Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I made these chicken enchiladas that turned out fantastic! It was my first time making enchiladas, but it was super easy and pretty fun to do. This is a great dish to make plenty of extras for left overs, and giving to friends/family.

Here’s what you’ll need to make as much as 16 enchiladas but you can adjust as needed by dividing by 2 for 8 enchiladas…and would you ever want to make less? You’ll need:

  • For slow-cooking the chicken:
    • A whole chicken; you’ll have extras for sandwiches or soups.
    • slow cooker;
    • 1/2 an onion chopped;
    • 2 carrots chopped;
    • 2-3 celery sticks chopped;
    • chicken broth (optional);
    • Spices/ dry rub;
    • crushed or minced garlic
  • For the enchiladas:
    • shredded chicken
    • 8 to 16 corn tortillas.
    • Red enchilada sauce (24-28 oz) (quality goes a long way here);
    • Shredded Mexican blend cheese;
    • Queso fresco (optional);
    • 1/2 onion diced;
    • 1 can of Ortega (or hatch) chilies. Canned chilies are great;
    • 1 can of black olives;
    • Chopped cilantro.

First, prepare to cook the whole chicken in a slow cooker on high for about 4.5 hours. Thoroughly rub your choosing of spices and garlic all over the chicken. In this recipe, I used equal parts of: brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, kosher salt, white pepper, and crushed garlic. After removing the giblets from the inside of the chicken stuff the cavity with a mixture of chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Throw some more of the mixture on the bottom of the slow cooker so the chicken sits on top. Cook on high for 4.5 hours. Optional: add a 1/2 cup of chicken broth to get some great left over broth for soup later.

Tie the drums together like this.

After it’s all finished, carefully take out the chicken and place it on a cutting board to carve/shred the chicken. I chose to mix up all the dark and white meat together because it all tastes so good. Once shredded, allow it to cool down.

Heat up a medium saucepan with about 24-28 oz. of enchilada red sauce. Add about 1.5 to 2 cups of chicken broth. Salt and Pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the meantime, heat a bit of canola oil (you can feel free to sub olive oil here, just turn down the heat a smidge) a skillet to lightly fry the corn tortillas so they’re soft and flexible, but not crispy. Corn tortillas will begin to get little air bubbles in them when hot, take them off just as they start to appear. Do the whole batch and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Prepare a filling station: get all the ingredients you want in the enchilada in one place so you can quickly fill and roll the tortillas.

  1. Pour about 1/2 to 1 cup of the sauce into a baking dish.
  2. Place the tortilla in your left hand. Spoon some green chilies on, followed by a little bit of black olives and diced onions. The amounts are up to you, but don’t skimp on the chilies.
  3. Put chicken on top of the toppings, mix in a little shredded cheese.
  4. Roll them all up in the tortilla and place seam-down in the baking dish.
  5. Continue to place the rolled tortillas side by side in the baking dish until its full.
  6. Top with shredded cheese, crumbled queso fresco (optional), sour cream, chopped cilantro, and any remaining toppings left over from the filling station.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes to get a little crisp on the edges.

Serving suggestions: refried beans with queso fresco topping and Mexican rice. 3

Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Cream Sauce

Taco Tuesday!! Shrimp tacos are a healthy and easy dish to make every Tuesday. Usually my go-to tacos are: Carne Asada, Ground Bison (so good and lean), or shrimp. All are great for Tuesday tacos.

This taco recipe is super easy to make and takes 20 minutes max! Here’s what you’ll need to make enough for about 6 tacos:

  • Non-stick sauté pan
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp
  • Old Bay seasoning. You can substitute paprika, chili powder, a little cayenne for a kick, and cumin. But Old Bay is just the best for seafood– shout out to Connor Ford on this one!
  • Limes
  • Sour cream, about 1/4 cup or a little more to have some extra sauce.
  • Cilantro, chopped. A small bunch works here you’ll have plenty.
  • red or green cabbage shredded

Side dish: Mexican Street Corn

  • 1 can of Corn, or 2 if you want extra…and you will…
  • Cojita cheese or fresh queso that crumbles
  • cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt
  • paprika
  • chili powder
  • Butter

Here’s what to do:

