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Archive for the ‘Mexican Food’ Category

BBQ Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican Rice

Last week, I posted about these delicious BBQ chicken enchiladas that had my kids eating helping after helping. But it wasn’t just the enchiladas they loved. They oohed and aahed over the rice as well, gobbling up seconds of it on top of all the enchiladas they were eating.

I’ve made numerous variations of Mexican Rice in the past, but this one was the most popular with my family. That came as bit of a surprise to me since in my opinion, this is the most unorthodox version I’ve made. But I have to say, it was delicious. And the nutritional punch is enough to make any parent happy.

MEXICAN RICE WITH SPINACH
Downloadable PDF of Mexican Rice with Spinach

  • In a medium saucepan, combine:
    • 3/4 cup brown basmati rice
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 Tablespoon butter
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Bring water to a rapid boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • After 20 minutes, add:
    • 1 10-ounce package extra fine cut frozen spinach, thawed
    • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • Cover, return to a simmer, and continue cooking another 20 minutes, or until all moisture is absorbed

This is a great way to add more greens to dinner. Just change the chili powder and ground cumin to other spices to really change up the flavor. Use thyme, or oregano, or basil, or parsley and some lemon zest. Sprinkle some toasted slivered almonds on top for a delicious and easy rice pilaf.

How do you sneak greens and other healthy foods into your family’s meals? I’m lucky that I don’t have to “hide” ingredients from my kids; they’ll eat sushi, broccoli, tofu, brussel sprouts, and nearly anything else I put in front of them. In fact, I’m probably the pickiest out of all of us!

Downloadable PDF of Mexican Rice with Spinach

BBQ Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican Rice

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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BBQ Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican Rice

When I had dinner at a local restaurant recently, I was drawn to the BBQ chicken enchiladas on their menu. They were very simple and so delicious. So naturally, I had to make them at home to share with the rest of the family.

These enchiladas (and the accompanying rice that I’ll post tomorrow) were one of THE most popular dinners I’ve made for my kids. Any of you who know them know that they eat the smallest portion sizes ever. With this meal, however, E had four helpings, and B had three. I would say that makes this dinner a winner!

BBQ Shredded Chicken
BBQ shredded chicken

BBQ Sauce-dipped tortilla with filling
BBQ sauce-dipped corn tortilla with BBQ shredded chicken

BBQ chicken enchiladas topped with grilled onions
BBQ chicken enchiladas topped with grilled onions

BBQ CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
Inspired by the BBQ chicken enchiladas at El Mercado Restaurant
Downloadable PDF of BBQ Chicken Enchiladas

  • In a slow cooker, combine:
    • 4 chicken breasts
      • I keep individually flash-frozen chicken breasts in my freezer and toss them in the slow cooker frozen – no thawing necessary.
      • If the chicken breasts you are using are extra thick/large, use three instead of four. The flash frozen variety tend to be somewhat thin.
    • 1 cup BBQ sauce
      • You can make your own, or use your favorite store-bought sauce. I am partial to the Jack Daniel’s brand Original No. 7 sauce, so that’s what I used.
  • Cook on low heat for about 4 1/2 hours (if using frozen chicken breasts); you may need to decrease the time a bit if using thawed chicken.
  • Julienne:
    • 1 large onion
  • Heat 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a medium skillet.
  • Add sliced onion to the skillet and cook until soft and they start to caramelize.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once chicken is just cooked through, remove from slow cooker and shred using two forks.
  • Place shredded chicken in a large bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker to the shredded chicken and toss to coat.
  • Keep slow cooker on low to keep remaining liquid heated.
  • Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish lightly with cooking spray.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place a cutting board in front of the slow cooker to use as your work station to fill the tortillas.
  • Place 12 corn tortillas near your work station.
  • Dip each tortilla in the warm BBQ sauce in the slow cooker, coating both sides and making tortilla pliable.
  • Place tortilla on cutting board.
  • Place some of the shredded chicken in the center of the tortilla.
  • Roll tortilla to wrap around the filling and place seam side down in prepared baking dish.
  • Repeat with remaining tortillas, dividing the shredded chicken evenly among the tortillas.
  • Sprinkle cooked onion slices over the enchiladas, distributing evenly.
  • Top each enchilada with:
    • 1 Tablespoon shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or just until enchiladas are heated through and cheese is melted.
  • Serve with Mexican rice, beans, or any of your favorite Tex-Mex inspired side dishes.

BBQ Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican Rice

So simple. So few ingredients. So filling. So delicious.

