Easy Peasy Very Cheesy Enchiladas Suiza

Enchiladas Suizas

I have mentioned in an earlier post how Mum would allow me to help her make the perfect lump-free white or bechamel sauce when I was younger. She would begin by making a roux (browning some flour in sizzling butter or other fats like bacon grease etc) then adding milk at just the right moment, and I would start stirring furiously to avoid any lumps as it would thicken. By cleverly and carefully tempering eggs, she would develop the sauce into creamy bechamel which was the basis for all kinds of dishes and casseroles. Needless to say, it was quite the achievement when I learnt how to make these sauces successfully but there were so many points where it could (and did) go wrong. If the flour didn’t cook long enough in the butter, the sauce would taste raw, or if the milk was added too quickly and not whisked fast enough, it was a lumpy tasteless mess. Worst of all was when the eggs weren’t tempered properly and I ended up with a bowl full of scrambled mush!! Once you have made these sauces a few times, the mistakes are less likely and you become a roux champion but sometimes the process can still be quite stressful – even for the most experienced cook. So why do people still bother?

White sauce is so delicious and many of our favourite dishes, like mac n cheese or enchiladas,  begin with it. Unfortunately, many new budding home cooks can be put off by this process (and the time involved) and turn to the jarred variety or ready meal option which are so inferior in flavour and texture. Recently, I  saw a recipe for mac n cheese that involved substituting the roux palava for cream cheese and noticed this was an increasing trend in recipes hailed as ‘quick, easy dinners’. I decided anything that would be more simple and involve cream cheese had to be worth a try so I concocted an enchilada recipe for my first attempt. It was amazing! Easy, lump-free, creamy deliciousness! What else can you ask for? ‘More cheese’ I hear you say? Got you covered! 

Easy Peasy Very Cheesy Enchiladas

Enchiladas Suizas

1  pack of reduced fat Cream Cheese (80z each) cubed and at room temperature.

1  cup skimmed milk

jar of your favourite green salsa

2 cups of shredded cheese (I like 2% Mexican Blend)

5-6 whole wheat tortillas

1/2 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp butter (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Grease a large rectangular baking dish and preheat oven to 400 F.  Heat olive oil in a pan and brown onion and garlic on medium heat. At the same time, place 3/4 cup of milk in a pan with butter and the cream cheese, stir frequently over low heat until melted and smooth. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese and stir until combined well and turn off heat. Pour half the milk cheese mixture in with the onions and garlic, and add chicken and spices.  Lay out each tortilla and place a line of the chicken mixture down each center.  Spoon your favourite salsa over the chicken. Fold each side of the tortilla over the center mixture and then place them fold-side-down into greased baking dish. Spoon over some more of the salsa, taking care to go right to the edge of each tortilla. Put the remaining milk and cheese mixture back on medium heat and add the rest of the milk, salt and pepper to taste,and stir until well combined. Spoon cheese mixture over tortillas and top with 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese. It may not look like there is enough sauce at this point but as the enchiladas cook in the oven, the sauce melts further and spreads creating a lovely velvet pool of cheesy goodness. Place in oven for 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Enchiladas Suizas

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Rotisserie Chicken- bringing out the big guns on a weeknight!

Roast Chicken

Life is busy for all of us. It seems the more time saving technology we develop, the less time we seem to have for everything! At the end of a hectic work day, it is so tempting to just pull into the nearest drive-thru on the way home and pick up whatever is easy and headache free. While this may be unavoidable occasionally, it’s really not ideal for health and budget reasons (let’s face it, there’s only so many cardboard value meals you can take before you start going for more expensive options!Store Bought Rotisserie Chicken is every working home-cooks’ secret weapon! A regular sized chicken offers about 5-6 servings (maybe more depending on your portion sizes and how you serve it) and although it might look dull, it can be used in endless ways. As demonstrated in my post on Monday, I often sub Rotisserie chicken in recipes I find as it saves time and energy, making that drive-thru all the more unappealing. Best of all, you can get so many varieties of rotisserie chicken form your local store these days (like Lemon Pepper, and Mesquite BBQ) making it easy to mix and match recipe flavours. When I buy one, I usually plan on using it for two different recipes throughout the work week; this is  great because the chicken can last a few days in the fridge (and it also means we don’t have to eat the same back to back chicken dish)!

From my quick lighter Chicken Salad (see below) to an exciting flashy Quesadilla,  I have some great suggestions if you find yourself at a loss and are tempted to look for your car keys (or for the delivery number on the fridge!)

Leia’s Lighter Chicken Salad

Leia's Chicken Salad

2 cups of chicken meat (lemon pepper is my go to variety for this)

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp of dried tarragon (this is the magic ingredient in chicken salad and totally worth the investment if you don’t already have it in your pantry)

1 diced apple

1/2 cup of mayo (I prefer the olive oil variety for health reasons)

1/2 cup of thick Greek Yogurt

 

1 tbsp of chopped scallions

1/4 cup of raisins/cranberries (or even chopped grapes)

1/8 cup of toasted pine nuts

1/2 tsp of paprika

dash of cayenne (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Pulse chicken in food processor 3-4 times until chicken is in small pieces. Mix yogurt, mayo, herbs, spices and lemon juice in large bowl until well combined. Add chicken and remaining ingredients. Serve on toasted bun with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and a slice of Cheddar cheese.

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Here are some other suggestions for transforming a rotisserie chicken into something great and fun for any weeknight dinner- (some of these are faster than waiting in the drive-thru line!):

Chicken and Humus in a pitta  Just line the bottom of a pitta with shredded chicken. Dollop on some store bought humus, add salad leaves, tomatoes, olives (whatever ingredients you like) and voila!

