Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – June 22, 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Taste of Home, April/May 2008.

I enjoy a good enchilada, but I’m not crazy about red enchilada sauce.  This recipe really spoke to me.  What’s not to love about chicken in a cream cheese and chili based sauce?  Of course, I had to contend with the fat and sodium content, but I worked on it… at least a little.

My finished product:

Picture published with recipe:

© Taste of Home

Now, I was really confused about the result of my enchiladas as compared to Taste of Home.  Now, granted, I used low-fat/no-fat ingredients (more on that later) but even factoring that in, there was just so much more sauce.  Also, the instructions direct you to pour it over the chicken.  They clearly didn’t do that.  Not to mention that their chicken doesn’t even look moist!  Obviously they garnished with some red peppers, so it is very possible that they altered the recipe without re-writing it for the web.  That is one of my pet-peeves.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessSIGH – Filling and rolling the enchiladas made my cabinets a disaster area.  You can’t roll them in the pan, so you have to fill the tortilla and roll it on your workspace and then transfer it to the baking dish – seam side down.  I dumped several during transfer and several others in the pan.  There are a lot of dishes that are used, the sauce is messy, and I had to pick apart a rotisserie chicken.

Start-to-Finish Time: A LITTLE OVER AN HOUR – Preparing the filling and sauce doesn’t take much time, but the prep work of dicing the chicken is time consuming.  Of course, if you choose to cook your own chicken breasts, you’ll have to add at least 30 minutes to your time.  The real consumption of time is filling and rolling the enchiladas.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – There isn’t much, but you do have to pull the chicken off the carcass and dice it.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – Some of the directions are tedious, but nothing it difficult.  Lots of mixing and rolling.

OverallNOT BAD – It was good, but I have a feeling I can find another recipe that is similar but not as messy to make or eat.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 10

Nutritional Information (2 enchiladas)
  • Calories 651
  • Total Fat 38g (Saturated Fat 18g)
  • Cholesterol 151mg
  • Sodium 1392mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 37g
  • Fiber 1g
  • Protein 37g

Taste of Home’s time estimate isn’t a bad one, but they didn’t specify using a rotisserie chicken in the ingredient listing.  If you decide to cook your own chicken to use, you’re going to have to add at least 30 minutes to the prep time.  Once you get a method for rolling the enchiladas, the rest of the process should go quickly.

The serving size is 2 enchiladas.  They are fairly small enchiladas as well, so that may not be filling for everyone.  If you serve it with some no-fat refried beans and rice with guacamole and salsa, it should be a hearty meal for anyone.

The calorie and fat content for the serving size is fairly high.  I tried to slim it down by using no-fat or reduced fat products and looked for low sodium options.  I don’t know how much I lowered the numbers, but I’d guess is was a significant drop.

Changes denoted by red text

1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
5 cups diced cooked rotisserie chicken
20 flour tortillas (6 inches), room temperature
2 cans (10¾ ounces each) condensed reduced-fat cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2 cups (16 ounces) reduced fat sour cream
1 cup skim milk
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
Cooking spray

Ingredient Notes:
Fat-Free Cream Cheese – Fat free cream cheese has almost half the calories of original and half of the total fat and cholesterol.  It held up well to the heat and wasn’t too liquid of a filling.

Rotisserie Chicken – to save time, this is your best option.  Remember to remove the skin to help reduce the fat content (it doesn’t work that well in the filling anyway).  Look for a non-seasoned or lightly seasoned chicken so there are no conflicting seasonings.

Reduced Fat Cream of Chicken Soup – often condensed soup adds a lot of fat and sodium to a dish.  Luckily, there are reduced fat options that cut out about a third of the calories and the majority of the fat in a dish while slightly lowering the sodium content.  Campbell’s now has a Healthy Request condensed soup that, while slightly higher in calories than the reduced fat soup, has less than half the sodium of the original.

Reduced Fat Sour Cream
  • I was worried that the sour cream would break down and be too runny, but it held together well in the mixing bowl and blended well with the other ingredients.  The sauce wasn’t as thick as it could have been, but I think that was more about the milk used than the reduced fat sour cream.
  • I usually go for the Dairy brand since it is one of the less expensive sour creams while also having a low fat version that has at least 25% less calories, fat and cholesterol.  However, I found that Breakstones has a fat free version (almost fat free, there’s .4g) that has less than half the calories and only a quarter of the cholesterol in it.  If you really want to try this recipe but are seriously watching your weight, it would be worth the extra money.

Skim Milk – I always use skim milk because that is the only milk we drink and I hate having to buy 2% for cooking.  Even using 1% milk drops the calories by 20% and cuts the fat and cholesterol in half.  Skim has zero fat and a relatively insignificant amount of cholesterol while shaving off a third of the calories.  Yes, it made the sauce a little more watery than it would have been had I used 2%, but it wasn’t such a difference that the enchiladas became soggy.

Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • There are several types of cheddar cheese (determined by the amount of milk in it) and this recipe doesn’t specify which one to use.  I went with a mild cheddar cheese.  If you don’t like cheddar, you can substitute Colby or a Colby-jack blend.
  • Going with a reduced fat cheese reduces the calories and fat by about a third and lowers the cholesterol slightly.  One thing about using the reduced fat cheese is sometimes it doesn’t melt as easily, but that wasn’t the case with this recipe.
  • I found that Sargento has a reduced sodium cheese as well, although it doesn’t have the significant calorie or fat reduction with it.

Cooking Spray – You have to grease the baking dishes and the easiest and quickest option is cooking spray.  They didn’t list it in the ingredient listing, but I wanted to make sure you had some on hand.

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
(2) Large mixing bowl
Hand mixer
(2) Spoons - mixing
(2) 13"x9"x2" Baking dishes

Equipment Notes:
Hand Mixer – if you only have a stand mixer, it will work.  I just hate having to drag mine out for something that my hand mixer can complete just as easily.

Baking Dishes – this refers to a glass or ceramic dish that is oven-safe.  Since there aren’t any acidic ingredients being used, you can use a metal pan if that’s all you’ve got.  However, you’ll want to increase the temperature by about 25°F.

(1)  Lightly grease each baking dish with cooking spray.

(2)  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, water, onion powder, cumin, salt and pepper with a hand mixer until smooth.

(3)  Stir in chicken.

(4)  Place ¼ cup down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in two 13" x 9" x 2" baking dishes.

(5)  In a large bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, milk and chilies; pour over enchiladas.

I made the sauce first and put a little in the bottom of the dish before I rolled the enchiladas.  You can do it either way; I just felt the sauce was going to smother the enchiladas by pouring all of it over the top.

(6)  Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until heated through.

(7)  Sprinkle with cheese; bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Honestly, I can’t figure out what Taste of Home did with all of their sauce by looking at their picture.  If I was going to change anything, I probably would use half of what was prepared or double the filling and make twice the enchiladas.

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