Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

This sauce is so good and by far taste better than the canned stuff (homemade always does)!  Props out to my Mexican friend Deidrie for this recipe.  If it weren't for her and her skillful ways I would forever be condemned to a lifetime of store bought enchilada sauce.  Making your own enchilada sauce is much easier and cheaper than you think.  You'll never go back to the can!  (P.S. This is exactly how Deidrie wrote down the recipe for me so you won't miss a beat.)
1/2 cup of oil ( I use canola)
2/3 cup of flour or 10 tablespoons
1/2  cup of chili powder ( I prefer a brand called "grandma's, that's the real name)
8 cups of chicken broth or chicken stock.
sprinkle granulated garlic to taste. Like 1/2 to 1 tsp
1 tsp of cumin
2-3 dried bay leaves
salt to taste
Heat up oil in a large stock pot. I use my dutch oven. Add flour and whisk together. This is your roux. Let the flour cook for a bit to get the raw flour taste out, but not too long or it will burn.  Add your chili powder and whisk.  Roux should become a brick red color or almost brown and you should blend so well that you cannot see flour color anymore.  Allow to cook.  Mexicans call this frying your mole' :)  Add broth, whisking and allowing it to blend as you go. So don't dump all at once, you need to get the lumps out as you add.  After about 5 cups add your cumin, garlic, bay leaves. No salt yet.  It will cook and thicken. When it starts to thicken add another cup of broth. Continue this process until all broth as been added. You may get to the end and it seems to thin.  It is.  Allow it to simmer and thicken.  As it thickens the flavors will become richer.  You may add salt at this time but not to much. Saltiness will increase as it cooks down. Keep some broth to add if you don't like the thickness, same with chili powder and salt. I allow mine to simmer on low for several hours. You can freeze and use later.  I use this for my base for tamales, enchiladas, mole'.  You are well on your way to a happy Mexican repitiour'.

Thanks Deidrie for sharing your family recipe!  Coming soon my favorite red sauce enchiladas.

*This makes a lot of sauce!  I asked Deidrie about freezing it & she said it works great.  Just when you thaw it out you have to add a little water because the flavor intensifies while it's frozen.  So before you use it dilute it with a little water to your taste preference.  Enjoy!

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Quick & Easy Sticky Buns

I made these this morning and they were a hit.  We devoured them warm out of the oven and it was a perfect Saturday morning breakfast.  The best part was it took me about five minutes to whip 'em up and then while they baked I was able to peruse Pinterest and enjoy my lazy Saturday morning as well.  Sure beats having to make a big breakfast first thing in the morning.  Pair these sticky buns with fresh fruit and some sausage and you'll be a Saturday morning hero while still getting to relax.  Here's the DL..
I bought the "Honey Butter"variety of Grands biscuits.  They tasted awesome, & were on mega sale.  But if you can't find the "Honey Butter" kind good 'ol buttermilk biscuits will work great.
2 cans Grands Flaky Layers biscuits
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray bunt pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Mix together butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon until mixture is syrupy and sugar is dissolved.
Pour about one third of the sugar mixture into the bottom of the bunt pan.  Sprinkle in half of the pecans.  Arrange biscuits in overlapping domino fashion in the pan.  Pour the remaining sugar mixture evenly on top of the biscuits.  Sprinkle remaining pecans and 1 tablespoon brown sugar on top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until tops are good and brown & biscuits are cooked through.  Remove from oven & let sit for one minute.  Invert onto serving platter, set on the table & let the crew pull apart your beautiful creation and devour it.  Enjoy!

Black & Blue Crumb Bars

Eat one of these with a good cup of coffee & you'll experience a little slice of heaven.  These bars are good for breakfast, a snack, tea time, & dessert.  These bars are just plain good.  Whip 'em up, you won't be disappointed!  Here's the skinny...
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup butter, cold & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups blackberries
2 cups blueberries
3 teaspoons cornstarch
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper & spray with cooking spray.
In medium bowl mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder.  In small owl whisk together egg & vanilla.  Pour egg mixture into flower mixture and add butter.  Using a pastry cutter cut until crumbly dough forms.  Pat half of the dough into the bottom the baking pan.
In small bowl mix together 1/2 cup sugar & cornstarch.  Gently mix int he blueberries & blackberries.  Pour the berries over the crust  in the pan.  Crumble remaining dough on top.  Sprinkle with a little extra sugar.  Bake for 45 minutes or until slightly brown on top.  Cool completely before cutting.  Enjoy!
*fresh is best, but frozen berries work great as well.

