Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Echilada Lesson/Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

(Sadly, no pictures today as I was in a rush to cook and we gobbled  them up too fast!)

As a born and bred Texas girl and lover of all things Tex-Mex, I take my enchiladas very seriously. I have a particular affection toward sour cream chicken enchiladas and those will be the subject of today's post.

But, before I get into the specifics of how to make authentic sour cream chicken enchiladas, we must first cover some enchilada basics.

1. Enchiladas are not - repeat after me - enchiladas are NOT made with flour tortillas. If you want to stuff, roll, and smother in sauce a flour tortilla, go right ahead. But, you will not be making an enchilada. You wll be making a burrito (if you fry it before adding the sauce, you will be making a chimichanga, whic I can also get behind.)

Enchiladas are made with CORN TORTILLAS. Fried, stuffed, rolled, and smothered corn tortillas.

Fried?!, you say? That brings me to point ...

2. To make the perfect enchilada, a short dip in the hot oil tub is a must. This will make them more pliable for rolling and adds a depth of flavor and texture.

3. Don't forget the sauce. No, not that sauce. You will smother your beautifully rolled enchilada in the good stuff in a minute. But, one last step before stuffing: the enchilada sauce dip. Just a simple red sauce will do. Once again, this helps with pliability and flavor.

Those three steps are basic to any enchilada you want to build.

Now, onto my glorious sour cream chicken enchiladas.

I have been trying for years to achieve the perfect SCCE. And I have done plentynof research . . . in the form of eating them at every Mexican food restaurant in sight. I have scoured recipes and played around in the kitchen. Each time I come away with a trick, a little closer to perfection.

Last night, I finally hot the jackpot. As close as I think I will ever come to restaurant quality.

So, a key steps:

1. Do not just use plain chicken. Even the most spectacular sauce will not make up for boring, unflavored chicken. And, don't worry if you have done this. So, have a few restaurants I have eaten at.

2. Just covering rolled tortillas in sour cream does not an enchilada sauce make. Just no.

3. A cream of any thing sauce is not a key ingredient. Now, I love a good cream of anything soup in a wide variety of casseoles. They do not have a place in enchilada sauces.

4. Please use monterrey jack cheese.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
12 enchiladas

Adapted from multiple recipes, taste tests, and trial amd error.
Some, of not most, ingredients are not exact. This is more method than recipe.

1 whole fryer chicken
1 can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 small can chopped green chilis
onion, chopped
red enchilada sauce
corn tortillas
vegetable, canola, or corn oil
olive oil
chicken broth
sour cream
ground cumin
verde enchilada sauce or salsa verde
one block monterrey jack cheese
colby or colby jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil your chicken. Nothing special. Just throw him in a pot, cover with water, and boil about an hour to an hour and a half, until done/falling off the bone. Remove from water and set aside until cool enough to handle.

While chicken cools, shred cheeses and saute onion (I used not quite half a small onion).

Once chicken is cooled, remove from boned and roughly shred into a bowl. Pour tomatoes over chicken, breaking them up some, then green chilis. Add onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Lightly fry tortillas in oil (do not use olive oil), flipping once, about 15 to 20 seconds each side. Tortillas are ready when they are pliable and slightly crispy on the edges. Place on paper towels to cool and soak up excess oil.

Pour red sauce into shallow dish.

Assemble enchiladas: dip tortilla in sauce (both sides), add a small sprinkle of monterrey jack cheese, spoon chicken into center, roll, and place seam side down in sprayed casserole dish. Once all tortillas are rolled, set aside and make sauce.

In a pan (I used the same one I sautéed the onions in), heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat until butter is melted. Whisk in flour unti l it is absorbed. Salt and pepper. Whisk in chicken broth,whisking until flour is dissolved and it begins to thicken. Whisk in sour cream to desired consistency. Add cumin and more salt/pepper to taste.

(I used approximately 3 tbsps oil/butter and flour, just over 2 cups broth, and about 8 oz. sour cream.)

Pour sauce over rolled tortillas and cover with foil. Bake at 400 until sauce begins to bubble (10 to 15 minutes). Cover with rest of monterrey jack cheese and just a sprinkle of colby or colby/jack. Bake for another 5 minutes or so, covered, until cheese melts.

Serve with more sour cream spooned on top.

Sissy's Variations:

Yep, variations to my own recipe.

An alternative to frying the totillas in oil is broiling them in rimmed cookie sheets sprayed generously with cooking spray. Downside is having to keep a close eye on them.

I use canned enchilada sauces because I have not yet perfected the red or verde sauce.

