Creamy Cilantro Shredded Chicken Tacos

Last weekend was one of the craziest and most stressful in a while. As a part-time gig (as well as part-time obsession) I work for Major League Baseball, and after working a game at Wrigley on Friday night I volunteered to drive down to Milwaukee to work the next night. I am always up for seeing new ballparks, of course, and was excited about the opportunity. The only problem was, I had no idea the kind of time commitment I was making; I also ended up getting roped into working another game on Sunday. Long story short, I worked three baseball games in three nights, and drove a total of seven hours to do so. This left practically no time for homework, working out, or hanging out with friends, making me feel pretty guilty and horrible.
 
I am a firm believer in the power of food to bring people together; I feel that there is no better time for a family to connect, a couple to reestablish their romantic bond, or a pair of friends to catch up than over a meal of some sort. This is probably one of the reasons why I get so much satisfaction out of cooking, because I know that I am, in some way, bringing people together with my food. In all of the craziness of last weekend I decided that I somehow had to figure out a time for my friends and I to get together for a meal (that “how” turned out to be at the expense of this week’s homework).
 
2013-09-22 14.10.40-1So, this was our Sunday lunch. I prepared some easy and delicious shredded chicken tacos in a spicy cream sauce, which we enjoyed over a couple of beers along with the view from my balcony. The weather could not have been more beautiful; it was just what we needed to reconnect and decompress, and it made me glad that I had made the decision to set everything else aside for a little while. How lucky am I to have found some people in my life worth cooking through crazy for!
 
Creamy Cilantro Shredded Chicken Tacos
Adapted from Taste and Tell Blog

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 (4 oz) can Old El Paso diced green chiles
  • 2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 box (4.6 oz) Old El Paso® taco shells (12 shells), heated as directed on box
  • Lettuce, avocado, salsa and additional cilantro, for serving

Prepare the chicken to your preference. I grilled it on my Cuisinart Griddler and then shredded the chicken with two forks. If you prefer, cut it into bite-size pieces and sauté it in a pan with some olive oil.

DSC02046In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, constantly whisking to avoid lumps. Cook until it starts to thicken, a minute or two. Add in the cream cheese and stir until melted and combined. Stir in the green chiles. Add the chicken back in and stir to coat.

Fill the taco shells with the chicken mixture and top with shredded lettuce, salsa, diced avocado and additional cilantro.

Namas-tasty!

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Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas

With a dollop of fresh guacamole on top (and some extra for chip-dipping, of course), these enchiladas more than satisfied my craving for Mexican food!

When planning my menu for the week, I had a craving for some good Mexican food. You can always find this kind of cuisine in Colorado; I have yet to locate any in Chicago. That’s not to say that it doesn’t exist, but I decided to cook up some of my own.

Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 2-3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (use the lesser amount for less heat, greater amount for a bigger kick)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese (or a combination of both)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6 burrito-size flour tortillas
  • 1 jar store-bought green chile

I wanted the process to be relatively easy and fast (it was one of those days), so I defrosted a couple of chicken breasts and decided to use my Cuisinart Griddler to prepare it (one of the hands-down most useful kitchen gadgets that I own). I simply sprinkled both sides of the chicken with some salt and pepper, put them on the griddler with the lid down for about 8 minutes, and they were ready to go! As an added bonus, this method is a lot less greasy than sautéing the chicken with oil in a pan.

I shredded the cooked chicken with two forks, placing it in a large bowl. Then, I added a can of black beans, a teaspoon of chopped adobo peppers, about a cup and a half of quick-cook white rice that I had leftover in the refrigerator, and a cup of shredded cheese (I like to use a blend of cheddar and monterey jack).

To assemble the enchiladas, I warmed 6 flour tortillas in the microwave and then laid them flat on the countertop, pouring a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture onto each one. After folding each of the tortillas, burrito style (sides first, then lift one flap and roll the whole tortilla over so that the seam is on the bottom), I placed them side-by-side in a glass baking dish and covered them liberally with some store-bought green chile and more shredded cheese. So easy! The whole thing went into a 450 degree oven for about 12 minutes, and they were done!

To go along with the enchilada goodness, I wanted some fresh guacamole (this is just one of those ingredients that is never as good store-bought as fresh). Thankfully, I had bought some avocados at the grocery store (I LOVE sliced avocados on sandwiches), so I used three of them, along with some leftover fresh corn that I had from another recipe, to make this delicious chunky guac, adapted from a recipe I had seen online. All it took was mixing the following ingredients in a large bowl:

Guacamole

I love fresh guacamole!

  • 3 avocados, cubed
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 3 dashes Tabasco

Add a little salt and pepper to the mixture to suit your tastebuds and enjoy.

Namas-tasty!