Spicy Rice & Bean Burritos

We all really like Chipotle. In fact, if we’re going to grab a bite somewhere, that’s probably where we will end up. Son # 1 even more than the rest of us. We find him wandering around the house daily, greeting us with ‘Yaaasss, Chipotle is my liiiiiiiiiiiiiffffffffffffe.’ The jury’s still out on if it’s because he’s morphing into a perpetually misunderstood 16 year old in a week, or if it’s just because he’s him. Either way, we can always agree on the fact that a Chipotle burrito is friggin’ delicious. Sometimes there are little hiccups in our plans to go ‘grab a bite’ though. The number one being the major bump in the road of having 4 hungry boys and only one income. So last week when son # 2 went a whole day without complaining about any chores, even helping out with extras, and then asked could we grab a burrito while we were out running errands did I let the piddly little issue of my budget get in my way? Of course not! Budget smudget. Okay, not really. It didn’t get in the way because we just took a different route. We came home, stuck our heads together and created our own version, full of copy-cat-ish Chipotle burrito love.

These are fantastic. Don’t let their humble appearance fool you, these could easily give Chipotle a run for their money! They are pretty spicy, but coming from someone who doesn’t like spicy food and loves these, I would say not too spicy. Feel free to dial down the heat though by using less of the spices.  Or, if you’re feeling brave really into spicy food and want to crank up the heat, splash some hot sauce onto the rice mixture, or you could sprinkle a few diced jalapeno peppers on top of the filling before rolling up the tortilla. Not feeling a burrito today? This rice/bean filling is just as good served as a hearty rice dish served alongside spicy, or fiesta-style, grilled chicken.

Spicy Rice & Bean Burritos

 Spicy Rice & Bean Burritos

recipe adapted from A Bitchin Kitchen

1 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1 pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo, minced
2 tsp sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
1 tsp ground cumin
one large pinch of cayenne pepper
1/3 cup water
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup salsa
6 burrito-sized tortillas
8 oz shredded cheese, mexican blend, cheddar, or monterey jack
shredded lettuce
4 green onions, thinly sliced
fat-free Greek yogurt, or sour cream

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, chili powder, pepper, adobo sauce, cumin, and cayenne. Allow them to cook just until fragrant, only about 30-60 seconds. Add in the drained/rinsed beans and the water. Bring the filling to a simmer, and then lower the heat to medium-low and allow it to cook for 8 minutes, mashing the bean mixture slightly. Remove from heat, and stir in rice and salsa until everything is evenly combined.
2. Divide the mixture evenly among the center of each tortilla. Top the filling with cheese, lettuce, green onions, and greek yogurt as desired. Roll them up by folding over both side about 1 1/2 inches and then rolling up lengthwise to close/make the burrito, and serve!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pinwheels

Chicken Cordon Bleu is one of our favorite “looks and sounds fancy, but it’s really totally easy” standby recipes. A classic cordon bleu features chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese. One night I decided to change it up by rolling everything up in a sheet of crescent roll dough. Turning it into crescent roll pinwheels? Knocked it right out of the park. These are even easier than our traditional version, and taste superb. They’re perfect party food and make a really pretty presentation. A drizzle of honey mustard gives these chicken pinwheels that perfect bit of extra mmph.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pinwheels

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Pinwheels 2

recipe adapted from Mom On Timeout

1 can crescent rolls
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices deli ham
2 chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tbsp honey, optional
2 tbsp Dijon mustard, optional

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Pinwheels

Directions

1. Remove crescent rolls from can and lay out in a long rectangle. Pinch the seams together making sure they’re all ‘closed’.
2. Sprinkle the dough with the Italian seasoning.
3. First layer the cheese onto the dough, then the ham, and finally topping it with the chicken. Set the prepared dough in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to allow it to get chilled again.
4. Remove from the fridge, and pick an end to start at. Roll the dough and it’s contents up like a cinnamon roll and, using a sharp knife, cut into 8-10 rolls.
5. Place on a prepared baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. If using, mix together the honey and mustard until evenly combined and serve with or drizzle over the rolls before serving.

{One Pot Wonder} Dirty Rice

For years, we bought the box mix and simply added ground beef to it. We were in heaven. It was divine. It tasted great and it was quick. Everything we ever needed or wanted in our dirty rice dinners. Or so I thought. Sometimes I have readers send me links to recipes they think will tickle my fancy or that they want an opinion on before venturing into uncharted territory. THAT’ is how this recipe fell into my lap, err inbox, late last year, and I can’t say thank you enough!

