Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas & Freezer Meal Ideas

by Shawnda on January 10, 2010

in Chicken & Poultry,Cinco de Mayo,Freezer Friendly,Mexican & TexMex,Tips

Chicken Enchiladas for the freezer

With Foodie Baby’s impending arrival, I started thinking about ramping up our deep freezer inventory. As soon-to-be first-time parents, we’ve been told countless times over the last several months that we’re going to be too tired to cook so we should make sure that we have a freezer full of food or delivery on speed-dial. We’ve also been told that we’re going to be too tired to eat… possibly by people who don’t know us very well :)

And then I discovered the great “freezer meal” debate among expecting mothers. Freezer meals are full of processed crap. There’s no way you can eat healthy. I’ll never be so tired that I can’t manage dinner. Good luck getting rid of the baby weight! I get why “freezer meals” come with a negative connotation. I really do. The first things that I used to think of when I heard “freezer meals” were lasagna, sodium-bomb frozen dinners, and “cream of” casseroles.

The idea of the two of us living off the mushy contents of a 13×9 for 4 days straight? No thanks. And the Foodie Groom? Riiiiiight. The dish has to be spectacular – or pizza – for him even touch a leftover. Don’t get me wrong, we do love us some lasagna. But there’s way more to freezer-friendly meals than a vat of lasagna.

Chicken Enchiladas for the freezer

Our deep freezer is now pretty well stocked. We’ve found keeping a variety of our freezer-friendly “greatest hits” on hand has been super helpful, baby or not. We’re not casserole fans. There’s nothing special about the food that goes in there, either – it’s all “normal” food. Prep work is usually limited to moving something from the freezer to the fridge the night before, roasting a veggie, boiling some pasta, or whipping up a salad. And clean-up? Far easier when it’s limited to side-dish prep which is something I can really appreciate since I can turn my kitchen into an OSHA hazard just by making sandwiches!

Not everything can be frozen. Not everything should be frozen. I’ve gone back and added the Freezer Friendly tag to recipes that I’ve made specifically to be frozen and included To freeze instructions, where necessary.

The biggest thing for me was understanding that size does matter. I take advantage of cooking large-batch dishes in portion-friendly containers for the freezer. The throwdown containers that they sell in the baking aisle of my grocery store are cheap and recyclable. And bonus – you don’t deplete your baking dish supply. Soups, pulled pork, and sliced brisket freeze flat in quart-sized zipper baggies. Meatballs get double-batched and divided into two gallon-sized zipper bags for meatball subs or a quick appetizer.

Muffins and bagels (pre-sliced) also get the gallon bag treatment. Enchiladas (recipe below) and manicotti go into 8×8 containers in two-people servings and stuffed shells go into mini-loaf pans in single-servings (7-8 shells each). Chicken pot pie also gets the individual-serving treatment. Lasagna does get baked in the 13×9 vat but the leftovers are wrapped and frozen into individual squares.

Also, another helpful element is letting the freezer do some of my prep work. Nothing is more frustrating than deciding that you want fajitas at 5pm and realizing that you need 2 hours to marinate the meat. It takes less than 5 minutes for me to whip up a batch of fajita marinade and pour it over a flank steak in a freezer bag. The marinade in the bag does double-duty as the meat thaws.

There are also the obvious safety concerns in for-the-freezer food prep, like following appropriate cooling techniques (if I’m making something specifically for the freezer, I’ll use an ice bath to cool it quickly). Check out the USDA’s freezer safety tips for more information. Happy freezing!

Chicken Enchiladas for the freezer

Green Chile-Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Serranos, diced (seeds-in if you like the heat; reduce to 1 if you’re not a fan of spicy food)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups sour cream
16 oz jar of your favorite tomatillo-based/green salsa
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
12 tortillas, small fajita size
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack
1/2 medium onion, diced

Preheat the oven to 350. Melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute Serranos until soft and then add the garlic, cooking for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and let cook 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth until smooth and let cook until bubbly. Stir in the sour cream, salsa, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and cilantro until the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.

Spray/grease a 9×13 baking dish. Add 1 cup of sauce to the bottom of the pan. Add chicken, cheese, and chopped onion to the center of each tortilla and roll, placing seam-side down in the dish. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas, top with leftover cheese, and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until top is brown and bubbling.

To freeze: Cook the sauce and cool completely (I do it quickly using an ice water bath). Assemble the enchiladas in portion-friendly dishes and wrap well with plastic wrap or foil. To cook thawed, bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (or to an internal temperature of 165). To cook straight from the freezer, increase the baking time to 45-55 minutes.

