Today we’re sharing an excerpt from Kelly Minter’s new cookbook, A Place at the Table. We’ve also included one of her favorite recipes for you to enjoy! Click here to pre-order your copy of A Place at the Table today!
I can’t pinpoint when my love for cooking boiled over, but it has been simmering since my growing-up years around the family dinner table.
Our family has always loved food. We were the ones who would discuss what we wanted for our afternoon snack over breakfast. Meals were the perfect time to talk about subsequent meals. Our family dinners weren’t fancy, but they were consistent—something I could count on no matter what took place that day at school, or at basketball practice, or more tenuously in my often-anxious brain. Our family meals served as more than nourishment for our bodies; the dinner table was a mooring where we could always find safe harbor.
It was here at the family table where I began to appreciate food and the community it inevitably brings. We ate and we talked. We ate and we laughed. We ate and we fought over who got to sit in what seat, complaining about the minced onions in the meatloaf that my mom snuck in even when I begged her not to.
“Mom!” I’d slump over my plate, “I hate onions.”
“Kelly, you can’t even taste them, they’re so small.”
“Well if you can’t taste them, then why do you put them in there?”
Then my dad would get involved and talk to me about my problem with sassiness. The minced onions in the meatloaf were a whole thing, which is why there is no meatloaf recipe in this cookbook. In general, I still have a hard time with the word minced.
Our family found out a lot about one another while eating together. Sometimes information we didn’t always want to know. Once when my brother, David, was around six years old, it was his turn to pray over the meal. We all held hands as he thanked God for something he appreciated in particular about each of us, the way his Sunday school teacher prayed over her class.
“Dear God,” he earnestly opened, “Thank You for Dad, who we love so much and who always plays with us.”
He squinted his eyes to see who was sitting next to Dad, then clenched them tight again. “And for Megan, who is always so nice to me and shares with me. And thank You for Katie, who plays games with me. And thank You for Mom, for taking me to school and buying me stuff.”
I was last in the circle. “And thank You for Kelly, who . . .” after a minor pause, “actually, I don’t really like Kelly that much.”
It was a shocking moment of honesty. My sisters erupted into roars of laughter while my parents tried to conceal their amusement so as not to embarrass my brother. David’s praying eyelids split open, genuinely wondering what was so funny. Prayers were supposed to be earnest, right? I don’t remember the specifics of why David was upset with me in that moment, other than the fact that I was the big sister in high school and he was probably in my superior way. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to make up for this most unfortunate season in our relationship. We haven’t explicitly spoken about this, but it’s understood that I owe him chips and guacamole for the rest of his life.
I’m forever grateful to my parents and their determination to solidify family dinners as part of our daily routines. I realize that times continue to change and not everyone can prepare meals every single day of the week, but my mom’s regular habit of cooking and calling us to the table fostered stability and community in our family and gave us grounding that I’m not sure we would have found elsewhere.
CILANTRO CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
This is perhaps one of my all-time favorite dishes. Your friends will love you for taking the time to tackle this one. (And it’s even better the next day.)
PREP TIME: 45 minutes | COOK TIME: 20–30 minutes | SERVES: 6–8
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded (reserve 2 cups of broth)
1 teaspoon cumin
½ cup tightly packed fresh cilantro
½ cup sour cream
2 cups canned chicken broth
8 burrito-sized tortillas
8 tablespoons salsa, medium or hot
Optional: 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
4 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
½ stick butter
1 tablespoon flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil chicken breasts for 20 minutes and reserve 2 cups of leftover broth when draining. Shred the chicken breasts.
2. TO MAKE GRAVY: In a blender, mix cumin, cilantro, sour cream, 1 cup canned chicken broth, and 1 cup reserved chicken broth.
3. In a skillet or saucepan, heat butter slowly and add flour until smooth. Slowly add 2 remaining cups of chicken broth until smooth and creamy. (If a thicker consistency is desired, add more flour.) Add this mixture to the contents of the blender, and blend together.
4. TO MAKE ENCHILADAS: Fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded chicken and 1–2 tablespoons of salsa. Add some of the optional black beans if desired. Roll tortillas and place in a 9 x 13-inch pan, seam-side down.
5. Fill pan with gravy from blender, completely covering the enchiladas. Sprinkle cheeses on top. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Click here to order your copy of A Place at the Table!
Kelly Minter is passionate about teaching the Bible. When she’s not singing, writing, or speaking, you can find her picking homegrown vegetables, enjoying her six nieces and nephews or riding a boat along the Amazon river with Justice & Mercy International. A Southern transplant, she delights in college football, long walks, and a diner mug of coffee with her closest friends.