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Bubble Up Enchiladas

I’ve always been crazy about recipes.  I could spend (and have spent!) hours inside Barnes and Noble with just a notepad and a pen, writing down delicious-sounding recipes from the shelves of awesome cookbooks for sale.  I love looking online for recipes and meal planning ideas, and I really get a kick out of trying new things in the kitchen.  Because I am such a picky eater (hint: see that link above that says “Get To Know Me?”  Click it and scroll down to #6), it is very difficult for me to find recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, but that contain ingredients that I’ll actually eat.  I love tacos, but that’s about as far as I’ll branch out as it pertains to Mexican food.  (Well, that’s not entirely true.  I do like fajitas.  I mean, who doesn’t like fajitas?  And I’ve been known to eat the occasional cheese quesadilla on a Friday here and there during Lent).  I digress.  Most Mexican food is (WAY!!!) too spicy for me, and I am not one for heavily veggie-laden dishes.  So that pretty much leaves me with tacos and fajitas and the occasional cheese quesadilla when it comes to eating Mexican food.  I was happily surprised today to find an enchiladas recipe that looked both easy and delicious, and I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

My hat tip for the delicious Bubble Up Enchiladas recipe goes to Kelly over at Semi Homemade Mom and Steph at Plain Chicken.  If you like Mexican food, you will LOVE this recipe!  And it really couldn’t be easier to prepare!  If you try it out, please let me know!  I’d love to know your thoughts.

Bubble Up Enchiladas

1 pound of ground beef
1 packet of taco seasoning (I used Taco Bell)
1 can (8 oz.) of tomato sauce
1 can (10 oz.) of enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso Mild, and it had just a tiny bit of a kick)
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 can of Pillsbury Grands refrigerated biscuits
OPTIONAL:  sour cream, salsa, additional shredded cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the ground beef in a skillet until brown.  Drain off the fat.  Return the beef to the pan and add the taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and enchilada sauce.  Cut each Grands roll into fourths and add them to the pan along with 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Gently stir the mixture to combine.  Pour into a greased 9″-by-13″ pan and bake for about 25 minutes. 

Remove the enchiladas from the oven.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Editorial Jen Note:  Being so new to enchiladas (and so picky and anti-spicy food), I did some research on enchilada sauce online.  The reviews for the Old El Paso weren’t good, so I was hesitant to buy it.  However, it was either that brand or store brand (which didn’t look good from the review of the ingredients), so I went with it.  I realize I am an enchiladas newbie, but I thought the sauce was pretty good!  You may have an enchilada sauce you like better, which is totally fine.  Alternatively, you could also just make your own homemade sauce.  Emeril has an awesome-sounding recipe!)

Happy Birthday Erin!!!

Eleven years ago this day, our beautiful daughter Erin was born!  As you know, we’ve been celebrating this big birthday for the last several days.  My parents came to visit from Indianapolis (they’re still here…hate the thought of them going back), and my parents-in-law came down and spent the day with us Saturday.  Today was wonderful.  Erin specifically asked me to wake her up at 6:00 a.m.  She knew that she “officially” turned 11 at 6:34 this morning, and I think she wanted to make sure she didn’t miss the moment!  We watched the clock, and as we got closer (read: 6:32), she got so excited (“Two more minutes, Momma!”)  6:34 a.m. came and our excited girl was thrilled to be 11 years old.  We are so happy.  She is an incredible young lady and we feel so tremendously blessed to have her in our lives.  Happy birthday to my beautiful Erin.  Momma loves you so incredibly much.

We had a great lunch at school with Erin and her friends today.  In elementary school, we’d always make it a big to-do to come and bring treats and spend time in the classroom.  My mom loved to read to the students, and we really enjoyed spending time with Erin and her friends in the classroom.  Now that she is in middle school (*sniff*), they don’t do that any longer.  Rather, parents and grandparents are invited to come for lunch and to bring treats.  At Erin’s request, Grandma Gotshall made some of her awesome pumpkin bread (recipe at the end of this blog post):

We sliced up pieces of bread and took them to school to give out to Erin’s classmates and friends.  Erin was allowed to invite two friends to sit with us, and other friends came by later to say hello and pose for photos:

After lunch, the kids had recess and we made our way down to the fifth grade hallway so I could show my parents her classrooms and introduce them to her teachers.  We gave them the rest of the pumpkin bread, and sailed out of her school on cloud nine.  I was so happy.  It was a wonderful lunch to celebrate an even more wonderful girl.  She has met some great new friends this year, and really seems to be loving her new school!

