Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas

One of the ways I connect with students on my campus is through a monthly drawing that began this spring, where I make dinner for a student and a group of their friends after they participate in events on-campus.  I hosted the first couple of these dinners this spring, the first of which had a student requesting enchiladas.  I’ve made some enjoyable enchiladas in the past (see squash enchiladas, black bean and pineapple enchiladas, and honey lime chicken enchiladas), but thought that this recipe, adapted from Mexican Everyday, seemed like the perfect — and traditional — recipe to fit the bill.  Along with chips and salsa and a decadent snickers pie for dessert, the enchiladas made a nice meal.  While the original recipe in the cookbook includes a way to make enchilada sauce, I took a shortcut and purchased Rick Bayless’s Frontera enchilada sauce.  It also called for corn tortillas, but I used flour tortillas in their place.

Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas.jpg

Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas

1-2 packages of red chile enchilada sauce by Rick Bayless
8 flour tortillas
2 c coarsely shredded cooked chicken
1 c shredded Mexican melting cheese
1 small white onion cut into rings for garnish (opt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce over the bottom of a 13×9  baking dish, and stir another 1/2 cup sauce into the chicken. Lay out a warm tortilla, top with a portion of the chicken and roll up. Lay seam side down in the baking dish. Continue filling and rolling the rest of the tortillas and ladle the remaining sauce over the enchiladas* and sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake 10-15 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown. Garnish with onion rings and cilantro if desired.

Pumpkin Chicken Chili

A couple weeks ago I had a group of students to my house for dinner.  I knew folks had a lactose intolerance and a strong distaste for bananas as my starting points, and so I looked for recipes that might have been in season.  The day before they came to my house was the town’s Chili Cook-Off festival, which had amazing attendance (and I had the opportunity to judge last year!)!  I found this recipe for Pumpkin Chicken Chili from Gather.  The recipe was a hit with the students who came over and enjoyed some time together and every time I re-entered the house that day, the chili simmering away on the stovetop smelled so delicious.  The pumpkin and cinnamon scents were fairly hidden in the background throughout the tasting experience of the chili.  I would definitely make this again!

Pumpkin Chicken Chili

Pumpkin Chicken Chili

Pumpkin Chili Spice
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp chipotle powder
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger

2-3 Tbsp duck fat
7 lb chicken, skin removed and cubed
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp pumpkin chili spice
3 green bell peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
28 oz fire-roasted tomatoes
6 oz tomato paste
2 c chicken stock
14 oz pureed pumpkin
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of the duck fat to the skillet, and add half the chicken to the skillet, along with half the onion.  Season with half a tablespoon of spice, and brown the chicken on all sides.  Transfer to a large dutch oven and repeat with the remaining chicken and onion.

Heat the dutch oven over medium heat and add the peppers, chicken stock, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, and pureed pumpkin.  Stir until all ingredients are combined.  Season with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin chili spice, salt, and black pepper.

Bring the chili to a boil, turn it down low, and cook for 4 hours.  The chili can simmer on the stove until time to eat.

African Peanut Soup

At the start of February, the temperature suddenly dropped back below zero and soup became an absolute necessity.  I had been planning to make this soup for some time — it’s a question where the recipe came from — and it seemed like the perfect night to make it.  The vegetables and chicken are nicely sweetened by the peanut butter and a little heat is added with the crushed red pepper.  I added some salt — the peanut butter I used was a low-salt organic peanut butter and it needed just a bit to help bring all the flavors together.

African Peanut Soup

African Peanut Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
1 can (28 ounces) Italian tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (for garnish)

In vegetable oil, saute onions, bell peppers, and garlic until soft. Add chicken, stock, and tomatoes with juice, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.

Stir in peanut butter until well blended. Simmer about 5 minutes. Serve in bowls or on top of rice. Sprinkle with fresh thyme.

Brown Sugar Chicken

In November, one of my neighbors had surgery and I wanted to bring him and his wife some dinner that they could easily heat up.  This recipe for brown sugar chicken had been sitting in my pile of recipes to make and was easy enough to throw in the crockpot at lunch on the day of the surgery to bring over the next day.  I snagged a sandwich out of the shredded chicken as well and was pleased with how it turned out — not too sweet, but a nice subtle sweetness with a good hint of pepper.

Brown Sugar Chicken

Brown Sugar Chicken

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken pieces
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c sugar
1 c vinegar
1/2 c lemon-lime soda
3 Tbsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp black pepper

Place the chicken in a crockpot.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the top of the chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Shred chicken, then serve with brown sugar and green veggies.

Tex-Mex Chicken Chowder

Shortly after Thanksgiving, one of my colleagues had a few complications post-surgery and I wanted to bring her some food to alleviate some of the steps that generally need to happen in the day-to-day activities of life.  This recipe from the Fix It and Forget It cookbook was great, as I threw it in the crockpot before I started the day and then was able to work on holiday cards and wrapping presents, to have it ready at the end of the day.  I added some extra salt and cheese (I think it needed this from the homemade stock I was using — it had very little salt in it), but other than that, the recipe was spot-on.

Tex Mex Chicken Chowder

Tex Mex Chicken Chowder

1  chopped onion
1 c thinly sliced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
32 oz chicken broth
1 pkg country gravy mix
2 c milk
16 oz jar chunky salsa
32 oz bag frozen hash brown potatoes
4 1/2 oz chopped green chiles
8 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed

Combine the onions, celery, garlic, oil, chicken, and broth in a 5-quart slow cooker.  Cover.  Cook on low 2 1/2 hours, until chicken is no longer pink.

In a separate bowl, dissolve gravy mix into milk.  Stir into chicken mixture.  Add salsa, potatoes, chiles, and cheese and combine well.  Cook on low 2-4 hours, or until potatoes are fully cooked.

Indian Curry Chicken Balls

One summer day in July, when the humidity and heat were at their peak, a friend of mine hosted a little poolside party and asked us to bring some items.  I went looking for inspiration with ingredients I had on-hand, and in the White House Volunteers Cookbook, I found this recipe for Indian Curry Chicken Balls.  Since for a previous gathering of this group of folks I had made meatballs of a different sort, I thought it would be fun to continue that trend.

These have a little kick to them, but are a nice small-serving size.  The coconut, the chicken and almonds all go together nicely.  I made them the night before and then took them for our gathering the next day.

Indian Curry Chicken Balls.jpg

Indian Curry Chicken Balls

4 oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 c chopped cooked chicken
1/2 tsp salt
1 c slivered almonds
2 Tbsp chopped chutney
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 c flaked coconut

Beat cheese and mayonnaise until well blended.  Add remaining ingredients, except coconut.  Mix well.  Chill about 1 hour.  Shape into 36 balls.  Roll each in coconut.  Chill 3-4 hours before serving.

Freezes well and keeps well for a day or so.  Makes 3 dozen.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

My hippie puppy Meg was groomed last week.  How adorable are thee flowers for her ears?

View this post on Instagram

Meet my puppy, the hippie. #thatsmymeg

A post shared by Gwen Schimek (@gwenschimek) on

I have been meaning to make this recipe for months.  I decided to finally commit to doing it and am so glad I did.  I modified from the original recipe and instead of broiling, used the grill to cook the chicken thighs, but loved this Cooking Light recipe.  This is a recipe that I thought tasted exactly how I expected it to taste and I hope to make it again soon!

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
4 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs)