Lightened Up Chicken Enchiladas

Recipes

IMG_5408This summer has definitely been a season of change for yours truly.

In early May, I took that epic relationship leap and moved into a new apartment with my significant other. We had actually meant to wait till end of summer but, a garden-style apartment full of charm and character from its 1930’s era construction was calling our name.

And I have to say, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I love that I’m back in my old neighborhood (Courthouse) and close to familiar stores, people and watering holes (love love love Ragtime). And I absolutely love that the metro is a few short blocks away, though it leaves me wondering if my car days are again numbered.

My tiny little kitchen has taken some getting used to. Especially after I had come from a home with quite the spacious cooking area. But hey, change happens and you adapt. And I think I’ve been doing pretty well so far.

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Definitely, the oven has taken some getting used to, with the lack of thermometer reading (purchased one to stick in there). And then there is the tiny size of the thing, but hey again, you adapt. Stay tuned on that note for a post on lemon blueberry muffins, the first baking conquest of the oven!

Anyways, back to the changes.

After 5 years of energy writing and analysis, I’ve decided to take my international affairs and social media background to the non-profit world. And I could not be more excited!

So I figured with all of these changes in my life, why not shift some things up in the kitchen? Don’t worry nothing too drastic, but I thought I’m making some big transitions, why not inject my cooking with some new flavor?

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For some reason, I had this craving for chicken enchiladas and what better day than a Monday to make something comforting for dinner? I have made chicken enchiladas in the past, but I was looking for something a bit lighter, yet full of flavor.

This recipe could not be more simple and I especially loved the flavor the canned chipotles in adobe added to the sauce. And these enchiladas were devoured! Nothing left behind.

Lightened Up Chicken Enchiladas
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotles in adobo
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese 
  • salt and pepper

Fill a large skillet with about one inch or so of water and bring it to a boil. Add in the chicken breasts, cover the skillet with a lid and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer the chicken for 5 minutes and then remove the skillet from the heat, letting the chicken steam for about 12 to 14 minutes.

While the chicken is steaming, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add in the garlic, cooking for just about a minute. Add the flour, cumin and chipotles in adobo, whisking to combine while cooking. Whisk in ½ cup water and the broth, bringing the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the sauce, whisking occasionally, about t to 8 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened.

Place the cooked chicken in a large bowl and shred with two forks. Add in 1 cup of the sauce you just made to the bowl with the chicken, as well as some salt and pepper and combine everything.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour ¼ cup of the sauce into the bottom of an 8-inch square-baking dish. Wrap damp paper towels around a stack of corn tortillas and microwave for about 40 seconds. Fill each tortilla with the chicken mixture, roll up tightly and then arrange seam side down next to each other in the baking dish.

Top the rolled tortillas with the remaining sauce and the Monterey jack cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, then let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

(Recipe  adapted from  Martha Stewart Living)

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Stuffed Peppers

Recipes

My love for cooking comes from my father, who got his passion for food from his mother, my Grandma Evelyn. Ask anyone who knew her and they will tell you, the woman could cook!

She passed away unfortunately when I was 7, but up until then we would go at least once a month to her house in Howard Beach, Queens, where my father grew up, and have Sunday dinner.

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Walking into the house, the smells of garlic and tomatoes – likely for the sauce she was making for the pasta- were heavenly! Thankfully there was always a big platter of antipasto to curb our appetites, with fresh mozzarella, pickled vegetables and genoa salami.

And then came the pasta. Sometimes it was baked spaghetti or Bolognese (my favorite!), which was then followed (yes there is more food) by a meat or fish dish, served with vegetables.

Of course you can’t end without dessert and grandma Evelyn did not disappoint. Needless to say we always left with full bellies and ready for a nap!

Never do I remember my grandmother making any dish that was anything beyond amazing, but there was one dish to this day I remember absolutely loving. Her stuffed peppers.

My dad had the recipe written down on a note card and had put it in one of his cookbooks, but has not been able to find it forever. And while one can always cook up some stuffed peppers, it just felt weird making them without her recipe.

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So until now, I had never really tried to make my own version, because nothing could compare to hers.

 

And then I had the urge to give it a try recently and came up with what I thought would be tasty – rice and ground chicken mixture (grandma always did a meat and rice mixture) with lots of fresh garlic, onion and spices. And of course tomato sauce!

It may not be exactly my grandmother’s recipe, and I admit I’m still on the hunt for that, but it was definitely delicious. And just like my Grandma Evelyn’s meals, our bellies were full and happy.

Stuffed Peppers

3 large green peppers

one small onion

one pound ground chicken

1 cup cooked rice

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

1 teaspoon garlic powder

siracha

1 cup of tomato sauce, plus more to top the peppers

grated romano cheese

Wash the peppers and then cut a thin slice at the stem and take out the insides.

Heat a large pot of water to a boil and add in the peppers, with enough water so it comes up near the top of the peppers, but doesn’t go inside them.

Cook the peppers for 10 minutes. Remove them and place them in an ungreased glass casserole dish, standing up.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat , add in the garlic and onions. Cook for a minute or two and then add in the chicken, cutting it up as it cooks to separate it.

When the meat is cooked, drain the liquid and then place back on the stove on medium heat. Add in the cooked rice, tomato sauce, garlic powder and Italian seasoning and salt and pepper and siracha.

Split the filling between all the peppers and top with sprinkled Romano cheese. Cover securely with foil and place in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and top with a touch more cheese and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Watch out, because these will be hot! I recommend cutting your pepper in half on your plate, to let it air out a touch and to have two nice stuffed halves.