Potluck Enchilada Casserole

Here's a great recipe to make for your next potluck dinner.

2 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black ground pepper
Enchilada Sauce (recipe HERE)
10 oz. green chilis
10.5 oz. cream of mushroom soup
15 oz. black beans, drained
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
corn tortillas

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and saute onion and garlic until tender. Add soy sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine enchilada sauce, green chilis, cream of mushroom soup, and black beans. 

Spray an oblong baking pan with cooking spray. Pour 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of corn tortillas over that and top with 1/3 beef mixture, 1/3 sauce, and 1/3 cheese. Repeat layers two more times. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole. Serves 8-10
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Key Lime Pie

Here is a recipe perfect for when you want something light and refreshing on a hot summer day.

1 1/4 cups crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons margarine, melted

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
1 unsweetened Kool Aid lemon-lime soft drink packet
1 tub whipped topping, thawed

In medium bowl, mix crust ingredients with fork until combined. Press into pie plate and refrigerate.

In mixing bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and soft drink mix. Remove 1/2 cup of whipped topping and set aside. Add remaining whipped topping to lime mixture, mixing well. Pour into crust. With icing tip, garnish remaining whipped topping on top of lime mixture. Freeze six hours or overnight. Enjoy!
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Gail Kittleson's Dill Pickles

Gail Kittleson writes from northern Iowa, where she and her husband of forty-one years enjoy grandchildren, gardening, traveling and historical research. After instructing college writing and English as a Second Language, Gail wrote a memoir. Then the World War II bug big her . . . relentlessly! 

Seven novels later, she’s still hopelessly addicted to this riveting era. Her women’s fiction honors Greatest Generation characters who made a difference despite great odds. Gail’s second love, teaching, has her facilitating workshops and retreats, where she cheers others in their creative efforts. Learn more about Gail HERE.

Gail's Latest Book Release - Until Then

March 3, 1943
Bethnal Green, London’s East End

Shortly after a quarter past eight, a siren split the air. Marian Williams lifted her sleeping daughter from her bed and darted down the stairs. Her mother and father-in-law, off on air warden duty, had left the front door unlocked.

She hugged her youngest child close. The blackout made the going difficult, but her husband’s instructions echoed in her brain: “Whatever you do, get down inside the station fast as you can.”

She hoped for a spot near the canteen, with access to milk. Uneven light shone over the paved steps. Then she tripped. Her knee hit the concrete, then something bashed her left side. Someone cried out. Another blow scraped her arm on the landing floor. Where was her baby? She attempted to get up, but an even heavier weight slammed her face down. A crushing burden descended, then all went black.

Riding in the backs of Army trucks across North Africa, throughout the Sicily campaign, up the boot of Italy, and northward through France into Germany, Dorothy Woebbeking served as a surgical nurse with the 11th Evacuation Hospital.

During World War II, US Army nurses worked and slept in tents through horrific weather, endured enemy fire, and even the disdain of their own superior officers, who believed women had no place in war. But Dorothy and her comrades persevered, and their skills and upbeat attitude made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of wounded soldiers. Dorothy and Marian’s stories converge on a simple, hand stitched handkerchief. Buy the book HERE.

Gail's Dill Pickles

50 4" washed, dried cucumbers 
½ small horseradish root, diced
1 ½ cups salt, divided
½ large bunch dill
6 qts water, divided 
¼ cup vinegar

In a large crock, dissolve 1 cup salt in 4 qts water, add cucumbers (all under the brine), let stand 12 hours. It may be necessary to prepare more brine to cover, if necessary. Drain and wipe dry. Place in sterilized jars with layers of horseradish and dill.

Combine remaining 2 cups water, 1/2 cup salt and vinegar. Heat to boiling and pour over cucumbers. Partly seal. When fermentation stops, pour over enough cooled brine containing vinegar to cover, and seal. Makes about 6 quarts pickles.

Chicken Teriyaki on a Stick

Here's a delicious recipe to make on the grill this summer. Serve with Fried Rice, Crab Rangoon, or Egg Rolls.

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 pounds chicken tenders
bamboo skewers

To prepare teriyaki sauce, place soy sauce, water, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk gently until mixture begins to boil and thicken. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. Place chicken strips in a large ziploc bag and coat with 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce. Marinate chicken tenders in the sauce for at least one hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes before cooking. Skewer chicken. Cook on prepared charcoal grill for 3-5 minutes on each side until done. Brush strips with reserved teriyaki glaze for the last 1-2 minutes. Serves 4-6.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Frozen Strawberry Pie

Here's a recipe to enjoy on a hot summer evening. Enjoy!

