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East meets West: Indian Curried Chicken Vegetable Enchiladas

East meets West: Indian Curried Chicken Vegetable Enchiladas
It's due time to mix up the enchilada with a little eastern flair

Delicious and easy chicken enchiladas made with a quick indian madras curry sauce

Is there really any reason to mess with the nearly perfect foods of Madras Indian curry or chicken enchiladas? In and of themselves they are quite delicious lil meals, however, I like to mix things up and it was high time these got a remix of their very own. Queue Bollywood/Mariachi mashup song.

I love cooking curries, both of the Thai and Indian variety. Frequent trips to the spice and ethnic grocery stores in our area make this an easy feat to accomplish. I think a lot of people believe curries are difficult to make, but I have found them quite the contrary, especially Thai curries which I have a habit of making far too often.

Recently I learned just how easy it is to make your own homemade enchilada sauce from Mr. Emeril Lagasse. You can find his recipe here. I couldn’t believe how flippin’ simple and quick it was! Seriously so simple and tastes way better than anything you will get in a can. After mastering my homemade enchilada sauce I got to thinking how great curried enchiladas would be. I have never had them before, but I like curry and I like enchiladas. Sounded like a match made in heaven. We have had a tin of Madras Indian Curry powder in our cupboard for some time and it seems we have still barely made a dent in it (it’s a large tin), although I assure you we use it in our cooking quite often.

The tin looks like this.

Madras Curry Powder

This is the Madras Curry Powder we use

This Madras Curry Powder has the following ingredients in it: coriander, turmeric, salt, fennel, chili, black pepper, fenugreek, garlic, cumin, bay leaf, ginger, cassia. This curry powder had a good mix of all the spices so I didn’t feel the need to add too much to it. You can play around with other curry blends if you want such as vindaloo or garam masala.

I have to say that this dish turned out amazing with just the right amount of curry flavor and spice. While it may take a little longer to assemble than most people are used to spending on a weeknight meal, I believe you could make a pan or two of this on a weekend and freeze one for when you need it. The thing that takes the longest to cook is the shredded chicken, which cooks in about half hour. You will notice that I didn’t actually roll my enchiladas in this recipe, that was due to my flub of not taking the frozen corn tortillas out of the freezer to thaw prior to starting to cook. Instead I layered the ingredients which made it quicker to assemble and tastes the same as the rolled ones in the end. For the veggies in this recipe I used carrots, peas and fresh chopped spinach, but I encourage you to play around with the veggies you have in your fridge as I am sure they will taste fantastic in this dish.

Now let’s get to messing with the enchiladas, shall we? Or is it messing with the curry?

Servings: 8

Tools: 2 medium saucepans, 1 saute pan, knife, cutting board, micro-plane, 9″ x 13″ pan, spatula, ladle

Ingredients

I’m going to break down the ingredients into sections below for each element you have to prepare prior to assemblage in the pan.

  • Shredded Chicken (see recipe below)
  • Easy Indian Madras Curry Sauce (see recipe below)
  • Vegetable Blend (see recipe below)
  • 4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 18 corn tortillas (should probably have an entire pack of 24 in case you need as many)

Shredded Chicken

1 lb. chicken breast (this can be either the bone-in or the boneless skinless variety)
water to cover chicken by a few inches in pot
pinch of kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/2 cup prepared curry enchilada sauce (see recipe below)
Optional Garnishes: sliced green onion, cilantro, avocado or sliced radishes

Easy Indian Madras Curry Sauce 

3 Tb. vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 in. knob of grated fresh ginger (Use a micro-plane for this. I keep my fresh ginger in the freezer so I always have it on hand)
4 Tb. Madras Curry Powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Vegetable Blend
1 Tb. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 medium carrots, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 large handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

Steps

1. Prep all ingredients above so they are ready to begin cooking. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Place chicken in a pot and fill with water to cover by a few inches. Put on stove top on High heat. Cook for about 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and is easy to shred with 2 forks.

3. While chicken is cooking, start on the Madras Curry enchilada sauce. Heat vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan on Medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until tender (they turn a bit translucent). Turn down heat to LOW. (This is very important because you don’t want to burn your flour in the next step)

4. After you have turned heat on onion, garlic mixture to LOW and it has a minute or two to adjust temperature, add in the flour and stir. Cook for 1 minute. (Note: Be sure NOT to burn your flour in this step.) Add in the curry powder and stir. Cook for another 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste and stir until combined. Cook on low until sauce reduces and thickens; about 15 minutes.

