Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

I have a client that is on a very restricted diet, which means I have to make almost everything from scratch. All the canned enchilada sauces available have salt in them. I use no salt added tomatoes and tomato paste. It’s actually really easy to make your own and you can make it mild or spicy. Instead of making one big casserole, I made individual servings for the freezer.

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Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 6

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1½ Tbs onion, chopped
1½ Tbs cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
2 cups enchilada sauce, divided (see recipe below)
1½ cups (6 oz) shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup sliced ripe olives

Preheat oven to 350°

Place the tortillas in the microwave for about 1 minute to soften.Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, cilantro, and jalapeño; sauté until onion is tender. Add chicken, diced tomatoes and 1 cup enchilada sauce; cook 5 minutes.

Spoon chicken mixture evenly down centers of tortillas. Roll up tortillas; place, seam sides down, in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over enchiladas, and top with cheese. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until enchiladas are thoroughly heated and cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with tomato and olives.

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Makes 2 cups

2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs chili powder
2 cups water
3 oz tomato paste
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¾ tsp salt

Add the vegetable oil, flour, and chili powder to a medium pot. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk the ingredients together. Continue to whisk as the mixture begins to bubble. Whisk and cook the mixture for one minute once it begins bubbling.

After one minute, whisk in the water, tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper until smooth. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer it will begin to thicken slightly then add the salt. The sauce is now ready to use.

Pork Chile Verde

The tomatillo is a plant of the nightshade family, related to the Cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos originated in Mexico, and are a staple of that country’s cuisine.The fruit is surrounded by an inedible, paper-like husk.


Pork Chile Verde

Serves 6-8

4 lbs pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dredging
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 yellow onions
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Anaheim or Poblano chiles, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 -3 jalapeños, seeds removed, and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, roasted, peeled and chopped – see tips below
1 Tbs dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped
4 cups chicken stock

Season the pork meat generously with salt and pepper, lightly flour. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat and brown pork chunks well in small batches, on all sides. Lift pork out of pan and place in a wide soup pot. Discard fat and place the onions and peppers in the same skillet and sweat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until limp, about 5 minutes. Add all of the chiles and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.

Add the sautéed vegetables, chopped tomatillos, dried herbs and cilantro to the meat, cover with the chicken stock and bring up to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork is fork tender.

Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.

Preparing Tomatillos
Remove the husks before using, the husks are inedible. Tomatillos are very easy to cook with because they don’t need to be peeled or seeded. Their texture is firm when raw, but soften when cooked. When growing your own fresh tomatillos, they are ready to harvest when the husks burst.

Rinse before using as the tomatillo is covered by a sticky substance. Do not peel the green skin.

Cooking Tomatillos
Tomatillos can by very inconsistent in flavor, with some being sour and others tasting mild and sweet. If the tomatillos are to tart for your taste, try adding a little sugar to balance the taste.

Fire Roasting
Roast under the broiler, with a propane torch, or over an open flame such as a grill. Make sure the heat is quite hot before roasting. If the heat is not hot enough, the tomatillos wil turn mushy before being charred. The charred or slightly blackened skins will enrich your sauces with a smoky flavor.

Dry Roasting
This will produce an earthy, nutty flavor. Place the tomatillos in a heavy fry pan (preferably a cast iron pan). Turn heat to low and roast for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is one of our family’s Mexican comfort food recipes. I made it easier by cutting up the tortillas instead of rolling them. I also soften the tortillas in the microwave to avoid frying them in oil.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 onion, chopped
12 corn tortillas
28 oz can green enchilada sauce
4 oz can diced chiles
4 oz can sliced black olives
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Sauté the onion in a little bit of canola oil. Once the onions are softened, mix them with the green chiles, 3/4 of a can of black olives (I chop them up), and the shredded chicken.

Next place the tortillas in the microwave for about 1 minute. Remove and cut the tortillas into 1″ squares.

Pour 1/4 of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9″x13′ pyrex casserole dish. Then top with 1/2 the onion, chile, olive, chicken mixture, then top with some of the grated cheese. Repeat the layers. Top with remaining cheese and the rest of the slice olives.

Refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake 375 F for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Double Decker Tacos

Refried beans act as the glue in the double decker taco. This is a family tradition in our house.




Double Decker Tacos

10 taco shells
10 small flour tortillas, snack size
1 lb ground beef
2Tbs taco seasoning (see recipe below)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups lettuce, shredded
16 oz can refried beans

Brown ground beef. Drain.  Add 2 Tbs taco seasoning (see recipe below) and 1/4 cup water.

While beef is simmering put refried beans in a small sauce pan to warm over low heat. May need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the beans to thin them out a bit.

Warm soft tortillas in a dry skillet over low to medium heat. You don’t want to brown or crisp them at all. Just warm them on both sides so that they are pliable.

Keep tortillas warm in foil. These can be placed in a warm oven if needed.

Assemble the tacos:
Spread warm beans on a warm flour tortilla Sprinkle beans with shredded cheese.

Stand a taco shell in the center of tortilla spread with beans and cheese. Gently press the soft tortilla onto the sides of the taco shell. Fill taco shell with beef, more shredded cheese, shredded lettuce and salsa.

Taco Seasoning

1 Tbs chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp paprika
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

For 1 lb of ground beef, use 2 Tbs of the taco seasoning mix.

Mexican Lime Soup with Chicken

This soup is the lighter summer version of my tortilla soup.  The recipe did not include fried tortilla strips, but I think its mandatory to add crunch.  The other thing that wasn’t included in the recipe was having our 95 pound Weimaraner (naughty Hannah) jump up on the counter and slurp up the 3 cups of chicken stock!  So when I made it, I only used 1 cup of stock!!!!!

I didn't do it!!!

I didn’t do it!!!





Mexican Lime Soup with Chicken

Serves 4-6

3 or 4 limes
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and minced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 Haas avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
2 oz queso fresco or mild feta cheese, crumbled
6 corn tortillas, cut into strips and fried in oil

Cut 1 lime into 4 to 6 wedges; set aside for serving. Juice as many of the remaining limes as needed to measure 1/4 cup.

Season the chicken breasts with the 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth, water, lime juice and oregano, then return the chicken to the pan.

Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer until the chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife near the bone, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, keep the soup at a simmer. Remove and discard the skin and bones, and shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken into the soup. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Put the avocado, cheese and lime wedges in separate small bowls. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately. Pass the avocado, cheese tortilla strips and lime wedges alongside.

Tamale Pie

It’s me today. No guest bloggers. Last week, I went to Trader Joe’s and went straight to the “tasting station”, where they hand out samples for you to try. I almost always buy whatever they are demoing. It was this tamale pie. I am not a big fan of polenta (unless it’s crispy), but I have to say I really liked this dish. It’s something you could have in your pantry. It takes less then 5 minutes to throw it in a casserole dish. You could even make it vegetarian by using vegetarian chili instead of chicken or turkey. The original recipe calls for a jar of their Cowboy Caviar, but I actually used the corn salsa instead.




Tamale Pie

Serves 4 – 6

1 jar TJ’s Corn and Chile Tomato-Less Salsa
1 can TJ’s Chicken or Turkey Chili
1 can Black Beans
1/4 tsp TJ’s Cayenne Pepper
TJ’s Olive Oil Cooking Spray
1 package TJ’s Fully Cooked Polenta
1 bag TJ’s Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
TJ’s Fresh Green Onions, TJ’s Fresh Cilantro, TJ’s Sour Cream, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the corn salsa, chili, black beans, and cayenne pepper. Mix well and set aside. Grease an 8″ x 8″ casserole dish with olive oil spray. Set aside. Cut the polenta into 1/4-inch slices. Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with a layer of polenta rounds. Pour chili mixture over the polenta and top with half of the cheese. Top the chili & cheese with the remaining polenta slices. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top and place in oven to bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Serve and garnish with chopped onions, cilantro and/or sour cream, if desired.

Black Bean Burritos

I love the idea of melting cream cheese into this black bean mixture.

Black Bean Burritos

Serves 2

2 (10 inch) flour tortillas
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp minced jalapeno peppers
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven heated to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Place onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapenos in skillet, cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour beans into skillet, cook 3 minutes stirring.

