Monday, September 12, 2011

A Mexican Afair

Mexican food is at or near the top of my "favorite kind of foods" list. I usually eat it at least once a week. I have developed a rather picky taste for my Mexican food, and tex-mex and grocery store convenient items just don't cut it anymore. I want authentic, fresh flavors with some serious heat (when heat is appropriate).

The hubs and I have gotten into a nice habit of cooking something new on the weekends. On Saturday morning before our usual shopping trip, we consulted the Healthy Family Cookbook again. Not really knowing what we were in a mood for, we flipped through the Poultry section to see if anything caught our eye. I was nearing the end when I flipped to a page with a nice picture of Chicken Enchiladas. We both paused and at the same time and made the same sound: "Ooooo!" A quick read of the recipe and we had our new weekend recipe to try out. We searched in the same book for some Mexican-Style rice. We found a Basmati Rice Pilaf recipe that had a "With Mexican Flavors" variation. To round out the meal, we cooked a pot of Anasazi Beans to last throughout the week.

What in the world are Anasazi Beans you ask?
A friend of our got us hooked on Anasazi Beans (yes, they really are the best beans in the world!). We had a gathering a few years ago where we made Indian Tacos and everyone brought an item to help with the meal. This particular friend brought beans. I don't recall if he made refried beans, or just simply cooked the beans and we ate them whole. What I do remember is how amazing they were. This was around the time the foodie in me was making a noticeable appearance. I knew what I was eating was not just any ordinary pinto bean. It was creamy, flavorful, and smooth. There was something unique about it, but I didn't know what. I'm forever happy that I questioned the hell out of my poor friend. I found out they are a type of bean specific to Colorado, and sadly, could not be bought here. He told me all about ways to cook them and why they were unique because you didn't have to soak them and they cause less gas than pinto beans (an added bonus!). Not long after this, he and his wife were on a road trip to CO when I called to see if they wanted to hang out. I was so in love with this new discovery that I talked him into bringing us back a 10lb bag! Over the next few months we experimented with the beans and we worked them into a regular part of our diet. We were just about to run out last October, but then he and his wife got us another 10lb bag of Anasazi Beans and a dutch oven to cook them in for our wedding! SCORE! The bag of beans were by far the oddest and funniest wedding gift we received, but completely practical and the perfect gift for this foodie couple!

Chicken Enchiladas:
I started by making their recipe for Green Enchilada Sauce. You first have to roast the poblano chiles and tomatillos.

Once the peppers have been roasted you remove the skin. Then you throw them into a food processor with the roasted tomatillos, chicken broth, a minced onion, garlic, a lot of cilantro, lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and a little sugar. We added a little salt to balance out the sugar, and it was perfect with just the right amount of bite with a subtle hotness!

Now it was time to make the Chicken Enchiladas. The chicken was cooked in a pot with the Green Enchilada Sauce and then shredded into bite-sized pieces. It was then mixed with some of the Green Enchilada Sauce, queso fresco cheese (I used reduced fat), green chiles, and cilantro.

Now it was time to assemble everything. The corn tortillas were sprayed with cooking spray and warmed up in the oven to make them more pliable. Then 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture (a generous portion) was spread down the center of the tortillas.

After everything was in the pan, more Green Enchilada Sauce was added on top, and then everything was covered with cheddar cheese (I used sharp, 2%). We baked it with foil over it to keep it from burning until everything was heated through and the cheese was melted, and then removed the foil and allowed the cheese to brown.

Basmati Rice Pilaf With Mexican Flavors:

The base of this recipe is just a little olive oil, a small minced onion, basmati rice, and water. We only eat brown rice now, so we substituted regular basmati rice for brown basmati rice. We forgot that you have to soak brown basmati rice before cooking with it in recipes like this, or that it takes longer to cook. Luckily we started early knowing the enchiladas were going to be involved and require both of us, and thinking the rice was fine to sit since it will stay warm. Instead of letting it sit, we just kept cooking it and it was done by the time we were ready to eat.

For the Mexican Flavors, jalapenos, garlic, tomato paste, cilantro, and a diced tomato were added. Luckily we bought 3 bunches of cilantro! At this point we had used more than 2 to get 1 1/4 cups of minced cilantro, and our other mexican recipe for later in the week to use up the beans and rice calls for another 1/4 cup. We LOVE cilantro!

The meal was amazing! We didn't like the rice all that much and felt it lacked flavor and didn't have much heat. However, it got better as it sat overnight. When we had the left overs, the flavors were better developed and the jalapeno heat was present where it wasn't the first night. I think it takes longer for brown rice to absorb flavors since it has the hard outer shell. I'm not sure we will be making it again though. A 3/4 cup serving was 5 WW points+ and neither of us felt it was worth the extra points.

The enchiladas were fantastic! They moved to the top of our recipe list and we will be making them often. They are 10 WW points+ for 2 enchiladas. A little heavy for WW, but so worth it, in our opinion. The flavors were authentic, fresh, and the Green Enchilada Sauce added just the right amount of subtle heat to the dish. The chicken was tender and very flavorful. And left overs were just as good. The texture of the corn tortillas was better the first night, but we both agreed that the flavors got better the 2nd night. They were delicious and so filling.

And of course the beans were awesome! :) I cook them in water with a little salt and canola oil. We found nutritional info for 1/4 cup dry beans and have noticed that the beans make about 2.5 times more cooked. Using that ratio, 1 cup of cooked beans is 5 WW points+, which is the same as what we normally do for our starch, 1 cup brown rice or 1 cup whole wheat pasta.

All in all, a VERY good weekend meal. I wouldn't have time to do this during the week, but it was a fun activity for hubby and I and we got 2 more nights of meals out of it. It was so worth the work and we will be doing it again soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment