Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Casserole

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I have known this recipe for years as King Ranch Casserole, which I understand may have originated at the King Ranch here in Texas. A friend gave me the recipe probably 25 years or so ago and it has become a staple on my menu list and enjoyed by my family over and over again. I have never actually made my own enchiladas because this recipe is so much easier and has all of the flavors of cheesy chicken enchiladas without the work. Here is the recipe ~

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Casserole
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
12 corn tortillas
10 oz. shredded cheddar cheese plus more to sprinkle on top
8 oz. Velveeta cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can Rotel tomatoes or 1 can green chiles

Cook and chop chicken into bite sized pieces. Grill onions in butter and combine with chicken in bottom of 13 x 9 baking dish. Cut tortillas into small wedges and layer on top of chicken/onion mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheese on next, followed by a layer of Velveeta, sliced into quarter inch slices. Combine soups and tomatoes or chiles and pour on top of casserole. Sprinkle more shredded cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.

In pictures ~

Start with these ingredients –

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Cook (I boiled mine) and chop chicken –

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(I know – incredibly boring picture above.)

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Grill onions (one of my favorite kitchen smells!) and mix together with chicken in casserole dish –

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Cut corn tortillas into wedges, then layer tortillas, shredded cheese, and Velveeta atop chicken –

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Combine soups and tomatoes/chiles in a bowl. Pour on top of cheeses –

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Sprinkle desired amount of shredded cheddar on top and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly –

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Paired with a green salad and a chocolatey dessert (I made brownies this time), this makes a wonderful dinner plan!

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I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine!

Blessings,
Nancy

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Soft Chicken Tacos

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A few years ago, I took the girls to an overnight camp out for our Keepers Club at my friend Julie’s home and property. The girls had a wonderful time, even braving a thunderstorm overnight! I didn’t stay the night, but was there through the evening and was introduced to these delicious chicken tacos. One of the things I loved about them was the flavor of the chicken. My friend told me that she had brined chicken thighs before roasting them in the oven, which is what gave them the amazing flavor. Brining is basically just soaking in salt water. It is good for chicken because it tenderizes the chicken and helps it retain moisture in the cooking process. I have been making these tacos ever since, and my family loves them!

I usually make some guacamole and grilled onions to go inside the tacos along with the usual toppings of cheese, lettuce, tomatoes. You could also add salsa or any other toppings that your family likes. Here are the simple instructions, starting with the brining ~

Wash and remove skins from about 8-10 chicken thighs and place in a baking pan. In a separate bowl, dissolve 1/4 cup of Kosher salt (the granules dissolve better) in 1 quart of cold water.

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Stir until the salt is all dissolved, and then pour it over the chicken, so that all of the chicken is covered in water. Cover the pan with foil and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to give it a good long soak in the brine.

After a few hours, remove the pan from the refrigerator, pour out most of the brine water into the sink (don’t let your chicken fall out!). Only leave a tiny bit of water in the pan. Place foil back on the pan and place in a 300 – 350 degree oven. Bake until done, about an hour or two depending on how high you set the temperature – lower temp = longer roasting time. Baste the chicken every now and then. Remove the foil when it is about done and let it brown slightly on top. Here is how the chicken will look when it comes out of the oven ~

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You will be removing the chicken from the bones, so let it cool for a bit while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

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When you’re able to do so (without burning yourself!), remove the chicken from the bones and tear into small pieces.

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Heat up some soft flour tortillas in the microwave and set everything out for your bunch to pick and choose how they want to fill up their tacos!

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This is a great summer meal, although I make them for our family year round. For a quick and chocolatey dessert to follow up your meal, you can whip up some instant pudding. I found a couple of boxes that I had bought by mistake in my pantry (I usually buy the cook and serve). It turned out to be a nice, cool finish to our dinner!

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See you again soon!

Blessings,
Nancy

Homemade Waffles

I spent most of the day yesterday cleaning out Anna and David’s room, sorting toys and filling 5 trash bags with stuffed animals, toys, and books to give away, and 3 bags of trash and broken toys to throw away! I was glad that I had planned a simple dinner to follow all that effort!

My experience with homemade waffles actually started very recently. We traveled to Austin last December for our nephew’s wedding, and the hotel that we stayed in over the weekend served a wonderful full and free breakfast for its guests. Now I never make it downstairs for these breakfasts, partly because I sleep as late as I can, and partly because I move slowly in the mornings, taking my time showering and dressing for the day. Jeff, on the other hand, is quite the early bird, and got up and organized the troops to head down to retrieve breakfast, which they brought back to the room to eat, bringing me assorted samplings of what was available.

