Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

Here's a great, easy recipe that can either be made in advance (even frozen ahead of time), or made and eaten all in the same day. It can be done in stages, or prepared all at once. It's very versatile like that! The recipe itself can be modified and altered to your tastes, as well. I've made this dish with various fillings, and even with different cheeses or sauces on top. There are plenty of possibilities with this.

Funny thing, but I had never eaten an enchilada until about two years ago. To this day, I've only ever eaten enchiladas that I've made myself. I'm not sure why that is, exactly. It probably has something to do with the fact that I like to have complete control over what goes into my enchiladas. Now that I make them every few months or so, I like to experiment with different variations on the same basic recipe.

These Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas were hands down the biggest success I've had with making these, at least so far. They were such an awesome combination of creamy, hearty, cheesy, and spicy. It was comfort food, Mexican style! I prepared a very basic filling of shredded, cooked chicken mixed with some reduced-fat cream cheese, cumin, a bit of enchilada sauce, shredded cheese, onions, and garlic. This yumminess was rolled inside flour tortillas, and then the whole deal was smothered in more shredded cheese and enchilada sauce.

After you've assembled the tortillas with their filling all nestled inside, they can be flash frozen and then stored in the freezer until you're ready to bake them. They thaw easily in the fridge the morning of the day you plan on baking them. Otherwise, these can just be put in the oven right away. They bake up fairly quickly, and the recipe makes enough to feed 3 or 4 people easily (or more if you serve it with a couple of side dishes). This meal is also great when you add things like cooked veggies or black beans to the filling. It makes it more of a one-dish dinner. No matter what you do with them, they're delicious and simple. I highly recommend them!

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas
adapted from several sources
serves 3-4

1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
2 (10-oz.) cans enchilada sauce, any kind, divided
4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
1 cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar or Mexican cheese, shredded (4 oz.)
6-8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
Nonstick cooking spray
sour cream, for garnish
salsa, for garnish

1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and cook the onions on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for one more minute.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, cumin, 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, and about 1-2 to 3-4 cup of the enchilada sauce. Add this to the onion mixture on low heat, just to warm through. Throw in the cubed cream cheese pieces and stir until melted. Turn off the heat.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray, then add a very thin layer of enchilada sauce, to just coat the bottom.

4. Warm the tortillas, using either one of two methods. 1) Place them on a plate in the microwave and warm for about 20-30 seconds. 2) Heat a dry, nonstick skillet on medium heat and add each tortilla one at a time, heating just until warm on both sides. (This method may blister them slightly, which of course is just tasty!)

5. Spoon about 1/3-cup filling onto each tortilla and roll up. Making sure the seam side is down, place each rolled tortilla into the prepared baking dish. Finish the dish by drizzling the remaining enchilada sauce all over the tortillas, and sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese all over as well.

6. These can either be refrigerated/frozen at this point to be cooked later, or placed in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until nice and bubbly and gooey.

7. If you assemble this and have it in the fridge ahead of time, remove it from the refrigerator at least an hour before baking to allow it to come to room temperature. I did this, and I covered mine in foil before baking for 20 minutes. Then, I removed the foil and baked for another 15 minutes, until the cheese was completely melted.

8. Serve enchiladas with a nice green salad. Pass sour cream and salsa at the table to garnish.


  1. These look great, and sound much easier than I would have thought!

  2. Holy yum! I love enchiladas, and these look delicious. I don't make them at home often enough which I really should do more often, especially with the freeze ahead feature you mentioned.