Monday, December 5, 2011

Dinner At Maxine's.

Saturday night at Maxine's. It's Maxine, Carmen, and Rosie. I was in charge of dinner. I had brought along Mr. Hawthorne's canned Salsa Ranchera, Salsa Verde, and jalapenos, a package of tortillas, and a big bunch of cilantro from my garden. Being in somewhat of a festive mood, I'm leaning toward a Tex-Mex meal - chicken and spinach enchiladas with red and green salsas. Here's the basic road map: I sliced 2 chicken breasts into strips and seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, and grated lime zest. The strips were quickly sauteed in butter and oil. I sauteed the spinach in butter until wilted, then added a little sour cream, cream, and queso freso and seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. The chicken and spinach were mixed together, placed in the tortilla, and rolled up. Salsas verde and ranchera went on top, along with sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, cilantro, and sliced jalapenos. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. For a side dish, I'm making a rice and bean casserole. I found a package of pinto beans, a bag of brown rice, a can of diced tomatoes with chilies, and a jar of roasted red peppers in Maxine's pantry I cooked the beans and rice, then combined them with some chopped roasted red peppers, a can of tomatoes and chilies, and chopped cilantro.
Follow along with me.
Cut chicken into strips. Give them a dusting of salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, and the zest of one lime. I let this sit and come to room temperature before sauteing.
Cook rice according to package directions.
Cook pinto beans. These took about an hour. Whenever I cook beans, I don't bother soaking overnight. I rinse the beans and simmer, refreshing the water halfway through. I'm using what beans I found in Maxine's cabinet. You could substitute with black beans or kidney beans. And if you must use canned beans, please don't tell me about it, but be sure you rinse all the slime off the beans first. You don't really want to use canned beans, do you?
Combine cooked rice and beans.
Add in diced tomatoes and chilies.
Add in chopped roasted red peppers.
Add chopped cilantro (or parsley if you're a cilantro hater) and mix well.
I coarse-chopped the spinach and wilted it in a few tablespoons of butter and a little water.
Next I added in about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream ...
... and 2 tablespoons of sour cream.
Season with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg.
Crumble up some queso fresco and ...
... mix into spinach mixture. Set aside.
I heated my pan over moderately high heat, added some butter and oil, and sauteed the chicken strips in batches. Do not crowd the pan. You want the chicken to sear, not steam.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl and start on another batch.
After the last batch, I deglazed the pan with a little wine, scraping up the goody bits on the bottom.
Add in the rest of the chicken.
Let cool a bit ...
... then chop into small pieces.
I returned the chicken to the pan and added the juice of one lime.
Next, I drained the spinach of any excess liquid ...
... and added the spinach mixture to chicken.
More queso fresco. Crumble it in.
Mix well.
Add the filling to the tortillas and roll up.
I brought along jars of Mr. Hawthorne's Salsa Ranchera and Salsa Verde.
I put Salsa Verde on one half and Salsa Ranchera on the other half and a little chopped onion on top.
Add grated Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses.
Top with sliced jalapenos and chopped cilantro.
Bake at 350 until cheese is nicely browned and bubbly. About 25 minutes. (I heated the rice and beans along with the tortillas.)
I love Maxine's chandelier.
Another spot-hitter. I liked the warmth of the cumin and the brightness of the lime in the chicken. Creamy spinach with a hint of nutmeg rounded out the flavors here. Beans and rice with tomatoes, chilies, roasted peppers, and cilantro complemented the enchiladas perfectly. And what's not to love with the cheese?
Sour cream, if you like. Hope you'll make this. It's quick. It's simple. It's plain good eats.
Thank you, Maxine. And Merry Christmas, to all.

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