Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Casserole

As you have probably figured out by now, I love to be able to throw something in the slow cooker and forget about it… I also love Mexican (or really Tex-Mex) type foods. A friend posted this one (one of those 30-second videos) on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I have been salivating about it ever since.

When I finally sat down and looked at the recipe, really it was all kinds of wrong. It had no building blocks of flavor. No onions (WHAT?)… chicken, cans of sauce, cheese and olives. Also, it had the chicken cooking for an insane amount of time. Unnecessary.

So when I went to the store to buy the ingredients, I stood in the Ethnic aisle and pondered. I decided to stick with the cans of enchilada sauce and I also picked up cans of green chiles (I opted for mild for the first go-round). I also grabbed an onion and went for 2 kinds of cheese. I nabbed some green onions and sour cream for garnish and decided that this would jazz this dish up to a whole other level.

Trust me, my friends (one in particular) will tell you that I am a suck for these videos but that even I will break my rule of following the recipe the first time when I know it is all wrong. Every great chef will tell you that you need the basics in any dish – and wether it is the French, the Spanish, the Mexican or even the Russians (okay maybe a bad example), pretty much everyone uses onions as a starting point. Take the time and give that dish some depth. This dish was still incredibly simple.

9servedYields 6 to 8 servings
Adapted From somewhere on the interwebs

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless
38 Ounce(wt)s enchilada sauce
1 Medium onion, white chopped
9 Ounce(wt)s chiles, green canned drained
11 Ounce(wt)s tortilla, corn, small cut into thick strips
1 Cup cheese, cheddar sharp grated divided
4 1/2 Ounce(wt)s olives, black sliced, drained, divided
2 Cups cheese, Mexican, grated
1/2 Cup sour cream for garnish
1 Bunch onion, green diced

Tools Needed:
Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart, Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker
ZYLISS Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

Directions:
Put the chicken breasts, onion, green chiles and the enchilada sauce in your slow cooker.
1chickenandonions
2withsauce

Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 6 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks and put the shredded meat back into the sauce.
3shredded

Cut the tortillas into strips and then cut the strips in half.
4choppedtortillas

Add the tortillas to chicken and sauce.
5addedcheese

Stir.  Add cheddar cheese and half the olives into the sauce and chicken mixture. Stir again until well combined.
6stirred

Flatten the mixture slightly. Add the Mexican cheese (2 cups) and the other half of the olives on top.
7topped

Cook on low for about 40 to 60 minutes longer.
8finished

Scoop into bowls and serve with sour cream and diced green onions on top.

Advertisements

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

IMG_2544Yields 4 to 5 servings
From Tasty.com

Ingredients:
1 Large bell pepper, red sliced
1 Large bell pepper, yellow sliced
1 Large bell pepper, green sliced
1 Large onion, white sliced
2 Pounds chicken breast, boneless, skinless cut in half
2 Tbls seasoning, taco
6 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Each lime
10 Ounce(wt)s tomatoes, diced, with green chiles drained (Rotel)
12 Each tortilla, flour, 8 inch
1 Cup cheese, Mexican blend
1/2 Cup sour cream

Directions:
Add half of the sliced peppers and onions to your slow cooker.

IMG_3944

Next, layer the chicken and coat all sides with taco seasoning. Top with garlic, tomatoes (be sure to drain) and the juice from one lime.
IMG_4311

Add the remaining peppers and onions, cover, and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
IMG_7243

Remove chicken and cut/shred into slices (chicken left longer will tend to shred more – cook to your preference).
IMG_8276

Return the sliced chicken to the slow cooker to marinate in the juices for about 10 more minutes (on LOW) until ready to serve.
IMG_1617

If you find that there is too much liquid, you can remove till there is a desired amount before serving. Assemble Fajitas to your liking – we recommend topping with cheese, sour cream, and guacamole! Enjoy!
IMG_1080

 

Turkey Taco Bowls

Challenge proposed:

Cook every meal for 30 days: Breakfast!, lunch and dinner. Do not eat out, do not cheat and buy breakfast pastries, Lean Cuisines, etc. Cook. Every. Meal. #cook90challenge

Ummmmm, ok. Sure. This seems easy enough. Until I look at my work schedule and realize that I tend to work 10+ hours a day. Sure, I work from home and my office is nicely ensconced in my 2nd bedroom (which doesn’t have a bed in it) and is right upstairs from my kitchen. Easy pisy, right? Nope.

