Archive of ‘Chicken’ category

Chicken Enchiladas

For nearly two weeks my husband was asking me to make enchiladas. Since I didn’t plan on blogging about them, I decided to take the easy way out and use a pre-packaged sauce rather than making it from scratch. Rick Bayless has a new line of skillet sauces on the market and they were on sale at my favorite grocery store, A&G Fresh Market. I was pleasantly surprised after reading the ingredient list because I actually recognized and could pronounce everything on there.

Ingredients:

•   Tomato (fresh tomato, roasted fresh tomato, tomato puree, calcium chloride and citric acid)
•   Water
•   New Mexico chile pepper
•   Apple cider vinegar
•   Red bell pepper
•   Salt
•   Onion
•   Garlic
•   Evaporated cane juice
•   Spices
•   Xanthan gum

My husband gobbled these up and with a mouthful of food claimed that he, “would happily eat these once a week for the rest of our marriage.” Enchiladas are a snap to make so that is fine with me!

I am a bad blogger because I didn’t measure anything as I was making these. However, I think about enchiladas the same way I think about pizza. Do you precisely measure out each topping? Or, do you just throw them on there adding more of the things you like and less of things your husband makes you add you aren’t wild about?  What’s the worst that can happen? You end up with too much cheese? Is that even possible? I didn’t think so.

Chicken Enchiladas 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Red Chili Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 package shredded cheese
  • 8-10 corn tortillas
  • Salt and pepper or your favorite all-purpose seasoning

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350˚and coat the bottom of an 11 x 7 baking dish with enchilada sauce.

2. Before you start any assembly, you are going to need to shred the chicken. You can buy it already shredded or do it yourself. If you are opting for the DIY method, simply boil 2 chicken breasts in a pot of water until they are cooked through. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Remove them from the water and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Shred by pulling the chicken apart with your fingers or by pulling it apart with two forks. Season the shredded chicken with salt and pepper or your favorite all-purpose seasoning. I used Adobo.

3. In a bowl, mix the shredded chicken with a 2-3 handfuls of cheese (make sure to reserve some for topping your enchiladas!) and a spoonful or two of the enchilada sauce. Exact measurement doesn’t matter, you are just adding a bit of the sauce to help season the chicken.

4. In a separate bowl add some sauce; if I had to guess, I’d say about 1/3 cup. This will be used to moisten your tortillas. Don’t worry about adding “too much” to the bowl. If you have leftover sauce, you can top your enchiladas with it.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 1

5. Next, dip your tortillas into the sauce making sure that both sides are coated.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 2

6. Place some of your chicken/cheese mixture in the middle of the tortilla.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 3

7. Fold one side towards the middle like so.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 4

8. Fold the other side over the top like so.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 5

9. Place the enchilada seam side down in a baking dish.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 6

10. Repeat this until your baking dish is full. Mine only held 7 tortillas. Yours might hold more, it might hold less.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 7

11. Top with any remaining sauce and cheese.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 8

12. Cover and bake in a 350˚ oven for 15 minutes.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 9

Have leftovers? Chop them up and mix them in with scrambled eggs for a Mexican breakfast treat!

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Leftovers!

Weigh In Wednesday: February & Roasted Rosemary Lemon Chicken

How is it the end of February already?! Time seems to be flying by at warp speed lately, I can’t believe I start student teaching in 2 weeks, and I graduate in 3 months! Because I am so behind on posting, you guys are going to get a 2-for-1 post today.  Three total if you count my February Foodie Penpal Reveal post. How lucky for you!

I’ve been eating Paleo since the first of the year because I am trying to build muscle mass and trim fat. I am honestly amazed at how awesome I feel! I am sleeping better, getting stronger, and fitting into clothes that were snug at Christmas. I also don’t feel the need to obsessively count calories like I did in the past, which has been so freeing. In fact, if I count calories at all, it is in the other direction to make sure I am getting enough on a daily basis. Calorie restriction DOES NOT work, but I will save that for another post. :)

The biggest change I have seen has been the significant difference in my overall strength. For example, when I started weight training, I was only able to do 8-10 push ups. Now, I am able to do 20 fairly easily! I am still a long way away from completing a pull up, but I am hoping to complete one by my birthday in mid-May. Stay tuned!