  • If you got frozen shrimp, try to thaw it out in the fridge overnight. If you forgot (guilty here), then run them under cold water for about 20 minutes.
  • Season the shrimp with Old Bay or the spice mix you made to substitute it.
  • Heat some olive oil on the non-stick pan over med-high heat.
  • Sauté the shrimp for about 3 minutes per side so they’re tender. Be careful not to overcook, as they can get tough very quickly.
  • Once finished, set them aside and cover loosely with foil.
  • In a mixing bowl, take the sour cream and dilute it with just enough water so the sour cream gets runny. Mix in lime juice using 1/2 a lime and chopped cilantro. This is great substitute and quick way to replicate Mexican Crema sauce.
  • Mix in shredded cabbage into the sauce, so you get a nice covered slaw.
  • Place tortillas over the open flame on the stove to toast tortillas. You want them to be flexible, warm and crispy. You’ll have a nice little char on the edges.
  • Put together the tacos and top with cilantro and crumbled cojita or fresh queso crumbles. Serve and enjoy with a margarita!

Side dish:

  1. While shrimp is cooking, drain the corn from the can. Place some butter in a cast iron, or another skillet to roast the corn. You want the corn to have a nice brown or black char on them. Not all the way but enough to taste the roast.
  2. Drain, season with salt in the sauce pan.
  3. Pour into mixing bowl and mix in spices and cheese.
  4. Stir well, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Lemon & Herb Grilled Salmon

This is my favorite way to cook salmon because I love using my grill any chance I get! I think this produces a better meal than simply baking it in the oven. Juicy, tender, and so good!

Basically, we’re going to foil wrap the salmon and throw on the grill with all the ingredients inside. The foil keeps the moisture in and creates a very juicy dish. Plus, it makes clean-up a breeze. Almost impossible to screw this up, unless you over-cook it! Salmon can go from “not-done” to “over-done” very quickly.

What you’ll need:

  • Aluminum foil, enough to wrap salmon. For thinner foil, use two sheets.
  • A grill (this can also be done at the oven @ 400 degrees, but I like using the grill.
  • 1 lb of salmon. I prefer wild caught when possible.
  • 1 lemon, 1/2 of it sliced into thin pieces.
  • Herbs– dill is best, but I used parsley and some basil in the recipes. We take whatever we have available in our garden that day.
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Old bay seasoning if you’re feeling a little spicy.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter to drizzle over salmon.

Here’s what to do:

  • Preheat grill (or oven to 400) with medium heat for at least 20 minutes.
  • Season salmon with a 3-finger pinch of kosher salt and some black pepper. If you’re feeling the Old Bay, use some of that too.
  • Place the sliced lemon on top of the salmon.
  • Finely chop the garlic into little pieces. Doesn’t have to be perfect, just no large chunks. Spread over salmon.
  • Drizzle melted butter on top.
  • Cut the foil sheets big enough so you can create a loose covering of the salmon with it. (pictured below).
  • Wrap the salmon in the foil with the garlic, lemon, herbs, and seasoning.
Place foil into a cross so it is easier to wrap up. Bring top sheet together a roll like a paper lunch bag, keeping it loose. Don’t pack tightly. Do the bottom sheet next, and close the sides up so the whole thing is sealed.
  • Place on the grill over medium heat for 14-18 minutes. The thicker the salmon (>1 inch), the closer to 18 minutes it’ll be.
  • Test the doneness by flaking the salmon with a fork. If it flakes off easily, then its done! Careful not to overdue the salmon.
  • Optional: squeeze the rest of the lemon onto the salmon.
  • Serve straight from foil, or slice it up and serve!

Featured sides are baked sweet potato, and a summer salad.

Filet Mignon with Red Wine Reduction Sauce

This is one of my favorites! Classic filet Mignon for an easy weeknight dinner that you can whip up with any side. With a great tasting cut like filet mignon don’t feel like you have to season it or marinade it for a long time for it to be good. Let the meat shine!