5. While curry sauce and chicken are cooking, start on the vegetable blend. Add extra virgin olive oil to a saute pan and heat on Medium heat. Add carrots and cook for several minutes until tender. Add the frozen peas and grated ginger and cook another minute until peas are defrosted. Add chopped spinach and cook until it wilts and moisture is cooked off. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

6. Once chicken is cooked through and it easily shreds, pull it out of cooking water and onto a cutting board. Using two forks, shred all of the chicken. Retain about 1/2 cup of the cooking water in the sauce pan, drain rest off. Add the shredded chicken back into pan with remaining water. Add 1/2 cup of the curry sauce to chicken and combine. Cook on Low a few minutes for chicken to season in the sauce mixture.

7. Add a ladle or two of the curry sauce to the bottom of the 9″ x 13″ baking dish and spread around bottom of pan. Place 6 corn tortillas on bottom of baking dish and spoon more sauce over them, spreading to cover. Alternate each layer with the cheese, veggie blend, shredded chicken (be sure to strain the chicken out of the sauce it is cooking in, so it doesn’t get too watery), curry sauce and tortillas. Be sure to finish the final two layers with sauce and then cheese.

8. Place into oven and cook for about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. When finished take out of oven and let sit to cool for a minute or two. Slice, garnish and serve.

9. Enjoy and let me know how you liked it!

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Love me some Slow Cookin’ Potato Leek Soup (Gluten Free & Dairy Free)

Love me some Slow Cookin' Potato Leek Soup

It's not a load of crock! Your slow cooker loves you. And you'll love this soup!

Last night I had to work late and knew this ahead of time so I figured it was a good night to use our slow cooker. I happen to love using our crock pot and it makes me happy to see that so many other people are now loving theirs again by welcoming it back onto their kitchen counters with open arms. But if I need to try and validate to you why I love it so… well, it reads like a cheap romance novel.

Reason for crock pot love number 1: It cooks for me even when I don’t treat it well. When it’s not ever so sweetly being used by me, I am usually shoving it into the dark recesses of my kitchen cupboards.

Reason number 2: It’s a cheap date. I have never given it more than $5-$10 at any one time and it puts out enough for the two of us… for sometimes several days. Tell me who you can take out for that cheap and treat with such disrespect and force to do almost all the work in the relationship and you reap all the benefits? Yeah, my guess it’s the other way around.

I’ll stop now, because there are probably children in the room…

So now onto soup. 🙂

I had a couple of odd veggies still hanging around and some bacon that I was hoping to get used up this week. So with my meat and two veg (sorry, I can’t help myself), me and my crock pot made us some homemade potato leek soup. The soup turned out super (or rather, souper) yummy even though I decided to not add any cream, butter or milk to it. I had it in mind to keep it a little healthier while still being a comforting winter meal, so I made it a broth based soup. Also, did you notice that it is gluten and dairy free? You’re welcome. Just make sure that the broth base you use is such and everything will be okay. You could even make it vegetarian by leaving out the swine and using vegetable broth.

And speaking of broth… Likely if you don’t have any homemade stock lying around, you probably have to go to the cartons or cans, right? Well I have been using this super convenient and very affordable alternative to canned broth called Better than Bouillon. It is organic and free of MSG and according to my research on surefoodsliving.com is gluten free (but not dairy, corn or soy free). A jar costs under $5 and makes up to 38 8-ounce servings with it… that’s roughly 19 cans of broth which at about $1/can can get rather pricey. All you have to do is scoop out a teaspoon and add it to 8 oz. water. Yep, it’s that easy! This is a picture of what the label on the jar looks like so you you can find it for yourself.

Organic Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

I love using this stuff as an alternative to canned broth when I don't have homemade stock around

Below are the ingredients I prepped and put into the slow cooker and then I did something unimaginable… I plugged it in and turned the notch to ‘low’ and left it to occupy itself for about 7 hours. Yep that was it!

You really don’t need to measure any of this out, just start dumping things in the crock pot. It doesn’t mind… it can take a beating.

