Healthy Baked, BBQ Taquitos


Taquitos are everywhere on the web these days, but a whole package of cream cheese to go with your dinner doesn’t appeal to me at all. Here is a healthier version of taquitos with a little added flare for those of you who don’t freak out over Mexican Food like I do. These are so perfect for nights where you get home late, or even a quick snack on the weekends.

I don’t know how you can’t like green chili, or Salsa Verde, but not everyone can be smart…right? I find myself making things in half batches anymore. A normal batch for normal people… and another batch for people who eat like their 5 years old…*cough*  You know how you feed adult children? BBQ sauce, seriously, just douse everything in cheese and BBQ and it will disappear like you wouldn’t believe. Course, I also have a brother in the neighborhood now, and a Dad that works down the street. They’re welcome 🙂 I should make all the men in my life buy me BBQ sauce in mass quantities

*Prep* If you plan to make the shredded chicken, make sure you do so about 5-6 hours ahead of time. In a pinch for time? You can also buy a rotisserie chicken from the store and shred to speed up the process!


Baked Taquitos

Yield: about 30

Shredded Chicken- 6 hours ahead of time
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 lbs of Chicken (mine were frozen)
1/2 of a 4-oz can La Preferida Diced Green Chiles (I’ve also used the La Victoria brand as well)
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1 tsp Ground Pepper
1 tsp Salt

Green Chili Taquitos
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 single serving of plain Greek Yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (of your choice)

Remaining half of the La Preferida Diced Green Chiles

BBQ Taquitos
for the BBQ- Add 1/2-3/4 cup of BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays) You can add more or less depending on how dry your chicken is.
1/2 tsp Chili Powder

1. In a crock-pot, add your Shredded Ingredients in the order listed. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, chicken should shred easily with two forks.
2. Once your chicken is cooked, shred and allow to cool a bit, you want to be able to work with it without burning yourself.
3. Combine your softened cream cheese, Greek Yogurt, lime juice, paprika, cumin, pepper, and shredded cheese, mix well.
4. Split your mixture in half between two different bowls. One bowl will be for your Green Chile, the other for the BBQ.
5. In the Green Chile bowl, add the remaining can of green chiles.
6. In the BBQ bowl, add the BBQ sauce and chili powder.
7. It took about 3 packs locally made 8″ tortillas to get thru 3 lbs of chicken. They come in a pack of 10.
8. Warm the tortillas in the microwave if need be in small batches to make them more easy to roll, so they don’t crack.
9. On a 1/3 section of the tortilla, place about 2 tbsp of the chicken mixture, wrap as tight as you can get it. Place seam side down on a baking sheet. I tend to pack these in pretty tight, it helps keep their tight shape the more you pack them in together.
10. When you have a pan filled, spray VERY lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for about 20 minutes at 425 or until browned.
11. Freeze what you don’t use! (reheat at 375 for about 20 minutes, or microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Cooking them in the oven will keep their crisp shell, microwave will soften it-perfect for kids!)

Lasagna Soup

lasagnasoup1I’ve really, really been into soup lately. It’s easy, it smells delicious, and there is something about being able to let all your ingredients soak into each other for hours that just grabs my attention. We typically do a Sunday soup in the winter because I can start it at noon, and let it stew and come together slowly in the crockpot or Dutch oven. By the time I get home from errands and a trip to the gym, I can open the door and become immediately engulfed in the perfect pairing of stewed meat, garlic, and whatnots that have been nestling together all day. Boom!

Normally I would have attempted this recipe with Spicy Italian Sausage, but I still have a couple pounds of extra lean deer meat in our deep freeze, sold! I just can’t get enough of it, and I love adding it to soup or pasta dishes to switch things up a bit. Next time I’ll try the sausage, but it makes me nervous, this combination was so stinkin’ good I just can’t imagine it any other way right now. Even Brad was all about eating leftovers for several days…which NEVER, EVER, EVER happens.

Everyone knows I love homemade ricotta. I will ALWAYS recommend making your own, as long as you have the people in your house to eat it. Freshly made ricotta really doesn’t last more than about a week in your fridge, which is a shame, so it’s hard for me to finish a whole batch by myself (but making Ricotta Cheesecake with the leftovers is a great idea!). I really, really, dislike store bought ricotta. I tend to ‘give it a shot’ a couple times of year, and it’s just not appetizing. In fact I don’t think it tastes like anything, I always end up trying to doctor it up, or use it for texture in another dish. I guess that’s my personal punishment for making ricotta from scratch at home, it will just never compare to anything that comes from the store. If you ever make your own, you’ll notice a night and day difference between the smell, taste, and subtle sweet flavors, it’s bizarre.

This particular recipe combines the ricotta with grated/shredded cheese, so I didn’t mind as much purchasing the smallest container at the store I could find, since I’m not eating it solo. Really it’s about the texture here since the shredded cheese and salt/pepper mask the ‘twang’ the store bought ricotta has. I compare the ‘twang’ to leaving your tea bag in your cup for too long. It’s still drinkable, but it gets almost a little bitter….see what I mean, a ‘twang’. 🙂

*I used my Dutch oven for this round, but feel free to use your crockpot, set on the lowest setting possible. Also if you’re in a time crunch, you really only have to let it simmer for 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table.


