Cheezie Chicken Enchiladas

Tabasco Salsa

Tabasco Salsa

Facebook fan, Desiree Rempel, recently shared one of her favorite recipes. I whipped it up the other night with one small change — I used diced tomatoes, rather than pimientos. It was a very wonderful dish. I chose to top it with green chili sauce. I had received a jar of Tabasco Salsa a couple of weeks ago and had that on the side along with some vegetable rice.

Serves: 2-4

Depending on the size of the tortillas, the recipe will yield 4-6 enchiladas. I use 8 inch diameter tortillas and am able to make 5 enchiladas with plenty left over for topping.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (red preferred)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken
  • 1 can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 8 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • Flour tortillas, warmed

Directions:

Prepared Enchilads ready for oven

Prepared Enchiladas ready for oven

Cut chicken into small cubes no larger than 1 inch. In boiling water, cook chicken for 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Chicken can then be easily chopped into smaller pieces. Set chicken aside.

In a medium pot, over medium/medium-high heat, melt butter being careful not to burn. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add broth and cook until slightly thickened again stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until well mixed. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese, chicken, chilies and diced tomatoes. Mix well, making sure cheese is melted.

Cheezie Enchaladas with Vegetable Rice and Salsa

Cheezie Enchiladas with Vegetable Rice and Salsa

Spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of mixture onto each tortilla. Roll each up and place side by side, seam side down in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Pour and spread remaining mixture over enchiladas. Top with remaining 1 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve 1 to 2 enchiladas per plate. Suggested toppings, fresh chopped cilantro, green chili sauce, roasted red pepper or salsa.

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Fideo: Goodness from Mama’

All ingredients combined!

All ingredients combined!

My grandmother makes quite a few dishes that are particular to a Mexican household.  You won’t find fideo (or Mexican spaghetti) in many Mexican restaurants but what you will find is a variety of ways this dish is prepared.  In my house, this is how this deceptively simple dish is made…

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of fideo (or vermecilli)
  • 5 tbsp of vegetable or olive oil                      

    Finished goodness from Mama'!!!

    Finished goodness from Mama'!!!

  • 3-4 tsp of onion powder (or to taste)
  • 3-4 tsp of garlic powder (or to taste)
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small or regular sized tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp of Hunt’s tomato sauce (or more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of hamburger meat seasoned with onion salt, crumbled
  • Onion salt, sprinkle to taste

Serves 4

Directions:

  1. Add a little vegetable or olive oil to a warm pan and have a sauce pan on the side with warm water
  2. Pour entire box of fideo (or vermecilli) into the pan and toast to a golden color
  3. Sprinkle onion and garlic powder to the fideo during the toasting
  4. After toasting the fideo, add the chopped onion, garlic and green pepper and saute for flavor infusion
  5. After sauting, add the chopped tomato and the Hunt’s tomato sauce
  6. Add warm water to the mix of ingredients a little at a time so that the flavors get soaked up by the noodles

Add drained hamburger meat crumbles to the finished product for a heartier meal.  Many in my family eat this dish with warm corn tortillas that are fresh from the local corn tortilla shop.  Heaven!!!

Mama' & me
Mama’ and me

Enjoy!

Recipe submitted by Yvette M. Palladino, contributing food writer for Hungry-4-More
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Eggs Eggsamined

I started this article thinking it would be a simple table of egg grades and quality factors. But as I started researching the matter, I found that there is a lot of interesting information regarding eggs. I examine the structure of the egg, the effects of freshness, actual grading, and even dispel some common misconceptions regarding free-range and organic eggs and brown verses white eggs. So, which is a better egg, Grade A or Grade AA, brown or white, free-range, organic or neither? Let us find out.

Basic Egg Facts

Composition of the egg

Inside the egg

Inside on an eggDiagram courtesy of Alberta Egg Producers

Air Cell

The air cell can be the first indicator of egg quality. Air cells of no greater than 1/8 inch in height are of grade AA quality. Larger air cells up to 3/16 of an inch may be classified as grade A, air cells greater than 3/16 of one inch can only be grade B.

Albume

Albume is better known as the egg white. There are two distinct albume: a thick and a thin. Albumen accounts for most of an egg’s liquid weight (about 67%). It contains more than half the egg’s total protein, niacin, riboflavin, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, sodium and sulfur. The albumen consists of 4 alternating layers of thick and thin consistencies. From the yolk outward, they are designated as the inner thick or chalaziferous white, the inner thin white, the outer thick white and the outer thin white. Egg white tends to thin out as an egg ages because its protein changes in character. That’s why fresh eggs sit up tall and firm in the pan while older ones tend to spread out.

Albumen is more opalescent than truly white. The cloudy appearance comes from carbon dioxide. As the egg ages, carbon dioxide escapes, so the albumen of older eggs is more transparent than that of fresher eggs.

When egg albumen is beaten vigorously, it foams and increases in volume 6 to 8 times. Egg foams are essential for making souffles, meringues, puffy omelets, and angel food and sponge cakes.

Chalaza

Chalaza are strands of egg white that anchor the yolk in place in the center of the albume. They are not imperfections or beginning embryos.

Germinal Disc

The germinal disc is the channel leading to the center of the yolk. The germinal disc is barely noticeable as a slight depression on the surface of the yolk.

Shell

The shell is the egg’s outer covering which is largely composed of calcium carbonate.  It accounts for about 9 to 12% of its total weight depending on egg size.

