Recipe: Easy Chicken Cassoulet

I apologize for taking so long to get this typed up, but things have been a bit chaotic in our apartment-life lately.  Nevertheless, here’s a very easy recipe to throw together if you’re looking for a comfort meal without a lot of excess fuss.  It’s one that you can work on pulling together and then pop into the oven to “tighten up”, so it comes out looking amazing… and isn’t that the best kind of recipe to have in your arsenal?SimpleChickenCassoulet

It starts with half a package of canadian bacon, diced into small even pieces. Saute these in a bit of olive oil until they’re crispy and then add your vegetables (I used a mixture of diced onion, celery, and carrots) to saute until they’re translucent and smell wonderful.

I love using boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe so there are no bones or excess fat from the skin to worry about, but if you prefer to use the other, feel free… it’s your dinner you’re making,  I seasoned each thigh with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence before putting the meat (seasoned side down) into the hot pan to sear.  Once the first side was seared nicely, I flipped the thighs over and seared them on the other side.  I wasn’t as patient as I should have been, so my “searing” didn’t look as golden as it could have, but I wasn’t too concerned this time.

Once the meat was seared on both sides, it was time to add liquid and beans.  For the liquid, I used a cup of one of my favorite white wines (James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay), but I’ve used a number of different white wines in this recipe from time to time.  Use what you like to drink and the recipe will come out just the way you like it.  I also added a cup of chicken broth and an extra chicken broth bouillon cube to deepen the flavor of the stock.   I also added two cans (with liquid) of white cannellini beans, but have used other beans when that’s what I’ve found in my cupboard.  If you have a preference, roll with that… it’s not a huge deal.

I brought the cassoulet up to a simmer and decided to stir in about a quarter cup of orzo pasta that I had in a baggie in the cupboard – I had no idea where I might use it otherwise, and this was a way to soak up some of the stock, if needed.  This is totally unnecessary, but it used up something I already had, without wasting it, so I was happy.

I popped the cassoulet into a 325 degree oven for about an hour and stirred it occasionally.  At some point, I took a potato masher and smashed some of the beans to thicken the stew, which gave it a lovely homey feel when dished out.  I may have cooked the cassoulet for another hour, but as time went on, I reduced the heat so nothing was going to burn.  The idea is to cook everything through until it’s falling apart and all the flavors combine.  I love cooking this way!

As I got ready to serve our dinner, I sliced a single ciabatta roll, sprayed each slice with cooking spray and sprinkled on some garlic salt to make easy garlic toasts to go with our meal.  5-7 minutes in the oven was all that they needed to get crispy and toasty.

I hope you’ll consider trying this recipe sometime on your own.  It’s so easy to swap out ingredients and make something entirely personalized… you’ll come up with a new “family favorite” in no time!

Recipe: Chicken Veggie Gris

Ok, I’ll admit that this is a strange name for a recipe, but at least it gives you an idea of what you’re getting… right?

Let me share a little background before launching into this recipe with you.

We recently relocated to a new state, in a new town, in a furnished corporate apartment.  Have you ever had to do this?  It’s sort of like cooking in “your own” kitchen, but it’s not.  The pots and pans are different… the utensils are unique (even though I *did* bring my own)… and even the cooking vessel (an electric stove instead of my beloved gas range) is different.  Challenges to be sure, but I was determined to make our transition to this new place as smooth as possible… which meant cooking dinner each night.  

Yesterday, our first weekday in our new apartment, brought on my first challenge.  I had to purchase *enough* food and seasonings without purchasing *too much* because, remember, this is only our temporary home.  I already have the necessary pots, pans, seasonings, etc to make the meals that I want to make… but they’re currently sitting in a Jessup, MD storage unit.  So, in the meantime, I’ll be doing my best to create delicious meals without purchasing too many items that will end up being duplicates if I don’t use them up before we move from our current residence.  I hope you find my journey to be interesting and maybe even a little helpful!

Dinner on Monday was a challenge.  I went to the local Walmart to pick up some things, but this particular store was rather sparse in selection, especially since it carried no fresh produce or proteins.  This is where I bought the kitty litter, toilet paper, skim milk, orange juice, spaghetti sauce, canned chicken, a loaf of bread, foil, and a large bag of individually packaged chips. While I could have stopped at the Fresh Market store a block from our apartment, I was on a particular mission to find something that would help me get groceries (and cat litter) from my car to our new home, so I was traveling around town with this goal in mind.  I eventually found a collapsible cart that will be perfect for my needs and darted into the closest grocery store to stock up on some fresh items.