January Body Fat Percentage – 28.2%
Current Body Fat Percentage – 26.7%

Yay! Down 1.5% I had to adjust last month’s totals because I realized I was reading the chart incorrectly. I was in the wrong age bracket. Whoops! I am back on track though and heading forwards. My goal is to get to 17%-19% body fat.

Here is a recipe for a dish I whipped up last night. I served it alongside some roasted brussels sprouts and asparagus.

Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken
Serves 4
Time: ~30 minutes

Lemon & Rosemary Roasted Chicken. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

So tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken breasts, skin on and bone in
  • 1 Lemon, quartered
  • 2 Cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Cup chicken broth – You may need a little more or a little less depending on the size of your pan
  • Olive Oil
  • Your favorite all-purpose seasoning. I use Back of the Yards from The Spice House.

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375˚.
  2. In a cast iron (or oven safe) skillet, heat olive oil so that you will get a nice seer on your chicken breasts. While your oil is heating, liberally season your chicken breasts with your favorite all-purpose seasoning. 
  3. Seer chicken skin side down until the skin is golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Flip the chicken breasts over and sear the under side for another 4-5 minutes.
  5. Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken and place the quartered lemons into the skillet. 
  6. Add the chicken broth, smashed garlic, and half of the rosemary to the skillet and place it into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.
  7. Garnish with remaining rosemary and more lemon juice, if desired. 

How To: Cut a Pepper

This is a pretty typical Sunday night dinner in our house. We love fajitas. I make them by sautéing garlic, onions and peppers in olive oil then adding chicken flavored with and marinated in fajita seasoning from the Spice House. Simple and quick.

From left to right: chicken fajitas, tortillas, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, sauteed mushrooms, pico de gallo, and grilled green onions.

From left to right: chicken fajitas, tortillas (for hubs), cheese, sour cream, guacamole, sautéed mushrooms (for me since I don’t eat the tortillas), pico de gallo, and grilled green onions.

I usually make a double batch of the chicken and peppers along with a boat load of guacamole and pico de gallo so I can have the leftovers the next few mornings with eggs. Fajita omelette? Yes, please!

I can’t convince my husband to try Paleo with me for even two weeks so that’s why the tortillas are pictured here. However, this is Paleo-friendly as long as you eat everything a la carte. You could also serve this as a salad over a bed of lettuce greens with a bit of olive oil and fresh lime juice. When you make fresh pico and guacamole, you don’t even miss things like sour cream, cheese, or tortillas. I have to admit that even though cheese isn’t technically Paleo, it is the one item that I cheat with at times.

I have found that people really struggle with slicing and dicing peppers for meals like this. I can’t even recall where I learned this technique, but it is the best way to cup up fresh peppers. It’s makes it super easy to slice them into strips or dice them into cubes and you never have any of the little seeds flying about.

How to Cut a Pepper

Step 1

How to cut a pepper

Step 1

Step 1.5

Slice down the side of the pepper as close to the stem as possible.

Side view of step 1

Step 2

Now that you can see the inside, slice the other sides off avoiding the seeds.

Step 2

Avoid the seeds as you slice

Side view of step 2

Step 3

Notice the seeds are intact around the stem

Step 3

Repeat around the entire pepper

Step 4

Step 7

Discard the seeds

Step 5

Step 6

Slice into strips or dice into cubes

Easy peasy!

Chunky Chicken Soup

Good Morning!

I apologize for being off the radar for a while. I have been traveling, battling the flu, and getting back into the swing of school. I have a very tough quarter ahead of me preparing for student teaching, but I am so incredibly excited! For those of you that don’t know, I am a full-time Graduate student working towards my M.Ed in Elementary Education. When I graduate, I will also have endorsements in English Language Arts, Social Studies, and (hopefully) Art. Since my school does not have a film program, I have to work with the state of Illinois to see if they will count my film and photography undergraduate classes towards and art endorsement. When I graduate, I hope to be a middle school English/Social Studies teacher. I love middle school aged kids, I can’t wait to work with them.