Prep time: 5 mins

Cool time: 15 mins

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cast iron pan— this helps get great tasting crust on the filet.
  • A kitchen timer or iPhone timer is your best friend.
  • For the the steak:
    • High quality cuts of filet mignon x2
    • Dijon mustard(preferred), or any mustard you might have already.
    • Kosher salt
    • Black pepper
    • 1/2 stick of butter, cut into 8 equal pieces, more doesn’t hurt here.
    • Thyme/Rosemary sprigs and some loose herbs.
  • For the sauce:
    • Beef stock 1/4 cup
    • Red wine 1/4 cup, the rest for drinking.
    • Butter
  1. Bring filets to room temperature by letting them sit out for about 30 minutes before cooking. This will ensure the meat cooks evenly throughout.
  2. Pre-Heat oven to 425 degrees and put your cast iron pan in the oven.
  3. Rub just enough mustard on the filets to lightly cover them all over.
  4. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper on the top and bottom sides. Roll fillets over the extra that fall into the pan when done. Gently pat the two sides down so the salt sticks.
  5. Take the cast iron out of the oven once it’s preheated. Place on med-high heat.
  6. Place two slices of butter on the pan and place the filets in top of the sizzling butter for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip, 2 more slices of butter. 3 minutes. Throw in herb sprigs.
  8. You should now have nice seared crusts on both sides. Put cast iron in the oven for 5 minutes (Med. rare) or 8mins (medium and up).
  9. Take out cast iron and place on top of low heat, with 2 more slices of butter and a 3-finger pinch of loose or chopped herbs. Use a spoon to baste the top of the filets with butter and herbs for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Take off heat and place filets on cutting board. Let rest for 5-10 minutes for the juices to redistribute. Leave the pan on the stove over low heat.
  11. Sauce:
    1. Throw in all remaining butter into the cast iron pan, and maybe add some more of you feel like it. While it’s sizzling, scrape the bottom bits with a wooden spoon or spatula. I don’t use cream here, but you could add a little touch if you wanted a creamier sauce.
    2. Pour about 1/4 cup of beef stock into the pan, let it simmer for about 2-3 mins.
    3. Pour in about 1/4 cup of red wine and mix well.
    4. Let the sauce simmer and reduce on low heat for about 5 minutes until it thickens.
  12. Slice filets against the grain and pour the save over the slices.

The sides pictured here were asparagus and a summer salad. As you notice a theme here, super easy!

Asparagus: Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sauté in olive oil on Med-low heat. Start them at the same time as the steaks. This heat gets them super tender but not too burnt.

Summer Salad:

  • Spinach
  • 1/2 Fiji Apple without the core
  • Feta cheese
  • Any salad dressing of your choosing. I like balsamic vinaigrette or a citrus dressing.
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Quartered cherry tomatoes

Garlic Lemon Herb Chicken

This recipe had been done again and again, but it’s a great 30-minute meal that simple and tastes fantastic!

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts;
  • 1/2 shallot diced into small pieces;
  • 3-4 Garlic cloves (I love garlic, so however much you want here is great);
  • Basil and parsley shopped into small fragments. Again, your discretion for how much herb flavor your looking for. I found that 1/4 cup of the combined chopped herbs is plenty.
  • Enough flour to cover the chicken with (approx. 1/4 cup);
  • 4 tablespoons of butter;
  • 1 large lemon, or 2 small lemons;
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock;
  • kosher salt and black pepper.
  1. Start off by butterflying the chicken breast. This is where you cut the breast in half working from right to left. So it kind of looks like a butterfly. This is a good technique to cook chicken faster.
  2. Season the chicken with kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Lightly coat the chicken with flour and shake off the excess.
  4. Heat olive oil on med-high heat in a cast-iron skillet until it just starts to smoke.
  5. Place chicken in the skillet– it should sizzle immediately upon touching the surface.
  6. Flip the chicken once the bottom has a golden brown crust, about 5-8 minutes.
  7. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter into pan, along with half of your lemon juice. Place the left over rinds in the skillet to char with the chicken.
  8. add about half of the shallots in the skillet and season herbs on top of the chicken.
  9. After another 5-8 minutes, check bottom of chicken for the crust and remove from the skillet. Turn heat to low.
  10. OPTIONAL: throw a handful of spinach into the pan for a quick sauté that you can add on as a garnish at the end. Once done, remove and set aside.
  11. Melt remaining butter and shallots in skillet, add garlic, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add remaining herbs, and lemon juice (toss those rinds out).
  12. Add chicken stock and a spoonful of flour (for thickening).
  13. Stir well until it is all blended and bubbling.
  14. Take sauce off of heat and pour over chicken.
  15. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

I love this recipe because it’s so quick and easy to make, cheap ingredients, and tastes amazing. Serve it over pasta, brown or white rice, vegetables, or mashed potatoes!

Paired nicely with a 2011 Brittan Vineyards Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR.