Erin asked for chicken cordon bleu (that recipe’s below, too) for her big birthday dinner.  Chef Daddy was on the case!

We spent the evening together and enjoyed one another’s company.  Erin played her trumpet for us.  We laughed and just spent time loving and being together.  Being a family.  Erin opened two last birthday gifts…a “Just About Me” journal and a gift card from her all-time favorite store, Justice!  Those were from us.  :)

These last few days have been wonderful.  My heart is full and I feel so incredibly blessed.  My beautiful little girl is a young lady now!  My wish and dream for her is that the rest of her life is spent in love…growing and learning and laughing and loving.  Every mother’s wish, I suppose.

And now for the recipes!

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

1 can (15 ounces) of pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup of vegetable oil
2/3 cup of water
3 cups of white sugar
3 & 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 & 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon  of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon  of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon  of ground ginger

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour three 7″-by-3″ loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, and sugar until well blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended (we used the KitchenAid mixer, and added small bits of the powder mixture and blended, one at a time).  Pour the mixture into the prepared pans.

Bake the loaves for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (we increased the recipe since there were five of us dining!)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper
6 slices of Swiss cheese
4 slices of cooked ham
1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 7″-by-11″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Pound chicken breasts to 1/4″ thickness.

Sprinkle each piece of chicken (front and back sides) with the salt and pepper.  Place one cheese slice and one slice of ham on each chicken breast.  Roll up each breast, and secure with a toothpick.  Place in the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle the chicken evenly with the bread crumbs.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.  Remove the chicken from the oven, and place 1/2 slice of cheese on top of each chicken breast.  Return the chicken to the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Remove the toothpicks, and serve immediately.


Birthday Party Awesomeness…With CAKE!

Hi everyone!  Erin’s birthday celebration is in full swing.  We were so exhausted last night after the party and the evening of family festivities and I zonked out straight away and didn’t get out here to Blogville and share the story and the photos (sorry!)  Erin had a wonderful party at SkateCity, followed by a fun afternoon of opening presents with her grandparents and dinner at the restaurant of her choosing (this year, she chose Old Chicago Pizza – so, so good!)

So, here we are at Skate City…

One of Erin’s best friends, Logan, came with us to the party.  Here’s a shot of the girls goofing off before the party:

It was a “Shake It Up” party through and through, complete with sweet party favor swag bags and awesome tableware…

At Erin’s request, Grandma Gotshall made a homemade chocolate cake (see recipe at the end of this blog post!)

They broadcasted Erin’s name on the big screen out on the skating floor, which was awesome.

Lots and lots of photos were taken…of Erin and her friends, of the cake eating and gift opening, and two shots of the entire group of kiddos before everyone went home.  Here’s one of them:

She got so many awesome gifts from her amazing friends.  “Shake It Up” shirts, CD. and doll, two (!!) gift cards from Claire’s, money, Big Time Rush stickers (Erin’s all-time favorite band!), candy, nail polish, and all sorts of other amazing gifts.  I really loved getting to know some of her new friends, and it’s always great seeing the friends she’s had for so many years and their families.  It was a great party, and she really, really enjoyed it!

Afterward, we went back to our house to open gifts from Grandma and Grandpa Gotshall and Grandma and Grandpa Smith.  Unfortunately. the photos I got of the gifts from Grandma and Grandpa Smith didn’t turn out (grrr!!!).  Grandma and Grandpa Gotshall got Erin something very special.  A trumpet of her very own.  She’s been playing trumpet in band, and the trumpet we have is a rental.  This one is a trumpet of her very own, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.  Here she is awaiting the big surprise…

What is it, Grandpa?

Check it out!

She even played “Mary Had A Little Lamb” to test it out!

Afterward, we went to Old Chicago and the staff there, as always, was wonderful.  (By the way, get their Three Cheese, Tomato, and Green Onion Artisan Pizza!  SO GOOD!!)  Our server brought us a HUGE cookie cake to wish Erin a happy birthday.

