Chicken Enchilada Casserole from Cooking Light's New Way To Cook Light Cookbook

Several years ago, Hubby decided he wanted to look into switching from our cable company to a dish of some kind. There was a lot of thought put into this wish for change. I’d reckon at least thirty seconds. Or as long as it takes for a man to think, ‘Dadburn cable company doesn’t provide the NFL Network.’

After having weighed the costs and options and putting all the calculations together, it was another thirty seconds before Hubby was on the phone with the dish company making an appointment for Dish Guy to come out and get the lay of the land.

There must be something to this 30-second rule, because Dish Guy drove up, got out, took one look around and told Hubby there was no way he was going to be able to get reception unless we took out three to four of our trees. Then he drove away and Hubby went down to the man cave to pout in front of his NFL Network-less television.

Yesterday, while I was shredding the chicken for this dish, irony raised its humorous little head. Standing at my window, I watched men working at my neighbor’s house. Tree Guy and his crew were back. And they were taking down a lot of trees.

In fact, at one point, when a particularly magnificent oak crashed down so hard that the house shook, tears filled my eyes. I wanted to throw on a fuzzy orange coverall, grow a yellow, bushy mustache, run out there and yell, ‘I speak for the trees.’

Tree Guy has taken down the majority of the trees that Dish Guy said were blocking reception.  I was chopping the onions as the final one was cut into manageable pieces to be hauled away.

As I moved from that counter over to the stove so I could sauté onion and garlic, I did smile at the irony of it all.  We finally have a clear line for the dish to get a satellite feed so Hubby can get the NFL Network. Which is a moot point since our cable company picked it up about three weeks ago.

Doesn’t it just figure.

The Process

Even though the blurb under the title for this recipe in the cookbook says that it’s ‘less fussy’ than the traditional enchiladas, I was surprised at how much work it really was, mainly because the chicken thighs are sautéed on the stove, then roasted in the oven.

Could you use leftover chicken or go out and buy a rotisserie bird? Sure. But it think the thighs were chosen to keep the dish from drying out. The breast would suck up all liquid like the Mojave desert.

I did veer from the instructions while cooking the thighs. The cookbook asked that I remove the skin prior to sautéing the chicken. I don’t like to do that because the heat on the exposed meat makes it hard and really unpalatable. So, I left the skin on while the thighs cooked. I removed it when I shredded the chicken and ended up tender, juicy meat.

Much like a lasagna, you’ll end up layering three items; the chicken and corn mixture, the sauce and the tortillas. That part doesn’t take long. I found that I didn’t need all 9 tortillas.

The Verdict

Hubby and I thought this was delicious. There is so much flavor built through the meat mixture and the sauce.  Many times I notice the lack of salt, but there was so much else going on that it wasn’t missed at all.

As far as Dudette, I could tell that she really wanted to like the casserole by the way she kept seeking out the pieces of meat (she did pick out every bit of green cilantro she could find and put it to the side of her plate, however). The issue was the amount of heat. Two tablespoons of pickled jalapeno is a lot for a little girl’s mouth and it was too much for her.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

If making this for the family, I’d only use one tablespoon of jalapenos. If others want more, a bowl of them can be left out for adding afterwards. Having a dollop of sour cream would have also cut the heat for the more tender mouth.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole from Cooking Light's New Way To Cook Light Cookbook
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Casserole
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Serves: 4
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • ⅓ cup (3 ounces) ⅓-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onion, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • ⅔ cup salsa verde
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeño pepper
  • 9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • ¼ cup (1 ounce) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side. Place skillet in oven; bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; shred. Discard bones. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1½ tablespoons cilantro, corn, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) to chicken; toss to combine.
  3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add ½ cup onion; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to chicken mixture; stir to combine.
  4. Combine remaining 1½ cups onion, remaining 3 garlic cloves, broth, salsa, ¼ cup water, and jalapeño in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Carefully pour mixture into a blender; add 2 tablespoons cilantro. Process until smooth.
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tortillas; cook 1½ minutes on each side. Remove tortillas from pan; repeat procedure with remaining tortillas. Cut tortillas into quarters.
  6. Spread ½ cup salsa mixture in the bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 12 tortilla quarters over salsa mixture. Spoon half of chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Pour remaining salsa mixture over tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Top with remaining cilantro.

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Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from Cooking Light's New Way To Cook Light Cookbook

Have I ever mentioned that my mother was a professional seamstress? I hate that using that word though. To me, seamstress puts her at the level of making matching clothes for my sister and me, which she did, and did well.

No, my mom went far beyond that. In fact, she’s more akin to her namesake in The Sound of Music.  My mom could have easily taken drapes and fashioned them into high end wear, without a single lederhosen in sight.

My Dad, who was a college professor and pastor, wore suits all day and every single one of them was made by her.  I’m sure many people at the small Christian liberal arts college wondered what Dad did on the side that made him enough to warrant buying tailored suits. French mafia? Hardly.

My mom also made wedding dresses. The bride-to-be would show up at the house with magazine in hand and point to the photo of her dream gown. After stripping the young lady down, Mom would get her measurements, make notes and send her on her merry way (letting her get dressed again first). She’d lock herself in her sewing room and weeks later emerge triumphant with a masterpiece worth of royalty.

Mom tried to teach me to sew. She tried really hard. Instead of being able to learn her craft, I instead became a professional with the seam ripper and acquired a full collection of the little gadgets over the years. Every time I wore one of the items I had made, I moved carefully, afraid that it was going to unravel at the seams and fall apart around me.

Making pancakes from scratch makes me feel the same way. Dudette and Hubby love the ones that come out of the big yellow box and its what’s been in the house for years. But, I learn more and more how much can be saved by making this kind of thing from scratch, I either avoid the topic of pancakes altogether when we’re figuring out what to eat, or I brace myself for the thumbs’ down that inevitably come when the scratch-made variety doesn’t live up to the yellow box’s.

Because the pancakes in this recipe used whole wheat flour, I braced myself, held my breath and crossed my fingers.

The Process

This is as easy as using the yellow box. A simple mix of dry ingredient in one bowl and wet ingredients in the other, then combining the two and you’re ready to pour ladle your pancakes on the skillet.

Flip. Serve. Get ready to run.

The Verdict

First words out of Dudette’s mouth as she sat at the table were, ‘These are different.’ Uhoh. I figured she’d notice that right away because the wheat flour makes the pancakes a bit darker. She at a bite, however, then another. Two pancakes later, she announced that they were very good. Very, very good.

Hubby said the same. He says that these pancakes are better than many of the from-scratch ones I’ve subjected the family to in the past. I have to agree. In fact, I’d go so far to say that these are my favorite. They’re fluffy and they melt in your mouth. I was a bit curious as to the fact that there wasn’t any vanilla extract in them, but it’s not there because the pancakes don’t need it. There’s perfect just the way they are.

These are my new go-to pancake recipe.

What I’d Do Different Next Time


Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from Cooking Light's New Way To Cook Light Cookbook
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • Cooking spray
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  1. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine buttermilk, oil, egg, and egg white, stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  2. Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Spoon about ¼ cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Serve with syrup and butter.

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