Chicken Enchiladas

For nearly two weeks my husband was asking me to make enchiladas. Since I didn’t plan on blogging about them, I decided to take the easy way out and use a pre-packaged sauce rather than making it from scratch. Rick Bayless has a new line of skillet sauces on the market and they were on sale at my favorite grocery store, A&G Fresh Market. I was pleasantly surprised after reading the ingredient list because I actually recognized and could pronounce everything on there.

Ingredients:

•   Tomato (fresh tomato, roasted fresh tomato, tomato puree, calcium chloride and citric acid)
•   Water
•   New Mexico chile pepper
•   Apple cider vinegar
•   Red bell pepper
•   Salt
•   Onion
•   Garlic
•   Evaporated cane juice
•   Spices
•   Xanthan gum

My husband gobbled these up and with a mouthful of food claimed that he, “would happily eat these once a week for the rest of our marriage.” Enchiladas are a snap to make so that is fine with me!

I am a bad blogger because I didn’t measure anything as I was making these. However, I think about enchiladas the same way I think about pizza. Do you precisely measure out each topping? Or, do you just throw them on there adding more of the things you like and less of things your husband makes you add you aren’t wild about?  What’s the worst that can happen? You end up with too much cheese? Is that even possible? I didn’t think so.

Chicken Enchiladas 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Red Chili Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 package shredded cheese
  • 8-10 corn tortillas
  • Salt and pepper or your favorite all-purpose seasoning

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350˚and coat the bottom of an 11 x 7 baking dish with enchilada sauce.

2. Before you start any assembly, you are going to need to shred the chicken. You can buy it already shredded or do it yourself. If you are opting for the DIY method, simply boil 2 chicken breasts in a pot of water until they are cooked through. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Remove them from the water and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Shred by pulling the chicken apart with your fingers or by pulling it apart with two forks. Season the shredded chicken with salt and pepper or your favorite all-purpose seasoning. I used Adobo.

3. In a bowl, mix the shredded chicken with a 2-3 handfuls of cheese (make sure to reserve some for topping your enchiladas!) and a spoonful or two of the enchilada sauce. Exact measurement doesn’t matter, you are just adding a bit of the sauce to help season the chicken.

4. In a separate bowl add some sauce; if I had to guess, I’d say about 1/3 cup. This will be used to moisten your tortillas. Don’t worry about adding “too much” to the bowl. If you have leftover sauce, you can top your enchiladas with it.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 1

5. Next, dip your tortillas into the sauce making sure that both sides are coated.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 2

6. Place some of your chicken/cheese mixture in the middle of the tortilla.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 3

7. Fold one side towards the middle like so.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 4

8. Fold the other side over the top like so.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 5

9. Place the enchilada seam side down in a baking dish.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 6

10. Repeat this until your baking dish is full. Mine only held 7 tortillas. Yours might hold more, it might hold less.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 7

11. Top with any remaining sauce and cheese.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 8

12. Cover and bake in a 350˚ oven for 15 minutes.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 9

Have leftovers? Chop them up and mix them in with scrambled eggs for a Mexican breakfast treat!

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Leftovers!

My Paleo Food Diary

Last week’s Paleo Food Diary was wildly successful; it got the most hits of any post I’ve ever written! I am so glad that people are interested in the world of Paleo, and I hope that these food logs will give folks a little insight into how delicious Paleo eating can be. We made a trip to Costco last week, and I bought 36 eggs. I promise I will post a non-egg breakfast next week or the week after when we make our way through our current stash.

Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs with Green Pepper, Onion, Mushroom, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Chicken Sausage, and Strawberries
This week I cooked up some green peppers, mushrooms, and onions and mixed them in with scrambled eggs. I cut up some strawberries and cooked up a sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage link that I bought at Trader Joe’s. I also had a cup of coffee with coconut milk.

Cucina Kristina | Breakfast | cucinakristina.com

Cooks up quickly

Lunch – Leftover Chicken Fajitas, Guacamole, and Pico de Gallo
Fajitas are a staple dinner in our house. We eat them almost every week and I always make sure we have enough for leftovers. I ate them just like this with a fork, but you could also have these leftovers in the form of a salad or use iceberg lettuce leaves in place of tortillas. My recipe for pico de gallo and guacamole can be found here. This was so good, I had two helpings!

Paleo Food Diary Lunch - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Fajitas are a staple in our home

Snack – Spicy Power Bars
I wasn’t super hungry between meals this week, but I had power bars leftover from last week and snacked on those when I got hungry. The power bar recipe is from Elana’s Pantry and it is delicious.

