chicken enchilada casserole

I have an unabashed love for Mexican food. But who doesn’t?

For the hubs and I, we get our Mexican fix from several different local joints around town – we have a place for excellent margaritas and good food, a place for good margaritas and amazing food, and a place for amazing margaritas and amazing fish tacos. Depending on our hunger {or thirst} cues, one of said places often makes the cut.

But what does one do when you’re craving enchilada casserole?

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I can’t remember what struck that particular chord in me not long ago, but I had such an intense craving for an enchilada-style casserole that I just could not shake it. So imagine my surprise when this recipe found its way, seemingly right into my hands, not long ago! I immediately bookmarked it and knew that it would make a dinner appearance as soon as I could make it happen.

Luckily, a week-long deluge of rain {followed by an equally rainy weekend} presented the perfect opportunity. A wet Sunday afternoon set the tone for dinner, and yes…it was time for me to make this. I rolled up my sleeves and set to work, happily bumping around my tiny kitchen, working away and rolling tortillas up with delicious filling.

The beauty of this dish is multifold…it requires few pieces of equipment, utilizes ingredients most of us have on hand, comes together in no time, and can be made to fit anyone’s taste buds. I stuck pretty closely to the original recipe, but as I sit here typing, my mind wanders to the idea of using shredded pork instead of chicken, crumbled queso fresco instead of shredded Mexican blend cheese, mixing pico de gallo in with the enchilada sauce, incorporating other vegetables into the topping…you see where I’m going with this.

It’s dishes like this that keep me coming back for more, both seconds at dinnertime and into my repertoire of favorite recipes. Enjoy! And do share any variations you might come up with when you prepare it – I’d love to hear from you!

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Chicken Enchilada Casserole {recipe adapted from The Kitchn}

Easy enough to throw together even on the busiest of nights, this chicken enchilada casserole will leave you feeling satisfied and happy! Can be customized to fit any taste buds, or particular diet {sugar-, dairy-, gluten-free, etc.}. Leftovers freeze beautifully, or can be prepared and frozen in advance.

Ingredients:

1 {15-ounce can} red enchilada sauce *whatever brand you prefer is fine!

10-15 corn tortillas, set out to room temperature

1 lb. cooked shredded chicken* {can be from a rotisserie chicken; 2-3 cooked chicken breasts; or pressure-cooker chicken}

1 {4-ounce can} diced green chiles

1 to 1-1/2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese

1 medium red pepper, sliced into strips

1 onion, sliced into strips

optional toppings: sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, pico de gallo, salsa, sliced avocado, guacamole, shredded lettuce, etc.

*I prefer to toss the chicken with a bit of seasonings, done to taste – here, I used: salt and pepper, chili powder, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder, and cumin. Feel free to do so according to your preference! 

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Ladle enough of the enchilada sauce into the dish to barely cover the bottom in a thin layer of sauce – about 1/4 cup or so. Set dish aside, but within reaching distance.

On a covered work surface, begin assembling the enchiladas. Lay one tortilla out, and spread down the center {no more than 2-3 Tbsp.} the shredded chicken. Top with a small scoop of the diced green chili. Gently roll the enchilada up and place it seam side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling mixtures, until you cannot fit any more into the dish.

One the casserole dish is full, sprinkle on the sliced onion and red pepper. Cover completely with remaining enchilada sauce, ensuring that all the surface area is covered. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Portion out and assemble with desired toppings. Enjoy!

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spinach & squash galette

This dish is almost, almost too pretty to eat.

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I often find that some of my most favorite recipes happen to be the ones that I throw together during the week, with whatever ingredients I happen to have kicking around in the refrigerator and/or freezer. Because sometimes I simply lack the energy to run to the grocery store after work and want to get dinner prepped and in the oven as soon as I can. This dinner was the result of said night.

And let me just say that I could not be more thrilled with how fantastic this dish turned out. Leftover roasted butternut squash fanned out atop flaky pie crust, a creamy spinach center, and finished off with tangy blue cheese made for the most comforting dinner we’ve had in awhile.