Since this was my first venture out for supplies, I was trying to mentally flip through a number of meal options that could create the most amount of duplicate ingredients.  I ended up choosing two packages of ground turkey, two packages of chicken breasts (with three in each, which could yield three meals for the two of us), some broccoli slaw, a bag of onions, romaine (for my lunch salads),  a bag of onions, a small box of frozen meatballs, cooking spray, and spices (garlic salt, herbs de provence, dry mustard, italian seasonings, pepper, and Hungarian Paprika).  Using these basics, I decided to go with something very simple for dinner… and my Chicken Veggie Gris was born.ChickenVeggieGris

I started by seasoning two chicken breasts with garlic salt and herbs de provence.  Using the apartment’s skillet, I turned the electric burner to “8” and allowed the pan to heat.  Clearly, this is not the way to do things with an electric oven because when I added some margarine and a thinly sliced onion to the pan, there was entirely too much smoke in the apartment. I quickly turned down the heat and turned *on* the vent fan to keep from setting off the fire alarm so things calmed down a little.  NOTE: there was never any real danger, but it really did freak me out a bit. 

Once the onion had time to saute in the margarine to soften, I opened a bottle of white wine (I used a Pinot Gris, but only because I couldn’t find a bottle of James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay fast enough) and added that to the onions to allow them to soak up some of the yummy wine flavor.  I then moved the onions away from the center of the pan, placed the chicken breasts in the center to brown, and seasoned the underside of the breasts with the same seasonings as mentioned above.

Dinner was looking a little bleak at this point so, after I flipped the breasts over to cook through, I added some broccoli slaw to the pan for color and veggie-goodness.  Seasonings were now the priority… dinner couldn’t be bland, especially for my first attempt.  I opted to add a few dashes of soy sauce, some balsamic vinegar, and about a half cup of the wine to create a sauce that would make things come together.  I then cooked everything until all the flavors combined, about 10-15 minutes.  The chicken was poaching nicely and, while I would have preferred to have the veggies with a little more crunch and color, the softened broccoli slaw suited my husband’s tastes and still looked pretty on the plate.  To finish off the meal, I cooked a packet of brown and wild rice and used that as our starch for dinner.  It wasn’t exactly the meal I’d planned, but it was tasty and home-cooked… the best way to finish out a stressful “first day”.

I’ll continue to add recipes, both from before and during our move, so I hope you’ll check back to see how things are progressing.  I have some recipes that I never had the chance to share, so I’ll let you know when those are posted.  My attempt tonight is going to be something along the lines of a lasagna, without lasagna noodles…. will that even work?

Follow me on this journey… I promise to share both the highs (yummy recipes) and lows (how in the world am I going to learn to cook without a gas stove?) of the coming weeks.

Recipe: Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine)

This classic French stewed chicken recipe (actual translation is “rooster/cock in wine”) with bacon, mushrooms, and onions is such a wonderful one to have in your arsenal of favorites.  It’s not terribly difficult to make, extremely impressive sounding, and the taste is outstanding.  These three reasons alone should have you running to your local grocery store to pick up a few fresh ingredients to make this for dinner soon.  Even better (for you), I used a “real” recipe as my starting point, so this is going to *look* like a real recipe when I finish this post.  Please know that I did use The Force when making it, so I took liberties with the recipe as I was making it for my family, but I’ll include those notes throughout the recipe for you.  I hope you’ll consider making this recipe soon… it’s absolutely delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Bacon slices (I sliced up 1/3 package into small diced pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced, or equal amount of sliced leeks (I used leeks)
  • 6 chicken breasts (skinless/boneless)CoqAuVin
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups red wine (pinot noir, burgundy, zinfindel – I used James River Cellars Rad Red)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several fresh thyme sprigs (or use dried)
  • Several fresh parsley sprigs (or use dried)
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