So I’ll do this modified. Twice a week, I’ll cook. I’ll meal plan, prep and cook 4 meals worth of breakfast (hello, when do I actually make time to eat breakfast… my cold brew coffee does NOT count), lunch AND dinner. I will make healthy versions of these things and I will not order take out when it turns out I have been head down configuring, data migrating or in BPRS for 6 hours straight (sorry Jimmy John’s, Door Dash, etc.). No eating out. Sorry Starbucks. No eating out. (Sorry to my bartenders, too). Sorry Yelp. Well, at least I can catch up on my backlog of reviews?

So here was my first lunch attempt. Even I was skeptical. I figured I would get bored of the same thing every day. No way – not with this one. Now, I did modify it from the original. A) Made is spicier and B) No where could I find only 1 pound of ground turkey. So I went a little crazy and ended up with 5 servings. More for me! This gets better every day as the flavors get more intense. And, this is a keeper!

img_6573

Yields 4 servings
From somewhere out there on the interweb

Ingredients:
1 Cup rice, brown
1 1/3  Pound turkey, white ground
3 Tbls seasoning, taco
1 Pint tomatoes, cherry quartered
1 Each pepper, jalapeño minced
1/4 onion, red minced
1/2 Each lime juiced
1/4 tsp salt, Kosher
12 Ounce(wt)s corn, canned drained and rinsed
1/2 Cup cheese, Mexican, grated
1 to taste taco sauce
1 Cup corn chips, yellow (optional)
Plastic containers with lids

Directions:
Cook brown rice according to package directions, adding the lime zest (of you can juice the other half of the lime) and salt to the cooking water.

Cook turkey over medium heat, tossing in the taco seasoning and breaking it up as you cook. Cook for 10 or so minutes, until cooked through.

img_1493

Add about 1/4 water and let it cook off. This helps cook in the flavor of the seasoning.
img_4159

Combine tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, juice from the lime and salt and toss together. Set aside – this is your salsa.
img_5811

To assemble lunch bowls:
-1/4 portion of cooked rice
-1/2 cup corn kernels
-1/2 cup cooked taco meat
-1/4 portion of salsa
-1/4 portion of cheese
Top with a drizzle of taco sauce (I use Taco Bell available in a bottle at the grocery)

Store in the fridge until ready to heat and eat – about 1 to 2 minutes in a microwave. Top with a little sour cream (if desired) and extra taco sauce. Serve with chips on the side.
img_4074

Chicken Fajita and Rice Bake

Clearly, I’ve been in a mood for Mexican this week. I think that’s a constant state of being for me. I love the spices, plus cooking everything in one pot or pan certainly makes life easy.

My Dad was not a fan of one-pot dishes. For some reason he always referred to it as “Ladies’ Luncheon food.” Not sure why, as he loved Arroz con Pollo (I need to do that one soon). But overall, he was not one to make these kinds of dishes. So when he was traveling for work (IBM for 25 years), Mom would make things like this and I was always excited for them. Maybe it was because my veggies had lots more flavor, or maybe I thought I ended up with more starch to protein ratio? Who knows. But when I’m cooking, throwing one pan into the oven, or using the slow cooker is certainly easy after a long day of work.

This recipe spoke to me for many reasons, mostly because it gave me what I love – Mexican-type flavors in the form of fajitas, without the filling tortillas. Plus, I could do it with healthier brown Jasmine rice and not feel so guilty. So if making brown rice, follow the package instructions for the proper ratio of liquid to rice before trying.

15732433_10154780241917978_5164804981003318097_oAdapted from Tasty.com
Yields 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 Tbls chili powder
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper, cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbls salt, Kosher
1 tsp pepper, black, ground
1/2 Large onion, white sliced
1 Large bell pepper, green sliced
1 Large bell pepper, yellow sliced
1 Large bell pepper, red sliced
2 Tbls oil, olive
1 Cup rice, long grain white (I prefer Jasmine)
2 Cups broth, chicken
1 3/4 Pound chicken tenders, boneless, skinless

Optional Ingredients:
1 Medium tomato, beefsteak chopped
1 Small lime cut in wedges
1 to taste cilantro picked leaves
1/2 Cup cheese, Mexican blend shredded
1/2 cup sour cream

Tools Needed:
Pyrex Basics 3 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish

Tutorials:
First, let’s slice the bell peppers and the onions and remove the tendon ends from the chicken.

