Food and Drink

Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex by Cappy Lawton & Chris Waters Dunn - book review and recipe for Enchiladas de Camote (Sweet Potato)

Disclosure: I received a copy of Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex in exchange for this post.  No additional compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.
My family and I recently discovered that we love enchiladas.  After a long day about a year ago, I sort of threw some together following a basic recipe I found online.  I can't even remember where at this point.  But since that day, I've tried several different variations including different meats, cheese, sauces, vegetables, etc.  So far, our favorite has been slow cooked pork and black beans with cheddar in flour tortillas.  But, there may be a new favorite brewing...
I received the book Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex by Cappy Lawton & Chris Waters Dunn at the perfect time.  I was ready to try my hand at some more enchilada recipes and this cookbook has basically everything I need to know about cooking, preparing, assembling, and garnishing many different types.  It even has instructions on how to make your own tortillas.  One recipe in particular caught my eye - Enchiladas de Camote. Camote is the Spanish word for sweet potato.  I would have never thought to put sweet potatoes and enchiladas together in the same sentence let alone on a dish.  So, I tried it and guess what?  It works! VERY well, too!
Here's the recipe:
Enchiladas de Camote (Sweet Potato)
Yields 12 enchiladas / Serves 4–6
For the filling:
* 2 cups (460 grams, about 3 medium) sweet potatoes, roasted and mashed
* Kosher salt to taste
For the sauce:
* 1 recipe Chipotle Sauce (see page 191)
For the assembly:
* 12 tortillas (the book does not specify what type.  I used corn)
* Vegetable oil as needed for frying
For the garnish:
* Crema Mexicana
* Queso fresco
* 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and shredded for fried sweet potato strings or
very thinly sliced lengthwise into chips (recipe follows)
Start with the filling:
* Cut the tip off the narrow end of each sweet potato to keep it from bursting. Place
on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 400°F (200°C) oven for about 1 hour, or until
fork-tender. Cool for a few minutes.
* Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and pass through a food
mill or ricer to achieve a smooth consistency. Add salt to taste.
Prepare the sauce:
* While the potatoes are baking, prepare the chipotle sauce.  
  • 2 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 large chipotles en adobo sauce, stemmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • for the filling:+
  • 2 cups (460 grams, about 3 medium) sweet potatoes, roasted and mashed
  • Kosher salt to taste

*Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place under broiler until very soft and blackened in spots, turning as a side is done, 15 minutes or so total. Remove from oven. In the meantime, eat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and chipotles to skillet and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Remove from heat.

*Transfer the tomatoes and any accumulated juices to the jar of a blender, then scrape in the onion mixture and add the salt. Puree until smooth. Strain through a medium-mesh strainer. 

*If proceeding immediately, pour the sauce into a saucepan over medium-low heat, cover, and keep warm (reheat in the same manner if made in advance). Store cooled sauce in an airtight container with a lid in the fridge for up to 5 days. If the sauce was prepared ahead of time, place it in a saucepan set over medium low heat, cover, and keep warm.

Assemble the enchiladas:
* Preheat the oven to 140°F (60°C).
* In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 2 1⁄2 inches (6.33 cm) and
place over medium-high heat. Bring to medium frying temperature (about
350°F, 177°C).
* To soften the tortillas, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel, place in a plastic
storage bag (do not seal), and microwave on high for 45–60 seconds.
* Place 2 tablespoons sweet potato purée on the lower third of a tortilla, roll, and
skewer with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
* Deep fry the enchiladas a few at a time (do not crowd) until crispy. Drain on
paper towels and place on an ovenproof platter in the oven to keep warm.
Continue frying the remaining enchiladas (allow the oil to reheat to frying
temperature between batches).
* When ready to serve, remove the toothpicks, place 2–3 enchiladas per serving
on warm individual plates, top with the chipotle sauce, and garnish with crema
Mexicana, queso fresco, and (optional) fried sweet potato strings or slices.
Sweet Potato Chips
How to make sweet potato strings or chips:
* Using a mandolin slicer, slice a peeled, raw sweet potato into very thin, long
slices or shred into strings. Just before serving, place in a deep fryer at 350°F
(177°C) until golden, drain on paper towels, and use as a garnish.

Reprinted from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Copyright © 2015 by Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn. published by Trinity University Press.

