February 17, 2018 Chicken Mushroom Enchiladas

Now that I’ve mastered the cauliflower tortilla I thought it would be fun to try them in a chicken enchilada recipe. The “caulitillas” are just about the same size as a corn tortilla and not delicate as I was originally concerned, but very pliable and sturdy. Of course corn tortillas are what you would typically use and would be fine in this recipe. You can buy enchilada sauce in the supermarket but it’s quick and quite simple to make your own. You also can control the heat to your own taste. My advice would be to start out on the safe side with the amount of chili powder you add, you can always add more, it’s harder to tame the heat. I used a combination of regular and chipotle chili powder for its smoky quality. Measure out your ingredients before you start the recipe because you will be busy whisking to ensure a smooth sauce.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan until it begins to sizzle. Add the flour and spices, whisking constantly until the spices become fragrant and deepen in color. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce and chicken stock and continue to whisk constantly to remove any lumps. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer, it will begin to thicken slightly. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Now it’s time to assemble, you should have ready, a 9 x 13  inch baking dish, the tortillas, the warmed filling, the warmed sauce and shredded cheese.   I chose to make a filling of shredded chicken and sautéed mushrooms but this sauce would be good with many filling combinations. Many recipes call for dipping the tortilla in the chili sauce. I thought that was too messy so I just put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of my casserole dish.

Lay out your tortilla and spread about two tablespoons of the filling down the center. Roll up the tortilla and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas. Top with additional sauce and shredded cheese and bake until the cheese is melted. Not the prettiest dish for certain, but definitely delicious. Leftovers heat up nicely.

Spices and flour for the chili sauce.
Takes only ten minutes to make a delicious complex sauce.


Chicken and mushroom enchilada filling.
Filling the “caulitilla”.
A thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
Rolled and filled tortillas ready to be topped with sauce.
Next the sauce and cheese.
Ready to dig into!


Chicken Enchiladas

Makes 10-12

Red Enchilada Sauce

Makes about 2½ cups


  • 2 T vegetable oil (I used avocado)
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 3 T chili powder-I used 2 T regular and 1 chipotle (Penzey brand)
  • 1 ½ t ground cumin
  • ½ t dried oregano (Mexican is best)
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • 1/8 t cayenne pepper
  • ¼ t cocoa powder
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 2 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ to ¾ c tomato sauce


  1. Measure out the flour and the spices into a small bowl.  Whisk to combine.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, warm the oil until it begins to sizzle.
  3. Add the flour/spice mixture and whisk constantly. Cook until fragrant and darkened in color.
  4. Whisk in the tomato paste and sauce until thoroughly combined with the flour/herb mixture. In a steady stream, whisk in chicken broth.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and let sauce come to a simmer. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, sauce will thicken slightly. If not using immediately you may need to thin it out with a little stock or water.
  6. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool slightly. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Shredded Chicken and Mushroom Filling



  1. In a medium saute pan cook the mushrooms over medium high heat until they release their juices and are softened, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl add chicken and slightly cooled mushrooms.
  3. Stir in about a half cup of sauce to moisten the ingredients.


  • 9 x 13″ baking dish
  • 10-12 corn tortillas or “caulitillas
  • Chili sauce
  • 2 c shredded Mexican blend cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Coat the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of the sauce.
  3. Set up an assembly line to make the tortillas: corn or cauliflower tortillas, chicken mushroom filling, cheese and sauce.
  4. Lay out a tortilla and place about 2 generous tablespoons of the filling down the center of the tortilla. Sprinkle a little cheese on top. Roll it up with your fingertips and place in the baking dish, seam side down. Continue rolling and filling the rest of the tortillas.
  5. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes and serve immediately.



February 3, 2018 Chicken, Butternut Squash and Chickpea Soup

Chicken, butternut squash and garbanzo bean soup is the perfect comfort food loaded with lean protein, delicately sweet butternut squash, nutty garbanzos and spinach for a healthy meal. This hearty main dish soup of my own creation is a complete meal with almost all pantry items with exception of the spinach. Blue potatoes and butternut squash are still a part of the larder from last year’s  garden and I am finally making a dent into the supply of butternut squash from the fall harvest.