Chicken Pitta and cucumber relish (see Monday’s post)

Chicken Pitta with yogurt and cucumber relish

Chicken Quesadilla–  shred the chicken and sprinkle with your favourite seasonings like cumin, paprika, garlic powder and a squeeze of lime. Warm a tortilla in a pan for about 30 seconds on low heat, flip over add chicken, shredded cheese, diced peppers and onions, spinach (again it’s your taste buds- just add your favourite!), fold the tortilla in half and wait for the cheese to melt. You could also do so many varieties like a BBQ Chicken Quesadilla (slather chicken with your favourite sauce and add grilled pineapples and chopped jalapenos all melted together with mozzarella). or a Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla (again just slather chicken with wing sauce, and add cabbage and blue cheese). These same ideas can be applied for Soft Chicken Tacos.

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches – shred the chicken and leave overnight soaking in BBQ sauce. Serve in a toasted bun with coleslaw.

Chicken Pot Pie this is already a  great use of leftover roast chicken. Add to your favourite grandma’s recipe!

Baked Chicken Wontons:  Put chicken, cream cheese, scallions, corn kernels, tarragon, and grated Parmesan (or other cheese) in a food processor and pulse a few times. Place a tbsp of mixture onto a wonton wrapper, fold up, place on a baking sheet, spray with oil and bake until crispy and golden. (You could do this with crescent rolls too) Serve with salad or veg

Add chicken to any of the following for a protein boost without the added cooking time:

Pizza, Salad, Grilled Cheese, Mac n Cheese (add a dash of wing sauce into the cheese mixture for a new twist on the classic) and in any Casserole. What are some of your favourite recipes using Rotisserie Chicken?

Easy Loaded Baked Potato Calzones

Loaded Baked Potato Calzone

The first time I heard of Loaded Baked Potato Pizza was on a Food Network Competition and I humbly admit it that I was very unimpressed! What business did potato have being on a pizza?  Little did I know that those words would haunt me and before I knew it, potato pizza started popping up everywhere. Finally, I had to know if my stubbornness was in fact standing in the way of genius so one evening at the Mellow Mushroom in Chattanooga, TN (whose creativity I implicitly trust), I went for it and ordered their Red Skin Potato Pie. When it arrived at the table, warm, bubbly, glistening with bits of bacon and  bright, white carefully placed dollops of sour cream sauce, I knew.  I had acted rashly by resisting this new pizza movement and I was instantly converted.

This week when making my menu plan and shopping list, I really fancied a calzone but also saw the upcoming days were going to be busy and decided a store-bought uncooked pizza dough was the way to go. Initially I added our classic favourite filling ingredients to my list and went on my way. I can’t say why inspiration occurs when it does, (believe me I wish it could be predicted and controlled sometimes) but there I was in the supermarket and suddenly I thought about also trying a loaded potato calzone. It was outstanding and the hubs and I found a new favourite to add to our dinner rotations.

Loaded Baked Potato Calzone! (about 4 servings)

1 can of Pillsbury Wholewheat Pizza Dough (you can really use any ready uncooked pizza dough, I just found this to be the easiest)

1 medium sized potato boiled and mashed with a tsp of butter

4 slices of bacon (any kind you like) cooked and chopped

1/2 cup of ricotta

1/2 cup of shredded cheese

1 tsp of garlic powder and onion powder (mix them together so you have 2 tsp in total)

1/2 tsp of salt

2 tbsp of grated Parmesan

1-2 tbsp of olive oil.

For dipping:

1/2 cup of sour cream

1 tbsp of milk or cream

Loaded Baked Potato CalzonePreheat oven to 400 F. Roll out dough onto a large chopping board. Mix mashed potato with ricotta, butter, salt, 1/2 tsp of onion and garlic powder and a dash of pepper and nutmeg. Spread the potato mix onto one half of the dough , allowing about 1/2 inch space around the edges. Sprinkle on the bacon, shredded cheese and grated Parmesan. Brush some olive oil onto the remaining area of the dough and sprinkle some of the onion and garlic powder over top. Fold the dough in half to cover the filling. Pinch the edges of the dough tightly together to seal. Place on pizza stone or greased baking sheet. Brush more olive oil on the surface of the calzone and then sprinkle remaining garlic and onion powder over top. Place in oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes until brown and crispy. Mix sour cream with milk. Allow the calzone to cool for about 5 minutes once out of the oven and then cut and serve with the sour cream dip. (Filling will be hot so be careful) Alternatives: you can add some chopped chives to the sour cream, or add caramelized onions and garlic to the filling, or even mix the sour cream with some marinara for a different dipping sauce.

Pepperoni and Olive Calzone Filling:

Follow above instructions for preparing dough:

Pepperoni and Olive Calzone

3/4 cup of ricotta

3/4 cup chopped pepperoni

6 slices of mozarrela

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan

1 tbsp of chopped fresh basil

1/2 tsp of dried oregano

1/4 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 tsp of onion powder

1/4 -1/2 cup of chopped Kalamata olives ( for the hubs!!)

Mix Ricotta with herbs and spices then spoon onto one half of dough with a 1 inch gap around the edges. Layer on the rest of the ingredients and follow above directions for seasoning, sealing and baking the calzone. Serve with your favourite marinara.

The reason we all love pizza is because you can top it with pretty much any of your favourite ingredients and the same goes for calzones. The ready made dough means that it’s such an easy option for a busy week night and is a fun alternative to just simple pizza. Also, if you can’t decide on one particular flavour, you can make two great calzone options just by slicing the dough in half which is what we did! 

Calzones