 As per my usual, I didn't have all the ingredients on hand today while making these, so I had to substitute a garlic & herb soft cheese for the crema Mexicana and the queso fresco garnish.  And of course, you all know I despise cilantro, so I just added some parsley to the top for some fun.  Also, I wish I would have made the sweet potato chips!  I think I'll make some tomorrow just to make up for it.
I really enjoyed the crunch and the unexpected sweet potato flavor of these little gems.  When I finished eating, I found myself licking my lips from the lingering smoky spice of the chipotle sauce - wishing I had made more.  I think these would be great as appetizers fried up in small batches.  
This is just one of the many delectable recipes in Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex.  I'm looking forward to trying as many as I can from Tex-Mex Brisket to Enchiladas de Frijoles y Chorizo.  I hope you'll try this recipe and get yourself a copy of Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex!
Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex is available on and other book sellers. You can use my affiliate link here: 

Or check out the book's website at  Right now they are running a special ONLY available on purchases made through!  Buy 3 books, get 1 FREE! Makes a great gift for the foodies in your life.   

Cinnamon Roll Coffee, Red Velvet Cappuccino, and more love in a mug from Smart Sips Coffee! - My review

Disclosure: I was given a variety of different flavored coffees, cappuccinos, and hot chocolate K-cups from Smart Sips Coffee in exchange for my honest review. Smartsips

Before I begin my review, I want to give you a little taste of who I am as a coffee drinker.  I do love me some coffee, but I am not a coffee-is-my-lifeblood person.  I think of it more as a treat rather than a necessity.  And when I want my coffee treat, I want it to taste like I am indulging in something so wonderful it should be illegal.  Thankfully for us all, coffee treats are not only legal, but easy to get, too.  

As I type this post, I'm sipping on one of my new favorite flavored coffees from Smart Sips Coffee - Cinnamon Roll.  It's got just enough cinnamon-y goodness to flavor the coffee without overpowering it.  I'm pretty particular about cinnamon flavorings.  I am not a fan of fake cinnamon at all (think RedHots or Big Red gum). But all the different cinnamon flavored coffees I tried from Smart Sips like Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Roll and Bananas Foster taste like the real deal, not the fake stuff.  

I also got to try several others:

  • Chocolate Amaretto
  • Chocolate Raspberry
  • Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble
  • Chocolate Orange
  • Bananas Foster
  • Mudslide - this is my favorite.  
  • Cognac
  • Red Velvet Cappuccino

And from the new Fall line:

  • Cinnamon Roll
  • Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Roll
  • Chocolate Cherry Cordial
  • Almond Cookie Cappuccino
  • Irish Creme Cappuccino
  • Chocolate Raspberry Hot Chocolate
  • Red Velvet Hot Chocolate
  • Caramel Creme Hot Chocolate
  • and French Vanilla Hot Chocolate

 And these are just the ones I tried!  Smart Sips has many more unique flavored coffees, cappuccino, and hot chocolates available through their website.  I love the convenience of being able to order online - especially when I know the flavors are going be as great as these.

Most boxes of 24 K-cups cost $16.99 with absolutely no shipping fee.  You can order a box of just one flavor or try a variety sampler pack like Chocolate Obsession Gourmet Variety, Flavor Lovers Coffee Variety, or if you are into more traditional coffees you can try the Coffee Variety Pack

And right now, Smart Sips is offering a $2 discount for you readers on a box of any of their new releases (including all of the fall coffees, hot chocolates and cappuccinos) from now til the end of November. Free Shipping!

Just use code LOVEINAMUG when checking out! 

 Oh, and don't throw away those used K-cups... start saving them for cool craft projects like this K-cup Christmas Countdown Wreath I made with my kids.  


Roasted Italian red pepper and garlic marinated chicken - CSA recipe for late summer

I love my CSA. You know that by now. I really can't say enough wonderful things about it.  If you have the ability to join one in your area, you really REALLY should.  And if you're in MY area, you should check out the farm I've been going to for the season: The Sea Salt CSA at B & B Farms.  The season is still going strong and I'm still amazed at the bounty I bring home every week.  

I love being given specific ingredients and using them to come up with meals my family will eat.  It makes it so much easier for me when I'm given fewer choices.  (Just ask my husband what it's like dining with me in a restaurant that has an extensive menu.)  Every week, I can plan my meals according to that week's crops which makes my brain happy.

The past few weeks, there has been a huge harvest of peppers of every size, shape, color, and level of spiciness.  My favorites have been the long gorgeous red Italian peppers that look like they should be in the movies.  They are delicious cooked into cacciatore or stuffed with meats and vegetables or even eaten raw.  

