Rainbow trout is one of our favorite freshwater fish.  When we lived in Colorado Hubby would fish for these often so I was thrilled when I ran across these bad boys at HEB the other day.  I like cooking them in foil packets on the grill.  This is a super-easy and super-fast dinner!  
Rainbow Trout
Lemon Pepper
Garlic Salt
Creole Seasoning
Lemon wedge

Cut a piece of foil big enough to make a packet out.  Put fish on foil and sprinkle inside and outside of fish with all seasonings.  (I have no idea how much, just sprinkle.)  Add 3 -4 pats of butter, 1 on the inside of the fish and  2-3 on outside.  Roll foil packets up  and seal well.
Like this: 
Place on preheated grill (about 400 degrees) and cook on each side for 8-10.
Fish should be nice and flaky.
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon to cooked fish.
For years I have been trying to perfect the chicken enchilada.  To me, the perfect enchilada must be moist and creamy on the inside but not so much so that it makes the tortillas soggy.  It must have the right amount of spice and not be too cheesy.  I had pretty much given up hope on finding the perfect chicken enchilada, until one night a few weeks ago my friend and neighbor Tracy brought dinner to me.  Chicken Enchiladas.  I wasn't expecting much...however when I saw them there was a glimmer of hope...they look like what I have been envisioning in my head for a long time.  Still I wasn't holding my breath. Then I took my first bite.  They were mouthwatering, creamy perfect!  The right amount of spice, I could taste the cumin, chilies and tomatoes all bundled up in amazing sauce.  These were the chicken enchiladas I've been waiting my whole life to find! Tracy is a cooking goddess.  She never uses a cookbook and she never measures a thing. She tells me put 'a lot of this, a little of that...' from that I figure out the recipe.  We make a good team - AND when she is old and senile at least I will have written down a few of her recipes to pass along to her children.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast, boiled and shredded
1 diced onion
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1 1/2 - 2 TBL cumin 
1/2 TBL garlic salt
1 can of Hatch tomatoes/green chilies (if you can't find this use rotel)
1 can chopped green chilies
1 block of cream cheese 
Hatch Green Chili Sauce
12 flour or corn tortillas (you pick your favorite - I prefer this recipe with flour even though I normally like corn better!)
Monterey Jack Cheese
Cheddar Cheese

Boil chicken breast and onion together for about 25-30 minutes or until chicken is very tender and shreds easily.
Remove chicken and onions from water - shred chicken.  Reserve 1/2 cup of broth. (I don’t like to waste homemade chicken broth so I freeze leftover broth 1 cup increments in plastic bags.)

In a large pot combine the first 8 ingredients (through cream cheese), letting the cream cheese melt everything into a creamy goodness (you may need to do this over low heat):
Stuff tortillias with chicken mixture and roll seam side down:

If there are leftover juices from the chicken mixture pour them on top of the rolled enchiladas. 
 Pour Hatch green chilie sauce (yes, out of the can!) over the rolled enchiladas.  Top with 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minute or until cheese is completely melted and bubbling.
Top with cilantro, tomatoes, sour cream.....and devour!
I was chatting with a friend on the phone the other day and when I told her what I was making for dinner she responded with disgust in her voice and said; "really, you eat that insert expletive here for dinner?  (Like she doesn't know me!)  Ha!  She is just jealous since she is on a 'NO CARB' diet. I mean really, who doesn't love a little comfort food in the midst of winter  (Texas winter = 75 degrees F, but whatev's!)  AND what is up with a no carb diet?

What you need:
1 package of cubed steak
Two shallow bowls
Vegetable oil
This recipe was passed down from my mother, so I don't have exact measurements, but it is SO simple one does not need exact measurements. 

Remove cubed steak from package - place on cutting board - take a piece of plastic wrap and lay over cubed steak (this is to avoid cubed steak splatter on your clothes and counter)  - with a meat mallet beat the meat (yes, I really said that!) until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick.  Season both sides of meat generously with salt and pepper.  Dredge the meat on both sides with flour (this helps the egg stick to the meat), then dip egg, coating completely, then back in the flour.  (I only do this process one time, but if you like a THICK coating on your CFS, dip in egg and flour again.)

Check out picture 4 - this is how much vegetable oil you need in your pan.  Just enough to coat the bottom side of the meat - heat over medium high heat.   Cook each piece of meat on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. 

White Gravy
2 TBL vegetable oil
3 TBL flour
1-3 cups milk

 I know some of you are scared of gravy - I get it, but you don't need to be.  Once you get the hang of it is SUPER EASY!  Now again, my measurements are not exact so you may need to play with this a little.  

