Super Simple Chicken Enchilada Casserole

May 5, 2012

Super Simple Chicken Enchilada Casserole

If you still haven’t decided what you’ll be making for your Cinco de Mayo dinner tonight, here’s a super simple Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe that I make quite often for my hungry guys. And, if you happen to be hosting a party, I promise you that this one is always a crowd-pleaser.

Super Simple Chicken Enchilada Casserole

4 chicken breasts (boiled and shredded)
1 lb. grated cheese (I use a 3 cheese blend)
8 oz. sour cream
1 bottle enchilada sauce
1 pkg. corn tortillas, cut in half

Put a few spoonfuls of the sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan. Line the pan with tortillas. Mix together the sour cream, chicken, and almost all of the sauce. (Save a little sauce for later.)

Layer half of the chicken sauce mixture, then cheese, then tortillas. Finish with the last half of chicken sauce mixture, cheese, and tortillas. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce on the tortillas and top with more cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.

This is one of those recipes that you can very easily adapt to your liking. I’ve added green chilies to the chicken mixture a few times and I usually put sliced black olives on the top with the cheese. You could also add chopped bell pepper, onion, or any favorite veggie to this casserole.

I got the original recipe for this casserole from Trader Joe’s years ago and it called for their canned chunk white chicken instead of the boiled chicken. So, if you don’t have the time to boil the chicken, you can use a good quality canned white chicken and it still turns out very good. I made it that way originally but my guys wanted more chicken so if I have the time, I prefer to boil and shred chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins.

Even if you don’t make it for Cinco de Mayo, this is a great everyday “go-to” chicken casserole that you can put together and have on the table in no time at all!  Serve with some chips and salsa or guacamole and a salad and you’ve got dinner!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! 


Mexican Wedding Cookies: Chocolate and Vegan!

May 4, 2012

Mexican Wedding Cookie Close

Do you remember Mexican Wedding Cookies? When we were kids we also used to call them Snowballs or Almond Crescents. They were essentially the same recipe: flour, butter, powdered sugar and chopped pecans. We rolled them into small balls or crescent shapes, baked them, and then rolled them around in more powdered sugar.

Mexican Wedding Cookie 3

I’ve always loved these cookies. They’re tender, crumbly, gently nutty, and powdery sugary, but just barely sweet and perfectly bite-size!

When I was thinking about baking something sweet for Cinco de Mayo, I thought of Mexican Wedding Cookies. With a twist. How about a touch of chocolate? And cinnamon. And almonds. And vegan, of course. Done.

Mexican Wedding Cookie Rack

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies (Vegan)

adapted from Williams-Sonoma

2 sticks Earth Balance, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (divided usage)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups less 1 tblsp all-purpose flour
2 tblsp cocoa (divided usage)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup ground blanched almonds

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the Earth Balance sticks until fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, add the vanilla and salt, and beat until blended.

Sift together the flour, 1 tablespoon of the cocoa and the cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the Earth Balance and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Stir in the almonds. Cover and refrigerate until the dough is chilled but not hard and is no longer sticky to the touch, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift the remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon cocoa into a bowl. Add a dash of cinnamon if you wish.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies are just golden on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies one at a time and roll them in the confectioners’ sugar/cocoa mixture. Let the cookies cool completely on wire racks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Mexican Wedding Cookie Half

I loved the delicate texture the ground almonds added…

Mexican Wedding Cookie Closer

 and the slight touch of cinnamony chocolate flavor…

Mexican Wedding Cookies Rack2

I just love these cookies!

Happy Cinco de Mayo and happy baking!


Red Chile Posole: Quick and Vegan

May 2, 2012

Red Chile Posole

We talk all the time about our love of Mexican food, and we don’t need ANY excuse to indulge. This weekend is Cinco de Mayo though, and I’m inspired to get in the cocina and rattle some pots and pans instead of just heading to the nearest tacqueria and trying to find something without meat, lard or cheese.

