Monday, October 31, 2011

I Wanna Lotta Enchiladas

Oh, how I love enchiladas.  I can't get enough.  A few years ago, my husband challenged me to create the best cheese enchiladas ever.  I did that, along with a multitude of other equally righteous versions of enchiladas. 

Since we live in Texas, we do things a little differently.  Now, some of you traditionalists may turn your nose up at Tex-Mex, but it has earned its own status as a genuine bona fide cuisine.  It doesn't claim to be Mexican food.  It's Tex-Mex.  That's because Texan-Mexicans created their own distinctive style of cooking their food their way.  Reknowned Texas food writer Robb Walsh says it best in his book The Tex-Mex Cookbook: "it does not exist elsewhere; it was born on this soil."  "It is a cuisine without pretensions."  And after all, were it not for Texan-Mexicans, we would never have experienced the glorious wonderment of queso!  If you are a Mexican food purist, well, then I apologize if this subject isn't for you.

So back to the task at hand, my latest enchilada delight is Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas.  They are a creamy, cheesy, indulgent concoction that satisfies the most vicious of enchilada cravings.  A lot of enchilada afficionados will tell you to fry your tortillas in oil a few seconds before stuffing to soften them.  I have found that this renders enchiladas, especially cheese, rather greasy as leftovers.  After a few science experiments in the kitchen, I have discovered a better method that doesn't leave a grease puddle in your pan.  If you microwave tortillas in a very damp towel for a couple of minutes, you have soft, pliable tortillas ready to cook and eat with no grease residue left over.  

And, since cheese is one of the New Four Food Groups, there are three kinds in my enchiladas!  Now, these aren't traditional Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas.  Generally they are made with flour tortillas, but I prefer corn.  Also, I almost never use "cream of" soups, and a lot of recipes out there call for that.  This also isn't a traditional white sauce since I love to use cumin and chili powder a lot.  So mine is a brown color instead of white.

Get out your cheese grater and let's go!  

2 C cooked, shredded chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-3 T chopped jarred sliced jalapenos, to taste
2 T butter
Olive oil
4 oz can green chilies
1/4 C flour
2 C chicken stock
1 1/2 C sour cream
1 T chopped cilantro
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 C Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
1 C Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 C Cheddar cheese, shredded
About 12 to 15 corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and melt the butter.  Drizzle in some olive oil.  Cook the onions, jalapenos, and green chilies until tender.  Whisk in the flour.  Add in the chicken stock and whisk vigorously to prevent lumping.  Add in the sour cream, all the spices, salt & pepper to taste, and cilantro.   Cook and stir until the sauce is thick and bubbly.  Stir in the chicken and remove from the heat.   Microwave the tortillas in a damp towel until soft, about 1 minute, flip, then another minute.  

Ladle about half of the sauce in a 9 x 13 casserole pan. Sprinkle a bit of each cheese down the center of each tortilla and add in about two tablespoons of the chicken/sauce.  Roll them up and lay it in the sauce.  Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle the remaining cheese all over.  Bake 30-35 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Garnish with sliced green onion, if desired.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The New Four Food Groups, Part Deux (That's 2 in French)

So, you're probably thinking to yourself, what did the first post have to do with food groups and why are they new?  Well, I shall tell you now and only say the word "Nik".  (Oops....weird Monty Python reference.  Disregard that.)

During my incessant (daily) attempts at becoming a culinary guru, I have learned a great deal about myself, especially the things that I am exceptionally talented at and the things that I really bomb at, things that are extremely gratifying and deservingly humbling.  I'll give you the lowdown on my not-so-successful endeavors later.
But the most important things I have discovered on this epicurean journey I have embarked on is what I love to cook and what I crave:  bacon, butter, cheese, and garlic.  98 percent of all the food I cook includes at least one, if not all, of those four things.  As I said previously, I love bacon.  LOVE BACON!  So much so that I frequently get in trouble at work for nibbling on the bacon cooked solely for the sandwiches during lunch service (not for my sole habitual consumption).  I've actually had my hand slapped as I reached for the crispy, salty, decadently smoky treat that bacon is.  I have often wondered if there is the existence of Bacon Lovers Anonymous or if maybe I need to be the pioneer spearheading a support group for fellow bacon lovers like me.  (Are there any of you out there willing to admit this?  Let me know...we'll chat.)

No more digressions...back to the title.  I love cooking for people, especially grateful eaters, and I take great pleasure in cooking for a crowd.  At a party we once had where I made a ridiculous multitude of party food (that's kid-speak for appetizers), someone asked me if I always cook with bacon and cheese.  My quickwitted response was, "Why, yes, and butter and garlic too; in fact, those are the new four food groups!"  Henceforth, I live and die by that thought process in cooking.  Okay, I really only live by it and my family thanks me for it.  (Our cardiovascular systems may object, but the objections must be at the pitch of a dog whistle since I can't hear it).

In conclusion (sounds like a closing argument in court), these incongruent ramblings in my overactive brain are what led me to where I am today.  I'm not a fancfied chef or an esteemed restauratuer, but I am a dedicated wife, mother, cook, and a huge fan of food!  (Did I mention I love bacon?  Guess that's becoming redundant.)

Oh, and in post-conclusion (can I do that?  Oh, yeah, it's my post!  I can do what I want), you probably want to know if I'm going to share recipes or cook anything or have any plausible advice to give you.  Who knows!  I may just endlessly chatter pointless meandering thoughts flowing through my overcrowded brain.  Just kidding.  Actually, I will do all of those things and more!  I am a newbie to this whole blogger thing, but I have a lot to say before I die.  Hopefully you aren't bored before I get to something you want to hear!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The New Four Food Groups

So you're probably perplexed by the title, and you're probably skeptical about me and why you should waste your time on my meandering thoughts.  Hopefully I can pique your interest with a little random musings direct to you from my of charge.  (I will further explain the title as it's not really time to divulge how I've come to be who I am present day.)

You see, the path of my culinary life has really been a product of boredom.  About seven years ago, I discovered Food Network!  Yes, I said Food Network.  What a fabulous invention that taps in to the forever hungry, tasty-craving creatures we are!  On a cold, dreary day, on a Saturday, (yes, I live in Texas and, yes, it's cold to us) dedicated to being "one" with the couch, I stumbled on this station via channel surfing.  Prior to this eventful day, I was convinced that my calling was to redesign a room of mine and a neighbor's with a budget of $1,000 a la Trading Spaces hosted by Paige Davis.  Since that never panned out (don't know why, although I never even tried to enter or send a submission), I concentrated on epicurean delights.

Although I probably had loads of laundry and dishes and kids' homework and blah, blah, blah to do, I sat there enthralled by the wonder of culinary delights.  I saw attractive "chefs" working magic with everyday meats and veggies and sauces and one-pot wonders.  Of course, I was a Better Homes & Gardens checkered cookbook afficionado and Hamburger Helper Hero and Rocking Taco Gourmet.  But on this winter day borne of boredom, I decided to become a gourmet genius.

So how do you take on this daunting task of becoming a culinary wizard?  Glad you asked.  Obviously I am new to blogging and the whole concept of sharing my thoughts with the world.  But I know two things:  I like to talk (a lot), and I love to cook.  Even if I encourage one single soul to be inspired by the things I've learned and have to offer, I've made some sort of impact on the world.

So, without further ado, here I am in all my humble glory.  Over the course of this blog (which may be a week or five years, who knows), I hope I can brighten your day, even if only slightly, with my random passing thoughts and maybe, if we're all lucky, I can share some experience with you, even if that experience is glory through failure!


PS...My first insight into who I am....I LOVE BACON!!!!!