Friday, August 31, 2012

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

For the most part, these are really just's Creamy Chicken Enchiladas. This recipe is seriously one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. I have no other words. These are that good.

Step One: Make Perfect Chicken.

Step Two: Shred Perfect Chicken. You can learn about the easy way by clicking here.  
Step Three: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.

Step Four: Add drained Rotel. Cook until most of the moisture has evaporated out.   

Step Five: Add cream cheese (FYI: This step alone is enough to make me want to make and to eat this recipe over and over)... 

...and shredded chicken...

...and stir constantly until the cream cheese is all melted and deliciously incorporated. This mixture will be your enchilada filling. 

Here's a picture of the "set up." Really, if I had any sense, the tortillas would be in the middle. The filling would still be on the far left and the casserole dish would be on the far right. The monterey jack and the cream would still be ready and waiting in the background.  

Step Six: Put 2 - 3 tablespoons of the chicken filling mixture down the center of a tortilla and then roll it up. 

Just in case you need help rolling up enchiladas, here is a tutorial. Fold the bottom part up...

...and continue rolling toward the opposite end.  

As you finish rolling up enchiladas, put them in a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. I just spray mine with cooking spray. 

Step Seven: Top with monterey jack cheese. (FYI: I accidentally used mozzarella in this photo tutorial. The enchiladas were still great, but the monterey jack is sooo much better.) 

Step Eight: Evenly drizzle an entire pint of cream over the top.
Yes, you read right - an entire pint. This recipe can't be bad. Chicken, cream cheese, monterey jack, cream. What else could anyone want?

Before you cover it to put it in the oven, it will look like this. I just thought you should know. 

Step Nine: Cover, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.   

Step Ten: Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. 

When they are done, they come out all bubbly and creamy and cheesy...and oh so good. 

Check out the inside. Cheesy creamy chickenness. This may be the definition of happiness. 
Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas
Click here for printable version
1 1/2 - 2 lb. Perfect Chicken, shredded
1 T. butter
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
, drained
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, cut into cubes
8 8" flour tortillas
2 c. Monterey Jack cheese
, shredded
1 pt. whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add Rotel and saute about one minute. Stir in cream cheese and chicken, and continue stirring constantly until the cream cheese is melted and well incorporated.
Spoon 2-3 T. of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas and place seam side down  in a 9 x 13 casserole dish that has been greased with cooking spray. Top with Monterey Jack cheese, and then evenly drizzle with whipping cream. Cover with foil, and bake 30 minutes. Take off the foil and bake another 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown. 
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 45th Pilsbury Bake-Off Contest (Photos)

I promised pictures, friends, and here they are! I got these pictures from a little bit of everywhere. The photo above and the one below came from Pilsbury which is why those two photos look all professional and stuff.