I like to shred cheese for recipes like this because it melts better.

I think cumin and the verde sauce are the key ingredients to this sauce, the things that put it over the edge.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Whole New Kind of Crack Cookie: The Smack Cookie

Name courtesy of The Husband.

I think I may have just made a cookie I like more than Crack Cookies. And, let's face it, that's saying a LOT!

Truth be told, they are Crack Cookies, but with a twist--Cinnamon. Everybody together now: mmmm.

I've been wanting to use cinnamon chips for a long time but no store I checked had them. Finally, about six months ago, I spotted them at the nearby Albertson's, but still didn't buy them. Then a month or so ago, a friend suggested Crack Cookies with cinnamon chips, so I figured it was about time.

Of course, I couldn't just replace the chocolate chips with cinnamon chips. I needed more. One of the things I love best about cinnamon is eating it with butter and sugar. An idea was born and I think it totally makes them.

Sissy's Variations:
  • Add cinnamon to taste (oh, come on, we all know you taste the cookie dough). I added it during the creaming of the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. I don't know if made a difference, but that's where I felt it needed to go.
  • Here's the real kicker:  melted butter with cinnamom and sugar brushed on top. I did this as soon as they were out of the oven, so for my cookies, that meant when they were still a little soft on top. I think this allowed the butter to seep in good, but then also gave a good almost glaze to the top.

I have to say, even The Husband asked for a second cookie right away. He said it kept getting better the more he chewed. Can't beat that. I told him he got to name them, thus, Smack Cookies--at least for now. I really hope they are as good next day, not hot out of the oven. Because hot out of the oven, these may be the best cookies ever!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan: 4/4 thru 4/10

A few days late and few dollars short. Ha! Wow, okay, the week's almost over, but I'm still going to post. Mainly because the carpet guy is here cleaning the carpets, which means I'm in the kitchen with the laptop, which means quick, easy posts.

This week's goal is really more healthy, well balanced meals. I do promise to get the last few recipes from last week up ASAP.

So, here it is:

Sunday:  Out
Monday:  Grilled tilapia, navy beans, Caesar salad sandwiches
Tuesday:  Ground Beef & Shredded Potato Casserole, side salad
Wednesday:  Chicken Stir Fry grilled tilapia, navy beans, Caesar salad
Thursday:  Easy Italian Chicken Legs Breasts (slow cooker), roasted potatoes, Italian-style green beans
Friday:  Honey Mustard Salmon, brown rice, spinach/peas
Saturday:  Out

I will definitely have recipes up for the casserole, the Italian chicken, and the salmon.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kelly's Famous Meatloaf (Slow Cooker) w/Cheddar Cheese and Macaroni

Today was work from home day, which means slow cooker dinner day. I love a good meat loaf. There are so many variations on the meat loaf, but I'm pretty much a plain Jane meat loaf kinda gal. Meat loaf is one dish it never would have occurred to me to cooking the slow cooker. One reason is that awesome little crust you get on the outer edges when cooked in the oven. But, this recipe from my Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook is too awesome not to eat over and over.

I decided to make mac 'n cheese with it instead of mashed potatoes, which I would normally make, since we just had potatoes with the CFS on Sunday. The recipe I like to use is one I saw Rachael Ray make years ago on her show. It is probably the best homemade mac 'n' cheese I've ever had--perfectly creamy and cheesy. It also travels well--I've taken it to potlucks with friends and work.

Kelly's Famous Meat Loaf
(Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook, 2006)

Prep: 9 minutes
Cook: 5 hours
Slow-Cooker Size: 3-quart oval

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground round
  • 1 (1-oz) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c. (4 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. prepared mustard

Combine ground round, soup mix, 1/2 cup ketchup, and next 6 ingredients; shape mixture into 8- x 4-inch loaf. Place loaf into lightly greased 3-quart oval slow cooker.
Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour. Reduce heat to LOW, and cook 3 hours. Remove ceramic insert from cooker, and carefully pour grease off meat loaf; return insert to cooker.
Stir together remaing 1/2 cup ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard in a small bowl; spread over meat loaf.
Cover and cook on LOW 1 more hour or until meat loaf registers 160. Remove meat loaf from ceramic insert, and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sissy's Variations:
I try to use ground turkey as much as possible in place of ground beef. We've gotten to where we don't really even notice the difference. But, I still have a small aversion to ground turkey in large "chunks"--burgers (I'm almost over this one), loaves, balls. So, for this dish, I mix half ground turkey with half VERY lean ground beef. This time I also went ahead and used a pound of each for a 2-lb loaf. I just adjusted the cooking time 30 minutes at each level and it turned out fine.
I also use low fat cheese because I have it on hand and it is just one more place to cut back fat and calories.
As I've mentioned before, I have an 8-quart slow cooker, but I don't find that to be a hinderence in this recipe. If anything, it might help in that it keeps too much of the grease from getting on too much of the loaf.

