Cookie Swap! Impress with These Monster Cookies!

Cookie Swap! Impress with These Monster Cookies!

It’s officially Cookie Swap season! Sarah W. is back with a fantastic recipe  for Monster Cookies! Gather your friends and family for a fun night filled with sweet eats. These giant treats are perfect for a cookie swap. I’m going to keep mine all to myself, though! Teach us how to cookie, Sarah!

Cookie Swap

Are you having a good holiday season? Did you get invited to a cookie swap and just throw your arms up in the air with a big dramatic sigh because making cookies is THE WORST? Well stop worrying, and step away from the bakery section of your grocery store (although cookies made by Grandma Grocery Store are always a good backup. I have taken them out of the plastic package and put them in my own Tupperware containers to claim ownership in the past, and I am NOT ashamed).

I love to bake, truly. Stealing a swipe of batter from the beater, the whole house smells good, getting creative with a recipe and tweaking it to make it special — these are all things I love about being in the kitchen. But my lack of patience ends at the oven. My favorite things to make are cakes, brownies, bars. I am willing to spend an hour mixing things together in the right order for the right amount of time, but once that’s done, I would like to put ONE thing in the oven and be DONE.

I discovered my “cookie fatigue” moment comes when the third batch hits the oven, so this recipe is great because using two large cookie sheets at a time, it made two quick batches for me. If you check your peanut butter and mix-ins, these are also gluten-free — there’s no flour!

These Monster Cookies will impress everyone at your holiday Cookie Swap! Give them a try!


Ingredients (I quartered this recipe so it fits in a stand mixer – you’re welcome!):

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ lb brown sugar Cookie Swap
  • 1 c white sugar
  • ¼ tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ lb butter (1 stick)
  • ¾ lb peanut butter (approximately 1 heaping cup)
  • 4 ½ c oatmeal
  • ½ bag chocolate chips
  • ½ bag M&Ms (I used a combination of peanut butter and regular M&Ms — use your favorites!)

Yields 20-25 cookies


Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Add the ingredients in order. I turned my mixer on after adding the peanut butter and mixed the ingredients well for a minute or so (Note: I made batches with both crunchy and creamy peanut butter, and the crunchy held the cookies together better.). Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl — this is a looser batter than standard cookie dough at this point.

Add the oatmeal, and make sure your mixer’s lid is locked down before you turn the mixer on. I swear these are called “Monster Cookies” because even with the lid locked, the machine bumps and moves like the dough’s trying to escape!

Add the chocolate chips and M&Ms after the oatmeal is thoroughly incorporated, and let your mixer run on low for a few minutes. Some of the M&Ms will break, and that’s ok.
Cookie Swap
Cookie Swap Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon (MONSTER cookies), space these about 6-8 per cookie sheet. The resulting cookies will be about the size of your hand. They don’t spread a great deal, so use the back of the scoop to press them down slightly. In this picture, the cookie on the bottom left is flattened “appropriately”, according to my husband, who made these with his mom every year growing up.

Bake for 12 minutes — no more, no less. Give them 2-5 minutes to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. My hand is in this picture to show the scale of these suckers.
Cookie Swap
These taste amazing warm, and are best served with a big glass of milk! Monster cookies are perfect to make with little kids because there are a lot of dry ingredients to dump in, the ice cream scoop is easier to manage than something small and fiddly, and they don’t have to be pretty. They might not be the prettiest cookies on the block, but they sure are some of the tastiest!

Holiday Recipes – Time to Party!

Holiday Recipes – Time to Party!

The holiday season is in full swing and that means it’s time for parties! We’ve got you covered with some great holiday recipes that will leave your guests merry and bright!

Whether you are planning a small cocktail affair or a full-fledged feast, we have holiday recipes to meet your needs.

Looking for a signature cocktail for your soiree? How about Pancake Shots or Boozy Apple Cider? Check out these and more here. holiday recipes

Did someone volunteer you to bring the cookies this year? Here is a customizable cookie dough recipe plus a special holiday recipe from Chef J’s family.

If you’re hosting the whole family for a special fancy dinner, try this amazing Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mac and Cheese.

holiday recipe

And stay tuned for next week’s post for more holiday recipes!

