home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes

Simply & spicy

By Angie Sutton


Can summer really be almost over? The kids start school next week with college starting the week after. One of our readers suggested I share a few recipes that would be easy to prepare and freeze for her to send with her son as he heads off to a new apartment near Kansas State University. Spicy fare is always a hit, and these recipes can be doubled for a family meal with another batch to freeze in portions.

Top Tips for Successful Portion Freezing
⁃Cool your portions before freezing to avoid increasing the internal temperature of your freezer.
⁃Divide your dish into portions for quicker cooling.
⁃Once cooled, slip it into the freezer right away. If adding large amounts at one time, you may temporarily turn your freezer to a colder setting.
⁃Choose appropriate packaging and containers. Go with resealable plastic bags that are designed for freezing and double bag if necessary. Some plastic containers are designed for one-time use and do well if your portion will be stored for less than a few weeks.
⁃Allow for expansion when you fill your container. Leave room at the top to allow liquid to expand as it freezes.
⁃Label each container before filling it with the name of the dish, number of servings and date prepared.
⁃Avoid refreezing unthawed portions.

Giant Beef Empanadas

Definitely double this recipe to feed more than a couple people. I like to cut the pastry in half again, making four portions (be sure to seal the edges before baking).


1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped yellow onion
1 c. chopped green pepper
1 (14.5-ox) can whole tomatoes with liquid, cut up
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ssalt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 unbaked 9-inch pie pastries
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. tap water


1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and give it a quick spritz with non-stick cooking spray

2. In a skillet, over medium heat cook ground beef with onion and green pepper until beef is cooked through; drain if necessary.

3. Stir in tomatoes and seeasonings. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.

4. Place pie pastries on a baking sheet. Divide fillings; spoon half of the filling on one half of each pastry. Spread to 1-inch of edges. Fold other half of pastry over filling and press edges to seal. Beat egg yold with water and brush over pastry tops.

5. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges to serve. Garnish with toppings like sour cream, chopped fresh tomatoes, shredded cheese and lettuce.

Simple Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce


8 soft taco size flour tortillas
2 c. shredded Monterrey jack cheese, divided
2 c. shredded cooked chicken
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. sour cream
1 (4-oz.) can diced green chiles
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped, fresh cilantro for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Mix chicken with 1 cup of the cheese.

3. Divide chicken and cheese mixture evenly among the tortillas. Roll up and place seam side down in the prepared pan.

4. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, whisk until smooth. Continue cooking over medium heat until sauce is thick and bubbly.

5. Reduce heat and stir in sour cream and diced green chiles. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

6. Pour sauce evenly over the enchiladas. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

8. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

Apron Strings Tip:

Save time by using a cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. This recipe works well with canned red enchilada sauce as well.

Chorizo and Black Bean Taquitos


1 lb. ground chorizo
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 (14.5-oz.) can refried black beans
1 c. Monterrey jack cheese
12 soft taco size corn tortillas
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and give it a quick spritz with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook chorizo and onions in until chorizo is browned and cooked through. Stir in refried beans and then Monterrey jack cheese and cook until cheese melts. Remove from heat.

3. Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook tortillas one at a time until they are soft and pliable, about 30 seconds per side.

4. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center of each corn tortilla and roll up. Place the tortillas, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Repeat until ingredients are gone.

5. Bake taquitos for 10 minutes or until tortillas are crisp.

Chicken Taco Soup

This recipe makes about four servings and I usually double it so we can enjoy leftovers. I typically use frozen sweet corn and plan for a few additional minutes for it to thaw.


2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 (15.25-oz.) can of golden whole kernel sweet corn, drained
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
2 c. cooked shredded chicken
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
2 c. chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Toppings (tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado)


1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes; stirring occasionally.

2. Add black beans, stewed tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce, chicken and taco seasoning. Stir to combine. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook for 15 minutes.

3. Serve the soup with your choice of toppings.

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