I wanted to share this with you all sooner. I really did. You see, I first made this late last year, and we loved it. But I don’t typically take pictures until the next time I make something. I mean, I’ve gotta make sure it’s son approve and all. So then there was the second time we made this, and all I had was a crappy picture that really didn’t do it justice, and this meal deserved better than that. So I used that as the perfect excuse to make it again. And it seemed that every time I got around to making it again, and again, we were all in so much of a hurry to dig into this dish that the only photo I could get was using the hub’s cell phone! Clearly you can see where our priorities lie. 😉 So this time around, about 9 months later, give or take a month or so, I didn’t tell anyone what was for dinner and wouldn’t let anyone near the kitchen until I’d managed to get at least one decent shot with my camera. Once I snapped it, that was it, the troops were all over it. It was a lot like what I’d imagine feeding a pack of ravenous wolves might be like. [End tangent]

So. Dirty Rice. If you’re from the South, especially the deep south and any ‘bayou’ regions, you’ve probably grown up on the stuff. For those of you not from the deep south, a fun fact about ‘dirty’ rice.  The traditional Cajun dish get it’s name from the white rice it calls for that turns a ‘dirty’ color when cooked with small pieces of chicken livers. Yeah. I didn’t like liver when I was little, and it’s still a no-go now. I know, I know, your palette can change as you age, but I’m not chancing it. No liver for this Mama. I get my rice pleeeenty dirty using good ol’ ground beef. Don’t like beef? Chicken sausage or pork sausage both work great in this meal. If you’ve got one pot, and one 25-minute window of time, you’ve got this amazing dinner that will leave you with only ONE dish to clean. Priceless, right?!

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice

recipe adapted from Southern Plate

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 tbsp dried
1-3 tbsp creole seasoning, depending on how spicy you’d like it
5 cups cooked rice
 
Directions
 
1. In a large skillet, heat up the oil, over medium heat.
2. Add the ground beef, celery, pepper, garlic, and onion and cook, breaking up the beef while stirring, until the ground beef is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the parsley and creole seasoning, starting on the low end with 1 tbsp and tasting before leaving it or increasing the amount as desired, stirring to combine.
4. Then stir in the cooked rice, and saute for 5 minutes, or until heated through, over medium heat.
 
 
Like the idea of a one pot meal and a less-mess dinner? Check out these other one pot wonders:
4 Sons 'R' Us: Mexican Chicken & Rice
Mexican Chicken & Rice (Arroz con Pollo)
4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Pizza Pasta
Pizza Pasta
4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Chicken Lo Mein
Chicken Lo Mein
 

Sloppy Joe Tacos

Did you ever start to make sloppy joes and halfway through realize you didn’t have hamburger buns on hand? Yep. Totally happened to me you guys. (And, sadly I can’t say this is the first time either. Don’t get the sons started on how many nights we’ve had to have bunless hotdogs and hamburgers.) And so sloppy joe tacos (what??!) it was. I was weary that this would just end up tasting funky, but it didn’t. It is everything you love about a sloppy Joe along with the comfort of taco shells and all the fixins.

Now: calling all napkins!!! Who am I kidding?! Forget the napkins. I just need a hose. Especially with all four sons in the house eating these. For real! Seriously though… they rock. Grab a bib (and a hose) and dig in!

Sloppy Joe Tacos

Sloppy Joe Tacos

1 lb ground beef, or ground turkey
half a medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
shredded cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce

Directions

1. Brown and drain ground beef (or turkey). Place cooked meat back into skillet and saute the onions and pepper until onions begin to turn clear. Add in the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and garlic powder. Cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from heat.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Line taco shells in a 9×13 pan and evenly divide the meat mixture in the shells. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and place it in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and shells are warm.
Divide lettuce evenly between taco shells.

Stuffed French Bread & Swiss Mushroom Stuffed French Bread

The sons love sub night. We have it at least once a month. They’re always putting their heads together to try and come up with new filling ideas and combos. We love hot or cold subs, but sometimes I just want to have an uber hearty, hot sandwich for my meal. This fit the bill perfectly. Literally, this giant twist on your average sub-sandwich is great. A quick & easy, ready-in-under-30-minutes meal, that’s every inch of sandwich perfection. Crisp on the outside, hearty and tender on the inside. I do love a good crunch to my bread. Both versions taste great, but if you get any ideas feel free to play around with your ingredients. Add in some extra veggies, change up the cheese. Heck, change up the meat. I seriously doubt you can go wrong with stuffed french bread.

