Cheesy Red Chicken Enchiladas

In case I’ve never mentioned this, you should know that I love rotisserie chickens.  I take advantage of any chance I get, to pick one up and throw it into my freezer for use at another time.  It truly calms me to know that I can pull one out to make dinner on any given day.  I’m not sure when that started, but a full freezer and pantry can make me feel ready to tackle any obstacle that life may throw at me.  Maybe that’s why I love heading off to Sam’s Club or the local grocery store… but I digress… I want to share a great, easy recipe for chicken enchiladas that can be made from a rotisserie chicken and some staples from the pantry/fridge.  Doesn’t this look delicious??CheesyRedChickenEnchiladas (1)

Here are the ingredients:

  • a chicken from the freezer
  • dry red wine (use what you like or have on hand)
  • one can of pinto beans (or refried beans, your choice)
  • your favorite salsa – one jar
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt/pepper
  • flour tortillas (regular size, your favorite type)
  • cheese (I used an entire bag of 2% milk shredded sharp cheddar)

I pulled one of my frozen chickens out of the fridge and popped it into a large saucepan.  I added about an inch of water and about the same amount of red wine and let the liquid simmer around the chicken (flipping the bird over once or twice) until the meat was warmed and the liquid was nicely seasoned from the chicken.  I then lifted the chicken out of the liquid and allowed it to cool a bit before picking/shredding all the meat off the bones and poured the (now) broth into a measuring up for later use. NOTE: You can also use leftover chicken for this recipe.

I began to make the chicken mixture for inside the enchiladas.  Since I didn’t have a can of refried beans, I popped a can of pinto beans into a small chopper and pulverized the beans until they were *mostly* smooth. Since I had already used the large saucepan to cook the chicken (and so I didn’t have another pan/bowl to wash), I put all the shredded chicken back into the pan. I then added the smashed beans, some salsa, a little of the reserved broth mixture, and seasonings to complete the mixture for inside the enchiladas.

To assemble the dish, I put a bit of salsa and broth mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish to keep the enchiladas from sticking.  Put a heaping 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of a flour tortilla, fold the close end over the mixture and pull it back to make a “roll”.  Fold each side in, toward the center, and then roll the enchilada over to enclose the filling.  Place the enchilada, seam-side down, in the coated baking dish and repeat until all the chicken mixture is used and the baking dish is full.  I was able to make a total of 6 enchiladas with this amount of chicken/bean filling, but much will depend on how much you want to put inside each enchilada.  Once all the individual enchiladas are in the baking dish, coat lightly with salsa and sprinkle with lots of cheese (I used an entire bag of shredded cheddar).

You can pop this dish in the freezer at this point if you’d like.  I made this dinner in the morning and my family popped it into the oven so they had a hot dinner while I was at work.  You’ll pop this dish into a preheated 350 degree oven and cook it for 30-40 minutes… cover with foil to bake and remove foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to brown the cheese a bit.

You can serve this dish with a side salad, if you like.  My guys prefer to simply eat the enchiladas by themselves, so they each ate two, while I ate one when I got home.  It was great to have a home-cooked meal after work and I was so glad to have taken the time to put things together.  If you have the time, feel free to make this dinner in two separate dishes and pop one into the freezer for cooking later.  I’ve done this often and it’s a huge help to have a meal available for those days when you don’t feel like cooking or if you want to share a meal with a friend or neighbor.

Remember… I’m never far away if you’re having trouble with one of my recipes.  You can message me on Facebook (From the Bottom of a Wine Bottle) or via Twitter (@alisportshots) and I’ll get back to you asap!  Enjoy!

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Chicken and Snow Pea Stir-fry

As promised via Instagram, I am posting my recipe for a delicious and amazingly simple dinner of chicken tenders, snow peas, and brown rice.  I have gotten this dinner down to a quick and easy “go-to” for our family and have altered it too many times to count.  I am sharing this basic version so you, dear reader, have a place from which to “jump off” and create something that will appeal to the individual tastes of your own families… so let’s get to it!ChickenSnowPeas&Chard

I started with one package of chicken tenders and most of a bag of snow peas.  I cut each of the tenders into bite-size pieces and then added salt, pepper, and parsley before setting the chicken aside for a few minutes.

In a large skillet, I melted a bit of coconut oil on medium-high heat and browned half a diced onion,  Once the onion was browned, I added the chicken tender pieces and gave them time to cook thoroughly before adding the sauce.  I created the sauce by pouring about a cup of Chardonnay (I used Bread and Butter Chardonnay, because that was what I had in my fridge… feel free to use whatever white wine you have or prefer) into a bowl, adding a large glug of a pre-made sweet and savory sauce from Sam’s Club that we had in the fridge, along with a “thumb-size” amount of cream cheese, and pouring that into the skillet.  I added the snow peas and stirred everything together until the cream cheese had melted into the sauce and the peas had a chance to cook a bit.  I then served the stir-fry over a bed of brown rice.  I should also note that I added a bit of the same “sweet and savory sauce” into the rice when it was cooking, so there was some syncing of the flavors between the stir-fry and the rice.

