Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

Okay. Who’s in the mood for a little “south of the Border” cuisine? And I’m not speaking of the Taco Bell variety. Or in the literal sense of the phrase because, well, right about now that would be an unnecessary risk to take for some cheese-smothered tortillas. Although, that being said,this recipe is almost good enough to duck your head and run for cover…a cover under which awaits a steaming 9×13 casserole of chicken enchiladas, that is.

A long time ago I was extremely discerning in my food choices. It’s fair to say that some may consider me a bit “picky” but I prefer to believe that I had a sophisticated palate at a veryyoung age. I had created a long list of foods I would allow myself to enjoy and an even longer list of foods I would liken to vomit-inducing excuses for nutrition, i.e. enchiladas and potato pancakes (still hate those, by the way.) There was just something about the combination of tortilla, hamburgerand red sauce that caused a gut-wrenching response for the dish.

And then a few years back onone beautiful evening I was introduced to an entirely new concept…chicken enchiladas with cream sauce. No hamburger? Or red sauce? Seriously? I’ll take it. Now. Please. Um, I’m not kidding.

This recipe is the perfect combination of mild chacha (some might call it spice) and smooth cream. The delectable blend of ingredients married with the perfect way to precook the chicken (explanation coming) resultsin one outstanding dish.

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
(Recipe serves 6, can easily be doubled)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast meat
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
  • 6 (12 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/4 cup milk
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking dish.
    2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the green onion until tender (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the garlic powder, then stir in the green chiles, cream of chicken soup and sour cream. Mix well. Reserve 3/4 of this sauce and set aside. To the remaining 1/4 of the sauce in the saucepan, add the chicken*** and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Stir together.
    3. Fill each flour tortilla with the chicken mixture and roll up. Place seam side down in the prepared baking dish.
    4. In a small bowl combine the reserved 3/4 of the sauce with the milk. Spoon this mixture over the rolled tortillas and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

    Shredded Chicken a’la Crockpot

    This preparation method producesextremely moist, flavorful shredded chicken. Can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.

    • 4-6 chicken breasts, can be frozen
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of butter
    • seasoning salt/black pepper
    1. Place chicken breasts in crock pot. Sprinkle liberally with seasoning salt and pepper.
    2. Add butter.
    3. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Shred chicken.

    A Very Wet Day…and my special “gift.”

    We have been experiencing some very strange weather in these parts as of late. I’m actually quite concerned regarding the mental health of our local weather god, Mister Weather (appropriate name, no?). Something is very wrong. Very, verywrong. We go from a bright, sun-filled sky to monsoon-like winds to torrential downpours in mere minutes of every day. I’m beginning to suspect that Mister Weather is suffering psychotic episodes of some sort. Or perhaps a bad breakup with Mother Earth. An interrupted romance can create all kinds of havoc on someone’s mindset.

    Now, normally, these crazy weather patterns are not such a problem for me. I hunker down in my cozy home wearing sweatpants and watch the phenomenon from my family room window. Dry. But today? Today was very different.

    We were out of milk.

    And this is simply not an option in this household. Jack has an unatural relationship with milk. It. Completes. Him. He starts panicking when we’re halfway through a gallon and there’s no spare in sight. Not wanting to risk Jack’spotential ‘lack of availablelactose’ behavior I determined that a trip out into the mayhem was in order.

    I waited and watched, planning my trip for when the rain had abated. Seeing nothing but spotty cloudsI threw on a sweatshirt and made a mad dash to the car.

    In the rain.

    I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that I have a special “gift.” At any given point in time, if I step out of doors, Mister Weather is alerted of my presence and sends rain showers to water the Earth around me. It happens all of the time. We could be experiencing periods of drout, rain having not touched the ground in days, and I step outside to get the mail and it will start pouring. And I will be without an umbrella. It’s a cruel “gift”, really.

    Today was no exception. By the time I made it inside my car from the front porchI was literally dripping. From my mascara-coated eyelashes. Not a good look.

    I began my drive to the grocery store, marveling but not surprised, at the sudden clearing of clouds and the emerging of blue sky visible through my windshield. Of course. I’m inside.

    I reached the store and sat with my hand on the door handle, contemplating my exit. It appeared as if I was in the clear and I dashed into the store.

    Aha! Take that, Mister Weather!

