Saturday, March 26, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Menu

Here are the recipes I made for the teacher appreciation lunch at Ben's school. Enjoy!

(scroll down through this post to find the recipe)

Green Enchiladas with Chicken and Sour Cream

I've become a big fan of green enchilada sauce. You can certainly buy your own, but I've come up with a pretty easy and delicious homemade version. I guess it's more of a salsa verde enchilada sauce, because it gets its green color and flavor from diced green chiles rather than tomatillos.

This recipe has a lot of steps, but the enchiladas are so good!

2 cups sour cream
1 cup sliced/chopped green onions
½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack
1 rotisserie chicken, or 3 cups of shredded roasted chicken

12 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil

Enchilada Sauce

3/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 7-oz. can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup chopped green onions (for garnish)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)


1. Mix all filling ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas (one at a time) for 5 seconds on each side to soften and make them pliable. Add more oil to pan as needed. Drain between layers of paper towel and keep warm.
3.Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until mixture begins to boil. Slowly add the broth, stirring with a whisk until thickened. Mix in the chiles, and heat thoroughly but do not boil, stirring occasionally.
4. Dip each tortilla in the warm enchilada sauce. Lay tortilla on a plate, then spoon a good two or three tablespoons of the sour cream/chicken mixture in the middle. Roll tortilla, then place face down in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and sour cream mixture.
5. Cover the dish with the remaining cheese, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees until bubbly. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Toffee Crunch Caramel Cheesecake

This is the cheesecake I made for the teacher appreciation luncheon at Ben's school. I had a hard time choosing a dessert, but I thought that cheesecake and chocolate would be a safe bet. Several people said this was an all-time favorite, so I highly recommend it for when you want a dessert to impress.

The original recipe from Epicurious had a gingersnap crust, but I replaced it with a chocolate graham cracker crust. The caramel sauce from the original recipe looked awfully fussy, so I used a fantastic one from Kittencal, a prolific poster on - I only changed it by adding a pinch of salt. The caramel sauce would be excellent on ice cream or apple crisp. It does get a little grainy when chilled, so let the cheesecake come to room temperature or heat the sauce if you are using it separately.

The cheesecake itself is not very sweet - I wouldn't serve it alone - but it's a good foil for the very sweet topping. The instructions call for a water bath, but I didn't use one. I just put a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Toffee Crunch Caramel Cheesecake

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups ground chocolate graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies (about 7 1/4 ounces)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Combine ground chocolate graham crackers in a bowl with melted butter and brown sugar. Combine until crumbs are moistened. Press into the bottom of springform pan and bake for 12-14 minutes, until crust is slightly darkened. Cool.

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in butter, then eggs, 1 at a time, until just blended. Beat in vanilla.

Wrap outside of pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Pour batter over crust in pan. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake cake uncovered until filling is puffed around edges and moves slightly in center when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove pan from water; remove foil. Place hot cheesecake uncovered in refrigerator overnight.


4 1.4 oz. Heath bars chopped

For caramel:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Pinch of salt


1. In a small saucepan melt butter.
2. Add the brown sugar; whisk until combined and thickened (about 2 minutes).
3. Whisk in the whipping cream, until thoroughly blended (2 more minutes).
4. Mix in vanilla (if using) until combined.
5. NOTE: this sauce will thicken up more when refrigerated.

Let caramel come to room temperature. Spoon caramel over top of cake just to edges (do not allow to drip down sides). Garnish top edges with chopped Heath bars. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides.

Sweet Corn Cake

This is not the same as Sweet Corn Pudding; it's a great accompaniment to a Mexican meal. ChiChi's used to serve it, and you can still buy a mix, but this is much better. It doesn't make a huge amount - you serve it almost like a garnish on the plate. But if you think you'll like it, you can double it easily.

Sweet Corn Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup masa harina (corn flour)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (can use milk)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. In a medium bowl beat butter until it is creamy. Add the Mexican corn flour and water and beat until well mixed.
2. Using a food processor, process thawed corn, but leave chunky. Stir into the butter mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, sugar, cream, salt, and baking powder. Add to corn flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour batter into an ungreased 8x8 inch baking pan. Smooth batter and cover with aluminum foil. Place pan into a 9x13 inch baking dish that is filled a third of the way with water. (You can skip the water bath if you like.)
4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven F (175 degrees C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Use an ice cream scoop for easy removal from pan.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati chili is unique for its lack of beans, fine ground beef, and use of spices like cinnamon and cloves. It's served over spaghetti and topped with raw onions, beans, shredded cheese, and oyster crackers. It will never replace our favorite "regular" chili, but it is a nice change. You can make it in the crock pot for convenience.

Cincinnati Chili

2 pounds ground beef
2 (10.5 ounce) cans beef broth
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate OR 1 1/2 T. cocoa powder
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

shredded Cheddar cheese
chopped raw onions
oyster crackers


1. Add beef and beef broth to a dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is cooked through.
2. Add chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, chocolate, beef broth, tomato sauce, cider vinegar, and red pepper. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove the bay leaf. Reheat gently over medium heat. Serve over hot, drained spaghetti. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, onions, and crackers.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chocolate Mint Cookies

I found a new, great recipe for St. Patrick's Day - but I'll be making them throughout the year. These cookies are fantastic - rich and brownie-like, with a melted Andes mint in the middle. I brought some in to Ben's school, and the teachers seemed to really like them.

I also tried some with Rolos which were delicious. I think a mini Reese's peanut butter cup would also be good.

I adapted the recipe from

Chocolate Mint Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
36 chocolate mint wafer candies (Andes)
1. In a large pan over low heat, cook butter, sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool off slightly.
2. At high speed, beat in eggs, one at a time into chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Chill dough about 4 hours or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
4. Roll dough into one-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes. While cookies are baking, unwrap mints. When cookies are brought out of the oven, put one mint on top of each cookie. Let the mint sit for up to 5 minutes until melted, then spread the mint on top of the cookie. Eat and enjoy!