You may remember when I did my Marathon Cooking session a few weeks ago. Well, yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had been scheduled off for today! Technically, I’m still on vacation. So what does that mean? Cooking, cleaning, and staying in my pjs all day of course!
I made several dishes during my Marathon Cooking session and unfortunately some of them did not turn out as delicious as I had hoped. This taught me a valuable lesson: only make bulk dishes to freeze out of meals you already know you like!
Learning this, I decided to make three meals in big batches: “Cheater” Lasagna, Buffalo Chicken casserole, and Chicken Enchiladas. I’ll post the lasagna and the buffalo chicken recipes at a later date, but today we are going to focus on the Chicken Enchiladas. I came up with two different ways of making this dish. The main recipe is the same, but the construction of the dishes are a little different.
The Basic Recipe (makes enough for 2-3 people):
1 chicken breast, poached & diced
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1/2 can refried beans
1/3 can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
To start, bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt and pepper, and poach your chicken in the liquid for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from liquid and let cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, dice it into small pieces.
While your chicken is cooking, make your rice. I used my Cuisinart rice cooker to make this rice. Typically when you make rice, you use a 1:2 ratio. I used one cup of rice to two cups of water plus a pinch of salt for flavor. With my rice cooker, I just add the ingredients and flip the switch to “cook”. Once it’s done, it switches to “warm” and lets me continue what I’m doing until I need the rice. Just follow the directions on your bag of rice to ensure it turns out perfectly.
Once the chicken and rice are cooked and ready to go, add them to a big bowl along with your salsa, beans, cheese, and enchilada sauce (just to help the beans incorporate into the dish).
This is where you can get creative! Add whatever kinds of Mexican-y things you like! Corn, black beans, cilantro, green chiles, you name it! Jeff is a simple man and is not a big fan of veggies in his enchiladas so I left them out. I figure I can make a nice little Mexican side salad the night we eat this so I get all the yummy veggie nutrients.
That’s your basic recipe. Here are two ways to use this filling to create a couple yummy dishes:
1/3 cup enchilada sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 burrito sized tortilla shells
Since I am freezing my meals, I opted to use foil 8×8 cake pans. We are just two people, so typically I only want to make a small portion. If you have a bigger family, you can double the above recipe and use a 13×9 dish. It’s totally up to you. I sprayed my pan to ensure no sticking and then started rolling.
Take a burrito sized tortilla shell, add about a 1/3 cup of filling towards the bottom of the shell, tuck the bottom of the shell over the filling, fold in the sides and roll the remaining of the way up. (Yes, I realize I should have taken pictures of this, but I didn’t think I would be doing a blog post about these meals. Hey, when inspiration strikes…)
Line your rolled enchiladas in the pan, top with enchilada sauce and the cheddar cheese. Cover with foil and freeze. I decided to turn up the collar of the pan just to provide a little extra holding power for the sauce.
With this method, you just want to create layers in the dish. I put one tortilla in the bottom of the pan, added 1/2 the filling,
topped with a second tortilla, some of the enchilada sauce, the remainder of the filling, a third tortilla, and the remainder of the sauce. Just use your judgement as to how much sauce you want to use. Obviously you don’t want the sauce to be overflowing, but you want enough for the tortillas to soak up while cooking. Finally, finish with the cheese. Cover and freeze.
One thing I decided for my last tortilla layer was to cut the tortillas to fit. I would have done this for the whole dish, but again I wasn’t thinking ahead. To do this, just lay your tortillas in the pan and cut the excess off the sides like so:
When you are ready to serve either dish, you can preheat the oven to 400º and bake for about an hour (or until the meal is heated through) or you can thaw it overnight in the fridge and shorten the cooking time to about 30 minutes. My husband is funny. When he decides he’s hungry, he’s hungry now. I think his hunger cues are off because it’s almost like when he realizes he’s hungry, he has to eat then or he’ll faint from starvation! He also likes to eat around 6p (apparently he’s in his 60s), but I don’t get home until 5:30p at the earliest. For this reason, I have to try to plan things well in advance. This is why thawing the dish ahead of time is better for us.
So there you go. Two freezer meals that are simple, delicious, and crowd pleasers! Hope you like them!