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! 🙂

Carne Asada

This is the second installment of Mexican Food Mania.  If you had a chance to check out my last post for Chicken Enchiladas, you know that this labor day weekend was one filled with Mexican dishes; four days worth, to be exact.

I prepared Carne Asada for dinner with friends on Saturday night. I love Carne Asada; it’s so easy to make, and very difficult to mess up.  I’ve tried many variations of marinades, and all of them have been fantastic.  You really can’t go wrong.

What I have learned from the many times I’ve made this dish is that the longer the meat marinates, the tastier and more tender it will be!  I recommend marinating overnight whenever possible.

Here’s my latest version of Carne Asada.  I’m just posting the recipe for the meat, so you can decide what you’d like to serve with it.  I usually serve it with tortillas (corn and flour),Pico de Gallo, cilantro, and some avocado or fresh guacamole.  You can also serve with sour cream and/or cheese, but to be honest, the meat is so good that a lot of extra stuff on it will really mask the flavors and adds a lot of empty calories.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any extra calories!

Here’s what you’ll need for the Carne Asada

2-3 pounds of flank or skirt steak.  This will serve 6 with plenty of leftovers.  Sometimes flank and skirt steak can be a little expensive, so if you are a chef on a budget, you can also use thin cut top round steak.  The top round steak will be a little less tender than the other steak, but still just as flavorful.  I used the top round for the Carne Asada in this recipe’s photo.

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

About 1 cup of chopped cilantro; I usually use 2 big handfuls of cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Mexican style beer; I use Negro Modelo

Juice  and zest of one orange

Juice and zest of two limes

Salt and Pepper

Directions: 

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl and season with a little salt and pepper.  Place steak in a 9X13 baking dish and pour  the marinade into the dish.  Cover with foil and marinate for at least 4-6 hours.  If you can marinate overnight, that would be even better.

Heat a grill over high heat and grill for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and allow the meat to rest for about 5 minutes before chopping or slicing.

Enjoy!!

Chicken Enchiladas

Earlier this week I had a craving for Mexican food.   Oh man, did I ever satisfy my craving this weekend!  It’s Sunday night, and I just realized that I have eaten mexican food  every day since Thursday!!

Thursday night was the first night of Mexican Food Mania, and on the menu was a dish inspired by a recipe for Shredded Chicken Enchiladas  I found on A Sweet Pea Chef’s blog.  I like this recipe because it’s really easy to make, and not too terribly bad for ChefPickyKid and the family.   The only “not quite so healthy” item on the recipe is cheese, but what are enchiladas without cheese?! But, I use extra sharp cheese so I don’t have to use as much while still getting that cheesy flavor I’m looking for!

Just like the recipe that inspired it, I used pre-made enchilada sauce.  But, I added a few things to give it a little extra flavor.  And to be honest, if it tastes good, who cares if it came from a can, right?!  Plus, it takes about 1/3 the amount of time to make, and on a busy Thursday night, the quicker I can make dinner, the happier I will be.

Here’s what you’ll need for Chicken Enchiladas:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped or minced

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 cups of canned enchilada sauce ( I buy the large can, but I don’t use it all because it’s a little more than 2 cups)

2 diced chipotles in adobo with sauce

1 cup sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup jack cheese, divided

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped plus 2 extra tablespoons

4 Scallions, chopped

12 6 inch corn tortillas

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Directions for Chicken Enchiladas:

Pre-heat oven to 425

In a large, deep skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, and saute until onion is soft and translucent; this should take about 5-7 minutes.  Add the enchilada sauce and chipotles to the onion and garlic and heat to boiling.  Sprinkle the chicken with kosher salt and pepper, and place them into the sauce.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the sauce and set aside to cool.  Remove the sauce  from the heat and allow to cool.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it with two forks or just shred with your hands.  Transfer the chicken to a large bowl.  Add half the enchilada sauce, 1/2 cup of each of the Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses and the 1/2 cup of cilantro to the chicken and stir to combine.

Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  When skillet is heated, cook the tortillas just until warmed.  You aren’t frying the tortillas, and you don’t want them to be crispy. Warming the tortillas will make them more pliable and less likely to break when you’re handling them.   The olive oil is added just to keep the tortillas from sticking to the pan.  Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture in the middle of the tortilla, roll immediately after heating and place in the baking dish.  I had my husband help me with heating the tortillas, so we made it like an assembly line; he heated a tortilla and I rolled it.  If you don’t have a kitchen helper, I would suggest heating the tortilla and rolling it with the chicken before heating the next.  If you wait too long after heating them, the tortillas will become stiff and hard to handle.

After the tortillas are rolled and placed in the baking dish, pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas.  Top the enchiladas with the remaining 1/2 cup of jack and cheddar cheeses, and sprinkle the cilantro and scallions on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden.

I sprinkled a little extra cilantro on top for garnish.

Stay tuned for more recipes from Mexican Food Mania weekend!!