I love cooking. Just like crafting, I find it incredibly satisfying to put time into making something that is produced by you, and you alone. There was a period of time not too long ago when I seriously considered whether I should pursue a career in the food world. Then I realized it would never work – it takes me FOREVER to cook a meal! (Just ask my man…9 times out of 10 he will choose to make dinner over waiting for my next great recipe.)
So it isn’t in the cards for me; I won’t be the next great chef on the Food Network. This isn’t bad news as far as I’m concerned because I’m not sure I could handle the pressure of working in a kitchen anyway. Having worked as a waitress in my “youth” (using that term loosely), I got a glimpse of what it can be like in the kitchen. It seemed like a whole different world compared to the stress that comes with serving a packed dining area filled with (possibly rude and snarky) people. Plus, I am not really the kind of person who can throw a meal together with whatever ingredients are sitting in the fridge. I am amazed by the people who do that – what creativity! Instead, I follow recipes religiously, line by line. This probably explains why it takes me so long to make a meal…but I digress. Sometimes, when I am feeling really adventurous, I will put a twist on a recipe, and try something a little different – what a daredevil I can be.
In any case, I love food and cooking. It is safe to assume that this topic will pop up (frequently) as I continue my project – focusing my energy on the things I love while writing this blog. So without further delay, here is my first food post!
CHICKEN ENCHILADA CASSEROLE
I found this awesome recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. Only, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of using canned enchilada sauce (reading the ingredient label can be quite scary – if I can’t pronounce it, I’m usually a little freaked out). So I decided to get wild and find a homemade enchilada sauce, and I am so glad I did! Full credit goes to Skinny Mom and Emeril Lagasse for their delicious recipes.
Also want to give a shout out to Gustus Vitae Condiments, who sell amazing spice mixes and gourmet salts. Their Taste of the Southwest spice mix is AMAZING and pretty much got me on my tex-mex cooking craze. This particular spice mix served as the base for the chicken and it added this extra layer of yummy goodness I wouldn’t have gotten if I’d just roasted the chicken with salt & pepper.
1 to 1.5 lbs (0.45 to 0.65 kg) cooked chicken, shredded*
*Here’s what I’m saying: You can buy one of those precooked rotisserie chickens, and just shred it up for this dish. Or, you can use leftover chicken from your BBQ last night. Or, you can buy uncooked chicken breasts and roast them in the oven. OR, you can take it to the next level and roast them with the best spice blend you can procure (see above). Not only will it taste SO good, you can also make the enchilada sauce AND prep all the other ingredients while the chicken cooks. Just saying, it is super easy:
- Set an oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat and preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Salt all sides of the chicken and season generously with Gustus Vitae’s Taste of the Southwest.
- Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and rub it in with the spices so the chicken is well coated. (Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after handling the raw chicken!)
- Pan fry the chicken for 3 minutes on one side, and 3 minutes on the other side.
- Put the entire frying pan in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked. (If you have a meat thermometer, the chicken should be cooked to 160°F.)
- Remove from the oven, cover with tin foil, and let it chill for a bit, while you prepare the rest of the meal.
1 can of corn, rinsed**
1 can of black beans, rinsed**
1 cup of chopped onions**
**Note: The quantities listed for the corn, beans, and onion are actually double what you need! This is a clever tip from the original recipe – just freeze half of the mixture for the next time you make this recipe, or for another dish (like a salad or salsa or chili). I had a little baggie in the freezer from the last time I made this recipe:
1 1/2 cups of cheese, grated (I love marble cheese for a dish like this, but use whatever satisfies your cheese need!)
Sour cream & cilantro, for topping
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of flour
1/4 cup of chili powder (or a mix of chili powder & Taste of the Southwest)
2 cups of chicken stock
1 can of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of salt
If you’re roasting some amazing chicken, make the enchilada sauce while the chicken cooks.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil.
- Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly and smoothing with a wooden spoon.
- Add the chili powder and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and spices. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Season to taste and voila! SO GOOD.
Once the chicken has cooled down enough to handle, use a fork to gently shred the chicken, and get ready to assemble this glorious casserole!
- Set the oven to 350°F.
- Mix the corn, beans, and onions together in a bowl. Set half aside for freezing (or use your defrosted pack like me).
- Pour a thin layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Top with 2 tortillas.
- Add another thin layer of sauce, coating the tortillas.
- Evenly distribute the chicken on top of the tortillas.
- Spread the corn, bean, and onion mixture over the chicken.
- Add half of the cheese, layered evenly over the mixture.
- Top with the other 2 tortillas.
- Add another layer of enchilada sauce, and top with the rest of the cheese.
- Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
Serve with a generous drop of sour cream and lots of cilantro (if you’re into it – cilantro seems to be a polarizing herb, people either love it or hate it). Delicious!!!
***Last note: As I was eating this fantastic meal, I realized that last time I made it, I used a smaller baking dish. It tasted the same but next time I will remember to use the smaller one (11 x 8″) because the tortillas fit better in that dish.