A Well Stocked Pantry & CHICKEN ENCHILADAS Recipe

A Well Stocked Pantry & CHICKEN ENCHILADAS Recipe

For dinner this past Sunday I made Chicken Enchiladas, Spanish Rice, Cornbread Casserole, and Guacamole. It is one of my family’s favorites. It reminded of a post I had written for One Generation to Another, March 25, 2008. Given the fact that I’m still under the weather (but feeling much better, and I attribute my quick recovery to every one’s well wishes… thank you very much 🙂 I thought it would be a good day to do a little recycling. Hope you enjoy!

Everyone has little things they do that give them a sense of security. Maybe it’s a secret stash of chocolate or $40.00 “mad money” tucked away in a secret compartment of your wallet or an obnoxiously noisy alarm clock inconveniently located across the room. In college I had a friend that always kept a “back up” boyfriend. There is no universal “security blanket”, but rather individual needs that may appear trite to someone else, but help us breathe a little easier.

Being the wild and zany individual that I am…I find solace in a well stocked pantry! I’m not talking about having 2 cans of mushroom soup, but rather 12. There are also chick peas and mandarin oranges, water chestnuts and canned salmon. You just never know! Although this may seem excessive to some people, if I see a recipe that calls for crushed pineapple…I’ve got it. Green chilies? I say chopped, whole or frozen? Avocados…of course! Come on, give me something hard! Tarragon, cumin, sage? Yep. Yep. Yep. Rye flour, barley, wild rice…long or short? Fresh carrots, onions, celery, peppers, chives…in the drawer in the refrigerator. You see what I’m saying? I didn’t need to do any special planning when Y2K rolled around…if the world market had collapsed and chaos ensued, I could have feed a family of 16 for four or five months without blinking an eye! I require a well stocked pantry…it’s an obsession…what a shocker!

My children often tease me about it. HOWEVER, they can come over and say,

“You know what sounds good, Mom? Chicken Enchiladas.”

“No problem”, I say.

“MMMM, apple crisp sounds yummy, too”

“Okay, start peeling apples.”

No one needs to make a grocery run…you just have to forage in the kitchen. (BTW…they, meaning our teasing children, are not above pinching a jar of this or a can of that on the way out the door…saving themselves a trip to the store! “Thank you, Mom”.)

I’m not sure what prompted this compulsion. It’s not like we were deprived of food as children or ever went hungry. As newlyweds we weren’t impoverished, living on Ramen Noodles and PB&J sandwiches. And it’s not like I was Scarlet O’Hara, rooting through an abandoned garden, looking for a rouge potato, swearing, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” I think the explanation is much simpler…I like to cook and I like to feed people. OMG…I’m like Remy the rat in “Ratatouille”!

I may be a bit over the top…or more to the point…over the cupboards (where “backups” are stacked to the ceiling) when it comes to supplies but in part, that is because I have the room. I’ve had much smaller kitchens, with no back up fridge and freezer, so I couldn’t keep all the supplies I have on hand today. But I find it very interesting, when you talk to other people, what they think falls under the heading of “must have” staples. For instance, I could live without garlic powder, since I have fresh garlic on hand, but my kitchen must have dried basil, parsley and bay leaves. I could do without my jar of spaghetti sauce, but don’t take away my stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. You can take the margarine, but I’ll keep the olive oil. I could survive with less, I’ve done it before, but I’m delighted I don’t have to.

Where you are in your life and how much time you have to spend in the kitchen, has a tremendous impact on what you’ll find stowed away in your cupboards and fridge, and what you consider “essential”. I might be aghast to find out someone does not own fresh celery, yet they might find it down right disconcerting to know I have almost no prepared foods. So, there you have it…I’m like a squirrel burying nuts in my kitchen on the off chance there will be a hard winter! Rational behavior…I think so. Do others agree? They don’t have to! And, no one seems to complain when I’m able to make their favorite meal at a moment’s notice!


The first time my brother tasted these I had brought them to a family gathering. After he had taken a bite he asked me, “Did you pick these up at a restaurant?” “No”, I replied, “Why do you ask?” “Well, they’re so good. They taste like something you’d get at a Mexican restaurant.” I couldn’t decide if I had just been complimented or insulted! Anyway, they are extremely delicious, and given the flavor, well worth the effort!


1 can (19 oz) enchilada sauce (any variety)

2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I make Chicken Soup then fish the meat out!)

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (6 oz)

1 cup sour cream

1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chilies

1 medium onion, chopped small, and sauteed in 1 T. olive oil until translucent

1/2 package powdered taco seasoning

1 package (11.5 oz) flour tortillas for burritos (8 tortillas)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz)

Optional toppings: chopped avocado or guacamole, green onions, sour cream, taco sauce, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, etc.


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce over bottom of ungreased 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish. In medium bowl, stir together chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, sauteed onions, powdered taco seasoning and chilies.

2. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas; arrange, seam side down, in baking dish. (Note: I fold my enchiladas burrito style by bringing the 2 sides in then rolling the tortillas. This stops the yummy inside from seeping out the ends.) Top enchiladas with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Spray sheet of foil with cooking spray; cover baking dish with foil, sprayed side down.

3. Bake 35 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until hot and cheese is melted. Serve with optional toppings.