 I'm just not real sure why I'm laughing in this picture...or why my hair seems to be flying to one side.
People You Need To Know:
Person #1 - My Mom (pictured below - She's on the right. I'm on the left. The Pilsbury Dough Boy is in the middle.)
 As soon as I knew that I would definitely be a contestant, I told my mom. Her next words were, "I'm going." :) I agreed. She and I have both entered several times, and we both knew that we would get to take someone with us if we ever got the chance to go. She and I do pretty much everything together...ok, that's an exaggeration, but we do a lot together. My dad says we are sisters born out of time. We act more like friends (and each other) than mother and daughter. 
My mom took most of the remaining pictures on this post with my camera. We did not know that the poor camera was dying at the time. I was in the perfect place for pictures. I was on the very end of one of the rows of ovens, and I was on the end next to the audience barrier. Had my camera been working properly, my mom would have taken nine million pictures. The pictures in this post will be various colors and in various amounts of focus because she was trying her best to do anything to make the poor camera work. *Sigh.*
I would also like to add that as soon as I found out that I would be on the end of a row next to the audience barrier, I felt a sense of panic. My mom and I are so close that I was afraid that I may something to her or something to me without either of us thinking about it. Not wanting to be disqualified, I told my mom, "I am not even going to look at you during competition. We have than nonverbal-without-thinking communication thing going on, and I don't want to accidentally disqualify myself." She was totally on board.
She didn't have much time to look at me anyway. At twenty-five years old, I was the youngest contestant at the Bake-off. Several of the interviewers learned that I was the youngest after they had already interviewed me once, and then they would come back for a second interview. As I was interviewed by various people (either the first or second time), they would ask who I brought, and I would point to my mom. Then they would interview her, too. She's a good sport. 
Person #2 - Christina Verrelli (Pretty sure the picture below came from her cell phone...)
So, the first day during orientation, they called out the names and range numbers of the contestants on the end of each row so that we would know how to enter the room for the opening. They called out my name and my number (34), and this really sweet lady in front of me says, "Hi. You're number 34? I'm number 33! I'm Tina. I'll be next to you." Can we talk about how blessed I was to be next to her?
We got along really well. We were next to each other during the cooking part of the competition, but we also were together before and during the Martha Stewart show. I'll talk more about her later, but just know that she's in a bunch of the following pictures...and she is the one who won a million dollars. I honestly could not have been more happy for anyone to win.
I'm not sure why we are cheering in this picture, but we definitely are. Aren't we cute? :)
This picture makes me laugh. Apparently the competition is about to start. I seem totally oblivious. Bless my heart.
Competition still hasn't started. I'm still clapping, and I'm still smiling.
For the first twenty minutes, no one can interview us. I decided to go through all of my little drawers to find where everything was.
I think I am asking one of the Pilsbury people if they would be offended if I set my Mango Lemon-Drop Sunshine Puffs in the drawers as I finished so that I could pick the best ones for the judges. We did not have a whole lot of counter space going on.
The picture is blurry, but you can tell I'm working. Happily, might I add.
I really enjoyed the competition. I really did. I have a lot of joy, but I tend to be a nervous/spastic person at times. I wasn't for this competition. I caught myself smiling even when I wasn't trying.  
Still working, and still happy.
I wish I remember this guy's name. He was genuinely one of my favorite people who interviewed me. All I remember of our conversation is that he has a daughter named Harper who is named after Harper Lee. I told him that I actually went to college with Harper Lee's niece, Sarah Lee. Did we sing the Sara Lee song when she entered a room? Occasionally. :). Was he impressed? I think so.
 I wish I had pictures of more of the people who interviewed me, but I don't. You'll just have to imagine for yourself. I can assure you that for every interview I was happy, and I was full of some Southern hospitality, ya'll. In fact, one newspaper called me a puff of sunshine. Aww.
Pilsbury actually sent this picture and the one below. This picture is a picture of all of the contestants...
...and this is a picture of just the contestants from the South. Good stuff.
So when Tina and I were hanging out backstage before the Martha Stewart Show, and she said, "You know, I think this is the last time I'm ever going to enter." (FYI: You can only be a contestant in the Pilsbury Bake-off three times. After the third time, neither you nor anyone from your immediate family may enter again. This was Tina's second time, and my first.) 
I said, "Really? Why not?"
And she said, "Because I want my girls to have a chance to enter when they are older." Can we talk about heart melt? She has two cute little girls. I'm not sure how old they are, but I would guess young elementary age.
During the show, they called out a category winner's name after every ten minutes or so. They called the winner for my category, Breakfast & Brunches, first. I did not win, and I did not care. I really didn't. I went to have a good time. After the first three categories had been announced, there was a commercial break. Joey Kola took that time to demonstrate how the next category winner should stand up and act super excited all the way to the stage. Knowing Tina's category was coming, I said, "Now, when you win, you're going to jump up and scream like that, right?"
Tina laughed and said, "I don't think I'm going to win."
I said, "Why not?"  
"Because all of the recipes so far have been kind of healthy."
I laughed and said, "But yours has pumpkin in it!"
Then she laughed and said, "But only a little bit!"
Then we had to stop talking because the show was starting back up. Martha opened the envelope and said, "Oh, I got to try this one yesterday." I saw Tina slump a little bit. Martha Stewart had been on the competition floor the day before, but she never made it over to Tina and me. She didn't even come by our stations, so when she said that she had tried it the day before, Tina just knew the recipe couldn't be hers. But then...Martha said, "Pumpkin..." I swear - Tina sat straight up. Then Martha said, "Ravioli..." and Tina jumped up screaming. I was so happy for her I didn't know what to do.
When she got up there, she was so cute. She said to Martha, "But I really don't think you tried mine." Martha assured her that she had tried it in the judging room. Not long after that, Martha announced her as the $1,000,000 winner. It could not have happened to a nicer person, and I am honored to have gotten to know her in the short time we were together. Congratulations Mrs. Christina Verrelli!
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Mango Lemon-Drop Sunshine Puffs & The 45th Pilsbury Bake-Off Contest

Have you looked to your right when you visit this blog? I was a Pilsbury Bake-off Contestant this year. The recipe that I made that qualified me to compete was the one in this post Mango Lemon-Drop Sunshine Puffs.