Cheddar Cheese and Macaroni
(Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals 2, 2003)

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked 8 minutes or al dente to package directions
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil or olive oil (once around the pan)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. whole or 2% milk
  • 3 c. shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (a couple pinches)
  • Salt, to taste

Heat a medium-size deep skillet over medium heat. Add oil and butter. When butter melts into oil, stir in flour. Gently cook, whisking flour and butter together, until smooth and flour has had a chance to cook, about 3 minutes. Slowly add milk while continuing to whisk. Gently bring milk to a bubble while stirring frequently. Allow the milk to thicken a bit, then stir in 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, a handfull at a time. Season sauce with nutmeg an cayenne. Taste and add a little salt, if you like. Add cooked pasta to the sauce and coat completely by turning over and over in the cheese sauce. Transfer to a baking dish, top with remaining cheese, and place under a hot broiler for a minute to brown the top.

Sissy's Variations:
This recipe is way too heavy and fattening for a normal, everyday meal, so I took some steps to lighten it up.
I used skim milk instead of whole. I actually meant to buy some fat free half and half, which I've used in another light mac 'n' cheese recipe, but I forgot, so I used what I had on hand. The trick to using skim milk in something like this is to heat it slower than you normally would. But, I had no problem with it thickening right up.
I also use Smart Balance Whipped as opposed to regular butter. Fewer calories, less fat, less sodium, and good things like Omega 3 added. And you still get the butter taste.
I prefer to use the Ronzoni pastas. I don't really like whole wheat so much, so this is a good compromise. It may still be higher in carbs, but it also has good things like more protein, more fiber, and I think the Omega 3 too.
And, like in the meat loaf, I used low fat cheese. I used a combo of pre-shredded medium cheddar and a block of Cabot reduced fat sharp. The cabot reduced fat is a bit more expensive than a generic cheese, but it's really good. I do use the white cheddar when I'm making this dish for a potluck, but the difference isn't THAT great.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Well, that's what it was called in MY house. That would be Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy. I'm a Texas girl through and through--I love warm Spring days, the Dallas Cowboys, and Chicken Fried Steak. Fortunately for me, my daddy happened to make a killer Chicken Fried Steak and he taught me how to make it as soon as I could stand on a chair at the kitchen counter and dredge the meat.

About 6 months ago, I had some time to make a good Saturday night dinner at home and the subject of Chicken Fried Steak came up. I realized that in almost 8 years, I had never made this dish for B. I am not really sure how that is even possible, but it was, so problem solved. That was dinner. I've made it a couple of other times and he says it's the best CFS anywhere. So, last weekend we were having dinner with our friend Scotty P. and we were all eating CFS at a local restaurant. We all agreed it was awesome, but B said mine was better. Now, I'm not bragging, but I had to agree. I have a theory that, like so many other dishes, CFS is better homemade. I don't know what it is--the batter is better, it isn't too crisp (yes, that can be a bad thing), you aren't only tasting the crust. I don't know; just better.

Anyway, we decided that Scott deserved dinner for mowing our lawn (B can't mow right now due to his condition) and that Chicken Fried Steak would the perfect payback--what can I say, I know what the guy likes!

What's going to follow isn't a traditional recipe as I sort of believe this dish is more of a method than a recipe. And, really, no one way is probably right. It's just what you like. Personally, I think there are a few things you absolutely HAVE to do/have to make it just right.

Chicken Fried Steak
  • Tenderized Steak--cubed, round, sirlion; doesn't matter as long as it is tenderized
  • Flour
  • Bread crumbs
  • Seasoning of choice
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Vegetable Oil

Prep batter and "assembly line" first. Place milk in first bowl/pie plate. Crack and slightly whisk eggs in second bowl/pie plate. Mix flour, bread crumbs, and seasonings in third bowl/pie plate. If meat is in large pieces, cut into serving size pieces and salt/pepper each side. Line a baking dish/cookie sheet with paper towels and heat over to warm/low. Put vegetable oil in a deep skillet and heat to high/medium high. While oil heats, batter your meat.

  1. Dredge through flour mixture.
  2. Dip in eggs.
  3. Dredge through flour again, covering competely.
  4. Dip in milk.
  5. Dredge through flour again, covering completely, then shaking off excess.
  6. Place on plate in single layer.

