Monday, November 26, 2012

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas & Red Rice

Dave has been hounding me to post about Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas for some time now. It is one of his very favorite main dishes. The first time we had this was with our friends the Sadlers. They made it for us when we came over for dinner one night when we were newly married.  It is a keeper.  I like it a lot, but I must say that men love this dish the most.  In fact, I once had a friend tell me (after I took a meal to their family when they had a baby) that he would have another child to get to have this meal brought to his house again.  I told him this was extreme, and that a new baby is not a prerequisite for me to make this meal.

That being said, I think it is a good main dish to take to friends who have a new baby (or other meal-bringing occasions).  I usually make a batch of homemade salsa, and some yummy dessert and have a fiesta-on-the-go!
The recipe is called Enchiladas… though I think of enchiladas as being corn tortillas and these are flour.  But maybe the “enchilda-ness” is the sauce that covers them. (That’s just an internal conflict I’ve had about this dish.) There are much more sophisticated enchilada recipes out there that you might choose, but this one is simple goodness.

However, you can use this recipe as a foundation and tweak as you like.  You can spice it up, if you like spicy, by adding peppers, hot sauce or spicy Rotel.  You can top with salsa verde, if you love verde.  Sprinkle with cilantro, or squeeze a lime on it, and get gourmet!  You can grill veggies to add inside or even beans. I know, I'm getting wild here!

I used to boil the chicken for the recipe, but a few years ago I started roasting it, thanks to Ina Garten teaching me about the glory of roasted chicken breasts.  It is so easy and so much more flavorful. For this recipe, I baste chicken breasts with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt, ground pepper and ground cumin.  If you are tight on time, you can use a Rotisserie Chicken OR if’s the week after Thanksgiving, and you have a surplus of turkey, you can use it!

4 chicken breasts
a little olive oil
coarse salt, ground pepper & cumin
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded mexican mixture cheese
1 can Rotel
8 oz. sour cream

Pat chicken breasts with paper towel.  Coat lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and cumin.  Bake at 375˚ until fully cooked.  Tear into bite sized pieces.  

Put cream of chicken soup, most of the cheese, Rotel and sour cream into a bowl, microwave for a couple of minutes to warm together.  

Spray glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Asher joined me on the "assembly line"

Assemble enchiladas by smearing on some filling, a sprinkle of chicken and then rolling up.  Place seam side-down in the baking dish.  

Continue until you have used up all of your chicken.  MAKE SURE YOU RESERVE SOME OF THE FILLING FOR THE TOP! (I made the mistake once of using it all up on the inside).  

Pour left over sauce over enchiladas and top with the little reserved cheese. 

Bake at 250˚ for 20-30 minutes until warm and bubbly. 

This Red Rice is my favorite choice for savory rice to serve with Mexican food.  I have tried many of the boxed rices labeled “Mexican Rice” or “Spanish Rice”, but am usually disappointed.  This was in Everyday Food magazine a couple of years ago and has been a favorite ever since.  It only requires a few ingredients and is a tasty addition to a meal.

Red Rice (from Everyday Foods)
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
coarse salt and ground pepper

In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown around edges, 6 minutes.  Add tomato paste and stir to combine.  Add rice, broth (or water), oregano, salt and pepper (to taste). Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and let rice sit, covered, 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve. 

"So, Dave, are you happy? Two years later and I finally posted your requested dish?" I asked him today.  He replied with, "YES! However, you might need some different photos, so we should make it again to get some better shots."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies and Gratitude

Thanksgiving is only a few days away!  
I love a holiday where we enjoy special food & express Gratitude. 

A favorite November treat of mine is Gingerbread cookies.  My mom often makes these in the shape of little pilgrims for Thanksgiving weekend. The cookie cutters she has are the plastic ones with the detailed indentions. They make really cute pilgrims. Since I don't have those cute pilgrim cutters, I like to make fall leaves.

I think these fall leaf cookies are so pretty and simple. When I was planning to make them this week,  my kids chimed in and begged to make “ginger people”.  I think they thought it wrong to make gingerbread cookies and not make people. So, we did both. I made leaves and acorns and they made people.  My children always add a new twist to experiences.  They pulled out all of the containers of sprinkles and colored sugars.   I tried to explain that these cut-out cookies aren't like sugar cookies, and the icing is just for piping, not for spreading.  I tried to explain that there would not be much for the sprinkles to adhere to.  But where there is a will (or a love for sprinkles), there is clearly a way.

I don’t know if you have ever made or used Royal Icing.  It is not like a yummy buttercream frosting.  It is smooth, thin and white.  It drys hard.  It’s pretty, useful and sweet,  but not delicious.  (Though Dave thinks the frosting adds to the yumminess of the cookies. He insists that they enhance not only the look, but the taste).

These are a nice cookie to have around during the holiday, for the kids to enjoy or the adults to nibble on, when not wanting to get out plates and forks for another slice of pie.  They also travel well, if you happen to be traveling.  

They can also provide an activity for young people to do, when they are bored, or want to help, but there are already too many cooks in the kitchen.  You can make the dough ahead, keep it cold, and then at set it up in another room (away from the kitchen choas) to create some cookie art. I did this a couple of different years with Dave's family during the holidays.  It felt like a better place for me to be than being in the way in the kitchen.  Kids from 2 to 32 seemed to enjoy the project.

Gingerbread Cookies 
(via my mom via Mabel Smith – many moons ago)

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. ginger
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

Mix together dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Stir in molasses.  Blend in dry ingredients.  Chill overnight.  Roll dough 1/8" thick – Cut out with cookie cutters.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets, with a little space between cookies.  Bake at 375 ˚ for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool.

Pipe designs with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

3 tablespoons Meringue Powder (Wilton Brand is sold at Craft stores in bakery supply section)
4 cups (about 1 lb.) powdered sugar
6 tablespoons warm water   (or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water)
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.

I wonder what is happening in YOUR kitchen this week.  Are you baking to take food somewhere?  Are people coming to your home? Are you in charge of the turkey, a side, a dessert?  My mom has begun to keep the Thanksgiving Meal document archived on her computer so that we can simply pull it up, tweak it, and sign up for who does what! YUM! 

If you are still looking for recipes for Thanksgiving meals, here a few I recommend. 
These are all previously posted, time-tested, yummy recipes!

Cranberry Salad, to CELEBRATE that cranberries are available now.

Special Pear Salad (if you have a smaller crowd)




and you can't go wrong with some

I hope you get to enjoy a good food with loved ones and maybe try a new recipe.

I wanted to share this powerful quote with you from Henri Nouwen (a favorite truth-teller in my life) about Gratitude that I am letting soak into my heart and mind this week:

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.
 As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. 
Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God. 
From the Daily Meditation by Henri Nouwen (Bread for the Journey)

Wishing you a grateful holiday.  I am thankful for YOU, friends!