Tommy had discovered a waffle iron and batter all set up for cooking, and he managed to figure out how to cook them himself – impressive for a 14 year old boy with no experience. I must interject here the sad fact that I had never bought or eaten anything but frozen waffles in my entire life – not once had I experienced a homemade waffle, in any restaurant, growing up at home, or since being married. 😦 So, anyway, Tommy made one for himself, and he made one for me that morning. I was an instant convert! This waffle was huge, and fluffy, and warm, and delicious. Tommy loved his too, and announced that weekend that he was going to buy me a waffle iron for Christmas, with no complaint from me!

Christmas came around and not only did I get a nice waffle iron from my boys, but I also came home with a smaller one from the white elephant gift exchange that my family does each year (something we all look forward to, with plenty of jokes and laughing, which is worthy of a separate post sometime). Anyway, I was all equipped and ready to start churning out waffles for my family.

So the week after Christmas, I tried out my new waffle irons. I used a box mix and proceeded to learn the fine art of waffle making. It was truly a learning experience! It took me a few batches to figure out the best amount of batter to put on the iron, and how long to let them cook, but they turned out quite edible, and we enjoyed the meal.

This week I added them to the menu again for last night’s dinner, and decided to make them from scratch rather than a mix. I went online (of course!) and found a simple recipe rather quickly. The recipe I used was from Granny’s Kitchen, which I followed exactly except that I doubled it and added some vanilla, which I think adds a wonderful flavor (I use vanilla in my pancakes, too!). The recipe at the site is for pancakes and waffles, so if you’re wanting pancakes instead, you might pop over to Granny’s blog and read the original recipe. She basically used a pancake recipe, and tweaked it a bit for waffles. I am sharing only the waffle recipe here.

Anyway, these waffles turned out beautifully, and were so delicious! Everyone loved the flavor and we were all completely stuffed when we finished dinner. The recipe was very simple, using ingredients that I (and you too!) always have in my pantry. I took the above picture while I was cooking them, but forgot to take a picture of the full plate of cooked waffles! (well, my brain was a bit weary by then!) So I almost put this post off until the next time I baked waffles. When I just happened to mention that to Sarah, who was sitting nearby when I pulled out the laptop, she said “I took pictures of them.” Really??? So, I uploaded them from her camera, and now you can at least see how they turned out! Well, Sarah’s plate anyway –

Golden, buttery, sweet and delicious. I ate two of these fluffy delights and was totally stuffed for the evening. So, without further ado, the recipe ~

Homemade Waffles

1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
4 tablespoons cooking oil
(2 tablespoons vanilla, if desired)

In a large bowl whisk together the egg, oil and milk. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until well moistened. (If overmixed, finished product will be tough.)

Follow manufacturer’s directions for heating your waffle iron. Spray grids with cooking spray and then fill with a little more than 1/3 cup but less than 1/2 cup of batter (experiment to see what amount works best in your waffle iron). Lift lid of waffle iron and check brownness after about 3 minutes; let waffles continue to cook until desired brownness. Yields 6 waffle squares.

Leftover waffles (we didn’t have any!) can be frozen when cool, by popping them in a freezer bag. Toast them as you would a store-bought frozen waffle…but they will taste so much better!

Have a nice day!

Blessings,
Nancy

Pork Chops on Orange Rice

A few years back I mentioned in my Daybook that we were having these pork chops for dinner, and ended up sharing the recipe in the comments section. Last week, while making this for our dinner I decided to take some pictures and write up a full post on it. The recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (you know the one – red and white plaid!) that I bought when we were first married. It is a simple recipe and very delicious. We love the flavor of the orange rice in this dish and how well it complements the pork chops. The ingredients listed below are for a single recipe which should serve 4-6 people. I usually double the recipe for our family, so you will notice more food in the pictures than the recipe calls for. Here we go ~

Ingredients:

6 pork chops, 3/4 inch thick
1 1/3 cups Minute Rice (uncooked)
1 cup orange juice
1 can Chicken with Rice soup
Salt and pepper to season

In skillet, brown pork chops on both sides; season with salt and pepper –

Place rice in 13 x 9 baking dish –

Pour orange juice over rice –

Arrange pork chops on rice –

Pour chicken with rice soup over all –

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes –

Delicious!

Okay, confession time – we love the orange rice. . . we love the orange rice so much that instead of doubling, I now triple the rice ingredients in this recipe. This gives everyone a nice pile of rice with their pork chop. Feel free to do the same for your family. They’ll thank you for it – believe me, they will.