Spicy Power Bars | Recipe courtesy of Elana's Pantry @ elanaspantry.com | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

This recipe makes 10-12 bars

Dinner – Open Faced Burger with Cauli Rice and Roasted Radishes
I used a head of cauliflower to make cauli rice last week and had a ton leftover. I know I promised the recipe, but I had so much leftover I didn’t need to make any more. I didn’t realize a head of cauliflower made as much rice as it did! Next time I make this, I will take pictures and post the recipe immediately. I promise. 🙂 Luckily cauli rice holds up well in the fridge and reheats easily. My husband wanted burgers for dinner so I served him a traditional burger and ate mine sans bun. I seasoned the meat with the Sazón seasoning my Foodie Pen Pal Paul sent me. Phew! Say that three times fast!

Paleo Food Diary Dinner - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

There’s lettuce, tomato, and pickles under the patty

 There you have it! Another glimpse into a typical meal day of Paleo eating. I am trying to cut back on my overall sugar intake so I avoided dessert this week. The sugar industry is sneaky and it makes me so angry! Did you know that the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar each year? Let that sink in for a minute… 130 POUNDS of something with absolutely no nutritional value. Even if you do not drink soda or eat sweets, your sugar intake is probably higher than you think. Once I started reading labels more closely, I was astounded at the amount of sugar in pre-packaged foods! Steve over at Nerd Fitness just wrote a fantastic article all about sugar. Go read it and get angry. Then, shake your fist defiantly at the sugar industry and refuse to let them continue interfering with your health! End rant.

Maxwell Street Market & Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles

I have some exciting news. This is my 100th post! Woo!

In honor of my 100th post, I am going to give you a travel post AND a recipe. Y’all are lucky readers. 🙂 In addition to chronicling my world travels, I wanted to start writing about my discoveries and adventures right here in Sweet Home, Chicago. You can find my first “Tourist in the City” post about the Chicago Botanic Garden here.

Today, I am going to tell you about a hidden gem in Chicago. It’s the Maxwell Street Market, a weekly open-air flea market located in the South Loop. Seriously, if you live in Chicago and you love Mexican food, you should head down to Des Plaines and Polk Street and stuff yourself silly. The market is held every Sunday. You’ll find some of the best, inexpensive Mexican street food in Chicago and there is no admission price to get in. Win!

Pastor Taco at Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Pastor (Pork) taco – $2

I went with a friend of mine in November and ate approximately 25 pounds of food. Ok, maybe not quite 25 pounds of food, but I sure as heck ate a TON of tacos that day and didn’t feel guilty about it.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Me, quesadillas, carne asada, and pastor.

The food is all made to order, even the tortillas. Did I mention that it is cheap? Check out these prices.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

I recommend… everything!

This lady was a tortilla making machine! She was cranking them out like nobody’s business.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Fresh, soft, warm tortillas. YUM!

I am a bit of a mole freak. I love mole. If I see it on a menu, I have to order it. This was some of the best mole I’ve had since moving to Chicago and I paid $2.50 for it.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

I love mole!

In addition to housing some fantastic street food, the Maxwell Street Market is also host to a flea market. Need a set of tires? You can get them here along with a new lamp, a package of socks, a box of nails, and a guitar. You can also get your hands on some fresh produce at prices that beat any grocery store in town.

At the flea market, I bought a bag of dried hibiscus flowers and have been drinking hibiscus tea throughout the winter. Hibiscus tea has a very tart flavor, similar to a cranberry. I happened to like the tartness and usually drank my tea without adding any additional sugar, although I occasionally added a bit of honey to sweeten it. The hibiscus flower contains vitamin C, is thought to lower blood pressure, and has a surprising amount of health benefits. It is also very pretty to look at when it is steeping in your teapot. 🙂

I posted a picture of strawberry hibiscus popsicles in last week’s Paleo Food Diary and had a lot of people asking for the recipe. If you do not have popsicle molds, you can freeze these in ice cube trays, Dixie cups, or muffin tins. If you like strawberry, you might also enjoy my strawberry, banana, and orange popsicles.

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles
Makes 6 pops

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dried Hibiscus flowers

Directions:

  1. In a pot, bring water and Hibiscus flowers to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain flowers and add the liquid to a blender.
  3. Add strawberries, banana, and honey and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze.

