Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

I originally found the inspiration for this recipe from a low-fat cookbook I bought many, many years ago…pre-Chefpickykid times.  I liked the essence of the original recipe, but it was pretty bland.  Not a whole lot of flavor, and it used fat free cheddar cheese.

Warning: I’m about to head off on a tangent-just want you to be prepared.

My apologies to fat free cheese lovers, but I’m not a big fan of fat free cheese. I know we’re all trying to cut back on calories and fat, but let’s be honest, fat free cheese just doesn’t have a lot of flavor, and when it melts it is similar to the consistency of cement.  I probably shouldn’t be so hard on fat free cheese.  Many people like it and I’m sure it has its uses; it’s just not for me.

Sorry,  I got a little off track.  I guess I’m just passionate when it comes to cheese. I’m good with many other fat-free alternatives to food (many of them are used in this recipe and take nothing away from the overall flavor),  but I’m of the opinion that if I’m gonna use cheese, I’m gonna do it right.  I’m a big believer in the term “all things in moderation”.  Besides, I’ve found that if I use sharper or more flavorful cheeses, I can use less cheese; essentially I get more bang for my buck.

Back to the recipe….since I was a little disappointed in the original recipe, I’ve been working on a tastier alternative to this recipe for many years.  I think I’ve come up with a pretty good one, and even though it doesn’t use fat free cheese, it’s still a relatively healthy recipe.  I’m still experimenting with ways to make it a little spicier (keep in mind I’m a big fan of super duper spicy food), but I like this recipe; it’s tasty and easy to make.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Small yellow onion, chopped

2 Cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped

1 16 Oz can green chile enchilada sauce

1 Cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1 Cup shredded cheddar

1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup (I use the 98% fat free for this one…I don’t have a passion for soup. 🙂 )

1 Cup of sour cream (I also use light sour cream for this one)

1 Can of diced green chilies (7 oz can)

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Flour tortillas-this recipe should make 10-12 enchiladas depending on how fat you stuff them.  You can also use corn tortillas if you prefer.  See my recipe for Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas for tips on using corn tortillas.

Pre-Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is heated, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion becomes translucent; about 5-7 minutes.  Add the enchilada sauce and bring to a boil.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the boiling sauce.  Cover the skillet and allow it to simmer until the chicken is cooked through-this should take about 20-25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the creamy enchilada sauce.  Mix together the sour cream, cream of chicken and diced green chilies  Set the sauce aside for now.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the skillet and allow it to cool enough to handle.  Don’t throw away the sauce yet!  Once the chicken has cooled, shred it with two forks and place it in a large bowl.  Add the pepper jack cheese and half  the enchilada sauce and stir to combine.  Season with a little more salt and pepper, if you’d like.

Now it’s time to prepare the enchiladas! Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Place a tortilla on a plate and fill it with about 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and roll up tightly.  I prefer to leave the ends open on my enchiladas, but you can also fold each end first, then roll up the tortilla to keep the ends closed. 

Place the enchiladas close together in the baking dish, and when they’re all packed in, top your enchiladas with the creamy green chili sauce you prepared.  Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of the enchiladas, cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  I didn’t do it this time, but I also like to sprinkle a little chopped green onion or cilantro on top before I bake to add a little extra flavor and color.

By the way, these also make great leftovers! I even like to eat them cold the next day!  Confession- I love cold leftovers, so I’ll eat just about any leftover food cold! 🙂

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

So before I begin to talk about this recipe, I have to share with all of you that I finally got the fancy camera I’ve been longing for!  You have no idea how excited I am!  Now I can finally start taking some respectable pictures of my recipes…now I just need to figure out how to work the fancy camera.  🙂  A big thank you to Mom and Dad for helping to make my dreams come true with an early birthday gift!

Anyway, on to the topic at hand.  Everyone loves crock pot recipes…what’s not to love?  Nothing is better than throwing a few items into a crock pot in the morning before you go to work, and knowing that you will have an effort-free meal waiting for you when you get home.  Crock pot recipes also seem to be one of the most popular recipes on my blog, and since Pinterest is loaded with tons of great recipes, I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration for new crock pot recipes.

I found this recipe on Pinterest (have I mentioned lately how much I love Pinterest?  It has literally changed my life!), and changed it up just a bit because I like to use my own spices, rather than taco seasoning.  It turned out super tasty and made great leftovers too!

Wanna see the picture I took with my fancy new camera?  I’m obviously still learning the ins and outs of the camera as well as general photography techniques, but it’s a heck of a lot better than my point and shoot digital.  Wow!  What a difference it makes!