  1. Brown bacon on medium high heat in a dutch oven big enough to hold the chicken, about 10 minutes.  Remove cooked bacon, set aside.  Keep bacon fat in the pan.  NOTE:  I used a large/deep skillet, with a lid, that could go in the oven
  2. Working in batched if necessary, add onions (my leeks are shown in the middle pic on the left side of photo) and brown until slightly toasty.  Remove and then brown chicken well, on all sides, about 10 minutes.  I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper during the browning stage to bring out the flavor of the chicken.
  3. Once chicken is all browned, return all the chicken and onions/leeks to the pot, add the garlic, chicken stock, wine, and herbs.  Add back the bacon.  Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through.  NOTE: at this point, I put the lid on the pan and popped it into the oven at 300 degrees until the chicken was tender.  I had started this dish much earlier in the day than was necessary, so I needed to slow down the cooking time.
  4. Once chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken and onions to a separate platter, cover and keep warm.  Remove bay leaves, herb sprigs, and discard.  I like to keep the garlic in the sauce, but you’re welcome to remove the garlic at this point if you prefer.
  5. Add mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high.  Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by three fourths until it becomes thick and saucy.  Lower the heat, stir in the butter, and adjust seasonings as needed.  NOTE: I added a touch of milk to tone down the seasonings.
  6. Return chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with sauce.  Adjust seasonings and garnish with parsley and serve.

This should serve 6.  Serve with roasted potatoes (as seen in the photo), mashed potatoes, or over egg noodles.  My husband loved this dish and commented that “everyone would eat this”, meaning that I could serve this to my entire family and everyone would be happy.  Spices weren’t too overpowering and the flavor of the wine and stock meshed well together to create a thoroughly enjoyable meal.

Nothing could have been better to hear, in my opinion!  I hope you try it and hear the same accolades…

 

Crock Pot Recipe: Tuscan Chicken and Sausage Stew

I love using my crock pot.  Having a slow cooker can help you make a lovely, healthy meal any night of the week.  All it takes is a little thought beforehand and a few minutes in the morning before you leave the house (or start working from home).  This was a recipe that I thought looked particularly yummy, but the ingredients needed to be changed out before I could make it for my family.  I know that they balk at large pieces of mushroom or the texture of artichoke hearts, so I did some substituting and came up with a version that worked well for me.

Since I started with an actual recipe (thanks to Weight Watchers for the inspiration) so the ingredients are much more accurate that I typically offer on my blog.  I used “The Force” for this recipe, but vaulted from the actual recipe, so I’ll be kind today and share it with you that way.

Ingredients:TuscanChickenSausageStewMB

  • 8 small chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 package Turkey Polska Kielbasa, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1 cup, chopped Onions, raw
  • 1/2 cup Chicken broth, canned, low sodium
  • 1/2 cup James River Cellars Montpelier Wine – you could use a nice Chardonnay, if you prefer
  • 1 cup, cubes, all varieties Squash, winter type, baked, no fat or sugar added in cooking, butternut
  • 1 cup, sliced Pepper, raw
  • 4 cloves Garlic, raw
  • 3 tsp, leaves Spices, oregano, dried
  • 1 tbsp Spices, rosemary, dried
  • 2T cornstarch, if needed for thickening

In true “not originally mine” style, here are the steps to follow when you make this recipe, using the ingredients I’ve used in my own swap.

Instructions

  1. Chop onion and butternut squash into chunks – place on the bottom of a crock pot.
  2. Collect the thighs and sausage that you’ve already cut into 2″ chunks and layer them on top of the onions/squash
  3. Layer peppers (in a variety of colors) on top of meats, then top with spices.
  4. Add broth and wine.
  5. Cover and cook until chicken is tender and vegetables are cooked through, 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
  6. If you want to thicken the broth at the end, whisk 2T of cornstarch with some of the cooking liquid (in a separate cup) until there are no lumps, then return it to the pot and allow the broth to thicken.
  7. Serve over polenta (which my family doesn’t like) or mashed potatoes (which my family *does* like).

I’ve been trying to be better about using a “recipe builder” application (for my iPad) so that I know the actual nutrition analysis of my recipes.  I got a FitBit Flex from my husband for Christmas this year, so I’m coupling that with the (free) MyFitnessPal app to get a better handle on my own health.  To that end, I’m working to make better choices with regards to the foods that I make.  This stew actually makes six servings, with the following nutritional information:  Calories 302, Total Fat 14g, Saturated 3.9g, Polyunsat.  2.9g, Monounsat. 5.4g, Cholesterol 80mg, Sodium 903mg, Total Carbs 16g, Dietary Fiber 2.5g, Sugar 2.8g, Protein 25g, Vitamin A 129mcg, Vitamin C 20mg, Calcium 51mg, and Iron 3.3mg.