The BBQ flavor really comes through the chicken and the dipped tortillas. I love that there’s no sauce poured over the enchiladas. Many folk may be disappointed because that’s their favorite part of enchiladas (I’m usually one of those people, but these don’t need a sauce).

The caramelized onions add a lovely flavor and really make the BBQ flavor pop. You can add more cheese to your liking. I just don’t prefer a ton of cheese on my enchiladas.

Like I noted above, my kids ate nearly the entire batch by themselves! If you have boys who already eat good-sized portions, I’d suggest doubling this recipe. I was shocked we didn’t have enough for hubby and I to have for lunch the next day.

Downloadable PDF of BBQ Chicken Enchiladas

What is your favorite filling and sauce combination for enchiladas? One of mine is chicken with suiza sauce.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Shredded Chicken Tacos

School is back in session! My stepdaughters started back to school today. And what a whirlwind of a day!

What I want to share is my favorite dinner for back-to-school. It’s a go-to favorite of mine from when I was commuting long distance to work and seemingly always away from home. I’d make this in the slow cooker on a Sunday and have dinner for the next few week nights.

This dinner has all the qualities of the perfect back-to-school-hectic-life meal:

  • It’s easy (hello, slow cooker!)
  • It’s versatile (make it into enchiladas, stuff it into quesadillas, or pile it into tacos)
  • It’s freezer-friendly (my favorite part!)
  • It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients (read as, “it’s cheaper than take-out”)
  • Kids love it

SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS & MEXICAN RICE
Downloadable PDF of Shredded Chicken Tacos

  • In a large slow cooker, add:
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 6 chicken breasts
    • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
    • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
    • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • Cook on low for 4.5 hours, or until chicken is just cooked through and tender, stirring halfway through cooking to distribute liquid and seasoning
  • Remove chicken from slow cooker to a large cutting board
  • Remove 2 cups of the liquid from the slow cooker and set aside to use as the liquid for making Mexican rice
  • Leave remaining liquid in the slow cooker
  • Shred the chicken breasts
  • Place shredded chicken back in the slow cooker
  • Stir to coat with the liquid
  • Cover and cook on low one hour
  • TO MAKE THE MEXICAN RICE:
    • In a medium pot, add:
      • 1 1/2 cups rice (I use brown rice)
      • The 2 cups liquid reserved from the slow cooker
      • 1 additional cup water
      • 1 Tablespoon butter (this keeps my rice from bubbling over as it simmers)
    • Bring to a boil, stir, then cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender
    • Add 1/2 cup frozen peas or peas/carrot mix in the last 5 minutes of cooking, if desired
    • Season with salt and pepper as needed
  • Spoon the shredded chicken with a slotted spoon onto tortillas with a variety of toppings and alongside the rice

STORAGE TIPS

  • When storing the leftovers in the refrigerator or the freezer, include the remaining liquid from the slow cooker. It helps keep the chicken moist and delicious.
  • When freezing, divide into the appropriate size for your family. Since we don’t have the kids during the week, I often freeze some to serve 2 (Hubby and me) and some to feed 4 (when the girls are with us).
  • Place in the refrigerator the night before a day when you know you need a quick meal. It will thaw in the refrigerator and be ready to reheat in the microwave when you get home.
  • If you freeze the servings in oven-proof containers (such as foil containers), you can pop it straight from the freezer to the oven to reheat. I use plastic containers, so I don’t use this method, but it would work well. Keep the container covered and the liquid that was packed with the chicken will keep the chicken moist while reheating in the oven. I would suggest 350 degrees. The time will depend on the amount you’re reheating. I would allow for 30-45 minutes.
  • TORTILLAS can be stored in the freezer as well! I buy both corn and flour tortillas in bulk, then divide into freezer bags. Because of the size of my family and our usual serving size per meal, I divide the tortillas into groups of 10, leaving us a few extra per package for a quick breakfast taco or quesadilla for lunch. Tortillas thaw quickly either in the refrigerator, on the counter, or in the microwave. If using the microwave, be sure to only thaw for the least amount of time possible and not until they’re hot. Pull them out and wrap in a damp paper towel and then microwave to complete heating them. The damp towel helps keep them moist instead of dry and chewy. I have a gas stove, so I just turn a burner on medium-low and plop each tortilla on top of the burner for a few seconds, then turn to warm the other side for a few seconds, and serve.
  • CHEESE can be stored in the freezer too! I buy 8-cup packages of shredded cheddar, Mozzarella, and Monterrey Jack cheeses. I divide them by 1-cup per freezer bag, then freeze. Whenever I need 1 or 2 cups for a recipe, I just pull out what I need from the freezer. For casseroles, the cheese can be added straight from the freezer before baking. For something like tacos, it can be pulled out only 15 or 20 minutes early and it’ll be thawed enough to sprinkle on top of a hot taco.

