Today I am going to make what I call a “Monday Meal”.  It’s a Monday meal because it does require that some of the ingredients be prepared ahead of time.  If you work Monday-Friday, you might only have time on Sunday night to prep ingredients for the week. This is a perfect meal to kick off your work week, and all you’ll need to do on Monday is cook the chicken while you work!  You can also use the leftovers for the rest of the week to create other tasty dishes.

I always make the enchilada sauce, rice and toppings a day ahead so that when it’s time to assemble; it doesn’t take long at all.  If you decide to do this all in one day, be sure to set aside a few hours.  They won’t be labor intensive, but there are many steps.

I usually start by making the enchilada sauce.  The sauce keeps well in the fridge and can even build more flavor overnight.

Enchilada Sauce:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper (black pepper is fine as well)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Juice of one lime

Directions:

In a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter.

Once hot, add the onion and let cook for about 4 minutes, or until the onions have softened.

Add the garlic and let cook for one minute.

Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Let this cook for a minute or two, until the spices become aromatic.

Add the paste and mix well.  The mixture should be very dry at this point and very thick.  Let this cook for another two or three minutes.

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Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking frequently.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and let it come to a simmer.  Let this mixture cook and thicken until it coats the back of a spoon and has a velvety look when it is poured.  Remove from the heat and let this cool.  You can make the sauce ahead and use it a few days later.  It actually develops more flavor as it sits.  If you plan on keeping the sauce for longer than a few days, substitute the butter for vegetable oil, the fresh onion with a ½ teaspoon of onion powder and the fresh garlic with a ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.  The dry spices will help preserve the sauce longer.

Toasted Rice:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Juice of half a lime (optional)

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and let it get hot.

Add the onions and cook for about 4 minutes, letting them soften.

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Add the dry rice to the pan and let it brown for several minutes, until it begins to take on a light brown color.  Do not burn it!

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Add the chicken broth, salsa, cumin, salt and pepper.  Stir well and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, cover the skillet.  Let it cook for 20 minutes.  Do NOT lift the lid during this process at all!

After 20 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice.  Give it a taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  I usually make this ahead and then reheat it right before I serve the enchiladas, but you can make it right before the meal if you prefer! When you are ready to serve the rice and it is hot, toss the cilantro in and give it a quick stir.  A quick squeeze of lime over the top can be a tasty addition as well!

Slow-Cooked Salsa Chicken:

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 16oz jar of salsa (your preference)
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
  • ¼ cup onion, diced

Directions:

You will need a slow cooker for this recipe.

Add about ¼ of the salsa to the bottom of the cooker.

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Add about ¼ of the taco seasoning over the salsa.

Top with the chicken thighs, skin side up.

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Add rest of the taco seasoning over the chicken.

Top with the onions and remaining salsa.  Try to mix the seasoning in a little, though it will mix more thoroughly during cooking.

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Place in the slow cooker and set to low for 5 ½ -6 hours.  The chicken is ready when it is easy to shred and falls off the bone.

Remove from the cooker and let it cool for about 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.

Shred the chicken and remove the bones and skin, reserving as much of the salsa as possible.  Add back into the slow cooker and keep on “warm” until ready to use.

Chicken Enchiladas:

Ingredients:

  • Enchilada sauce (recipe above)
  • Shredded Salsa Chicken (recipe above)
  • Can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Package of corn tortillas
  • Shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican blend from store

Directions:

In a large baking dish, line the bottom with a thin coat of enchilada sauce.

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Before you roll the enchiladas, you will want to steam the tortillas to make them easier to use.  Wrap your stack of tortillas in paper towels and then wrap then in either microwave safe plastic wrap or a microwave safe plastic bag that is sealed.  Microwave them for 30 seconds at a time until they are warm and soft.  It usually takes between one and two minutes.

To make the enchiladas, lay a corn tortilla flat on your work surface.  Pick one side of the tortilla and start by added a little bit of cheese.  Top this with a small handful of the chicken mixture.  Then add a few of the black beans, a little drizzle of enchilada sauce and little more cheese.  To roll, start on the side that you built your enchilada on.  Roll that side up to just where the enchilada fillings end and roll it as tightly as possible.  When it is finished, the open part should be on the bottom.  You will be placing these fairly close together, but you do want sauce to be able to fall between them.

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Repeat this process until there is no more room in the dish (as shown).

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With a ladle, top the enchiladas with sauce, using enough for it to drip down the sides.  You want to cover as much of the tortilla as possible to avoid burning in the oven.

Top the enchiladas with plenty of cheese, covering any spots there were missed by the sauce.

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I usually bake these with no cover since the chicken is hot when it goes in and helps heat things from the inside.  If you make these with cold ingredients (which is perfectly fine!) you will want to cover the enchiladas with aluminum foil for the first half of the baking process.  Check these after 10 minutes.  When they are done the cheese will be melted and the sauce will be bubbling.  If they aren’t cooked after ten minutes, check back every three minutes until cooked to your preference.

When finished baking, remove from the oven and let them cool for about 5 minutes.  Remove them from the dish and serve on a plate topped with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or whatever toppings you prefer and love. I have added a few recipes for toppings at the end of this article.

This recipe is extremely customizble.  You can make these with steak, beef, ground turkey, grilled veggies, beans only etc.  The sky is the limit!  You can also use this recipe to make chicken tacos, burritos, quesadillas and other dishes.  We almost always have a ton of leftover and make tacos and taco salads all week.

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Salsa Fresca:

Ingredients:

  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced with seeds and liquid removed
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice of one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

Combine all ingredients and stir.

This can be made ahead of time, but will likely need to be drained before use.  Draining this salsa frequently can extend the life by a few days.  You can add more lime juice as you use it.

You can also make this salsa while the enchiladas bake.

Spicy Guacamole Recipe: (not pictured)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Avocados, They should be very soft and green
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ Jalapeño, minced (You can use more if you prefer it spicy and can remove the seeds if you prefer it more mild)
  • 1 plum tomato, diced with seeds and liquid removed
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped (more if preferred)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of one lime

Directions:

Slice the avocados in half lengthwise.  To remove the pit, you can take a large chef’s knife and carefully hack the knife into the pit as shown, then twist it and remove it.  Be careful if you do it this way, especially when you try to get the pit off the knife.  I have seen some awful injuries from this!  If you’re not too confident with the knife, simply squeeze the avocado out of the skin and pull the green avocado off the pit with your hands.

Add the onion and garlic.  Mash the avocado, onion and garlic until there are only a few chunks of avocado.  You can decide how chunky or smooth you want your guacamole to be here.

Once mashed to your satisfaction, add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  This is not a dish you want to prepare ahead, but you can if you absolutely must, just follow the directions below:

Place the remaining guacamole in a container that is just a tiny bit larger than what you have to store.  Air is the natural enemy of avocados, so the less space for it in the container, the better.  Make sure the guacamole is stored evenly in the container.  Take a piece of plastic wrap and place it directly on the top of the guacamole, making sure to press it down so that the entire top surface is touching the plastic.  If you see any air bubbles, try to squish them out at this point.  You can add another layer of plastic wrap if you want to, then place the lid on the container and immediately place it in the fridge.  When you remove it the next day, there may be some discoloration on the top of the guacamole, but you can just spoon this off and it should be bright green underneath.  While this is not the ideal way to serve guacamole, I have done it countless times in my house.  The discoloration of the avocado doesn’t mean it has spoiled or turned, but it’s not nearly as pretty or appetizing, so avoiding it is best.  A few squirts of extra lime juice before putting the guacamole away can also help preserve the color.

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