April 6, 2010

Baked Chicken Enchiladas with Tamra’s Ranchero Sauce {Naptime Entertaining}

What Going on Today: Spring fever! Outside all morning, quick stop for tomatoes and organic rotisserie chicken before heading home for naptime.
Naptime Goals: Make Tamra Davis’ Ranchero Sauce and prepare Chicken Enchiladas for dinner. Make fresh batch of Mimi’s Tex-Mex Guacamole.
Tonight’s Menu: Chicken Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce, Mimi’s Tex-Mex Gaucamole, Spanish Rice, White Wine.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: I don’t know who is more excited about spring, me or my daughter!

What is it about the warm weather that makes me want to run for the border? No, not the gross fast-food border, the yummy Tex-Mex border. I didn’t grow up eating a lot of Mexican food, we only ate it when we traveled to Mexico City to visit my cousins. I really developed a taste for it when I moved to New York. There aren’t a ton of great Mexican food places here, but enough to satisfy my curiosity and excite my palate.

I’ve recently become obsessed with the Tamra Davis Cooking Show and her cookbook, Make Me Something Good to Eat. Tamra really knows her stuff and is even becoming our stateside Jamie Oliver with her great initiative, Five For Kids, teaching cooking and healthy eating habits in NYC’s public schools. Since Tamra is from L.A. she knows her Mexican food backwards and forwards and, I am thrilled to say, devotes an entire chapter to it in her cookbook.

With the arrival of spring I’ve been craving lighter, spicier food. Over the past two weeks I’ve tucked away all of my heavy soup and casserole recipes, opting to cook with light, fresh spring flavors. And Mexican food, the way I make it, is exactly that. I don’t laden it down with heavy oily cheese and sour cream, instead I use fresh corn tortillas, light, spicy tomato sauce and fresh seasonings. When I made this yesterday my daughter and I stopped at Las Palomas, the awesome Mexican grocery store in my neighborhood, to pick up chilis and tortillas. (I could have bought the whole store that place is so great.) It’s not quite tomato season yet, but I was still able to find some beauties at my local grocery store which were perfect for the sauce. Then, to save myself time, I picked up an organic rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods to shred for the enchilada filling.

Enchiladas are a great dish to prepare during naptime. Yesterday I simply made the sauce, shredded the chicken and prepared a casserole dish full of the assembled tortillas. Then I left it, covered in the fridge, until I was ready to bake it later that evening. I also decided to change up our green portion of the meal and whipped up a naptime batch of Mimi’s Tex-Mex Guacamole, my first of the season. It is great for dipping the enchiladas in, I prefer it over sour cream.

When dinner time came around I baked the enchiladas, prepared the rice and our meal was served. It was a great Mexican feast that everyone was able to enjoy. My daughter opted out of the guacamole but was game for the basic chicken enchilada. My husband devoured his plate, as I did mine. The meal was a delicious and Tamra’s sauce recipe is a real treasure. Fresh, spicy and light, it really made the enchiladas tastier then ever before – the perfect meal for any foodie family. We especially liked that we were able to eat our meal while the sun was still out and the birds chirping at 6:30pm. Spring really has arrived.


Chicken Enchiladas with Tamra’s Ranchero Sauce

sauce recipe adapted from Make Me Something Good to Eat by Tamra Davis


2-3 lb. organic rotisserie chicken
1 pack small corn tortillas
1 batch Tamra’s Ranchero Sauce
2 c. Grated Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese mix

Tamra’s Ranchero Sauce

5 medium tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
½ yellow onion, sliced
2 red chilis
½ t. oregano
½ t. Kosher salt
1 T. powdered vegetable stock


To make Sauce:
1. In a large 4 quart sauce pan bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes and the garlic and cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet heat 1 t. of olive oil and saute the onions until soft. In the boiling water the tomato skins should start to peel off on their own. After 20 minutes remove the tomatoes and strip them of their skins.
2. Place the peeled tomatoes, garlic cloves, softened onions, chilies, salt, vegetable stock and oregano in a blender with about ½ c. of the cooking water. Blend well. Taste it with a spoon and add more salt or chilies as needed.
3. Pour sauce back into the sauce pan and cook for another 15-20 minutes on a low simmer, it will thicken up slightly and can be used right away, or stored for up to 3 days in the fridge in a sealed container.

To Assemble Enchiladas:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Brush the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish lightly with olive oil.
2. Carve the rotisserie chicken and shred the meat with the tines of a fork until the strips are small enough to be wrapped in a tortilla.
3. Lay a tortilla on the counter, place a small pile of meat on it, then drizzle with a Tablespoon of Ranchero sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up the tortilla and place it, opening side down, in the baking dish. Repeat until baking dish is totally full. This usually makes about 14 enchiladas when I make it.
4. Pour 1 ½ c. of Ranchero Sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese.  If making ahead, at this point the enchiladas can be covered with plastic and placed in the fridge until dinner time.
5. Bake at 350ºF for 35 minutes, or until top is bubbly. Serve hot.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

I like to make our enchiladas with chicken, but you could also make them with shredded beef if preferred. They would also be good stuffed with more vegetables like peppers or spanish rice. I usually serve rice on the side.

Naptime Stopwatch

Preparing the sauces takes about 20 minutes. Preparing the enchiladas takes about 20 minutes. Baking time is 45 minutes.

Naptime Reviews

Enchiladas are a great meal for both adults and children, these got rave reviews all around. Any leftover cheese and tortillas can be used to make quesadillas the next day for lunch.

More Naptime Recipes