Wine Tasting Party Ideas – Plus Brussels Sprouts Salad

Wine Tasting Party Ideas – Plus Brussels Sprouts Salad

It’s always a good time for wine, right? Add a little wine tasting into your next party to spice things up a bit! Sarah Weber is back with more great party ideas! This time we’ll talk about incorporating a wine tasting into your next affair. Plus she shares a great Brussels Sprouts Salad recipe to nibble on between wines. So pour yourself a glass, sit back, and let Sarah inspire your next party!

Need to spruce up that dinner party or gathering with friends? Add a wine tasting! Friendly competition over who can guess the most varietals correctly adds fun to your usual gatherings, and you might discover a new must-have wine for your collection!

Here are some ideas for wine tasting games my friends and I have played.

There are several ways to structure a wine tasting — taste multiple wines from the same region or country, taste local wines if you have vineyards nearby, or taste only reds or whites. I live in an area with several local wineries, and it’s always fun to share new vintages and seasonal varietals, especially once the wineries close after the summer season and I can’t spend my nights there. One note about selecting wines for your tasting party — stick to wines that are similar on the dry-to-sweet spectrum, or serve them in order of dry to sweet. It’s very disconcerting to taste a fantastic sweet white wine, and then suddenly assault your taste-buds with a full-bodied red. Trust me.

Wine Tasting First off, drinkware! Each guest should have a wineglass easily distinguished from everyone else’s. This can easily be done with wine charms, patterned glasses, or decorated wineglasses. There is special paint designed to paint glass that you can pick up at a craft store, but I’ve also used puffy paint. Personalize your guests’ glasses to use as a party favor. As long as you’re not painting the inside of the glass, you’re safe. If you have a guest or two who are SERIOUSLY into wine and need a handicap, look for tinted wine glasses to try and even the playing field. I have read that it’s not recommended to use stemless wineglasses because the heat of your hand could affect the temperature or taste of the wine. Depending on how much of a wine enthusiast you are, take this rule into account. Personally, I like stemless glasses because I’m less likely to tip them over and spill red wine on my carpet.

So once you have drinkware and an idea of how to structure your tasting, what happens next? You need wine tasting games! A blind tasting is a fun way to try new wines without your perception being affected by the label or varietal of wine you’re trying. If you don’t usually like merlots, you might be surprised to find you actually enjoy merlot when you haven’t seen the bottle first. Wines can be poured by a third party in another room (give a designated driver, non-drinking, or non-wine drinking friend a job so they don’t feel left out) and placed on numbered trays, or bottles can be placed in numbered paper bags for people to serve themselves.

Wine Tasting

See which of your guests can correctly identify the most wines in your tasting. Another fun twist is to check out the tasting notes most wines have printed on the bottle. If your red wine claims to have notes of cherry, for example, have fresh or dried cherries on hand (or a cherry dessert). Sample the tasting note foods while tasting your wine to see how it changes the way the wine tastes. Fun wine tasting fact? If you’ve ever heard someone comment that a wine has “legs” and want to know what that’s about, tilt your wineglass. When you straighten it, you might see a clear, blurry trail of wine that is sticking to the side of your glass, running down slowly like rain down a windowpane. Those are “legs” and refer to the alcohol content of your wine.

And if you need a side dish to nibble between wine tastings? I have just the thing. I modified this recipe by using almonds instead of walnuts and adding bacon. This is totally better the second day, so feel free to make this the night before, and make extra!

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon

Ingredients: Wine Tasting

2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
½ cup Almonds
1 cup Pecorino, grated or crumbled
1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pound bacon

-First, preheat your oven to make your bacon and toast your almonds (if they’re raw like mine were). I laid out my bacon on a baking sheet while the oven preheated to 375°F. Eight minutes was a HAIR too long for my almonds, which got a little more brown than toasted, so keep an eye on those while you prep the next step. You want your bacon to come out a little more crispy than usual so it will hold up to the salad with its dressing.