Shredded Chicken

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Shredded Chicken Taco with Mexican Rice

To make this into enchiladas, roll the chicken with a bit of cheese into tortillas, top with your favorite enchilada sauce and cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. You can assemble the enchiladas in freezer-safe and oven-safe containers, pour sauce over them, then freeze for a meal to bake at a later date. I always make double the amount of enchiladas so I can make one batch that night and freeze the second for a later meal when I’m too busy to be bothered with dinner prep.

If we have small amounts of leftover shredded chicken, it usually gets cooked into hot, cheesy quesadillas, or thrown on top of some crumbled tortilla chips and topped with a mound of lettuce for a taco salad.

My stepdaughters’ first day of school was awesome, as I hope all kids’ first days went. Here’s to another busy school year, full of nights too busy to cook, where a homemade meal straight from the freezer fills bellies and warms hearts and souls.

Downloadable PDF of Shredded Chicken Tacos

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Some of my summer favorites:

Sweet Corn and Poblano Chilaquiles

1. Easy, but tasty breakfasts like poblano and sweet corn chilaquiles or a soft egg over pan-fried sliced turkey and a corn tortilla. After so many years of rushed mornings of smoothie breakfasts in the car while driving an hour to work, now that I have time to make breakfast every day and enjoy it, I take advantage. I’ve taken to eating breakfast on the front porch while the Pup hangs out, playing with his tennis ball and watching the neighborhood – one of his favorite past times. While the afternoons have been dangerously hot, the summer mornings have had a slight breeze and a comfortable temperature. I nice cup of hot Earl Gray spiked with a touch of lavender enjoyed on the front porch is a perfect start to my summer day.

Lunch

2. Easy no-cook lunches. From an easy smoked salmon spread on crackers or crusty bread to the simple summer sausage, sharp cheese, and seeded flat bread above, these lunches let me feed the family lunch without taking much time from my day so I can stay on task with my daily to-do lists. I have a habit of making to-do lists longer than I have hours in the day to finish them. With a side of fruit and cut-up veggies, lunch is done and I’m back to work.

Tofu with Walnuts

3. Tofu crisped perfectly and tossed in a brown sauce with various mix-ins over brown rice. This one has chopped walnuts served over brown rice with peas. I’ve played with the seasonings for the cornstarch mixture the tofu is tossed in as well as the sauce to make different versions so we don’t feel like we’re always eating the same thing. I’ve used snap peas and carrots, the walnuts above, and just a couple nights ago used steamed broccoli. This meal is easy, versatile, light but filling – a great option the night after splurges such as pizza or burgers or steak fajitas, and tofu is super cheap (my grocer sells 16 ounces for $1.67!), making it way more affordable than Chinese delivery and much healthier (and tastier) made at home.

Halved Cherries

Peach halves

4. Desserts made from fresh summer fruits like peaches and cherries. My hubby, however, prefers something with chocolate! Can’t blame him, but I can’t let the fruits of summer go by without some desserts that remind me of the fresh produce and home-cooked dishes from my childhood at my grandparents’ house in Missouri. They had a wonderful garden!

Fried Green Tomatoes

5. Fried green tomatoes. Dipped in a vibrant sauce or stacked on a sandwich, I don’t care. Summer to me isn’t complete without fried green tomatoes. The fried green tomato BLT at Kerbey Lane Cafe is my favorite summer lunch. Ever. My homemade fried green tomatoes are dipped in a whisked egg then into a 1:1 mixture of flour and cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper, then fried in canola oil in my iron skillet. It really only takes minutes for a small batch. Add ground cayenne or smoked paprika or oregano and other herbs to the cornmeal mixture to change up the flavor.

I could add coconut frozen yogurt, anything with mangos, cool smoothies on hot days, orange glazed beets, fried chicken, and summer veggies. Probably my favorite part of this summer has been the opportunity to change careers and spend more of my time at home with my family, something I haven’t had while working long distance from home since I married.

What are your summer favorites?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Sweet Corn and Poblano Chilaquiles

I’ve lived in Central Texas the last 14 years and never had chilaquiles. I’ve never noticed them on the menu at any of the restaurants we frequent. That was, until some friends asked us to meet them at a new place in town for dinner. Los Chilaquiles Bar & Mexican Grill has 9 flavors of chilaquiles, my favorite being the ultra rich De Rajas, with poblano pepper and onion.