Cut cream cheese into cubes and add to skillet with salt. Cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir cilantro into mixture.

Spoon mixture evenly down center of warmed tortilla and roll tortillas up. Serve immediately.

Mexican Corn Pie

This recipe as my friend Barbara’s name all over it (I guess is also has Sharon’s name all over it too, but not sure if you can buy chorizo in Australia!) ! It’s a casserole, from Luna Maya, a Bolivian-Mexican restaurant in Norfolk, Va., is adapted from “The World in a Skillet.” Its international flavor evokes the New South, but cooked in the traditional Southern skillet. Luna Maya calls for a baking pan to finish the dish, but we used the same 12-inch cast-iron skillet throughout.


Mexican Corn Pie

Serves 8

1 Tbs plus 2 tsp olive oil
1 lb Mexican pork chorizo, skins removed
1 white onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs each: ground ancho chili, sweet paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp each: thyme, ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (or 5 cups frozen)
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz mild cheese, such as Chihuahua or Oaxaca cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Crumble in chorizo. Cook, stirring often, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer chorizo to a bowl, leaving fat in the skillet.

Add the white onion, garlic, ancho, paprika, cumin, chipotle, thyme, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet; stir. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 5-8 minutes.

Stir in the chicken; cook, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through, 15 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; transfer contents to a bowl. Stir in the reserved chorizo, cilantro and lime juice.

Wipe skillet clean; heat 2 teaspoons oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow onion; cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 5-8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Combine onion with the corn and milk in a food processor; puree until smooth.

Return skillet to medium heat; add corn mixture. Cook, stirring, until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Remove skillet from heat.Transfer corn mixture to a bowl.

Spread the chicken-chorizo mixture in the skillet. Spread the corn mixture over the meat. Bake 30 minutes. Remove dish from oven; turn on the broiler. Spread the cheese over the casserole. Broil until cheese melts and begins to brown, 3-5 minutes.

Orange Flan

Here is a wonderful flan recipe that is flavored with orange juice and Grand Marnier.





Orange Flan

Serves 6 – 8

½ cup sugar
3 Tbs water

1 cup fresh orange juice
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs heavy or whipping cream
1 Tbs Grand Marnier
½ tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a heavy saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. When mixture begins to brown around edges of pan, reduce heat to low; cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep golden color. Working quickly, pour into a 10” ceramic pie dish or about 1 tablespoon of caramel into each of eight 6-ounce custard cups, turning cups to coat evenly. Set aside.

To prepare custard, whisk orange juice, whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, cream, Grand Marnier, and vanilla together in a bowl just until smooth.

Pour the custard over caramel in prepared dish or cups, dividing evenly. Place dish or cups in a roasting pan; place pan on middle oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into pan to come halfway up sides of the dish or cups.

Bake custards until just set and a knife inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer cups to a wire rack to cool slightly. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill for at least 2 hours.

Loosen custards by running a small knife around sides of custard cups. Invert cups onto serving plates. Remove cups, allowing caramel to form a sauce around custards. Garnish with orange zest and mint sprigs.

Five Layer Mexican Dip

Here is a great layered dip that is low in calories and fat for your Cinco de Mayo party.

Five Layer Mexican Dip

Serves 12

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
15.5 oz can black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1 Tbs minced chipotle pepper in adobo
4 Tbs lime juice
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs water
½ tsp salt
2 cups corn kernels (10 oz box frozen corn)
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 ripe avocados
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
¼ cup thinly sliced scallion
1 Tbs finely diced jalapeno pepper, optional
¾ cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until they soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

Put half of the onion mixture into a food processor with the black beans, chipotle pepper, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, cumin, water and salt. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Add the corn to the skillet with the remaining onion mixture and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro leaves.

In a small bowl mash the avocado with the remaining lime juice. In a medium bowl toss together the tomatoes, scallion and jalapeno, if using. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread the black bean dip into the bottom of an 8 by 8 glass baking or serving dish. Top with the corn mixture, spreading it out to form a single layer over the beans, repeat with the avocado, then the tomatoes. Top with cheese. Serve with baked chips.