I hope you’ll consider playing around with this recipe.  I really loved it, and had it for the next few meals before it was gone.  At only 302 calories, it seemed reasonable and tasty at the same time.  Enjoy!

“Using The Force” for the first time

I was talking with a friend yesterday about what to make for dinner, when we stumbled upon the idea of having him “use The Force” to create a meal for him and his girlfriend.  We talked about a few recipes, contemplated different degrees of difficulty, and came up with the plan to use my Chicken Prosciutto Roll recipe.  He didn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on dinner, so we discussed ways he could “shortcut” the recipe and tailor it to their tastes.  I was so excited for him that I had to write a quick blog post to share this with you all.

AMUsingTheForce

Here’s his final product:

Doesn’t it look terrific?  THIS is what I mean when I say, if you’re planning to use one of my recipes,  that you should alter the original to fit what your family likes best, using the flavors and spices that you most enjoy.  He made his own version of a Chicken Prosciutto Roll and it turned out wonderfully.  He *did* use chicken breasts, Bourcin Cheese, and James River Cellars Gewurztraminer white wine, but swapped out ham for the prosciutto, since that’s what he had on hand.  More importantly than simply following the recipe, he used what he had at his disposal and took the time to prepare a meal that he and his girlfriend would enjoy.

My friend, AM, did a fabulous job of tailoring a basic recipe to make it his own.  I hope you’ll consider trying this same sort of thing in your own home.  It’s not hard to make dinner… it just takes a little thought and the ability to let your efforts shine as your own.

If you want me to blog about it and share your steps, just send me a message and take a few pics of the beginning/middle/end of your efforts so you can send them to me.  I’d be more than happy to help as you create dinners for your friends and loved ones… after all, it’s just food!

Enjoy the process…

Recipe: Petit Enchilada Casserole

 

Coming up with recipes is truly something that feeds my creativity.  I love when my manager asks me to “come up with a recipe”, because it sends me into my kitchen… one of my favorite rooms in our home.  This recipe came from a desire to create something using leftover chicken, yet have a meal that could be popped in the oven by whomever got home first that night.

As you can see, this looks like a “real” recipe, as opposed to most of my posts.  The reason is that I plugged this recipe into “My Recipe Builder” app so I could figure out the calorie count.  While I usually don’t do this when blogging, the written recipe will be included this weekend at James River Cellars’ Petit Verdot Vertical Weekend and I needed to have it look more official.

  • 12 ounces Salsa (I used Gunther’s Spicy Black Bean Dip)PetitEnchiladaCasserole
  • 10-1/2 ounces Soup, cream of mushroom (use your favorite)
  • 6 ounces Wine, table, red (I love the deep flavor of Petit Verdot here)
  • 15 ounces Beans, baked, canned, plain or vegetarian
  • 8 small tortilla (approx 4″ dia) Tortilla, corn
  • 1 Onions, sweet, raw, diced
  • 2 cups, chopped or diced Chicken, broilers or fryers, breast, meat only, cooked, stewed
  • 2 cups, shredded Cheese, low fat, cheddar or colby

 

Instructions:

 

  1. Saute’ onion until softened, adding garlic if desired.
  2. Add salsa, undiluted soup, drained and rinsed black beans, and wine.  Stir in chicken and mix until flavors combine nicely.
  3. Spray the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Cut the corn tortillas in half, then slice each half into 4 pie-shaped bites.  Separate the tortilla pieces in half and spread half across the bottom of the baking pan.
  4. Layer salsa mixture on top of the tortilla layer, then top with half the cheese.
  5. Top cheese with the remaining tortilla pieces.  Cover the tortilla pieces with the remaining salsa and top with cheese.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

I found this casserole to be really tasty.  I cut the casserole into 8-square shaped pieces and it was a really filling dinner.  As always, you’re welcome to swap out ingredients to suit the tastes of your family… that’s the best part of making your own dinners.  You can even make this into a vegetarian dish by using shredded zucchini or diced eggplant or tofu in place of the chicken.  Try this sometime and let me know how you, and your family, likes this dish.  We loved it!