Tomato Parmesan Soup

Since we got three inches of snow last night (& it's still coming down), I've digressed back into soup mode.  I was slowly moving towards spring style fare.  Even started daydreaming about bbq-ing.  But those dreams have been crushed by the thick blanket of snow outside.  The good thing is I love soup, and this soup is out of this world!  It's a whole new level of tomato soup.  Besides tasting amazing, the best part about this soup is how easy it is to make.  Dice up a few veggies, open a few cans, pour them all in a crock pot and at the end of the day it's ready for you to puree it and dish up.  Make some fancy grilled cheese sandwiches using sharp cheddar and sourdough to accompany the soup, and dinner will knock their socks off.  Here's the DL...
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh basil)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half & half, warmed
salt & pepper to taste
Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, oregano, garlic powder, basil, and chicken broth in large slow cooker.  Cover & cook on low for 5-7 hours.
About half hour before serving, in saucepan melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour & cook 2-3 minutes stirring constantly.  Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup.  Add three more cups of soup and stir until smooth. Add the flour soup mixture back into the slow cooker.  Mix in the Parmesan cheese and warmed half & half.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Cover and continue to cook on low for another 30 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, blend soup until it is smooth & creamy.  Serve & enjoy.
*If you like chunky tomato soup skip the last step.
*No immersion blender?  Just pour the soup into your regular blend, works just as well.

Sunday Dinner: Chicken Gravy

Since I'm married to a pastor, Sundays around here are pretty crazy.  But at the end of the day I still want to have that big 'ol traditional Sunday dinner.  Unfortunately, my energy level is shot & I just don't feel like preparing a big meal.  Enter Chicken Gravy.  This is home-down comfort food at it's finest, but without all the preparation.  It takes about 30 minutes to whip up (And I mean that.  Not like those "30 minute meals" you get off of Food Network that actually take you 90 minutes.)  It's filling, healthy, and perfect for Sundays.  Make it super quick by using boxed mashed potatoes.  Here's the DL...
1 pound chicken
3 cups chicken or turkey gravy
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup carrot finely chopped
1 celery stock finely chopped
8 cups mashed potatoes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder & thyme to taste.  Cover with tin foil & bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.  Meanwhile, in medium pot boil the carrots & celery until carrots are fork tender.  Make mashed potatoes while chicken is cooking.  (If making homemade mashed potatoes get water boiling before preparing the chicken.)
Remove chicken from oven & allow to cool slightly.  While chicken is cooling in large pot heat up the gravy until heated through (I use dry gravy mix, but the jarred/canned stuff works great too).  Drain carrots & celery and add to the gravy.  Add parsley.  Pull apart or cut chicken into bite size pieces & add to the gravy.  Stir it all up & serve over warm mashed potatoes.  Enjoy!
*This makes quite a bit of food.  Serves about 8 people.
*You can do this same idea with country gravy & ground hamburger- Hamburger Gravy.

Cheddar Drop Biscuits

I'm not a seafood fan, but I grew up in a family of seafood lovers.  Which meant whenever we were outside of Montana & somewhere big enough to support a Red Lobster, we stopped & ate.  I generally would order popcorn shrimp & drown them in ketchup so I could bare the taste.  But one thing I gobbled up without reserve were the "Cheddar Bay Biscuits".  Mmmm, how I loved those biscuits.  I could never get enough.  For some reason a few weeks back I got a hankerin' for said biscuits.  And so began my pursuit to find a recipe that brought that same great cheesy, buttery biscuit that I remember as a kid.  As you can see my quest was successful.  These biscuits are easy & quick to make.  Plus they are so yummy & flavorful that you won't need any extra butter or jam.  Whip 'em up,  you won't be disappointed.  Here's the skinny...
2 cups Bisquick (or any baking/biscuit mix)
1 cup grated medium or sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet with cooking spray or silicone liner.
In large bowl stir together Bisquick, cheese, & garlic powder.  Add in milk & stir until mixed well.  Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet. (Dough will be very sticky so you may need to spray spoon with cooking spray.)
Bake for 10 minutes or until biscuits begin to slightly brown around edges, but don't over-bake.  No one likes dry biscuits!
While the biscuits bake, melt butter and stir in salt & garlic powder.  As soon as biscuits come out of the oven, using a pastry brush, coat the top of each biscuit with the butter mixture.  Serve warm & enjoy!

Red Sauce

 I figure since it's almost Valentines I'd better post a recipe that had to do with red.  This is the easiest, quickest, tastiest red sauce.  Throw it on pasta or dip your cheese sticks into it; you'll love it & it won't take long to whip up.  Here's the skinny...
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (6oz) tomato paste
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1 cup water
In large pot mix all the ingredients together.  Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add more salt if needed.  Enjoy!  (makes about 5 cups)
*Make it a yummy spaghetti sauce by sauteing 2 Tablespoons butter, 1 large onion (diced), and 1 green pepper (diced) for 5 minutes before adding all the other ingredients.  You could also add mushrooms if you're into that sort of thing- which I am.

