19 September 2011

Our Favorite Things

No, it's not raindrops on roses (although whiskers on kittens are pretty darn cute). However, this weekend I treated our household to our favorite dinners. Mine being sour cream enchiladas, Shawn's being chicken parmesan.

Saturday night we had our new friends Kim and Brian over for dinner for the first time. Kim is an awesome travel blogger who I met by  mere coincidence after reading a guest post on another fantastic travel blog I read in its entirety during a two-week temp job. Since Kim is a fellow Portlander, I sent a fateful email wishing her the best as she and her husband prepare for long-term travel, and received a response suggesting a beer sometime (another shared love of ours). The rest is now history. Thankfully they love Mexican food, as well, and so the menu was set. I won't bore you describing the whole process here (see recipe below), but trust me, it's messy. It used to be a lot messier back in the days before I was able to roll an enchilada one-handed, but regardless, it still requires sticking most of that one hand in a bowl full of sour cream and buttermilk. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Part of the lineup

Be careful not to let them sit too long in the sour cream/buttermilk mixture or the tortilla will rip when you try to roll it

That is YEARS of practice in the works

Before baking...already looks good enough to eat

So worth waiting for, though....

Sunday night, after our gluttonous, but fun, evening of Mexican food and beer, I went a little lighter. And by a little lighter, I mean little. I used the America's Test Kitchen recipe for lighter chicken parmesan, but let's face it--you're still throwing a pile of cheese on breaded chicken. It's not exactly the healthiest meal I've ever made. At least it's baked.

Nice and bubbly right from the oven with a little basil from our garden

After preparing both the light and not-so-light fried version of the same dish, I honestly have to say I prefer the light version. It's just a little less greasy, the outside stays nice and crunchy and I barely notice the lower fat cheese. I probably add a lot more than is recommended, but it has to still be better for me. Right? Right??

Abuelita's Sour Cream Enchiladas
Makes 1 dozen

1 dozen corn tortillas (Mission thin style work the best here)
Corn oil (enough to fill pan to about 1/2")
2 cans of whole green chiles (mild)
1 16-oz container of sour cream
1 pint buttermilk
8 oz Monterey jack cheese
8 oz queso fresco (feta will work in place of queso fresco, but find the mildest version you can)
1 onion, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large, shallow bowl, combine sour cream and buttermilk until smooth. Open and drain cans of chiles; tear into thin strips and leave on plate for easy access for assembly. Shred jack cheese and crumble queso fresco into medium bowl. Combine both cheeses with minced onion. Set aside. Set up an assembly line of the sour cream mixture, 9x12 baking dish, cheese mixture and chiles.

Heat corn oil over medium heat until shimmering. Take care to pull each of the tortillas apart before starting (you'll need to move fast once you start). Dip the first tortilla in the oil and heat until it is just soft. Using tongs, pull the tortilla from the oil letting the excess drip off and place into the sour cream mixture. With your free hand (or someone's help), coat the tortilla completely with mixture. Place in one edge of the pan, put a handful of cheese mixture in the middle (take care to distribute evenly), then a chile strip, roll, and repeat with the remaining tortillas. You should have leftover chiles. Warning: after hot oil has been dripping into your sour cream mixture, it may be quite hot. Be careful!

Once you have a tightly packed tray, pour remaining sour cream mixture over enchiladas. If you have any cheese leftover, sprinkle on top. Lay the remaining chiles on each of the enchiladas before baking (this will help you to figure out where one ends and another begins).

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake until bubbly and slightly browned on top, about 15-20 minutes. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Lighter Chicken Parmesan
Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen Best Light Recipes
If you are tight on time, you can substitute 2 cups of your favorite plain tomato sauce for the Simple Tomato Sauce. Two cups of fresh bread crumbs can be substituted for the panko (they will shrink as they toast). Because these cutlets are breaded, we found that one cutlet per person was plenty—but try to buy the largest chicken breasts you can to ensure good-sized portions.

1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
Vegetable cooking spray
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat and sliced into cutlets
2 cups tomato sauce, warmed
3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.
2. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.
3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.
4. Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.

Cal 310; Fat 8 g; Sat fat 2.5 g; Chol 75 mg; Carb 20 g; Protein 38 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 790 mg


  1. Those enchiladas are SO FREAKING GOOD! But I know for a fact I don't have the skill to even attempt them. Thanks for sharing them with us! :)

  2. I can vouch for the deliciousness of the meals this past weekend! Definitely the highlight(s) of my weekend....thanks, honey!

  3. You can learn a lot about someone just by knowing his/her favorite dish. Looks like yours is very special.

  4. Nicely written sweetie "Abuelita" would be very proud of you.