Earlier this week I made one of my favorite recipes: fresh homemade salsa verde. I made it as a treat for my family to snack on with chips, but of course I had to make a double batch so we could enjoy one of our favorite weeknight dinners the next day: salsa verde chicken enchiladas.
Chicken enchiladas are a staple in our house. Red enchilada sauce is my personal favorite, but my husband absolutely loves salsa verde on anything, especially enchiladas. This is one of my favorite chicken enchilada recipes because it’s easy, quick, and filled with cheesy, saucy goodness. These enchiladas only have 5 main ingredients, and they’re things I almost always have on hand.
Lately, it’s been hard to get the whole family to sit down to dinner together. With two teenagers who are always at theatre rehearsals or basketball practice, schedules are unpredictable. I’ve started looking for recipes I can freeze in individual portions so the kids can prepare them easily and (I hope) eat less fast food when they’re ravenous after a long day. These green chile chicken taquitos have been a huge hit. They’re spicy, satisfying and crunchy, but baked instead of fried with about 300 calories each.
You can use any kind of cooked chicken as the base for the filling for these taquitos. The day I made this recipe I used cooked rotisserie chicken breast meat I bought at Costco, but you could use any cooked chicken you have on hand. Allie’s Crock-Pot Cilantro Lime Shredded Chicken works great in this recipe.
The cooked chicken is mixed with green salsa, canned green chiles, garlic and spices in a large sauté pan, and then simmered for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. You want the filling to be fairly dry and not soupy. The filling gets its creamy texture and richness from a little bit of cream cheese, and a bright finish from fresh lime juice and cilantro.
There is a certain Mexican restaurant that’s very popular in our hometown, and maybe in yours. Its also very popular in my house, and maybe in yours. Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salads? Creamy Tomatillo Dressing? Chile Roasted Beef Burritos? Ring a bell? Maybe you know what I’m talking about…
This recipe started out as a Copy-Cat Café Rio Chicken recipe, but in my kitchen it’s become so much more. This Cilantro Lime Chicken is a staple in my house, and I use it in many different ways.
In its most basic form, this recipe is something you’ve probably seen before: chicken breasts, salad dressing, and salsa cooked in a Crock-Pot then shredded. It’s so simple you don’t even really need a recipe. What sets this one apart is using a homemade marinade instead of pre-mixed store bought salad dressing. It takes only a few extra minutes, and it makes such a difference! One thing you won’t find in this recipe that you will find in most Copy-Cat Café Rio Chicken recipes is ranch dressing mix. I personally don’t really care for ranch dressing, and the marinade is so flavorful I don’t think it’s really necessary.
One of the things I love most about this recipe is that it produces such a large amount of chicken. It’s way too much for my family to eat in one sitting, so I always reserve at least half in the freezer and we still usually have leftovers. Then when the clock strikes 5 on yet another night that I’ve forgotten to plan something for dinner, I can just grab a bag of chicken out of the freezer and I’m ready to make simple tacos, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, salads, and Mexican haystacks.
- About 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I usually use frozen)
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup salsa
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- Place chicken breasts in a slow cooker.
- In a bowl combine water, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salsa, and Italian seasoning. Pour marinade over chicken. Sprinkle chicken breasts with chili powder and then with garlic.
- Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
- When cooking in complete, gently move the chicken breasts from the slow cooker to a large bowl. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker and discard the rest. Pour the liquid over the chicken, then shred with two forks.
- Add the chopped cilantro and lime juice and continue to shred until combined.
- To freeze chicken, let it cool to room temperature then distribute meal sized portions of chicken into Ziploc bags and freeze for future use.
- Total Cost: $9.45 Cost Per Serving: $.94
When it comes to dinner, I’m a planner. I have a routine. I find out what’s on sale at my favorite grocery store, ask my family what they feel like having, look at the weekly calendar to figure out who’s going to be home when, and plan menus from that. More often than not, there’s a white index card on my refrigerator with the menu for each night’s dinner written on it.
But every once in a while, that system falls apart. Life gets extra busy, or I realize at 5 p.m. that I forgot to put that pork roast in the slow cooker, or a million other things, and I just have no idea what I’m going to make for dinner.
This quick and easy lemon grilled chicken is perfect for those times. You can have it on the table in under an hour, with ingredients you probably have on hand. It’s also a great meal planned ahead, when you can give the chicken more time to marinate. It’s inexpensive, low in calories, and super tasty.
To begin the recipe, thaw and trim the chicken breasts. If you have to thaw them in a hurry, you can use the microwave. I used three boneless, skinless chicken breast halves that I bought at Costco, and they were huge, so I cut them in half, making diagonal cuts to try to keep the pieces an even thickness. After trimming away the fat and tendons, I had about 24 ounces of chicken breast, which serves six people, or four if they’re really hungry.
The marinade for this chicken contains olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. It doesn’t have a strong mustard taste, though – the mustard just enhances the lemon flavor. Mix up the marinade and put it in a bowl just large enough to hold it and the chicken breasts, and let the chicken marinate anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Longer is better, but don’t go past 2 hours, because marinating chicken breasts in an acidic liquid too long can make them tougher.
I cooked my lemon chicken on a stovetop grill pan, but you could also cook it on an outdoor grill or in a frying pan. You can serve this with a simple baked potato and veggie side dish for a no-fuss healthy dinner. This recipe pairs well with Slimmed-Down Roasted Broccoli, Balsamic Roasted Carrots, or Berry Spinach Salad.
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- ¼ c. olive oil
- Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons (about ¼ c.)
- 2 t. Dijon mustard
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 1 t. dried thyme
- Cut chicken breast pieces in half, if they are very large, making diagonal cuts to keep pieces an even thickness. Trim visible fat and tendons. Whisk remaining ingredients in a medium bowl to combine. Add chicken pieces and press down so chicken pieces are covered with marinade. Allow chicken to marinate at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Heat a stovetop grill pan, frying pan, or outdoor grill to medium high heat. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in the center. If using an instant-read meat thermometer, cook to 160 degrees.
- Remove chicken from heat and serve with additional lemon wedges for garnish (optional).