Monday, March 19, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Bake

It has been cold and rainy here in San Diego the past two days. The wind has been blowing so hard that the wind chime outside my front door has been playing music all weekend. Not only have the streets turned into mini rivers but they are also covered with palm fronds making it somewhat cumbersome to tool around. What do you do when the weather conditions are less than perfect and require you to stay inside? I cook!

Warm comfort food with just enough spice to warm my body. Tonight’s dinner could almost be considered a Mex-Italian Fusion. Rather than traditional enchiladas I decided to layer the ingredients and create Mexican Lasagna loaded with veggies and organic free-range chicken! So delicious! 

* This recipe does require some time so plan accordingly. 

3 cups of warm water
3 tablespoons of whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1 – 8oz can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 organic free-range skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 – 4oz can of diced green chilies
1 small onion diced
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 – 12oz can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of frozen corn
1 bag of organic spinach
1 cup of organic mushrooms (I used baby bellas but shiitake, crimini or button would work as well)
1 – 4oz can of sliced black olives
12 small corn tortillas (or enough for 3 layers in a 9x13 pan)
1 package of Queso Fresco, grated (Mexican white cheese – optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Begin by making the enchilada sauce. Add the flour, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder and salt to a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the water and mix well. Transfer the sauce mixture to a pot and continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and stir until you have reached a thickened liquid consistency. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Left: Before tomato sauce/paste; Right: After adding tomato sauce/paste
Heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in large skillet. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet, sprinkle with taco seasoning and cover. Cook for approximately 7-8 minutes, flip, and sprinkle with the remaining taco seasoning. Continue to cook for another 7 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and shred.

Use the same skillet that you used to cook the chicken and begin to sauté the onion and garlic. When the onion becomes translucent, add the green chilies, tomatoes, mushrooms, and corn. Stir the ingredients and cook for approximately five minutes. Add the shredded chicken and mix well. Remove from heat.

Left: Layer 1; Center: Layer 2; Right: Layer 3
Lightly coat the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan with the enchilada sauce. Cover the bottom of the pan with tortillas. You may need to tear them into pieces so they fit nicely. Slather on more enchilada sauce. Layer with spinach, top with chicken and vegetable mix, sprinkle with cheese, blanket with tortillas and cover with enchilada sauce. Repeat 1 more time. You should end with a layer of tortillas and enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes. 

Left: Before baking; Right: After baking
Allow the Enchilada Bake to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with black olives and eat up!

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