This week, I roasted a bunch of those beautiful red peppers to store for the winter.  **If you've never roasted a pepper, it's seriously so easy.  Just put as many as you would like in a single layer  on a broiler pan close to the flame in the broiler until the skin turns black and blistery.  Be sure you turn the peppers to get all sides.  It takes about 15 minutes total.  Then take them out and drop them into a paper bag and close it for about 10 minutes.  Using the back of a knife, scrape off the black skin and cut the peppers in half.  Scrape out the ribs and seeds and you're all done. You can store them in the fridge packed in olive oil for a few weeks, but for longer storage just lay them between wax paper in a sealed container in the freezer.**

I saved one roasted pepper to use for dinner tonight.  I had taken out chicken drumsticks and thought I'd try to marinate them with some sort of roasted pepper/garlic/herb marinade.  This is what I came up with:  IMG_7040

Roasted Italian Red Pepper and Garlic Marinated Chicken

  • 1 roasted red pepper (or about 1/3 cup if you have chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • salt to taste
  • 8 chicken drumsticks

Blend all the above ingredients (except the drumsticks, of course) in your food processor or blender until smooth.  Pour over chicken drumsticks and let marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge turning every couple hours to make sure everything is coated.

Grill chicken on medium grill (450° surface temp) turning frequently until internal temp is 185° (about 30 minutes).  And let me know what you think!




Mini Eggplant Rollatini Bites: CSA recipe for mid summer

If you are into buying produce that is in season or if you're part of a local CSA you probably notice that now is the time for eggplant in the northeastern states.  I love eggplant so much and would eat it every day if I could.  Luckily, right now I can.  So I do.  A lot.

This year, I got a few of those skinny Chinese eggplants in my share, and didn't know what to do with them.  I looked up some recipes but none of them were exactly what I wanted.  But then my husband said, "Why don't you fry them up like you would regular eggplant and use them as dippers?"  That sounded absolutely perfect.  But of course, I had to take it a step further and make them even prettier.  So I came up with these little Eggplant Rollatini bites that I think would be absolutely perfect for your next get together with friends!   Mini eggplant

Eggplant Rollatini Bites

  • 6 skinny Chinese eggplants cut into thin rounds (about 1/4 inch)
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs- beaten
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs places in a large sealable plastic bag
  • 1 quart frying oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2- 1 cup your favorite marinara sauce
  • 10 basil leaves

Prepare your eggplant by salting the rounds generously and letting them sit for about 1/2 hour until the moisture is pulled to the top.  Rinse off the salt and pat the eggplant dry between paper towels giving them a good squeeze to get as much liquid out as possible.  Heat your oil in a deep pan to about 375­°.

Toss the rounds in the flour shaking off any excess. Dip into beaten eggs shaking off excess.  Then add the coated rounds to the bag of bread crumbs and shake them until coated.

Fry the rounds in batches in the oil until golden about 4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle.  Layer one round with a dollop of ricotta, another round, a drizzle of marinara, and a small basil leaf.  If your basil leaves are large, just cut them into slivers to use on each bite.

 I actually served these as a meal last night with some pasta and the leftover marinara sauce.  In fact, I think I might go have the leftovers for lunch right now... 

Super overstuffed peppers : CSA recipe of the week

I love naturally colorful food.  I try to incorporate as many different colors into each meal as possible.  I feel like every color is a different nutrient.  I don't know if that's accurate, but as far as I'm concerned it's enough to make me feel good.  The other night I made some super stuffed peppers using all the colorful veg I got from my CSA share.  In fact, they were so stuffed they overflowed.  So I'm calling them: Overstuffed peppers

Super Overstuffed Peppers


    • 1 large pot of boiling water
    • 4 green bell peppers- keep 3 whole and mince half of the 4th)
    • 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
    • 1/2 cup cooked rice
    • 1 clove garlic- minced
    • 1 small carrot- minced
    • 1 zucchini - minced
    • 1 small yellow squash- minced
    • 1/2 cup corn kernels
    • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup prepared salsa 


Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the 3 whole green peppers into the pot of boiling water to blanch them for about 4 minutes.  Remove them and let them cool slightly then cut them in half lengthwise removing the seeds and stems.  Place the halves cut side up in a deep baking dish.  In a large pan, Brown the meat along with the minced garlic.  Add all the remaining ingredients (except the salsa) to the pan and mix together.  Spoon the mixture into the pepper halves and top each with a bit of the salsa.  Bake for about 30 minutes and enjoy.

