Sunday, February 23, 2014

San Diego cooking, part 3 (featuring chicken parisienne and shrimp chilie quiche)

(See part 1 here and part 2 here).

I finished the final leg of my San Diego journey at Grandma and Papa's house. This corresponded with my last day working remote for my old job. I spent Friday morning in their garage wrapping up my projects, typing farewell emails, and saying goodbye to everyone.

I emerged around noon to Grandma's simple yet comforting lunch of tuna sandwiches, pickles, Pringles, and chicken noodle soup. This was a staple meal at Grandma's house when I was a child, along with rocky road ice cream drizzled in chocolate syrup.

Nostalgia was a big theme of the visit. Papa showed me a broiler pan he bought for 35 cents 30 years ago at a garage sale, one that has been trusty ever since. He also bought me one of my own to take home.

After looking at some slides of my mom and my Aunt Kelly from high school, including a few of Mom in her famous drum major outfit, it was off to the kitchen to make a recipe for chicken parisienne that came with Grandma's first crock-pot (although we made it in the oven to save time).

Mom came over for dinner. She's in the middle of moving between houses and handling the action items from the home inspection, but I was glad that I was able to see her. The chicken parisienne was great; it's amazing how a little chopping, mixing, and baking can go a long way.

The next day for lunch, we tried our hands at a quiche.

Some things I learned:
  • While I've been learning that it's useful / fun to substitute ingredients as your tastes allow, some things really do need to be precisely right. Grandma said to pay attention about whether the recipe calls for condensed versus evaporated milk, because it can really make a pivotal difference. Also, she said she once accidentally put in a can of jalapenos instead of a can of green chilies; you can imagine the consequences.
  • Grating cheese really isn't that hard. We always have been buying the pre-grated.
My time in San Diego will hopefully open up my culinary prowess. I've already bought ingredients for two more recipes. For now, it's back home and to the real world, as I start my new job and get back in the swing of things up here.


6 medium chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine, vermouth, (optional)
1/2 onion
1 10 1/2-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 4-ounce can slice mushrooms, drained (1/2 cup)
1 cup dairy sour cream

Sprinkle chicken breasts lightly with salt, pepper, and paprika. Place chicken breasts in crock-pot.

Mix white wine, soup, sour cream, onion, and mushrooms until well combined. Pour over chicken breasts in crock-pot. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Serve sauce over chicken with rice or noodles.


1 regular pie crust shell, thawed
2 eggs
1 small can (5.33 fl oz) evaporated milk
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can chopped green chilies
1 can deveined medium (or small) shrimp, drained

Preheat oven and cookie sheet to 450 F. Partially bake pie shell about 6 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Beat together eggs, evaporated milk, flour and garlic salt. (Mixture need not be smooth.) Stir in cheese, onion and chilies. Pour into pie shell. Spread shrimp on top of custard mixture. Bake on preheated cookie sheet, until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

San Diego cooking, part 2 (featuring enchiladas)

(See part 1 here and part 3 here).

After a few days at Dad's, I've moved on to my step-sister Heather's house. I hate calling her my step-sister instead of sister, but I guess you have to sometimes, as someone asked us yesterday how we could be siblings but only be 3 months apart in age.

Like mother like daughter, Heather is a great cook in her own right. I had to learn how to make her famous enchiladas. So we cooked it together, while Heather made her older daughter, Aubrey, a separate dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. All of this motherhood multitasking is seriously insane to me.

As I was tearing the meat off the rotisserie chicken, I told Heather how Sharon and I always call it "space chicken," because the plastic lid makes it look like the chicken is about to lift off into space. We also made strawberry dip for dessert. Below is Aubrey showing her appreciation.

A few things I learned:

  • You don't always have to use every ingredient or measure everything super precisely. This is especially true for casserole-type recipes. We were left with a little more enchilada sauce in the can, but trying to use it all would have just made the recipe unnecessarily soupy. If we have leftover chicken, we can put it in a broth or use it for a sandwich for lunch the next day. These opportunities will come up a lot more as I cook more frequently.
  • I can branch out from existing recipes. I'm a huge veggie fan (as evidenced by putting together a salad the other day), so I can easily dream up versions of this recipe that incorporate green onions, bell peppers, etc.
  • I'm learning to keep diligent notes, as the two recipes I've done so far in San Diego came from cooks who have it memorized. Combined with my bad memory, I guess I'm just a process-focused person who likes documentation. Hopefully the recipe below is a faithful re-creation.


Vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
Rotisserie chicken
Green enchilada sauce, 28-oz can 
Shredded Mexican-blend cheese
Diced green chilies -- two small cans
Black olives -- large can

Heat oil in a small saucepan. Fry the tortillas one at a time, flipping on each side, until they are hard. Shake the oil off before setting aside on a plate covered in a paper towel.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pull apart the meat from the rotisserie chicken into medium chunks. In a 12-inch pan, combine the following into three layers of approximately the same height: tortillas (break apart if need to fill in corners/sides), cheese, chicken, chilies, olives, and enchilada sauce. Top the final layer with a good amount of cheese and sprinkle enchilada sauce on top of that. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Let stand 5-10 minutes, then serve. Feeds 4-5.