For my student teaching, I have been placed in a Kindergarten classroom, which I am really excited about. When I am observing in upper grade classrooms, I tend to see the following pattern a lot. The teacher teaches a lesson, students to an activity, students are told if they finish early they can read silently at their desks or work on an unfinished assignment. Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with this pattern, but this type of structure wouldn’t work in a kindergarten classroom because not all kindergarteners can read. Many kindergarteners can’t work independently either. Many still need a ton of guided instruction. Therefore, I will have to design lessons and activities that take the entire lesson time. It is both intimidating and exciting. I honestly feel like I am going to learn so much about classroom management and lesson planning in this classroom!

Wait. Isn’t this post called Chunky Chicken Soup? You’re right. It is!

It seems like everyone I know came down with or is coming down with the flu. The most popular home remedy for the flu is chicken soup. I love soup! It’s quick to make, easy, inexpensive, and comforting.

I have to be honest with you. The recipe below is my best guess as to how I made this. I rarely tend to measure when I am making soup. I will be better about that in 2013!

Chunky Chicken Soup
Serves 4

This can be made with or without gluten-free pasta. Oyster crackers are not gluten-free so do not serve with them if you are avoiding gluten.

This can be made with or without gluten-free pasta. Oyster crackers are not gluten-free so do not serve with them if you are avoiding gluten.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free, brown rice pasta (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 scant tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 packet chicken bullion
  • Olive oil
  • 6-8 cups water (use and adjust according to how chunky you want your end product to be)

*You can cook and shred the chicken yourself or buy pre-cooked chicken and shred it yourself. You can also buy pre-cooked chicken and cube it. Either way, make sure your chicken is pre-cooked as this saves a ton of time.

Directions:

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onions and carrots until onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic and celery, stir, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add water (start with 6 cups and add more if you think you need it), bullion packet, and oregano and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and add chicken and pasta. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.

You can serve with bread or oyster crackers if you are not gluten-free or enjoy as is!

I hope everyone is having a happy 2013 so far! We will return to our regularly scheduled blogging next week. :)

Easy Chunky Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s soup season! I love soup for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I love it because you can make a ton of it for practically nothing. Second, I love it because it is quick and easy to throw together, very filling, and low in fat and calories. My favorite soup on the planet is tortilla soup. I make it with shredded chicken because my husband acts like I am trying to kill him every time I serve him something without meat, but you can make this vegetarian easily by omitting the chicken and substituting vegetable broth. This soup is so chunky and packed with flavor that you will not miss the absence of meat if you opt to omit the chicken. Sometimes I make the vegetarian version and lie to my husband; telling him there is meat in it. He is usually on his second bowl before he even realizes it!

If you are using chicken, I find it is best in this soup when it is shredded. If I have planned ahead, I cook the chicken breasts in a slow cooker overnight. Then, I let them cool in the fridge all day and shred right before making the soup. When you cook the breasts in a slow cooker, they practically fall apart in your hands. It takes almost no effort to shred them. I have a little slow cooker that I got at Target for $12 that fits 2 chicken breasts perfectly. It is similar to this one. If you do not have a slow cooker, you can boil the chicken breasts for about 25 minutes (or until cooked through), let them cool, and shred them. You can also buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, shred the breasts, and eat the legs and wings another night.

Easy Chunky Chicken Tortilla Soup

Cucina Kristina: Chunky Chicken Tortilla Soup

Note: I didn’t have black beans the night
I shot this photo, but I usually use them

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can hominy, not drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 package of frozen corn
  • 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 chicken or vegetable bullion cubes
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Handful of cilantro, minced
  • Juice of fresh lime – at least 1 or to taste. I usually use 2 because I like lime
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (optional)
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings (optional): 

  • Sliced radish
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado
  • Sliced green onion
  • Baked tortilla chips (recipe to follow)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, cook onions and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add one 15-ounce can of hominy, liquid and all. Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, bullion cubes, chicken, oregano, and bay leaf. Add as much water as needed to get the desired soup thickness and consistency.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to let flavors meld together.
  4. Just before serving, stir in cilantro and squeeze the juice of one lime into the soup.
  5. If using, add 1 tablespoon of chili paste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve as is or garnish with any or all of the toppings above. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf!

