Birthdays are not a big deal to the hubs. Every year he tells me not to get him a gift, not to plan anything, and not to kill myself doing anything crazy. Despite his wishes I always like doing *something special* for Sly’s birthday, because it’s a birthday after all. Traditionally when this time of year rolls around I plan a camping trip with our families and/or cook his favorite childhood meal (hot dog casserole and apple cobbler). This year we decided to keep it even more simple and celebrate at home with the kitties.
I built a little tent in our living room and decorated it with every candle and pillow I could find, put a Rachmaninoff record in our old hand-me-down Crosley, and then called for Sly to come out from where I had him locked up so he wouldn’t see what I was doing. Since Sly loves enchiladas and since we are trying to eat healthier these days, I experimented with making spaghetti squash + chicken enchiladas wrapped in collard greens with homemade enchilada sauce (turned out awesome) with vegan gluten-free sugar-free peanut butter chocolate cupcakes for dessert (tasted good but looked like crap due to my making one too many ‘healthy’ substitutions — sorry Sly).
We toasted Sly’s birthday with overpriced sparkling water and hung out in our little living room fortress with our extremely curious kitties who kept trying to paw us through the tent. Not *quite* camping in the great outdoors, but close enough.
Happy birthday + 1, Hubs. I love you.
recipe: collard green wrapped spaghetti squash + chicken enchiladas with homemade red sauce
I came up with this idea after eating something called a “greenrito” at our local hippie/natural foods supermarket. A ‘greenrito’ is basically a burrito wrapped in collard greens. Genius! Why hadn’t we thought of that before? This recipe uses chicken and cheese but we both agreed that the flavors of the other ingredients were robust enough that you really didn’t need either if you wanted to make this vegan or vegetarian. The bad thing about this dish is the prep time. The good thing is that it makes a crapload and leftovers taste even better the second day. We love spicy food and have a really high spice tolerance so I used hot chiles whenever possible. If you don’t like spice, use milder chiles or lessen the amount of chiles used.
Part 1: Collard Green “Tortillas”
- 1 bunch of organic collard greens
- Wash the collard greens and cut the leaf in half by cutting out the stem
- Blanch the collard green halves for about 5 minutes in salted boiling water. They should be bright green and pliable.
- Remove collards, drain, and set aside.
Part 2: Enchilada Red Sauce
(a simple but delicious sauce with a bit of a kick)
- 1 28oz can of crushed organic tomatoes
- 1/2 can of chipotle in adobo sauce (more or less according to spice level)
- 2-4 large chiles such as Anaheims
- 1 onion
- 2T chili powder
- 1t cumin
- 1t oregano flakes
- Wash and chop the chiles and onions. Combine everything into a blender and puree together. That’s all!
Part 3: Enchilada Stuffing
- 1 small spaghetti squash
- 1lb of chicken breast
- 1T of olive oil
- 1c of mushrooms, chopped
- 1 can of black beans, drained
- 1 can of yellow corn, drained
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2-4 assorted hot peppers such as jalepenos, chopped
- 2T of taco seasoning (more or less depending on taste)
- 1T of salt (more or less depending on taste)
- 1c of cheddar cheese
- 1/2 can of chopped black olives
- 1 green onion, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and lay the halves face down on baking sheet. Cook for approx 20-25 minutes until the insides are soft and stringy. Set aside.
- In a shallow pan boil some water with salt. Reduce heat, add chicken breasts, and cover until the chicken is steamed and cooked through — approx 15 minutes. Remove from heat and shred the chicken in a bowl using two forks (I use my hands).
- Sautee chopped onions, chopped mushrooms, and chopped jalepenos in oil until the onions are translucent. Add the beans, corn, chicken, and squash. Season with salt and taco seasoning. Cook together for about 10-15 minutes until everything is combined and sort of mushes together. Remove from heat.
- In a 13×9 baking dish, pour half of the enchilada sauce spreading it evenly over the bottom of the dish.
- Spoon the enchilada mixture inside one of the collard green leaves and roll like a burrito. Place the stuffed leaf seam side down on top of the enchilada sauce. Repeat until all the collard greens have been filled and rolled.
- Top the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce and add toppings such as cheese, green onion and chopped black olives.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until all the cheese has melted.
- Makes approximately 24 mini enchiladas (I had to really pack them into the baking dish so they would all fit)