Layered Chicken Three-Cheese Enchilada

Last fall, I bought myself a present. A Le Creuset dutch oven. Perfect for soups…and more. Tonight, it is Williams Sonoma’s enchilada recipe.


  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 3/4 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 9 corn tortillas, each about 6 inches in diameter
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese
  • Sliced green onion tops for garnish
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


Preheat an oven to 350°F.

In a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the chicken to the onion and stir well to combine.

Spread 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottoma Dutch oven. Arrange 3 tortillas in a single layer on the sauce, overlapping them as needed to cover the sauce. Top with a generous 1 cup of the chicken-onion mixture, 1/2 cup of the sauce and 1/4 cup of each cheese. Repeat the layering 2 more times, alternating the direction of the tortilla layers and finishing with 1/2 cup sauce and 1/4 cup of each cheese.

Transfer to the oven and bake until the ingredients are heated through and the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with green onions and cilantro. Serves 4 to 6.

FABULOUS. Plus, it reheats very well for lunch!

What’s Next: 41 New Recipes

I have grown to like blogging, so I have decided to keep doing it. For some reason, I felt like I need a theme. And last year, I have to say that “Bon Appetit” will be the part of the project I miss the most. So I am not going to stop (well, I will stop that category just to keep it pure to the “40fabulous” project).

Welcome, category: 41 New Recipes…a category to share new recipes tested and stamped (by me) as FABULOUS.


  • Cut 12 oz of boneless skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Dredge in flour.
  • Heat 2 TBL of olive oil in a heavy saute pan over high heat. When hot, distribute the chicken pieces. Cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip until golden on all sides.
  • Toss into pan: 1 TBL finely minced ginger, 4 scallions cut into one-inch pieces and 1.2 c roasted cashew pieces.  Agitate pan for about 30 sec (when the ginger smells hits you hard). Add 1/2 c of soy sauce and squeeze in the juice of an orange. Toss until all chicken is coated with sauce. Pour in 1/2 c chicken stock, cover and cook until sauce starts to thicken (just a few minutes).

Serve over rice.

Fabulous option for a quick dinner (cheat by using pre-made rice to save time).

Valentines Day

First, aromas filled the air before I even opened the door. What kind, you ask? Roasting meat. Spices. A hint of sweetness.

The door opens….a dozen roses came into view.

Third, the embrace. Warm arms wrapped around me squeezing out the day and making room just for relaxation. Oh, and another beautifully plated meal courtesy of Chef Meyer.

  • Started with a salad :: romaine and the beautiful watermelon radishes we picked up last week at the SLO farmer’s market
  • Lamb chops :: swimming in a red wine reduction sauce
  • Mashed potatoes :: oh so creamy and good for me (yeah, right!)
  • Grilled asparagus :: with a touch of olive oil

And, of course, there was dessert. Baillie’s homemade brownies were swimming in raspberry coulis with a side of vanilla ice cream.

What wine did we drink? Oh, that is a retortical question. Red wine, of course. A bottle from our trip.

SLO Town

Wednesday…We arrived after dark after wine tasting and feasting, settling in for the night. I was anxious to walk downtown in the morning for breakfast even though my belly was still full from dinner. Sleep called…

Thursday…Daylight began to fill the room…promising sunshine and warmth. It was a perfect morning for a walk. Full of promise of a Seattle summer day, yet was February. Our walk meandered through downtown, zigzaging across the creek. Most businesses were closed, yet smells of breakfast fillled the air. Of course, McClintocks Saloon was our destination. It was fun to sit among the local old timers and order my home fries. With a side of French toast. My companion went straight for the huevos rancheros. Eating the fries (my plate) and baked beans (his plate) tasted exactly like I remember them. Just thinking about it will make my water water for months. As we made our way back to the hotel to relax in the hot tub (on our own private deck), I stumbled across a coffee stop in a little gallery. It would be the spot for my daily tea run – serving a locally brewer chai. Yum.