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It’s hard to keep your “groove” in the kitchen during the week, especially after a long day of work. The hubs and I enjoyed every last crumb of this meal, feeling so satisfied and warm, it was as if this galette had given us both a comforting hug. Almost.

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Spinach & Butternut Squash Galette {original recipe}

Easy to prepare with pre-roasted squash, frozen spinach and a handful of herbs and cheese, you’ll have dinner on the table in no time flat! Both you and your taste buds will be 0h-so-happy to dig in. 

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust disc {about 9″ in diameter}, room temperature

cornmeal {for dusting the baking sheet}

1 bag of frozen spinach, thawed and drained of any excess water

1 medium butternut squash, roasted/cooled and cut into medallions

1 cup of Greek yogurt {I used 0% fat because it’s what I had on hand, but you can use whatever your preference is}

8 ounces of crumbled blue cheese

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

salt & pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, sprinkle with cornmeal.

Unroll the thawed pie crust into the center of the baking sheet, making sure that the entire surface is smooth. Starting about 1″ in from the edge, fan out the roasted butternut squash so that the half-moon pieces overlap slightly; essentially creating a spiral shape. It should make about 2 full spirals. Continue to fan out until you have a well in the center about 4″wide {this can vary slightly, depending on the size of the squash}. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the spinach, Greek yogurt, spices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place this mixture into the center well of the galette and, if you find yourself having a bit extra, around the outermost edges of the squash {make sure to do this in a very thin line!}.

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Fold the edges of the pie crust over top of the squash, being careful to not stretch too thin! Overlap each fold slightly, so that it folds on top of itself. Brush with a bit of water to ensure the edges get crisp. Sprinkle the exposed vegetables and spinach mixture with the crumbled blue cheese.

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Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden. Increase the heat to 425 degrees and bake for 5-10 minutes more; this will result in a browned center with crispy edges. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

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Enjoy!

harvest pumpkin muffins

I’m sure y’all have noticed from this earlier recipe, but I am a total sucker for all things pumpkin.

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But we’re not talking sugary-sweet, over-the-top pumpkin creations here today. We’re keeping it short, simple and to the point. Because for me, it’s not about tasting pumpkin PIE. I just want to taste PUMPKIN.

And that is why I love this recipe. It is absolutely loaded with pumpkin. Minimal sugar does nothing to overwhelm its delicate flavor; rather, it helps to enhance it. A dash of cinnamon and nutmeg warms you up with each bite. The Greek yogurt provides the perfect body and balance, creating a moist and fluffy muffin.  Brimming with cranberries, these not only taste delicious, but look beautiful while doing so.

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These are easy enough to whip up at a moment’s notice,  and freeze beautifully if you’re feeling inclined as to prepare a double batch. Simply cool completely, wrap individually and store in plastic bags. You’ll be the perfect hostess when company drops by for coffee on a chilly morning!

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Harvest Pumpkin Muffins {recipe adapted from Spontaneous Tomato}

Perfect to whip up at a moment’s notice, and easily adaptable to whatever add-ins you have in your pantry, these muffins are a crowd pleaser! We’re keeping them healthy by using white-whole-wheat flour and minimal sugar, so they’ll be sure to fill you up and keep you powering on all morning long. 

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups white-whole-wheat flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon

dash nutmeg

2 eggs

2 cups pumpkin puree

6 ounces plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

3/4 cup dried cranberries

optional: cinnamon-sugar mixture, to sprinkle on top 

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease and line a muffin tin {I used a 12-spot tin, but feel free to adjust according to your culinary tools!}.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the eggs, pumpkin puree, and Greek yogurt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until the  dry ingredients have just been incorporated, sprinkling in the dried cranberries and you stir. Be careful not to overmix!

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Evenly distribute the batter between your muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops of each with a bit of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

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Bake muffins for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from tins, and allow to cool completely before serving. Muffins will keep, tightly covered, on the counter top for up to 3 days.