In a 12 inch skillet use 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil you just cooked the Chicken Fried Steak in (cooking over medium-high heat). Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the flour, making sure to whisk out any lumps.   Add the milk starting with 1 a cup , whisking continuity - gravy will thicken - if it is too thick add more milk a little at a time until it is the consistency you want.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the gravy over the steaks.

Mashed Potatoes
Every single time I make mashed potatoes for guest they ask for my recipe.  I am almost embarrassed to give it to them as there is NOTHING special about my mashed potatoes. I make a very basic and simple mashed potatoes with LOTS of butter!  I use 8 potatoes when I make them, but feel free to cut this recipe half.

8 russet potatoes peeled and cubed
3/4 cups of REAL BUTTER - don't skimp and use margarine (don't tell, but sometimes I use even MORE butter than 3/4 of a cup!)
1-2 cups of milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil for 25-30 minutes or until VERY TENDER.
When done drain from water - place in large mixing bowl with 3/4 butter and 1 cup of milk.  Mix the hell out of them, adding more butter and milk as needed.  Potatoes should be light and fluffy.  Add salt and pepper to taste!
Throw a little broccoli on the side to make this 'healthy'! HA! 
PORK = YUM.  I can't believe that there are people in this world that don't eat pork. I can't imagine life without bacon, and not that turkey crap either.  Never eating a fried pork chop?  OMGoodnes!  Never having a pulled pork sandwich - the tragedy!   I know some people think the pig is a dirty, nasty little creature, but dude so are my kids and I still love them! 

When I make pork carnitas I always make extra.  We LOVE left over pork carnitas.  (Thanks again Tracy for sharing your recipe.)  I've used the leftovers for many different things, canrnita flautas (I THOUGHT I had logged my recipe for flautas, BUT when I went to find it to connect the link I can't find it ANYWHERE!!  Did I not give you that recipe?  Really?), burritos, salads and Boy 1 just eats the meat straight without even heating it up. So the other day when I was talking CARNITA talk with Tracy she told me she makes a soup with her leftovers.  GENIUS!  So once again I followed her lead and threw together a pot of soup.   I LOVED it, the kids didn't eat much, but that could have had more to do with the fact that I let them each buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies (with their own money) when a cute little girl scout came around the neighborhood with a wagon full of cookies.  And yes, I let them eat the cookies BEFORE dinner. Not the smartest thing I have even done, but hey, I'm in the business of creating good childhood memories right?  

This is what I threw together and it took all of about 15 minutes!

8 cups chicken broth
3-4 pounds left  over pork carnitas
small onion - diced
juice of 2 limes
3 garlic clove
1 bunch of cilantro
left over black beans
1 can sweet corn
1 TBL Cumin (or more to taste)
1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce - chopped
salt to taste

Combine chicken broth and onions, bring to a boil, add all other ingredients, cook for about 15 minutes.  Dinner is DONE!

Toss a few diced fresh tomatoes and some queso fresco cheese on top and you are all set to dig in!  (A little avocado would be good too, I just didn't have any.)

***If you don't have leftover black beans just use:
1 can black beans
1 can chopped green chilis
Don't you love it when people deliver unexpected food to your door? That is exactly what happened a few months back. My friend and neighbor Tracy had a unit party and when it was over she had WAY too much food left so she sent some of her pork carnitas our way. I was in heaven. I ate the carnitas for 3 or 4 days straight. I couldn't get enough. About a month later I was craving them again so I ask her for the recipe. Finally after 3 tries I think I have them down! (Tracy doesn't measure) Now, pull your crock-pot out and get ready to simmer all day!
5 pound pork shoulder/butt roast - trim fat
1 good dark heavy beer
1/2 cup orange juice
juice of 2 limes
1 small onion diced
3-4 garlic cloves minced
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - chopped (these come in a can - as pictured - save the left over for another dish)
1 bunch fresh cilantro (give or taken depending on how much you like cilantro)
 start with 2 TBL Cumin, add more at the end if needed 
start with  1 1/2 TBL Adobo seasoning, add more at the end if needed
salt to taste

Toss all ingredients in the crock pot and cook all day (at least 8 hours) the pork will start falling apart, shred with a fork while it is still in the crock pot - it should shred very easily. Taste - add more cumin, adobo and or salt if needed.

There are a couple of things I like to do with the carnitas; 1, make tacos (as pictured) and 2, make flautas! 

Things I like to top my tacos with -
Queso Fresco Cheese

Oh and I LOVE them on corn tortillas, the kids - well they like flour. To each their own. :o)

Serve with rice and beans - and bam, dinner is served!

