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The Whole Enchilada

It’s Memorial Day weekend. It’s hot, the sun is shining, and there’s a bit of a breeze.

It’s a good weekend for bright red toenails and sun on your cheeks.

It’s time for slip-n-slide and freshly cut grass (in that order, because if you know anything about slip-n-slide it’s that freshly cut grass will stick to wet legs).

Memorial Day makes me think of the first day at the pool, the back of my bare legs sweaty and sticking to the hot leather seats of my mom’s old Lincoln, sunscreen, and NuGrape at the concession stand.

In North Carolina, the end of May ushers in heat and humidity, afternoon thunderstorms, and bare feet on burning asphalt. Summer sneaking up on us is driving with the windows down, radio blasting, and a cherry ICEE with beads of perspiration trickling down the side of the cup.

It’s roadside produce stands and afternoons at the lake, patio dining and margaritas with salt, on the rocks, please.

Memorial Day weekend celebrates a season of cookouts and picnics and red checkered tablecloths; it’s a time of year lit up by fireflies and smelling of citronella candles, and nights that sparkle with fireworks spreading across a dark black sky while you prop up in awe on the hood of your car.

There are burgers and hot dogs, slaw and potato salad, banana pudding and brownies,  the company of family and friends. This weekend is the beginning of tank tops, flip flops, and wild frizzy hair. It’s the start of garden tomatoes that yield the best BLT’s and homemade salsa; it’s so much summer squash you have to unload it on your neighbors, and the crisp tartness of pickling cucumbers doused in vinegar.

Memorial Day is for remembering. It’s also for making memories.

And THAT is the whole Enchilada.

Chicken Enchiladas (from Southern Living, October 2011)


5 tablespoons butter, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

3 (4 ounce) cans of diced green chiles (if you don’t like it hot, mild varieties are available)

3 cups shredded cheese (I used a blend of freshly grated sharp cheddar and colby-jack cheeses)

1 package of 8 inch flour tortillas

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)

chopped tomatoes and fresh cilantro to garnish

To Make

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a 9X13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet and saute the onion and bell pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl stir together the cooked onions and bell peppers, chicken, 1 can of the diced green chiles, and 2 cups of the cheese. Spoon the mixture onto the bottom 1/3 of each tortilla shell and roll them up, placing them seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. While the enchiladas are baking, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons on butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the flour until it’s smooth. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly for 1 minute, and then gradually whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Bring the heat to medium, still whisking contantly, and cook for 3 or 4 more minutes. The mixture will be thickened and bubbly. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 cans of green chiles. When the enchiladas come out of the oven, pour the sauce evenly over them and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake for about 20 more minutes and then garnish with the tomatoes and cilantro.

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