What do you think?? Not too bad huh?

Anyway, enough about the camera and onto the recipe.  The best thing about this one is that you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now!  Here’s the recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Tacos:

Inspired by the recipe Crock Pot Chicken Tacos by Chocolate Therapy

6 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1 16 Oz jar of salsa, whatever kind you like

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 Teaspoon garlic powder

1 Teaspoon onion powder

1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 Teaspoon black pepper, plus extra for seasoning the chicken

Salt, to taste

Heat a large skillet  with one tablespoon of olive oil (about one turn of the pan)over medium-high heat until the pan is super hot and the oil is smoking.  While the skillet heats, season the chicken with salt and pepper.  When the pan is hot enough, add the chicken to the skillet and brown on both sides; this shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes per side.  You aren’t cooking the chicken through, just cooking enough to brown.  You don’t necessarily need to do this step if you’re short on time-you can just throw everything in the crock pot and be on your way, but I like to brown meat first when I’m making crock pot recipes; I find that the meat comes out more flavorful and tender (rather than mushy) when I brown it first.

Once the chicken is browned, place it in the crock pot and add the remaining ingredients.  Cook the chicken in the crock pot for 5-6 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high.  Once you’re ready to serve the chicken, remove it from the crock pot and shred it with two forks; the meat will be very tender so it won’t require much effort.

You can serve these tacos with just about anything, and they’re great with either corn or flour tortillas.  When I made them, I served them with lettuce, tomato, cheese, green onion, cilantro, and sour cream.  I also served these with Spicy Spanish Rice.

I’m off to take more photos now…I think I’m going to have to make every recipe on my blog again so I can take new photos.  🙂

Enjoy!

Rigatoni with Sausage and Spicy Tomato Sauce

This recipe was an instant favorite in our house; it was incredibly easy to make and sooo good!

My husband and I are big fans of spicy food, so we really enjoyed this one.  It’s not eye-watering spicy, but just enough heat and flavor to add a little kick.  The original recipe for this dish included heavy cream. I wanted to lighten it up a little so I changed it up a bit, but I bet it would be super good with cream!! You could probably skip the milk as well if you want a more tomato-style sauce.

Here’s the recipe for Rigatoni with Sausage and Spicy Tomato Sauce:

Inspired by the recipe: Sausage with Rigatoni and Tomato Cream Sauce

1 Package of Rigatoni pasta, cooked to al dente

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

2 Tablespoons of butter

2 Tablespoons of flour

1 cup milk (I used 1%-that’s what I had in my fridge)

1 Pound of Italian Sausage, casings removed

1 Large yellow onion (or 2 small), thinly sliced

2 Medium garlic cloves, chopped

1 Cup chicken stock

1 Can of Ro-Tel tomatoes

1/2 Teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

1/2 Teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes (I may have used more like 1 1/2 teaspoons; add in 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you have the desired flavor.  I like spicy food, so I add more!)

1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Teaspoon chili powder

1 Teaspoon garlic powder or salt

Large handful of parmesan cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top

Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Once the olive oil is heated, add the butter and allow it to melt.  Add the onion and saute it until it begins to caramelize.  Remove the Italian Sausage from the casings and add it to the sauteed onion; break the sausage up with a wooden spoon as it cooks and brown it until it is completely cooked through.  Add the garlic and cook for about 2-3 more minutes, then drain the extra fat.

After you’ve drained the fat, add 2 tablespoons of flour to the sausage/onion mixture and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil, then allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes or until the broth has reduced.  I reduced it by about half so the pasta would be thicker.  Add the Ro-tel tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the milk, then bring back to a boil.  Once the sauce has begun to boil again, reduce back down to a simmer and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes more.  Add the red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic salt or powder, and salt and pepper and stir to combine the ingredients.  I allowed the sauce to simmer for about another 10 minutes, but you don’t have to do this step if you don’t want to or are short on time.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.  Add a large handful of parmesan cheese to the pasta and combine.  I also sprinkled a little extra parmesan cheese on top before serving.

I served this pasta with homemade garlic bread with parmesan cheese; the bread was great for dipping in the sauce.  So yummy!!!!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with White Wine, Lemon and Rosemary

I wanted to make a roasted pork tenderloin this weekend.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to roast it with, so I sort of improvised and came up with a really tasty marinade for the tenderloin.  We have a lemon tree in our back yard that is starting to produce fruit, so I wanted to use lemon, and for me, lemon always goes great with fresh rosemary. I would have liked to make a pan sauce with the marinade, but I didn’t have all the ingredients and was too lazy too busy to go to the store, but it still tasted fantastic without the sauce.   This pork tenderloin would also go really well with Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic.

