Green Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

These chicken enchiladas were a hit with my kids because they are simple, yet flavorful.  As most moms know, kids like simple flavors with not too much going on.  And as most moms know, we don’t like to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, so this recipe satisfies both kids and moms!

My favorite new tip is shredding chicken in your stand mixer.  It’s genius people, just genius I tell you!

Warm up some corn tortillas then slap on some canned refried beans and chicken on top.

Enchiladas are not enchiladas without cheese, so don’t be stingy with the cheese.  I used monterey jack here.  You can use anything you have on hand.

Place all the enchiladas, snuggly into a 9×13 pan and bake until bubbly and all the cheese is melted.  Serve to your family while hot and await the praise they will bestow upon you.

Green Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

15 corn tortillas

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1 can refried beans

¼ cup milk

1 (28 oz) green chile enchilada sauce

½ cup sour cream

1 pound shredded Monterey jack cheese

Stir to combine refried beans and milk in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  Prepare 9×13 pan by pouring some enchilada sauce, just to cover the bottom of the pan.  Take the remaining sauce and mix in the sour cream.  Warm the tortillas and spoon on beans, chicken then cheese.  Roll each enchilada and place seam side down in pan.  Pour sour cream enchilada sauce on top and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot.

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Cake Cutting Tip

Let me start by saying I did not have my usual SLR camera for these photos, so forgive the bad lighting and weird colors. Sometimes a girl just doesn’t want to be weighed down by a big camera at a party, ya know!

I went to a graduation party where there was a beautifully made cake to celebrate my step-niece’s high school graduation.  I was handed this plate with a perfectly cut piece of cake on it that looked like it was from a wedding reception.  I walked into the kitchen and this is what I found on the table.

It took me a while to understand what I was seeing.  I then realized that my step-brother who brought the cake, cut it the professional way.  This is the way to cut a large round cake and he mentioned that is how wedding cakes are cut too.

So you first cut a smaller circle in the middle and then the slices are a a manageable size.  This also helps with the falling cake issue when you are cutting a multi-layered cake…………..genius!!

Now, I just want to bake a 4-layered cake just so I can cut it this way.

Here is the perfectly cut piece of cake.  Now you can go to any wedding and be confident you’ll be able to cut a beautiful slice of cake!!

Does Your Corn Need a Shave?

I made chicken corn chowder for dinner the other day.  This is the best way I’ve found to shave corn off the cob, without ending up with corn kernels scattered all over my counter tops and floor.  You know what I’m talking about.

Place a small bowl upside down inside a larger bowl.  Trim off the tip of the cob so you have a flat surface for it to stand on.  Then, shave away.

And, voila!  All the corn kernels end up neatly inside the bowl.

Also, don’t forget to extract the “milk” or pulp from the cob after all the kernels are cut off.  Use the back of your knife and run if along the cob, pressing hard.  All the left over bits left on the cob will come off clean as a whistle.

Keep Store-Bought Herbs Fresh

Have you ever bought a big bunch of basil in the plastic container, used a couple of leaves and the rest turned brown and limp and then you end up throwing it all away?  Yeah me too…………until now!

Basil does best at room temperature, not in the refrigerator.  I treat them like fresh flowers and trim the stem just a bit and place them in a glass of water on my counter top.  This glass of basil started out limp and lifeless.  After about a day in the glass each leaf crisped up and looks fresh again.  This is a great way to prolong the life of your basil.  Give it a try!

I love buying green onion because I know that I will get about 3-4 more uses out of each stem.  Cut off and use only the green parts of the onion and put the stem in a glass of water.  The green leaves will continue to grow to full size!

Talk about getting your money’s worth, huh?

Make sure to change the water every few days, when it gets murky.  Enjoy watching your onions grow!

The Best Roast Chicken

I have roasted many a chicken in my time and this is by far the best way I like it.  The chicken comes out crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.  The lovely bed of vegetables it sits on absorb all the chicken juices and it’s just a delectable meal, all in one pan.

I beg of you, make this tonight!  You can’t go wrong with roast chicken.

Start off with a large roasting pan, glass or metal will work.  I rough chop red potatoes, carrots, fennel, and onion.  You can substitute your favorite root vegetables, but my family loves this combination.

Then pour on some olive oil to coat well, salt and pepper and the leaves of 5 sprigs of thyme.  The combination of fennel and thyme is to die for!

The lemon wedges and thyme are for stuffing the chicken.  It gives the chicken a wonderful aroma from the inside out.

One of the most important things when roasting chicken is trussing it.  That just means that you need to get all the limbs tight and secure around the body of the chicken so that it cooks evenly.  I’m sure you’ve bought one of those Costco or grocery store chickens all bound with string.  There’s a good reason for it!

Here’s my favorite trick for trussing a chicken the lazy way.  Hey a girl needs some shortcuts sometimes!  Besides, I don’t like fumbling around tying up my chicken with kitchen twine.  I mean, the poor thing’s been through enough already, don’t you think?!

Start by tucking the wing tips into the chicken’s armpit.

Next, use kitchen scissors or a knife and carefully snip a hole in the flap of skin near the chicken butt.  Tuck the left drumstick through the hole of the flap of skin on the right side.  Then do the same with the right drumstick.


When you are done, it should look like this.  Each drumstick is tucked through the flap of skin and secured tightly to the body of the chicken.  Give the chicken a good rub down with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

The Best Roast Chicken

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large bunch fresh thyme

1 lemon, quartered

1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced

4 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks

4 red potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks

2 bulbs of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges

Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme and lemon. Reserve 5 sprigs of thyme for the vegetables.  Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tuck the legs into the skin flaps and tuck the wing tips under the body. Place the onions, carrots, potatoes and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 5 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Fresh Herb Compound Butter

I completely realize that adding anything to butter is really gilding the lily, but this compound butter just adds freshness and flavor to any dish.  I selected herbs that were plentiful in my garden.  From left to right, I have thyme, chive, flat leaf parsley and Greek oregano.  You can tell it’s spring because the oregano is budding with its orange flowers.

