Monday, January 30, 2012

Skinny Touchdown: Chicken Enchilada Lasagna

I could give a rat's you-know-what about football. You could tell me Mars is playing Venus and that would sound legitimate. It's just not my thing. I'd rather watch Coolio make spoon steaks on the Food Network, but hey, that's just me.

I do, however, like game day food fare and since the football finale is approaching, I'd thought I take part in all of the food festivity even though I don't know a touchdown from a field goal. It all started last week when a whole chicken was on sale at the market. I needed some more chicken stock, having used all of mine making the Sweet Potato and Chipotle Soup from the new Everyday Food Light cooking book. (I've made three recipes so far from this book and they have all been winners. This does not happen very often.)

So I decided to cook the chicken my new favorite way which is simply by chopping up an onion, throwing it in the bottom of the slow cooker, putting the whole chicken on top and sprinkling it with salt.

I let 'er rip on low for about 3.5 hours. The juiciest chicken emerges without the slightest bit of hesitation.  Do not plan on eating the skin though because it turns into this rubbery piece of slop whose only future involves making friends with the garbage can. But who cares about the skin? Word on the street is that the skin is the worst part of the chicken to eat -- so to the garbage can it goes! Lo and behold: I had all of this delicious juicy chicken meat on my hands and of course, I knew immediately that I wanted to make chicken enchiladas.

But then I started thinking. All of that cheese and sour cream and cream cheese isn't going to help what has become my upward spiral on the scale. I crossed my fingers, closed my eyes and decided to make over my original chicken enchilada recipe, a lighter more better-for-your-waistline chicken enchiladas. And then I just got lazy and didn't feel like rolling up all of those enchiladas (actually, I really couldn't figure out a way to keep the corn tortillas soft during the baking process without frying them in oil, so I decided to use the tortillas the same way one would use lasagna noodles -- as roofs to each little layer.)

I also didn't feel like using a ton of flour to make an enchilada sauce. Seemed like a waste of calories and only a minor problem that a little tomato and tomato paste could solve.

Turned out great.

And it's only 258 calories per serving. This is the perfect bite for a Superbowl buffet table. People who don't care about saving calories won't detect a thing. It's rich without being rich. How's that for a mouthful? Perfect I say!

Chicken Enchilada Lasagna


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced tomato
2 garlic cloves, minced
Shredded meat from a whole chicken (about 3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 can black beans, rinsed
3/8 cup chicken stock (or 6 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups 1% milkfat cottage cheese
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 corn tortillas, cut in half
1 cup 2% mexican cheese blend


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add onion and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until softened, about four minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes. I used fresh tomatoes because it's what I had on-hand.

Add the tomatoes to the onions and cook for a few minutes, until soft.

Add the garlic cloves and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the shredded chicken.

Add all of the spices and mix well. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and black beans and cook until the flavors start to meld about eight minutes. Remove from heat. This is your meat mixture.

In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese and sour cream. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and mix well.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with 4 of the tortillas (which will be 8 tortilla halves), by placing the flat edges around each side.

Spread 1/3 of the meat mixture on top, 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture on that and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat the layer twice.

Line the remaining tortillas on top and sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese.

Place in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes to cool. Slice into twelve servings and serve.

I like it with some chopped scallions on top, while my husband prefers it with salsa verde. Either way, it's fabulous!

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 258; Total Fat 7g; Total Carb 26g; Fiber 5g; Sugars 3g; Protein 22g 

*Nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe calculator tool.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Minnie Mouse Birthday Party Desserts and Chicken Wraps with Avocado Garlic Sauce

Our Minnie Mouse party has come and gone.

In my estimation, we've exploited Minnie Mouse as much as humanly possible. We created invites, decorated the house and eaten in Minnie Mouse style. But we had a good time doing it.

The menu was:

Dessert consisted of:

As I mentioned above, the chocolate cake recipe is from Cybele Pascal's Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook. It is fantastic. I made it on Christmas as a dry run for the party and no one knew the difference until they saw me and the baby eating it. Then they knew it had to be gluten- and dairy-free. It was simply delicious. Seriously, buy this book for this cake alone.

Instead of doing a Minnie Mouse cake like the Mickey Mouse cake I did last year, I decided to use the number 2 cake mold I had from my oldest daughter's birthday. I decided to decorate it based on the polka dot theme. I dyed the frosting using India Tree Natural Decorating Colors food dye and chose pink and white.

