Creating a Healthier Casserole

Healthier Low Fat Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Hello everyone. It has been a while since I put up anything new. That crazy thing called real life does tend to get in the way. The good news is that I am back with a great tasty new recipe for you all to enjoy. When you hear the word casserole you do not immediately think of the word healthy and you usually don’t think of Mexican food either, which is why I set out to come up with a healthier alternative to a timeless classic. If you enjoy a good plate of chicken enchiladas but are looking for something healthier and a bit easier than rolling them all out yourself this will be a nice alternative for you.

What you need:

Large casserole dish

3 Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts

1 medium sweet onion (thinly sliced)

1 medium bell pepper (thinly sliced)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

1 large tomato (cut into 1/4 inch slices)

1 jalapeno (chopped)

1/4 cup of green onion (chopped)

2 cans of green chili enchilada sauce ( I used Hatch brand)

12 small corn tortillas

1 can of black beans (drained)

8 oz fat free cream cheese

2 tablespoons of olive oil

8 oz of Kraft 2% Mexican blend shredded cheese

8 oz of fat free shredded cheddar

Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Cumin, Smoked Paprika

casserole

Cooking

In a non stick pan heat the olive oil and saute the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno until the onions start to turn clear. Now place them in a bowl and stir in the fat free cream cheese until it is all mixed together. Now place the chicken in the pan and season the top side with a little of all of the spices above. You want a nice coating of the spices on the top of the chicken. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes (Medium high heat) then turn over and season the other side and cook for another 5 minutes. Set chicken to the side to rest for a few minutes. After it has rested for about 5 minutes cut all of the chicken into small chunks and set aside.

Assembling the casserole.

Line the casserole dish with aluminum foil and coat it with non stick spray or just coat it really good with non stick spray if you don’t have aluminum foil.  Now put a thin layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish (about 1/4 of the can). Just enough to cover the bottom. Now place 6 corn tortillas on the bottom covering it completely (yes they can overlap if needed). Use another 1/4 of the enchilada sauce to cover those.  Now spoon on all of the onion, bell pepper and cream cheese mixture into a nice even layer over the tortillas. Once that is done make another layer using half of the shredded cheddar and half of Mexican blend.  Add the next layer using the tomato slices. You will want to make a nice even layer across the entire dish. Now add another 1/4 of the can of enchilada sauce on top.  Make the next layer using all of the chicken in a nice even layer and then add the rest of the black beans. Cover that with the last quarter of the can of enchilada sauce. Now use the last 6 tortillas to cover the top and then pour entire second can of sauce on top of them. Now make a layer using the rest of the cheeses and add the chopped green onion to the top of it and then add a few shakes of chili powder to the top.  It is now time to bake the casserole. Put this in a preheated to 350 degrees oven for 35 to 45 minutes. When the cheese is all melted and starting to brown up it is ready. Take it out and let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

You have now just made a healthier version of enchilada casserole. All that is left to do is sit back and enjoy it.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be back soon (I promise)

Well, with a busy work and home life my summer break has extended into winter. But I have not forgotten about all of you and hope to be back with more recipes and reviews very soon. Thanks for being patient and as always,

Thanks for reading,

JMW

 

Cooking with the CIA

The Culinary Institute of America that is.

I was recently given the wonderfully great anniversary gift of classes at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio. I have been a home cook for as long as I have been able to see over the top of the stove and try to come up with new dishes that everyone will love. That being said, I have never had any type of formal or professional training when it came to cooking and kitchen techniques so going to a class at the CIA was a little intimidating to say the least.  I had no idea what to expect or how this was going to work so I I will admit to being a little nervous going in. Trying to decide which class to take was a pretty tough decision as they offer a wide range of classes ranging from basic knife skills to several different types of cuisines including Latin, Chinese, Italian and a course in Everyday Grilling. Since I love grilling and that was the next available class to take I decided to go with the Everyday Grilling class.

When I arrived at the CIA located next to the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio I was greeted by one of the assistant Chefs and given my welcome pack which included a CIA apron, a CIA cookbook filled with many Grilling recipes, a name tag, a print out of several recipes that we would be cooking that day and a bar of dark chocolate flavored with sea salt. I was then directed to a dining area off of the main kitchen where the rest of my fellow enthusiasts were waiting. This class ended up being a smaller group of ten instead of the usual 20 to 25 which ended up being a great thing but I will get into why a little bit later. The class started off with a tour of the building and grounds and some brief history of the CIA. We then did an introduction and meet and greet with our Chef instructor followed by a power point presentation about grilling essentials and techniques. Once that was over we split into three teams and headed down to the kitchen to start cooking.

My team ended up with 4 team members which were all great people to work with and just a really nice group of individuals. We assigned our menu items out to each other and got started picking our ingredients. It was pretty nice as they had everything laid out for us and we got free reign of the kitchen and all of the supplies and seasonings. At first I was a little hesitant being in a new kitchen and environment but quickly got accustomed to the work flow and even started helping some of the others identify there ingredients and find stuff.

My team was assigned Cedar plank salmon with an incredible sauce (that the name happens to escape me at this time), Grilled Fennel salad with orange slices and red onion, and grilled pineapple with a honey tequila glaze. My dish was the grilled fennel salad. One of the reasons I went with this is that I wanted a little bit of a challenge. I do not care for the taste of fennel or olives which is a big ingredient in this salad and I am also not that experienced when it comes to grilling veggies. Its just not something I do much of other than peppers. So this dish was something a little our of my comfort zone and something I wanted to do to stretch myself a little. Everyone was given a printed out version of the recipes that come straight from one of the CIA cookbooks. The recipes are laid out step by step with all you will need to know to make a great dish. While we were cooking the Chef instructor would come over and check on everyone and would also take opportunities to call everyone in for demonstrations of different techniques and tips. This part to me was invaluable. A little over half way through the class the chef called us together and said that since they already had several other ingredients prepped and did not want to waste anything he would like volunteers to take on a couple of extra items. One of my team mates took the Mahi Mahi and set out to marinade and grill it and I snapped up a nice piece of Salmon belly.  The Chef gave me the choice of coming up with my own rub or asked if I wanted suggestions. I of course went with my own as I already had something in mind. I came up with a dry rub of chipotle chili powder, black pepper, salt, coriander and a touch of cayenne pepper. After everything was done cooking we set out all of the dishes buffet style so we could try each recipe. This was quite a feast. I will try and remember everything that we had but I am sure I will leave  something off because there was just so much.

There was:

Grilled New York strip

Grilled Mahi Mahi

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon belly

Grilled Pineapple with honey tequila glaze

Ratatouie

Bell Pepper salad

Grilled Fennel Salad

Grilled radicchio salad

Grilled Lamb patties

Grilled potatoes with curry mustard sauce

Hummus and flat bread
Like I said I am sure that I forgot something but everything turned out great, even the fennel salad which I was a little hesitant to try came out great and is something I would make again. We all got to sit down together with the Chef and his Student Chefs assistants and enjoy everything we made. One of the greatest parts of the day was when the Chef asked everyone what was one of their favorite stand outs of the day and my grilled salmon belly got a mention as a favorite. That was a pretty great experience.

The day started out a little iffy with me not knowing what to expect but quickly turned into a great experience and something that I plan to do again. The staff were all very professional and friendly and everyone seemed genuinely happy to help us students out. This is definitely something I would recommend to anyone that loves cooking and would like to learn a little more and have fun doing it.  Now the hard part for me is going to be picking the subject matter for the next class. Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading

JMW