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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

THE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN MIRACLE


It SEEMED like a typical day..Don't remember why I was running behind...I suppose just a lot of errands....By the time I got to the store it was late afternoon. I didn't want dinner at 10PM, but at this rate if I tried to cook the chicken myself, it was going to be too late..

I decided to buy a Rotisserie Chicken, to save time on whatever I decided that I would do for that night...

AH, THE MIRACULOUS ALREADY PREPARED ROTISSERIE CHICKEN....THE ANSWER TO SO MANY PROBLEMS, THE HEART OF SO MANY "HOME COOKED" DISHES..

When I got home, I started taking the meat off the delicious smelling chicken, dividing the white meat from the dark, and picking off every morsel of meat...I found that there was quite a lot of breast meat, especially after I tore it into shredded pieces..

About this time, I realized what it was that I was going to attempt, even though if you read my blog, I had proclaimed in "For the Love Of Enchiladas", that I had "thrown in the towel" when it came to Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas...

As I mentioned in that entry, you really must live in Texas to get what we call the REAL DEAL when it comes to "Tex-Mex"..It is seriously the BEST variety of Mexican Food not only to me, but any of us that live here..

I have always LOVED really good sour cream chicken enchiladas, with melted white cheese, a tart and delicate sour cream sauce topping, along with a garnish of jalapeno...

This craving and search for a recipe to make at home, was based on a couple of places that have the BEST ones that I have ever had.
Over the years I had tried literally 12 or 15 different recipes, some contained cans of cream of chicken soup (which I am NOT a fan of), and some with sour cream that "topped" the enchiladas after they were cooked, (nope, that wasn't it..,)and sauces with a green tomatillo and sour cream base, and even one that called for whipping cream and swiss cheese...None of these were bad, it's just that none of them were RIGHT....

I gave up and realized that eating them out, and at only a few places, was my destiny, and I tried my best to get on with my life....(though it was not always easy...And if you have gotten to know my personality at all, then you realize that NOT BEING ABLE TO FIGURE SOMETHING OUT is a bit frustrating for a girl like me...)

As you know, I am not a fan of begging, so I had even quit trying to obtain the correct sour cream sauce from the restaurants...

I know that stranger things have happened, but very soon after I wrote the enchilada blog, I started looking in some very old recipe folders, and found one recipe that I had saved, yet curiously had never tried...

I looked it over carefully...I liked the sauce, but it was not quite right...It needed something...hmmmmm...The actual chicken in the tortillas went without seasoning, which was NOT RIGHT, as the great ones always have a red hue to them, and are spicy...

With a little creative problem solving, I recreated the recipe, incorporating some of the sauce ingredients and measurements with great success..

I KNEW when I was cooking it that I had actually after YEARS, finally come up with it...I didn't say anything to my son, who was playing his video games, asking, "WHEN IS DINNER READY? WHAT ARE WE HAVING?"

When he sat down to dinner, and dug into his first bite, he was silenced...I puttered about a little bit in the kitchen getting my plate ready, and about 5 seconds passed, when I heard "MOM, THESE ARE THE BEST ENCHILADAS THAT I HAVE EVER HAD...MOM...THESE ARE RIGHTOUS...MOM..THESE ARE SO GOOD... and on and on...Yes, I had finally FOUND THE RIGHT ONES!!!!!!!!!!"

DRUMROLL PLEASE.......

THE BEST SOUR CREAM CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

Serves 4-6 in YOUR HOUSE... depending on side dishes served...I recommend Mexican Rice for sure...
Does not serve as much when teenage boys are present

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
10 3/4 ounces chicken broth undiluted, with a small bit of fresh lemon juice added
3/4 cup water
8 ounces sour cream (not lite)
2 large or 3 small canned whole jalapeno peppers (seeded and chopped)..I DID NOT seed them because mine were not very hot...You decide..
10-12 corn tortillas
2 1/2 cups chicken breast meat, shredded with your hands, no really large chunks, but not "ground"..just shredded pieces that will lay nicely in the tortillas
2-3 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
3/4 cup chopped onion
Additional sliced canned jalapeno for garnish (optional)

SPICES FOR CHICKEN
It is difficult for me to tell you exactly how much of the following spices to use, as it is so dependent on one's tolerance for spicy...You decide...Spice then taste to adjust...I am a spicy kind of girl, so I did not go lightly, but tasted as I went

Good Chili Powder..( I like Gebbardt )
Cumin
Ground Comino
Garlic Powder
A pinch of Oregano
Salt
Ground Pepper

PREPARATION:
Take the shredded chicken breast meat and mix it with the spices above..Mix it with your hands so that all the spices are rubbed into the chicken..Your chicken should be spicy and have a red color...Taste, and set aside..

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat;add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook one minute, stirring constantly.(This is certainly one of those stand at the stove recipes)

Gradually add chicken broth and water; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly (this will take a few minutes on medium heat..don't rush it...)

