Chicken Enchilada Casserole


Chicken Enchilada Casserole is bursting with spicy, savory flavors, and oozing with melty cheese!


I started Bridesmaid Bootcamp today!

IMG_0478 IMG_0479

While my thighs and buns have been running mile after mile and climbing flight after flight on the treadmill and step mill this winter, my arms, shoulders and chest have been living in the lap of unused luxury, buried comfortably in fluffy sweaters where no one can see them.

Well I’ve got T-minus 40 days to get those puppies in shape before they’re bared for the whole world to see in my one-shoulder, nearly strapless, majestic purple bridesmaid’s gown for my friend Laura’s wedding in May! (Yes, we’re in our upper 20s, why do you ask? ;) )

Clearly nobody’s going to be looking at me on my girl’s big day, but I still want to feel my best in my dress. I’m going to do just that by setting achievable yet ambitious goals to get in the best shape I can be by then. They are:

Goal 1: Be physically active for more than 30 minutes (not counting morning Mom walks) 4-5 days a week. Totally do-able.

Goal 2: Indulge in one sweet treat a day. Mehhhh…yes, I can do it (already had today’s though, rats!)

Goal 3: Attend a weight lifting class two times a week. We might have a problem here.

Yeah. I attended my first Body Pump class this afternoon. I walked in feeling excited, motivated and ready to dominate the hour long class that uses barbells to work your entire body. I walked out feeling like Bambi circa day 1.

Bambi (source)

Seriously! After 60 minutes of intense lifting, my legs had completely passed the Jell-o stage. It was as if they were independent from the rest of my body, and moved forward out of the classroom by sheer mental willpower alone. I must have looked ridiculous, as I legit could not control my limbs!

My arms were no better. I had to prop my elbow up on the armrest in the car to drive home. I could barely turn the knob on the door to get in the house. You get the picture!

I know I’m going to absolutely hate my life the next couple of days as the soreness sets in, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?!

Ok, ok. Truth be told, I’m excited. You can’t really be a well rounded runner/athlete without incorporating cardio AND weight/resistance training into your fitness regimen, and Bridesmaid Bootcamp is the perfect excuse to start moving towards a more harmonious me. Whee!

Who else is working out with a wedding goal in mind? Whether it be your own or a friend/family member’s? What are you doing to get in shape?

In more exciting news, I made another casserole for dinner. I know, shocking. Right? ;)

I love them, especially for Monday night dinners, because I like to get the week started right with a good workout on Monday afternoons after work, and casseroles are easy to make ahead then pop in the oven when I get home! Tonight’s gem: Chicken Enchilada Casserole.


This casserole combines elements of Mara’s Tamale Pie and Jenna’s Mom’s Enchiladas, with my unshakable love for a layered dish, into one delectable dinner.


Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Serves 6


Chicken Enchilada Casserole is bursting with spicy, savory flavors, and oozing with melty cheese!


  • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 chicken bullion cube
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1-16oz can refried beans
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 chicken tenders, cooked & shredded
  • 1/2 small can diced green chilies
  • 1-10oz can red enchilada sauce, divided
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided


  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring water and bullion cube to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in yellow cornmeal. Spray an 8×8 oven-safe dish with non-stick spray, then press cornmeal evenly into the bottom. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Saute onions and garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, until onions begin to soften, ~5 minutes. Stir often to prevent garlic from burning. Remove skillet from heat and add in cooked chicken, green chilies, 1/2 of the enchilada sauce and 3/4 cups cheddar cheese. Stir to mix.
  3. Spread refried beans on top of cornmeal in an even layer (may need to heat beans in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften.) Top with chicken mixture, remaining enchilada sauce, and remaining cheese.
  4. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Finish with a blast from the broiler if needed. Serve with salsa and avocado!

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


This is totally one of those dishes where separately all the elements are “just ok” (I was actually preparing myself for a dinner fail when I tasted all the layers by themselves) but when put together, they’re JUST right!


My favorite thing about enchiladas besides – well, everything – is the corn tortilla. The yelllow corn crust in this casserole is sturdy, yet creamy, and sooo yummy!


I also made fresh salsa to tie all the flavors together. Normally I use fresh tomatoes but this time I used a can of petite diced tomatoes. Not only was it so much easier, but it tasted just like restaurant-style salsa!


