Oklahoma is the place to be – enchilada style!

It has been a while since I last visited Oklahoma but oh how I love this southwestern state. Several years ago, my family was headed out for a family vacation out west. Cue: National Lampoons Vacation theme song. I had just turned 16 and had my permit. My dad let me drive several hours from Weatherford, Oklahoma to Santa Fe, New Mexico, our final destination. I was thrilled to drive plus I went through three states. The landscape was so vast and so different than the Kentucky and Tennessee landscape. I immediately feel in love with the long distance views, sage brush, and cattle ranches. I went back to Oklahoma City ten years lafter my first excursion to the southwest and took a group of students to a national competition. The city was vast and expansive compared to my earlier memories as a 16 year old. Isn’t it funny looking back at our perceptions of life compared to now? I am so curious how my 60 year old self will see this 40 year old.

While in Oklahoma, I made sure we tried the best of the best in the city. We went to museums and stockyards. We tried amazing steak houses, wild game, and some of the best enchiladas to this day.

Being a young teacher, competing in a national competition had my nerves going everywhere. We asked our hotel attendant where we could find the best Tex-Mex food near our hotel. Without hesitation, she told us of a small local restaurant that was once a home. We pulled into the gravel lot in the back of the house unsure if we were in the right place. Several folks were already there at 5 pm for supper which made me feel better. We sat down at mix-matched tables and chairs which by today’s standard is eclectic. However, in 2005, this was unique to say the least. The menu was a two sided sheet of paper and I ordered the house special, enchiladas. They were baked and stuffed to the brim with chorizo, onions, beans, cheese, and a homemade enchilada sauce. You know that feeling when you first bite into something delicious and you know that you just lost all internal control to stop eating. Well, I ate way too much and asked our waitress for the recipe of the enchilada sauce. When she brought it out to me, I had no clue how easy it was to make your own sauce instead of buying can. If you have these ingredients pictured below, you can make it at home.

It by far changed how I approached cooking sauces. I assumed it was so much easier to just by the can already done but most sauces are this simple.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

1 can of tomato sauce

3 Tbsp of chili powder

2 Tbsp of cumin powder

1 Tbsp of garlic powder

1 Tbsp of oregano

Mix all ingredients on the stove top and bring to a boil, reduce and simmer. You can even do this in the microwave if you are running behind on time. One other tip – if you like your sauce to be thicker, you can add a bit of flour to thicken it up while cooking. We like ours thin.

Enchiladas

I double this batch to make an extra one to put in the freezer

You will need a 9 x 13 pan and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

1 lb of ground chorizo, pork, beef, or turkey (we like ground chorizo)

1 can, drained kidney beans (you can use black beans if you prefer)

1 red onion sliced

1 Tbsp of minced garlic

1 Tbsp of chili powder

1 Tbsp of cumin

1 tsp of oregano

1 Tbsp of fresh chopped cilantro (reserve some for garnish)

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese

10″ Tortillas

1 Tbsp olive oil

Start by spraying your 9 x 13 pan with a non-stick spray, pour enough enchilada sauce to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Next, put oil in your skillet and cook ground chorizo, garlic and onion together until done. Drain and place in a bowl. Add your beans. Add remaining seasoning. Add 1/2 cup of cheese and mix all ingredients together.

Get your assembly line ready, 9 x 13 pan, sauce, meat mix, and tortillas. Take the tortillas and add approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of meat mixture into the shell. Fold then two ends and then roll the sides together to create a pocket style tortilla. Repeat till you have filled the entire pan with the enchiladas. I do not stack them but instead line them up side by side. Next, add more enchilada sauce to cover the tortillas, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Serve with guacamole and blue corn tortillas

Freezer Enchiladas

Take the remaining meat mixture and sauce, in a 9 x 13 freezer safe pan, coat with non-stick cooking spray, add enough sauce to layer the bottom of the pan. Next, layer two shells, add meat mixture, top with cheese, shells, more sauce and repeat until you have used the meat mixture. The top layer should be tortillas, sauce and cheese. Wrap in aluminum foil tightly. I always write the date, and instructions for this wonderful freezer meal.

