(Healthy) Chicken Enchilada Casserole Verdes

In my quest to make healthy, almost authentic, homemade Mexican food, I’ve thought about a few things I wanted to try.  Mostly, I’m hoping to make dishes that will satisfy and satiate my partner’s cravings for Mexican food.  If you haven’t read my two previous posts, my partner’s one vice in life is Mexican food.  I originally thought (or hoping) it was Chinese food, but have learned over the last several years that it’s Mexican food.  She is a glutton for anything Mexican, but mostly nachos, burritos, tacos, beans and rice.  She can eat Mexican food for several days in a row when she gets on her Mexican food kick.  And she’ll try to satisfy these cravings from Mexican restaurants to Taco Bell.  I know.  I know.  Taco Bell.  Sigh.  She eats very healthy majority of the time, but it’s the Taco Bell that drives me crazy.  No.  Actually, it kills me.  Like a slow painful death.  So we struck a deal as of yesterday, and that was if she stops eating Taco Bell, I’d cook her healthy Mexican food more regularly.

So I found a really tasty recipe for homemade chile verdes sauce, and had lots of leftover shredded chicken, and thought chicken enchiladas verdes would be the perfect first Mexican food dish to start off with.

Don’t let the title fool you.  I know that “healthy foods” can sometimes mean lacking flavor; however, this is anything but lacking of flavor.  This recipe beats out the chicken enchiladas verdes that I get at Mexican restaurants.

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

24 Mission Foods’ Extra Thin Corn Tortillas (taco size)
3 chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
6 cups homemade chili verdes sauce
2 cups shredded low-fat Mexican cheese blend
Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), optional
Guacamole, optional

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss together the shredded chicken, 1/2 cup of chili verde sauce, and 1/3 cup of the Mexican cheese blend.

Spoon a thin layer of the tomatillo sauce on the bottom of the 11×7-inch baking dish.  Place 4 corn tortillas, overlapping as necessary, in the bottom of the baking dish.  Cover with one-third of the meat mixture; top with 2 cups of chili verde sauce; sprinkle with 1/3 of the cotija and shredded cheese.  Repeat layers twice, then top with remaining tortillas.  Pour chili verde sauce over tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cotija and remaining shredded cheese.  Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Makes 3 servings of 2 casserole squares each.

Calories per serving: 400 calories

Baked Tilapia Fish Tacos

I love a good Baja fried fish taco with cabbage, crema, and a fresh squeeze of lime juice.  I can eat six tacos in one sitting, which may not seem like much to some, but I’m usually pretty full by number three.  Everything just tastes better when you overindulge!  I haven’t had a fried fish taco in a really long time.  Mainly it’s because I am on a weight loss kick and on my way to reaching my goal weight, but also because of wanting to eat more healthy.  So I really try to limit my fried foods intake.  I know, I know.  What kind of foodie am I?!  A healthy one who will indulge in bad foods from time to time :)

I hate to deep fry foods at home.  However, at one point – probably at my most unhealthiest – I entertained the idea of buying an electric Fry Daddy to fry anything and everything.  Luckily, I never purchased the item.  Now the idea of deep frying at home disgusts me.  The smell of deep fried oil lingering in the house for days as it clings on to every surface of the house.  The clean up of splattered oil on the kitchen counters, back splash, and floors.  Reusing the oils to fry a few times later sounds vile.  And finding empty cans or containers to discard the used oils is painful enough.

I’d rather sear, simmer, broil, poach, grill or roast to attain the desired yummy end product.  I’ll pan fry with a little oil from time to time, but I never deep fry foods.  Instead, I’ve gotten very creative at using the oven to “fry” things.  And a fish taco just happens to be one of them!

This recipe embodies all the goodness of a crunchy fish taco minus all the fatty calories!  So for those of you who are calorie conscious, this recipe just might be for you.

4 tilapia or cod fillets sliced into strips
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
Small white corn tortillas
Napa cabbage, shredded
Limes, cut into wedges
Jalapeno-cilantro aioli

Pre-heat oven to 500.  Place cookie sheet in oven to pre-heat as well.

Combine the fish, olive oil and lime juice in a in ziploc bag to marinate for about 10-20 minutes.  This marinade gives it a nice lime-y flavor.

While the fish is marinating, blend together the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper, cayenne and paprika in a shallow dish.

Remove the fish and shake off excess lime juice and then coat with the flour/cornmeal mixture.  Place fish on HOT baking sheet that has been sprayed with PAM or olive oil, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Flip the fish on its other side and bake for another 5 minutes.  To note, this method of cooking does not make the fish crunchy as it would if you fried or or pan-fried it.  It just has a small hint of a crunchy texture.

Conversely, if you don’t want to bake the fish, you could also pan fry the fish fillets in a little extra virgin olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Of course the cooking time also depends on the thickness of your fish fillets.  Remove the fish from the pan and place on a towel-lined plate to absorb the excess grease.

Heat the corn tortillas in a microwave, and assemble!  I usually place two fish fillets onto each tortilla, add some shredded cabbage, a little jalapeno-cilantro aioli, and a squeeze of lime juice.  Of course, you can add what ever you desire onto your fish taco.

This meal really is the easiest prescription for a quickly prepared meal if you are in a hurry, or if you just want something yummy.

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