Chipotles in adobo sauce
A crock pot full of goodness!
This is a GREAT recipe for a school/sports night,  it can be made ahead of time and popped in the oven 15 minutes before you want to eat, or you can make it in 30 minutes or so just before you have to run out the door to your next activity.  And as an added bonus, KIDS LOVE IT!! My kids gobbled it up and ask for more!  I think it would be great with chicken too!

1.5 pounds ground sirloin
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1.5 TBL butter
3 cloves minced garlic
2 TBL flour
1 1/2 cups beef broth
2 TBL taco seasoning 
2 cups tomato sauce
12 corn tortillas
6 oz Pepper Jack Cheese (I used the slices)
1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar

Preheat oven to 400
In a large skillet cook beef and chopped onions together over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.
Drain meat. 
Melt butter in medium saucepan - add garlic - sauté for a minute.  Sprinkle with flour cook for 30 seconds stirring constantly.  Add broth, taco seasoning and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil; cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally.  Reserve 1/2 cup tomato mixture, adding the rest to the beef.  
Layer in a 9x9 baking dish (or I have a 10 inch round baking stone that I used) 4 tortillas,  1/2 of the beef mixture 1/3 of the pepper jack cheese, 4 tortillas, 1/2 beef mix, 1/3 of the pepper jack cheese, 4 tortillas, 1/2 cup of sauce, 1/3 of the pepper jack and all of the cheddar.  

If you are making this ahead of time, pop it in the fridge now.

When you are ready to eat, pop it in oven and bake till cheese is bubbly - about 10-15 minutes.   
Black Beans, Trish Style
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can chopped green chilies
splash of lime juice
1 roma tomato chopped
fresh cilantro

Heat black beans, green chilies & lime juice in a saucepan.  Just before serving throw in the tomato and fresh cilantro, stir and serve.  YUM-O!  I love black beans like this - my kids not so much, I mean they ate their 2 bite minimum, but they prefer it when I refry them.
My BFF Staci has been waiting a VERY long time for this post. I told her about these tacos at least 3 months ago. I RAVED about them, telling her that they are my new FAVORITE taco - I kept talking about how good they are and how they even beat out my previous favorite - Mexican Street Tacos. She was so excited that she even went out and bought chipotles in adobe sauce at least a month ago.  She phoned me while she was at the grocery store and ask me to send her the recipe.  I'm a slacker; I didn't do it even though I had good intentions of sending it to her right away. Staci however is not a slacker - the past two months in a row I have called her at the last minute and ask her to help me with the battalion newsletter because I can't figure it out, and what did she do?  She dropped almost (yes, almost ;o) EVERYTHING and helped me do the newsletter which is no small task.  It is pain staking for people that have NEVER in their lives done newsletters. I am SO NOT computer savvy when it comes to this type of thing, but she is.  However it still takes forever even when you know what you are doing. Not many friends are willing to help you for hours on end without even MENTIONING that they would really like to have the Chipotle Pork Taco recipe that they ask you for months prior.  So Staci - for you, here is my new favorite, Chipotle Pork Taco recipe.  *Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine - I don't even know what month.

·         1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
·         1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime rind
·         1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
·         2 teaspoons oregano
·         1 teaspoon brown sugar
·         2 teaspoons chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce
·         2 teaspoons minced garlic
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         Cooking spray
·         1 cup thinly sliced shallots
·         2 teaspoons olive oil
·         8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Garnish with -
·         salsa
·         tomatoe
·         Chopped cilantro
·         Crumbled queso fresco cheese (if you don't know what that is, just use your favorite cheese...)

Place pork tenderloin between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat mallet.  Remove plastic wrap - cut pork into thin strips. 

Combine pork, lime rind, lime juice, oregano, brown sugar, chipotles, garlic & salt.  Marinate for 2-8 hours.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat, coat with cooking spray & add shallots to pan; sauté till tender. 

Place shallots in a large bowl.  Add oil to pan.  Add pork; sauté until pork is cooked thoroughly and no longer pink. Add pork to shallots.  

In a nonstick skillet warm tortillas according to the directions on the package.  Spoon pork mixture onto warmed tortillas. 

Top with cilantro, tomatoes, salsa and queso fresco cheese.   

Serve with black beans.  Devour.  SO FREAKIN' GOOD!
I don't really know why Boy 3 picked meatballs, this is one of his brother's favorite meals.  Oh, scratch that - I just ask him why he picked Spaghetti with Meatballs and he looked at me with that look my children get when they have that moment of thinking 'my mom has lost all her marbles' and then he said "I didn't pick it, you made me pick it."  Oh.  Oops...I'm thinking that might take some of the fun out of this venture... (Next time I will let him pick.)

