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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Paesanos

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Pretty Good

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Every now and then it is nice to dress a little nicer and go out for a nice meal in a more upscale restaurant than your everyday type of place. So I traded in my standard cargo shorts and T shirt for long pants and Polo shirt, jumped in my truck and headed out 1604 toward I-10 on the North West side of San Antonio to Paesanos Italian restaurant.  Paesanos has several locations around town but this one just happens to be the closest to me. When you walk in to Paesanos the staff makes you feel at home and like you are welcomed guests. Everyone is friendly, professional and eager to serve you.  The main dining room is large with a high ceiling and the tables are a nice distance from each other and not crowded together which is a big plus for me. I hate going to a nice restaurant and feel like I am sharing a table with other guests because the tables are so close together.

Before ordering you are brought bread and spiced oil like a lot of nicer Italian restaurants do but they also go a little farther and bring you a very delicious hummus.  I am usually not a big fan of hummus but this one is a little different than most. It has a nice garlicky flavor with a very smooth texture that is a great compliment to the Italian bread.

I started out with the house salad which is different than my usual pick. I almost always start with a Caesar salad whenever I am out but the house salad came highly recommended and was a nice start to the meal, although I was a little surprised when they brought it out because it is much larger than most salads that you get at other restaurants. I would have to say that it is probably twice the size of most salads that you would get elsewhere.  The salad has fresh Romaine lettuce and is dressed with a very tasty house dressing.  It is very creamy with a hint of Italian dressing but is thicker with a slight spice to it. It is not quite Caesar and not quite Italian but lies somewhere in between with a unique flavor that I highly recommend trying.

For my main course I chose the daily special that they were running at the time which was a Southern style Red Snapper Filet Sautéed with Artichokes and mushrooms in a white wine and caper sauce sitting on a bed of pasta. This is kind of an odd choice for me too because I rarely eat fish outside of my own home.  This is not because I don’t like fish; it is actually one of my favorite things to eat. This is because I am never happy with the way anyone else besides me prepares it. I usually find most fish prepared at a restaurant bland or over drenched in lemon.  Well I can say that neither of those was true with this dish. Everything was perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned. This was a nice size snapper filet that was lightly breaded and cooked to a golden brown but was still tender and flaky on the inside. While the fish, sauce and pasta were all great the biggest surprise on the plate was the artichoke. I have never tasted artichoke like this before. It had a buttery creamy taste to it that had a slight hint of a sour note at the same time and almost melted in your mouth when you bit into it.  Even though I loved the fish and pasta, I believe I could have eaten just a plate of artichoke covered in the white wine sauce.  It was that good.

Paesanos has a nice selection of desserts too but after the meal I had there was no way there would be room for dessert. I will have to remember that on my next trip because they have some very nice sounding treats such as New York Cheesecake, Tiramisu and Warm apple torte with caramel.

This was my first visit to Paesanos but I can say with all certainty that it will not be my last. The overall experience was great with exceptional service, incredible food and an overall nice feel to the restaurant itself. This would be the perfect place for a nice romantic dinner or even a family celebration. If you are looking for great Italian food then Paesanos is without a doubt the way to go.

Thanks for reading,

JMW