Mmm, can’t you just picture it? Smell it?? Go ahead, try it and taste the delicious-ness.

Stuffed French Bread

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Stuffed French Bread

recipe adapted from Life In The Lofthouse

1 loaf french bread
1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 Tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

1. Slice the french bread in half, lengthwise, so you’re left with two equal pieces. Scoop out the bread in the center of each piece, making two bread ‘boats’. Place the extra bread in a large bowl and tear it into very tiny pieces. Trust me, you want them tiny. Place both halves of  bread onto a large baking sheet and set it aside.
2. In a skillet over medium high heat, brown both the beef and the onion until fully cooked. Strain the grease and return to the skillet. Next, add in the celery and garlic. Cook until the celery is tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the soup, milk and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook another 5 minutes, or until the meat mix is heated through, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the meat to the bread in the bowl, stirring to combine. Pour mixture into the center of one half of the french bread and spread out evenly. Spread out evenly. Sprinkle the meat mixture with the cheddar cheese. Top with the other half of bread to make it a sandwich.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. When done cooking, let your bread sit for 5 minutes so everything ‘sets’, before slicing and serving. Then, eat up!

Swiss Mushroom Stuffed French Bread

1 loaf french bread

1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp diced onion
1/4-1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tsp minced garlic
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp beef bouillon
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp Worcestershire
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Directions

1. Slice the french bread in half, lengthwise, so you’re left with two equal pieces. Scoop out the bread in the center of each piece, making two bread ‘boats’. Place the extra bread in a large bowl and tear it into very tiny pieces. Trust me, you want them tiny. Place both halves of bread onto a large baking sheet and set it aside.
2. In a skillet over medium high heat, brown both the beef and the onion until fully cooked. Strain the grease and return to the skillet. Next, add in the mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the soup, milk and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook another 5 minutes, or until the meat mix is heated through, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the meat to the bread in the bowl, stirring to combine. Pour mixture into the center of one half of the french bread and spread out evenly. Spread out evenly. Sprinkle the meat mixture with the cheddar cheese. Top with the other half of bread to make it a sandwich.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. When done cooking, let your bread sit for 5 minutes so everything ‘sets’, before slicing and serving. Then, eat up!

Oven Baked Tacos

As I’m preparing for dinner the other night, I asked Son # 3 to hand me a can of black beans. He proceeds to root around through the canned bean cubby in the pantry.

Son # 3: Mom, why did you buy garbage can peas?!?!
Me: Huh?
Son # 3: (holding up a can with a look of utter disgust) Garbage. Can. Peas. 
Me: Read that again. It says garbanzo beans.
Son # 3: Oh. Well they still sound gross.

You can’t make this stuff up people!

This was a fun new twist on our regular tacos. Usually, when I make tacos I bake the taco shells separately in the oven for 10 minutes so that the shells are crispy. When you add the ground beef and beans to the picture it’s a whole new story. They’re this perfect mix of crunchy and soft in all the right places. If you want to ensure an even crunch over your entire shell surface area, let more of the liquid evaporate out of your meat mixture. I topped my tacos with chopped roma tomatoes, taco sauce, and some lettuce. Sour cream, salsa, & guacamole were served on the side, because those are Mexican must-have for us. And, of course, no Mexican night is complete for us without some yellow rice. Everybody was happy. All tacos were served toasty and everyone’s cheese was melted to perfection before adding the toppings of their choice. Don’t like pre-made hardshell tacos? That’s ok, too. You can easily sub flour, or even corn, tortillas in instead. Who knew oven-baked tacos were the way to go?!

And for those of you with an eagle eye, we can all just ignore the dirty burners. While they stay on the proverbial to-do list, I’ll be honest in saying they only get cleaned twice once a year.

Oven Baked Tacos

4 Sons 'R' Us: Oven Baked Tacos

2 lbs Ground beef, lean
1 head of lettuce
1 onion
1 tomato
1 can re-fried beans, or black beans
1 jar of salsa
6 oz tomato sauce
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
12 taco shells
cheddar cheese
sour cream

Directions

1. Brown ground beef and drain. Return to pan.
2. Add taco seasoning, beans and tomato sauce.
3. Stir to combine and then heat until the flavors have blended.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with oil.
6. Spoon taco filling into taco shells and stack them side by side in a pan.
7. When shells are filled, top each with shredded cheese and cilantro, if desired.
8. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, watching so they do not brown much.
9. Serve and top with remaining ingredients, if desired.

