Friday, April 29, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas (with a Fast Homemade Enchilada Sauce)

My sister-in-law called yesterday asking for my standby, delicious chicken enchiladas recipe (I still need to share it with you all!) which started my craving for enchiladas. Unfortunately, I didn't have the ingredients to make my usuals (ie., enchilada sauce), but I did remember seeing a recipe in my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook for not only enchiladas, but a homemade enchilada sauce, which I did have all the ingredients on hand for.

The sauce took about 15 minutes to make and was as simple as sauteing some minced onions with salt in vegetable oil, then adding in chili powder, minced garlic, cumin, and a little sugar. I then added tomato sauce and water and allowed it to thicken a bit. 
If you're looking for a smooth, more authentic sauce, you can strain all the yummy bits out. I chose to leave them in until after I topped the enchiladas, and then removed them from my container of leftover sauce.

*Warm your corn tortillas prior to trying to work with them. Corn tortillas can rip or tear if used straight from the fridge without being warmed in the microwave or a warm pan. 

Lay a tortilla on your work surface and add 1/3 c. of the chicken/cheese/cilantro/green chilies/enchilada sauce mixture to the center of the tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla around the filling and place side by side in the pan.

Add additional sauce and cheese to the top of the enchilada, cover tightly with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. 

The results: The sauce was perfectly smoky and delicious and a fantastic compliment to the enchiladas. This recipe definitely ranks about as high as my standby enchiladas (although my husband would disagree), is better than any I've had in a restaurant, and will be ones that I absolutely make again.
*Note: I halved the enchilada recipe and used an 8"x8" pan. The original full recipe is listed below.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 3 c. shredded cooked chicken (approx. 1.5 pounds)
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups)
  • 2½ cups enchilada sauce (use recipe below or 20 oz. of canned sauce)
  • 1-2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 c. minced fresh cilantro
  • 12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges (for serving)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to four hundred degrees. Combine the chicken, 2 cups of the cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, the chiles and cilantro. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until warm & pliable, 40 to 60 seconds, or use your preferred warming method.

Spread the warm tortillas out over a clean counter. Place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla around the filling, then lay seam-side down in a 9×13″ baking dish lightly coated with vegetable oil spray. In order to fit 12 enchiladas into the baking dish, you will have to lay four of them on top of the others. Lightly spray the enchiladas with vegetable oil spray (which will help keep the tortillas from splitting after they have been baked.)

Pour 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the enchiladas to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar down the center of the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20-25 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheddar browns, about five minutes longer. Serve, passing the remaining 1 cup of sauce and the lime wedges separately. Other topping ideas include: sour cream, diced avocado, shredded lettuce, and Tabasco.

Fast Enchilada Sauce
Yields: About 2½ c.
Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder (if this amount scares you, start out with less and add it to taste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Pepper
Heat the oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir in the chili powder, garlic, cumin, and sugar. Cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh, the places we've gone! (Recipe not included)

From all appearances, we have either been eating out an exorbitant amount, not interested in making new foods, or have given up the blog entirely. While we have been eating out a little more than normal, the absence was in large part to allow me some time to prep for our spring break vacation! While this is predominately a food blog, I wanted to share some personal pics from our recent trip as a lot of you who regularly read this are friends and family.

Your regularly scheduled food pics and recipes will be appearing in the very near future! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Now on to our adventure... Guess where we went? Here's a hint:

We met with the big cheese himself. My girls are in the Minnie shirts (thanks Aunt Caren!), and the adorable boys are my nephews. My youngest nephew had a massive fear of characters, so he opted not to stand next to the giant-headed mouse.

 Being silly in Downtown Disney:
 

Do people go to Disney World and not ride Dumbo?! For the record, I was the dumbo on this ride. I was so concerned about trying to get the below picture, that I didn't realize that we actually controlled the ups and downs of the ride and was convinced ours was defective until almost the end. Not one of my brighter moments. The rest of the day went much smoother.

My youngest and I:

Grandpa and my youngest nephew skipping along together:

A couple of the grand kids cuddling up with Grandma and Grandpa in Tomorrowland:

 My oldest dancing with Chip:

And the youngest enjoys dancing with Grandpa:

 Trapped by the Evil Emperor Zurg:

Big hugs from Pooh Bear:

The two oldest cousins loved Space Mountain. As you can see, they gave it two thumbs way up. This was my 6-yr.-old daughter's first official roller coaster and I loved her fearlessness as she was whipped around in the dark. :)

Nap time for the youngest cousins:

What visit is complete without a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar? (Thanks Grandpa and Grandma!)