By mid-morning, the sun was promising a warm day, so we dropped the top and headed south with the wind in our hair. Should have packed a hat! Let the wine tasting begin. After a wonderful stop at Laetitia, I pointed the car to Avila Beach, my favorite beach from the Cal Poly days. Very surprised to see how much the beachfront stores have upgraded. Sadly, it was due to a bad oil spill in the late 90’s that closed the beachfront for a few years. Today, we got the benefit, dining with the sun in our face and the waves crashing on the beach in our ears. Delicious fish tacos at the Custom House. Followed by a walk down the beach, a trip out to the end of the pier and a few moments in shops.

Time to get back to wine tasting…then prepare for a night at the SLO Farmer’s Market. The smells of a full street fair already filled the air when we arrived back in town! An evening feast of tri-tip awaits! We also indulged in a round at the Creek Brewery. I slurped down a banana nutella crepe. Bill had tri-tip for dessert, too. Now, what to eat tomorrow. Scents of fresh strawberries. Glowing vine ripe tomatoes. We bought both, along with handmade cheese, watermelon radishes, arugula and  more. Enjoyed learning about the cheese goddesses journey to making cheese and watching a radish farmer tease the college students into inviting her to their party.

Friday…started with an attempt to work, but wireless didn’t cooperate. Quickly gave up and headed north to Hearst Castle. While making our tour reservations on the drive, we realized we would be rather early. Jumped off the path in Cayucos where we discovered a few treats including wine, brown butter cookies and the Cass House.

We arrived at the Hearst Castle, ready for our kitchen and cottages tour. Familar with the Hearst publishing story, is was interesting to weave that into the personal life – dreams and failures. The architecture, the grounds and the sweeping views were like no other! Post tour, we took a detour in Cambria (yeah, the farmer’s market sign caught our eye). Another round of tri-tip. More bread. Some homemade salsa. Late lunch for us! Lucky us, there are also three wineries on the main street. Although we closed Moonstone and missed the other two.

Saturday…started with more wine (thanks to our Moonstone friends, we had a list of places to start). After a few stops, it was time to wander into town for lunch. Wait. Detour. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. was right on our path. We must stop! And wow, I found there is a totally different world to beer. We tasted:

  • Merkin – A Merlin that is aged in bourbon barrels. Not for sale. Only to be drank in their tasting room. Totally don’t taste remotely close to any beer I have ever had.
  • Sucaba – This one was even more fun, drawing on my Vegas experience. Another great beer. But I loved the story more. Originally, is was named Abacus. However, the winemaker didn’t like it. Turn it around : Sucaba.

Finally, lunch. Papi’s Tacos. Carne Asada goodness. Best tacos on the central coast according to Sunset magazine. I am NOT going to disagree. After a stop at Di Raimondo’s Italian Market to pick up some cheese, we were back on the winery tour. One washed in wine, the other laced with Humbolt Fog. And the evening finished with a trip back to Cayucos for dinner at the Cass House.

Sunday…what better way to start the day than a brunch? (After a quick stop on campus to pick up my favorite Olliaberry Jam.) And we feasted at Thomas Hill Organics. First round, tacos with squash purée, beluga (black) lentils, cashews and coconut. Next round, pumpkin bread French toast with creme fresh. And a side of his chorizo frittata. Next we spent a little time in town, finding a great pair of ballet flats for me, more cheese for our afternoon travels and gazed at local art projects. A few more wineries…and its time to head north for our flight home. Until next time…

Five Days…How Many Wineries?

A wonderful selection of wines from the central coast.
Day 1 – Paso Robles
: Winding roads, beautiful views…every taste was delicious. Yep, that sums it up!

Adelaida CellarsFirst vinery, every single sip was delicious! Great place to start out a five day tasting tour. Of course, it was also fun to taste a few sips off the tasting menu (and take a bottle home).

Dauo Vineyard: A recently opened tasting room. Breathtaking views with a great list of wines. We went home with a bottle, of course. And, we will come back. With a picnic to enjoy.

