Archive for March, 2009

Double Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

David and I got married last summer, and everyone threw us a couples’ shower last spring. The day was beautiful, and everyone had a good time. Not surprisingly, a huge portion of  the gifts were for the kitchen, and we still use them all the time. Even the Chop ‘N Scoops.

The shower was centered around the fact that Dave and I like to cook. One game involved having people identify different fresh herb plants, and another stocked our spice cabinet by having people bring the spice that represented them the most and then make their case (the winner was my good friend Becky from high school—for as long as I’ve known her, she’s been obsessed with the color orange, and for the spice game, she brought a jar of dried orange peel. Case closed!).

The other really cool thing that the bridesmaids did was to collect recipes from everybody and compile them into a cookbook. We look through it often, and I finally got the chance to try one last week: Chicken Enchiladas.

I wouldn’t call this dish authentic. It’s not meant to be. But between you and me, I’ve made more authentic enchiladas, and I’ve eaten authentic enchiladas, and I’m pretty sure I liked these the best. I liked them with chicken, but I bet they’d be just as good with ground beef, shredded beef, or even chorizo.


Double Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 lb cooked chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 16 ounce jar of salsa con queso
  • 16 ounce container sour cream (I used reduced fat; I usually do)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used Tillamook medium cheddar, but sharp cheddar or jack, or even a combination, would be good), divided.
  • 1 small can enchilada sauce, mild
  • 3 Tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 10-12 small corn tortillas
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the dish with a thin, even layer of enchilada sauce.
  2. In a large bowl, combine salsa con queso,  sour cream, and 1 & 1/2 cups shredded cheese. Add chicken and taco seasoning, and stir to combine.
  3. Fill each tortilla with a 1/4 cup of the chicken & cheese mixture, roll up, and place seam-side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat, until the dish is full of tortillas. You should have at least 1 cup of the chicken/cheese mixture leftover.
  4. Pour a layer of enchilada sauce over the tortillas in the baking dish. Carefully spread with the remaining chicken/cheese mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cup of shredded cheese and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until heated all the way through. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: I prefer the corningware dish for this casserole, instead of something like Pyrex, because the corningware doesn’t stick very much and is easier to clean. It’s also a little deeper.

I like the top layer of cheese to get crunchy at the edges, but if you don’t, just cover this with foil. Even though there’s sour cream in this dish, we used extra sour cream when we ate it. I enjoyed scooping up these enchiladas with thick, crunchy tortilla chips.

Make a Wordle

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Wordle is a website that designs word art based on lists of words, pieces of writing, or even a website or blog. Here’s mine:


I thought it was pretty cool, though at first glance, all I saw was “Another Chicken Parmesan dish.” We might eat too much chicken around here. 🙂


Monday, March 30th, 2009

I have some serious blogging to do. I’m sorry to disappear on everyone. I really intended to blog over the weekend, but just got distracted by my friends. In a good way. 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, my circle of friends from college all get together throughout the year to celebrate “Fake Holidays.” It’s really just a chance to spend the holidays together, without anyone having to balance their family obligations, etc. And it’s a blast! Traditionally, we celebrate Fake Thanksgiving together, as well as a combined Fake Christmas/Fake New Year’s. This weekend, for the first time, we celebrated Fake Easter.

The festivities included decorating Easter eggs, filling Easter baskets with toys and goodies for everyone, and of course, an Easter feast. We made brown-sugar glazed ham, my family’s cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, and dinner rolls. Oh, and some tasty deviled eggs that, just hours before, had been beautiful Easter eggs. I had dreams of making Easter cake pops to take with me, but that definitely didn’t happen, so dessert was basic frozen cheesecake.

The food was good, even though there was nothing earth-shattering, but it was more important to have everyone together again. Without a doubt, I would call the first annual Fake Easter a success. 🙂

P.S. I’ve got some good recipes coming up, including a new ice cream, a couple of homemade pasta dishes, and some super cheesy chicken enchildas. Stay tuned!

Photo of the Day!

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Quick Update:

My Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad was chosen as one of the photos of the day on Serious EatsPhotograzing site!


Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Herbed Chicken Couscous

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I make this chicken & couscous dish every so often. It’s actually very nearly the recipe on the back of the package of Near East Herbed Chicken couscous. There are a few reasons I like this dish: First, it’s very easy to make. Second, it’s very tasty, with bright, fresh flavors. Third, it’s  healthy (very little oil is used, and one chicken breast with a serving of couscous is less than 350 calories, combined).

I’ve been making this for awhile–it’s actually one of my dad’s favorites out of all the dishes I make.

Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Herbed Couscous

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon lemon juice, divided
  • 1 package Near East herbed chicken couscous

1. Bring 1 & 3/4 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. When the water comes to a boil, add the couscous, spice sack, 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and cover. Set aside.

2. Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Dredge in dried bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook, turning once, until the chicken is browned on all sides and heated through (about 9-11 minutes).

3. Mix white wine and lemon juice together in a small bowl. When chicken is cooked through, carefully add the wine/lemon mixture to the pan. Cook for 1-2 more minutes until liquid is gone.

4. Fluff couscous with a fork and serve with chicken.

Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I’m going to attempt to share a recipe for pasta salad with you. I say attempt, because pasta salad is so often a “little of this and a little of that” kind of dish. I’ve had requests for this pasta salad recipe before, and not been able to explain it or share it properly. This time, I tried to pay pretty close attention to exactly how I made it.

One of my favorite things about this dish was these new mini pepperoni (Hormel Pepperoni Minis) we found at Costco. They’re perfect for pasta salad! And probably English muffin pizzas, and regular salads. I’ve also used them in fake lasagna, and bubble-up pizza casserole. I think they’d go really well in those pepperoni pinwheels, too.

Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad
Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 pound small pasta (shells, bowties, corkscrews, etc)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, diced (I used these mini pepperoni)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water (or refrigerate) until pasta is cold all the way through.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic, olive oil, and Italian dressing.

3. Place pasta in a large bowl; drizzle with dressing mixture. Stir to combine.

4. Add basil, cheese, tomatoes, and pepperoni. Mix completely.

5. Serve chilled, with extra parmesan for garnish.

Chicken & Bacon Panini with Sun Dried Tomato Aioli

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Our first wedding or engagement gift of any kind was a panini press that David’s mom picked up for us. It’s cast-iron/enamel, similar to this one. We actually use it quite a bit. Often, our panini are just glorified grilled cheeses (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) but last time, I created something a little more special.

Chicken & Bacon Panini with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

For each sandwiches:

  • Two slices of good quality bread (We like this sourdough)
  • 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato aioli (recipe follows)
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced deli or leftover chicken breast
  • 2 slices crispy bacon
  • 1 ounce fontina cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil

1. Preheat a panini pan and press over medium high heat.

2. Spread one slice of bread with the aioli. Top with fontina cheese, followed by chicken, bacon, and cheddar cheese, in that order. Spread the remaining slice of bread with mustard to complete the sandwich. .

3. Brush the outside of the sandwich (both slices of bread) with extra virgin olive oil.

4. Place in panini pan and top with press. The sandwich is done when the bread is crisp all around and the cheese is melted all the way through. Slice in half and serve immediately.

Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
Makes enough for 4 sandwiches

  • 1/4 cup of mayonaise
  • 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (oil packed), drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Turn on your food processor and drop garlic cloves into the bowl through the feeding tube to chop. When the garlic has been minced, scrape down the sides andadd the other ingredients. Pulse until combined, about 10 times.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Spaghetti Carbonara? Yum!

I feel like I need to invoke Joey from “Friends” to really capture the greatness of this dish:

Noodles? Good.

Cheese? Good.

Bacon? Goo-od.

Carbonara’s a really fun dish to make. It looks impressive, it sounds impressive, but honestly, it couldn’t be easier. And it tastes delicious. This recipe for carbonara is by far my favorite out of the few that I’ve tried.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet

  • a box of dry spaghetti
  • pancetta or thick bacon
  • two raw eggs
  • freshly grated parmesan
  • freshly ground pepper
  • four cloves of garlic, peeled
  • white wine
  • roughly chopped parsley

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Cut the bacon or pancetta into small cubes. I use about 6 slices of bacon, but you can use less or more, depending on your tastes.