Wine Tasting

-While your bacon and almonds are cooking, start your brussels sprouts. This is by far the most tedious part of prepping this salad, so put some music on and jam out while you’re doing this! Rinse and dry your sprouts, then trim the woody base/ends off. This will loosen up the outer leaves, which may have some stubborn dirt on them. Since we’re not cooking these, it’s important to get rid of any leaves that look battered or grimy. Once those have been stripped off, slice each baby cabbage as thinly as you can. The original recipe instructs you to separate each layer as you add them to your bowl, but if you throw them in as slices and occasionally fluff/smoosh them, I won’t tell anyone. Wine Tasting

-Grate your cheese. Feel free to add more or less to your taste- I added much more, being a fan of punch-you-in-the-mouth FLAVOR. Asiago would also make a good cheese for this salad if you can’t find pecorino, or if that’s more expensive than you’d prefer. Toss it in the bowl

-Once your almonds are cool, rough chop them. Toss them in the bowl

-Once your bacon is cool, towel it off with paper towels to help absorb the grease, then rough chop it. Toss it in the bowl.

-Finally, we’ll make the dressing. Squeeze some Wine Tasting mustard into a large, empty bowl. Add lemon juice and whisk them together. While whisking with one hand, pour a slow stream of olive oil into your bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

-Pour your dressing over your salad, and toss it together. If it doesn’t seem like enough dressing, whisk some more together and pour it over. This salad is rather thirsty, and likes to absorb dressing, but don’t be afraid to make too little the first time. You can always mix up more and add it. Now toss this all gently together, and put in the fridge overnight.


Printer friendly recipe: Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon

Friendship Week – Transform Dinner Parties into Brunch Parties

Friendship Week – Transform Dinner Parties into Brunch Parties

 In honor of Friendship Week, we have my friend Sarah Weber here as a guest blogger to talk to us about throwing parties! Sarah and her book club friends come up with some really clever themes and the photos are always inspiring! This week Sarah will be sharing an awesome brunch party with some great ideas to spice up your next get-together. We can always use more ideas for feeding friendships. Take it away, Sarah!

Transform Dinner Parties into Brunch Parties

by Sarah Weber

Dinner parties are one of my favorite reasons for existing. They’re a great excuse to drink copious amounts of wine, build up friendships, and taste the kind of food that’s too much trouble to make for myself on a regular basis.That being said… when you’re having and attending the same dinner party over and over, things get a little stale. Enter brunch.

A themed brunch party is a great way to strengthen friendships and let everyone show off their creativity!


I have a wonderful group of friends who get together friendship every month or so for a fancy dinner party — we formed a book club. So we decide on a book, read the book, and bring food and drink related to or themed around the book we read. We’ve been doing this for about a year, and those parties are among my favorite memories with friends.

My good friend Amy is a high school English teacher who blogs over at The Wordy Teacher. She hosted our most recent party. We read a book called Wonder by R.J. Palacio,which her entire school is reading as a One School One Book project. The book itself, I would highly recommend — it’s a quick read, and has overarching themes of “Be a little kinder than you need to be” and “Everyone deserves a standing ovation,” which I think are great principles to live by whether you’re a high school student or an adult.



We were all feeling a little bit of the dinner party blues, so decided to mix it up by making our party a brunch. We had mimosas spiked liberally with peach-mango juice, which is a great twist.


Our kind hostess made each of us coasters featuring friendship our own faces drawn in the style of the book’s artwork. Cute favors are a great way to make a party more interesting and personal. Coasters are easy to make cheaply, too. Pick up tiles at the hardware store along with some felt to line the bottoms, and then decorate with scrapbook paper, paint, printed photos, whatever you fancy. Don’t forget to seal them (most hardware stores also carry spray sealant) to make them waterproof.

Amy made the most adorable mini quiches using a cupcake pan and Wonder-ful blue lemonade, a friend made cupcakes decorated with elements from the book art, and I made one of my favorite easy recipes to date — a sparkling champagne jello mold studded with fresh raspberries. Isn’t friendship great? friendship

Sparkling Jello Mold

Recipe slightly modified from seriouseats.

  • 3 TBS (3 envelopes) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1 cup cold white cranberry juice
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cold champagne (I used pink champagne — it turned out a pretty pale pinkish color)
  • 6 oz. (one little clamshell) fresh raspberries

Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice in a large bowl and let stand until gelatin is hydrated, about 1 minute. Use a slightly bigger bowl than you think you’ll need if you’ve never bloomed gelatin before.

Add boiling water and stir until gelatin completely dissolves. Stir in the sugar, then slowly stir in champagne. Carefully skim any foam off the top with a large spoon and discard.

Transfer to refrigerator. Chill until thickened but not set (the gelatin should still be jiggly, not entirely firm), 1 to 2 hours. I didn’t have two full hours because I am impatient, but after about 45 minutes (up to an hour and fifteen minutes), this is pseudo-set enough to try the next part.

