Thursday, February 22, 2018

Slowcooker shredded chicken + easy enchiladas

Hello! Thanks for your sweet comments on my last post. I've been wanting to get back here all week, but the Dreaded Crud has hit my house and I've been too busy taking care of ill children to be able to blog. Everyone will be fine, but the illness drags on and on. I'm hoping that a nice, calm weekend at home will get everybody back to robust health. I'm feeling fine, by the way, and doing everything in my power to stay healthy. I had a whole list of things I'd been wanting to accomplish this week and I did exactly none of them, but there's always next week. Hopefully, everyone will be well by then and life can resume as usual. As I've said before, I don't think illness in the house is all bad. You are forced to slow down, stay home, and tend to the basic things. I'd never wish for anyone to be sick, but in a way, the break from life at normal speed is almost welcome. This morning, I'm watching snow fall outside and enjoying a marathon viewing of Animal Airport on Netflix.

I've read some fantastic blog posts lately, dealing with meal-planning and cooking. I think I'll write a similar post soon, when I have a little more time to sit and think, but I wanted to share a couple of cooking tips/recipes today. I've been finding myself feeling sort of bored with a lot of my cooking lately, and have been looking for new, interesting ways to do things. One thing I've been doing fairly often is to cook chicken breasts in my crockpot that I can shred for use in other recipes. Do you ever do this? It's a really convenient way to have cooked chicken on hand, for use in salads, sandwiches, casseroles, and more. There are many ways to make crockpot shredded chicken, but here is the way I've been doing it; I'm aiming for chicken that has a versatile seasoning so that it can be used in a variety of different types of cooking.

Crockpot Shredded Chicken
2 lbs. uncooked chicken breasts
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper

I always coat my crockpot liner with cooking spray before I put any food in, to help keep it from sticking. I place the chicken in the pot, then pour in the liquid around it. You can use water or chicken broth. I tend to use water, because I rarely have ready-to-use broth on hand (I usually use bouillon cubes in soups), but if you were to use broth, you might wish to adjust the added salt. Then I sprinkle the spices evenly over the meat. I know it seems like you're just boiling chicken here, which I admit doesn't seem appetizing, but it works well and gives you very tender meat - trust me.

Crockpots can vary a lot in cooking time and temperature needs, but in my old-school, manual, dual-setting Rival crockpot, I cook this chicken on LOW for 2-3 hours. You may have to experiment with your own crockpot. You can also do what I do, and use a thermometer to know when the chicken is ready. Chicken is safely cooked at 165 degrees. When my chicken is fully cooked, I remove it from the crockpot and place it on a cutting board to cool a bit until I can handle it. At this point, I turn off the crockpot, reserving the liquid inside for later.

Have you ever shredded meat before? Some people like to use two forks to pull the meat into shreds. You can even get a special tool that looks like a giant comb for this purpose. I just use my hands for this chicken. I put the chicken in a bowl that has a lid, and use a ladle to pour some of the cooking liquid over the meat, to keep it moist. Then I cover it and pop it in the fridge until I need it. This chicken will stay fresh for several days in the fridge. I take some as needed for my lunch, to put on a salad, or mix with mayo for a chicken salad sandwich, or I use the whole recipe for one family meal. One thing I love to make with shredded chicken is an enchilada recipe I found in one of my Betty Crocker calendars a few years ago, which I've adapted a bit to our own tastes.

Chipotle Adobo Enchiladas (adapted from Betty Crocker)

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
20 ounces canned enchilada sauce
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 tbsp. taco seasoning mix
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
6 flour tortillas
Sour cream

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.

In an 8-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, cook 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, cook additional 1-2 minutes.

Transfer onion-garlic mixture to a medium bowl. Add chicken and taco mix, stir until well-combined.

In small food processor, process chipotle chile and enchilada sauce until smooth. Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce into baking dish, and spread in even layer. Add 1 cup of the enchilada sauce to the chicken mixture along with 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until well combined.

Place slightly less than 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture along middle of each tortilla. Roll up, and place seam sides down in baking dish. Top with remaining enchilada sauce, followed by remaining cheese.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is hot and cheese is melted and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

This recipe is very flexible. When I first started making it, I followed it as written. The recipe uses much less enchilada sauce. I don't know about you, but I need a lot of sauce in my enchiladas - both to soak into the tortillas as they bake, and to have extra for serving. So I use two 10-ounce cans of green chile enchilada sauce, which is the type we prefer. The enchilada sauce and chipotles in adobo can be quite spicy, so I stick to mild taco seasoning to keep the enchiladas from being so hot some family members can't eat it. With this combination, it's just hot enough.

If you aren't familiar with chipotles in adobo, they're a really wonderful ingredient that gives a smoky, spicy flavor to any dish. A chipotle is a kind of roasted, smoked pepper, and adobo is a sauce that it's sort of stewed in. You can buy them chopped or whole. I prefer to buy them whole because they're a bit easier to work with that way. When I open a can of chipotles, I use what I need for a recipe (usually just one pepper plus a bit of sauce), then I freeze the rest of the peppers in an ice cube tray, added a bit of sauce into each compartment. When everything is frozen solid, I remove the chipotle cubes from the tray and wrap each one tightly with Saran Wrap. Then I put all the wrapped cubes into a Ziploc freezer bag and store them with my frozen vegetables in the freezer. This same bag also usually contains frozen cubes of green or red chile sauce (we make our own supplies of both types). It's great for cooking, especially with something like chipotles, since I pretty much never need very much at one time.