One of my favorite everyday go-to quick meals is Super Speedy Mexican Stew. It’s essentially just canned tomatoes, corn, kidney beans and green beans with any spices that strike me. It’s not fancy and I can’t really even call it cooking; it’s just decent food on the table and in my tummy in literally 15 minutes on a weeknight.

My new go-to Mexican veggie stew when I have a touch more time is Terry Hope Romero’s Quick Red Chile Posole from Viva Vegan!: 200 Authentic and Fabulous Recipes for Latin Food Lovers.  This is the first recipe I’ve tried from Terry’s book, but it won’t be the last.

It takes my simple little dish and turbo-charges it with flavor. It has a tomato base and includes a can of pinto beans and a can of white hominy. I just learned that the hominy is what makes it “posole”.

There’s magic though in the combination of onion, garlic, poblano pepper, chile powder, mexican oregano, cumin and lime. I followed the recipe precisely, and was really amazed at how tasty this little stew was after just 25 minutes of simmering.  It’s warm, spicy, creamy, chunky and bright…all at the same time.

Red Chile Posole Close

Traditionally, you would top the posole with a variety of garnishes: onion, cabbage, tomato, radishes, cilantro, or tortilla chips. I initially thought I would add a pinch of Daiya pepperjack shreds, a dollop of vegan sour cream and some avocado.

After just one bite of the posole I decided that it needed nothing…except to be devoured. Quickly. So I could refill my bowl, and repeat.

I’ll definitely add this dish to my rotation and hope you’ll give it a try for Cinco de Mayo or any old time!


Favorite Cinco de Mayo Recipes

April 30, 2012

I cannot believe that tomorrow is already May 1st. I knew this year would fly by since it’s our baby’s Senior year but the past four months are almost a blur. Before we know it Summer will be here, which happens to be my favorite season; but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let’s talk about Mexican food.

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times, we sisters LOVE our Mexican food! Whether I’m visiting in Dallas or BigSis is here in San Diego, we always treat ourselves to Mexican food at least once every day! (It’s impossible for us to ever get enough chips, salsa, guacamole and nachos.)

As most of us know, this Saturday is Cinco de Mayo, the official Mexican food eating holiday.  We thought this would be a great time to share with you some of our favorite recipes that are perfect for a Cinco de Mayo party or if you’re just cooking for family or friends.

Cinco de Mayo Shrimp with Garlic and Chili Pepper

Shrimp with Garlic and Chili Pepper

Cinco de Mayo Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chili

Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chili

Cinco de Mayo Ceviche Salad

Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro, and Green Chili

Cinco de Mayo Hatch Green Chile and Garlic Goat Cheese

Hatch Green Chili and Garlic Goat Cheese

Cinco de Mayo Classic Tortilla Soup

Classic Tortilla Soup

Cinco de Mayo Mexican Vegetable Stew

Super Speedy Mexican Vegetable Stew

Cinco de Mayo Spinach Mushroom Enchlada

Spinach Mushroom Enchilada

And we can’t forget about a little something for dessert!

Cinco de Mayo Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispies

Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

We’re both busy in our cocinas trying to whip up a couple of new dishes; so if all goes according to plan, we’ll be back in a day or two with a few more ideas for your Cinco de Mayo menu. :-)


What to Eat for Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2011

Classic Tortilla Soup

Classic Tortilla Soup

Like most of our Texas sisters from other misters and brothers from other mothers, we sisters love our Mexican food!  Give us a reason to eat it.  Please!

Or don’t give us a reason.  We’ll still eat it.

Morning, noon and night.  We’ll eat it 3 times a day.  Or more.  Girls need snacks sometimes, you know.

Cinco de Mayo is the official Mexican food eating holiday though, so bring it on!  Check out the recap we put together last year with some of our favorite Cinco de Mayo dishes.

My new favorite Mexican food snack is veganized Bob Armstrong Dip, so that’s what I’ll be making.

Vegan Bob Armstrong Queso Dip

Vegan Bob Armstrong Queso Dip

Whatever you feast on, enjoy your Cinco de Mayo!