Baked Tortilla Chips:

I use El Milagro corn tortillas exclusively. You can use whatever brand you like, but I would suggest only using tortillas that contain stone ground corn, water and lime. That’s it. Three ingredients. Nothing else. Trust me!

  1. Cut tortillas into wedges. I usually get six wedges out of each tortilla.
  2. Line tortillas on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in a 350˚ oven for 12-15 minutes.

I do not flavor the chips at all because I like them in their natural state. If you’d like to add salt or seasoning to them, do so before baking them. Simply spray them with olive oil and sprinkle desired seasonings.

I have an oil mister. If you do not have one of these, you can put a little bit of olive oil into a dish and lightly spread onto the chips with your finger. You might be able to use cooking spray; however, I have not tried this. If you use cooking spray a lot, I highly recommend getting an oil mister! I picked mine up at TJ Max for $5. It’s a great way to control the amount of oil you are putting into things without all of the additives that are present in cooking spray.

Cucina Kristina: Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

Corn tortilla chips about to hit the oven!

These chips are gluten-free and there are only 50 calories for every six chips. These are so easy and better for you than any store-bought brand. I can’t remember the last time I bought chips at the store.

Oven Roasted Beer Can Chicken

A self-proclaimed domestically challenged friend emailed me today asking if I could share an easy, man-friendly recipe with her. The first thing that came to mind was beer can chicken. What is more manly than cooking with beer? Traditionally, beer can chicken is cooked on the grill, making it even more man-friendly. But, during the blizzard we had last winter, I discovered that you can make a pretty awesome beer can chicken in the oven!

Prior to moving to Chicago, I lived in California for 25 years. My family and I grilled dinner almost nightly. I went into serious grilling withdraw when I moved into my first apartment and discovered that grilling was prohibited on the roof! Luckily, we have a house now and can grill anytime we want. Unluckily, it is too cold to grill 5 months out of the year. Grilling has become a treat for me and a method of cooking that I look forward to every year. Obviously, roasting a chicken in the oven does not yield the same flavor that you get from grilling, but it is a good alternative for those long winter months.

Oven Roasted (aka Winter-friendly) Beer Can Chicken

Save the pan drippings for gravy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 can of your favorite beer (I used Modelo)
  • Olive Oil or Butter for rubbing on the chicken
  • Spice blend of your choice – I used a mixture of Adobo and Back of the Yards from my favorite spice shop in Chicago. Don’t buy anything special for this step, just use whatever you have on hand. If you do not have a spice blend on hand, use salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  • Beer can chicken rack – These run for $6 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (don’t forget to use a 20% off coupon!) and make this recipe infinitely easier.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Don’t skip this step. You want to put the chicken into a hot oven so the skin browns nicely as it cooks.
  2. Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub the chicken with olive oil or butter and coat with spice mix. Don’t forget to season under the wings!
  3. Pour out Drink 1/3 of the beer, you do not want the can to be completely full. Set the beer can in the beer can chicken rack and place the chicken on top of the beer can. Place the rack in a baking dish. Did you hear me? Place the rack in a baking dish. You need to put the beer can chicken rack in something while it bakes because the beer can will fill up with chicken juices and overflow making a total mess on the bottom of your oven. If the beer and juices hit the bottom of your oven, they are also going to start to smoke and it is going to be a big disaster.
  4. Roast the chicken at 450° for 15 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 350° and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes. The chicken is done when the juices run clear or the inner temperature reaches 165°.

Note: The chicken will be very hot when it comes out of the oven so let it stand for about 10 minutes before removing from the beer can chicken rack, this is typically a two man job.