To satisfy my new obsession with these chilaquiles (and poblano peppers), I make a quick version at home combining sweet corn and roasted pobalno pepper strips.

I sometimes make a batch of the corn and poblano pepper mixture (like I did earlier this week) and keep it in the refrigerator so all I have to do is crisp a couple tortillas and warm the corn and poblano mixture to spoon over (like I did this morning) for a quick breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Because I could eat this any time of day.

CHILAQUILES WITH SWEET CORN AND POBLANO PEPPERS
Downloadable PDF of Chilaquiles with Sweet Corn and Pobalno Peppers

  • In a medium, deep skillet over medium heat combine:
    • 11 ounces sweet corn (drained, if using canned)
    • 7.5 ounces roasted poblano pepper strips (drained, if using canned)
    • I use canned of each since I make this all the time, making it faster to throw together, but you can use fresh corn and roast fresh poblano peppers as well
  • Once heated through, add:
    • 1/4 cup or so of cream
    • I use soy cream, and add just enough to cover the bottom of the pan
  • Once cream is added and heated through, add:
    • 1/4 – 1/2 cup cheese
    • Use any cheese you like: cojita, Monterey Jack; my favorite for this is fresh goat cheese
    • Add 1/4 cup first and stir, melting the cheese into the cream
    • If the dish isn’t creamy enough for your liking yet, melt in more cheese
  • Reduce heat to low and keep warm
  • In another medium deep skillet (I use an iron skillet), warm just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan
  • Once oil is hot, add:
    • Corn tortillas
  • Cook tortillas just a minute or two per side, until lightly crisped
    • For one individual serving, I usually heat 1 – 3 tortillas, depending on how hungry I am
  • Once the tortillas are lightly crisped, cut them into strips, then cut the strips into smaller pieces
  • Spoon corn and poblano mixture on top, sprinkling more cheese on top if desired

Chilaquiles

This was the perfect breakfast to tide me over after my morning workout of sun salutations and a run, before heading out to volunteer a couple of hours at the Cedar Park Farms to Market. I had a lot of fun meeting new people and helping out at the farmers market! It was nice to get out of the house and have a chance to socialize. I miss that part of going to work at the university every day.

Now, it’s time to wash off the sunscreen and bug spray and settle into my kitchen to make peppermint frozen yogurt . . . which I hope turns out because it sounds so refreshing after spending the first half of my day outside. It’s hot out there! Have a great weekend!

Sweet Corn and Poblano Chilaquiles

Downloadable PDF of Chilaquiles with Sweet Corn and Pobalno Peppers

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Arroz con Pollo

Celebrating my 100th post with an old favorite!

I’m a stepmother to two young girls. I met them when they were 4 and 7 years old. It’s hard to believe they’re now ages 9 and 11! I’ve always connected with the girls through food. Food is magical in how it loosens the tongue and encourages lots of conversation and often, lots of laughter as well. The first year I lived with the girls, I often made them two of my favorite dishes my own stepmother introduced to me when I was a teenager.

I was 16 when my dad and stepmom married. She lived in Austin, and my father had moved there to marry her. I remained in Missouri for a few more years before moving to the Lone Star State. Arroz con pollo was a dish I hadn’t encountered in Missouri, but it quickly became my favorite the first time my stepmom made it for me. When I had abdominal surgery last summer, she and my dad came to visit me the 4th day of recovery, and brought over a large dish of arroz con pollo. It was the first solid food I ate after surgery, and was sooooo delicious, even if I had to pick around the chicken because I couldn’t eat meat yet.

Hubby and the girls enjoyed arroz con pollo just as much the first time I made it for them and it was quickly added to the regular dinner rotation. I could double the recipe to have leftovers. Like a stew, the flavor is better the next day. I worked a ton of hours 60 miles from home, and leftovers were an easy dinner when I’d get home between 7:00 and 7:30 any given evening.

The girls are with their grandparents for two weeks, and I’ve found myself thinking about them often. As a way to feel closer to two sweet girls who won’t be here this weekend – the first weekend without them since Christmas! – I made a meal that always reminds me of them, and is always a comfort food to me. I hope you enjoy my recipe for arroz con pollo.

