Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Delicious Homemade Chicken Enchiladas

I was first introduced to these awesome enchiladas by my friend Jen from Hope Studios.  Jen is a great cook and baker and everything she makes is delicious!  She's really great at adding those extra touches to make a dish look great too.  Above are the enchiladas I made and below are the enchiladas Jen made.

This is Mexican comfort food at it's best!  I loved all the toppings she prepared so we could personalize them.  My favorites are avocado, lettuce, just a smidge of sour cream, and lots of cilantro.  Serve these enchiladas with Mexican Rice with Black Beans.  If there are any leftovers, I like to freeze one or two in a container with leftover rice and after a few minutes in the microwave, voila! - instant yummy lunch for one!

Chicken Enchiladas
adapted from The New Best Recipe by Cook's Illustrated
serves 6

1 medium onion, diced 
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
16 ounces canned tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, whole
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons pickled jalapeno, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
12 6 inch corn tortillas

Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium low heat. add the onions, cover, and cook until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato sauce and water and bring to a simmer. cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Place the chicken in the sauce. reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. 

Strain the sauce to remove solids and season with salt and pepper.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite size pieces. toss the chicken with about 1/2 cup of the sauce, 1 cup cheddar cheese, jalapenos, and cilantro and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 300F. spray a 9x13 inch pan with non stick spray. set aside.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave so they are pliable. place about 1/3 of a cup of the chicken mixture in each tortilla. roll each and place them seam side down in the pan. continue until the pan is full.

Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the enchiladas. sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese. cover with foil and bake about 25 minutes, or until the enchiladas are heated through.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pink Ruffle Cake

While our kitchen was being renovated, I didn't do a lot of baking.  I had an oven, but no counter space and no dishwasher.   But it was a big year for my daughter and her wonderful group of friends. Throughout the year, they were all turning sweet 16, getting driver's permits and licenses and more freedom.  (yay for them, yikes for me!)  Of course they wanted tasty and pretty cakes to celebrate so I did my best!

Here's the how-to:  I frosted the cake with a thin smooth layer of Swiss meringue buttercream icing. Then, I used an Ateco 104 tip (a petal tip) and held the piping bag at a 90 degree angle to the side of the cake with the skinny end of the tip on the top and the larger end of the tip on the bottom.  I started at the top of the cake, applying icing horizontally in a ruffly circle.  (A cake decorating turntable is great to use here.)  I repeated going down the cake, overlapping a tiny bit of the bottom of the previous circle of icing until I reached the bottom.  That's it!  Pretty ruffles for pretty girls!  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Giant Cupcake Cake!

I baked this cake for a very cute 9-year-old girl.  She loves cupcakes, and what could be better than a giant cupcake on your 9th birthday!  

I used the Wilton giant cupcake pan.  Although I will link to it here, I'm not sure I'd recommend using it.  The top and bottom cavities are connected and since they are very different shapes, they took very different times to bake.  So the top was done long before the bottom - and the bottom took forever to bake all the way through and ended up denser than pound cake.  The top half was probably a little dry and over-baked.  (good thing there was lots of icing!)

Next time, I would bake multiple cake layers, assembling the layers with icing and then refrigerating until firm.  After the cake is well-chilled, I would carve all around using a serrated edge knife to make the cupcake shape.  A less-than-perfect carving job will be well disguised by the decorations.  The bottom is covered with pink tinted fondant (I made a template from parchment paper first) and the top is covered with chocolate buttercream using a Wilton 1M tip.  A fondant daisy and sprinkles top it off.

I took note of the dimensions (height and diameters) of the pan to guide me in the next giant cupcake I bake.  The cake will cut into 15-20 moderate slices.  Since the cupcake is tall, I would slice the top half separate from the bottom half.   Let me know if you try this cake!  I'd love to see your photos!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Tennis Cake and A Shortcut: Using Candy Melts for Writing

A problem I run into when I am making chocolate ganache icing for a cake is that I have to make another icing which can be colored with food coloring for the writing on the cake.  This means thinking ahead and getting the butter out to soften, making a fraction of a recipe for buttercream, dirtying another bowl and beaters, and adding food coloring to the right shade.  

So here's a shortcut for you:  If you have candy melts on hand (such as the Wilton brand you can get a JoAnn's), you can place the melted candy coating in a decorator's bottle or a plastic baggie with a small hole cut in the corner and write away!  The candy coating is already colored so there's no need to mess with food coloring (in fact, don't try to add regular gel food coloring to candy melts, or the candy coating will seize.)

Tennis anyone?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Margarita and Lime Cookies

Hello and Happy Summer - my favorite time of the year!  I hope you are enjoying the warm temperatures and having a margarita or two.  I'm dusting off my camera and hope to bring you more yummy photos to look at.   Are you baking or working on any fun projects, reading any good books, how is your garden growing?  Let me know in the comments!


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