Dream a little dream . . . of enchiladas

Dream a little dream . . . of enchiladas

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me

I’ve been learning to play the ukulele. When a neighborhood woman – an amazing artist, accomplished musician, and fellow mother – offered to get a group of ladies together and teach us to play, I treated my self to a pink Flea and jumped in. It’s a perfect beach pastime – sitting on a log, watching the boys skimboard, strumming and singing away. Missed notes, off-key, it’s all good; the gently crashing waves, even on a calm day, basically drown me out anyway.

You can play any song on a uke but, Hawaiian music aside, many don’t translate well. No matter how much you’ve suffered you just can’t play convincing blues on a ukulele, nor can you capture rock’s dirty low rhythms. One day, washing dishes, listening to my iPod, keeping my ear open for promising uke tunes, Mama Cass started crooning “Dream a Little Dream.” This was it, finally, what could be the penultimate ukulele song.

And so it was. For several months, it was my secret personal ukulele theme song, not one that seemed to be on any larger radar. But not for long. It was seemingly a nice coincidence when Kid One came home from guitar class with a jazzy arrangement for it. Not knowing the song he gave it different interpretation than I’d ever heard. Then I paged through a fashion mag at the dentist that had a pictorial called “Dream A Little Dream.” And then it was featured on Glee. It’s the odd synchronous way of the universe –  one idea, capturing many different imaginations at the same time, each one interpreting it and making it his or her own.

When I sleep, I dream big dreams. Often in Technicolor with layers little of dreams inside. Sometimes ghosts in rocking chairs appear in dusty corners of empty apartments, other times they involve giant chickens tightrope walking outside my window. Surprising then, waking up morning before last, to have had a simple little dream: my dream self taking an accurate inventory of the current contents of the fridge and making chicken enchiladas. I’d never planned a meal in a dream before, but there you have it – the day’s upcoming meal, all set.

LL, who rarely dreams, woke up shortly after I did, telling me about a Mexican food dream of his own. This one unsettling, set in an unfamiliar Mexican restaurant, the menu written in an unfamiliar alphabet with a wait staff unwilling to translate. It’s an odd synchronous way of longtime partners – a meeting of the minds so close as to have similarly themed dreams.

So last night, of course, I made chicken enchiladas, from a perfectly delicious recipe my Midwestern mother gave me. It’s completely simple, certainly not authentic, and gets rave reviews from everyone who’s tasted it – except for Kid Two, who was thoroughly unimpressed and stuck to refried beans and rice.

Here you go.

Quick quicken enchiladas
Fast and family-friendly recipe for a weeknight chicken enchilada dish.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 16-oz can enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz whipped cream cheese
  • 8 oz shredded cooked chicken (see note)
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • ½ cup chopped green onion
  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Spoonful ¼ cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish.
  3. Soften the tortilla by dampening it water and heating in the microwave for 15 seconds.
  4. Now you are ready to assemble the enchiladas. For each one:
  5. Spread 1 oz cream cheese on the tortilla.
  6. Add 1 oz shredded chicken
  7. Sprinkle with 1 tsp green onion
  8. Roll, and place seam-side down in the casserole dish.
  9. Repeat 8 times.
  10. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas.
  11. Add remaining green onion.
  12. Finally, top with shredded Monterey jack cheese.
  13. Heat in the oven 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and it's nice and hot all the way through.
  14. Serve on warm plates with sour cream.
I poached three boneless, skinless chicken breasts, covering them in water seasoned with a couple bay leaves, a clove of garlic, some salt, and a bunch of freshly ground pepper, and simmered for about an hour and a half so it was tender and easy to shred, add more liquid along the way. This is also a good use for rotisserie chicken. This recipe reheats well.

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

dreams of Mayan sunsets


  1. Hi Maggie,

    I remember that song very well. Dad is playing it now. I am looking forward to hearing you play it. The ocean, waves, enchiladas and family are calling. See you next week. Keep writing. It is wonderful.

    Love you, Mom

  2. First, I think it’s so cool that you took up the ukulele.

    Second, seems we have even more in common. I, too, dream big dreams (usually exhausting ones); my husband rarely dreams and swears when he does that his dreams are in black and white (why would that be?) I also have found, especially in my writing, that the gods of synchronicity conspire to bring me an odd mix of ideas that I noodle with until they become something. Here’s my favorite example: Confused by the Muse.

    Third, thanks for recipe. I was wondering what to make for dinner tomorrow.

  3. I wasn’t hungry until I started reading this – now I’m STARVING. My kids are into quesadillas so I think they will like this, too. Beautifully written, as always – and thanks!

    PS My dear heart seldom dreams also, and when he does it is usually a whopper. Me, I can seldom tell the difference between sleeping and waking, my subconscious is so busy!

  4. Made the dish tonight. Thank you. It was a big hit with the entire family.

  5. Maggie: I’m from New Mexico; here’s a recipe:
    sautee garlic and half-moons of onion in olive oil and butter.
    Mix New Mexico chile powder, 1 tbsp of masa and a few tbsp of flour, oregano and a pinch of cumin in a bowl. Have fresh chicken stock or vegetable stock on hand.

    Pour off extra olive oil and add dry ingredients, stirring w/ flat spoon to make a paste; take off the heat and gradually stir/beat in the stock.
    Let the sauce simmer and adjust with stock.

    Very good if put away for a day.

    This can be adapted for genuine mole’ with a few squares of baker’s chocolate, a tbsp of honey.

    I use either shredded cooked chicken or turkey when I make mole, and garnish w/ pan-toasted pinon or pumpkin seeds.

    The sauce freezes well. I imagine you do well with eye-balling ingredients and so I didn’t give exact amounts.

    I have used tongs to dip the tortillas in sauce, and when feeling reckless, quickly softened them in hot oil.

    We usually made enchilada tortes by layering the softened tortillas with filling– normally Jack cheese, chopped olives, meat– and plating with a fried egg and extra sauce on top.

    I like to make these with sides of brown rice and individual guacamole salads and a light postre– a flan or a Mexican sorbet.


    • This sounds great, Jenne’. Thanks for taking the time to share it with me – I’ve never made mole’ but this sounds like the perfect excuse. I’ll let you know how it comes out.
      And you’re right about the eye-balling ingredients, but the downside is that nothing ever tastes the same twice!

  6. Enchiladas originated in Mexico, where the practice of rolling tortillas around other food dates back at least to Mayan times.The people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate corn tortillas folded or rolled around small fish…..

    All the best


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