Five Senses Friday – June 14

Five Senses Friday | cucinakristina.com | Join the fun! #5sensesfri

Sight – I watched a documentary this week called Nursery University which is about the competitive admission process to New York City pre-schools. Pre-school! I can’t imagine paying $20,000 a year in tuition to send my kid to pre-school, but apparently it is rather normal in Manhattan. My undergraduate college education wasn’t that expensive! Insanity!

Hear – My super awesome Zumba teacher taught her last class at my college gym this week. She was a BIG source of inspiration for me over the last two years. Before I left my full-time job, I was in a total funk and working out very inconsistently. I couldn’t find the motivation most days to hit the gym after my long commute to and from work. I had heard a lot about Zumba but, not being a dancer, was always intimidated to try it out. I walked into her Zumba class on a whim figuring I could leave if I didn’t like it. I got totally hooked and started rearranging my schedule to fit her classes into my workout routine. I am sad to see her leave! If I ever find myself in a Latin dance club, watch out because I have some moves up my sleeve!

zumba class pic | cucinakristina.com

An “after” pic of our class. Julia is to the right of the two guys holding the card!

Feel – I did my first chin-up this week! I feel extremely proud of myself. Weight lifting has been tough at times. It can be intimidating to lift next to all the bulky men in the weight room, but I am getting stronger everyday and it is good motivation to keep going. In the picture below, I was doing single arm rows with 30 pound weights and alternating between sets of 12 reps and sets of cross leg push ups. It’s harder than it sounds!

cucinakristina.com

Strong is the new skinny

Smell – I made rose water this week using rose petals from our backyard. The smell as it’s cooking is so wonderful. It’s as if you are sitting in the middle of a rose garden in the country.

Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Rose petals. By the way, there’s no filter or Photoshop here!

Taste – Rick Bayless has a new line of sauces and marinades out on the market. My husband has been asking me to make enchiladas for about two weeks and I finally caved. I decided to take the lazy route and use a pre-packaged sauce and the result was really tasty! You can find the recipe for them here. My husband gobbled them up and told me that he would be happy eating these every week for the rest of our marriage. That’s a pretty bold statement coming from him as he gets bored with food very quickly and rarely eats leftovers!

My Paleo Food Diary

People are always shocked when they find out I do not eat grains, dairy, or refined carbohydrates. It’s as if they think the only thing left on Earth to consume is air! Paleo eating is a lot more abundant and delicious than people think. I swear! To prove it, I thought I would put together a photo diary showing what I eat in a typical day.

First, let me dispel the misconception that I eat zero carbs. While I am avoiding simple carbs (bread, pasta, bagels, muffins, etc.), I load up on complex, nutrient-dense carbs (leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fruits, etc.). We traditionally only think of carbs in the simple form and while my carbohydrate intake has certainly lowered over the last 6 months, it is far from zero.

Breakfast – Fried Eggs over a Warm Asparagus, Mushroom, and Arugula Salad
I took a handful of arugula and tossed it in olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Then, I topped it with mushrooms, shallots, and asparagus that I sautéed in olive oil. Next, I added 2 fried eggs, a sprinkle of paprika, and served it alongside some avocado slices. Before breaking the yolk and letting it ooze all over my plate, I did a little jig because I was super amped to have this plate of awesomeness in front of me. I also enjoyed a hot cup o’ joe with coconut milk.

Cucina Kristina's Paleo Food Diary - Breakfast: Fried eggs over a warm mushroom, asparagus, and arugula salad.

I’ll probably eat this everyday all summer!

Lunch – Mason Jar Salad
For the last 6 months, I have eaten a mason jar salad everyday for lunch. I prep them on Sunday and enjoy them all week. There are so many ways you can change up a salad, I never get bored with them. I dress my salads with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, lime juice, or red wine vinegar because I am boring when it comes to salad dressings; however, you can use any dressing you like. I also always add a source of protein like hard-boiled eggs, chicken, or tuna and an additional fat source like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or nuts.

Mason Jar Salads. Stay fresh for up to a week in the fridge. Layer hardier ingredients on the bottom and more delicate items on top. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Eat your veggies 🙂

Snack – Spicy Power Bars
I rarely get hungry between meals. I know! It is hard for me to believe sometimes since I spent a good part of my life calorie restricting and feeling hungry ALL. THE. TIME. If I feel hungry during the day, I snack on homemade power bars, a handful of nuts (pistachio are my favorite!), or beef jerky. I am usually hungrier on days after I workout and less hungry on my rest days. This power bar recipe is from Elana’s Pantry and it is delicious.

