Layered enchilada casserole

I have thought it would be fun to try and do an entire collection of recipes dedicated to repurposing leftovers. If nothing else it would give my brain something to tease out. Leftovers can be a tough sell. So many things are great the first time around. Hot-from-the-oven meals offer a full sensory package: an alluring appearance, tempting aroma, and mysterious not yet tasted flavors. Unfortunately, after the debut, leftovers get tossed into a container or covered with plastic wrap then tossed into the refrigerator where they shrivel and congeal. Sealed in their BPA-free boxes, the leftovers may separate as though wallowing in tears of self-pity. Reheating will perk many dishes back up but if they lack the ability to sell themselves from their container they may never make it back to the table. Tragic!

Last week, I did my grocery shopping early in the week and by Friday the contents of the refrigerator were beginning to loose their luster. Nothing was wrong with the food, it was just a little tired. I had anticipated this. Prior to my shopping trip I did something wildly out of character; I wrote a menu for the week and posted it on the fridge. Winning! The menu really helped me stick to the plan of eating at home and limited my grocery spending to what I would actually need.

There were a few days when I made it to the early evening with very little energy left in the tank. Thanks to the menu I had a tool to talk myself into the kitchen knowing that my bit of effort would result in a meal I would really enjoy. Here is how it played out:

Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup from the freezer (also lunch the next two days), salad w/ fresh raspberry vinaigrette.

Tuesday: Whole-roasted chicken, a mash of cauliflower and baked sweet potato, salad w/ fresh raspberry vinaigrette.

Wednesday: Beefy Mushroom Stroganoff, frozen green beans (several lunches came from this one)

Thursday: We had a 6 p.m. appointment and grabbed dinner out after. It turned out to be a disappointing meal. Next time, I may pack sandwiches.

Friday: Tuesday night’s roasted chicken with mashed cauliflower and sweet potato became Friday night’s Enchilada Casserole.

I had not planned to share this casserole but, while we were eating, Mr. Second Helpings and I agreed that it was just the sort of recipe lacking in my collection. That is, a recipe reflecting the way I normally cook. I like things that come together on the fly, use random bits of this and that, and repurpose leftovers to give them a chance to shine in a brand new way.

All the meals I made during the week left us with prepared food for lunches and ingredients for future meals. The planning cut down on the time I spent brainstorming and cooking throughout the week. By the weekend I had the joy of choosing between stroganoff or enchiladas for both lunches and dinner. I imagine many of you are shaking your head at my conclusion because you already organize your meals this way. I’ll admit I am not the world’s sharpest tack but I’m working on it and for now my small efforts will have to be good enough.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Layered Enchiladas

I like to make these layered enchiladas because they use less tortillas. The overall effect is pretty much the same as rolled enchiladas but with less calories and fat per serving. The second benefit is … wait for it … leftovers! The unused tortillas will be spread with almond butter and rolled to make super fast lunches.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Yield: 9 servings

Ingredients

Part I:

1 1/4 cups baked sweet potato, mashed with 3/4 cups steamed cauliflower

3 cups baked chicken breast, diced into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces

3/4 cup low fat Greek Yogurt (or low fat sour cream)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dry Italian herb blend

Part II:

1 cup roma tomatoes, diced

1 cup green bell pepper, diced

1 bunch green onion, all the white and 1/2 of green parts, sliced

a few sprigs of parsley

Part III:

10 oz. enchilada verde sauce*

4 whole wheat 8 in tortillas, cut into wide strips*

1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese*

Method

1. Mix together the sweet potato through Italian herb blend in a medium bowl.

2. Combine the tomatoes through parsley in a small bowl.

3. Assemble the enchilada lasagna:

  • Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9×9 or 10×10 baking pan, use just enough to coat.
  • Arrange the tortilla strips to create a even layer, this may require cutting a few smaller pieces to fill in the spaces. Spread half the sweet potato mixture evenly over the tortillas, top with half of the vegetables, and pour half of the remaining enchilada sauce over the top.
  • Make a second layer of tortilla strips and repeat the layering as above.

4. Bake assembled enchilada lasagna in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Cook for 30 minutes or until the casserole is hot (140 degrees) through the center.

5. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Approximate nutrition per serving: 150 calories, 5 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 16 grams protein, PP = 4

*Be Aware: Nutrition information may vary based on the specific ingredients used.

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