Chicken Enchilada Pasta


Chicken Enchilada Pasta is an easy weeknight meal that tastes just like enchiladas without the fuss!


Last weekend my friends and I were discussing our pact to get botox together on our 30th birthdays.

I know.

We made said promise when we were only 24 or 25 years old. Back then it was nearly impossibly to imagine that we’d actually turn 30 someday, and figured we would’ve all turned into horribly disfigured prunes by then – hence the botox pact.

As our talk progressed, the light bulb moment eventually came when we realized, holy crap, 30 is less than two years away! How could this be?

Where has the time gone?!

My parents and husband always tell me not to discount the amazing things I’ve been able to do and see thus far in my short little life. Still, I feel like there is more I want to do and see before I turn 30 which, while still so young in the grand scheme of things, is a big milestone!

So, I made a list (obvi… ;) )

A list of all the things I want to accomplish before I wave goodbye to my 20s in, GULP, 20 months’ time. Dream big!

30 Things To Do Before I’m 30

  1. Hang glide, sky dive or bungee jump
  2. Put another stamp in my passport
  3. Organize/upload all my important photos to Snapfish for safe (hopefully) keeping
  4. Meet someone famous
  5. Take flying lessons (I am obsessed with learning how to fly a plane!)
  6. Kick my diet soda habit for good (although you guys would be so proud of me – I went like 3 weeks without one, then finally caved and had a can yesterday. Stress drinking. :( )
  7. Make homemade pie, including the crust, from scratch
  8. Redesign the blog
  9. Start actual, real architecture plans for our future dream home
  10. Take a vacation with my entire family (brothers, children, parents, spouses/significant others – this one might be tricky! )
  11. Stand on the clear platform at the Grand Canyon
  12. Go back to Hawaii
  13. Redecorate my guest bedroom
  14. Have children
  15. Volunteer on the regular
  16. Read at least one book a month
  17. Purchase Iowa Hawkeye season football tickets
  18. Run another half marathon (ugh, I said it.)
  19. LLC IGE
  20. Take a short leave of absence from work to travel (and convince Ben to also!)
  21. Put my recipes into some sort of printed collection
  22. Buy a SUV
  23. Go cliff diving
  24. Get to know my neighbors
  25. Complete a total body transformation program (a la Kosama or Farrell’s)
  26. Go deep sea fishing
  27. Find the perfect little black dress
  28. Donate more money
  29. Cross off at least one place from my life’s wanderlist
  30. Go surfing

So there it is! (Sorry for no intense 30th item or something!) ;) These aren’t all bucket list-level items, per se, but they’re all things I would like to look back on one day and say – why yes, I did that in my 20s!

To 30, and beyond


In other, far less dramatic news, I whipped up a fun and yummy twist on a comfort food classic for dinner tonight – Chicken Enchilada Pasta!


This dish tasted exactly like the enchiladas my Mom made for us growing up. Which is strange because she always used ground beef, while I used shredded chicken tonight…but whatever. You get it.

This two-pot meal can be partially made ahead of time by cooking and shredding the chicken, and chopping up the veggies and toppings, which makes it ideal for a busy weeknight.


The dish is started by sautéing onions and zucchini in salt & pepper. When they’re soft, a wee bit of garlic is added in. UGH I LOVE THE SMELL OF HOT GARLIC.

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Next, enchilada sauce, hot sauce, green chilies, and spices are added in and the mixture bubbles away for 10 minutes while you cook up some pasta. The type is up to you!

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Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded chicken and sour cream are folded in next, creating a smooth and luscious sauce.

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Finally the cooked pasta is mixed in, and all is right in the world.

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(Especially if you thought to snag some of the cheesy sauce beforehand to test it out on some tortilla chips. Boo yah!)


Topped with some standard enchilada toppers, and served!


Chicken Enchilada Pasta

Serves 5-6


Chicken Enchilada Pasta is an easy weeknight meal that tastes just like enchiladas without the fuss!


  • 2 medium-sized chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 zucchini, diced
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-3/4 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2-4oz can diced green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8oz medium sized pasta (rigatoni, penne, etc.)


  1. Cook chicken and shred. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onions until tender, ~5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook until tender, ~5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add enchilada sauce, Tabasco sauce, green chilies, salt, chili powder and cumin into the skillet. Stir to combine then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to hot pot.
  5. Turn the heat on the skillet down to low and add in the cheddar cheese. Stir until it completely melts, then add in the chicken and sour cream. Stir until combined.
  6. Pour cooked pasta into the sauce and mix. Serve garnished with avocado, tomatoes, green onions and/or sour cream.


Slightly adapted from Pearls, Handcuffs & Happy Hour

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


This one’s a keeper, folks!


