January 12, 2012

Favorite Dish As A Child

When I was in high school my sister and I had to cook dinner for the family. We each cooked two meals per week, with the other nights divided up between eating out and leftovers. Apparently my mom got tired of us calling her at work each night asking her what to make for dinner, because she eventually came up with an ingenious idea. For a few months she subscribed to several cooking magazines. Each month, she would go through the magazine and pick recipes she thought sounded good. We would try the recipes out, and what we liked we made note of. We eventually ended up with a pile of recipes.

Instead of leaving the nightly dinner planning to two teenagers who would undoubtedly choose the easiest recipes each night (resulting in ravioli and tacos every week), my mom came up with a better plan. She made a binder of all the recipes and split them into six groups of four. At the beginning of each group, or week, she would have a single sheet typed out of the week’s meals – main dishes and sides. Each afternoon my sister and I would go to the binder, pick the day we were at, flip to its page, and make those dishes. The system was simple, yet effective. Of the 20+ recipes in the binder, my favorite dish was found in week three on Thursday: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas.

My family does not traditionally make enchiladas. As Puerto Ricans, our “traditional” foods (that we grew up with, anyway) consist mainly of arroz con gandules, emapnadillas, and pastels. Personally, I can take Puerto Rican food or leave it. And growing up, as long as it didn’t have broccoli in it, I was good to go. But enchiladas have always been a favorite of mine. The stringy melted cheese combined with the not too spicy green sauce was always a perfect dish no matter what time of the year it was. Even in 100+ degree summers in Bakersfield, enchiladas we a great dish. Something about the creaminess of the cream of chicken soup and the rougher texture of the chicken combined with tomatoes and green chilies always sent my tongue dancing. These amazingly low-fat chicken enchiladas, coupled with refried beans, always brought the entire family to the table despite our busy schedules.

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