Sorry the picture isn't all that great, but we were hungry.  I wasn't waiting around to get any better shots!  Hope you like it.

Blueberry, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, and Carrot Confetti Cake with Lemon Glaze AKA: this week's CSA recipe

The last few days I have seen a picture floating around the interwebs of a gorgeous layer cake containing blueberries, zucchini, and butter cream frosting.  I found the recipe on  I wanted to try it, but when I went into the fridge I noticed that I had to move all the yellow squash and carrots out of the way to get to the zucchini and blueberries.  Instead of putting those extra veggies back in the fridge, I decided that incorporating them into my own version of a similar cake might not be a bad idea.  I loved the idea of all those natural colors mingling around together.  

I had the thought that all those veggies might make the cake a bit dense, so I figured instead of a layer cake, I'd make a bundt cake.  

And guess what?  I didn't have any butter to make buttercream frosting.  I know, I know.  You're SHOCKED to find out that I was out of an ingredient.  But I thought the frosting might be a little heavy anyway, so I opted to make a glaze instead.  

Well, ever since yesterday when I made my cake, I haven't eaten anything BUT that cake.  It's so soft and delicious I really don't want to share.  But I will share the recipe.  Here ya go. Confetti cake

Blueberry, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, and Carrot Confetti Cake

with Lemon Glaze

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • seeds from one vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 small zucchinis, 2 small yellow squashes, 1 carrot- grated or finely processed in your food processor.  Drain as much liquid out as possible.
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup blueberries

Lemon glaze

  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a bundt pan.  Lightly beat the eggs.  Add the oil, vanilla, and sugar.  Once mixed, stir in the drained zucchini, squash, and carrots.  In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder).  Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Once fully incorporated, fold in the blueberries.  Pour the batter into the bundt pan and let it bake in the 350° oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then carefully flip it onto a plate.  Let it cool for about 1/2 hour.  Make your glaze by mixing the confectioner's sugar with the lemon juice and drizzle it over the top of the cake.  Voila! Delicious.  Confetti cake 1

Now, I don't like "sneaking" vegetables in anything.  I normally like to be straightforward about the ingredients I'm using in anything I make.  But I know that it might be easier to get a picky eater to eat cake laced with vegetables if they don't know they are there.  If you want to try this cake with your kids, I suggest maybe peeling a bit of the squash skin off and grinding the veg up as small as possible and to lessen the veggie taste a bit.  Because while it is a very slight taste, you can taste the vegetables a bit.  I personally love that flavor, and hope you will give it a try! IMG_6630

CSA recipe for mid-summer: Cornish Pasties

Growing up in Wharton, NJ, we had the best little locally known shop called Rocky's where you could get these awesome little meat and potato filled pies called pasties (pronounced "pass-tees", not "paste-ees").  Rocky's is still there, but I'm not.  Even though my mom sometimes still brings me a pasty or two when she visits, I find myself craving them more often.  I love their flaky exterior and slightly peppery taste once you get to the insides.  So I came up with my own south Jersey version using turnips I got from my CSA last week.  They are pretty easy to make and so tasty.  I love them with some ketchup and a side salad.  My version is a bit "rustic" and isn't very neat, but I sort of love that about them. Pasties

Cornish Pasties

  • 1 prepared recipe of pie crust large enough for 2-crust pie 
  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large potato chopped
  • 2 small turnips chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter divided into six pieces

Preheat oven to 400°.  Separate prepared pie crust into 6 equal pieces and roll into circles about 1/4 inch thick.  Stir together ground beef, onion, potatoes, turnips, salt and pepper in a bowl.  I use my hands to make sure everything is equally distributed.  Divide the mixture between each circle of pie crust and fold each over to form a small half circle pocket.  Seal the edges of each little pasty and place them on a cookie sheet.  Make a small slit on top of each and place a small piece of butter in each slit.  Bake at 400° for 50-60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let them sit for a few minutes to cool and then remove from the pan.  

They freeze very well, too!  Just wrap up the cooled pasties in foil and place in a bag in the freezer.  Reheat by placing the foil wrapped pasties in a 350° oven for about 20 minutes.


Super Simple Roasted Root Vegetables - CSA recipe for early summer

Seriously.  This is so easy and sooooo good.  I don't know what else to say.  Just try it.

