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
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Curry-Poached Chicken with Rice and Scallions

Continuing to chug along on the healthy eating train, I wanted to share another chicken and rice recipe, this time from Bon Appétit.  Anything with an overload of green onions always appeals to me, and I’d never made a poached chicken breast before.

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 8 scallions (about 1 bunch), divided
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 lbs)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled, smashed to pieces, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • Juice from 1 orange (about 1/4 cup)
  • Juice from 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Warm jasmine or brown rice (for serving)
 DIRECTIONS:
  1. Coarsely chop 4 scallions and transfer to a medium pot. Add chicken, garlic, ginger, curry powder, 2½ tsp. salt, and 4 cups water. Slowly bring to a bare simmer over medium heat. Once liquid begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until juices run clear when thickest part of chicken is pierced, 10-12 minutes.

    Poaching Liquid
  2. Meanwhile, thinly slice remaining scallions. Whisk orange juice and lime juice in a small bowl; season with salt and 8 turns of a pepper mill, or about 3/4 tsp. (you want a lot of pepper!).
  3. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Strain poaching liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Cut chicken crosswise into thin slices.

    Curry Poached Chicken
  4. Divide rice and chicken among bowls and top with sliced scallions. Spoon poaching liquid and some of the citrus juice over chicken and rice before serving.

    Drizzle Poaching Liquid and Citrus Mixture

NOTE:  Be extra careful when dealing with the poaching liquid. Yours truly managed to splatter a bit on herself and on the carpet runner in our kitchen.  There unfortunately is now a permanent curry powder stain on every piece of fabric that little splatter touched.

This was definitely a very “clean” dish, but I personally prefer dark meat over white. If I were to make this again, I’d probably use chicken thighs. However, you definitely wouldn’t get the pretty slices of meat with dark meat, if that matters.

We had this with a side of baby bok choy sauteed in a bit of ponzu.  We also had way more of the poaching liquid leftover than we needed for the sauce, so we used 2 cups of it to cook another cup of rice.  It was really tasty and I think it’d also be a great base to make fried rice with!

Curry-Poached Chicken with Rice and Scallions

Tomato-Basil Chicken and Rice

Tomatoes this past summer were SO delicious!  One great thing about the Indian summer we had this year (and seemingly every year in LA lately) is the bounty of sweet tomatoes it’s brought us.

Gorgeous Summer Tomatoes

I saw this recipe on Kitchn a few weeks ago and was looking forward to giving it a whirl.  Instead of regular tomatoes, I used baby tomatoes since they are firmer and sweeter.  Here’s the recipe!

DIRECTIONS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed chopped fresh basil leaves

INGREDIENTS:

  • Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and sauté for 1 minute more. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Tomato Rice Mixture
  • Transfer the rice mixture to the prepared baking dish. Pour the broth evenly over the rice. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides and place them skin-side up on the rice.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour. Uncover and bake until the rice absorbs all of the liquid and the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, 30 to 40 minutes more.

    Bubbling Out of the Oven

NOTE: Kitchn says that leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  While this is true from a food spoilage standpoint, I would argue that this recipe is best eaten the day you make it.  The rice will be fine, but the chicken skin will not stay crispy in the fridge and we ended up just pulling it off when we ate the leftovers.

Tomato Basil Chicken and Rice

I served this dish up with a bit of broccolini roasted at 400°F for 15 minutes, adding a sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper and sea salt and a squeeze of lemon once out of the oven.

Ina Garten’s Mustard Roasted Chicken

I’ve been seeing Ina Garten’s Mustard Roasted Chicken recipe floating around the internet for ages now, and I finally got around to giving it a try.  The original recipe calls for white wine for part of the marinade, and with no egg involved, I couldn’t see how the bread crumb coating would stick to the chicken.  Since I haven’t been drinking lately and Kevin isn’t much of a white wine drinker, I also didn’t want to buy a bottle of white wine just for this recipe either.  Luckily, I came across Alexandra’s Kitchen’s rendition of the recipe and really liked the fact that it used buttermilk in the marinade which would also tenderize the chicken.  I had also just bought a small carton of buttermilk to use in some breakfast muffins (recipes forthcoming!), so the timing was perfect.