Tasting list included: ’10 Chardonnay, ’10 Grenache Blanc, ’10 Chemin de Fleurs, ’08 Petite Sirah, ’09 Zinfandel, ’09 Celestus (blend of Sirah, Cab, Petite Verdot), ’09 Micho (named for winemaker’s sister; a Merlot & Cab cab blend), ’09 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Day 2 – Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo: Perfect sunny day for Chardonnay tasting

Laetitia: What a great place to start (especially since she asked for my ID!)

  • Sparkling: ’08 Brut de Blanc, ’06 Brut Coquard, ’07 Cuvée M, Brut Cuvée
  • White: ’09 Barnwood Grenache Blanc, ’09 Barnwood Roussanbe
  • Pinot Noir: ’10 Pinot Noir, ’10 Estate Pinot Noir, ’10 Reserve du Domaine
  • Red: ’09 Barnwood GSM Blend, ’09 Barnwood Temparillo; ’09 Nadia (Cab), ’09 Barnwood Trio

Baileyana &  TangentA great little place in the Edna Valley set in a little old school house and filled with fun shopping. Of course, the wines were good, but not our favorites.

Edna Valley: Maybe my favorite place for Chardonnay…maybe it was helped by the view. The tastes I enjoyed and got to bring home:

In the vineyard, the grapes were allowed extended time on the vine in order to develop appealing fruit and floral aromas, nuances of rose petal, orange blossom and Meyer lemon.  By avoiding malolactic fermentation and aging for a short time in older French barrels, we preserved the natural acidity of the grape, keeping this wine fresh and crisp.

This barrel select Chardonnay shows ripe and tropical flavors of peach, tangerine, and citrus. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels other flavors of baking spice, honey, sweet caramel oak and clove abound. A mouth-filling viscous wine with a long finish and refreshing acidity is sure to impress the Chardonnay aficionado.

Other tastes included: ’09 Pinot Noir, ’09 Zinfandel, ’09 Grenache, ’09 Petit Verdot

Tolosa Winery
My favorites where the ‘o9 No Oak Chardonnay (super balanced and light citrus) and the ’09 Grenache Noir o9 (a pure purple delight with notes of berry, floral tones and a little sage). But my real favorite was the flyer for their wine and cheese pairing over the weekend: Humboldt County…”Where the men are weak and the cheese is strong”.

Day 3 – The Coast: Just by luck, we found wineries when we were headed to a castle. Who knew?

Cayucos Cellars: On the way to Hearst Castle, we needed to kill some time. We stopped in a little seaside town, found a parking spot and looked up to see a winery. It is 11 a.m. so they just opened for us! Many Zin’s, a nice dessert wine and we walked out with more wine to add to our collection. Plus, the funniest photo of a wine maker was posted in their tasting room (and it looked nothing like the real wine maker when he arrived in the middle of our tasting).

Moonstone:  I could blog just about our experience here. We went for a taste, left and hour after closing after making many new great friends with the dozen or so locals hanging out (and a few others in town to taste). Of course, over the two plus hours, we tasted some bottles more than twice. And we brought home the ’09 Tempranillo and ’09 Cabernet Franc.

Odd fact of the day: Voignier comes from the “road to hell” in that they were a challenge to grow – about 350 B.C.

Day 4 – Back to Paso and focused on Zin.

We roll up to Zin Alley, ready for our first stop (a suggestion from one of our new Moonstone friends). The first sign read “Hippies enter around back” and then the next sign read “holler, in the vineyard”. We knew this was going to be  good! And it was fabulous!

And the wine maker sent us over to Caliza and Booker. Booker sells out of their wines early every year, and they are just opening their wine for the upcoming year. Solid wines that should age well. Caliza suggested checking out what Brian Benson was doing with his Zin blends. Actually, my favorite part of this tasting was the painted wine bottles.

Odd fact of the day: Counoise translates as “the forgotten grape”.

And then we found our favorite winery. Le Cuvier. Sip after delicious sip. We wanted to taste again! I must admit I joined my first wine club. Took two bottles home. Can’t wait for my first shipment in March.

