Enchilada Night

I know enchiladas are not difficult or daunting to prepare by any means, but they do take a whole pan’s worth of commitment to make. I can recall countless times helping my mom throw a pan together to feed the whole family. But, until tonight, I had never created a pan of enchiladas – let alone a complete Mexican meal.
homemade shredded chicken enchiladas  with chicken rice, refried beans and guacamole ethnic mexican recipes
OK, so I just followed the basic recipe on the can of enchilada sauce, and the refried beans and rice came straight from a can and box, respectively. But still – I made a complete Mexican meal on my own.

Easy Shredded Chicken Enchiladas:

  • Grill 2 chicken breasts, totaling about one pound, on the trusty Foreman to peak juiciness. Shred (which can be great angst-relief).
  • Combine the shredded chicken with 3/4 cup of enchilada sauce and a handful or so of shredded mozzarella cheese. (Officially, I think it called for 1 cup.)
  • Spoon this filling into tortilla shells. Tuck in the ends, fold one side of the shell over, and roll the rest of the way closed so the seal is on the bottom of the pan. Oh yeah, we’re using a 13×9 pan, right? And the oven should probably be heating up. (Because I made big fat enchiladas, I stuffed 5 with this filling recipe…which allegedly makes 8-10 regular skinny-chiladas.)
  • Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over your enchiladas, no matter how fat or skinny they are, and sprinkle with another half cup (or smaller handful) of shredded cheese.

Accompanied by:
  • Rice-a-Roni chicken rice (how’s that for authentic?)
  • Refried Beans
  • Guacamole made fresh in the Nutri-Bullet with organic avocados, cilantro, onion, garlic and green chili

Valentine’s Day $50 Dinner Date

For Valentine’s Day this year, we went back to the Middle Eastern eatery where we had our first date. More than two years ago, we shared hummus and falafel at Aladdin’s Eatery before a movie at Crocker Park.

Let’s face it – you can’t really top last year’s homemade crab leg dinner for Valentine’s Day. So it was best to follow that with something simple and sweet.

As an added plus, Aladdin’s had a Valentine’s Day special: $30 for an appetizer, a dessert, and two entrees. Of course, there was hummus and falafel, and some tasty Lebanese dishes I can’t pronounce that drown in the memory of conversation. And, for another $20, a bottle of wine.

Forget the roses – one of my favorite features at Aladdin’s is the bouquet. On each table sits a vase of recycled flowers fashioned from circles of industrial plastic remnants, crafted by a local shop down the street. Quaint, retro, local and best of all: repurposed.

And then, just when I think I can’t eat any more: dessert. It’s usually baklava at Aladdin’s, but this Valentine’s meal came with a Chocolate Truffle Heart – which I could eat all of five bites before richness overload. Of course, I kept eating anyway – long after the beau backed down. But I did manage to save a few bites for the trip home the next day – which didn’t last long.

Homemade Chinese Egg Rolls & Crab Rangoons

Egg rolls seem daunting – like they’d be much harder to make than they are. But they’re actually really easy, with room for creativity, and delicious in their crispy deep-fried fabulousness.

I have my mom to thank for teaching me how to make egg rolls, as I do most of the excellent recipes I end up with. Here’s how we do it:

Egg Roll Recipe
1/2 lb. sausage
1 small head green cabbage, chopped
chopped onion

Brown the sausage in a skillet and add onion. Then add the cabbage. It will seem like a lot but it cooks down. Let this cool while you prepare egg roll wrappers and a small dish of water. Place a wrapper in front of you like a diamond, with the mixture in a line straight across it. Fold up the bottom first, and then fold  both sides in, around the mix. Dip your finger in the water and wet the top corner of the diamond, then roll it up the rest of the way and seal with the wet edge. Heat oil in skillet on med-high and fry until golden brown.

That will make more than enough for two people, and it won’t use the whole package of wrappers. So, in a very experimental mood, I tried to make crab rangoons with the rest. They turned out pretty good — just enormous. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I could eat a whole stick of cream cheese. And a whole crab. So both ingredients in a deep fried package = ecstasy.

Crab Rangoon Recipe
4 oz cream cheese (half a package)
4 oz flaked crab meat (half a package, I found mine under the seafood deli counter)
a couple shakes each of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce
1 clove garlic, chopped
chopped onion
ground pepper
Place a big spoonful of mixture in middle of egg roll wrapper. Pinch two opposite sides together (wetting with water to seal) and then the other two sides. Fry.

Both recipes are almost as good as takeout. Now fried rice…that’s something I haven’t mastered quite yet, and still opt for takeout.