OK, here we go - INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I know I should have used the frozen/fresh bread crumbs I have in my freezer, but I totally      didn't think about it until RIGHT now.)
1/2 cup of milk
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork (you can mix this up and used ground whatever you want really, chicken, turkey, veal...whatever suites your fancy just make sure you have 3 pounds total)
1 small onion diced as small as you can get it (you know to hide it from the kids)
4-5 garlic cloves minced (or more if you dare)
1 TBL oregano
Toss in some parsley if you have it, I didn't.
1 egg lightly beaten
ground pepper
2 TBL olive oil
2 jars of your favorite marinara (our favorite is Rao's - expensive but SO WORTH it!)
1 box spaghetti (No, I don't make my own pasta or sauce)
Freshly saved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese! (Seriously, if you don't do anything else, please don't buy that parmesan that you shake out of a can that DOES NOT require refrigeration.  JUST SAY NO!)

In a small bowl combine bread crumbs and milk.  In a larger bowl mix the ground meat with soaked bread crumbs, onion, garlic, oregano, egg, salt and pepper........
Then smush it all around with your hands!!
I know this picture is a bit blurry, but I LOVE the look on his face!!
Form into big ol' meatballs....
Brown meatballs over medium heat in a little olive oil, flipping until browned on all sides.
Add a jar of marinara sauce to the skillet, cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes turning meatballs occasionally. 
While you are waiting boil a large pot of water - cook pasta to desired cookness - drain, add the second jar of marinara sauce to the noodles (we like it saucy!).  Top with a meatball & some freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano -
And EAT!!!
Episode 2 of cooking with the kids - this time it was Boy 2's turn.  He LOVES ribs, so we thought it was only fitting that he help me with ribs. 

The recipe:
1 cup of dark brown sugar
3 TBL kosher salt
1 TBL dry mustard
1 TBL freshly ground mustard
1 TBL cayenne pepper
1 TBL sweet smoked paprika
4 racks baby back ribs (about 2.5 pounds each)
Mix all ingredients together and sprinkle all over ribs, pressing and patting it. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  (We did not do this overnight...we did this early in the morning about 8AM)
Preheat oven to 250 degress F.  Pour off any liquid, cover ribs with foil and cook for about 3.5 hours until meat is tender but not falling off the bone.  While the ribs were cooking we made the BBQ sauce.  We didn't LOVE the BBQ sauce and when we make the ribs again we will most likely use KC Masterpiece BBQ - don't hate.  I'm not even going to bother with giving you the recipe.  Too much typing....just go out and buy your favorite sweet/spicy BBQ sauce to serve on the side if you want the sauce.  I still included the pictures because Boy 2 is pretty much a rock star making his own BBQ sauce at the age of 8 (with a broken arm).
Hello beauties!!  Once your 3.5 hours is up, crank the broiler up on your oven and broil the ribs for about 10 minutes or until the edges start turning a 'little' crispy!
Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce....
Or not, and enjoy!!
This recipe was adapted from Food & Wine's "Our Best New Classics" magazine
I'm very much an "I will do it myself" type of mom.  Don't get me wrong, the kids have chores, but sometimes it is just easier and faster to do it myself, plus when it comes to cooking I don't really like sharing my kitchen.  Call me set in my ways.  However I am trying very hard to change my ways just a little and since all the kids have shown an interest in cooking I have decided that a couple of nights a week I'm going to have a different child help out in the kitchen. (God, please help me.)  This will not only provide a much needed one on one time I need with each child it will also give them a skill for the 'real world' when that time comes. (It makes me sad to think about that time - them moving out.) PLUS - what type of mom would I be if I sent my kids out into the world without cooking skills?  
First up, Garlic Bread and Cheesy Garlic Bread! 

First Girl prepares Garlic Butter - 1 stick butter at room temperatures + 5 cloves of minced garlic.  Mix together spread evenly onto a loaf of French bread. 

To make cheesy Garlic Bread we like to add slices of fresh mozzarella as seen on the left hand side of picture.  Bake in the oven at 450 for about 7-10 minutes.  Watching to make sure it doesn't over cook
Next up Shrimp Scampi!
2 sticks butter (room temperature)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon thyme
3 pounds large shrimp, shelled, deveined
10 leaves thinly sliced basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

In a bowl mix butter, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice pepper & thyme. 

Place shrimp in a large dish, dot with butter mixture - make funny faces:
Sprinkle with fresh cut basil.  Place in oven and cook for about 10 minutes (mixing once) until shrimp are pink and butter is bubbling. 
We like serving on top of Angel Hair pasta.