Sunday, November 23, 2014

Easy Flank Steak Fajitas

 Here is the second recipe I promised to make for Reynold's this month. It was a no-brainer.  I always use all their foils, the slow cooker bags and turkey bags.  Accept no substitutes! The heavy duty foil is great for the grill and in a campfire.  I adore the non-stick but I said that in my last post already.  Check out this recipe and my extra notes at the end of the recipe too!

Easy Flank Steak Fajitas recipe by  

1 pound beef flank steak, trimmed of fat
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 red, yellow or green sweet peppers (or combination), thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 (6- to 7-inch) flour tortillas
Guacamole, salsa, and/or sour cream (optional)

1. Place steak in a large resealable plastic bag. Add lime juice, vegetable oil, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper to the steak in bag. Seal bag; turn to coat steak.
2. Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour. 
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drain meat; discard marinade. Center meat on a sheet (12x18 inches) of Reynolds Wrap(R) Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Center sweet peppers, onion, and garlic on another sheet (12x18 inches) of heavy duty aluminum foil. Repeat steps above to make another foil packet. 
4. Wrap tortillas tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil. 
5. Bake meat and vegetable foil packets 30 to 35 minutes or until meat is desired doneness (145 degrees F for medium rare) and vegetables are tender, adding tortillas to the oven for the last 10 minutes of baking or until heated through. 
6. Open packets carefully by cutting along top fold with a sharp knife, allowing steam to escape; then open top of foil packet. Thinly slice the meat. 
7. Fill warm tortillas with meat and pepper mixture to serve. If desired, top with guacamole, salsa, and/or sour cream.


 K-man wanted his contribution in all this....

 Cook's Notes:
1. The cooking of the pepper's and onions is great if you need some time to do other things but I like a 'char' on my veggies.
2.  Cooking meat in a foil pack in the oven is not the way I cook a flank steak.  30 minutes was way too long when I cook it for less on a grill and I get the smoky char on it too.
3.  Corn tortillas break up too much for this, flour is better.  I tried one of each. The corn fell away immediately when the flour tortilla stretched with the ingredients with each bite.
4.  Next time I would see how different this would be using the Reynold's foil but on the grill.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Homemade Spinach Pizza Roll

If I asked what is the ONE dinner that you eat at least once a week, regardless of work night, school night or weekend....what would your answer be?

Fast Food? (please don't say McDonald's) Soup? Sandwiches? Spaghetti? Pizza? PB and J? Cereal?

Ours is PIZZA! First of all, we rarely call out for pizza if we do I am, knocked out, dragged out too tired from work to even walk into the kitchen and we have this little hole in the wall pizza place we call, no Domino's or Pizza hut (yuck) However, when I want an easy night to make dinner, it's Pizza Night! We like a thin crust, no sauce, one meat and lots of veggies!

For November, the Allstar Ambassadors could choose Reynolds this month to cook, blog and share about. I jumped on that!  I am a huge fan and use the Reynold's Non-stick Foil practically everyday. I have a roll in the drawer and always a spare in the cabinet for when you finish the "roll in the drawer." Nothing is more infuriating than to pull out the foil to cover a long pan and BOOP!- you get a 3 inch strip and naked cardboard roll! Dammit, you say because you have no more.  Not me.  As soon as I open the new roll, I am shopping for the back up roll next week.  So yeah I am THAT devoted and it really is totally different that regular foil.  I especially love using it when I bake my bacon.  I do not fry it on the stove anymore.  350º for 20 minutes on the non stick much easier. 

Ok, back to pizza.  One of the recipes I choose was the Homemade Spinach Pizza Roll.  I love variations on a popular favorite!  Some people would call this a stromboli but whatever, my mouth and stomach don't care what it's called.  It was delish! Take a look at some of my notes after the recipe.

Homemade Spinach Pizza Roll
from, recipe by

1 tablespoon cornmeal
8 ounces bulk Italian sausage
1 (13.8 ounce) package refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (8 ounce) can pizza sauce, warmed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with Reynolds Wrap(R) Non-Stick Aluminum Foil; sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
2. Brown sausage in large skillet on medium-high heat. Drain and set aside.
3. Unroll pizza dough onto prepared baking sheet. Carefully stretch or roll dough into a 13x10-inch rectangle. Arrange sausage on dough to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Layer spinach on cheese. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the Parmesan. Starting from a long side, roll up dough to make a 13-inch-long loaf. Pinch seam and ends to seal.
4. Place loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg. Using a sharp knife, cut four 2-inch slits in top for steam to escape.
5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If necessary, cover the last 5 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Remove from oven and slice into rounds to serve with pizza sauce.
Cook's Notes:
1. Don't ask why my photos were taken at an angle.  I viewed them now and in the cropping process I was like WTH, was I thinking?  Stupid but oh well. I am NOT one of those photogs that take too many pictures.  I click for what is needed and CHOW DOWN, no time to mess around.
2.  This was actually my second attempt, the sausage went in that version.  It stuffed it too much and although it was ok....the internal picture wasn't as nice. So when I made TAKE 2.  I had only meatballs on hand.  Chopped up and sauteed olive oil.  They worked just fine.
3.  My first attempt was using a store brand canned pizza dough, I also rolled it out too thin, don't do that.  The second one I used Pillsbury and didn't push my luck on the thinness, I stretched it out just about 2 inches more than it's original size.  You can see the breading around holds the ingredients well. 
4.  i REALLY liked the spinach on this.  I hate how you can pile on tons of fresh spinach and it reduces down to nothing.
5.  Even though the Non-Stick foil really sticks less, the cornmeal really helps make this virtually non sitck.  I use cornmeal on my fresh pizza dough nights too.
6.  What I adore mostly about making pizza or pizza rolls/strombolis is that they are so versatile.  Whatever ingredients you have on hand will work and you will never get tired of Pizza Night each week.