Bell peppers:

Slice the end off the bell pepper. Now it will sit flat on  your cutting board.
pepper_1

Slice downwards toward the cutting board and slice off the first side.
pepper_2

Turn a quarter turn clockwise and slice off the 2nd side. Notice you are leaving behind the center and ribs of the pepper?
pepper_3

Turn a quarter turn again and slice off the 3rd side. The last one is the hardest one…
pepper_4

Carefully, while holding the top of the pepper, slice off the 4th side.
pepper_5

Remaining in your hand is the top of the pepper (with the stem) and the guts of the pepper. Now you can easily slice your pepper. There is a bit more waste this way, but you are less likely to slice off a finger.

Now slice your pieces into thin strips – in this case 1/4-inch strips maximum. Finish by slicing the bottom of the pepper the same way.
pepper_6

Now you have a beautiful pile of pepper strips.
pepper_7

As for the onion, start by cutting in the onion in half and peeling away the dry outer layer. Now you have a safe flat surface to anchor the onion.
onion_step1

Slice downward town the cutting board – again in 1/4-in slices, until you reach close to the root end. Separate the rings.
onionslice_step2.JPG

As for tenders, there is this gnarly tendon running thru them. You can’t miss it, it’s white. My Mom would have you pull it all the way out, but really that isn’t necessary. But the top end is very chewy and not pleasant to eat. Make sure you cut off the top end very close to the chicken meat for each tender.
chicken_cutofftendon.JPG

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, combine spices to make fajita seasoning (chili powder through black pepper).
spices

In a large bowl, combine, onion, bell peppers, and chicken. Add oil and seasoning mix; toss until seasoning is fully incorporated.
veggies_spiced.JPG

In a casserole dish, add rice and chicken broth. Stir well.

rice_step2.JPG

Then lay down all veggies and chicken.
allinpan.JPG

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 50 to 55 minutes until rice is fully cooked.
allbaked.JPG

Serve with tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, and cheese, if desired.

Cheesy Taco Noodles

I really love cheese, so any excuse to put cheese in a dish, odds are I’m going to give it a shot. This means if the dish is French, Italian or Mexican in original or claims to be one of these ethnicities, I’m sure I will love it. Because again, cheese! If you haven’t heard me say it before, cheese is life.

Now, everything in moderation. I won’t cook a dish like this except once a month, or when on vacation. Mostly because I don’t want to clog my arteries or give my doctor a heart attack. Also, I will use the 2% milkfat cheese anytime I can find them. Why? Well, because when this cools in my fridge, and I pull some out to reheat for lunch, that oil slick on top that becomes a layer of orange congealed fat is unappetizing and I will never cook the dish again. Imagine that in your body… ewwww. Reduce the fat where you can, people. I;d also suggest ground chuck (80/20) or ground round (85/15) – again, less fat equals a better you. I feel those are meatier tasting anyway.

Now in this dish, I broke my cardinal rule… in several places. First, this recipe was a glaring advertisement for No Yolks noodles. I’m not a fan, so I bought the brand I like. Also, I couldn’t find a few things at the store – December 28th and the shelves were barren. Go figure. So I made some edits along the way and this turned out (pardon the pun), delish!

Because you’ve asked, I have a few tutorials on how to chop an onion (my way) and mince a jalapeno (also my way). Apparently, the mushroom slicing was a success.

15724653_10154779202517978_8038644034456592509_o
Adapted from Delish

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive
1 Medium onion, white chopped
1 Small pepper, jalapeño minced
1 to taste salt, Kosher
1 1/3 Pound beef, ground chuck
2 Tbls seasoning, taco
12 Ounce(wt)s pasta, extra-wide egg noodles
3 Cups stock, chicken, low-sodium
28 Ounce(wt)s tomatoes, diced, fire-roasted
1/2 Cup cream, heavy
3 Cups cheese, Mexican blend shredded

Tools Needed:
Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-qt. Sauté Pan & Cover
ZYLISS Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

Directions:
Chop the onion. First, cut it in half and remove the outer peel. Leave the root on the onion.
onion_half