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butternut squash enchilada casserole

This is a rainbow of colors, flavors, and deliciousness…all layered up into one glorious casserole.

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For me, it’s simply impossible to not get excited about a dish when it has so many colors, flavors and textures. I happened upon a large stash of butternut squash not too long ago, and rather than going my usual course of roasting {for a side dish} or pureeing {soup style}, I knew I had to try something different. In the past, I’ve had great success incorporating it into mac-&-cheese recipes, but it just didn’t feel right. With unseasonably warm weather, I was craving something hearty but not heavy, light but full of flavor.

I set about searching for the perfect casserole, and when I stumbled upon the recipe for what I’m sharing today, I knew I had found a winner. This casserole is the perfect one to start for your season of autumnal flavors – you’re still using fresh produce {corn, tomatoes, peppers, and onions} but starting to introduce the flavors of fall; creamy beans, luscious squash and bolder spices.

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This dish is more or less a one-pot wonder; very little preparation is required, too! I like to roast the squash ahead of time {say, the night before I plan on making it} so that it is ready and waiting for me and not the other way around. Simply prep, assemble, bake and voila! – dinner is served.

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Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole {recipe adapted from Making Thyme for Health}

An unusual but delicious option to use up an overabundance of butternut squash, this casserole is a dream for any lover of Mexican-style cuisine! Not to mention, it’s a great way to pack in a vegetable punch.

Ingredients:

1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 onion, sliced

1/2 a large red pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small can of diced green chilis

1 {15-ounce} can of black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups of corn

2 cups salsa

6 large tortillas, quartered

1-1/2 cups shredded cheese {optional}

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. dried oregano

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the diced butternut squash on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin until evenly distributed. Roast for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until squash is tender. Remove from oven and lower temperature to 350 degrees.

In a large non-stick skillet, drizzle in olive oil. Add in onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add in the corn and red pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, or until slightly tender. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder and oregano. Transfer to bowl and set aside, allowing to cool slightly.

Into the same bowl as your sauteed vegetables, add in the diced green chilis, drained black beans, and one cup of the salsa. Toss gently to combine.

Spray a glass baking dish, and begin to assemble the casserole. Spread 1/3 cup of the remaining salsa along the bottom, then cover with a layer of tortillas. Tops with 1/3 of the roasted vegetables and then 1/2 cup of cheese.

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Layer two more tortillas on top of the vegetables, then top with 1/3 cup of salsa, then another 1/3 of the roasted vegetables, then 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese.

Lastly, layer two more tortillas, the last 1/3 cup of salsa and the last 1/3 of the vegetables on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut into squares and serve. Top with sliced avocado, plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream. Enjoy!

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**don’t feel limited to the ingredients listed out here – use what you have on hand! It doesn’t get much easier than that. I also think that, should it fancy you, a bit of seasoned taco meat {be it chicken, beef, bison, etc.} would make a wonderful addition**

ramen bowls with chicken & vegetables

Broth-based soups are the perfect canvas for taking on any flavor you want to impart.

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Whether we’re talking a seafood or meat based, a vegetable base, or a combination of sorts, there is really no limit to the imagination what you can do with a good box of stock {or homemade, if you have that!}. It makes for an easy dish, and warms you to the core.

But sometimes, you want a soup that comes together quickly, no? Sure, using the crockpot is great, or letting it slowly simmer on the stovetop for an hour or so, but sometimes that just won’t do. Tempting as it is, you might want to call in take-out…I won’t judge! But next time you’re thinking of doing so, consider making this soup! It’s bursting with flavor, texture, and color. It comes together in just a quick bit, and most of the ingredients you probably have on hand. If not, go crazy and throw in a few substitutions! – short on arugula?…throw in some kale or spinach. – don’t have any chicken?…frozen shrimp would be great!

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This soup is adaptable to any palette, and soooooo.much.better than any take-out can deliver. It can be easily doubled or tripled for leftovers the next day, too!