Roasted root veg

Roasted Root Vegetables

  • 3 small beets
  • 1 large potato
  • 5 small carrots
  • 5 small turnips
  • 2 cloves unpeeled garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig sage- leaves separated
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt

 Preheat the oven to 400°.  Cut all vegetables except the garlic into pieces that are about the same size.  Place into a roasting pan along with the unpeeled garlic, rosemary, and sage.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  Toss to coat.  Roast for 45 minutes stirring the veg occasionally.



Garlic Scape Pesto Primavera - A CSA recipe for late spring/early summer

Have you ever woken up with a certain taste craving in the morning and then thought about it all day hoping that you have the ability to pull it off in a dinner recipe that night?  Me too.  And I am happy to say I think I pulled it off with this one.  

When I picked up my last CSA share, it consisted of more garlic scapes (not snakes, as my kids like to call them), radishes, turnips, lettuce, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, arugula, Chinese cabbage, herbs, flowers, and more peas.  I brought my mother-in-law with me this time to pick blueberries, too, which she promptly turned into the best blueberry pie in the world.

But that craving I had was for something garlicky, something vegetable-y, and it included pasta.  So I looked up how to make garlic scape pesto and found the perfect recipe from the Creekside Cook (although I used walnuts instead of pine nuts simply because that's what I had on hand) which I used to make this primavera pasta dish.  

It turned out absolutely PERFECT, in my opinion.  Hope you like it.

Garlic scape pesto

 Garlic Scape Pesto Primavera

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound thin spaghetti uncooked
  • 1/4 cup onion sliced thin
  • 1 each small zucchini, small yellow squash, large carrot all julienned
  • 1/2 cup fresh shucked peas (save the husks for a stir fry or other recipe)
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Scape Pesto (or regular pesto)
  • splash of whole milk
  • salt & pepper

Place butter and oil in a large deep pan and turn on medium.  Break spaghetti noodles in half and add them to the pan tossing to coat with butter and oil.  Let them get slightly toasted and then add all the vegetables.  Saute over medium high heat until the vegetables are softened.  Add ladles full of chicken broth, sitrring constantly like you would with risotto, allowing the noodles to absorb the liquid between each addition.  Stop adding liquid when the noodles are al dente. Remove from heat and stir in the pesto and a splash of milk and add salt & pepper to taste.

I served this to my kids with some crusty bread and they both said it was their favorite meal yet!  Score!

CSA recipe for late spring: Beef & vegetable lettuce cups with kohlrabi salad

So I joined a CSA this year through our local B&B Farms in Egg Harbor, NJ.  Last Wednesday was my first pick up ever and let me tell you something. I am in LOVE.  I can remember not even knowing what CSA stood for a couple years ago - it stands for Community Supported Agriculture-  and now it is my favorite thing in the world.  If you have the opportunity to become a part of a CSA and pick up fresh produce every week, I have two words for you: DO IT.

I picked up the most beautiful veg I have ever seen.  3 heads of lettuce, a bunch of beets, 2 heads of kohlrabi, a bunch of garlic scapes, a pint of arugula, 2 bunches of kale, and we picked 2 pints of snap peas ourselves.  I immediately started thinking of how to use these beauties.  The next night, we came up with some lettuce cups.  They were so good, I wanted to share the recipe in case you were looking for something to do with YOUR share this week. Lettuce cups


 Beef & Vegetable Lettuce Cups with Kohlrabi Salad

  • 1 head hohlrabi cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 1/2 carrots- 1 carrot cut into matchsticks, 1/2 carrot diced
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 lb ground beef (I used 85% lean)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • about 10 snap peas diced
  • 1 garlic scape diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 c soy sauce*
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey*
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • one head  lettuce, leaves separated
  • sesame seeds as garnish
  • *Make it Whole 30 compliant by using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and eliminating the honey

For the salad:

Toss the kohlrabi and carrot matchsticks (save diced carrot) in a bowl with the sugar and rice vinegar.  Set aside.

Cup filling:

Add the ground beef, garlic, onion, snap peas, garlic scape, diced carrot, and peppers to a medium high pan and cook until meat is brown.  If you're using a leaner beef, you might want to add a small bit of oil to the pan.  In a small bowl, mix together the soy, sriracha, honey and ginger.  Pour over meat mixture and heat until warm.  


To assemble the lettuce cups, place two leaves on a plate.  Add about 1/2 cup meat mixture and about 1/4 cup kohlrabi salad to the top.  Garnish with sesame seeds and YUM! Just pick them up like you would a taco.