Slow-Cooked Chicken Enchiladas

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Sometimes you just want some redonkulous enchiladas. That's all I'm sayin'.

Enchiladas that are spicy, gooey, and fat with sinfully tender meat. Meat that has simmered for 8 hours in a spicy stew of pure awesomeness.

Why bother trying to resist? It's futile. Give yourself over to them. You won't be sorry.

(P.S. Even if you're like, "Eeeew, enchilBARFas," you should still make this chicken. It would make *amazing* sandwiches.)


Slow-Cooked Chicken Enchiladas (by me, with the sauce adapted from Allrecipes.com)
For the Chicken:
-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-Chicken broth (1 can?) to mostly cover chicken
-8 oz can tomato sauce
-4 oz can diced green chiles
-1 packet Ortega taco seasoning (or your taco seasoning of choice)
-1 dried Guajillo chile

For the vegetable mixture:
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and diced
-1/2 red bell pepper, diced (**I would suggest using the whole red pepper if you want a better veggie-to-chicken ratio...same with the onion, or perhaps another half of a zucchini!**)
-1/2 large onion, diced
-2 large cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/4 teaspoon chili powder
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1/4-1/3 teaspoon salt (to taste)
-1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-2-3 generous tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

For the Enchilada sauce (modified from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/ten-minute-enchilada-sauce/detail.aspx):
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-2 tablespoons self-rising flour
-1/4 cup chili powder (new mexico or california)
-8 oz can tomato sauce
-1 1/2 cups water
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
-Approximately 1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (**start with 1/4 teaspoon, taste, and add more from there if you want**)

For assembly:
-8 flour tortillas, warmed in the microwave
-Approximately 1 cup shredded cheddar (really, can't go wrong with a 'more is better' attitude here..)
-Greek yogurt, for topping
-Chopped cilantro, for topping

1. Add chicken breasts to a slow-cooker. Add enough chicken broth to almost cover the chicken breasts. Add tomato sauce, green chiles, and taco seasoning, mixing to combine. Add the guajillo chile. Cover, set on high for about 30 minutes (this can probably be skipped if you're short on time in the morning), then change to low. Let cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until the meat falls apart when scraped with a fork. Shred the chicken in a large bowl and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, saute for 3 minutes. Add zucchini and bell pepper, saute until slightly softened. Add cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper, mixing well. Remove from heat and place in a small mixing bowl. Add shredded cheddar and Greek yogurt, mixing thoroughly to combine. Set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 while you make the sauce.

4. Get all of your ingredients for the sauce prepped and have them at the ready--it's easy for the flour in the sauce to burn, so you need to be constantly stirring! In a saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add flour and chili powder, combining with a whisk or wooden spoon. Cook until lightly brown. Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Continue cooking over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

5. Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 13x9" pan, spreading it out equally.

6. Assemble each enchilada by putting down the desired amount of chicken and 1/8th of the vegetable mixture. Fold or roll up the enchilada and place seam-side down in the pan. When finished, pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top. Sprinkle generously with shredded cheddar.

7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Greek yogurt and cilantro as toppings.

-Serves 4 people with hearty appetites.

Note: This makes more chicken than you can probably fit in your enchiladas....that is a desirable outcome, because the chicken is so delicious! You'll eat it straight out of the bowl...I promise you. That is happening.

Fat Elvis Cupcakes

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Sunday was my 1-year anniversary! I find it unbelievable that it's already been a year. It feels like just yesterday that I got married and then immediately came down with some sort of crazy awful cold (thanks again, immune system, for not crashing before the wedding!). People asked, "Aren't you glad that you aren't planning a wedding right now??" And sure, I am glad, because it was hectic...but now I'm working full time and am in grad school, which I feel is exponentially worse, because there is no super-awesome party in the near future.

Us with a ugly statue we called "The Marital Horse."

While our wedding had a "Superheroes, Burritos, and Cupcakes"-theme (yes, it WAS awesome, thanks for asking), we later thought that maybe we should've had a "Ghostbusters, Thai Food, and Whiskey"-theme. Those were, after all, the things that we bonded over when we began dating. But, we shelved that for our 1-year anniversary. I have to tell you....we were looking forward to it for MONTHS. Is that crazy? I mean, we could've had all three of those things whenever we wanted. But sometimes, its the ordinary things that are best for a special occasion.

One of the best parts of the wedding (which I didn't get to have until the next day. Corsets....ugh) was the cupcakes! We had three varieties: Champagne cake with blackberry filling and walnut buttercream frosting, Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and mocha buttercream frosting, and.....wait for it....Banana cake with chocolate ganache filling and peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Yes. It WAS amazing, thanks. Since the latter cupcake flavor was descended from heaven, I thought it would be fun to re-create it for our anniversary. And so I did. And it was the best decision I've ever made, next to marrying Greg.


Fat Elvis Cupcakes (from Epicurious and Bakergirl)
Cupcakes:
-1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 large egg
-1 large egg yolk

Ganache:
-2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Frosting:
-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (**NOTE: The original recipe calls for an *entire stick.* Not. Necessary.**)
-1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)

For cupcakes:

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth. Mix sour cream and vanilla into bananas.

2. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (generous 1/4 cup for each).

3. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

For frosting and ganache:

1. Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners' sugar in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high power until mixture is just warm to the touch, about 20-30 seconds. Whisk until smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator. Let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

2. While the ganache is chilling, start the frosting. Sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until smooth.

3. With a small, sharp knife (like a paring knife) pointing on a diagonal, cut a hole out of the center of each cupcake. Be sure not to cut too deeply, or you'll have a hole through the cupcake. Fill each hole about 90% full of the ganache. Place the cut-away piece of cake back on top of the hole and press down gently. It's okay if some oozes out--you'll just cover over it with frosting anyway. Repeat with the rest of the cupcakes.

4. Cover each cupcake generously with frosting, smoothing with a knife.

-Makes 12 cupcakes

Verdict: These cupcakes are insane. Insanely delicious! They have got to be one of the most comforting things I've ever tasted. Oddly, they're even MORE tasty once they've been refrigerated for several hours. How many cupcakes can make that claim? Anyway, I highly suggest you go make these now. Right now! Trust me.

Quick! Eat the cupcakes before that blinding nuclear explosion in the background reaches us!

Cucumber & Cannellini Bean Salad

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I may be slow on the uptake here, but have you ever tried a cucumber from your local farmer's market? If not, you should. You will never get a cucumber from the grocery store that has so much flavor. I'll bet you didn't even know that cucumbers could have much flavor--I sure didn't. I bought three truly enormous cucumbers for this recipe. I mean, wow. You could've beaten up an intruder with those things.

This salad was made to be enjoyed outdoors with your friends. We had it with grilled cheddar brats, sangria, and peach pie with homemade vanilla ice cream. You can't beat that (unless it's with a farmer's market cucumber...then you probably could).

Cucumber & Cannellini Bean Salad (modified just slightly from Eating Well)
-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
-Freshly ground pepper to taste (**I used about 1/4 teaspoon**)
-4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced cucumbers
-1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
-2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
-1/4 cup slivered red onion
-2 tablespoons chopped black olives

1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, oregano and pepper in a large bowl until combined.

2. Add cucumber, beans, bell pepper, feta, onion and olives; toss to coat.

3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

-Makes about 8 side servings

120 calories, Fat: 7.5g, Carbs: 9g, Protein: 3.75g.