Creamy, decadent and filling. And homey. And cheesy. And addicting. Put the leftovers away pronto, mmkay?



Have you ever been nervous about turning a certain age? What’s been your best/favorite age so far?

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  1. Kristin 10.27.2011

    Not discounting all the things you want to do before 30, but you’ll look back and laugh one day, realizing that 30 is not the end of the line. You have a lot of living to do, and there are blessings (and burdens) of every age. Take it a day at a time, look forward, not back and enjoy the moment!

  2. I LOVE your list!!! Awesome list! I did a list when I turned 27 a week ago.

    What thing on your list are you most excited about?

    Pasta dish looks so tasty too.

  3. Maria 10.27.2011

    Great list! I turn 30 in Feb. so I better hurry and make a list…and get busy:)

  4. Emily 10.27.2011

    I’ve always wanted to do a list like that. Congrats on setting the goals/items, that always seems to be just a daunting as the tasks themselves!

    Good luck tomorrow! :)

  5. 30 (with the exception of a couple months) was a truly fantastic year!!! I feel like 30 is more the mark of being a “grown up” than being “old”… I like the LLC IGE idea for sure. :)

  6. erica 10.27.2011

    i had huge fears (and a mini freak out) about turning 30. now that i’m 31, birthdays are less and less exciting. lol.

  7. I turn 30 in….44 days!!!!!! AHHHHHHHH! But..I agree with your friends/fam. We almost 30 year olds have really accomplished a lot in our short little lives. I know we will look back on this at 40, 50 etc and laugh. Still – I’ve already written a column about this topic – and am planning another on the big day!

  8. Lexi 10.27.2011

    Holy moly-you’re going to be busy…and broke! :)

  9. Gail 10.27.2011

    I can’t even remember 30 any more! I’m 58, and it’s a GREAT age! I’ve learned from yoga that living in the present is the best way to live. It gives everything you do meaning.

    Don’t beat yourself up about the diet soda. I gave up Pepsi years ago, but I still probably have one a year, especially if it’s from a fountain. I don’t give up anything forever, just for today.

    I love your blog. Looking forward to trying the Chicken Enchilada Pasta and seeing you on KCCI.

    • Exactly right – it is best to live in the present and am so happy I’ve found yoga to teach me that. :)

  10. Good luck with your list! I’ve got a couple years til 30 too so I should definitely make one too. One thing my friend and I said we would do when we were 30 was RAGBRAI. I don’t even own a bike so I better get on it!

  11. Teresa 10.27.2011

    I hit 30 a long time ago. Now I’m inching towards middle age. You’ll look back on your “30 before 30” list & laugh someday. Priorities change as we get older. I used to love traveling. Now I’d rather spend time with my hubby at home. Used to think I’d have kids before I’m 30. Now I’m not so sure if I’ll have kids by the time I’m 40. Life definitely doesn’t turn out the way we think. Be happy for your health, and the close ties with your family. Not many of us have that, unfortunately.

  12. ktlovespie 10.27.2011

    Thirty is scary for me, mostly because I honestly can’t visualize how my life is going to be in ten years! Eep.

    On another note, that pasta dish looks amazing. Is it sad I found it funny that you said “new twist” and the picture right below shows curly pasta. Sigh. Shows my affinity for the small things :-)

  13. Melissa 10.27.2011

    I turned 30 this year and while I kind of feel the same as I did in my 20’s, I have to say I’m liking my 30’s (the little I’ve experienced of it) so much more!

    Great list :)

  14. Stacey 10.27.2011

    My scary age is 47. I’m 34 now. I have absolutely loved my 30’s!!!

  15. Lauren 10.27.2011

    Ah, I can’t believe how fast 30 is approaching. So crazy! I feel like time is running out these days.

  16. Machelle 10.27.2011

    u don’t sound as nervous this time about live tv! ya! go get em!!! that is QUITE a list! i tried the homemade pie baking for a spell. they were not pretty, but tasted pretty good! i hit my peak at 40….everything happened! lot’s of changes! divorce after 20 years of marriage, first time ever living by myself, dating, weight loss, it was just a FANTASTIC couple of years! lots of firsts! :)

  17. Machelle 10.27.2011

    Oh….and as far as your website…..don’t fix what ain’t broken!

  18. Wow that’s quite a packed list! You are gonna have a busy 20 months girl! I hope you enjoy every minute. So far 21 has been my best year, but its also because its the year I’m living now. I wouldn’t change a thing!

  19. Elizabeth 10.27.2011

    I turn 30 in December and have thought about doing a list of things to do before I am 35…since I only have a couple months to accomplish by 30.