Adapted by A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Lasagna Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 ground pepper
1 lb. ground venison (hamburger or sausage will work as well)
1 cup of onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground oregano or 2 tsp of dried
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (cut this in half if you’re spicy sensitive)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
3 bay leaves
8 cups water plus 10 tsp of beef bullion

2 cups Cavatelli Pasta, prepared (feel free to substitute another shaped pasta)

Ricotta Topping
I made this for two bowls of soup, so you can half it if you’re using it for a single bowl reheat.

4 Tbsp. of ricotta
4 Tbsp. of Italian Cheese blend (Mozzarella or Parmesan work great too)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

1. In your Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add your venison. Cook until browned.
2. Add your onions and let cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. You want them to reduce in size by half.
3. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.
4. Add tomato paste, make sure to mix very well, incorporating completely and cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and prepared water/bullion, stirring to combine.
6. Bring pot to a boil and then reduce heat to low. If you’re using a Dutch oven, cover with Dutch oven lid. Even on low this will simmer with the lid in place, simmer for 3-4 hours on low or until you’re ready to eat.

15 minutes before serving

7. Prepare you pasta al dente separately right before you’re ready to serve. By adding in the pasta separately the pasta stays firm instead of getting mushy from absorbing the soup liquid. While pasta is boiling, prepare your ricotta mixture.
8. Combine your ricotta, cheese, s/p. I used a fork to really smash it all together. The consistency should be enough to form it into a loose ball.
9. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
10. To serve, add 1/4 cup of prepared noodles into each bowl, ladle desire portion of soup, then split the ricotta topping between the two bowls. Garnish with fresh basil.

20 Minute Chinese: Fake Take-Out

sesamechicken2Chinese has always been something that hasn’t interested me as far as ‘at-home’ cooking is concerned. It’s so much easier to order out, and most of the time…cheaper too. We often just order one meal and split it, so it can be cheaper and easier, to indulge in this habit. When feeling as it was about -10 degrees the other day with wind chill, I was ready to pick up the phone and order out.
Then something happened.

The Earth, for just a moment, stopped spinning on its axis, Brad told me, ‘No’. WHAT? I’m not sure that’s possible. Mr. I’ll Cook Dinner, aka Order Out/DriveThru said no? He’s clearly running a high grade fever. Even though I was perfectly snug in comfys on the couch, gazing at the TV, snuggled in blankets… this called for me getting up and doing something apparently!

Although we had the basics, sauce-ish stuff, and protein, we definitely didn’t have a couple of authentic dishes ingredients, I decided to wing it. I’ll make sure hoisin and a couple other choice ingredients find their way into my cart next week, because this was an explosion of easy, awesome, fake take-out on the fly. Brad usually orders General Tso’s or Sesame Chicken, I normally opt for something that isn’t fried, but am guilty of sneaking pieces of his dinner onto my plate. 🙂

There are quite a few recipes out there, I sought out the healthier versions of course, and although it may not be exactly like or normally take-out spot favorites….it’s a fun runner up that we were both able to make together, which always makes dinner more fun.

Always start your rice first so it’s done, which usually takes about 20 minutes. I have to admit, Brad’s single complaint was regarding the rice. We are total suckers for fried rice, and I just…can’t…master it. I chose the excuse that ‘it’s really bad for you, we should do white rice’. This then saved me time, and self-fault…because I suck at fried rice.

A wok. I used to own one, it was a pain in the but to store, and it had a scratch in the non-stick surface….and again,we usually order Chinese, not make it at home, so it was sold on a garage sale this summer for $3. BUT, I do have my awesome cast iron skillet that is killer good at everything, so that’s what shallow fried up our chicken in. Also, did you know all they use is corn starch and egg whites for the coating to get that crisp shell?! Seems too easy…

FYI, I skipped the egg whites which many recipes do call for, I was not in the mood to make pudding (the remaining egg yolks(or waste the yolks)…pudding and Chinese don’t sound good together, right?) so I skipped most advised egg whites and just used what I had in my kitchen at the time.SesameChicken

Here it is- 20 Minute, Fake-Take Out Chinese:

1 cup of Basmati Rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt

1 lb of chicken Cut into 1″ Pieces
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp Asian Seasoning
2-3 Tbsp Cornstarch

2 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Water
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp ginger
1 clove garlic, minced OR 1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1. Start rice, combine salt, water, rice in sauce pan, bring to a boil, then turn off heat, and cover tight with a lid. Let sit covered for 20-25 minutes or until water is absorbed.
2. Rinse chicken (do not pat dry), dice into 1″ pieces and toss with pepper and seasoning.
3. Coat chicken (it put my cornstarch in a bowl and tossed in the chicken until well coated) and then place in the fridge while you make the sauce. This will give you a nice crisp coating.
4. Heat up a skilled (or cast iron) to medium-medium high heat, along with 2 tbsp of oil. You want the oil very hot.
5. Mix all the ingredients for sauce in a bowl
6. Once your pan is hot, add in your chilled chicken, cook chicken for about 7 minutes until golden brown. Don’t immediately stir or you will lose the coating on the chicken.
7. Once the chicken is cooked, add in your sauce, it should only take about a minute until it thickens up.
Serve over your white rice!

