Thursday, November 8, 2012

Support for Sandy Blogger Event: Chicken Enchilada Macaroni and Cheese

When Hurricane Sandy was heading toward the east coast it didn't take a meterologist to know that it was going to be bad.  Even though it was only a category 1, the sheer enormity of the storm and the population density of the area that it hit almost guaranteed a disasterous outcome.

I've had the displeasure of living through a couple of pretty big storms while living on the Texas gulf coast, and they are no fun.  The first one of my adulthood tore up Houston and knocked power out in my part of the city for three days.  We had water but were told not to drink it.  We could bathe in it, but in these modern times taking cold showers is tad amount to torture, not to mention that living in Houston with naturally frizzy hair and no hair dryer was no less than sheer terror for my younger self.

The second storm hit my household shortly after we moved back to the US from England.  Hurricane Claudette knocked out our power for about 12 hours, blew our back fence down and filled our swimming pool with trash and debris from all over town.  My eight year old son missed the All Star Game that year because of that storm and almost ten years later we are still hearing about it, but he lived through it.

As you can tell, by comparison our storms were more of an inconvenience than anything else.  Even though we were miserable with no air conditioning and lights, we made it through.  I think most everyone has lost power at one time or another and knows the feeling of sheer bliss when it is restored, but there are many in Sandy's path who have yet to experience that bliss, and then there are those who have lost much more.  Just the thought of losing your home or worst your loved ones, brings it all into perspective. 

To draw attention to ongoing efforts and how we can all help, I agreed to participate in a blogger event called Support for Sandy.  Participating bloggers prepare their favorite comfort dishes, post them to their own blogs and link them up to the posts from the other bloggers.  Along with our recipes we are also providing links to the organizations that are in the trenches helping to repair the damage done by this storm.

If you'd like to help and like me are too far away to swing a hammer, you can donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting the word "Redcross" to 90999.  The Salvation Army and Feeding America are also doing good work in this area and will eagerly take anything you can give to help support their efforts.

If you live in or will be visiting the New York City area, and would like to help while you are having a little fun, you can show your support by "liking" #dineoutNYC on Facebook and following them on Twitter to find out what's going on around town. They are encouraging their supporters to aid the city's restaurants and restaurant workers by eating out and tipping big.

You can also help in a small way by purchasing the Kindle e-book The Best Thanksgiving Recipes from the Best Bloggers for $1.99.  Filled with beautiful photos and recipes, all of the proceeds go to Feeding America.  To view or buy the book click here.

For my contribution to this blogger event I am posting one of my unpublished original family favorites, Chicken Enchilada Macaroni and Cheese.  I developed this recipe several months ago hoping to enter it into a contest, but I really can't think of a better time to debut it than for this event.  It is really easy to prepare, economical and oh so comforting.

If you'd like to see what the other bloggers have brought to this table, please click here.

Chicken Enchilada Mac and Cheese

Most often I use store bought rotisserie or leftover home baked roast chicken to make this dish.  You can also substitute the chicken for ground beef or turkey or any leftover roasted turkey that you might have in the fridge.  This is a great way to make something fresh and new from last night's leftovers. 

6 ounces (1 –1/2 cups) macaroni

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 cups chicken broth

1 – 1/2 tablespoons mild, medium or hot chili powder (depending on your taste for spice)

1 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

3/4 cup half and half or whole milk
1 – 1/2 cups shredded cheddar/American mix cheese, divided (one or the other works well too)
1 – 1/2 to 2 cups chopped cooked chicken

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook macaroni to package directions in a stockpot of salted boiling water; drain and set aside.

While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a medium size saucepan set over medium heat.  Add the crushed garlic clove and saut√© for 1 minute.  Sprinkle flour over the butter and garlic and stir until is forms a smooth paste. 

While whisking constantly, add the broth and bring to a slow boil; cook for 1 minute.  Add the half and half and heat and stir a bit before adding the chili powder, cumin, coriander, onion powder, and ½ cup of the cheddar/American cheese mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste, stir well and set aside.  The sauce will seem a bit thin at this point, but don't worry as the starch from the macaroni will thicken it during baking.

Combine the cooked macaroni, chicken and sauce in a large bowl; mix well.   Pour into a greased 9 x 9” baking dish or 6 individual gratin dishes and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. 

Place into the preheated oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, approximately 25 - 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves  6.            

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