Recipe: Chicken Chardonel Cassoulet

I truly love having an afternoon when I have time to make a hearty, warming, delicious dinner.  I love to start with a few ingredients and turn them into something that just screams “Fall” to me and my family.  This was just such a meal. I make a lot of cassoulets, but this one turned out really well… so well that I wish I had doubled the recipe so I could have it for another few meals.

Tradition dictates that a “Cassoulet” is a French dish made with meat and beans.  It’s actually named after the slanted-side earthenware bowl (called a Cassolein which it is to be cooked.  I don’t own such a cooking vessel, so I use a large heavy stockpot that will stand up to some good old-fashioned cooking.  I don’t subscribe to the notion that you have to purchase a ton of different individual utensils to make a good meal.  It’s not necessarily about the final presentation… it’s about the care and love that goes into anything you make.  I realize that this can sound pretty hokey, but it’s honestly how I approach cooking in general.

This recipe was fairly simple and came together extremely well.  I used the following ingredients:  olive oil, one package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, one thin slice of ham steak (thinly diced),  2 cans of cannellini beans (I used one can of pinto beans and one can of cannellini beans, because that’s what I had on hand), well-chopped Mirepoix (a mixture of carrots, celery, and onion…. don’t let the “big word” bother you), 2 bay leaves, salt/pepper, a can of chicken broth, a can of James River Cellars’ Chardonel, 2 Tablespoons of pumpkin puree, and 1/4 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt.

NOTE:  As you may know (if you read this blog at all), I cook using “The Force”.  I look at my fridge and pantry when cooking and adjust my ingredients based on what I have available or what might look good to me at any given moment.  This was one of those recipes.  If you’re starting with a recipe (especially one of *my* recipes), feel free to add or subtract ingredients to tailor the meal to your family’s taste preference or pantry contents.ChickenChardonelCassoulet

I started with a heavy, rounded stockpot.  I added some olive oil and sauteed the diced ham until it was fairly crispy and the fat had rendered out of the ham.  Using a slotted spoon, I removed the ham and added the mirepoix to saute and soften for a few minutes before popping in the chicken thighs and allowing them to brown a bit.  The meat is going to cook for an hour or two, so don’t worry about whether it’s browned long enough… you simply want the color on the meat before adding in the rest of the ingredients.  Once the chicken and veggies were sauteed (see top left hand photo), I replaced the ham into this mixture and started layering everything into the pot.

The middle photo on the left shows the cassoulet after I added the can of pinto beans (WITH liquid), can of cannellini beans (WITH liquid), can of white wine (James River Cellars’ Chardonel), can of broth, and seasonings.  I put the lid on the pot and allowed everything to cook together for an hour before starting to adjust seasonings.

The bottom photos show the cassoulet after I added a bit of pumpkin puree.  I realize that this is a strange ingredient to add to a cassoulet, but (as I keep saying) it was in my fridge and I knew that this small amount would thicken the sauce a bit without changing the flavor significantly.  I could have made a roux (butter and flour) and slowly added it to thicken the sauce, but I really felt that would have thickened the cassoulet too much.  It’s really up to you as to how you thicken (or not thicken) your meal… that’s the glory that *is* cooking… make it your own!  My final addition was a huge spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of non-fat plain Greek yogurt.  I could easily have used sour cream, but I try to always have Greek yogurt on hand for just such an occasion.   I absolutely could have left the yogurt out at this point, but adding that light touch really finished the cassoulet and made it special.

That’s a cassoulet, in a nutshell.  Not too hard, right?  This recipe is something that can provide you and your family with a filling, one-pot meal that only needs some crusty bread on the side to complete your dinner.  I hope you’ll try your hand at making this recipe… and making it your own… you may even find a new family favorite!

 

Recipe: Updated Chicken Prosciutto Roll

I know this is a re-do of a recipe that I posted in August, but honestly this  set of photos is much more informative than the first, so I decided to go ahead and add it… never hurts to show you more about a recipe than less, right?  I also adjusted this recipe a bit from the original, so please forgive my repetition… I want you to have as much info about recipes as I can provide, especially when I make something so tasty that doesn’t actually use a recipe.