4 cups fresh strawberries, slices
16 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/8 cup lemon juice
8 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
graham cracker pie crust

In large bowl, mash strawberries. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and juice. Fold in whipped topping until mixed well. Pour into prepared graham cracker pie crust. Cover with tin foil. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm. Serves 8-10.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Phyllis Clark Nichols' Coconut-Lemon Cake

Phyllis Clark Nichols believes everyone could use a little more hope and light. Her character-driven Southern fiction explores profound human questions from within the simple lives of small town communities you just know you’ve visited before. With a love for nature, art, music, cooking, faith and ordinary people, she tells redemptive tales of loss and recovery, estrangement and connection, longing and fulfillment, often through surprisingly serendipitous events. 

Phyllis was raised in the deep shade of magnolia trees in Cairo, Georgia. Now she lives in the Texas Hill Country with her portrait-artist husband, where red birds and axis deer are her ever-ravenous neighbors. She has been an English major, seminary graduate, concert artist and co-founder of a national cable network for people with disabilities. For over a decade she has worked in the orphanages of Guatemala and currently serves on several non-profit boards where she works with others who are equally passionate about bringing hope and light to those who need it most. Learn more about Phyllis HERE.

Phyllis' Latest Book Release: Return on the Song 

Caroline Carlyle’s hopes and dreams were crushed when her fiancĂ© died six weeks before their wedding. For years, she wrestled with aching loss and shattered faith, struggling to find the inspiration that once came so easily. Abandoning her half-finished piano compositions, Caroline traded her ambitions for the comfort and familiarity of life as Moss Point’s piano teacher.

But Caroline’s life turns upside-down when a mysterious stranger enters her life, bringing courage and fresh purpose. Inspired by her new acquaintance, Caroline embarks on a quest to track down the beloved rare piano she played as a child. Her search leads her to Rockwater, the Kentucky estate of a wealthy gentleman, where Caroline finds her heart may be composing a surprising new song. Buy the book HERE.

Phyllis' Coconut-Lemon Cake

For the cake:
1 box of White Cake Mix mixed according to package directions. I divided the batter into four 8” pans and baked for 18 minutes. Remove from the pans and completely cool. If you have a favorite white layer cake batter, that works well too.

For the Lemon Filling: 
2 eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cups of water
1 cup sugar

Put these ingredients in the top of a double boiler and cook until slightly thickened.
Then add the juice of 3 lemons and 2 Tablespoons of butter and stir until mixed.
Cool this mixture. It will go between the layers.

For the Coconut Icing:
8 ounces of sour cream
14 oz. bag of sweetened coconut
1 1/3 cups sugar
8 oz. container of Cool Whip or your favorite dessert topping
Stir all these ingredients together and refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

To assemble, spread a layer of the lemon filling on the first cake layer and follow with the coconut icing on top of that. Repeat this process for layers two and three. For the fourth layer, only spread the lemon filling on top.

Then ice the sides with the rest of the coconut icing. I like to put a curl of lemon rind on top for decoration. This cake is actually better if you make it a day or two ahead. Keep this cake refrigerated, and the longer it sets the better it is. The problem is that it doesn’t seem to last very long.

Homemade Toasted Ravioli

As you may know already, I enjoy making Italian food. Here's a new recipe I made after tasting my first Toasted Ravioli in St. Louis this past winter. Enjoy!

Pasta Dough:
1 cup 00 flour
1 cup Duram or Semolina Flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Ravioli Filling:
1/2 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
2 Italian sausages, skins removed, cooked and drained
8 oz. shredded provolone cheese
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and ground black pepper
Canola oil for frying

To prepare the dough, in a large bowl, sift together the flours and salt. Make a well in the center and add the eggs and olive oil, whisking to combine. Using a fork or your fingers, begin to incorporate the flour into the egg mixture and knead until all of the liquid is absorbed by the flour, 4-5 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to set for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a food processor, combine the cooked and drained beef and sausage. Add the cheese and process for 30-60 seconds. Add the egg, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and pulse several times until finely mixed together. Place the filling in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. 

To make the ravioli, divide the dough into two pieces and roll out with a pasta roller to a thickness of 1/8". Lay out one sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface. Distribute spoonfuls of filling on the bottom sheet of dough, about 2 inches apart. Brush around the filling with some egg wash. Carefully lay a second sheet of dough on top and press the edges together with your fingertips. Use a round or square ravioli cutter to make the ravioli pieces, pinching the edges shut to ensure closure. Repeat until dough and filling has been used up. Place prepared ravioli on a sheet pan lined with waxed paper. 

In a large Dutch oven, pour enough canola oil to cover ravioli, about 1/3 full. Heat over medium heat until deep-frying thermometer reached 350 degrees F. In a shallow bowl, whisk the three eggs and cream. Place breadcrumbs and Parmesan in another shallow bowl and stir to combine. Dredge the ravioli in the egg mixture, followed by the breadcrumb mixture to coat. Working in batches of 3-4, carefully drop the ravioli into the oil and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes, bringing oil back up to temperature between batches. Place on wire racks to drain and keep warm by covering with aluminum foil. Serve with Marinara sauce of your choice and freshly grated Parmesan. Makes 20-24 ravioli. Serve with your favorite Chianti wine.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.