    I strutted over to the milk case and grabbed my three gallons, a definitive pep in my step. As I paid for my milk I couldn’t help but notice the store clerk averting her gaze from my face. Oh, crap. In my haste to beat feet to the door I had forgotten about the blue/black mascara now streaking down my cheeks and the half-soaked, half-frizzed hair sticking out of the top of my head. Again. Not a good look.

    Embarrassed, I gingerly paid for my milk and approached the door, car keys in hand. With a glance at the suddenly graying sky, I stepped outside the store and into what quickly became a torrential downpour. I was standing five feet from my car door, balancing three gallons of milk on my hip, and feeling utterly defeated.

    Damn this special “gift.”

    Is three years-old too young to make a milk run? I’m seriously considering it.


    An Alternate Universe?

    Today has been a day for the books. Today has been the kind of day where I raise my face to the heavens and cry, “Why!?!?!?” Today has been the kind of day where I realize that the fact hair remains follicly attached to my head must bedue to divine intervention. Today has been the kind of day where I honestly question my effectiveness as a parent.

    It hasn’t always been like this.

    When we brought Avery home from the hospital, after 23 hours of grueling labor (pre-epidural, that is),I mentally prepared myself for the most difficult job in the universe. And within seven days I was laughing in the face of that job that has brought much stronger women to their knees. This parenting stuff was easy. The tiny little bundle of baby slept. And ate. And pooped. And smiled. And then slept again. Despite a few little hiccups along the way, this process has basically been repeated for the past seven years.

    Fooled by the relative ease at whichJer and Iparentedour first child we jumped atthe idea to add toour lovely little family. Avery was (and has continued to be)so effortless we thought, why not? It’s obvious that our our combined gene pool results in a happy, sleepy, pleasant little human. Let’s do it.

    Enter Jack.

    Not wanting to rehash his entire babyhood (lots of sleeping, pooping and intermittent smiling) I can definitely say we thought we were in the clear, yet again. Smooth sailing for months and months. Years, really. And then, quite suddenly, the waters started getting a little rocky. It became evidently clear that Jack was not his sister. Jack was a horse of an entirely different color. One of those wild mustang-types that buck at the prospect of being tamed. We determined that Jack was going to take a little bit ofwork so Jer and I rolled up our sleeves and set out to do our best.

    And man were we right

    I was woken up this morning by the enticing and familiar smell of mint wafting across my nose. Sensing someone standing two inches from my face, I tentatively opened one eye. Staring right back at me was my three year-old son, smacking his gum. And, due to the fact that Jack does not have an endless supply of chewing gum at his disposal, I could only assume that he had jacked it from my purse. While I was asleep. At seven o’clock in the morning. Real nice.

    And sothe day went on.

    After a slightly tumultuous morning consisting of chasing Jack away from various deathly situations and reprimanding him after numerous “butt” and “stinky” comments, I was ready to collapse by lunchtime. Grabbing the remote for a little Gilmore Girls-induced R&R I punched the button to access the TV menu.


    I punched the button again.

    And, nothing.

    Having previously learned a little trick of shifting the remote batteries in their case to revive a little juice (from my 7 year-old daughter, no less) I opened the battery compartment and quickly learned my problem.

    The batteries were missing. Mmm hmm. With sudden clarity, I whisked around the house checking various battery-powered devices only to discover that they were all missing their batteries. A firm nod from Jack confirmed my suspicions that, in fact, he was responsible for their relocation. At some point during our action-packed morning Jack had managed to remove all of the batteries from their various homes and moved them to his bedroom. *sigh.*

    Seeing no end in sight for my exasperating day I retreated into my bedroom for some calming breaths. After I talked myself down from the ledge I turned around to find this:

    Surely, we have shifted into some alternate universe where naughty is the accepted behavior and t-shirts are worn as underpants.

    And little boys routinely wear size 12 Vans.

    Willing myself to embrace the attitude of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” I decided to move past my day’s frustrations andsit down with my little man to watch a movie. Settling comfortably into our alternate universe, I snuggled close to my baby boy, grabbedup the remote and pressed ‘Play’.

    Ah. No batteries. And reality came crashing back.


    Meeting the Pioneer Woman, a.k.a. Coolest Chick Ever

    I posted Monday morning that my sister Brandy, galpal Val (I know…clever, right?) and myself were hitting the road, our anticipation gaining with each mile under our wheels. Well, apparently, us and about 500 other people all had the same idea. To meet and greet with the Pioneer Woman at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, OR.