Then we headed to Halter Ranch, a place we almost made it to on Day 1. The grounds were so amazing, I had to go back. Older farm house with amazing architectural details. Tablas Creek Vineyard finished up our day as the sun set and lit up the hills with rich, warm colors. And we picked up another bottle great for every day drinking.

Day 5 – Heading North with a final “layover” in Paso. 

J Lohr: I have to say this was the most surprising place to taste. I have picked up many J. Lohr bottles at my local store to enjoy every day. It was fabulous to learn that they have two boutique lines: the J. Lohr Gesture  and the J. Lohr Vineyard Series. And, wow, some great wines in both lines!

Gesture: ’09 Zinfandel

Vineyard Series: ’10 Carol’s Vineyard Sauvignon Bland, ’10 October Night Chardonnay, ’08 Arroyo Viast Chardonnay, ’08 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, ’05 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, ’08 Carol’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and ’09 Tower Road Petite Sirah

The most fun was tasting the ’05 and ’08 Hilltop Cab in a head-to-head taste. Seeing how the ’05 matured was fabulous…and worth bringing home at least a bottle.

Graveyard: Our final tasting place was filled with good wines and witty illiterations. Our favorite tastes included:

  • Tombstone White – a four white aromatic blend
  • Tombstone Red – perfect red bland – do we need to order a case? Maybe.
  • ’08 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – an incredible bottle
  • Deliverance – a premium port touched with chocolate – never thought chocolate and wine could be that delicious

The cliff notes:

  • Total days: 5
  • Total wineries: 18
  • New bottles brought home: 26

Cass House

A few months ago, we crossed paths with a Cal Poly supporter who recommended visiting the Cass House on my next visit to the San Luis area. For some reason, I wrote it on my list of places to eat…so when we drove through Cayucos, a light bulb went off. After walking by (and reading the menu), it seemed like a good place to try. Then we had a few wine stops where it was mentioned as a great place to go. So last minute reservations were to be had (after 9 pm even!).

And the night commences with…

1 Un
HE :: Duck roulette breaded and deep fried. Crunchy and creamy.
ME :: Parsnip and beets in a Balsamic reduction. Beets…balsamic…I love both.
WE :: Amazing fluffy biscuits with butter and salt.

Accompanying each course was a wine pairing, mostly European wines so it was too much for my brain to keep tack of — amazing food won out over wine labels that were unfamiliar.

2 Duex
HE :: Arugula and shaved brussels sprouts (I was surprised that brussels sprouts can taste the good..the texture is definitely better shaved)
ME :: Arugula, whipped house ricotta, pistachio tuile, spiced persimmon vinaigrette

3 Trois
HE :: Wagyu beef :: medium rare beef in a beef stock and Kalamazoo olive sauce, Battered and fried risotto
ME :: mushroom risotto :: traditional style risotto, local wild mushrooms, mushroom nage, parmesan crisp, black truffle

4 Quatre (or & Dessert)
HE :: one bourbon, one scotch, one beer :: bourbon poached see canyon apple, scotch ice cream-apple cake, bitter stout souffle
ME :: chocolate sponge cake :: salted caramel mousse (that filled a chocolate cylinder), chocolate ganache, chocolate ice cream on a bed of cocoa nibs and chocolate crumble…oh, pure chocolate goodness!

The location:

Cass House | 222 N. Ocean Ave. | Cayucos, CA 93430 | 805.995.3669 | Website

Il Cortile – A Fine Italian Restaurant in {{surprise}} Paso

The husband and wife duo – he’s the chef, she runs the front of the house (she was there for us, but we learned in our wine drinking adventures that she is there when she is not working in LA as the producer on the Biggest Loser) – have a great little eatery just off the square in downtown Paso.

Hands down, best service of the trip. Hands down, Bill’s favorite dish (read on to learn which dish). Hands down, the best dining companions. Hands down, the biggest regret of the trip was not ordering a bottle of Denner Dirt Worshiper (suggested by our server, impossible to find now).