Place meat into hot oil one at a time, not overcrowding the skillet. Cook on first side until you the crust form on the sides. Turn. Cook again until crust forms. Turn again and cook on each side one more time to crisp up the crust. Transfer to towel lined baking dish and put in over to keep warm until ready to serve.

Sissy's Variation:
All amounts will vary based on the amount you are cooking. My seasonings of choice are salt, pepper, garlic powder--and two "secret" ingredients:  ground cumin and ground thyme. I wish I knew how long I cook the meat, but I usually just eyeball it. Next time, I'll time it, I promise

  • Pan drippings from steak
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Spices

Heat drippings in a separate skillet. Whisk in an equal amount of flour to the about of drippings. Season and continue to wisk for a few minutes until slightly thickened. Whisk in milk and cook, whisking constantly, until gravy boils and thickens. Remove from heat and taste to adjust seasoning.

Sissy's Variations:
All amounts are going to vary based on much you are making. I am so NOT an expert on gravy. It has taken me many years of many failures to "perfect" a white gravy. For me, the big thing was to transfer the dippings to a new skillet, something I didn't do for a long time. 

Of course, you can't have CFS&G without mashed potatoes. I won't bore you with a recipe for that. I also made some green beans loosely based on some green beans my boss makes for Thanksgiving at work every year. One large can of flat, Italian green beans sauted with chopped onions in olive oil and tablespoon of butter (Smart Balance) with garlic powder and pepper. Green beans are the perfect veggie to serve along side this meal.

Weekly Meal Plan (3/28 thru 4/4)

So, here it is once again. I did pretty good sticking the plan last week. Our goal this week is to stick to it even better. My goal this week is also to make some these "heavier" meals a big lighter. B had a big hand in choosing this week's menu items, though had it been up to him, we would be having ALL comfort food.


Sunday:  Chicken Fried Steak w/mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans
Monday:  Chicken Stir Fry w/brown rice
Tuesday:  Tilapia, navy beans, Caesar salad
Wednesday:  Meatloaf, mac 'n cheese, veggie/salad
Thursday:  Baked Potato Soup, BLT/BLA
Friday:  Chicken Pot Pie, salad
Saturday:  Open

In case you missed it, some of last week's meals have been added to the blog and check back on these post for links to the recipes.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lemony Chicken (Slow Cooker) w/Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Chicken is a dish that scares me a bit. I've made it twice before, one unimpressive and one awful. The first was just some Lemon Pepper seasoning, so kind of boring. The second was a recipe from my Biggest Loser cookbook that turned out WAY too lemony and just not good. So, once again, B was pretty skeptical, but he agreed to let me try it.

Lemony Chicken ("The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook; Margaret Kaeter, 2002)
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 c. sherry
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. crumbled dry oregano
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
4 to 6 quart slow cooker.

Wash the chicken breast; do no remove the bone or skin. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a medium-sized skillet. Saute the chicken until brown. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the chicken to the slow cooker. Add the sherry to the skillet and stir to lossed the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet (deglaze). Pour the sherry mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with the oregano and garlic. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Cut the lemon peel into 1/8-in. squares. Add the lemon juice and bits of lemon peel. Cook covered on low for 1 additional hour.

Roasted Potatoes:  Nothing special here. Just 2lbs. baby red potatoes cut into pieces. Toss with olive oil and whatever you like. This time I used garlic and onion powder and dried, minced onion and garlic. Put in sprayed baking dish. Cover and cook at 400 for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes until slightly crispy.

Sissy's Variation:
I do not ever cook with chicken breast on the bone or with the skin. So, I just used 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I always have on hand.
I did use one extra clove of garlic because I love it so.
I did not have any sherry on hand, so I used a bit of white wine that I had in the fridge.
Because I used BLSL chicken, the browing step was a bit different. I couldn't let it get too brown or it would have cooked all the way through, so I just barely let it get brown. The BLSL chicken also does not give out good "bits" for deglazing, but there were some and I did want to utelize the butter flavor, so I still did that step.
Once I poured the wine mixture over the chicken, I didn't think there was quite enough liquid in there to keep the chicken from drying out--even knowing I would add the lemon later. Two things made me add some additional liquid in the form of chicken broth:  I have a larger (8 qt.) slow cooker than the recipe called for and chicken not on the bone tends to be a bit drier, especially in the slow cooker.
We were unable to eat the chicken the night I made it, so I stuck it and the juice in the fridge for the next night. Even reheated, it was so good. B ate it on sandwiches. I ate it with the juice drizzled over and for dipping. Yum!