Cinco de Mayo Recipe Roundup

May 3, 2010

Is it really May already? I must say this every month, but it does seem like time is flying by faster than ever before.  I know we had an early Easter this year but where did the rest of April go? We’ve got Mother’s Day already right around the corner and before you know it we’ll be celebrating Memorial Day and the Fourth of July!

But before we get ahead of ourselves, we’ve got Cinco de Mayo sneaking up on us in just two days. So, whether you’re looking for an easy appetizer to take to a party or you’re cooking for a large group of friends and family, here are some of our all time favorite recipes that are perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Hatch Green Chile and Garlic Goat Cheese

Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro and Green Chile

Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro and Green Chile

Super Simple Guacomole

Super Simple Guacamole

Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chilli

Homemade Pita Chips

Homemade Pita Chips

(This is a terrible photo, but this soup is perfect topped with grated cheese, sour cream and toasted tortilla strips)

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Classic Tortilla Soup

Classic Tortilla Soup

Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas

Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas

Shrimp with Garlic and Chile Pepper

Shrimp with Garlic and Chile Pepper

This next recipe is one of Bry’s favorite appetizers but every time he makes them they’re gobbled up so quickly we never have time to take a photo! Yes, they’re that yummy!

Bry’s Stuffed Peppers

15 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 pound Italian sausage
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
1/2 pound bacon

Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Clean out seeds with spoon. Set aside on foiled lined cookie sheet. Saute sausage and drain. Add the cream cheese to the sausage and mix well.  Spoon into peppers and wrap 1/3 slice of bacon around each pepper. Bake at 350 for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Put under the broiler for a few minutes to further brown the bacon, if desired. Drain on a paper towel, then serve warm.

And, lastly, we can’t forget about something sweet.

Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispies

Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Hopefully, we’ve given you a couple of ideas to help you with your celebration, but whatever you decide to do on Wednesday, have a safe Cinco de Mayo! :-)


Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chili

April 27, 2010

Frontera Grill Roasted Garlic Dressing with Chile

When we were on our tour of downtown Chicago last week, we happened to pass Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill on North Clark Street. We all wished that we could stop and eat lunch there but we knew that we didn’t have time so we’ll have to plan that for another visit. Passing Frontera Grill reminded me that I bought Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday cookbook sometime last year and have yet to cook a recipe from it.

I decided to browse through his cookbook yesterday to find something to make as a side to go along with the Chicken Enchilada Casserole that I had planned for dinner. And since Cinco de Mayo is only a week away, I thought this would be a great time to try one of his recipes.

I ended up making the Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chili. Rick Bayless says that this is one of the most versatile dressings that he makes and that grilled onions and radishes have gone into the roasted garlic-dressed romaine salad at Frontera Grill since the day they opened. He also suggests that it’s great on top of a salad of sliced tomatoes and cilantro, which is what I decided to do. This recipe makes about one cup.

This recipe was quick and easy yet had a terrific flavor because of the roasted garlic and chiles. Salad dressing is not the best recipe for photographing, but this dressing was perfect drizzled on top of this tomato and cilantro salad.

Frontera Grill Roasted Garlic Dressing with Chile

Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chile
(from Mexican Everyday)

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (I only used 1 serrano)
3/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

Set a small dry skillet over medium heat. Lay in the unpeeled garlic cloves and the chiles. Roast, turning frequently, until soft and blotchy brown in spots, about 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool until able to handle, then slip the skins off the garlic and roughly chop the chiles (no need to remove the seeds).

Combine the garlic, chiles, oil, vinegar and a scant teaspoon of salt into a blender jar or food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and season highly with additional salt if necessary. Pour into a jar and secure the lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. Shake well immediately before pouring out.


Cinco de Mayo Meal: Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

May 5, 2009

With all of this eating, we don’t really need a dessert but we wanted one to finish out the meal, so it needed to be light and easy.  How about Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats!  To call these Mexican Chocolate is a BIT of a stretch, but it comes from the addition of cinnamon to the chocolate treats.  Whatever you call them, they’re muy bueno!  I’m not usually a huge fan of Rice Krispie Treats, but I have to say the chocolate/cinnamon/vanilla aroma from these enticed me and I tried one.  They were so darn good!  Make these!