Yields: 12-15 enchiladas
Adapted from: Homesick Texan

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 10, 2010 at 10:48 am

I found your blog and I’m so glad I did! This looks like something we should have in our freezer at all times :)

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2 Melissa January 10, 2010 at 11:50 am

I will tell you from experience-this is a life saver. I stocked my freezer full of entrees before my son’s arrival as well. All different types of lasagna, enchiladas, soups, chicken hand pies, king ranch…you name it-we were good for a few months.

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3 Danielle January 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Is there a link for your enchiladas anywhere?

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4 wendy January 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm

You may not have to tap your freezer stash for a week or so as people love to bring food over for the new mom! I’ve had three kids and here are my best words of advice: follow the EASY method to plan your day. Eat, activity, sleep, You time. If she’s eaten and is crying, she’s bored. If she’s just played a while and cries, she’s tired. Once you get her on the schedule, you’ll know why she’s crying. More advice: nap when the baby naps (old but very true) and have plenty of gas drops on hand and use them liberally – they are a surfactant, not a medicine. Also, bottles can be washed like normal dishes, you don’t need to sterilize them or run them through the dishwasher. I don’t have one and my babies are fine! Lastly, get a small food mill for when the baby eats solid food. Just take it to the restaurant or dinner table, throw a little of everything in there and grind it up for instant interesting, free baby food.

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5 JP January 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Great tips! Did you post the recipie for these chicken enchiladas or am I just blind :) They look de-lish and great for a busy day!

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6 elly January 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I’m planning on doing this too, and this is really helpful. I also do the lasagna (or pastitsio) frozen in individual squares and it works out so perfectly. I’ll make good use out of your frozen tag in the near future, for sure. I just wish we had a deep freeze!

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7 Laura January 11, 2010 at 8:30 am

Wow, where were ideas like this when I was pregnant?! You are going to be so very, very happy you did all this ahead of time!

And speaking from my own personal experience, I was NEVER too tired to eat. That’s just crazy talk!

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8 foodiebride January 11, 2010 at 9:43 am

JP & Danielle – I added the recipe. Enjoy!

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9 foodiebride January 11, 2010 at 9:43 am

Wendy – thanks for all the tips!

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10 Becky January 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm

This is making me rethink buying a deep freezer once we are pregnant. If you are looking for other recipes, one of our most recent favorites makes delicious leftovers and freezes beautifully:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/pats-famous-beef-and-pork-chili-recipe/index.html

We freeze the leftovers in a large, round gladware.

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11 Aimee January 11, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Smart woman! My sister was due yesterday, so the anticipation awaits! The latest my new niece arrives in Friday! :) I already have some dishes planned to help cook for the household. Thanks for this amazing recipe share! Hope you are feeling good!

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12 Lisa @ The Cooking Bride January 11, 2010 at 6:33 pm

What a great post! I am newly pregnant – only nine weeks and not expecting until August. But it never occured to me to add food to the preparations. Thanks for this post. I will definitely bookmark it and come back to check out your freezer friendly section.

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13 foodiebride January 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Becky – that looks like one hearty chili!

Aimee – Best wishes on your new niece’s arrival

Lisa – Congratulations!

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14 Amanda January 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Yummy! I will have to check out the rest of your freezer friendly recipes and hope to see more to come! Definitely a must for a busy mom. :) And when the baby comes, just remember to sleep when he/she sleeps!! Can’t wait to hear the news!

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15 Amanda January 12, 2010 at 9:40 am

Perfect timing! I’m due in 8 weeks and have been dreading the cream of casserole-type food I need to make in preparation for the delivery day. Thanks for some interesting outside the box ideas!

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16 Maeghan January 12, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Thank you! I’m expecting the end of April and am big plannr but not a big fan of eating the same thing night after night!

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17 Alison @ Hospitality Haven January 13, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Mmm…sounds delicious!!! I might try these enchiladas soon! Just found your blog. :)

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18 Thao January 14, 2010 at 9:45 am

I stumbled here and i’m staying!!!!!! Congrats on the new addition to you family!

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19 Stacy March 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

Hi! These look delish, but we are not fans of any type of salsa in our food. Do you think I could sub with some fresh tomatoes?

Thanks!

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20 nd February 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I love this recipe! I have made it 2-3 times but my tortillas fall apart quite easily after cooking. I used pretty thick corn tortillas from Mexico this time and same thing happened. Doesn’t affect taste but looks a bit messy. Any tips? Thanks! I love your site!!

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