When it is thickened put a couple of Tablespoon of it into your sour cream first, then stir all of your sour cream mixture back into the saucepan, along with the chopped peppers. Take it off the heat...

Pour about half of the sour cream sauce into a lightly greased 12x8x2 inch baking dish, spreading it out to make sure that it covers the entire bottom of the dish, and set aside dish and remaining sour cream sauce.

Take about 3 or 4 tortillas at a time, and enclose them, stacked, between moistened paper towels on a paper plate for about 20 seconds or so in the microwave on high...When they come out, they should be HOT and pliable.

Fill them with at least a Tablespoon of the chicken, a little onion, and a little cheese. Roll up and place in the baking dish, seam side down, side by side...Repeat with the remaining tortillas until all are filled. You may end up with 9 tortillas or 12, depending on how much filling that you want to use in each one...I ended up with about 9, I think...

When you have filled them all and they're all in the baking dish, cover them with the rest of the sour cream sauce.

Bake, uncovered, at 425 for about 20 minutes, maybe a bit longer..watch closely..
Remove them from the oven, and scatter the rest of the cheese and any leftover onion on top...( you should have at least 1 1/4 cups of cheese, if you don't, grate some more...)

Top with some of the jalapeno slices, if you wish, or you can sprinkle them over the enchiladas after they are cooked..(again...optional, but I love them)

Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is nicely melted and gooey...

Notes: I cannot help but think that they would be even MORE delicious made with homemade chicken broth...(I'm sure of it, and if I did, I would probably use a bit more chicken broth, and less water...)
I did the tortillas in the microwave instead of dipping them in hot oil, so that it was somewhat of a lower fat recipe..It worked...
I added a bit of fresh lemon juice to the chicken broth, because the BEST versions appear to have a slightly tart taste, but not overwhelming, so I added this, and I think that it worked well..

I DO hope that you will try these, as they completely and absolutely ROCK!

Oh, and I PROMISE THAT THE NEXT POST WILL NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH CHICKEN!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A GIRL'S JUST GOTTA HAVE FUN...YEAH GIRLS GOTTA HAVE...GIRLS GOTTA HAVE...THEY JUST WANNA HAVE FUN!


I am thinking about two places that I could be this week, that I am not...I have had two invitations to go out of town for enjoyable experiences, which I am MORE than in need of at this point, yet here I am, staying home because I am on the schedule at a hospital that calls me 75 percent of the time and cancels me...

Sometimes I have to stop and wonder, if Reincarnation is true, what in the world did I do in my former lives? Must have been really negative things, either that or there has been some big mistake, and my life got accidentally switched with someone Else's and it's all a HUGE MISUNDERSTANDING...

If that's true, it needs to be cleared up NOW!

So, I could either be in Colorado in a large beautiful custom made cabin on top of the mountain, playing guitar and harmonizing with my oldest friend, playing the tunes we played in clubs in the 70s, just mellowing out and enjoying the mountain air, reminiscing, and chillin, staying in a room that actually had me in mind when it was being built, so you might say "custom made for Moi"
OR
I could be in Austin, where I just got a call a couple of hours ago from a wonderful friend, who wanted me to come up for the Independent Film Festival that is going on this week. She actually called me from the festival.. She had just met Timothy Hutton, and many others, ( she is the type of girl that men adore IMMEDIATELY..beautiful, smart, funny, charming, interesting...what's not to love?) She's probably already hanging out with the coolest people...writers, directors, there...I could be hanging out with her, which would put me hanging out with the cool people as well( see how that works? Not that I can't make friends with the cool people myself, it's just that, hey...if the work is already done by the time you get there, why not?)

BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I NEED TO STAY HERE AND WAIT FOR FRIGIN PHONE CALLS AT 5 AM IN THE MORNING THAT SAY THAT I AM CANCELLED, OR EVEN BETTER, POSSIBLY GO TO WORK, AND GET PUT ON THE GENERAL FLOORS RATHER THAN PEDIATRICS, SO THAT I CAN PULL ALL OF MY HAIR OUT AT FREQUENT POINTS THROUGHOUT THE DAY, TO THE POINT THAT WHEN I GET OFF OF WORK, I WILL HAVE TO STOP BY WALMART AND HOPE THAT THEY HAVE A SPECIAL ON WIGS, BECAUSE I WILL, AT THAT POINT, BE IN NEED OF ONE...

I will be seriously surprised if I have ANY friends down the line, as I am always having to say "no", and who wants to put up with that forever? If it's not the schedule thing, then it's the money thing...Everything cost money..Especially what and where my friends like to go..
I simply cannot spend any that I don't HAVE to spend right now..I am afraid that I might run out before I start getting some kind of steady work...

I DID go to a very lovely dinner party with a few old friends the other night..I dreaded going at first, because I really did not want to talk about my situation.It ended up, of course, being absolutely wonderful...Very special..
The crystal and silver shined, the wines were indeed flowing, the planked salmon was cooked to perfection on the grill, and the dining room itself with its loving antiques transformed me to another time...a time I would have glowed in...