This is all you need!

This is all you need! Oops, I forgot to show the chocolate chips!

Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats
(adapted from

1/4 cup butter
Dash of salt
1 10-oz pkg regular marshmallows
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Mexican vanilla
5 1/2 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Butter a 9 x 13 pan, or line with non-stick foil.

Melt butter in a large pan over low heat.  Add marshmallows, and stir until melted.  Remove from heat and stir in a dash of salt, the cinnamon and vanilla.  Add cereal and pecans.  Stir well and quickly.

Firmly press mixture into prepared pan.  Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the surface.  Cool and cut into squares.




Cinco de Mayo Meal: Classic Tortilla Soup

May 5, 2009

My Classic Tortilla Soup

My Classic Tortilla Soup

I’m calling this recipe Classic Tortilla Soup, but I probably should have come up with something more original.  I’ve been testing, tweaking, tasting, changing, experimenting, adapting this recipe for many years. I was originally trying to duplicate the awesome Tortilla Soup from Mi Cocina in Dallas.

When I go back home to Texas for a visit, one of my very favorite places to stop in and have Mexican food is Anamia’s in Southlake. They have an excellent Taco Salad and a perfect Tortilla Soup.  I love their soup and haven’t yet been able to duplicate it exactly,  but I’m happy with my version of Classic Tortilla Soup.

Tortilla Soup is a little like pizza, spaghetti sauce, or chili because you know exactly how you like it. If you’re from Chicago, like SirHoney, you’re very particular about your pizza and spaghetti, and, of course the Italian sausage. For cryin’ out loud, there is no Italian Sausage that they think comes close to what they get in Chicago.  And, if you’re from Texas, like we are, you’re probably pretty picky about your chili. I’ve shared my prize winning recipe for chili here.

So, I make my Tortilla Soup the same way that I make my Chili. I make it EXACTLY the way I like it. Before I get to the recipe, here are a few things that I LOVE about Tortilla Soup and a few things that I DO NOT like in Tortilla Soup.

  • I LOVE a clear broth where the big chunks of tomato and other veggies aren’t pureed into the broth.
  • I LOVE adding corn to Tortilla Soup, the same way I add it to my Chicken Enchilada Soup and my Chili Con Carne.
  • I LOVE using Emeril’s Seasoning in my soup, instead of just cumin and oregano.
  • I LOVE huge chunks of avocado in my soup.
  • I LOVE adding onions for flavor, but  instead of dicing, I cut them into large slices so I can pick them out. (I know I’m weird.)
  • I DO NOT like a dark, thick base for a Tortilla Soup.
  • I DO NOT like celery, so it’s not in my soup.
  • I DO NOT like zucchini, so none in my soup.
  • I DO NOT like bell pepper, but this is my only compromise. My guys like it, so for milder flavor, I use a red, orange, or yellow bell pepper and also cut it in large chunks so I can pick it out.
Now that is a perfect bite!

Now that is a perfect bite!

Classic Tortilla Soup

1 1/2 T. Olive Oil
1 large sweet onion, cut into large slices
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 c. carrots, cut into medium size pieces
8 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 large orange bell pepper, cut into large slices
1 c. frozen corn kernels
28 oz. can stewed tomatoes
6 chicken breasts, cooked, and shredded or diced (I like shredded)
2 or 3 T. Emeril’s Seasoning (see recipe below)
10 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 tsp. chili powder


grated co-jack cheese
chopped avocado

Saute onion, garlic, and carrots in olive oil until onion and carrots soften a little. Pour broth into pot, bring to simmer over medium heat. Add corn, stewed tomatoes and bell pepper. Simmer until pepper starts to soften. Add chicken and Emeril’s Seasoning. Keep soup on low simmer until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread just a little olive oil on a baking sheet. Arrange tortilla strips on baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little chili powder and salt. Bake until crisp and golden (15 -20 minutes).  Toss halfway through baking.