I love it when a meal works out. :)

In other news, tonight I am going to spend some QT with my Kindle. It’s been aaaages since I’ve read, and it’s high time I get back to it.

This afternoon I asked for book suggestions on Facebook and Twitter and the true story Unbroken was a popular suggestion, so I purchased it right away and had it wirelessly delivered to my Kindle.

I do love me a good non-fiction lost-at-sea/WWII book. I’m excited to dig in! :D

Have a great night everyone!


Do you read a lot? Kindle/Nook or paperback?

Do you lift weights? Why or why not?

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  1. Masha 03.28.2011

    Oh yes….wedding season is definitely coming upon us. I have three coworkers that are engaged so they are all in a fuss about colors, flowesr and dresses…lol.

    It hasn’t come up yet….but I am expecting them to ask for their own bride bootcamp before the wedding from me…. And I am definitely ready push them to their limits…hehe.

    I was just looking through some recipes for enchiladas so I will definitely be considering making your casserole…it looked wonderful!!

  2. Stephanie 03.28.2011

    Girl you need to take up some yoga (power yoga or a fitness-based yoga) if you want to quick sculpt those arms, it has done wonders for my body, more than I could ever seem to achieve with weights!! (plus thighs/buns/abs too – score!)

    Dinner looks fabbbbbbulous – love anything with a Mexican theme yummmm :)

  3. You’ll get there! You have a goal and a deadline that’s not too far away. Plus, you don’t have to lose extra weight so you’re primed and ready to go! I take a bootcamp type class that involves yoga, a little cardio (sprinting in place, jump roping, burpees) and a ton of weights or body weight exercises (push ups, pull ups, chest press with weights on a balance ball, squats w/ weights, abs, etc). The reason I love it is because the teacher is super positive and he changes the class up each time so you never know what you’re gonna get thrown at you and you ALWAYS get a good workout in.

  4. Jessica 03.28.2011

    Love BodyPump! Felt the same way the after the first few classes I went to…I could barely walk the 2 blocks back to my apartment! But now I’m addicted. :) I can only make it once a week, but it’s definitely worth it.
    As for books, currently reading “Cutting For Stone” for book club, it’s going to be a more tedious read, but so far I’m enjoying it.

    • Meg 03.29.2011

      It’s a good read, long, but a book you won’t soon forget. : )

  5. Laura 03.28.2011

    If you load a lot of books into the Kindle, it will probably become very heavy. Then, when you lift it, your arms will get totally buff. Two birds — one stone!

  6. Dream Mom 03.28.2011

    Oh, I’d love a Kindle. I go in spurts in terms of reading. I order most books online from the library so I’ll order a bunch and then have six or seven books to read in three weeks. I’ll do this for a few months and then take a breather. I read almost all non-fiction though.

    As for weight training, I used to lift weights and was a bodybuilder (hobby) when I was in my twenties, among other things. From my teens up until my mid-thirties, I used to run, do a ton of cardio in addition to weight training and stretching for flexibility. I felt that having all three, strength, endurance and flexibility were the keys to fitness but cardio was always my favorite. This was right around the time women’s bodybuilding was just becoming a sport. This is what I looked like back then, when I was bodybuilding at 25 years old, many years ago.

    I don’t work out much today due to some medical issues (waiting on a knee replacement) but I’ve maintained a fair amount of muscle lifting and moving my son who was born disabled. He’s 6’3″ and 200 pounds and can’t stand, walk, roll over or sit up very well (he’s got a progressive neurological disease). I really miss it.

  7. Cheryl 03.28.2011

    I just downloaded Unbroken on my IPad. I read one excerpt from it in Vanity Fair and another in Runner’s World (it was in Runner’s World because the man the book is about ran for the US in the 1936 Berlin Olympics). They were so good that I’m dying to start this book, but I have to find a good time. Once I find a book I love, I refuse to put it down for anything!!

  8. VeggieGirl 03.29.2011

    1.) Paperback

    2.) I used to be REALLY into heavy strength-training, but I overdid it in the past. Now I just rely on body weight (i.e. push-ups and such) for strength-training.