The Turn of the Century...I'm reading a Biography at the present about the American Writer, Edith Wharton...Her story takes place around the Turn of the Century...If you had money like Edith did, it would be a very grand life indeed...
I love to escape into the world of literature...Nothing soothes me more...
Now if I could just get back on my piano..
I have NEVER ignored it this long in my entire life..
The longer it goes on, the more hesitant I am to get on it..
It will be an uphill battle, to come up to speed...
I lie to everyone when asked and tell them that I still play it all the time like I usually do, so as not to upset them...
TWO THINGS THAT I MUST GET BACK TO DOING THAT I USED TO DO PRACTICALLY EVERY DAY and now do not do at all since October

1. Use my Gym membership...Jeez, I could use that for help with taming the fires that erupt in me so frequently these days...Good for the bod, great for stress

2. I have been playing the piano since as far back as I remember being alive...I play by ear, and play well...That is a gift...This gift was ALWAYS something that
has soothed me throughout the years...Why I have abandoned it for 6 months defies
explanation...That has to stop...I must play while my fingers will still move....

This pathetic contract is up at the end of March, and it could not come too soon.

I COULD JUST BITE NAILS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You know how they say that people get more mellow as they age?
WELL, I MUST NOT BE AGING!

On the "slightly" positive side, I DID nab a couple of PRN positions today... (once again no full-time jobs available)

One of them wants to use me for weekend NIGHTS (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! In 27 years I have NEVER worked 12 hour nights, and it will be a frigin miracle if I don't fall asleep, but the money was too good to pass up...)

The other hospital was FULL of all of the people that I knew at my last full time job where we were all laid off...It was definitely a "homecoming" of sorts, people were genuinely very excited to see me, heck I might as well as been a "Rock Star"..
"OH MY GOD!...ARE YOU COMING TO WORK HERE? WE NEED YOU! WE NEED SOME GOOD ENTERTAINMENT...TRAVEL ADVICE...RESTAURANT REVIEWS...WE TALK ABOUT YOU ALL OF THE TIME...YOU HAVE BEEN SO MISSED...OH MY GOD!!!"

Lovely that my extracurricular talents are appreciated, but I REALLY am there to do therapy...I DID find out that one of my quadriplegic patients that I have taken care of for many years was there in the hospital, and I did stop in to see him...
That was bittersweet...He looked worse than usual...He has lost almost all of his hearing now...Of course he never recognizes me when I first see him...
He was injured about 13 years ago, on the slopes in Colorado, his first time on skies...

He broke his neck...

In telling me the story a few years ago when he was "more together", he said that when he fell, he knew that he had broken his neck...He heard the "snap"...When his brother in law caught up with him on the mountain, he said "C'mon ya big weenie, get up!"...My patient said "I broke my neck"...for a few minutes nobody believed him...There was no blood...No outward to be seen injury...

Struck down at the prime of his life..around 30 years old...Fanatic baseball player...Husband...Father of two children...Wonderful and Brave....The injury left him a quadriplegic, with no short term memory at all, and less and less of a long term memory as time goes on...The antibiotics needed to keep him alive by battling his constant infections have now taken his hearing away..He still smiles when you greet him..not only with his mouth, but his eyes..
He is impossible not to love...impossible not to become too close too...
I lost that battle years ago..
His wife was there...Very kind...VERY strong...
This is the work that I had to leave when the hospital closed down last October...I had to leave all of these patients that I have had for 12 years...
I have missed them...
I have mourned....
For me, it has been far worse than "losing the job"...
It has been "losing my work" which has almost felt at times like too much to handle..
I know that people say that God never gives you more than you can handle, but in making reference to my earlier thought...MAYBE I ACCIDENTALLY GOT MIXED UP WITH SOMEONE ELSE!!!

They really won't be able to use me much there though...not quite busy enough yet..
New hospital and all...

One of my good friends is one of the owners of the hospital, and he really wanted me to apply so I did..

More for him than for me...

I personally did not get full time there when it opened...

My two coworkers were hired full time...There were only two slots, and I was passed over...

It was VERY difficult for me to go today and apply for this "PRN" job, as I told myself that I would NEVER set foot in there

I never wanted to see my Medical Director again, because it hurt me so much that he did not choose me...

Funny how the longer you go without a job, the more kinds of things that you will do...
Never thought that I would accept a job working nights...
Never thought that I would apply for a job at the other place....
The word "NEVER" has proven NEVER to be safe to use...
Think that I will drop it from my vocabulary, as it is useless to me...

Tired now...Started out the day saving an adult and infant mannikin's life...
(CPR re certification!)
Yep...think the post that I was going to post, called,
"MY LONG SEARCH IS OVER" will have to wait till next time
Hope everyone is healthy and happy
Until then......