Friday’s Flavors: Easy Chicken Pasta From Leftovers

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I don’t think it’s any secret that I LOVE pasta, but I’m not a huge fan of red sauce, and I don’t eat chicken in my pasta. Never. Not Ever. Until now.

Let me explain.

I hate wasting food. Quite often I’ll clear the refrigerator out on the weekends and make what I call a ‘garbage pail’ lunch. (Recipes that call for ‘a tablespoon of tomato paste’ drive me crazy, because tomato paste doesn’t come by the tablespoon. Which means I have to save the rest and find something to do with it.) But every once in a while the odds and ends from the meals I cooked over the week align into a shining ray of recipe gold. (In this case, the leftovers were bowtie pasta, chicken from a whole bird I roasted in the air fryer, tomato paste, and some large capers that had to be used within a week of opening.)

This one was so good I’m looking forward to making it again! AND – I finally have a go to for my chicken leftovers!

Note: Garlic, shallots, cooking wine, and pine nuts (gotta love Amazon for the great prices on those) are staples in my kitchen. I grow my own basil so I always have plenty of that on hand. And I tend to cook an entire box of pasta at a time and freeze portions because I live in Florida and nothing makes the house quite as hot and humid as a big pot of boiling water.

Ingredients:

leftover chicken, chopped or shredded

tomato paste or sauce

1 shallot

3 cloves garlic

cream sherry or other red cooking wine

fresh basil

pine nuts

capers

olive oil

nature’s seasoning

pepper

pasta (I usually cook the whole box at once and freeze extra portions.)

optional: shredded mozzarella cheese

Preparation:

In a medium to large frying pan sauté the shallots, capers, pine nuts and garlic together until shallots are opaque. Add a dollop (about 2 tablespoons) tomato paste or spaghetti sauce, whatever you have leftover on hand, into the pan, and a splash or two of red cooking wine (I use Cream Sherry) and stir until well mixed. Add your spices (I use Nature’s Seasoning because it’s a nice blend). Add your chicken and cook until hot. Add your pasta (if using leftover pasta, stir until the pasta is hot). Add fresh basil and stir. And that’s it!

Super easy and surprisingly delicious! I sprinkled a little shredded mozzarella on mine and couldn’t have been happier with this gourmet ‘garbage pail’ lunch!

If you try it, please let me know if you liked it!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Chicken Enchiladas

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

e16In all honesty, this is a recipe that takes a bit of time and effort. Are there short cuts? Definitely. You don’t have to make the sauce from scratch. You can buy pre-shredded cheese. You could even buy those bags of prepared chicken. Will it be as good? Probably not, but we’re all busy, so if you want to hack it, hack it! (It’ll still be cheesy, yummy, Mexican food goodness!)

Usually, when I make this I make it in bulk (this recipe is for 16 enchiladas, which can easily be stretched with additions). I freeze these in batches of 4, which in my house is a dinner and a lunch, plus, these enchiladas are amazingly tasty, so it’s totally worth it.

Ingredients for the Enchiladas:

2 pounds chicken breast

1 red onion

1 sweet onion

lime juice or natural margarita mix

chili powder

garlic powder

onion powder

cumin

extra sharp cheddar cheese

quesadilla cheese

Mexican cheese mix

16+ tortilla wraps

Ingredients for the Sauce:

(Here’s the thing about the sauce – everyone’s taste is different. While I like a robustly flavored sauce, you might prefer yours blander. Or spicy. Or you might want to buy a prepared sauce, or hack it by using a packet of taco seasoning instead of individual spices. If you make the sauce from scratch, start light and taste as you go to get the flavor that’s right for you.)

1 large sweet onion

1 large can tomato sauce (~ 29 oz)

1 can tomato paste (~ 6 oz)

1-2 tablespoons chili powder

1-3 teaspoons garlic powder

1-3 teaspoons cumin

1-3 teaspoons onion powder

1-3 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 – 1 1/2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips

olive oil

1-2 oz beer

Preparation:

e11e9Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a couple of baking sheets with oil so the chicken doesn’t stick. Beat the chicken thin with a meat mallet. Place on baking sheet, cover first side in either lime juice or all natural lime based margarita mix, then sprinkle with chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin. Flip and season the other side. Bake at 350 for 15- 20 minutes.

e8e7While the chicken is baking, prepare the sauce.

Sauté the onion in a bit of olive oil. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and stir. Add chili powder (this is the spice I add the most of), garlic powder, cumin, onion powder and dried oregano. Mix well and bring so a simmer. Taste as you go.

e6e5Add chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Add beer (just an ounce or two) and allow sauce to cook to thicken. After beer is absorbed, taste the sauce to make any final adjustments to the flavor, then set aside.

Remove chicken from oven when done. Chop the red and sweet onion and grate the cheese while chicken cools a bit. When ready, pull the chicken apart. It should be e4e12tender enough to do this without using a knife (but make it easier on yourself and use one).

(Note: You can add rice, black beans, vegetables, etc. to your enchilada filling if you want to – the possibilities are endless!)

If you’re using a glass pan, spray with oil for easy cleanup. As I said above, I freeze e13several portions of this, so this time I also bought a couple of cheap foil pans so I wouldn’t lose all my good glass Tupperware to the freezer.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your pan(s). Lay out your tortillas. I make two stacks and assemble two enchiladas at a time. Put chicken, red onion, cheddar and quesadilla cheese (plus anything else you want to add) on each wrap and roll. Place in pan. Continue until all your wraps are used.

e2Put sauce on top of rolled enchiladas, paying special attention to edges. Sprinkle with Mexican cheese mix, then top with sweet onion.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is starting to bubble. To make from freezer – place in refrigerator the night before to defrost. Cover with tinfoil and cook at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove tinfoil and e14cook another 10-20 minutes.

e1I like to spend the cooking time making my favorite homemade guacamole (find the recipe here). Garnish with fresh cilantro, green onions, and red onions. Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole and chips.

Enjoy!

If you make it, please tell me how you liked it!

Check back next Friday for another recipe!

 

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