Monday, September 16, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake


I've gotten out of the habit of meal-planning lately, and it's definitely been a stressor for me.  If I don't have a dinner planned out, I feel like I spend the majority of the day staring blankly into my fridge, pantry, and freezer, basically just willing something to magically appear or give me inspiration.  Or going through my Pinterest boards and saved recipes hoping that I miraculously have all the ingredients I need for a particular recipe that catches my eye.  I try to minimize my trips to the grocery store throughout the week, both for budgetary and logistical reasons (Three kids under 2.  No further explanation necessary).

On this particular day, I remembered that I had some shredded chicken and some extra enchilada sauce in the freezer - score!  Earlier that day I laid down the gauntlet for myself and decided we were having quinoa in some fashion, and cooked a few cups during nap time.  I'm pretty much always craving Mexican food; thus divine inspiration hit, and this casserole was born.

Chicken Enchiladas are one of my favorite foods of all times, so it should come as no surprise that I like to reincarnate them into as many different dishes as I can.  So far, pizza, dip, pasta, and zucchini boats have all been pretty well-received at our house.  So a cheesy, baked casserole seemed like a surefire win.  And obviously, it was.

I've gotten into the habit of using quinoa instead of rice 90% of the time, so I continued on with that trend here.  It adds a lot of protein to the dish, so combined with the chicken and black beans, this dinner packs a major protein punch.  I also mixed in some corn, enchilada sauce, a modest amount of cheese, and a few extra spices and seasonings before baking it in the oven.

As expected, we all loved this dish - and what's not to love?  It's comforting, cheesy, spicy, reasonably healthy, and reminiscent of my all-time favorite meal!

Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake

I already had chicken, enchilada sauce, and quinoa prepped, so this came together quite quickly.  Even if you are making everything at once, it can all be done pretty easily as well - as the chicken cooks, make the enchilada sauce and cook the quinoa, then it's just assemble and bake.  As a matter of fact, this would make a great make-ahead meal, so you could prep and assemble the night before or morning of, then just throw it in the oven when you get home.

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, and diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 (15-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbs chile powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce (recipe follows)
  • 2/3 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • sliced scallions and minced cilantro, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a medium baking dish.

Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until most of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and jalapeño, and sauté until softened, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chicken, cumin, chile powder, salt, enchilada sauce, and 1/ 3 cup of each cheese.  Season with additional sat and pepper to  taste.  Mix well and pour into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake 15-20 minutes, then remove foil.  Bake an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browning.  Rremove from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped scallions and cilantro, and serve.

Red Enchilada Sauce
The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Note: This will make more than you need for this recipe, so I'd suggest just freezing the leftovers. You never know when you'll have an enchilada sauce emergency!
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbs chile powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, chile powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato sauce and water, and bring to a simmer.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


ellysaysopa said...

Love this! Can't wait to make it.

Nicole, RD said...

I am soooo making this ASAP! Yum!!!

Joanne (eats well with others) said...

I probably couldn't get through a day without meal planning...but I am definitely impressed with what you came up with on the spot!!

CookingwithLT said...

I cannot wait to try this! I think it's going on next week's menu plan. I too am often lost without a plan.

Josie said...

I made this for dinner tonight and it's yummy! I threw in half a diced green pepper because I had it on hand and needed to use it up, it fit in nicely. I used store-bought enchilada sauce because I had some on hand and didn't have any other plans for it. And I used diced fire-roasted salsa-ready tomatoes, which I've never had before but my husband grabbed the wrong can at the store! It had peppers and seasoning in it and the dish ended up with a little kick to it from the tomatoes, but definitely yummy!

I like that this makes so much because I know the leftovers are going to reheat really well. I'm already looking forward to having some for lunch tomorrow! I think next time I might just try to freeze half because I think it would freeze really well. It would be nice to have a half-pan in the freezer and half a recipe would be plenty for us to eat for dinner and at least lunch the next day.

Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Josie said...

I'm so glad you liked it, Stephanie! I agree that a bell pepper would be great - I definitely would have used one too, if I'd had one on hand. Those tomatoes sound interesting too; I've used fire-roasted, but never seen them with seasonings added. I'll have to keep an eye out for them. Thanks for taking the time to report back! :)

Josie said...

After you saute the onions and jalapeno, the directions say to set aside but then they aren't mentioned again. Do you go ahead and mix them in during the next step?

Josie said...

Yes, thanks for catching that, Gina! I'll correct the post :)

Josie said...

I made the dish yesterday for dinner and it was a big hit with my family! Thank you!

Josie said...

So glad to hear it! Thanks for letting me know! :)

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