  9. Melissa 03.29.2011

    Body Pump will get easier, I promise. The way you described walking out of your first class is exactally how I felt after my first class. I had to rest my arm on the car door to drive home, barely able to control the steering wheel! Just keep it up and try to go at least 2 times a week. You will be surprised how quickly your body adjusts!!

  10. Melissa 03.29.2011

    Ooh boy, if you’re sore today, just wait until tomorrow! The second day soreness is much worse when you first start body pump! Hang in there!

    I used to do body pump 2-3 times per week, then got away from it in favor of running. I have been doing the Jackie Warner Total Body Circuit DVD which is actually a really great complete workout. Even though I know I need to do weights, I just like cardio so much more. I just feeling like I’m really doing something, ya know?

  11. Teresa K. 03.29.2011

    Have to say read alot of Iowa Girl Eats!

    (and paperbacks and computer stuff) saving for an Ipad……..

    Which do you like best?

  12. Hope 03.29.2011

    That casserole looks incredible!!! I am totally going to have to make this. I am obsessed with Mexican food and this is the perfect entree! :)

  13. I read a lot (well, less during my semesters because of all the reading I’m required to do), but I don’t have a kindle or anything like that. I’m a die-hard book lover, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever make the switch.
    I started doing 30 Day Shred in November or so, which was the first time I’d ever incorporated strength training at all. I really liked it, it made me feel good to be getting stronger. I fell off the strength training wagon when I got an elliptical for my apartment because I really like doing that, but I just picked up Jillian Michael’s No More Trouble Zones with the goal of doing that twice a week because I know strength training is important!

  14. That’s the book I’m reading right now! It’s so good. I just wish I had more time to devote to my Kindle.

  15. Megan 03.29.2011

    I almost prefer weight training to cardio. I used to follow Crossfit ( workouts pretty regularly. I really liked that for a lot of the workouts you use your own bodyweight – push-ups, pull-ups, squats, burpees, etc – so they can even be done outside at the park. And that the workout is laid out for you. If I had to make up my own I usually end up cutting corners :)

    I’m really enjoying reading your blog! I grew up in Minnesota but my Iowan husband missed the state so much we moved back. Next time you’re in MN (and it’s not winter) you should check out the Sea Salt Eatery. It’s in the middle of Minnehaha park and has yummy casual seafood, a good beer & wine selection and icecream. Especially wonderful when the weather’s nice.

  16. Prairie Princess 03.29.2011

    Unbroken is amazing! And I too love my Kindle, which I’ve affectionately nicknamed my boyfriend Ken.
    The casserole looks delish!

  17. Allison 03.29.2011

    Today officially marks one month until my best friend gets married. We have been since Kindergarten and have been waiting for this day forever. I have been trying to start my own Bridesmaid Bootcamp for MONTHS! But I am horrible with the follow through. Between long hours at work and being tired in the morning, I usually fail at completely a workout! Help! I need some major motivation!

  18. Sarah 03.29.2011

    I will happily join in on bridesmaid bootcamp with you. I am going to be a bridesmaid in a little over 8 weeks but have multiple events coming up in as soon as 2 weeks that I’d like to be feeling my best for. I’m planning on lots of clean eats, keeping up with my minimum 4x/week workouts, and trying to curb the sugar and random grazing throughout the day. We’ll see if I’m successful!

  19. Jas 03.29.2011

    My comments a little late – but good luck with the bootcamp!! Lifting rules. I love lifting my back muscles the best- nothing like a good back workout.

    Not sure if you’ve read it or not, or if anyone else has suggested it already, but “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand is awesome!!!! Louie will be your new inspiration.

  20. Mary 03.29.2011

    I am RIGHT there with you…my roommate is getting married at the beginning of June and my boyfriend is the best man in a wedding the week before that! I have a double wammie of going to a wedding as the best man’s girl and then a bridesmaid the next week! The group of bridesmaids I am a part of for this wedding call it “operation hot” hehe. Definitely need to get my arms in shape for that strappless little black dress!!!

    Good luck with your bridesmaid bootcamp!

