California Girl comments: Dear Readers, We are so excited to introduce a new contributor to our blog. Ms. April will be joining us as our chef and baker. Although she hasn’t been speaking on the blog, she has been with us on many of our adventures. I often write about her as the “healthy one” or “my friend who does it all”. She not only cooks, but she also grows many of her own fruits and vegetables, cans them into preserves, sauces, pie fillings, and condiments. But the thing that I really go WOW over is her baking. I have several friends who bake. I bake, but Ms. April is an artist. Her creations are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. More importantly, they are among the best flavor I have ever tasted. If you consider that I have eaten cakes and confections from all over the world, that statement is saying a lot. I am always asking her for tips or cooking ideas for the parties I throw.
She gave me classes on cake decoration (because honestly, I suck). She helped me make my cakes and cupcakes as beautiful as they are delicious. You know what the most annoying thing about her is, though? She does it all looking absolutely model perfect and gorgeous without a hair out of place. Help me to welcome her warmly, and watch to see what amazing things she makes. I’m getting hungry. How about you?
I really can’t express how excited I am to be invited to be a guest writer on this amazing blog! Even though I don’t consume alcohol, I read the Napa Food & Vine blog religiously, and I love the funny, honest way it is written! That being said, California Girl’s writings are going to be a hard act to follow. But, I hope you will not only enjoy my posts but develop a connection with me as well!
I live in California, and I was a little bummed that “California Girl” was taken. Thinking up a name to go by was a little daunting–and I asked my family. “Sassy Grandma?” Uh, No. “Smarty Pants?” Uh, No. “Sexy Nana?” Definitely not! So, I decided you would just get to know me like everyone else…. Ms. April. That’s me. I absolutely love to cook and entertain, and my specialty is desserts.
On the side, I do special occasion cakes and weddings and the thrill of seeing the brides face when she sees my “creation” for the first time still gives me goose pimples. I have made several of California Girl’s birthday cakes over the years, and last year did a Kailua infused fudge creation for the Brits’ birthday, which was a huge success! I hope to be able to share some of those desserts with you, as well as tips, tricks, and shortcuts for busy cooks for those savory dishes we all love! I am beyond busy, and I am not above using a quick shortcut to get that meal out fast and easy! Your guests never need to know your secret! Just learn to say “thank you” and smile when those compliments come pouring in!
I have chosen a family favorite for my first recipe for you! It is fast and easy, and the taste is absolutely amazing! Since my last name is of Mexican and Chilean descent, a “south of the border” entrée is a perfect dish to start off with! So let’s get started on Green Chile Enchiladas! This recipe is one of those super fast entrées that can be put together very quickly with very few ingredients. One of the reasons I love it so much is that these ingredients are always in my pantry! As we get to know each other, you will find that an absolute necessity in your pantry is chicken stock. Chicken broth is different and will do in a pinch, but I love the rich depth of flavor that chicken stock provides. I buy mine by the case, at Costco. It comes in 1 quart boxes that easily store in the refrigerator if you don’t use the entire box!
You are going to need about 2-3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken to start off with. You can use leftover chicken, or you can simmer a couple chicken breasts in chicken stock (it makes a huge difference in flavor to cook in stock rather than water), and then cool and shred it. If you are in a hurry, or just feeling like you want it to be easy, pick up a roasted chicken in the deli section of your favorite market. Remove the skin and shred the meat….easy peasy!
2-3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
equal amounts of grated Monterey jack cheese (or the Mexican blend that is pre-grated in bags at the store)
2 cups of chicken stock (if you cooked your chicken in stock, save it and run through a mesh colander and use it!)
3 TBSP each of flour and real butter
1 package of cream cheese OR 1 cup of sour cream
1 small can of green chilies, diced.
1 package of small flour tortillas (not the burrito size!)
When your chicken meat is cooled and shredded, toss it together with half of the grated cheese. Roll up this mixture in the tortillas, leaving the ends open, and place them seam side down in 9×13 casserole pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. You should end up with 8 to 10 enchiladas, depending on how much chicken you put in them!
In a quart size saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat and then whisk in the flour. Let it bubble for a minute to cook the flour. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock so there are no lumps! If you add it too fast, you will get lumps and be called out as an amateur! Continue to stir this mixture while it heats until it is thick and bubbly. Remove from the stove, and stir in either the sour cream or the cream cheese block. My family prefers the cream cheese, as it is thick and delicious and adds a rich creaminess to the sauce! Once the sour cream or cream cheese is completely stirred in (the cream cheese has to melt), add the can of diced green chilies. Gently stir until it is all mixed together.
Pour this delicious sauce over the enchiladas, making sure to cover them all! Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the entire dish, and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes! This is a MILD dish, not spicy at all–so it’s perfect for a family with children. After you have made it once, you can spice it up by adding onions to the chicken/cheese mixture if you like!
I serve this with a side salad with a salsa avocado verde dressing and it is fabulous!