Spoon in enough of the gelatin mixture to just cover the bottom of a 7 cup mold.

Add more than half of your raspberries, then pour in the rest of your jello mixture slowly. This will make the berries you’ve added move around a little bit. Add the rest of your raspberries to any spots that look sparse. Make sure your raspberries are completely submerged in jello.

Chill for several hours (overnight is good).

Before serving, dip the mold into warm water for no more than 10 seconds to help release. If you’re feeling brave, run warm water on the sides of the mold while you’re holding it, being careful not to get water in the jello mold.

Place a large serving platter upside-down over the mold. Holding both the mold and the platter firmly, invert. Gently shake mold to release Jell-O. Serve immediately.

This is a grown-up jello shot that you won’t even feel bad about bringing to a fancy grown-up party. It’s crisp and bubbly-tasting from the champagne, while the raspberries and cranberry juice give it a sweet and slightly tart flavor that is very refreshing in between mini quiches and hummus. The six of us easily ate an entire jello mold, with no leftovers.

Holiday Cocktails – Hot Chocolate, Pancake Shots, and More!

Holiday Cocktails – Hot Chocolate, Pancake Shots, and More!

Chef J wants you to make it through the holidays with a smile on your face! This week he shares some festive holiday cocktails that are sure to brighten up your party!

We’re on the home stretch toward the big holiday parties! Whether your celebrations are populated by hip friends in freshly pressed suits and little black dresses or extended family in terrible Christmas sweaters that aren’t being worn ironically, chances are the tie that binds is sweet, sweet liquor. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting the eggnog bright and early or waiting for that final champagne toast: booze is what makes the party world turn. Holiday cocktails bring people together, coax strangers to mingle, and make your aunt’s “famous” casserole almost edible! Anthropologists believe that civilization started because of the discovery and production of alcohol; so the least you can do is put up with grandma’s never ending interrogation about why you aren’t married yet for one night!

Here are a few recipes for fun holiday cocktails that will surely liven up your party.

If you want to be extra festive keep a supply of holiday themed sprinkles, maraschino cherries (they come in red and green), grenadine, food coloring, whipped cream, maybe some fresh mint leaves, fresh berries, etc. The holidays need to be decorated; there is no reason to exclude your drinks. Mix a teaspoon of grenadine in some ginger ale for the kids (or champagne for the old kids) with a green maraschino cherry for flare. Shake some chocolate sprinkles over your hot cocoa to show them that you care. And a spoonful of cream will float on the top of most heavy liqueurs to give your shots a festive, snow-capped look.

A little razzle-dazzle will go a long way to secure your place as the greatest holiday party host of all time!

Best Hot Chocolate Ever

  • 8 oz. milk chocolate
  • 4 oz. white chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, ground
  • 8 oz. cream
  • 1 gal milk
  • 4 oz. Frangelico (optional- can be added later)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate, sugar and cream together.
Heat the milk in a large pot. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the milk along with the hazelnuts; bring to a simmer.
Strain the hazelnuts out of the liquid and add the liqueur, nutmeg and salt.

Apple Cider

  • 64 oz. unfiltered apple juice
  • 32 oz. water
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • ½ cup honey
  • Brandy

Bring all ingredients, except Brandy, to a simmer. Let steep for at least 30 minutes (you can do this a day early and reheat to serve to get more spicy flavor). Serve hot. Season to taste with Brandy. Leave the Brandy on the side so the kids and drivers can have cider, too!

Pancake Shot

  • 1 ½ oz. maple whiskey
  • ½ oz. Irish Cream

Pour the whiskey into a shot glass.
Slowly pour the Irish Cream into it, the cream will sink.
Shoot it!

Christmas Mint Shot

  • ½ oz. Grenadine
  • 1 oz. Creme de Menthe

Pour the grenadine into a shot glass.
Carefully spoon the Creme de Menthe over the grenadine so that it floats on top.
(Peppermint Schnapps will work in place of the Creme de Menthe if you want clear/red instead of green/red).

Ginger Berry Tummy Tonic

  • 1 oz. Bourbon
  • ½ oz. Raspberry liqueur
  • 8 oz. Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic, “real” ginger ale)

Add the Bourbon and Raspberry Liqueur to a champagne flute or rocks glass.
Pour the Ginger Beer over it.
Serve chilled or over ice.
This one helps the ol’ tummy after a long night of stuffing your face with delicious holiday treats!