I make the sauce mixture in my blender, because my small food chopper isn't large enough for the additional sauce quantity I like to use. It only takes a few seconds to whizz up the sauce with the chipotle and blend them well. I leave the chipotle a little chunky; it looks pretty and gives you a little bite here and there. I also like to use my blender for this step because the blender jar has a pour spout on it, which makes it easier to control as I measure the sauce for each step of the recipe.

Shredded chicken is hard to stir. When I combine it with the onions/garlic, taco mix, sauce and cheese, I find it much easier if I use tongs and sort of toss it around the bowl to mix everything up.

I like to use larger (8 to 10-inch) flour tortillas for this, to make it a more substantial meal, but you could use any kind or size you like. I'm sure corn tortillas would work here, and smaller ones as well, but you'd have to fill them accordingly. With my larger tortillas, I have to shingle them a bit to fit them into the pan.

We love this meal so much. It's a little more labor-intensive than most things I make, so I tend to save it for a weekend. I usually cook the chicken the day before I plan to make this recipe, so that I don't have to do it all in one day, but you could do it all if you cooked the chicken in the morning. OR, you could use leftover roasted chicken, or even meat pulled from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. You can do whatever works for you; adjust the sauce quantity, the spiciness, or the cheese type or amount, along with the tortillas. You could even mix up your own spices instead of using the taco mix. It's a nice recipe for planned leftovers too; we usually get a family dinner and lunch the next day from this recipe, or a couple of days of work lunches for the Bear instead. You could even freeze the whole pan and reheat them on a different day. I love having recipes like this in my plan, and it's even better with easy-to-make, recipe-ready chicken.


  1. YUM! I will definitely give these a try. I am terrible at meal planning. I hope you will do a post about it. I could use all the help I can get.

  2. First of all, I hope your family gets rested and well very soon.
    I hope you can be Lysoling everything and opening up the windows!
    Thank you for the crockpot chicken idea...
    I love my crockpot, but have never used it do do chicken!
    Thanks again, and have a slow, cozy, healthy weekend. : )

  3. Mmm...yum!

    Hope you are all feeling better now, Jennifer.

  4. That sounds good Jennifer. Would you believe it, on Monday I bought a packet of cooked chicken pieces at a supermarket (Aldi) for £1.99 and though it tasted better than - what I call, sandwich meat (flat, processed squares or circles of meat) - it wasn't that good. I think I will try this in the crock pot ready for a nice lunch one day. The teens like nice things for their lunches at school / college.
    I hope your family recover back to good health soon, take care, Cathy x

  5. Sorry you've had illness in the house, I hope everyone is back to full strength very soon. My week has gone the same way for various reasons. But I know what you mean about slowing down and just going with it. CJ xx

  6. Oh, I hope everybody is well at your house soon and you don’t get it. Dennis is finally feeling better and that is such a relief for us. It’s funny, I just posted about meal planning on my blog today too. In all my years, I have never thought about pre-cooking and shredding the chicken in the crockpot. Thank you so much for this tip. I will definitely be using it. Have a lovely weekend Jennifer.
    Blessings, Betsy

  7. I hope everyone is feeling better soon and that you stay healthy. This recipe looks yummy! I love enchiladas, but often don't think to make them. Thanks for the new recipe! I'll be making them soon!

  8. Great minds think alike - I made chicken-black bean enchiladas last week and this morning, I put chicken breasts in the Crockpot with some chili powder and cumin, then poured a little salsa over them. Shredded them (yes, I use the two forks method) right in the Crockpot, heated corn tortillas on the gas stove, then used the chicken to fill the tortillas and we added chopped onion, cilantro and sliced avocado. Delish!

  9. I like having shredded chicken handy too. Your enchiladas look so good! I've not used adobo but have heard it's really good. I better try it!

  10. Hope everybody is on the mend and you manage to have a good weekend. I am great fan of the slow cooker, particularly when we have guests. It enables me to have a meal ready quickly when we have been out on one of little jaunts. I have cooked chicken many times but have never tried enchiladas.

  11. oh it's so hard to have sickness though I do get the loving of scaling back and being quiet. we all need more of that! That is a really nice recipe! I love how you are organized (i.e. freezing things in little amounts). I love reading about what you are doing and what you are cooking! It really makes a difference, making meals for our family, it's like giving love and warmth to them! God bless and I hope the sickness is over real soon and that you stay well!!!

  12. Oh dear. Only Andy has had a terrible cold here, the rest of us have escaped so far. That looks like one wholesome meal. Have a good weekend. Jo x

  13. I hope your family feels better soon (fingers crossed you stay well). I love enchiladas, haven't had them for ages. The ingredients you show are not so easy to find here, I have never seen canned chilli sauce or chipotle. Such a good idea with the freezer cubes! I am amazed that you have enough left for lunch when you have your enchiladas. I'd have to make two pans for my hungry crowd and have nothing left. I like your recipe, thank you. I wonder if a pressure cooker on a low setting might work? For some reason I don't understand I can't eat cold or reheated poultry. The thought makes me shiver actually. I always wonder why that is. It is unfortunate, shredded chicken in the fridge sounds like a perfect ingredient for a family meal. Have a lovely, peaceful weekend. x

  14. I hope your family recovers soon Jennifer. I was hit with a flu bug yesterday. I rarely get sick, so this sent me for a loop. Your recipes look yummy, and I'll definitely revisit. We too have been trying new recipes. It all started when my daughter's boyfriend was here for more and more meals!! We tend to have something special on Sunday nights again (which I love). My husband and I share duties. He might do a crock pot dish, and I'll make dessert. One time the boyfriend surprised us all when he brought to homemade pies from our favourite pie store! We might just keep him ;)



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