It was a wonderful day, and Erin was very happy.  The celebration continued today.  Shopping and spending time with Grandma and Grandpa Gotshall and dinner at 54th Street Grill (sweartaGawd, I am gonna gain 10 pounds by the time Mom and Dad go home!)  We’ll spend more time together tomorrow and Tuesday, which is her actual birthday, and pumpkin bread and school festivities will follow.  :)

As promised, here is the recipe for Grandma Gotshall’s Mexican Chocolate Cake, which received rave reviews from the kiddos and adults at the party.  Enjoy!

Grandma Gotshall’s Mexican Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of shortening
4 tablespoons of cocoa (we used Nestle Toll House)
1 cup of water
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon  of baking soda

Mix the butter, shortening, cocoa, and water together in a medium-sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil.

Sift the flour and sugar together in a large bowl.  Pour the cocoa mixture over the flour/sugar mixture and mix well (we used my awesome stand-up KitchenAid mixer).  Add the cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, baking soda, and buttermilk and mix well.  Pour this in a greased 10″-by-14″ pan (I used a 9″-by-13″ pan and it was OK).  Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Make the frosting while there’s about 10 minutes left on the cake.  Believe it or not, you actually frost this cake while it’s hot!  Melt 1/2 cup of butter (room temperature) in a small pan.  Add 4 tablespoons of cocoa and 6 tablespoons of milk.  Bring to a boil.  Place 1 box of powdered sugar into a mixer bowl.  Pour the cocoa mixture over the powdered sugar and mix well (KitchenAid again!)  Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 cup of chopped pecans (totally optional, and I didn’t use them for this cake) and mix again.  Ice the cake while it’s hot!

A Wonderful Weekend…

Hi everyone!  So I’ve been giving this blogging thing some thought, and I’ve decided to give it another go.  No more talk about hyperplasia and being sick.  Only good stuff.  Family.  Friends.  Recipes.  Knitting.  Laughter.  Joy.  You know, life!  I can’t promise to be faithful and to write every day, but I can promise to give it (another) try and to see how it all works.  Hope that you’ll continue to read and enjoy the things I share.

This is a pretty big weekend for our family.  My beautiful daughter turns 11 (!!!!) on Tuesday of next week, and our family traditionally has a big family to-do for several days beginning the weekend before her special day.  My amazing parents are here from Indianapolis, and I have taken the next several days off work to relax and enjoy the festivities with the people I love the most.  Today was a quiet day.  A little shopping, a little chocolate birthday cake making (woo hoo!), and treat-bag stuffing in advance of my sweet girl’s big birthday party tomorrow.  Having my parents here has been wonderful, and I am so looking forward to spending the next several days with them.  Since Mom always cooks for us when we come home, I thought I’d return the favor and make dinner for her and Daddy tonight!  Yummy lasagna and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.  :)

I’ll share the recipe (for the lasagna, not the Crescent Rolls – ha!) below.  I’ll also blog tomorrow night and share photos and the story of Erin’s big birthday celebration,  Stay tuned! :)

OK…now the recipe for the lasagna!  It comes from my dear friend Amy Rogers, who has a fledgling recipes blog of her own.  Stop by and check it out and make some of her recipes.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Amy’s Awesome Lasagna

1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles
1 pound of ground beef
1 large can of tomato sauce (use this can first)
1 or 2 medium cans of tomato sauce (open as necessary, but I usually use both!)
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, finely chopped (we’re not big onion people, so I usually skip this ingredient)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder (or 3 cloves of finely chopped fresh garlic)
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
5 cups of shredded mozarella cheese

Brown the ground beef with the salt, pepper, onion, and garlic until the beef is cooked through.

Mix the cheeses together in a big bowl.  Feel free to add more cheese than the recipe calls for.  :)

In a 9″-by-12″ baking dish, spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish and place one layer of noodles on top.  Then spoon 1/3 of the ground beef on top of the noodles.  Spoon or pour tomato sauce on this layer until the noodles and the meat are covered.  Then take a handful of cheese and place it on top of the beef/noodles/tomato sauce mixture.  Pour a little more tomato sauce over the cheese. Repeat these layers two more times so you have three total layers of beef and cheese. For final layer (on top of the third layer of beef), place the noodles and then cover completely with tomato sauce.  Place the remaining cheese on top.  Refrigerate overnight, then bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes (or until done) at 350 degrees with a foil tent on top.  With ten minutes left, remove the foil so the cheese can melt on top.