  20. Mimi 10.27.2011

    Sounds like a great list! Any ONE of those things would be an accomplishment!

    I also like that you slide a little goal like #14 in on us. (:

    • kEndra 10.27.2011

      haha – i thought that was “strategically” placed too!! like she thought we wouldn’t be looking for it…pfft! ;)

  21. i am terrified of turning 30. although 27 this year was rough as well because now i’m technically in my LATE 20’s. eek!! i have so much i want to do before i’m 30…. love your list!

  22. Kathleen 10.27.2011

    Good luck tomorrow!! You did great last time:)

  23. jad18 10.27.2011

    I dreaded 30 and it is not bad at all. Turning 31 was actually harder for me. I just remind myself that I am healthy and have many years left to enjoy. My goals include having children, donating more time and money to charities I care about, and spending more time with my parents and sister. Oh and to save more to be more financially independent.

  24. Jess over at HowSweetEats made a similar enchilada pasta a few weeks back that I recreated, using beef, and it was just lovely! Such a fun twist on the average pasta. You are going to do awesome (per usual) on your tv appearance – can’t wait to see it if they let you post it online, I’m sure the recipe is going to be deelish!

  25. Luv What You Do 10.27.2011

    So as the girl who just turned thirty a few months ago, I will tell you that you WON’T need Botox. What is funny is that I was talking about Botox with a patient today who told me I had no wrinkles (apparently I don’t look 30 yet). I did set my goal of running a marathon this year and made it. Glad you have your list, but I promise…life just gets better after 30!!!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.27.2011

      I know – what were we thinking?! ;)

      • Luv What You Do 10.27.2011

        What we all thought at 24…that life ends after college!

        Unfortunately, I just had to face the music before many others : )

    • Jenn 10.27.2011

      Well, you might need to tackle a few of the more exotic travel goals pre-baby (a flight to Hawaii with a baby… no thanks!), but a great list nontheless :)

      Just to throw this out there, I have never been more productive in my whole life than I was while I was pregnant. I was super productive at work (to make up for my upcoming leave), I visited friends and relatives I had been meaning to forever, I re-decorated rooms in the house that I’d never gotten around to. I saw a looming deadline on my freedom and started checking things off the list! And I got the best gift ever at the end :)

      • Jenn 10.27.2011

        oops… that was meant to be it’s own comment… not a reply ;)

  26. Iowamom 10.27.2011

    Great list! I must say that 30 is spectacular! You have energy, pretty much zero wrinkles, enough $ in the bank to travel, and a steady job. I’m just two years from 40 and I’m not nervous. I think I’m more nervous for 45……..why? It’s just so close to 50! :)

  27. I am excited to turn 30!! All my (older) friends and my parents friends say that life continues to get better year after year. I cannot wait! One year to go for me before the big 3-0!

  28. LisaL 10.27.2011

    One of my daughters-in-law will turn 30 in February. She has had a list as well. For her 30th, all the fam and friends are coming to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We’ll have a house party and she’ll check off another item! I tried to remember turning 30 myself. I was living in the bush in Tanzania with my husband and three sons. Talk about some interesting cooking experiences!
    Have fun with those goals! And the pasta looks delicious.

  29. Nancy 10.27.2011

    Congrats on your TV appearance again tomorrow!

    Frankly, I don’t remember anything special about turning 30. But if you see every day as a gift and new beginning, it doesn’t matter much.

  30. kellyo 10.27.2011

    Great list! I turn 48 tomorrow and am loving this time in my life. Thirty is not the beginning of the end, EVERY age and season are blessings…!

  31. Jen 10.27.2011

    Turning 30 ROCKED! I, too, had in mind what life would be like for me when I was 30 and let’s just say, life handed me a few curveballs and I survived my 20’s. I ended up doing my first triathlon during my 30th year and if you had asked me at 28 that I would become a triathlete, I would have said a big “Oh hell NO!” ;-) Life is pretty darn good in your 30’s…now that I’m creeping up on 32!!! And maybe that botox can wait until 40. HA!

  32. I love this list! It’s okay though…you still look young so I seriously doubt you will need botox by then! (woot for looking younger than you are)

    The pasta looks fantabulous too. Enchilada sauce on pasta=winner!

  33. Rachel 10.27.2011

    I had a major freak-out when I hit 25…Quarter-life crisis and all. 30 wasn’t such a big deal after that…I turn 36 in about 3 weeks, and I’m not even all that worried about getting closer to 40!

  34. Melissa 10.27.2011

    Wow! That is a hefty list! I’d say it’s all do-able, if you wait for that baby! ;) I can tell you firsthand that 30 is not the end. I’m much happier and more settled in my 30s than I ever was in my 20s, and I haven’t done half of what you’ve already done! I try to just take life as it comes. Age is really just a number. I feel about 25, and as long as I keep feeling good, I can’t worry about how old I ACTUALLY am.