Enjoy!!

Applewood-Smoked St. Louis Ribs!

Custom recipe and techniques for the best ribs you could imagine!

For these ribs you’ll need:

  • A smoker (I use a 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker)
  • A grill (optional)
  • Applewood chips or chunks
  • Kingford (or other brand) charcoal briquettes
  • Chimney fire starter, and fire-starter cubes for ease of getting the coals started.
  • Kitchen timer, or a timer on your phone– your best friend here!
  • I suggest using this thermometer to monitor your smoker temperature. It’s a great investment if you BBQ often.
  • At least a full-rack of ribs, baby-back or St. Louis. I used St. Louis ribs here because when trimming you get the very tasty rib tips! No one complains about extra ribs…
  • Rub, store-bought or homemade (see recipe for great homemade rub here)
  • Foil
  • Apple juice, I prefer the kind in kids lunch boxes because they’re easy to use and throw away, but also quite good.
  • Agave syrup
  • Brown sugar

When smoking anything in the backyard, the majority of your time is spent prepping and monitoring heat. Traeger grills (https://www.traegergrills.com/) have great smokers that keep the temperature consistent, while the Weber’s have more of a learning curve with maintaining proper heat, airflow, and temperature. Pro Tip: After seasoning your ribs, do all your prep work while your ribs are resting for about an hour. Time management is key here!

Step by Step for Amazing Ribs:

  1. Take out your ribs to season them. First, let’s trim. For St.Louis ribs, you want to cut off the rib tips to create a nice rectangular rack of ribs. The tips will cook nicely and will be a good appetizer. Next, take a butter knife to slide under the silver skin backing to remove it. Now, you want the rub to cover the ribs thoroughly with a single layer. Don’t overdue it or else you lose the great taste in the pork. Plan to rest for about 45-60 mins.
  2. Use the chimney starter to get a full chimney of coals started. Wait until the starters have fully burned out before removing. The coals should have a layer of ash beginning to form on them.
  3. Prepare the fire base for the smoker:
    • Place about 5 or so Applewood chunks on the bottom and fill in the base about half-way with briquettes. Including the full chimney, you want to use the appropriate amount in your smoker to last 4.5-5 hours.
    • Build a crater for the lit coals to be poured into.
    • Cover smoker and let it build heat for about 30 mins before putting meat on. Bring up to 235-250 degrees, do not exceed 275– this will dry it out FAST.
  4. Prep Work:
    • Get out your latex gloves (optional: great way to keep your hands clean, and food safe from contamination).
    • Cut foil to sheets big enough to wrap your ribs in.
    • Set your thermometer, if using, to help you maintain the temperature to 250 degrees.
  5. Place ribs flat-bone side down on the grate, scatter rib tips and flaps around the grate. Plan for them to smoke for about 2 hours. Resist opening up the lid! Depending on the type of wood you’re using, and the size, you may want to add some wood for smoking about 90 minutes in.
  6. At the 2 hour mark, use your fingernail to lightly scrap the top of the ribs to check the bark formation. The rub should not come off. If bark looks good, spray your ribs with a bit of water to help the bark form and solidify the coveted smoke ring!
  7. Smoke for additional 30 minutes.
  8. At 2.5 hours, take out Ribs and set aside. Using the foil you had already cut out, place each rack on a sheet of foil. Follow these steps:
    • Rub brown sugar on one side of ribs,
    • LIGHTLY drizzle agave across like a horizontal line,
    • shake apple juice onto ribs,
    • flip and repeat.
  9. Double foil the ribs, so it’s not packed tight, but still not leaking juices. Pit them for another 2 hours.
  10. Take off rib tips, cover with BBQ sauce, cover loosely in foil and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  11. At 4.25 hours, heat up grill on high heat.
  12. At 4.5 hours, take out the ribs and do a tong-check: Lift the ribs up with your tongs, gently shake up and down. If the meat starts to crack, then they’re ready.
  13. Get your chosen sauce ready, and put the ribs directly on the grill rack. Using a brush, paint the sauce onto the ribs and close the grill lid for 5-10 minutes to heat up and thicken the sauce on the ribs. This also gives a nice char on the rib edges.
  14. Let it stand for 20-25 minutes before slicing. The pink ring on the inside of the ribs is the coveted smoke ring– a good sign of good smoke penetration. Enjoy!!