Browned Chicken Thighs

ARROZ CON POLLO
(downloadable PDF of Arroz con Pollo)

  • In a dutch oven, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or butter) over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Season 4 large chicken thighs, bone-in with skin, with ground black pepper and salt.
  • Place the chicken skin side down in the hot oil and let cook about 8 – 10 minutes or until the skin is browned and crispy.
  • Season the opposite side with ground black pepper and salt before turning the chicken to brown on the other side. Cook another 8 – 10 minutes or until that side is also browned and crispy.
  • Remove the chicken and set aside; lower the heat to medium.
  • To the pan drippings, add 1/2 chopped yellow onion and 1 1/2 cups brown rice.
  • Stir the onion and rice, cooking 4 – 5 minutes, until the rice begins to brown, scraping the browned bits from the pan.
  • Add 2 large cloves minced garlic to the rice and cook one more minute while stirring.
  • Pour 3 cups chicken broth over the rice and stir.
  • Add one 14.5 ounce can undrained diced tomatoes.
  • Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  • Bring to a rolling boil.
  • Place chicken on top of rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Check at 30 minutes to make sure there is still liquid in the pan.
  • At 40 minutes, add 1 cup frozen chopped carrots with peas mix, and cook uncovered an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
  • When most of liquid is absorbed/evaporated, but the dish isn’t dry, it is ready to serve.
  • Spoon the rice with veggies into a shallow plate or bowl, and top with a piece of chicken.
  • Sprinkle with 1 – 2 teaspoons chopped pimiento.
  • The chicken will be very tender, sliding off the bone easily.

Arroz con Pollo

Comfort in a bowl. To cut the fat a bit, substitute the chicken thighs with skinless chicken breasts. I use my own homemade chicken broth that I freeze in 2-cup portions. Once thawed, I add 1 cup water to make the 3 cups liquid called for in this recipe. I don’t often make this version with bone-in meat when making it for the kids. When making it for them, I usually boil skinless chicken breasts, shred the chicken so there are no large pieces, and use that with the broth from boiling the chicken to make the recipe. The shredded chicken is easier for them to handle, but the bone-in thighs add a richer flavor.

This is one of the most meaningful meals in my life, and I hope if you try it, it brings you as much comfort and contentment that it does me.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Chilequiles with sides

Last Monday, we went out for Tex-Mex with our neighbors to celebrate one of their birthdays. I had chilaquiles con rajas and was in heaven. I have been craving that dish since, but couldn’t bring myself to go to the restaurant for the super heavy and fattening meal for the sake of my waistline. Instead, I made my own version at home for lunch today, and it satisfied my craving. Plus, I have leftovers for lunch a couple more days this week! 😉

CHILAQUILES CON RAJAS:
Printer-Friendly Recipe: Chilaquiles con Rajas

PREHEAT YOUR BROILER.

SAUCE:

  • Husk and rinse 8 tomatillos.
  • Place in medium saucepan with 1 Serrano chile and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Cover with water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Spoon tomatillos into food processor with about 1/4 cup of the liquid from the saucepan. Discard remaining liquid once no more is needed after the pureeing process.
  • Cut stem off Serrano chile and add to processor.
  • Add 2 large cloves garlic.
  • Puree until smooth.
  • Pour tomatillo sauce back into saucepan.
  • Add 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Tomatillos

RAJAS:

  • In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil.
  • Add 1/2 julienne-cut yellow onion and cook until it starts to caramelize.
  • Add 1 7.5-ounce can of poblano pepper strips and 3/4 cup frozen sweet corn, and continue to heat on low, stirring occasionally.
  • Add 1 large clove minced garlic and salt to taste. Set aside.

TORTILLAS:

  • In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
  • Cut 20 white corn tortillas in half, then each half into about 5 strips.
  • Toss 1/3 of the strips in the oil and cook until brown and crisp, stirring frequently.
  • Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining strips, adding more oil as needed.

ASSEMBLY:

  • Ladle a thin layer of sauce in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  • Top with 1/2 of the tortilla strips, 1/2 of the rajas mixture, a sprinkle of low-fat shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (your desired amount), and 1/2 of the sauce.
  • Repeat one more layer, ending with the sauce.
  • Place in broiler and cook until sauce is bubbly and tops of tortilla strips showing turn deep brown, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Chilequiles

Serve with refried beans (I bought a can of nonfat refried beans and heated with a little added water to keep them smooth), and shredded iceberg lettuce salad topped with tomatoes.

Chilequiles with sides

Using the nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in the sauce reduces the fat in the recipe. I also use reduced-fat Monterrey Jack cheese, and less of it than the restaurant does. I also added sweet corn because I love the combination of poblano peppers and sweet corn.

Hubby had two helpings of this! I’m so happy I can make this lower fat version at home because I’m totally in love with it and will be making it any time the craving strikes.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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