Compound butter has a multitude of uses.  It can be used for spreading over baked fish, chicken, steaks, pasta or even mashed potatoes.  Where ever you want to add some richness and fresh herbal flavor, this butter is your answer.  It can be easily stored in the freezer, rolled up in wax paper for about 4 months.

I used two spoons to form the butter into quenelles, a three-sided football shape…….just for presentation.  This would be a lovely way to serve butter to company as well.  This video shows a simple way to make quenelles.

 

Compound Butter

1/2 cup butter (one stick)

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp chive

1 tbsp parsley

1 tbsp oregano

1/2  tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

 

Bring butter to room temperature.  Finely chop all the herbs and mix together with the butter in a small bowl.  Add salt and pepper.

 

Mix It Up!

As you can tell from this two-gallon glass jar, we eat a lot of rice in my house.  This, my friend,  is nothing.

I grew up with an entire 20-gallon bucket of rice that was stored under the kitchen sink in my parents’ house.   It’s the only place it would fit and we couldn’t lift the thing more than 3 inches off the ground, sooo there it stayed!

I was the rice preparer in the family and I’ve washed and cooked enough rice as a child to consider it illegal child labor!

Unfortunately, according to my parents it is the job of every youngest child in the Chinese family to cook the rice.  The bright side is that now it’s my 6-year old daughter’s job in the kitchen.  The irony is………..she LOVES doing it!  It’s a win-win situation.

It seems the whole world is in a tizzy about eating healthy and organic, so I decided to ease my family into it a bit without causing a big raucous.  No, I haven’t totally cleared my pantry of processed food stuffs.

I would have a mutiny on my hands people!

So this is my kitchen tip for rice:  Mix it up!!  Add in organic brown rice with your regular white rice.  Genius, right?  My mixture here is 50/50.  You do have to remember that you either want to add more water when cooking the rice this way, or soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes before cooking, to soften the brown rice.

This little tip has my family eating healthier without the big flavor shock and I feel like I pulled one over on the little buggers!

Always Use Your Leftovers

This dessert might look to you like a huge red velvet whoopie pie, but it’s actually the leftovers from a red velvet cake I made.

I’ve mentioned several times now that I am Chinese and was raised with very strong convictions about the wasting of food.  In our house, it just didn’t happen.  The only thing that was allowed to be thrown out from our dinner table were bones and fish skulls, with all the meat eaten off of course.

I take this same discipline of frugality to my baking.

 

 

This is the cake from my red velvet cake to-go post.

 

 

These are the tops that were lopped off of the cakes.

I love my cake layer cutter (on the left).  Cuts the cakes nice and evenly.

 

 

With a bit of leftover cream cheese frosting, I was able to make a dessert for my family that night.

This also served as a great distraction, because my kids were salivating over the cake I made and of course couldn’t have because it was for a friend’s birthday.  This leftover creation kept them at bay long enough for me to slip the cake out of the room undetected.

My Unsung Hero

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to introduce to you the unsung hero of my kitchen!  This is my Kitchen Aid Professional 600 stand mixer.

Stand mixer………….my blog readers.

My blog readers……………stand mixer.

Okay, now that you’ve been formally introduced, let me just start by saying that I LOVE this mixer!!!  I’m not advertising for Kitchen Aid, I promise.  I just really want to share my love of this amazing kitchen appliance.

Most all the sweet recipes in my blog have started their lives inside this mixer bowl.  The mixer not only looks sleek and modern, it is a work horse for me.  The 575-watt motor can take on quite a lot.  There are 10 mixing speeds and that’s really all you’ll need.  The 6-quart bowl size is also perfect for the amount that I usually bake.

If you are in the market for a stand mixer, I would highly recommend this one.  Kitchen Aid has so many different models, so just make sure you research which fits your needs the best.  The added deal for me was that I bought it at Bed Bath & Beyond with the 20% coupon and then waited until they had a rebate promotion.  I ended up getting a $40 rebate and a free 2-year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine.

Okay, now that I’ve shared my favorite small kitchen appliance, I want to hear about yours!  Please share!

 

How to line a round cake pan

I love efficiency!  I mean LOVE, okay I’m obsessed!

I don’t understand why there are a line of cars waiting at a red light when the lane right next to it sits empty.  I’ll be the first to swerve crazily into the lane with no cars in it.  Is it just me?!

Like I said, I love efficiency.  So, when I learn a new trick that will save me time in the kitchen, I’m all for it.  I love this one.

Start with a square sheet of parchment paper that is slightly larger than your pan.  Fold it in half, bringing the left edge to the right edge. Fold in half again, bringing the top to the bottom, into a quarter of a sheet.  The upper left corner will now be the mid point of your round cake pan.  Fold the top edge to the left edge and make a triangle.  Bring the right edge to the left edge again and you will make a smaller triangle.

I know that was a lot of instructions, but bear with me.  You’ll be rewarded in the end with a wonderful cake that won’t stick to the pan.

 

Place the tip of the triangle in the middle of your pan.

 

Cut off the excess, right to the edge of the pan.

 

Like magic, you will open the paper and you’ll have a circle!  Clever huh?

Gone are the days of tracing around the bottom of your pan with a pencil and then cutting all around the paper.  That always made me feel like I was cutting out a snowflake in Kindergarten class.

 

Here’s the test………it fits!  I don’t know why, but I’m always a little surprised when it fits.

Now, remove the paper and grease your pan.  Put the paper back and grease the top of that too.

Hope you enjoyed this little time-saver!