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Ramen Bowls with Chicken &Vegetables {recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats, original recipe from Easy Gourmet}

Quick to put together and full of flavor, this ramen bowl will warm you through and through. I especially like it drizzled with some sriracha sauce for a bit of extra flavor – and even more drizzled if I’m feeling a bit under the weather. 

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup sweet corn

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

8 ounces arugula

1 quart low-sodium chicken stock

6 ounces ramen noodes {I get them at a local Asian market; if that’s not available, a pack from the grocery store will work just fine!}

6 ounces cooked chicken

4 green onions, thinly sliced

optional: toasted sesame oil for drizzling, nori/seaweed pieces from serving

To Prepare:

Begin by soft boiling the eggs so that they can cool. Heat about three inches of water in a small saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Once boiling, reduce the heat until it’s barely a simmer, add the eggs gently and cook for 6 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath. Let cool completely before peeling.

Prepare the ramen noodles by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Once there, drop in the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter and add the corn, stirring to coat. Add in the onion. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Once warmed through and the onions are slightly translucent, transfer to a bowl.

Heat the chicken stock just until it’s boiling, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Begin preparing the ramen bowls. In separate sections {it makes for a pretty presentation!} add in the noodles, corn, arugula and chicken.

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Ladle broth over the top, and finish with sliced green onions. The eggs can be halved and served right in the soup, or on the side. Enjoy!

smokey sweet potato & chicken soup

Soup season is fiiiiiiiiiinally here! I couldn’t be more thrilled, although I’m sure y’all caught on to that already.

So, let’s talk. I’m the first to admit that even in the hottest, most humid parts of summer, I will crave soup. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. There’s just something that speaks to my soul about a bowl brimming with seasoned broth, emanating the most wonderful aromas. It’s divine.

So now that autumn has hit our quiet little town with full force {the leaves on the tree in our front yard have all fallen down, completely!} it’s time to embrace the heartier, more substantial side of the soup spectrum. Root vegetables, beans and squash find their way into my concoctions way more frequently than they do in the summer months – but that’s what this season is all about, no?

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This soup should be the way everyone welcomes autumn. Pulling out your largest stock pots and preparing to simmer a hearty mixture of vibrant sweet potatoes and a mixture of beans, this will stick to your ribs and leave you feeling full and satisfied, but not weighed down. You’re going to get a great mix of vitamins and nutrients from the vegetables we’re using here, plus a protein boost from the shredded chicken. It comes together quickly, and in just one pot {!}, making it a perfect weeknight meal.

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Smokey Sweet Potato & Chicken Soup {recipe adapted from The Gouda Life}

Easily adaptable to whatever root vegetables and beans you have on hand, this soup makes the perfect weeknight dinner. It’s filling but won’t leave you feeling stuffed. Made even more wonderful when topped with some roasted seeds {pumpkin or sunflower would be great here} and drizzled with a bit of creme fraiche, this is truly a one-pot wonder. I’d recommend making a double batch, if you’re feeling up to it – this freezes beautifully and defrosts easily. 

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large sweet potato, diced small {skins on or off}

3-4 cups cooked chicken, pulled or cut into slices

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. paprika {sweet or smoked}

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. oregano

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

salt and pepper, to taste

optional: 1 cup of your favorite greens {arugula, spinach, kale, or mustard greens would be ideal in here}

To Prepare:

Drizzle a large pot with a few glugs of olive oil, and turn the heat on to medium.

Add in the diced onion and sweat for 5 minutes, making sure to season with salt and pepper.

Add in the garlic, sweet potato, chicken, beans, and spices and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer {I covered the pot to trap in all the delicious steam, preventing evaporation of liquid. It may reach a boil if you do this, so don’t stray too far from the pot!}.

Let cook for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potato has softened. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. If opting to stir in the greens, do it now and let them merry with the soup for about 1 minute.

Ladle the soup into bowls, and be sure to serve with toasted bread!

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Let’s Discuss: what are some of your favorite seasonal soups to make? Do you reserve soup for the cooler months only, or enjoy it year round?