Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

The nice thing about this dish is I have made it a number of different ways and it has been a hit

spinach enchiladasImage by Paxsimius via Flickr

most every single time... yeah I bombed it once pretty bad. Had some suggest they would like red sauce more than green too, but the red is hard on my wife's digestion so I usually use green sauce.

I didn't use the enchilada sauce tonight, because I didn't have any.

This is tonight's version of the recipe. Remember work with what YOU have and be a little daring. keeping in mind the likes and dislikes of who your cooking for. I've made this dish with chicken, beef or even pork. Could probably be made with fish if that's what you have.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 08:  A culinary student ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

1.5 lb Chicken (thighs are often real cheap)
3 pc. Celery
2 Green Onions
1 clove Garlic
1 can Tomatoes
1 can Mushrooms
1 can Corn
1 can Spinach
Tortilla Chips
12 White Corn Tortillas
1lb Cheese
2 Jalapenos (to replace not having Green Enchilada Sauce and because spicy is good for us when we're sick)

HerbsImage by via Flickr

Spices I like to use, Salt, Cayenne, Sage, Garlic Salt, Parsley, Minced Onions, Ginger.

Jalapenos, boil in separate small sauce pan until a dark navy green then blend in a blender or food processor, I have a 2 cup little blender thing i bought for $3 at the Dollar store, till a sauce consistency. I add this like the seasoning only as much as you want to taste.

Start by getting your deepest pan on high heat with a little water in it, enough to more than cover your chicken, add a little salt if you want.
When the water starts boiling dump your chicken in.

Diced chicken, italian sausage, potatoesImage by PetLvr via Flickr

Cover with a lid and allow to cook until chicken is cooked all the way through. If using boned chicken you can tell it's done when it really starts to shrink down revealing the ends or joints of the bone.
Pull the chicken out of the water and reduce heat.
Debone the chicken with a fork and knife and then dice up the chicken into small cubes.
Dump the diced chicken back into the pan of water.

Mince your Garlic and add to the pan.
Finely chop the Green Onions and add.
Cut the Celery down the middle long ways and then chop and add.

Add the 1 can Tomatoes (I like the Mexican style Diced Tomatoes), 1 can Mushrooms, 1 can Corn, 1 can Spinach (great way to sneak spinach into diet when kids dont like it, although my 4 girls absolutely LOVE spinach fresh or canned)
Should be pretty watery still so add a few BIG handfuls of Tortilla Chips and cut up 6 of the White Corn Tortillas (lay them in one stack and cut into small strips one way and into 3rds the other way)mix them all in.
Shred 1/4lb cheese (cheese to your own taste) and mix that in as well.

You should have a colorful soupy mix about the consistancy of wet mashed potatoes.

Salmon casseroleImage via Wikipedia

Mix in YOUR favorite seasonings (I measure the amount of seasonings by flavor+mass+top surface=amount. So as to say if it is a real strong flavor like Ginger a mere dash, like unto a pinch, will do; if it is a flavor I want more of I will cover the whole top surface evenly with anywhere from a light dusting to a nice layer.)

Preheat the oven to 400 and prepare two 19in baking pans by greasing them up (I like to pour a little Virgin Olive Oil in then use a napkin to smooth all the way around including the sides)

Lightly smash Tortilla Chips, (Your favorite chips will do fine, I used Doritos once went over ok) and spread a small layer across the bottom of both pans.
Sprinkle a dash of the cheese over the layer of chips (if you want)
and maybe a layer of garlic salt or your favorite seasoning.

Now ladle your soupy mix over this layer carefully so the bottom layer stays even.

I spread a dash of cheese over the top and then I then take the other 6 tortillas cut the same, in thin short strips, and spread over the cheese and then I take the remainder of the cheese and spread over the tortillas.

After I put a dash of Garlic Salt, Parsley and Cayenne over the top they are ready for the oven.

Cook on the middle rack until cheese is melted and browning on the top.

Pull let cool for a few minutes and then serve over a bed of lettuce.

Breakfast Casserole: Hot & ReadyImage by Daniel Greene via Flickr

You can use Green Enchilada Sauce or Salsa to top it off.

