Recipes, products and tasty morsels that move me.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Healthy Enchilada - it's not an oxymoron!

I love Mexican food. I mean. I really love Mexican food. I could eat it everyday of the week, and probably have at some point. I blame my Mom. She says she was always craving it when she was pregnant with me. So either I already favored tacos in the womb or my Mom's eating habits heavily influenced me. That's a story for another day, though. I actually plan trips home to my parent's house around whether or not I can hit Ellensburg during a time when my favorite taco truck is open.

For years I have tried to recreate enchiladas like you get at a standard Mexican restaurant. Mine never taste the same. For one thing, it's hard to find large corn tortillas. Another problem is that enchilada sauce available at the grocery store does not taste like the stuff you get at a restaurant. I've tried making my own sauce many times and it never turns out very well - until now.

I had a hankering for chicken enchilada's this week. But, I am also trying to eat healthier and cut down my calories. What's a girl to do? Well, turns out it's not that hard to make delicious and fairly nutritious enchiladas.

First, the sauce. I looked up a few different sauce recipes and decided to go with one from Emeril Lagasse. Now, say what you want about Emeril - I have made several of his recipes and they always turn out delicious. I don't like to watch his show but I trust his recipes to turn out. Here is the recipe I used:

I had almost all the ingredients for this sauce on hand. Of course, I tweaked it a bit. Instead of chicken broth I poached chicken tenders for my enchilada filling and used some of the water from that. I added two teaspoons of a sodium free chicken stock powder for flavoring. I also added some garlic powder and red pepper flakes to give it more of a kick. I only used 6 oz of tomato paste and found that to be plenty. Finally, I did thin it out with more water before pouring it on the enchiladas.

Now, for the filling. I usually use chunked up chicken breast that I've browned in a skillet with some oil. I saved the calories from the oil and just poached about 1 lb of chicken tenders in water. Then I just shredded the tenders with my fingers after they had been cooled off with cold water.

Finally, with some searching, I was able to find 8" diameter corn tortillas. I can't recommend highly enough that you search for these. They taste much more authentic, and are much better for you, than flour tortillas.

So, here's the final recipe. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. I ate the leftovers today and was in heaven!

Chicken Enchiladas

For the sauce:

Follow Emeril's recipe and add or alter:

2 cups water from poached chicken

1 teaspoon garlic powder or minced garlic

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons dry chicken stock

For the filling:

1 lb poached chicken tenders cooled and shredded

1 can black beans, drained

Additional Ingredients:

7 corn tortillas, 8" diameter

1.5 cups shredded cheese, I used a Mexi-Blend

Intsructions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Poach Chicken, be sure to reserve 2 or more cups of the water when draining. While chicken cools make sauce (follow link above for recipe). Shred chicken. Wrap 7 corn tortillas in moist paper towels, microwave for 30 seconds then flip over and microwave 30 more seconds. What you're trying to achieve is getting the tortillas pliable enough so they don't split when you fill and roll them.

Set up a station with tortillas, chicken and black beans. Pour about 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 pan. Fill each tortilla with some chicken and black beans, careful not to overfill. Roll the tortilla and place them in your pan. You should be able to fit about 7 filled tortillas. When the pan is full pour the remaining sauce evenly over the enchiladas. Top with the cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dogs Deserve Delicious Things Too

About a year ago my husband and I adopted a dog. We both grew up having dogs in the house and always knew we would get one as soon as we had a fenced yard. Eventually we settled on the breed we wanted, a lab, and then started the debate of whether to purchase a lab from a breeder or try to adopt from a shelter. One day, we happened to be lost while driving around the Bellevue area and realized we were pretty close to the King County Humane Society. It was a Sunday and we didn't have anything else to do, so we figured we'd stop in and just take a look at the dogs they had for adoption. We honestly had very little anticipation that we would leave the facility with a dog that day.