Bite it!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Applesauce Energy Bars

I couldn't resist making another recipe using applesauce this week.  K-man loves oatmeal stuff and I am on a "healthy' bender with my 7th grade classes.
I kept getting compliments all day when I baked these in school twice today.  So the 'smells' I was putting out in the halls was driving kids and teachers insane.
It was driving me insane.
Look to my notes after the recipe for my slight tweak that I did after making this two times in a row.  You know, I had to make a batch before class to ensure that "TV magic" of pulling out the ready bars after I slipped the ones I demonstrated into the oven!!! LOL
Applesauce Energy Bars sponsored by Mott's

1 cup Mott's Natural Applesauce
3 cups quick oats
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sweetened coconut flakes
1 c. dried fruit bits
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c (1 stick) melted butter, cooled
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine oats, flour, coconut, fruit bits, cinnamon and baking soda in large mixing bowl.
2. In separate bowl, mix together, melted butter, brown sugar, applesauce, and egg. Stir applesauce mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Spread mixture into lightly greased 9X13 pan.
3. Bake 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and cool before cutting into squares or bars.


Baker's Notes:
1.  When I did the first batch, the cookie baker in me did not like how the brown sugar was NOT incorporated with the butter.  I mashed and mashed and stirred the flour mixture and those brown sugar lumps were impossible to break up.  I think those unincorporated sugar blobs encouraged the bars to break apart easier because they were not able to melt and 'glue' itself to the grains in the bar.
2.  I happened to have some pumpkin spice caramel dip left over and did a little drizzle on them to 'jazz' them up.  The kids love any additional sugar!  HA!  I didn't do it for that!  lol
3.  Compared to the tasty Apple Squares I did last time, these were not overly moist or "wet" as the squares were. The whole grain oats really helped absorb the 1 c. applesauce. 
4.  Next time I would add some nuts (almonds are my fave).  The coconut was not overwhelming however I wanted some crunchy bit like from a whole almond.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Golden Apple Raisin Squares

Halloween is over. Sniff sniff. We are now enduring the "otherwise known as sugar high or sugar crash time." It's a roller coaster ride for the next week. 

As a teacher, the day after Halloween is the WORST, luckily we had the weekend to buffer  all the candy intake however they were still 'hummin' on today.  So the kids are buzzing on sugar and crashing....up and down, up and down- all week.  I am finding candy wrappers everywhere. 

Here is some 'eye candy for you' of our All Hallow's Eve.... Above, is one picture from our yard, we are leaning to a skeleton/graveyard theme more and more it seems.
We love Halloween here not for the candy....but the added bonus it brings....

We are cool cuz we pass out the regular sized candy, I hot glued some roaches on each one.  All 60 of them. We like to think that somewhere in our town, teens are screaming thinking they have a roach in their bag.  Mwhahahahahahha. We give less terror inducing fruit snacks to the little case you think we are absolutely horrible.  Hey, we notice the kids who pass on by our house, no biggie. 

Witchy-poo, was what they saw first when I opened the door.  So I don't jump and scream at the kids.  I let the visuals do the work.  We also can't understand what she says other than "beware"....

Breakfast anyone? It was time for some spider eggs (doughnut holes) when I served my TA on Halloween morning.  I can't believe those 8th graders really asked if they were spider eggs.  REALLY? Is gullible still NOT in the dictionary?

Mr Skelton and his hot Skelly wife.  Yes, we are crazy like this....

Next up, is a little video Mr Skelly took of our new bay window dressing....

Ok, now that you are up to date on things....

Let's get down to business...I had an assignment to make something from Mott's the month of November. The Allrecipes Allstar Ambassadors teamed up with Mott's to use their applesauce in some of their suggested recipes.
I had K-man choose the recipe since he would be eating it (JennyMac being on Nutri System can only have a bite). Look to the bottom of the recipe for my little tweaks! 
Golden Apple Raisin Squares

1 (3.9 ounce) container Mott's® Healthy Harvest Blueberry Delight Applesauce
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil or coat an 8x8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl.
Combine the eggs, applesauce, sugar, oil, and apple in a separate bowl, and whisk until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Stir in the raisins. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Smooth with a rubber scraper.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Baker's Notes :

1. The store I went to didn't have the Harvest Blueberry, I used a kid's Mott's Mixed Berry instead.
2.  I don't understand the use of oil, when I have other recipes that use no oil and only applesauce as an oil replacement.  Is that why this recipe is overly wet?
3.  I double the recipe and cooked it in a 9X13 pan with no problem.  I checked it at 25 minutes and the toothpick test came out clean.
4.  I used Honeycrisp apple (my fave), I think Golden apples can get mushy.  Would a tart Granny Smith do well here, I think it could!
5. These were extremely moist, maybe too moist, almost wet and they tasted heavenly.  An apple spice cake thing but they put raisins in the title and it uses golden raisins hence why you can't see them.  These squares will serve well for K-man for dessert and breakfast this week because I doubled the batch!

 Bring on the Fall Harvest!