Honestly, this is all I did to make dinner last night.  I have made variations in which I substitute the sweet and savory sauce with some pre-made housin sauce but I’ve also done the same thing using wine, the juice of a lemon, and some light-colored jam (I like apricot, peach, or fig preserves).  Play around with this recipe on your own and find your favorite version to serve.  It’s amazing how fresh and wonderful things taste when you play with ingredients!

Recipe: Red & White Stir Fry Salad

Here’s a recipe PLUS a bonus!  Each part of this recipe deserves it’s own post, but since they are connected, I decided to post them together.  It’s a recipe for “stir fry” AND a chicken salad recipe…in one recipe!RedNWhiteStirfrySalad

I was trying something new… I wanted to make a shrimp stir fry, but wondered how it might work if I tried to “bake” the ingredients for a stir fry.  To do this, I sliced a pound of de-shelled shrimp length-wise and used them to cover the bottom of a 9×9 pan.  I sprinkled a  package of slaw (the kind with shredded cauliflower and broccoli) over the shrimp and then made a sauce of hoisin sauce, red wine, garlic, ginger, and a little cornstarch (for thickening) to pour over the entire pan.  I covered the pan with foil and allowed it to bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  A package of microwave brown rice finished off my first meal nicely (see top right-hand photo).  While the technique was unconventional, it was a great way to make a simple dinner without standing beside the stove top.

The second half of this recipe (the “Salad” portion) came about from my need to use up the half-cup of leftover stir fry.  I had a chicken breast in the fridge that also needed to be used, so I decided to try putting everything together to make a chicken-shrimp stir fry salad sandwich.  Weird, but it really was tasty.  I combined the following ingredients: leftover stir fry, one diced chicken breast, one diced stalk of celery, a small palmful of craisins, some mayo, white wine, salt and pepper.  I mixed everything until it was well combined, adding either mayo or white wine, depending on the desired texture, and then put the mixture on some toasted low-calorie bread to make a sandwich.  The threads of veggies from the stir-fry provided some interesting texture in the salad, but it was a great mix and the bits of leftover stir fry sauce added some zing to the flavor.  It was definitely a great way to use up leftovers in my fridge.

I hope this set of recipes gives you some ideas of ways to re-use foods in your own fridge.  Using red wine in the stir fry and white wine in the chicken salad was a fun inspiration as well… see what you can create when you go beyond the traditional and let your creative juices flow!

Recipe: Chicken Pie

My new neighbors were driving home from NC on Monday and I knew they were going to be stressed, so I decided to make dinner for them, while making dinner for us at the same time.  Since I decided to make a chicken pie, it was extremely easy for me to double ingredients and make two dinners at the same time.  This is one of my favorite things to make, so I hope you’ll try this recipe some day… it’s a great comfort meal with lots of old-home appeal.ChickenWinePie

I started with one rotisserie chicken that I bought from the grocery store.  I put the chicken and all its juices into a large stock pot, added water up to the halfway point of the bird, then set the pot to simmer on medium low for about a half hour.  While it was cooking, I threw in some leftover veggies that I had in the fridge (three stems of broccoli without the crowns and six chunks of celery) and allowed them to perfume the water until it became stock.  NOTE: This is my favorite way to make stock… although I usually use carrots, celery, and onion, this turns plain water into something you can use in a myriad of ways.

Once the chicken had cooked in the liquid long enough to be easy to shred, I removed the meat and vegetables to a colander (I used a set of tongs and the chicken fell apart nicely as I removed it from the pot). I then strained the stock through the same colander and into a bowl big enough to hold all the stock so I could use the same pot to start making the chicken pie sauce.

To make the sauce, I started with four Tablespoons of margarine and/or butter and four Tablespoons of flour and whisked them together over medium heat until the fat had time to cook the “raw” taste out of the flour. NOTE: Remember, we’re making enough sauce for two chicken pies.  I then added about one cup of chardonnay white wine (Use whatever wine you prefer) and whisked the sauce to incorporate the wine.  It was still very stiff at this point, so I added an equal amount (equal parts wine to chicken stock) of the reserved chicken stock to the sauce and whisked that until things started looking like a “sauce”.  Feel free to add more wine or stock to get the sauce to the consistency you want for your chicken pie.  I actually went back and added more of both the wine *and* stock, but made the sauce too thin.  TO FIX THIS, I used 1/4 cup of reserved stock and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to create a slurry and added it to the sauce, whisking to make sure not to create any lumps.  Once I had enough of the thickened sauce, I needed to season it before adding it to the dish.  I used freshly ground pepper, some Herbes de Provence, some thyme (I like these two seasonings with chicken, but feel free to use your own favorites), and a squirt of dijon mustard.  I whisked everything together and then let it cook slightly, while I put the chicken pies together.  NOTE:  I went into greater detail in a previous post, entitled “How to make a sauce” on this blog, so feel free to open another tab and use those directions if they seem clearer to you.  I didn’t use any cheese in this sauce, as I did in the previous post, but the method is still the same.