Oh, and it simply must be served every time with applesauce around here. On days when I am cooking this, my kids can be heard around the house quoting Peter Brady from the old 1970’s Brady Bunch show saying “Were having pork chops. . . and . . . applesauce” (spoken through their teeth). If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean. If not, well just ignore this paragraph. Except for the part about serving this dish with applesauce – it really is good.

Have a wonderful day!

Blessings,
Nancy

Anna’s Snickerdoodles

Anna is working on the cookie baking badge for her Keepers of the Faith club. She needs to bake 6 different types of cookies to earn the badge. She has already made Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies for us and now has added Snickerdoodles to her list. We got the recipe from this book ~

This is a wonderful cookbook that I found at Half Price Books a few years back, and which Jeff bought me for a Christmas present. Many great recipes from everyday cooks around the country! This recipe is credited to Michelle Goddard of Memorial Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Anna almost didn’t get to make these the other night when I realized that I had no cream of tartar, called for in the recipe. I decided to just go ahead and let her try them without it and see how they turned out. I am happy to report that they were just fine, delicious in fact! And Anna was quite proud of herself as she served them to the family. Here is the recipe ~

Snickerdoodles

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Additional sugar and cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cream the shortening, sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract. shape into balls the size of walnuts. Roll each ball in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes; watch carefully so they don’t burn. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

This was a good learning recipe for Anna, and she had a great time with it!

Blessings,
Nancy

Dirt Cups

Our desserts for Nature Day were these delicious Dirt Cups. I came across this cute dessert idea a number of years ago – not quite sure where – maybe another magazine ad, or maybe on a Jell-O pudding box, or maybe we had them at VBS one year. I do know that not too long ago you could actually buy a box with all of the ingredients included to make these dirt cups. I didn’t see any of these prepackaged at my store, so I just put them together myself. All you need to create these is 4 ingredients:

    – 1 Package of Instant Chocolate Pudding
    – Milk
    – Oreo Cookies
    – Gummy Worms

Here’s what you do ~

1. Mix the pudding mix and milk together according to package directions. Spoon into individual cups. This is your mud!

2. Stick one end of gummy worms into pudding, leaving the other end hanging out.

3. Crush Oreo cookies. We put them in a large Ziploc bag and crushed them with my heavy wooden rolling pin. Sprinkle cookies on top of pudding. This is your dirt!

And you’re done! I made mine about an hour ahead and stored them in the refrigerator until we were ready for them, but you can certainly eat them right away if you like. This is a fun dessert for the kiddos, and the adults, too – as long as you don’t get creeped out eating the worms!

Blessings,
Nancy

Pigs in a Blanket

Here is a great idea for a fun summer meal. I have been making these for years – I’m not sure where I got my original recipe, maybe an ad in a magazine, but I’ve noticed that they sometimes have a recipe for these “Pigs” on the Crescent Roll package these days. It’s basically a hot dog stuffed with mustard and cheese, wrapped in a crescent roll, and baked until yummy! You can leave the mustard and/or the cheese out if you like – I made mine minus the mustard for years, because a certain child wouldn’t touch them otherwise (you know who you are), but am back to adding the mustard now, as that child isn’t living and dining at home anymore and is free to make his pigs anyway he wants to.

Here are the ingredients I use ~

I usually have beef hot dogs on hand, so I’m wondering if maybe I should change the name to “Cows in a Blanket” around our house?? If you buy the normal size hot dogs, you will need one tube of crescent rolls per package, but if you buy the bun-length dogs like I have in the picture, you can cut them in half, use two tubes of crescents and have double the pigs for not double the money!

The first thing you want to do is slit the hot dogs lengthwise, so that your cheese will have a pocket to fit into. Don’t cut all the way to the bottom side of the dogs! Just make a nice pocket –

Squirt a small dollop of mustard into the middle of each pocket, then use a knife to spread it along the inside length of the dog. Cut or tear your cheese slices into fourths (4 long strips) and insert one or two into each hot dog ~

At this point, if you’re using the long hot dogs, go ahead and cut them in half ~

Wrap each piggie in a crescent roll blanket – one crescent triangle per dog…or pig…or cow (this is getting to be a regular zoo!) ~

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until rolls are cooked and golden. You can brush them with egg white before baking for a shiny surface, or brush them with melted butter after baking for buttery shine – or you can leave them alone and just enjoy them plain like we did! I’m thinking that one could get really creative with this recipe and add all kinds of items – relish, onions, or maybe try it with barbecue sauce instead of the mustard. I may have to try that one next time. Enjoy!

Blessings,
Nancy