The very first dog we saw upon entering the long row of kennels was a large and energetic yellow lab named Duke. I looked at my husband and said "That dog is too big. We can't handle a dog that big" and we moved on down the hall. If you've never been to the Humane Society, let me just say - it makes you want to adopt all those dogs and just take them home and love them. I know they are treated well and get fed properly and receive the medical attention they need - but it just hurt my heart to see them all. We spoke to one of the people that worked there about a black lab and found out that it wasn't good with other dogs so we gave up on that one very quickly. Then I said "What about that yellow lab, Duke?" The person assisting us looked at me and her eyes lit up. "Duke is a wonderful dog. He's just gotten a bit of a bad reputation." Seems Duke had accidentally (truly, it was an accident, at least five workers came up to us to explain how it wasn't Duke's fault) bitten a worker there and they have to disclose that information. Turns out most people don't want to adopt a huge dog that recently bit someone. So, we played with Duke and he seemed like your typical energetic lab. After about 20 minutes we walked back inside and said we'd like to adopt him.

To say that the people at the Humane Society were surprised by this would be an understatement. Duke had been with them quite awhile, already been adopted once and returned, and they went to great lengths to make sure we really knew what we were getting ourselves into. We assured them we did and the 2 hours of questionnaires and paperwork began. It is quite a process to adopt a dog, as it should be. However, if you have the patience, the Humane Society is the way to go. They make sure the dog is spayed or neutered and has all the necessary shots except for rabies. They give you one free vet visit (presumably so you can get that rabies shot right away), food samples, a month of pet insurance in case any problems arise, the list goes on and on. It's amazing.

We took Duke home with us that day. I can't say it has always been easy. There were times when my husband and I had very honest conversations about whether we could keep him. But, we, and he, persevered. We had private dog trainers come in and help us with some behavioral issues. We figured out that he is tall enough to easily retrieve any food left on counters and now we know to put everything in cupboards that he can't get into (this was learned the hard way - several bags of produce and a home made pie crust were sacrificed in the process). At this point, I don't remember what life was like before we had him. Only that it wasn't as good as it is now.

Last Sunday was one year since we'd adopted Duke. We call it his "Birthday" since we'll never know the real day he was born on. Of course, he was more spoiled than usual. Which is saying something because he's pretty spoiled already. I made him some special treats from scratch from the book The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook by Liz Palika. These treats were very simple to make and he went crazy for them. I even took a bite of one to see how they tasted and they were pretty good. They are not that different from biscuits I sometimes make for dinner. If you have a four legged friend in your life and you feel like spoiling them, make them a batch of these.

Gina's Three Cheese Cookies


  • 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup grated canned Parmesan and Romano Cheese

  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup evaporated low fat milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all of the ingredients well. Form the dough into teaspoon size balls (dough was too wet for this - I just dropped onto cookie sheet by teaspoon full) Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until light golden brown (mine was 12 minutes). Remove from the oven, let cool thoroughly, and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Do look behind this curtain.

I love New York. I know, I know. It's such a cliche'. But, it's a cliche' for a reason. The city's not for everybody, I get that. And, if I'm being honest with myself, I just don't have the patience (nor am I hip or cool enough) to ever actually live there. But, I love to visit. My husband and I recently went to New York City for a wedding. We touched down on Friday evening with just enough time to stop by our hotel in mid-town and freshen up then hop a cab to the tres chic Upper East Side to meet our friends Anders and Yvette for dinner. Now, I know what you are thinking "Upper East Side? What kind of overpriced, snobby restaurant is she going to write about?" Well, you're wrong. I'm going to head in the other direction actually. Although, we did walk by Phillipe, a restaurant that Yvette informed me is regularly featured on Real Housewives of New York.

My friend Yvette is perhaps the reason I love New York so much. I know if I'm in the city I'll get to see her and that makes me happy. She's a great friend for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is our shared love of food. We are similar in that we can both get equally excited about a french fry or foie gras. The decision on which restaurant we should eat at was left up to her and I knew we'd be in good hands.

When Yvette told me we were going to get burgers I figured we were going casual and I wore some jeans and flats. When this burger joint happened to be in the Parker Meridien hotel - I started to second guess my choice of attire. I mean, this is a hotel that actually calls itself Le Parker Meridien. Seriously, the signs outside say "Le". I found that hilarious for some reason. We walk into the very posh lobby and as soon as we can see the front desk the smell hits us. Grease. Yummy, greasy food. Yvette points to an incredibly tall velvet curtain and explains to us that the burger joint (it's really just called "the burger joint") is behind there. I found it hard to believe but, sure enough, when we rounded the corner there was an itty bitty burger joint tucked away in the lobby. The place was packed and the line went all the way to the door. Just as we walked in someone got up from a table in the back and Yvette, the cool New Yorker that she is, slid past everybody in line and grabbed the soon to be empty space. Our husbands met us a few minutes later with cheeseburgers, fries, cokes, milkshakes......mmmm. The menu is limited but who cares when cheeseburgers are an option. Yvette's vanilla shake was delicious, the fries were very good, but the burgers were the star of the show. Juicy, flavorful, cooked to perfection. And we managed to have dinner in New York for less than $25 a couple - no small feat.