Do you have a favorite holiday cocktail? Share with us! No, really, share with us!
Printer friendly recipes: Holiday Cocktails

holiday cocktails

Holiday Cookies Make Everything Better!

Holiday Cookies Make Everything Better!

Chef J is back to talk about Holiday Cookies! This week he shares a basic cookie dough recipe that can be customized to your liking, plus an old family recipe for some awesome peanut butter cookies.

Remember when you were little and you would leave a plate of raw carrots and broccoli with a side of ranch dressing out for Santa Clause? No? Maybe it’s because that’s gross and nobody wants that stuff. Yet every year, at every party, there is a crudites platter; sitting quietly in the corner, tossing out awkward glances, hoping to catch someone’s eye like that weird uncle that no one remembers inviting. Let’s not waste vegetables: we want cookies! The holidays are about cramming as much sugary goodness into our face hole as possible! They’re also about family and tradition and love and stuff, but mostly cookies. Walk into any party with a tray full of chewy, gooey holiday cookies and you will be surrounded by friends. Cookies will dry the tears of your whiny niece, end the political rant of your cranky grandpa, and even soften the daggers of your judgmental aunt.

You can build them yourself with relatively little effort and you are limited only by your imagination! A great way to expand your cookie catalog without dirtying extra dishes is with a holiday cookie exchange- recruit a few friends and each pick a couple of kinds of cookies to make. Make a bit extra and trade them around. I recommend freezing the dough before baking. You can go from freezer to oven, ensuring that you are never more than 13 minutes away from freshly baked cookies. Freezing also gives you a better result: when making the dough, if you over mix you will end up with a tough cookie since the gluten gets all worked up. And if you don’t let it sit long enough you end up with crumbly cookies. By freezing (or even storing in the refrigerator), you allow the gluten to relax and the flour to absorb the liquid, giving you a perfectly chewy, moist treat! If you have room in your freezer, you can freeze individual portions of dough on a cookie sheet and then store in a zipper bag after they have frozen solid. Otherwise, roll up a log of cookie dough in parchment paper and just slice into pucks when you’re ready to bake.

Here is a basic dough recipe. You can add an extra 2 TBS of dry ingredients (cocoa powder, spices, etc.), and 2-3 cups of “name” ingredients, as in the word before Cookies (chocolate chips, pecans, dried cranberries, and so on…).

Basic Cookie Dough
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

  • 8 oz butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 oz maple syrup or honey
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 package instant pudding
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375.
Cream together the butter, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and salt.
Add the eggs one at a time.
Sift together the flour, pudding and soda and slowly add to the mixture.
Fold in the goodies of your choice.
Scoop onto a lined baking sheet and bake 11-13 minutes.
My favorite cookie of all time is the Peanut Blossom! My Swedish grandmother would make these every year and I would eat so many that I would have a tummy ache until New Year’s. My mom would try to hide them under the peas in the freezer, so I can tell you they are great frozen!

Peanut Blossoms
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz milk
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 1½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Sugar
  • A bunch of chocolate kisses, about 48 (plus more for munching!)

Preheat oven to 325.
Cream together the shortening, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar.
Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla.
Combine the flour, soda and salt, and slowly add to the peanut butter mixture.
Roll the dough into 1” balls, roll in sugar and gently press onto a lined baking sheet.
Bake about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and press a kiss into the warm cookie.

Printer friendly recipes: Basic Cookie Dough Recipe  Peanut Blossoms Recipe

Holiday Cookie 2

photo by Alicia Thompson at

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie: An Updated Classic

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie: An Updated Classic

Chef J has been making this delicious pecan pie for the family for almost a decade. It is his number one most requested holiday dish, and for good reason! Pecan pie is a classic staple on any Thanksgiving table, but this one will have your guests thinking, “well, maybe just one more slice!” You should probably make two, just to be safe. Take it away, Chef J!

The leaves are falling, the weather is cooling down, and the relatives will soon be arriving. With a house full of family, friends and lots of food it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. And if the in-laws are visiting it might be time to get into the holiday spirits… So here is a recipe that gives you a good excuse to open a bottle of bourbon. It’s a proven fact that pecan pie is the best pie ever, but like I always say: chocolate makes it better! The bourbon lends a nice, rich, caramel flavor to the filling (don’t worry, the alcohol will cook out), and adding booze instead of water will give your pecan pie a flakier crust since it evaporates much faster.