If you went for the spicy side a little (Good for you!!!) you may consider serving Ice Cream for desert or YOUR favorite cold desert, to cool the mouth. My favorite is the cheapy Ice Cream Sandwiches.... mmMmm yumm satisfies me every time I eat two or three... hehe.

Well enjoy and if you have questions or would like to share your twist on this dish or maybe A dish you cook that my family would like leave a comment.

I love to cook love.

I was a cook for most the jobs I held for over 15 years. From the hometown steak house to the big chains. Every single meal I cooked, I cooked with the exact same ideal or thought driving me...
What if the person I was cooking this for was an unrewarded hero who was treating themselves to a simple delight to erase the pain of what they went through. Maybe it was a plumber who spent all day in the sewer of doom up to his arm pits in waste of the nastiest nature, trying to

The Purple HeartImage via Wikipedia

save some family or old ladies home. Maybe it was one of our brave heroes returning from the nightmare of war, or maybe it was one of those great heroes, a young person preparing to leave for college to be a part of the future.
No matter what kind of hero, small or great, I wanted this meal to be that wonderful reward or motivation they were looking for. I wanted them to bite into that steak and it be so good they forgot everything but the name of the steak.
My family deserves that same great reward. Besides, the whole reason I liked cooking was trying to be half the cook my dad was. Can't really blame me for wanting to inspire my children to never forget the joy of ones own kitchen and the love you can bring to a home with it, can you?

Till next time, Ben and family.
Reminding you to share your table with someone out of the ordinary as soon as you can.
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Egg in a Basket

Birthday BreakfastImage by matt.ohara via Flickr

Egg In A Basket

My daughters favorite breakfast is a so easy. We call it "Egg In A Basket".

I learned how to make this from a "hippie" family when I was just a wee little kid. They used all natural ingredients found right around the home they were building themselves.

It's such an easy recipe and a great way to make one egg go a little further.

Egg In A Basket

1 Egg
1 Slice Bread

Not to hard. I'm sure not the only one to blog it even.

Some Simple Cut Out Cookie CuttersImage via Wikipedia

I do have a few fun twists and things that you can try to vary the classic.
The first step, usually, is to cut a hole in the bread to frame in the egg we will be adding later.
My favorite is taking a Teddy Bear cookie cutter and cutting the center of the bread slice out with it.
Then I have a cool, interesting frame for the egg, that the kids like, but I also have an awesome little teddy bear piece of toast to serve along with breakfast.

The second step is greasing the bread or a pan. The easiest

Scott gets crazy in the kitchen...Image by ttocsland via Flickr

way is to just pour a little Olive Oil or a teaspoon of Butter in your favorite nonstick pan. As the pan heats up spread evenly in the area the bread will be.
Alternatives we enjoy on this vary greatly.
Lightly buttering either side of the bread before you cut it will make an even toasted bread and add to the flavor.
When we are feeling like a sweet breakfast we might butter the whole bread, before cutting a hole in it, and sprinkle a little powdered sugar on either side.
When we are feeling gourmet I will use an herbal steeped Olive Oil or simply sprinkle a few spices in the pan with the oil.

Thirdly, I like my eggs over-easy and this is something to consider when making Egg In A

square egg or toad in the hole - an egg fried ...Image via Wikipedia

Basket. If your making it for someone who does not like the yoke, you can scramble the egg before you pour it in.

Finally although we often eat this just plain as can be, There are times when we love to smother it in cheese or powdered sugar or even vegetables.

When your sick and all clogged up that spicy is great. Just be sure to blow your nose as much as you can. The point of eating the spicy is to loosen the phlegm up but if you swallow the sickness it has to pass through the whole body, you don't want that, you wanna get that sickness out as much, often and as fast as you can.

I Love cooking with Love.
Ben, reminding you to share your table with someone out of the ordinary as soon as you can.
Hope you have a great day!

Eggs, Toast, and BaconImage by Jezlyn26 via Flickr

20060521 egg in a hole 2Image by jspatchwork via Flickr

Eggs In A Hole In Some BreadImage by CJ Sorg via Flickr

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