  35. Alyssa 10.27.2011

    That is an intense list! I have a 10 year goal list but it is no where near that extensive. You better get going!
    My next big milestone is 25 – a quarter of a century! I don’t know what that really means except that my car insurance will go down :)

  36. Shelly 10.27.2011

    Great List! I still have 4 years before the big 30, and it is not as scary as I thought it would be! And that pasta looks great! PS. If you need any help with #8 (re-design) … Im a designer, and I live in good old Des Moines. :)

  37. Rachelle 10.27.2011

    I recommend Farrells. I completed the 10 week FXB program and am now continuing the FIT program. Awesome program and definitely has results! Love your blog….one of my nightly rituals!

  38. Colleen 10.27.2011

    Each new decade brings nervousness and a mixture of highs and lows. I am 4.4 months from turning 40 and I am so freaking’ nervous. It sounds so old and more mature.

  39. Lindsey 10.27.2011

    I have loved my twenties! Especially the last few years so 25-27, they have been the best! I am not at all scared to turn 30, maybe even a tad excited – I am weird! haha. I want to make a list of things to do before I turn 30 now :)

  40. I think you need to remove #14 from the list if you have any hope of accomplishing the rest of it. ;-) I turned 30 this year and, while it was kind of a scary milestone, I mostly looked forward to it because I always kind that there is this weird thing in the professional world where if you’re in your 20s, you’re not experienced enough. Yet somehow the 30s makes you wise or something. This is all in people’s minds, of course, but I’m always happy to say that I’m in my 30s when it comes to work stuff.

  41. Sam 10.27.2011

    I love your list! I actually just made a 25 before 25 list on my blog this morning :)

  42. Michelle 10.27.2011

    Don’t do the botox! Donnn’t dooo itttt! You’ll look 80 before you turn 40!
    I turn 30 next year and while some girls my age, and some close friends, are petrified… I am embracing it and looking forward to it. I am having more fun now than I had when I was 19 and in my early, mid-twenties. I think that time was spent trying to figure out who I was and tried so damn hard to get people to like me and take notice. Now I don’t give a crap. I am who I have always been, I don’t care if people like me (their problem, not mine) and I don’t care if they notice me or what I do.

    I’m finding that as I get closer to 30 I am becoming more wiser. I look forward to all the wisdom that will lie ahead.

  43. Karla 10.27.2011

    What a GREAT list! I need to make one sometime soon. Want to run the More/FITNESS half in April? I’m thinking about making that my first!

    And eep! Kiddies! So exciting :)

  44. Imwaytoobusy 10.27.2011

    Congrats on a second TV spot. You will be great! Loved your list.
    I’m still drooling over that pizza and then you throw this one at me. That pasta looks so good!

  45. Jenn 10.27.2011

    Hey IGE, let me first say I’m a huge fan. BUT, I think you should take buying an SUV off your list! I love absolutely EVERYTHING on your blog, except for this. Purchasing a gas guzzling, mega-polluter of a vehicle isn’t something one should strive for! Consider it :)

  46. Shaunda 10.27.2011

    I’m a big fan of the blog and I really hope you don’t take this the wrong way because it is only mean to help further IGE. Maybe one of the things you could add to your before 30 list is…get more photogenic cookwear. I know how attached one can become to a special pan(passed down from Mom, who made amazing fried chicken in it while you were growing up). Your food always looks(and I bet tastes) so AMAZING that the only…absolutely only…nitpick I have is some of the beat up pans that appear in the photos. I know function trumps all — and really good pans are expensive(I’d sell my youngest for chef quality pans) but I think it’s an investment worth making. Especially if you want to reach the LLC IGE goal. My two cents and no hard feelings meant. Keep rocking in the kitchen!

  47. Vidya 10.28.2011

    ooh, that looks yum! is there avocados in there? thought i saw some, or maybe i’m seeing things. aha. still looks delish! love the blog! :D
    gives me such good ideas, and student friendly too haha. :)

  48. Lindsey 10.28.2011 i definitely never stopped think about how many months until 30..and it’s 15!!! ahhhhh.. anxiety!!!! hahaha i am totally going to make my own list immediately :)

  49. Hope 10.28.2011

    30 is young! I’m going to be 28 in March and I’m getting nervous about getting close to turning 30 but I’ve heard the 30’s are great! :)

    This pasta is making my mouth water at 7:45 am. I am a huge fan of Mexican food and pasta so putting both together sounds incredible!

  50. Congrats on the 30 before 30! I have one too, and need to get jumpin’ on it!

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