Your family will rave about this Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie and ask you to make to make it every year!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie pecan-pie-dough


  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 oz butter, cubed & cold
  • 2 oz shortening, cold
  • 2 oz cold bourbon

Preheat your oven to 350.
In a food processor combine dry ingredients.
Add butter and shortening, pulse for about 10 seconds.
Slowly add the bourbon while mixing until everything pulls together into a ball.
Roll out the dough and press evenly into a pie dish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Perforate the dough and bake for 15 minutes.

Filling: pecan-pie-filling

  • 8 oz dark chocolate
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 oz vanilla
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp corn starch

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler over low heat and cook until the chocolate has melted.
Pour filling over the pre-baked dough.
Bake until set, about 30 minutes. Give it a gentle shake after about 25 minutes; you don’t want too much jiggle!
Remove and let it cool completely before cutting. Top with more nuts and chocolate, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream!

Printer friendly recipe: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Recipe

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End of Summer Tradition – Fajitaladas

End of Summer Tradition – Fajitaladas

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to have a hard time readjusting when school starts back up. I’m not the most organized person in the world, so dealing with drop-off and pick-up, homework and school events, I tend to slip in the dinner-cooking department! Fortunately for me, I have an awesome end of summer tradition that helps get me through those first couple weeks of school. Every year before school starts, I get together with my sister (who is a teacher and understands this pain far better than I do!) and a few of our friends for a few hours and cook up a storm to stock our freezers.  Everyone brings the ingredients for her signature dish, and we all work together to make enough batches to take home one of everything. Every year I make the same dish, my signature “Fajitaladas,” which are a yummy, freezer-friendly combo of fajitas and enchiladas. By the end of our cooking party, we each have an eclectic mix of five or six dishes to choose from when we run into the inevitable question, “What’s for dinner?”

Besides making lots of awesome food, this end of summer tradition gives us a chance to get some much needed relaxation and socialization, before jumping into the chaos of the school year.

To successfully pull off one of these parties, it helps to have a friend with a big kitchen and lots of workspace. If that is not an option, split up the tasks so you can work in assembly-line style and utilize each area to the max. Those disposable foil pans from the grocery store work fine for freezer storage (make your life easier by getting the ones with the lids), or you can use your own bakeware.

Over the years I have brought home delicious lasagnas, casseroles, pulled pork, and lots of Fajitaladas! Here is the simple recipe for my end of summer tradition dish! This is just my basic recipe, but it can be easily customized to your liking if you have other options on hand.

Fajitaladas Recipe

Makes one batch, serves 6-8 end of summer tradition


  • 12 medium flour or 16 corn tortillas
  • 1-2 T olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. steak or chicken, cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • Fajita seasoning to taste
  • 1 16 oz. can enchilada sauce of your choice, or homemade
  • 2-3 cups Mexican style shredded cheese blend
  • Toppings of choice

If you will be eating right away, preheat your oven to 350 F.

In an oiled pan, sauté steak or chicken with fajita seasoning (taco seasoning works well, too) until browned on all sides. Add peppers and onions and sauté until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent. Set aside. If freezing, allow to cool completely before assembling. This can be done up to 3 days in advance.

Spread about ¼ cup of enchilada sauce in bottom of a 13” X 9” baking dish. This helps keep the tortillas from sticking to the pan. Lay out your tortillas on a flat surface and sprinkle a line of cheese down the middle of each. Divide veggie/meat mixture among tortillas on top of cheese. Roll each one up and place in baking dish, seam side down. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the top, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

If baking immediately, loosely cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Uncover and place under the broiler for about two minutes to get that bubbly cheese nice and golden brown! Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, black olives, salsa, onions…whatever you like!

If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and top with foil or the lid to your dish. When you are ready to cook, allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap (don’t forget this part – melted plastic wrap does not go well with these flavors!), put lid back on or cover with foil and follow baking instructions above, but allow to bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

So if you don’t have an end of summer tradition, try this one.  If you have a fun end of summer tradition to share with us, we would love to hear from you!

Printer Friendly Recipe: Fajitaladas Recipe