Chicken Enchiladas

I cooked up a STORM of freezer friendly meals over weeks leading up to Mia’s arrival last fall.  I found a recipe for the “best enchiladas ever” on Gimme Some Oven and was obviously intrigued.  I liked that the site also provided a recipe for enchilada sauce from scratch.  I don’t mind store-bought, but I really like knowing what is my food and being able to make adjustments accordingly.

Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is great for parties too.  The theme of this year’s annual Sho-Yu holiday party was Mexican food, and this ended up being a great potluck dish!

Here’s the recipe, as adapted from Gimme Some Oven.  I highly recommend doubling the recipe, eating half for now and freezing the rest!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded or diced into small 1/2-inch pieces (*see substitution below for making shredded chicken)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 13-15 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese
  • 1 batch red enchilada sauce, or 1 can store-bought enchilada sauce
  • (optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare your enchilada sauce, if making homemade.
  2. In large saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add cooked chicken and green chiles, and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove from heat and set aside.

    Shredded Chicken with Sauteed Onions and Green Chiles
  3. To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line including: tortillas, enchilada sauce, chicken mixture, and cheese. Lay out a tortilla, and spread two tablespoons of sauce over the surface of the tortilla.  Add a spoonful of the chicken mixture on top of the tortilla, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Roll up tortilla and place in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish, lined with foil for easy clean-up (unless you love really scraping melted cheese off your baking dishes). Repeat with the remaining ingredients.  Then spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas, and sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheese.

    Assembled and Sauced
  4. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve immediately, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

    Ready for the Oven

*If you are using pre-cooked chicken, just leave it out of the saute and cook the onion and green chiles for 1 additional minute (instead of 6-8).  Once you remove the onion and green chiles from the heat, stir in the chicken (which should be shredded or chopped into bite-sized pieces).  You can find instructions on how to make shredded chicken here via slow cooker or stove top.

Shredded Chicken with a Batch of Enchilada Sauce
Advertisements

Red Enchilada Sauce

Here’s another recipe made so much better with a touch of smoked paprika, and I also added a little tomato paste to give it a little touch of acidity.   The obsession is still going strong!

I found the original recipe is on Gimme Some Oven.  I’ll share the full enchilada recipe that I used it with soon!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or any other neutral oil)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock

INGREDIENTS:

  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through smoked paprika).

    Stir in the Spices
  2. Stir in tomato paste until well incorporated. Then gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened.
  3. Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.  Mason jars work well.

I’ve made this enchilada sauce a LOT in the last year and have subsequently gone through quite a few jars of chili powder.  I’ve tried Spice Islands, Simply Organic, Kroger, and McCormick.  And I have to say my favorite chili powder as of late is Target’s Market Pantry chili powder!  I’ve purchased two jars of it and have enjoyed the extra bit of kick it has compared to other chili powders both times.

Red Enchilada Sauce

Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree

I wanted to make a pasta dish that had sauce different from pesto, marinara, or bolognese, and Giada de Laurentiis’s healthy eggplant-based sauce sounded interesting!  The original recipe calls for mint instead of basil, but I thought basil would pair better with a protein.  I picked shrimp for this dish, but I think chicken would go just as well.

Here is the recipe as adapted from Giada’s.  If you want to eat this with meat, simply cook your meat through separately, cut into bite size pieces, and mix it in with the pasta and sauce.  I sauteed a pound of shrimp in a little oil, salt, and pepper and added it in during step 5.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 pound dried rigatoni pasta
  • 1 cup mushrooms, stems removed and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves, plus a couple extra, slivered, to finish
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes.

    Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water (salty like the ocean!) to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but a bit under done, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta but reserve 2 cups or so of the cooking water.
  4. Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor or blender. Add the torn basil leaves, mushrooms*, and additional 3 tablespoons olive oil. Blend until almost smooth.

    Ready to Pulverize
  5. Return the pasta to the cooking pot, pour sauce over it and about 1/2 cup of cooking water and cook together over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing occasionally to coat pasta evenly. Add more pasta cooking water a little at a time if needed to loosen the sauce.
  6. Transfer pasta and sauce to a serving bowl; garnish with extra herbs, pine nuts and parm, and serve.

*The original recipe didn’t call for mushrooms, but I had bought a package to throw in a vegetable soup and had some left over.  I had meant to roast them with the eggplant and tomatoes but forgot. I threw them in raw, and they soaked up all the sauce-y goodness once pureed, and cooked enough in step 5.  The mushrooms added a nice earthy compliment to the sauce, but simply omit if mushrooms aren’t your thing!

You can easily make this vegan by forgoing the cheese.

This was earthy and delicious!  I made this the first time a few months ago, while you could still get local eggplant and tomatoes.  I made this again recently, and the produce was from South America.  I didn’t enjoy it as much the second time around, as I think all that distance traveled to get to me made a difference in the taste.  I can’t wait for summer eggplant and tomato season to come around when eggplant and tomatoes are in their peak!!

Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree

Boeuf Bourguignon

Ever since I saw Julie and Julia years ago, I’ve wanted to try making boeuf bourguignon.  When Kevin and I visited Paris a couple years ago, we made sure to taste the authentically Parisian version of the dish.  As a new mom, “me time” these last few months has consisted of grocery shopping alone, working out once a week, and cooking.  My mother-in-law volunteered to watch Mia one Sunday morning so Kevin and I could have some time to ourselves.  Kev graciously used that time to scrub our house sparkling clean, and I decided to try my hand at the aforementioned quintessential French supper.  We are very exciting people, I know.