Back to the story of our dinner…
We started our meal by choosing the bottle of wine. It seemed like a good night for a blend – and it must be local. So the 2007 Westbound Red Blend got the nod. A combination of Cab and Syrah – with just enough berry to pair with a variety of foods.

As variety would be our theme tonight. So many items on the menu sounded like they would tickle my palate. Many courses where shared…

:: Asparagi Milanese con Burrata :: Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto topped with burrata and balsamic reduction

:: Risotto of the Day :: Filled with truffles, topped with truffle shavings, sprinkled with truffle oil

:: Beef cheek ravioli :: Ravioli made with roasted, seasoned beef cheeks in a sweet wine reduction with crispy porcini mushrooms, finished with white truffle oil

:: Sea bass with caper sauce :: The catch of the day. Devine sauce.

:: Uovo in camicia con tartufo :: poached egg with morel mushrooms in a white truffle fondut (I was only allowed two bites)

And even though dessert options looked tempting, we stopped there. I know, you are amazed.

The location:

Il Cortile | 608 12th Street | Paso Robles, CA | 93446 | 805.226.0300 | Website

Birthday Suit…No…Shoes

When I was a little girl, my Dad would always tease me about wearing my birthday suit on my birthday.

Today, my birthday present would make any suit look good (well, maybe not the birthday suit).

Of course, the trick was on me! My present looked like a shoe box, yet it was heavy (I was thinking no way can I wear that heavy of a shoe). And I ripped off the paper with excitement. I was right, it was my shoes! Then I opened the box with glee…to a box of garlic. WTF? (Back story: A few nights ago I went to grab a clove of garlic for the Alfredo sauce to find the keeper empty. So I texted the guest chef to find out why he used all the garlic and failed to put it on the shopping list).

The good news is that the shoes were carefully wrapped in tissue paper and in a gift bag. Yah!

The perfect spring shoe…where am I going to get to wear them first? Any suggestions?

Regrets? Nahhhhhh!

What??? The year has gone by already? It can’t be time to celebrate my birthday, can it?

Yep, in fact it is a day past. But last year, I celebrated for a year. So this year, it can’t just last one day. A month is probably more like it! But enough about next year…

Wow, have I had an amazing year!

  • A long list of fabulous plans at the start of the year: So much fun with friends…great wine, great food, FABULOUS FUN! Several great trips to the Bay Area, Portland, Vegas, SLO, Victoria, LA, NYC, Walla Walla, Chicago, Hawaii, Portland.
  • Unexpected changes: A new chapter in my career. A new relationship that continues to be full of adventure and laughter.
  • More new shoes than I have blogged about. The only category that didn’t see 40 (online). Between Bailie and I we probably made it (maybe I will review our closets and post the true number in the future).

Of course, every reflection has to have a “what would I have changed” section. Otherwise, can it really be reflection? I would have exercised more. Switching job plus eating so many good meals shows in my favorite jeans. The one thing that tops my “to do, but didn’t list”:

Dedicate 40 hours over the year to scrapbook my life and all the things I love about it.

So my goal for this year:  Scrapbook my first decade. Got started last week by taking slides in to make prints (thankfully only the first five years have slides!) Maybe I will keep blogging and post some great photos.

Regardless, I have absolutely no regrets! What a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S year. All 365 days!

2007 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

On our Walla Walla trip, I was blown away by by a bottle of Cab from Tero Estates just before we left town. We finally drank it! For the birthday dinner. My birthday dinner.

2007 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Tero Estate

This Cabernet is the result of blending the fruit from five outstanding Walla Walla Valley vineyards.  Windrow, Dwelley, LaTour, Les Collines and Spofford Station. From an early age, this wine has shown complexity, and continues to evolve.Baker’s chocolate, orange zest, grapefruit, blueberries, black pepper and a hint of cigar leaf finish with huckleberry.

83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot.

And for dinner, my request was my Mom’s homemade potato rolls, roast, mashed potatoes and gravy. Followed by the best blackberry pie and ice cream. Yum!