If you're ever in NYC and you're in need of a delicious and cheap meal, check out the burger joint.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm lazy. And for that I apologize.

Hello, dear reader. It's me, I'm back. I'm sorry I have gone so long without posting. I took a long vacation and I was daunted by the thought of writing a post that covered all the amazing things I consumed during that I just put it off, and put it off and put it get the idea. And then I realized, I don't have to write about that. So here we are. Starting fresh.

I had a weekend full of delicious things and I am excited to share with you. Many of you know that my husband and I, with the help of our trusty partners in crime Sara and Jay, have been working our way through Seattle Metropolitan Magazine's Top 10 Restaurants list. This week we ventured out to Crush. It was our fourth pick from the list and we were not disappointed. Crush is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in a house that has been redesigned to accommodate a restaurant. The atmosphere seems a bit confused - but the food makes up for it. The menu offers a good variety of options and each item we tried was met with "Ohmygodthisisdelicious!" or "mmmmm...". The portions were not large, but the food was so flavorful and rich that we didn't need much. I had a geoduck ceviche to start and then some hand made tagliatelle with morels and duck confit for my main course. Both dishes were inventive and well made - but the pasta was the stand out in my opinion. I ate every last bite of it. We all swooned over Sara's perfectly cooked scallops in a sauce that had a hint of curry, and both boys ordered the short ribs which we all agreed were outstanding.

The only miss of the evening was on the dessert list. We had one order of the Blue Cheese Cheesecake and we all decided there is a reason most people use cream cheese for this dessert......the blue cheese was overpowering and we just didn't care for it. I'm sure if you loved blue cheese and it's your favorite thing on earth this dessert might be for you, we just weren't feeling it. We also had an order of a Valrhona chocolate cake with salted caramel sauce and huckleberries and this dessert was a home run. The cake was warm, the salty caramel sauce was perfect and the huckleberries were a surprisingly ideal addition, they added just the right tartness to balance it out.

The service at Crush was outstanding. And the wine list was fantastic. But, I'll end with this final note - the bill was shockingly high. While I do recommend this restaurant, I would suggest it as a special occasion place. Thanks to my sweet husband for treating me to such a wonderful meal.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Good for your soul? Not sure, but it is just plain GOOD.

Delicious Things has been on hiatus for a few weeks as I ate my way through SE Asia. Look for a posting in the next few days on my favorite meals of the trip. I love to travel, but it wears me out. Jet lag and constantly eating out can take it's toll. Today, with a sick husband to care for, I decided to make a big pot of soup. It's healthy and comforting and I like that it makes a large quantity so I can eat it for lunch during the week.

If you don't have a favorite recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup - I recommend this one. I made it up today and it was pretty darn good (if I don't say so myself!). I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you do make the soup. I don't make up very many of my own recipes and I enjoy the feedback. This is a great recipe for Sunday because it takes a while to do it properly. Give yourself at least three hours, although that's not all active time.

I hope you enjoy!

Amanda's Chicken Soup

Olive Oil
1 sweet onion, diced
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 chicken thighs, bone-in
fresh thyme leaves, about 2 tablespoons
4 cups chicken stock
6 cups water
1/2 bag egg noodles
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh dill and lemon juice for garnish.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, saute onion, carrot, celery and garlic until softened - about 5-10 minutes. Add whole chicken thighs, chicken stock, water and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour and then transfer chicken thighs to a plate. Turn off heat and let broth come to room temp while the chicken cools. After broth has come to room temp (takes about an hour) skim fat off top. Tear chicken off the bone, removing any chunks of fat, and add the meat back into the pot of broth. Bring to a boil and then add noodles. Boil until noodles are cooked through. Garnish each bowl with fresh, chopped dill and a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice.