** If you want your chicken to have an extra crisp, stick in the oven on broil for a minute or two!

Maple Monkey Bread

monkeybread2Happy New Years!!       Oh, and it’s really, really….really cold, in case you missed it.

I don’t care who, or where you are, it’s cold outside. Rumor has it parts of Florida was a whopping 21 degrees today! Do they even install heaters in their homes that far south?! Well, here in Nebraska as you can imagine, it isn’t much better. With the wind-chill dropping us several degrees below zero, it’s been comfort food and belly warming soups around here. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to indulge in the comfort aspect as much as I would love to, but hey, project “swimsuit bod” never seems to get a rest.
Don’t get me wrong, I tasted this, but taste was about it, Brad was the more true judge of this recipe, devouring the majority of the pan.

This weekend we had our last family Christmas to attend. I was asked to bring something sweet, and since I know much of our aunts bring something chocolaty, I had to think of something different this year. Sticky, gooey, doughy, mouth popping?? Monkey Bread! I didn’t even do fake dough this time, oooo, I know, big deal.
If you follow me with any regularity, you know I consistently have out-loud arguments with yeast. Before getting out any other ingredients, I took out my Red Star yeast, and I had a stare down alongside with a short conversation.

Dear Yeast,

Hey it’s me again, Claire. I need favor, please work. I feel a sickness coming on, and it’s been a long tired week. I really would appreciate you working the first time, because I don’t feel like doing this more than once today, or throwing any dough against the walls, Brad hates that. Let’s call a truce today and just be friends in light of the New Year, maybe we can even consider this turning over a new leaf for 2014? K…thanks.

Smiles, flour, and sugar,

Apparently it worked, because I got my yeast to rise the first time, AND my entire house to smells like sweet-rolls and cinnamon. Not the worst start to 2014!

I did something this year that I haven’t done in ages, I allotted the CORRECT amount of time for my yeast to rise twice (AKA didn’t wait till the last minute, or till the morning of to throw something together where I could sneak in dough that didn’t need to rise). I guess that what happens when you stay in on Friday night. You go to the gym, wash your car, make Venison Lasagna Soup (recipe coming soon!!) and make a batch of Monkey Bread.

I know many pizza joints have some sort of “Monkey” or dessert bread to finish off your meal… these will absolutely put them to shame. It’s one of those baked goods where you aren’t sure whether you should dive into it after dinner, or start your day with a latte and a few bites of the gooey delicious. Or…both!monkeybread1

Maple Monkey Bread

*Make sure you allow yourself 3 hours of time to complete this start to finish*

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk, warm (110 degrees F)
1/3 cup water, warm
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 package instant yeast (I used Red Star)
3 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour (and some extra for work surface)
2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp.

1 ¼ cup of powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. of milk
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup


1. Mix together milk, water, butter, sugar and yeast, Set aside.

2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the flour and salt with a hand whisk. Use your dough hook attachment, on stir speed to slowly incorporate the milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. You may need to add a little flour if it’s too sticky.

3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead with your hands until dough is smooth. Form dough into a ball and place into a bowl that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Cover bowl with a hand towel. (I just spray my metal bowl for my mixer and use it as not to dirty another dish)

4. Turn oven to 400 degrees for 1 minute, then turn oven off, and place dough inside, close oven door completely. This gets the oven just warm enough to make your dough rise without actually cooking it. Let rise for about an hour or until it doubles in size.

5. Caramel: When the dough has risen, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, place your 6 Tbsp. of butter melted.

6. Bread Balls: Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and pat into an 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces. Roll pieces into balls.

7. Place your dough pieces, brown sugar mix, and butter bowl into an assembly line like style. Give your Bundt pan a good spray with nonstick cooking oil, this will get very sticky, and you don’t want to have to dig your bread out of the pan, destroying the shape.
Dip your balls of dough into the melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into the bowl. Then, roll in the brown sugar mixture and layer balls in the Bundt pan. I gave them a pretty rough toss into the Bundt pan, you want to make sure they all stick together to form a solid shape.

8. Cover the Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place back in the oven for about an hour or until the balls puff up on the second rise. The dough balls will be about an inch or two short of the top of the Bundt pan when finished.

9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the pan and bake until the top is bronzed and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

10. Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 5 MINUTES, then turn out onto a platter and allow it to cool slightly. Flipping your Bundt pan onto a plate after five minutes is very important. If you let it sit any longer, the caramel cools and hardens, making it quite and ordeal getting your bread out of the pan!

11. For the glaze: While the bread cools, mix the powdered sugar, milk, and syrup in a small bowl until the lumps are gone. Drizzle the glaze over the monkey bread, letting it run over top and down the sides of the bread. Serve warm.