Ladle soup into a nice large bowl, top with cheese, avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips. Perfecto!

Emeril’s Seasoning

2 1/2 T. Paprika
2 T. Salt
2 T. Garlic Powder
1 T. Black Pepper
1 T. Onion Powder
1 T. Cayenne Pepper
1 T. dried Oregano
1 T. dried Thyme

Mix all ingredients together in a small container and you’ve got BAM!

And not to worry! We didn’t forget about the dessert. To finish off our Cinco de Mayo Menu, BigSis has a festive Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispie Treat recipe. So, be sure to check back here later today!

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!


Cinco de Mayo Meal: Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas

May 4, 2009

Bobby Flay’s Goat Cheese Enchiladas are on my Cooking Bucket List, and I thought about making them for Cinco de Mayo but didn’t really want to go the high-fat route right now, since I ate more than usual on vacation and I’m trying to get back to my more disciplined way of eating.  So I compromised.  I made my version of Bobby’s enchilada sauce, but instead of cheese enchiladas, I made spinach mushroom enchiladas with whole grain tortillas.  They aren’t totally guilt-free since I’m still using a moderate amount of cheese (what would enchiladas BE without cheese?), but it’s all about balance, right? If you want to go totally vegan and healthy, use agave nectar instead of the honey and eliminate the cheese altogether or use a non-dairy cheese.  If you have a non-dairy cheese that you love, please let me know about it!

I made the sauce a day in advance, and would recommend that since it takes a little while.  Plus, the flavor has a chance to develop overnight, and just makes it even better.  This sauce takes some doing, but I think it’s worth it.  It’s really delicious and has great depth to it.  Make sure that you use the Mexican oregano, not the usual Turkish oregano that you might have for Italian cooking.  The Mexican variety is not as sweet, and works great with the smoky cumin.  You can get a small jar of it at Penzeys for $1.49, so try to find it if you can.  You might be able to get it at the Latin foods market, which is where I found my dried ancho chiles.

Ingredients for the sauce

Ingredients for the sauce

Enchilada Sauce
(adapted from Bobby Flay’s Red Chile-Tomato Sauce)

3 ancho chiles
3 Tblsp vegetable oil
1/2 large red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tblsp ground cumin
1 Tblsp Mexican oregano
1 28-oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 to 2 Tblsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Microwave 2 cups of water to boiling point, and carefully pour over ancho chiles in small bowl. Let soften for 30 minutes. Remove stems and seeds from chiles and puree in food processor or blender.

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, saute the onion in vegetable oil over medium heat until soft. Add crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cumin and oregano and cook for 1 minute. Add ancho puree and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and honey to taste. Leave chunky or use an immersion blender for a smoother consistency. This recipe makes a large quantity, so you may want to freeze what you don’t use in this batch of enchiladas. Just don’t let it go to waste!

The whole steaming pan

The whole steaming pan

Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas

1 Tblsp butter
1/2 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1-1/2 lb mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
8 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
Salt, pepper and Frank’s Red Hot sauce to taste
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese of your choice (I used a mixture of monterrey jack and mexican blend cheeses)
8 multi-grain tortillas
2 cups Enchilada Sauce
Cotija cheese for garnish, optional

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook until they are soft and liquid has evaporated.  Add the spinach and cook until spinach is wilted and liquid has evaporated again.  Add salt, pepper and Frank’s Red Hot to taste.  Mix in one cup of the shredded cheese.

Place 1/2 cup enchilada sauce in bottom of 9 x 13 pan.  Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for a few seconds until softened enough to roll.  Place a generous 1/4 cup of the spinach mushroom filling into the center of a tortilla and roll up.  Place in the pan, and repeat until all tortillas are filled, snuggling them in tightly.  Cover with remaining 1-1/2 cups of enchilada sauce, and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly throughout and cheese is melted, about 30-35 minutes.  Serve with a sprinkle of cotija cheese if desired.

One tasty serving

One tasty serving