Sunday, May 1, 2011

What to eat when your birthday is on Easter

Why, Mexican of course!

Oh, the Easter dinner battle wages on in my family. Every year in my family, my parents and I host Easter dinner. And every year the chasm of disagreement on what we should serve rears it's ugly head.

Dad wants ham and sweet potatoes. I want lamb with spring greens. Mom just wants us to stop arguing.

This year however, I held the trump card. The "it's my birthday card."  And yet, even at 25 years of age, that card still isn't stronger than the "Dad card". So, I played the next best suit in my hand: the enchiladas compromise.

My mom has been making chicken enchiladas (casserole style) for as long as I can remember. My maternal grandfather is from Texas so Mexican food (or Tex-Mex!) has been a tradition in our family since long before my mother or I were born. Needless to say this meal is one that the whole family can agree on.

When I was a little girl I thought that these "special enchiladas" were a family secret recipe. Actually, no...they are simply a gem in this Texas cookbook.

The book always falls open to this much loved (and stained!) page. Well, and keeping some avocados stored in there helps, too.

If you are also having a family disagreement over dinner, give this compromise card a try yourself. Here is my take on the "secret family" recipe.

Chop and saute onions and green peppers.

Mix it up with a couple cups of shredded, cooked chicken and a can of green chilies.

We boil a whole chicken with some basic spices (salt, pepper, bay leaf), then skin and shred the meat, reserving the 2 cups of the broth for later in the recipe.

Set aside the chicken and veggie mixture.  Now let's work on the sauce.  

Create a spiced roux with coriander, cumin, flour and a touch of salt in butter over medium heat. Then slowly pour in the reserved broth and stir until smooth.

Turn off the heat and stir in ~ 2 cups of shredded monterey cheese (the cheddar will be for the topping). Stir until smooth and then add one cup of sour cream and mix until uniform.

Add ~1/2 a cup of the sauce to the chicken mixture and combine. This will be the filing for the enchiladas.

Set up the "assembly station" with the sauce, large tortilla shells and large casserole dish near by. A large dinner plate is used for filling and rolling the individual enchiladas, demonstrated below.

Dip a shell in the sauce, to coat. Add ~1/4 cup of filling. Spread the filling the length of the tortilla. Fold and roll up the shell. Transfer to the baking dish. Lick your fingers. Whoopsie! How did that last one get in here? (No worries, guys and gals, I didn't start licking my delicious, sauce coated digits until the pan was filled and finished!)

Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the rolled enchiladas and top with the remaining monterey and cheddar cheese, plus jalapenos and cilantro.

Even unbaked, so pretty and yummy!

I mixed up a batch of my famous guacamole*....

...while Dad stirred up "bad-ass margaritas"** 

Cold, refreshing and grandmother approved! 

We served the enchiladas (baked on the grill ~375 degrees F for 30 minutes) with the guac, refried beans and a topping bar.

My loaded plate.

No, sneaky Easter bunny...I'm not sharing a single bite. nom, nom, indeed!

And since it was a birthday/Easter celebration, I requested my favorite dessert: cheesecake.

For ease and convenience I picked up a variety platter from Publix. The chocolate swirl is my favorite. Just as good as homemade!

I was one stuffed birthday bunny by the end of that meal. Delicious beyond words and even more important- it wasn't ham! bahahah. 

Love to all,
~the, "I love it when I get my way, sort of" gal, Jess

*Jess' Guac (inspired by Rosa Mexican tableside guacamole service)
4 ripe avocados, peeled and cubed
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
juice of 1 small lime
sea salt, black pepper- to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped (if available-the selection was horrible at the store that weekend)

Mix together all ingredients together gently (you want it to be chunky) and serve with tortilla chips.

**Bad Ass Margarita's (Inspired by the Sweet Potato Queens)
1 12 oz can frozen limeade (partially defrosted-I usually pull it out of the freezer about 10 minutes before prep time)
12 oz tequila
12 oz 7-up soda
12 oz lager style beer (the original recipe calls for Corona, but I'm not a fan so my family usually uses Budweiser...but any lager or lite lager would work great).

Add the limeade to a large pitcher, then use the can to measure the rest of the ingredients. Stir gently and serve on the rocks in lime/salt rimmed glasses.

(Due to the carbonation in the beer and soda, please do not try to blend these, unless you enjoy cleaning kitchen floors, walls and ceilings. I don't.)


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