Late September weather along the Lake Michigan Shore has been glorious - literally strings of cloudless, sunshiny days with highs in the mid to high 70's. The deep blue skies look like those one sees in California, and I have a yen for Mexican food shared on a beach at sunset, a light sweater over the shoulders and an ice-cold Margarita in the hand. I remember such an evening with good friends once in San Diego. To temper my nostalgia, I make a big pan of enchilladas and invite a few amigos. No beach, but a great view of Chicago's Lincoln Park!
A travel tip: When in the San Diego area, stay at Rancho Bernardo and you will thank me.
LAYERED CHICKEN THREE-CHEESE ENCHILADAS (6 servings)
Use your favorite enchilada sauce from the Mexican section of your market. This savory dish is great with a vegetable salad and cold beer.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1-1/4-pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1-3/4 cups red enchilada sauce
9 corn tortillas, each about 6 inches in diameter
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese
Sliced green onion tops for garnish
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool at room temperature.
Add the shredded chicken to the onion and stir well to combine.
Spread 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 3-1/2-quart deep baking dish (round is best). Arrange 3 tortillas in a single layer on the sauce, overlapping them as needed to cover the sauce. Top with a generous cup of the chicken-onion mixture, 1/2 cup more sauce and 1/4 cup of each of the cheeses. Repeat the layering 2 more times, alternating the direction of the tortilla layers and finishing with 1/2 cup sauce and 1/4 cup of each cheese.
Transfer the dish to the oven and bake until the ingredients are heated through and the cheese is melted, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with green onions and cilantro, and serve immediately.
CORN & ARUGULA SALAD WITH ADOBO VINAIGRETTE
1 cup corn kernels (frozen is fine)
6 cups arugula leaves
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a jar of chipotles in adobo
Salt and pepper, to taste
Thaw the corn kernels, then sauté in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat until golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Place arugula in a salad bowl. Add the corn and toss. Add the black beans and the Adobo Vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and serve immediately.