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!
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.
I feel kind of silly posting this recipe, but my friend Deniz has been asking for it, (for months..) so I feel I must deliver.  Breakfast tacos are SIMPLE!  Seriously simple.  Just cook up some sausage, bacon, chorizo, ham or really just about any meat you want.  This day I was making tacos for about 20 people and I only made sausage and bacon breakfast tacos.
Fry up some taters....I keep it simple, chop potatoes up pretty small, toss them in a skillet with about 2TBL vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until tender crisp!  (I do NOT peel my potatoes first - leave those skins on!)
Once you have your meat and potatoes ready scramble up some eggs!  When making breakfast tacos I always add a little milk to my scrambled eggs to make them fluff up a little!
Once everything is ready heat your flour tortillas thoroughly in a dry skillet flipping once.  Once your tortillas are ready load them up with eggs, meat of choice (you can use more than one!) and cheese.  I typically use sharp cheddar, but feel free to use your favorite cheese.  Roll them up ~ wrap in aluminum foil (if you are not eating right away) and  toss into a roasting pan set to low or in the oven set on low to keep warm until you are ready to serve!  
And last but not least DON'T FORGET THE SALSA!!! In my opinion this is one of the most important steps....Make sure you have some super yummy salsa to top off your tacos with!  A bad salsa just makes your taco bad!  If you want to make my salsa just click here!
So, there you have it.  Nice and easy.  You can always buy salsa if you choose (I wouldn't, but to each their own!  ;)
And the good thing about feeding these to a crowd, you can always precook the meat and potatoes and just heat them up the next morning.
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!
Tyler Florence.  I just love the way that boy cooks.  I've been making his Mexican Street Tacos for years now & they never disappoint.
2 pounds flank steak
Mojo (recipe to follow)
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
8 corn tortillas
Shredded romaine lettuce
Chopped onion
Crumbled queso fresco
1 recipe of my salsa
2 limes, cut into wedges

4 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, mince
1 large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 2 oranges
2 TBL white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

With a mortar and pestle, mash together the garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, salt and pepper to make a paste.  Put it in a glass jar.  Add lime and orange juices, the vinegar and the oil.  Shake it up to combine.

Marinate steak in Mojo for 1-8 hours (the longer, the better)

Preheat grill, medium-high heat.  Take steak out of mojo sauce; season both sides with salt and pepper.  Grill for 7-10 minutes on each side turning once until med-rare (cook longer if you must).  Remove to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes to allow juices to settle.  Slice think on an angle across the grain.

In a dry skillet warm the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side until toasty and pliable.
Fill each tortilla down the center with about 1/8 of the beef, sprinkle with lettuce, onion, & cheese, top with a spoonful of salsa & garnish with a lime.

Serve with Mexican style beans and guacamole
Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you....
I hear this song EVERY time I make beans.  And no, not from my children. 
1 package pinto beans - rinsed off
1 package of salt pork
2 cans stewed tomatoes - cut up with kitchen scissor while still in the can (really, I'm not joking)
5-7 fresh roasted green chilis - chopped
(or 2 cans if you can't find fresh)
1 bunch cilantro - chopped

Some people believe you need to soak beans overnight...blah, blah, blah.  Not me.  Toss your beans and salt pork in a Dutch oven, fill with water. Cook on high heat and boil for the 1st hour.  You will need to refill the water a couple of times. After an hour of boiling reduce heat.  Put lid on and continue cooking for 6-7 more hours, adding water as necessary.  Just before serving add stewed tomatoes, green chilis and cilantro.

They really are that easy.

Ingredients for my yummy guacamole!
I'm so glad I put this small amount of salsa in this cute white dish.  Right after this photo was taken Boy 1 was setting the table & when he was taking the plates out of the cabinet I'm not sure what happened other than the big container of salsa I JUST made was knocked to the ground and shattered...salsa and all, thankfully no one was hurt during the crash.  I wonder if I can count that bowl in my decluttering challenge.  Humm....

EVERY time I make this guacamole for a party it is devoured.  People can't get enough of this stuff & they always ask me for the recipe, so here it is...

3 ripe avocados
3-5 TBL T's Homemade Salsa
1-2 TBL fresh chopped cilantro 
1-2 TBL finely chopped red onion
Lawry's Season Salt

Mash ripe avocados with a muddler or fork.  Add rest of ingredients to taste. Serve with chips!  OH BABY!
And a note from one of my sponsors (Boy 1) 
 Chico uno  hola me gato es muy delicioso con guacamole.

I've been making fresh chunky salsa for years now.  I don't even buy the stuff in the jar anymore, I can't stand it.  I want FRESH.  This makes Hubby a little crazy because sometimes when he wants chips and salsa he doesn't want to wait for me to make it.  I know I should indulge and buy a jar, but when I have done that in the past it ends up sitting in the fridge and eventually it turns into a science experiment. 

Today I am making salsa (and guacamole - recipe to follow) because I am making Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas. I know, that sounds like a 'interesting' recipe, but trust me, they are FANTASTIC! 

Here's my recipe -

5 vine ripe tomatoes
1 bell pepper
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño
Crushed red pepper
Cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
Fresh crushed black pepper

Chop first 4 ingredients - I do this by hand, but you can use a food processor if you so choose.
Depending on the level of heat you desire, leave the seed in or take them out of the jalapeño before chopping.
Add the last 4 ingredients to taste.

I like to let my salsa sit in the fridge for about 1 hour before serving, however most of the time someone starts eating it right away!