Oklahoma is the place to be….and if you can’t be in Oklahoma bring a taste of Oklahoma to you. I hope you enjoy these enchiladas!

Ireland, I am coming home

County Kerry

For our tenth anniversary, we traveled to Ireland and did a CIE tour. As a little girl, I was fascinated with Ireland. I had posters of Ireland scattered across my walls. I am not sure where the fascination came from but my love of green, the accents or the movie Circle of Friends, were the key ingredients. I knew my maternal grandmother was a Dunn and came from Ireland. She died of cancer when my mom was 12. When I turned 9, my mom gave me her class ring. She graduated high school in 1944 and I have worn her ring on my right hand since I was nine.

Johnnie Elizabeth Dunn and James Hoyt Meredith’s wedding photo

When Jamie and I started dating, I told him how I saved changed for years to fund my travels. Ireland was the icing on the cake for me, so for our tenth anniversary we booked a southern Ireland tour in November. The 10 day trip was nothing short of amazing and life changing. Have you ever gone to a brand new place and yet it felt familiar as if you had been there before? Well Ireland was like seeing the new and the old, watching pieces of the quilt bind together from childhood dreams to reality. We started in Dublin. We flew in a day early to explore. We soon realized that was a brilliant idea as we watched others came in the day of the trip.

We were just down from Phoenix park, so we grabbed a quick breakfast and headed to the park. It was lovely even in November. We explored the park, went to Jameson’s distillery and Jamie volunteered, uhm begged, to be a taste tester. We walked for what seemed like miles trying to find the entrance to the Guinness factory. They have 60 kilometers fenced in the city. It took us a while to find the main tourist entrance. We drank and we ate. The first night we had, leg of lamb with roast potatoes and carrots. We were tired and worn out from touring and walking but the mouthwatering lamb was just what I had envisioned for my first sit down meal in Ireland.

We travel down the coast to Waterford, Cork and onto Kerry. From there we traveled over the river Shannon into County Mayo. We visited the house and town where the movie The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. If you haven’t watched this movie, you should. We stayed in Galway and had the best Thai food, crazy right? Then made our way back to yet another distillery, Tullamore Dew before heading back to Dublin. We kissed the Blarney Stone, walked the Cliffs of Moor, saw dolphins in the river Shannon, and touched the Emerald Isle. If you have yet to go, here area few pictures from our trip.

When we have a rare night to ourselves, I like to relive our favorite stops. Ireland is always on our mind so I pop in The Quiet Man dvd, grab the dutch oven, and make leg of lamb with roast carrots and potatoes. With a glass of Jameson, ginger ale, and a twist of lime, we are back to our first night and our first meal in Dublin.

Hope you enjoy!

2 tbsp of olive oil

1 4lb boneless leg of lamb

3-4 medium potatoes – cubed

1 cup of carrots – diced or use the chips and no cutting

1/2 cup of diced celery

1 medium onion diced

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbps of Thyme or 1 fresh spring of Thyme

1 cup of Red Wine/Pinot Noir

1 cup of water or enough to fill the dutch oven half way

Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In your dutch oven, pour the oil in the pot and turn heat on high. Take your boneless leg of lamb (leave the strings on to hold it together) and coat with salt, pepper, one clove of garlic, thyme, and a bit of the rosemary.

When the dutch oven is hot, place the leg of lamb fat side down and cook to sear the meat. Flip the lamb over to sear the other side. Once it has been seared on both sides, add the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, rosemary and the remaining garlic and thyme. Add the cup of red wine and water to reach half way in the dutch oven.

Now, place your lid on your dutch oven and place in the oven. The rule of thumb is 15 -18 minutes per pound of meat. I cooked this leg of lamb for 1:10 minutes.

Once you check the temperature of 130 degrees, allow the leg to rest for a least five minutes prior to slicing. I roasted some asparagus as well to accompany our meal.