I forgot to get a picture of it finished (and not eaten), but I was busy and forgot so many things. I just wrapped a Wilton cake board with Wilton metallic wrapping and taped the back. I frosted first with a crumb coat, put it in the refrigerator and then frosted it again. I piped the dots with Wilton tip 12 and for the bigger ones, I just lightly wet my finger and smushed the dot down.

I made cupcakes simply because I had extra batter from the cake.

I used Wilton tip 1M to frost the with the same frosting as the cake. I used Wilton White Sugar Pearls as sprinkles. (I'm not sure what's in those, so if you have allergies, check it out first.)

I purchased these Mickey Mouse cookie cutters and decided to make the Tollhouse cookie recipe in bar form. I just lined the pan with parchment paper and when they were cool, I lifted them out and cut out the cookies using the ear cutter.

I was going to add some sort of a bow, but I simply ran out of time! I also made peanut butter Rice Krispie treats. I made them the same way as you normally would, except when they were warm, I rolled them into balls.

And then when I was ready, I dipped them in chocolate and attached the ears on with peanut butter. I used red hots for the bow and put those on with peanut butter too. Then I put them on lollipop sticks.

Everyone loved these. And they tasted really good too!

My mom had some extra Minnie Mouse fabric that she bought around Halloween that I used as table runner. And I snagged some red and white polka dot wrapping paper on Christmas clearance at Walmart for 39 cents. So I wrapped four pieces of floral foam with the paper to use as the lollipop display.

Then I lined three cupcake pedestals with red and white polka dot ribbon and taped three bows to the front. I stacked them on top of each other.

I filled the pedestals with the cupcakes and the cookies.

I pushed the lollipops through the foam so they stood up straight.

I flanked the pedestals with two pieces of the wrapped foam and that completed the Minnie Mouse dessert table!

Since I was serving chili, I wanted another hearty course that did not include red meat, but instead chicken. It took a while and a lot of tests, but this wrap finally passed. I wanted a sauce that tasted like the avocado sauce they use on the Jimmy John veggie sandwiches. I think I came pretty close.

I wrapped these using regular wheat sandwich wraps, but I also made a few on some gluten-free buns for myself and anyone else who wasn't eating gluten.

Chicken Wraps with Avocado Garlic Sauce

Makes 24 Sandwiches


8 lbs bone-in split chicken breasts, skin on
4 cups avocado garlic sauce (recipe below)
16 ounces shredded iceburg lettuce
1 1/2 lb Boar's Head havarti cheese (optional, exclude for no dairy option)
12 sandwich wraps
Toothpicks (optional)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line the chicken breasts on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Once cool remove skin and shred chicken. Refrigerate overnight. Make the avocado garlic sauce.

Avocado Garlic Sauce 

Makes about 4 cups


2 medium onions
3 - 4 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes, peeled
6 avocados
The juice from two lemons
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard


Chop the onions, garlic, tomatoes into large chunks and place in a food processor.  Cut the avocados into halves, remove the pit and take the flesh out. Add it along with the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator

To Finish the Wraps

Lay out the wrap and place approximately 2 tablespoons of the avocado garlic sauce and mayo on the wrap. Using a knife, spread the dressing around the circumference of the wrap. Place the cheese down(if using), then a handful of chicken and lettuce. Sprinkle with salt. Roll it up. Here's how I found the best way to to do it:

  1. Fold the left side in.
  2. Fold the right side in.
  3. Using your thumbs, roll up from the bottom.
  4. Cut on a diagonal.
At this point, you can leave them alone or you can stick toothpicks in to secure them even more. I opted for toothpicks because they were not staying together on the platter. I probably loaded them up with too much on the inside, but who wants a skimpy sandwich?

Right before dinner was served, my oldest daughter, niece, husband and dad went outside to take advantage of the freshly fallen snow.

They worked up quite the appetite -- more for dessert than anything though.  We gathered everyone in the living room.

Lit the candles.

I decided it was the perfect time to pick things off of the baby's face.

Sang Happy Birthday!

And blew the candles out!

 It's a good thing I've been running all of those miles lately.

Nutrition Information Per Two Sandwiches: Calories 536; Total Fat 40g; Total Carb 21g; Fiber 14g; Sugars 1g; Protein 35g

*Nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe calculator tool.
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