To assemble the chicken pies, I picked and shredded half of the chicken into two separate casserole dishes.  I then drained two cans of mixed vegetables (this usually includes squares of carrots, potatoes, beans, and corn) and poured a can of the vegetables over the chicken in each dish.  NOTE: Since I had cooked extra celery and the broccoli stems, I sliced and added these as well, although they weren’t necessary. I then spooned the sauce evenly over both dishes to finish off the inside of the chicken pies.  NOTE:  I wasn’t sure if my neighbors were watching their salt intake, but knew that I would need to add a little more “umph” to our sauce, so I added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to the sauce in our dish.  This isn’t necessary either, but it’s a flavor I know we like.  

For the topping of the chicken pie, you can go in a variety of directions.  For this version, I used a box of Puff Pastry dough. I allowed the dough to thaw for 15-20 minutes, then laid the dough on top of the dish, folding the edges over and brushing everything with an egg wash (mixture of egg and water) to make a nice crust.  I also sprinkled our dish with some garlic salt, since that’s a favorite in our house.  NOTE:  Be sure to make 3-4 slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape during the cooking process.

To bake these beauties, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and pop the chicken pie into the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until you see bubbling sauce coming up through the edges of the slits.  NOTE:  You need to cook Puff Pastry version at a higher temperature.  You can decrease the oven temp to 375 degrees if using another topping of choice.  Remove the chicken pie from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving so no one burns their mouth on food that is, to quote my husband, “hotter than the sun”.

NOTE:  If you don’t want to use Puff Pastry dough for your topping, you can use a can of biscuit dough, a pie crust, or some homemade Bisquick topping.  Whatever you choose, make sure you cook the dish long enough to allow the topping to cook thoroughly.  

I do hope you’ll try this recipe sometime soon.  As the Fall approaches and the weather gets cooler, this meal is a staple in our house.  It always reminds me of my childhood and never fails to bring a smile to my face.  May this become a staple in your home as you create those same memories for your own families.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Easy Cheesy Chicken & Beans

We’ve all seen the mayonnaise ad that tells us to smear mayo on chicken, cover with cheese, and bake to create the “juiciest chicken”, right?  If you haven’t, here’s a link to see what they do.  I had been viewing that ad for ages and finally decided to put my own twist on something that would be a simple yet fun adaptation.  My final product was similar to the original, but I thought it had some really tasty flavors going on.  See what you think…

I started with two partially frozen chicken breasts (the kind you can get in the big bag from those warehouse stores?) and sliced them across to open them up like an envelope.  I didn’t want to cut them the entire way through, although I certainly could have done that to create four separate servings.  Feel free to tackle this step however you like.  I laid them on a piece of foil (I really hate to clean baking sheets, so I use foil anytime I can) and flattened them with my hands.EasyCheesyChicken&Beans

I then mixed the creamy topping that would be the “sauce” to hold the cheese onto the chicken.  For this recipe I used mayonnaise, dijon mustard, red wine, and dried parsley.  I blended it all together with a whisk and then brushed the mixture all over the top of the chicken breasts to cover them evenly.  Using a packaged blend of cheddar and colby, I spread the cheese over both chicken breasts and then topped them with salt and pepper.

Since the chicken was so large, I decided to keep things simple and just roast some green string beans as the accompaniment for this dinner.  I could have easily added mashed or baked potatoes, but I really wanted the chicken to be the star.  To make the beans, I grabbed another baking sheet and lined it with foil (easy cleanup, folks… this is my favorite thing about foil!) and spread out the beans on the sheet.  I then sprayed the beans with cooking spray and topped with salt & pepper.  

Baking this dinner was also pretty easy.  I preheated the oven to 375 degrees and baked the chicken for about 40-45 minutes.  I popped the beans into the oven underneath the chicken after the first 10 minutes, so they were cooking for 30-35 minutes.  NOTE: I’ve been under-cooking beans lately, so I went a little overboard on the beans this time – will probably back their cook time down to 20-25 minutes next time, but they were still tasty.

Once dinner was done and plated, I got rave reviews from my husband about the chicken.  It was still juicy but cooked through, full of flavor and simply delicious.  Changing out the flavors and using different ingredients for the “sauce” will be done next time, but this is a great way to start.  Try using white wine, horseradish mustard, different spices, anything that your family likes is fair game in this one.  You could even make it into an Italian version with italian spices and an Italian blend of cheeses… it’s really all up to you.  Enjoy and let me know what you try!