Next, cut the half in half – you should have 4 quarters. Note: Root is still in tact – this will keep the layers from falling apart as you chop.
onion_quarter

Make slices from the root end (not quite all the way to the root) forward. Depending on the size chop you need – in this case, 1/4-inch.
onion_step3

Turn the onion quarter onto its other cut side and do the same thing. 1/4-inch slices from the root end forward.
onion_step4

Now, turn the onion 1/4 turn and slice (again 1/4-inch). Your slices will yield diced/chopped onion. Slice until you hit the end of your slices – at the root.
onion_step5

Repeat with the other 3 quarters of onion.
onion_chopped

Mincing jalapenos: Jalapenos are spicy, but often are requested to be minced with the ribs and seeds removed. What does that look like?

First, remove the stem from the top and cut it in half lengthwise.
jala_prep

Next, remove the ribs and seeds by cutting out both using a paring knife or a spoon. Use gloves or be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards or you may burn your face or mouth (or anything you touch as the oils from the pepper will stay on your fingers)
jala_seeded

Slice the pepper lengthwise into very thin strips with a sharp knife.
jala_sliced

Line up the matchsticks and cut into a very small dice crosswise.
jala_minced

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and season with salt. Cook until tender, 5 minutes.
onion_sauteed

Add jalapeño. Cook 2 minutes more.
onion_jala_sauteed

Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.
add_beef

Drain the fat and return the beef mix to the pan.

beefmix_drained

Add the taco seasoning.
add_taco

Add noodles and stir until coated in beef mixture, then add fire-roasted tomatoes and chicken broth.
presimmer1

Simmer until noodles are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.
precream

Remove from heat and add both cheeses and toss to coat. Add additional salt to taste and serve.

Taco Chicken Pasta Salad

tacosalad

Yields 8 entree servings or 16 side dish servings

Ingredients:
1 Pound pasta, small shells
15 Ounce(wt)s beans, black, canned drained and rinsed
2 Cups corn, fresh, yellow roasted
1/2 Cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 Large tomato, beefsteak, seeded and diced
1 1/2 Cup salsa, medium
1/3 Cup oil, olive
1/4 Cup juice, lime
1/4 Cup Taco Sauce
2 Tbls seasoning, taco
2 Cloves garlic, fresh, minced
1 to taste salt and pepper
2 Cups cheese, Mexican, grated
2 Large avocado, diced

Optional Ingredients:
3 Cups chicken, cooked, white shredded
2 Tbls seasoning, taco

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool.

In a large bowl, add the cooled pasta, black beans, corn, cilantro, tomatoes, and salsa. Toss gently.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, taco sauce, taco seasoning, and garlic.

Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill until serving.

Right before serving, toss in the cheese and avocado.

To make this an entree salad, saute the chicken in the 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and add to the salad.

Chicken & Bell Pepper Fajitas with Guacamole

chickenquesadillas

Adapted from Mealime
Yields 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 Medium bell pepper, red seeded and sliced
1 Medium bell pepper, yellow seeded and sliced
1/2 Medium onion, red sliced into semi-circles
4 Cloves garlic, fresh minced, divided
1 Large avocado
1/2 Bunch cilantro minced
1 Small lime 1/2 juiced, 1/2 wedged
1 to taste salt and pepper
1/2 Pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 1/2 Tbls oil, olive
4 Small tortilla, flour, 6 inch
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin, ground

Tools Needed:
Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Epicurean Garlic Press
Cuisinart 622-30G Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover
Fox Run Brands 2.75-Quart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl

Directions:
Add peppers and onions to a bowl. Add half of garlic.

Halve avocado and remove pit. Scoop flesh into a bowl; add remaining garlic. Add 1/2 of the minced cilantro.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat.

Add lime juice, salt and pepper to avocado. Mash with a fork until smooth. Set aside.

Slice chicken in half horizontally to form thin fillets, then slice fillets crosswise into strips. Season with salt and pepper.

Coat bottom of skillet with 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add chicken strips and cook until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Return skillet to stove and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add peppers, onions and garlic. Stirring frequently, cook until peppers are tender-crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.

Warm tortillas in another skillet, oven or microwave. Add chicken and any juices to skillet. Add chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

To serve, place tortillas on a plate and fill with fajita filling. Garnish with guacamole, remaining cilantro and lime wedges.