I wanted to make a simple, yet elegant, dinner with James River Cellars’ Gewurztraminer wine.  Since we have found that the tastiest pairing of cheese-to-wine uses Bourcin cheese with this particular wine, my primary pairing was already set.  Sadly, though, my local grocery store was out of Bourcin Cheese, so I had to make due with a local goat cheese infused with garlic and herbs which turned out to be very tasty and worked just as well (in my humble opinion).

I started with three large chicken breasts from a sale package of chicken breasts.  Note: I don’t know what sort of giant chickens produced these breasts, but they were thick, meaty, and looked amazing.  I’m sure that they are genetically altered and I should have reached instead for the organic meat, but I was looking for value this time – I was able to get 5 breasts for the price of 2 organic breasts, so that made my decision for me yesterday.  I ran my knife through the meatiest part of the breast but didn’t cut all the way through, so I could open the breast like an envelope and make it as thin and wide as possible.  I used a mallet to pound the thicker spots down a bit so everything was even and got on with the recipe.

Making sure not to tear the meat, I separated a thin slice of prosciutto and laid it on top of the open chicken breast, then topped the breast with a thin line of garlic/herb goat cheese (here’s where I would have used the Bourcin Cheese, had I been able to find it at the store).  Once the layers were in place, I carefully rolled the chicken, beginning at the  side rather than from one of the ends, and then used a long skewer to secure the breast meat and keep all the toppings inside.  My goal was to make a long/thin roll as opposed to a short/fat roll so the meat would be able to cook thoroughly without being too overdone on the outside.  NewChickenPriscuittoRoll

When you are ready to cook dinner,  add a pat of butter and a bit of olive oil to the pan and then sear the rolls on all sides until they are browned and crispy.  I actually made the rolls earlier in the day and let them sit in the fridge until I was ready to cook, but you’re welcome to make them whenever it works for you.  I definitely would have done this earlier in the day if I were making it for company.  Once the meat is seared along all edges, I added the remaining cheese (maybe the last inch of the roll of goat cheese) and Gewurztraminer wine to create a bit of sauce in which the rolls could cook.  Note:  Since I knew the inside of the rolls weren’t anywhere near ready, my plan was to bake them in the oven until my husband came home for dinner.  I’m not sure exactly how long I baked them (remember… I USE THE FORCE TO COOK) but I had set the oven at 350 degrees and popped the saute pan in the oven until things “smelled done” and we were ready to eat.

To finish this dish, I used a bag of green beans and a bag of brown rice.  I microwaved the beans first and tossed them with a little butter and salt before serving.  I microwaved the brown rice afterward and divided that out among the dinner plates.  Removing the skewer at this point wasn’t easy, but I used a fork to keep things steady as I gently pulled the skewer out of each chicken roll.  The final touch was to spoon the cooking sauce over the chicken and rice.  It looked as pretty as it tasted!

Extra idea… if you are serving a small group of people, you could make four of these rolls and then slice them to serve onto individual plates instead of offering each person their own chicken roll.

This is one of my favorite recipes to share with people when I do a wine tasting at James River Cellars.  I do hope that you’ll consider trying this recipe and make it your own.  That’s the essence of cooking… creating something delicious to feed the ones that you love.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Easy Enchiladas

This is a recipe that I first saw on another blog (kevinandamanda.com) and knew I just HAD to try!  The original recipe called for a lot more cheese and enchilada sauce than I knew my family would like… plus, there was no wine in the recipe.  I just *had* to re-work it into something that would work for me and my wine-inspired blog.  Thankfully, it was a huge hit and has already been made numerous times to great positive acclaim.

EasyEnchiladas

What I love most about this recipe is that it truly is incredibly easy.  I’d always been a bit intimidated by enchiladas for some reason, but not any more when I use this recipe.  Much of this meal was done by simply assembling the ingredients, but first, I had to make some rice.

I used James River Cellars Gewurztraminer wine but could have easily used another favorite wine (Chardonnel, Vidal Blanc, or even Chardonay) to make the rice for this dish.  I used 1 cup of wine, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of Arborio rice.  I simmered the rice until the liquid was absorbed and the rice was fluffy.  I did add some parsley, salt and pepper, but feel free to add whatever flavors you like in your rice.  Just remember that the rice is a fairly tame part of this assembly line, so don’t go too crazy with the seasonings.

I also decided to use a pre-roasted chicken in this recipe.   I pulled off both chicken breasts and diced the meat small enough to layer in the enchiladas.