Spicy Power Bars | Recipe courtesy of Elana's Pantry @ elanaspantry.com | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

This recipe makes 10-12 bars

Dinner – Beef and Broccoli over Cauli Rice
For dinner I made beef and broccoli over a bed of cauli rice. Yes, that white stuff below is cauliflower, not rice. This dish comes together quickly and everything can be prepped ahead of time. Bonus! The recipe for the beef and the cauli rice are coming next week!

Beef and broccoli over cauli rice

Not white rice? Coulda fooled me!

Dessert – Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicle
If you do not have a set of popsicle molds, you can use ice cube trays, Dixie cups, or muffin tins. This week, I made or Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles. These popsicles are dairy-free, gluten-free, Paleo, and have no added refined sugar. The ingredients are Hibiscus tea, strawberries, banana, and honey. They are simple, refreshing, and delicious! You can find the recipe here.

Cucina Kristina | Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicle | cucinakristina.com

No added refined sugars!

There you have it! That is a pretty typical day for me. If you prep these meals beforehand, the active cooking time for each of them is less than 15 minutes. I had a lot of fun putting this together. Do I have a new blog series on my hands? Possibly! 🙂

Prosciutto, Asparagus, Egg “Muffins”

This weekend I experimented a little in the kitchen by attempting to make Prosciutto Egg Cups for breakfast. Rather than following a tried and true recipe for the first go-round and tweaking to my liking, I tried to make up the recipe from the start. The result didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped. Prosciutto Egg Cups are supposed to look like this:

Or, like this:

But, my version looked more like egg muffins. Whoops!

They were still pretty yummy and I think the main problem was that I scrambled the eggs first rather than dropping the whole egg into the Prosciutto. That’s what happens when you don’t follow a recipe. 🙂

I made two, ate one, and stuck the other in the fridge to see if it would hold up overnight. It did, which is exciting because now I feel like I can make a few of these on Sunday afternoon and have breakfast taken care of for the first few days of the week! If you are going to use this as a grab-and-go breakfast item, I’d recommend heating it up. Cold eggs aren’t very tasty. In fact, they are pretty gross.

Prosciutto, Asparagus, Egg “Muffins”
Makes 2

Prosciutto, Asparagus, Egg "Muffins" | Cucina Kristina cucinakristina.com

Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 2 stalks of asparagus, roughly chopped
  • 2 baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-6 slices of Prosciutto

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚.
  2. Roughly chop asparagus and mushrooms and set aside.
  3. Line 2 ramekins (you could also use a muffin tin) with Prosciutto slices until the bottom and sides are completely covered.
  4. Add the asparagus and mushrooms to the ramekins.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Add eggs to ramekins.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes. (I did mine for 27 minutes because they were still a little runny looking at 25 minutes).
  7. When finished cooking, let stand for a few minutes. Slide a knife around the edge of the ramekins to loosen the “muffin.” Serve warm.

Five Senses Friday – June 7

5senses

Sight – I stumbled upon this adorable animation film last night and have watched it no less than 10 times. It’s so silly and makes me laugh!

“Two Chips” / An Animated Short from Adam Patch on Vimeo.

Hear – Believe it or not, I discovered this woman’s voice when I was shopping in Crate and Barrel. The overhead music they play isn’t always terrible! Her voice is seductive and she is gorgeous; it makes me sad that I don’t live in Ireland and have the ability to see this woman perform live.

Feel – I submitted my final teaching portfolio on Wednesday (yay!) and am breathing a huge sigh of relief because school is OVER. Never in a million years did I ever imagine that graduate school would be as time-consuming as it was. I feel as though I have been completely MIA since I enrolled in my teaching program; I hope my friends remember my face! 🙂 I am looking forward to enjoying the summer. Now, if only the weather would cooperate!

Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

55˚ what? IT’S JUNE!

Smell – Our peonies are blooming! We picked a few and brought them inside. They have been livening up our kitchen all week. I wish they lasted longer! Because they are so delicate, I stood them upright in an empty pasta sauce jar while I looked for a vase. I ended up thinking they looked really cute in the empty sauce jar, especially in the kitchen, so I kept them in there all week.

Use an empty sauce jar as a vase! Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Peonies

Taste – The two giant rose bushes we have in the yard are also in bloom. They were totally barren up until a few days ago. I intended to make rose water last summer and never got around to it. That is on my definitely to-do list this year! Rose water has many beauty benefits, but something about rose water cocktails and rose water ice cream is intriguing to me. I love, love, LOVE floral teas and am looking forward to experimenting with homemade rose water.

Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Roses