Makes about 12 servings.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hometown Gem

Let me be clear, I love where I grew up. Richland, Washington was the perfect place for a childhood. Big enough that you could avoid people if you needed to (think cops and annoying ex-boyfriends) and small enough that, once I was in high school, my parent's felt pretty safe when I was out until midnight running around with my friends. However, in the 15 years since I last lived there, things have changed. It seems every time I go home a new expanse of land that was merely sagebrush and tumbleweeds a few years back is now a mini mall or a housing development - or, often times, both. Each visit I am met with a new restaurant to try - unfortunately, they are all restaurants that I can try in any city in the country with a population of more than 100k people. Some folks take comfort in the fact that they can eat at any PF Chang's and their Orange Chicken will taste the same every time - but, I like something a little more original.

Generally, I don't get too excited for meals when I visit my family - but that might be changing. This past weekend my Mom took me to Monterosso's Italian Restaurant. This little gem is hidden behind a Mexican restaurant in the middle of Richland in, of all things, an antique railroad dining car. Original? Yes. Great food? Absolutely. And the service was good, too. After we politely asked the waitress to not seat us at the table directly next to the door I was a bit worried she might be irritated with us, but she hid it well if she was. The menu is small by chain restaurant standards but good sized when compared to local Seattle restaurant menu's. The wine list was decent. The ambiance leaves something to be desired, but it's in a railroad car so space is extremely limited and they've done what they can with it. It was also still daylight out when we ate so perhaps darkness and some candlelight would have made things a bit more picturesque. But, the food was spectacular.

Neither of us was very hungry so we skipped the appetizers and salads - which was great because I didn't feel guilty about eating all of the amazing house made bread they brought to our table. It is similar to a beer bread and each person gets their own little loaf along with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. For entrees I ordered the Lemon Pepper Prawns Linguine. I had a choice of a cream or white wine sauce - I chose the lighter white wine sauce. My Mom ordered the Cajun Seafood Saute, not a particularly authentic Italian dish, but it is her favorite thing and she can not stray. The food arrived and we ate every bite. The linguine was simple and delicious. It wasn't overpowered with a lot of different flavor elements. My Mom's seafood dish was outstanding - spicy and saucy, much more complex than my linguine, and just plain tasty. We soaked up all the sauce on her plate with the couple pieces of bread we had left. We left stuffed and happy and we might just have a new go-to restaurant for when I come to visit her.

Thanks, Mom!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feeding My Need to Feed

There are few things I enjoy more than making a meal for my friends or family. I love to put a plate of food in front of someone only to hear a few minutes later between bites "This is sooooo goooood....." There are all sorts of different reason that I like to cook for different people. I like to cook for my Mom because I can see that she is truly impressed that the little chef that managed to get pudding on her kitchen ceiling (during one of my earliest attempts at baking) is now an accomplished cook that can whip up healthy and delicious food. I like to cook for my husband because, well, I love my husband and for me there is no better way to show him how much I care. But, of all the people I've cooked and baked for, my all time favorite is my friend Mansur. Mansur went to college with Dan and we were lucky enough to live near him for a short time when we moved to Philadelphia. We often had him over for dinner and I loved it because Mansur genuinely appreciated that I cooked for him and he loves food - not to mention, he's just good company. Whether I made him filet mignon or a grilled cheese sandwich he was always excited. One time I made grilled steaks with a Gorgonzola sauce and we all three ate so much that we ended up laying on our floor in agony (or ecstasy, depending on how you look at) for the rest of the night moaning about how full we were.

Mansur has been on my mind this week because it's the middle of NCAA March Madness and every year we play in an online pool with him and some other friends for bracket supremacy. So, when I was pondering what to cook for dinner on Saturday night I was reminded of a meal I prepared for Mansur that he particularly liked. If memory serves - the first time I made this he and I finished the entire pan in one sitting. Venetian Shrimp & Scallops is a Rachel Ray recipe - so it can supposedly be made in 30 minutes or less. I think it takes closer to 45 but it depends on how much you have prepped before you start cooking. One thing is for sure - get lots of crusty bread for the table to soak up the delicious broth! This dish is similar to Cioppino but less expensive and much less time consuming. The recipe can be found here. It makes four servings but at times I have scaled it up to 9 servings with relative ease.