Servings: at least 4, but i’ll let you know in a few days when we’re done eating it

Ingredients

6 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
6 strips of bacon, cooked, drained on paper towels and then chopped up
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped (the white and a bit of the light green only)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, needles removed from stem and chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 cups broth (vegetable or chicken broth) – check for gluten and dairy free on label
2-3 bay leaves
Fresh cracked pepper
Kosher salt

Steps

Prep all ingredients, throw into crockpot, stir. Put lid on. PLUG CROCK POT IN and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours. Enjoy!

Garnish with sliced green onion, fresh cracked pepper and if you’re like me some red chili flakes.

And for all of you bachelors out there, be sure to refrigerate it and or freeze once it’s cooled down. Yeah.. there is a back story there. 😉

I look forward to hearing your comments on how it turned out for you!

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Low Calorie Shrimp Jambalaya with Egg Noodles

Last night was Mardi Gras and we most definitely had a hankering for some jambalaya (us and well… every other American it seems). I have to say that in the past my experience with jambalaya has mostly consisted of a box mix which is full of lots of preservatives, salt, added calories and usually empty promises. We’ve had quite a bit of rice lately so I thought I would try out my own recipe this time and pour it over a helping of egg noodles as I have a few bags of this stashed around the kitchen and it was begging to be eaten.

This dish actually turned out much better than I anticipated. After I thumbed through my notes of what I used, I also figured it was pretty low calorie. The worst part of this dish is the egg noodles which you can definitely sub for something with less calories or just eat it without any added carbs. A cup of cooked egg noodles is about 220 calories, the jambalaya (shrimp, veggies, sauce) was probably under 100 calories, I figure (with my best google attempt). That means that a pretty large serving is still hovering under 350 calories. Not bad I’d say, not bad. The spice level was a perfectly balanced medium and not too spicy, although you can sure add more spice if you’d like. My hubs shies away from the spicy hot dishes, while I gobble them up, so I usually err on the side of less is more when more people that just myself are eating.

You will notice that I added cauliflower to this recipe. I certainly know that it isn’t an ingredient that usually makes an appearance in this dish, however I had it to use up and took my liberties to do so. This is a great dish to add any other random veggies you have lying around as the cajun spice mix will likely make it taste very good and you won’t notice you are eating veggies (if that is a difficult thing for you).

And on with the recipe! Enjoy!

Servings: 4

Ingredients

12 oz. package of egg noodles
Water
1 lb. wild uncooked Shrimp, de-veined and tails removed (Medium to extra-large in size)
1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 crown cauliflower broken into small florets
1 cup bell peppers sliced (red, yellow, and green)
1/2 large onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup broth (I used chicken broth)
Cajun Spice Mix (See recipe below)

Cajun Spice Mix

1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt (this is critical, DO NOT whatever you do use table salt or sea salt. Only Kosher or it will turn out too salty)
2 tsp. dried basil
2 Tb. paprika
1 Tb. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (this will result in medium spice, adjust according to preference)
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine these seasonings in a bowl and mix until combined. This recipe will create more than you will need for the whole recipe, but I suggest putting in an airtight container to use later in other cajun inspired dishes (chicken, fish, shrimp, veggies.. etc.)

Steps for making Jambalaya

1. Make the cajun spice mix according to recipe above. Set aside. Have all other ingredients prepped.

2. Fill a pot with water, sprinkle with kosher salt, and put on the stove on High heat. Bring to a boil. Drop the noodles into the water and set timer (according to package directions).

3. Put shrimp in a bowl and stir in enough cajun spice mix to cover the shrimp. Set aside.

4.  Put a saute pan on the stove, pour in 1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil and heat oil on Medium-High heat.

5. Add chopped garlic, onion, bell peppers and cauliflower to pan and cook for a few minutes until the veggies get nice and seared, leaving then with some brown edges.

6. Sprinkle a bit of the reserved cajun seasoning mix onto the veggies (a couple tsp. is sufficient) and stir to coat.

7. Add the seasoned shrimp to the pan. Cook the mixture until shrimp is half cooked.

8. Add the broth and chopped roma tomatoes to pan. Stir mixture together. Drop the heat down to medium and cook for a few minutes so that some of the liquid reduces.

9. Drain noodles when they are done (according to package directions).

10. Place a scoop of noodles on a plate and cover with jambalaya mixture. Pat yourself on the back, and enjoy!

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