3. Add the cubes to a non-stick skillet with some olive oil and the garlic cloves. Turn on the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is golden brown  and then remove the garlic from the pan. Keep cooking the bacon/pancetta until it’s crispy and drippings are visable in the pan.  Once the bacon/pancetta is crisp, add one glass of white wine. It will bubble up and then begin to simmer. Continue heating this sauce over medium low heat until the liquid reduces and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

4. When the water begins to boil, salt the water then add the box of spaghetti noodles.

5. While the pasta boils and the sauce simmers, crack two eggs into a large bowl. Grate in at least one cup of Parmesan cheese (more if you like, I probably use closer to 1 1/2 cups). Grind black pepper over it all and then stir it together with a fork.

6. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and add it directly to the large bowl with the egg and cheese mixture.

7. Stir very quickly. It is important that you begin to stir immediately and continue stirring until the mix covers all of the noodles. The heat from the pasta is cooking the eggs for you, but if you don’t stir well, you could end up with something closer to scrambled eggs than pasta sauce. (As Alton Brown would say, “That’s not good eats.”)

8. When all of the noodles are coated with the egg/cheese mixture, add the bacon and sauce to the pasta and stir again. To finish, stir in the chopped parsley, and sprinkle a little more cheese on top.

Note: I like Spaghetti in this dish, but fettuccine or even orecchiette would work well. It just needs to be something that can be coated easily with the sauce mixture. Sometimes, we make this with grilled chicken–I just cook the chicken separately, then add to the bacon/wine mixture while the wine is reducing. If I add chicken, I usually use a little less bacon.

Ben & Jerry’s Orange Cream Dream Ice Cream

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Ice cream time again! I warmed up the ol’ ice cream maker again (cooled down?) and this time, made a tasty orange-vanilla concoction. Orange isn’t my favorite flavor of anything, but Leah and David were both hoping I’d make this one, and I gave in. I actually kind of liked it. It wasn’t my ultimate favorite, but it had a nice flavor.


Orange Cream Dream Ice Cream
Adapted from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

  • 2 large or extra large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Add the vanilla extract and orange juice concentrate and blend again.

2. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker. Add while the mixer is on the low setting, then turn it up to high.

When it’s done in the ice cream machine, the ice cream will be the consistency of soft-serve. Freeze for at least two hours for a solid, scoopable ice cream.

Note: To punch up the orange juice flavor (and tone down the vanilla) I added about 3-4 tablespoons of extra orange juce concentrate. Next time, I might halve the vanilla, too. I’m sure it’s perfect as written for all you dreamcicle lovers out there, but for me, I prefer the orange to the cream half of the equation.

Key Lime Coconut Cake

Friday, March 20th, 2009

David has two ultimate favorite desserts: Key Lime Pie and Coconut Cake.

So imagine my reaction when I saw this recipe for a Key Lime Coconut Cake on Smitten Kitchen…it went something like “I HAVE to make this for David. Now.”

So I did. The cake is very light and very sweet, and really marries the two flavor profiles nicely. I enjoyed the toasted coconut on top of the cake, and the tang from the key limes. It didn’t have that mouth-popping tart of a real key lime pie, of course, but there was plenty of lime flavor.

Smitten Kitchen‘s Key Lime Coconut Cake
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated Key lime zest
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice, divided
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter an 8- by 8-inch square or 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Toast coconut in a small baking pan in oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool. Leave oven on.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir together flour and 1/2 cup coconut (reserve remainder for topping). Stir together milk and 2 tablespoons lime juice. At low speed, mix flour and milk mixtures into egg mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour.

Spoon batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool to warm, then turn out of pan and discard parchment.

Whisk together confectioners sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and rum (if using) and pour over cake. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Note: If you don’t have self-rising flour (and I didn’t) you can follow Deb’s instructions to make your own. For every cup of flour, add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder, whisk together very well and sift the mixture. Measure your self-rising flour from there.

I’m sure I’ll end up making this again. David liked it a lot, and it was much, much easier than the insanely labor intensive Coconut Cake recipe I’ve made. Maybe a little more difficult than the Key Lime Pie recipe I use. Still, it was very good.