  21. Kgrrrl 03.29.2011

    I think the power yoga would be good for you :) The body pump sounded intense! I personally do martial arts, so I’m used to intense, but you totally seem like a power yoga girl. I’ve done it quite a few times and love the variety, plus, check out the girls who can magically hold themselves up in weird poses! Impressive :)
    I just got a kindle for christmas – I love it. Downloaded a bunch of free classics (yes!!!) so all those ones that people have said to me: what? you’ve never read that???? can no longer be said. I have one friend though who reads all day long – HATES kindles though, said you can’t see people’s taste in books, it’s all hidden, no covers etc etc etc… I get that, but I also like the idea of one small thing to pack for trips!
    Good luck with the bridesmaiding!

  22. Nicole 03.29.2011

    New Rules of Lifting for Women is highly recommended. Its about heavy lifting and will change your life and focus.

  23. Mmm your enchilada casserole looks awesome! I just got a bag of cornmeal/polenta (is there a difference?) so this looks perfect.

    I love lifting weights, it’s so fun to feel strong and powerful! I’ve used New Rules of Lifting for Women in the past, and currently am following the plan in the Female Body Breakthrough by Rachel Cosgrove. My goal is to do a real chin-up someday!

    ps I started out with BodyPump too – it will get easier! I moved on to New Rules after about 6 months of BodyPump and started progressing much more quickly. BodyPump is great for beginners though.

  24. J.J. Severson 03.29.2011

    Hey! I’m friends with Laura from cheerleading days, and I sometimes see your posts on her FB. One of my best friends did Katana (sp?) in West Des Moines and got SUPER FIT! Just an idea! Good luck! And your posts always look delish! :)

  25. Lindsay 03.29.2011

    I am in my friends wedding in sept…….. and i hope to be in good shape by then but who knows?! AHHHHH i feel like it is so much pressure, but wedding dress shops are TERRIBLE places that make you feel enormous! i normally wear a size 4-6 and i was wearing a 10 at the fitting….. WTF mate?!

    • vanessa 02.09.2012

      because a size 10 is enormous?

  26. mmm looks tasty! i’m in a friend’s wedding in may too, but am running a marathon a week before so i’m not doing anything extra to get in shape :)

  27. since I’ve started lifting I have seriously noticed that I’m in way better shape. I feel better about the way I look, I feel stronger, I run faster, I recover faster…it’s awesome! I just picked up the book “The New Rules of Lifting for Women” and I’m only like 10 pages in but it is realy good so far! Happy lifting, you’re going to rock that dress :)

  28. Lindsey 03.29.2011

    I’m maid of honor in my best friends wedding in 3 months, so should probably follow your bridesmaid bootcamp as well. I know my problem isn’t varying workouts though (I run, do yoga, and bootcamp); my problem is the sweet stuff. Oh how I love sugar, and icing, and carbs.

  29. Nicole 03.29.2011

    Unrelated to the post, but you should get Bill to give you a kickback on his news business! We are also getting a mitigation system installed :)

  30. Christy 03.29.2011

    You’ll survive body pump, I promise!! I take it at the gym i go to and after the first week you will start to get feeling back in your limbs. It’s just the first few classes you have to get through! I’ve taken it for a few months now and now I love it!

  31. Bethany 03.29.2011

    I love your blog! I am originally from Iowa and am also a runner who loves to eat! I love this post – the chicken enchilada casserole looks amazing. I am diligently trying to stick to a workout plan and healthy eating for my own wedding this summer! I will definitely be back to check out your tips and recipes! Thanks for sharing!

  32. I’ve been thinking of trying a Bodypump class but now I’m not so sure… haha. All in the name of muscles and tone (and of course some nice wedding pictures!) I’m in a wedding in early June and I know everyone is starting to pick up a “get in shape” mentality as they realize how soon June really is.

  33. […] Comments « Bridesmaid Bootcamp […]

  34. Kate 03.29.2011

    I’m 39 days away from my own wedding and having such a hard time getting motivated to work out. I want to look great but I loooooove to eat. Oh well, looking pretty good will do, I suppose. :)

  35. Anon 03.30.2011

    Try Epsom salts for your muscles! Apparently it reallllly takes the soreness away. :)

  36. Sarah 03.30.2011

    I’m a bridesmaid for a wedding coming up in June. Strapless dress = me trying to get into better shape….Maybe all of us working out for weddings should start a support group haha. As always, love the blog! Xoxo,


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  41. Jessica 03.18.2015

    I’m reading through all your old posts (for the second time, might I add) and I cannot.stop.laughing at your description of the Body Pump experience. Hahahahaha. :)

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