We bought the girls neon mouse ears and they were so cute in the dark:

The girls were so excited to see the castle lit in one of their favorite colors: PINK!

Taking a boat taxi to Epcot:

The girls were wearing shirts that said "Epcot" on them, so the Tinker Fairies pretended that the girls' names were Epcot 1 and Epcot 2. The girls thought it was hysterical.

My little viking:

A highlight of the trip was our lunch with the princesses / Mary Poppins. We didn't know which princesses would be at the lunch and were shocked when Mary Poppins came out! Both girls were super excited to see her and didn't seem to mind that she wasn't a true "princess".

I ♥ this picture:

My family ♥:

After Disney, we visited with friends who currently live in Florida. They are incredibly kind and hospitable, while also being terribly ornery and we love them for it. ;)

Then we headed to Bradenton to reconnect with Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Chris, Aunt B.J., and the cousins. The kiddos (and us!) enjoyed some delicious orange soft serve at a local market. 

Enjoying the beautiful waters in the Gulf of Mexico! What beach trip is complete without some boogie boarding?

And some cuddling with Daddy?

And the obligatory burying-Nate-in-the sand pic:

Enjoying a tasty pre-Easter ham dinner together in Chris and B.J.'s vacation house. The amount of wood paneling in the rental was impressive. :)

We also:

And said a big, fat "awww..." when we peeked at the boys and saw this:

On our way home, we made a stop in Atlanta and decided to climb the face of a mountain. My youngest whined her way onto Uncle Chris' back part of the way up (thank you Chris!!), but walked with Aunt B.J. the entire way down.

The vacation ended with my baby getting sick (5 times) in the last 60 miles, resulting in 6 additional stops and an extra hour added to the already 11-hour trip home. Poor baby. :( Fortunately we were able to contain it all and none got on the car we borrowed from my mom to make the trip! (Thanks for the car and hotel at Disney, Mom!)

Now that we're back and I've hit three grocery stores in the last two days, I have a feeling you'll be seeing a new recipe on here soon! Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Feta Chicken in Phyllo

After the birth of each of our girls, a number of our friends lovingly brought us over the most delicious dinners. I remember them fondly, and  have re-made several of them over the years. Paula (of Paula's Black Bean and Corn Salsa) brought us this Feta Chicken in Phyllo that was savory, crispy, and just perfect. It visually looked impressive, traveled well, and tasted great. But because the recipe used phyllo pastry sheets (which I had never used) and believing phyllo to be finicky, I was a bit intimidated to recreate Paula's delicious dinner.

Boy am I glad I finally got up the gumption to tackle phyllo. It was not nearly as scary as I had made it out to be. Following the recipe and keeping the sheets covered with saran wrap and a wet towel kept the phyllo from drying out and putting the dish together was as simple as sauteing a couple ingredients, brushing the pastry with butter and breadcrumbs (repeat), adding the filling, rolling and baking.

The phyllo sheets I purchased were actually much shorter than the recipe indicated, so I ended up making three Feta Chicken Rolls instead of the two the recipe states. Pictured above is about 1/3 of one of the rolls. Also, I strongly suggest that the white wine is not omitted or substituted. It adds a really nice flavor to the dish, and you can either drink or freeze the remainder. I vote for drink, but there is something to be said for having smaller quantities in the freezer when you need it.

If you have a fear of phyllo, this is a great recipe to conquer it with. You'll be rewarded with not only the confidence to tackle other phyllo dishes, but also a delicious dinner.

Feta Chicken in Phyllo
Yield: 6-8 main dish servings, or 12-16 appetizer servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about a handful)
  • 2 Tbsp. dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 c. cubed cooked chicken
  • 10 sheets (or 15 if the sheets are smaller than 16"x12") of phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2/3 c. dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in feta, wine, pepper, egg, and chicken.

Preheat oven to 375°. Place phyllo on flat surface. Trim to 16x12 inches. Working with 1 sheet at a time, keeping remaining covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. bread crumbs. Continue layering, brushing with butter, and sprinkling with bread crumbs, for a total of 5 layers.

Spread half (or a third, if using smaller sheets) of the chicken mixture in a 2" strip, along short side of phyllo, leaving 1/2" border. Roll up, jelly roll style, starting with chicken mixture edge. Repeat process with remaining ingredients to form a second (and third) roll(s).

Place seam side down, 2" apart, on large baking sheet. Brush with butter. With sharp knife, cut diagonally, halfway through phyllo layers, in 1" increments. Sprinkle with paprika and bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Slice along cuts and serve.

Source: Colorado Collage