Everyone enjoyed the pork tenderloin..well, almost everyone.  Chef PickyKid didn’t enjoy it, but her friend did!  What can I say, she’s picky! 🙂

Here’s the recipe for Roasted Pork Tenderloin with White Wine, Lemon and Rosemary

1 Pork tenderloin

1/2 cup olive oil, plus about 2 tablespoons for searing the tenderloin and a little olive oil to rub on the pork tenderloin

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup white wine

Juice of one lemon

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon onion powder

Fresh rosemary, about 2-3 sprigs

kosher salt and black pepper

Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, white wine, lemon,  garlic and onion powder.  Rub a little olive oil on both sides of the tenderloin and season with kosher salt and pepper.  Place the tenderloin in a large freezer bag with the marinade.  Remove the rosemary from 2-3 sprigs of rosemary and add them to the bag.  I just hold the rosemary sprig at the top and peel the rosemary from the stem with my fingers.  Marinate the pork for at least 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.    If you have time, it’s even better if you marinate overnight.

Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator about  a half hour before you’re ready to cook so it isn’t cold when you sear it.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot.  I like to see a little smoke from the oil so I know it’s really hot; this is the best way to sear the meat.  Add the tenderloin to the hot skillet.  Sear the tenderloin until it is browned on both sides.  This will take about 10 minutes (five on each side).

Transfer the tenderloin to a roasting pan and roast until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.  The time for this may vary depending on your oven, mine took about 30 minutes.

Italian Stuffed Shells

A friend of mine recently celebrated her birthday, so in honor of the occasion I hosted dinner at my house.  The guest of honor said she was in the mood for stuffed shells; I’ve never made stuffed shells before so I was excited to try something new.  I essentially used some of the same ingredients for making lasagna, but stuffed it into giant shells instead!

This was an easy recipe and great for serving a lot of people.  I actually doubled the recipe since I had a few guests.  I made the sauce and filling the night before, but I wouldn’t suggest preparing or stuffing the shells in advance because they may not hold together as well if they sit overnight. Since I made the sauce the night before, I reheated it on low heat to warm it up, and that’s when I added the ladleful of water from the pasta.

This recipe could easily be prepared vegetarian; just remove the meat from the recipe, and I think it would taste great!

This one was definitely a hit at the birthday bash and it will be a hit at your house as well!

 

Here’s the recipe for Italian Stuffed Shells:

1 package of large italian shells

2 cups of mozzarella cheese, divided

1 cup of parmesan cheese, divided

1 beef bullion cube

Cook the shells according to package directions, but add one cube of beef bullion to the boiling water before adding the shells to the pot.  Before draining the shells, reserve 1 ladleful of the water from the pot to use in your meat sauce.

Meat Sauce: 

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 pound ground beef or sirloin

1/2 pound italian sausage-I used mild sausage, but you could use hot if you want the sauce to be a little spicier.

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 14.5 ounce can of tomato sauce

About 2 tablespoons of tomato paste-I just used about 1/2 a small can of tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine-okay, I probably used more like 3/4 to 1 cup but feel free to use what you like.  🙂 I used Cabernet Sauvignon, but Syrah would also be good if you want more of the flavor of the wine in your sauce.

1 ladleful of water from cooking the large shells (see directions for cooking the shells)

1 Tablespoon dried oregano or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano

About 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped-I just used a small handful.

Salt and Pepper, to taste.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and sausage and brown it, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  When the meat is browned, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is soft and tender.  Stir the diced tomatoes into the pot and cook until most of the liquid from the tomatoes is cooked out.  Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Add the wine and a ladleful of water from the pasta to the pot and bring to a bubble.  Add the oregano, basil, salt and pepper and bring to a bubble.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.  If you can simmer it longer, that’s even better; the longer it simmers the better it will taste.

For the filling: 

1 16 oz container of ricotta cheese

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 egg

About 1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained-I just used about 1/2 of a small frozen container of spinach

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper, to taste-about 1/2 teaspoon of each

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Putting it all together:

Preheat the oven to 425

Stuff each shell with about 1 tablespoon of the filling and place it into a 9X13 baking dish filling side up.  One baking dish should be large enough for all of the shells.  Once all the shells have been stuffed and placed into the pan, pour the meat sauce over the top of the shells.  I poured it a ladleful at a time so I wouldn’t damage the shells.  Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the shells with 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and return it to the oven.  Bake, uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and gooey.  Allow the shells to cool for about 5 minutes before serving, and sprinkle with a little extra basil for garnish, if you’d like.