    I should also add that while I was extremely pumped at the chance to meet the dazzling Ree Drummond, I was also pretty tingly at the idea of eating a meal without my children. Never one to thumb my nose at a “grownup” dining experience, I readily agreed when my travel partners suggested California Pizza Kitchen.

    Can you sense my excitement? It’s building up there, and virtually explodes upon the visual of my cobb salad and herb & cheese foccacia making its way to my table.

    My ladies were excited, too. We’re all unapologetic fans of food. Especially eating it.

    After linner (lunch/dinner, original isn’t it?) we headed towards the bookstore, cookbooks in hand, to await our supreme goal of the evening. And as far as waiting in line goes, I’d say we had a pretty easy time of it. Being such paragons of promptness we were only 50 or so PW junkies back in line. And despite onlyone or two episodes of perspiration (the air was a bit stifling) we weathered the waiting game with grace. Except for the part where I was fanning myself with a greeting card while sweating profusely. But I’m pretty sure no one saw that.

    It didn’t take long for the shindig to fill up.

    It’s a good thing we showed up early or I’m pretty sure we’d still be in line to meet our idol.Withthat amount of peoplewaiting to meet Mrs. Drummond what could have been a hot mess was actually a very calm and collected grouping of fans. All the seats having been claimed early,the book signing quickly turned into a “standing room only event” with a large number of people tucking themselves in between the book shelves. We had only one real incident ofa lady forgetting her manners who was promptly reminded that she wasn’t in fact “above any courtesies.” She moved.

    And we waited.

    In true diva fashion, the Pioneer Woman was late! But, in the polar opposite of truediva fashion, the Pioneer Woman was late because her GPS directed her to take a right instead of a left. (Sidenote…I wholeheartedly believe that GPS units were invented to supplement profits for the blood pressure medication companies. Seriously.) The crowd quickly forgave Mrs. Drummond for her tardiness because 1) she drove herself to the book signing rather than paying Jeeves to do it and 2) she was fanning her armpits once she approached the podiumin an obvious attempt to quell the sudden onset of nervous sweat and 3) she began speaking into an empty mike stand, allwhich endeared her to us immediately.

    She began theQ&A session and I was pleasantly and genuinelysurprised by how real this Pioneer Woman is. Ree could have easily been my next door neighbor…that is if I were surrounded by cattle and hot cowboysinstead of ranch-style housing and competing lawns. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her speak and was captivated by her obvious disbelief that shehas fans.

    I was so excited to actually meet Ree in person when she signed our cookbooks andshe most certainlydid not disappoint. Simply, I was starstruck. And likea stumbling fool, I almost forgot to hand her the bookmark/shameless self-promotion Brandy and Val had convinced me to give her. Brandy swept in and directed the PW’s attention to my blog info while I ducked my head in embarassment, my armpits suffering from my humiliation.

    All in all, my expectations didn’t even come close to actually meeting the Pioneer Woman in person. She’s personable, gracious, humble and the real deal. Totally worth wet armpits.


    Huge Thanks to my Hubby!!

    In all the hubub of premiering my new website design I forgot to doone very important thing…apply my Monday pore-refining mask. No worries, I’ll do that tonight.

    Pore-refinement aside, Ialso realized thatI have neglected something else… a HUMONGOUS THANK YOU to my better half!

    My husband, Jer, is a very hard worker and certainly isn’t rich in extra time. He works full-time plus for a software company and also manages to run his own websites for outdoor enthusiasts. His work-from-home daily To Do list would make even Martha Stewart cringe. (Oh, and hallelujah! Jer has recently added dressing himself to his already packed morning schedule…no more visions of him facilitating phone conferences in stretched out underpants until noon, thank God.)

    The point is, my husband has very little spare time and I can more than appreciate that he jumped head first and createdmy very own personalizedwebsite. I have joked that it’s only taken him nine months to carry out his original promise (I mean,I’ve managed to growa human in that amount of time)but I honestly say that with tongue-in-cheek. With all the irons in Jer’s campfire, I hadalready intended for The Suburban Life to sit low on his list of priorities. Mainly because this particular iron doesn’t pay the bills. Work on, brother man, work on.

    So, I thank you,dear husband. I thankyou for your hard work and for your creativity.I thank you forgiving me amore enjoyable playground on which to play. Mainly, I thank you for shifting me to the top of your list.