Sous Chef Sunday: Chicken & Waffle Sliders

Mmm. Chicken, and waffles. Two seemingly unrelated things, but when put together make a food-gasmic combination. The sons, yet again, were skeptical. Four identical sets of little arched eye-brows as I got out just 3 ingredients. When, oh when, will they learn to trust me in the kitchen?! The sons followed the super simple recipe all by themselves, although with supervision since they were using the oven. The older sons can handle it, but Son # 4 gets so excited to be involved in the process, I worry he might forget hot things lead to burned fingers. Each son, in turn, took one tentative bite, and then proceeded to scarf them down. They looked like squirrels packing away food for winter. There was even a brief skirmish over the last two and who deserved them MOST. A chicken and waffle combo may have sounded weird to the more traditional tastes of the Sons, but they all agreed UNANIMOUSLY (might I point out this almost never happens!), that these little suckers are finger-lickin’ good.

Chicken & Waffle Sliders

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken & Waffle Sliders

frozen mini waffles, fully toasted
chicken tenders, cooked
{real} maple syrup
toothpicks

Directions

1. Slice your cooked chicken tenders in half. Break your toasted waffles apart.
2. Sandwich one piece of chicken between two cooked waffles. Secure with a toothpick.
3. When all the tenders have been ‘sandwiched’, drizzle them with maple syrup and serve warm.

The World’s Easiest Cheeseburger Sliders

I’m definitely a foodie at heart. I come from a long ling of women who love good food, and I’m pretty sure I’ve done my job of instilling that same feeling in my boys. While normal sized food is always great, there’s just something about food in miniature that I just can’t help but adore. It’s just so cute and fun. Not to mention, with four growing boy, two growing teenage boys who inhale food like vacuums, it’s often a whole lot less messy. With those things combined, sliders are a huge hit with this mom. Still, it was a wee bit time consuming to have to shape each petite patty by hand. Then I stumbled on this genius kitchen life-hack, and BAM! Mind.Blown. This recipe, literally, is for making the easiest sliders ever. Ever.

Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

4 Sons 'R' Us: The World's Easiest Cheeseburger Sliders

1 1/2 pounds, 93% lean ground sirloin
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (12-count) Kings Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls (or slider buns)
6 slices cheddar or American cheese

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.   In a bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, onion, and salt.  Gently press mixture into a 9-by-13-inch pan so that it makes one large patty of even thickness.  Use the tines of a fork to poke holes throughout the meat.  Bake for 30 minutes.  As it bakes, the meat will shrink away from the sides and liquid will accumulate around the edges of pan.  2. When fully cooked, remove the pan from oven (keep oven turned on) and carefully drain off the liquid.
3. Top the meat with an even layer of sliced cheese; return pan to oven for about 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes.
4. Cut into 2-inch squares (or the size of the buns used), making 12 mini- hamburgers.  Serve with dill pickle slices and ketchup.  Serves 6 at 2 sliders each.

Hamburger Steak with Onions & Gravy

I’ve had Hamburger Steaks (aka Salisbury steak) before, but I’ve never really liked it. I thought I just ‘wasn’t a fan’, but then I got to thinking. I love meatloaf. I love gravy. Something was always missing for me…flavor. On a whim, I decided to try my own hand at this classic dish. It still seemed like ‘Mission Impossible’. After my family’s first bite, we all agreed: Mission Complete! Not only were the ‘steaks’ jam-packed with flavor, but so was the simple gravy. And where can you go wrong with caramelized onions?! Take it from me, serve these juicy ‘steaks’ with mashed potatoes. You won’t want to waste a drop of gravy.

Hamburger Steaks with Onions & Gravy

4 Sons 'R' Us: Hamburger Steaks with onions & gravy

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp seasoning salt, divided
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Montreal Steak seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth & 1 tbsp cooking sherry

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and steak seasoning. Form into 8 balls, and flatten into patties.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the patties and onion in the oil until patties are nicely browned, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the beef patties to a plate, and keep warm.
3. Sprinkle flour over the onions and drippings in the skillet. Stir in flour with a fork, scraping bits of beef off of the bottom as you stir. Gradually mix in the beef broth and sherry. Season with seasoned salt. Simmer and stir over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the gravy thickens. Turn heat to low, return patties to the gravy, cover, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve & enjoy!