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

Due to the popularity of my last crock pot recipe for Italian Beef Sandwiches, I’ve decided to post another new slow cooker recipe I found, and to share a fantastic blog.  Crock Pot Girls is a blog dedicated ENTIRELY to slow cooker recipes!  And let me tell you, there’s some good ones!  I’m a big fan of slow cooker recipes, especially during the winter months.  There’s so many good things you can make in a slow cooker; stews, chili, soup, you name it.  Plus, it’s sooo easy to cook with a slow cooker!  Just throw the ingredients in, and when you come home after a long day of work…and as Chef PickyKid says, “VOILA! It’s ready!!’

This is a slightly modified recipe from Crock Pot Girls for Beef Stroganoff.  When I cook with a slow cooker, I like to brown the meat a little first; it just seems to add a little more texture.  I couldn’t find cream of onion soup as the original recipe called for, so I just used two cans of cream of mushroom soup and added a little onion powder.  I also used light cream cheese and sour cream so I could save on calories, and it tasted fantastic!

The original recipe calls for canned mushrooms, but my husband is not a big fan of mushrooms, so I didn’t use them (I know mushrooms are kind of a staple of beef stroganoff, but I didn’t want to watch him pick all the mushrooms out!).  If I were to make this for a non-mushroom hater, I would probably add a container of fresh cremini mushrooms to the recipe.

Here’s my recipe for Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff:

1-2 pounds beef for stew-I used top round steak that wasn’t already cut up because it’s much less expensive, but you could buy pre-cut stew meat to save on time.  You could also use london broil.

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and Pepper

2 cans cream of mushroom soup-I used the low fat option.

1 cup beef stock or broth

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese-I used light cream cheese.

1 8 oz container sour cream-I also used light sour cream.

Egg noodles or rice, cooked according to package directions.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the beef with salt and pepper, and brown in the heated skillet for about 5 minutes on each side or until browned on each side.  If you’re using pre-cut meat, you’ll only need to brown for a few minutes-just until the meat begins to brown.

Remove the meat from the pan and allow to cool enough to handle and cut into bite sized chunks. Place the meat into a crock pot and add the soup, beef stock or broth, onion, garlic, and another 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Mix the ingredients together and cook in the crock pot on low for 8-10 hour or until the beef is tender.

Prepare egg noodles or rice according to package directions.  While the noodles or rice are cooking, add the cream cheese to the beef mixture and stir until it’s melted.  Add the sour cream and stir to combine.  Serve the beef stroganoff over the egg noodles or rice.

 

This isn’t the best picture in the world, but you get the idea.  Man, I really need one of those fancy cameras!! 🙂

Kath’s Meatloaf

As a kid, I was never much of a meatloaf fan.  My father likes meatloaf, so he made it a lot when I was growing up.  Looking back on it, it was a good recipe (maybe he could post it on our blog?!), but  I just really didn’t like meatloaf.  I mean, it’s a log of beef with ketchup on it; what’s to love, right?  Well, as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed a newfound appreciation of meatloaf.  It’s a great comfort food, and nothing goes better with a plate full of mashed potatoes than a huge hunk of meatloaf!

Recently, a friend of mine made her mom’s famous meatloaf for a dinner get together, and I loved it!  So when my husband requested meatloaf for dinner, I could think of no better meatloaf recipe than Kath’s Meatloaf.  It’s a classic meatloaf recipe that’s super easy to make.  I changed my version up just a little bit, but the original recipe is fantastic!  Enjoy!

Here’s what you’ll need for Kath’s Meatloaf: 

1 pound lean ground beef or sirloin

2 links italian sausage (I used mild, but you could use spicy sausage for a little extra kick)

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1/2 yellow onion, grated (I like to grate the onion so I get the flavor of onion without tasting large chunks)

1 egg

1 small can of tomato paste

Salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)

3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

2-3 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Hot pepper sauce, a few dashes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, combine ground beef or sirloin, italian sausage, garlic, onion, egg, tomato paste, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and a few dashes of hot pepper sauce (2-3).

Place meat in a bread loaf pan or form into a large loaf and place in a small 8X8 baking dish.  Spray the dish with cooking spray to prevent sticking.  Bake the meatloaf, uncovered for 50 minutes.

While the meatloaf is baking, in a small bowl mix together 2-3 tablespoons of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and a few more dashes of hot sauce.  Pour this mixture over the top of the meatloaf and return to the oven to bake for ten more minutes.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.  Serve with a big ol’ heap of mashed potatoes!!