I had originally committed to using this recipe planning to use the slow cooker to finish the dish. However, Kevin kindly reminded me that I had yet to christen the Le Creuset dutch oven that we received as a wedding gift, so I decided to go that route.  It worked out because the prep took so much longer than anticipated that I would’ve missed the dinner window using the slow cooker anyway.  I’m also convinced that the dutch oven method yielded better results than the slow cooker would have.

This recipe is for the dutch oven method, so if you want the slow cooker version, you can find it here.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounces thick-cut bacon (5 to 6 slices), diced
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef chuck roast, round roast, or other similar cut (don’t cut into cubes yet)*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the meat
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups red wine, divided*
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if necessary
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced

To serve:

  • Chopped parsley, to garnish
  • Cooked pasta
  • Crusty baguette

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is golden and crispy. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan into a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  2. Pat the beef dry with paper towels, cut into steaks large enough to fit in your pan, and sprinkle with with salt and pepper. Return the skillet to medium-high heat until the bacon fat is shimmering. Add one steak at a time and sear on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

    Brown on All Sides
  3. Cut the beef into two inch cubes. Yes, two inches is larger than bite size, but tender meat is more important! Transfer the meat to the slow cooker or a large bowl. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the wine. Simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the the browned bits are completely loosened. Pour the wine over the seared meat.

    Meat with Deglazed Wine
  4. Add 1 tablespoon bacon grease to the pan. Repeat with another cut of the beef, then deglaze with wine, and continue until all the beef is seared and cubed.
  5. When all the meat is seared, add 1 tablespoon bacon grease to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes more. Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook for another minute. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the dutch oven with the meat.

    Ready for the Oven
  6. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and warm 1 tablespoon bacon grease over medium heat (if no more bacon grease remains substitute with vegetable oil). Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have release all their liquid, the liquid has evaporated, and the mushrooms are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a clean bowl and set aside — keep the mushrooms separate from the meat and onion mixture for now.

    Cook Until All Liquid Has Evaporated
  7. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 300°F. Transfer the beef and vegetable mixture to a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed 6-quart pot with a lid and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Tuck the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over the beef and vegetables — the liquid should not quite cover the beef and vegetables; the ingredients should still be poking from the surface of the liquid. Add additional stock if necessary.
  8. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, then begin checking the meat every 15 minutes. The dish is done when the meat falls apart easily with a fork. Exact cooking time can vary.
  9. Once the meat is cooked, stir in the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Simmer in the Dutch oven over medium heat until the mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes.
  10. Serve in bowls over noodles or with crusty bread on the side. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

    Beef Bourguignon

*NOTES:

  • Cubing the meat later: Instead of cutting the beef into cubes, I cut the roast into three steaks and browned each before cutting into cubes.  Browning the beef enhances the flavor, but it also dries out the surface of the beef cubes so the meat doesn’t fall apart as easily once cooked (even stewed in liquid!).  This extra step ensures good browned flavor and tender meat.
Gorgeous Chuck Roast
  • Choosing the wine: I used a dry pinot noir that I enjoy drinking that didn’t break the bank for this dish, but I’ve read that wines from Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône work well. The rule of thumb is to choose a wine that you also like to drink and you can’t go wrong.
  • Make ahead: The meat and vegetables can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook.
  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 3 months.  I doubt you will be able to resist not finishing this up in a couple of days!

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

The season of soups and stews is in full swing!  I’ve always been curious about trying a leek and potato soup, with its earthy flavors and creamy texture.  However, let me preface the rest of this post by saying that this isn’t Julia Child’s famous recipe.  I wanted a healthier version that didn’t use heavy cream.  I came across a vegetarian version of the soup on Life As a Strawberry, but used chicken broth instead of vegetable stock and also changed up the way I dealt with the potatoes.  On a gloomy day like today, I thought I’d share my version below!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, roughly chopped (rinsed thoroughly to remove any dirt)
  • 4 large yukon gold potatoes, roughly chopped  (I used 3 red potatoes and 1 russet for this post because…that’s what I had in the pantry)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large saucepan or pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. When oil is hot, add leeks, potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes or until leeks have softened.

    Saute Leeks, Potatoes, and Garlic
  3. Add vegetable stock to pot and stir to combine.
  4. Strip leaves from thyme sprigs and add to pot. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring soup to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and easily pierced with a fork.
  6. Add milk to soup and stir to combine.
  7. Remove soup from heat and carefully remove potatoes from the soup, and place them in a large bowl.  Mash potatoes with a potato ricer (or pastry blender in a pinch!).  Blend the remaining liquid contents of the soup in a blender until smooth, or use an immersion blender.

    Puree Leek Mixture
  8. Stir riced potatoes back into the soup, and season with salt and pepper as needed.*

    Mash Potatoes Separately

*I don’t like the idea of blending potatoes, because the blending process changes the potato texture to be gummy.  This soup won’t be silky smooth, but I prefer that texture to that of gummy potatoes.  That being said, if you don’t mind that glue-y texture and really need the soup to be silky smooth, use an immersion blender to blend all ingredients together in step 7 instead of removing the potatoes and mashing them separately.

Yes, I am fully aware of how very not photogenic this soup is.  We can toss this into the as-tasty-as-it-is-ugly category!

If your soup is too thick after blending, thin it out with a splash of milk or vegetable stock. Too thin? Bring it back to a simmer and cook until it’s reached your desired consistency.

This soup is easy to make in advance and it freezes well.

To make this soup vegan, replace the milk with additional vegetable stock, coconut milk, or almond milk, and omit the heavy cream.