Friday, December 28, 2012

A New Mexico Christmas

Because we live in New Mexico and all of our Christmas guests traveled from out of state, I found it only fitting that we take advantage of our state's incredible culinary traditions for Christmas dinner. So I chose to make red chile enchiladas, tamales, and salad. Before dinner I had my salsa and chips to snack on.

The red chile enchiladas I made are very easy. I bought Bueno Red Chile Sauce which can be found in the freezer section of many grocery stores throughout the southwest. The company is based here in Albuquerque. Check their website to see if their products are available in your area. I used 4 small containers of their mild red chile sauce (normally I go for hot or mix the two, but I didn't think most of my family would enjoy the spiciness as much as I do!). Make sure you place it in your refrigerator to thaw a few days before cooking. Then I followed the recipe on the container to make the sauce for the enchiladas.

After making the sauce, spray a lasagna pan (or 9 x 11 inch baking pan) with cooking spray. Heat chicken broth (or vegetable broth) over medium-low heat. Dip corn tortillas in broth one at a time (just enough to soften them a bit) then place in a single layer in pan. Spoon enchilada sauce over layer, sprinkle with cheese, and repeat until almost to the top of the pan, finishing with cheese. You will use anywhere from 20-30 tortillas depending on the size of your pan. I usually use a small amount of cheese on each layer, and once I get to the top I use a thicker layer of cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until cheese is completely melted and bubbling. When finished, remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes, then serve with sour cream, avocaodo, cilantro, or covered with an egg over easy.

I make these enchiladas often. They are also a great meal to make ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator or freezer. Then they can be given to a friend in need of a meal or thrown in the oven when you have company. This is a great vegetarian meal option too (just make sure you use vegetable broth rather than chicken broth for softening the tortillas). 

Tamales are a traditional Mexican Christmas dish because when you unwrap the husk it's like opening a gift. Making them yourself is quite labor intensive, so I used a shortcut and took advantage of another Bueno Foods product. Their tamales can be purchased at the grocery store from the freezer section and steamed at home. So simple, and very tasty!

To make up for all the heavy (yet still delicious) food, I served a salad with dinner as well. I set up a salad bar so that each person could make their salad the way they like. I had baby spinach, chopped avocados, diced onion, cherry tomatoes, and a variety of dressings. 

For dessert I made a family favorite, ice cream pie (and perhaps one of the easiest home made pies ever). This dessert is not only delicious, it is so easy to make, and it can be made way ahead of time and left in the freezer.

To make my ice cream pie, you will need the following:

  • One store bought Oreo pie crust (you could make your own, but we're aiming for simple here)
  • Your favorite ice cream. Which, if your smart will be any flavor of Blue Bell ice cream. It's made in Texas and is the best ice cream you will ever put in your mouth. Seriously. It can be pricey, so I buy it when it's on sale and stock up. I made 2 pies, one with peppermint ice cream (because you've gotta have a little holiday spirit), and the other with coffee ice cream (because my family is a little obsessed with it...for good reason). 
  • One jar of hot fudge topping (usually by ice cream toppings in the store). You'll need one jar per pie.
Once you have these yummy ingredients, follow these easy steps:

  • Remove ice cream from fridge. Leave on counter for a few minutes to soften. 
  • Scoop ice cream into pie crust. Smooth around with a spoon or spatula. I used about 1/2 gallon. 
  • Place (covered, the crust should come with a plastic cover) in freezer for a few hours. Or a few days. Just long enough so that the ice cream sets. 
  • Pour entire jar of fudge (do not heat it) over pie and spread over ice cream. Place back in freezer until you are ready to serve it.
  • Remove from freezer a few minutes before serving to soften a little.
  • Enjoy!

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