We all have our kitchen essentials…those things that we use frequently and would be lost without. It’s always interesting to hear what other people consider to be staples. Besides the normal milk, flour, butter, and egg variety staples, what do you consider to be basic and irreplaceable in your kitchen?



  1. Let me just say that it is hard to really understand how ‘well stocked’ my mother’s pantry really is. For example, there was an incident… “THE BEANS” that took place when I was in college. My mom asked me to stop at Whole Foods and pick up 2lbs of 16 different beans for her preschool to make 16 beans soup for class, to put together a little jar of the dried beans with a recipe for each of the kids to take home to share with their family and to have some on hand for her own pantry. Well, here is the funny thing… the miscommunication. She wanted 2lbs total… as in all 16 varieties of beans combined equaling 2lbs. In my mother’s normal fashion I interpreted these instructions a little different. I dutifully came home with 2lbs of each type of bean. It never crossed my mind that this was excessive. This is my mother we were talking about… 32lbs of dried beans seemed totally within her realm of reasonable. Needless to say we had beans for years on end. I think she finally gave up and threw away the last of them a couple years ago figuring they were in fact past their prime. A well stocked pantry indeed!

    1. I would have came home with the same thing you did lol. I keep a variety of dried beans on hand too. What doesn’t get eaten gets used in bean bags for the kids to toss around 🙂

  2. Michelle’s comment makes me laugh! 🙂

    At our house we also must have tomato’s, tomato sauce and paste. Our other staples include tuna, corn, beans, spaghetti noodles, rice and green beans. Not terribly out of the ordinary except I get nervous when we get down to about 8 cans…or a 1/4 case. The other things we must have in our kitchen are spices. We have two cupboards full and a stand on the counter caddy. There are things we’ve tried and weren’t enamored with, but we must have them. We must have basil, tarragon, thyme, sage, chili powder and garlic salt. When I was living on my own a friend of a friend saw into one of my cupboards and said, “I think you have more food in your cupboard than any single person I have ever met.” And here’s the kicker I don’t really like to cook that much, I just like to have it when I’m ready. I think this comes from growing up in a place where I heard stories of the barge not making it in and the grocery shelves being cleared in short order (usually of milk). I never experienced it myself, but I heard the stories and took note.

  3. Hehe. You guys are so funny. I love your writing, Kimara. Very quick and witty. But I have to ask. Michelle, didn’t you feel a little silly with all those beans? Geez Louise!

    Tomato products of all kinds are a must on my shelf. I go to Costco and buy them by the case. I am lucky. Our old house has something called a root cellar. Basically a walk in closet in our basment. It stays cool even in the summer but doesn’t freeze. Acorn squash from our garden can keep for months down there. Another main stay is applesauce. We make our own and we eat it with almost every meal.

    Most of my spices are Italian. But in a form of confession, I always have a hidden stash of chocolate for those times when only chocolate will do.

    I can’t wait to try your enchilada receipe. I looks and sounds so good. Feel better.

  4. You sound like me. I like to keep my kitchen well stocked. Actually, my spice cupboard is getting a bit out of control!

    I would love to try this recipe (I might try it with ground turkey) and cross-post it on my cooking blog, with your permission. Please let me know. It’s at http://healthycooking-sue.blogspot.com

    1. That would be fine, as a matter of fact it would be interesting. Just like people have different learning modalities, I think cooks have different cooking modalities. My mantra is variety and moderation. Make sure you let us know when you get your adaptation posted! Looking forward to it.

  5. So glad to hear I am not alone in this complusion. I want whatever I need in the case I just want to make a particular item. It is just me and my daughter and we have a pantry the size of a walk-in closet. It is full, needless to say. Then in the freezer, I know there is no less than 8 tubes of frozen turkey meat. We keep at least 10 cans of green beans on hand. I do not know what this comes from because I have never wanted for anything, but I even did this in college. My friends and roommate just thought it was funny… but we never went hungry and I could fix anything at a moment’s notice.

    Ah, just thought of the one thing that has to be in the pantry– well not just one. At least one cake mix, one brownie mix and a box of sugar cookie mix. You just never know!

    Love your stories and I am going to have to try those enchiladas for sure!


  6. Glad to see there are others out there who “hoarde” cooking ingredients like I do :-)! My kitchen staples (aside from the ones you’ve already listed!) include, Karo syrup, molasses, capers, poppyseeds, canned artichokes and assorted canned beans. Happy cooking!

  7. I love to keep my kitchen well stocked. We have 2 fridges and 2 freezers plus an extra pantry cabinet. I love to keep a good variety of things in them all. Like you, I like to make things on a whim when I get an idea or come across an interesting recipe. I don’t want to stop the momentum to run out to the store to pick up ingredients. Plus, I’m one of those shoppers that usually come home with something “extra”. Keeping a full pantry actually saves us money. I buy in bulk and on sale.

    Also, when someone is having a canned food drive I have plenty to choose from 🙂

  8. Loved your latest, I’ll be making Enchiladas this weekend! I always keep Rice Vinegar, at least two types of olives, and multiple types of peppers – canned, jarred and fresh. Our fridge is never without sour cream or a plain yogurt (for making dips and sauces) and I also like to have at least one “special” block of cheese on hand, sometimes Havarti, sometimes Bleu, or Feta or an extra aged cheddar.

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