Fluffy Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Frosting

I figured I'd better get a few sweet treats posted for Valentines Day.  These are one of the best treats.  Who doesn't walk through the bakery at the grocery store & not want to grab a box of these puppies?!  Then you look at the price & remember your New Years resolution & decide against it.  But for Valentines you can break the rules a little.  Whipping up a batch of these for your sweetie is a great way to show some love, & eat some yummy cookies.  Throw a little vanilla frosting on top & some sprinkles & they look as pretty as they taste.  These cookies are moist & cake-like & the homemade vanilla frosting is oh, so good!  Here's the DL...
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

In medium bowl combine cake flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Using an electric mixer cream butter & sugar together until fluffy.  Add in eggs on at a time stirring after each addition.  Beat until fluffy.  Stir in sour cream and vanilla until combined.  Gradually add in flour mixture just until combined.  Chill dough for at least on hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

Roll 1 heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball (you may need a little butter on your hands to keep dough from sticking).  Place ball on the baking sheet & flatten to about 1/2 inch thick, molding sides as you go so it keeps it's circle shape.  Place dough balls about 2 inches apart.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or just until edges turn slightly brown.  Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes & then transfer to wire rack, let cool completely.
Spread frosting on top & immediately put on sprinkles.  Let set for about 20 minutes & enjoy!

Vanilla Frosting
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
about 2 tablespoons milk
Using electric mixer with whisk attachment blend butter & sugar.  Stir in vanilla.  Add milk a little at a time & blend until frosting is smooth & of spreading consistency.  May require more or less milk.  Add about 2 drops of red food coloring to make it pink (or a few drops of any desired color).  Use immediately.
*this will be enough to frost all your cookies, or two 8 or 9 inch cake layers, or 9x13 inch cake.

Homemade Flavored Coffee Creamer

 I've been meaning to try to make my own flavored creamer for a while now.  When my sis-in-law came over & said she had tried it & it was so easy & good I got motivated.  The next day I whipped up a batch & I don't think I'll ever go back to buying flavored creamers.  It is that easy & that cheap.  Plus way healthier for you.  Here's how...
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
14 oz milk (just measure using the empty can of sweetened condensed milk)
2 teaspoons of flavoring
In a pitcher or mason jar pour in all the ingredients.  Shake or whisk until mixed well.  Pour it in your coffee & enjoy!
If you have actual coffee syrups they work great for flavoring your creamer, you may need to use just a little less.  Or you can use cooking flavorings & extracts.
I like just basic sweet cream, so I didn't add any flavoring to half the batch.  The other half I put in vanilla (the kind you cook with).  Both tasted amazing!  Next time I'm going to try french vanilla (1 tsp vanilla & 1 tsp hazelnut).  I also want to try to make a peppermint mocha flavor.  For this I think I'll add chocolate syrup & peppermint extract.  If you have any creamer flavor ideas or experience I'd love to hear it.

DIY Jewelry Holders

I saw this idea & knew I had to try it.  For a while now I've been wanting to organize my mess of earrings & necklaces.  This was the perfect solution.  Plus I had everything in my garage!
You'll need a frame with the glass & backing removed, wire, staple gun, & hot glue.  This is how the back looks.  Super easy.  Decide where you want to put your wires & cut them accordingly.
Simple staple the wire to the back of the frame & curl the wire around the staple to prevent it from sliding.  I had to use heavy duty staples because my staple gun grew legs & walked away.  I think it had an accomplice who lives in my very own home & is married to me, but I'm not going to name any names.  Anywho, lightweight staple gun will work just fine.
I wanted some hooks for my bracelets so I made some by twisting & bending the wire.
These I hot glued onto the back to get them more flush, but you could staple them as well.  Just make sure they won't slide out of the staple.  You could put some of these on the bottom for necklaces as well & they would work great.
That's it, your done.  Hang it on the wall & organize away.  I love having my earrings laid out before me & not having to dig for the mate to the one i want to wear.  Plus this project reminded me of some jewelry I had forgotten about.  It looks pretty nifty in my room as well.
I also wanted to organize my mass amounts of necklaces.  I found these hook like things in our barn.  I'm not sure what they are for.  Maybe a towel rack?  All I knew was that I could screw them to the wall & hang necklaces off of them.  So I did just that.
They were white porcelain, so I spray painted them a color I liked.  I also sprayed the screws I was going to us.  I attached them to the wall & my work was done & my necklaces organized.  These also look very nice on the wall of my room.  A sort of practical decorating I guess.

So dig around for an old frame & found objects.  Your jewelry will be organized & displayed in no time!

Red Velvet Cookies

Nothing screams Valentine's like red & chocolate.  Therefore, Red Velvet Cookies are the perfect Valentine treat because they contain both.  I'm a big fan of red velvet.  My Mom always makes red velvet cake for special events.  It's so beautiful to look at & taste so good.  These cookies hold up that reputation.  They are sweet, velvety (of course), & dainty.  They have a wonderful cake-like texture, but their thinness keeps them from being overwhelming.  Whip up a batch of these & your honey will melt like butta'.  Here's the DL...
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together flour, baking soda & cocoa, set aside.
Cream together butter & sugars until fluffy.  With mixer on low speed add eggs, vanilla, & food coloring.  Mix well but don't allow to get too fluffy.  Slowly add the flour mixture & beat until just combined.  Use spoon to mix in white chocolate chips.
Place heaping teaspoon full balls of dough onto a grease or lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are set around the edges but still soft in the center.  Remove from oven & let cool for 1-2 minutes & then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies  Enjoy!

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