Does anyone really know what the heck Cinco de Mayo is?
Well I do… now… I just Googled it a few minutes ago. But other than celebrating the Mexican victory against the French in 1862, Cinco de Mayo has always been the perfect excuse to eat great Mexican food. And oh, how I love great Mexican food.
These enchiladas aren’t really authentic. They are what you might call Mexican inspired- but they are so delicious.
For years I’ve had a recipe for chicken enchiladas in a cheesy white sauce. They are very fattening and have no veggies other than onion. They are yummy, but it’s hard to justify ever making them.
When my friend Kate mentioned her favorite chicken enchilada recipe had spinach, sweet red bell pepper and corn, I couldn’t wait to make them.
And after making them several times and changing up the recipe to suit my tastes, I also have my new favorite chicken enchilada recipe.
Here’s the recipe:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ cup Italian dressing (not low fat)
- Salt and lemon pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
- 1½ cups frozen corn
- 1- 4 oz. can mild green chilies, drained
- 3 cups rough chopped fresh spinach
- 1- 8 oz. package light or fat free cream cheese
- 16 oz. jalapeño jack cheese, shredded (regular jack cheese may be substituted in part or whole for less spicy enchiladas)
- 1 package flour tortillas (I use medium-sized)
- 1 16 oz. can Hatch’s Mild Red Enchilada Sauce
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
Pour Italian dressing over chicken breasts and let marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and lemon pepper and grill until cooked through- about 7 minutes a side. Let stand about 10 minutes and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Heat a large frying pan (one with a lid) over medium-high heat, add olive oil and onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Add red pepper and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add frozen corn. Add chicken and green chilies. Add the spinach and cook until is just starts to wilt.
Stir in the cream and jack cheese(s). Cover pan with a lid and remove from heat immediately. Set aside for several minutes while the cheeses melt. Remove lid and stir well to blend.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Fill tortillas with chicken mixture, roll and line up in casserole dish. Makes approximately 10 enchiladas depending on how full you stuff them and the size of your tortillas.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. While enchiladas are cooking, heat enchilada sauce with brown sugar in a small saucepan. Remove enchiladas from oven, the tortillas should be getting a little crispy. Pour sauce over enchiladas and return to the oven for about 10 minutes or until cheeses are hot and bubbly.
Click over to my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box for the printable recipe.
Here’s the step by step:
Marinate chicken for a couple of hours in Italian salad dressing. Don’t use a light or fat free dressing.
Sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper before grilling.
And grill up the chicken about 7 minutes per side until cook through. Set chicken aside to cool.
Chop up the onion.
And the sweet red bell pepper. Also chop up the spinach. Be sure to be generous with the spinach. I used 3 heaping cups of already chopped spinach because when it wilts it shrinks to almost nothing.
Now is a great time to shred your cheese. The cheese will determine how spicy your enchiladas will be. I you like them spicy, use 16 oz. of pepper jack cheese. If you want totally mild enchiladas just use jack cheese. I compromise and use 8 oz. of pepper jack and 8 oz. of jack. That way I can get my kids, who like things medium spicy to eat the enchiladas.
I’m having Emma shred all the cheese in my food processor. It’s so fast! I also wanted to show off her gap tooth. She didn’t loose that darn tooth until Saturday!
In a large skillet (one with a lid) heat oil over medium-high heat. I’m using my favorite chef’s pan. Add onion and cook for a couple of minutes.
Toss in the sweet red bell pepper and cook a couple more minutes.
Add the frozen corn. I don’t bother thawing it before tossing it in. It will splatter a bit, but not too bad. I also season with a bit of salt and pepper at this point.
In the meanwhile, chop up the chicken into bite-sized pieces. And toss it into the pan.
Add in the green chilies with the chicken. I started to add the spinach when I remembered the chilies… but normally I’d add it in with the chicken. Even when you make a mistake, it’s all good.
Now add the spinach. Stir it in and cook until it just starts to wilt.
Next comes the cheeses. I used light cream cheese instead of the fat-free the original recipe calls for. The light was on sale for .99 cents and the fat free was $2.50. And darn it all, the light tasted a lot better. Fat equals flavor sometimes. You can use either… they’re both good really. Full fat would probably taste awesome, but I’m not going there.
Stir in the jack and cream cheese to the pan. Cover with the lid and immediately remove from the heat.
Let it sit for a couple of minutes while the cheeses melt.
Remove the lid and stir it all together until it’s well combined. This is crazy yumminess folks.
Time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Also spray your 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray. I love my Pyrex pan for these. If you use a Pyrex and medium sized tortillas, they fit perfectly across the width.
Fill the tortilla with a generous scoop of the chicken mixture. Roll up the enchilada.
Line them up in the pan. I’m pretty generous with my filling, and I get 10 enchiladas.
Toss the enchiladas into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
While they’re cooking, make the sauce. You may choose to use any brand of enchilada sauce, but Hatch’s sauce taste the best.
Toss in a tablespoon of brown sugar. You can even use 2 tablespoons if you prefer a sweeter sauce. Heat in a small saucepan.
When the enchiladas come out of the oven, the tortillas should be starting to get crisp. Pour the enchilada sauce over the top and toss them back into the oven for another 10 or so minutes, until the cheeses are hot and bubbly.
This dish is so yummy, it’s great for anytime. Serve it up with Pioneer Woman’s Mexican Rice and a small green salad with corn, black beans, cilantro and jicama. Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Is that correct Spanish? I’m not sure. But enjoy anyway.