Here’s the recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on thighs and 4 bone-in, skin-on drumsticks
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Small handful fresh thyme leaves (if the strands are soft, no need to strip the leaves)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (she uses fresh breadcrumbs; I used store-bought plain breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF and place oven rack in the middle of the oven. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and buttermilk. Place the chicken in a large bowl and pour the mustard-buttermilk mixture overtop. Toss to coat.
  2. Place the garlic, thyme strands (stems, if they are soft, and all), lemon zest, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (use 1.5 tsp if you are sensitive to salt), and 1 teaspoon pepper (or a few large cracks on the grinder) in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced.

    Thyme, Lemon Zest, Garlic, Salt, Pepper
  3. Add the breadcrumbs and olive oil, and pulse a few times to moisten the breadcrumbs. Pour the mixture into a wide, shallow bowl or onto a large plate — something with sides is best.*

    Bread Crumb Coating
  4. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (for easy clean-up — this is not necessary, but I like using parchment.) Dip each piece of chicken skin-side down only into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere. Place the chicken on the sheet pan crumb-side up. After one or two pieces have been dipped, the crumb mixture might not adhere to the chicken as well. Just use your hands to press the remaining crumbs onto the chicken pieces.

    Probably Could’ve Used Another 5 Minutes in the Oven to Brown Some More…
  5. Bake the chicken for 40 minutes. Check on the chicken. If necessary cook another five minutes or until the crumbs are browned. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

*NOTE:  The recipe makes way more bread crumb coating than you’ll need in my opinion.  I divided the bread crumb mixture in half and froze it for a later date.  What was left was plenty to coat the 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks.

The buttermilk and mustard really made a wonderful thick coating on the chicken for the crumb mixture to stick to, and the buttermilk did a great job of tenderizing the chicken too.  I was worried that the amount of mustard used was going to overpower the chicken, but it really didn’t.  I loved this recipe and look forward to using the other half of my bread crumb mixture on another batch of chicken!

Ina Garten’s Mustard Roasted Chicken

Since we had quite a bit of thyme left over, I whipped up one of my favorite sides to go with the chicken- Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower.  YUM!

Lemongrass Chicken

As this crazy summer heat wears on, I’ve found myself really wanting Vietnamese food.  Maybe not so much a hot bowl of pho, but a nice rice noodle (bún) bowl is so refreshing on hot days.  I love the many fresh herbs and cold vegetables (fresh and pickled together!) that compliment deliciously grilled meats and cold rice noodles.  Nong La is my go-to for a nice pork bún bowl, and their egg rolls are to die for.  I don’t dare try and recreate their pork bowl, but I did find a nice recipe for a lemongrass chicken on the interwebs.   Here’s the recipe as adapted from Bon Appetit.  BA’s original recipe calls for chicken breasts which you have to pound to eliminate dryness, but I used chicken thighs since they tend to have more flavor and frankly are much harder to dry out.

Lemongrass, Shallot, Lime, Garlic, Fish Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed, chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

    Ready for a Whirl
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Process lemongrass, shallot, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes in a food processor to a fine paste.

    Lemongrass Marinade
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a resealable plastic bag or container. Add lemongrass mixture; chill at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days ahead).

    Ready for Marinating!
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off excess (this is important!), and cook until golden brown, 5-7 minutes; turn and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.  You can also throw these on a grill if you can stand the heat!
  4. Serve chicken with lime wedges for squeezing over.

NOTE: If you’re doing whole-30, you can substitute the brown sugar for orange juice.  However, the nice thing about the sugar is that it will make sure you get a nice char on the chicken once you cook it.

Kevin and I recently discovered GABA sprouted brown rice (unpolished brown rice that has been allowed to germinate to improve the flavor and texture and increase levels of nutrients such as γ-aminobutyric acid), and we LOVE it despite the longer preparation requirements.  To maximize the nutrient factor and flavor to the meal, I sliced and sauteed a leek in a wee bit of soy sauce and tossed it with a batch of GABA rice in chicken broth in lieu of traditional rice vermicelli noodles.  Together the lemongrass chicken, Pickled Daikon and Carrot, freshly shredded lettuce, Persian cucumber, cilantro, green onion, and crushed toasted peanuts (oops, not pictured), it was the perfectly balanced healthy dinner!

Lemongrass Chicken