Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Leftover Pulled Chicken Enchiladas

I have always lived with someone. First it was my family, then college dorms and college apartments, then a variety of post-college apartments and houses that most often came with a roommate. It those years I've had my fair share of wonderful, fun and perfect-for-me roommates. I've also had my fair share of non-cleaning, rude, inconsiderate roommates. So these last 6 months have been in a new experience for me, as I am doing something I've never done before:

Be roommate free!

It's a different feeling when someone doesn't yell at me for not doing dishes or leaving my stuff all around. Actually the good roommates understand and sometimes would do my dishes or put my stuff in my room for me. So I'm sad I don't have a good roommate but I'm glad I also don't have a bad roommate yelling at me for leaving my purse's insides all strewn about while I was searching for a certain something for 20 minutes.

Because I can get a little obsessed/crazed like that.

I currently reside in a 600 square feet, 1-bedroom apartment (yes, that measurement includes the lanai). It has been liberating to empty out my purse all over the place and not have to worry about it. However, the weirdest change is I've had to drastically reduce how much I cook, as in volume. I use to live with other professionals, which meant a full house of working-full-time-plus-the-overtime-you-don't-get-paid-but-expected-to-work people. As such, leftovers were always welcome after a 12 hour workday. It use to be whenever I cooked I always wanted to fill the largest storage container and stash it in the fridge. Now I'm living alone. I have to adjust down the measurements or end up eating turkey chili for every meal... 2 weeks straight.

In the adjustment period the first thing I learned was to re-purpose my leftovers, since I hate throwing good food away. In this case 2 lbs of chicken breast in the last recipe turned out to be a pulled chicken overload. So I had to change it up. And enchiladas are the perfect leftover user upper.

Leftover Pulled Chicken Enchiladas
1 lb leftover pulled chicken (or you can use any leftovers you have such as beef or pork)
1 can of pinto beans (or black, or kidney)
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
10-12 corn tortillas
1 large can enchilada sauce (or homemade about 3 cups)
1 cup of cheese (or more)
Taco Bar Garnishes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together the chicken, beans, corn and cilantro. Get a baking sheet and pour 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking.

I was in front of a massive grill that was still hot so I threw all the tortillas on there and gave them a 30 second grill on each side. Alternatively, you can heat tortillas by wrapping in a moist paper towel and microwaving for 1-2 minute(s) until they are soft and pliable. 

Take a heaping tablespoon of the chicken mix, put it into the  warm tortilla and roll into a cigar shape. Place seam side down in the baking dish.  Do this until the baking dish is outta space or you run out of filling.

Pour the enchilada sauce over the top. Make sure to wet all areas of the corn tortillas. Top with cheese and stick in the oven.

Bake 20-30 minutes until the cheese is all melted, everything should look golden brown and delicious.

Pull out of the oven and let rest for 15-30 minutes. This is important unless you want tortilla to fall apart while you are scooping it out. It will still taste good, but it will look like a pile o' mess. If you are like me you will spend hours picking at the burnt cheese in the corners of the pan, because I had some spare time.

My choice of garnishes are fresh cilantro, a dollop of greek yogurt and some diced avocado while the enchiladas are still hot out of the oven. But the leftovers I took to work for lunch were plain and just as delicious.

Note: you can make this ahead and freeze it. Or make 2 and freeze 1. Or make 1 and portion it into lunch containers and freeze for work. If you can't tell already this is a great freezable recipe.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pulled Chicken in a crock pot

Over the holidays last year that I figured out that I hate my gym. I was tired of going and every machine taken over by some sweaty guy with a sweaty towel. Then I would go downstairs to the cardio room, now filled with the skinnier version I wanted to be, and try to get 60 minutes of exercise in. Even with TVs, an Ipod and a book, it was the longest 60 minutes of the day. Then I tried to hit up some classes, but after a month I found those dull too.

So I did something I thought I would never do, ready?
It's a little crazy - ok, a lot crazy:

I trained for a triathlon.

I told you it was crazy! But I like to swim, able to ride a bike and I knew running was the best way for me to get the body I had been coveting since high school. The multiple disciplines were exactly what my boring workout routine needed. I talked to a few people and joined a popular group for beginners. Thinking I would be in fair shape from my gym time I was surprised at the exercise load and struggled to keep up even in my beginner C group. But at the end of 6 months I finished not 1, but 2 triathlons. I am healthier than ever and looking forward to more training. Crazy? Maybe, but it works for me.

I also discovered other things about training for a triathlon. Did you know training sucks away all your spare time? and makes you so exhausted that all you want to do is fall in a heap in your living room floor? Seriously, I did it at least once a week. But training is half the equation, eating properly is the other half. I had an appetite so huge that even my co-workers were noticing that each day I was sucking down anything not nailed down. I also discovered cooking is hard to do when you are in a heap on your living room floor staring at the ceiling wishing for someone to spoon fed you and carry you to bed. So in the 6 months of training I discovered I could starve, go poor eating out or I could make great use of my slow cooker. 

Training makes me crave protein. Chicken in particular. Of course, I don't really have time to roast a chicken in the oven; although I have been dying to try this recipe. Truth be told when I roast a chicken I only enjoy eating the breast anyways. Lucky for me the slow cooker works while I sleep, or while I stare at the ceiling from the living room floor. And I never have to worry about burning down the house. I am an avid reader of the crockpot lady's blog and it has prepared me with enough knowledge to fake a pulled chicken recipe.

Mediterranean- Style Pulled Chicken
1-2 lbs of chicken breast (I had boneless, skinless around but you can use any chicken parts you like)
juice of 1 large lemon
1 small onion, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed or chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a plastic Ziploc bag or any other marinating container you have around. Swish it all around and let marinate for 30 minutes or 3 hours (not overnight or the lemon juice will cerviche your chicken). Dump everything into the slow cooker, turn on low overnight (or high for 4-6 hours). You are done when the chicken falls apart whenever you reach in to stir or check on it.

Note from fantastic slow cooker blog: if its too dry then cook it more, I know it sounds weird but it works, trust me... ummm.... her.

Separate chicken meat and juice. Shred chicken with 2 forks and let juices settle to skim off the fat (if you are so incline). Mix it back together until you get the consistency you want for your chicken. I skimmed the fat and stirred all the remaining juices back in because I love lemon and since I was serving it over barley it made a great sauce. Taste, season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Eat. Or in my case, eat some for lunch, then make enchiladas with the rest.