January 10, 2019

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

How many of you still have your New Years resolutions in tact? I'm sure lots of you are working hard to exercise, eat well, cook more, and otherwise improve your life. If you've lost some motivation (or didn't make any resolutions in the first place and just want an easy dinner recipe), don't worry! There is plenty of time to jump back on it, and recipes like this make it easy. It's all the goodness of enchiladas with none of the finicky rolling and assembly, just a big pile of spicy chicken and veggies in a creamy sauce with spiced tortilla chips. All that lean meat, beans, and vegetables with just a sprinkle of cheese makes for a pretty healthy dinner, too.

I normally start this dish by seasoning and searing the chicken. Browning it adds so much flavor, plus it gives you even more flavorful fat to cook the rest of the dish in. If you don't want to get a pan dirty, you do have a few options. You could dice up the raw chicken, toss it with the seasoning blend, and cook the dish for a bit longer in the oven. However, I still like the shredded chicken better, so buying a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and pulling the meat off of there is one of my favorite shortcuts. You can even use the bones to make a tasty soup to warm you up more with all this cold weather.

One of the perks of searing off the chicken is it gives you an excuse to cook off the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. They'll continue cooking in the oven, but this way they'll soak up those delicious chicken juices, incorporate the yummy browned bits, and mellow out some of the sharpness. The other veggies are canned, so there's no need to cook off the tomatoes, beans, or green chiles. They all get combined with the chicken, some pre-made enchilada sauce, and some sour cream. I'm sure there are ways to make your own enchilada sauce, but the whole point of this dish is to make a quick and easy meal. Using a can of sauce cuts down on time and saves you the hassle of buying tons of other ingredients.

I also take the time to make my own tortilla strips. I bake them to save on time and calories and season them lightly with salt, pepper, and chili powder. The best shortcut here is to go ahead and buy some tortilla chips instead (and use up the rest with some homemade guac). They just get sprinkled in between layers of the chicken mixture, then it all gets covered in cheese and baked until golden, hot, and bubbly. I throw more tortilla strips on top for crunch since the ones inside tend to soak up all the juices from the casserole (it's a good thing, trust me). It's great to feed your whole family for dinner, eat as leftovers for lunch, and/or freeze for another night when you're tempted to break your resolutions.

8 Corn Tortillas
3 T Oil
1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1 1/2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Jalapeno, Minced (Optional)
1 10oz Can Red Enchilada Sauce
1 14.5oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes, Drained
1 4.5oz Can Diced Green Chiles
1 14oz Can Black Beans, Rinsed
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Shredded Cheese (Mexican Blend, Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, etc.)

Heat oven to 450F and line a large baking tray with parchment.

Cut the tortillas in half and then in strips. Combine the oil, 1 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper. Toss the tortilla strips in the oil and spread onto the prepared pan. Bake for 4-6 minutes or until golden and crispy, tossing occasionally.

Lower oven temperature to 375F and grease a 9x13" baking dish.

Combine the cumin, cayenne, remaining 1/2 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper. Pound the chicken to 1/2" thick if not thin enough already, then season generously with the spice mixture.

Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear the chicken until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside to cool, then dice or shred.

Cook the onion in the remaining fat over medium heat until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeƱo, if using, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside.

Combine the chicken, onions, enchilada sauce, diced tomatoes, green chiles, black beans, and sour cream. Spread half the chicken mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the tortilla strips, then cover with the remaining chicken mixture. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake for 12 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with the remaining tortilla strips.

Serves 6-8
Recipe Adapted from Anna Stockwell

December 30, 2018

Top Posts of 2018

2018 was full of great people, great adventures, and great food. Here are 30 great recipes to kick off 2019!

Top 10 Recipes of 2018:

10. Frozen Margarita Pie - A refreshing frozen lime filling in a salty pretzel crust with toasty meringue on top

9. Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread - Fresh bread packed with roasted garlic and plenty of cheese

8. Sesame Chicken Thighs - Sweet, sticky, and sesame-y chicken thighs with veggies underneath

7. Mustard-Crusted Salmon - Tender salmon topped with a mustard glaze and crispy breadcrumbs

6. Creole Grilled Pork with Corn & Okra - Spiced pork cutlets with savory corn and okra

5. Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes - Fudgy individual chocolate cakes

4. Chicken Marsala Pasta Bake - Chicken Marsala transformed into a cozy baked pasta dish

3. Mushroom Ravioli w/ Parmesan White Wine Sauce - Delicate, cheesy mushroom ravioli smothered in a buttery white wine pan sauce

