Sunday, February 3, 2013

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

It’s been a busy week in the Johnson household. We usually take the time on weekends to prep all of our meals for the week but this week we had a great visit to Amma and Afi’s house. (My husband is Icelandic in heritage. “Amma” is Icelandic for grandmother; “Afi” for grandfather.) No time for meal prep so, lucky for us, we have a great stock of freezer meals!

This is one of my favorite homemade recipes that has morphed over the years as I’ve experimented with different ingredients. It makes for an awesome freezer meal so it’s one I love to make in bulk and freeze.

  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds of shredded chicken*
  • 20 small flour tortillas
  • 2-19oz. cans of enchilada sauce (or make your own… way more delicious and you actually know what’s in it. check out the recipe below.)
  • 16 oz. of sour cream
  • 1 small can of diced green chiles
  • 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 green pepper (or substitute in your favorite veggie. I’ve used spinach in place of the green papper for a bigger nutitional bang. You could also through in green onions, corn, etc.)
Makes 20 enchiladas or two 9x13” pans of 10 enchiladas each.

*the shredded chicken could be done in a number of ways .We regularly make our own chicken stock and will pull chicken meat off of the poached chickens. You could just fry up some boneless skinless chicken breasts or, our favorite last minute go-to, buy a rotisserie chicken from the deli and shred that up.

Step 1: Prepare your ingredients

Shred up your chicken. Slice your green peppers julienne style. Mix the sour cream and green chilies together. Put each ingredient in a bowl and create a little assembly line for yourself.

Step 2: Prepare your pans

Spray your baking pans with cooking spray and pour about ½ cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of each.

Step 3: Assemble your enchiladas

I put about a tablespoon of the sour cream mixture in the middle of the tortilla.
Then about an ounce or two of chicken.
Then your green pepper (and/or other veggies).
Then a tablespoon or so of cheese.
And finally a tablespoon of enchilada sauce if you like them saucy.

thanks for your help, Curly Girl!

Roll the enchilada and place seam side down in your baking pan nestled on top of the base enchilada sauce. You should be able to fit eight stacked vertically, then I stuff a couple more on the side. You’ll squish them together in the pan to get eight in there. That’s okay!

Step 4: Pour the remainder of your enchilada sauce on top. 

Use a spoon to move it around and get it into every nook and cranny.

Step 5: Sprinkle your remaining shredded cheese on top.

Step 6: Bake or freeze (or both!)

If you’re eating it right away, bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling, your cheese is melted and exposed edges of the tortillas start to brown.

I love to bake one right away and freeze the other. To freeze, if you’re using an aluminum foil pan, cover it in aluminum foil and the plastic cover if your pan came with one. If you’re using a glass pan to freeze, cover with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil or other lid if your pan comes with it. The idea is that you want to protect it from air so use a couple of layers to cover it. If it’s relatively air tight, it should keep 3-6 months (if you can wait that long to eat them!)

To bake the frozen stuff, I recommend thawing first, then proceed with baking in the oven for 30-45 minutes until hot and bubbly!


Want to take it up a notch? Try making your own enchilada sauce.

I’ve been meaning to do this for forever. We’ve been working hard in our household to move away from processed foods. Sauces in a can are full of sodium and preservatives. Making them fresh typically involves just a few pantry staple ingredients and a few extra minutes of time so why not do them on our own? Time and time again we’ve found making our own has been worth the effort—both knowing what we’re consuming and taking the flavor up ten notches as you can see here.

Easy Enchilada Sauce
Recipe from Emeril

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chili powder
2 cups chicken stock
10 ounces tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt


  • In a medium saucepan heat oil, add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add chili powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out. Adjust the seasonings. 

canned sauce on the left, fresh stuff on the right

The visual difference between the canned stuff and the homemade stuff is pathetic. I don’t think we’ll ever go back! We made ours true to the recipe but when I make it again, I think I’ll thin it out with more chicken stock. The recipe version is super thick so the enchiladas ended up being a little on the dry side.

I used one recipe’s worth of sauce to make both pans of enchiladas and it worked out perfectly!

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