With all of the uncertainty and eeriness going on with the coronavirus, I needed to cook a meal that was comforting and made me feel content. This recipe definitely did that for me!
The last few weeks have been centered around coronavirus and the precautions we should all be taking to keep ourselves healthy. From buying hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, medications and toilet paper to wiping down our work desks, home surfaces, etc. so we can be as germ-free as possible. Everyone is on the same page when it comes to staying healthy and safe from this pandemic.
I wasn’t scared of getting sick when the talk of coronavirus started becoming more and more frequent; however now I’m a little on edge. I’ve read articles about people who have been tested with the virus who showed no symptoms. They just decided to get tested to be proactive because they were around other people who were diagnosed with the virus. Moreover, I also read that people can be ill with the virus for several days before showing any signs. This means, we are walking amongst others in society while we are infected before even knowing! This is why social distancing is extremely important right now.
Majority of folks who have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 have flu-like symptoms and with proper rest and over-the-counter medications to help with symptoms, the virus goes away. What I am also worried about is our economy. Stocks have been plummeting and with so many major events being rescheduled or cancelling altogether (SXSW, Coachella, sporting events..) the economy is at risk and job security is at risk. All of the hard-working people in the food and events industry who depend on these money-making events to bring in thousands and thousands of dollars. Livelihoods depend on these major events that come to our city.
SXSW organizers had to lay off 1/3 of their full-time staff. This is the time when we are all supposed to be running around like crazy people, stressed about increased traffic and ensuring our clients are well-taken care of. Instead, Austin feels much more quiet. Weirdly quiet. What’s more, on Friday my team and I were told we had to take furlough- a mandatory, unpaid leave from work. I’ve never experienced the feeling of helplessness like I did in that moment of learning that I couldn’t return to work for 30 days…minimum! I can only hope that this leave is temporary and not permanent. It feels like a scary time but I’m trying my best to be positive and optimistic because being stuck at home can already make one feel lonely and somewhat lost.
(For more information about all of the events around the world which have been affected, read this article here.)
So, in a time of uncertainty and widespread hysteria, what can make one feel better? I suggest preparing comfort food… food that makes you feel happy and content and calm. There’s a reason why people eat chicken noodle soup when they are sick… it makes one feel better. I highly recommend preparing a hot, cheesy batch of my chicken tortilla bake. It’s the perfect dish to share with whomever you are quarantining with or just for yourself so you have some delicious leftovers to get you through these trying times. Let’s stay strong and get through this together!!
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Bake
- Large Cast Iron Skillet
- Wooden Spoon
- 2 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 lb ground chicken breast
- 1/2 small onion small dice
- 1/2 small red bell pepper small dice
- 1 small jalapeno pepper small dice
- 1 Tbsp diced chipotle chilis in adobo sauce optional
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp mexican oregano
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 15 oz can red enchilada sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
- 1 cup Mexican cheese shredded
- 2 cups tortilla chips
- 1 avocado diced
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 limes juiced
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Begin by preheating the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a large cast iron skillet, heat 2 Tbsp avocado oil over medium heat.
- Add ground chicken to hot pan and cook thoroughly.
- Add the Tex Mex spice blend (chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper) to the chicken.
- Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño to the chicken and cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.
- Add the diced chipotle chilis to the skillet.
- Add the rice to the skillet and combine with the chicken and vegetables.
- Add the enchilada sauce and chicken stock to the pan.
- Reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a large lid and cook for 15 minutes until rice is tender. *If you don't have a lid large enough for the cast iron skillet, place a sheet pan over the skillet.*
- Remove the lid, stir in a handful of fresh cilantro & juice of 1 lime. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Layer cheese, tortillas and more cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until cheese is evenly melted and tortilla chips are toasted.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado, and cilantro lime crema!