2. Frozen Lemonade Tart - Lemonade in creamy pie form with a sweet, buttery crust

1. Chicken Tortilla Soup - A cozy, spicy broth packed with chicken and veggies plus crispy tortilla strips on top

10 Recipes That Need More Love:

10. Mixed Berry Lemon Scones - All the berries you can find loaded in a lemony scone with a gorgeous glaze

9. Thai Squash Soup - The weirdest combination of ingredients in a soup you'll ever try but it works

8. Cheesy Baked Pasta - Pasta tossed in a decadent cheese sauce with bacon and crispy breadcrumbs

7. Buttermilk Pie - A creamy pie that tastes like a sugar cookie (roasted fruit optional)

6. Cranberry Balsamic Chicken - Roasted chicken with a tart sauce perfect for winter

5. Seared Salmon w/ Corn Relish - Succulent salmon with fresh corn, tomatoes, and caramelized onions on top

4. Pink Lemonade Bars - Classic lemon bars updated with raspberries for a pop of pink

3. Blackberry Almond Coffee Cake - Tender crumb cake with fresh blackberries and a hint of almond

2. Peanut Butter Chocolate Shortbread - Peanut buttery goodness with plenty of chocolate added in

1. Bourbon Peach Pecan Galette - Bourbon-spiked peaches and pecans in a buttery pecan crust

Top 10 Recipes of All Time:

10. Cranberry Apple Muffins - Quick and easy muffins studded with seasonal apples and fresh cranberries

9. Brownies - Rich, fudgy brownies with added chocolate chips for good measure

8. Croque Poulet - My favorite sandwich: chicken, bacon, and cheesy goodness

7. Cucumber Salad - Crisp cucumbers marinated in a salty, tangy sauce with crunchy sesame seeds

6. Meatballs - Juicy, savory meatballs with a secret ingredient to make them absolutely perfect

5. Christmas Light Cookies - Perfect rolled sugar cookies frosted with the most festive of decorations

4. Spicy Beer Chili - A classic made better with beer

3. Chili - Everything spicy and savory all in one bowl

2. Guacamole - The perfect balance of chunky and smooth with a hint of heat and acidity

1. White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies - Still the most popular recipe on my blog! Buttery shortbread studded with cranberries and white chocolate

December 29, 2018

Quiche Lorraine

New Year's Eve is not my favorite holiday if I'm being honest. Everybody says they want to go out and do something fun when in reality most people probably just want to be at home in their pajamas. The food is always a bit of a letdown too, since it's mostly just appetizers. I need a real dinner, people! Also, if I am going to stay up all night and socialize I at least need a good breakfast to look forward to. There's always a decadent French Toast or some fresh biscuits, but quiche is great because it's filling, can be eaten at any time of day (*cough* if you're sleeping late from the night before), and kicks off the new year with the illusion of nutrition. Eggs are healthy right? You're just adding some bacon and cheese for flavor, the onion counts as a vegetable, and the crust just makes it easier to eat.

Quiche Lorraine is delicious because it takes all my favorite parts of quiche--the cheese and the bacon--and complements it with some onions and that's it. No other fussy veggies to cook off or fancy ingredients to buy. You could dress it up with shallots instead of onions or maybe a handful of fresh herbs, but if you really want something more hefty just go with another quiche recipe, like this one with mushrooms and caramelized onions.

The quiche crust is my basic savory all-butter pie crust recipe. Just combine flour with a pinch of salt and sugar, add some cold butter, and stir in enough water to make the dough come together. Keep it cold and work it as little as possible and you'll end up with a buttery, flaky crust to cradle your quiche. The quiche base consists of eggs and half and half plus a bit of salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. To make it quiche Lorraine, I throw in some bacon, diced onions cooked in those tasty bacon drippings, and grated cheese, preferably Swiss or Gruyere. If you make the pie dough the night before, you can make the filling and get it in the oven within 15 minutes in the morning. That means you can have a piping hot, fresh quiche ready to go an hour into the first morning of 2019, or you could have an overachieving early bird do it for you and sleep in (the best way to start the new year).

1 Recipe Pie Crust Dough
8 oz Bacon
1 Small Onion, Chopped
2 Sprigs Thyme
5 Eggs
1 Cup Half and Half
1 Cup Shredded Cheese (Preferably Swiss or Gruyere)
Pinch Nutmeg

Heat oven to 400F.

Roll the pie dough out to fit a 9" pie plate. Crimp the edges and chill until cold.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove and chop coarsely.

Drain all but 2T bacon drippings from the skillet. Add the onion and thyme and cook for 4 minutes until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the eggs, half and half, cheese, onions, and bacon together. Season with salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Pour into the prepared crust and bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden and just set, covering the edges as necessary to prevent over-browning.

Pie Crust:
Pulse 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add 1 stick of chilled and cubed butter (and 1/2 cup shredded hard cheese, if desired) and pulse until small lumps remain, then drizzle in cold water until it clumps together.
Pie Crust Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 6-8.