixture on the lower third of each tortilla, keeping to about half inch from the edges, and then roll up. If you are using corn tortillas, warm a few in the microwave between wet paper towels, until soft and pliable. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle tops with a pinch of kosher salt. Place pan in the oven and bake for 15-20 min or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. Cool 5 min and then serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo.

Left Overs : Put left overs in a Ziploc and store in the fridge up to a week. Reheat by placing them on a baking sheet and cook for 10 min at 400.

Freezer Instructions: Place unbaked taquitos in a single layer of a baking sheet and place in the freezer for  2 hours or until frozen enough to hold their shape. Pack in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. To bake, follow the same instructions, thaw or extend the baking time by 10 min.

*I have also used regular jack cheese and added a can of diced green chili's (stick blended of course, so the kids don't have a heart attack over the green chunks)
* I have used both canned and fresh chicken for this. The easiest is to throw frozen chicken into the crockpot in the morning, fresh from the freezer. By dinnertime, it shreds nicely and is ready to be mixed with the rest of the filling!

Have a perfectly wonderful day!