To save time you can buy cubed butternut squash in the produce section of most supermarkets. But if you choose to start with a whole squash, this is a method that works for me. I start by washing off the squash, any dirt left behind when you start cutting the squash will be transferred to your knife and subsequently, the squash flesh. Cut off a ½-inch piece at both ends so that they are flat, then I cut it where the neck and the bulb meet. I cut the bottom in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy fibers, a grapefruit spoon works well here. You can discard the seeds but I like roasting them for a snack or a salad topping. Use a vegetable peeler or chef’s knife to remove all of the skin and the green veins that are directly under the skin, your finished product should just be orange flesh. Now you can use a knife to cut the squash into pieces. I was aiming for 1½ inch pieces. The squash I used for this recipe weighed in 3.25 pounds and made about 8 cups of raw squash. In a large bowl, toss the squash with a little olive oil and salt and roast on a baking sheet until the cubes are caramelized but not at the point of disintegrating into the soup. The squash measured 4 ½ cups after roasting.

The soup would be good without it, but I added some chicken to up the protein quotient and really make it feel like a meal. Normally I would use chicken thighs, but I had boneless breasts in the fridge. I wanted to keep the chicken as moist as possible, (there is nothing worse than dried out chicken in your soup) so I turned to a method that I have used in the past, poaching. Poaching is a method that cooks chicken gently and slowly. Boneless breasts are arranged in a single layer and covered with the appropriate aromatics and liquid, water in this case, but a splash of wine is good too. The pot is brought to the boil, then reduced to a simmer. After about eight minutes, check the temperature of the chicken in the thickest part of the breast. Chicken is supposed to be cooked to 165°F but since I knew I would be adding it to my soup pot, I was aiming at 155-158°F so it wouldn’t overcook in that step. Remove from the poaching liquid and let cool, then shred into bite sized pieces. An easier approach? Use the meat from a rotisserie chicken.

Once you are finished these steps, the soup comes together very quickly. In a large Dutch oven, saute the onion, then add the garlic and herbs. The broth, tomatoes and garbanzos are next. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat. Add the squash, chicken and spinach and cook for about ten minutes, until the spinach is wilted.

Freshly cooked garbanzos are a favorite of mine and would be great in this recipe but would require some advanced planning. Puree a few cups of the soup before the last ingredients are added if you want to give the soup a more stew like consistency.

Peeled whole butternut squash.
Preparing the butternut squash.

Chicken, Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Soup

Serves four


  • 1 butternut squash, about 3 lb
  • Extra virgin olive oil-for baking the squash and making the soup
  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ to 1 lb chicken breasts 2-3 relatively the same size or already cooked and shredded chicken, breast or thigh meat
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • ½ t ground coriander
  • 3-4 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 1-10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies (mild or hot)
  • 1-15.5 oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 4-5 cups spinach leaves


Preparing the butternut squash

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel, seed and cut squash into 1½-in cubes. Alternately use 8 cups  of pre-cut squash.
  2. Put the squash cubes in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt. Toss to coat and place on a baking sheet, distributing the cubes evenly as possible.
  3. On the lower rack of the oven, bake squash for ten minutes. Gently flip the squash pieces so that the sides that aren’t caramelized are on the bottom, bake for another 5 minutes. Redistribute the squash pieces again and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Remove squash from baking sheet and transfer to a plate to cool.

Poaching the chicken

  1. Place the chicken breasts in a heavy bottomed pot, large enough to hold them without overlapping but relatively snug.
  2. Cover the breasts by an inch and a half with cool (not hot) water with a pinch of salt, or broth, garlic, a sprig of thyme or a bay leaf.
  3. Over medium high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Partially cover and at the eight minute mark insert an instant read thermometer at the thickest point of the breast to check the temperature. I like pulling mine off the heat around 158°F since they will continue to cook a little after they are removed from the cooking liquid and when added to the hot soup will cook a  little more.
  4. Let the chicken cool then shred along the grain into bite sized pieces.

Assembling the soup

  1. In a large 5-quart Dutch oven cook the onion over medium high heat until translucent. Add the garlic and spices are cook for another minute.
  2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes and chick peas and bring to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and add squash, chicken and spinach, heat through for about ten minutes or until spinach is wilted.
  4. Serve in warmed bowls.