I know I usually post my recipe card from my recipe box, but I am going to post the one that Pilsbury made for me...because I can. :)

Here's the set up. I must have practiced making this recipe about a million times. I knew that when I would compete that I would only have 2' x 3' of counterspace. This part of my kitchen is exactly 2' x 3', and even though the competition is over, I still somehow gravitate toward making this recipe in this space. This picture is a bit misleading, too, because when I practiced (and competed), I used a hand mixer. I just love my pink Kitchenaid mixer, though, because it is pink :). I do love my ancient, circa 1980 hand mixer, too, but this pink Kitchenaid mixer is pink...and pink is important.
Step One: Zest two lemons, and then juice them, too. Zest them first. You can juice them first, but zesting is super messy that way.

I would just like to say that my microplane is MIA. I "zested" these with a little grater..that is for cheese...which is why my lemon zest looks cheese. Thank you for listening. 

Step Two: With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and powdered sugar.

Step Three: Add in lemon juice. Mix well.

If it is lumpy, that's ok. The coconut will cover that up/even that out. 

Step Four: Mix in coconut and lemon zest.

Ok...I'm going to tell you what I do for this part, and I'm going to tell you why I do it... but feel free to dismiss this part :).

I take the crescent rolls out of the tube, and I leave them rolled up like this. I only work with one rectangle of crescents at a time. I learned from lots of practice runs that the crescents are easiest to work with when they are cold. I also learned that if the crescents are exposed to air for too long, they dry out a bit. And...I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but I think the colder the crescent dough is when they hit the oven heat, the butterier they smell and the puffier they puff. It may be my imagination, but I've made these a whole, whole bunch...and I am either an expert or completely dillusional...and I think I am ok with either one.  
Step Five: For each rectangle, press the perforations together to seal. Here's how I do that:

I pinch togther the perforations, like this,...

...and then I lay the pinched part down zipper-style. I do not know if you can tell, but I push with my finger one way and then the other all the way down. Doesn't it kind of look like a zipper to you? You can do press perforations together any way you want...I just realized how weird my method sounds :).

Step Six: You can use a knife or a pizza cutter, but I like to use my kitchen shears for this part. Cut each rectangle in half lengthwise,...

...cut each strip in half, too,...

...and then cut each of those strips in half.

When you are through, each rectangle will yield eight squares. I start by doing this for two rectangles, and I arrange the squares on my baking sheet as I go.

Step Seven: Put a rounded teaspoonful of the filling mixture in the middle of half the squares. This is a rounded teaspoonful. I use every bit of the filling. The rounded teaspoonfuls are just a good estimate.


All of these are ready to be topped off! I usually cut the rest of the crescent squares at this time. If the dough gets too dry, the dough won't stick together well.

Step Eight: Put another square of crescent dough on top so that there is a diamond shape on top of the square shape. It makes a sunshine shape. Cute, huh?


All ready for the oven!

Step Nine: Bake for 9 - 14 minutes at 350 degrees.

Step Ten: While the puffs are in the oven, make the glaze. Put white chocolate chips and mango jam in a small saucepan.

Stir the white chocolate chips and jam together constantly over low heat until it all melts together. (Or if your oven is old like mine, stir over medium heat...because the "medium" setting now apparently means "low.")

(Yes, this is a different saucepan. This photo is actually from a different time that I made this recipe. This time I had actually doubled or tripled the batch which is why this batch of glaze looks like so much!) This is what it looks like when the glaze is all melted together. The warmer the glaze is, the easier it will be to spread.

Fresh out of the oven!

I transferred the puffs to waxed paper just for photo's sake, but I usually just glaze the puffs right on the baking sheet.

Step Eleven: Coat the puffs with glaze. I just use the back of the spoon to spread the glaze. I'm from the South...we use what we've got :). I cover every crevice of the top of the puffs with this glaze.  

Here's a little puff of sunshine. Buttery crescent pastry filled with coconutty-lemony-cream cheesy goodness and glazed with sticky mango glaze. Oh. My. Gosh.

I took this photo just because I feel that you need to see the delicious gooey filling. Swoon.

Here are a lot (not all) of the puffs from a batch just before I took them to some friends of mine. A couple of the puffs were in tragic accidents...their heavenly scent caused my mother and I to forget that we were making these for other people, and...well...we ate them. We couldn't help it! They are that good.

Mango Lemon-Drop Sunshine Puffs
This recipe actually belongs to Pilsbury now. By entering my recipe into the contest, I gladly gave them the rights to it. To see the recipe and/or print it out, click here.

*Stay Tuned!* I will post some pictures from the contest in the next couple of days!  
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