Shell strength is greatly influenced by the minerals and vitamins in the hen’s diet, particularly calcium, phosphorus, manganese and Vitamin D. If the diet is deficient in calcium, for instance, the hen will produce a thin or soft-shelled egg or possibly an egg with no shell at all. Shell thickness is also related to egg size and the hen’s age. Older hens, for example, produce larger eggs with thinner shells.

Seven to 17 thousand tiny pores are distributed over the shell surface, a greater number at the large end. As the egg ages, these tiny holes permit moisture and carbon dioxide to move out and air to move in to form the air cell.

Yolk

The yolk (or yellow portion) makes up about 33% of the liquid weight of the egg. It contains all of the fat in the egg and a little less than half of the protein. A characteristic worth noting is that it is responsible for the egg’s emulsifying properties.

With the exception of riboflavin and niacin, the yolk contains a higher proportion of the egg’s vitamins than the white. All of the egg’s vitamins A, D and E are in the yolk. Egg yolks are one of the few foods naturally containing vitamin D. The yolk also contains more phosphorus, manganese, iron, iodine, copper, and calcium than the white, and it contains all of the zinc.
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Italian Sausage Faux Risotto

Some may not consider this a real risotto but it’s close.  All of the ingredients are there but the exact preparation is not quite true to a traditional risotto. In this recipe the fat comes from the sausage, the wine is added at the end rather than the beginning, and the Romano is not stirred in. In any case, it’s a very tasty dish.

Italian Sausage Risotto

Italian Sausage Risotto

In a traditional risotto, the rice is cooked briefly in butter or olive oil to coat the grains with fat. White wine is added and absorbed by the grains. When the wine evaporates, the heat is raised to medium high and hot stock is gradually added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly.  Stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At about 17 minutes from when the wine evaporated,  take the rice off the heat and dice cold butter and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese.  Whip in the cheese and butter to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb mild Italian sausage or hot Italian sausage, (2-3 links) casing removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chopped onion, red preferred
  • 1 bell pepper, rough chop
  • 2 Anaheim peppers, rough chop
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Directions:

In a large frying pan, cook sausage over medium-high heat, breaking into small pieces, approximately 4 minutes or until browned. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, Anaheim peppers, oregano, salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, approximately 3 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Add rice and mix well. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once. Add white wine, stirring often and simmer approximately 5 minutes or until rice is tender and creamy. Stir in tomato. Top with Romano cheese and serve immediately.

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Food & Cooking Reality Shows Update August ’09

There have been two food/cooking reality finales in the past week: “The Next Food Network Star” and “The Chopping Block”.  A third, “Top Chef: Masters,” is also nearing its finale. Two new shows are about to start as well: “Top Chef: Las Vegas” and “The Next Iron Chef”. Let us take a look at all the happenings.

The Next Food Network Star

The Next Food Network Star finished its season on August 2nd with Melissa d’Arabin (a.k.a. “Mommy Mayhem”) taking the prize. Melissa begins her own show “Ten Dollar Dinners” on Sunday August 9th. In what was described by the judges the most difficult decision in the shows history, Melissa edged out competitor Jeffery Saad. Both competitors were well qualified, however, Melissa seemed to be more charming and approachable than the more food knowledgeable Jeffery. Debbie Lee, the third place finisher, also had a good shot at it but made a few too many mistakes. Great to see another Texan on the network.

The Chopping Block

After a short time of being dropped by NBC, The Chopping Block was brought back to finish up its season on July 24th. Hosted by the culinary worlds first rock star, Marco Pierre White, sisters Kelsey and Vanessa Henderson walked away with the $250,000 dollar prize to start their own restaurant in Los Angeles. Kelsey and Vanessa won by taking Marco Pierre White’s advice to keep their menu and service simple. Runner ups, Lisa Stalvey & Michael Anapol,went the much more risky route in which Lisa cooked dishes that she had never cooked before. The third place team of Dean & Shari Della Ventura had a great shot at making the finals but failed due to being short handed in the kitchen and front of house.

Top Chef: Masters

The preliminaries of Top Chef: Masters are over and two of the six finalists have been eliminated. The final four include Michael Chiarello, Rick Bayless, Anita Lo and Hubert Keller. I really like the new scoring method with 5 points for the Quickfire Challenge, and for the Elimination Challenge, 5 points for the guest and each judge. I was rather put off with the challenges in the preliminary rounds, however, they have been much better in the finals. The chefs are not overly hand tied and can cook to their potential. My favorites to win are Hubert and Michael.

Top Chef: Las Vegas

Top Chef: Las Vegas (Season 6) starts August 19th. Padma Lakshmi returns as host alongside head judge Tom Colicchio, and judges Gail Simmons and Toby Young. Some of the guest judges scheduled to appear are Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Natalie Portman, Daniel Boulud, Penn & Teller, Hubert Keller, Laurent Tourondel, Tim Love, Michelle Bernstein, Tyler Florence, Charlie Palmer, Paul Bartolotta, Nigella Lawson and Jerome Bocuse. The season will start with 17 chefs and it looks like we have our first set of brothers (or at least related contestants) competing Michael and Bryan Voltaggio. Curiously, a majority of the contestants are from Atlanta (3), Philadelphia (2), San Francisco (3) and Seattle (2).

The Next Iron Chef

Finally, we come to The Next Iron Chef. Michael Symon won two years ago to become an Iron Chef. Who will it be this time? 10 chefs will square off this fall. The show premieres October 4th.

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