Hope you enjoy a little taste of Ireland.

Just 50…no big deal

50 posts, 50 places, and 50 foods from around the globe to your table!

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Did you know Theodor Suess Geisel was dared to write a children’s book with only 50 words! Well, instead of looking at this as an impossible challenge, a hurtle that could not be matched, or simply giving up; he created the masterpiece, Green Eggs and Ham. As a child, I devoured those 50 words over and over again. In fact, I checked out that book from the library so often that my parents started calling me Sam. My children each have their very own Green Eggs and Ham book. I wrote a note of encouragement in each of their books. I want my girls to always see the possibilities in life, to never let the constraints of life get in the way of exploring this beautiful world and to always try green eggs and ham xoxox Mom (aka your biggest cheerleader). This blog was a dare, a challenge to myself to take my passion for trying new foods, traveling to new places, and bringing those experiences home while creating a space for people to join me on this amazing journey of life. As my good friend Sam said, “Would you, could you, why YES I CAN…” Thanks for traveling along with me. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates. ~ Kristie

I am Sam, Sam I am

I am a mom, wife, and a professor but that’s not all. I am a dreamer, a Dr. Suess fan, a traveling enthusiast, and a passionate, novice cook. I love to explore new cultures and bring those experiences home with me one plate at a time.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess

I have been so blessed in my life to travel in fact, it is a priority in our house. Growing up, my family went to the same city year after year for vacation. We were not wealthy but my family made it a priority to have a vacation once a year even if it was for the weekend. We would load up the old Ford Escort with packed lunches and drive the 5 hours to the Great Smoky Mountains. I was notorious for asking the awful question, “Are we there yet?” I loved going there each year. The mountains are beautiful and tranquil early in the morning. My dad and I would always get up early and take a stroll to the Donut Friar and bring back the goodies for my mom and brother. But, not before indulging in a donut first.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park

I have often wondered where my travel lust came from? I would first say from the mountains themselves and then others introduced me to new places through their eyes. My great aunt had a winter home in Vero Beach, Florida and I would day dream of going and visiting her while swimming in great Atlantic. I loved going on vacations and trying new foods. In fact, it was a mission of mine when I first went to Hollywood Beach, Florida and Freeport, Bahamas with the marching band. I was determined that I would not eat anything I could get in western Kentucky. From gator bites to shrimp cocktail, I was living the dream.

Apple Butter, recipe from Mrs. Irene

My love for cooking did not come from my mom, love her but she is not a cook. My surrogate grandmothers, aka great aunts, were phenomenal cooks. They created masterpieces that I craved each and every holiday. I have their recipes written in their own handwriting and cherish those recipes more than any monetary gift they could have ever given me. From chocolate cake from scratch from my beloved Aunt Georgia, to the holly balls from Aunt Ruth, to the fried apple pies from Deane, these recipes are cherished, loved but most importantly shared each and every holiday with my girls. You see, food is my expression of love. They poured love into their creations and shared those with me. Teaching me how to make an amazing hamburger in a cast iron skillet and how to make mouthwatering fried chicken. As I mentioned earlier, we did not have a lot of money. Birthdays and Christmas were tough on my parents. They wanted so bad to buy us the world and yet couldn’t. So my love for the one holiday that did not involve gifts was Thanksgiving. It was all about the food.

My Aunt Georgia, but she made me call her grandmother

As I began to travel, try new things, I wanted to bring those things home with me. I would recreate locra de papa sopa from Ecuador, shrimp omelets from Cozumel, cottage pie from Ireland, mushy peas from England, sausages from Germany, wonton soup from China, and beans and rice from Costa Rica and Belize. Bringing those precious memories home and recreating them, brought back memories that continue to last and are shared with my family.

Chinese food – Ginger Minced Chicken Rice bowl

So, I dared myself to create a space for me to share my travels, food, and cooking with others. I hope you enjoy! ~Kristie

The Great Wall of China, 2016