Overall, your ingredients are as follows:  tortillas, hummus, rice, chicken, cheese, and enchilada sauce.  As with all my recipes, please feel free to personalize things to your family’s tastes.  Red Pepper Hummus instead of a Garlic Hummus, Mexican cheese in place of Cheddar, Whole Wheat Tortillas as opposed to bulk purchased tortillas or even homemade tortillas. . .  it’s all about making a meal that will make you and your family happy.

Assembling your enchiladas. . . here’s where the fun starts!  Place the tortilla on a cutting board and begin the layering with hummus, a layer of rice (mine is fairly sticky and soft), some chicken, and a sprinkle of cheese.  You can see an example in the second photo from the left… I throw on a fair amount of cheese, but do whatever will make you happy.  I made all the enchiladas, laying them in the baking dish, then poured some enchilada sauce over top and finished by sprinkling on more cheese.  Note:  I loved the Cheesy Enchilada recipe that inspired this alteration but know that my guys would have balked if I had followed her recipe exactly. . .  hence the need for an “Easy Enchilada” recipe of my own.

Once your enchiladas are assembled and ready, you can wait a bit to bake them if you must.  I had a hard time not popping them directly into the oven (I was already hungry by this point) but I was “good” and waited until my darling hubby and son got home from work.  Once they arrived, I popped the baking dish into a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese was melty, I could hear sizzling, and there was visible steam rising from the enchiladas.  Seriously. . . I don’t usually use “exact times”, so use your best guess on cooking time, based on your own oven.

As you can see by the large photo of an enchilada, above, these things were really filling.  I thought everyone would end up eating two enchiladas each, but we could barely make it through one.  If you’re making this for a crowd, feel free to expect football players to eat two, but the average person will probably only make it through one.  They are aa-maze-ing!

Hope you find this recipe to be as amazing as we did. . . and, as always, be sure to alter the ingredients to make your own “family favorite”!

Recipe: Chambourcin Drizzle

I was trying to create something to add to a salad, when I came up with the idea of trying to use James River Cellars’ Chambourcin as the star ingredient… as luck would have it, a reduction of this sweet wine was just what I had in mind.

ChambourcinDrizzle

I started with 1 1/2 cups of James River Cellars’ Chambourcin wine.  Since our winemaker creates ours as a sweet wine, rather than a dry one, it seemed like the obvious choice to me.  I simmered the wine in a medium saute pan until much of the liquid had evaporated and the wine had thickened significantly.  I didn’t want to do a quick/hard boil on this, so it took about 40 minutes or so for this thickening to happen.

Once the wine was thick, I added 1/2T butter, 1t sugar, and 1T heavy cream to the mixture.  When the butter had melted and the sugar and cream had incorporated thoroughly, I poured the wine drizzle back to the glass measuring cup, where I was able to see that the mixture had reduced down to 1/4 cup of drizzle.   It was tart, yet had a bit of sweetness in the background that I thought would pair beautifully with some blue cheese and chicken in a salad.  Adding some crunch (some nuts, perhaps?) would have been nice touch, but I was more concerned with assembling a simple salad that would be filling and delicious.  The drizzle was relegated to the fridge until it was time to put my lunch together.

When lunchtime rolled around, I was more than ready to dig into this yummy salad.  NOTE: Since butter was used in creating the drizzle, you may want to allow the drizzle to warm ever so slightly so you don’t have any clumps in your drizzle.  Beating it lightly with a small whisk will accomplish the same task.  I sliced some romaine lettuce and used that as the base for my salad.  I thinly sliced a cooked chicken breast, use as much as you’d like and laid the slices in a pleasing array atop the lettuce.   NOTE: I used a breast that I had roasted the night before, but could have easily used pieces of a pre-roasted chicken from the local market. I crumbled some blue cheese over the chicken and lightly seasoned everything with 1T olive oil, salt, and pepper.  

Now was the time for my Chambourcin Drizzle to shine.  I used approximately 2 teaspoons of drizzle to “glaze” my salad, so there was plenty to use for a few servings.  Once I tossed the salad, the entire salad became slightly pink in color… it would have been wonderful with some crusty bread, but I loved all the flavors that combined to create something fun and tasty.

Hope you’ll try making something unique for your next luncheon.  A port wine would have been delicious in this recipe as well… maybe I’ll have to try that version next time.

Enjoy your taste tests… I know I do!